(6). Modes of Travelling in Egypt.
Railways. A network of railways constructed by the Egyptian
government now connects most of the important places in the Delta.
The engineer of the oldest of these lines , that from Alexandria to
Cairo, was Mr. Stephenson, and the others were planned by Faid-
Bey. The railways are under the management of a board of admin¬
istration, the president of which is a native, while most of the
members are Englishmen or other Europeans. The carriages re¬
semble those of other countries, but the third class is insufferably
dirty. ' The dust and heat render railway travelling in Egypt ex¬
ceedingly unpleasant in hot weather.
The traveller should be at the station fully half-an-hour before
the hour for starting, as the process of issuing tickets and booking
luggage is often very slow, and the ticket-clerks are entitled to
close the office 10 minutes before the departure of the train. Gold
coins that are in any degree either defaced or of light weight are
not accepted at the booking-office. The personal tickets are printed
in English and Arabic, the luggage tickets in Arabic only. The
hours of departure are seldom altered, and those at present fixed
are given in the following pages.
Steamboats on the Suez Canal, see R. 7.
Donkeys (Arab, homar) form the best means of conveyance
both in the narrow streets of the towns and on the bridle-paths
in the country. They are of a much finer, swifter, and more
spirited race than the European, and at the same time patient and
persevering. Those in the towns are generally well saddled and
bridled in Oriental style. The attendants are either men or boyst,
who contrive to keep up with their beasts at whatever pace they
are going, and often address long sentences to them in their Arabic
patois. As the gait of the donkeys is sometimes very uneasy when
they break into a trot, care should be taken not to engage one with
this defect for an excursion of any length. As the stirrups are
often in bad condition they had better not be used at all. The
donkey-boys (Arab, hammar) are fond of showing off the pace of
their beasts, and often drive them unpleasantly fast. The rider
who prefers a slower pace shouts 'ala mahlak or rala mahlakum; if
a quicker pace is wanted, yalla, yalla, or mashi, or suk el-homar ;
if a halt is to be made, osbur, or the English word 'stop'. The
donkey-boys, especially at Cairo, are generally remarkably active,
intelligent, and obliging. Many of the donkeys, particularly in the
country, will be observed to have been deprived of part of one or
both ears. This has been done, according to the somewhat cruel
practice of the country, as a punishment for trespass, an additional
t The boys are preferable to the men, as the latter are generally
more exorbitant in their demands and less obliging, and even their
donkeys appear to partake of their unpleasant disposition.