Off Malta--March 1, 1893. DEAR MOTHER:
I have been having a delightful voyage with moonlight all night and sunlight all day. Africa kept in sight most of the time and before that we saw beautiful mountains in Spain covered with snow and red in the sunset. There were a lot of nice English people going out to India to meet their husbands and we have "tiffin" and "choota" and "curry," so it really seemed oriental. The third night out we saw Algiers sparkling like Coney Island. I play games with myself and pretend I am at my rooms reading a story which is very hard to pretend as I never read in my rooms and then I look up and exclaim "Hello, I'm not in New York, that's Algiers." The thing that has impressed me most is how absolutely small the world is and how childishly easy it is to go around it. You and Nora MUST take this trip; as for me I think Willie Chanler is the most sensible individual I have yet met.
All the fascination of King Solomon's Mines seems to be behind those great mountains and this I may add is a bit of advance work for mother, an entering wedge to my disappearing from sight for years and years in the Congo. Which, seriously, I will not do; only it is disappointing to find the earth so small and so easily encompassed that you want to go on where it is older, and new. The worst of it is that it is hard leaving all the nice people you meet and then must say good-bye to. The young ladies and Capt. Buckle and Cust came down to see me off and Buckle brought me a photo four feet long of Gib, an official one which I had to smuggle out with a great show of secrecy and now I shall be sorry to leave these people. Just as I wrote that one of the officers going out to join his regiment came to the door and blushing said the passengers were getting up a round robin asking me to stop on and go to Cairo.
Since writing the above lots of things have happened. I bid farewell to everyone at Malta and yet in four hours I was back again bag and baggage and am now on my way to Cairo. Tunis and the Bey are impossible. As soon as I landed at Malta I found that though I could go to Tunis I could not go away without being quarantined for ten days and if I remained in Malta I must stay a week. On balancing a week of Egypt against a week of Malta I could not do it so I put back to this steamer again and here I am. Tomorrow we reach Brindisi and we have already passed Sicily and had a glimpse of the toe of Italy and it is the coldest sunny Italy that I ever imagined. I am bitterly disappointed about Tunis. I have no letters to big people in Cairo only subalterns but I shall probably get along. I always manage somehow with my "artful little Ikey ways." It was most gratifying to mark my return to this boat. One young woman danced a Kangaroo dance and the Captain wept and all the stewards stood in a line and grinned. I sing Chevalier's songs and they all sit in the dining room below and forget to lay out the plates and last night some of the Royal Berkshire with whom I dined at Malta came on board and after hearing the Old Kent Road were on the point of Mutiny and refused to return to barracks. Great is the Power of Chevalier and great is his power for taking you back to London with three opening bars. Malta was the queerest place I ever got into. It was like a city, country and island made of cheese, mouldy cheese, and fresh limburger cheese with holes in it. You sailed right up to the front door as it were and people were hanging out of the windows smoking pipes and looking down on the deck as complacently as though having an ocean steamer in the yard was as much a matter of course as a perambulator. There were also women with black hoods which they wear as a penance because long ago the ladies of Malta got themselves talked about. I was on shore about five hours and saw some interesting things and with that and Brindisi and the voyage I can make a third letter but Tunis is writ on my heart like Calais.
Today Cleveland is inaugurated and I took all the passengers down at the proper time and explained to them that at that moment a great man was being made president and gave them each an American cocktail to remember it by and in which to toast him I am getting to be a great speech maker and if there are any more anniversaries in America I shall be a second Depew.
It is late but it is still the season here and it will be gay, but what I want to do now is to go off on a little trip inland although Cairo is the worst of all for it is surrounded by deserts and nothing to shoot but antelope and foxes and those I SCORN. I want Zulus and lions. I shall be greatly disappointed if I do not have something to do outside of Cairo for I have had no adventures at all. It is just as civilized as Camden only more exciting and beautiful although Camden is exciting when you have to get there and back in time for the last edition. From what I have already seen I am ready to spend a month in Cairo and then confess to knowing nothing of it. But we shall see. There may be a W A R or a lion hunt or something yet if there is not I shall come back here again. I must fire that Winchester off at least once just for all the trouble it has given me at custom houses. Something exciting must happen or I shall lose faith in the luck of the British army which marches shoulder to shoulder with mine. If I don't have any adventures I shall write essays on art after this like Mrs. Van. Love and lots of it.
CAIRO, March 11, 1893. DEAR MOTHER:
In a famous book this line occurs, "He determined to go to that hotel in Cairo where they were to have spent their honeymoon," or words like that. He is now at that hotel and you can buy the famous book across the street. It is called "Gallegher." So--in this way everything comes to him who waits and he comes to it. "Gallegher" is not the only thing you buy in Egypt. You ride to the Pyramids on a brake with a man in a white felt hat blowing a horn, and the bugler of the Army of Occupation is as much in evidence as the priest who calls them to prayer from the minaret. I left the people I liked on the Sultey last Thursday in the Suez Canal and came on here in a special train. It is very cold here, and it is not a place where the cold is in keeping with the surroundings. You see people in white helmets and astrakan overcoats. It is an immense city and intensely interesting, especially the bazaars, but you feel so ignorant about it all that it rather angers you. I wish I was not such a very bad hand at languages. That is ONE THING I cannot do, that and ride. I need it very much, traveling so much, and I shall study very hard while I am in Paris. Our consul-general here is a very young man, and he showed me a Kansas paper when I called on him, which said that I was in the East and would probably call on "Ed" L. He is very civil to me and gives me his carriages and outriders with gold clothes and swords whenever I will take them.