Smith and the Pharaohs
by H. Rider Haggard
SCIENTISTS, or some scientists, for occasionally
one learned person differs from other learned persons tell
us they know all that is worth knowing about man, which
statement, of course, includes woman. They trace him from
his remotest origin; they show us how his bones changed and
his shape modified, also how, under the influence of his
needs and passions, his intelligence developed from
something very humble. They demonstrate conclusively that
there is nothing in man which the dissecting-table will not
explain; that his aspirations towards another life have
their root in the fear of death, or, say others of them, in
that of earthquake or thunder; that his affinities with the
past are merely inherited from remote ancestors who lived in
that past, perhaps a million years ago; and that everything
noble about him is but the fruit of expediency or of a
veneer of civilisation, while everything base must be
attributed to the instincts of his dominant and primeval
nature. Man, in short, is an animal who, like every other
animal, is finally subdued by his environment and takes his
colour from his surroundings, as cattle do from the red soil
of Devon. Such are the facts, they (or some of them)
declare; all the rest is rubbish.
At times we are inclined to agree with these
sages, especially after it has been our privilege to attend
a course of lectures by one of them. Then perhaps something
comes within the range of our experience which gives us
pause and causes doubts, the old divine doubts, to arise
again deep in our hearts, and with them a yet diviner hope.
Perchance when all is said, so we think to
ourselves, man is something more than an animal. Perchance
he has known the past, the far past, and will know the
future, the far, far future. Perchance the dream is true,
and he does indeed possess what for convenience is called an
immortal soul, that may manifest itself in one shape or
another; that may sleep for ages, but, waking or sleeping,
still remains itself, indestructible as the matter of the
An incident in the career of Mr James
Ebenezer Smith might well occasion such reflections, were
any acquainted with its details, which until this, its
setting forth, was not the case. Mr Smith is a person who
knows when to be silent. Still, undoubtedly it gave cause
for thought to one individual namely, to him to whom it
happened. Indeed, James Ebenezer Smith is still thinking
over it, thinking very hard indeed.
J.E. Smith was well born and well educated.
When he was a good-looking and able young man at college,
but before he had taken his degree, trouble came to him, the
particulars of which do not matter, and he was thrown
penniless, also friendless, upon the rocky bosom of the
world. No, not quite friendless, for he had a godfather, a
gentleman connected with business whose Christian name was
Ebenezer. To him, as a last resource, Smith went, feeling
that Ebenezer owed him something in return for the awful
appellation wherewith he had been endowed in baptism.
To a certain extent Ebenezer recognised the
obligation. He did nothing heroic, but he found his godson
a clerkship in a bank of which he was one of the
directors a modest clerkship, no more. Also, when he died
a year later, he left him a hundred pounds to be spent upon
Smith, being of a practical turn of mind,
instead of adorning himself with memorial jewellery for
which he had no use, invested the hundred pounds in an
exceedingly promising speculation. As it happened, he was
not misinformed, and his talent returned to him multiplied
by ten. He repeated the experiment, and, being in a
position to know what he was doing, with considerable
success. By the time that he was thirty he found himself
possessed of a fortune of something over twenty-five
thousand pounds. Then (and this shows the wise and
practical nature of the man) he stopped speculating and put
out his money in such a fashion that it brought him a safe
and clear four per cent.
By this time Smith, being an excellent man of
business, was well up in the service of his bank as yet
only a clerk, it is true, but one who drew his four hundred
pounds a year, with prospects. In short, he was in a
position to marry had he wished to do so. As it happened,
he did not
wish perhaps because, being very friendless, no lady
attracted who him crossed his path: perhaps for other
Shy and reserved in temperament, he confided
only in himself. None, not even his superiors at the bank
or the Board of Management, knew how well off he had become.
No one visited him at the flat which he was understood to
occupy somewhere in the neighbourhood of Putney; he belonged
to no club, and possessed not a single intimate. The blow
which the world had dealt him in his early days, the harsh
repulses and the rough treatment he had then experienced,
sank so deep into his sensitive soul that never again did he
seek close converse with his kind. In fact, while still
young, he fell into a condition of old-bachelorhood of a
Soon, however, Smith discovered it was after
he had given up speculating that a man must have something
to occupy his mind. He tried philanthropy, but found
himself too sensitive for a business which so often resolves
itself into rude inquiry as to the affairs of other people.
After a struggle, therefore, he compromised with his
conscience by setting aside a liberal portion of his income
for anonymous distribution among deserving persons and
While still in this vacant frame of mind
Smith chanced one day, when the bank was closed, to drift
into the British Museum, more to escape the vile weather
that prevailed without than for any other reason. Wandering
hither and thither at hazard, he found himself in the great
gallery devoted to Egyptian stone objects and sculpture.
The place bewildered him somewhat, for he knew nothing of
Egyptology; indeed, there remained upon his mind only a
sense of wonderment not unmixed with awe. It must have been
a great people, he thought to himself, that executed these
works, and with the thought came a desire to know more about
them. Yet he was going away when suddenly his eye fell on
the sculptured head of a woman which hung upon the wall.
Smith looked at it once, twice, thrice, and
at the third look he fell in love. Needless to say, he was
not aware that such was his condition. He knew only that a
change had come over him, and never, never could he forget
the face which that carven mask portrayed. Perhaps it was
not really beautiful save for its wondrous and mystic smile;
perhaps the lips were too thick and the nostrils too broad.
Yet to him that face was Beauty itself, beauty which drew
him as with a cart-rope, and awoke within him all kinds of
wonderful imaginings, some of them so strange and tender
that almost they partook of the nature of memories. He
stared at the image, and the image smiled back sweetly at
him, as doubtless it, or rather its original for this was
but a plaster cast had smiled at nothingness in some tomb
or hiding- hole for over thirty centuries, and as the woman
whose likeness it was had once smiled upon the world.
A short, stout gentleman bustled up and, in
tones of authority, addressed some workmen who were
arranging a base for a neighbouring statue. It occurred to
Smith that he must be someone who knew about these objects.
Overcoming his natural diffidence with an effort, he raised
his hat and asked the gentleman if he could tell him, who
was the original of the mask.
The official who, in fact, was a very great
man in the Museum glanced at Smith shrewdly, and, seeing
that his interest was genuine, answered:
"I don't know. Nobody knows. She has
been given several names, but none of them have authority.
Perhaps one day the rest of the statue may be found, and
then we shall
learn that is, if it is inscribed. Most likely, however,
it has been burnt for lime long ago."
"Then you can't tell me anything about
her?" said Smith.
"Well, only a little. To begin with,
that's a cast. The original is in the Cairo Museum.
Mariette found it, I believe at Karnak, and gave it a name
after his fashion. Probably she was a queen of the
eighteenth dynasty, by the work. But you can see her rank
for yourself from the broken uræus." (Smith did not
stop him to explain that he had not the faintest idea what a
uræus might be, seeing that he was utterly unfamiliar
with the snake-headed crest of Egyptian royalty.) "You
should go to Egypt and study the head for yourself. It is
one of the most beautiful things that ever was found. Well,
I must be off. Good day."
And he bustled down the long gallery.
Smith found his way upstairs and looked at
mummies and other things. Somehow it hurt him to reflect
that the owner of yonder sweet, alluring face must have
become a mummy long, long before the Christian era. Mummies
did not strike him as attractive.
He returned to the statuary and stared at his
plaster cast till one of the workmen remarked to his fellow
that if he were the gent he'd go and look at "a
live'un" for a change.
Then Smith retired abashed.
On his way home he called at his bookseller's
and ordered "all the best works on Egyptology".
When, a day or two later, they arrived in a packing-case,
together with a bill for thirty-eight pounds, he was
somewhat dismayed. Still, he tackled those books like a
man, and, being clever and industrious, within three months
had a fair working knowledge of the subject, and had even
picked up a smattering of hieroglyphics.
In January that was, at the end of those
months Smith astonished his Board of Directors by applying
for ten weeks' leave, he who had hitherto been content with
a fortnight in the year. When questioned he explained that
he had been suffering from bronchitis, and was advised to
take a change in Egypt.
"A very good idea," said the
manager; "but I'm afraid you'll find it expensive.
They fleece one in Egypt."
"I know," answered Smith; "but
I've saved a little and have only myself to spend it
So Smith went to Egypt and saw the original
of the beauteous head and a thousand other fascinating
things. Indeed, he did more. Attaching himself to some
excavators who were glad of his intelligent assistance, he
actually dug for a month in the neighbourhood of ancient
Thebes, but without finding anything in particular.
It was not till two years later that he made
his great discovery, that which is known as Smith's Tomb.
Here it may be explained that the state of his health had
become such as to necessitate an annual visit to Egypt, or
so his superiors understood.
However, as he asked for no summer holiday,
and was always ready to do another man's work or to stop
overtime, he found it easy to arrange for these winter
On this, his third visit to Egypt, Smith
obtained from the Director-General of Antiquities at Cairo a
licence to dig upon his own account. Being already well
known in the country as a skilled Egyptologist, this was
granted upon the usual terms namely, that the Department of
Antiquities should have a right to take any of the objects
which might be found, or all of them, if it so desired.
Such preliminary matters having been arranged
by correspondence, Smith, after a few days spent in the
Museum at Cairo, took the night train to Luxor, where he
found his head-man, an ex-dragoman named Mahomet, waiting
for him and his fellaheen labourers already hired. There
were but forty of them, for his was a comparatively small
venture. Three hundred pounds was the amount that he had
made up his mind to expend, and such a sum does not go far
During his visit of the previous year Smith
had marked the place where he meant to dig. It was in the
cemetery of old Thebes, at the wild spot not far from the
temple of Medinet Habu, that is known as the Valley of the
Queens. Here, separated from the resting-places of their
royal lords by the bold mass of the intervening hill, some
of the greatest ladies of Egypt have been laid to rest, and
it was their tombs that Smith desired to investigate. As he
knew well, some of these must yet remain to be discovered.
Who could say? Fortune favours the bold. It might be that
he would find the holy grave of that beauteous, unknown
Royalty whose face had haunted him for three long years!
For a whole month he dug without the
slightest success. The spot that he selected had proved,
indeed, to be the mouth of a tomb. After twenty-five days
of laborious exploration it was at length cleared out, and
he stood in a rude unfinished cave. The queen for whom it
had been designed must have died quite young and been buried
elsewhere, or she had chosen herself another sepulchre, or
mayhap the rock had proved unsuitable for sculpture.
Smith shrugged his shoulders and moved on,
sinking trial pits and trenches here and there, but still
finding nothing. Two-thirds of his time and money had been
spent when at last the luck turned. One day, towards
evening, with some half-dozen of his best men he was
returning after a fruitless morning of labour, when
something seemed to attract him towards a little wadi, or
bay, in the hillside that was filled with tumbled rocks and
sand. There were scores of such places, and this one looked
no more promising than any of the others had proved to be.
Yet it attracted him. Thoroughly dispirited, he walked past
it twenty paces or more, then turned.
"Where go you, sah?" asked his
He pointed to the recess in the cliff.
"No good, sah," said Mahomet.
"No tomb there. Bed-rock too near top. Too much water
run in there; dead queen like keep dry!"
But Smith went on, and the others followed
He walked down the little slope of sand and
boulders and examined the cliff. It was virgin rock; never
a tool mark was to be seen. Already the men were going,
when the same strange instinct which had drawn him to the
spot caused him to take a spade from one of them and begin
to shovel away the sand from the face of the cliff for
here, for some unexplained reason, were no boulders or
débris. Seeing their master, to whom they were
attached, at work, they began to work too, and for twenty
minutes or more dug on cheerfully enough, just to humour
him, since all were sure that here there was no tomb. At
length Smith ordered them to desist, for, although now they
were six feet down, the rock remained of the same virgin
With an exclamation of disgust he threw out a
last shovelful of sand. The edge of his spade struck on
something that projected. He cleared away a little more
sand, and there appeared a rounded ledge which seemed to be
a cornice. Calling back the men, he pointed to it, and
without a word all of them began to dig again. Five minutes
more of work made it clear that it was a cornice, and half
an hour later there appeared the top of the doorway of a
"Old people wall him up," said
Mahomet, pointing to the flat stones set in mud for mortar
with which the doorway had been closed, and to the
undecipherable impress upon the mud of the scarab seals of
the officials whose duty it had been to close the last
resting-place of the royal dead for ever.
"Perhaps queen all right inside,"
he went on, receiving no answer to his remark.
"Perhaps," replied Smith, briefly.
"Dig, man, dig! Don't waste time in talking."
So they dug on furiously till at length Smith
saw something which caused him to groan aloud. There was a
hole in the masonry the tomb had been broken into. Mahomet
saw it too, and examined the top of the aperture with his
"Very old thief," he said.
"Look, he try build up wall again, but run away before
he have time finish." And he pointed to certain flat
stones which had been roughly and hurriedly replaced.
"Dig... dig!" said Smith.
Ten minutes more and the aperture was
cleared. It was only just big enough to admit the body of a
By now the sun was setting. Swiftly, swiftly
it seemed to tumble down the sky. One minute it was above
the rough crests of the western hills behind them; the next,
a great ball of glowing fire, it rested on their topmost
ridge. Then it was gone. For an instant a kind of green
spark shone where it had been. This too went out, and the
sudden Egyptian night was upon them.
The fellaheen muttered among themselves, and
one or two of them wandered off on some pretext. The rest
threw down their tools and looked at Smith. "Men say
they no like stop here. They afraid of ghost! Too many
afreet live in these tomb. That what they say. Come back
finish tomorrow morning when it light. Very foolish people,
these common fellaheen," remarked Mahomet, in a
"Quite so," replied Smith, who knew
well that nothing that he could offer would tempt his men to
go on with the opening of a tomb after sunset. "Let
them go away. You and I will stop and watch the place till
"Sorry, sah," said Mahomet,
"but I not feel quite well inside; I think I got fever.
I go to camp and lie down and pray under plenty
"All right, go," said Smith;
"but if there is anyone who is not a coward, let him
bring me my big coat, something to eat and drink, and the
lantern that hangs in my tent. I will meet him there in the
Mahomet, though rather doubtfully, promised
that this should be done, and, after begging Smith to
accompany them, lest the spirit of whoever slept in the tomb
should work him a mischief during the night, they departed
Smith lit his pipe, sat down on the sand, and
waited. Half an hour later he heard a sound of singing, and
through the darkness, which was dense, saw lights coming up
"My brave men," he thought to
himself, and scrambled up the slope to meet them.
He was right. These were his men, no less
than twenty of them, for with a fewer number they did not
dare to face the ghosts which they believed haunted the
valley after nightfall. Presently the light from the
lantern which one of them carried (not Mahomet, whose
sickness had increased too suddenly to enable him to come)
fell upon the tall form of Smith, who, dressed in his white
working clothes, was leaning against a rock. Down went the
lantern, and with a howl of terror the brave company turned
"Sons of cowards!" roared Smith
after them, in his most vigorous Arabic. "It is I,
your master, not an afreet."
They heard, and by degrees crept back again.
Then he perceived that in order to account for their number
each of them carried some article. Thus one had the bread,
another the lantern, another a tin of sardines, another the
sardine-opener, another a box of matches, another a bottle
of beer, and so on. As even thus there were not enough
things to go round, two of them bore his big coat between
them, the first holding it by the sleeves and the second by
the tail as though it were a stretcher.
"Put them down," said Smith, and
they obeyed. "Now," he added, "run for your
lives; I thought I heard two afreets talking up there just
now of what they would do to any followers of the Prophet
who mocked their gods, if perchance they should meet them in
their holy place at night."
This kindly counsel was accepted with much
eagerness. In another minute Smith was alone with the stars
and the dying desert wind.
Collecting his goods, or as many of them as
he wanted, he thrust them into the pockets of the greatcoat
and returned to the mouth of the tomb. Here he made his
simple meal by the light of the lantern, and afterwards
tried to go to sleep. But sleep he could not. Something
always woke him. First it was a jackal howling amongst the
rocks; next a sand-fly bit him on the ankle so sharply that
he thought he must have been stung by a scorpion. Then,
notwithstanding his warm coat, the cold got hold of him, for
the clothes beneath were wet through with perspiration, and
it occurred to him that unless he did something he would
probably contract an internal chill or perhaps fever. He
rose and walked about.
By now the moon was up, revealing all the
sad, wild scene in its every detail. The mystery of Egypt
entered his soul and oppressed him. How much dead majesty
lay in the hill upon which he stood? Were they all really
dead, he wondered, or were those fellaheen right? Did their
spirits still come forth at night and wander through the
land where once they ruled? Of course that was the Egyptian
faith according to which the Ka, or Double, eternally
haunted the place where its earthly counterpart had been
laid to rest. When one came to think of it, beneath a mass
of unintelligible symbolism there was much in the Egyptian
faith which it was hard for a Christian to disbelieve.
Salvation through a Redeemer, for instance, and the
resurrection of the body. Had he, Smith, not already
written a treatise upon these points of similarity which he
proposed to publish one day, not under his own name? Well,
he would not think of them now; the occasion seemed scarcely
fitting they came home too pointedly to one who was engaged
in violating a tomb.
His mind, or rather his imagination-of which
he had plenty went off at a tangent. What sights had this place
seen thousands of years ago! Once, thousands of years ago,
a procession had wound up along the roadway which was
doubtless buried beneath the sand whereon he stood towards
the dark door of this sepulchre. He could see it as it
passed in and out between the rocks. The priests,
shaven-headed and robed in leopards' skins, or some of them
in pure white, bearing the mystic symbols of their office.
The funeral sledge drawn by oxen, and on it the great
rectangular case that contained the outer and the inner
coffins, and within them the mummy of some departed Majesty;
in the Egyptian formula, "the hawk that had spread its
wings and flown into the bosom of Osiris," God of
Death. Behind, the mourners, rending the air with their
lamentations. Then those who bore the funeral furniture and
offerings. Then the high officers of State and the first
priests of Amen and of the other gods. Then the sister
queens, leading by the hand a wondering child or two. Then
the sons of Pharaoh, young men carrying the emblems of their
Lastly, walking alone, Pharaoh himself in his
ceremonial robes, his apron, his double crown of linen
surmounted by the golden snake, his inlaid bracelets and his
heavy, tinkling earrings. Pharaoh, his head bowed, his feet
travelling wearily, and in his heart what thoughts?
Sorrow, perhaps, for her who had departed. Yet he had other
queens and fair women without count. Doubtless she was
sweet and beautiful, but sweetness and beauty were not given
to her alone. Moreover, was she not wont to cross his will
and to question his divinity? No, surely it is not only of
her that he thinks, her for whom he had prepared this
splendid tomb with all things needful to unite her with the
gods. Surely he thinks also of himself and that other tomb
on the farther side of the hill whereat the artists labour
day by day yes, and have laboured these many years; that
tomb to which before so very long he too must travel in just
this fashion, to seek his place beyond the doors of Death,
who lays his equal hand on king and queen and slave.
The vision passed. It was so real that Smith
thought he must have been dreaming. Well, he was awake now,
and colder than ever. Moreover, the jackals had multiplied.
There were a whole pack of them, and not far away. Look!
One crossed in the ring of the lamplight, a slinking, yellow
beast that smelt the remains of dinner. Or perhaps it smelt
him. Moreover, there were bad characters who haunted these
mountains, and he was alone and quite unarmed. Perhaps he
ought to put out the light which advertised his whereabouts.
It would be wise and yet in this particular he rejected
wisdom. After all, the light was some company.
Since sleep seemed to be out of the question,
he fell back upon poor humanity's other anodyne, work, which
has the incidental advantage of generating warmth. Seizing
a shovel, he began to dig at the doorway of the tomb, whilst
the jackals howled louder than ever in astonishment. They
were not used to such a sight. For thousands of years, as
the old moon above could have told, no man, or at least no
solitary man, had dared to rob tombs at such an unnatural
When Smith had been digging for about twenty
minutes something tinkled on his shovel with a noise which
sounded loud in that silence.
"A stone which may come in handy for the
jackals," he thought to himself, shaking the sand
slowly off the spade until it appeared. There it was, and
not large enough to be of much service. Still, he picked it
up, and rubbed it in his hands to clear off the encrusting
dirt. When he opened them he saw that it was no stone, but
"Osiris," reflected Smith,
"buried in front of the tomb to hallow the ground. No,
an Isis. No, the head of a statuette, and a jolly good one,
too at any rate, in moonlight. Seems to have been
gilded." And, reaching out for the lamp, he held it
over the object.
Another minute, and he found himself sitting
at the bottom of the hole, lamp in one hand and statuette,
or rather head, in the other.
"The Queen of the Mask!" he gasped.
"The same the same! By heavens, the very same!"
Oh, he could not be mistaken. There were the
identical lips, a little thick and pouted; the identical
nostrils, curved and quivering, but a little wide; the
identical arched eyebrows and dreamy eyes set somewhat far
apart. Above all, there was the identical alluring and
mysterious smile. Only on this masterpiece of ancient art
was set a whole crown of uræi surrounding the entire head.
Beneath the crown and pressed back behind the ears was a
full-bottomed wig or royal head-dress, of which the ends
descended to the breasts. The statuette, that, having been
gilt, remained quite perfect and uncorroded, was broken just
above the middle, apparently by a single violent blow, for
the fracture was very clean.
At once it occurred to Smith that it had been
stolen from the tomb by a thief who thought it to be gold;
that outside of the tomb doubt had overtaken him and caused
him to break it upon a stone or otherwise. The rest was
clear. Finding that it was but gold-washed bronze he had
thrown away the fragments, rather than be at the pains of
carrying them. This was his theory, probably not a correct
one, as the sequel seems to show.
Smith's first idea was to recover the other
portion. He searched quite a long while, but without
success. Neither then nor afterwards could it be found. He
reflected that perhaps this lower half had remained in the
thief's hand, who, in his vexation, had thrown it far away,
leaving the head to lie where it fell. Again Smith examined
this head, and more closely. Now he saw that just beneath
the breasts was a delicately cut cartouche.
Being by this time a master of hieroglyphics,
he read it without trouble. It ran: "Ma-Mee, Great
Royal Lady. Beloved of..." Here the cartouche was
"Ma-Mé, or it might be
Ma-Mi," he reflected. "I never heard of a queen
called Ma-Mé, or Ma-Mi, or Ma-Mu. She must be quite
new to history. I wonder of whom she was beloved? Amen, or
Horus, or Isis, probably. Of some god, I have no doubt, at
least I hope so!"
He stared at the beautiful portrait in his
hand, as once he had stared at the cast on the Museum wall,
and the beautiful portrait, emerging from the dust of ages,
smiled back at him there in the solemn moonlight as once the
cast had smiled from the Museum wall.
Only that had been but a cast, whereas this
was real. This had slept with the dead from whose features
it had been fashioned, the dead who lay, or who had lain,
A sudden resolution took hold of Smith. He
would explore that tomb, at once and alone. No one should
accompany him on this his first visit; it would be a
sacrilege that anyone save himself should set foot there
until he had looked on what it might contain.
Why should he not enter? His lamp, of what
is called the "hurricane" brand, was very good and
bright, and would burn for many hours. Moreover, there had
been time for the foul air to escape through the hole that
they had cleared. Lastly, something seemed to call on him
to come and see. He placed the bronze head in his
breast-pocket over his heart, and, thrusting the lamp
through the hole, looked down. Here there was no
difficulty, since sand had drifted in to the level of the
bottom of the aperture. Through it he struggled, to find
himself upon a bed of sand that only just left him room to
push himself along between it and the roof. A little
farther on the passage was almost filled with mud.
Mahomet had been right when, from his
knowledge of the bed-rock, he said that any tomb made in
this place must be flooded. It had been flooded by some
ancient rain-storm, and Smith began to fear that he would
find it quite filled with soil caked as hard as iron. So,
indeed, it was to a certain depth, a result that apparently
had been anticipated by those who hollowed it, for this
entrance shaft was left quite undecorated. Indeed, as Smith
found afterwards, a hole had been dug beneath the doorway to
allow the mud to enter after the burial was completed. Only
a miscalculation had been made. The natural level of the
mud did not quite reach the roof of the tomb, and therefore
still left it open.
After crawling for forty feet or so over this
caked mud, Smith suddenly found himself on a rising stair.
Then he understood the plan; the tomb itself was on a higher
Here began the paintings. Here the Queen
Ma-Mee, wearing her crowns and dressed in diaphanous
garments, was presented to god after god. Between her
figure and those of the divinities the wall was covered with
hieroglyphs as fresh today as on that when the artist had
limned them. A glance told him that they were extracts from
the Book of the Dead. When the thief of bygone ages had
broken into the tomb, probably not very long after the
interment, the mud over which Smith had just crawled was
still wet. This he could tell, since the clay from the
rascal's feet remained upon the stairs, and that upon his
fingers had stained the paintings on the wall against which
he had supported himself; indeed, in one place was an exact
impression of his hand, showing its shape and even the lines
of the skin.
At the top of the flight of steps ran another
passage at a higher level, which the water had never
reached, and to right and left were the beginnings of
unfinished chambers. It was clear to him that this queen
had died young. Her tomb, as she or the king had designed
it, was never finished. A few more paces, and the passage
enlarged itself into a hall about thirty feet square. The
ceiling was decorated with vultures, their wings outspread,
the looped Cross of Life hanging from their talons. On one
wall her Majesty Ma-Mee stood expectant while Anubis weighed
her heart against the feather of truth, and Thoth, the
Recorder, wrote down the verdict upon his tablets. All her
titles were given to her here, such as "Great Royal
Heiress, Royal Sister, Royal Wife, Royal Mother, Lady of the
Two Lands, Palm-branch of Love, Beautiful exceedingly."
Smith read them hurriedly and noted that
nowhere could he see the name of the king who had been her
husband. It would almost seem as though this had been
purposely omitted. On the other walls Ma-Mee, accompanied
by her Ka, or Double, made offerings to the various gods,
or uttered propitiatory speeches to the hideous demons of
the underworld, declaring their names to them and forcing
them to say: "Pass on. Thou art pure!"
Lastly, on the end wall, triumphant, all her
trials done, she, the justified Osiris, or Spirit, was
received by the god Osiris, Saviour of Spirits.
All these things Smith noted hurriedly as he
swung the lamp to and fro in that hallowed place. Then he
saw something else which filled him with dismay. On the
floor of the chamber where the coffins had been for this
was the burial chamber lay a heap of black fragments
charred with fire. Instantly he understood. After the
thief had done his work he had burned the mummy-cases, and
with them the body of the queen. There could be no doubt
that this was so, for look! among the ashes lay some
calcined human bones, while the roof above was blackened
with the smoke and cracked by the heat of the conflagration.
There was nothing left for him to find!
Oppressed with the closeness of the
atmosphere, he sat down upon a little bench or table cut in
the rock that evidently had been meant to receive offerings
to the dead. Indeed, on it still lay the scorched remains
of some votive flowers. Here, his lamp between his feet, he
rested a while, staring at those calcined bones. See,
yonder was the lower jaw, and in it some teeth, small,
white, regular, and but little worn. Yes, she had died
young. Then he turned to go, for disappointment and the
holiness of the place overcame him; he could endure no more
of it that night.
Leaving the burial hall, he walked along the
painted passage, the lamp swinging and his eyes fixed upon
the floor. He was disheartened, and the paintings could
wait till the morrow. He descended the steps and came to
the foot of the mud slope. Here suddenly he perceived,
projecting from some sand that had drifted down over the
mud, what seemed to be the corner of a reed box or basket.
To clear away the sand was easy, and yes, it was a basket,
a foot or so in length, such a basket as the old Egyptians
used to contain the funeral figures which are called
ushaptis, or other objects connected with the dead. It
looked as though it had been dropped, for it lay upon its
side. Smith opened it not very hopefully, for surely
nothing of value would have been abandoned thus.
The first thing that met his eyes was a
mummied hand, broken off at the wrist, a woman's little
hand, most delicately shaped. It was withered and
paper-white, but the contours still remained; the long
fingers were perfect, and the almond- shaped nails had been
stained with henna, as was the embalmers' fashion. On the
hand were two gold rings, and for those rings it had been
stolen. Smith looked at it for a long while, and his heart
swelled within him, for here was the hand of that royal lady
of his dreams.
Indeed, he did more than look; he kissed it,
and as his lips touched the holy relic it seemed to him as
though a wind, cold but scented, blew upon his brow. Then,
growing fearful of the thoughts that arose within him, he
hurried his mind back to the world, or rather to the
examination of the basket.
Here he found other objects roughly wrapped
in fragments of mummy-cloth that had been torn from the body
of the queen. These it is needless to describe, for are
they not to be seen in the gold room of the Museum, labelled
"Bijouterie de la Reine Ma-Mé, XVIIIème
Dynastie. Thebes (Smith's Tomb)"? It may be
mentioned, however, that the set was incomplete. For
instance, there was but one of the great gold ceremonial
ear-rings fashioned like a group of pomegranate blooms, and
the most beautiful of the necklaces had been torn in two-
-half of it was missing.
It was clear to Smith that only a portion of
the precious objects which were buried with the mummy had
been placed in this basket. Why had these been left where
he found them? A little reflection made that clear also.
Something had prompted the thief to destroy the desecrated
body and its coffin with fire, probably in the hope of
hiding his evil handiwork. Then he fled with his spoil.
But he had forgotten how fiercely mummies and their
trappings can burn. Or perhaps the thing was an accident.
He must have had a lamp, and if its flame chanced to touch
this bituminous tinder!
At any rate, the smoke overtook the man in
that narrow place as he began to climb the slippery slope of
clay. In his haste he dropped the basket, and dared not
return to search for it. It could wait till the morrow,
when the fire would be out and the air pure. Only for this
desecrator of the royal dead that morrow never came, as was
When at length Smith struggled into the open
air the stars were paling before the dawn. An hour later,
after the sky was well up, Mahomet (recovered from his
sickness) and his myrmidons arrived.
"I have been busy while you slept,"
said Smith, showing them the mummied hand (but not the rings
which he had removed from the shrunk fingers), and the
broken bronze, but not the priceless jewellery which was
hidden in his pockets.
For the next ten days they dug till the tomb
and its approach were quite clear. In the sand, at the head
of a flight of steps which led down to the doorway, they
found the skeleton of a man, who evidently had been buried
there in a hurried fashion. His skull was shattered by the
blow of an axe, and the shaven scalp that still clung to it
suggested that he might have been a priest.
Mahomet thought, and Smith agreed with him,
that this was the person who had violated the tomb. As he
was escaping from it the guards of the holy place surprised
him after he had covered up the hole by which he had entered
and purposed to return. There they executed him without
trail and divided up the plunder, thinking that no more was
to be found. Or perhaps his confederates killed him.
Such at least were the theories advanced by
Mahomet. Whether they were right or wrong none will ever
know. For instance, the skeleton may not have been that of
the thief, though probability appears to point the other
Nothing more was found in the tomb, not even
a scarab or a mummy-bead. Smith spent the remainder of his
time in photographing the pictures and copying the
inscriptions, which for various reasons proved to be of
extraordinary interest. Then, having reverently buried the
charred bones of the queen in a secret place of the
sepulchre, he handed it over to the care of the local
Guardian of Antiquities, paid off Mahomet and the fellaheen,
and departed for Cairo. With him went the wonderful jewels
of which he had breathed no word, and another relic to him
yet more precious the hand of her Majesty Ma-Mee,
Palm-branch of Love.
And now follows the strange sequel of this
story of Smith and the queen Ma-Mee.
(To be continued).
SYNOPSIS OF THE FIRST
Wandering one day among the Egyptian sculptures in
the British Museum, Smith falls in love with the
plaster cast of an unknown woman's head, which seems to
him to return his gaze with a mysterious smile. As a
result, he becomes an ardent Eyptologist, and spends
his holidays in excavation work in Egypt. On his third
visit he finds in a tomb the head of a statuette, whose
smiling features he immediately recognizes as those of
the cast in the Museum, and whose name he discovers
from the hieroglyphics is Queen Ma-Mee. Realizing that
he is in her desecrated tomb, he renews his search, and
also finds a mummied hand bearing two gold rings.
SMITH was seated in the sanctum of the
distinguished Director-General of Antiquities at the new
Cairo Museum. It was a very interesting room. Books piled
upon the floor; objects from tombs awaiting examination,
lying here and there; a hoard of Ptolemaic silver coins,
just dug up at Alexandria, standing on the table in the pot
that had hidden them for two thousand years; in the corner
the mummy of a royal child, aged six or seven, not long ago
discovered, with some inscription scrawled upon the
wrappings (brought here to be deciphered by the Master), and
the withered lotus-bloom, love's last offering, thrust
beneath one of the pink retaining bands.
"A touching object," thought Smith
to himself. "Really, they might have left the dear
little girl in peace."
Smith had a tender heart, but even as he
reflected he became aware that some of the jewellery hidden
in an inner pocket of his waistcoat (designed for bank
notes) was fretting his skin. He had a tender conscience
Just then the Director, a French savant,
bustled in, alert, vigorous, full of interest.
"Ah, my dear Mr Smith!" he said, in
his excellent English. "I am indeed glad to see you
back again, especially as I understand that you are come
rejoicing and bringing your sheaves with you. They tell me
you have been extraordinarily successful. What do you say
is the name of this queen whose tomb you have found Ma-Mee?
A very unusual name. How do you get the extra vowel? Is it
for euphony eh? Did I not know how good a scholar you are,
I should be tempted to believe that you had misread it.
Me-Mee, Ma-Mee! That would be pretty in French, would it
not? Ma mie my darling! Well, I dare say she was
somebody's mie in her time. But tell me the story."
Smith told him shortly and clearly; also he
produced his photographs and copies of inscriptions.
"This is interesting interesting
truly," said the Director, when he had glanced through
them. "You must leave them with me to study. Also you
will publish them, is it not so? Perhaps one of the
Societies would help you with the cost, for it should be
done in facsimile. Look at this vignette! Most unusual.
Oh, what a pity that scoundrelly priest got off with the
jewellery and burnt her Majesty's body!"
"He didn't get off with all of it."
"What, Mr Smith? Our inspector reported
to me that you found nothing."
"I dare say, sir; but your inspector did
not know what I found."
"Ah, you are a discreet man! Well, let
Slowly Smith unbuttoned his waistcoat. From
its inner pocket and elsewhere about his person he extracted
the jewels wrapped in mummy-cloth as he had found them.
First he produced a sceptre-head of gold, in the shape of a
pomegranate fruit and engraved with the throne name and
titles of Ma-Mee.
"What a beautiful object!" said the
Director. "Look! the handle was of ivory, and that
sacré thief of a priest smashed it out at the
socket. It was fresh ivory then; the robbery must have
taken place not long after the burial. See, this
magnifying-glass shows it. Is that all?"
Smith handed him the surviving half of the
marvellous necklace that had been torn in two.
"I have re-threaded it," he
muttered, "but every bead is in its place."
"Oh, heavens! How lovely! Note the
cutting of those cornelian heads of Hathor and the gold
lotus-blooms between yes, and the enamelled flies beneath.
We have nothing like it in the Museum."
So it went on.
"Is that all?" gasped the Director
at last, when every object from the basket glittered before
them on the table.
"Yes," said Smith. "That is-
-no. I found a broken statuette hidden in the sand outside
the tomb. It is of the queen, but I thought perhaps you
would allow me to keep this."
"But certainly, Mr Smith; it is yours
indeed. We are not niggards here. Still, if I might see
From yet another pocket Smith produced the
head. The Director gazed at it, then he spoke with feeling.
"I said just now that you were discreet,
Mr Smith, and I have been reflecting that you are honest.
But now I must add that you are very clever. If you had not
made me promise that this bronze should be yours before you
showed it to me well, it would never have gone into that
pocket again. And, in the public interest, won't you
release me from the promise?"
"No," said Smith.
"You are perhaps not aware," went
on the Director, with a groan, "that this is a portrait
of Mariette's unknown queen whom we are thus able to
identify. It seems a pity that the two should be separated;
a replica we could let you have."
"I am quite aware," said Smith,
"and I will be sure to send you a replica, with
photographs. Also I promise to leave the original to some
museum by will."
The Director clasped the image tenderly, and,
holding it to the light, read the broken cartouche beneath
"'Ma-Mé, Great Royal Lady.
Beloved of ' Beloved of whom? Well, of Smith, for one.
Take it, monsieur, and hide it away at once, lest soon there
should be another mummy in this collection, a modern mummy
called Smith; and, in the name of Justice, let the museum
which inherits it be not the British, but that of Cairo, for
this queen belongs to Egypt. By the way, I have been told
that you are delicate in the lungs. How is your health now?
Our cold winds are very trying. Quite good? Ah, that is
excellent! I suppose that you have no more articles that
you can show me?"
"I have nothing more except a mummied
hand, which I found in the basket with the jewels. The two
rings off it lie there. Doubtless it was removed to get at
that bracelet. I suppose you will not mind my keeping the
"Of the beloved of Smith,"
interrupted the Director drolly. "No, I suppose not,
though for my part I should prefer one that was not quite so
old. Still, perhaps you will not mind my seeing it. That
pocket of yours still looks a little bulky; I thought that
it contained books!"
Smith produced a cigar-box; in it was the
hand wrapped in cotton wool.
"Ah," said the Director, "a
pretty, well-bred hand. No doubt this Ma-Mee was the real
heiress to the throne, as she describes herself. The
Pharaoh was somebody of inferior birth, half-brother she is
called "Royal Sister", you remember son of one of
the Pharaoh's slave-women, perhaps. Odd that she never
mentioned him in the tomb. It looks as though they didn't
get on in life, and that she was determined to have done
with him in death. Those were the rings upon that hand,
were they not?"
He replaced them on the fingers, then took
off one, a royal signet in a cartouche, and read the
inscription on the other: "'Bes Ank, Ank Bes.' 'Bes
the Living, the living Bes.'
"Your Ma-Mee had some human vanity about
her," he added. "Bes, among other things, as you
know, was the god of beauty and of the adornments of women.
She wore that ring that she might remain beautiful, and that
her dresses might always fit, and her rouge never cake when
she was dancing before the gods. Also it fixes her period
pretty closely, but then so do other things. It seems a
pity to rob Ma-Mee of her pet ring, does it not? The royal
signet will be enough for us."
With a little bow he gave the hand back to
Smith, leaving the Bes ring on the finger that had worn it
for more than three thousand years. At least, Smith was so
sure it was the Bes ring that at the time he did not look at
Then they parted, Smith promising to return
upon the morrow, which, owing to events to be described, he
did not do.
"Ah!" said the Master to himself,
as the door closed behind his visitor. "He's in a
hurry to be gone. He has fear lest I should change my mind
about that ring. Also there is the bronze. Monsieur Smith
was rusé there. It is worth a thousand pounds,
that bronze. Yet I do not believe he was thinking of the
money. I believe he is in love with that Ma-Mee and wants
to keep her picture. Mon Dieu! A well-established
affection. At least he is what the English call an odd
fish, one whom I could never make out, and of whom no one
seems to know anything. Still, honest, I am sure quite
honest. Why, he might have kept every one of those jewels
and no one have been the wiser. And what things! What a
find! Ciel! what a find! There has been nothing like it
for years. Benedictions on the head of Odd-fish
Then he collected the precious objects,
thrust them into an inner compartment of his safe, which he
locked and double-locked, and, as it was nearly five
o'clock, departed from the Museum to his private residence
in the grounds, there to study Smith's copies and
photographs, and to tell some friends of the great things
that had happened.
When Smith found himself outside the sacred
door, and had presented its venerable guardian with a
baksheesh of five piastres, he walked a few paces to the
right and paused a while to watch some native labourers who
were dragging a huge sarcophagus upon an improvised tramway.
As they dragged they sang an echoing rhythmic song, whereof
each line ended with an invocation to Allah.
Just so, reflected Smith, had their
forefathers sung when, millenniums ago, they dragged that
very sarcophagus from the quarries to the Nile, and from the
Nile to the tomb whence it reappeared today, or when they
slid the casing blocks of the pyramids up the great causeway
and smooth slope of sand, and laid them in their dizzy
resting-places. Only then each line of the immemorial chant
of toil ended with an invocation to Amen, now transformed to
Allah. The East may change its masters and its gods, but
its customs never change, and if today Allah wore the
feathers of Amen one wonders whether the worshippers would
find the difference so very great.
Thus thought Smith as he hurried away from
the sarcophagus and those blue-robed, dark-skinned
fellaheen, down the long gallery that is filled with a
thousand sculptures. For a moment he paused before the
wonderful white statue of Queen Amenartas, then, remembering
that his time was short, hastened on to a certain room, one
of those which opened out of the gallery.
In a corner of this room, upon the wall,
amongst many other beautiful objects, stood that head which
Mariette had found, whereof in past years the cast had
fascinated him in London. Now he knew whose head it was; to
him it had been given to find the tomb of her who had sat
for that statue. Her very hand was in his pocket yes, the
hand that had touched yonder marble, pointing out its
defects to the sculptor, or perhaps swearing that he
flattered her. Smith wondered who that sculptor was; surely
he must have been a happy man. Also he wondered whether the
statuette was also this master's work. He thought so, but
he wished to make sure.
Near to the end of the room he stopped and
looked about him like a thief. He was alone in the place;
not a single student or tourist could be seen, and its
guardian was somewhere else. He drew out the box that
contained the hand. From the hand he slipped the ring which
the Director-General had left there as a gift to himself.
He would much have preferred the other with the signet, but
how could he say so, especially after the episode of the
Replacing the hand in his pocket without
looking at the ring for his eyes were watching to see
whether he was observed he set it upon his little finger,
which it exactly fitted. (Ma-Mee had worn both of them upon
the third finger of her left hand, the Bes ring as a guard
to the signet.) He had the fancy to approach the effigy of
Ma-Mee wearing a ring which she had worn and that came
straight from her finger to his own.
Smith found the head in its accustomed place.
Weeks had gone by since he looked upon it, and now, to his
eyes, it had grown more beautiful than ever, and its smile
was more mystical and loving. He drew out the statuette and
began to compare them point by point. Oh, no doubt was
possible! Both were likenesses of the same woman, though
the statuette might have been executed two or three years
later than the statue. To him the face of it looked a
little older and more spiritual. Perhaps illness, or some
premonition of her end had then thrown its shadow on the
queen. He compared and compared. He made some rough
measurements and sketches in his pocket-book, and set
himself to work out a canon of proportions.
So hard and earnestly did he work, so lost
was his mind that he never heard the accustomed warning
sound which announces that the Museum is about to close.
Hidden behind an altar as he was, in his distant, shadowed
corner, the guardian of the room never saw him as he cast a
last perfunctory glance about the place before departing
till the Saturday morning; for the morrow was Friday, the
Mohammedan Sabbath, on which the Museum remains shut, and he
would not be called upon to attend. So he went. Everybody
went. The great doors clanged, were locked and bolted, and,
save for a watchman outside, no one was left in all that
vast place except Smith in his corner, engaged in sketching
and in measurements.
The difficulty of seeing, owing to the
increase of shadow, first called his attention to the fact
that time was slipping away. He glanced at his watch and
saw that it was ten minutes to the hour.
"Soon be time to go," he thought to
himself, and resumed his work.
How strangely silent the place seemed! Not a footstep to
be heard or the sound of a human voice. He looked at his
watch again, and saw that it was six o'clock, not five, or
so the thing said. But that was impossible, for the Museum
shut at five; evidently the desert sand had got into the
works. The room in which he stood was that known as Room I,
and he had noticed that its Arab custodian often frequented
Room K or the gallery outside. He would find him and ask
what was the real time.
Passing round the effigy of the wonderful
Hathor cow, perhaps the finest example of an ancient
sculpture of a beast in the whole world, Smith came to the
doorway and looked up and down the gallery. Not a soul to
be seen. He ran to Room K, to Room H, and others. Still
not a soul to be seen. Then he made his way as fast as he
could go to the great entrance. The doors were locked and
"Watch must be right after all. I'm
shut in," he said to himself. "However, there's
sure to be someone about somewhere. Probably the salle des
ventes is still open. Shops don't shut till they are
Thither he went, to find its door as firmly
closed as a door can be. He knocked on it, but a sepulchral
echo was the only answer.
"I know," he reflected. "The
Director must still be in his room. It will take him a long
while to examine all that jewellery and put it away."
So for the room he headed, and, after losing
his path twice, found it by help of the sarcophagus that the
Arabs had been dragging, which now stood as deserted as it
had done in the tomb, a lonesome and impressive object in
the gathering shadows. The Director's door was shut, and
again his knockings produced nothing but an echo. He
started on a tour round the Museum, and, having searched the
ground floors, ascended to the upper galleries by the great
Presently he found himself in that devoted to
the royal mummies, and, being tired, rested there a while.
Opposite to him, in a glass case in the middle of the
gallery, reposed Rameses II. Near to, on shelves in a side
case, were Rameses's son, Meneptah, and above, his son, Seti
II, while in other cases were the mortal remains of many
more of the royalties of Egypt. He looked at the proud face
of Rameses and at the little fringe of white locks turned
yellow by the embalmer's spices, also at the raised left
arm. He remembered how the Director had told him that when
they were unrolling this mighty monarch they went away to
lunch, and that presently the man who had been left in
charge of the body rushed into the room with his hair on
end, and said that the dead king had lifted his arm and
pointed at him.
Back they went, and there, true enough, was
the arm lifted; nor were they ever able to get it quite into
its place again. The explanation given was that the warmth
of the sun had contracted the withered muscles, a very
natural and correct explanation.
Still, Smith wished that he had not
recollected the story just at this moment, especially as the
arm seemed to move while he contemplated it a very little,
but still to move.
He turned round and gazed at Meneptah, whose
hollow eyes stared at him from between the wrappings
carelessly thrown across the parchment-like and ashen face.
There, probably, lay the countenance that had frowned on
Moses. There was the heart which God had hardened. Well,
it was hard enough now, for the doctors said he died of
ossification of the arteries, and that the vessels of the
heart were full of lime!
Smith stood upon a chair and peeped at Seti
II above. His weaker countenance was very peaceful, but it
seemed to wear an air of reproach. In getting down Smith
managed to upset the heavy chair. The noise it made was
terrific. He would not have thought it possible that the
fall of such an article could produce so much sound.
Satisfied with his inspection of these particular kings, who
somehow looked quite different now from what they had ever
done before more real and imminent, so to speak he renewed
his search for a living man.
On he went, mummies to his right, mummies to
his left, of every style and period, till be began to feel
as though he never wished to see another dried remnant of
mortality. He peeped into the room where lay the relics of
Iouiya and Touiyou, the father and mother of the great Queen
Taia. Cloths had been drawn over these, and really they
looked worse and more suggestive thus draped than in their
frigid and unadorned blackness. He came to the coffins of
the priest-kings of the twentieth dynasty, formidable
painted coffins with human faces. There seemed to be a vast
number of these priest-kings, but perhaps they were better
than the gold masks of the great Ptolemaic ladies which
glinted at him through the gathering gloom.
Really, he had seen enough of the upper
floors. The statues downstairs were better than all these
dead, although it was true that, according to the Egyptian
faith, every one of those statues was haunted eternally by
the Ka or Double, of the person whom it represented. He
descended the great stairway. Was it fancy, or did
something run across the bottom step in front of him an
animal of some kind, followed by a swift-moving and
indefinite shadow? If so, it must have been the Museum cat
hunting a Museum mouse. Only then what on earth was that
very peculiar and unpleasant shadow?
He called, "Puss! puss! puss!" for
he would have been quite glad of its company; but there came
no friendly "miau" in response. Perhaps it was
only the Ka of a cat and the shadow was oh! never mind
what. The Egyptians worshipped cats, and there were plenty
of their mummies about on the shelves. But the shadow!
Once he shouted in the hope of attracting
attention, for there were no windows to which he could
climb. He did not repeat the experiment, for it seemed as
though a thousand voices were answering him from every
corner and roof of the gigantic edifice.
Well, he must face the thing out. He was
shut in a museum, and the question was in what part of it he
should camp for the night. Moreover, as it was growing
rapidly dark, the problem must be solved at once. He
thought with affection of the lavatory, where, before going
to see the Director, only that afternoon he had washed his
hands with the assistance of a kindly Arab who watched the
door and gracefully accepted a piastre. But there was no
Arab there now, and the door, like every other in this
confounded place, was locked. He marched on to the
Here, opposite to each other, stood the red
sarcophagi of the great Queen Hatshepu and her brother and
husband, Thotmes III. He looked at them. Why should not
one of these afford him a night's lodging? They were deep
and quiet, and would fit the human frame very nicely. For a
while Smith wondered which of these monarchs would be the
more likely to take offence at such a use of a private
sarcophagus, and, acting on general principles, concluded
that he would rather throw himself on the mercy of the lady.
Already one of his legs was over the edge of
that solemn coffer, and he was squeezing his body beneath
the massive lid that was propped above it on blocks of wood,
when he remembered a little, naked, withered thing with long
hair that he had seen in a side chamber of the tomb of
Amenhotep II in the Valley of Kings at Thebes. This
caricature of humanity many thought, and he agreed with
them, to be the actual body of the mighty Hatshepu as it
appeared after the robbers had done with it.
Supposing now, that when he was lying at the
bottom of that sarcophagus, sleeping the sleep of the just,
this little personage should peep over its edge and ask him
what he was doing there! Of course the idea was absurd; he
was tired, and his nerves were a little shaken. Still, the
fact remained that for centuries the hallowed dust of Queen
Hatshepu had slept where he, a modern man, was proposing to
He scrambled down from the sarcophagus and
looked round him in despair. Opposite to the main entrance
was the huge central hall of the Museum. Now the cement
roof of this hall had, he knew, gone wrong, with the result
that very extensive repairs had become necessary. So
extensive were they, indeed, that the Director-General had
informed him that they would take several years to complete.
Therefore this hall was boarded up, only a little doorway
being left by which the workmen could enter. Certain
statues, of Seti II and others, too large to be moved, were
also roughly boarded over, as were some great funeral boats
on either side of the entrance. The rest of the place,
which might be two hundred feet long with a proportionate
breadth, was empty save for the colossi of Amenhotep III and
his queen Taia that stood beneath the gallery at its farther
It was an appalling place in which to sleep,
but better, reflected Smith, than a sarcophagus or those
mummy chambers. If, for instance, he could creep behind the
deal boards that enclosed one of the funeral boats he would
be quite comfortable there. Lifting the curtain, he slipped
into the hall, where the gloom of evening had already
settled. Only the sky-lights and the outline of the
towering colossi at the far end remained visible. Close to
him were the two funeral boats which he had noted when he
looked into the hall earlier on that day, standing at the
head of a flight of steps which led to the sunk floor of the
centre. He groped his way to that on the right. As he
expected, the projecting planks were not quite joined at the
bow. He crept in between them and the boat and laid himself
Presumably, being altogether tired out, Smith
did ultimately fall asleep, for how long he never knew. At
any rate, it is certain that, if so, he woke up again. He
could not tell the time, because his watch was not a
repeater, and the place was as black as the pit. He had
some matches in his pocket, and might have struck one and
even have lit his pipe. To his credit be it said, however,
he remembered that he was the sole tenant of one of the most
valuable museums in the world, and his responsibilities with
reference to fire. So he refrained from striking that match
under the keel of a boat which had become very dry in the
course of five thousand years.
Smith found himself very wide awake indeed.
Never in all his life did he remember being more so, not
even in the hour of its great catastrophe, or when his
godfather, Ebenezer, after much hesitation, had promised him
a clerkship in the bank of which he was a director. His
nerves seemed strung tight as harp-strings, and his every
sense was painfully acute. Thus he could even smell the
odour of mummies that floated down from the upper galleries
and the earthly scent of the boat which had been buried for
thousands of years in sand at the foot of the pyramid of one
of the fifth dynasty kings.
Moreover, he could hear all sorts of strange
sounds, faint and far-away sounds which at first he thought
must emanate from Cairo without. Soon, however, he grew
sure that their origin was more local. Doubtless the cement
work and the cases in the galleries were cracking audibly,
as is the unpleasant habit of such things at night.
Yet why should these common manifestations be
so universal and affect him so strangely? Really, it seemed
as though people were stirring all about him. More, he
could have sworn that the great funeral boat beneath which
he lay had become repeopled with the crew that once it bore.
He heard them at their business above him.
There were trampings and a sound as though something heavy
were being laid on the deck, such, for instance, as must
have been made when the mummy of Pharaoh was set there for
its last journey to the western bank of the Nile. Yes, and
now he could have sworn again that the priestly crew were
getting out the oars.
Smith began to meditate flight from the
neighbourhood of that place when something occurred which
determined him to stop where he was.
The huge hall was growing light, but not, as
at first he hoped, with the rays of dawn. This light was
pale and ghostly, though very penetrating. Also it had a
blue tinge, unlike any other he had ever seen. At first it
arose in a kind of fan or fountain at the far end of the
hall, illumining the steps there and the two noble colossi
which sat above.
But what was this that stood at the head of
the steps, radiating glory? By heavens! it was Osiris
himself or the image of Osiris, god of the Dead, the
Egyptian saviour of the world!
There he stood, in his mummy-cloths, wearing
the feathered crown, and holding in his hands, which
projected from an opening in the wrappings, the crook and
the scourge of power. Was he alive, or was he dead? Smith
could not tell, since he never moved, only stood there,
splendid and fearful, his calm, benignant face staring into
Smith became aware that the darkness between
him and the vision of this god was peopled; that a great
congregation was gathering, or had gathered there. The blue
light began to grow; long tongues of it shot forward, which
joined themselves together, illumining all that huge hall.
Now, too, he saw the congregation. Before
him, rank upon rank of them, stood the kings and queens of
Egypt. As though at a given signal, they bowed themselves
to the Osiris, and ere the tinkling of their ornaments had
died away, lo! Osiris was gone. But in his place stood
another, Isis, the Mother of Mystery, her deep eyes looking
forth from beneath the jewelled vulture-cap. Again the
congregation bowed, and, lo! she was gone. But in her place
stood yet another, a radiant, lovely being, who held in her
hand the Sign of Life, and wore upon her head the symbol of
the shining disc Hathor, Goddess of Love. A third time the
congregation bowed, and she, too, was gone; nor did any
other appear in her place.
The Pharaohs and their queens began to move
about and speak to each other; their voices came to his ears
in one low, sweet murmur.
In his amaze Smith had forgotten fear. From
his hiding-place he watched them intently. Some of them he
knew by their faces. There, for instance, was the
long-necked Khu-en-aten, talking somewhat angrily to the
imperial Rameses II. Smith could understand what he said,
for this power seemed to have been given to him. He was
complaining in a high, weak voice that on this, the one
night of the year when they might meet, the gods, or the
magic images of the gods who were put up for them to
worship, should not include his god, symbolized by the
"Aten", or the sun's disc.
"I have heard of your Majesty's
god," replied Rameses; "the priests used to tell
me of him, also that he did not last long after your Majesty
flew to heaven. The Fathers of Amen gave you a bad name;
they called you 'the heretic' and hammered out your
cartouches. They were quite rare in my time. Oh, do not
let your Majesty be angry! So many of us have been heretics.
My grandson, Seti, there," and he pointed to a mild,
thoughtful-faced man "for example. I am told that he
really worshipped the god of those Hebrew slaves whom I used
to press to build my cities. Look at that lady with him.
Beautiful, isn't she? Observe her large, violet eyes!
Well, she was the one who did the mischief, a Hebrew
herself. At least, they tell me so."
"I will talk with him," answered
Khu-en-aten. "It is more than possible that we may
agree on certain points. Meanwhile, let me explain to your
"Oh, I pray you, not now. There is my
"Your wife?" said Khu-en-aten,
drawing himself up. "Which wife? I am told that your
Majesty had many and left a large family; indeed, I see some
hundreds of them here tonight. Now, I but let me introduce
Nefertiti to your Majesty. I may explain that she was my
"So I have understood. Your Majesty was
rather an invalid, were you not? Of course, in those
circumstances, one prefers the nurse whom one can trust.
Oh, pray, no offence! Nefertari, my love oh, I beg
pardon! Astnefert Nefertari has gone to speak to some of
her children let me introduce you to your predecessor, the
Queen Nefertiti, wife of Amenhotep IV I mean Khu-en-aten
(he changed his name, you know, because half of it was that
of the father of the gods). She is interested in the
question of plural marriage. Goodbye! I wish to have a
word with my grandfather, Rameses I. He was fond of me as a
At this moment Smith's interest in that queer
conversation died away, for of a sudden he beheld none other
than the queen of his dreams, Ma-Mee. Oh! there she stood,
without a doubt, only ten times more beautiful than he had
ever pictured her. She was tall and somewhat
fair-complexioned, with slumbrous, dark eyes, and on her
face gleamed the mystic smile he loved. She wore a robe of
simple white and a purple-broidered apron, a crown of golden
uræi with turquoise eyes was set upon her dark hair as in
her statue, and on her breast and arms were the very
necklace and bracelets that he had taken from her tomb. She
appeared to be somewhat moody, or rather thoughtful, for she
leaned by herself against a balustrade, watching the throng
without much interest.
Presently a Pharaoh, a black-browed, vigorous
man with thick lips, drew near.
"I greet your Majesty," he said.
She started, and answered:
"Oh, it is you! I make my obeisance to
your Majesty," and she curtsied to him, humbly enough,
but with a suggestion of mockery in her movements.
"Well, you do not seem to have been very
anxious to find me, Ma-Mee, which, considering that we meet
so seldom '
"I saw that your Majesty was engaged
with my sister queens," she interrupted, in a rich, low
voice, "and with some other ladies in the gallery
there, whose faces I seem to remember, but who I think were
not queens. Unless, indeed, you married them after I was
"One must talk to one's relations,"
replied the Pharaoh.
"Quite so. But, you see, I have no
relations at least, none whom I know well. My parents, you
will remember, died when I was young, leaving me Egypt's
heiress, and they are still vexed at the marriage which I
made on the advice of my counsellors. But, is it not
annoying? I have lost one of my rings, that which had the
god Bes on it. Some dweller on the earth must be wearing it
today, and that is why I cannot get it back from him."
"Him! Why 'him'? Hush; the business is
about to begin."
"What business, my lord?"
"Oh, the question of the violation of
our tombs, I believe."
"Indeed! That is a large subject, and
not a very profitable one, I should say. Tell me, who is
that?" And she pointed to a lady who had stepped
forward, a very splendid person, magnificently arrayed.
"Cleopatra the Greek," he answered,
"the last of Egypt's Sovereigns, one of the Ptolemys.
You can always know her by that Roman who walks about after
"Which?" asked Ma-Mee. "I see
several also other men. She was the wretch who rolled
Egypt in the dirt and betrayed her. Oh, if it were not for
the law of peace by which we abide when we meet thus!"
"You mean that she would be torn to
shreds, Ma-Mee, and her very soul scattered like the limbs
of Osiris? Well, if it were not for that law of peace, so
perhaps would many of us, for never have I heard a single
king among these hundreds speak altogether well of those who
went before or followed after him."
"Especially of those who went before if
they happen to have hammered out their cartouches and
usurped their monuments," said the queen, dryly, and
looking him in the eyes.
At this home-thrust the Pharaoh seemed to
wince. Making no answer, he pointed to the royal woman who
had mounted the steps at the end of the hall.
Queen Cleopatra lifted her hand and stood
thus for a while. Very splendid she was, and Smith, on his
hands and knees behind the boarding of the boat, thanked his
stars that alone among modern men it had been his lot to
look upon her rich and living loveliness. There she shone,
she who had changed the fortunes of the world, she who,
whatever she did amiss, at least had known how to die.
(To be concluded.)
SYNOPSIS OF THE FIRST TWO
Wandering one day among the Egyptian sculptures in
the British Museum, Smith falls in love with the
plaster cast of an unknown woman's head, which seems to
him to return his gaze with a mysterious smile. As a
result, he becomes an ardent Eyptologist, and spends
his holidays in excavation work in Egypt. On his third
visit he finds in a tomb the head of a statuette, whose
smiling features he immediately recognizes as those of
the cast in the Museum, and whose name he discovers
from the hieroglyphics is Queen Ma-Mee. Realizing that
he is in her desecrated tomb, he renews his search, and
also finds a mummied hand bearing two gold rings.
Smith takes his discoveries to the Cairo Museum, and
is allowed to retain the statuette, the mummied hand,
and one of the rings. After leaving the Director he
wanders through the Museum, and, forgetful of time, at
length finds himself locked in among the mummies of the
kings and queens of Egypt. Realizing the impossibility
of making his way out, Smith settles himself
comfortably for the night. As soon as he has done so,
however, he becomes aware that a great gathering of
Egyptian kings and queens among whom he recognizes the
original of his statuette has taken place, and he
becomes greatly interested in their conversation.
Part II. (continued).
SILENCE fell upon that glittering galaxy of kings
and queens and upon all the hundreds of their offspring,
their women, and their great officers who crowded the double
tier of galleries around the hall.
"Royalties of Egypt," she began, in
a sweet, clear voice which penetrated to the farthest
recesses of the place, "I, Cleopatra, the sixth of that
name and the last monarch who ruled over the Upper and the
Lower Lands before Egypt became a home of slaves, have a
word to say to your Majesties, who, in your mortal days, all
of you more worthily filled the throne on which once I sat.
I do not speak of Egypt and its fate, or of our sins
whereof mine were not the least that brought her to the
dust. Those sins I and others expiate elsewhere, and of
them, from age to age, we hear enough. But on this one
night of the year, that of the feast of him whom we call
Osiris, but whom other nations have known and know by
different names, it is given to us once more to be mortal
for an hour, and, though we be but shadows, to renew the
loves and hates of our long-perished flesh. Here for an
hour we strut in our forgotten pomp; the gems that were ours
still adorn our brows, and once more we seem to listen to
our people's praise. Our hopes are the hopes of mortal
life, our foes are the foes we feared, our gods grow real
again, and our lovers whisper in our ears. Moreover, this
joy is given to us to see each other as we are, to know as
the gods know, and therefore to forgive, even where we
despise and hate. Now I have done, and I, the youngest of
the rulers of ancient Egypt, call upon him who was the first
of her kings to take my place."
She bowed, and the audience bowed back to
her. Then she descended the steps and was lost in the
throng. Where she had been appeared an old man,
simply-clad, long-bearded, wise-faced, and wearing on his
grey hair no crown save a plain band of gold, from the
centre of which rose the snake-headed uræus crest.
"Your Majesties who came after me,"
said the old man, "I am Menes, the first of the
accepted Pharaohs of Egypt, although many of those who went
before me were more truly kings than I. Yet as the first
who joined the Upper and the Lower Lands, and took the royal
style and titles, and ruled as well as I could rule, it is
given to me to talk with you for a while this night whereon
our spirits are permitted to gather from the uttermost parts
of the uttermost worlds and see each other face to face.
First, in darkness and in secret, let us speak of the
mystery of the gods and of its meanings. Next, in darkness
and in secret, let us speak of the mystery of our lives, of
whence they come, of where they tarry by the road, and
whither they go at last. And afterwards, let us speak of
other matters face to face in light and openness, as we were
wont to do when we were men. Then hence to Thebes, there to
celebrate our yearly festival. Is such your will?"
"Such is our will," they answered.
It seemed to Smith that dense darkness fell
upon the place, and with it a silence that was awful. For a
time that he could not reckon, that might have been years or
might have been moments, he sat there in the utter darkness
and the utter silence.
At length the light came again, first as a
blue spark, then in upward pouring rays, and lastly
pervading all. There stood Menes on the steps, and there in
front of him was gathered the same royal throng.
"The mysteries are finished," said
the old king. "Now, if any have aught to say, let it
be said openly."
A young man dressed in the robes and
ornaments of an early dynasty came forward and stood upon
the steps between the Pharaoh Menes and all those who had
reigned after him. His face seemed familiar to Smith, as
was the side lock that hung down behind his right ear in
token of his youth. Where had he seen him? Ah, he
remembered. Only a few hours ago lying in one of the cases
of the Museum, together with the bones of the Pharaoh Unas.
"Your Majesties," he began, "I
am the King Metesuphis. The matter that I wish to lay
before you is that of the violation of our sepulchres by
those men who live upon the earth. The mortal bodies of
many who are gathered here tonight lie in this place to be
stared at and mocked by the curious. I myself am one of
them, jawless, broken, hideous to behold. Yonder, day by
day, must my Ka sit watching my desecrated flesh, torn from
the pyramid that, with cost and labour, I raised up to be an
eternal house wherein I might hide till the hour of
resurrection. Others Or us lie in far lands. Thus, as he
can tell you, my predecessor, Man-kau-ra, he who built the
third of the great pyramids, the Pyramid of Her, sleeps, or
rather wakes in a dark city, called London, across the seas,
a place of murk where no sun shines. Others have been burnt
with fire, others are scattered in small dust. The
ornaments that were ours are stole away and sold to the
greedy; our sacred writings and our symbols are their jest.
Soon there will not be one holy grave in Egypt that remains
"That is so," said a voice from the
company. "But four months gone the deep, deep pit was
opened that I had dug in the shadow of the Pyramid of
Cephren, who begat me in the world. There in my chamber I
slept alone, two handfuls of white bones, since when I died
they did not preserve the body with wrappings and with
spices. Now I see those bones of mine, beside which my
Double has watched for these five thousand years, hid in the
blackness of a great ship and tossing on a sea that is
strewn with ice."
"It is so," echoed a hundred other
"Then," went on the young king,
turning to Menes, "I ask of your Majesty whether there
is no means whereby we may be avenged on those who do us
this foul wrong."
"Let him who has wisdom speak,"
said the old Pharaoh.
A man of middle age, short in stature and of
a thoughtful brow, who held in his hand a wand and wore the
feathers and insignia of the heir to the throne of Egypt and
of a high priest of Amen, moved to the steps. Smith knew
him at once from his statues. He was Khaemuas, son of
Rameses the Great, the mightiest magician that ever was in
Egypt, who of his own will withdrew himself from earth
before the time came that he should sit upon the throne.
"I have wisdom, your Majesties, and I
will answer," he said. "The time draws on when,
in the land of Death which is Life, the land that we call
Amenti, it will be given to us to lay our wrongs as to this
matter before Those who judge, knowing that they will be
avenged. On this night of the year also, when we resume the
shapes we were, we have certain powers of vengeance, or
rather of executing justice. But our time is short, and
there is much to say and do before the sun-god Ra arises and
we depart each to his place. Therefore it seems best that
we should leave these wicked ones in their wickedness till
we meet them face to face beyond the world."
Smith, who had been following the words of
Khaemuas with the closest attention and considerable
anxiety, breathed again, thanking Heaven that the
engagements of these departed monarchs were so numerous and
pressing. Still, as a matter of precaution, he drew the
cigar-box which contained Ma-Mee's hand from his pocket, and
pushed it as far away from him as he could. It was a most
unlucky act. Perhaps the cigar-box grated on the floor, or
perhaps the fact of his touching the relic put him into
psychic communication with all these spirits. At any rate,
he became aware that the eyes of that dreadful magician were
fixed upon him, and that a bone had a better chance of
escaping the search of a Röntgen ray than he of hiding
himself from their baleful glare.
"As it happens, however," went on
Khaemuas, in a cold voice, "I now perceive that there
is hidden in this place, and spying on us, one of the worst
of these vile thieves. I say to your Majesties that I see
him crouched beneath your funeral barge, and that he has
with him at this moment the hand of one of your Majesties,
stolen by him from her tomb at Thebes."
Now every queen in the company became visibly
agitated (Smith, who was watching Ma-Mee, saw her hold up
her hands and look at them), while all the Pharaohs pointed
with their fingers and exclaimed together, in a voice that
rolled round the hall like thunder:
"Let him be brought forth to
Khaemuas raised his wand and, holding it
towards the boat where Smith was hidden, said:
"Draw near, Vile One, bringing with thee
that thou hast stolen."
Smith tried hard to remain where he was. He
sat himself down and set his heels against the floor. As
the reader knows, he was always shy and retiring by
disposition, and never had these weaknesses oppressed him
more than they did just then. When a child his favourite
nightmare had been that the foreman of a jury was in the act
of proclaiming him guilty of some dreadful but unstated
crime. Now he understood what that nightmare foreshadowed.
He was about to be convicted in a court of which all the
kings and queens of Egypt were the jury, Menes was Chief
Justice, and the magician Khaemuas played the rôle of
In vain did he sit down and hold fast. Some
power took possession of him which forced him first to
stretch out his arm and pick up the cigar-box containing the
hand of Ma-Mee, and next drew him from the friendly shelter
of the deal boards that were about the boat.
Now he was on his feet and walking down the
flight of steps opposite to those on which Menes stood far
away. Now he was among all that throng of ghosts, which
parted to let him pass, looking at him as he went with cold
and wondering eyes. They were very majestic ghosts; the
ages that had gone by since they laid down their sceptres
had taken nothing from their royal dignity. Moreover, save
one, none of them seemed to have any pity for his plight.
She was a little princess who stood by her mother, that same
little princess whose mummy he had seen and pitied in the
Director's room with a lotus flower thrust beneath her
bandages. As he passed Smith heard her say:
"This Vile One is frightened. Be brave,
Smith understood, and pride come to his aid.
He, a gentleman of the modern world, would not show the
white feather before a crowd of ancient Egyptian ghosts.
Turning to the child, he smiled at her, them drew himself to
his full height and walked on quietly. Here it may be
stated that Smith was a tall man, still comparatively young,
and very good-looking, straight and spare in frame, with
dark, pleasant eyes and a little black beard.
"At least he is a well-favoured
thief," said one of the queens to another.
"Yes," answered she who had been
addressed. "I wonder that a man with such a noble air
should find pleasure in disturbing graves and stealing the
offerings of the dead," words that gave Smith much
cause for thought. He had never considered the matter in
Now he came to the place where Ma-Mee stood,
the black-browed Pharaoh who had been her husband at her
side. On his left hand which held the cigar-box was the
gold Bes ring, and that box he felt constrained to carry
pressed against him just over his heart.
As he went by he turned his head, and his
eyes met those of Ma-Mee. She started violently. Then she
saw the ring upon his hand and again started still more
"What ails your Majesty?" asked the
"Oh, naught," she answered.
"Yet does this earth-dweller remind you of
"Yes, he does," answered the
Pharaoh. "He reminds me very much of that accursed
sculptor about whom we had words."
"Do you mean a certain Horu, the Court
artist; he who worked the image that was buried with me, and
whom you sent to carve your statues in the deserts of Kush,
until he died of fevers or was it poison?"
"Aye; Horu and no other, may Set take
and keep him!" growled the Pharaoh.
Then Smith passed on and heard no more. Now
he stood before the venerable Menes. Some instinct caused
him to bow to bowed to the royal company, and they also
bowed back to him, coldly, but very gravely and courteously.
"Dweller on the world where once we had
our place, and therefore brother of us, the dead,"
began Menes, "this divine priest and
magician" and he pointed to Khaemuas "declares
that you are one of those who foully violate our sepulchres
and desecrate our ashes. He declares, moreover, that at
this very moment you have with you a portion of the mortal
flesh of a certain Majesty whose spirit is present here.
Say, now, are these things true?"
To his astonishment Smith found that he had
not the slightest difficulty in answering in the same sweet
"O King, they are true, and not true.
Hear me, rulers of Egypt. It is true that I have searched
in your graves, because my heart has been drawn towards you,
and I would learn all that I could concerning you, for it
comes to me now that once I was one of you no king,
indeed, yet perchance of the blood of kings. Also for I
would hide nothing even if I could I searched for one tomb
above all others."
"Why, O man?" asked the Judge.
"Because a face drew me, a lovely face
that was cut in stone."
Now all that great audience turned their eyes
towards him and listened as though his words moved them.
"Did you find that holy tomb?"
asked Menes. "If so, what did you find therein?"
"Aye, Pharaoh, and in it I found
these," and he took from the box the withered hand,
from his pocket the broken bronze, and from his finger the
"Also I found other things which I
delivered to the keeper of this place, articles of jewellery
that I seem to see tonight upon one who is present here
"Is the face of this figure the face you
sought?" asked the Judge.
"It is the lovely face," he
Menes took the effigy in his hand and read
the cartouche that was engraved beneath its breast.
"If there be here among us," he
said, presently, "one who long after my day ruled as
queen in Egypt, one who was named Ma-Mé, let her
Now from where she stood glided Ma-Mee and
took her place opposite to Smith.
"Say, O Queen," asked Menes,
"do you know aught of this matter?"
"I know that hand; it was my own
hand," she answered. "I know that ring; it was my
ring. I know that image in bronze; it was my image. Look
on me and judge for yourselves whether this be so. A
certain sculptor fashioned it, the son of a king's son, who
was named Horu, the first of sculptors and the head artist
of my Court. There, clad in strange garments, he stands
before you. Horu, or the Double of Horu, he who cut the
image when I ruled in Egypt, is he who found the image and
the man who stands before you; or, mayhap, his Double cast
in the same mould."
The pharaoh Menes turned to the magician
Khaemuas and said:
"Are these things so, O Seer?"
"They are so," answered Khaemuas.
"This dweller on the earth is he who, long ago, was the
sculptor Horu. But what shall that avail? He, once more a
living man, is a violator of the hallowed dead. I say,
therefore, that judgment should be executed on his flesh, so
that when the light comes here tomorrow he himself will
again be gathered to the dead."
Menes bent his head upon his breast and
pondered. Smith said nothing. To him the whole play was so
curious that he had no wish to interfere with its
development. If these ghosts wished to make him of their
number, let them do so. He had no ties on earth, and now
when he knew full surely that there was a life beyond this
of earth he was quite prepared to explore its mysteries. So
he folded his arms upon his breast and awaited the sentence.
But Ma-Mee did not wait. She raised her hand
so swiftly that the bracelets jingled on her wrists, and
spoke out with boldness.
"Royal Khaemuas, prince and
magician," she said, "hearken to one who, like
you, was Egypt's heir centuries before you were born, one
also who ruled over the Two Lands, and not so ill which,
Prince, never was your lot. Answer me! Is all wisdom
centred in your breast? Answer me! Do you alone know the
mysteries of Life and Death? Answer me! Did your god Amen
teach you that vengeance went before mercy? Answer me! Did
he teach you that men should be judged unheard? That they
should be hurried by violence to Osiris ere their time, and
thereby separated from the dead ones whom they loved and
forced to return to live again upon this evil Earth?
"Listen: when the last moon was near her
full my spirit sat in my tomb in the burying-place of
queens. My spirit saw this man enter into my tomb, and what
he did there. With bowed head he looked upon my bones that
a thief of the priesthood of Amen had robbed and burnt
within twenty years of their burial, in which he himself had
taken part. And what did this man with those bones, he who
was once Horu? I tell you that he hid them away there in
the tomb where he thought they could not be found again.
Who, then, was the thief and the violator? He who robbed
and burnt my bones, or he who buried them with reverence?
Again, he found the jewels that the priest of your
brotherhood had dropped in his flight, when the smoke of the
burning flesh and spices overpowered him, and with them the
hand which that wicked one had broken off from the body of
my Majesty. What did this man then? He took the jewels.
Would you have had him leave them to be stolen by some
peasant? And the hand? I tell you that he kissed that poor
dead hand which once had been part of the body of my
Majesty, and that now he treasures it as a holy relic. My
spirit saw him do these things and made report thereof to
me. I ask you, therefore, Prince, I ask you all, Royalties
of Egypt whether for such deeds this man should die?"
Now Khaemuas, the advocate of vengeance,
shrugged his shoulders and smiled meaningly, but the
congregation of kings and queens thundered an answer, and it
Ma-Mee looked to Menes to give judgment.
Before he could speak the dark-browed Pharaoh who had named
her wife strode forward and addressed them.
"Her Majesty, Heiress of Egypt, Royal
Wife, Lady of the Two Lands, has spoken," he cried.
"Now let me speak who was the husband of her Majesty.
Whether this man was once Horu the sculptor I know not. If
so he was also an evil-doer who, by my decree, died in
banishment in the land of Kush. Whatever be the truth as to
that matter, he admits that he violated the tomb of her
Majesty and stole what the old thieves had left. Her
Majesty says also and he does not deny it that he dared to
kiss her hand, and for a man to kiss the hand of a wedded
Queen of Egypt the punishment is death. I claim that this
man should die to the World before his time, that in a day
to come again he may live and suffer in the World. Judge, O
Menes lifted his head and spoke, saying:
"Repeat to me the law, O Pharaoh, under
which a living man must die for the kissing of a dead hand.
In my day and in that of those who went before me there was
no such law in Egypt. If a living man, who was not her
husband, or of her kin, kissed the living hand of a wedded
Queen of Egypt, save in ceremony, then perchance he might be
called upon to die. Perchance for such a reason a certain
Horu once was called upon to die. But in the grave there is
no marriage, and therefore even if he had found her alive
within the tomb and kissed her hand, or even her lips, why
should he die for the crime of love?
"Hear me, all; this is my judgment in
the matter. Let the soul of that priest who first violated
the tomb of the royal Ma-Mee be hunted down and given to the
jaws of the Destroyer, that he may know the last depths of
Death, if so the gods declare. But let this man go from
among us unharmed, since what he did he did in reverent
ignorance and because Hathor, Goddess of Love, guided him
from of old. Love rules this world wherein we meet tonight,
with all the worlds whence we have gathered or whither we
still must go. Who can defy its power? Who can refuse its
rites? Now hence to Thebes!"
There was a rushing sound as of a thousand
wings, and all were gone.
No, not all, since Smith yet stood before the
draped colossi and the empty steps, and beside him,
glorious, unearthly, gleamed the vision of Ma-Mee.
"I, too, must away," she whispered;
"yet ere I go a word with you who once were a sculptor
in Egypt. You loved me then, and that love cost you your
life, you who once dared to kiss this hand of mine that
again you kissed in yonder tomb. For I was Pharaoh's wife
in name only; understand me well, in name only; since that
title of Royal Mother, which they gave me is but a graven
lie. Horu, I never was a wife, and when you died, swiftly I
followed you to the grave. Oh, you forget, but I remember!
I remember many things. You think that the priestly thief
broke this figure of me which you found in the sand outside
my tomb. Not so. I broke it, because, daring greatly,
you had written thereon, 'Beloved' not 'of Horus the God'
as you should have done, but of 'Horu the Man'. So when I
came to be buried, Pharaoh, knowing all, took the image from
my wrappings and hurled it away. I remember, too, the
casting of that image, and how you threw a gold chain I had
given you into the crucible with the bronze, saying that
gold alone was fit to fashion me. And this signet that I
bear it was you who cut it. Take it, take it, Horu, and in
its place give me back that which is on your hand, the Bes
ring that I also wore. Take it and wear it ever till you
die again, and let it go to the grave with you as once it
went to the grave with me.
"Now hearken. When Ra the great sun
arises again and you awake you will think that you have
dreamed a dream. You will think that in this dream you saw
and spoke with a lady of Egypt who died more than three
thousand years ago, but whose beauty, carved in stone and
bronze, has charmed your heart today. So let it be, yet
know, O man, who once was named Horu, that such dreams are
oft-times a shadow of the truth. Know that this Glory which
shines before you is mine indeed in the land that is both
far and near, the land wherein I dwell eternally, and that
what is mine has been, is, and shall be yours for ever.
Gods may change their kingdoms and their names; men may live
and die, and live again once more to die; empires may fall
and those who ruled them be turned to forgotten dust. Yet
true love endures immortal as the souls in which it was
conceived, and from it for you and me, the night of woe and
separation done, at the daybreak which draws on, there shall
be born the splendour and the peace of union. Till that
hour foredoomed seek me no more, though I be ever near you,
as I have ever been. Till that most blessed hour, Horu,
She bent towards him; her sweet lips touched
his brow; the perfume from her breath and hair beat upon
him; the light of her wondrous eyes searched out his very
soul, reading the answer that was written there.
He stretched out his arms to clasp her, and
lo! she was gone.
It was a very cold and a very stiff Smith who
awoke on the following morning, to find himself exactly
where he had lain down namely, on a cement floor beneath
the keel of a funeral boat in the central hall of the Cairo
Museum. He crept from his shelter shivering, and looked at
this hall, to find it quite as empty as it had been on the
previous evening. Not a sign or a token was there of
Pharaoh Menes and all those kings and queens of whom he had
dreamed so vividly.
Reflecting on the strange fantasies that
weariness and excited nerves can summon to the mind in
sleep, Smith made his way to the great doors and waited in
the shadow, praying earnestly that, although it was the
Mohammedan Sabbath, someone might visit the Museum to see
that all was well.
As a matter of fact, someone did, and before
he had been there a minute a watchman going about his
business. He unlocked the place carelessly, looking over
his shoulder at a kite fighting with two nesting crows. In
an instant Smith, who was not minded to stop and answer
questions, had slipped past him and was gliding down the
portico, from monument to monument, like a snake between
boulders, still keeping in the shadow as he headed for the
The attendant caught sight of him and uttered
a yell of fear; then, since it is not good to look upon an
afreet, appearing from whence no mortal man could be, he
turned his head away. When he looked again Smith was
through those gates and had mingled with the crowd in the
The sunshine was very pleasant to one who was
conscious of having contracted a chill of the worst Egyptian
order from long contact with a damp stone floor. Smith
walked on through it towards his hotel it was Shepheard's,
and more than a mile away making up a story as he went to
tell the hall-porter of how he had gone to dine at Mena
House by the Pyramids, missed the last tram, and stopped the
Whilst he was thus engaged his left hand
struck somewhat sharply against the corner of the cigar-box
in his pocket, that which contained the relic of the queen
Ma-Mee. The pain caused him to glance at his fingers to see
if they were injured, and to perceive on one of them the
ring he wore. Surely, surely it was not the same that the
Director-General had given him! That ring was engraved
with the image of the god Bes. On this was cut the
cartouche of her Majesty Ma-Mee! And he had dreamed oh, he
had dreamed !
To this day Smith is wondering whether, in
the hurry of the moment, he made a mistake as to which of
those rings the Director-General had given him as part of
his share of the spoil of the royal tomb he discovered in
the Valley of Queens. Afterwards Smith wrote to ask, but
the Director-General could only remember that he gave him
one of the two rings, and assured him that that inscribed
"Bes Ank, Ank Bes," was with Ma-Mee's other
jewels in the Gold Room of the Museum.
Also Smith is wondering whether any other
bronze figure of an old Egyptian royalty shows so high a
percentage of gold as, on analysis, the broken image of
Ma-Mee was proved to do. For had she not seemed to tell him
a tale of the melting of a golden chain when that effigy was
Was it all only a dream, or was it something
more by day and by night he asks of Nothingness?
But, be she near or far, no answer comes from
the Queen Ma-Mee, whose proud titles were "Her Majesty
the Good God, the justified Dweller in Osiris; Daughter of
Amen, Royal Heiress, Royal Sister, Royal Wife, Royal Mother;
Lady of the Two Lands; Wearer of the Double Crown; of the
White Crown, of the Red Crown; Sweet Flower of Love,
So, like the rest of us, Smith must wait to
learn the truth concerning many things, and more
particularly as to which of those two circles of ancient
gold the Director-General gave him yonder at Cairo.
It seems but a little matter, yet it is more
than all the worlds to him!
To the astonishment of his colleagues in
antiquarian research, Smith has never returned to Egypt. He
explains to them that his health is quite restored, and that
he no longer needs this annual change to a more temperate
Now, which of the two royal rings did the
Director-General return to Smith on the mummied hand of her
late Majesty Ma-Mee?