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THE most striking object which meets the eye from the summit of the highest mound of ruin of the ancient city of Arsinoë, is the Pyramid of Howara, distant about five miles as the crow flies from the modern town of Medinet el Fayoum, but considerably farther by the road, if the narrow paths which traverse the fields can be called roads,-for the country is so intersected by canals, that one is frequently obliged, in riding, to make long detours in search of a bridge. As our capacity for enduring fatigue was somewhat limited, we determined, under these circumstances, to make the expedition in a boat—a mode of locomotion not usually employed in the Fayoum. There are, indeed, only about fourteen miles of navigable river, the sluices at Illahoon barring all farther progress eastwards, and the subdivision of the Bahr Youssef at Medinet into numerous minor canals blocking it by dams and waterwheels in all directions. I held converse with the head of the boating fraternity on the feasibility of my project, and found that ten heavy barges and two small boats composed the entire carrying capacity of the river. The barges are used for conveying manure to the fields adjoining the canal, and bringing their produce to the town. I inspected the small boats, and having selected the one which was least old and leaky, had her cleaned, and an awning put up in the stern. I am thus particular in describing the boating resources of the canal, because I was misled by the glowing description of Monsieur Lenoir," in an account which he gives of a hurried visit to the Fayoum, and its chief town, of the general accuracy of which his description of its commerce may serve as an illustration : “Boats and immense barges,” he says, “are moored as far as the eye can reach along its brick quays, which come hither to obtain grain and straw, the produce of the last harvest. Numberless caravans compete with this navigation transport, and serve to connect Medinet with Cairo.” Out of the twelve boats and barges which exist, I never saw more than two fastened to the river-bank at one time. “The brick quays along which they are moored as far as the eye can reach,” exist entirely in the writer's imagination; and it is evident, as the canal is only navigable for about fourteen miles in an exactly opposite direction to that of Cairo, which is about seventy miles distant, that the “numberless caravans” have not much reason to fear competition. It is true that in former years, during the inundation, boats came up from the Nile by the El Magnoun canal to Illahoon, where produce was transferred from the barges from Medinet; but this route has long been discontinued, and there is now no connection between Illahoon and Cairo, excepting by following the tortuous course of the Bahr Youssef up to Siout, which would involve a circuit of nearly 500 miles. As a matter of fact, the produce of the Fayoum goes to Cairo neither by camel nor boat, but by railway. Sails are not used by this magnificent fleet of boats and barges, and masts are only erected for towing purposes. It was on a warm lovely morning in February that we spread ourselves on the carpet at the stern of the boat, and, towed by two sturdy sel/a/in, made our way against the current at the rate of about three miles an hour. As there is no regular towing - path, our progress is constantly impeded by overhanging trees, by projecting sa/Ayas, by the walls of mud-villages, which occasionally rise straight out of the water; and our trackers are sometimes wading waist-deep, sometimes running far into the bean-fields to turn the corners of creeks — sometimes one side becomes impossible, and we have to take them on board and transfer them to the opposite bank; but in spite of all this, they push along with so much energy that we pass rapidly one or two old barges laden to the water's edge with manure-dust, but which are an extremely picturesque feature in the landscape—though, in so far as age and shape are concerned, they might advantageously figure in a museum of Egyptian antiquities. The banks are just too high to prevent our seeing much of the country over them, but they furnish us with glimpses of peasant life as we glide past the little mudvillages on their margin, where the women are engaged in their perpetual occupation of washing and filling their water-jars, or, squatted opposite the dead wall of a house, are jerking to and fro a goat-skin bag containing milk, with a view in this primitive fashion of converting it into butter, and where half-naked men are standing in rows opposite each other as if they were going to dance Sir Roger de Coverley, when suddenly they fall to with ponderous flails, and thrash out the corn, accompanying their blows with a measured and not unmusical chant. Buffaloes, blindfolded in order that they may be spared a consciousness of the monotonous nature of their occupation, as they tramp slowly round in a circle, are grinding it, after it has been thrashed, in creaking mills, above which flocks of pigeons flutter round their quaint conical towers. Water is being dipped out of the canal by men in pairs working the double-lever shadoofs, who laboriously swing up and down the long bars weighted with mud at one end and with a basket-work bucket at the other.

* Le Fayoum, Sinai, et Petra, par Paul Lenoir.

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