Many of the pictures represent King Seti, drawn without doubt from life, for they show us almost the very features of his mummy, exhibited now in the museum at Cairo. At his side he holds affectionately his son, the prince-royal, Ramses (later on Ramses II., the great Sesostris of the Greeks). They have given the latter quite a frank air, and he wears a curl on the side of his head, as was the fashion then in childhood. He, also, has his mummy in a glass case in the museum, and anyone who has seen that toothless, sinister wreck, who had already attained the age of nearly a hundred years before death delivered him to the embalmers of Thebes, will find it difficult to believe that he could ever have been young, and worn his hair curled so; that he could ever have played and been a child.
We thought we had finished with the Cooks and Cookesses of the luncheon. But alas! our horses, faster than their donkeys, overtake them in the return journey amongst the green cornfields of Abydos; and in a stoppage in the narrow roadway, caused by a meeting with a number of camels laden with lucerne, we are brought to a halt in their midst. Almost touching me is a dear little white donkey, who looks at me pensively and in such a way that we at once understand each other. A mutual sympathy unites us. A Cookess in spectacles surmounts him—the most hideous of them all, bony and severe. Over her travelling costume, already sufficiently repulsive, she wears a tennis jersey, which accentuates the angularity of her figure, and in her person she seems the very incarnation of the respectability of the British Isles. It would be more equitable, too—so long are those legs of hers, which, to be sure, have scant interest for the tourist—if she carried the donkey.
The poor little white thing regards me with melancholy. His ears twitch restlessly and his beautiful eyes, so fine, so observant of everything, say to me as plain as words:
“She is a beauty, isn’t she?”
“She is, indeed, my poor little donkey. But think of this: fixed on thy back as she is, thou hast this advantage over me—thou seest her not!”
But my reflection, though judicious enough, does not console him, and his look answers me that he would be much prouder if he carried, like so many of his comrades, a simple pack of sugarcanes.
THE DOWNFALL OF THE NILE
Some thousands of years ago, at the beginning of our geological period, when the continents had taken, in the last great upheaval, almost the forms by which we now know them, and when the rivers began to trace their hesitating courses, it happened that the rains of a whole watershed of Africa were precipitated in one formidable torrent across the uninhabitable region which stretches from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, and is called the region of the deserts. And this