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A Tyrant And A Lady
by [?]

When Donovan Pasha discovered the facts for the first time, he found more difficulty in keeping the thing to himself than he had ever found with any other matter in Egypt. He had unearthed one of those paradoxes which make for laughter–and for tears. It gave him both; he laughed till he cried. Then he went to the Khedivial Club and ordered himself four courses, a pint of champagne and a glass of ’48 port, his usual dinner being one course, double portion, and a pint of claret. As he sat eating he kept reading a letter over and over, and each time he read he grinned–he did not smile like a well-behaved man of the world, he did not giggle like a well-veneered Egyptian back from Paris, he chuckled like a cabman responding to a liberal fare and a good joke. A more unconventional little man never lived. Simplicity was his very life, and yet he had a gift for following the sinuosities of the Oriental mind; he had a quality almost clairvoyant, which came, perhaps, from his Irish forebears. The cross-strain of English blood had done him good too; it made him punctilious and kept his impulses within secure bounds. It also made him very polite when he was angry, and very angry when any one tried to impose upon him, or flatter him.

The letter he read so often was from Kingsley Bey, the Englishman, who, coming to Egypt penniless, and leaving estates behind him encumbered beyond release, as it would seem, had made a fortune and a name in a curious way. For years he had done no good for himself, trying his hand at many things–sugar, salt, cotton, cattle, but always just failing to succeed, though he came out of his enterprises owing no one. Yet he had held to his belief that he would make a fortune, and he allowed his estates to become still more encumbered, against the advice of his solicitors, who grew more irritable as interest increased and rents further declined. The only European in Egypt who shared his own belief in himself was Dicky Donovan. Something in the unfailing good-humour, the buoyant energy, the wide imagination of the man seized Dicky, warranted the conviction that he would yet make a success. There were reasons why sugar, salt, cotton, cattle and other things had not done well. Taxes, the corvee, undue influence in favour of pashas who could put his water on their land without compensation, or unearthed old unpaid mortgages on his land, or absorbed his special salt concession in the Government monopoly, or suddenly put a tax on all horses and cattle not of native breed; all these and various other imposts, exactions, or interferences engineered by the wily Mamour, the agent of the mouffetish, or the intriguing Pasha, killed his efforts, in spite of labours unbelievable. The venture before the last had been sugar, and when he arrived in Cairo, having seen his fields and factories absorbed in the Khedive’s domains, he had but one ten pounds to his name.

He went to Dicky Donovan and asked the loan of a thousand pounds. It took Dicky’s breath away. His own banking account seldom saw a thousand–deposit. Dicky told Kingsley he hadn’t got it. Kingsley asked him to get it–he had credit, could borrow it from the bank, from the Khedive himself! The proposal was audacious–Kingsley could offer no security worth having. His enthusiasm and courage were so infectious, however, though his ventures had been so fruitless, that Dicky laughed in his face. Kingsley’s manner then suddenly changed, and he assured Dicky that he would receive five thousand pounds for the thousand within a year. Now, Dicky knew that Kingsley never made a promise to any one that he did not fulfil. He gave Kingsley the thousand pounds. He did more. He went to the Khedive with Kingsley’s whole case. He spoke as he had seldom spoken, and he secured a bond from Ismail, which might not be broken. He also secured three thousand pounds of the Khedive’s borrowings from Europe, on Kingsley’s promise that it should be returned five-fold.