Green Fields and Foreign Faring 59
describe the ear on one of the colossi at Medinet Haboo as being four feet high, and the temple, I state, with great accuracy, has twelve columns at the north and ten on either side ! I seem, however, to be glad to come back from that expedition to Medinet Haboo, for I state that I wish she could see our dahabeah, which is a regular little home. I don't approve-in this same letterof the dancing-girls, which my parents allowed me to see one evening. With early Victorian criticism I state that "there is not a particle of grace in their motions, for they only wriggle their bodies like a snake," and that I really felt they were "very unattractive"- thus proving that the little girl of eleven in 1873 was more or less prim in her tastes. I delight, however, in a poem which I copy for "Edie," the first phrase of which has rung in my ears for many a long day.
"Alas ! must I say it, fare-farewell to thee, Mysterious Egypt, great land of the flea,
And thy Thebaic temples, Luxor and Karnac,
Where the natives change slowly from yellow to black.
Shall I ne'er see thy plain, so fraught with renown, Where the shadoofs go up and the shadoofs go down,
Which two stalwart natives bend over and sing,
While their loins are concealed by a simple shoe string."
This verse, in spite of the reference to the lack of clothes of the stalwart natives, evidently did not shock my sensibilities as much as the motions of the dancing-girls. Farther on in the letter I describe the New Year's Eve party, and how Mr. Merriam sang a song which I (Conie) liked very much, and which was called "She's Naughty But So Nice." "Teedie," however, did not care for that song, but preferred one called "Aunt Dinah," because one verse ran: "My love she am a giraffe, a two-humped camamile." [Music had apparently only charms to soothe him when suggestive of his beloved animal studies.] From Thebes also my brother writes to his aunt one of the most interesting letters of his boyhood: