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Gentlemen Adventurers : Chapter Four : The Middle East, 1840


Session 018: A Caravan Across the Dessert, June 1840

Ref: GentlemenAdventurers

The Party

ArnoldTodgersHamelton - DaveF
GladstoneArchiboldThynne - TimE
LadyElsbethMacBeth - CathyE
WallaceTiffinSmythe - PeteN


Having assembled the gifts and purchased an arab tent in which to entertain the local big-wig, Hamilton sends him an invitation to meet and is told that regretfully he will have to wait until the 'end of the week'. Thus the party continue to be held up in Suez awaiting the pleasure of IbrahimPasha son of [Muhammad Ali Pasha] the Ottoman Viceroy and de-facto ruler of Egpyt. During this time they explore the local towns and areas as follows;

Lady Macbeth invites Ibrahim's wife to 'tea' and receives an inviation in return to visit the palace (fort) on the hill, where she is entertained by İbrahimPaşa 's many wives in the harem. They are a very mixed bunch, with only the senior wife being at all worldly wise, but they are awestruck by Elsbeth's tales of adventure, travel and derring do. Elsbeth is invited to vist them every day that week, and manages to build into the conversation that 'it would be nice to borrow Ibrahim's caravan'. She also becomes aware that the ladies are not allowed to travel out-side of the fort without their husband's rarely given permission. At the end of the week she exchanges gifts with them, promising to write.

Hamilton makes regular visits to the markets, learning the lingua-franca of negotiation Arabic style and collexting more interesting trade goods and artefacts. He especially looks for ancient texts and tomes, without much initial success.

Wallace immerses himself in the local culture, seeking out the all to easily found murky underbelly of the town, with shady deals, brothels and thugs galore he has a number of close scrapes. He also spends many hours in the markets looking for ancient Egyptian artefacts. He is surprizingly luck as seemingly a number of locals have just returned home from a dig near Cario and seem to have aquired a large number of pocket and knapsack sized artefacts which are now for sale. Towards the end of the week he notices that the number of artefacts available for sale has increased sharply, but the authenticity has dropped significantly.

Gladstone explores the area on horse and camel, joining Wallace in learning to ride Camel (and being breifly joined by the others in this experience). Ranging to the south-west he comes across a large Egyptian army consisting of over 1000 well armed cavalry and their supporting troops. He takes some time to study them and they seem not to mind.

When the day of the audience comes Hamilton and Gladstone await the 'prince' as Wallace is detained having to accompany Lady Elsbeth on a shopping trip to find suitable parting gifts for the Harem. They are not surprised when he sweeps up with aout 50 riders and strides imposingly into their tent. Hamilton conducts the initial civilities with a now practiced air and the 'prince' settles in, enjoying the hospitality. On discovering that Gladstone is 'a cavalry man' he becomes quite fired up and discusses in not to veiled terms the situation between Egypt and Syria (part of the failing Ottoman empire). He expresses his obvious preference for his troops to have pressed on to Constaninople after he won the Battle of Nizib. Hamilton and Galdstone both agree that this would be a fine piece of military work, but council that the imperial powers would not look favorably upon the removal of the Ottomans as they form a good bulwark against Russian expansion. The impetuous prince rants almost indescretely against his fathers' bowing to such political pressures. Almost incidentally after a fine lunch Ibrahim insists that the travellers use his personal caravan to travel onwards, and thanking them for thier hospitality sweeps from the tent.

The following morning Ibrahim's caravan official visits the party's hotel and starts arrangements to load thier ever increasing baggage mountain onto the camels. Wallace ensures Mustafa Abu oversees the loading and the whole caravan eventually sets off along the well trodden roads north.

Sometime during the first day they are 'joined' by a set of 20 or so riders from Ibrahim's troops, who do not socialise with the caravan but do succeed in warning off any beggars, thieves or locals. Indeed they rather brutally clear the best sites at each oasis/ camp for themselves and the caravan.

During the trip, the horse-trader from whom Lady elsbeth and Hamilton purchased the fine mare foal and Good stallion catches up with them with some more fine horses for them to purchase, Lady Elsbeth buys another pair of arab's for her growing collection. Wallaces realises that he has been very relaxed and easy on the caravan to date, but becomes more anxious the longer he spends near the horses.

On the third day, as they camp on the edge of the great salt lake near Ismailia, Mustafa Abu approaches Wallace and indicates that there are two travellers who wish to speak to the leader of the caravan but are not able to approach for fear of the guards. Walace speaks to them and they convey a polite request from one JohnShaePerring for the company to visit him at his archeological exploration at Giza.

Wallace convey's the inviation to the party, as [Cario and Giza] are only a short 'diversion' away to the west.

Links & References

[Muhummad Ali]

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Edited December 6, 2006 6:16 pm by HowardT (diff)