William H. Seward's Travels around the World

By William Henry Seward; Olive Risley Seward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.
LAST DAYS IN EGYPT.

The Vice-Consul's Harem.--Kenneh and its Pottery.--The Sugar of Egypt.--Memphis.-- Its Ruins.--The Downfall of Idolaters.--Again at Cairo.--Conversation with a Pacha.--Alexandria.--Aspect of the City.--Interview with the Khédive.--Sir Henry Bulwer.--Pompey's Pillar.--The Khédive's Yacht.--Concluding Reflections on Egypt.

Thebes, May 24th.--We fastened here at Luxor, this afternoon. Sultan Pacha, the governor, and the United States vice-consul, were on the wharf to welcome us back. While Mr. Seward entertained these former dignified personages on board, the vice-consul conducted the ladies to his little harem. His domestic establishment, coarse and plain, is in striking contrast with this loyal representative's pretentious official residence, at which we were so sumptuously dined on our way up the river. On reaching the door, the ladies ascended, by a very narrow, steep, and not particularly clean flight of stairs, to the house-top; where, it being after sunset, they sat during their visit, without protection. The furniture of the room consisted of a bed and two chairs. An African handmaid was in attendance. Presently the wife of the consul, a slender, middle-aged woman, came up the stairs, veiled, and neatly dressed in deep black, with heavy silver bracelets and bangles. She received our salutation timidly, remained standing, and presented her three pretty, olive-skinned children--one boy and two girls. The ladies turned to the consul and said, "But you told us you had but one child?" He answered, "I have but one boy; we do not

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