When I recently received my Penhaligon’s Scent Library, I was very surprised to find an old letter tucked in at the bottom of the box. Written in an elegant hand on letter paper engraved with ‘SHEPHEARD’S HOTEL CAIRO’ at the top, it told a tale of an adventure so intriguing, I simply had to share it with you…
- En route from Cairo, June 23rd, 1893
My dearest sister Regan,
I hope this letter finds you well, and perhaps rather less exasperated by your wayward, scandalous sister. By this time I should think the uproar of my sudden flight from the altar should have abated slightly. Papa will forgive me in time, I believe, for absconding with my trousseau and the sum he left for the establishment of my household. As you know, I have continuously sent you letters across the Continent informing you of my well-being along with my whereabouts as my journey has allowed, so rest assured I am well and supremely happy – in Egypt of the countless marvels, no less. It is far indeed from London in ways you cannot possibly begin to imagine, and farther still from my former future as Mrs. Charles Benningham.
I may no longer be Mrs. Charles Benningham, but I am surely no less respectable. I did remember to bring Emily along as my chaperone, who has all that Yorkshire common sense I so evidently lack, and has proven herself in possession of talents you and I never knew in Kensington. For one, I suspect she has already gained a considerable vocabulary of the most disreputable words in both Italian and Arabic, and has since been striking utter terror in the hearts of porters from Brindisi to Cairo.
From my previous letter sent from Shepheard’s Hotel, you should already be well versed in the wonders of Cairo, but what you don’t yet know is that I have embarked upon yet another adventure with some fellow travelling companions whose acquaintance I made during my stay. We agreed last week to procure a so-called dahabeeyah – ours a sturdy vessel called the Saqqara – to sail down the Nile as far as Philae and possibly to the cataracts, conditions permitting. All these arrangements were made by a former officer who has lived in Egypt for some years, a tall, aloof man I shall call Blenheim. He has a certain imposing if rather chilly air of elegance about him. In our company, we also have a cloth merchant from Manchester on his way to Luxor that I have secretly named Mr. Quercus, who is far more approachable and quite endearing. His alluring and very elegant wife, Artemisia, whose language is far fruitier than her appearance would suggest, accompanies him. We have also a couple on their honeymoon from Edinburgh, a bookish and very entertaining professor of classical literature I quickly dubbed Endymion, who quotes Herodotus at any opportunity to great hilarity, and his demure young bride Lily of the Valley, who is rather shy if no less lovely for that signature green she so loves to wear.
Dearest Regan, you cannot imagine my utter dismay however when I bumped into….
To Be Continued…..
- ‘A Journey Down the Phial’ was written by our guest blogger Tarleisio. Tarleisio of Scent Less Sensibilities (http://scentlesssensibilities.blogspot.com) coaxes the genies out of perfume bottles, where they tell their fragrant stories through her prose.
You can follow her on Twitter @tarleisio