By Julie Hankey
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Would be taken care of, as well as board while there, and altogether he was amazed at his good fortune. At the same time he had a painful sense that this was his last chance. From then on, he says, he literally slaved for Petrie. C. for lunch. The Petries were famous for their frugality, and for their horror of time-wasting. Each would open a book beside his or her plate, while the Professor invariably ordered a strawberry ice (‘ “to cool the stomach prior to eating” ’). Next he would bolt two 27 A PASSION FOR EGYPT poached eggs, a Bath bun, and two glasses of milk, after which the two of them would wait, reading, while Weigall chewed his way through the remnants of his own food.
Perhaps this is based on one of the ‘awful incidents’ he mentioned to Mimi, and certainly there were to be others of that kind later on. His isolation was not, of course, complete. Saqqara is only about fifteen miles from Cairo: there was a train which brought visitors, and there were always tourists. Besides, in both the winters of 1903 and 1904 there was a party of Petrie’s camped at Saqqara, consisting of four women, Miss Hansard, Miss Kingsford (both artists), Miss Eckenstein and Mrs Petrie.
So much so, that when the affair ended, and Weigall left the City, he wrote a breathless letter to Newberry confiding the whole thing to him. He wanted to explain that the causes for his decision to abandon accountancy were desperate rather than 21 A PASSION FOR EGYPT rational, and that he hadn’t done it solely because of Egypt. 3 Egypt had taken his mind off the City, and now it would distract him from his love. But he was beginning to want something more practical than dreams. ’ The boy was clearly not to be fobbed off with a few tracings.
A Passion for Egypt: Arthur Weigall, Tutankhamun and the 'Curse of the Pharaohs' by Julie Hankey