He found himself once again on al-Fustat Street, buffeted by an unruly, cold wind which caught him by surprise. It shook the branches, making the street hum with their rustling. It blew past walls with a deafening whistle. A shudder passed through his enervated body and pervaded his joints; the month of Amshir was too harsh for a starving weakling to endure. Although distracted from his surroundings by his reflections, half conscious of the weather, he darted along the road. He thought of Fadil, comparing himself with the adolescent who enjoyed health, good looks, and wealth whereas Mahgub was ill, ugly, and poor. Nonetheless they were cousins! Tahiya was an aristocrat—a vibrant representative of the world he yearned for. Do you suppose he would ever take her to the Pyramids? A girl like her really was a magic key that could unlock doors and perform miracles. He brooded about this for a long time. But, alas! How could he sink into such dreams and forget his current concerns? How would he find the money to buy the book for Latin? How could he withstand his starvation diet that threatened his body and mind? How amazing! What greater proof of man’s baseness was there than the need for food to sustain life? Could this food, which was extracted from clay and fertilized by garbage, constitute life’s essence and mainstay? Was it thought’s buttress? The true creator of ideals? Wasn’t this proof that man’s essence is vile rubbish? He quickened his steps. The winds kept on raging ferociously and the sky was overcast with dark clouds. The emerald waters of the Nile were roiled and turbulent. He cast an angry look at his surroundings and spat disdainfully on the ground as if to declare his enmity to the world. Shouldn’t he borrow the money? From whom? How could he repay the debt? The next month would be no better than the previous one—in fact, it might be worse. What could he do? If only he knew how to pick pockets. There was a magical art! Pickpockets owned everything in anyone’s pocket. The nation’s rulers had grasped the significance of this insight. But what could he do? Should he renew his attack on Hamdis Bey? Should he meet him at his ministry and ask him point-blank for money? Tahiya’s image disrupted this chain of thoughts—Tahiya with all her nobility and her aristocratic manners. Would he want her to learn he was a miserable beggar? This girl stirred his feelings, although he was not insane enough to rave the way Ali Taha did. This was a new passion. Like his passion for Ihsan, it was neither Platonic nor erotic. Amazingly, he felt enormously, incredibly self-confident, perhaps because of his native daring and audacity, not to mention the fact that—like the masses—he believed his sexual prowess outstripped that of the rich. He truly believed that Tahiya was not beyond his reach. The sky was not the limit for his dreams, which his hunger made even more fantastic, a hunger that turned studying into a bitter struggle and his nights into painful torture. The book for Latin? Damn it. How would he raise the money?