They now entered the town, stunned by the noise and offended by the crowds. Instruction had not yet so prevailed over habit but that they wondered to see themselves pass undistinguished along the streets, and met by the lowest of the people without reverence or notice. The Princess could not at first bear the thought of being levelled with the vulgar, and for some time continued in her chamber, where she was served by her favourite Pekuah, as in the palace of the valley.
“Who is the Magician who pursues you?”
During the late military operations, or “police measures,” grave apprehensions for the safety of the Baulac Museum arose, but fortunately it escaped the violence of the mob. The greater part of one day was occupied by a visit with my familiar Ibrahim to the mosques of note, the citadel, tombs of the Caliphs and Mamelukes. Another day I got a companion from the hotel to accompany me to the petrified forest, some miles out in the desert. It covers an area of about 15 miles. All this space is pretty thickly strewed over with what appears to be trunks and branches of trees. I took hold of what appeared exactly like the wooden branch of a tree, and so it had once been, but for ages it had lain here, a solid piece of very hard stone. The place is an absolutely desolate one in the desert, with not a sign of vegetation in sight. Whether these had been washed here during the flood or had once grown in the neighbourhood or not, or how they came there, I never could ascertain, although I have sought for information on the subject in all directions. No one seems to be able to tell me anything about the origin of this petrified forest, and I have not hitherto found a book containing any allusion to it. We returned to Cairo by the Mokhottam hills behind the citadel somewhat late in the afternoon, consequently had to urge on our donkeys so that we should see Cairo by sunset. We were here just in time to do so, as there is scarcely any twilight in the East; the transition from day to night does not occupy very many minutes. The picturesque panorama that opened out to our view well repaid us for our trouble. There before and beneath us lay Cairo with its innumerable mosques and minarets, the Nile with the peculiar Nile boats called dahabeahs floating peacefully on its surface. Here and there the stately camel strides silently on, veiled women and turbaned Arabs in loose flowing robes, groves of palm trees, while nearer to us we see the half-ruined tombs of the Caliphs and Mamelukes, the citadel and the beautiful mosque of Mehemet Ali full of carved columns of alabaster. To the late burning heat which we encountered in the desert succeeds a soft, balmy, dry air, and the beautiful and varied hues of the setting sun is reflected from the glittering mosques and minarets, rocks and sands, presenting a picture which will not soon fade from my memory, and which requires the poetry, eloquence, and pen of a Byron to adequately describe. In striking contrast to the beautiful scene we had just enjoyed was the wretched-looking houses of the Arabs, the squalor, dirt and miserable pathways on the hill-side which we encountered immediately afterwards as we pursued our homeward journey.详情 ➢
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