An Unprotected Female at the Pyramids HTML version
often in a frame of mind towards their companions that is much less amiable. From
hence, during the winter, a cortege proceeds almost daily to the pyramids, or to Memphis,
or to the petrified forest, or to the City of the Sun. And then, again, four or five times a
month the house is filled with young aspirants going out to India, male and female, full of
valour and bloom; or with others coming home, no longer young, no longer aspiring, but
laden with children and grievances.
The party with whom we are at present concerned is not about to proceed further than the
Pyramids, and we shall be able to go with them and return in one and the same day.
It consisted chiefly of an English family, Mr. and Mrs. Damer, their daughter, and two
young sons;--of these chiefly, because they were the nucleus to which the others had
attached themselves as adherents; they had originated the journey, and in the whole
management of it Mr. Damer retarded himself as the master.
The adherents were, firstly, M. Delabordeau, a Frenchman, now resident in Cairo, who
had given out that he was in some way concerned in the canal about to be made between
the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. In discussion on this subject he had become
acquainted with Mr. Damer; and although the latter gentleman, true to English interests,
perpetually declared that the canal would never be made, and thus irritated M.
Delabordeau not a little--nevertheless, some measure of friendship had grown up between
There was also an American gentleman, Mr. Jefferson Ingram, who was comprising all
countries and all nations in one grand tour, as American gentlemen so often do. He was
young and good-looking, and had made himself especially agreeable to Mr. Damer, who
had declared, more than once, that Mr. Ingram was by far the most rational American he
had ever met. Mr. Ingram would listen to Mr. Damer by the half-hour as to the virtue of
the British Constitution, and had even sat by almost with patience when Mr. Damer had
expressed a doubt as to the good working of the United States' scheme of policy,--which,
in an American, was most wonderful. But some of the sojourners at Shepheard's had
observed that Mr. Ingram was in the habit of talking with Miss Damer almost as much as
with her father, and argued from that, that fond as the young man was of politics, he did
sometimes turn his mind to other things also.
And then there was Miss Dawkins. Now Miss Dawkins was an important person, both as
to herself and as to her line of life, and she must be described. She was, in the first place,
an unprotected female of about thirty years of age. As this is becoming an established
profession, setting itself up as it were in opposition to the old world idea that women, like
green peas, cannot come to perfection without supporting- sticks, it will be understood at
once what were Miss Dawkins's sentiments. She considered--or at any rate so expressed
herself--that peas could grow very well without sticks, and could not only grow thus
unsupported, but could also make their way about the world without any incumbrance of
sticks whatsoever. She did not intend, she said, to rival Ida Pfeiffer, seeing that she was
attached in a moderate way to bed and board, and was attached to society in a manner
almost more than moderate; but she had no idea of being prevented from seeing anything