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more things in heaven and earth," &c. The ghost or revenant which belonged to our house I have never seen though I have often heard it. A certain gentleman, known familiarly as "Red Cap," used to drive up to the hall-door and from thence to the stables, which were at some little distance, and sometimes he has been seen to drive a pair of grey horses round the stable-yard. There can be no doubt that I, as well as all my family, have often heard most distinctly a carriage drive past the house, with the regular beat of the horses' feet and the grinding of wheels, when there was no possible known origin for the peculiar and well-marked sounds. So accustomed were we to the occurrence that we paid no attention to it, and I remember that frequently, when we had company in the evening, a stranger would ask who was the late arrival and would be told, "Oh, it's nothing. It's only Red Cap," very much to his or her astonishment when the explanation was given. The story ran that, in olden days, a member of a county family had been shot at our gate and that his unquiet spirit still often revisited the scene of his death. But "Red Cap's" visits had no particular meaning and did not portend either disaster or good fortune. It was very different with occurrences at a country house, the property of one of our oldest friends. There, before the death of one of the family, a pack of hounds was said to be always seen hunting in the woods near the house. I had often heard that when the old squire, a contemporary of my grandfather, died, many people saw the hounds in full cry; but I know that, on one Sunday in my own recollection, several people who were well
known saw and heard a pack of hounds hunting through the woods. The owner of the property, a colonel in the army, was one of them, and was, in the first instance, very much annoyed that anybody should have had hounds out on his grounds on such a day. thought that some of the county hounds had possibly got away from their kennels and were hunting on their own account and sent to inquire if this was the case; but no, the hounds had remained quiet all that day. Then he sent to rather a wild young gentleman who kept a pack of harriers and might have forgotten propriety so far as to have them out on a Sunday. But he also could show that he and his harriers had been at home. The curious thing was that a telegram was shortly afterwards received, saying that the colonel's brother and heir had died of cholera in India. The facts of the hunting-hounds having been seen by so many people and the death which immediately followed caused a great deal of remark at the time and have never yet received any commonplace explanation.
At the same house, when I myself was staying there on a visit, occurred some incidents which made a very deep impression on me, and indeed on all the other guests. I daresay many readers may know that peacocks are supposed, by unusual conduct, to presage misfortune. Neither I nor most, at any rate, of the other inmates of House at the time I speak of knew of this belief, so the sequel of the circumstances which I shall relate struck us with peculiar force and vividness. A lady staying in the house had a young child with her which had been ailing for some days. One
evening she came down-stairs in very low spirits after nursing her child all day and said, "I'm sure I must give up all hope, for the peacock has come round to my side of the house, and all to-day it has been sitting on the windowsill." Of course all the rest of the party pooh-poohed the notion, and tried to cheer her a little. No one was more emphatic in scorning the idea that the peacock could give a bad omen than a young man of the highest promise, and extremely popular with all of us, as he was in every society. Nothing that could be said brought any confidence or comfort to the mother, however, and to our great sorrow her forebodings were justified, for the poor child died during the following night. Even then none of us thought any more about the peacock, or, if we remembered its conduct at all, we only looked upon it as a strange coincidence. The mother with her dead child left the house and about two days afterwards the young man whom I mentioned above told us at breakfast, "If I was inclined to be superstitious, I should be afraid that something was going to happen to me next, for the peacock now insists upon haunt ing my side of the house, and has been sitting on my window-sill." As he was in the best of spirits, and apparently in the highest health, we all joined with him in laughing at the implied warning by the bird. He left us on either that or the following day, and the next we heard of him was that he had suddenly taken ill, and had died in London. The shock of the death of one to whom we were all so much attached was terrible, and I do not think that any one who was of the small party at House at that time
cared afterwards to talk of peacocks and their ways.
Another house in our old county belongs to Lord and it is said that before the death of the head of the family foxes are always seen sitting on the doorstep of the house. Only one of the Lords
has died in my time, and it is well known that two foxes were seen during all the day previous to the good old man's death playing about on the lawns, and in the early morning of the day itself they were seen sitting on the doorsteps. As the house is in the heart of the best hunting country in Ireland, where foxes are most carefully preserved, perhaps it is too much to say that the sight of a fox or foxes has there, at any time, any unusual significance.
To pass to what was a case of very curiously justified foreboding. There was a piano-tuner who used to come from Dublin periodically to tune our piano and do the same service in the various country houses. He had an unconquerable dread of being drowned and could never be induced to enter a boat or trust himself on water under any conditions. And yet he met his death by drowning in a very strange manner. He was in an omnibus in Dublin which by some accident was capsized while crossing a bridge over the canal, and, falling over the low parapet, was precipitated into the lock. The water was only a foot or two deep and there was no reason why the passengers should not all have been extricated at the cost of a few broken bones and bruises. the result had not been so ghastly, the peculiarly Irish train of the canal-lock-keeper's reasoning would be in the highest degree droll. He felt he ought to do something when
he saw the accident and, thinking that the simplest way of getting the omnibus out would be to float it, forthwith turned on all the water into the lock. Several-I forget how many-of the inside passengers were drowned, and amongst them the unfortunate piano-tuner.
I fear it may be said that I have overrated the interest attaching to some of the trifling events
of my youth in a dear home, and have been led into the too common weakness of chronicling small beer; but, however they may appear to others, these trifling events are to me part of a happy time which has left-
"Deposited upon the silent shore Of memory, images and precious thoughts
That shall not die and cannot be destroyed."
ANOTHER YEAR'S PROGRESS IN EGYPT.
THE annual report of Lord Cromer on the "Finances, Administration, and Condition of Egypt, and the Progress of Reforms" is always interesting. In a style singularly graphic and clear it treats in detail of an extensive organisation working for the improvement of Egypt and the wellbeing of its people. These reports are a yearly review by a competent chief of the work of his agents; and a record of the progress made towards the high ideal of moral and material attainment which he has in view. Their perusal leaves on the mind of the reader the conviction that the objectif which Lord Cromer has ever and only before him is the advancement of the interests of Egypt. With him success is gauged by progress, and that progress must be demonstrated by tangible results. We discern in the writer all the qualities of a successful administrator-a firm grasp of details, a close scrutiny and watchful supervision, and a whole-hearted appreciation of good services when rendered.
It may easily be understood how these qualities act as a stimulant to effort and devotion upon Ministers
and functionaries whose labours are so sympathetically followed and so willingly recognised.
Financially, the situation of Egypt is shown by Lord Cromer's report for 1896 to be in the highest degree satisfactory. In a few words the financial results of that year may be described as yielding a surplus of £E316,000 after placing to "reserve" £E906,000, thus raising that fund to £E5,590,000. These figures are in themselves so
eloquent as to require no comment. It may, however, be added that there is in them nothing abnormal. The preceding year gave nearly similar results; and succeeding ones may be expected to change only for the better. The total amount of Egyptian bonds on the market at the 1st of January 1897, we are told, was £99,912,000, and in reference to this debt Lord Cromer makes the following suggestive remarks:
has been either paid off or withdrawn "During the last six years debt from the market by Government purchase, at an average rate of no less than £750,000 a-year. During the last three years the average has been £850,000 a-year. At this rate, leaving out of account the Daira and Domains loans, the latter of which will disappear gradually, whilst the former will certainly be much diminished as the properties are sold, the whole of the Egyptian debt would be paid off in about forty-four years. I should add that the interest-charge on the bonds on the market, which on the 1st January 1883 stood at £4,163,000, is now £3,776,000, a diminution of £387,000."
Administratively, along the whole line there is progress. In justice, Lord Cromer draws attention to various important Mohammedan law reforms which were carried out in 1896, and we cannot refrain from quoting his closing observations upon that subject:
"These well-considered reforms, the conception and execution of which do great credit to the Egyptian Ministers, have met with no serious opposition. Indeed I have every reason to believe that they have been re
ceived with feelings of lively satisfaction by the very great majority of the people of Egypt."
It is a gratifying circumstance that the " conception and execution" of such important reforms are attributable to the Egyptian Ministers; and it is of good augury for the future. There is
a large field for similar reforms in the Mussulman "Mehkemehs" (cadi's courts), which can best be carried out by native initiative. The native judges of these courts, cadis and muftis, poorly paid and imperfectly acquainted with the new code of laws. By special allowances, granted to those who pass an examination in the new code, their pecuniary situation might be improved, and the standard of qualification might be raised.
From a note of Sir John Scott, appended to Lord Cromer's report, it is evident that the native tribunals are gaining slowly, but not less surely, the confidence of the people; and that the patient and conciliatory labours of the judicial adviser are receiving the reward of success which they deserve. The summary justice tribunals, which are his creation, tried in the year 51,696 cases, and the decisions, adds Sir John Scott, "are as a rule in accordance with the facts and the law; the appeals are comparatively few, and generally the sentence is confirmed." This prompt and inexpensive system of justice is an appreciated boon to the rural population; and we are not surprised to learn that the demands are numerous for an increase in the number of these courts.
Of the prosperous condition of trade in Egypt there can be no better indication than the railway traffic. "The gross receipts of the railways during 1896 amounted to £E1,822,000 as compared to £1,750,000 in 1895," while in 1886 they were only £E1,270,000. The working expenses of the lines
at present open represent 43 per cent of the gross receipts-a percentage greatly inferior to that of our railways in England. The railway extensions now being carried out are also significant of the spirit of progress which is alive in the country. We are told by Lord Cromer that "by the end of 1897 it is expected that through railway communication will be established from Cairo to Assouan," which means an addition of about 241 miles since 1895. On the subject of this extension we will not conceal our regret that, south of Luxor to Assouan (131 miles), a change to a narrow gauge has been resolved upon. The motive is economy, but it is penny - wise, pound-foolish. The break of gauge will be seriously inconvenient in the transport of troops, and generally disadvantageous to both passengers and traffic. Last year the narrow gauge was to have begun some fifty miles north of Luxor, but the rails for that section were transported to the frontier and replaced by others of a broad gauge. If still possible, it would be well to repeat that operation and extend the broad gauge to Assouan.
Two concessions for the construction of light agricultural railways (2-feet 6-inch gauge, and about 200 miles in length) have been given, and we agree with Lord Cromer that "it cannot be doubted that the introduction of the system of light railways will prove of great benefit to the country." These railways, having a Government guarantee of 3 per cent interest, have justly attracted the attention of capitalists both abroad and in Egypt. One of the concessions has been taken by an English syndicate, and this is the second undertaking in which British capital has been embarked in Egypt for works of public