May 6, 2012

Lifted to the Summit | Walking Through Egypt

Lifted to the Summit, c. 1865
Mrs. M. Carey

Great Pyramid Of Giza
Three Bedouins accompanied me Abraham and two companions one as hearty as himself, the other rather too old for the work, as was soon proved by his remaining behind before we reached the top, as soon as he thought that his services could be dispensed with. For this he incurred considerable raillery from his companions, who spoke of him just as you might speak of a worn out horse “old fellow,” “good for nothing,” etc.

Each of the first two guides seized one of my wrists and held them with so tight a grasp that I was obliged to remonstrate upon the subject and to show them the red marks which were appearing in consequence, upon which they condescended slightly to loosen their grip. They first mounted one of the great steps themselves, while the third guide, remaining on a level with me, placed two more hands at my waist, and assisted me to a succession of springs varying from three to five feet in height. Thus by a series of jumps the ascent of the Pyramid was accomplished in a far easier manner than I had anticipated. Cousin Phil and Selina moved to a distance to watch me. They said I looked like a doll as I was lifted up by the Bedouins from one giant step to the other; they could not hear the song with which the guides aided their efforts and mine as we proceeded; but here it is set to a kind of boatman’s chorus, to which they sang it.
  • Solo: Plenty backshish, lady!
  • Chorus: Haylee, Haylee, sah!
  • Solo: To take you up to the top!
  • Chorus: Haylee, Haylee, sah! [interspersed between each solo statement]
  • Solo: Custom of every nation!
  • Ah! Bravo, bravo, lady!
  • Don’t tell this man what you give me!
  • Chorus: (not knowing English) Haylee, Haylee, sah!
  • Give it to me myself!
  • Now stop and take rest, lady!
The ascent occupied twenty minutes, and 1 rested five times on the way, to take breath for the next climb and to look around me and remember where I was. A sixth pause would have been more to my taste, but the wary guide, suspecting signs of approaching fatigue, said, “No, lady, you must go to the top now.”

I felt he was right though I doubted my powers to proceed. The old guide had halted at the fourth station, and, to say the truth, he was no loss, for although his assistance was of the greatest use at first, he had by this time become fatigued himself, and instead of jumping me up he only assisted in weighing me down. I jumped much better without him now, and the blocks towards the top of the Pyramid are not so high as the lower ones. One last longish effort then, enlivened by the chattering guide, who well-nigh dispersed the remaining breath that was in me by gravely inquiring if the gentleman down below were my husband and why my Mamma was not here with me, and I stood at the top of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, with the famous view spread around me, of which I had so often heard and read, and so little dreamed of seeing with my own eyes.

After a few moments to recover breath and my senses, the first objects 1 sought were Cousin Phil and Selina. How grand I felt up there, and how very small indeed they looked as they waved their specks of handkerchiefs up in congratulation to me!

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