It is now six weeks since I said that, but as yet he has made no reply.
In travelling abroad there are some things which you wish to do more than others. There are certain treasures you particularly desire to see, certain scenes your mind has pictured, until the dream has almost become a reality. The ascent of the Nile was one of my Meccas, and now that it is over the reality has almost become a dream.
In Egypt the weather is so nearly perfect during the season that it was no surprise to find the day of our departure a cloudless one. I seldom worry myself to arrange beforehand for the creature comforts of a journey, trusting to the beneficent star which seems to hover over the unworthy to shine upon my pathway. But this time I had so dreamed of and brooded over and longed for the Nile that I went so far as to investigate the different lines of boats, and we chose the moonlight time of the month, and we hurried through Russia and Turkey and Greece with but one aim in view, and that was to have our feet on the deck of the Mayflower on the 19th of February. And we succeeded.
Ah, it was a dream well worth realizing! Twenty-one days of rest. Three glorious weeks of smooth sailing over calm waters. Three weeks of warmth and sunshine by day, and of poetry and starlight by night. Three weeks of drifting in the romance which surrounds the name of that great sorceress, that wonderful siren, that consummate coquette, that most fascinating woman the world has ever known. Three weeks of steeping one’s soul in the oldest, most complete and satisfactory ruins on the face of the earth. Here, in delving into the past, we would have no use for the comparative word “hundreds.” We could boldly use the superlative word “thousands.” What memories! what dreams! what fragments of half-forgotten history and romance came floating through the brain! I have, generally, little use for guide-books except, afterwards, to verify what I have seen. But I admit that I had an especial longing to reach the temple of Denderah, which was said to contain the most famous relief of Cleopatra extant. I was anxious to see if her beauty or her charm or anything which accounted for her sorceries were reproduced. “If Cleopatra’s nose had been shorter, the whole history of the world would have been changed.” How far away she seemed! How near she would become!
On the terrace at Shepheard’s the morning of our departure you could see by people’s faces how they were going to make this journey. Some had Stanley helmets on, and were laden with cushions and steamer-chairs and fruits as if for an ocean voyage. Others were clutching their Baedeker, and their Amelia Edwards, and their “Kismet,” and their note-books, and wore a do-or-die expression of countenance. One or two others floated around aimlessly, with dreamy eyes, as if they were already lost in the past which