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Morning star


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Title:MorningStar
Author:H.RiderHaggard
ReleaseDate:April3,2006[EBook#2722]
LastUpdated:September23,2016
Language:English

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ProducedbyJohnBickers;Dagny;EmmaDudding;DavidWidger


MORNINGSTAR



byH.RiderHaggard


Contents
DEDICATION
AUTHOR’SNOTE

MORNINGSTAR
CHAPTERI
CHAPTERII
CHAPTERIII
CHAPTERIV
CHAPTERV
CHAPTERVI
CHAPTERVII
CHAPTER
VIII
CHAPTERIX
CHAPTERX
CHAPTERXI
CHAPTERXII
CHAPTER
XIII
CHAPTER
XIV
CHAPTERXV


CHAPTER
XVI
CHAPTER
XVII
CHAPTER
XVIII


DEDICATION
MydearBudge,—
Onlyafriendshipextendingovermanyyearsemboldenedme,anamateur,to
proposetodedicateaRomanceofOldEgypttoyou,oneoftheworld’smasters


ofthelanguageandloreofthegreatpeoplewhointheselatterdaysarisefrom
theirholytombstoinstructusinthesecretsofhistoryandfaith.
WithdoubtIsubmittedtoyouthisstory,askingwhetheryouwishedtoaccept
pagesthatcouldnot,Ifeared,befreefromerror,andwithsurpriseinduecourse
Iread,amongotherkindthings,youradvicetometo“leaveitexactlyasitis.”
SoItakeyouatyourword,althoughIcanscarcelythinkthatinpathssoremote
anddifficultIhavenotsometimesgoneastray.
Whatever may be the shortcomings, therefore, that your kindness has
concealedfromme,sincethistalewassofortunateastopleaseandinterestyou,
itsfirstcritic,Iofferittoyouasanearnestofmyrespectforyourlearningand
yourlabours.
Verysincerelyyours,
H.RiderHaggard.
Ditchingham.
ToDoctorWallisBudge,
KeeperofEgyptianandAssyrianAntiquities,BritishMuseum.


AUTHOR’SNOTE
It may be thought that even in a story of Old Egypt to represent a “Ka” or
“Double”asremaininginactiveoccupationofathrone,whiletheownerofthe
said“Double”goesuponalongjourneyandachievessundryadventures,is,in
fact, totake a libertywithDoubles.YetIbelievethatthisisscarcelythecase.
The Ka or Double which Wiedermann aptly calls the “Personality within the
Person” appears, according to Egyptian theory, to have had an existence of its
own. It did not die when the body died, for it was immortal and awaited the
resurrectionofthatbody,withwhich,henceforth,itwouldbereunitedanddwell
eternally.ToquoteWiedermannagain,“TheKacouldlivewithoutthebody,but
thebodycouldnotlivewithouttheKa.....itwasmaterialinjustthesamewas
asthebodyitself.” Also, it would seemthatincertainwaysitwassuperiorto
and more powerful than the body, since the Egyptian monarchs are often
represented as making offerings to their own Kas as though these were gods.
Again,inthestoryof“SetnaandtheMagicBook,”translatedbyMasperoand
byMr.FlindersPetrieinhis“EgyptianTales,”theKaplaysaverydistinctpart
ofitsown.ThusthehusbandisburiedatMemphisandthewifeinKoptos,yet
theKaofthewifegoestoliveinherhusband’stombhundredsofmilesaway,
andconverseswiththeprincewhocomestostealthemagicbook.
Although I know no actual precedent for it, in the case of a particularly
powerfulDouble,suchaswasgiveninthisromancetoQueenNeter-Tuabyher
spiritual father, Amen, the greatest of the Egyptian gods, it seems, therefore,
legitimatetosupposethat,inordertosaveherfromtheabominationofaforced
marriagewithheruncleandherfather’smurderer,theKawouldbeallowedto
anticipatemattersalittle,andtoplaythepartrecordedinthesepages.
It must not be understood, however, that the fact of marriage with an uncle
wouldhaveshockedtheEgyptianmind,sincethesepeople,andespeciallytheir
royalHouses,madeahabitofweddingtheirownbrothersandsisters,asinthis
taleMermeswedhishalfsisterAsti.
I may add that there is authority for the magic waxen image which the
sorcerer Kaku and his accomplice used to bewitch Pharaoh. In the days of
RamesesIII.,overthreethousandyearsago,aplotwasmadetomurdertheking
in pursuance of which such images were used. “Gods of wax . . . . . . for
enfeebling the limbs of people,” which were “great crimes of death, the great


abomination of the land.” Also a certain “magic roll” was brought into play
whichenableditsuserto“employthemagicpowersofthegods.”
Still, the end of these wizards was not encouraging to others, for they were
foundguiltyandobligedtotaketheirownlives.
But even if I am held to have stretched the prerogative of the Ka, or of the
waxen image which, by the way, has survived almost to our own time, and in
WestAfrica,asafetish,isstillpiercedwithpinsornails,Icanurgeinexcuse
that I have tried, so far as a modern may, to reproduce something of the
atmosphere and colour of Old Egypt, as it has appeared to a traveller in that
country and a student of its records. If Neter-Tua never sat upon its throne, at
leastanotherdaughterofAmen,amightyqueen,Hatshepu,worethecrownof
the Upper and the Lower Lands, and sent her embassies to search out the
mysteries of Punt. Of romance also, in high places, there must have been
abundance, though the short-cut records of the religious texts of the priests do
nottroublethemselveswithsuchmatters.
Atanyrate,sobelieving,inthehopethatitmayinterestreadersofto-day,I
have ventured to discover and present one such romance, whereof the motive,
we may be sure, is more ancient, by far, than the old Egyptians, namely, the
triumphoftrueloveovergreatdifficultiesanddangers.Itispleasanttodream
thatthegodsareonthesideofsuchlovers,anddeignfortheirsakestoworkthe
miracles in which for thousands of years mankind has believed, although the
scientisttellsusthattheydonothappen.
How large a part marvel and magic of the most terrible and exalted kind
played in the life of Old Egypt and of the nations with which she fought and
traded, we need go no further than the Book of Exodus to learn. Also all her
historyisfullofit,sinceamongtheEgyptiansitwasanarticleoffaiththatthe
Divinity,whichtheyworshippedundersomanynamesandsymbols,madeuse
of such mysterious means to influence or direct the affairs of men and bring
abouttheaccomplishmentofItsdecrees.
H.R.H.


MORNINGSTAR
byH.RiderHaggard


CHAPTERI
THEPLOTOFABI
It was evening in Egypt, thousands of years ago, when the Prince Abi,
governorofMemphisandofgreatterritoriesintheDelta,madefasthisshipof
statetoaquaybeneaththeoutermostwallsofthemightycityofUastorThebes,
which we moderns know as Luxor and Karnac on the Nile. Abi, a large man,
verydarkofskin,forhismotherwasoneofthehatedHyksosbarbarianswho
oncehadusurpedthethroneofEgypt,satuponthedeckofhisshipandstaredat
the setting sun which for a few moments seemed to rest, a round ball of fire,
uponthebareandruggedmountains,thatringroundtheTombsoftheKings.
He was angry, as the slave-women, who stood on either side fanning him,
couldseewellenoughbythescowlonhiscoarsefaceandthefireinhislarge
blackeyes.Presentlytheyfeltitalso,foroneofthem,staringatthetemplesand
palacesofthewonderfulcitymadegloriousbythelightofthesettingsun,that
cityofwhichshehadheardsooften,touchedhisheadwiththefeathersofher
fan.Thereon,asthoughgladofanexcusetoexpresshisill-humour,Abisprang
upandboxedherearssoheavilythatthepoorgirlfelltothedeck.
“Awkward cat,”hecried,“dothatagainandyoushallbefloggeduntil your
robestickstoyourback!”
“Pardon,mightyLord,”shesaid,beginningtoweep,“itwasanaccident;the
windcaughtmyfan.”
“Sotherodshallcatchyourskin,ifyouarenotmorecareful,Merytra.Stop
thatsnivellingandgosendKakutheAstrologerhere.Go,both,Iwearyofthe
sightofyouruglyfaces.”
Thegirlrose,andwithherfellowslaveranswiftlytotheladderthatledtothe
waistoftheship.
“He called me a cat,” Merytra hissed through her white teeth to her
companion.“Well,ifso,Sekhetthecat-headedismygodmother,andsheisthe
LadyofVengeance.”
“Yes,”answeredtheother,“andhesaidthatwewerebothugly—we,whom
every lord who comes near the Court admires so much! Oh! I wish a holy
crocodilewouldeathim,blackpig!”


“Thenwhydon’ttheybuyus?Abiwouldsellhisdaughters,muchmorehis
fan-bearers—ataprice.”
“Becausetheyhopetogetusfornothing,mydear,andwhatismore,ifIcan
manageitoneofthemshall,forIamtiredofthislife.Haveyourflingwhileyou
can,Isay.WhoknowsatwhichcornerOsiris,LordofDeath,iswaiting.”
“Hush!”whisperedMerytra,“thereisthatknaveofanastrologer,andhelooks
cross,too.”
Then, hand in hand, they went to this lean and learned man and humbly
bowedthemselvesbeforehim.
“MasteroftheStars,”saidMerytra,“wehaveamessageforyou.No,donot
look at my cheek, please, the marks are not magical, only those of the divine
fingersoftheglorioushandofthemostexaltedPrinceAbi,sonofthePharaoh
happilyrulinginOsiris,etc.,etc.,etc.,oftheright,royalbloodofEgypt—thatis
ononeside,andontheotherofadivineladywhomKhemtheSpirit,orPtahthe
Creator,thoughtfittodipinavatofblackdye.”
“Hem!” said Kaku glancing nervously over his shoulder. Then, seeing that
there was no one near, he added, “you had better be careful what you say, my
dear.TheroyalAbidoesnotliketohearthecolourofhislatemotherdefinedso
closely.Butwhydidheslapyourface?”
Shetoldhim.
“Well,”heanswered,“ifIhadbeeninhisplaceIwouldratherhavekissedit,
foritispretty,decidedlypretty,”andthislearnedmanforgothimselfsofarasto
winkatMerytra.
“There,Sister,”saidthegirl,“Ialwaystoldyouthatroughshellshavesweet
nuts inside of them. Thank you for your compliment, Master of learning. Will
youtellusourfortunefornothing?”
“Yes,yes,”heanswered;“atleastthefeeIwantwillcostyounothing.Now
stopthisnonsense,”headded,anxiously,“Igatherthatheiscross.”
“Ineversawhimcrosser,Kaku.Iamgladitisyouwhoreadsthestars,notI.
Listen!”
Ashespokeanangryroarreachedthemfromthehighdeckabove.
“Whereisthataccursedastrologer?”saidtheroar.
“There,whatdidItellyou?Oh!nevermindtherestofthepapers,goatonce.
Yourrobeisfullofrollsasitis.”
“Yes,”answeredKakuasherantotheladder,“butthequestionis,howwill
helikewhatisintherolls?”


“Thegodsbewithyou!”criedoneofthegirlsafterhim,“youwillneedthem
all.”
“Andifyougetbackalive,don’tforgetyourpromiseaboutthefortunes,”said
theother.
A minute later this searcher of the heavens, a tall, hook-nosed man, was
prostratinghimselfbeforeAbiinhispavilionontheupperdeck,solowthathis
Syrian-shapedcapfellfromhisbaldhead.
“Whywereyousolongincoming?”askedAbi.
“Becauseyourslavescouldnotfindme,royalSonoftheSun.Iwasatwork
inmycabin.”
“Indeed,IthoughtIheardthemgigglingwithyoudownthere.Whatdidyou
callme?RoyalSonoftheSun?ThatisPharaoh’sname!Havethestarsshown
you——?”andhelookedathimeagerly.
“No, Prince, not exactly that. I did not think it needful to search them on a
matterwhichseemsestablished,moreorless.”
“Moreorless,”answeredAbigloomily.“Whatdoyoumeanbyyour‘moreor
less’?HereamIattheturning-pointofmyfortunes,notknowingwhetherIam
tobePharaohoftheUpperandLowerLands,oronlythepettylordofacityand
a few provinces in the Delta, and you satisfy my hunger for the truth with an
emptydishof‘moreorless.’Man,whatdoyoumean?”
“IfyourMajestywillbepleasedtotellhisservantexactlywhatyoudesireto
know,perhapsImaybeabletoanswerthequestion,”repliedKakuhumbly.
“Majesty!Well,Idesiretoknowbywhatwarrantyoucallme‘Majesty,’who
amonlyPrinceofMemphis.Didthestarsgiveittoyou?Haveyouobeyedme
andaskedthemofthefuture?”
“Certainly,certainly.HowcouldIdisobey?Iobservedthemalllastnight,and
have been working out the results till this moment; indeed, they are not yet
finished.QuestionandIwillanswer.”
“You will answer, yes, but what will you answer? Not the truth, I fancy,
becauseyouareacoward,thoughifanyonecanreadthetruth,itisyou.Man,”
headdedfiercely,“ifyoudaretolietomeIwillcutyourheadoffandtakeitto
Pharaohasatraitor’s;andyourbodyshalllie,notinthatfinetombwhichyou
have made, but in the belly of a crocodile whence there is no resurrection. Do
youunderstand?Thenletuscometothepoint.Look,thesunsetstherebehind
theTombsofKings,wherethedepartedPharaohsofEgypttaketheirresttillthe
DayofAwakening.Itisabadomenforme,Iknow,whowishedtoreachthis


cityinthemorningwhenRawasintheHouseofLife,theEast,andnotinthe
HouseofDeath,theWest;butthataccursedwindsentbyTyphon,heldmeback
andIcouldnot.Well,letusbeginattheendwhichmustcomeafterall.Tellme,
youreaderoftheheavens,shallIsleepatlastinthatvalley?”
“Ithinkso,Prince;atleast,sosaysyourplanet.Look,yonder,itspringstolife
aboveyou,”andhepointedto anorbthatappearedat thetopmostedgeofthe
redglowofthesunset.
“Youarekeepingsomethingbackfromme,”saidAbi,searchingKaku’sface
withhisfierceeyes.“ShallIsleepinthetombofPharaoh,inmyowneverlasting
housethatIshallhavemadereadytoreceiveme?”
“Son of Ra, I cannot say,” answered the astrologer. “Divine One, I will be
frank with you. Though you be wrath, yet will I tell you the truth as you
commandme.AnevilinfluenceisatworkinyourHouseofLife.Anotherstar
crosses and re-crosses your path, and though for a long time you seem to
swallowitup,yetatthelastiteclipsesyou—itandonethatgoeswithit.”
“Whatstar?”askedAbihoarsely,“Pharaoh’s?”
“Nay,Prince,thestarofAmen.”
“Amen!WhatAmen?”
“Amenthegod,Prince,themightyfatherofthegods.”
“Amen the god,” repeated Abi in an awed voice. “How can a man fight
againstagod?”
“Say rather against two gods, for with the star of Amen goes the star of
Hathor,QueenofLove.Notformanyperiodsofthousandsofyearshavethey
beentogether,butnowtheydrawneartoeachother,andsowillremainforall
your life. Look,” and Kaku pointed to the Eastern horizon where a faint rosy
glowstilllingeredreflectedfromthewesternsky.
As they watched this glow melted, and there in the pure heavens, lying just
whereitmetthedistantland,seemingtorestupontheland,indeed,appeareda
brightandbeautifulstar,andsoclosetoitthat,totheeye,theyalmosttouched,a
twinstar.Forafewminutesonlyweretheyseen;thentheyvanishedbeneaththe
lineofthehorizon.
“The morning star of Amen, and with it the star of Hathor,” said the
astrologer.
“Well,Fool,whatofit?”exclaimedAbi.“Theyarefarenoughfrommystar;
moreover,itistheythatsink,notI,whoridehighereverymoment.”
“Aye, Prince, but in a year to come they will certainly eclipse that star of


yours. Prince, Amen and Hathor are against you. Look, I will show you their
journeyingsonthisscrollandyoushallseewheretheyeatyouupyonder,yes,
yonderovertheValleyofdeadKings,thoughtwentyyearsandmoremustgoby
erethen,andtakethisforyourcomfort,duringthoseyearsyoushinealone,”and
hebegantounfoldapapyrusroll.
Abisnatcheditfromhim,crumpleditupandthrewitinhisface.
“Youcheat!”hesaid.“Doyouthinktofrightenmewiththisnonsenseabout
stars?Hereismystar,”andhedrewtheshortswordathissideandshookitover
theheadofthetremblingKaku.“ThissharpbronzeisthestarIfollow,andbe
carefullestitshouldeclipseyou,youfatheroflies.”
“I have told the truth as I see it,” answered the poor astrologer with some
dignity,“butifyouwish,OPrince,thatinthefutureIshouldindeedprophesy
pleasantthingstoyou,why,itcanbedoneeasilyenough.Moreover,itseemsto
me that this horoscope of yours is not so evil, seeing that it gives to you over
twentyyearsoflifeandpower,morebyfarthanmostmencanexpect—atyour
age.Ifafterthatcometroublesandtheend,whatofit?”
“Thatisso,”repliedAbimollified.“Itwasmyill-temper,everythinghasgone
crossto-day.Well,agoldcup,myown,shallpaythepriceofit.Bearmenoillwill, I pray you, learned scribe, and above all tell me no falsehood as the
messageofthestarsyouserve.ItisthetruthIseek,thetruth.Ifonlyshemaybe
seen,andclasped,Icarenothowill-favouredisherface.”
Rejoicingattheturnwhichthingshadtaken,andespeciallyatthepromiseof
the priceless cup which he had long coveted, Kaku bowed obsequiously. He
pickeduphiscrumpledrollandwasabouttoretirewhenthroughthegloomof
thefallingnight,somemenmounteduponasseswereseenridingoverthemud
flats that border the Nile at this spot, towards that bank where the ship was
moored.
“The captain of my guard,” said Abi, who saw the starlight gleam upon a
bronzehelmet,“whobringsmePharaoh’sanswer.Nay,gonot,bideandhearit,
Kaku,andgiveusyourcounselonit,yourtruecounsel.”
So the astrologer stood aside and waited, till presently the captain appeared
saluting.
“WhatsaysPharaoh,mybrother?”askedthePrince.
“Lord,hesaysthathewillreceiveyou,thoughashedidnotsendforyou,he
thinks that you can scarcely come upon any necessary errand, as he has heard
longagoofyourvictoryoverthedesert-dwellingbarbarians,anddoesnotwant
theofferingofthesaltedheadsoftheirofficerswhichyoubringtohim.”


“Good,”saidAbicontemptuously.“ThedivinePharaohwaseverawomanin
such matters, as in others. Let him be thankful that he has generals who know
how to make war and to cut off the heads of his enemies in defence of the
kingdom.Wewillwaituponhimto-morrow.”
“Lord,”addedthecaptain,“thatisnotallPharaoh’smessage.Hesaysthatit
hasbeenreportedtohimthatyouareaccompaniedbyaguardofthreehundred
soldiers.Thesesoldiersherefusestoallowwithinthegates.Hedirectsthatyou
shallappearbeforehisMajestyattendedbyfivepersonsonly.”
“Indeed,”answeredAbiwithascornfullaugh.“DoesPharaohfear,then,lestI
should capture him and his armies and the great city with three hundred
soldiers?”
“No, Prince,” answered the captain bluntly; “but I think he fears lest you
shouldkillhimanddeclareyourselfPharaohasnextinblood.”
“Ah!” said Abi, “as next of blood. Then I suppose that there are still no
childrenattheCourt?”
“None,OPrince.IsawAhura,theroyalwife,theLadyoftheTwoLands,that
fairest of women, and other lesser wives and beautiful slave girls without
number, but never a one of them had an infant on her breast or at her knee.
Pharaohremainschildless.”
“Ah!”saidAbiagain.Thenhewalkedforwardoutofthepavilionwhereofthe
curtainsweredrawnback,andstoodawhileupontheprowofthevessel.
Bynownighthadfallen,andthegreatmoon,risingfromtheearthasitwere,
pouredherfloodofsilverlightoverthedesert,themountains,thelimitlesscity
of Thebes, and the wide rippling bosom of the Nile. The pylons and obelisks,
glitteringwithcopperandwithgold,toweredtothetendersky.Inthewindow
places of palaces and of ten thousand homes lamps shone like stars. From
gardens,streetsandthecourtsoftemplesfloatedthefaintsoundofsingingand
ofmusic,whileonthegreatembattledwallsthewatchmencalledthehourfrom
posttopost.
It was a wondrous scene, and the heart of Abi swelled as he gazed upon it.
What wealth lay yonder, and what power. There was the glorious house of his
brother, Pharaoh, the god in human form who for all his godship had never a
child to follow after him when he ascended to Osiris, as he who was sickly
probablymustdobeforesoverylong.
Yes,butbeforethenamiraclemighthappen;inthiswayorinthatasuccessor
to the throne might be found and acknowledged, for were not Pharaoh and his
House beloved by all the priests of Amen, and by the people, and was not he,


Abi, feared and disliked because he was fierce, and the hated savage blood
flowedinhisveins?Oh!whatevilgodhadputitinhisfather’shearttogivehim
aprincessoftheHyksosforamother,theHyksos,whomtheEgyptiansloathed,
whenhehadthefairestwomenoftheworldfromwhomtochoose?Well,itwas
doneandcouldnotbeundone,thoughbecauseofithemightlosehisheritageof
the greatest throne in all the earth. Also was it not to this fierce Hyksos blood
thatheowedhisstrengthandvigour?
Why should he wait? Why should he not set his fortune on a cast? He had
threehundredsoldierswithhim,pickedmenandbrave,childrenoftheseaand
thedesert,sworntohisHouseandinterests.Itwasatimeoffestival,thosegates
wereill-guarded.Whyshouldhenotforcethematthedeadofnight,makehis
waytothepalace,causePharaohtobegatheredtohisfathers,andatthedawn
discoverhimselfseateduponPharaoh’sthrone?AtthethoughtofitAbi’sheart
leaptinhisbreast,hiswidenostrilsspreadthemselves,andheerectedhisstrong
headasthoughalreadyhefeltuponittheweightofthedoublecrown.Thenhe
turnedandwalkedbacktothepavilion.
“Iammindedtostrikeablow,”hesaid.“Saynow,myofficer,wouldyouand
thesoldiersfollowmeintotheheartofyondercityto-nighttowinathrone—or
agrave?Ifitwerethefirst,youshouldbethegeneralofallmyarmy,andyou,
astrologer, should become vizier, yes, after Pharaoh you two should be the
greatestmeninalltheland.”
Theylookedathimandgasped.
“A venturesome deed, Prince,” said the captain at length; “yet with such a
prizetowinIthinkthatIwoulddareit,thoughforthesoldiersIcannotspeak.
Firsttheymustbetoldwhatisonfoot,andoutofsomany,howknowwethat
theheartofoneormorewouldnotfail?Awordfromatraitorandbeforethis
timeto-morrowtheembalmers,orthejackals,wouldbebusy.”
Abiheardandlookedfromhimtohiscompanion.
“Prince,”saidKaku,“putsuchthoughtsfromyou.Burythemdeep.Letthem
risenomore.IntheheavensIreadsomethingofthisbusiness,butthenIdidnot
understand,butnowIseetheblackdepthsofhellopeningbeneathourfeet.Yes,
hellwouldbeourhomeifwedaredtolifthandagainstthedivinepersonofthe
Pharaoh.Isaythatthegodsthemselveswouldfightagainstus.Letitbe,Prince,
letitbe,andyoushallhavemanyyearsofrule,who,ifyoustrikenow,willwin
nothingbutacrownofshame,anamelessgrave,andtheeverlastingtormentof
thedamned.”
AshespokeAbiconsideredtheman’sfaceandsawthatallcrafthadleftit.


Thiswasnocharlatanthatspoketohim,butoneinearnestwhobelievedwhathe
said.
“So be it,” he answered. “I accept your judgment, and will wait upon my
fortune.Moreover,youarebothright,thethingistoodangerous,andeviloften
fallsontheheadsofthosewhoshootarrowsatagod,especiallyiftheyhavenot
enough arrows. Let Pharaoh live on while I make ready. Perhaps to-morrow I
mayworkuponhimtonamemehisheir.”
Theastrologersighedinrelief,nordidthecaptainseemdisappointed.
“My head feels firmer on my shoulders than it did just now,” he said: “and
doubtlesstherearetimeswhenwisdomisbetterthanvalour.Sleepwell,Prince;
Pharaohwillreceiveyouto-morrowtwohoursaftersunrise.Haveweyourleave
toretire?”
“IfIwerewise,”saidAbi, fingeringthehilt ofhisswordashe spoke,“you
wouldbothofyouretireforeverwhoknowallthesecretofmyheart,andwitha
whispercouldbringdoomuponme.”
Nowthepairlookedateachotherwithfrightenedeyes,and,likehismaster,
thecaptainbegantoplaywithhissword.
“Lifeissweettoallmen,Prince,”hesaid significantly,“andwehavenever
givenyoucausetodoubtus.”
“No,” answered Abi, “had it been otherwise I should have struck first and
spokenafterwards.Onlyyoumustswearbytheoathwhichmaynotbebroken
thatinlifeordeathnowordofthisshallpassyourlips.”
So they swore, both of them, by the holy name of Osiris, the judge and the
redeemer.
“Captain,” said Abi, “you have served me well. Your pay is doubled, and I
confirmthepromisethatImadetoyou—shouldIeverruleyonderyoushallbe
mygeneral.”
Whilethesoldierbowedhisthanks,theprincesaidtoKaku,
“Masterofthestars,mygoldcupisyours.Isthereaughtelseofminethatyou
desire?”
“Thatslave,”answeredthelearnedman,“Merytra,whoseearsyouboxedjust
now——”
“HowdoyouknowthatIboxedherears?”askedAbiquickly.“Didthestars
tellyouthatalso?Well,Iamtiredoftheslyhussy—takeher.SoonIthinkshe
willboxyours.”
ButwhenKakusoughtMerytratotellherthegladtidingsthatshewashis,he


couldnotfindher.
Merytrahaddisappeared.


CHAPTERII
THEPROMISEOFTHEGOD
It wasmorning atThebes,andthegreatcityglowedintheraysofthenewrisen sun. In a royal barge sat Abi the prince, splendidly apparelled, and with
himKaku,hisastrologer,hiscaptainoftheguardandthreeotherofhisofficers,
whileinasecondbargefollowedslaveswhoescortedtwochiefsandsomefair
womencapturedinwar,alsothechestsofsaltedheadsandhands,offeringsto
Pharaoh.
Thewhite-robedrowersbenttotheiroars,andtheswiftboatshotforwardup
theNilethroughadoublelineofshipsofwar,allofthemcrowdedwithsoldiers.
Abi looked at these ships which Pharaoh had gathered there to meet him, and
thought to himself that Kaku had given wise counsel when he prayed him to
attempt no rash deed, for against such surprises clearly Pharaoh was well
prepared. He thought it again when on reaching the quay of cut stones he saw
foot and horse-men marshalled there in companies and squadrons, and on the
wallsabovehundredsofothermen,allarmed,fornowhesawwhatwouldhave
happenedtohim,ifwithhislittledesperatebandhehadtriedtopiercethatiron
ringofwatchingsoldiers.
At the steps generals met him in their mail and priests in their full robes,
bowing and doing him honour. Thus royally escorted, Abi passed through the
open gates and the pylons of the splendid temple dedicated to the Trinity of
Thebes,“theHouseofAmenintheSouthernApt,”wheregaybannersfluttered
fromthepointedmasts,upthelongstreetborderedwithtallhousessetintheir
gardens,tillhecametothepalacewall.Heremoreguardsrolledbackthebrazen
gateswhichinhisfollyofafewhoursgonehehadthoughtthathecouldforce,
andthroughtheavenuesofbloomingtreeshewasledtothegreatpillaredhallof
audience.
After the brightness without, that hall seemed almost dark, only a ray of
sunshineflowingfromanunshutteredspaceintheclerestoryabove,fellfullon
the end of it, and revealed the crowned Pharaoh and his queen seated in state
upontheirthronesofivoryandgold.Gatheredroundandabouthimalsowere
scribes and councillors and captains, and beyond these other queens in their
carvedchairsandattended,eachofthem,bybeautifulwomenofthehousehold


in their gala dress. Moreover, behind the thrones, and at intervals between the
columns, stood the famous Nubian guard of two hundred men, the servants of
the body of Pharaoh as they were called, each of them chosen for faithfulness
andcourage.
ThecentreofallthismagnificencewasPharaoh,onhimthesunlightbeat,to
him every eye was turned, and where his glance fell there heads bowed and
kneeswerebent.Asmallthinmanofaboutfortyyearsofagewithapuckered,
kindlyandanxiousface,andabrowthatseemedtosinkbeneaththeweightof
thedoublecrownthat,saveforitsroyalsnake-crestofhollowgold,wasafterall
but of linen, a man with thin, nervous hands which played amongst the
embroideries of his golden robe—such was Pharaoh, the mightiest monarch in
theworld,therulerwhommillionsthathadneverseenhimworshippedasagod.
Abi,theburlyframed,thick-lipped,dark-skinned,round-eyedAbi,bornofthe
samefather,staredathimwithwonderment,foryearshadpassedsincelastthey
met,andinthepalacewhentheywerechildrenagulfhadbeensetbetweenthe
offspringofaroyalmotherandthechildofaHyksosconcubinetakenintothe
Householdforreasonsofstate.Inhisvigour,andthemightofhismanhood,he
staredatthisweakling,thesonofabrotherandasister,andthegrandsonofa
brother and a sister. Yet there was something in that gentle eye, an essence of
inherited royalty, before which his rude nature bowed. The body might be
contemptible,butwithinitdwelttheproudspiritofthedescendantofahundred
kings.
Abiadvancedtothestepsofthethroneandkneltthere,tillafteralittlepause
Pharaohstretchedoutthesceptreinhishandforhimtokiss.Thenhespokein
hislight,quickvoice.
“Welcome,Princeandmybrother,”hesaid.“Wequarrelledlongago,didwe
not,andmanyyearshavepassedsincewemet,butTimehealsallwoundsand—
welcome, son of my father. I need not ask if you are well,” and he glanced
enviouslyatthegreat-framedmanwhokneltbeforehim.
“HailtoyourdivineMajesty!”answeredAbiinhisdeepvoice.“Healthand
strengthbewithyou,HolderoftheScourgeofOsiris,WeareroftheFeathersof
Amen,MortalcrownedwiththegloryofRa.”
“Ithankyou,Prince,”answeredPharaohgently,“andthathealthandstrength
Ineed,whofearthatIshallonlyfindthemwhenIhaveyieldeduptheScourge
ofOsiriswhereofyouspeaktohimwholentitme.Butenoughofmyself.Letus
tobusiness,afterwardswewilltalkofsuchmatterstogether.Whyhaveyouleft
yourgovernmentatMemphiswithoutleaveasked,tovisitmehereinmyCityof


theGates?”
“Benotwrathwithme,”answeredAbihumbly.“Awhileago,inobedienceto
yourdivinecommand,Iattackedthebarbarianswhothreatenedyourdominions
inthedesert.LikeMenthu,godofwar,Ifelluponthem.Itookthembysurprise,
I smote them, thousands of them bit the dust before me. Two of their kings I
captured with their women—they wait without, to be slain by your Majesty. I
bring with me the heads of a hundred of their captains and the hands of five
hundredoftheirsoldiers,inearnestofthetruthofmyword.Letthembespread
outbeforeyou.IreporttoyourdivineMajestythatthosebarbariansarenomore,
that for a generation, at least, I have made the land safe to your uttermost
dominions in the north. Suffer that the heads and the hands be brought in and
countedoutbeforeyourMajesty,thatthesmellofthemmayriselikeincenseto
yourdivinenostrils.”
“No,no,”saidPharaoh,“myofficersshallcountthemwithout,forIlovenot
suchsightsofdeath,andItakeyourwordforthenumber.Whatpaymentdoyou
ask for this service, my brother, for with great gifts would I reward you, who
havedonesowellformeandEgypt?”
Before he answered Abi looked at the beautiful queen, Ahura, who sat at
Pharaoh’sside,andattheotherroyalconsortsandwomen.
“YourMajesty,”hesaid,“Iseeheremanywivesandladies,butroyalchildren
I do not see. Grant—for doubtless they are in their own chambers—grant, O
Pharaoh, that they may be led hither that my eyes may feed upon their
loveliness,andthatImaytellofthem,eachofthem,totheircousinswhoawait
meatMemphis.”
AtthesewordsaflushasofshamespreaditselfoverthelovelyfaceofAhura,
theroyalwife,theLadyoftheTwoLands;whilethewomenturnedtheirheads
awaywhisperingtoeachotherbitterly,fortheinsulthurtthem.OnlyPharaohset
hispalefaceandansweredwithdignity.
“Prince Abi, to affront those whom the gods have smitten, be they kings or
peasants, is an unworthy deed which the gods will not forget. You know well
thatIhavenochildren.Whythendoyouaskmetoshowyoutheirloveliness?”
“Ihadheardrumours,OPharaoh,”answeredthePrince,“nomore.Indeed,I
didnotbelievethem,forwheretherearesomanywivesIwascertainthatthere
would be some mothers. Therefore I asked to be sure before I proffered a
petitionwhichnowIwillmaketoyounotformyownsakebutforEgypt’sand
yours,OPharaoh.HaveIyourleavetospeakhereinpublic?”
“Speakon,”saidPharaohsternly.“LetaughtthatisforthewelfareofEgypt


beheardbyEgypt.”
“YourMajestyhastoldme,”repliedAbibowing,“thatthegods,beingwrath,
havedeniedyouchildren.Notsomuchasonegirlofyourbloodhavetheygiven
toyoutofillyourthroneafteryouwhenindueseasonitpleasesyoutodepartto
Osiris. Were it otherwise, were there even but a single woman-child of your
divinerace,Iwouldsaynothing,Iwouldbesilentasthegrave.Butsoitis,and
thoughyourqueensbefairandmany,soitwouldseemthatitmustremain,since
theearsofthegodshavingbeendeaftoyourpleadingsforsolong,althoughyou
have built them glorious temples and made them offerings without count, will
scarcelynowbeopened.EvenAmenyourfather,Amen,whosenameyoubear,
willperformnomiracleforyou,OPharaoh,whoaresogreatthathehasdecreed
thatyoushallshinealonelikethefullmoonatnight,notsharingyourglorywith
asinglestar.”
NowAhuratheQueen,whoallthiswhilehad beenlisteningintently,spoke
forthefirsttimeinaquickangryvoice,saying,
“Howknowyouthat,PrinceofMemphis?Sometimesthegodsrelentandthat
whichtheyhavewithheldforaspace,theygive.Mylordlives,andIlive,anda
childofhismayyetfillthethroneofEgypt.”
“Itmaybeso,OQueen,”saidAbibowing,“andformypartIpraythatitwill
beso,forwhoamIthatIshouldknowthepurposeofthekingsofheaven?Ifbut
onegirlbebornofyouandPharaoh,thenItakebackmywordsandgivetoyou
thattitle which formanyyearshasbeenwrittenfalselyuponyour thronesand
monuments,thetitleofRoyalMother.”
Now Ahura would have answered again, for this sneering taunt stung her to
thequick.ButPharaohlaidhishanduponherkneeandsaid,
“Continue,Princeandbrother.Wehaveheardfromyouthatwhichwealready
knowtoowell—thatIamchildless.Telluswhatwedonotknow,thedesireof
yourheartwhichlieshidbeneathallthesewords.”
“Pharaoh,itisthis—Iamofyourholyblood,sprungofthesamedivinefather
——”
“But of a mother who was not divine,” broke in Ahura; “of a mother taken
fromaracethathasbroughtmanyacurseuponKhem,asanymirrorwillshow
you,PrinceofMemphis.”
“Pharaoh,”wentonAbiwithoutheedingher,“yougrowweak;heavendesires
you, the earth melts beneath you. In the north and in the south many dangers
threatenEgypt.Shouldyoudiesuddenlywithoutanheir,barbarianswillflowin
fromthenorthandfromthesouth,andthegreatonesofthelandwillstruggle


foryourplace.Pharaoh,Iamawarrior;Iambuiltstrong;mychildrenaremany;
myhouseisbuiltuponarock;thearmytrustsme;themillionsofthepeoplelove
me.Takemethentorulewithyouandinthehearingofalltheearthnameme
and my sons as your successors, so that our royal race may continue for
generationaftergeneration.Soshallyouendyourdaysinpeaceandhope.Ihave
spoken.”
Now,asthemeaningofthisboldrequestsankintotheirhearts,allthecourt
there gathered gasped and whispered, while the Queen Ahura in her anger
crushedthelotusflowerwhichsheheldinherhandandcastittothefloor.Only
Pharaohsatstillandsilent,hisheadbentandhiseyesshutasthoughinprayer.
Foraminuteor more hesat thus,andwhenheliftedhispale,pure face,there
wasasmileuponit.
“Abi,mybrother,”hesaidinhisgentlevoice,“listentome.Therearethose
whofilledthisthronebeforeme,whoonhearingsuchwordswouldhavepointed
toyouwiththeirsceptres,whereon,Abi,thoselipsofyourswouldhavegrown
still for ever, and you and your name and the names of all your House would
havebeenblottedoutbydeath.But,Abi,youwereeverbold,andIforgiveyou
forlayingopenthethoughtsofyourhearttome.Still,Abi,youhavenottoldus
allofthem.Youhavenottoldus,forinstance,”hewentonslowly, andinthe
midstofanintensesilence,“thatbutlastnightyoudebatedwhetheritwouldnot
bepossiblewiththatguardofyourstobreakintomypalaceandputmetothe
swordandnameyourselfPharaoh—byrightofblood,Abi;yes,byrightofblood
—mybloodshedbyyou,mybrother.”
Asthesewordslefttheroyallipsatumultaroseinthehall,thewomenandthe
great officers sprang up, the captains stepped forward drawing their swords to
avenge so horrible a sacrilege. But Pharaoh waved his sceptre, and they were
still,onlyAbicriedinagreatvoice.
“Whohasdaredtowhisperaliesomonstrous?”AndheglaredfirstatKaku
andthenatthecaptainofhisguardwhostoodbehindhim,andchokedinwrath,
orfear,orboth.
“Suspectnotyourofficers,Prince,”wentonthePharaoh,stillsmiling,“foron
myroyalwordtheyareinnocent.Yet,Abi,apavilionsetuponthedeckofaship
is no good place to plot the death of kings. Pharaoh has many spies, also, at
times,thegods,towhomasyousayheissonear,whispertidingstohiminhis
sleep.Suspectnotyourofficers,Abi,althoughIthinkthattoyonderMasterof
theStarswhostandsbehindyou,Ishouldbegrateful,since,hadyouattempted
toexecutethismadness,butforhimImighthavebeenforcedtokillyou,Abi,as
onekillsasnakethatcreepsbeneathhis mat.Astrologer,youshallhaveagift


fromme,foryouareawiseman.Itmaytaketheplace,perhaps,ofonethatyou
havelost;wasitnotacertainwomanslavewhomyourmastergavetoyoulast
night—afterhehadpunishedherfornofault?”
KakuprostratedhimselfbeforethegloryofPharaoh,understandingatlastthat
itwasthelostgirlMerytrawhohadoverheardandbetrayedthem.Butheeding
himnomore,hisMajestywenton.
“Abi,Princeandbrother,Iforgiveyouadeedthatyoupurposedbutdidnot
attempt.Maythegodsandthespiritsofourfathersforgiveyoualso,iftheywill.
Now as to your demand. You are my only living brother, and therefore I will
weighit.Perchance,ifIshoulddiewithoutissue,althoughyouarenotallroyal,
althoughthereflowsinyourveinsabloodthatEgypthates;althoughyoucould
plotthemurderofyourlordandking,itmaybewellthatwhenIamgoneyou
should fill my place, for you are brave and of the ancient race on one side, if
base-bornontheother.ButIamnotyetdead,andchildrenmaystillcometome.
Abi,willyoubeaprisoneruntilOsiriscallsme,orwillyouswearanoath?”
“Iwillswearanoath,”answeredthePrincehoarsely,forheknewhisshame
anddanger.
“Thenkneelhere,andbythedreadfulNameswearthatyouwillliftnohand
and plot no plot against me. Swear that if a child, male or female, should be
giventome,youwillservesuchachildtrulyasyourlordandlawfulPharaoh.In
the presence of all this company, swear, knowing that if you break the oath in
letterorinspirit,thenallthegodsofEgyptshallpourtheircurseuponyourhead
in life, and in death shall give you over to the everlasting torments of the
damned.”
So, having little choice, Abi swore by the Name and kissed the sceptre in
tokenofhisoath.
Itwasnight.Darkandsolemnwastheinnermostshrineofthevasttemple,the
“HouseofAmenintheNorthernApt,”whichwecallKarnak,theveryholyof
holies where, fashioned of stone, and with the feathered crown upon his head,
stoodthestatueofAmen-ra,fatherofthegods.Here,wherenonebutthehighpriest and the royalties of Egypt might enter, Pharaoh and his wife Ahura,
wrapped in brown cloaks like common folk, knelt at the feet of the god and
prayed.Withtearsandsupplicationsdidtheypraythatachildmightbegivento
them.
Thereinthesacredplace,litonlybyasinglelampwhichburnedfromageto
age, they told the story of their grief, whilst high above them the cold, calm
countenance of the god seemed to stare through the gloom, as for a thousand


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