Title: Hassan in Egypt [Electronic Edition]

Author: McDonald, Etta Austin Blaisdell, 1872-
Author: Dalrymple, Julia
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Publication date: 2007
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Title: Hassan in Egypt

Author: Etta Blaisdell McDonald
Author: Julia Dalrymple
School ed.
File size or extent: vi p., 2 l., 114 p. incl. col. front. plates 19 cm.
Place of publication: Boston
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Publication date: 1915
Identifier: From the collection of Dr. Paula Sanders, Rice University.
Part of a series:
Series Title: Little people everywhere
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Taxonomy LCSH Library of Congress Subject Headings
Origin/composition of the text: 1915
Languages used in the text:
  • English (eng)
Text classification
Keywords: (Library of Congress Subject Headings)( Library of Congress Subject Headings )
  • Egypt--Social life and customs
  • Children's stories
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Spellchecked, corrected tagging errors, verified and enhanced metadata. Auto-encoded place names against NIMA names database.

Hassan in Egypt [Electronic Edition]








Joint Author of “Boy Blue and His Friends,”
“The Child Life Readers,” etc.

Author of “Little Me Too,” “The Make-Believe Boys,” etc.


EGYPT is the Nile River with its fertile valley.
On either side is the vast desert of golden sand,
traversed by camel-trains that come down to the
river from the distant oases. Here, for thousands
of years, the Egyptians have dwelt beside their
great life-giving river, depending upon its annual
flood for their food and water. In this narrow
valley ancient kings and Pharaohs built their
famous cities, and here their tombs lie buried in
the sand, holding priceless treasures in their record
of bygone centuries. Here the Arabs came in
conquest, and here, to-day, Copt and Moslem
dwell in peace, the bells of the Christian church
mingling their music with the muezzin's call to
To understand Egypt and the life of the
people we must see the Nile at its flood, explore
the ruins of the ancient temples, traverse the
glaring sand of the desert, see the sunrise and
the sunset, and spend long golden hours under
the cloudless Egyptian sky.

In this story of Hassan in Egypt we may live
for a while in the “oasis of roses,” journey to
Cairo, sail up the wonderful Nile River, stopping
here and there to visit the ruins of some ancient
city, see the great dam which the English have
built at Assuan, and then suddenly catch a
glimpse of a mirage, a vision of home, which
sends us hurrying back from this land of golden




The Great Pyramids Frontispiece in Color
The Clustering Mud-houses of the Little Village 5
A Street in Cairo 27
On the Bank of the Nile 46
Women and Boys with Water-jars 56
The Colossi of Memnon 81
Among the Ruins of Thebes 82
The Pyramid of Cheops and the Sphinx 103
The Road to the Great Pyramids 108


IT was New Year's Day in Egypt. “Nerûs
Day” little Hassan called it, as he sat on the back
of his camel and looked off over the broad river
that sparkled in the golden sunshine.
The day was already far gone. It was nine hours
since his father's train of heavily-loaded camels
had left the warehouse back in the Fayoum. Now
the great crates of ripe dates had been transferred
to the deck of a river boat, and a load of bottles —
tiny phials traced with gold — had been packed
on the camels' backs.
It was time to begin the homeward journey
across the burning sands of the desert; yet Ibrahim
Ali, the owner of the caravan, turned for a last
word with the Arabs on the boat.
It had fallen on Thursday, this tenth day of
September, the first day of the year in Egypt, and
a happy day it was for little Hassan.
There was the bustle and excitement of the start
from home at daybreak, the journey across the

desert in the early morning hours, the loading and
unloading of the camels, and, best of all, the sight
of the great river, which is always at its flood at
the beginning of the year.
While his father talked with a group of merchants,
Hassan sat contentedly on the back of his
camel, playing with a new toy which he held in his
slender brown hand and watching the strange
sights on the river.
It was a busy scene. Market boats were crowded
along the bank, waiting for their freight of onions,
grain, sugar-cane and cotton, and the air was filled
with the shouts of donkey-boys and camel-drivers
who were urging their heavily-laden animals down
to the boats.
Now and then a felucca swept by, its enormous
sail spread out to catch the wind. Black-robed
women passed down to the river to fill their water-jars.
Little boys plunged into the stream or chased
each other along the shore, and white-turbaned
Arabs sat idly watching the loading and unloading
of the boats.
“Peace be with you, O little Hassan!”
It was one of the merchants who spoke. At the
words the boy lifted his right hand to his heart
and forehead in the courteous Arabic form of
greeting, and answered: “On you be peace and
the blessing of Allah.”


Hassan's father turned at the sound of his son's
“The morning is most happy for Hassan, O
Abdu Effendi,” he said with a smile. “The boy
has to-day, for the first time in his life, seen our
great Father Nile.”
At that moment a man came running toward
them across the fields. “Peace be on you all!”
he cried. “The Nile is at its height. Twenty-eight
feet has it risen this year. They have telegraphed
the news from Cairo, and there is great
“Allah be praised!” the men said to each other,
and they fell to talking about the wonderful river
which has flooded its valley since time began,
bringing fertility to the desert sands and prosperity
to the people.
“It is no longer as it was in the days of Joseph,
the son of Jacob,” said one of the men. “We need
have no more fear of seven lean years, with famine
for ourselves and our cattle.”
“Joseph was a far-seeing man in his time,”
spoke Hassan's father. “He led the waters of
the Nile across the desert through the Bahr Yusuf
which still bears his name, and to this canal we owe
the beautiful oasis of the Fayoum where I dwell
and where my fathers dwelt before me.”
He looked at his son as he spoke, as if he would

add the wish that his own children and his children's
children should live there also after his time.
“How is it in your business, Ibrahim Ali?”
asked the merchant Abdu. “Do you flood your
rose gardens with the Nile water?”
“My roses would spoil under water,” was the
answer; “but the gardens have been irrigated
from the canal these many weeks, and we shall soon
be ready to fill these bottles with rose water.
“The canal is sometimes put to other uses than
irrigation,” he continued. “This son of mine has a
liking for boats, and last year we made a little lake
where he might sail them.”
“I have a whole fleet of boats at my home,”
Hassan said proudly; and leaning down from his
seat on the camel's back he held out his new toy,
that the merchant might see it more plainly.
It was a model of one of the Nile boats, — a
lateen-sailed felucca, which is used to ferry passengers
across the river, or to carry produce from one
town to another.
“I shall sail this boat with the others on the
canal,” said Hassan. Then his dark face lighted
with a sudden thought and he added eagerly:
“Now that it is High Nile, perhaps another lake
will grow for me beyond the rose gardens, where I
can sail my boats all day.”
His father smiled indulgently. “We will go

“The clustering mud - houses of the little village”
Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.

home and see what can be done about a lake,” he
said, and turning to the leader of the camel-train
he made a sign that they should start.
Immediately the drivers gave the word, one to
another, and one of the men led up a camel so that
the master might take his seat in the saddle.
With many groans and complaints the beast knelt
awkwardly on the ground, twisting his long neck
to see his rider safely seated. Then he rose
with such a lurching motion that Hassan's father
was tossed backward and forward as a boat is
tossed by a great wave of the sea.
The camels had already been led down to the
river to drink their fill of the muddy water. Now,
at the commands of their drivers, they separated
from the crowd and were driven into a long line,
one behind another.
Hassan and his father rode at the head of the
line. The boy's camel was decorated with bright-colored
trappings, and a fringe of coins, hanging
from a metal chain around its neck, jingled and
jangled right merrily.
As they passed out of sight of the clustering
mud houses of the little village, and wound their
way slowly across the great desert, the man and
the boy chatted together. Hassan asked many
questions and his father told curious tales of
Egypt and the Nile.


“Did the river always rise and fall in the same
way before I was born, O Father?” asked the boy,
as they left the Nile far behind them.
“Always,” was the answer.
“And will it do so after I am finished?”
“Always,” repeated Ibrahim Ali.
“Why?” Hassan queried.
“My son,” his father replied, as a good Moslem
should, “because it is the will of Allah.”

[Back to top]


IT was the hour of sunset. In the courtyard of
Ibrahim Ali could be heard the cooing of doves, the
droning songs of idle women, and the happy sound
of children's voices at their play.
Suddenly, from the minaret of the mosque beyond
the courtyard, came the call of the muezzin,
the words of his song rising and falling on the still
evening air: “Come to prayer! Allah is great!
There is no god but Allah! Come to prayer!”
“Peace, Amina,” said Hassan quickly; “it is
time for the sunset prayer.”
The women ceased their songs, the very doves
hushed their sound of cooing.
Little Amina, Hassan's six-year-old sister,
dropped the doll with which she had been playing.
Curling herself into a round ball, her bare brown
feet hidden under her robe, her tiny brown hands
clasped within her flowing sleeves, she fixed wondering
eyes upon her brother as he knelt and bowed
his forehead to the ground.
Presently the voice from the minaret ceased its
call, and the women began to move about in the

courtyard, gathering up a robe here, a toy there,
a pair of little red sandals, or a fly-switch that lay
where the master of the house might wish to step.
Hassan rose from the ground and turned his face
away from distant Mecca, bringing his thoughts
back to the little sister who had taken no part in
the prayers.
It was a week since the boy had travelled with
his father across the desert to the great river, and a
little lake had indeed appeared beyond the rose
gardens, where he could sail his boats all day. But
now the tiny boats which had sailed so bravely on
the broad sheet of water were floating idly in the
basin of the fountain.
Amina took her doll from the ground and placed
it in one of the boats. Then she looked up at her
brother with pouting lips. “Will our father never
teach me the words of the prayer?” she asked.
Hassan shook his head. “Girls have no need to
learn the prayers,” he said, “although it is not
forbidden by the Koran.
“Now that my father is teaching me the prayers
I shall learn also the chapters of the blessed Koran,”
he added. “Soon I shall be a man, and no longer
have to stay in the harem with the women. My
father has already begun to take me with him when
he rides on his journeys.”
Little Amina's head drooped and tears stood in

her big black eyes. She felt sad and lonely at so
suddenly losing her playmate.
“I can pray without being taught,” she said.
“And I shall ask Allah to send a sister to play with
me always.” Then she knelt suddenly on her
chubby knees and bumped her soft forehead to
the ground in imitation of her brother's prayers.
One of the women passed the fountain, her hands
filled with toys gathered from the bench under the
sycamore tree in the center of the courtyard.
“Come, little Amina,” she called, waiting for
her at the foot of the staircase which led to the
rooms of the harem; “you must go to bed now,
even as the doves have already gone.”
The child rose and obeyed the call, but she
looked back, as she climbed the stairs, and saw her
brother run toward the gateway to meet his
With Ibrahim Ali there was a stranger, who
paused in the deep gateway at a signal from the
master, and there the two men waited until the
woman and girl had disappeared through the doorway
at the head of the stairs.
Hassan saw that this stranger was dressed in
foreign clothing, and for a moment he longed to
run after his sister; but his father called him, and
he greeted both men politely, touching his right
hand to his forehead, lips and heart.


“May your evening be happy,” said the stranger
“May your evening be happy and blessed,”
replied Hassan. Then, at a sign from his father,
he clapped his hands and a servant appeared,
bringing a basin and a jar of water.
The stranger washed the dust from his hands and
face, filling the basin to the brim; but Ibrahim Ali
held his hands while the servant poured the water
slowly over them, for no Moslem ever washes in any
but running water.
“Now, if you please, we will break our fast and
slake our thirst,” said Ibrahim Ali. “We Moslems
drink no wine, but you will like the good Nile
water. There is nothing better in the world. We
have an old Arabic proverb that ‘He who drinks
Nile water will return.”’
So saying, he led the way to a big square room
which opened directly from the courtyard, and
offered his guest a seat on a low divan covered with
beautiful rugs.
“It is the month of Ramadan with us,” he said,
as they took their seats. “During the whole
month, from sunrise to sunset, not a bite of
food nor a drop of water passes our lips. When
the sun sets we do not care to wait very long
for our dinner.”
He clapped his hands and called the servants to

bring dinner, and a fly-switch, in order that the
food might be eaten in peace.
“May not the boy eat with us?” the stranger
asked; but the master of the house shook his head.
“It is the boy's place to see that we are served,” he
And all through the long meal Hassan stood
beside his father, while the servants came and went,
removing the soup and bringing potted meats and
stewed vegetables.
Ibrahim Ali paid no attention to his son, but
the guest — a jolly-looking young Englishman —
watched him, surprised at his patience. When at
last a delicious jelly, decorated with almonds and
rose-petals, was placed on the tray which served
for a table, he looked to see if the boy were not
tempted to taste it; but Hassan only held his
shapely head a little higher and set his lips more
closely together.
Then the Englishman laughed outright. “Are
all Egyptian lads as strong-willed as Hassan here?”
he asked.
“We teach our boys to show respect and deference
to their elders,” replied his host. “Doubtless
it is the same all over the world.”
The stranger laughed again. “I know no hungry
English lad who would wait so patiently for his
dinner,” he said.


“It is in the teaching of the blessed Koran,”
“answered Ibrahim Ali courteously. Then he drew
his son to his side, enfolding him with his wide-sleeved
arm. “Speak,” he said, “and tell us
why you take pleasure in serving your father and
his guest.”
Hassan answered at once, speaking in English,
but with a quaint, foreign accent. “The Koran
teaches us that every step taken for the sake of a
guest is a step in the ascent of Paradise,” he said.
Ibrahim Ali nodded his turbaned head. “I
have much land, hundreds of fruitful acres here in
the Fayoum, the most fertile province in all
Egypt,” he said. “I have built warehouses and
factories, and every year I send long camel-trains
loaded with cotton, sugar, rose water, dates,
oranges, olives, and other produce, to the markets
of Cairo.
“I pay the government a great tax for my wells
and my groves of date-palms, and I am counted a
rich man among my people; but above all else I
have a priceless possession in this son of mine, who
will be an honor to my beard and name.”
“It is said that you have a daughter also,” suggested
the Englishman.
“Yes, yes,” answered Ibrahim quickly; “but
she is not as a son, although she is a comely child
enough. Allah is good in granting me this son. I

can name my ancestors — father and father's
father—back to the prophet Abraham, and I,
myself, shall be known as Abou Hassan, the father
of Hassan, by my children's children. Praise be
to Allah!”
As he spoke, he rose from the divan and motioned
to the servants to bring the basin and jar of water,
that he might wash after eating.
Then he led the way to the courtyard, and Hassan
took his place before the low table, glad enough
that his long day's fast might at last be broken

[Back to top]


ALL the long sunny hours of the morning Hassan
played in the rose gardens. The roses were in
full bloom, acres and acres of them, — delicate pink
blossoms nodding on slender stems, gorgeous red
roses peeping out from their green leaves, and roses
that were velvety yellow with hearts of gold.
Men and boys were at work in the gardens, picking
the fragrant blossoms and piling them high in
tall baskets which they carried on their heads to a
hut across the fields. Here the roses were crushed,
and the juices made into the rose water and the
attar of roses for which Ibrahim Ali's gardens were
When the bright noonday sun shone down out of
the cloudless sky, and no breath of wind stirred the
hot air, the men ceased their labor and lay down in
the shade of the wall to rest; but it was still the
month of Ramadan, and no drop of water, no bite
of food, could they have until the sun had dropped
out of sight beyond the distant hills.
Hassan curled himself up on the ground and shut
his eyes from the blinding glare of the sun. The

bees hummed drowsily about their work of gathering
honey, and the voices of the men grew fainter
and fainter in his ears until at last he fell asleep.
Little Amina woke him in mid-afternoon, and
begged him to go with her to the grove of date-palms
to get some leaves for a basket she was
weaving; but even there it was hot, for the date-palms
give little shade.
The date-palm, which grows best where there is
no rain, is the most useful tree in Egypt, and the
harvesting of the crop is an important event. The
trees grow straight and tall, losing their lowest
ring of branches every year, and holding their
leaves and blossoms high up above the ground,
where they will get all the heat of the sun. The
men who climb the tall trunks to pick the fruit look
like monkeys climbing a pole.
A single tree bears from one hundred to two
hundred pounds of fruit at a time. The dates are
picked when they are ripe and are sewn up in
palm-leaf baskets and packed in crates. Then they
are sent down to the Nile and shipped to Cairo and
Alexandria, and thence to all parts of the world.
The Arabs say that a woman can serve her
husband with a different dish of dates every day for
a month. The date-pits are ground up and fed to
the cows and sheep. The branches are used like
rattan to make beds, tables, chairs, cradles, or birdcages.

The leaves are used for fans and baskets,
and the fiber of the bark is made into rope.
“Look, Amina,” said Hassan, when they reached
the grove, “here are the ropes left by the date-pickers.
I am going to climb this young tree and
see if I can find some dates.”
“O Hassan,” begged his sister, “please, please
stay here with me. Our father will be angry if he
finds you up in one of the palm trees. It is safer
to climb the sycamore tree in the courtyard.”
But her brother was already half way up the
trunk, pushing with his legs, pulling with his arms,
and hauling himself up a little now and then with
one of the ropes.
The rough bark scratched his legs and made his
hands bleed; but he paid no more heed to it than
to Amina's pleading, and when he took his seat just
below the stiff green leaves, in a rope noose left
by the date-pickers, and looked off at the surrounding
country, he felt well paid for his effort.
“I can see the men working in the rose gardens,”
he called down to his sister; “and I can see the
Bahr Yusuf and all the little canals. They make
the gardens look like a big chessboard.”
The Bahr Yusuf is the oldest canal in the whole
world. It is called “River of Joseph” because it
was Joseph, the son of Jacob, who sent men to dig
the canal, thus making the Fayoum one of the

richest provinces of Egypt. The “oasis of roses”
is like a beautiful green island in a great ocean of
golden sand.
As Hassan looked off across the fertile oasis, he
could see fields of flax, cotton, sugar-cane and corn;
and long rows of fruit trees, — figs, peaches, oranges
and lemons. Cows were feeding in the meadows,
and a shepherd was driving a flock of sheep along
the bank of the canal.
“Look, Amina!” he called again, “I will throw
down this rope and pull you up beside me. You
can play you are a pigeon learning to fly.”
Amina began to whimper. “I must go back to
the harem,” she said. “Come down, and I will
ask our mother to tell us a new story.”
But Hassan, from his perch in the tree, had just
discovered something much more interesting than
a new story. Far away on the yellow sand of the
desert he could see a Bedouin driving a small herd
of camels. He was moving slowly toward the
village, where he would no doubt try to sell some
of his animals.
“Perhaps my father will buy me a camel for
my very own,” thought the boy, and he clambered
down out of the tree and hurried off to meet the
camel-trader, leaving his sister to find her way back
to the harem all alone.

[Back to top]


JUST as the setting sun shed its rosy light across
the fairy forests of sugar-cane, Hassan came home
to find his father, bringing with him the camel-trader
and his herd of camels.
Tucking his small brown hand into his father's
larger one, he looked up into the dark face with
pleading eyes.
“My father,” he begged, “please buy for me the
little red camel. It is young and its hump is still
soft enough to make a good seat.”
Before Ibrahim Ali could reply, the muezzin
called from the minaret of the village mosque:
“Come to prayer! Allah is great. Come to
prayer!” and, everything else forgotten, the merchant,
his son and the camel-trader turned toward
the east and bowed their heads in prayer.
Five times each day does the good Mohammedan
make his prayer to Allah; at sunrise, noonday and
mid-afternoon, at sunset and again at nightfall, a
million pairs of eyes are turned toward Mecca, a
million prayers float up to Heaven.


When their prayers were ended, Hassan turned
again to his pleading. “My father,” he urged,
“please buy the little red camel for me.”
But with the nightfall Ibrahim Ali was still
objecting to the trader's price, and the trader was
still firmly shaking his head and declaring that to
sell his beasts for the sum the merchant offered
would be giving them away.
Hassan fell asleep to the sound of the haggling
voices, and when he waked up before sunrise, there
were his father and the trader in the courtyard,
again at their bargaining.
But when the call sounded for the sunset prayers
once more, the Bedouin was on his way across the
desert, smiling at the price he had received for six
of his camels, and Ibrahim Ali was laughing over
the good bargain he had made.
“My son,” he said, “remember to give only half
what a camel-trader asks for his beasts. A day
spent in bargaining is a day well spent, if in the end
you give your own price. The camels are young
and strong, and are worth all that I paid for them.
They are just what I need for my pilgrimage to
Hassan had commanded his own new camel to
kneel, and he was just climbing into the saddle on
the soft round hump when he heard his father's


“To Mecca!” he cried. “Are you going to
But the camel, feeling the weight on his back,
sprang to his feet, tossing the boy backward so
suddenly that he lost his hold and rolled to the
ground. In another moment he was lying under
the animal's heavy, padded foot, still and bleeding,
his question unanswered and forgotten.
Ibrahim Ali carried his son into the house and
held him in his arms until a doctor came and
brought the boy back to consciousness.
“Let him stay quietly in the harem with his
mother,” the doctor advised, after stitches had
been taken and bandages had been applied. “Before
another moon he will be ready to climb on the
camel's back again.”
“Allah be praised,” said Ibrahim Ali thankfully.
“I thought to give up my pilgrimage to Mecca and
stay at home to mourn for a lost son.”
“Say not so,” replied the doctor. “Make your
pilgrimage to Mecca when the time comes, and
rejoice over a son alive and well.”
When the doctor was gone, Ibrahim Ali lifted
up his son and carried him to the harem, calling
to the mother to watch over him while he slept.
The mother, — a pretty, gentle-looking girl-mother
with lustrous black eyes and soft rolls of
black hair, — crept quietly into the room and

knelt beside the couch, stroking the boy's hands and
whispering to him to lie still and go to sleep.
But Hassan had two questions to ask before he
could sleep. “My father,” he said, “when are you
going to Mecca, and will you take me with you?”
There was no need to explain to Hassan the
meaning of the pilgrimage, nor to tell him where the
famous city lies. Since he was a tiny child he had
seen his father turn his face toward the east to
say his prayers, and he knew that far away in the
land of Arabia, beyond the Red Sea, was Mecca,
the birthplace of the great Mohammed.
He had seen caravans pass through the Fayoum
on their way to worship at the prophet's shrine,
and he had been told that every true follower of
Mohammed must make one such pilgrimage in his
life. To hear his father speak of journeying to the
wonderful city filled his heart with joy, and he
waited eagerly to be told that he was to go also.
“I shall begin the journey by going to Cairo as
soon as we have celebrated the feast of Bairam,”
Ibrahim answered briefly; but he stopped without
replying to the second question.
The lesser feast of Bairam follows the fast of
Ramadan, and for three days there is great rejoicing,
with gifts of toys for the children, and
with feasting and dancing for their elders.
Little Amina, who had knelt on the floor cushions

at the farther end of the room, frightened and
crying, crept forward at the mention of Bairam,
for she remembered the happiness of the year
before, and the toys and sweetmeats that her
mother had given her. But even the thought of
toys could not take Hassan's mind from the
journey out into the wonderful unknown world
that lay between him and Mecca.
“Am I going with you?” he repeated, and he
put out his hand impatiently to grasp his father's
For answer his father shook his head slowly.
“There is cholera on the road between Cairo and
Mecca, and also in the holy city itself,” he said.
“Allah has been good to me and spared your life
when I thought that you were killed by the camel's
hoofs. How shall I dare to risk that life a second
time by taking you to Mecca?”
Then if the Englishman had been there he
would have seen that Egyptian boys are not always
self-controlled, for Hassan suddenly lifted up his
voice in a shriek of disappointment. When his
father and mother pleaded with him, and begged
him to be quiet lest he make his wounds bleed
anew, he tore at his father's robe and struck at his
mother, until little Amina crept back among her
cushions and cried aloud in terror.
In the end the lovely girl-mother sent a servant

for the ink-horn and a reed pen, and she went herself
to get a bowl and some fresh water.
Ibrahim Ali wrote a text from the Koran on
the inside of the bowl, then he poured in the
water and stirred it with a spoon, reciting as he did
so the verses from the Koran that speak of loving
When the words were all washed off, he held
Hassan in his arms while the mother poured the
inky water down the boy's throat, for in no other
way, they thought, could they cure his fit of temper.
Once before they had tried this remedy, when
Hassan was ill with some child's disease, and they
felt sure that it had saved his life.
So, even now, either the ink-and-water words, or
the text from the holy book, or it may be the
child's own weakness, for he was really badly hurt,
sent him into a stupor. After a little while he
became quiet and fell asleep.
Then Amina was also put to bed, and in the
stillness of the night, while Ibrahim Ali watched
over his sleeping son, he spoke with his wife about
the pilgrimage.
“I shall take Hassan to Cairo, where he may live
for three months in the house of my brother
Yusuf,” he said. “There he will see new sights,
and forget to grieve for us, and you and Amina
shall go with me to Mecca.”

[Back to top]


THE morning that saw Hassan's mother and
sister start on their way to Cairo was exactly like
all the mornings in Egypt, — drenched with
golden sunshine. But the boy looked enviously
at Amina, and felt that the joy of the day was
veiled for him, even as her bright little face was
veiled, for his sister was to have the pleasure of
journeying to Mecca while he must stay behind.
Hassan pouted and was slow in waving farewell
to the nodding heads that leaned from the palanquin;
but Amina lifted her veil and kissed her
hand to him until her mother drew her back,
behind the curtains.
It was an exciting day for the little girl, with
all kinds of new experiences. First she had been
dressed in a long robe exactly like her mother's,
with a lovely white veil which covered her face
and hung almost to her feet, hiding all but her
eyes from the gaze of any man they might chance
to meet.
Then she was lifted up into the palanquin on
the back of a camel, when always before she had

ridden on a little white donkey; and now she was
to travel off across the desert with her mother
and their attendants at the head of a long camel-train.
Hassan turned sadly toward the courtyard as
the last camel disappeared beyond the grove of
date-palms; but Ibrahim Ali laid his hand lovingly
on his son's shoulder and tried to comfort him.
“It is not so bad to be left behind, when it
means a journey in the railway train that will
whisk you off so soon,” he said. “We start tomorrow,
and we shall reach Cairo in time to
receive your mother and the little Amina. I
should not wish to have them ride in the train
with so many strangers to look at their veiled
“Must I truly stay in Cairo with my uncle?”
asked Hassan. “May I not go on to Mecca with
“I would give up the pilgrimage and all that it
means to kiss the sacred stone in the Kaaba,
rather than take you with me now,” said his
father firmly.
The boy looked up at a pair of white pigeons
that were cooing and fluttering on the roof of the
house, but he made no reply, and his father continued:
“All my plans have been shaped these many

months. I have a good overseer to manage my
estates. The Nile is shedding its blessings and the
crops are all growing well. Shall I not then go to
Mecca and give thanks to Allah for his many
“And you, my son, will find happiness in your
uncle's house. He will show you all the wonders
of Cairo, and the three months of my absence will
seem but a few days.”
Hassan bent his head and walked slowly across
the rose gardens to the cotton fields where the men
were picking the cotton. It was not until nightfall
that he returned to the house, and even then he
crept quietly to bed.
But the boy has never been born who could be
unhappy on his first journey to Cairo, the wonderful
capital of Egypt.
The city stands on the Nile at the point where
the river branches into a broad delta. Because
this delta is shaped like a fan, and because Cairo is
such a beautiful city, the Egyptians call it “the
diamond set in the handle of the fan.”
There were several Arabs on the train that carried
Ibrahim Ali and his son into the city. As
they rose to leave the train, Hassan heard one of
the men say, “Cairo is the ‘Mother of the
Then the boy was in the city itself, clinging to

his father's hand and looking wonderingly at the
throngs of people who hemmed them about.
There were men from every country of the globe,
it seemed; there were horses and donkeys and
camels; there were automobiles and electric trams,
and carriages of all kinds and descriptions.
Ibrahim Ali stood still for a moment outside the
station, and Hassan listened in amazement to the
confused din of voices, — railway porters, hotel
servants, carriage drivers, and donkey-boys, all
shouting at the top of their lungs.
A barefooted, chocolate-colored boy screamed
in Ibrahim Ali's ear, “Give me your bag!” and
would have taken it, too; but the man brushed him
aside and beckoned to a driver, who took charge
of them and was soon whirling them through the
crowded streets toward Yusuf Ali's house.
Hassan looked out of the window at the people
in the streets, — English soldiers in uniforms of
scarlet and gold, Bedouins in flowing white robes,
American tourists with broad-brimmed hats and
big umbrellas to shade them from the sun, peddlers
and ragged beggars, veiled women, and street
“Why is Cairo called the ‘Mother of the
World?”’ he asked. “Is it because all the world
comes here to live, or is it because the city is so
old that all the other cities are like her children?”

From the circular platform of the minaret the muezzin calls the people to prayer.
Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.


“Egypt is old,” his father replied; “so old that
men can trace her history for six thousand years,
and can tell stories of the kings who ruled the land
four thousand years before the birth of the great
Mohammed; but Cairo is not so old. There are
many cities in the world much older.
“The Egyptians love their city, and it is their
way to speak extravagantly of anything they love.
That is why we call Cairo our ‘Jewel,’ our ‘Mother
of the World.”’
“And is it always like this?” questioned the boy.
“Are there always such crowds of people in the
streets, such long lines of beautiful houses, such
flags and streamers everywhere?”
“There are always the houses and the people,”
his father answered; “but the flags will disappear
after the procession of pilgrims sets out for Mecca.
We shall see the Mahmal taken from the citadel
to-morrow, and on the next day I myself shall
leave Cairo for the East.”
A mist blurred Hassan's eyes, and he saw only
dimly that they had stopped in a narrow, crooked
street, before a door which was tightly closed as if
to shut out the noise and confusion of the city.
Ibrahim Ali knocked upon the door, and presently
it was opened by a porter who led them through
a narrow corridor to the courtyard of Yusuf Ali's


As they passed in, Hassan noticed that the door
was painted green with tracings of red. An Arabic
inscription in the center called down the blessing
of Allah upon the inmates of the house.
In his excitement Hassan forgot to set his left
foot first upon the threshold of the door and recite
a prayer to ward off evil spirits; and now, not all
the letters in the Arabic alphabet could avert the
bad luck that was sure to follow him in his new

[Back to top]


THE pilgrims always start for Mecca in the month
of Shawwal, the month which follows Ramadan in
the Mohammedan year. Sometimes it is High
Nile when the pilgrimage begins; sometimes it is
Low Nile, for the Mohammedan year is not at all
like the Christian year.
The Mohammedans count their months by the
moon because Mohammed, their Prophet, counted
them in that way. The month begins on the day
when the new moon is first seen, and when twelve
moons have waxed and waned the Mohammedan
year is ended.
At the beginning of the year everyone watches
for the first glimpse of the new moon. When it
is seen the news is telegraphed to Cairo, and there
is a celebration in honor of the new year.
Each year begins about eleven days earlier than
the year before. This makes the months come
earlier and earlier in the seasons, so Shawwal
sometimes comes at High Nile and sometimes at
Low Nile, and in thirty-three years the Mohammedans
gain one whole year.


All the people of Egypt reckon time by the Coptic
year, which is like the Christian year except that
it begins on the tenth of September; but the
Mohammedans live also by their lunar year,
especially in their religious feasts and fasts.
All this, and much more about the Moslem faith,
Ibrahim Ali taught his son when they were at home
in the Fayoum; but when the mother and little
sister arrived in Cairo, and all the talk was about
the pilgrimage, Hassan began to ask questions as if
he had never heard of it before.
“Uncle Yusuf told us that he left Cairo at Low
Nile,” he said. “Why are you going at High Nile,
and what shall you do in Mecca?”
His mother took him into a far corner of one of
the beautiful rooms of his uncle's house to explain
it all in one last loving talk. But although she
told him as plainly as she could about the mysterious
way the moon has of beginning as a crescent,
and growing full and round as it grows older,
only to start as a crescent again at the beginning of
the new month, Hassan failed to see what it all had
to do with the pilgrimage.
At last his father found a seat on the divan between
the mother and son. “It is something for a
man to explain,” he said. “Women are not expected
to know about such things.”
He talked a long time and said a great deal

which sounded very learned; but in the end Hassan
declared that it was no clearer than what his mother
had told him.
Then they all three laughed together, and when
little Amina cuddled down between them on the
cushions, Ibrahim Ali stopped talking about the
moon and the Moslem year, and told in simple
words the story of the pilgrimage.
“In the city of Mecca, in Arabia, there is a
great mosque,” he said, “and in the center of this
mosque there is a small square building called the
“Every year this Kaaba is covered all over on
the outside with a beautiful black silk covering,
around the center of which is embroidered in gold
letters a text from the Koran. The pilgrims carry
this covering with them from Cairo, and they
bring back the old one to be cut up into pieces and
sold to the faithful followers of the Prophet.
“In one corner of the Kaaba is a sacred stone
which the pilgrims kiss. It is said to be a ruby
which came down from Heaven; but it has been
kissed by so many thousands and thousands of
pilgrims that it is now quite black.
“Every Moslem prays with his face turned
toward this Kaaba, and the pilgrims who have
kissed the stone are blessed above all others.”
Then he told about the great Mohammed, who

gave them the Koran to be their Bible, and who
taught them how to live so that they might be
blessed in Paradise.
This was something which Hassan could under-stand,
and as he watched the procession forming the
next day, he tried to think that he was glad to have
his father and mother take the long journey to kiss
the sacred stone.
The procession formed in the great square below
the citadel, and Hassan found a place on the terrace
where he could look down upon the crowds
which were pouring in from every side.
Men, women and children thronged the streets;
soldiers in gay uniforms marched by to the music
of military bands; donkeys and camels wound their
way in and out through the narrow lanes, and flags
fluttered from every doorway, — beautiful red
flags, each with a white crescent moon and a single
star, the emblem of Mohammed.
The moving colors, the stir and excitement that
grows when a great procession is forming, dazzled
Hassan's eyes and made his heart beat fast under
his new Turkish jacket.
Yusuf Ali stood beside his nephew, pointing out
the soldiers in their red coats, the musicians with
their long reed flutes and their big kettledrums,
and the Khedive, who came riding into the square
on a magnificent Arab horse; but it was Hassan's

loving eyes that caught the first glimpse of Ibrahim
Ali among the crowds.
“See, there is my father, and there is the palanquin
where my mother and sister are riding!” he
cried, and he nearly fell from the terrace in trying
to point them out.
“Yes, yes, I see them,” his uncle said at last;
“and there are all my brother's camels. He is
taking a long camel-train to carry his provisions
for the journey.”
“The little red camel is my very own,” Hassan
explained eagerly. “He is loaded with the tent
and bedding for my mother and sister.”
Yusuf Ali had seen many a procession form in
that same square, and he soon discovered the
sacred Mahmal, a small palanquin, shaped like a
pyramid and covered with velvets and beautiful
embroideries, which was being borne on the back
of a richly decorated camel.
“That Mahmal,” he said, “represents the royal
family. It goes to Mecca and back every year,
and the camel that carries it will have no more
work to do for the rest of its life.”
“Who is that on the camel behind the Mahmal?
questioned the boy, pointing out an old man who
was rolling his head from side to side as if he were
“That man is called the ‘Sheik of the Camel,”’

replied Yusuf Ali. “He goes on the pilgrimage
every year, and he will roll his head like that all the
way to Mecca and back again. He is a very holy
man. But look, the procession is ready to start.”
The great crowd of people in the square surged
back to right and left, making room for a troop of
cavalry to lead the way toward the Bab-el-Nasr, the
Gate of Victory, in the northeastern part of the
Behind the cavalry came a splendid regimental
band, with beating drums and blaring trumpets,
and beside them trotted a crowd of little Egyptian
boys, jumping and laughing, and running pell-mell
in front of the horses.
Following the musicians came a troop of soldiers,
and then came the different companies of pilgrims,
each one headed by a small band of music. After
them came long trains of camels, some with saddles
of red, others with saddles of green. Flags, ostrich
plumes and palm branches decorated their heads
and necks. Bells tinkled from their blankets,
and dancing red tassels hung from their trappings.
The camel-drivers and all the attendants wore
bright turbans and sashes, and they carried banners
of their masters’ colors. Some beat upon drums
and others played upon shrill fifes.
Such a noise Hassan had never heard in all his
life, and his uncle could not help smiling at the

dazed look in the boy's eyes. “This is the greatest
gala day in the whole year,” he said. “The
soldiers and camel-drivers must make all the brave
show and gay music they can, for the harem windows
are open to-day, and every maid and mother in
Cairo is looking and listening.”
“Is it to bid them good-bye that everybody
stands in the street or looks from the windows?”
asked Hassan.
“Yes,” said Yusuf Ali thoughtlessly, “the
journey is long and many of the pilgrims never live
to come home again.”
Hassan gazed into his uncle's face with startled
eyes, then he looked down at his father, who was
just taking his place in the procession.
“Suppose he should never come back,” he
whispered to himself. Then suddenly the brown
eyes filled with tears, and in a shrill voice that
throbbed with the grief of a bursting heart he called
loudly the words of the Arabic good-bye, —
“Ma'as Salama!”
In answer to his call Ibrahim Ali turned in his
saddle, a veiled face peeped out from the curtains
of the palanquin, and two pairs of loving eyes
looked up at the boy on the terrace.
“Ma'as Salama!” their call came up to him, as
their hands waved him farewell.

[Back to top]


IT was Thursday and market day in Cairo. The
pilgrims had already made more than a week's
journey toward Mecca, and Ibrahim Ali was no
doubt at that moment wishing that he might look
upon the face of his son.
It was mid-afternoon and Hassan was taking his
way home from school. From one narrow street
into another he passed, looking neither to the right
nor left, although there was plenty to attract his
Old men were squatting on the ground beside
boxes filled with vegetables; boys were walking
about with great trays on their heads piled high
with loaves of bread; there were boys with oranges
and grapes, there were flower girls and water-carriers,
there were jugglers and snake-charmers
and street musicians.
Down the street came the quick patter-patter of
the feet of white donkeys, their harnesses hung
thick with little blue beads to guard against ill
An Arab rode by on horseback, his heelless slippers

hanging from the toes of his bare feet. Behind
him came a camel heavily loaded with old rags,
and then a veiled woman on the back of a donkey.
The woman had been to market, and she was attended
by a black servant who walked beside her,
his robe well filled with bundles.
A carriage drawn by a splendid pair of horses
came down the street, with a runner in front to
clear the way. The runner wore loose white
trousers, a gold-braided jacket and a flowing crimson
sash, and he carried a long wand in his hand to
drive back the crowds.
“To the left, O lady!” he cried. “To the right,
my uncle! Thy foot! Make way, make way!”
Hassan turned the corner and slipped into
another street without even glancing at the horses
or the runner. His closely shaven head was
covered with a red fez, the dark blue tassel dangling
against his cheek. He wore Turkish shoes of red
leather, and a gay red jacket under his striped
tunic. It was his aunt's pleasure to see that he
looked as fine as possible every morning when he
started out for school.
Six days had Hassan been to school in the great
University of El-Azhar. Now, for the sixth time,
he was trudging home; but his face looked pale
and tired, and the old, happy laughter had died
away from his eyes.


He reached his uncle's door and hurried past
the black porter with the briefest of greetings. In
the same room where he sat with his father and
mother on that first night in Cairo he found his
aunt. She was an older woman than his mother, —
much older. She was lame, too, and very fat from
sitting still too much. Her daughters had married
and gone away to live. Her son was a student in
a distant university, and the house was quiet and
Hassan went up to his aunt, and after greeting
her with a wish that her evening be happy, he said
abruptly: “I cannot go to the school again, my
aunt. It is too hard. I am worn to a skeleton
already. I cannot go any more.”
His aunt looked up from her seat among the
cushions. Her heart was a kind one, and she was
troubled by the sight of the boy's sad face; but
it was a long time since she had petted her own
children and she had forgotten how to do it.
She should have gathered Hassan into her fat
comfortable arms, and talked with him about the
hundreds of other little boys who sit all day on the
floor of their schoolrooms, studying and reciting
their lessons.
Or she might have told him that El-Azhar,
where his father wished to have him study, is the
most famous university in the Mohammedan

world. It was founded more than seven hundred
years ago, and students go there from all parts of
Europe, Asia and Africa.
Thousands of men, — old men, middle-aged men
and young men, — and hundreds of boys may be
seen at one time, sitting on the floor around the
columns in the court of the great mosque, the men
listening to lectures, the boys studying the Koran.
This Koran has one hundred and fourteen
chapters, and each chapter must be learned perfectly
by heart. No wonder Hassan looked wan
and tired!
His aunt looked at him until he had hard work
to keep the tears out of his eyes. “Put on the
clothes you used to wear at home,” she said at
last, “and then run out to play. You will feel
better for a good run, and to-morrow we will talk
about the school.”
So Hassan took off the pretty new Turkish suit,
and put on the old yellow slippers and the dear
blue tunic that his mother made for him back in
the Fayoum. But he did not like to play alone in
the garden of his uncle's courtyard, so he slipped
out into the street once more, where he looked just
like any of the Egyptian boys who play in the
streets or along the river-front.
He went through the Mouski, the long business
street of Cairo, where all the tourists go to buy

trinkets and souvenirs. He passed the beautiful
public gardens, where crowds of laughing, chattering
foreigners were sitting at tiny tables under the
palm trees, listening to the music of the band.
But Hassan was too sad to care for fun and
music, and he went onward to the river, and then
across the long bridge, until he reached the place
where the steamers wait to take passengers up the
Here was something that reminded him of home.
Great bales of cotton were piled up on the wharf
beside boxes of peaches, pomegranates, and other
delicious fruits, and he slipped out on the pier
where he could get a whiff of their fragrance.
The government boat Dal was moored beside the
wharf, and crowded near by were several smaller
steamers and house-boats. It was just the place
to attract a boy, and soon half a dozen dark-skinned
lads had gathered to watch the loading of
the Dal.
The water beckoned to them invitingly, and, one
after another, they tossed off their cotton garments
and dropped into the river for a frolic. In and
out they splashed, calling to one another, pushing,
diving, wrestling.
Hassan looked at them enviously. Many a time
had he plunged into the Bahr Yusuf just as they
dropped into this pleasant Nile water.


A young Englishman, who was sitting on the
deck of a house-boat, saw the look on Hassan's
face and said to his companion: “It will not be
long before that little lad will be in the water with
the others.”
He had hardly spoken the words before Hassan
lifted his arms and slipped out of his tunic. In a
moment more he was ready for his plunge. They
watched him from the house-boat, although he was
no different from the others. They were all
chocolate-colored, lithe-limbed little rascals, who
were as much at home as fishes in the water.
But the other boys knew that Hassan was a
stranger, and it was not long before they were
ready to play a trick on him. There was a whisper,
then a sign from the leader, and one of the boys
swam quickly toward the pier while the others surrounded
Hassan, thrashing the water into a white
foam with their hands and splashing him with the
“Five against one are too many,” said the
Englishman in the dahabeah.
But Hassan trod water valiantly and splashed
the spray back again until he found that he could
not drive the boys away. Then, suddenly, he disappeared
under the water, and when he came up a
few yards down the stream the boys had climbed
up on the pier and were getting into their clothes.


Hassan also swam to the pier and looked for his
own clothes; but they were gone. There was no
trace anywhere of his old blue tunic, his red fez,
or his yellow shoes.
When he demanded them of the boys they looked
at him carelessly at first, then with well-pretended
anger that he should accuse them of the theft.
In the end they ran away, leaving him alone on the
Then Hassan's real spirit showed itself. There
were neither tears nor anger in the dark eyes, as
he curled himself up beside a bale of cotton to plan
what he could do in the streets of Cairo without any
On the deck of the dahabeah the two Englishmen
watched the boy with interest. “He looks like
some one I have seen before,” said one man to the
other. “I should like to paint his picture.”
“No doubt he would be glad to have you if you
would offer him a piaster,” answered his friend.
The artist raised his voice. “Here, O boy without
a tunic,” he called.
Hassan turned his eyes toward the boat. “Come
with me and I will fit you out with a new suit of
clothes,” he heard the white man say in Arabic.
Hassan looked up the river where the Dal was
already steaming along toward Assuan. That way
lay also the Fayoum and home!


Then he looked back to the deck of the dahabeah
where the sailors were setting the great sail to catch
the wind. Soon the boat would follow the Dal up
the river.
In a moment he slipped into the water and
swam to the side of the house-boat. As he clambered
on deck and shook the water out of his eyes
he said, quite calmly: “Effendi, I will go with you
But the artist had remembered by this time that
he had no right to take the boy away on a long trip
up the Nile without asking some one's permission.
“Where is your father?” he questioned.
“Effendi,” Hassan answered, “my father and
my mother have gone on the pilgrimage to Mecca,
and my home is far away.”
He would have told them more, — about his
aunt and his uncle, and the long days in the university
where he must sit on the floor and learn the
chapters of the Koran; but before he could speak
again something struck him a heavy blow on the
It was the long yardarm of another dahabeah
which was just swinging around into the channel,
and as the heavy beam swept across the bow, it
felled Hassan to the deck. There he lay, stunned
and unconscious.

[Back to top]


WHEN nightfall came and brought no Hassan
back to his uncle's house, there was a great outcry.
Yusuf Ali went to the Egyptian police and the
English officials, and search was made for the boy
in every quarter of the city, — from Bulak with
its docks and markets on the northwest, to the
citadel with its mosques and palaces on the southeast.
But to hunt for a missing child in Cairo is
like hunting for a needle in a haystack, or for a lost
camel in the desert.
In the older part of the city, where Yusuf Ali
lived, there were hundreds of dark lanes and alleys
and stairways leading to still darker courtyards
and cellars, where one might get lost and not easily
find the way out again.
There has been so much evil and wrong-doing in
Egypt in past days that children of the better class
are watched and guarded most carefully, by their
mothers and nurses, from the time they are born
until they are grown up. But since the English
soldiers have been stationed in the country, there
is no more disorder in Cairo than in any other city

in the world, and the children are now quite safe
to come and go as they please.
It takes a long time, however, for people to get
over their ignorance and superstition. The
Egyptian women still tie charms around their
children's necks to drive away evil spirits, and little
boys are kept within the shelter of the harem until
they are old enough to go to school.
Because Yusuf Ali was a very rich merchant, it
was soon known throughout the length and breadth
of the city that his nephew had disappeared.
While the police and soldiers were looking in all the
streets and squares and public gardens, the servants
were spreading the tidings through the courtyards
and kitchens.
The sakkas, who carry on their shoulders jars
of water which they sell in the streets, heard about
the lost boy, and when they went back to the Nile
for more water they put their heads together and
talked it all over. They said that some evil spirit
had enticed the boy away, and they told each other
dreadful stories of genii who had snatched babies
from their mothers' arms, and carried boys down
with them into dark caves in the earth.
The servants, too, were sure it was the work of
the jinn, and they said from the first that no one
would ever see Hassan again.
All the next day Yusuf Ali walked up and down

the streets, searching the tiny shops of the bazaars.
It was a weary search. Everywhere there were
sights to remind him of the lost boy, but no sight
of the boy himself.
He wandered into the bazaar of the shoemakers,
and there lay great piles of the pretty red shoes
which the Arabs like to wear. Hassan had left
his shoes in the harem at home.
A boy came down the street with a tray of
sweetmeats, the very kind that Hassan liked to
nibble on his way to school.
In the tailors' stalls there were little red jackets
like the one he had bought for Hassan; and in all
the other stalls there was something that Hassan
would like to see, or something that he would like to
buy for Hassan.
Hardly had he left the bazaars when he heard
the murmur of children's voices, and there was a
public fountain with its school of little boys in a
room overhead.
It would be hard to tell what connection there is
between a public fountain and a little school for
boys; but everywhere in the streets of Cairo if
you find one you will surely find the other.
The fountains project from the walls of the
houses like big bay windows. They are gaily
painted and decorated with colored marble, and
each one contains a tank of fresh Nile water. This

tank is filled many times a day by a water-carrier,
who brings the water up from the river in a bag
made of pigskin or sheepskin.
In the tiny room over the fountain the pupils
sit cross-legged on the floor in front of their master,
chanting the chapters of the Koran or working out
sums on little tin slates.
Yusuf Ali climbed the steep stairs and looked in
at the open door. His heart ached at the sight.
How he wished that he might see Hassan there,
among the children on the floor, and hear the lad's
voice with the others.
They were all studying industriously. Each
boy held in his hand a wooden tablet on which the
lesson was written in strange Arabic letters, and he
swayed back and forth, back and forth, as he
repeated the words over and over in a curious
singsong chant.
The master shook his head when Yusuf Ali asked
about his nephew. No one had heard tidings of the
lost boy, he said.
So down again to the street went the merchant
to take up the weary search once more. In and
out he passed, through the winding chain of streets,
with their endless procession of horses, camels
and donkeys, men, women and children.
A story-teller held the attention of a group of
boys, but Hassan was not among them. There

were crowds around the jugglers, the snake-charmers,
and the street musicians; but not one
of them all had seen the missing boy.
So on and on he walked, and still on, until night-fall
sent him home at last.
And there at his own door stood a water-boy,
holding in his hand Hassan's blue tunic and the
little yellow shoes. He had found them, he said,
on the bank of the river beyond the bridge; but
there was no sign anywhere of the lad who had
slipped them off for a swim in the muddy water.
Yusuf Ali took the little bundle of clothing and
went up the stairs to the waiting, sorrowing aunt.
“Hassan is drowned,” he said. “We shall never
look upon his face again.”
But at that very moment a boat was skimming
up the Nile before a steady, rollicking wind that
filled the great white sail; and under an awning
on the deck sat the missing boy, enjoying a life of
sunshine and freedom, his books and study all

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AT the time Hassan was trampled on by the
camel he was so badly hurt that he had to lie still
in bed for many days. When the yardarm of the
dahabeah struck his head he was not so badly
hurt, but the blow drove away the memory of all
that had happened in the twelve years of his life.
The two Englishmen carried him into the cabin
and laid him on a couch as gently as his own father
would have done, and it was not very long before
he opened his eyes.
He looked up into the faces that were bending
over him, with a dazed look, and when the men
asked his name he shook his head. “I do not
know,” he said.
They asked other questions, — about his home,
his people, and what he was doing in Cairo; but
always he shook his head and answered: “I do
not know.”
At last one of the men reminded him that his
father and mother had gone to Mecca, but Hassan
seemed not to care. He had forgotten that he ever
had a father and mother.


Then the two men left him lying in the cabin
while they went on deck to consider what to do
with him.
“He is probably one of the beggar children of
Cairo. It will be a blessing to take him up the river
and give him something to eat,” said one, who was
the guest of the other. “You are such a generous
fellow, George,” he added, “that one more mouth
to feed will not trouble you at all.”
George, or Girghis Effendi as the sailors called
him, laughed good-naturedly. “These Egyptians
have taught me to be generous, old fellow,” he
said. “Wherever there is a Mohammedan, there
seems to be something for him to share with a
“We'll take this boy along with us, as you suggest,
and when he remembers where his home is,
one of the sailors shall land and take him back.
But I doubt if he was ever a beggar. He is too
plump and good-looking for that.”
So the boat, which had already left its moorings,
was allowed to continue on its course. It would be
a shame, the captain said, not to take advantage of
the good breeze, although the boat was a steam
dahabeah and not dependent upon the wind.
When Hassan finally slipped off the couch and
found his way on deck, he appeared perfectly well,
and not at all the kind of boy to lose his memory.

He ate his supper and walked about, and he seemed
to know how to put on the clothes they had found
for him; but he remembered not a word about his
home in the Fayoum, his visit to Cairo, or the boys
who had stolen his tunic.
“This is the strangest case I ever saw,” said
Girghis Effendi, after he had questioned the boy
again to no purpose.
The sailors, half a dozen dark-skinned Nubians,
gathered about the lad to see what they could do
with him.
“This river,” asked one of them, “this river
that makes the crops grow and keeps us alive, —
what is its name?”
“And these boats,” asked another, — pointing
to steamers filled with white-robed passengers,
feluccas loaded so heavily that they looked like
great moving haystacks, and lateen-sailed dahabeahs
like their own, — “these boats, where are
they going?”
But Hassan always shook his head. “I do not
know,” he repeated over and over.
“He is bewitched,” the sailors said at last, and
they moved away from him, fearful that he might
even bewitch them.
But the other Englishman, Major Bowker he
was called, laughed at their foolish notion. “The
boy had a blow on his head and it has taken away

his memory,” he said. “Some day it will come
back to him. In the meantime we will begin at the
beginning and teach him everything he ought to
“I have a young nephew back in England who is
just about your size,” said Girghis Effendi, looking
down into Hassan's face. “He would give all his
old cricket bats to have your chance of sailing up
the Nile.
“In the morning we will land near the ruins of
ancient Memphis, and you shall see the statues of
Rameses the Great, and the spot where the kings
of Egypt had their capital almost five thousand
years ago. That's far enough back for a beginning,
isn't it?”
Major Bowker was lying idly in his steamer chair,
watching the green banks of the river, with their
tall palms and fields of waving grain.
“If you are going in for illustrated lectures,”
he interrupted, “you ought to begin with the river
itself. The Nile was here, overflowing its banks
every year, long before the kings built their ancient
capital. The boy said he didn't even know the
name of the river.”
“That's all my nephew knows about Egypt, —
the name of the Nile River,” replied Girghis
Effendi. “I wish he were here now to go into this
boy's class. They would stand about even.”


“What are you going to call the boy?” questioned
the major. “It seems to me he deserves to
have a name.”
“Perhaps he can remember his own name now,”
suggested his host; “if he can't, why not let him
choose one for himself,” and he began repeating
all the Arabic names he could think of that are
common among the brown children of the Nile, —
Achmed, Oman, Yusuf, Omar, Abraham; but at
each one the boy shook his head.
“Try Abdallah,” put in Major Bowker.
“That's a good name.”
But Abdallah was not his name, of that the boy
was certain; neither was it Mehemet nor Selim.
“Perhaps it is Hassan,” suggested the major.
But at that moment a splendid steamer came in
sight on its way to Cairo, and the sailors on the
dahabeah ran forward, calling out: “The Rameses
the Great! There goes the Rameses the Great!”
“I believe everything in Egypt is named after
Rameses the Great,” exclaimed Girghis Effendi.
Hassan looked up at him with a smile, and his
face was very jolly and attractive in its brightness.
“Call me Rameses the Great,” he said suddenly.
Both the Englishmen shouted with laughter,
and the boy's face grew serious at once. He could
not understand why they laughed, but it seemed
as if they were making fun of him.


Girghis Effendi, as tender-hearted as a woman,
saw the look and put his arm around the boy,
drawing him to his side.
“You shall be little Rameses the Great,” he
said, “if you will always smile as you were smiling
then. Some day I will tell you about that other
Rameses and give you a look at his face, although
his soul was freed from his body nearly four thousand
years ago.”
“You will soon be teaching the lad to love you,
instead of teaching him the geography of his
country, as you should,” exclaimed the major.
“There isn't much geography to teach him,
here in Egypt,” replied his friend. “If the Nile
were to run dry there would be nothing left but
the desert, and he can see for himself all there is to
be said about the Nile.”
It was Major Bowker's turn to shake his head.
“If you neglect the boy's education, I shall take
him in hand myself,” he said firmly.
“Take the Nile, for instance,” he added, looking
over his glasses at Hassan; “it is a very remarkable
river. After the two great branches, the Blue Nile
and the White Nile, unite to form the main stream,”
(Major Bowker grew interested in his subject and
paid no attention to his audience), “the river has
only one tributary in its entire length. Instead, it
has to pay tribute. As it crosses the desert it is

constantly being drawn off by means of canals.
There are hundreds of these canals branching off to
east and west to water the valley on either side.”
“To say nothing of the wells and water-wheels,
and the women and boys with jars on their
heads who come down to the river every day for
water,” said Girghis Effendi.
“But come,” he added, as he saw a tired look
creeping into Hassan's eyes, “let the boy run
around on the deck and find out how the sailors
keep the boat off the sand-bars. He will learn more
about the Nile in that way than by listening to
your lecture.”
So Hassan slipped away and left the two men to
talk him over alone.
“You can be a father to him, and I'll try to fill
his mother's place,” Girghis Effendi proposed at
last; and so well did each one take his part, that
the boy was petted and indulged even more than
his own parents had petted and indulged him.

The date-palm, with its tall straight trunk and rough bark, is the most
useful tree in Egypt. Page 56
Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.

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“SLOWLY, Rameses Bey, slowly! Remember
that ‘fair and softly go far’ in the Arab's country.”
But Girghis Effendi had hardly shouted the
words of warning when Hassan, or little Rameses
Bey as the two Englishmen had begun to call him,
was pitched headlong over his donkey's ears into
the shallow water beside the causeway, over which
they were riding on their way to the ruins of
The boy crawled out of the pool and climbed up
the green slope, a grinning, bedraggled figure. The
donkey, red-saddled with a jingling bridle, was
waiting meekly enough for his rider, and Hassan
clambered into his seat and gave the beast a
resounding whack for tossing him into the water.
Then, while he waited for the others to come up,
he wriggled out of his wet tunic and spread it
across the donkey's back to dry.
“That donkey will toss you into every pool of
water we pass, if you try to make him trot so fast,”
Girghis Effendi told the boy, as they rode along
together. “He is probably used to carrying fat

old ladies over to see the ruins of Memphis and
Sakkara, and he doesn't like boys who are in a
“I just wanted to see how fast he could go,”
Hassan explained, and then, after a moment, he
asked: “What are we going to see to-day?”
“Ruins, child. Ruins of tombs and temples that
have been buried in the sand for three thousand
years and more.”
“Who buried them?” questioned the boy.
“It was the desert,” replied the man, “the
desert with its shifting sand.
“Six thousand years ago people were living here
beside the Nile, fishing and hunting and farming
just as men do now. They were ruled by kings,
rich and powerful men, who built magnificent
temples, and great stone pyramids and tombs
where their bodies might be buried when they
“Then the Egyptians were conquered by other
nations, and there were terrible wars in the land,
so that whole cities were destroyed and the temples
and tombs were left in ruins.
“Hundreds of years they stood here, and the
winds brought sand from the desert and covered
them over, just as the birds covered the babes in
the woods with leaves, until many of them were
lost and all forgotten.”


“Who found them and dug them out again?”
Hassan asked.
“Let me tell him that,” interrupted Major
Bowker. “You tell him everything. He will
begin to think I don't know any of this history.
“After a long time,” he said, turning to Hassan,
“there were other great kings in Egypt who wanted
to build cities, so they took the stones from the
ancient ruins and used them in their own tombs
and temples. Sometimes they found statues and
mummies and beautiful jewels, and they helped
themselves to anything they found.
“But still there were wonderful ruins hidden
deep under the drifting sands. Men in other
countries, France, England, and America, read
about these ancient cities in very, very old books.
They came here and hired laborers to dig away the
sand, and they found treasures which are priceless,
because they tell us how these ancient people
Girghis Effendi clapped his hands. “Bravo!”
he cried, “after this I shall leave all the lecturing
to you.”
There was no time for another lecture just then,
however, for they were riding through a splendid
grove of date-palms, and their guide came forward
to explain that this was the site of Memphis, one
of the capitals of ancient Egypt.


“Most of the stone used in the walls of the
famous city has been carried down the river to
Cairo to be used again in its palaces and mosques,”
he said. “Of all the wonderful buildings that
stood here centuries ago, not one stone remains
upon another; but over here is the enormous
statue of Rameses the Great,” and he led the way
to the spot where the huge figure lies on its back
under the trees.
“That is the king whose name you have chosen,
little Rameses Bey,” said Girghis Effendi, putting
his hand affectionately on the boy's shoulder.
“What do you think of him?”
“He must have been a great king if he was as
big as that,” replied Hassan, with a laugh.
“He was no larger than any other man,” said
Major Bowker; “but he liked to have people think
of him as a great man. He called himself ‘Lord of
the World,’ ‘Guardian of the Sun,’ and he once
said: ‘If any one would know how great I am,
let him try to excel my works.”’
“I can tell you something else about him,”
broke in Girghis Effendi. “In those days the
rulers of Egypt were called Pharaohs. This Rameses
the Great was the very Pharaoh who oppressed
the children of Israel, and it was his daughter who
found little Moses among the bulrushes on the
bank of the Nile.”


“And it was to please one of his little sons,”
added Major Bowker, “that the famous story of
‘Cinderella and the Glass Slipper’ was first told.
That was long, long ago, —”
“How long ago?” queried Hassan.
“I don't know exactly, more than three thousand
years, I should say,” replied the major. “But
although it was so long ago, Rameses the Great
will never be forgotten, for he set up statues of
himself all up and down the Nile, and he had his
picture drawn and his name carved everywhere.”
“Was he the greatest king of them all?” asked
the boy.
“He was the greatest taskmaster of them all,”
was the answer. “He forced the poor slaves and
fellaheen to build these monuments and temples
for his glory, and when they died by thousands of
starvation and disease, he sent for other thousands
to work until they died.”
Little Rameses Bey looked up at the colossal
figure of the great king. “I do not want his name,”
he said soberly. “My own name is better, if I
could only remember what it is.”
“Some day it will all come back to you in a
minute,” the major told him, and he jumped upon
his donkey's back, calling to the others to follow
him across the desert to Sakkara.

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A LITTLE village nestled at the foot of the trees
on the edge of the grove of date-palms. The houses
were huddled close together, their gray mud walls
cracked and broken, their window-holes staring
blankly at the desert.
Old men and women sat in the sun by the dusty
roadside, holding out their wrinkled hands for
alms. Dogs came out to bark at the strangers, and
a rabble of little children in bright-colored rags
danced along beside them, begging for baksheesh.
Girghis Effendi put his hand in his pocket and
pulled out a few coins which he tossed among the
crowd, laughing heartily at the way they scrambled
for them in the sand; but Major Bowker refused
to give them a single fuddah.
“It teaches the children bad habits,” he said,
“and the men ought to be at work earning a
Girghis Effendi laughed again good-naturedly.
He had laughed so much in his life that there were
little wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, and Hassan
often looked at them admiringly, hoping that he

should have some himself when he was a man. But
the major insisted on driving the beggars away,
and, after a little, the incessant chatter of their
voices grew fainter and fainter in the distance.
The donkeys picked their way along through the
fields, which were still watery from the flood of th
Nile. On the higher ground, where the water had
begun to recede, the new-springing wheat and
clover made bright patches of green on the black
Far away in the distant desert stood a great
pyramid which seemed to rise up out of the barren
“What is that?” questioned Hassan.
“That is the Step Pyramid,” the guide told him.
“It is the oldest stone monument in the history of
the world. It was built for the tomb of King Zoser,
who ruled over Egypt more than five thousand
years ago.
“Around it is Sakkara, the great burying-ground
for the people who lived in the ancient city of
Memphis, and their mummies still lie in beautiful
tombs under the sand.”
“There are mummies of cats and birds, too, in
some of the tombs,” added Girghis Effendi, “for
those old Egyptians worshipped animals and
buried them with great ceremony when they


“Why did they worship animals?” queried
“I don't know,” replied his friend. “It is hard
to understand what they saw in some of their
animals to worship. There was one village farther
up the Nile where the people worshipped a fish.
In the next village dogs were sacred, and the two
villages got into a dreadful quarrel because the
people of one killed the animals worshipped by
the other.”
“There was Crocodilopolis, too,” added the
major, “where the people worshipped crocodiles;
and all over Egypt cows and bulls were sacred.”
“Do you suppose their cows looked like ours?”
said Hassan, and he pointed to a cow with very
long horns that stood in the edge of the water,
switching her tail to drive off the flies.
“Yes,” replied Girghis Effendi; “they looked
exactly like our cows.”
“But how do you know, if it was so many thousand
years ago?”
“There are pictures on the walls of the tombs
that show just how everything looked in those
days,” the artist explained. “Here we are now at
the entrance to the great tomb where the sacred
bulls were buried, and you can see all these things
for yourself.”
Little Rameses Bey slipped off his donkey's

back, gathered up his long white tunic with one
hand, and in the other took the lighted candle
which the guide offered him.
He followed his two friends through the long
dark corridors, deep down into the earth, where
the flickering lights cast weird shadows on the
walls, and hundreds of bats circled round their
heads like ghosts.
He climbed the ladder and looked down into the
great room where once had lain the mummy of a
sacred bull; but when he came out again into the
light he looked up into the artist's face with
wondering eyes.
“Effendi,” he said, “I do not understand it
now. Why did the people worship animals?”
The man put his hand affectionately on the
boy's head. “You must remember,” he said,
“that all this happened two or three thousand
years before the birth of Christ, or of your prophet
Mohammed, and the people believed in gods and
goddesses. They thought that one of their gods
took the form of a bull, so they built a palace for
him near their temple. They fed the sacred beast
on wheaten broth with milk and honey-cakes; he
slept on a soft couch behind a beautiful curtain,
and when he died he was buried in one of these tombs.”
“Come,” interrupted Major Bowker, “it is time

to eat our lunch. Let us try to find a bit of shade
where we can rest our eyes from the glare of the
sun on the sand.”
“But there is the tomb of King Thyi—” began
Girghis Effendi.
“It must wait,” declared the major. “It has
waited five thousand years for me to come and take
a look at it; it can surely wait while I eat my
Little Rameses Bey was also glad of a chance to
rest. The sun blinded his eyes, and sometimes his
head felt tired and heavy. There were so many
things he wanted to remember, but when he tried
to think about them it made a red light dance
before his eyes.
He followed his two friends obediently all the
afternoon. He clambered down into the tombs, he
looked at the statues and paintings which they
pointed out, he listened to their stories and answered
their questions; but all the time he was
saying to himself: “What is my name, and how
shall I find my father and mother?”
Toward night the little party came again to the
village beside the Nile, where their boat was
moored. The sun was just dropping out of sight
beyond the rim of the desert, and the whole world
was flooded with a rosy light.
As the string of donkeys pattered through the

village street the muezzin came out on the terrace
beside the mosque. “Come to prayer!” he called.
“Come to prayer! Allah is great. Come to
Like a flash Rameses Bey slipped out of his saddle,
turned his face toward the east and knelt upon
the ground, murmuring softly the words of the
sunset prayer. When he rose again from his knees,
his face was shining with happiness.
“My father taught me to say the Moslem
prayers,” he said excitedly; “and there was a
little girl — beside a fountain — ”
Then swiftly the picture was gone from his
mind, and, try as hard as he would, he could
remember no more.

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GIRGHIS EFFENDI was an artist, and he liked the
sight of a great white sail far better than the smoke
of an engine. When he came on deck the next
morning and found a stiff breeze rattling the awning
and doing its best to shake out the sail, he looked
toward the date-palms of ancient Memphis and
shook his head.
“This breeze is better than tombs and hieroglyphics,”
he said. “We have seen enough of
Sakkara for the present. Let us move along up
the river and take a look at some of the ‘Benies.”’
“Beni” is the Arabic word for children, and
there are ever so many towns and villages scattered
along the banks of the Nile which have Beni for
their first name, as Beni-Samet, Beni-Ebeid, Beni-Ali,
Beni-Hassan, because they were settled by the
children of Samet or Ebeid or Ali or Hassan.
So up went the sail and off flew the boat before
a rollicking wind, while the three friends ate their
breakfast under the awning on the deck.
The hardest part of the boy's new life was this
curious manner of eating.


At home he always sat on the floor, or on a low
divan, and helped himself from the round tray
which was placed on a low stool in front of him.
There were no awkward knives and forks to trouble
him. Every one had a piece of bread for a plate,
and used a long-handled spoon to take the rice or
vegetables from the bowl in the center of the
tray. Meat was eaten daintily with the fingers,
and bits of bread were dipped into the soup.
How could he ever learn to sit in a straight chair
at a big round table and eat from a plate with a
knife and fork? There was the butter to spread on
the bread, and the milk to pour into the coffee,
and, as for the oranges, — they were impossible!
Surely these English people had strange ways.
While he was eating his breakfast there was no
time to think of anything else; but when they rose
from the table and Girghis Effendi stretched himself
out in his steamer chair, the boy curled himself
up on the deck beside his friend.
“You told the major,” he said, “that this
wind is better than hieroglyphics. What are
“They are pictures and signs to represent
words,” replied the artist. “In ancient times the
people did not have an alphabet like yours or mine,
so they wrote with pictures. They carved these
pictures on the stone walls and pillars of their

temples and tombs to tell the story of their
“When the ruins were discovered and the tombs
were opened, there were all these hieroglyphics on
the walls; but not a soul in the whole world could
read them. Men studied and studied, and worked
over them as if they were puzzles, as indeed they
were; but not one word could they read.
“At last, about one hundred years ago, some
soldiers found a wonderful stone in Rosetta, near
the mouth of the Nile. On one face of the stone
were hieroglyphics; just below, were the same
words carved in another language, and below that
they were carved again in Greek.
“There were plenty of men who could read
Greek, so here was the key to unlock the mystery,
just as if it had been made on purpose; and now
all the hieroglyphics can be read, thanks to the
Rosetta Stone.”
“Is that how you know that the ancient Egyptians
worshipped animals, — by reading hieroglyphics?”
questioned Hassan.
“No,” replied Girghis Effendi, “we know a
great deal about the lives of the people by looking
at pictures like those we saw yesterday in the tombs.
Don't you remember them?
“There were men building houses and boats,
hunters killing wild animals, farmers threshing

corn, and servants stuffing geese. Then there was
one picture of some little chickens coming out of a
hatching-stove, just as they come out of incubators
“Oh, yes, I remember them,” answered the boy;
“but they were funny-looking pictures, not half so
good as yours.”
Major Bowker gave a great shout of laughter.
“There, my friend,” he cried, clapping the artist
on the back, “there's true appreciation for you.
Get out your brushes and go to work. Why are
you idling away your time when you might be
making pictures for little Rameses Bey?”
Girghis Effendi looked down at the boy at his
feet. “I would paint a picture of you this very
day,” he said, “if we could find some clothes to fit
you; but that tunic screams all the time that it
belongs to some one else.”
Rameses Bey looked down at the loose folds of
the long white tunic that covered his sturdy figure.
“I had a blue tunic,” he said, “and some yellow
shoes —”
“Yes, and when you went in swimming the boys
stole them,” Major Bowker reminded him. “See
if you can't remember who gave them to you, or
how you happened to be down there by the river.”
Hassan shook his head sadly. “No,” he said,
“I can't remember anything about it,” and after

a minute he wandered away to the other side of the
The artist sent for his brushes and paints and
went to work on a picture of a group of black-robed
women carrying water-jars on their heads,
and Major Bowker stretched himself out in his
chair and opened a book.
So the days drifted idly by, — first one, and
then another, and another. They would have been
lonely days for Hassan if he had not found pleasure
in watching the pictures grow under the painter's
skillful brush, and in listening to the two men as
they talked of Egypt and of other lands where
they had travelled together.
The sailors still looked upon the boy with distrust.
They were Nubians, most of them, from
the south of Egypt, and they believed in all sorts
of witchcraft. They could not understand how it
was that this boy knew nothing of his former life,
and they were afraid of him. They looked at him
with quick, sidelong glances, and they talked about
him to one another; but they took good care not
to come too near him.
At last Girghis Effendi saw that the boy was
growing restless, and he tried to think of an excuse
for sending him on shore for an hour or two.
“Achmet!” he called, clapping his hands, and
in a moment the cook appeared on deck, rolling

his black eyes and grinning so that he showed two
rows of white teeth.
“Achmet,” said Girghis Effendi, “we need
some fresh milk.”
Achmet grinned again. What could the master
be thinking of? There was still a good supply of
condensed milk among his stores.
But the artist insisted that they must have some fresh
milk, and he sent Rameses Bey on shore to
get it.
“Don't come back until you have found a gallon
of sweet milk,” he charged the boy, putting ten
piasters in a tiny purse which Hassan hung around
his neck.
“Let me go with him,” urged the dragoman.
“He will never find any milk alone.”
“Yes, he will,” declared the major, “and it
will do him good to try.”

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“ALLAH help us!” the sailor chanted over and
over again, as he rowed Hassan ashore in a little
flat-bottomed boat. “Allah help us!” he repeated,
as he made the boat fast to a tumble-down, wooden
pier, and he turned his face away lest the boy should
cast upon him the spell of the Evil Eye.
But Hassan paid no attention to the sailor. He
made his way quickly across the fields and up the
steep bank toward the village on the edge of the
This desert, which covers almost the whole of
Egypt, is a part of the great desert of Sahara in
northern Africa.
The Nile River, flowing through it from south to
north, brings water and a rich mud from the mountains
at its source, and makes a fertile valley like
a green ribbon winding across the barren yellow
Sometimes the green banks are only two or three
feet wide, with a steep sandy bluff behind them;
sometimes they spread out for eight or ten miles

and are covered with broad fields of maize and
The desert is a vast wilderness. One can travel
across it for hours without seeing trees or flowers,
or beasts or birds, or so much as a little fly. But
in the oases, and all up and down the Nile, dotted
here and there in the green ribbon, are the towns
and little mud villages of the poor fellaheen, the
peasant folk of Egypt.
The village where Hassan went on shore to buy
some milk was set high up on a sandy bluff, close
to the edge of the river. As the boy climbed the
steep bank he heard the creaking of a water-wheel,
and he stopped for a moment to watch the water
pour out of the little pitchers into the narrow
Nearly every drop of water in Egypt is furnished
by the Nile. There is almost no rain, there is no
other river, and there are no brooks. All the water
used in the farms and villages must be raised out
of the river, and water-wheels and water-buckets
work hour after hour, day after day, to moisten
the parching soil.
The water-wheels, or sakiyehs as they are called,
are turned by a donkey, a buffalo, or even a camel,
which plods slowly round and round, turning a
great wheel.
This wheel lies at the top of a well which is dug

in the bank beside the river, and it turns a smaller
wheel on which hang earthen jars or pitchers. As
the pitchers dip down into the well they are filled
with water, and as they come up to the surface the
water pours out into a shallow ditch.
Then again there are the water-buckets, or
shadoofs, which are filled and emptied hundreds of
times each day by a poor fellah who works from
dawn to dark for a few fuddah. The man stands
on the river-bank, dips his bucket, which is hung
on the end of a long pole, into the water, raises
it and pours the water into a trough. If the bank is
steep, another man stands higher up and fills his
bucket in the trough, pouring it out again into a
shallow canal.
The creaking of the water-wheels and the mournful
chant of the shadoof laborers is the endless
song of the Nile.
And so it has been for hundreds, yes, for thousands
of years, — the great barren desert, the fertile
green valley, and the Nile water to moisten the
earth and give the people their food.
While Hassan stood watching the boy who was
driving the buffalo round and round in an endless
circle, a man came down the path carrying a load
of water-jars on his back. These jars are called
kullahs. A great quantity of them were already
stacked along the river-bank to be sent down to

Cairo and Alexandria, for in this village there were
deep beds of clay from which the jars are made.
“That is just what I need for carrying the milk,”
Hassan said to himself, and he hurried off to the
village to buy one.
In the courtyard of a house on the outskirts of
the town he caught sight of a potter at his wheel.
It was the house of the head man of the village,
and the sheik himself was seated on a bench in the
gateway, which was deep and wide and sheltered
from the heat of the sun. When he saw that the
boy was watching the potter, he motioned to him
to pass through the gate.
The potter sat on the ground in front of a rude,
old-fashioned machine with a foot-treadle. This
machine was set into a hole in the ground. As the
man worked the treadle with his foot, a wooden
disk whirled round and round before him, upon
which he deftly shaped the clay with his hands.
A boy about Hassan's age, whom the potter
called Oman, stood beside the man and kept him
supplied with clay. Whenever a jar was finished,
he took it away and put a piece of wet clay on the
wheel. The man had already made a dozen jars
which were drying in the sun.
“I would like to buy a kullah,” Hassan said,
when he saw the boy take a jar from the potter's


“Come with me,” replied Oman. “I am going
now to take these kullahs to the kiln to be baked.
There you will find plenty to your liking.”
Hassan picked up one of the wet jars and followed
Oman into another courtyard, where a man stood
in front of a kiln taking kullahs out of the great
oven. On the farther side of the yard, stacked up
against the wall, was a great pile of them, waiting
for their journey to the river.
“Look,” said Oman,” I will sell you one of these
good jars. My master, the sheik, will let you have
one very cheap.” Then he looked at Hassan with
his shrewd, black eyes, as if to guess how much the
lad would pay. “Eight piasters,” he said at last;
“you may have one for only eight piasters. It is
very cheap.”
But Hassan was his father's own son at a trade.
He gave a short quick laugh and turned away.
“No,” he said, “I do not care to buy a kullah today;
or, it may be I shall find one somewhere
The potter's boy selected a jar from the pile and
set it on one side. “That is for you,” he said;
“and as you will carry it away yourself, you may
have it for six piasters.”
Then he went back for more kullahs for the kiln,
and Hassan followed him to say that he would give
two piasters and no more.


So back and forth from the kiln to the potter's
wheel went the two boys, dickering over the price
of the kullah. At last Oman took a decided stand.
“You may have it for three piasters,” he said
firmly; “but not another fuddah can I take off.
If I do, my master will beat me.”
He said this looking Hassan straight in the eye,
although he knew perfectly well that the kullah
was worth only two piasters, and that he would put
the third coin in his own pocket.
But Hassan was satisfied with the price. He took
three coins from his purse and gave them to the
boy. Then he tucked the jar under his arm and
started off across the courtyard.
The sheik, who was still sitting in the gateway,
remembered that the lad had passed in empty-handed.
“Where did you get one of my kullahs?” he
asked; but before Hassan could reply Oman hurried
“I sold it to him for your profit, my master,” he
said, holding out the money, and neither Hassan
nor the sheik guessed that one piaster was hidden
in his other hand.
“Where are you going with your water-jar?”
asked the man, as he took the coins.
“I am going to buy fresh milk for my friend.”
“And who is your friend?”


“He is an artist,” the boy replied.” He is on
his way up the river in a dahabeah, and he paints
pictures. One week already have we been on the
water, and now he is hungry for fresh milk.”
When Hassan spoke of the dahabeah the sheik
guessed easily that the artist was a foreigner and
very rich, for only a rich man can afford to hire one
of these Nile boats.
“Oman,” he called, “take this jar and fill it
with milk.” Then, turning to Hassan, he added,
“Return to your friend and tell him that the sheik
of Beni-Hassan sends him both the jar and its
contents as a gift, and begs that he will share his
bread and salt at the hour of sunset.”
As he spoke he held out the two piasters and
Hassan slipped them into the purse without missing
the third coin, for the sheik's words had stirred a
new thought in his head.
As he went back to the river and was rowed
again to the boat, the name of the village said
itself over and over in his mind, — “Beni-Hassan,
Beni-Hassan,” until the boy said to himself at last;
“It is the name of some one I have known.”

“Giants of stone that have faced the East to greet the rising sun for
more than three thousand years.” Page 81
Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.

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“TWO things I wish to know and then I shall
feel peace in my heart, O Girghis Effendi.”
Hassan knelt beside the artist as he spoke, and
offered him a pipe and some tobacco for his after-dinner
smoke. As he took the pipe, Girghis Effendi
looked down into the boy's face with a tender smile
and answered: “Now, what can those two things
be, I wonder?”
Hassan raised his eyes to the cloudless sky and
said nothing for a few moments, while the Englishman
puffed silently at his pipe.
The two friends, man and boy, were sitting alone
among the ruins of the great temple at Karnak. It
was two days since Hassan's visit to the village
sheik, and the boat had been making quick time
up the river.
Sunrise had found them within sight of the
statues of Memnon, two colossal figures that have
faced the east to greet the rising sun for more than
three thousand years. There they sit, those giants
of stone, their immense hands resting meekly on
their knees, their sightless eyes gazing across the

desert toward the dawning of another day. Earthquakes
and floods have devastated the valley, great
armies have swept over the land, conquering heroes
have marched by to victory, and still they wait
upon their thrones, erect and silent.
After the glory of Memphis died away, Thebes
became the capital of ancient Egypt, — Golden
Thebes, with its splendid palaces and temples, its
statues and obelisks, its gems and precious stones.
Hundred-gated Thebes it was, a city of enormous
wealth, where for two thousand years the kings
of Egypt spent vast sums in building and beautifying
the temples. But in the past two thousand
years the glory of the city has faded away, and on
the site of ancient Thebes stand the modern towns
of Luxor and Karnak, guarding the ruins of the
famous city.
In the valley of the Nile there is little rain, no
frost, no ice nor snow. The sky is blue and cloudless,
and there is nothing but the ruthless hand of
an enemy to destroy the temples and tear down the
walls. Row upon row of enormous columns still
mark the halls and courts of the ancient buildings,
and many of the pictures and hieroglyphics are as
plain now as on the day they first were carved.
The ruins of Thebes are seldom deserted. Tourists
are brought there every day, by boat, by train,
or on the backs of donkeys; and there is a constant

On the enormous columns were carved pictures and hieroglyphics. Page 82
Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.

procession of sight-seers passing through the halls
and courts of the temples, and studying the drawings
on the columns.
While Hassan and his friend were eating their
lunch in the shade of one of these great columns,
a clumsy water-buffalo, stumbling about over the
stones and rubbish, had stopped to stare at them;
but now everything was still, except for the mournful
cry of a hoopoo, and the cooing of pigeons
that wheeled above their heads.
“What can your two wishes be?” repeated
Girghis Effendi.
For answer the boy pulled the little bag of
piasters from beneath his tunic. He poured the
coins out into the palm of his hand and arranged
them singly on the ground.
“Count them,” he commanded, quite as if the
artist were the servant and he the master.
Girghis Effendi counted them aloud in Arabic
to please the boy, — “Wâhid, itnein, talâteh,”
and so on up to nine.
“Yes,” he said, “there are nine piasters. And
what about them?”
“You gave me ten,” and Hassan looked earnestly
into the man's face. “One of them is missing.”
“What did you do with it? “ and Girghis Effendi
looked gravely back into Hassan's face.
“The potter's boy must have kept it, for now

that I wish to give it back to you, I have it not.
The potter's boy was a thief,” and Hassan nodded
his head emphatically. Then he swept the money
together and held it out in his hand.
The artist took the coins and slipped them into
his pocket. “It all seems very plain to me,” he
said. “What is it you wish to know?”
“I would like to know what will become of that
boy. It is not good to be a thief.”
Girghis Effendi laughed. “I can tell you what
will happen,” he said. “In a mosque in Cairo two
pillars stand close together, side by side; and it is
said that only an honest man can pass between
them. Some day your friend will try to squeeze
through the narrow space, and then all the world
will know he is a thief.”
“I wish I could see those two pillars,” said
Hassan eagerly. “I would make myself very small
to go between them.” And he jumped to his feet
and drew in his breath to show how small he could
really be.
The artist looked at him keenly. “Those
pillars are in the Mosque of Amru,” he said. “Did
you never go there with your father?” But in a
moment he was sorry he had asked the question,
for the old sad look crept into the boy's face, and it
was plain that he still had no memory of his life
in Cairo.


“Tell me, little Rameses Bey,” he added
quickly, “what was your second wish?”
“That was my second wish,” replied the boy;
“to know my other life and what it was like.”
“Patience, lad, patience,” said Girghis Effendi
cheerfully. “It will all come back to you some
day. The old Arab proverb tells us that Allah is
with the patient if they know how to wait. There
is nothing to hurry you. Are you not happy here
with me?”
“Effendi, yes,” Hassan answered.
“Some of the ancient Egyptians,” went on the
artist, “believed that every person was born with
a double, a kind of guardian angel, which they called
the Ka. When the Ka was freed from the body it
could go flying about all over the world, but it
must always come back again.
“You have a double, you see, and it has gone
off on a journey by itself. Some day it will return
and then you will know who you are.”
Hassan laughed. “Perhaps I am a prince,” he
said, “and my double is in the Khedive's palace
in Cairo.”
“If your father and mother have gone to Mecca,
perhaps your Ka has gone with them,” the artist
told him.
“Yes,” cried Hassan eagerly, “I did go with my
father. He was on the back of a camel, —” As

he spoke the vague memory of his ride down to the
Nile flitted through his mind, but it slipped away
just as he would have caught it.
Girghis Effendi nodded his head. “That's
right,” he said heartily. “You'll remember it all
some day. Now let's think of something else.
Here's a bundle for you to open.”
Hassan untied the strings with eager fingers.
“Ai hai! “he shouted, as he held up a red embroidered
caftan. Out of the caftan fell another
package, and when he unrolled it he shouted
again, for there was a blue tunic. Inside the tunic
was a turban, and inside the turban lay a pair of
red slippers.
“Try them on,” suggested the artist, when Has
san discovered the slippers; and in a moment the
boy was capering about in them, holding up one
foot and then the other to show the perfect fit.
“Where did you get them? “he asked, his eyes
shining with delight.
“Oh, the shops of Luxor are filled with many
pretty things,” answered his friend. “Did you
think they had nothing but scarabs for sale?”
The scarab is a black beetle that crawls out of
the mud after the flood of the river. In olden
times the Egyptians carved bits of bright-colored
stone in the shape of these beetles and used them
as talismans and charms.


They put these stone beetles in the tombs with
the mummies, and when the tombs were opened
many beautiful scarabs were found. Tourists in
Egypt like to buy antique scarabs to wear for
jewelry, but many of those which are offered for
sale are only cheap imitations made by the dozen
in England.
“I need no scarab charm,” sang little Rameses
Bey, hopping about in the courtyard of the ancient
temple. Over and over he sang it, as the brown
children of the Nile have a way of doing when they
are happy. “I need no scarab charm. I have
shoes and a tunic, a turban and caftan. I need no
scarab to keep me from harm!”
So loud was his rejoicing that the old water
buffalo shook his horns and shambled off toward
the river, and a pretty water-girl peeped into the
court to see what the noise was all about. She wore
silver bands around her ankles, silver bracelets on
her wrists, and a string of gold coins about her
“She is just like all the rest of these Egyptian
girls,” murmured Girghis Effendi. “Rings on her
fingers, bells on her toes; she shall have music
wherever she goes!” But he painted a picture of
the girl and the boy and sent it home to his nephew
in England.

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IT was three weeks from the day the dahabeah
left Cairo before it reached Assuan, more than
five hundred miles away, for Girghis Effendi liked
to sail slowly up the river, stopping here and there
to paint a picture or to visit some of the famous
Assuan lies at the southern boundary of Egypt.
The Nile flows across the country from Assuan to
the Mediterranean Sea; but this is only a part of
the great river, which is over four thousand
miles long and comes down from the mountains of
Abyssinia, across the Sudan and Nubia, to moisten
the desert sands of Egypt.
One morning, as they were sailing quietly along
under the shadow of a steep cliff, the creaking of a
water-wheel attracted the artist's attention.
It occurred to him that little Rameses Bey,
sitting astride the buffalo and driving it round and
round, would make a good picture. He ordered
the captain to stop the boat, and with the help of
some of the sailors his sketching materials were
carried to the top of the cliff.


The little fellah, who had been sitting on the
back of the patient animal for many weary hours,
was only too glad to jump down and let Hassan
take his place, and Hassan was just as glad to
have a ride.
Round and round went the buffalo, and round
and round went the great wheel, bringing up the
dripping jars of water from the well. Some of
them were cracked or broken, and leaked so badly
that by the time they reached the surface they were
almost empty.
The rickety wheels creaked dismally, and the
cogs rattled as they slipped in and out. Hassan
clung tightly to the hungry-looking beast, and the
artist worked swiftly and silently.
“It is a slow way of watering the fields,” said
Hassan, when at last Girghis Effendi declared that
he had drawn everything but the squeak in the
“It is the way the fields have been watered for
thousands of years,” the artist answered. “In the
days of Rameses the Great, and even before, the
water-wheels were creaking and the shadoof
laborers were singing all up and down the Nile.”
As he spoke, the artist lifted Hassan off the back
of the buffalo and gathered up his paints and
brushes. Then he gave the little fellah a piaster
and left him grinning with delight over his good

fortune, as he rode round and round again on his
endless journey.
“I should think some one would find a better
way of watering the fields,” said Hassan, when
they were on the deck of the dahabeah once more.
“All sorts of ways have been tried,” replied
Girghis Effendi; “but the old way seems to be the
best. During the last century, however, the
government has begun to irrigate the land on an
enormous scale. Three great dams have been built
at different places along the Nile, and the water is
held back in reservoirs to be used during the summer
when everything seems to be drying up.”
“We saw one of the dams at Assiout, didn't
we?” asked the boy.
“Yes, and there is one at Cairo, too; but the
largest barrage of the three is at Assuan,” Girghis
Effendi answered. “It is one of the many good
things which the English have done for Egypt.”
“Tell me about it,” begged Hassan, who was
always ready for a story.
“Ask Major Bowker to tell you,” replied the
artist. “He knows more about it than I do, and
besides, I must finish this picture before the light
So Major Bowker closed his book and told little
Rameses Bey the story of old Father Nile.
“Long ago,” he said, “the people of Egypt believed

in gods, and they thought that the yearly
flood of their great life-giving river was caused by
the tears of the goddess Isis weeping for Osiris;
but now we know that it is the spring rains and the
melting snows in the mountains of Abyssinia.”
“The old explanation was much better,” murmured
the artist.
“In July,” the major went on,” the water begins
to pour down the river in a great freshet, and it
floods the whole valley. In September the river
is at its height, and all the canals are filled to overflowing.
“Then the water slowly recedes and the river
grows lower and lower. In February the canals are
dry, and sand-bars appear in the river-bed, and in
June the whole country seems to have dried up.
Then in July the freshet begins again, and so it has
gone on for thousands of years.”
“I have seen the river at its height,” said Hassan.
“There was a man who came running up to tell
us, and there were boats and camels,” — but he
could remember nothing more.
“Father Nile has always ruled Egypt, no matter
what king sat upon the throne,” the major continued
“It has always been the great ambition
of the kings to conquer the Nile, and even in the
last century they kept the poor fellaheen hard at
work to hold back the floods.”


“What did they do?” questioned Hassan, when
Major Bowker stopped as if his story were ended.
“Sixty days at High Nile the fellaheen had to
strengthen the dykes and embankments. Sixty
days at Low Nile they had to dig the mud out of
the canals and ditches, and all this work had to
be done for nothing.”
“For nothing!” repeated Hassan. “Didn't
they get any pay at all?”
“No,” replied the major,” they had to work one
hundred and twenty days in every year without a
single fuddah of pay; and besides that, they often
had to go a long way from home and supply their
own food and tools.
“It was called forced labor, and it was a cruel,
cruel system. That was the way all these wonderful
temples and tombs and pyramids were built,
and the way the Suez Canal was dug; but the
English have changed all that now. There is no
more forced labor in Egypt. There are no more
unjust taxes, and the great dam at Assuan has at
last conquered the Nile.”
“I don't understand about the dam,” said Hassan.
“Do you suppose we shall see it when we are
in Assuan?”
“Oh, yes,” the major told him. “It is the
biggest thing in Assuan, and about the biggest
thing in Egypt. It is a mile and a quarter long,

and is built of blocks of rose-granite taken from the
very same quarries that the stones were taken from
to build the walls and temples of ancient Thebes.
“When the Nile begins to rise, the water is
red with mud, which is brought down from the
mountains three thousand miles away. Then
the sluice-gates of the dam stand wide open to
allow this flood to cover the valley and deposit the
mud on the sand.
“In December, when the water is clear and
green, the gates are closed, and the flood is held
back so that it forms a great lake. Then at Low
Nile the gates are slowly opened and the water
flows down to keep the soil moist and fertile. In
this way crops can be grown all the year round, and
there are no more years of famine in Egypt.”
Hassan looked into the faces of his two friends.
“Did the English do all that for my country? “he
“All that and much more,” replied Girghis
Effendi. “And now I'll tell you what two Englishmen
are going to do for you. They are going to
take you to Assuan to see the great dam, and the
cataracts in the river, and the camel caravans that
come from Central Africa with loads of ivory and
“And we'll see Elephantine Island,” added
Major Bowker. “Don't forget to mention that.”


“Will we see any elephants?” questioned Hassan
“No,” replied the artist, “there are no elephants
in Egypt now; but we will see the island
where they used to live, and then—”
“And then —” repeated Hassan.
“And then we'll go back to Karnak and hire
some camels, and well ride off across the desert to
the Oasis of Kharga. After this long ride on the
ship of the river, it will be good fun to travel on the
ship of the desert.”

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IT was a mirage in the desert that brought back
Hassan's memory, — a vision of water with date-palms
growing beside it, and pigeon towers reflected
in its clear, cool depths.
Four days' camel-march from Karnak lies the
Oasis of Kharga, and it was this oasis which
Girghis Effendi wished to visit. So they turned
back from Assuan, where they stayed only two or
three days, and sailed swiftly down the river with
the current to Karnak. There they left the dahabeah
and hired a small train of camels for the
journey across the desert.
The Arabs have a saying that “the camel is the
greatest of all the blessings of Allah;” and so it
must seem to the desert-dwellers.
The camel is their horse, their cow, and their
freight train. It gives them milk and meat. The
hair is twisted into ropes and woven into tent-coverings
and soft warm shawls. The hide is cured
for leather, and even the bones are used for various
tools and utensils.
Everything about the camel shows how he is

fitted for a life in the desert. His long neck enables
him to reach out for the thorny desert shrubs, and
his mouth is hard so that he can eat them. His
nostrils are large, and he can take deep breaths of
the thin desert air; but in a windstorm they can
be closed to keep out the sand.
The camel's eyes are protected from the noonday
glare by overhanging lids, and the cushions on
his feet make easy travelling in the sand. His
arched back enables him to carry heavy loads, and
the water reservoirs in his stomach make it possible
for him to travel four or five days without fresh
There were nine camels in the caravan which set
out for the Oasis of Kharga. One carried tents and
bedding, two carried food, water, and cooking
utensils. One was loaded with beans and straw,
and another with bundles of dry twigs for the fire.
Then there were four camels for the travellers
and their guide; and with the camel-drivers and
their boys, the cook, and two or three servants,
all of whom trotted along on foot, they made a
long procession as they rode out of the village into
the desert.
Hassan watched the preparations for the journey
with great interest, and as he climbed into his
saddle something stirred again in his memory.
“I have ridden like this before,” he said to himself,

as he swayed gently back and forth with the
motion of the beast. It was a young camel, and it
was red-brown like the one his father had bought
of the Bedouin trader; but the memory of the little
red camel in the Fayoum flitted away as he would
have caught it.
It was the first time that the two Englishmen
had ever ridden on the back of a camel, and they
looked at Hassan in amazement. He was quite at
home in the saddle, and seemed to ride easily and
“I believe that the boy is the son of a rich merchant,”
Major Bowker told his friend. “He rides
as if he were accustomed to it.”
A gray mist hung over the valley in the early
morning, but as the sun rose the fog burned away
and revealed a clear sky, — blue and cloudless.
In less than half an hour the caravan had left
the fertile valley and was out in the desert, — out
in a new world, a world of sand.
Hour after hour they rode slowly along, while the
sun rose higher and higher, the still air grew hotter
and hotter. Mile after mile the camels plodded on
through the barren waste of sand.
Hassan's eyes began to ache with the glare of the
sun and he closed them wearily. When he opened
them again, there was the same vast expanse of
sand. Sometimes it was piled up in low ridges, or

in little round hills. Sometimes there were rocky
slopes or steep gullies.
Here the sand had been blown up into long waves,
there it was marked with ripples like those in a
river or in drifting snow; but always there was
sand, — nothing but sand, — burning, blinding,
glaring sand!
At noon the camels were halted and their riders
ate a light lunch, still sitting in their saddles;
and then on and on they went through the vast
The Bedouins sang as they trudged along, a low,
moaning song, repeating over and over the name of
“Allah, Allah, Allah!”
The two Englishmen spoke now and then of their
discomfort; they faced one way and then another,
trying to find a softer spot in their saddles. Girghis
Effendi declared that his back was broken, and
Major Bowker replied that his legs were completely
Hassan's head began to ache, and he longed to
jump down and run along beside his camel. He
drooped in his saddle and his hands held the
reins loosely. And still the desert stretched out on
every side, and as far as he could see there was no
end to the journey.
At last the sun dropped down to touch the rim
of the desert, the sky was all ablaze with crimson

and orange, and the light was reflected on the
sand until the whole world seemed to be on fire.
In the shelter of a long low ridge the Bedouin
camel-drivers made their camp for the night, and
the weary riders slipped out of their saddles and
walked about to rest their aching limbs.
Bundles of chopped straw and bags of beans were
spread out on the ground, and the camels crouched
around in a circle, munching the dry fodder. As
there is no grass in Egypt, there is, of course, no
hay; but the camels seemed contented with their
supper of beans and straw.
One of the boys built a fire with a bundle of dry
twigs, and the cook made coffee and heated some
As soon as they had finished eating their supper,
Hassan wrapped himself up in a blanket and lay
down on the ground. It was cold, and a light
breeze swept over the sand. It was dark, too, and
still, — oh, so very still! He could almost hear his
own heart beating as he lay there looking up at the
star-spangled sky.
In a little while he fell asleep. Towards midnight
he was wakened by the wild cry of a jackal
and the soft footfalls of a fleeing gazelle; but he
was asleep again in a moment and did not stir
until the east was red with the dawn of a new day.
Almost before it was light a little fire was blazing

merrily on the sand, the cook was making coffee,
and the camels were being fed. In less than an
hour after sunrise the whole caravan was ready for
another day's journey toward the distant oasis, —
another day of sand and sun and silence.
They rode again for hours over the glaring sand,
until at last the desert swam before their eyes in a
blur of golden light.
Suddenly Hassan rose up in his saddle and
pointed toward a distant diadem of hills.
“Effendi,” he shouted, “it is the Fayoum! I
can see the canal and the grove of date-palms. I
can see my father's house and the tall pigeon towers
beyond the courtyard. Effendi, look; it is the
Bahr Yusuf shining in the sun!”
Major Bowker looked where Hassan pointed.
“It is a mirage,” he said wearily, “nothing but
a mirage. There isn't a drop of water for fifty
But the artist rode quickly to the boy's side. He,
too, saw a vision of the oasis of roses. It was the
month of Ramadan and he was dining in the house
of a Moslem who had a son, a boy whom he dearly
“Yes, yes,” he said eagerly, “your home is in
the Fayoum, and you are the son of Ibrahim Ali.
Your name is Hassan and you have a little


“Amina!” cried the boy, and he burst into a
flood of tears.
They calmed him and questioned him, and it all
came back quite clearly. He remembered everything,
— his home in the Fayoum, his uncle's
house in Cairo, his lessons in El-Azhar, even his
swim in the Nile River.
When he had told the whole story, Girghis
Effendi called for the leader of the caravan and
made plans for the return journey. “We will turn
back at once,” he said. “We can reach Karnak
to-morrow in time to take the night train for
Cairo; and then, before another sunset, you will be
once more in your uncle's house.”

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“IF I had Aladdin's lamp, I would rub it hard
and make a wish to see my father and mother,”
Hassan told Girghis Effendi, as they finished their
breakfast in the train the next morning.
“And if you had Aladdin's magic carpet, I suppose
you would fly off to Mecca to meet them,”
suggested the artist.
“Effendi, yes,” replied the boy earnestly. “I
would fly and fly until I found them. Then I
would tell my father how good you have been to
me, and I would beg him to let me go to the English
schools in Cairo, so that I could learn to help my
country the way the English people have helped
“We'll see what your father says about the English
schools when he comes back to Cairo,” said
Girghis Effendi; “but just now you must be
thinking about this ride we are having together.
Aladdin would have thought the boats that go
steaming up the Nile and the trains that go whizzing
across the desert were just as wonderful as his
magic carpet.”

Page 103
Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.


“I never rode in a railway train but once before,”
said Hassan. “That was when I went to
Cairo with my father.”
“And now you are going to Cairo with me, and
when Major Bowker gets there, and you have had
a good visit with your uncle, perhaps you can go
sight-seeing with us again. I want to see Sakkara
once more; and then there are the pyramids and
the Sphinx. We must surely see them again before
the major goes back to England.”
Hassan looked up quickly. “You will not go
back to England, will you?” he begged. “Effendi,
surely you will wait until my father comes home
from Mecca. I can never go to school again and
sit all day on the floor studying the Koran.”
“Cheer up, Rameses Bey,” said the artist gaily.
“There are all sorts of good times ahead of you.
Look, there are some cranes. Cross your fingers
and wish that they may fly away with all your
bad luck.” He pointed, as he spoke, to a flock of
long-legged birds that were wading in the shallow
water on the edge of the river, and as the train
whizzed them out of sight Hassan made a motion
of tossing his bad luck back to them.
“There,” he said with a laugh, “that's the end
of losing my clothes and forgetting my name and
worrying my aunt and uncle. Now I'm going to
wish that you will live in Egypt forever.”


“I shouldn't want to live here forever if I had to
travel in these trains very often,” replied his
friend, brushing off the powdery sand that sifted
into the car, even though the doors and ventilators
and the two sets of windows were all tightly closed.
“In England we could travel with our windows
open and not get half so much dust as this.”
“Tell me about England,” Hassan urged.”
“I'm afraid you wouldn't like it very well,” the
artist told him. “You would miss the cloudless
sky, and the golden sunshine, and the happy out-of-door
life; but you might like to see a snow-storm.
“In the north of England it sometimes snows for
hours at a time. The wind blows the snowflakes
into great drifts, just as it blows the sand in the
desert, and there are pretty wave-marks in the
snow like those we saw in the sand.”
“Does the snow drift over the tracks the way the
sand does?” questioned Hassan, as they passed
a gang of laborers who were working with shovels
and baskets to clear away a deep sand-drift from
the track.
“The sand is much worse than the snow,” replied
Girghis Effendi. “It is easy enough to lay
railroad tracks here in Egypt; but it takes hundreds
of men, working all the time, to keep them


“It is winter in England now,” he added,
“and there they are having ice and snow and cold
gray skies, while here the air is filled with the
sweetness of spring.”
“Do you see those women over there in that
green field?” questioned Hassan, pointing to some
girls who were jumping up and down and waving
their arms.
“Yes,” replied the artist, “what do you suppose
they are doing?”
“They are screaming to frighten the pigeons
away from the young millet. I have often seen
them doing it in my father's fields at home,” said
the boy, and a sad look came into his eyes as he
thought how long it would be before they would all
be together again, back in the Fayoum.
But railway trains in Egypt reach their journey's
end just as surely as did the magic carpet in the
days of Aladdin, and toward night Hassan was
standing with Girghis Effendi in front of his
uncle's green and red door.
“Cheer up, Rameses Bey,” whispered Girghis
Effendi again. “They will be so glad to see you
that they will forget to scold you for running
Then the door opened, and the black porter,
who had let Hassan in with his father, let him in
again. But this time he lifted up his voice in a

great shout: — “Ibrahim Ali! Master! O, Ibrahim
Ali! Come and see your son. He is alive.
Come, Ibrahim Ali!”
Girghis Effendi and Hassan looked at each other
in amazement. What could the man mean?
Ibrahim Ali had gone to Mecca and would not
return for many weeks.
But they followed the servant through the long
corridor to the courtyard, and there, sure enough,
stood Ibrahim Ali beside his brother Yusuf. And
as the porter sent up his great shout again, down
the stairs from the harem scampered Amina, and
behind her came the pretty girl-mother and the
lame aunt, all three hurriedly catching up a corner
of their robes to hide their faces, but looking with
eager eyes to see the meaning of the outcry.
Then there was great rejoicing in the courtyard,
for Egyptian hearts are just like other hearts all
the world over. Everyone talked at once. Hassan
told about his swim in the Nile and the blow on his
head, and Girghis Effendi told how the mirage in
the desert had brought back the boy's memory.
Yusuf Ali told how he had searched the city,
and how the water-boy had brought back the shoes
and tunic; and Ibrahim Ali told how a messenger
had come from Cairo to tell him of the loss of his
son, and how he had given up his pilgrimage and
turned back at once.


“It was only yesterday that we reached Cairo,”
Hassan's mother told him. “It was a sad, sad
journey. Your father was broken-hearted and
little Amina wept until she was ill.”
At last Ibrahim Ali drew Hassan to his side and
held him close while he turned to thank the Englishman
for all that he had done for the boy. But at
that moment there came through the still evening
air the muezzin's nightfall call to prayer, and
immediately all the faces were turned toward
Mecca and all the hearts sent up a prayer of
thanksgiving, while the lips murmured: “Allah is
good! Allah is great! There is no god but Allah!”
While the heads were bowed in prayer, Girghis
Effendi slipped quietly away, leaving the happy
family alone to rejoice over the new-found son.
He came again, however, the next day and the
next, to see little Rameses Bey, and he had a long
talk with Ibrahim Ali about the boy's education.
But when he came on the third day it was to
say that Major Bowker had just received a telegram
calling him back to England.
“He starts to-morrow, and I shall go with him,”
the artist said. When he saw the look of disappointment
on Hassan's face, he added quickly:
“To-day we will all go to see the pyramids together,
and we'll have such a good time that you
will forget to think of missing me.”


And Hassan did have a good time, — such a
good time! How could he help it with the four
men all doing their best to make him happy?
They walked across the city together, stopping
to buy dates and oranges and roses from the
street venders. They crossed the great Nile bridge,
and they found seats together in the electric tram
which was waiting to take passengers to the
It was a glorious day of golden sunshine, and the
spreading acacia trees that lined the roadway
arched overhead to make a pleasant shade. The
fields on either side, which had been flooded at
High Nile, were already green with wheat and
clover, and the road was filled with a procession
of donkeys and camels, carriages and automobiles,
men and women.
They passed a boy with a flock of turkeys, a
man driving a herd of goats into the city to be
milked, and a shepherd guiding his flock and
carrying a tired lamb on his shoulders.
Then, suddenly, between the trees, they caught a
glimpse of three of the pyramids, and in a moment
everything else was forgotten, for of all the wonders
of the world none are more wonderful than these
hand-made mountains of stone.
There are seventy-six pyramids in Egypt; but
the most famous of them all are the Pyramids of

“Spreading acacia trees line the roadway.” Page 108
Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.

Gizeh. They stand on a broad shelf of the desert,
only eight miles from Cairo, three great tombs of
three great kings who lived and died more than
five thousand years ago.
Hassan clambered to the top of the largest
pyramid, the one that was built by Cheops nearly
four thousand years before the birth of Christ,
and Girghis Effendi went along with him while
the others wandered about in the ruins of an
ancient temple.
Then, after they had eaten their lunch, it was
the artist who led the way to the Sphinx, that
enormous figure with a man's head and a lion's
body, which has lain half-buried in the golden
sand longer than any man can tell.
As Hassan stood looking at the calm, majestic
face, the artist climbed up to lay his rose before
the Sphinx.
“It is said that Joseph and Mary halted here
on their flight into Egypt,” he told the boy, “and
that Mary laid the little Child Jesus down to sleep
between the great stone paws. Even then the
Sphinx was so old that no one knew its story. It
had been here for centuries when the pyramids
were built. In all ages men have come to question
its mystery; but no one has ever yet received an
“I asked the Sphinx a question, but I am

afraid it will be a long time before I know the
answer,” said Hassan, as they went back to join
the others.
“What was your question?”
“I asked if you would surely come back to
Egypt,” replied the boy.
For answer Girghis Effendi beckoned to a
pretty girl who had just come up with a kullah of
water. Taking the brimming cup from her hand,
he held it high above his head.
“What is your proverb, little Rameses Bey?”
he asked.
Then he raised the cup to his lips and drank the
sweet cool water, while a smile of happiness broke
over Hassan's face as he repeated aloud the old
Arab proverb, “He who drinks Nile water will

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Date: (unknown) (Electronic edition revised September 2007) . Author: McDonald, Etta Austin Blaisdell, 1872-Dalrymple, Julia (Electronic edition revised LMS).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons attribution license.