Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo, Egypt, February tenth.
My dear Lulie:
Well, as you can see by this hotel letter paper, here we are, actually here. Of course we are only a little way toward where we are going, but this is Egypt, and I am beginning to believe it. Of course, I can’t yet quite believe it is really truly me that is doing these wonderful things and seeing these wonderful places. About every other morning still I wake up and think what a splendid dream I have had and wonder if it isn’t time for me to call Primmie and see about getting breakfast. And then it comes to me that it isn’t a dream at all and that I don’t have to get up unless I want to, that I don’t have to do anything unless I want to, and that everything a sensible person could possibly want to do I can do, and have a free conscience besides, which is considerable. I don’t mean that I lay a-bed much later than I used to. I never could abide not getting up at a regular time, and so half past seven generally finds me ready to go down to breakfast. But, oh, it is a tremendous satisfaction to think that I could sleep later if I ever should want to. Although, of course, I can’t conceive of my ever wanting to.
Well, I mustn’t fill this whole letter with nonsense about the time I get up in the morning. There is so much to write about that I don’t know where to begin. I do wish you could see this place, Lulie. I wish you could be here now looking out of my room window at the crowds in the street. I could fill a half dozen pages telling you about the clothes the people wear, although I must say that I have seen some whose clothes could be all told about in one sentence, and not a very long sentence at that. But you see all kinds of clothes, uniforms, and everyday things such as we wear, and robes and fezzes and turbans and I don’t know what. You know what a fez is, of course. It’s shaped like a brown-bread tin and they wear it little end up with a tassel hanging down. And turbans! To me, when I used to see pictures of people wearing turbans, they were just pictures, that’s all. It didn’t seem as if any one actually tied up the top of their head in a white sheet and went parading around looking like a stick with a snowball stuck on the end of it. But they do, and most of them look as dignified as can be, in spite of the snowball. And I have seen camels, quantities of them, and donkeys, and, oh, yes, about a million dogs, not one of them worth anything and perfectly contented to be that way. And dirt! Oh, Lulie, I didn’t believe there was as much dirt in all creation as there is in just one of the back streets over here. Galusha asked me the other day if I didn’t wish I could go into one of the houses and see how the people lived; he meant the poor people. I told him no, not if he ever expected me to get anywhere else. If the inside of one of those houses was like the outside, I was sure and certain that I should send for a case of soap and a hundred barrels of hot water and stay there scrubbing the rest of my life. And, oh, yes, I have seen the Pyramids.