516 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
HOTEL KARNAK, LuXOR, EGYPT. January 14, 1900. Address now to Hotel Angleterre,. Cairo, Egypt.
DEAREST EMMA AND BESSY, We returned late last night from our most interesting stay of a week with Mr and Mrs Flinders Petrie. We had each a room with mud' walls, nine feet long, seven feet wide and eight feet high, and a bedstead and empty packing cases for furniture. There was no regular door, but a mat, hung in front of the doorway, kept out the prowling dogs. It was on the desert sand, 150 yards from the palmm trees, etc., and the floor of the hut was made by that sand. Every one had to throw away their own slops. A well was dug close by, to supply water. Besides our hosts there were three Oxford men who had grants for making researches, Mat before door. and a Miss Johnson (a lady doctor), the image of Miss Cobb in her early days,
I think you saw her then, stalwart, merry and _capable in every way. We dined on a table made of three rough deal boards and we ate tinned meats and jams, with bread made in the native way. No milk, butter, wine or spirits, nor potatoes nor onions. But every one seemed in the pink of health, and was at full work from day-break to at least 9 p.m. The quantity and variety of work were quite remarkable; the diggers had to be superintended, there were 130 of them in three parties; 'everything found was assessed and paid for to the workmen; it was drawn, catalogued and often photographed; bits had to be pieced together and every day some interesting "finds" took place. We had a very pleasant and instructive time of it, but life was very rough. No one wore stockings in the day time, on account of the sand. We were 22 to 2J hours from the Railway Station (7-8 miles). All our luggage went on one donkey, who carried the donkey boy as well. Finally we started yesterday from the station in bright moonlight at 7.26, 'and reached Luxor (104 miles off) at 10.40, dusted through skin deep. But a good washing last night, repeated copiously this morning, has made us normally clean. Far more occurred than I can put down here. It has been to both of us one of the most interesting experiences of our lives. I am more than ever taken with admiration of Petrie, and his wife is as nice as possible. The costumes were astonishing at first, but soon the eye became accustomed to them. The Marquess of Northampton, who is cruising on the Nile with his hopelessly sick wife (Lady Ashburton's daughter), rode over on a donkey to see Petrie for a couple of hours, and there was much good talk. I had met him when staying Saturday to Monday with Sir John Lubbock (who I am glad to see is to be a peer), and have arranged to call when his boat reaches Cairo. He knows Egypt well.
As regards future plans, we have the choice of two steamers to return to Cairo, they leave here Jan. 26 and Feb. 9. You will receive this letter about the end. of January and I shall get your reply somewhere about Feb. 15 at Cairo, at the Hotel Angleterre, which will (I think) be about the time of arrival of the Feb. 9 steamer, from here.
The Nile is so low and shrinking so fast, that it will possibly stop the running of the steamers soon. It has shrunken in width,. since we left a week ago, to about that of the Thames at Westminster, if I judge rightly; during the inundation it must be quite seven miles broad. Such a difference! There are very few English tourists on account of this terrible war, very few Americans and hardly any of other nations. The church to-day was not I full. Doubtless more will come later. There were only four persons at lunch at this hotel, which has table-room for 60. , We are sitting out of doors in its very pleasant garden, half orderly, half disorderly. Eva is painting studies of the changes in colour of the only remaining chameleon*. It was the biggest, the tamest and the most interesting. The other two escaped at different times when with the Petries, and were lost. I told you in my last letter that we had met the famous African-hunter, Mr Barber. We talked then a good deal about Seton-Karr, who is his equal in that way, but whose adventures are in other lands. Oddly enough, I met Seton-Karr to-day, who had returned two days since from Omdurman and is on his way back by Cook's steamer. I have just waved a parting adieu to him. So much for ourselves.
Your nice letters dated Dec. 29 reached me when at the Petries (I think, but am confused). Mr Forsyth's death is another break with old days, and so in another way is that of Sir J. Lennardt. How well I recollect him at old Mr Hallam's. So the Cameron Galtons have left
* This chameleon was brought home, but died soon after. Its skin and some eggs it laid are in the Galton Laboratory.
t He married Miss Julia Hallam referred to in our Vol. i, pp. 179-80.