The one visit to the Duat of which a record remains was paid by Se-Osiris, the wonderful child magician who read the sealed letter, and his father Setna, the son of Pharaoh Rameses the Great.
They stood one day in the window of the palace at Thebes watching two funerals on their way to the West. The first was that of a rich man: his mummy was enclosed in a wooden case inlaid with gold; troops of servants and mourners carried him to burial and bore gifts for the tomb, while many priests walked in front and behind chanting hymns to the gods and reciting the great names and words of power which he would need on his journey through the Duat. - The second funeral was that of a poor laborer. His two sons carried the simple wooden case: his widow and daughters-in-law were the only mourners.
'Well,' said Setna, watching the two funerals going down to where the boats were waiting to carry them across the Nile, 'I hope that my fate will be that of the rich noble and not of the poor laborer.'
'On the contrary,' said Se-Osiris, 'I pray that the poor man's fate may be yours and not that of the rich man!'
Setna was much hurt by his son's words, but Se-Osiris tried to explain them, saying, 'Whatever you may have seen here matters little compared with what will chance to these two in the Judgement Hall of Osiris. I will prove it to you, if you will trust yourself to me. I know the words of power that open all gates: I can release your Ba and mine - our souls, that can then fly into the Duat, the world of the dead, and see all that is happening there. Then you will discover how different are the fates of this rich man who has worked evil during his life, and this poor man who has done nothing but good.'
Setna had learnt to believe anything the wonderful child said without surprise, and now he agreed to accompany his son into the Duat, even though he knew that such an expedition would be dangerous: for once there they might not be able to return.
So the prince and the small boy made their way into the sanctuary of the Temple of Osiris where, as members of the royal family, they had power to go.
When Setna had barred the doors, Se-Osiris drew a magic circle round them and round the statue of Osiris and round the altar on which a small fire of cedar wood was burning. Then he threw a certain powder into the flame upon the altar. Thrice he threw the powder, and as he threw it a ball of fire rose from the altar and floated away. Then he spoke a spell and ended with a great name of power, a word at which the whole temple rocked and the flame on the altar leapt high, and then sank into darkness.
But the Temple of Osiris was not dark. Setna turned to see whence the light came - and would have cried out in horror if the silence had not pressed upon him like a weight that held him paralyzed.
For standing on either side of the altar he saw himself and his son Se-Osiris only suddenly he knew that it was not his own body and the boy's for the two bodies lay in the shadows cast by these two forms - the forms of their Kas or doubles, and above each Ka hovered a tongue of flame which was its Khou or spirit - and the clear, light of the Khou served to show its Ka and the dim form of the body from which Ka and Khou were drawn.
Then the silence was broken by a whisper soft as a feather falling, yet which seemed to fill the whole Temple with sound: 'Follow me now, my father,' said the voice of Se-Osiris, 'for the time is short and we must be back before the morning if we would live to see the Sun of Re rise again over Egypt.
Setna turned, and saw beside him the Ba or soul of Se-Osiris - a great bird with golden feathers but with the head of his son.
'I follow,' he forced his lips to answer; then, as the whisper filled the Temple, he rose on the golden wings of his own Ba and followed the Ba of Se-Osiris.
The temple roof seemed to open to let them through, and a moment later they were speeding into the West swifter than an arrow from an Ethiopian's bow.
Darkness lay over Egypt, but one red gash of sunset shone through the great pass in the mountains of the Western Desert, the Gap of Abydos. Through this they sped into the First Region of the Night and saw beneath them the Mesektet Boat in which Re began his journey into the Duat with the ending of each day. Splendid was the Boat, glorious its trappings, and its colors were of amethyst and emerald, jasper and turquoise, lazuli and the deep glow of gold. A company of the gods drew the Boat along the ghostly River of Death with golden towing-ropes; the portals of the Duat were flung wide, and they entered the First Region between the six serpents who were curled on either side. And in the great Boat of Re journeyed the Kas of all those who had died that day and were on their way to the judgement Hall of Osiris.
So the Boat moved on its way through regions of night and thick darkness and came to the portal of the Second Region. Tall were the walls on either side, and upon their tops were the points of spears so that none might climb over; the great wooden doors turned on pivots, and once again snakes breathing fire and poison guarded them. But all who passed through on the Boat of Re spoke the words of power decreed for that portal, and the doors swung open.
The Second Region was the Kingdom of Re, and the gods and heroes of old who had lived on earth when he was King dwelt there in peace and happiness, guarded by the Spirits of the Corn who make the wheat and barley flourish and cause the fruits of the earth to increase.
Yet not one of the dead who voyaged in the Boat of Re might pause there or set foot on the land: for they must pass into Amenti, the Third Region of the Duat where the judgement Hall of Osiris stood waiting to receive them.
So the Boat came to the next portals, and at the word of power the great wooden doors screamed open on their pivots - yet not so loudly did they scream as the man who lay with one of the pivots turning in his eye as punishment for the evil he had done upon earth.
Into the Third Region sailed the Boat of Re, and here the dead disembarked in the outer court of the judgement Hall of Osiris. But the Boat itself continued on its way through the nine other Regions of the Night until the re-birth of Re from out of the mouth of the Dragon of the East brought dawn once more upon earth and the rising of the sun. Yet the sun would not rise unless each night Re fought and defeated the Dragon Apep, who seeks ever to devour him in the Tenth Region of the Night.
The Ba of Setna and Se-Osiris did not follow the Boat of Re further, but flew over the Kas of the newly dead who came one by one to the portal of the Hall of Osiris and one by one were challenged by the Door-Keeper.
'Stay!' cried the Door-Keeper. 'I will not announce thee unless thou knowest my name!'
'Understander of Hearts is thy name,' answered each instructed Ka. 'Searcher of Bodies is thy name!'
'Then to whom should I announce thee?' asked the Door-Keeper.
'Thou shouldst tell of my coming to the Interpreter of the Two Lands.'
'Who then is the Interpreter of the Two Lands?'
'It is Thoth the Wise God.'
So each Ka passed through the doorway and in the Hall Thoth was waiting to receive him, saying: 'Come with me. Yet why hast thou come?'
'I have come here to be announced,' answered the Ka.
'What is thy condition?'
'I am pure of sin.'
'Then to whom shall I announce thee? Shall I announce thee to him whose ceiling is of fire, whose walls are living serpents, whose pavement is water?'
'Yes,' answered the Ka, 'announce me to him, for he is Osiris.'
So ibis-headed Thoth led the Ka to where Osiris sat upon his throne, wrapped in the mummy-clothes of the dead, wearing the uraeus crown upon his forehead and holding the scourge and the crook crossed upon his breast. Before him stood a huge balance with two scales, and jackal-headed Anubis, god of death, stepped forward to lead the Ka to the judgement.
But before the Weighing of the Heart, each dead man's Ka spoke in his own defense, saying: 'I am pure! I am pure! I am pure! I am pure! My purity is as that of the Bennu bird, the bright Phoenix whose nest is upon the stone persea-tree, the obelisk at Heliopolis. Behold me, I have come to you without sin, without guilt, without evil, without a witness against me, without one against whom I have taken action. I live on truth and I eat of truth. I have done that which men said and that with which gods are content. I have satisfied each god with that which he desires. I have given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked and a boat to him who could not cross the River. I have provided offerings to the gods and offerings to the dead. So preserve me from Apep, the 'Eater-up of Souls', so protect me - Lord of the Atef-Crown, Lord of Breath, great god Osiris.'
Then came the moment which the evil-doer feared but the good man welcomed with joy.
Anubis took the heart out of the Ka that was the double of his earthly body and placed it in the Scale; and in the other Scale was set the Feather of Truth. Heavy was the heart of the evil-doer and it dragged down the Scale: lower and lower it sank, while Thoth marked the angle of the beam until the Scale sank so low that Ammit the Devourer of Hearts could catch the sinner's heart in his jaws and bear it away. Then the evil-doer was driven forth into the thick darkness of the Duat to dwell with Apep the Terrible in the Pits of Fire.
But with the good man the Feather of Truth sank down and his heart rose up, and Thoth cried aloud to Osiris and the gods, 'True and accurate are the words this man has spoken. He has not sinned; he has not done evil towards us. Let not the Eater-up of Souls have power over him. Grant that the eternal bread of Osiris be given to him, and a place in the Fields of Peace with the followers of Horus!'
Then Horus took the dead man by the hand and led him before Osiris, saying, 'I have come to thee, oh Unnefer Osiris, bringing with me this new Osiris. His heart was true at the coming forth from the Balance. He has not sinned against any god or any goddess. Thoth has weighed his heart and found it true and righteous. Grant that there may be given to him the bread and beer of Osiris; may he be like the followers of Horus!'
Then Osiris inclined his head, and the dead man passed rejoicing into the Fields of Peace there to dwell, taking joy in all the things he had loved best in life, in a rich land of plenty, until Osiris returned to earth, taking with him all those who had proved worthy to live for ever as his subjects.
All these things and more the Ba of Se-Osiris showed to the Ba of his father Setna; and at length he said, 'Now you know why I wished your fate to be that of the poor man and not of the rich man. For the rich man was he in whose eye the pivot of the Third Door was turning - but the poor man dwells for ever in the Fields of Peace, clad in fine robes and owning all the offerings which accompanied the evil rich man to his tomb.'
Then the two Ba spread their golden wings and flew back through the night to Thebes. There they re-entered their bodies which their Kas had been guarding in the Temple of Osiris, and were able to return to their place as ordinary, living father and child, in time to see the sun rise beyond the eastern desert and turn the cliffs of Western Thebes to pink and purple and gold as a new day dawned over Egypt.
There were once two brothers, Anpu was the older, Bata was the younger. Anpu had a wife, and owned a farm. Bata came to live with Anpu and his wife. Bata worked hard for his brother, plowing the fields, and harvesting the grain, and doing many other tasks. He was very good at his work. The animals would even speak to him.
One day Anpu announced that it was time to plow the fields and sow the seeds. And he instructed his brother to take sacks of seed out to the fields. They spent the next few days plowing and sowing seeds.
Then Anpu sent Bata back for more seeds. At Anpu's house, Bata found Anpu's wife fixing her hair. Bata said, "Get up and get me some seed, Anpu is waiting."
Anpu's wife replied, "Get the seed yourself. I'm busy with my hair."
Bata found a large basket, and filled it with seed. And, he carried the basket through the house.
Anpu's wife said, "What is the weight of that basket you carry."
Bata replied, "There are three sacks of wheat and two of barley."
She said, "How strong you are, and handsome. Stay with me and let us make love. And Anpu will never know."
Bata replied in horror, "Anpu is like a father to me, and you are like a mother to me. I won't tell anyone of the evil words that you have said. And never let me hear them again." He picked up his basket, and rushed out into the fields.
When Anpu got back home, he realized that something was wrong. No fire had been lit, no food had been cooked, and his wife was in bed moaning and weeping. Her clothes were torn, and she seemed to be bruised. Anpu demanded that she tell him what had happened.
She replied, "When your brother came to fetch the seed, he saw me fixing my hair. He tried to make love to me. And I refused, saying, 'Is not Anpu like a father to you? And am I not like a mother to you?' And he became angry, and beat me. And he said that he would hurt me more if I told you what had happened. Oh Anpu, kill him for me, or I will surely die."
Anpu was angry like a leopard. He took a spear, and hid behind the door of the cattle pen, waiting to kill his brother.
When the sun had gone down, Bata returned with the cattle. The first cow said to Bata, "Your brother hides with a spear, behind the door. And he plans to kill you. Run away while you can."
Bata would not believe the cow. But the second cow gave him the same warning. Then he saw his brother's feet behind the door. And he was afraid and ran away. Anpu chased him in great anger. As he ran, Bata called out to Ra, "O my good lord, who judges between the bad and the good, save me."
And Ra heard Bata's prayer, and caused a river to flow between them. The river was wide and full of crocodiles. The two brothers stood on opposite banks of the river. Bata shouted to Anpu, "Ra delivers the wicked to the just. But I must leave you. Why did you try to kill me, without giving me a chance to explain?" And Bata told his side of the story.
Then Bata took out his knife and cut himself, and he fell to the ground. And Anpu believed him, and was sick at heart. And he longed to be on the other side of the river, with his brother.
Bata spoke again, "I must go to the valley of cedars, to be healed. And I shall hide my heart in a cedar tree. And when the cedar tree is cut down, I will be in danger of dying. If your beer turns sour, you will know that I need your help. Come to the valley of cedars and search for my heart. Put my heart in a bowl of water. And I will come back to life again.
Anpu promised to obey his brother, and went home. He killed his wife, and threw her body to the dogs.
Bata traveled to the valley of cedars, and rested until his wound had healed. He hunted wild beasts and built a house for himself. And he hid his heart in the branches of a tree.
One day, the nine gods were walking in the valley. And they saw that Bata was lonely. And Ra ordered Khnum to make a wife for Bata, on his potters wheel. And when the gods breathed life into her, they saw that she was the most beautiful woman who ever lived. The seven Hathors gathered to declare her fate, and said that she would die a sudden death.
Bata loved her. And he knew that whoever saw her would desire her. Every day, as he left to hunt wild animals, he warned her, "Stay in the house, or the sea may try to carry you away. And there is little I could do to save you."
One day, when Bata had gone out to hunt, his wife grew bored and went out for a walk. And, as she stood beneath the tree, the sea saw her, and surged up the valley to get her. She tried to flee. But the tree caught her by the hair. She escaped, leaving a lock of her hair in the tree.
The sea took the lock of hair, and carried it to Egypt, where the Nile took it. And the hair floated to where the washermen of the King were washing the King's clothes. And the sweet-smelling hair caused the King's clothes to smell like perfume. And the King complained of this. This happened every day.
One day the overseer of the washermen saw the lock of hair caught in the reeds. He ordered that it be brought to him. And he smelled its sweet smell.
And he took the lock of hair to the King. And the King's advisers said, "This is a lock of hair from a daughter of Ra." And the King wanted to make this woman his Queen.
The King sent many messengers to all lands. All returned to say that they had failed to find the woman. But one returned from the valley of the cedars to say that his companions had been killed by Bata, and that Bata's wife was the woman that he sought.
The King sent many soldiers to fetch Bata's wife. And with the soldiers, he sent a woman to give jewels to Bata's wife, and to tell her that the King wanted to make her a queen. Bata's wife told this woman that Bata's heart was hidden in the tree, and that if the tree were cut down, Bata would die. And the soldiers cut down the tree. As the tree fell, Bata fell down dead. And the soldiers chopped up the tree and dispersed the pieces.
At the same moment that Bata died, Anpu's beer began to bubble and turn sour. And he immediately put on his sandals, and grabbed his spear and his staff, and hastened to the valley of cedars.
There he found his brother dead, and he wept. But he remembered his brother's instruction and searched for his heart. He searched in vain for three years. And he longed to return to Egypt. At the beginning of the fourth year, he said to himself, "If I don't find my brother's heart tomorrow, I will go back home."
The next day, he searched again. And near the end of the day, he found what he thought was a seed. But it was Bata's dried up heart. And he put it in a bowl of water, and sat down to wait. The heart grew as it absorbed water. Bata came back to life, but was very weak. Then Anpu held the bowl to Bata's lips, and he swallowed the remaining water, and then swallowed his own heart. And his strength returned to him. And the two brothers embraced.
Bata said, "Tomorrow, I will change myself into a sacred bull. And you will ride me back to Egypt. Lead me before the King. And he will reward you. Then return to your house."
The next day, Bata changed into a bull. And Anpu rode him to Egypt, and led him before the King. The King rewarded Anpu with gold, and silver, and land, and slaves. And there was rejoicing throughout the land. And Anpu returned to his house.
Eventually, Bata encountered his wife, who was now the Queen. And he said, "Look upon me, for I am alive."
She asked, "And who are you?"
He replied, "I am Bata. And it was you who caused the tree to be cut down, so that I would be destroyed. But I am alive." And she trembled in fear, and left the room.
That evening, the King sat at a feast, with his Queen. And she said to him, "Will you swear by the gods that you will give me anything that I want?" The King promised that he would. The Queen said, "I desire to eat the liver of the sacred bull, for he is nothing to you."
The king was upset at her request. But the next day, he commanded that the bull be sacrificed. And the bull was sacrificed. And its blood splattered on each side the gate of the palace.
That night, two persea trees sprang up next to the palace gate. The King was told of this miracle, and there was much rejoicing.
One day the King and Queen were standing in the shade of one of the trees. And the tree spoke to the Queen, "False woman, you are the one who caused the cedar tree to be cut down, and you made the King slaughter the bull. But, I am Bata, I am still alive." And the Queen was afraid.
Later, when the King and Queen were feasting, the Queen said, "Will you swear by the gods that you will give me anything that I want?" The King promised that he would. The Queen said, "It is my desire that those two persea trees be chopped down, to make furniture for me."
The King was troubled by her request. But the next day the King and Queen watched as the trees were cut down. As the Queen stood watching, a chip of wood flew from one of the trees, and flew into her mouth, and she swallowed it. And it made the Queen become pregnant.
After many days, the Queen gave birth to a son. The King loved him, and made him heir to the throne.
In time the King died, and rejoined the gods. And his son succeeded him as King.
The new King (who was Bata) summoned his court, and told everyone the story of his life. And he judged that his wife, who had become his mother, should die for her crimes. And the court agreed. And she was led away to be killed.
Bata ruled Egypt for thirty years. And when he died his brother Anpu then ruled Egypt.
This story is contained on the Harris Papyrus which is housed in the British Museum. When it was first discovered the story was complete, but since then, the papyrus has been partly destroyed and the end of the story has been lost. Any Amelia fan will know this story as The Crocodile, the Snake and the Dog.
There was once a king who was sore in heart because no son had been born to him. He prayed the gods to grant his desire, and they decreed that as he had prayed, so it should be. And his wife brought forth a son. When the Hathors came to decide his destiny they said, "His death shall be by the crocodile, or by the serpent, or by the dog." And those who stood round, upon hearing this, hurried to tell the king, who was much grieved thereat and feared greatly.
And because of what he had heard he caused a house to be built in the mountains and furnished richly and with all that could be desired, so that the child should not go abroad. When the boy was grown he went one day upon the roof, and from there he saw a dog following a man upon the road. Then he turned to his attendant and said, "What is that which follows the man coming along the road?" And he was told that it was a dog.
And the child at once wished to possess a dog, and when the king was told of his desire he might not deny him, lest his heart should be sad.
As time went on and the child became a man he grew restive, and, being told of the decree of the Hathors, at once sent a message to his father, saying, "Come, why and wherefore am I kept a prisoner? Though I am fated to three evil fates, let me follow my desires. Let God fulfill His will."
And after this he was free and did as other men. He was given weapons and his dog was allowed to follow him, and they took him to the east country and said to him, "Behold, thou art free to go wheresoever thou wilt."
He set his face to the north, his dog following, and his whim dictated his path. Then he lived on all the choicest of the game of the desert. And then he came to the chief of Nahairana. And this chief had but one child, a daughter. For her had been built a house with seventy windows seventy cubits from the ground. And here the chief had commanded all the sons of the chiefs of the country of Khalu to be brought, and he said to them "He who climbs and reaches my daughter's windows shall win her for wife."
And some time after this the prince arrived, and the people of the chief of Nahairana took the youth to the house and treated him with the greatest honor and kindness. And as he partook of their food they asked him whence he had come. He answered them, saying, "I come from Egypt; I am the son of an officer of that land. My mother died and my father has taken another wife, who, when she bore my father other children, grew to hate me. Therefore have I fled as a fugitive from her presence." And they were sorry for him and embraced him.
Then one day he asked the climbing youths what it was they did there. And when they told him that they climbed the height that they might win the chief's daughter for wife, he decided to make the attempt with them, for afar off he beheld the face of the chief's daughter looking forth from her window and turned toward them.
And he climbed the dizzy height and reached her window. So glad was she that she kissed and embraced him.
And thinking to make glad the heart of her father, a messenger went to him, saying, "One of the youths hath reached thy daughter's window." The chief inquired which of the chief's sons had accomplished this, and he was told that sit was the fugitive from Egypt.
At this the chief of Nahairana was wroth and vowed that his daughter was not for an Egyptian fugitive. "Let him go back whence he came!" he cried.
An attendant hurried to warn the youth, but the maiden held him fast and, would not let him go. She swore by the gods, saying, "By the being of Ra-Harakhti, if he is taken from me, I will neither eat nor drink and in that hour I shall die!"
And her father was told of her vow, and hearing it he sent some to slay the youth while be should be in his house. But the daughter of the chief divined this and said again, "By the Great Lord Ra, if he be slain, then I shall die ere the set of sun. If I am parted from him, then I live no longer!"
Again her words were carried to the chief. He caused his daughter and the youth to be brought before him, and at first the young man was afraid, but the chief of Nahairana embraced him affectionately, saying "Tell me who thou art, for now thou art as a son to me." He answered him, "I come from Egypt; I am the son of an officer of that land. My mother died and my father has taken another wife, who, when she bore my father children, grew to hate me. Therefore have I fled as a fugitive from her presence!"
Then the chief gave him his daughter to wife; he gave him a house and slaves, he gave him lands and cattle and all manner of good gifts.
The time passed. One day the youth told his wife of his fate, saying to her, "I am doomed to three evil fates- to die by a crocodile, a serpent, or a dog." And her heart was filled with a great dread. She said to him, "Then let one kill the dog which follows thee." But he told her that could not be' for he had brought it up from the time it was small.
At last the youth desired to travel to the land of Egypt, and his wife, fearing for him; would not let him go alone, so one went with him. They came to a town, and the crocodile of the river was there. Now in that town was a great and mighty man, and he bound the crocodile and would not suffer it to escape. When it was bound the mighty man was at peace and walked abroad. When the sun rose the man went back to his house, and this he did every day for two months.
After this as the days passed the youth sat at ease in his house. When the night came he lay on his couch and sleep fell upon him. Then, his wife filled a bowl of milk and placed it by his side. Out from a hole came a serpent, and it tried to bite the sleeping man, but his wife sat beside him watching and unsleeping.
And the servants, beholding the serpent, gave it milk so that it drank and was drunk and lay helpless on its back. Seeing this, with her dagger the wife dispatched it. Upon this her husband woke and, understanding all, was astonished. "See," she said to him, "thy god hath given one of thy dooms into thy hand. Surely he shall also give thee the others!"
And then the youth made sacrifices to his god and praised him always.
One day after this the youth walked abroad in his fields, his dog following him. And his dog chased after the wild game, and he followed after the dog, who plunged into the river. He also went into the river, and then out came the crocodile, who took him to the place where the mighty man lived. And as he carried him the crocodile said to the youth, "Behold, I am thy doom, following after thee...
At this point the story becomes unsalvagable as the papyrus is destroyed. This is the only known copy of this story, so we may never know what happens to the prince.
This is also known as The Golden Lotus. The maiden in the story loses a hair clasp in the form of a golden lotus instead of an amulet of turquoise. Either way, this is one of the stories that helped to give Snefru the title of The Good King, for it shows his good naturedness and his willingness to please others, something other pharaohs would not dream of doing.
Snefru, father of the Pharaoh Khufu who built the Great Pyramid of Giza, reigned long over a contented and peaceful Egypt. He had no foreign wars and few troubles at home, and with so little business of state he often found time hanging heavy on his hands.
One day he wandered wearily through his palace at Memphis, seeking for pleasures and finding none that would lighten his heart.
Then he bethought him of his Chief Magician, Zazamankh, and he said, 'If any man is able to entertain me and show me new marvels, surely it is the wise scribe of the rolls. Bring Zazamankh before me.'
Straightway his servants went to the House of Wisdom and brought Zazamankh to the presence of Pharaoh. And Snefru said to him, 'I have sought throughout all my palace for some delight, and found none. Now of your wisdom devise something that will fill my heart with pleasure.' Then said Zazamankh to him, 'O Pharaoh life, health, strength be to you! - my counsel is that you go sailing upon the Nile, and upon the lake below Memphis. This will be no common voyage, if you will follow my advice in all things.'
'Believing that you will show me marvels, I will order out the Royal Boat,' said Snefru. 'Yet I am weary of sailing upon the Nile and upon the lake.'
'This will be no common voyage,' Zazamankh assured him. 'For your rowers will be different from any you have seen at the oars before. They must be fair maidens from the Royal House of the King's Women: and as you watch them rowing, and see the birds upon the lake, the sweet fields and the green grass upon the banks, your heart will grow glad.'
'Indeed, this will be something new,' agreed Pharaoh, showing some interest at last. 'Therefore I give you charge of this expedition. Speak with my power, and command all that is necessary.'
Then said Zazamankh to the officers and attendants of Pharaoh Snefru, 'Bring me twenty oars of ebony inlaid with gold, with blades of light wood inlaid with electrum. And choose for rowers the twenty fairest maidens in Pharaoh's household: twenty virgins slim and lovely, fair in their limbs, beautiful, and with flowing hair. And bring me twenty nets of golden thread, and give these nets to the fair maidens to be garments for them. And let them wear ornaments of gold and electrum and malachite.'
All was done according to the words of Zazamankh, and presently Pharaoh was seated in the Royal Boat while the maidens rowed him up and down the stream and upon the shining waters of the lake. And the heart of Snefru was glad at the sight of the beautiful rowers at their unaccustomed task, and he seemed to be on a voyage in the golden days that were to be when Osiris returns to rule the earth.
But presently a mischance befell that gay and happy party upon the lake. In the raised stern of the Royal Boat two of the maidens were steering with great oars fastened to posts. Suddenly the handle of one of the oars brushed against the girl who was using it and swept the turquoise amulet she wore into the water, where it sank out of sight.
With a little cry she leant over and gazed after it. And as she ceased from her song, so did all the rowers on that side who were taking their time from her.
'Why have you ceased to row?' asked Pharaoh.
And they replied, 'Our little steerer has stopped, and leads us no longer.'
'And why have you ceased to steer and lead the rowers with your song?' asked Snefru.
'Forgive me, Pharaoh - life, health, strength be to you!' she sobbed. 'But the oar struck me and has brushed my beautiful turquoise amulet which your majesty gave to me, and it has fallen into the water and is lost forever.'
'Row on as before, and I will give you another,' said Snefru.
But the girl continued to weep, saying, 'I want my amulet back, and no other!'
Then said Pharaoh, 'There is only one who can find the turquoise amulet that has sunk to the bottom of the lake. Bring to me Zazamankh my magician, he who thought of this voyage. Bring him here on to the Royal Boat before me.'
So Zazamankh was brought to where Snefru sat in his silken pavilion on the Royal Boat. And as he knelt, Pharaoh said to him: 'Zazamankh, my friend and brother, I have done as you advised. My royal heart is refreshed and my eyes are delighted at the sight of these lovely rowers bending to their task. As we pass up and down on the waters of the lake, and they sing to me, while on the shore I see the trees and the flowers and the birds, I seem to be sailing into the golden days either those of old when Re ruled on earth, or those to come when the good god Osiris shall return from the Duat. But now a turquoise amulet has fallen from the hair of one of these maidens fallen to the bottom of the lake. And she has ceased to sing and the rowers on her side cannot keep time with their oars. And she is not to be comforted with promises of other gifts, but weeps for her turquoise amulet. Zazamankh, I wish to give back the turquoise amulet to the little one here, and see the joy return to her eyes.'
'Pharaoh, my lord - life, health, strength be to you!' answered Zazamankh the magician, 'I will do what you ask - for to one with my knowledge it is not a great thing. Yet maybe it is an enchantment you have never seen, and it will fill you with wonder, even as I promised, and make your heart rejoice yet further in new things.'
Then Zazamankh stood at the stern of the Royal Boat and began to chant great spells and words of power. And presently he held out his wand over the water, and the lake parted as if a piece had been cut out of it with a great sword. The lake here was twenty feet deep, and the piece of water that the magician moved rose up and set itself upon the surface of the lake so that there was a cliff of water on that side forty feet high.
Now the Royal Boat slid gently down into the great cleft in the lake until it rested on the bottom. On the side towards the forty foot cliff of water there was a great open space where the bottom of the lake lay uncovered, as firm and dry as the land itself.
And there, just below the stern of the Royal Boat, lay the turquoise amulet.
With a cry of joy the maiden who had lost it sprang over the side on to the firm ground, picked it up and placed it once more one her person. Then she climbed swiftly back into the Royal Boat and took the steering oar into her hands once more.
Zazamankh slowly lowered his rod, and the Royal Boat slid up the side of the water until it was level with the surface once more. Then at another word of power, and as if drawn by the magician's rod, the great piece of water slid back into place, and the evening breeze rippled the still surface of the lake as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. But the heart of Pharaoh Snefru rejoiced and was filled with wonder, and he cried: 'Zazamankh, my brother, you are the greatest and wisest of magicians! You have shown me wonders and delights this day, and your reward shall be all that you desire, and a place next to my own in Egypt.' Then the Royal Boat sailed gently on over the lake in the glow of the evening, while the twenty lovely maidens in their garments of golden net, and the jeweled lotus flowers in their hair, dipped their ebony and silver oars in the shimmering waters and sang sweetly a love song of old Egypt:
'She stands upon the further side,
Between us flows the Nile;
And in those waters deep and wide
There lurks a crocodile.
'Yet is my love so true and sweet,
A word of power, a charm -
The stream is land beneath my feet
And bears me without harm.
'For I shall come to where she stands,
No more be held apart;
And I shall take my darling's hands
And draw her to my heart.'
More later when I find them.