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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
To face page THE PROCESSION OF THE PRISONERS AT AN ACT OF FAITH
THE CELEBRATION OF AN ACT OF FAITH AT GOA .
A CAMEL CONSTABLE TAKING THE SAHIB'S SON FOR A RIDE
THE ROMANCE OF FRAUD
THE TAILLESS HIPPO
When the active tripper had well begun his active trips in Egypt it was manifest that there would soon be lucre in them for the native. The reason, of course, was that the active tripper wanted to buy things. He must convince the people at home that he had really “been there," had visited bazaars, penetrated into the desert, and made free with the tombs of the Pharaohs. He had heard, or he came to know, that relics were about; relics, therefore, were his suit.
Now there were in those days, as there are in these, bits of the true Egyptian past to be procured : papyri, scarabs, portraits painted in wax, tools, weapons, coins, ornaments, caskets, vases, statuettes, and the quaintest toys. But there were not, concisely speaking, enough to go round-for the name of the active tripper was legion. What of that? Given the demand, and the measureless credulity of the ordinary tripper, the market was bound to be supplied. The uninstructed tripper was great on papyri,
so a papyrus that was principally guile grew quite naturally into a valuable “ line.” Rolls of papyri, unfolded and cut into lengths, were rolled again on wooden sticks the ends of which were concealed. Out of a single roll many could be fabricated and they were all quite good enough to wrap cheese in. By-and-by came the Röntgen rays, which bring the wooden stick into view, but the manufacturer does not care twopence for the Röntgen rays. He substitutes a roll of pasteboard, which deceives the rays themselves.
Destiny conducted one happy tripper to a flint hippopotamus of the twelfth dynasty. Here was a find worth crossing the Atlantic for, and the finder no doubt had crossed it. Who would not possess a flint hippopotamus of the twelfth dynasty? This hippo, tailless and practically legless, the seeming sole survivor of an Ark antecedent to Noah's, multiplied like Israel or the locust, and might easily surprise at this day on an overmantel of Mr. Russell's Stuccovia.
Mummies have been (and doubtless are) procurable on terms. Cleopatra has not yet, I believe, been on offer; but a Dresden doctor changed the corpse of a girl into the mummy of Queen Nitokris (who was or was not the wife of Nebuchadnezzar), and sold her for the weight in gold. Plain Antwerp schist was the basis of a Rameses, King of Egypt, manufactured at a cost of eleven hundred francs and disposed of for one hundred thousand. From a king or queen to an idol, a bronze pan, or a coffin head, there is a tariff--and a grand opening for a bargain-chop.
But it should be stated that, so far as the Egyptian peasantry and Arabs are concerned, much of the industry is of the most straightforward kind. Counterfeit scarabs, images, toys, jewels, and utensils of all sorts can be bought as such, and at very ordinary prices. The illegitimate trade starts mainly when the articles pass to those European dealers whose clients are imperfectly informed upon the arts and industries of ancient Egypt.
Similarly, there are factories in Belgium, Bohemia, and elsewhere which exist solely for the production of “mediæval ” and other glassware. Ancient glass is rather easily imitated by various modern processes, and can be turned out to order by the ton. In the factories themselves all this ware is sold cheaply in its factitious character; but let it leave its place of origin and travel into marts remote, and it forthwith assumes a very different quality.
Briefly, the commerce of the fraudulent antique is at present co-extensive with the trading world. It is among the few forms of roguery in business that are practically exempt from punishment. Your butcher or baker may not sell you short weight, but the man at the bric-à-brac shop, if