previous next

Life in Egypt.

[From the London Saturday Reviews.] "Some persons," said Madame Andouard in her preface, "affirm that the torch of civilization has been kindled in Egypt; that the country is making rapid progress, while the other provinces of Turkey remain stationary. It is affirmed that the present Viceroy, educated in Paris, devotes himself to eradicating whatever of barbarism lingers in the country, and that he has replaced the caprices of despotism by a wise and enlightened liberty." Fifteen months of inquiry on the spot have led Madame Andouard to a different conclusion. The present volume embodies the data on which her conclusion rests, and illustrates it by a profusion of examples. Some of the stories of Mohammed Ali's family are worthy of the grimiest personages in The Thousand and One Nights, and about as valuable in an historical point of view. The Pacha's daughter, the Princess Nesle-Hanen, was a second Marguerite de Burgoyne. She was married to a Turkish commissioner, a monster of cruelty.

One day Mohammed. Ali hinted to his daughter that he never felt quite at ease with her husband. That evening the Bey's coffee was presented to him by the Princess, his wife. Coffee does not always agree with the relatives of Eastern potentates; and Nesle-Hanen sought to solace her widowhood by a systematic course of intrigues. Her emissaries frequented the cafes. When a candidate for introduction had been found, he was desired to present himself at a certain gate of the palace at a certain hour. There he was received by an eunuch of the harem; his eyes were bandaged and he was conducted to the presence.--For a week Nesle-Hanen was the most amiable hostess. On the eighth day, "My husband is coming home," she would say; "we must part; but when he is again absent I shall take care that you return." The visitor's eyes were again bandaged. When the Princess was residing at her palace on the Nile he was conducted to a door opening on the river, and sped forward with a gentle push. At another of the royal seats the Khalig canal took the place of the Nile. At the palace in the Moskee the same useful office was performed by a cistern.

These frequent disappearances at last began to be talked of, and a young Italian determined to break the spell. He went assiduously to the cafe where the ominous invitations were known to be dispensed. One evening a eunuch of the harem seated himself near the young stranger and began to smoke. "I know a fair young lady who is not indifferent to you," he began, "and if you wish, I can manage the introduction." "I shall be delighted, if she is so good looking," replied the Italian; "only I can't come this evening. Will you take me tomorrow?" "Yes; be at the door about seven o'clock, and when I past, follow without speaking."

Next day the young man kept his appointment. He had not long to wait, and when he had followed his guide into a lonely street, he submitted to his eyes being bandaged. After a long walk they entered a house and ascended a staircase. The bandage was removed from his eyes in a brilliantly-lighted room, richly furnished in the Eastern style. A lady, neither young nor beautiful, but admirably dressed, reclined on a divan, playing with a chaplet of coral and diamonds; a slave fanned her with a bunch of ostrich feathers. The Italian received a sign to approach and seat himself on a cushion at her feet. The lady's conversation was enchanting, and with a hostess who did the honors so graciously a week passed away. At the end of that time, "We must part, my beloved," she said, "my husband is about to return; we should be lost." "Madame," replied her guest, "I trust that your husband has no intention of returning, inasmuch as you are the Princess Nesle-Hanen, and have been a widow for some years." The lady made a slight negative gesture.

"Believe me, Madam," he continued, " I know who you are, and I know also the fate that waited me if I had not taken my precautions. Your domestics would conduct me to a small door opening on the Nile, and assist me with a slight push," "And pray, Monsieur, what precautions have you taken?" "Mon Dieu! Madam, they are simple. Instead of following your emissary at once, I arranged to come the next day. Meanwhile I had an interview with my consul. When your retainer came to seek me, two steps from us was a person from the consulate. He followed us; he therefore knows that I am here. My consul is accordingly forewarned." If to-day he does not see me again, he will know that I have suffered the doom of your lovers. He will address himself to his Highness the Viceroy. You perceive the scandal that must ensue. Rumor suspects you of numerous crimes. Suspicion will then give place to certainty." The Princess was thunderstruck. Recovering a she implored him to be discreet. The Italian took his leave, and arrived without accident in the street, where he found a "cavis" from the consulate awaiting him and already uneasy. It is needless to say that he scrupulously disregarded the parting request of his amiable hostess.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Turquie (Turkey) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Nesle (2)
Andouard (2)
Italian (1)
Dieu (1)
Marguerite Burgoyne (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
8th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: