I regret to say that it is raining very hard and Athens is not set for a rainstorm. It is also cold but as I have not been warm since I crossed the North River with Chas. amid cakes of ice that is of no consequence. When I come here again I come in the summer. The good old rule that it is cold in winter and warm in summer is a good enough rule to follow. You have only to travel to find out how universally cold winter is. last night I was in Cairo, I got in a carriage and drove out alone to the Pyramids. It was beautiful moonlight. I got a donkey and rode up around them and then walked over to the Sphinx. I had never understood or seen it before. It was the creepiest and most impressive thing I ever had happen to me, I do believe. There was no one except the two donkey-boys and myself and the Sphinx. All about was the desert and above it the purple sky and the white stars and the great negro's head in front of you with its paws stretched out, and the moonlight turning it into shadows and white lines. I think I stood there so long that I got sort of dizzy. It was just as if I had been the first man to stumble across it, and I felt that I was way back thousands of years and that the ghosts of Caesar and Napoleon and Cleopatra and the rest were in the air. That was worth the entire trip to me. This place promises to be most exciting, the New York artists are all here, they are the most jauntily dull people I ever met. Do you know what I mean? They are very nice but so stupid. I don't let them bother me. Who was the chap who wrote about the bottle of Malvoisie? because I got a bottle of it for BREAKFAST and it is NO GOOD. It is like sweet port. But on account of the poem and its being vin du pays I got it.
Dear Mother, I wish you were here now and enjoying all these beautiful things. I got you a present in Cairo that will amuse you. Had I stayed on in Cairo I should have had much and many marks of distinction from the English. Lady Gower-Browne, who found out from them that I had called and that they had done nothing except to be rude, raised a great hue and cry and everything changed. What she said of me I don't know but it made a most amusing difference. General Walker galloped a half mile across the desert to give me his own copy of the directions for the sham battle, and I was to have met Cromer at dinner tete-a-tete, and General Kitchener sent apologies by two other generals and all the subalterns called on me in a body. That was the day before I left. I don't know what Lady Gower-Browne said, but it made a change which I am sorry I could not avail myself of as I want politics as well as memories.
The next time I come I shall go to even fewer places and see more people.
If the Harpers don't look out our interests will clash. I look at it like this. I can always see the old historical things and take my children up the Nile, but I want now to make friends with the Mammon of unrighteousness and the men of the hour. I may want to occupy an hour or two myself some day and they can help me. If America starts in annexing islands she will need people to tell her how it is generally done and it is generally done, I find, by the English. I may give up literature and start annexing things like Alexander and Caesar and Napoleon. They say there will be another crisis in Cairo in a month or so. If that be true I am all right and solid with both parties. But it has got to be worth while of course or I won't go back. There is a king living in a fine palace across the square from my window, one of his officers is now changing the guard in the rain. I hope to call on the king because I like his guard. They wear petticoats and toes turned up in front. Don't you mind what I say about liking politics and don't think I am not enjoying the show things. I have a capacity for both that is so far unsatisfied, and I am now going out in the rain to try and find the post-office. Lots of love.
I am well and have been well (except sea sick) since February
P. S.--A funeral is just passing the window with the corpse exposed to view as is the quaint custom here, to add to its horror they rouge the face of the corpse and everybody kisses it. In the Greek church they burn candles for people and the number of candles I have burnt for you would light St. Paul's, and you ought to be good with so much war being expended all over Athens for you. You buy candles instead of tipping the verger or putting it in the poor box, or because you are superstitious and think it will do some good, as I do.
Orient Express. Somewhere in Bulgaria on the way to London.
Tuesday I wrote you a letter in the club at Constantinople telling you how glad I would be to get out of that City on April 17th on the Orient Express which only leaves twice a week on Thursdays and Mondays. So any one who travels by the Orient is looked upon first as a millionaire and second, if he does not break the journey at Vienna, as a greater traveller than Col. Burnaby on his way to Khiva. Imagine a Kansas City man breaking the journey to New York. After I wrote you that letter I went in the next room and read of the Nile Expedition in search of Gordon--this went through three volumes of The Graphic and took some time, so that when I had reached the picture which announced the death of Gordon it was half past five and I had nothing more to do for four days-- It was raining and cold and muddy and so I just made up my mind I would get up and get out and I jumped about for one hour like a kangaroo and by seven I was on the Orient with two Cook men to help me and had shaken my fist at the last minaret light of that awful city. So, now it is all over and it is done-- I have learned a great deal in an imperfect way of the juxtaposition of certain countries and of the ease with which one can travel without speaking any known languages and of the absolute necessity for speaking one, French. I am still disappointed about the articles but selfishly I have made a lot out of the trip. You have no idea how hard it is not to tell about strange things and yet you know people do not care half as much for them as things they know all about-- No matter, it is done and with the exception of the last week it was F I N E.