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the town with the port. The French genius of the place breaks out in a little café fronting the entrance to the Canal, where doubtless petits verres are to be had, after which refreshment the pleased resident may stroll along a forlorn boulevard, bordered here and there with stunted funereal cypress.
· At Suez, in accordance with the regulations of the Company, we took on board a pilot, a stout middle-aged Italian, who knew as much of English as our captain did of the language of Dante — that is to say, nothing. The necessity of engaging a pilot to take a steamer through the Canal is analagous to that which exists for compelling the commander of a flat to ship a pilot on entering the Metropolitan boundary of the Regent's Canal. What is wanted is a steady hand on the tiller, and an eye that can follow a straight line. It might even be supposed that a pilot, in addition to the heavy impost exacted for his service, is undesirable, since a quartermaster accustomed to steer the ship would do it better if left alone. However it be, our pilot within an hour of taking command
us ashore, in broad daylight, in a straight cut of the Canal, with not a breath of wind stirring, and with no one on board having a command of the Italian language
sufficiently fluent to let him know what we thought of him.
The Nepaul, after unaccountably wobbling to the port and starboard, finally selected the left bank, and with gentle gliding motion ran on to it, her bows rising three feet in the air. The engines were already reversed, and the screw plunged and hissed through the water in the effort to withdraw the bows; but the bank held like a vice, and the only result was that the stern swung over, grounded on the opposite bank, and the screw was useless. This was a pretty interruption of a prosperous voyage, lying like a log athwart the Canal, with the pilot aimlessly trotting up and down the bridge, and no one on board able to speak Italian !
All along the Canal bank, on both sides, posts have been driven for use in contingencies of this kind. Captain Wyatt, leaving the pilot to his own reflections, promptly had steel hawsers attached to these posts, the steam winch was got to work, and an effort was made to slew the stern round so that the screw could be freed. After a few moments' straining the hawser parted, the riven end wriggling along the deck like a snake that had been cut in two. Fortunately no one was near, and no one hurt. Another steel hawser was got out at the stern, a second one at the bows, and a united effort made to pull the ship straight. To this end all the ship's company, including the stewards and barber, were mustered aft, and the game of “rolling' essayed. This is a simple game much enjoyed by the crew. Everybody gathers at one side of the quarter-deck, and at å signal given by the steam whistle they run over to the other side, the object being to loosen the vessel in its sandy bed, and so ease the work of the cables still straining fore and aft.
At Suez we had had put on board, in addition to the pilot, a representative of the Egyptian Government charged with the mission of seeing that the quarantine regulations under which we sailed were not broken. To that end, as soon as we had got under weigh, he stretched himself out on one of the benches and went to sleep. He was awakened by the shock of the grounding, and evidently regarded the incident as a personal matter, depriving him of his sleep. I wanted him to join in the rolling exercise, but he resolutely declined, whilst making my advances the basis of an acquaintance, subsequent developments of which consisted of his asking me for cigars. He was a poor, dirty, disreputablelooking fellow, whose pitiful wages were probably in arrear.
He slept most of the way through the Canal, and faded out of sight at Port Said, as it were in an earthquake. A boat came alongside with the P. and O. agent in charge of a quarantine officer; but whether to prevent the agent catching cholera from us, or whether to deliver us from the danger of contagion by touch of a resident in Port Said, is a nice question left unsolved. Our quarantine man leaning over the bulwark engaged in conversation so loudly with his colleague in the boat, that after various remonstrances, the captain, looking up from the companion-ladder, said, “ Take that fellow away." Instantly the quartermaster, a giant with face simple and kindly as a child's, had the representative of the Egyptian Government by the throat, whisked him across the quarter-deck, and with a parting kick sent him whizzing round the captain's cabin, and for aught I know into space. I never saw him any more. As for the quartermaster, he resumed his position at the head of the companion way, looking gentler and more childlike than ever. I fancy he had been yearning all through the passage to kick this lazy, frowsy Egyptian, and was glad when the time came.
For half an hour the ship's company ran to and fro, to their huge enjoyment. Then the second wire cable broke, fortunately in an interval of breathing-time. It was evident we were in bad case. Nothing more could be done, and a telegram was despatched for a tug. At dusk it arrived, and a Manilla cable of prodigious size was fastened stern on; but it was now low water, and night was falling. A jackal came to the edge of the bank, looked at us, and trotted off, as if it were no business of his. A flock of black ibis rose up from the desert, spread out in single file, curled like the lash of Titanic whip. They circled slowly round the ship, and passed away out of sight. The sun went down in a cloudless, lurid sky, and we were left alone, shut up between two sandbanks.
The tide would be near flow at one in the morning, and the crew turned in early, to be piped up half an hour after midnight, when the silence of the desert was broken by the tramp of men as they ran from side to side. The tug puffed, and hauled astern. The steam winch strained at the cables fore and aft. Half a hundred men ran from side to side, but still the great ship lay stedfast in her bed of mud, and to move her seemed as hopeless as the endeavours to slew Arabia round to join Egypt. Once more the task was given up. The only hope now was to lighten the