The drive ended up at a bookshop, where they were to lay in a sufficient store of literature to last, at any rate, as far as Luxor.
"We want really serious books about Egypt," declared Eve.
"Then you must begin with Breasted's History," said Jeremy, "and go on to Moret's 'Nile and Egyptian Civilsation.'"
"Of course we must," agreed Eve, but Serena sighed a little when she saw the size of the volumes. While Jeremy added Weigall, Flinders Petrie, and several more to the growing pile, she wandered away to the other side of the shop, and came back with a couple of novels in her hand.
"Let's have these, too," she pleaded. "I've always heard Robert Hichens writes so wonderfully about the desert."
"He does," agreed Jeremy, "but the two you've chosen happen to be about Algeria."
"Oh, well," said Serena placidly, "I expect the desert is much the same everywhere."
I love traveling with fellow readers! Eve is visiting Egypt for the first time, with her sister Serena and brother-in-law Hugh, and their friend Jeremy. They are in Cairo, preparing to set sail on a luxury houseboat, the dahabeyahs of so many stories. Cook's has it fully stocked with most of the necessities, but they can't set off without books. A walk through the city with Jeremy earlier that day left Eve eager to learn more about Egypt.
By now Jeremy had forgotten all about Eve as an individuality, and was fairly launched on a subject near to his heart. Eve listened entranced, and it seemed to her that she was beginning, very incompletely and faintly, to grasp what Egypt had meant to the world by seeing what it meant to Jeremy. Touch by touch, as they strolled back to the hotel in the the freshness of the pearly morning, he built up for her the wonder of the most ancient of civilisations, its unsurpassed art and its strange religion, forerunner of all others. She had known in a vague sort of way that Egypt was called the "cradle of civilisation," but what before had been only a phrase to her, now became a real and intelligible fact.
Back once more at the hotel, they stopped for a moment at the foot of the steps. Jeremy noticed what a glowing pink the keen air had brought to Eve's cheeks.
"I say, I've talked an awful lot," he said apologetically.
"Oh, I loved it!" Eve was enthusiastic. "I've always longed to come to Egypt, and now I'm actually here I'm going to learn all about it that I possibly can. There are lots of things I've always wanted to see, and I ought to find some of them here."
I couldn't help wondering though if the bookstore carried the monumental history of Egypt authored by the greatest Egyptologist of the modern era, Professor Radcliffe Emerson. Serena would more than sigh at the size of it.
I can't remember whose blog first featured this book, and sent me rushing off to order my own copy, but I'm thankful she did. I do wish though that the photographs illustrating the book, taken by Stella Tennyson Jesse during her own voyage up the Nile in 1926-1927, were just a little clearer!