by H. Rider Haggard


  My dear Mother,

  I have for a long while hoped to be allowed to dedicate some book
  of mine to you, and now I bring you this work, because whatever
  its shortcomings, and whatever judgment may be passed upon it by
  yourself and others, it is yet the one I should wish you to

  I trust that you will receive from my romance of "Cleopatra" some
  such pleasure as lightened the labour of its building up; and that
  it may convey to your mind a picture, however imperfect, of the
  old and mysterious Egypt in whose lost glories you are so deeply

Your affectionate and dutiful Son,
H. Rider Haggard.

January 21, 1889.


The history of the ruin of Antony and Cleopatra must have struck many
students of the records of their age as one of the most inexplicable
of tragic tales. What malign influence and secret hates were at work,
continually sapping their prosperity and blinding their judgment? Why
did Cleopatra fly at Actium, and why did Antony follow her, leaving
his fleet and army to destruction? An attempt is made in this romance
to suggest a possible answer to these and some other questions.

The reader is asked to bear in mind, however, that the story is told,
not from the modern point of view, but as from the broken heart and
with the lips of an Egyptian patriot of royal blood; no mere beast-
worshipper, but a priest instructed in the inmost mysteries, who
believed firmly in the personal existence of the gods of Khem, in the
possibility of communion with them, and in the certainty of immortal
life with its rewards and punishments; to whom also the bewildering
and often gross symbolism of the Osirian Faith was nothing but a veil
woven to obscure secrets of the Sanctuary. Whatever proportion of
truth there may have been in their spiritual claims and imaginings, if
indeed there was any, such men as the Prince Harmachis have been told
of in the annals of every great religion, and, as is shown by the
testimony of monumental and sacred inscriptions, they were not unknown
among the worshippers of the Egyptian Gods, and more especially of

Unfortunately it is scarcely possible to write a book of this nature
and period without introducing a certain amount of illustrative
matter, for by no other means can the long dead past be made to live
again before the reader's eyes with all its accessories of faded pomp
and forgotten mystery. To such students as seek a story only, and are
not interested in the faith, ceremonies, or customs of the Mother of
Religion and Civilisation, ancient Egypt, it is, however, respectfully
suggested that they should exercise the art of skipping, and open this
tale at its Second Book.

That version of the death of Cleopatra has been preferred which
attributes her end to poison. According to Plutarch its actual manner
is very uncertain, though popular rumour ascribed it to the bite of an
asp. She seems, however, to have carried out her design under the
advice of that shadowy personage, her physician, Olympus, and it is
more than doubtful if he would have resorted to such a fantastic and
uncertain method of destroying life.

It may be mentioned that so late as the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes,
pretenders of native blood, one of whom was named Harmachis, are known
to have advanced their claims to the throne of Egypt. Moreover, there
was a book of prophecy current among the priesthood which declared
that after the nations of the Greeks the God Harsefi would create the
"chief who is to come." It will therefore be seen that, although it
lacks historical confirmation, the story of the great plot formed to
stamp out the dynasty of the Macedonian Lagidae and place Harmachis on
the throne is not in itself improbable. Indeed, it is possible that
many such plots were entered into by Egyptian patriots during the long
ages of their country's bondage. But ancient history tells us little
of the abortive struggles of a fallen race.

The Chant of Isis and the Song of Cleopatra, which appear in these
pages, are done into verse from the writer's prose by Mr. Andrew Lang,
and the dirge sung by Charmion is translated by the same hand from the
Greek of the Syrian Meleager.



In the recesses of the desolate Libyan mountains that lie behind the
temple and city of Abydus, the supposed burying place of the holy
Osiris, a tomb was recently discovered, among the contents of which
were the papyrus rolls whereupon this history is written. The tomb
itself is spacious, but otherwise remarkable only for the depth of the
shaft which descends vertically from the rock-hewn cave, that once
served as the mortuary chapel for the friends and relatives of the
departed, to the coffin-chamber beneath. This shaft is no less than
eighty-nine feet in depth. The chamber at its foot was found to
contain three coffins only, though it is large enough for many more.
Two of these, which in all probability inclosed the bodies of the High
Priest, Amenemhat, and of his wife, father and mother of Harmachis,
the hero of this history, the shameless Arabs who discovered them
there and then broke up.

The Arabs broke the bodies up. With unhallowed hands they tore the
holy Amenemhat and the frame of her who had, as it is written, been
filled with the spirit of the Hathors--tore them limb from limb,
searching for treasure amidst their bones--perhaps, as is their
custom, selling the very bones for a few piastres to the last ignorant
tourist who came their way, seeking what he might destroy. For in
Egypt the unhappy, the living find their bread in the tombs of the
great men who were before them.

But as it chanced, some little while afterwards, one who is known to
this writer, and a doctor by profession, passed up the Nile to Abydus,
and became acquainted with the men who had done this thing. They
revealed to him the secret of the place, telling him that one coffin
yet remained entombed. It seemed to be the coffin of a poor person,
they said, and therefore, being pressed for time, they had left it
unviolated. Moved by curiosity to explore the recesses of a tomb as
yet unprofaned by tourists, my friend bribed the Arabs to show it to
him. What ensued I will give in his own words, exactly as he wrote it
to me:

"I slept that night near the Temple of Seti, and started before
daybreak on the following morning. With me were a cross-eyed rascal
named Ali--Ali Baba I named him--the man from whom I got the ring
which I am sending you, and a small but choice assortment of his
fellow thieves. Within an hour after sunrise we reached the valley
where the tomb is. It is a desolate place, into which the sun pours
his scorching heat all the long day through, till the huge brown rocks
which are strewn about become so hot that one can scarcely bear to
touch them, and the sand scorches the feet. It was already too hot to
walk, so we rode on donkeys, some way up the valley--where a vulture
floating far in the blue overhead was the only other visitor--till we
came to an enormous boulder polished by centuries of action of sun and
sand. Here Ali halted, saying that the tomb was under the stone.
Accordingly, we dismounted, and, leaving the donkeys in charge of a
fellah boy, went up to the rock. Beneath it was a small hole, barely
large enough for a man to creep through. Indeed it had been dug by
jackals, for the doorway and some part of the cave were entirely
silted up, and it was by means of this jackal hole that the tomb had
been discovered. Ali crept in on his hands and knees, and I followed,
to find myself in a place cold after the hot outside air, and, in
contrast with the light, filled with a dazzling darkness. We lit our
candles, and, the select body of thieves having arrived, I made an
examination. We were in a cave the size of a large room, and hollowed
by hand, the further part of the cave being almost free from drift-
dust. On the walls are religious paintings of the usual Ptolemaic
character, and among them one of a majestic old man with a long white
beard, who is seated in a carved chair holding a wand in his hand.[*]
Before him passes a procession of priests bearing sacred images. In
the right hand corner of the tomb is the shaft of the mummy-pit, a
square-mouthed well cut in the black rock. We had brought a beam of
thorn-wood, and this was now laid across the pit and a rope made fast
to it. Then Ali--who, to do him justice, is a courageous thief--took
hold of the rope, and, putting some candles into the breast of his
robe, placed his bare feet against the smooth sides of the well and
began to descent with great rapidity. Very soon he had vanished into
blackness, and the agitation of the cord alone told us that anything
was going on below. At last the rope ceased shaking and a faint shout
came rumbling up the well, announcing Ali's safe arrival. Then, far
below, a tiny star of light appeared. He had lit the candle, thereby
disturbing hundreds of bats that flitted up in an endless stream and
as silently as spirits. The rope was hauled up again, and now it was
my turn; but, as I declined to trust my neck to the hand-over-hand
method of descent, the end of the cord was made fast round my middle
and I was lowered bodily into those sacred depths. Nor was it a
pleasant journey, for, if the masters of the situation above had made
any mistake, I should have been dashed to pieces. Also, the bats
continually flew into my face and clung to my hair, and I have a great
dislike of bats. At last, after some minutes of jerking and dangling,
I found myself standing in a narrow passage by the side of the worthy
Ali, covered with bats and perspiration, and with the skin rubbed off
my knees and knuckles. Then another man came down, hand over hand like
a sailor, and as the rest were told to stop above we were ready to go
on. Ali went first with his candle--of course we each had a candle--
leading the way down a long passage about five feet high. At length
the passage widened out, and we were in the tomb-chamber: I think the
hottest and most silent place that I ever entered. It was simply
stifling. This chamber is a square room cut in the rock and totally
devoid of paintings or sculpture. I held up the candles and looked
round. About the place were strewn the coffin lids and the mummied
remains of the two bodies that the Arabs had previously violated. The
paintings on the former were, I noticed, of great beauty, though,
having no knowledge of hieroglyphics, I could not decipher them. Beads
and spicy wrappings lay around the remains, which, I saw, were those
of a man and a woman.[+] The head had been broken off the body of the
man. I took it up and looked at it. It had been closely shaved--after
death, I should say, from the general indications--and the features
were disfigured with gold leaf. But notwithstanding this, and the
shrinkage of the flesh, I think the face was one of the most imposing
and beautiful that I ever saw. It was that of a very old man, and his
dead countenance still wore so calm and solemn, indeed, so awful a
look, that I grew quite superstitious (though as you know, I am pretty
well accustomed to dead people), and put the head down in a hurry.
There were still some wrappings left upon the face of the second body,
and I did not remove them; but she must have been a fine large woman
in her day.

[*] This, I take it, is a portrait of Amenemhat himself.--Editor.

[+] Doubtless Amenemhat and his wife.--Editor.

"'There the other mummy,' said Ali, pointing to a large and solid case
that seemed to have been carelessly thrown down in a corner, for it
was lying on its side.

"I went up to it and carefully examined it. It was well made, but of
perfectly plain cedar-wood--not an inscription, not a solitary God on

"'Never see one like him before,' said Ali. 'Bury great hurry, he no
"mafish," no "fineesh." Throw him down here on side.'

"I looked at the plain case till at last my interest was thoroughly
aroused. I was so shocked by the sight of the scattered dust of the
departed that I had made up my mind not to touch the remaining coffin
--but now my curiosity overcame me, and we set to work.

"Ali had brought a mallet and a cold chisel with him, and, having set
the coffin straight, he began upon it with all the zeal of an
experienced tomb-breaker. And then he pointed out another thing. Most
mummy-cases are fastened by four little tongues of wood, two on either
side, which are fixed in the upper half, and, passing into mortices
cut to receive them in the thickness of the lower half, are there held
fast by pegs of hard wood. But this mummy case had eight such tongues.
Evidently it had been thought well to secure it firmly. At last, with
great difficulty, we raised the massive lid, which was nearly three
inches thick, and there, covered over with a deep layer of loose
spices (a very unusual thing), was the body.

"Ali looked at it with open eyes--and no wonder. For this mummy was
not as other mummies are. Mummies in general lie upon their backs, as
stiff and calm as though they were cut from wood; but this mummy lay
upon its side, and, the wrappings notwithstanding, its knees were
slightly bent. More than that, indeed, the gold mask, which, after the
fashion of the Ptolemaic period, had been set upon the face, had
worked down, and was literally pounded up beneath the hooded head.

"It was impossible, seeing these things, to avoid the conclusion that
the mummy before us had moved with violence /since it was put in the

"'Him very funny mummy. Him not "mafish" when him go in there,' said

"'Nonsense!' I said. 'Who ever heard of a live mummy?'

"We lifted the body out of the coffin, nearly choking ourselves with
mummy dust in the process, and there beneath it half hidden among the
spices, we made our first find. It was a roll of papyrus, carelessly
fastened and wrapped in a piece of mummy cloth, having to all
appearance been thrown into the coffin at the moment of closing.[*]

[*] This roll contained the third unfinished book of the history. The
    other two rolls were neatly fastened in the usual fashion. All
    three are written by one hand in the Demotic character.--Editor.

"Ali eyed the papyrus greedily, but I seized it and put it in my
pocket, for it was agreed that I was to have all that might be
discovered. Then we began to unwrap the body. It was covered with very
broad strong bandages, thickly wound and roughly tied, sometimes by
means of simple knots, the whole working the appearance of having been
executed in great haste and with difficulty. Just over the head was a
large lump. Presently, the bandages covering it were off, and there,
on the face, lay a second roll of papyrus. I put down my hand to lift
it, but it would not come away. It appeared to be fixed to the stout
seamless shroud which was drawn over the whole body, and tied beneath
the feet--as a farmer ties sacks. This shroud, which was also thickly
waxed, was in one piece, being made to fit the form like a garment. I
took a candle and examined the roll and then I saw why it was fast.
The spices had congealed and glued it to the sack-like shroud. It was
impossible to get it away without tearing the outer sheets of

[*] This accounts for the gaps in the last sheets of the second roll.

"At last, however, I wrenched it loose and put it with the other in my

"Then we went on with our dreadful task in silence. With much care we
ripped loose the sack-like garment, and at last the body of a man lay
before us. Between his knees was a third roll of papyrus. I secured
it, then held down the light and looked at him. One glance at his face
was enough to tell a doctor how he had died.

"This body was not much dried up. Evidently it had not passed the
allotted seventy days in natron, and therefore the expression and
likeness were better preserved than is usual. Without entering into
particulars, I will only say that I hope I shall never see such
another look as that which was frozen on this dead man's face. Even
the Arabs recoiled from it in horror and began to mutter prayers.

"For the rest, the usual opening on the left side through which the
embalmers did their work was absent; the finely-cut features were
those of a person of middle age, although the hair was already grey,
and the frame was that of a very powerful man, the shoulders being of
an extraordinary width. I had not time to examine very closely,
however, for within a few seconds from its uncovering, the unembalmed
body began to crumble now that it was exposed to the action of the
air. In five or six minutes there was literally nothing left of it but
a wisp of hair, the skull, and a few of the larger bones. I noticed
that one of the tibię--I forget if it was the right or the left--had
been fractured and very badly set. It must have been quite an inch
shorter than the other.

"Well, there was nothing more to find, and now that the excitement was
over, what between the heat, the exertion, and the smell of mummy dust
and spices, I felt more dead than alive.

"I am tired of writing, and this ship rolls. This letter, of course,
goes overland, and I am coming by 'long sea,' but I hope to be in
London within ten days after you get it. Then I will tell you of my
pleasing experiences in the course of the ascent from the tomb-
chamber, and of how that prince of rascals, Ali Baba, and his thieves
tried to frighten me into handing over the papyri, and how I worsted
them. Then, too, we will get the rolls deciphered. I expect that they
only contain the usual thing, copies of the 'Book of the Dead,' but
there /may/ be something else in them. Needless to say, I did not
narrate this little adventure in Egypt, or I should have had the
Boulac Museum people on my track. Good-bye, 'Mafish Fineesh,' as Ali
Baba always said."

In due course, my friend, the writer of the letter from which I have
quoted, arrived in London, and on the very next day we paid a visit to
a learned acquaintance well versed in Hieroglyphics and Demotic
writing. The anxiety with which we watched him skilfully damping and
unfolding one of the rolls and peering through his gold-rimmed glasses
at the mysterious characters may well be imagined.

"Hum," he said, "whatever it is, this is /not/ a copy of the 'Book of
the Dead.' By George, what's this? Cle--Cleo--Cleopatra---- Why, my
dear Sirs, as I am a living man, this is the history of somebody who
lived in the days of Cleopatra, /the/ Cleopatra, for here's Antony's
name with hers! Well, there's six months' work before me here--six
months, at the very least!" And in that joyful prospect he fairly lost
control of himself, and skipped about the room, shaking hands with us
at intervals, and saying "I'll translate--I'll translate it if it
kills me, and we will publish it; and, by the living Osiris, it shall
drive every Egyptologist in Europe mad with envy! Oh, what a find!
what a most glorious find!"

And O you whose eyes fall upon these pages, see, they have been
translated, and they have been printed, and here they lie before you--
an undiscovered land wherein you are free to travel!

Harmachis speaks to you from his forgotten tomb. The walls of Time
fall down, and, as at the lightning's leap, a picture from the past
starts upon your view, framed in the darkness of the ages.

He shows you those two Egypts which the silent pyramids looked down
upon long centuries ago--the Egypt of the Greek, the Roman, and the
Ptolemy, and that other outworn Egypt of the Hierophant, hoary with
years, heavy with the legends of antiquity and the memory of long-lost

He tells you how the smouldering loyalty of the land of Khem blazed up
before it died, and how fiercely the old Time-consecrated Faith
struggled against the conquering tide of Change that rose, like Nile
at flood, and drowned the ancient Gods of Egypt.

Here, in his pages, you shall learn the glory of Isis the Many-shaped,
the Executrix of Decrees. Here you shall make acquaintance with the
shade of Cleopatra, that "Thing of Flame," whose passion-breathing
beauty shaped the destiny of Empires. Here you shall read how the soul
of Charmion was slain of the sword her vengeance smithied.

Here Harmachis, the doomed Egyptian, being about to die, salutes you
who follow on the path he trod. In the story of his broken years he
shows to you what may in its degree be the story of your own. Crying
aloud from that dim Amenti[*] where to-day he wears out his long
atoning time, he tells, in the history of his fall, the fate of him
who, however sorely tried, forgets his God, his Honour, and his

[*] The Egyptian Hades or Purgatory.--Editor.





By Osiris who sleeps at Abouthis, I write the truth.

I, Harmachis, Hereditary Priest of the Temple, reared by the divine
Sethi, aforetime a Pharaoh of Egypt, and now justified in Osiris and
ruling in Amenti. I, Harmachis, by right Divine and by true descent of
blood King of the Double Crown, and Pharaoh of the Upper and Lower
Land. I, Harmachis, who cast aside the opening flower of our hope, who
turned from the glorious path, who forgot the voice of God in
hearkening to the voice of woman. I, Harmachis, the fallen, in whom
are gathered up all woes as waters are gathered in a desert well, who
have tasted of every shame, who through betrayal have betrayed, who in
losing the glory that is here have lost the glory which is to be, who
am utterly undone--I write, and, by Him who sleeps at Abouthis, I
write the truth.

O Egypt!--dear land of Khem, whose black soil nourished up my mortal
part--land that I have betrayed--O Osiris!--Isis!--Horus!--ye Gods of
Egypt whom I have betrayed!--O ye temples whose pylons strike the sky,
whose faith I have betrayed!--O Royal blood of the Pharaohs of eld,
that yet runs within these withered veins--whose virtue I have
betrayed!--O Invisible Essence of all Good! and O Fate, whose balance
rested on my hand--hear me; and, to the day of utter doom, bear me
witness that I write the truth.

Even while I write, beyond the fertile fields, the Nile is running
red, as though with blood. Before me the sunlight beats upon the far
Arabian hills, and falls upon the piles of Abouthis. Still the priests
make orison within the temples at Abouthis that know me no more; still
the sacrifice is offered, and the stony roofs echo back the people's
prayers. Still from this lone cell within my prison-tower, I, the Word
of Shame, watch thy fluttering banners, Abouthis, flaunting from thy
pylon walls, and hear the chants as the long procession winds from
sanctuary to sanctuary.

Abouthis, lost Abouthis! my heart goes out toward thee! For the day
comes when the desert sands shall fill thy secret places! Thy Gods are
doomed, O Abouthis! New Faiths shall make a mock of all thy Holies,
and Centurion shall call upon Centurion across thy fortress-walls. I
weep--I weep tears of blood: for mine is the sin that brought about
these evils and mine for ever is their shame.

Behold, it is written hereafter.

Here in Abouthis I was born, I, Harmachis, and my father, the
justified in Osiris, was High Priest of the Temple of Sethi. And on
that same day of my birth Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, was born
also. I passed my youth in yonder fields watching the baser people at
their labours and going in and out at will among the great courts of
the temples. Of my mother I knew naught, for she died when I yet hung
at the breast. But before she died in the reign of Ptolemy Aulźtes,
who is named the Piper, so did the old wife, Atoua, told me, my mother
took a golden uręus, the snake symbol of our Royalty of Egypt, from a
coffer of ivory and laid it on my brow. And those who saw her do this
believed that she was distraught of the Divinity, and in her madness
foreshadowed that the day of the Macedonian Lagidę was ended, and that
Egypt's sceptre should pass again to the hand of Egypt's true and
Royal race. But when my father, the old High Priest Amenemhat, whose
only child I was, she who was his wife before my mother having been,
for what crime I know not, cursed with barrenness by Sekhet: I say
when my father came in and saw what the dying woman had done, he
lifted up his hands towards the vault of heaven and adored the
Invisible, because of the sign that had been sent. And as he adored,
the Hathors[*] filled my dying mother with the Spirit of Prophecy, and
she rose in strength from the couch and prostrated herself thrice
before the cradle where I lay asleep, the Royal asp upon my brow,
crying aloud:

[*] The Egyptian /Parcę/ or /Fates/.--Editor.

"Hail to thee, fruit of my womb! Hail to thee, Royal child! Hail to
thee, Pharaoh that shalt be! Hail to thee, God that shalt purge the
land, Divine seed of Nekt-nebf, the descended from Isis. Keep thee
pure, and thou shalt rule and deliver Egypt and not be broken. But if
thou dost fail in thy hour of trial, then may the curse of all the
Gods of Egypt rest upon thee, and the curse of thy Royal forefathers,
the justified, who ruled the land before thee from the age of Horus.
Then in life mayst thou be wretched, and after death may Osiris refuse
thee, and the judges of Amenti give judgment against thee, and Set and
Sekhet torment thee, till such time as thy sin is purged, and the Gods
of Egypt, called by strange names, are once more worshipped in the
Temples of Egypt, and the staff of the Oppressor is broken, and the
footsteps of the Foreigner are swept clean, and the thing is
accomplished as thou in thy weakness shalt cause it to be done."

When she had spoken thus, the Spirit of Prophecy went out of her, and
she fell dead across the cradle where I slept, so that I awoke with a

But my father, Amenemhat, the High Priest, trembled, and was very
fearful, both because of the words which had been said by the Spirit
of the Hathors through the mouth of my mother, and because what had
been uttered was treason against Ptolemy. For he knew that, if the
matter should come to the ears of Ptolemy, Pharaoh would send his
guards to destroy the life of the child concerning whom such things
were prophesied. Therefore, my father shut the doors, and caused all
those who stood by to swear upon the holy symbol of his office, and by
the name of the Divine Three, and by the Soul of her who lay dead upon
the stones beside them, that nothing of what they had seen and heard
should pass their lips.

Now among the company was the old wife, Atoua, who had been the nurse
of my mother, and loved her well; and in these days, though I know not
how it had been in the past, nor how it shall be in the future, there
is no oath that can bind a woman's tongue. And so it came about that
by-and-by, when the matter had become homely in her mind, and her fear
had fallen from her, she spoke of the prophecy to her daughter, who
nursed me at the breast now that my mother was dead. She did this as
they walked together in the desert carrying food to the husband of the
daughter, who was a sculptor, and shaped effigies of the holy Gods in
the tombs that are fashioned in the rock--telling the daughter, my
nurse, how great must be her care and love toward the child that
should one day be Pharaoh, and drive the Ptolemies from Egypt. But the
daughter, my nurse, was so filled with wonder at what she heard that
she could not keep the tale locked within her breast, and in the night
she awoke her husband, and, in her turn, whispered it to him, and
thereby compassed her own destruction, and the destruction of her
child, my foster-brother. For the man told his friend, and the friend
was a spy of Ptolemy's, and thus the tale came to Pharaoh's ears.

Now, Pharaoh was much troubled thereat, for though when he was full of
wine he would make a mock of the God of the Egyptians, and swear that
the Roman Senate was the only God to whom he bowed the knee, yet in
his heart he was terribly afraid, as I have learned from one who was
his physician. For when he was alone at night he would scream and cry
aloud to the great Serapis, who indeed is no true God, and to other
Gods, fearing lest he should be murdered and his soul handed over to
the tormentors. Also, when he felt his throne tremble under him, he
would send large presents to the temples, asking a message from the
oracles, and more especially from the oracle that is at Philę.
Therefore, when it came to his ears that the wife of the High Priest
of the great and ancient Temple of Abouthis had been filled with the
Spirit of Prophecy before she died, and foretold that her son should
be Pharaoh, he was much afraid, and summoning some trusty guards--who,
being Greeks, did not fear to do sacrilege--he despatched them by boat
up the Nile, with orders to come to Abouthis and cut off the head of
the child of the High Priest and bring it to him in a basket.

But, as it chanced, the boat in which the guards came was of deep
draught, and, the time of their coming being at the lowest ebb of the
river, it struck and remained fast upon a bank of mud that is opposite
the mouth of the road running across the plains to Abouthis, and, as
the north wind was blowing very fiercely, it was like to sink. Thereon
the guards of Pharaoh called out to the common people, who laboured at
lifting water along the banks of the river, to come with boats and
take them off; but, seeing that they were Greeks of Alexandria, the
people would not, for the Egyptians do not love the Greeks. Then the
guards cried that they were on Pharaoh's business, and still the
people would not, asking what was their business. Whereon a eunuch
among them who had made himself drunk in his fear, told them that they
came to slay the child of Amenemhat, the High Priest, of whom it was
prophesied that he should be Pharaoh and sweep the Greeks from Egypt.
And then the people feared to stand longer in doubt, but brought
boats, not knowing what might be meant by the man's words. But there
was one amongst them--a farmer and an overseer of canals--who was a
kinsman of my mother's and had been present when she prophesied; and
he turned and ran swiftly for three parts of an hour, till he came to
where I lay in the house that is without the north wall of the great
Temple. Now, as it chanced, my father was away in that part of the
Place of Tombs which is to the left of the large fortress, and
Pharaoh's guards, mounted on asses, were hard upon us. Then the
messenger cried to the old wife, Atoua, whose tongue had brought about
the evil, and told how the soldiers drew near to slay me. And they
looked at each other, not knowing what to do; for, had they hid me,
the guards would not have stayed their search till I was found. But
the man, gazing through the doorway, saw a little child at play:

"Woman," he said, "whose is that child?"

"It is my grandchild," she answered, "the foster-brother of the Prince
Harmachis; the child to whose mother we owe this evil case."

"Woman," he said, "thou knowest thy duty, do it!" and he again pointed
at the child. "I command thee, by the Holy Name!"

Atoua trembled exceedingly, because the child was of her own blood;
but, nevertheless, she took the boy and washed him and set a robe of
silk upon him, and laid him on my cradle. And me she took and smeared
with mud to make my fair skin darker, and, drawing my garment from me,
set me to play in the dirt of the yard, which I did right gladly.

Then the man hid himself, and presently the soldiers rode up and asked
of the old wife if this were the dwelling of the High Priest
Amenemhat? And she told them yea, and, bidding them enter, offered
them honey and milk, for they were thirsty.

When they had drunk, the eunuch who was with them asked if that were
the son of Amenemhat who lay in the cradle; and she said "Yea--yea,"
and began to tell the guards how he would be great, for it had been
prophesied of him that he should one day rule them all.

But the Greek guards laughed, and one of them, seizing the child,
smote off his head with a sword; and the eunuch drew forth the signet
of Pharaoh as warrant for the deed and showed it to the old wife,
Atoua, bidding her tell the High Priest that his son should be King
without a head.

And as they went one of their number saw me playing in the dirt and
called out that there was more breeding in yonder brat than in the
Prince Harmachis; and for a moment they wavered, thinking to slay me
also, but in the end they passed on, bearing the head of my foster-
brother, for they loved not to murder little children.

After a while, the mother of the dead child returned from the market-
place, and when she found what had been done, she and her husband
would have killed Atoua the old wife, her mother, and given me up to
the soldiers of Pharaoh. But my father came in also and learned the
truth, and he caused the man and his wife to be seized by night and
hidden away in the dark places of the temple, so that none saw them

But I would to-day that it had been the will of the Gods that I had
been slain of the soldiers and not the innocent child.

Thereafter it was given out that the High Priest Amenemhat had taken
me to be as a son to him in the place of that Harmachis who was slain
of Pharaoh.



And after these things Ptolemy the Piper troubled us no more, nor did
he again send his soldiers to seek for him of whom it was prophesied
that he should be Pharaoh. For the head of the child, my foster-
brother, was brought to him by the eunuch as he sat in his palace of
marble at Alexandria, flushed with Cyprian wine, and played upon the
flute before his women. And at his bidding the eunuch lifted up the
head by the hair for him to look on. Then he laughed and smote it on
the cheek with his sandal, bidding one of the girls crown Pharaoh with
flowers. And he bowed the knee, and mocked the head of the innocent
child. But the girl, who was sharp of tongue--for all of this I heard
in after years--said to him that "he did well to bow the knee, for
this child was indeed Pharaoh, the greatest of Pharaohs, and his name
was the /Osiris/ and his throne was /Death/."

Aulźtes was much troubled at these words, and trembled, for, being a
wicked man, he greatly feared entering into Amenti. So he caused the
girl to be slain because of the evil omen of her saying; crying that
he would send her to worship that Pharaoh whom she had named. And the
other women he sent away, and played no more upon the flute till he
was once again drunk on the morrow. But the Alexandrians made a song
on the matter, which is still sung about the streets. And this is the
beginning of it--

  Ptolemy the Piper played
    Over dead and dying;
  Piped and played he well.
    Sure that flute of his was made
  Of the dank reed sighing
    O'er the streams of Hell.
  There beneath the shadows grey,
    With the sisters three,
  Shall he pipe for many a day.
    May the Frog his butler be!
    And his wine the water of that countrie--
      Ptolemy the Piper!

After this the years passed on, nor did I, being very little, know
anything of the great things that came to pass in Egypt; nor is it my
purpose to set them out here. For I, Harmachis, having little time
left to me, will only speak of those things with which I have been

And as the time went on, my father and the teachers instructed me in
the ancient learning of our people, and in such matters appertaining
to the Gods as it is meet that children should know. So I grew strong
and comely, for my hair was black as the hair of the divine Nout, and
my eyes were blue as the blue lotus, and my skin was like the
alabaster within the sanctuaries. For now that these glories have
passed from me I may speak of them without shame. I was strong also.
There was no youth of my years in Abouthis who could stand against me
to wrestle with me, nor could any throw so far with the sling or
spear. And I much yearned to hunt the lion; but he whom I called my
father forbade me, telling me that my life was of too great worth to
be so lightly hazarded. But when I bowed before him and prayed he
would make his meaning clear to me, the old man frowned and answered
that the Gods made all things clear in their own season. For my part,
however, I went away in wroth, for there was a youth in Abouthis who
with others had slain a lion which fell upon his father's herds, and,
being envious of my strength and beauty, he set it about that I was
cowardly at heart, in that when I went out to hunt I only slew jackals
and gazelles. Now, this was when I had reached my seventeenth year and
was a man grown.

It chanced, therefore, that as I went sore at heart from the presence
of the High Priest, I met this youth, who called to me and mocked me,
bidding me know the country people had told him that a great lion was
down among the rushes by the banks of the canal which runs past the
Temple, lying at a distance of thirty stadia from Abouthis. And, still
mocking me, he asked me if I would come and help him slay this lion,
or would I go and sit among the old women and bid them comb my side
lock? This bitter word so angered me that I was near to falling on
him; but in place therefore, forgetting my father's saying, I answered
that if he would come alone, I would go with him and seek this lion,
and he should learn if I were indeed a coward. And at first he would
not, for, as men know, it is our custom to hunt the lion in companies;
so it was my hour to mock. Then he went and fetched his bow and arrows
and a sharp knife. And I brought forth my heavy spear, which had a
shaft of thorn-wood, and at its end a pomegranate in silver, to hold
the hand from slipping; and, in silence, we went, side by side, to
where the lion lay. When we came to the place, it was near sundown;
and there, upon the mud of the canal-bank, we found the lion's slot,
which ran into a thick clump of reeds.

"Now, thou boaster," I said, "wilt thou lead the way into yonder
reeds, or shall I?" And I made as though I would lead the way.

"Nay, nay," he answered, "be not so mad! The brute will spring upon
thee and rend thee. See! I will shoot among the reeds. Perchance, if
he sleeps, it will arouse him." And he drew his bow at a venture.

How it chanced I know not, but the arrow struck the sleeping lion,
and, like a flash of light from the belly of a cloud, he bounded from
the shelter of the reeds, and stood before us with bristling mane and
yellow eyes, the arrow quivering in his flank. He roared aloud in
fury, and the earth shook.

"Shoot with the bow," I cried, "shoot swiftly ere he spring!"

But courage had left the breast of the boaster, his jaw dropped down
and his fingers unloosed their hold so that the bow fell from them;
then, with a loud cry he turned and fled behind me, leaving the lion
in my path. But while I stood waiting my doom, for though I was sore
afraid I would not fly, the lion crouched himself, and turning not
aside, with one great bound swept over me, touching me not. He lit,
and again he bounded full upon the boaster's back, striking him such a
blow with his great paw that his head was crushed as an egg thrown
against a stone. He fell down dead, and the lion stood and roared over
him. Then I was mad with horror, and, scarce knowing what I did, I
grasped my spear and with a shout I charged. As I charged the lion
lifted himself up above me. He smote at me with his paw; but with all
my strength I drove the broad spear into his throat, and, shrinking
from the agony of the steel, his blow fell short and did no more than
rip my skin. Back he fell, the great spear far in his throat; then
rising, he roared in pain and leapt twice the height of a man straight
into the air, smiting at the spear with his forepaws. Twice he leapt
thus, horrible to see, and twice he fell upon his back. Then his
strength spent itself with his rushing blood, and, groaning like a
bull, he died; while I, being but a lad, stood and trembled with fear
now that all cause of fear had passed.

But as I stood and gazed at the body of him who had taunted me, and at
the carcass of the lion, a woman came running towards me, even the
same old wife, Atoua, who, though I knew it not as yet, had offered up
her flesh and blood that I might be saved alive. For she had been
gathering simples, in which she had great skill, by the water's edge,
not knowing that there was a lion near (and, indeed, the lions, for
the most part, are not found in the tilled land, but rather in the
desert and the Libyan mountains), and had seen from a distance that
which I have set down. Now, when she was come, she knew me for
Harmachis, and, bending herself, she made obeisance to me, and saluted
me, calling me Royal, and worthy of all honour, and beloved, and
chosen of the Holy Three, ay, and by the name of the Pharaoh! the

But I, thinking that terror had made her sick of mind, asked her of
what she would speak.

"Is it a great thing," I asked, "that I should slay a lion? Is it a
matter worthy of such talk as thine? There live, and have lived, men
who have slain many lions. Did not the Divine Amen-hetep the Osirian
slay with his own hand more than a hundred lions? Is it not written on
the scarabęus that hangs within my father's chamber, that he slew
lions aforetime? And have not others done likewise? Why then, speakest
thou thus, O foolish woman?"

All of which I said, because, having now slain the lion, I was minded,
after the manner of youth, to hold it as a thing of no account. But
she did not cease to make obeisance, and to call me by names that are
too high to be written.

"O Royal One," she cried, "wisely did thy mother prophecy. Surely the
Holy Spirit, the Knepth, was in her, O thou conceived by a God! See
the omen. The lion there--he growls within the Capitol at Rome--and
the dead man, he is the Ptolemy--the Macedonian spawn that, like a
foreign weed, hath overgrown the land of Nile; with the Macedonian
Lagidę thou shalt go to smite the lion of Rome. But the Macedonian cur
shall fly, and the Roman lion shall strike him down, and thou shalt
strike down the lion, and the land of Khem shall once more be free!
free! Keep thyself but pure, according to the commandment of the Gods,
O son of the Royal House; O hope of Khemi! be but ware of Woman the
Destroyer, and as I have said, so shall it be. I am poor and wretched;
yea, stricken with sorrow. I have sinned in speaking of what should be
hid, and for my sin I have paid in the coin of that which was born of
my womb; willingly have I paid for thee. But I have still of the
wisdom of our people, nor do the Gods, in whose eyes all are equal,
turn their countenance from the poor; the Divine Mother Isis hath
spoken to me--but last night she spake--bidding me come hither to
gather herbs, and read to thee the signs that I should see. And as I
have said, so it shall come to pass, if thou canst but endure the
weight of the great temptation. Come hither, Royal One!" and she led
me to the edge of the canal, where the water was deep, and still and
blue. "Now gaze upon that face as the water throws it back. Is not
that brow fitted to bear the double crown? Do not those gentle eyes
mirror the majesty of kings? Hath not the Ptah, the Creator, fashioned
that form to fit the Imperial garb, and awe the glance of multitudes
looking through thee to God?

"Nay, nay!" she went on in another voice--a shrill old wife's voice--
"I will--be not so foolish, boy--the scratch of a lion is a venomous
thing, a terrible thing; yea, as bad as the bite of an asp--it must be
treated, else it will fester, and all thy days thou shalt dream of
lions; ay, and snakes; and, also, it will break out in sores. But I
know of it--I know. I am not crazed for nothing. For mark! everything
has its balance--in madness is much wisdom, and in wisdom much
madness. /La! la! la!/ Pharaoh himself can't say where the one begins
and the other ends. Now, don't stand gazing there, looking as silly as
a cat in a crocus-coloured robe, as they say in Alexandria; but just
let me stick these green things on the place, and in six days you'll
heal up as white as a three-year-child. Never mind the smart of it,
lad. By Him who sleeps at Philę, or at Abouthis, or at Abydus--as our
divine masters have it now--or wherever He does sleep, which is a
thing we shall all find out before we want to--by Osiris, I say,
you'll live to be as clean from scars as a sacrifice to Isis at the
new moon, if you'll but let me put it on.

"Is it not so, good folk?"--and she turned to address some people who,
while she prophesied, had assembled unseen by me--"I've been speaking
a spell over him, just to make a way for the virtue of my medicine--
/la! la!/ there's nothing like a spell. If you don't believe it, just
you come to me next time your wives are barren; it's better than
scraping every pillar in the Temple of Osiris, I'll warrant. I'll make
'em bear like a twenty-year-old palm. But then, you see, you must know
what to say--that's the point--everything comes to a point at last.
/La! la!/"

Now, when I heard all this, I, Harmachis, put my hand to my head, not
knowing if I dreamed. But presently looking up, I saw a grey-haired
man among those who were gathered together, who watched us sharply,
and afterwards I learned that this man was the spy of Ptolemy, the
very man, indeed, who had wellnigh caused me to be slain of Pharaoh
when I was in my cradle. Then I understood why Atoua spoke so

"Thine are strange spells, old wife," the spy said. "Thou didst speak
of Pharaoh and the double crown and of the form fashioned by Ptah to
bear it; is it not so?"

"Yea, yea--part of the spell, thou fool; and what can one swear by
better nowadays than by the Divine Pharaoh the Piper, whom, and whose
music, may the Gods preserve to charm this happy land?--what better
than by the double crown he wears--grace to great Alexander of
Macedonia? By the way, you know about everything: have they got back
his chlamys yet, which Mithridates took to Cos? Pompey wore it last,
didn't he?--in his triumph, too--just fancy Pompey in the cloak of
Alexander!--a puppy-dog in a lion's skin! And talking of lions--look
what this lad hath done--slain a lion with his own spear; and right
glad you village folks should be to see it, for it was a very fierce
lion--just see his teeth and his claws--his claws!--they are enough to
make a poor silly old woman like me shriek to look at them! And the
body there, the dead body--the lion slew it. Alack! he's an Osiris[*]
now, the body--and to think of it, but an hour ago he was an everyday
mortal like you or me! Well, away with him to the embalmers. He'll
soon swell in the sun and burst, and that will save them the trouble
of cutting him open. Not that they will spend a talent of silver over
him anyway. Seventy days in natron--that's all he's likely to get.
/La! la!/ how my tongue does run, and it's getting dark. Come, aren't
you going to take away the body of that poor lad, and the lion, too?
There, my boy, you keep those herbs on, and you'll never feel your
scratches. I know a thing or two for all I'm crazy, and you, my own
grandson! Dear, dear, I'm glad his Holiness the High Priest adopted
you when Pharaoh--Osiris bless his holy name--made an end of his son;
you look so bonny. I warrant the real Harmachis could not have killed
a lion like that. Give me the common blood, I say--it's so lusty."

[*] The soul when it has been absorbed in the Godhead.--Editor.

"You know too much and talk too fast," grumbled the spy, now quite
deceived. "Well, he is a brave youth. Here, you men, bear this body
back to Abouthis, and some of you stop and help me skin the lion.
We'll send the skin to you, young man," he went on; "not that you
deserve it: to attack a lion like that was the act of a fool, and a
fool deserves what he gets--destruction. Never attack the strong until
you are stronger."

But for my part I went home wondering.



For a while as I, Harmachis, went, the juice of the green herbs which
the old wife, Atoua, had placed upon my wounds caused me much smart,
but presently the pain ceased. And, of a truth, I believe that there
was virtue in them, for within two days my flesh healed up, so that
after a time no marks remained. But I bethought me that I had
disobeyed the word of the old High Priest, Amenemhat, who was called
my father. For till this day I knew not that he was in truth my father
according to the flesh, having been taught that his own son was slain
as I have written; and that he had been pleased, with the sanction of
the Divine ones, to take me as an adopted son and rear me up, that I
might in due season fulfil an office about the Temple. Therefore I was
much troubled, for I feared the old man, who was very terrible in his
anger, and ever spoke with the cold voice of Wisdom. Nevertheless, I
determined to go in to him and confess my fault and bear such
punishment as he should be pleased to put upon me. So with the red
spear in my hand, and the red wounds on my breast, I passed through
the outer court of the great temple and came to the door of the place
where the High Priest dwelt. It is a great chamber, sculptured round
about with the images of the solemn Gods, and the sunlight comes to it
in the daytime by an opening cut through the stones of the massy roof.
But at night it was lit by a swinging lamp of bronze. I passed in
without noise, for the door was not altogether shut, and, pushing my
way through the heavy curtains that were beyond, I stood with a
beating heart within the chamber.

The lamp was lit, for the darkness had fallen, and by its light I saw
the old man seated in a chair of ivory and ebony at a table of stone
on which were spread mystic writings of the words of Life and Death.
But he read no more, for he slept, and his long white beard rested
upon the table like the beard of a dead man. The soft light from the
lamp fell on him, on the papyri and the gold ring upon his hand, where
were graven the symbols of the Invisible One, but all around was
shadow. It fell on the shaven head, on the white robe, on the cedar
staff of priesthood at his side, and on the ivory of the lion-footed
chair; it showed the mighty brow of power, the features cut in kingly
mould, the white eyebrows, and the dark hollows of the deep-set eyes.
I looked and trembled, for there was about him that which was more
than the dignity of man. He had lived so long with the Gods, and so
long kept company with them and with thoughts divine, he was so deeply
versed in all those mysteries which we do but faintly discern, here in
this upper air, that even now, before his time, he partook of the
nature of the Osiris, and was a thing to shake humanity with fear.

I stood and gazed, and as I stood he opened his dark eyes, but looked
not on me, nor turned his head; and yet he saw me and spoke.

"Why hast thou been disobedient to me, my son?" he said. "How came it
that thou wentest forth against the lion when I bade thee not?"

"How knowest thou, my father, that I went forth?" I asked in fear.

"How know I? Are there, then, no other ways of knowledge than by the
senses? Ah, ignorant child! was not my Spirit with thee when the lion
sprang upon thy companion? Did I not pray Those set about thee to
protect thee, to make sure thy thrust when thou didst drive the spear
into the lion's throat! How came it that thou wentest forth, my son?"

"The boaster taunted me," I answered, "and I went."

"Yes, I know it; and, because of the hot blood of youth, I forgive
thee, Harmachis. But now listen to me, and let my words sink into thy
heart like the waters of Sihor into the thirsty sand at the rising of
Sirius.[*] Listen to me. The boaster was sent to thee as a temptation,
he was sent as a trial of thy strength, and see! it has not been equal
to the burden. Therefore thy hour is put back. Hadst thou been strong
in this matter, the path had been made plain to thee even now. But
thou hast failed, and therefore thy hour is put back."

[*] The dog-star, whose appearance marked the commencement of the
    overflow of the Nile.--Editor.

"I understand thee not, my father," I answered.

"What was it, then, my son, that the old wife, Atoua, said to thee
down by the bank of the canal?"

Then I told him all that the old wife had said.

"And thou believest, Harmachis, my son?"

"Nay," I answered; "how should I believe such tales? Surely she is
mad. All the people know her for mad."

Now for the first time he looked towards me, who was standing in the

"My son! my son!" he cried; "thou art wrong. She is not mad. The woman
spoke the truth; she spoke not of herself, but of the voice within her
that cannot lie. For this Atoua is a prophetess and holy. Now learn
thou the destiny that the Gods of Egypt have given to thee to fulfil,
and woe be unto thee if by any weakness thou dost fail therein!
Listen: thou art no stranger adopted into my house and the worship of
the Temple; thou art my very son, saved to me by this same woman. But,
Harmachis, thou art more than this, for in thee and me alone yet flows
the Imperial blood of Egypt. Thou and I alone of men alive are
descended, without break or flaw, from that Pharaoh Nekt-nebf whom
Ochus the Persian drove from Egypt. The Persian came and the Persian
went, and after the Persian came the Macedonian, and now for nigh upon
three hundred years the Lagidę have usurped the double crown, defiling
the land of Khem and corrupting the worship of its Gods. And mark thou
this: but now, two weeks since, Ptolemy Neus Dionysus, Ptolemy Aulźtes
the Piper, who would have slain thee, is dead; and but now hath the
Eunuch Pothinus, that very eunuch who came hither, years ago, to cut
thee off, set at naught the will of his master, the dead Aulźtes, and
placed the boy Ptolemy upon the throne. And therefore his sister
Cleopatra, that fierce and beautiful girl, has fled into Syria; and
there, if I err not, she will gather her armies and make war upon her
brother Ptolemy: for by her father's will she was left joint-sovereign
with him. And, meanwhile, mark thou this, my son: the Roman eagle
hangs on high, waiting with ready talons till such time as he may fall
upon the fat wether Egypt and rend him. And mark again: the people of
Egypt are weary of the foreign yoke, they hate the memory of the
Persians, and they are sick at heart of being named "Men of Macedonia"
in the markets of Alexandria. The whole land mutters and murmurs
beneath the yoke of the Greek and the shadow of the Roman.

"Have we not been oppressed? Have not our children been butchered and
our gains wrung from us to fill the bottomless greed and lust of the
Lagidę? Have not the temples been forsaken?--ay, have not the
majesties of the Eternal Gods been set at naught by these Grecian
babblers, who have dared to meddle with the immortal truths, and name
the Most High by another name--by the name of Serapis--confounding the
substance of the Invisible? Does not Egypt cry aloud for freedom?--and
shall she cry in vain? Nay, nay, for thou, my son, art the appointed
way of deliverance. To thee, being sunk in eld, I have decreed my
rights. Already thy name is whispered in many a sanctuary, from Abu to
Athu; already priests and people swear allegiance, even by the sacred
symbols, unto him who shall be declared to them. Still, the time is
not yet; thou art too green a sapling to bear the weight of such a
storm. But to-day thou wast tried and found wanting.

"He who would serve the Gods, Harmachis, must put aside the failings
of the flesh. Taunts must not move him, nor any lusts of man. Thine is
a high mission, but this thou must learn. If thou learn it not, thou
shalt fail therein; and then, my curse be on thee! and the curse of
Egypt, and the curse of Egypt's broken Gods! For know thou this, that
even the Gods, who are immortal, may, in the interwoven scheme of
things, lean upon the man who is their instrument, as a warrior on his
sword. And woe be to the sword that snaps in the hour of battle, for
it shall be thrown aside to rust or perchance be melted with fire!
Therefore, make thy heart pure and high and strong; for thine is no
common lot, and thine no mortal meed. Triumph, Harmachis, and in glory
thou shalt go--in glory here and hereafter! Fail, and woe--woe be on

He paused and bowed his head, and then went on:

"Of these matters thou shalt hear more hereafter. Meanwhile, thou hast
much to learn. To-morrow I will give thee letters, and thou shalt
journey down the Nile, past white-walled Memphis to Annu. There thou
shalt sojourn certain years, and learn more of our ancient wisdom
beneath the shadow of those secret pyramids of which thou, too, art
the Hereditary High Priest that is to be. And meanwhile, I will sit
here and watch, for my hour is not yet, and, by the help of the Gods,
spin the web of Death wherein thou shalt catch and hold the wasp of

"Come hither, my son; come hither and kiss me on the brow, for thou
art my hope, and all the hope of Egypt. Be but true, soar to the eagle
crest of destiny, and thou shalt be glorious here and hereafter. Be
false, fail, and I will spit upon thee, and thou shalt be accursed,
and thy soul shall remain in bondage till that hour when, in the slow
flight of time, the evil shall once more grow to good and Egypt shall
again be free."

I drew near, trembling, and kissed him on the brow. "May all these
things come upon me, and more," I said, "if I fail thee, my father!"

"Nay!" he cried, "not me, not me; but rather those whose will I do.
And now go, my son, and ponder in thy heart, and in thy secret heart
digest my words; mark what thou shalt see, and gather up the dew of
wisdom, making thee ready for the battle. Fear not for thyself, thou
art protected from all ill. No harm may touch thee from without;
thyself alone can be thine own enemy. I have said."

Then I went forth with a full heart. The night was very still, and
none were stirring in the temple courts. I hurried through them, and
reached the entrance to the pylon that is at the outer gate. Then,
seeking solitude, and, as it were, to draw near to heaven, I climbed
the pylon's two hundred steps, until at length I reached the massive
roof. Here I leaned my breast against the parapet, and looked forth.
As I looked, the red edge of the full moon floated up over the Arabian
hills, and her rays fell upon the pylon where I stood and the temple
walls beyond, lighting the visages of the carven Gods. Then the cold
light struck the stretch of well-tilled lands, now whitening to the
harvest, and as the heavenly lamp of Isis passed up to the sky, her
rays crept slowly down to the valley, where Sihor, father of the land
of Khem, rolls on toward the sea.

Now the bright beams kissed the water that smiled an answer back, and
now mountain and valley, river, temple, town, and plain were flooded
with white light, for Mother Isis was arisen, and threw her gleaming
robe across the bosom of the earth. It was beautiful, with the beauty
of a dream, and solemn as the hour after death. Mightily, indeed, the
temples towered up against the face of night. Never had they seemed so
grand to me as in that hour--those eternal shrines, before whose walls
Time himself shall wither. And it was to be mine to rule this moonlit
land; mine to preserve those sacred shrines, and cherish the honour of
their Gods; mine to cast out the Ptolemy and free Egypt from the
foreign yoke! In my veins ran the blood of those great Kings who await
the day of Resurrection, sleeping in the tombs of the valley of
Thebes. My spirit swelled within me as I dreamed upon this glorious
destiny, I closed my hands, and there, upon the pylon, I prayed as I
had never prayed before to the Godhead, who is called by many names,
and in many forms made manifest.

"O Amen," I prayed, "God of Gods, who hast been from the beginning;
Lord of Truth, who art, and of whom all are, who givest out thy
Godhead and gatherest it up again; in the circle of whom the Divine
ones move and are, who wast from all time the Self-begot, and who
shalt be till time--hearken unto me.[*]

[*] For a somewhat similar definition of the Godhead see the funeral
    papyrus of Nesikhonsu, a Princess of the Twenty-first Dynasty.--

"O Amen--Osiris, the sacrifice by whom we are justified, Lord of the
Region of the Winds, Ruler of the Ages, Dweller in the West, the
Supreme in Amenti, hearken unto me.

"O Isis, great Mother Goddess, mother of the Horus--mysterious Mother,
Sister, Spouse, hearken unto me. If, indeed, I am the chosen of the
Gods to carry out the purpose of the Gods, let a sign be given me,
even now, to seal my life to the life above. Stretch out your arms
towards me, O ye Gods, and uncover the glory of your countenance.
Hear! ah, hear me!" And I cast myself upon my knees and lifted up my
eyes to heaven.

And as I knelt, a cloud grew upon the face of the moon covering it up,
so that the night became dark, and the silence deepened all around--
even the dogs far below in the city ceased to howl, while the silence
grew and grew till it was heavy as death. I felt my spirit lifted up
within me, and my hair rose upon my head. Then of a sudden the mighty
pylon seemed to rock beneath my feet, a great wind beat about my brows
and a voice spoke within my heart:

"Behold a sign! Possess thyself in patience, O Harmachis!"

And as the voice spoke, a cold hand touched my hand, and left somewhat
within it. Then the cloud rolled from the face of the moon, the wind
passed, the pylon ceased to tremble, and the night was as the night
had been.

As the light came back, I gazed upon that which had been left within
my hand. It was a bud of the holy lotus new breaking into bloom, and
from it came a most sweet scent.

And while I gazed behold! the lotus passed from my grasp and was gone,
leaving me astonished.



At the dawning of the next day I was awakened by a priest of the
temple, who brought word to me to make ready for the journey of which
my father had spoken, inasmuch as there was an occasion for me to pass
down the river to Annu el Ra. Now this is the Heliopolis of the
Greeks, whither I should go in the company of some priests of Ptah at
Memphis who had come hither to Abouthis to lay the body of one of
their great men in the tomb that had been prepared near the resting
place of the blessed Osiris.

So I made ready, and the same evening, having received letters and
embraced my father and those about the temple who were dear to me, I
passed down the banks of Sihor, and we sailed with the south wind. As
the pilot stood upon the prow and with a rod in his hand bade the
sailor-men loosen the stakes by which the vessel was moored to the
banks, the old wife, Atoua, hobbled up, her basket of simples in her
hand, and, calling out farewell, threw a sandal after me for good
chance, which sandal I kept for many years.

So we sailed, and for six days passed down the wonderful river, making
fast each night at some convenient spot. But when I lost sight of the
familiar things that I had seen day by day since I had eyes to see,
and found myself alone among strange faces, I felt very sore at heart,
and would have wept had I not been ashamed. And of all the wonderful
things I saw I will not write here, for, though they were new to me,
have they not been known to men since such time as the Gods ruled in
Egypt? But the priests who were with me showed me no little honour and
expounded to me what were the things I saw.

On the morning of the seventh day we came to Memphis, the city of the
White Hall. Here, for three days I rested from my journey and was
entertained of the priests of the wonderful Temple of Ptah the
Creator, and shown the beauties of the great and marvellous city. Also
I was led in secret by the High Priest and two others into the holy
presence of the God Apis, the Ptah who deigns to dwell among men in
the form of a bull. The God was black, and on his forehead there was a
white square, on his back was a white mark shaped like an eagle,
beneath his tongue was the likeness of a scarabęus, in his tail were
double hairs, and a plate of pure gold hung between his horns. I
entered the place of the God and worshipped, while the High Priest and
those with him stood aside, watching earnestly. And when I had
worshipped, saying the words which had been told me, the God knelt,
and lay down before me. Then the High Priest and those with him, who,
as I heard in after time, were great men of Upper Egypt, approached
wondering, and, saying no word, made obeisance to me because of the
omen. And many other things I saw in Memphis that are too long to
write of here.

On the fourth day some priests of Annu came to lead me to Sepa, my
uncle, the High Priest of Annu. So, having bidden farewell to those of
Memphis, we crossed the river and rode on asses two parts of a day's
journey through many villages, which we found in great poverty because
of the oppression of the tax-gatherers. Also, as we went, I saw for
the first time the great pyramids that are beyond the image of the God
Horemkhu, that Sphinx whom the Greeks name Harmachis, and the Temples
of the Divine Mother Isis, Queen of the Memnonia, and the God Osiris,
Lord of Rosatou, of which temples, together with the Temple of the
worship of the Divine Menkau-ra, I, Harmachis, am by right Divine the
Hereditary High Priest. I saw them and marvelled at their greatness
and the white carven limestone, and red granite of Syene, that flashed
the sun's rays back to heaven. But at this time I knew nothing of the
treasure that was hid in /Her/, which is the third among the pyramids
--would I had never known of it!

And so at last we came within sight of Annu, which after Memphis has
been seen is no large town, but stands on raised ground, before which
are lakes fed by a canal. Behind the town is the inclosed field of the
Temple of the God Ra.

We dismounted at the pylon, and were met beneath the portico by a man
not great of stature, but of noble aspect, having his head shaven, and
with dark eyes that twinkled like the further stars.

"Hold!" he cried, in a great voice which fitted his weak body but ill.
"Hold! I am Sepa, who opens the mouth of the Gods!"

"And I," I said, "am Harmachis, son of Amenemhat, Hereditary High
Priest and Ruler of the Holy City Abouthis; and I bear letters to
thee, O Sepa!"

"Enter," he said. "Enter!" scanning me all the while with his
twinkling eyes. "Enter, my son!" And he took me and led me to a
chamber in the inner hall, closed to the door, and then, having
glanced at the letters that I brought, of a sudden he fell upon my
neck and embraced me.

"Welcome," he cried, "welcome, son of my own sister, and hope of Khem!
Not in vain have I prayed the Gods that I might live to look upon thy
face and impart to thee the wisdom which perchance I alone have
mastered of those who are left alive in Egypt. There are few whom it
is lawful that I should teach. But thine is the great destiny, and
thine shall be the ears to hear the lessons of the Gods."

And he embraced me once more and bade me go bathe and eat, saying that
on the morrow he would speak with me further.

This of a truth he did, and at such length that I will forbear to set
down all he said both then and afterwards, for if I did so there would
be no papyrus left in Egypt when the task was ended. Therefore, having
much to tell and but little time to tell it, I will pass over the
events of the years that followed.

For this was the manner of my life. I rose early, I attended the
worship of the Temple, and I gave my days to study. I learnt of the
rites of religion and their meaning, and of the beginning of the Gods
and the beginning of the Upper World. I learnt of the mystery of the
movements of the stars, and of how the earth rolls on among them. I
was instructed in that ancient knowledge which is called magic, and in
the way of interpretation of dreams, and of the drawing nigh to God. I
was taught the language of symbols and their outer and inner secrets.
I became acquainted with the eternal laws of Good and Evil, and with
the mystery of that trust which is held of man; also I learnt the
secrets of the pyramids--which I would that I had never known.
Further, I read the records of the past, and of the acts and words of
the ancient kings who were before me since the rule of Horus upon
earth; and I was made to know all craft of state, the lore of earth,
and with it the history of Greece and Rome. Also I learnt the Grecian
and Roman tongues, of which indeed I already had some knowledge--and
all this while, for five long years, I kept my hands clean and my
heart pure, and did no evil in the sight of God or man; but laboured
heavily to acquire all things, and to prepare myself for the destiny
that awaited me.

Twice every year greetings and letters came from my father Amenemhat,
and twice every year I sent back my answers asking if the time had
come to cease from labour. And so the days of my probation sped away
till I grew faint and weary at heart, for being now a man, ay and
learned, I longed to make a beginning of the life of men. And often I
wondered if this talk and prophecy of the things that were to be was
but a dream born of the brains of men whose wish ran before their
thought. I was, indeed, of the Royal blood, that I knew: for my uncle,
Sepa the Priest, showed me a secret record of the descent, traced
without break from father to son, and graven in mystic symbols on a
tablet of the stone of Syene. But of what avail was it to be Royal by
right when Egypt, my heritage, was a slave--a slave to do the pleasure
and minister to the luxury of the Macedonian Lagidę--ay, and when she
had been so long a serf that, perchance, she had forgotten how to put
off the servile smile of Bondage and once more to look across the
world with Freedom's happy eyes?

Then I bethought me of my prayer upon the pylon tower of Abouthis and
of the answer given to my prayer, and wondered if that, too, were a

And one night, as, weary with study, I walked within the sacred grove
that is in the garden of the temple, and mused thus, I met my uncle
Sepa, who also was walking and thinking.

"Hold!" he cried in his great voice; "why is thy face so sad,
Harmachis? Has the last problem that we studied overwhelmed thee?"

"Nay, my uncle," I answered, "I am overwhelmed indeed, but not of the
problem; it was a light one. My heart is heavy, for I am weary of life
within these cloisters, and the piled-up weight of knowledge crushes
me. It is of no avail to store up force which cannot be used."

"Ah, thou art impatient, Harmachis," he answered; "it is ever the way
of foolish youth. Thou wouldst taste of the battle; thou dost tire of
watching the breakers fall upon the beach, thou wouldst plunge into
them and venture the desperate hazard of the war. And so thou wouldst
be going, Harmachis? The bird would fly the nest as, when they are
grown, the swallows fly from the eaves of the Temple. Well, it shall
be as thou desirest; the hour is at hand. I have taught thee all that
I have learned, and methinks that the pupil has outrun his master,"
and he paused and wiped his bright black eyes, for he was very sad at
the thought of my departure.

"And whither shall I go, my uncle?" I asked rejoicing; "back to
Abouthis to be initiated into the mysteries of the Gods?"

"Ay, back to Abouthis, and from Abouthis to Alexandria, and from
Alexandria to the Throne of thy fathers, Harmachis! Listen, now;
things are thus: Thou knowest how Cleopatra, the Queen, fled into
Syria when that false eunuch Pothinus set the will of her father
Aulźtes at naught and raised her brother Ptolemy to the sole lordship
of Egypt. Thou knowest also how she came back, like a Queen indeed,
with a great army in her train, and lay at Pelusium, and how at this
juncture the mighty Cęsar, that great man, that greatest of all men,
sailed with a weak company hither to Alexandria from Pharsalia's
bloody field in hot pursuit of Pompey. But he found Pompey already
dead, having been basely murdered by Achillas, the General, and Lucius
Septimius, the chief of the Roman legions in Egypt, and thou knowest
how the Alexandrians were troubled at his coming and would have slain
his lictors. Then, as thou hast heard, Cęsar seized Ptolemy, the young
King, and his sister Arsinoė, and bade the army of Cleopatra and the
army of Ptolemy, under Achillas, which lay facing each other at
Pelusium, disband and go their ways. And for answer Achillas marched
on Cęsar, and besieged him straitly in the Bruchium at Alexandria, and
so, for a while, things were, and none knew who should reign in Egypt.
But then Cleopatra took up the dice, and threw them, and this was the
throw she made--in truth, it was a bold one. For, leaving the army at
Pelusium, she came at dusk to the harbour of Alexandria, and alone
with the Sicilian Apollodorus entered and landed. Then Apollodorus
bound her in a bale of rich rugs, such as are made in Syria, and sent
the rugs as a present to Cęsar. And when the rugs were unbound in the
palace, behold! within them was the fairest girl on all the earth--ay,
and the most witty and the most learned. And she seduced the great
Cęsar--even his weight of years did not avail to protect him from her
charms--so that, as a fruit of his folly, he wellnigh lost his life,
and all the glory he had gained in a hundred wars."

"The fool!" I broke in--"the fool! Thou callest him great; but how can
the man be truly great who has no strength to stand against a woman's
wiles? Cęsar, with the world hanging on his word! Cęsar, at whose
breath forty legions marched and changed the fate of peoples! Cęsar
the cold! the far-seeing! the hero!--Cęsar to fall like a ripe fruit
into a false girl's lap! Why, in the issue, of what common clay was
this Roman Cęsar, and how poor a thing!"

But Sepa looked at me and shook his head. "Be not so rash, Harmachis,
and talk not with so proud a voice. Knowest thou not that in every
suit of mail there is a joint, and woe to him who wears the harness if
the sword should search it out! For Woman, in her weakness, is yet the
strongest force upon the earth. She is the helm of all things human;
she comes in many shapes and knocks at many doors; she is quick and
patient, and her passion is not ungovernable like that of man, but as
a gentle steed that she can guide e'en where she will, and as occasion
offers can now bit up and now give rein. She has a captain's eye, and
stout must be that fortress of the heart in which she finds no place
of vantage. Does thy blood beat fast in youth? She will outrun it, nor
will her kisses tire. Art thou set toward ambition? She will unlock
thy inner heart, and show thee roads that lead to glory. Art thou worn
and weary? She has comfort in her breast. Art thou fallen? She can
lift thee up, and to the illusion of thy sense gild defeat with
triumph. Ay, Harmachis, she can do these things, for Nature ever
fights upon her side; and while she does them she can deceive and
shape a secret end in which thou hast no part. And thus Woman rules
the world. For her are wars; for her men spend their strength in
gathering gains; for her they do well and ill, and seek for greatness,
to find oblivion. But still she sits like yonder Sphinx, and smiles;
and no man has ever read all the riddle of her smile, or known all the
mystery of her heart. Mock not! mock not! Harmachis; for he must be
great indeed who can defy the power of Woman, which, pressing round
him like the invisible air, is often strongest when the senses least
discover it."

I laughed aloud. "Thou speakest earnestly, my uncle Sepa," I said;
"one might almost think that thou hadst not come unscathed through
this fierce fire of temptation. Well, for myself, I fear not woman and
her wiles; I know naught of them, and naught do I wish to know; and I
still hold that this Cęsar was a fool. Had I stood where Cęsar stood,
to cool its wantonness that bale of rugs should have been rolled down
the palace steps, into the harbour mud."

"Nay, cease! cease!" he cried aloud. "It is evil to speak thus; may
the Gods avert the omen and preserve to thee this cold strength of
which thou boastest. Oh! man, thou knowest not!--thou in thy strength
and beauty that is without compare, in the power of thy learning and
the sweetness of thy tongue--thou knowest not! The world where thou
must mix is not a sanctuary as that of the Divine Isis. But there--it
may be so! Pray that thy heart's ice may never melt, so thou shalt be
great and happy and Egypt shall be delivered. And now let me take up
my tale--thou seest, Harmachis, even in so grave a story woman claims
her place. The young Ptolemy, Cleopatra's brother, being loosed of
Cęsar, treacherously turned on him. Then Cęsar and Mithridates stormed
the camp of Ptolemy, who took to flight across the river. But his boat
was sunk by the fugitives who pressed upon it, and such was the
miserable end of Ptolemy.

"Thereon, the war being ended, though she had but then borne him a
son, Cęsarion, Cęsar appointed the younger Ptolemy to rule with
Cleopatra, and be her husband in name, and he himself departed for
Rome, bearing with him the beautiful Princess Arsinoė to follow his
triumph in her chains. But the great Cęsar is no more. He died as he
had lived, in blood, and right royally. And but now Cleopatra, the
Queen, if my tidings may be trusted, has slain Ptolemy, her brother
and husband, by poison, and taken the child Cęsarion to be her fellow
on the throne, which she holds by the help of the Roman legions, and,
as they say, of young Sextus Pompeius, who has succeeded Cęsar in her
love. But, Harmachis, the whole land boils and seethes against her. In
every city the children of Khem talk of the deliverer who is to come--
and thou art he, Harmachis. The time is almost ripe. The hour is nigh
at hand. Go thou back to Abouthis and learn the last secrets of the
Gods, and meet those who shall direct the bursting of the storm. Then
act, Harmachis--act, I say, and strike home for Khem, rid the land of
the Roman and the Greek, and take thy place upon the throne of thy
divine fathers and be a King of men. For to this end thou wast born, O



On the next day I embraced my uncle Sepa, and with an eager heart
departed from Annu back to Abouthis. To be short, I came thither in
safety, having been absent five years and a month, being now no more a
boy but a man full grown and having my mind well stocked with the
knowledge of men and the ancient wisdom of Egypt. So once again I saw
the old lands, and the known faces, though of these some few were
wanting, having been gathered to Osiris. Now, as, riding across the
fields, I came nigh to the enclosure of the Temple, the priests and
people issued forth to bid me welcome, and with them the old wife,
Atoua, who, but for a few added wrinkles that Time had cut upon her
forehead, was just as she had been when she threw the sandal after me
five long years before.

"/La! la! la!/" she cried; "and there thou art, my bonny lad; more
bonny even than thou wert! /La!/ what a man! what shoulders! and what
a face and form! Ah, it does an old woman credit to have dandled thee!
But thou art over-pale; those priests down there at Annu have starved
thee, surely? Starve not thyself: the Gods love not a skeleton. 'Empty
stomach makes empty head' as they say at Alexandria. But this is a
glad hour; ay, a joyous hour. Come in--come in!" and as I lighted down
she embraced me.

But I thrust her aside. "My father! where is my father?" I cried; "I
see him not!"

"Nay, nay, have no fear," she answered; 'his Holiness is well; he
waits thee in his chamber. There, pass on. O happy day! O happy

So I went, or rather ran, and reached the chamber of which I have
written, and there at the table sat my father, Amenemhat, the same as
he had been, but very old. I came to him and, kneeling before him,
kissed his hand, and he blessed me.

"Look up, my son," he said, "let my old eyes gaze upon thy face, that
I may read thy heart."

So I lifted up my head, and he looked upon me long and earnestly.

"I read thee," he said at length; "thou art pure and strong in wisdom;
I have not been deceived in thee. Oh, the years have been lonely; but
I did well to send thee hence. Now, tell me of thy life; for thy
letters have told me little, and thou canst not know, my son, how
hungry is a father's heart."

And so I told him; we sat far into the night and talked together. And
in the end he bade me know that I must now prepare to be initiated
into those last mysteries that are learned of the chosen of the Gods.

And so it came about that for a space of three months I prepared
myself according to the holy customs. I ate no meat. I was constant in
the sanctuaries, in the study of the secrets of the Great Sacrifice
and of the woe of the Holy Mother. I watched and prayed before the
altars. I lifted up my soul to God; ay, in dreams I communed with the
Invisible, till at length earth and earth's desires seemed to pass
from me. I longed no more for the glory of this world, my heart hung
above it as an eagle on his outstretched wings, and the voice of the
world's blame could not stir it, and the vision of its beauty brought
no delight. For above me was the vast vault of heaven, where in
unalterable procession the stars pass on, drawing after them the
destinies of men; where the Holy Ones sit upon their burning thrones,
and watch the chariot-wheels of Fate as they roll from sphere to
sphere. O hours of holy contemplation! who, having once tasted of your
joy could wish again to grovel on the earth? O vile flesh to drag us
down! I would that thou hadst then altogether fallen from me, and left
my spirit free to seek Osiris!

The months of probation passed but too swiftly, and now the holy day
drew near when I was in truth to be united to the universal Mother.
Never hath Night so longed for the promise of the Dawn; never hath the
heart of a lover so passionately desired the sweet coming of his
bride, as I longed to see Thy glorious face, O Isis! Even now that I
have been faithless to Thee, and Thou art far from me, O Divine! my
soul goes out to Thee, and once more I know---- But as it is bidden
that I should draw the veil, and speak of things which have not been
told since the beginning of this world, let me pass on and reverently
set down the history of that holy morn.

For seven days the great festival had been celebrated, the suffering
of the Lord Osiris had been commemorated, the grief of the Mother Isis
had been sung and glory had been done to the memory of the coming of
the Divine Child Horus, the Son, the Avenger, the God-begot. All these
things had been carried out according to the ancient rites. The boats
had floated on the sacred lake, the priests had scourged themselves
before the sanctuaries, and the images had been borne through the
streets at night.

And now, as the sun sank on the seventh day, once more the great
procession gathered to chant the woes of Isis and tell how the evil
was avenged. We went in silence from the temple, and passed through
the city ways. First came those who clear the path, then my father
Amenemhat in all his priestly robes, and the wand of cedar in his
hand. Then, clad in pure linen, I, the neophyte, followed alone; and
after me the white-robed priests, holding aloft banners and emblems of
the Gods. Next came those who bear the sacred boat, and after them the
singers and the mourners; while, stretching as far as the eye could
reach, all the people marched, clad in melancholy black because Osiris
was no more. We went in silence through the city streets till at
length we came to the wall of the temple and passed in. And as my
father, the High Priest, entered beneath the gateway of the outer
pylon, a sweet-voiced woman singer began to sing the Holy Chant, and
thus she sang:

     "Sing we Osiris dead,
      Lament the fallen head:
  The light has left the world, the world is grey.
      Athwart the starry skies
      The web of Darkness flies,
  And Isis weeps Osiris passed away.
      Your tears, ye stars, ye fires, ye rivers, shed,
      Weep, children of the Nile, weep for your Lord is dead!"

She paused in her most sweet song, and the whole multitude took up the
melancholy dirge:

 "Softly we tread, our measured footsteps falling
      Within the Sanctuary Sevenfold;
  Soft on the Dead that liveth are we calling:
     'Return, Osiris, from thy Kingdom cold!
      Return to them that worship thee of old!'"

The chorus ceased, and once again she sang:

     "Within the court divine
      The Sevenfold sacred shrine
  We pass, while echoes of the Temple walls
      Repeat the long lament
      The sound of sorrow sent
  Far up within the imperishable halls,
      Where, each in the other's arms, the Sisters weep,
      Isis and Nephthys, o'er His unawaking sleep."

And then again rolled forth the solemn chorus of a thousand voices:

 "Softly we tread, our measured footsteps falling
      Within the Sanctuary Sevenfold;
  Soft on the Dead that liveth are we calling:
     'Return, Osiris, from thy Kingdom cold!
      Return to them that worship thee of old!'"

It ceased, and sweetly she took up the song:

     "O dweller in the West,
      Lover and Lordliest,
  Thy love, thy Sister Isis, calls thee home!
      Come from thy chamber dun
      Thou Master of the Sun,
  Thy shadowy chamber far below the foam!
      With weary wings and spent
      Through all the firmament,
  Through all the horror-haunted ways of Hell,
      I seek thee near and far,
      From star to wandering star,
  Free with the dead that in Amenti dwell.
      I search the height, the deep, the lands, the skies,
      Rise from the dead and live, our Lord Osiris, rise!"

 "Softly we tread, our measured footsteps falling
      Within the Sanctuary Sevenfold;
  Soft on the Dead that liveth are we calling:
     'Return, Osiris, from thy Kingdom cold!
      Return to them that worship thee of old!'"

Now in a strain more high and glad the singer sang:

     "He wakes--from forth the prison
      We sing Osiris risen,
  We sing the child that Nout conceived and bare.
      Thine own love, Isis, waits
      The Warden of the Gates,
  She breathes the breath of Life on breast and hair,
      And in her breast and breath
      Behold! he waketh,
  Behold! at length he riseth out of rest;
      Touched with her holy hands,
      The Lord of all the Lands,
  He stirs, he rises from her breath, her breast!
      But thou, fell Typhon, fly,
      The judgment day drawn nigh,
  Fleet on thy track as flame speeds Horus from the sky."

 "Softly we tread, our measured footsteps falling
      Within the Sanctuary Sevenfold;
  Soft on the Dead that liveth are we calling:
     'Return, Osiris, from thy Kingdom cold!
      Return to them that worship thee of old!'"

Once more, as we bowed before the Holy, she sang, and sent the full
breath of her glad music ringing up the everlasting walls till the
silence quivered with her round notes of melody, and the hearts of
those who hearkened stirred strangely in the breast. And thus, as we
walked, she sang the song of Osiris risen, the song of Hope, the song
of Victory:

     "Sing we the Trinity,
      Sing we the Holy Three,
  Sing we, and praise we and worship the Throne,
      Throne that our Lord hath set--
      There peace and truth are met
  There in the Halls of the Holy alone!
      There in the shadowings
      Faint of the folded wings,
  There shall we dwell and rejoice in our rest,
      We that thy servants are!
      Horus drive ill afar!
  Far in the folds of the dark of the West!"

Again, as her notes died away, thundered forth the chorus of all the

 "Softly we tread, our measured footsteps falling
      Within the Sanctuary Sevenfold;
  Soft on the Dead that liveth are we calling:
     'Return, Osiris, from thy Kingdom cold!
      Return to them that worship thee of old!'"

The chanting ceased, and as the sun sank the High Priest raised the
statue of the living God and held it before the multitude that was now
gathered in the court of the temple. Then, with a mighty and joyful
shout of:

  "/Osiris our hope! Osiris! Osiris!/"

the people tore their black wrappings from their dress, revealing the
white robes they wore beneath, and, as one man, they bowed before the
God, and the feast was ended.

But for me the ceremony was only begun, for to-night was the night of
my initiation. Leaving the inner court I bathed myself, and, clad in
pure linen, passed, as it is ordained, into an inner, but not the
inmost, sanctuary, and laid the accustomed offerings on the altar.
Then, lifting my hands to heaven, I remained for many hours in
contemplation, striving, by holy thoughts and prayer, to gather up my
strength against the mighty moment of my trial.

The hours sped slowly in the silence of the temple, till at length the
door opened and my father Amenemhat, the High Priest, came in, clad in
white, and leading by the hand the Priest of Isis. For, having been
married, he did not himself enter into the mysteries of the Holy

I rose to my feet and stood humbly before them.

"Art thou ready?" said the priest, lifting the lamp he held so that
its light fell upon my face. "O thou chosen one, art thou ready to see
the glory of the Goddess face to face?"

"I am ready," I answered.

"Behold thee," he said again, in solemn tones, "it is no small thing.
If thou wilt carry out this thy last desire, understand, royal
Harmachis, that now this very night thou must die for a while in the
flesh, what time thy soul shall look on spiritual things. And if thou
diest and any evil shall be found within thy heart, when thou comest
at last into that awful presence, woe unto thee, Harmachis, for the
breath of life shall no more enter in at the gateway of thy mouth, thy
body shall utterly perish, and what shall befall thy other parts, if I
know, I may not say.[*] Art thou prepared to be taken to the breast of
Her who Was and Is and Shall Be, and in all things to do Her holy
will; for Her, while she shall so command, to put away the thought of
earthly woman; and to labour always for Her glory till at the end thy
life is gathered to Her eternal life?"

[*] According to the Egyptian religion the being Man is composed of
    four parts: the body, the double or astral shape (/ka/), the soul
    (/bi/), and the spark of life sprung from the Godhead (/khou/).--

"I am," I answered; "lead on."

"It is well," said the priest. "Noble Amenemhat, we go hence alone."

"Farewell, my son," said my father; "be firm and triumph over things
spiritual as thou shalt triumph over things earthly. He who would
truly rule the world must first be lifted up above the world. He must
be at one with God, for thus only shall he learn the secrets of the
Divine. But beware! The Gods demand much of those who dare to enter
the circle of their Divinity. If they go back therefrom, they shall be
judged of a sharper law, and scourged with a heavier rod, for as their
glory is, so shall their shame be. Therefore, make thy heart strong,
royal Harmachis! And when thou speedest down the ways of Night and
enterest the Holies, remember that from him to whom great gifts have
been given shall gifts be required again. And now--if, indeed, thy
mind be fixed--go whither it is not as yet given me to follow thee.

For a moment as my heart weighed these heavy words, I wavered, as well
as I might. But I was filled with longing to be gathered to the
company of the Divine ones, and I knew that I had no evil in me, and
desired to do only the thing that is just. Therefore, having with so
much labour drawn the bowstring to my ear, I was fain to let fly the
shaft. "Lead on," I cried with a loud voice; "lead on, thou holy
Priest! I follow thee!"

And we went forth.



In silence we passed into the Shrine of Isis. It was dark and bare--
only the feeble light from the lamp gleamed faintly upon the
sculptured walls, where, in a hundred effigies, the Holy Mother
suckled the Holy Child.

The priest closed the doors and bolted them. "Once again," he said,
"art thou ready, Harmachis?"

"Once again," I answered, "I am ready."

He spoke no more; but, having lifted up his hands in prayer, led me to
the centre of the Holy, and with a swift motion put out the lamp.

"Look before thee, Harmachis!" he cried; and his voice sounded hollow
in the solemn place.

I gazed and saw nothing. But from the niche that is high in the wall,
where is hid that sacred symbol of the Goddess on which few may look,
there came a sound as of the rattling rods of the sistrum.[*] And as I
listened, awestruck, behold! I saw the outline of the symbol drawn as
with fire upon the blackness of the air. It hung above my head, and
rattled while it hung. And, as it turned, I clearly saw the face of
the Mother Isis that is graven on the one side, and signifies unending
Birth, and the face of her holy sister, Nephthys, that is graven on
the other, and signifies the ending of all birth in Death.

[*] A musical instrument peculiarly sacred to Isis of which the shape
    and rods had a mystic significance.--Editor.

Slowly it turned and swung as though some mystic dancer trod the air
above me, and shook it in her hand. But at length the light went out,
and the rattling ceased.

Then of a sudden the end of the chamber became luminous, and in that
white light I beheld picture after picture. I saw the ancient Nile
rolling through deserts to the sea. There were no men upon its banks,
nor any signs of man, nor any temples to the Gods. Only wild birds
moved on Sihor's lonely face, and monstrous brutes plunged and
wallowed in his waters. The sun sank in majesty behind the Libyan
Desert and stained the waters red; the mountains towered up towards
the silent sky; but in mountain, desert, and river there was no sign
of human life. Then I knew that I saw the world as it had been before
man was, and a terror of its loneliness entered my soul.

The picture passed and another rose up in its place. Once again I saw
the banks of Sihor, and on them crowded wild-faced creatures,
partaking of the nature of the ape more than of the nature of mankind.
They fought and slew each other. The wild birds sprang up in affright
as the fire leapt from reed huts given by foemen's hands to flame and
pillage. They stole and rent and murdered, dashing out the brains of
children with axes of stone. And, though no voice told me, I knew that
I saw man as he was tens of thousands of years ago, when first he
marched across the earth.

Yet another picture. Again I beheld the banks of Sihor; but on them
fair cities bloomed like flowers. In and out their gates went men and
women, passing to and fro from wide, well-tilled lands. But I saw no
guards or armies, and no weapons of war. All was wisdom, prosperity,
and peace. And while I wondered, a glorious Figure, clad in raiment
that shone as flame, came from the gates of a shrine, and the sound of
music went before and followed after him. He mounted an ivory throne
which was set in a market-place facing the water: and as the sun sank
called in all the multitudes to prayer. With one voice they prayed,
bending in adoration. And I understood that herein was shown the reign
of the Gods on earth, which was long before the days of Menes.

A change came over the dream. Still the same fair city, but other men
--men with greed and evil on their faces--who hated the bonds of
righteous doing, and set their hearts on sin. The evening came; the
glorious Figure mounted the throne and called to prayer, but none
bowed themselves in adoration.

"We are aweary of thee!" they cried. "Make Evil King! Slay him! slay
him! and loose the bonds of Evil! Make Evil King!"

The glorious Shape rose up, gazing with mild eyes upon those wicked

"Ye know not what ye ask," he cried; "but as ye will, so be it! For if
I die, by me, after much travail, shall ye once again find a path to
the Kingdom of Good!"

Even as he spoke, a Form, foul and hideous to behold, leapt upon him,
cursing, slew him, tore him limb from limb, and amidst the clamour of
the people sat himself upon the throne and ruled. But a Shape whose
face was veiled passed down from heaven on shadowy wings, and with
lamentations gathered up the rent fragments of the Being. A moment she
bent herself upon them, then lifted up her hands and wept. And as she
wept, behold! from her side there sprang a warrior armed and with a
face like the face of Ra at noon. He, the Avenger, hurled himself with
a shout upon the Monster who had usurped the throne, and they closed
in battle, and, struggling ever in a strait embrace, passed upward to
the skies.

Then came picture after picture. I saw Powers and Peoples clad in
various robes and speaking many tongues. I saw them pass and pass in
millions--loving, hating, struggling, dying. Some few were happy and
some had woe stamped upon their faces; but most bore not the seal of
happiness nor of woe, but rather that of patience. And ever as they
passed from age to age, high above in the heavens the Avenger fought
on with the Evil Thing, while the scale of victory swung now here now
there. But neither conquered, nor was it given to me to know how the
battle ended.

And I understood that what I had beheld was the holy vision of the
struggle between the Good and the Evil Powers. I saw that man was
created vile, but Those who are above took pity on him, and came down
to him to make him good and happy, for the two things are one thing.
But man returned to his wicked way, and then the bright Spirit of
Good, who is of us called Osiris, but who has many names, offered
himself up for the evil-doing of the race that had dethroned him. And
from him and the Divine Mother, of whom all nature is, sprang another
spirit who is the Protector of us on earth, as Osiris is our justifier
in Amenti.

For this is the mystery of the Osiris.

Of a sudden, as I saw the visions, these things became clear to me.
The mummy cloths of symbol and of ceremony that wrap Osiris round fell
from him, and I understood the secret of religion, which is Sacrifice.

The pictures passed, and again the priest, my guide, spoke to me.

"Hast thou understood, Harmachis, those things which it has been
granted thee to see?"

"I have," I said. "Are the rites ended?"

"Nay, they are but begun. That which follows thou must endure alone!
Behold I leave thee, to return at the morning light. Once more I warn
thee. That which thou shalt see, few may look upon and live. In all my
days I have known but three who dared to face this dread hour, and of
those three at dawn but one was found alive. Myself, I have not trod
this path. It is too high for me."

"Depart," I said; "my soul is athirst for knowledge. I will dare it."

He laid his hand upon my shoulder and blessed me. He went. I heard the
door shut to behind him, the echoes of his footsteps slowly died away.

Then I felt that I was alone, alone in the Holy Place with Things
which are not of the earth. Silence fell--silence deep and black as
the darkness which was around me. The silence fell, it gathered as the
cloud gathered on the face of the moon that night when, a lad, I
prayed upon the pylon towers. It gathered denser and yet more dense
till it seemed to creep into my heart and call aloud therein; for
utter silence has a voice that is more terrible than any cry. I spoke;
the echoes of my words came back upon me from the walls and seemed to
beat me down. The stillness was lighter to endure than an echo such as
this. What was I about to see? Should I die, even now, in the fulness
of my youth and strength? Terrible were the warnings that had been
given to me. I was fear-stricken, and bethought me that I would fly.
Fly!--fly whither? The temple door was barred; I could not fly. I was
alone with the Godhead, alone with the Power that I had invoked. Nay,
my heart was pure--my heart was pure. I would face the terror that was
to come, ay, even though I died.

"Isis, Holy Mother," I prayed. "Isis, Spouse of Heaven, come unto me,
be with me now; I faint! be with me now."

And then I knew that things were not as things had been. The air
around me began to stir, it rustled as the wings of eagles rustle, it
took life. Bright eyes gazed upon me, strange whispers shook my soul.
Upon the darkness were bars of light. They changed and interchanged,
they moved to and fro and wove mystic symbols which I could not read.
Swifter and swifter flew that shuttle of the light: the symbols
grouped, gathered, faded, gathered yet again, faster and still more
fast, till my eyes could count them no more. Now I was afloat upon a
sea of glory; it surged and rolled, as the ocean rolls; it tossed me
high, it brought me low. Glory was piled on glory, splendour heaped on
splendour's head, and I rode above it all!

Soon the lights began to pale in the rolling sea of air. Great shadows
shot across it, lines of darkness pierced it and rushed together on
its breast, till, at length, I was only a Shape of Flame set like a
star on the bosom of immeasurable night. Bursts of awful music
gathered from far away. Miles and miles away I heard them, thrilling
faintly through the gloom. On they came, nearer and more near, louder
and more loud, till they swept past, above, below, around me, swept on
rushing pinions, terrifying and enchanting me. They floated by, ever
growing fainter, till they died in space. Then others came, and no two
were akin. Some rattled as ten thousand sistra shaken all to tune.
Some rank from the brazen throats of unnumbered clarions. Some pealed
with a loud, sweet chant of voices that were more than human; and some
rolled along in the slow thunder of a million drums. They passed;
their notes were lost in dying echoes; and the silence once more
pressed in upon me and overcame me.

The strength within me began to fail. I felt my life ebbing at its
springs. Death drew near to me and his shape was /Silence/. He entered
at my heart, entered with a sense of numbing cold, but my brain was
still alive, I could yet think. I knew that I was drawing near the
confines of the Dead. Nay, I was dying fast, and oh, the horror of it!
I strove to pray and could not; there was no more time for prayer. One
struggle and the stillness crept into my brain. The terror passed; an
unfathomable weight of sleep pressed me down. I was dying, I was
dying, and then--nothingness!

/I was dead!/

A change--life came back to me, but between the new life and the life
that had been was a gulf and difference. Once again I stood in the
darkness of the shrine, but it blinded me no more. It was clear as the
light of day, although it still was black. I stood; and yet it was not
I who stood, but rather my spiritual part, for at my feet lay my dead
Self. There it lay, rigid and still, a stamp of awful calm sealed upon
its face, while I gazed on it.

And as I gazed, filled with wonder, I was caught up on the Wings of
Flame and whirled away! away! faster than the lightnings flash. Down I
fell, through depths of empty space set here and there with glittering
crowns of stars. Down for ten million miles and ten times ten million,
till at length I hovered over a place of soft, unchanging light,
wherein were Temples, Palaces, and Abodes, such as no man ever saw in
the visions of his sleep. They were built of Flame, and they were
built of Blackness. Their spires pierced up and up; their great courts
stretched around. Even as I hovered they changed continually to the
eye; what was Flame became Blackness, what was Blackness became Flame.
Here was the flash of crystal, and there the blaze of gems shone even
through the glory that rolls around the city which is in the Place of
Death. There were trees, and their voice as they rustled was the voice
of music; there was air, and, as it blew, its breath was the sobbing
notes of song.

Shapes, changing, mysterious, wonderful, rushed up to meet me, and
bore me down till I seemed to stand upon another earth.

"Who comes?" cried a great Voice.

"Harmachis," answered the Shapes, that changed continually. "Harmachis
who hath been summoned from the earth to look upon the face of Her
that Was and Is and Shall Be. Harmachis, Child of Earth!"

"Throw back the Gates and open wide the Doors!" pealed the awful
Voice. "Throw back the Gates and open wide the Doors; seal up his lips
in silence, lest his voice jar upon the harmonies of Heaven, take away
his sight lest he see that which may not be seen, and let Harmachis,
who hath been summoned, pass down the path that leads to the place of
the Unchanging. Pass on, Child of Earth; but before thou goest, look
up that thou mayest learn how far thou art removed from Earth."

I looked up. Beyond the glory that shone about the city was black
night, and high on its bosom twinkled one tiny star.

"Behold the world that thou hast left," said the Voice, "behold and

Then my lips and eyes were sealed with silence and with darkness, so
that I was dumb and blind. The Gates rolled back, the Doors swung
wide, and I was swept into the city that is in the Place of Death. I
was swept swiftly I know not whither, till at length I stood upon my
feet. Again the great Voice pealed:

"Draw the veil of blackness from his eyes, unseal the silence on his
lips, that Harmachis, Child of Earth, may see, hear, and understand,
and make adoration at the Shrine of Her that Was and Is and Shall Be."

And my lips and eyes were touched once more, so that my sight and
speech came back.

Behold! I stood within a hall of blackest marble, so lofty that even
in the rosy light scarce could my vision reach the great groins of the
roof. Music wailed about its spaces, and all adown its length stood
winged Spirits fashioned in living fire, and such was the brightness
of their forms that I could not look on them. In its centre was an
altar, small and square, and I stood before the empty altar. Then
again the Voice cried:

"O Thou that hast been, art, and shalt be; Thou who, having many
names, art yet without a name; Measurer of Time; Messenger of God;
Guardian of the Worlds and the Races that dwell thereon; Universal
Mother born of Nothingness; Creatix uncreated; Living Splendour
without Form, Living Form without Substance; Servant of the Invisible;
Child of Law; Holder of the Scales and Sword of Fate; Vessel of Life,
through whom all Life flows, to whom it again is gathered; Recorder of
Things Done; Executrix of Decrees--/Hear!/

"Harmachis the Egyptian, who by Thy will hath been summoned from the
earth, waits before Thine Altar, with ears unstopped, with eyes
unsealed, and with an open heart. Hear and descend! Descend, O Many-
shaped! Descend in Flame! Descend in Sound! Descend in Spirit! Hear
and descend!"

The Voice ceased and there was silence. Then through the silence came
a sound like the booming of the sea. It passed and presently, moved
thereto by I know not what, I raised my eyes from my hands with which
I had covered them, and saw a small dark cloud hanging over the Altar
in and out of which a fiery Serpent climbed.

Then all the Spirits clad in light fell upon the marble floor, and
with a loud voice adored; but what they said I could not understand.
Behold! the dark cloud came down and rested on the Altar, the Serpent
of fire stretched itself towards me, touched me on the forehead with
its forky tongue and was gone. From within the cloud a Voice sweet and
low and clear spoke in heavenly accents:

"Depart, ye Ministers, leave Me with my son whom I have summoned."

Then like arrows rushing from a bow the flame-clad Spirits leapt from
the ground and sped away.

"O Harmachis," said the Voice, "be not afraid, I am She whom thou dost
know as Isis of the Egyptians; but what else I am strive not thou to
learn, it is beyond thy strength. For I am all things, Life is my
spirit, and Nature is my raiment. I am the laughter of the babe, I am
the maiden's love, I am the mother's kiss. I am the Child and Servant
of the Invisible that is God, that is Law, that is Fate--though myself
I be not God and Fate and Law. When winds blow and oceans roar upon
the face of the Earth thou hearest my voice; when thou gazest on the
starry firmament thou seest my countenance; when the spring blooms out
in flowers, that is my smile, Harmachis. For I am Nature's self, and
all her shapes are shapes of Me. I breathe in all that breathes. I wax
and wane in the changeful moon: I grow and gather in the tides: I rise
with the suns: I flash with the lightning and thunder in the storms.
Nothing is too great for the measure of my majesty, nothing is so
small that I cannot find a home therein. I am in thee and thou art in
Me, O Harmachis. That which bade thee be bade Me also be. Therefore,
though I am great and thou art little, have no fear. For we are bound
together by the common bond of life--that life which flows through
suns and stars and spaces, through Spirits and the souls of men,
welding all Nature to a whole that, changing ever, is yet eternally
the same."

I bowed my head--I could not speak, for I was afraid.

"Faithfully hast thou served Me, O my son," went on the low sweet
Voice; "greatly thou hast longed to be brought face to face with Me
here in Amenti; and greatly hast thou dared to accomplish thy desire.
For it is no small thing to cast off the tabernacle of the Flesh and
before the appointed time, if only for an hour, put on the raiment of
the Spirit. And greatly, O my servant and my son, have I, too, desired
to look on thee there where I am. For the Gods love those who love
them, but with a wider and deeper love, and under One who is as far
from Me as I am from thee, mortal, I am a God of Gods. Therefore I
have caused thee to be brought hither, Harmachis; and therefore I
speak to thee, my son, and bid thee commune with Me now face to face,
as thou didst commune that night upon the temple towers of Abouthis.
For I was there with thee, Harmachis, as I was in ten thousand other
worlds. It was I, O Harmachis, who laid the lotus in thy hand, giving
thee the sign which thou didst seek. For thou art of the kingly blood
of my children who served Me from age to age. And if thou dost not
fail thou shalt sit upon that kingly throne and restore my ancient
worship in its purity, and sweep my temples from their defilements.
But if thou dost fail, then shall the eternal Spirit Isis become but a
memory in Egypt."

The Voice paused; and, gathering up my strength, at length I spoke

"Tell me, O Holy," I said, "shall I then fail?"

"Ask Me not," answered the Voice, "that which it is not lawful that I
should answer thee. Perchance I can read that which shall befall thee,
perchance it doth not please Me so to read. What can it profit the
Divine, that hath all time wherein to await the issues, to be eager to
look upon the blossom that is not blown, but which, lying a seed in
the bosom of the earth, shall blow in its season? Know, Harmachis,
that I do not shape the Future; the Future is to thee and not to Me;
for it is born of Law and of the rule ordained of the Invisible. Yet
thou art free to act therein, and thou shalt win or thou shalt fail
according to thy strength and the measure of thy heart's purity. Thine
be the burden, Harmachis, as thine in the event shall be the glory or
the shame. Little do I reck of the issue, I who am but the Minister of
what is written. Now hear me: I will always be with thee, my son, for
my love once given can never be taken away, though by sin it may seem
lost to thee. Remember then this: if thou dost triumph, thy guerdon
shall be great; if thou dost fail, heavy indeed shall be thy
punishment both in the flesh and in the land that thou callest Amenti.
Yet this for thy comfort: shame and agony shall not be eternal. For
however deep the fall from righteousness, if but repentance holds the
heart, there is a path--a stony and a cruel path--whereby the height
may be climbed again. Let it not be thy lot to follow it, Harmachis!

"And now, because thou hast loved Me, my son, and, wandering through
the maze of fable, wherein men lose themselves upon the earth,
mistaking the substance for the Spirit, and the Altar for the God,
hast yet grasped a clue of Truth the Many-faced; and because I love
thee and look on to the day that, perchance, shall come when thou
shalt dwell blessed in my light and in the doing of my tasks: because
of this, I say, it shall be given to thee, O Harmachis, to hear the
Word whereby I may be summoned from the Uttermost, by one who hath
communed with Me, and to look upon the face of Isis--even into the
eyes of the Messenger, and not die the death.


The sweet Voice ceased; the dark cloud upon the altar changed and
changed--it grew white, it shone, and seemed at length to take the
shrouded shape of a woman. Then the golden Snake crept from its heart
once more, and, like a living diadem, twined itself about the cloudy

Now suddenly a Voice called aloud the awful Word, then the vapours
burst and melted, and with my eyes I saw that Glory, at the very
thought of which my spirit faints. But what I saw it is not lawful to
utter. For, though I have been bidden to write what I have written of
this matter, perchance that a record may remain, thereon I have been
warned--ay, even now, after these many years. I saw, and what I saw
cannot be imagined; for there are Glories and there are Shapes which
are beyond the reach of man's imagination. I saw--then, with the echo
of that Word, and the memory of that sight stamped for ever on my
heart, my spirit failed me, and I sank down before the Glory.

And, as I fell, it seemed that the great hall burst open and crumbled
into flakes of fire round me. Then a great wind blew: there was a
sound as the sound of Worlds rushing down the flood of Time--and I
knew no more!



Once again I woke--to find myself stretched at length upon the stone
flooring of the Holy Place of Isis that is at Abouthis. By me stood
the old Priest of the Mysteries, and in his hand was a lamp. He bent
over me, and gazed earnestly upon my face.

"It is day--the day of thy new birth, and thou hast lived to see it,
Harmachis!" he said at length. "I give thanks. Arise, royal Harmachis
--nay, tell me naught of that which has befallen thee. Arise, beloved
of the Holy Mother. Come forth, thou who hast passed the fire and
learned what lies behind the darkness--come forth, O newly-born!"

I rose and, walking faintly, went with him, and, passing out of the
darkness of the Shrines filled with thought and wonder, came once more
into the pure light of the morning. And then I went to my own chamber
and slept; nor did any dreams come to trouble me. But no man--not even
my father--asked me aught of what I saw upon that dread night, or
after what fashion I had communed with the Goddess.

After these things which have been written, I applied myself for a
space to the worship of the Mother Isis, and to the further study of
the outward forms of those mysteries to which I now held the key.
Moreover, I was instructed in matters politic, for many great men of
our following came secretly to see me from all quarters of Egypt, and
told me much of the hatred of the people towards Cleopatra, the Queen,
and of other things. At last the hour drew nigh; it was three months
and ten days from the night when, for a while, I left the flesh, and
yet living with our life, was gathered to the breast of Isis, on which
it was agreed that with due and customary rites, although in utter
secrecy, I should be called to the throne of the Upper and the Lower
Land. So it came about that, as the solemn time drew nigh, great men
of the party of Egypt gathered to the number of thirty-seven from
every nome, and each great city of their nome, meeting together at
Abouthis. They came in every guise--some as priests, some as pilgrims
to the Shrine, and some as beggars. Among them was my uncle, Sepa,
who, though he clad himself as a travelling doctor, had much ado to
keep his loud voice from betraying him. Indeed, I myself knew him by
it, meeting him as I walked in thought upon the banks of the canal,
although it was then dusk and the great cape, which, after the fashion
of such doctors, he had thrown about his head, half hid his face.

"A pest on thee!" he cried, when I greeted him by his name. "Cannot a
man cease to be himself for a single hour? Didst thou but know the
pains that it has cost me to learn to play this part--and now thou
readest who I am even in the dark!"

And then, still talking in his loud voice, he told me how he had
travelled hither on foot, the better to escape the spies who ply to
and fro upon the river. But he said he should return by the water, or
take another guise; for since he had come as a doctor he had been
forced to play a doctor's part, knowing but little of the arts of
medicine; and, as he greatly feared, there were many between Annu and
Abouthis who had suffered from it.[*] And he laughed loudly and
embraced me, forgetting his part. For he was too whole at heart to be
an actor and other than himself, and would have entered Abouthis with
me holding my hand, had I not chid him for his folly.

[*] In Ancient Egypt an unskilful or negligent physician was liable to
    very heavy penalties.--Editor.

At length all were gathered.

It was night, and the gates of the temple were shut. None were left
within them, except the thirty-seven; my father, the High Priest
Amenemhat; that aged priest who had led me to the Shrine of Isis; the
old wife, Atoua, who, according to ancient custom, was to prepare me
for the anointing; and some five other priests, sworn to secrecy by
that oath which none may break. They gathered in the second hall of
the great temple; but I remained alone, clad in my white robe, in the
passage where are the names of six-and-seventy ancient Kings, who were
before the day of the divine Sethi. There I rested in darkness, till
at length my father, Amenemhat, came, bearing a lamp, and, bowing low
before me, led me by the hand forth into the great hall. Here and
there, between its mighty pillars, lights were burning that dimly
showed the sculptured images upon the walls, and dimly fell upon the
long line of the seven-and-thirty Lords, Priests, and Princes, who,
seated upon carven chairs, awaited my coming in silence. Before them,
facing away from the seven Sanctuaries, a throne was set, around which
stood the priests holding the sacred images and banners. As I came
into the dim and holy place, the Dignitaries rose, and bowed before
me, speaking no word; while my father led me to the steps of the
throne, and in a low voice bade me stand before it.

Then he spoke:

"Lords, Priests, and Princes of the ancient orders of the land of Khem
--Nobles from the Upper and the Lower Country, have gathered in answer
to my summons, hear me: I present to you, with such scant formality as
the occasion can afford, the Prince Harmachis, by right and true
descent of blood the descendant and heir of the ancient Pharaohs of
our most unhappy land. He is priest of the inmost circle of the
Mysteries of the Divine Isis, Master of the Mysteries--Hereditary
Priest of the Pyramids, which are by Memphis, Instructed in the Solemn
Rites of the Holy Osiris. Is there any among you who has aught to urge
against the true line of his blood?"

He paused, and my uncle Sepa, rising from his chair, spoke: "We have
made examination of the records and there is none, O Amenemhat. He is
of the Royal blood, his descent is true."

"Is there any among you," went on my father, "who can deny that this
royal Harmachis, by sanction of the very Gods, has been gathered to
Isis, been shown the way of the Osiris, been admitted to be the
Hereditary High Priest of the Pyramids which are by Memphis, and of
the Temples of the Pyramids?"

Then that old priest rose who had been my guide in the Sanctuary of
the Mother and made answer: "There is none; O Amenemhat; I know these
things of my own knowledge."

Once more my father spoke: "Is there any among you who has aught to
urge against this royal Harmachis, in that by wickedness of heart or
life, by uncleanliness or falsity, it is not fit or meet that we
should crown him Lord of all the Lands?"

Then an aged Prince of Memphis arose and made answer:

"We have inquired of these matters: there is none, O Amenemhat."

"It is well," said my father; "then naught is wanting in the Prince
Harmachis, seed of Nekt-nebf, the Osirian. Let the woman Atoua stand
forth and tell this company those things that came to pass when, at
the hour of her death, she who was my wife prophesied over this
Prince, being filled with the Spirit of the Hathors."

Thereon old Atoua crept forward from the shadow of the columns, and
earnestly told those things that have been written.

"Ye have heard," said my father: "do you believe that the woman who
was my wife spake with the Divine voice?"

"We do," they answered.

Now my uncle Sepa rose and spoke:

"Royal Harmachis, thou hast heard. Know now that we are gathered here
to crown thee King of the Upper and the Lower Lands--thy holy father,
Amenemhat, renouncing all his right on thy behalf. We are met, not,
indeed, in that pomp and ceremony which is due to the occasion--for
what we do must be done in secret, lest our lives, and the cause that
is more dear to us than life, should pay the forfeit--but yet with
such dignity and observance of the ancient rites as our circumstance
may command. Learn, now, how this matter hangs, and if, after
learning, thy mind consents thereto, then mount thy throne, O Pharaoh
--and swear the oath!

"Long has Khemi groaned beneath the mailed heel of the Greek, and
trembled at the shadow of the Roman's spear; long has the ancient
worship of its Gods been desecrated, and its people crushed with
oppression. But we believe that the hour of deliverance is at hand,
and with the solemn voice of Egypt and by the ancient Gods of Egypt,
to whose cause thou art of all men bound, we call upon thee, Prince,
to be the sword of our deliverance. Hearken! Twenty thousand good and
leal men are sworn to wait upon thy word, and at thy signal to rise as
one, to put the Grecian to the sword, and with their blood and
substance to build thee a throne set more surely on the soil of Khem
than are its ancient pyramids--such a throne as shall even roll the
Roman legions back. And for the signal, it shall be the death of that
bold harlot, Cleopatra. Thou must compass her death, Harmachis, in
such fashion as shall be shown to thee, and with her blood anoint the
Royal throne of Egypt.

"Canst thou refuse, O our Hope? Doth not the holy love of country
swell within thy heart? Canst thou dash the cup of Freedom from thy
lips and bear to drink the bitter draught of slaves? The emprise is
great; maybe it shall fail, and thou with thy life, as we with ours,
shalt pay the price of our endeavour. But what of it, Harmachis? Is
life, then, so sweet? Are we so softly cushioned on the stony bed of
earth? Is bitterness and sorrow in its sum so small and scant a thing?
Do we here breathe so divine an air that we should fear to face the
passage of our breath? What have we here but hope and memory? What see
we here but shadows? Shall we then fear to pass pure-handed where
Fulfilment is and memory is lost in its own source, and shadows die in
the light which cast them? O Harmachis, that man alone is truly blest
who crowns his life with Fame's most splendid wreath. For, since to
all the Brood of Earth Death hands his poppy-flowers, he indeed is
happy to whom there is occasion given to weave them in a crown of
glory. And how can a man die better than in a great endeavour to
strike the gyves from his Country's limbs so that she again may stand
in the face of Heaven and raise the shrill shout of Freedom, and, clad
once more in a panoply of strength, trample under foot the fetters of
her servitude, defying the tyrant nations of the earth to set their
seal upon her brow?

"Khem calls thee, Harmachis. Come then, thou Deliverer; leap like
Horus from the firmament, break her chains, scatter her foes, and rule
a Pharaoh on Pharaoh's Throne----"

"Enough, enough!" I cried, while the long murmur of applause swept
about the columns and up the massy walls. "Enough; is there any need
to adjure me thus? Had I a hundred lives, would I not most gladly lay
them down for Egypt?"

"Well said, well said!" answered Sepa. "Now go forth with the woman
yonder, that she may make thy hands clean before they touch the sacred
emblems, and anoint thy brow before it is encircled of the diadem."

And so I went into a chamber apart with the old wife, Atoua. There,
muttering prayers, she poured pure water over my hands into a ewer of
gold, and having dipped a fine cloth into oil wiped my brow with it.

"O happy Egypt!" she said; "O happy Prince, that art come to rule in
Egypt! O Royal youth!--too Royal to be a priest--so shall many a fair
woman think; but, perchance, for thee they will relax the priestly
rule, else how shall the race of Pharaoh be carried on? O happy I, who
dandled thee and gave my flesh and blood to save thee! O royal and
beautiful Harmachis, born for splendour, happiness, and love!"

"Cease, cease," I said, for her talk jarred upon me; "call me not
happy till thou knowest my end, and speak not to me of love, for with
love comes sorrow, and mine is another and a higher way."

"Ay, ay, so thou sayest--and joy, too, that comes with love! Never
talk lightly of love, my King, for it brought thee here! /La! la!/ but
it is always the way--'The goose on the wing laughs at crocodiles,' so
goes their saying down at Alexandria; 'but when the goose is asleep on
the water, it is the crocodiles that laugh.' Not but what women are
pretty crocodiles. Men worship the crocodiles at Anthribis--
Crocodilopolis they call it now, don't they?--but they worship women
all the world over! /La!/ how my tongue runs on, and thou about to be
crowned Pharaoh! Did I not prophesy it to thee? Well, thou art clean,
Lord of the Double Crown. Go forth!"

So I went from the chamber with the old wife's foolish talk ringing in
my ears, though of a truth her folly had ever a grain of wit in it.

As I came, the Dignitaries rose once more and bowed before me. Then my
father, without delay, drew near me, and placed in my hands a golden
image of the divine Ma, the Goddess of Truth, and golden images of the
arks of the God Amen-Ra, of the divine Mout, and the divine Khons, and
spoke solemnly:

"Thou swearest by the living majesty of Ma, by the majesty of Amen-Ra,
of Mout, and of Khons?"

"I swear," I said.

"Thou swearest by the holy land of Khem, by Sihor's flood, by the
Temples of the Gods and the eternal Pyramids?"

"I swear."

"Remembering thy hideous doom if thou shouldst fail therein, thou
swearest that thou wilt in all things govern Egypt according to its
ancient laws, that thou wilt preserve the worship of its Gods, that
thou wilt do equal justice, that thou wilt not oppress, that thou wilt
not betray, that thou wilt make no alliance with the Roman or the
Greek, that thou wilt cast out the foreign Idols, that thou wilt
devote thy life to the liberty of the land of Khem?"

"I swear."

"It is well. Mount, then, the throne, that in the presence of these
thy subjects, I may name thee Pharaoh."

I mounted upon the throne, of which the footstool is a Sphinx, and the
canopy the overshadowing wings of Ma. Then Amenemhat drew nigh once
again and placed the Pshent upon my brow, and on my head the Double
Crown, and the Royal Robe about my shoulders, and in my hands the
Sceptre and the Scourge.

"Royal Harmachis," he cried, "by these outward signs and tokens, I,
the High Priest of the Temple of Ra-Men-Ma at Abouthis, crown thee
Pharaoh of the Upper and Lower Land. Reign and prosper, O Hope of

"Reign and prosper, Pharaoh!" echoed the Dignitaries, bowing down
before me.

Then, one by one, they swore allegiance, till all had sworn. And,
having sworn, my father took me by the hand; he led me in solemn
procession into each of the seven Sanctuaries that are in this Temple
of Ra-Men-Ma, and in each I made offerings, swung incense, and
officiated as priest. Clad in the Royal robes I made offerings in the
Shrine of Horus, in the Shrine of Isis, in the Shrine of Osiris, in
the Shrine of Amen-Ra, in the Shrine of Horemku, in the Shrine of
Ptah, till at length I reached the Shrine of the King's Chamber.

Here they made their offering to me, as the Divine Pharaoh, and left
me very weary--but a King.

[Here the first and smallest of the papyrus rolls comes to an end.]





Now the long days of preparation had passed, and the time was at hand.
I was initiated, and I was crowned; so that although the common folk
knew me not, or knew me only as Priest of Isis, there were in Egypt
thousands who at heart bowed down to me as Pharaoh. The hour was at
hand, and my soul went forth to meet it. For I longed to overthrow the
foreigner, to set Egypt free, to mount the throne that was my
heritage, and cleanse the temples of my Gods. I was fain for the
struggle, and I never doubted of its end. I looked into the mirror,
and saw triumph written on my brows. The future stretched a path of
glory from my feet--ay, glittering with glory like Sihor in the sun. I
communed with my Mother Isis; I sat within my chamber and took counsel
with my heart; I planned new temples; I revolved great laws that I
would put forth for my people's weal; and in my ears rang the shouts
of exultation which should greet victorious Pharaoh on his throne.

But still I tarried a little while at Abouthis, and, having been
commanded to do so, let my hair, that had been shorn, grow again long
and black as the raven's wing, instructing myself meanwhile in all
manly exercises and feats of arms. Also, for a purpose which shall be
seen, I perfected myself in the magic art of the Egyptians, and in the
reading of the stars, in which things, indeed, I already have great

Now, this was the plan that had been built up. My uncle Sepa had, for
a while, left the Temple of Annu, giving out that his health had
failed him. Thence he had moved down to a house in Alexandria, to
gather strength, as he said, from the breath of the sea, and also to
learn for himself the wonders of the great Museum and the glory of
Cleopatra's Court. There it was planned that I should join him, for
there, at Alexandria, the egg of the plot was hatching. Accordingly,
when at last the summons came, all things being prepared, I made ready
for the journey, and passed into my father's chamber to receive his
blessing before I went. There sat the old man, as once before he sat
when he had rebuked me because I went out to slay the lion, his long
white beard resting on the table of stone and sacred writings in his
hand. When I came in he rose from his seat and would have knelt before
me, crying "Hail, Pharaoh!" but I caught him by the hand.

"It is not meet, my father," I said.

"It is meet," he answered, "it is meet that I should bow before my
King; but be it as thou wilt. And so thou goest, Harmachis; my
blessings go with thee, O my son! And may Those whom I serve grant to
me that my old eyes may, indeed, behold thee on the throne! I have
searched long, striving, Harmachis, to read the future that shall be;
but I can learn naught by all my wisdom. It is hid from me, and at
times my heart fails. But hear this, there is danger in thy path, and
it comes in the form of Woman. I have known it long, and therefore
thou hast been called to the worship of the heavenly Isis, who bids
her votaries put away the thought of woman till such time as she shall
think well to slacken the rule. Oh, my son, I would that thou wert not
so strong and fair--stronger and fairer, indeed, than any man in
Egypt, as a King should be--for in that strength and beauty may lie a
cause of stumbling. Beware, then, of those witches of Alexandria,
lest, like a worm, some one of them creep into my heart and eat its
secret out."

"Have no fear, my father," I answered, frowning, "my thought is set on
other things than red lips and smiling eyes."

"It is good," he answered; "so may it befall. And now farewell. When
next we meet, may it be in that happy hour when, with all the priests
of the Upper Land, I move down from Abouthis to do my homage to
Pharaoh on his throne."

So I embraced him, and went. Alas! I little thought how we should meet

Thus it came about that once more I passed down the Nile travelling as
a man of no estate. And to such as were curious about me it was given
out that I was the adopted son of the High Priest of Abouthis, having
been brought up to the priesthood, and that I had at the last refused
the service of the Gods, and chosen to go to Alexandria, to seek my
fortune. For, be it remembered, I was still held to be the grandson of
the old wife, Atoua, by all those who did not know the truth.

On the tenth night, sailing with the wind, we reached the mighty city
of Alexandria, the city of a thousand lights. Above them all towered
the white Pharos, that wonder of the world, from the crown of which a
light like the light of the sun blazed out across the waters of the
harbour to guide mariners on their way across the sea. The vessel
having been cautiously made fast to the quay, for it was night, I
disembarked and stood wondering at the vast mass of houses, and
confused by the clamour of many tongues. For here all peoples seemed
to be gathered together, each speaking after the fashion of his own
land. And as I stood a young man came and touched me on the shoulder,
asking me if I was from Abouthis and named Harmachis. I said "Yea."
Then, bending over me, he whispered the secret pass-word into my ear,
and, beckoning to two slaves, bade them bring my baggage from the
ship. This they did, fighting their way through the crowd of porters
who were clamouring for hire. Then I followed him down the quay, which
was bordered with drinking-places, where all sorts of men were
gathered, tippling wine and watching the dancing of women, some of
whom were but scantily arrayed, and some not arrayed at all.

And so we went through the lamp-lit houses till at last we reached the
shore of the great harbour, and turned to the right along a wide way
paved with granite and bordered by strong houses, having cloisters in
front of them, the like of which I had never seen. Turning once more
to the right we came to a quieter portion of the city, where, except
for parties of strolling revellers, the streets were still. Presently
my guide halted at a house built of white stone. We passed in, and,
crossing a small courtyard, entered a chamber where there was a light.
And here, at last, I found my uncle Sepa, most glad to see me safe.

When I had washed and eaten, he told me that all things went well, and
that as yet there was no thought of evil at the Court. Further, he
said, it having come to the ears of the Queen that the Priest of Annu
was sojourning at Alexandria, she sent for him and closely questioned
him--not as to any plot, for of that she never thought, but as to the
rumour which had reached her, that there was treasure hid in the Great
Pyramid which is by Annu. For, being ever wasteful, she was ever in
want of money, and had bethought her of opening the Pyramid. But he
laughed at her, telling her the Pyramid was the burying-place of the
divine Khufu, and that he knew nothing of its secrets. Then she was
angered, and swore that so surely as she ruled in Egypt she would tear
it down, stone by stone, and discover the secret at its heart. Again
he laughed, and, in the words of the proverb which they have at
Alexandria, told her that "Mountains live longer than Kings." Thereon
she smiled at his ready answer, and let him go. Also my uncle Sepa
told me that on the morrow I should see this Cleopatra. For it was her
birthday (as, indeed, it was also mine), and, dressed in the robes of
the Holy Isis, she would pass in state from her palace on the Lochias
to the Serapeum to offer a sacrifice at the Shrine of the false God
who sits in the Temple. And he said that thereafter the fashion by
which I should gain entrance to the household of the Queen should be

Then, being very weary, I went to rest, but could sleep little for the
strangeness of the place, the noises in the streets, and the thought
of the morrow. While it was yet dark, I rose, climbed the stair to the
roof of the house, and waited. Presently, the sun's rays shot out like
arrows, and lit upon the white wonder of the marble Pharos, whose
light instantly sank and died, as though, indeed, the sun had killed
it. Now the rays fell upon the palaces of the Lochias where Cleopatra
lay, and lit them up till they flamed like a jewel set on the dark,
cool bosom of the sea. Away the light flew, kissing the Soma's sacred
dome, beneath which Alexander sleeps, touching the high tops of a
thousand palaces and temples; past the porticoes of the great museum
that loomed near at hand, striking the lofty Shrine, where, carved of
ivory, is the image of the false God Serapis, and at last seeming to
lose itself in the vast and gloomy Necropolis. Then, as the dawn
gathered into day, the flood of brightness, overbrimming the bowl of
night, flowed into the lower lands and streets, and showed Alexandria
red in the sunrise as the mantle of a king, and shaped as a mantle.
The Etesian wind came up from the north, and swept away the vapour
from the harbours, so that I saw their blue waters rocking a thousand
ships. I saw, too, that mighty mole the Heptastadium; I saw the
hundreds of streets, the countless houses, the innumerable wealth and
splendour of Alexandria set like a queen between lake Mareotis and the
ocean, and dominating both, and I was filled with wonder. This, then,
was one city in my heritage of lands and cities! Well, it was worth
the grasping. And having looked my full and fed my heart, as it were,
with the sight of splendour, I communed with the Holy Isis and came
down from the roof.

In the chamber beneath was my uncle Sepa. I told him that I had been
watching the sun rise over the city of Alexandria.

"So!" he said, looking at me from beneath his shaggy eyebrows; "and
what thinkest thou of Alexandria?"

"I think it is like some city of the Gods," I answered.

"Ay!" he replied fiercely, "a city of the infernal Gods--a sink of
corruption, a bubbling well of iniquity, a home of false faith
springing from false hearts. I would that not one stone of it was left
upon another stone, and that its wealth lay deep beneath yonder
waters! I would that the gulls were screaming across its site, and
that the wind, untainted by a Grecian breath, swept through its ruins
from the ocean to Mareotis! O royal Harmachis, let not the luxury and
beauty of Alexandria poison thy sense; for in their deadly air, Faith
perishes, and Religion cannot spread her heavenly wings. When the hour
comes for thee to rule, Harmachis, cast down this accursed city and,
as thy fathers did, set up thy throne in the white walls of Memphis.
For I tell thee that, for Egypt, Alexandria is but a splendid gate of
ruin, and, while it endures, all nations of the earth shall march
through it, to the plunder of the land, and all false Faiths shall
nestle in it and breed the overthrow of Egypt's Gods."

I made no answer, for there was truth in his words. And yet to me the
city seemed very fair to look on. After we had eaten, my uncle told me
it was now time to set out to view the march of Cleopatra, as she went
in triumph to the Shrine of Serapis. For although she would not pass
till within two hours of the midday, yet these people of Alexandria
have so great a love of shows and idling that had we not presently set
forth, by no means could we have come through the press of the
multitudes who were already gathering along the highways where the
Queen must ride. So we went out to take our places upon a stand, built
of timber, that had been set up at the side of the great road which
pierces through the city, to the Canopic Gate. For my uncle had
already purchased a right to enter there, and that dearly.

We won our way with much struggle through the great crowds that were
already gathered in the streets till we reached the scaffolding of
timber, which was roofed in with an awning and gaily hung with scarlet
cloths. Here we seated ourselves upon a bench and waited for some
hours, watching the multitude press past shouting, singing, and
talking loudly in many tongues. At length soldiers came to clear the
road, clad, after the Roman fashion, in breast-plates of chain-armour.
After them marched heralds enjoining silence (at which the population
sung and shouted all the more loudly), and crying that Cleopatra, the
Queen, was coming. Then followed a thousand Cilician skirmishers, a
thousand Thracians, a thousand Macedonians, and a thousand Gauls, each
armed after the fashion of their country. Then passed five hundred men
of those who are called the Fenced Horsemen, for both men and horses
were altogether covered with mail. Next came youths and maidens
sumptuously draped and wearing golden crowns, and with them images
symbolising Day and Night, Morning and Noon, the Heavens and the
Earth. After these walked many fair women, pouring perfumes on the
road, and others scattering blooming flowers. Now there rose a great
shout of "Cleopatra! Cleopatra!" and I held my breath and bent forward
to see her who dared to put on the robes of Isis.

But at that moment the multitude so gathered and thickened in front of
where I was that I could no longer clearly see. So in my eagerness I
leapt over the barrier of the scaffolding, and, being very strong,
pushed my way through the crowd till I reached the foremost rank. And
as I did so, Nubian slaves armed with thick staves and crowned with
ivy-leaves ran up, striking the people. One man I noted more
especially, for he was a giant, and, being strong, was insolent beyond
measure, smiting the people without cause, as, indeed, is the wont of
low persons set in authority. For a woman stood near to me, an
Egyptian by her face, bearing a child in her arms, whom the man,
seeing that she was weak, struck on the head with his rod so that she
fell prone, and the people murmured. But at the sight my blood rushed
of a sudden through my veins and drowned my reason. I held in my hand
a staff of olive-wood from Cyprus, and as the black brute laughed at
the sight of the stricken woman and her babe rolling on the ground, I
swung the staff aloft and smote. So shrewdly did I strike, that the
tough rod split upon the giant's shoulders and the blood spurted
forth, staining his trailing leaves of ivy.

Then, with a shriek of pain and fury--for those who smite love not
that they be smitten--he turned and sprang at me! And all the people
round gave back, save only the woman who could not rise, leaving us
two in a ring as it were. On he came with a rush, and, as he came,
being now mad, I smote him with my clenched fist between the eyes,
having nothing else with which to smite, and he staggered like an ox
beneath the first blow of the priest's axe. Then the people shouted,
for they love to see a fight, and the man was known to them as a
gladiator victorious in the games. Gathering up his strength, the
knave came on with an oath, and, whirling his heavy staff on high,
struck me in such a fashion that, had I not avoided the blow by
nimbleness, I had surely been slain. But, as it chanced, the staff hit
upon the ground, and so heavily that it flew in fragments. Thereon the
multitude shouted again, and the great man, blind with fury, rushed at
me to smite me down. But with a cry I sprang straight at his throat--
for he was so heavy a man that I knew I could not hope to throw him by
strength--ay, and gripped it. There I clung, though his fists battered
me like bludgeons, driving my thumbs into his throat. Round and round
we turned, till at length he flung himself to the earth, trusting thus
to shake me off. But I held on fast as we rolled over and over on the
ground, till at last he grew faint for want of breath. Then I, being
uppermost, drove my knee down upon his chest, and, as I believe,
should thus have slain him in my rage had not my uncle, and others
there gathered, fallen upon me and dragged me from him.

And meanwhile, though I know it not, the chariot in which the Queen
sat, with elephants going before and lions led after it, had reached
the spot, and had been halted because of the tumult. I looked up, and
thus torn, panting, my white garments stained with the blood that had
rushed from the mouth and nostrils of the mighty Nubian, I for the
first time saw Cleopatra face to face. Her chariot was all of gold,
and drawn by milk-white steeds. She sat in it with two fair girls,
clad in Greek attire, standing one on either side, fanning her with
glittering fans. On her head was the covering of Isis, the golden
horns between which rested the moon's round disk and the emblem of
Osiris' throne, with the uręus twined around. Beneath this covering
was the vulture cap of gold, the blue enamelled wings and the vulture
head with gemmy eyes, under which her long dark tresses flowed towards
her feet. About her rounded neck was a broad collar of gold studded
with emeralds and coral. Round her arms and wrists were bracelets of
gold studded with emeralds and coral, and in one hand she held the
holy cross of Life fashioned of crystal, and in the other the golden
rod of royalty. Her breast was bare, but under it was a garment that
glistened like the scaly covering of a snake, everywhere sewn with
gems. Beneath this robe was a skirt of golden cloth, half hidden by a
scarf of the broidered silk of Cos, falling in folds to the sandals
that, fastened with great pearls, adorned her white and tiny feet.

All this I discerned at a glance, as it were. Then I looked upon the
face--that face which seduced Cęsar, ruined Egypt, and was doomed to
give Octavian the sceptre of the world. I looked upon the flawless
Grecian features, the rounded chin, the full, rich lips, the chiselled
nostrils, and the ears fashioned like delicate shells. I saw the
forehead, low, broad, and lovely, the crisped, dark hair falling in
heavy waves that sparkled in the sun, the arched eyebrows, and the
long, bent lashes. There before me was the grandeur of her Imperial
shape. There burnt the wonderful eyes, hued like the Cyprian violet--
eyes that seemed to sleep and brood on secret things as night broods
upon the desert, and yet as the night to shift, change, and be
illumined by gleams of sudden splendour born within their starry
depths. All those wonders I saw, though I have small skill in telling
them. But even then I knew that it was not in these charms alone that
the might of Cleopatra's beauty lay. It was rather in a glory and a
radiance cast through the fleshly covering from the fierce soul
within. For she was a Thing of Flame like unto which no woman has ever
been or ever will be. Even when she brooded, the fire of her quick
heart shone through her. But when she woke, and the lightning leapt
suddenly from her eyes, and the passion-laden music of her speech
chimed upon her lips, ah! then, who can tell how Cleopatra seemed? For
in her met all the splendours that have been given to woman for her
glory, and all the genius which man has won from heaven. And with them
dwelt every evil of that greater sort, which fearing nothing, and
making a mock of laws, has taken empires for its place of play, and,
smiling, watered the growth of its desires with the rich blood of men.
In her breast they gathered, together fashioning that Cleopatra whom
no man may draw, and yet whom no man, having seen, ever can forget.
They fashioned her grand as the Spirit of Storm, lovely as Lightning,
cruel as Pestilence, yet with a heart; and what she did is known. Woe
to the world when such another comes to curse it!

For a moment I met Cleopatra's eyes as she idly bent herself to find
the tumult's cause. At first they were sombre and dark, as though they
saw indeed, but the brain read nothing. Then they awoke, and their
very colour seemed to change as the colour of the sea changes when the
water is shaken. First, there was anger written in them; next an idle
noting; then, when she looked upon the huge bulk of the man whom I had
overcome, and knew him for the gladiator, something, perchance, that
was not far from wonder. At the least they softened, though, indeed,
her face changed no whit. But he who would read Cleopatra's mind had
need to watch her eyes, for her countenance varied but a little.
Turning, she said some word to her guards. They came forward and led
me to her, while all the multitude waited silently to see me slain.

I stood before her, my arms folded on my breast. Overcome though I was
by the wonder of her loveliness I hated her in my heart, this woman
who dared to clothe herself in the dress of Isis, this usurper who sat
upon my throne, this wanton squandering the wealth of Egypt in
chariots and perfumes. When she had looked me over from head to the
feet, she spake in a low full voice and in the tongue of Khemi which
she alone had learned of all the Lagidę:

"And who and what art thou, Egyptian--for Egyptian I see thou art--who
darest to smite my slave when I make progress through my city?"

"I am Harmachis," I answered boldly. "Harmachis, the astrologer,
adopted son of the High Priest and Governor of Abouthis, who am come
hither to seek my fortune. I smote thy slave, O Queen, because for no
fault he struck down the woman yonder. Ask of those who saw, royal

"Harmachis," she said, "the name has a high sound--and thou hast a
high look;" and then, speaking to a soldier who had seen all, she bade
him tell her what had come to pass. This he did truthfully, being
friendly disposed towards me because I had overcome the Nubian.
Thereon she turned and spoke to the girl bearing the fan who stood
beside her--a woman with curling hair and shy dark eyes, very
beautiful to see. The girl answered somewhat. Then Cleopatra bade them
bring the slave to her. So they led forward the giant, who had found
his breath again, and with him the woman whom he had smitten down.

"Thou dog!" she said, in the same low voice; "thou coward! who, being
strong, didst smite down this woman, and, being a coward, wast
overthrown of this young man. See, thou, I will teach thee manners.
Henceforth, when thou smitest women it shall be with thy left arm. Ho,
guards, seize this black slave and strike off his right hand."

Her command given, she sank back in her golden chariot, and again the
cloud gathered in her eyes. But the guards seized the giant, and,
notwithstanding his cries and prayers for mercy, struck off his hand
with a sword upon the wood of the scaffolding and he was carried away
groaning. Then the procession moved on again. As it went the fair
woman with the fan turned her head, caught my eye, and smiled and
nodded as though she rejoiced, at which I wondered somewhat.

The people cheered also and made jests, saying that I should soon
practice astrology in the palace. But, as soon as we might, I and my
uncle escaped, and made our way back to the house. All the while he
rated me for my rashness; but when we came to the chamber of the house
he embraced me and rejoiced greatly, because I had overthrown the
giant with so little hurt to myself.



That same night, while we sat at supper in the house, there came a
knock upon the door. It was opened, and a woman passed in wrapped from
head to foot in a large dark peplos or cloak in such fashion that her
face could not be clearly seen.

My uncle rose, and as he did so the woman uttered the secret word.

"I am come, my father," she said in a sweet clear voice, "though of a
truth it was not easy to escape the revels at the palace yonder. But I
told the Queen that the sun and the riot in the streets had made me
sick, and she let me go."

"It is well," he answered. "Unveil thyself; here thou art safe."

With a little sigh of weariness she unclasped the peplos and let it
slip from her, giving to my sight the face and form of that beauteous
girl who had stood to fan Cleopatra in the chariot. For she was very
fair and pleasant to look upon, and her Grecian robes clung sweetly
about her supple limbs and budding form. Her wayward hair, flowing in
a hundred little curls, was bound in with a golden fillet, and on her
feet were sandals fastened with studs of gold. Her cheeks blushed like
a flower, and her dark soft eyes were downcast, as though with
modesty, but smiles and dimples trembled about her lips.

My uncle frowned when his eyes fell upon her dress.

"Why comest thou in this garb, Charmion?" he asked sternly. "Is not
the dress of thy mothers good enough for thee? This is no time or
place for woman's vanities. Thou art not here to conquer, but to

"Nay, be not wroth, my father," she answered softly; "perchance thou
knowest not that she whom I serve will have none of our Egyptian
dress; it is out of fashion. To wear it would have been to court
suspicion--also I came in haste." And as she spoke I saw that all the
while she watched me covertly through the long lashes which fringed
her modest eyes.

"Well, well," he said sharply, fixing his keen glance upon her face,
"doubtless thou speakest truth, Charmion. Be ever mindful of thy oath,
girl, and of the cause to which thou art sworn. Be not light-minded,
and I charge thee forget the beauty with which thou hast been cursed.
For mark thou this, Charmion: fail us but one jot, and vengeance shall
fall on thee--the vengeance of man and the vengeance of the Gods! To
this service," he continued, lashing himself to anger as he went on
till his great voice rang in the narrow room, "thou hast been bred; to
this end thou hast been instructed and placed where thou art to gain
the ear of that wicked wanton whom thou seemest to serve. See thou
forget it not; see that the luxury of yonder Court does not corrupt
thy purity and divert thy aim, Charmion," and his eyes flashed and his
small form seemed to grow till it attained to dignity--nay, almost to

"Charmion," he went on, advancing towards her with outstretched
finger, "I say that at times I do not trust thee. But two nights gone
I dreamed I saw thee standing in the desert. I saw thee laugh and lift
thy hand to heaven, and from it fell a rain of blood; then the sky
sank down on the land of Khem and covered it. Whence came the dream,
girl, and what is its meaning? I have naught against thee as yet; but
hearken! On the moment that I have, though thou art of my kin, and I
have loved thee--on that moment, I say, I will doom those delicate
limbs, which thou lovest so much to show, to the kite and the jackal,
and the soul within thee to all the tortures of the Gods! Unburied
shalt thou lie, and bodiless and accursed shalt thou wander in Amenti!
--ay, for ever and ever!"

He paused, for his sudden burst of passion had spent itself. But by
it, more clearly than before, I saw how deep a heart this man had
beneath the cloak of his merriness and simplicity of mien, and how
fiercely the mind within him was set upon his aim. As for the girl,
she shrank from him terrified, and, placing her hands before her sweet
face, began to weep.

"Nay, speak not so, my father," she said, between her sobs; "for what
have I done? I know nothing of the evil wandering of thy dreams. I am
no soothsayer that I should read dreams. Have I not carried out all
things according to thy desire? Have I not been ever mindful of that
dread oath?"--and she trembled. "Have I not played the spy and told
thee all? Have I not won the heart of the Queen, so that she loves me
as a sister, refusing me nothing--ay, and the hearts of those about
her? Why dost thou affright me thus with thy words and threats?" and
she wept afresh, looking even more beautiful in her sorrow than she
was before.

"Enough, enough," he answered; "what I have said, I have said. Be
warned, and affront our sight no more with this wanton dress. Thinkest
thou that we would feed our eyes upon those rounded arms--we whose
stake is Egypt and who are dedicated to the Gods of Egypt? Girl,
behold thy cousin and thy King!"

She ceased weeping, wiping her eyes with her chiton, and I saw that
they seemed but the softer for her tears.

"Methinks, most royal Harmachis, and beloved Cousin," she said, as she
bent before me, "that we are already made acquainted."

"Yea, Cousin," I answered, not without shamefacedness, for I had never
before spoken to so fair a maid; "thou wert in the chariot with
Cleopatra this day when I struggled with the Nubian?"

"Assuredly," she said, with a smile and a sudden lighting of the eyes,
"it was a gallant fight and gallantly didst thou overthrow that black
brute. I saw the fray and, though I knew thee not, I greatly feared
for one so brave. But I paid him for my fright, for it was I who put
it into the mind of Cleopatra to bid the guards strike off his hand--
now, knowing who thou art, I would I had said his head." And she
looked up shooting a glance at me and then smiled.

"Enough," put in my uncle Sepa, "the time draws on. Tell thou thy
mission, Charmion, and be gone."

Then her manner changed; she folded her hands meekly before her and

"Let Pharaoh hearken to his handmaiden. I am the daughter of Pharaoh's
uncle, the brother of his father, who is now long dead, and therefore
in my veins also flows the Royal blood of Egypt. Also I am of the
ancient Faith, and hate these Greeks, and to see thee set upon the
throne has been my dearest hope now for many years. To this end I,
Charmion, have put aside my rank and become serving-woman to
Cleopatra, that I might cut a notch in which thou couldst set thy foot
when the hour came for thee to climb the throne. And, Pharaoh, the
notch is cut.

"This then is our plot, royal Cousin. Thou must gain an entrance to
the Household and learn its ways and secrets, and, so far as may be,
suborn the eunuchs and captains, some of whom I have already tempted.
This done, and all things being prepared without, thou must slay
Cleopatra, and, aided by me with those whom I control, in the
confusion that shall ensue, throw wide the gates, and, admitting those
of our party who are in waiting, put such of the troops as remain
faithful to the sword and seize the Bruchium. Which being finished,
within two days thou shalt hold this fickle Alexandria. At the same
time those who are sworn to thee in every city of Egypt shall rise in
arms, and in ten days from the death of Cleopatra thou shalt indeed be
Pharaoh. This is the counsel which has been taken, and thou seest,
royal Cousin, that, though our uncle yonder thinks so ill of me, I
have learned my part--ay, and played it."

"I hear thee, Cousin," I answered, marvelling that so young a woman--
she had but twenty years--could weave so bold a plot, for in its
origin the scheme was hers. But in those days I little knew Charmion.
"Go on; how then shall I gain entrance to the palace of Cleopatra?"

"Nay, Cousin, as things are it is easy. Thus: Cleopatra loves to look
upon a man, and--give me pardon--thy face and form are fair. To-day
she noted them, and twice she said she would she had asked where that
astrologer might be found, for she held that an astrologer who could
wellnigh slay a Nubian gladiator with his bare hands, must indeed be a
master of the fortunate stars. I answered her that I would cause
inquiry to be made. So hearken, royal Harmachis. At midday Cleopatra
sleeps in her inner hall which looks over the gardens to the harbour.
At that hour to-morrow, then, I will meet thee at the gates of the
palace, whither thou shalt come boldly asking for the Lady Charmion. I
will make appointment for thee with Cleopatra, so that she shall see
thee alone when she wakes, and the rest shall be for thee, Harmachis.
For much she loves to play with the mysteries of magic, and I have
known her stand whole nights watching the stars and making a pretence
to read them. And but lately she has sent away Dioscorides the
physician, because, poor fool! he ventured on a prophecy from the
conjunction of the stars, that Cassius would defeat Mark Antony.
Thereon Cleopatra sent orders to the General Allienus, bidding him add
the legions she had sent to Syria to help Antony to the army of
Cassius, whose victory, forsooth, was--according to Dioscorides--
written on the stars. But, as it chanced, Antony beat Cassius first
and Brutus afterwards, and so Dioscorides has departed, and now he
lectures on herbs in the museum for his bread, and hates the name of
stars. But his place is empty, and thou shalt fill it, and then we
will work in secret and in the shadow of the sceptre. Ay, we will work
like the worm at the heart of a fruit, till the time of plucking
comes, and at thy dagger's touch, royal Cousin, the fabric of this
Grecian throne crumbles to nothingness, and the worm that rotted it
bursts his servile covering, and, in the sight of empires, spreads his
royal wings o'er Egypt."

I gazed at this strange girl once more astonished, and saw that her
face was lit up with such a light as I had never seen in the eyes of

"Ah," broke in my uncle, who was watching her, "ah, I love to see thee
so, girl; there is the Charmion that I knew and I bred up--not the
Court girl whom I like not, draped in silks of Cos and fragrant with
essences. Let thy heart harden in this mould--ay, stamp it with the
fervid zeal of patriot faith, and thy reward shall find thee. And now
cover up that shameless dress of thine and leave us, for it grows
late. To-morrow Harmachis shall come, as thou hast said, and so

Charmion bowed her head, and, turning, wrapped her dark-hued peplos
round her. Then, taking my hand, she touched it with her lips and went
without any further word.

"A strange woman!" said Sepa, when she had gone; "a most strange
woman, and an uncertain!"

"Methought, my uncle," I said, "that thou wast somewhat harsh with

"Ay," he answered, "but not without a cause. Look thou, Harmachis;
beware of this Charmion. She is too wayward, and, I fear me, may be
led away. In truth, she is a very woman; and, like a restive horse,
will take the path that pleases her. She has brain and fire, and she
loves our cause; but I pray that the cause come not face to face with
her desires, for what her heart is set on that will she do, at any
cost she will do it. Therefore I frightened her now while I may: for
who can know but that she will pass beyond my power? I tell thee, that
in this one girl's hand lie all our lives: and if she play us false,
what then? Alas! and alas! that we must use such tools as these! But
it was needful: there was no other way; and yet I misdoubted me. I
pray that it may be well; still, at times, I fear my niece Charmion--
she is too fair, and the blood of youth runs too warm in those blue
veins of hers.

"Ah, woe to the cause that builds its strength upon a woman's faith;
for women are faithful only where they love, and when they love their
faithlessness becomes their faith. They are not fixed as men are
fixed: they rise more high and sink more low--they are strong and
changeful as the sea. Harmachis, beware of this Charmion: for, like
the ocean, she may float thee home; or, like the ocean, she may wreck
thee, and, with thee, the hope of Egypt!"



Thus it came to pass that on the next day I arrayed myself in a long
and flowing robe, after the fashion of a magician or astrologer. I
placed a cap on my head, about which were broidered images of the
stars, and in my belt a scribe's palette and a roll of papyrus written
over with magic spells and signs. In my hand I held a wand of ebony,
tipped with ivory, such as is used by priests and masters of magic.
Among these, indeed, I took high rank, filling my knowledge of their
secrets which I had learned at Annu what I lacked in that skill which
comes from use. And so with no small shame, for I love not such play
and hold this common magic in contempt, I set forth through the
Bruchium to the palace on the Lochias, being guided on my way by my
uncle Sepa. At length, passing up the avenue of sphinxes, we came to
the great marble gateway and the gates of bronze, within which is the
guard-house. Here my uncle left me, breathing many prayers for my
safety and success. But I advanced with an easy air to the gate, where
I was roughly challenged by the Gallic sentries, and asked of my name,
following, and business. I gave my name, Harmachis, the astrologer,
saying that my business was with the Lady Charmion, the Queen's lady.
Thereon the man made as though to let me pass in, when a captain of
the guard, a Roman named Paulus, came forward and forbade it. Now,
this Paulus was a large limbed man, with a woman's face, and a hand
that shook from wine-bibbing. Still he knew me again.

"Why," he cried, in the Latin tongue, to one who came with him, "this
is the fellow who wrestled yesterday with the Nubian gladiator, that
same who now howls for his lost hand underneath my window. Curses on
the black brute! I had a bet upon him for the games! I have backed him
against Caius, and now he'll never fight again, and I must lose my
money, all through this astrologer. What is it thou sayest?--thou hast
business with the Lady Charmion? Nay, then, that settles it. I will
not let thee through. Fellow, I worship the Lady Charmion--ay, we all
worship her, though she gives us more slaps than sighs. And dost thou
think that we will suffer an astrologer with such eyes and such a
chest as thine to cut in the game?--by Bacchus, no! She must come out
to keep the tryst, for in thou shalt not go."

"Sir," I said humbly and yet with dignity, "I pray that a message may
be sent to the Lady Charmion, for my business will not brook delay."

"Ye Gods!" answered the fool, "whom have we here that he cannot wait?
A Cęsar in disguise? Nay, be off--be off! if thou wouldst not learn
how a spear-prick feels behind."

"Nay," put in the other officer, "he is an astrologer; make him
prophesy--make him play tricks."

"Ay," cried the others who had sauntered up, "let the fellow show his
art. If he is a magician he can pass the gates, Paulus or no Paulus."

"Right willingly, good Sirs," I answered; for I saw no other means of
entering. "Wilt thou, my young and noble Lord"--and I addressed him
who was with Paulus--"suffer that I look thee in the eyes; perhaps I
may read what is written there?"

"Right," answered the youth; "but I wish that the Lady Charmion was
the sorceress. I would stare her out of countenance, I warrant."

I took him by the hand and gazed deep into his eyes. "I see," I said,
"a field of battle at night, and about it bodies stretched--among them
is /thy/ body, and a hyena tears its throat. Most noble Sir, thou
shalt die by sword-thrusts within a year."

"By Bacchus!" said the youth, turning white to the gills, "thou art an
ill-omened sorcerer!" And he slunk off--shortly afterwards, as it
chanced, to meet this very fate. For he was sent on service and slain
in Cyprus.

"Now for thee, great Captain!" I said, speaking to Paulus. "I will
show thee how I will pass those gates without thy leave--ay, and draw
thee through them after me. Be pleased to fix thy princely gaze upon
the point of this wand in my hand."

Being urged by his comrades he did this, unwillingly; and I let him
gaze till I saw his eyes grow empty as an owl's eyes in the sun. Then
I suddenly withdrew the wand, and, shifting my countenance into the
place of it, I seized him with my will and stare, and, beginning to
turn round and round, drew him after me, his fierce face drawn fixed,
as it were, almost to my own. Then I moved slowly backwards till I had
passed the gates, still drawing him after me, and suddenly jerked my
head away. He fell to the ground, to rise wiping his brow and looking
very foolish.

"Art thou content, most noble Captain?" I said. "Thou seest we have
passed the gates. Would any other noble Sir wish that I should show
more of my skill?"

"By Taranis, Lord of Thunder, and all the Gods of Olympus thrown in,
no!" growled an old Centurion, a Gaul named Brennus, "I like thee not,
I say. The man who could drag our Paulus through those gates by the
eye, as it were, is not a man to play with. Paulus, too, who always
goes the way you don't want him--backwards, like an ass--Paulus! Why,
sirrah, thou needst must have a woman in one eye and a wine-cup in the
other to draw our Paulus thus."

At this moment the talk was broken, for Charmion herself came down the
marble path, followed by an armed slave. She walked calm and
carelessly, her hands folded behind her, and her eyes gazing at
nothingness, as it were. But it was when Charmion thus looked upon
nothing that she saw most. And as she came the officers and men of the
guard made way for her bowing, for, as I learned afterwards, this
girl, next to Cleopatra's self, wielded more power than anyone about
the palace.

"What is this tumult, Brennus?" she said, speaking to the Centurion,
and making as if she saw me not; "knowest thou not that the Queen
sleeps at this hour, and if she be awakened it is thou who must answer
for it, and that dearly?"

"Nay, Lady," said the Centurion, humbly; "but it is thus. We have
here"--and he jerked his thumb towards me--"a magician of the most
pestilent--um, I crave his pardon--of the very best sort, for he hath
but just now, only by placing his eyes close to the nose of the worthy
Captain Paulus, dragged him, the said Paulus, through the gates that
Paulus swore the magician should not pass. By the same token, lady,
the magician says that he has business with you--which grieves me for
your sake."

Charmion turned and looked at me carelessly. "Ay, I remember," she
said; "and so he has--at least, the Queen would see his tricks; but if
he can do none better than cause a sot"--here she cast a glance of
scorn at the wondering Paulus--"to follow his nose through the gates
he guards, he had better go whence he came. Follow me, Sir Magician;
and for thee, Brennus, I say, keep thy riotous crew more quiet. For
thee, most honourable Paulus, get thee sober, and next time I am asked
for at the gates give him who asks a hearing." And, with a queenly nod
of her small head, she turned and led the way, followed at a distance
by myself and the armed slave.

We passed up the marble walk which runs through the garden grounds,
and is set on either side with marble statues, for the most part of
heathen Gods and Goddesses, with which these Lagidę were not ashamed
to defile their royal dwellings. At length we came to a beautiful
portico with fluted columns of the Grecian style of art, where we
found more guards, who made way for the Lady Charmion. Crossing the
portico we reached a marble vestibule where a fountain splashed
softly, and thence by a low doorway a second chamber, known as the
Alabaster Hall, most beautiful to see. Its roof was upheld by light
columns of black marble, but all its walls were panelled with
alabaster, on which Grecian legends were engraved. Its floor was of
rich and many-hued mosaic that told the tale of the passion of Psyche
for the Grecian God of Love, and about it were set chairs of ivory and
gold. Charmion bade the armed slave stay at the doorway of this
chamber, so that we passed in alone, for the place was empty except
for two eunuchs who stood with drawn swords before the curtain at the
further end.

"I am vexed, my Lord," she said, speaking very low and shyly, "that
thou shouldst have met with such affronts at the gate; but the guard
there served a double watch, and I had given my commands to the
officer of the company that should have relieved it. Those Roman
officers are ever insolent, who, though they seem to serve, know well
that Egypt is their plaything. But it is not amiss, for these rough
soldiers are superstitious, and will fear thee. Now bide thou here
while I go into Cleopatra's chamber, where she sleeps. I have but just
sung her to sleep, and if she be awake I will call thee, for she waits
thy coming." And without more words she glided from my side.

In a little time she returned, and coming to me spoke:

"Wouldst see the fairest woman in all the world, asleep?" she
whispered; "if so, follow me. Nay, fear not; when she awakes she will
but laugh, for she bade me be sure to bring thee instantly, whether
she slept or woke. See, I have her signet."

So we passed up the beautiful chamber till we came to where the
eunuchs stood with drawn swords, and these would have barred my entry.
But Charmion frowned, and drawing the signet from her bosom held it
before their eyes. Having examined the writing that was on the ring,
they bowed, dropping their sword points and we passed through the
heavy curtains broidered with gold into the resting-place of
Cleopatra. It was beautiful beyond imagining--beautiful with many
coloured marbles, with gold and ivory, gems and flowers--all art can
furnish and all luxury can dream of were here. Here were pictures so
real that birds might have pecked the painted fruits; here were
statues of woman's loveliness frozen into stone; here were draperies
fine as softest silk, but woven of a web of gold; here were couches
and carpets such as I never saw. The air, too, was sweet with perfume,
while through the open window places came the far murmur of the sea.
And at the further end of the chamber, on a couch of gleaming silk and
sheltered by a net of finest gauze, Cleopatra lay asleep. There she
lay--the fairest thing that man ever saw--fairer than a dream, and the
web of her dark hair flowed all about her. One white, rounded arm made
a pillow for her head, and one hung down towards the ground. Her rich
lips were parted in a smile, showing the ivory lines of teeth; and her
rosy limbs were draped in so thin a robe of the silk of Cos, held
about her by a jewelled girdle, that the white gleam of flesh shone
through it. I stood astonished, and though my thoughts had little bent
that way, the sight of her beauty struck me like a blow, so that for a
moment I lost myself as it were in the vision of its power, and was
grieved at heart because I must slay so fair a thing.

Turning suddenly from the sight, I found Charmion watching me with her
quick eyes--watching as though she would search my heart. And, indeed,
something of my thought must have been written on my face in a
language that she could read, for she whispered in my ear:

"Ay, it is pity, is it not? Harmachis, being but a man, methinks that
thou wilt need all thy ghostly strength to nerve thee to the deed!"

I frowned, but before I could frame an answer she touched me lightly
on the arm and pointed to the Queen. A change had come upon her: her
hands were clenched, and about her face, all rosy with the hue of
sleep, gathered a cloud of fear. Her breath came quick, she raised her
arms as though to ward away a blow, then with a stifled moan sat up
and opened the windows of her eyes. They were dark, dark as night; but
when the light found them they grew blue as the sky grows blue before
the blushing of the dawn.

"Cęsarion?" she said; "where is my son Cęsarion?--Was it then a dream?
I dreamed that Julius--Julius who is dead--came to me, a bloody toga
wrapped about his face, and having thrown his arms about his child led
him away. Then I dreamed I died--died in blood and agony; and one I
might not see mocked me as I died. /Ah!/ who is that man?"

"Peace, Madam! peace!" said Charmion. "It is but the magician
Harmachis, whom thou didst bid me bring to thee at this hour."

"Ah! the magician--that Harmachis who overthrew the giant? I remember
now. He is welcome. Tell me, Sir Magician, can thy magic mirror call
forth an answer to this dream? Nay, how strange a thing is Sleep, that
wrapping the mind in a web of darkness, straightly compels it to its
will! Whence, then, come those images of fear rising on the horizon of
the soul like some untimely moon upon a midday sky? Who grants them
power to stalk so lifelike from Memory's halls, and, pointing to their
wounds, thus confront the Present with the Past? Are they, then,
messengers? Does the half-death of sleep give them foothold in our
brains, and thus upknit the cut thread of human kinship? That was
Cęsar's self, I tell thee, who but now stood at my side and murmured
through his muffled robe warning words of which the memory is lost to
me. Read me this riddle, thou Egyptian Sphinx,[*] and I'll show thee a
rosier path to fortune than all thy stars can point. Thou hast brought
the omen, solve thou its problem."

[*] Alluding to his name. Harmachis was the Grecian title of the
    divinity of the Sphinx, as Horemkhu was the Egyptian.--Editor.

"I come in a good hour, most mighty Queen," I answered, "for I have
some skill in the mysteries of Sleep, that is, as thou hast rightly
guessed, a stair by which those who are gathered to Osiris may from
time to time enter at the gateways of our living sense, and, by signs
and words that can be read of instructed mortals, repeat the echoes of
that Hall of Truth which is their habitation. Yes, Sleep is a stair by
which the messengers of the guardian Gods may descend in many shapes
upon the spirit of their choice. For, O Queen, to those who hold the
key, the madness of our dreams can show a clearer purpose and speak
more certainly than all the acted wisdom of our waking life, which is
a dream indeed. Thou didst see great Cęsar in his bloody robe, and he
threw his arms about the Prince Cęsarion and led him hence. Hearken
now to the secret of thy vision. It was Cęsar's self thou sawest
coming to thy side from Amenti in such a guise as might not be
mistaken. When he embraced the child Cęsarion he did it for a sign
that to him, and him alone, had passed his greatness and his love.
When he seemed to lead him hence he led him forth from Egypt to be
crowned in the Capitol, crowned the Emperor of Rome and Lord of all
the Lands. For the rest, I know not. It is hid from me."

Thus, then, I read the vision, though to my sense it had a darker
meaning. But it is not well to prophesy evil unto Kings.

Meanwhile Cleopatra had risen, and, having thrown back the gnat gauze,
was seated upon the edge of her couch, her eyes fixed upon my face,
while her fingers played with her girdle's jewelled ends.

"Of a truth," she cried, "thou art the best of all magicians, for thou
readest my heart, and drawest a hidden sweet out of the rough shell of
evil omen!"

"Ay, O Queen," said Charmion, who stood by with downcast eyes, and I
thought that there was bitter meaning in her soft tones; "may no
rougher words ever affront thy ears, and no evil presage tread less
closely upon its happy sense."

Cleopatra placed her hands behind her head and, leaning back, looked
at me with half-shut eyes.

"Come, show us of thy magic, Egyptian," she said. "It is yet hot
abroad, and I am weary of those Hebrew Ambassadors and their talk of
Herod and Jerusalem. I hate that Herod, as he shall find--and will
have none of the Ambassadors to-day, though I yearn a little to try my
Hebrew on them. What canst thou do? Hast thou no new trick? By
Serapis! if thou canst conjure as well as thou canst prophesy, thou
shalt have a place at Court, with pay and perquisites to boot, if thy
lofty soul does not scorn perquisites."

"Nay," I answered, "all tricks are old; but there are some forms of
magic to be rarely used, and with discretion, that may be new to thee,
O Queen! Art thou afraid to venture on the charm?"

"I fear nothing; go on and do thy worst. Come, Charmion, and sit by
me. But, stay, where are all the girls?--Iras and Merira?--they, too,
love magic."

"Not so," I said; "the charms work ill before so many. Now behold!"
and, gazing at the twain, I cast my wand upon the marble and murmured
a spell. For a moment it was still, and then, as I muttered, the rod
slowly began to writhe. It bent itself, it stood on end, and moved of
its own motion. Next it put on scales, and behold it was a serpent
that crawled and fiercely hissed.

"Fie on thee!" cried Cleopatra, clapping her hands; "callest thou that
magic? Why, it is an old trick that any wayside conjurer can do. I
have seen it a score of times."

"Wait, O Queen," I answered, "thou hast not seen all." And, as I
spoke, the serpent seemed to break in fragments, and from each
fragment grew a new serpent. And these, too, broke in fragments and
bred others, till in a little while the place, to their glamoured
sight, was a seething sea of snakes, that crawled, hissed, and knotted
themselves in knots. Then I made a sign, and the serpents gathered
themselves round me, and seemed slowly to twine themselves about my
body and my limbs, till, save my face, I was wreathed thick with
hissing snakes.

"Oh, horrible! horrible!" cried Charmion, hiding her countenance in
the skirt of the Queen's garment.

"Nay, enough, Magician, enough!" said the Queen: "thy magic overwhelms

I waved my snake-wrapped arms, and all was gone. There at my feet lay
the black wand tipped with ivory, and naught beside.

The two women looked upon each other and gasped with wonder. But I
took up the wand and stood with folded arms before them.

"Is the Queen content with my poor art?" I asked most humbly.

"Ay, that I am, Egyptian; never did I see its like! Thou art Court
astronomer from this day forward, with right of access to the Queen's
presence. Hast thou more of such magic at thy call?"

"Yea, royal Egypt; suffer that the chamber be a little darkened, and I
will show thee one more thing."

"Half am I afraid," she answered; "nevertheless do thou as this
Harmachis says, Charmion."

So the curtains were drawn and the chamber made as though the twilight
were at hand. I came forward, and stood beside Cleopatra. "Gaze thou
there!" I said sternly, pointing with my wand to the empty space where
I had been, "and thou shalt behold that which is in thy mind."

Then for a little space was silence, while the two women gazed fixedly
and half fearful at the spot.

And as they gazed a cloud gathered before them. Very slowly it took
shape and form, and the form it took was the form of a man, though as
yet he was but vaguely mapped upon the twilight, and seemed now to
grow and now to melt away.

Then I cried with a loud voice:

"Spirit, I conjure thee, /appear!/"

And as I cried the Thing, perfect in every part, leapt into form
before us, suddenly as the flash of day. His shape was the shape of
royal Cęsar, the toga thrown about his face, and on his form a
vestment bloody from a hundred wounds. An instant so he stood, then I
waved my wand and he was gone.

I turned to the two women on the couch, and saw Cleopatra's lovely
face all clothed in terror. Her lips were ashy white, her eyes stared
wide, and all the flesh was shaking on her bones.

"Man!" she gasped; "man! who and what art thou who canst bring the
dead before our eyes?"

"I am the Queen's astronomer, magician, servant--what the Queen
wills," I answered, laughing. "Was this the form that was on the
Queen's mind?"

She made no answer, but, rising, left the chamber by another door.

Then Charmion rose also and took her hands from her face, for she,
too, had been stricken with dread.

"How dost thou these things, royal Harmachis?" she said. "Tell me; for
of a truth I fear thee."

"Be not afraid," I answered. "Perchance thou didst see nothing but
what was in my mind. All things are shadows. How canst thou, then,
know their nature, or what is and what only seems to be? But how goes
it? Remember, Charmion, this sport is played to an end."

"It goes well," she said. "By to-morrow morning's dawn these tales
will have gone round, and thou wilt be more feared than any man in
Alexandria. Follow me, I pray thee."



On the following day I received the writing of my appointment as
Astrologer and Magician-in-Chief to the Queen, with the pay and
perquisites of that office, which were not small. Rooms were given me
in the palace, also, through which I passed at night to the high
watch-tower, whence I looked on the stars and drew their auguries. For
at this time Cleopatra was much troubled about matters political, and
not knowing how the great struggle among the Roman factions would end,
but being very desirous to side with the strongest, she took constant
counsel with me as to the warnings of the stars. These I read to her
in such manner as best seemed to fit the high interest of my ends. For
Antony, the Roman Triumvir, was now in Asia Minor, and, rumour ran,
very wroth because it had been told him that Cleopatra was hostile to
the Triumvirate, in that her General, Serapion, had aided Cassius. But
Cleopatra protested loudly to me and others that Serapion had acted
against her will. Yet Charmion told me that, as with Allienus, it was
because of a prophecy of Dioscorides the unlucky that the Queen
herself had secretly ordered Serapion so to do. Still, this did not
save Serapion, for to prove to Antony that she was innocent she
dragged the General from the sanctuary and slew him. Woe be to those
who carry out the will of tyrants if the scale should rise against
them! And so Serapion perished.

Meanwhile all things went well with us, for the minds of Cleopatra and
those about her were so set upon affairs abroad that neither she nor
they thought of revolt at home. But day by day our party gathered
strength in the cities of Egypt, and even in Alexandria, which is to
Egypt as another land, all things being foreign there. Day by day,
those who doubted were won over and sworn to the cause by that oath
which cannot be broken, and our plans of action more firmly laid. And
every other day I went forth from the palace to take counsel with my
uncle Sepa, and there at his house met the Nobles and the great
priests who were for the party of Khem.

I saw much of Cleopatra, the Queen, and I was ever more astonished at
the wealth and splendour of her mind, that for richness and variety
was as a woven cloth of gold throwing back all lights from its
changing face. She feared me somewhat, and therefore wished to make a
friend of me, asking me of many matters that seemed to be beyond the
province of my office. I saw much of the Lady Charmion also--indeed,
she was ever at my side, so that I scarce knew when she came and when
she went. For she would draw nigh with that soft step of hers, and I
would turn to find her at hand and watching me beneath the long lashes
of her downcast eyes. There was no service that was too hard for her,
and no task too long; for day and night she laboured for me and for
our cause.

But when I thanked her for her loyalty, and said it should be had in
mind in that time which was at hand, she stamped her foot, and pouted
with her lips, like an angry child, saying that, among all the things
which I had learned, this had I not learned--that Love's service asked
no payment, and was its own guerdon. And I, being innocent in such
matters, and, foolish that I was, holding the ways of women as of
small account, read her sayings in the sense that her services to the
cause of Khem, which she loved, brought with them their own reward.
But when I praised so fine a spirit, she burst into angry tears and
left me wondering. For I knew nothing of the trouble at her heart. I
knew not then that, unsought, this woman had given me her love, and
that she was rent and torn by pangs of passion fixed like arrows in
her breast. I did not know--how should I know it, who never looked
upon her otherwise than as an instrument of our joint and holy cause?
Her beauty never stirred me--no, not even when she leaned over me and
breathed upon my hair, I never thought of it otherwise than as a man
thinks of the beauty of a statue. What had I to do with such delights,
I who was sworn to Isis and dedicate to the cause of Egypt? O ye Gods,
bear me witness that I am innocent of this thing which was the source
of all my woe and the woe of Khem!

How strange a thing is this love of woman, that is so small in its
beginning and in its ends so great! See, at the first it is as the
little spring of water welling from a mountain's heart. And at the
last what is it? It is a mighty river that floats argosies of joy and
makes wide lands to smile. Or, perchance, it is a torrent to wash in a
flood of ruin across the fields of Hope, bursting in the barriers of
design, and bringing to tumbled nothingness the tenement of man's
purity and the temples of his faith. For when the Invisible conceived
the order of the universe He set this seed of woman's love within its
plan, that by its most unequal growth is doomed to bring about
equality of law. For now it lifts the low to heights untold, and now
it brings the noble to the level of the dust. And thus, while Woman,
that great surprise of nature, is, Good and Evil can never grow apart.
For still She stands, and, blind with love, shoots the shuttle of our
fate, and pours sweet water into the cup of bitterness, and poisons
the wholesome breath of life with the doom of her desire. Turn this
way and turn that, She is at hand to meet thee. Her weakness is thy
strength, her might is thy undoing. Of her thou art, to her thou
goest. She is thy slave, yet holds thee captive; at her touch honour
withers, locks open, and barriers fall. She is infinite as ocean, she
is variable as heaven, and her name is the Unforeseen. Man, strive not
to escape from Woman and the love of woman; for, fly where thou wilt,
She is yet thy fate, and whate'er thou buildest thou buildest it for

And thus it came to pass that I, Harmachis, who had put such matters
far from me, was yet doomed to fall by the thing I held of no account.
For, see, this Charmion: she loved me--why, I know not. Of her own
thought she learned to love me, and of her love came what shall be
told. But I, knowing naught, treated her like a sister, walking as it
were hand in hand with her towards our common end.

And so the time passed on, till, at length, all things were made

It was the night before the night when the blow should fall, and there
were revellings in the palace. That very day I had seen Sepa, and with
him the captains of a band of five hundred men, who should burst into
the palace at midnight on the morrow, when I had slain Cleopatra the
Queen, and put the Roman and the Gallic legionaries to the sword. That
very day I had suborned the Captain Paulus who, since I drew him
through the gates, was my will's slave. Half by fear and half by
promises of great reward I had prevailed upon him, for the watch was
his, to unbar that small gate which faces to the East at the signal on
the morrow night.

All was made ready--the flower of Freedom that had been five-and-
twenty years in growth was on the point of bloom. Armed companies were
gathering in every city from Abu to Athu, and spies looked out from
their walls, awaiting the coming of the messenger who should bring
tidings that Cleopatra was no more and that Harmachis, the royal
Egyptian, had seized the throne.

All was prepared, triumph hung in my hand as a ripe fruit to the hand
of the plucker. Yet as I sat at the royal feast my heart was heavy,
and a shadow of coming woe lay cold within my mind. I sat there in a
place of honour, near the majesty of Cleopatra, and looked down the
lines of guests, bright with gems and garlanded with flowers, marking
those whom I had doomed to die. There before me lay Cleopatra in all
her beauty, which thrilled the beholder as he is thrilled by the
rushing of the midnight gale, or by the sight of stormy waters. I
gazed on her as she touched her lips with wine and toyed with the
chaplet of roses on her brow, thinking of the dagger beneath my robe
that I had sworn to bury in her breast. Again, and yet again, I gazed
and strove to hate her, strove to rejoice that she must die--and could
not. There, too, behind her--watching me now, as ever, with her deep-
fringed eyes--was the lovely Lady Charmion. Who, to look at her
innocent face, would believe that she was the setter of that snare in
which the Queen who loved her should miserably perish? Who would dream
that the secret of so much death was locked in her girlish breast? I
gazed, and grew sick at heart because I must anoint my throne with
blood, and by evil sweep away the evil of the land. At that hour I
wished, indeed, that I was nothing but some humble husbandman, who in
its season grows and in its season garners the golden grain! Alas! the
seed that I had been doomed to sow was the seed of Death, and now I
must reap the red fruit of the harvest!

"Why, Harmachis, what ails thee?" said Cleopatra, smiling her slow
smile. "Has the golden skein of stars got tangled, my astronomer? or
dost thou plan some new feat of magic? Say what is it that thou dost
so poorly grace our feast? Nay, now, did I not know, having made
inquiry, that things so low as we poor women are far beneath thy gaze,
why, I should swear that Eros had found thee out, Harmachis!"

"Nay, that I am spared, O Queen," I answered. "The servant of the
stars marks not the smaller light of woman's eyes, and therein is he

Cleopatra leaned herself towards me, looking on me long and steadily
in such fashion that, despite my will, the blood fluttered at my

"Boast not, thou proud Egyptian," she said in a low voice which none
but I and Charmion could hear, "lest perchance thou dost tempt me to
match my magic against thine. What woman can forgive that a man should
push us by as things of no account? It is an insult to our sex which
Nature's self abhors," and she leaned back again and laughed most
musically. But, glancing up, I saw Charmion, her teeth on her lip and
an angry frown upon her brow.

"Pardon, royal Egypt," I answered coldly, but with such wit as I could
summon, "before the Queen of Heaven even stars grow pale!" This I said
of the moon, which is the sign of the Holy Mother whom Cleopatra dared
to rival, naming herself Isis come to earth.

"Happily said," she answered, clapping her white hands. "Why, here's
an astronomer who has wit and can shape a compliment! Nay, such a
wonder must not pass unnoted, lest the Gods resent it. Charmion, take
this rose-chaplet from my hair and set it upon the learned brow of our
Harmachis. He shall be crowned /King of Love/, whether he will it or

Charmion lifted the chaplet from Cleopatra's brows and, bearing it to
where I was, with a smile set it upon my head yet warm and fragrant
from the Queen's hair, but so roughly that she pained me somewhat. She
did this because she was wroth, although she smiled with her lips and
whispered, "An omen, royal Harmachis." For though she was so very much
a woman, yet, when she was angered or suffered jealousy, Charmion had
a childish way.

Having thus fixed the chaplet, she curtsied low before me, and with
the softest tone of mockery named me, in the Greek tongue, "Harmachis,
King of Love." Then Cleopatra laughed and pledged me as "King of
Love," and so did all the company, finding the jest a merry one. For
in Alexandria they love not those who live straitly and turn aside
from women.

But I sat there, a smile upon my lips, and black wrath in my heart.
For, knowing who and what I was, it irked me to think myself a jest
for the frivolous nobles and light beauties of Cleopatra's Court. But
I was chiefly angered against Charmion, because she laughed the
loudest, and I did not then know that laughter and bitterness are
often the veils with which a sore heart wraps its weakness from the
world. "An omen" she said it was--that crown of flowers--and so it
proved indeed. For I was fated to barter the Double Diadem of the
Upper and the Lower Land for a wreath of passion's roses that fade
before they fully bloom, and Pharaoh's ivory bed of state for the
pillow of a faithless woman's breast.

"/King of Love!/" they crowned me in their mockery; ay, and King of
Shame! And I, with the perfumed roses on my brow--I, by descent and
ordination the Pharaoh of Egypt--thought of the imperishable halls of
Abouthis and of that other crowning which on the morrow should be

But still smiling, I pledged them back, and answered with a jest. For
rising, I bowed before Cleopatra and craved leave to go. "Venus," I
said, speaking of the planet that we know as Donaou in the morning and
Bonou in the evening, "was in the ascendant. Therefore, as new-crowned
King of Love, I must now pass to do my homage to its Queen." For these
barbarians name Venus Queen of Love.

And so amidst their laughter I withdraw to my watch-tower, and,
dashing that shameful chaplet down amidst the instruments of my craft,
made pretence to note the rolling of the stars. There I waited,
thinking on many things that were to be, until Charmion should come
with the last lists of the doomed and the messages of my uncle Sepa,
whom she had seen that evening.

At length the door opened softly, and she came jewelled and clad in
her white robes, as she had left the feast.



"At length thou art come, Charmion," I said. "It is over-late."

"Yea, my Lord; but by no means could I escape Cleopatra. Her mood is
strangely crossed to-night. I know not what it may portend. Strange
whims and fancies blow across it like light and contrary airs upon a
summer sea, and I cannot read her purpose."

"Well, well; enough of Cleopatra. Hast thou seen our uncle?"

"Yes, royal Harmachis."

"And hast thou the last lists?"

"Yes; here they are," and she drew them from her bosom. "Here is the
list of those who, after the Queen, must certainly be put to the
sword. Among them thou wilt note is the name of that old Gaul Brennus.
I grieve for him, for we are friends; but it must be. It is a heavy

"It is so," I answered conning it; "when men write out their count
they forget no item, and our count is long. What must be must be. Now
for the next."

"Here is the list of those to be spared, as friendly or uncertain; and
here that of the towns which will certainly rise as soon as the
messenger reaches their gates with tidings of the death of Cleopatra."

"Good. And now"--and I paused--"and now as to the manner of
Cleopatra's death. How hast thou settled it? Must it be by my own

"Yea, my Lord," she answered, and again I caught that note of
bitterness in her voice. "Doubtless Pharaoh will rejoice that his
should be the hand to rid the land of this false Queen and wanton
woman, and at one blow break the chains which gall the neck of Egypt."

"Talk not thus, girl," I said; "thou knowest well that I do not
rejoice, being but driven to the act by deep necessity and the
pressure of my vows. Can she not, then, be poisoned? Or can no one of
the eunuchs be suborned to slay her? My soul turns from this bloody
work! Indeed, I marvel, however heavy be her crimes, that thou canst
speak so lightly of the death by treachery of one who loves thee!"

"Surely Pharaoh is over-tender, forgetting the greatness of the moment
and all that hangs upon this dagger-stroke that shall cut the thread
of Cleopatra's life. Listen, Harmachis. /Thou/ must do the deed, and
/thou/ alone! Myself I would do it, had my arm the strength; but it
has not. It cannot be done by poison, for every drop she drinks and
every morsel that shall touch her lips is strictly tasted by three
separate tasters, who cannot be suborned. Nor may the eunuchs of the
guard be trusted. Two, indeed, are sworn to us; but the third cannot
be come at. He must be cut down afterwards; and, indeed, when so many
men must fall, what matters a eunuch more or less? Thus it shall be,
then. To-morrow night, at three hours before midnight thou dost cast
the final augury of the issue of the war. And then thou wilt, as is
agreed, descend alone with me, having the signet, to the outer chamber
of the Queen's apartment. For the vessel bearing orders to the Legions
sails from Alexandria at the following dawn; and alone with Cleopatra,
since she wills that the thing be kept secret as the sea, thou wilt
read the message of the stars. And as she pores over the papyrus, then
must thou stab her in the back, so that she dies; and see thou that
thy will and arm fail thee not! The deed being done--and indeed it
will be easy--thou wilt take the signet and pass out to where the
eunuch is--for the others will be wanting. If by any chance there is
trouble with him--but there will be no trouble, for he dare not enter
the private rooms, and the sounds of death cannot reach so far--thou
must cut him down. Then I will meet thee; and, passing on, we will
come to Paulus, and it shall be my care to see that he is neither
drunk nor backward, for I know how to hold him to the task. And he and
those with him shall throw open the side gate, when Sepa and the five
hundred chosen men who are in waiting shall pour in and cast
themselves upon the sleeping legionaries, putting them to the sword.
Why, the thing is easy so thou rest true to thyself, and let no
womanish fears creep into thy heart. What is this dagger's thrust? It
is nothing, and yet upon it hang the destinies of Egypt and the

"Hush!" I said. "What is that?--I hear a sound."

Charmion ran to the door, and, gazing down the long, dark passage,
listened. In a moment she came back, her finger on her lips. "It is
the Queen," she whispered hurriedly; "the Queen who mounts the stair
alone. I heard her bid Iras to leave her. I may not be found alone
with thee at this hour; it has a strange look, and she may suspect.
What wants she here? Where can I hide?"

I glanced round. At the further end of the chamber was a heavy curtain
that hid a little place built in the thickness of the wall which I
used for the storage of rolls and instruments.

"Haste thee--there!" I said, and she glided behind the curtain, which
swung back and covered her. Then I thrust the fatal scroll of death
into the bosom of my robe and bent over the mystic chart. Presently I
heard the sweep of woman's robes and there came a low knock upon the

"Enter, whoever thou art," I said.

The latch lifted, and Cleopatra swept in, royally arrayed, her dark
hair hanging about her and the sacred snake of royalty glistening on
her brow.

"Of a truth, Harmachis," she said with a sigh, as she sank into a
seat, "the path to heaven is hard to climb! Ah! I am weary, for those
stairs are many. But I was minded, my astronomer, to see thee in thy

"I am honoured overmuch, O Queen!" I said bowing low before her.

"Art thou now? And yet that dark face of thine has a somewhat angry
look--thou art too young and handsome for this dry trade, Harmachis.
Why, I vow thou hast cast my wreath of roses down amidst thy rusty
tools! Kings would have cherished that wreath along with their
choicest diadems, Harmachis! and thou dost throw it away as a thing of
no account! Why, what a man art thou! But stay; what is this? A lady's
kerchief, by Isis! Nay, now, my Harmachis, how came /this/ here? Are
our poor kerchiefs also instruments of thy high art? Oh, fie, fie!--
have I caught thee, then? Art thou indeed a fox?"

"Nay, most royal Cleopatra, nay!" I said, turning; for the kerchief
which had fallen from Charmion's neck had an awkward look. "I know
not, indeed, how the frippery came here. Perhaps, some one of the
women who keeps the chamber may have let it fall."

"Ah! so--so!" she said dryly, and still laughing like a rippling
brook. "Yes, surely, the slave-women who keep chambers own such toys
as this, of the very finest silk, worth twice its weight in gold, and
broidered, too, in many colours. Why, myself I should not shame to
wear it! Of a truth it seems familiar to my sight." And she threw it
round her neck and smoothed the ends with her white hand. "But there;
doubtless, it is a thing unholy in thine eyes that the scarf of thy
beloved should rest upon my poor breast. Take it, Harmachis; take it,
and hide it in thy bosom--nigh thy heart indeed!"

I took the accursed thing, and, muttering what I may not write,
stepped on to the giddy platform whence I watched the stars. Then,
crushing it into a ball, I threw it to the winds of heaven.

At this the lovely Queen laughed once more.

"Nay, think now," she cried; "what would the lady say could she see
her love-gauge thus cast to all the world? Mayhap, Harmachis, thou
wouldst deal thus with my wreath also? See, the roses fade; cast it
forth," and, stooping, she took up the wreath and gave it to me.

For a moment, so vexed was I, I had a mind to take her at her word and
send the wreath to join the kerchief. But I thought better of it.

"Nay," I said more softly, "it is a Queen's gift, and I will keep it,"
and, as I spoke, I saw the curtain shake. Often since that night I
have sorrowed over those simple words.

"Gracious thanks be to the King of Love for this small mercy," she
answered, looking at me strangely. "Now, enough of wit; come forth
upon this balcony--tell me of the mystery of those stars of thine. For
I always loved the stars, that are so pure and bright and cold, and so
far away from our fevered troubling. There I would wish to dwell,
rocked on the dark bosom of the night, and losing the little sense of
self as I gazed for ever on the countenance of yon sweet-eyed space.
Nay--who can tell, Harmachis?--perhaps those stars partake of our very
substance, and, linked to us by Nature's invisible chain, do, indeed,
draw our destiny with them as they roll. What says the Greek fable of
him who became a star? Perchance it has truth, for yonder tiny sparks
may be the souls of men, but grown more purely bright and placed in
happy rest to illume the turmoil of their mother-earth. Or are they
lamps hung high in the heavenly vault that night by night some
Godhead, whose wings are Darkness, touches with his immortal fire so
that they leap out in answering flame? Give me of thy wisdom and open
these wonders to me, my servant, for I have little knowledge. Yet my
heart is large, and I would fill it, for I have the wit, could I but
find the teacher."

Thereon, being glad to find footing on a safer shore, and marvelling
somewhat to learn that Cleopatra had a place for lofty thoughts, I
spoke and willingly told her such things as are lawful. I told her how
the sky is a liquid mass pressing round the earth and resting on the
elastic pillars of the air, and how above is the heavenly ocean Nout,
in which the planets float like ships as they rush upon their radiant
way. I told her many things, and amongst them how, through the certain
never-ceasing movement of the orbs of light, the planet Venus, that
was called Donaou when she showed as the Morning Star, became the
planet Bonou when she came as the sweet Star of Eve. And while I stood
and spoke watching the stars, she sat, her hands clasped upon her
knee, and watched my face.

"Ah!" she broke in at length, "and so Venus is to be seen both in the
morning and the evening sky. Well, of a truth, she is everywhere,
though she best loves the night. But thou lovest not that I should use
these Latin names to thee. Come, we will talk in the ancient tongue of
Khem, which I know well; I am the first, mark thou, of all the Lagidę
who know it. And now," she went on, speaking in my own tongue, but
with a little foreign accent that did but make her talk more sweet,
"enough of stars, for, when all is said, they are but fickle things,
and perhaps may even now be storing up an evil hour for thee or me, or
for both of us together. Not but what I love to hear thee speak of
them, for then thy face loses that gloomy cloud of thought which mars
it and grows quick and human. Harmachis, thou art too young for such a
solemn trade; methinks that I must find thee a better. Youth comes but
once; why waste it in these musings? It is time to think when we can
no longer act. Tell me how old art thou, Harmachis?"

"I have six-and-twenty years, O Queen," I answered, "for I was born in
the first month of Shomou, in the summer season, and on the third day
of the month."

"Why, then, we are of an age even to a day," she cried, "for I too
have six-and-twenty years, and I too was born on the third day of the
first month of Shomou. Well, this may we say: those who begot us need
have no shame. For if I be the fairest woman in Egypt, methinks,
Harmachis, that there is in Egypt no man more fair and strong than
thou, ay, or more learned. Born of the same day, why, 'tis manifest
that we were destined to stand together, I, as the Queen, and thou,
perchance, Harmachis, as one of the chief pillars of my throne, and
thus to work each other's weal."

"Or maybe each other's woe," I answered, looking up; for her sweet
speeches stung my ears and brought more colour to my face than I loved
that she should see there.

"Nay, never talk of woe. Be seated here by me, Harmachis, and let us
talk, not as Queen and subject, but as friend to friend. Thou wast
angered with me at the feast to-night because I mocked thee with
yonder wreath--was it not so? Nay, it was but a jest. Didst thou know
how heavy is the task of monarchs and how wearisome are their hours,
thou wouldst not be wroth because I lit my dulness with a jest. Oh,
they weary me, those princes and those nobles, and those stiff-necked
pompous Romans. To my face they vow themselves my slaves, and behind
my back they mock me and proclaim me the servant of their Triumvirate,
or their Empire, or their Republic, as the wheel of Fortune turns, and
each rises on its round! There is never a man among them--nothing but
fools, parasites, and puppets--never a man since with their coward
daggers they slew that Cęsar whom all the world in arms was not strong
enough to tame. And I must play off one against the other, if maybe,
by so doing, I can keep Egypt from their grip. And for reward, what?
Why, this is my reward--that all men speak ill of me--and, I know it,
my subjects hate me! Yes, I believe that, woman though I am, they
would murder me could they find a means!"

She paused, covering her eyes with her hand, and it was well, for her
words pierced me so that I shrank upon the seat beside her.

"They think ill of me, I know it; and call me wanton, who have never
stepped aside save once, when I loved the greatest man of all the
world, and at the touch of love my passion flamed indeed, but burnt a
hallowed flame. These ribald Alexandrians swear that I poisoned
Ptolemy, my brother--whom the Roman Senate would, most unnaturally,
have forced on me, his sister, as a husband! But it is false: he
sickened and died of fever. And even so they say that I would slay
Arsinoė, my sister--who, indeed, would slay me!--but that, too, is
false! Though she will have none of me, I love my sister. Yes, they
all think ill of me without a cause; even thou dost think ill of me,

"O Harmachis, before thou judgest, remember what a thing is envy!--
that foul sickness of the mind which makes the jaundiced eye of
pettiness to see all things distraught--to read Evil written on the
open face of Good, and find impurity in the whitest virgin's soul!
Think what a thing it is, Harmachis, to be set on high above the
gaping crowd of knaves who hate thee for thy fortune and thy wit; who
gnash their teeth and shoot the arrows of their lies from the cover of
their own obscureness, whence they have no wings to soar; and whose
hearts' quest it is to drag down thy nobility to the level of the
groundling and the fool!

"Be not, then, swift to think evil of the Great, whose every word and
act is searched for error by a million angry eyes, and whose most tiny
fault is trumpeted by a thousand throats, till the world shakes with
echoes of their sin! Say not: 'It is thus, 'tis certainly thus'--say,
rather: 'May it not be otherwise? Have we heard aright? Did she this
thing of her own will?' Judge gently, Harmachis, as wert thou I thou
wouldst be judged. Remember that a Queen is never free. She is,
indeed, but the point and instrument of those forces politic with
which the iron books of history are graved. O Harmachis! be thou my
friend--my friend and counsellor!--my friend whom I can trust indeed!
--for here, in this crowded Court, I am more utterly alone than any
soul that breathes about its corridors. But /thee/ I trust; there is
faith written in those quiet eyes, and I am minded to lift thee high,
Harmachis. I can no longer bear my solitude of mind--I must find one
with whom I may commune and speak that which lies within my heart. I
have faults, I know it; but I am not all unworthy of thy faith, for
there is good grain among the evil seed. Say, Harmachis, wilt thou
take pity on my loneliness and befriend me, who have lovers,
courtiers, slaves, dependents, more thick than I can count, but never
one single /friend/?" and she leant towards me, touching me lightly,
and gazed on me with her wonderful blue eyes.

I was overcome; thinking of the morrow night, shame and sorrow smote
me. /I/, her friend!--/I/, whose assassin dagger lay against my
breast! I bent my head, and a sob or a groan, I know not which, burst
from the agony of my heart.

But Cleopatra, thinking only that I was moved beyond myself by the
surprise of her graciousness, smiled sweetly, and said:

"It grows late; to-morrow night when thou bringest the auguries we
will speak again, O my friend Harmachis, and thou shalt answer me."
And she gave me her hand to kiss. Scarce knowing what I did, I kissed
it, and in another moment she was gone.

But I stood in the chamber, gazing after her like one asleep.



I stood still, plunged in thought. Then by hazard as it were I took up
the wreath of roses and looked on it. How long I stood so I know not,
but when next I lifted up my eyes they fell upon the form of Charmion,
whom, indeed, I had altogether forgotten. And though at the moment I
thought but little of it, I noted vaguely that she was flushed as
though with anger, and beat her foot upon the floor.

"Oh, it is thou, Charmion!" I said. "What ails thee? Art thou cramped
with standing so long in thy hiding-place? Why didst not thou slip
hence when Cleopatra led me to the balcony?"

"Where is my kerchief?" she asked, shooting an angry glance at me. "I
let fall my broidered kerchief."

"Thy kerchief!--why, didst thou not see? Cleopatra twitted me about
it, and I flung it from the balcony."

"Yes, I saw," answered the girl, "I saw but too well. Thou didst fling
away my kerchief, but the wreath of roses--that thou wouldst not fling
away. It was 'a Queen's gift,' forsooth, and therefore the royal
Harmachis, the Priest of Isis, the chosen of the Gods, the crowned
Pharaoh wed to the weal of Khem, cherished it and saved it. But my
kerchief, stung by the laughter of that light Queen, he cast away!"

"What meanest thou?" I asked, astonished at her bitter tone. "I cannot
read thy riddles."

"What mean I?" she answered, tossing up her head and showing the white
curves of her throat. "Nay, I mean naught, or all; take it as thou
wilt. Wouldst know what I mean, Harmachis, my cousin and my Lord?" she
went on in a hard, low voice. "Then I will tell thee--thou art in
danger of the great offence. This Cleopatra has cast her fatal wiles
about thee, and thou goest near to loving her, Harmachis--to loving
her whom to-morrow thou must slay! Ay, stand and stare at that wreath
in thy hand--the wreath thou couldst not send to join my kerchief--
sure Cleopatra wore it but to-night! The perfume of the hair of
Cęsar's mistress--Cęsar's and others'--yet mingles with the odour of
its roses! Now, prithee, Harmachis, how far didst thou carry the
matter on yonder balcony? for in that hole where I lay hid I could not
hear or see. 'Tis a sweet spot for lovers, is it not?--ay, and a sweet
hour, too? Venus surely rules the stars to-night?"

All of this she said so quietly and in so soft and modest a way,
though her words were not modest, and yet so bitterly, that every
syllable cut me to the heart, and angered me till I could find no

"Of a truth thou hast a wise economy," she went on, seeing her
advantage: "to-night thou dost kiss the lips that to-morrow thou shalt
still for ever! It is frugal dealing with the occasion of the moment;
ay, worthy and honourable dealing!"

Then at last I broke forth. "Girl," I cried, "how darest thou speak
thus to me? Mindest thou who and what I am that thou loosest thy
peevish gibes upon me?"

"I mind what it behoves thee to be," she answered quick. "What thou
art, that I mind not now. Surely thou knowest alone--thou and

"What meanest thou?" I said. "Am I to blame if the Queen----"

"The Queen! What have we here? Pharaoh owns a Queen!"

"If Cleopatra wills to come hither of a night and talk----"

"Of stars, Harmachis--surely of stars and roses, and naught beside!"

After that I know not what I said; for, troubled as I was, the girl's
bitter tongue and quiet way drove me wellnigh to madness. But this I
know: I spoke so fiercely that she cowered before me as she had
cowered before my uncle Sepa when he rated her because of her Grecian
garb. And as she wept then, so she wept now, only more passionately
and with great sobs.

At length I ceased, half-shamed but still angry and smarting sorely.
For even while she wept she could find a tongue to answer with--and a
woman's shafts are sharp.

"Thou shouldst not speak to me thus!" she sobbed; "it is cruel--it is
unmanly! But I forget thou art but a priest, not a man--except,
mayhap, for Cleopatra!"

"What right hast thou?" I said. "What canst thou mean?"

"What right have I?" she asked, looking up, her dark eyes all aflood
with tears that ran down her sweet face like the dew of morning down a
lily's heart. "What right have I? O Harmachis! art thou blind? Didst
thou not know by what right I speak thus to thee? Then I must tell
thee. Well, it is the fashion in Alexandria! By that first and holy
right of woman--by the right of the great love I bear thee, and which,
it seems, thou hast no eyes to see--by the right of my glory and my
shame. Oh, be not wroth with me, Harmachis, nor set me down as light,
because the truth at last has burst from me; for I am not so. I am
what thou wilt make me. I am the wax within the moulder's hands, and
as thou dost fashion me so I shall be. There breathes within me now a
breath of glory, blowing across the waters of my soul, that can waft
me to ends more noble than ever I have dreamed afore, if thou wilt be
my pilot and my guide. But if I lose thee, then I lose all that holds
me from my worse self--and let shipwreck come! Thou knowest me not,
Harmachis! thou canst not see how big a spirit struggles in this frail
form of mine! To thee I am a girl, clever, wayward, shallow. But I am
more! Show me thy loftiest thought and I will match it, the deepest
puzzle of thy mind and I will make it clear. Of one blood we are, and
love can ravel up our little difference and make us grow one indeed.
One end we have, one land we love, one vow binds us both. Take me to
thy heart, Harmachis, set me by thee on the Double Throne, and I swear
that I will lift thee higher than ever man has climbed. Reject me, and
beware lest I pull thee down! And now, putting aside the cold delicacy
of custom, stung to it by what I saw of the arts of that lovely living
falsehood, Cleopatra, which for pastime she practises on thy folly, I
have spoken out my heart, and answer thou!" And she clasped her hands
and, drawing one pace nearer, gazed, all white and trembling, on my

For a moment I stood struck dumb, for the magic of her voice and the
power of her speech, despite myself, stirred me like the rush of
music. Had I loved the woman, doubtless she might have fired me with
her flame; but I loved her not, and I could not play at passion. And
so thought came, and with thought that laughing mood, which is ever
apt to fashion upon nerves strained to the point of breaking. In a
flash, as it were, I bethought me of the way in which she had that
very night forced the wreath of roses on my head, I thought of the
kerchief and how I had flung it forth. I thought of Charmion in the
little chamber watching what she held to be the arts of Cleopatra, and
of her bitter speeches. Lastly, I thought of what my uncle Sepa would
say of her could he see her now, and of the strange and tangled skein
in which I was inmeshed. And I laughed aloud--the fool's laughter that
was my knell of ruin!

She turned whiter yet--white as the dead--and a look grew upon her
face that checked my foolish mirth. "Thou findest, then, Harmachis,"
she said in a low, choked voice, and dropping the level of her eyes,
"thou findest cause of merriment in what I have said?"

"Nay," I answered; "nay, Charmion; forgive me if I laughed. It was
rather a laugh of despair; for what am I to say to thee? Thou hast
spoken high words of all thou mightest be: is it left for me to tell
thee what thou art?"

She shrank, and I paused.

"Speak," she said.

"Thou knowest--none so well!--who I am and what my mission is: thou
knowest--none so well!--that I am sworn to Isis, and may, by law
Divine, have naught to do with thee."

"Ay," she broke in, in her low voice, and with her eyes still fixed
upon the ground--"ay, and I know that thy vows are broken in spirit,
if not in form--broken like wreaths of cloud; for, Harmachis--/thou
lovest Cleopatra!/"

"It is a lie!" I cried. "Thou wanton girl, who wouldst seduce me from
my duty and put me to an open shame!--who, led by passion or ambition,
or the love of evil, hast not shamed to break the barriers of thy sex
and speak as thou hast spoken--beware lest thou go too far! And if
thou wilt have an answer, here it is, put straightly, as thy question.
Charmion, outside the matter of my duty and my vows, thou art /naught/
to me!--nor for all thy tender glances will my heart beat one pulse
more fast! Hardly art thou now my friend--for, of a truth, I scarce
can trust thee. But, once more: beware! To me thou mayest do thy
worst; but if thou dost dare to lift a finger against our cause, that
day thou diest! And now, is this play done?"

And as, wild with anger, I spoke thus, she shrank back, and yet
further back, till at length she rested against the wall, her eyes
covered with her hand. But when I ceased she dropped her hand,
glancing up, and her face was as the face of a statue, in which the
great eyes glowed like embers, and round them was a ring of purple

"Not altogether done," she answered gently; "the arena must yet be
sanded!" This she said having reference to the covering up of the
bloodstains at the gladiatorial shows with fine sand. "Well," she went
on, "waste not thine anger on a thing so vile. I have thrown my throw
and I have lost. /Vę victis!/--ah! /Vę victis!/ Wilt thou not lend me
the dagger in thy robe, that here and now I may end my shame? No? Then
one word more, most royal Harmachis: if thou canst, forget my folly;
but, at the least, have no fear from me. I am now, as ever, thy
servant and the servant of our cause. Farewell!"

And she went, leaning her hand against the wall. But I, passing to my
chamber, flung myself upon my couch, and groaned in bitterness of
spirit. Alas! we shape our plans, and by slow degrees build up our
house of Hope, never counting on the guests that time shall bring to
lodge therein. For who can guard against--the Unforeseen?

At length I slept, and my dreams were evil. When I woke the light of
the day which should see the red fulfilment of the plot was streaming
through the casement, and the birds sang merrily among the garden
palms. I woke, and as I woke the sense of trouble pressed in upon me,
for I remembered that before this day was gathered to the past I must
dip my hands in blood--yes, in the blood of Cleopatra, who trusted me!
Why could I not hate her as I should? There had been a time when I
looked on to this act of vengeance with somewhat of a righteous glow
of zeal. And now--and now--why, I would frankly give my royal
birthright to be free from its necessity! But, alas! I knew that there
was no escape. I must drain this cup or be for ever cast away. I felt
the eyes of Egypt watching me, and the eyes of Egypt's Gods. I prayed
to my Mother Isis to give me strength to do this deed, and prayed as I
had never prayed before; and oh, wonder! no answer came. Nay, how was
this? What, then, had loosed the link between us that, for the first
time, the Goddess deigned no reply to her son and chosen servant?
Could it be that I had sinned in heart against her? What had Charmion
said--that I loved Cleopatra? Was this sickness love? Nay! a thousand
times nay!--it was but the revolt of Nature against an act of
treachery and blood. The Goddess did but try my strength, or perchance
she also turned her holy countenance from murder?

I rose filled with terror and despair, and went about my task like a
man without a soul. I conned the fatal lists and noted all the plans--
ay, in my brain I gathered up the very words of that proclamation of
my Royalty which, on the morrow, I should issue to the startled world.

"Citizens of Alexandria and dwellers in the land of Egypt," it began,
"Cleopatra the Macedonian hath, by the command of the Gods, suffered
justice for her crimes----"

All these and other things I did, but I did them as a man without a
soul--as a man moved by a force from without and not from within. And
so the minutes wore away. In the third hour of the afternoon I went as
by appointment fixed to the house where my uncle Sepa lodged, that
same house to which I had been brought some three months gone when I
entered Alexandria for the first time. And here I found the leaders of
the revolt in the city assembled in secret conclave to the number of
seven. When I had entered, and the doors were barred, they prostrated
themselves, and cried, "Hail, Pharaoh!" but I bade them rise, saying
that I was not yet Pharaoh, for the chicken was still in the egg.

"Yea, Prince," said my uncle, "but his beak shows through. Not in vain
hath Egypt brooded all these years, if thou fail not with that dagger-
stroke of thine to-night; and how canst thou fail? Nothing can now
stop our course to victory!"

"It is on the knees of the Gods," I answered.

"Nay," he said, "the Gods have placed the issue in the hands of a
mortal--in thy hands, Harmachis!--and there it is safe. See: here are
the last lists. Thirty-one thousand men who bear arms are sworn to
rise when the tidings come to them. Within five days every citadel in
Egypt will be in our hands, and then what have we to fear? From Rome
but little, for her hands are full; and, besides, we will make
alliance with the Triumvirate, and, if need be, buy them off. For of
money there is plenty in the land, and if more be wanted thou,
Harmachis, knowest where it is stored against the need of Khem, and
outside the Roman's reach of arm. Who is there to harm us? There is
none. Perchance, in this turbulent city, there may be struggle, and a
counter-plot to bring Arsinoė to Egypt and set her on the throne.
Therefore Alexandria must be severely dealt with--ay, even to
destruction, if need be. As for Arsinoė, those go forth to-morrow on
the news of the Queen's death who shall slay her secretly."

"There remains the lad Cęsarion," I said. "Rome might claim through
Cęsar's son, and the child of Cleopatra inherits Cleopatra's rights.
Here is a double danger."

"Fear not," said my uncle; "to-morrow Cęsarion joins those who begat
him in Amenti. I have made provision. The Ptolemies must be stamped
out, so that no shoot shall ever spring from that root blasted by
Heaven's vengeance."

"Is there no other means?" I asked sadly. "My heart is sick at the
promise of this red rain of blood. I know the child well; he has
Cleopatra's fire and beauty and great Cęsar's wit. It were shame to
murder him."

"Nay, be not so chicken-hearted, Harmachis," said my uncle, sternly.
"What ails thee, then? If the lad is thus, the more reason that he
should die. Wouldst thou nurse up a young lion to tear thee from the

"Be it so," I answered, sighing. "At least he is spared much, and will
go hence innocent of evil. Now for the plans."

We sat long taking counsel, till at length, in face of the great
emergency and our high emprise, I felt something of the spirit of
former days flow back into my heart. At the last all was ordered, and
so ordered that it could scarce miscarry, for it was fixed that if by
any chance I could not come to slay Cleopatra on this night, then the
plot should hang in the scale till the morrow, when the deed must be
done upon occasion. For the death of Cleopatra was the signal. These
matters being finished, once more we stood and, our hands upon the
sacred symbol, swore the oath that may not be written. And then my
uncle kissed me with tears of hope and joy standing in his keen black
eyes. He blessed me, saying that he would gladly give his life, ay,
and a hundred lives, if they were his, if he might but live to see
Egypt once more a nation, and me, Harmachis, the descendant of its
royal and ancient blood, seated on the throne. For he was a patriot
indeed, asking nothing for himself, and giving all things to his
cause. And I kissed him in turn, and thus we parted. Nor did I ever
see him more in the flesh who has earned the rest that as yet is
denied to me.

So I went, and, there being yet time, walked swiftly from place to
place in the great city, taking note of the positions of the gates and
of the places where our forces must be gathered. At length I came to
that quay where I had landed, and saw a vessel sailing for the open
sea. I looked, and in my heaviness of heart longed that I were aboard
of her, to be borne by her white wings to some far shore where I might
live obscure and die forgotten. Also I saw another vessel that had
dropped down the Nile, from whose deck the passengers were streaming.
For a moment I stood watching them, idly wondering if they were from
Abouthis, when suddenly I heard a familiar voice beside me.

"/La! la!/" said the voice. "Why, what a city is this for an old woman
to seek her fortune in! And how shall I find those to whom I am known?
As well look for the rush in the papyrus-roll.[*] Begone! thou knave!
and let my basket of simples lie; or, by the Gods, I'll doctor thee
with them!"

[*] Papyrus was manufactured from the pith of rushes. Hence Atoua's

I turned, wondering, and found myself face to face with my foster-
nurse, Atoua. She knew me instantly, for I saw her start, but in the
presence of the people she checked her surprise.

"Good Sir," she whined, lifting her withered countenance towards me,
and at the same time making the secret sign. "By thy dress thou
shouldst be an astronomer, and I was specially told to avoid
astronomers as a pack of lying tricksters who worship their own star
only; and, therefore, I speak to thee, acting on the principle of
contraries, which is law to us women. For surely in this Alexandria,
where all things are upside down, the astronomers may be the honest
men, since the rest are clearly knaves." And then, being by now out of
earshot of the press, "royal Harmachis, I am come charged with a
message to thee from thy father Amenemhat."

"Is he well?" I asked.

"Yes, he is well, though waiting for the moment tries him sorely."

"And his message?"

"It is this. He sends greeting to thee and with it warning that a
great danger threatens thee, though he cannot read it. These are his
words: 'Be steadfast and prosper.'"

I bowed my head and the words struck a new chill of fear into my soul.

"When is the time?" she asked.

"This very night. Where goest thou?"

"To the house of the honourable Sepa, Priest of Annu. Canst thou guide
me thither?"

"Nay, I may not stay; nor is it wise that I should be seen with thee.
Hold!" and I called a porter who was idling on the quay, and, giving
him a piece of money, bade him guide the old wife to the house.

"Farewell," she whispered; "farewell till to-morrow. Be steadfast and

Then I turned and went my way through the crowded streets, where the
people made place for me, the astronomer of Cleopatra, for my fame had
spread abroad.

And even as I went my footsteps seemed to beat /Be steadfast, Be
steadfast, Be steadfast/, till at last it was as though the very
ground cried out its warning to me.



It was night, and I sat alone in my chamber, waiting the moment when,
as it was agreed, Charmion should summon me to pass down to Cleopatra.
I sat alone, and there before me lay the dagger that was to pierce
her. It was long and keen, and the handle was formed of a sphinx of
solid gold. I sat alone, questioning the future, but no answer came.
At length I looked up, and Charmion stood before me--Charmion, no
longer gay and bright, but pale of face and hollow-eyed.

"Royal Harmachis," she said, "Cleopatra summons thee, presently to
declare to her the voices of the stars."

So the hour had fallen!

"It is well, Charmion," I answered. "Are all things in order?"

"Yea, my Lord; all things are in order: well primed with wine, Paulus
guards the gates, the eunuchs are withdrawn save one, the legionaries
sleep, and already Sepa and his force lie hid without. Nothing has
been neglected, and no lamb skipping at the shamble doors can be more
innocent of its doom than is Queen Cleopatra."

"It is well," I said again; "let us be going," and rising, I placed
the dagger in the bosom of my robe. Taking a cup of wine that stood
near, I drank deep of it, for I had scarce tasted food all that day.

"One word," Charmion said hurriedly, "for it is not yet time: last
night--ah, last night--" and her bosom heaved, "I dreamed a dream that
haunts me strangely, and perchance thou also didst dream a dream. It
was all a dream and 'tis forgotten: is it not so, my Lord?"

"Yes, yes," I said; "why troublest thou me thus at such an hour?"

"Nay, I know not; but to-night, Harmachis, Fate is in labour of a
great event, and in her painful throes mayhap she'll crush me in her
grip--me or thee, or the twain of us, Harmachis. And if that be so--
well, I would hear from thee, before it is done, that 'twas naught but
a dream, and that dream forgot----"

"Yes, it is all a dream," I said idly; "thou and I, and the solid
earth, and this heavy night of terror, ay, and this keen knife--what
are these but dreams, and with what face shall the waking come?"

"So now, thou fallest in my humour, royal Harmachis. As thou sayest,
we dream; and while we dream yet can the vision change. For the
phantasies of dreams are wonderful, seeing that they have no
stability, but vary like the vaporous edge of sunset clouds, building
now this thing, and now that; being now dark and heavy, and now alight
with splendour. Therefore, before we wake to-morrow tell me one word.
Is that vision of last night, wherein I /seemed/ to be quite shamed,
and thou didst /seem/ to laugh upon my shame, a fixed phantasy, or can
it, perchance, yet change its countenance? For remember, when that
waking comes, the vagaries of our sleep will be more unalterable and
more enduring than are the pyramids. Then they will be gathered into
that changeless region of the past where all things, great and small--
ay, even dreams, Harmachis, are, each in its own semblance, frozen to
stone and built into the Tomb of Time immortal."

"Nay, Charmion," I replied, "I grieve if I did pain thee; but over
that vision comes no change. I said what was in my heart and there's
an end. Thou art my cousin and my friend, I can never be more to

"It is well--'tis very well," she said; "let it be forgotten. And now
on from dream--to dream," and she smiled with such a smile as I had
never seen her wear before; it was sadder and more fateful than any
stamp that grief can set upon the brow.

For, though being blinded by my own folly and the trouble at my heart
I knew it not, with that smile, the happiness of youth died for
Charmion the Egyptian; the hope of love fled; and the holy links of
duty burst asunder. With that smile she consecrated herself to Evil,
she renounced her Country and her Gods, and trampled on her oath. Ay,
that smile marks the moment when the stream of history changed its
course. For had I never seen it on her face Octavianus had not
bestridden the world, and Egypt had once more been free and great.

And yet it was but a woman's smile!

"Why lookest thou thus strangely, girl?" I asked.

"In dreams we smile," she answered. "And now it is time; follow thou
me. Be firm and prosper, royal Harmachis!" and bending forward she
took my hand and kissed it. Then, with one strange last look, she
turned and led the way down the stair and through the empty halls.

In the chamber that is called the Alabaster Hall, the roof of which is
upborne by columns of black marble, we stayed. For beyond was the
private chamber of Cleopatra, the same in which I had seen her

"Abide thou here," she said, "while I tell Cleopatra of thy coming,"
and she glided from my side.

I stood for long, mayhap in all the half of an hour, counting my own
heart-beats, and, as in a dream, striving to gather up my strength to
that which lay before me.

At length Charmion came back, her head held low and walking heavily.

"Cleopatra waits thee," she said: "pass on, there is no guard."

"Where do I meet thee when what must be done is done?" I asked

"Thou meetest me here, and then to Paulus. Be firm and prosper.
Harmachis, fare thee well!"

And so I went; but at the curtain I turned suddenly, and there in the
midst of that lonely lamplit hall I saw a strange sight. Far away, in
such a fashion that the light struck full upon her, stood Charmion,
her head thrown back, her white arms outstretched as though to clasp,
and on her girlish face a stamp of anguished passion so terrible to
see that, indeed, I cannot tell it! For she believed that I, whom she
loved, was passing to my death, and this was her last farewell to me.

But I knew naught of this matter; so with another passing pang of
wonder I drew aside the curtains, gained the doorway, and stood in
Cleopatra's chamber. And there, upon a silken couch at the far end of
the perfumed chamber, clad in wonderful white attire, rested
Cleopatra. In her hand was a jewelled fan of ostrich plumes, with
which she gently fanned herself, and by her side was her harp of
ivory, and a little table whereon were figs and goblets and a flask of
ruby-coloured wine. I drew near slowly through the soft dim light to
where the Wonder of the World lay in all her glowing beauty. And,
indeed, I have never seen her look so fair as she did upon that fatal
night. Couched in her amber cushions, she seemed to shine as a star on
the twilight's glow. Perfume came from her hair and robes, music fell
from her lips, and in her heavenly eyes all lights changed and
gathered as in the ominous opal's disc.

And this was the woman whom, presently, I must slay!

Slowly I drew near, bowing as I came; but she took no heed. She lay
there, and the jewelled fan floated to and fro like the bright wing of
some hovering bird.

At length I stood before her, and she glanced up, the ostrich-plumes
pressed against her breast as though to hide its beauty.

"What! friend; art thou come?" she said. "It is well; for I grew
lonely here. Nay; 'tis a weary world! We know so many faces, and there
are so few whom we love to see again. Well, stand not there so mute,
but be seated." And she pointed with her fan to a carven chair that
was placed near her feet.

Once more I bowed and took the seat.

"I have obeyed the Queen's desire," I said, "and with much care and
skill worked out the lessons of the stars; and here is the record of
my labour. If the Queen permits, I will expound it to her." And I
rose, in order that I might pass round the couch and, as she read,
stab her in the back.

"Nay, Harmachis," she said quietly, and with a slow and lovely smile.
"Bide thou where thou art, and give me the writing. By Serapis! thy
face is too comely for me to wish to lose the sight of it!"

Checked in this design, I could do nothing but hand her the papyrus,
thinking to myself that while she read I would arise suddenly and
plunge the dagger to her heart. She took it, and as she did so touched
my hand. Then she made pretence to read. But she read no word, for I
saw that her eyes were fixed upon me over the edge of the scroll.

"Why placest thou thy hand within thy robe?" she asked presently; for,
indeed, I clutched the dagger's hilt. "Is thy heart stirred?"

"Yea, O Queen," I said; "it beats high."

She gave no answer, but once more made pretence to read, and the while
she watched me.

I took counsel with myself. How should I do the hateful deed? If I
flung myself upon her now she would see me and scream and struggle.
Nay, I must wait a chance.

"The auguries are favourable, then, Harmachis?" she said at length,
though this she must have guessed.

"Yes, O Queen," I answered.

"It is well," and she cast the writing on the marble. "The ships shall
sail. For, good or bad, I am weary of weighing chances."

"This is a heavy matter, O Queen," I said. "I had wished to show upon
what circumstance I base my forecast."

"Nay, not so, Harmachis; I have wearied of the ways of stars. Thou
hast prophesied; that is enough for me; for, doubtless, being honest,
thou hast written honestly. Therefore, save thou thy reasons and we'll
be merry. What shall we do? I could dance to thee--there are none who
can dance so well!--but it would scarce be queenly. Nay, I have it. I
will sing." And, leaning forward, she raised herself, and, bending the
harp towards her, struck some wandering chords. Then her low voice
broke out in perfect and most sweet song.

And thus she sang:

 "Night on the sea, and night upon the sky,
    And music in our hearts, we floated there,
  Lulled by the low sea voices, thou and I,
    And the wind's kisses in my cloudy hair:
  And thou didst gaze on me and call me fair--
    Enfolded by the starry robe of night--
  And then thy singing thrilled upon the air,
    Voice of the heart's desire and Love's delight.

     'Adrift, with starlit skies above,
        With starlit seas below,
      We move with all the suns that move,
        With all the seas that flow;
      For bond or free, Earth, Sky, and Sea,
        Wheel with one circling will,
      And thy heart drifteth on to me,
        And only time stands still.

      Between two shores of Death we drift,
        Behind are things forgot:
      Before the tide is driving swift
        To lands beholden not.
      Above, the sky is far and cold;
        Below, the moaning sea
      Sweeps o'er the loves that were of old,
        But, oh, Love! kiss thou me.

      Ah, lonely are the ocean ways,
        And dangerous the deep,
      And frail the fairy barque that strays
        Above the seas asleep!
      Ah, toil no more at sail nor oar,
        We drift, or bond or free;
      On yon far shore the breakers roar,
        But, oh, Love! kiss thou me.'

 "And ever as thou sangest I drew near,
    Then sudden silence heard our hearts that beat,
  For now there was an end of doubt and fear,
    Now passion filled my soul and led my feet;
  Then silent didst thou rise thy love to meet,
    Who, sinking on thy breast, knew naught but thee,
  And in the happy night I kissed thee, Sweet;
    Ah, Sweet! between the starlight and the sea."

The last echoes of her rich notes floated down the chamber, and slowly
died away; but in my heart they rolled on and on. I have heard among
the women-singers at Abouthis voices more perfect than the voice of
Cleopatra, but never have I heard one so thrilling or so sweet with
passion's honey-notes. And indeed it was not the voice alone, it was
the perfumed chamber in which was set all that could move the sense;
it was the passion of the thought and words, and the surpassing grace
and loveliness of that most royal woman who sang them. For, as she
sang, I seemed to think that we twain were indeed floating alone with
the night, upon the starlit summer sea. And when she ceased to touch
the harp, and, rising, suddenly stretched out her arms towards me, and
with the last low notes of song yet quivering upon her lips, let fall
the wonder of her eyes upon my eyes, she almost drew me to her. But I
remembered, and would not.

"Hast thou, then, no word of thanks for my poor singing, Harmachis?"
she said at length.

"Yea, O Queen," I answered, speaking very low, for my voice was
choked; "but thy songs are not good for the sons of men to hear--of a
truth they overwhelm me!"

"Nay, Harmachis; there is no fear for thee," she said laughing softly,
"seeing that I know how far thy thoughts are set from woman's beauty
and the common weakness of thy sex. With cold iron we may safely toy."

I thought within myself that coldest iron can be brought to whitest
heat if the fire be fierce enough. But I said nothing, and, though my
hand trembled, I once more grasped the dagger's hilt, and, wild with
fear at my own weakness, set myself to find a means to slay her while
yet my sense remained.

"Come hither, Harmachis," she went on, in her softest voice. "Come,
sit by me, and we will talk together; for I have much to tell thee,"
and she made place for me at her side upon the silken seat.

And I, thinking that I might so more swiftly strike, rose and seated
myself some little way from her on the couch, while, flinging back her
head, she gazed on me with her slumbrous eyes.

Now was my occasion, for her throat and breast were bare, and, with a
mighty effort, once again I lifted my hand to clutch the dagger-hilt.
But, more quick than thought, she caught my fingers with her own and
gently held them.

"Why lookest thou so wildly, Harmachis?" she said. "Art sick?"

"Ay, sick indeed!" I gasped.

"Then lean thou on the cushions and rest thee," she answered, still
holding my hand, from which the strength had fled. "The fit will
surely pass. Too long hast thou laboured with thy stars. How soft is
the night air that flows from yonder casement heavy with the breath of
lilies! Hark to the whisper of the sea lapping against the rocks,
that, though it is faint, yet, being so strong, doth almost drown the
quick cool fall of yonder fountain. List to Philomel; how sweet from a
full heart of love she sings her message to her dear! Indeed it is a
lovely night, and most beautiful is Nature's music, sung with a
hundred voices from wind and trees and birds and ocean's wrinkled
lips, and yet sung all to tune. Listen, Harmachis: I have guessed
something concerning thee. Thou, too, art of a royal race; no humble
blood pours in those veins of thine. Surely such a shoot could spring
but from the stock of Princes? What! gazest thou at the leafmark on my
breast? It was pricked there in honour of great Osiris, whom with thee
I worship. See!"

"Let me hence," I groaned, striving to rise; but all my strength had

"Nay, not yet awhile. Thou wouldst not leave me yet? thou /canst/ not
leave me yet. Harmachis, hast thou never loved?"

"Nay, nay, O Queen! What have I to do with love? Let me hence!--I am
faint--I am fordone!"

"Never to have loved--'tis strange! Never to have known some woman-
heart beat all in tune to thine--never to have seen the eyes of thy
adored aswim with passion's tears, as she sighed her vows upon thy
breast!--Never to have loved!--never to have lost thyself in the
mystery of another's soul; nor to have learned how Nature can overcome
our naked loneliness, and with the golden web of love of twain weave
one identity! Why, it is never to have lived, Harmachis!"

And ever as she murmured she drew nearer to me, till at last, with a
long, sweet sigh, she flung one arm about my neck, and gazed upon me
with blue, unfathomable eyes, and smiled her dark, slow smile, that,
like an opening flower, revealed beauty within beauty hidden. Nearer
she bent her queenly form, and still more near--now her perfumed
breath played upon my hair, and now her lips met mine.

And woe is me! In that kiss, more deadly and more strong than the
embrace of Death, were forgotten Isis, my heavenly Hope, Oaths,
Honour, Country, Friends, all things--all things save that Cleopatra
clasped me in her arms, and called me Love and Lord.

"Now pledge me," she sighed; "pledge me one cup of wine in token of
thy love."

I took the draught, and I drank deep; then too late I knew that it was

I fell upon the couch, and, though my senses still were with me, I
could neither speak nor rise.

But Cleopatra, bending over me, drew the dagger from my robe.

"/I've won!/" she cried, shaking back her long hair. "I've won, and
for the stake of Egypt, why, 'twas a game worth playing! With this
dagger, then, thou wouldst have slain me, O my royal Rival, whose
myrmidons even now are gathered at my palace gate? Art still awake?
Now what hinders me that I should not plunge it to /thy/ heart?"

I heard and feebly pointed to my breast, for I was fain to die. She
drew herself to the full of her imperial height, and the great knife
glittered in her hand. Down it came till its edge pricked my flesh.

"Nay," she cried again, and cast it from her, "too well I like thee.
It were pity to slay such a man! I give thee thy life. Live on, lost
Pharaoh! Live on, poor fallen Prince, blasted by a woman's wit! Live
on, Harmachis--to adorn my triumph!"

Then sight left me; and in my ears I only heard the song of the
nightingale, the murmur of the sea, and the music of Cleopatra's laugh
of victory. And as I sank away, the sound of that low laugh still
followed me into the land of sleep, and still it follows me through
life to death.



Once more I woke; it was to find myself in my own chamber. I started
up. Surely, I, too, had dreamed a dream? It could be nothing but a
dream? It could not be that I woke to know myself a /traitor!/ That
the opportunity had gone for ever! That I had betrayed the cause, and
that last night those brave men, headed by my uncle, had waited in
vain at the outer gate! That Egypt from Abu to Athu was even now
waiting--waiting in vain! Nay, whatever else might be, this could not
be! Oh, it was an awful dream which I had dreamed! a second such would
slay a man. It were better to die than face such another vision sent
from hell. But, though the thing was naught but a hateful phantasy of
a mind o'er-strained, where was I now? Where was I now? I should be in
the Alabaster Hall, waiting till Charmion came forth.

Where was I? and O ye Gods! what was that dreadful thing, whose shape
was the shape of a man?--that thing draped in bloodstained white and
huddled in a hideous heap at the foot of the couch on which I seemed
to lie?

I sprang at it with a shriek, as a lion springs, and struck with all
my strength. The blow fell heavily, and beneath its weight the thing
rolled over upon its side. Half mad with terror, I rent away the white
covering; and there, his knees bound beneath his hanging jaw, was the
naked body of a man--and that man the Roman Captain Paulus! There he
lay, through his heart a dagger--my dagger, handled with the sphinx of
gold!--and pinned by its blade to his broad breast a scroll, and on
the scroll, writing in the Roman character. I drew near and read, and
this was the writing:


 "Greeting, Harmachis! I was that Roman Paulus whom thou didst
  suborn. Learn now how blessed are traitors!"

Sick and faint I staggered back from the sight of that white corpse
stained with its own blood. Sick and faint I staggered back, till the
wall stayed me, while without the birds sang a merry greeting to the
day. So it was no dream, and I was lost! lost!

I thought of my aged father, Amenemhat. Yes, the vision of him flashed
into my mind, as he would be, when they came to tell him his son's
shame and the ruin of all his hopes. I thought of that patriot priest,
my uncle Sepa, waiting the long night through for the signal which
never came. Ah, and another thought followed swift! How would it go
with them? I was not the only traitor. I, too, had been betrayed. By
whom? By yonder Paulus, perchance. If it were Paulus, he knew but
little of those who conspired with me. But the secret lists had been
in my robe. O Osiris! they were gone! and the fate of Paulus would be
the fate of all the patriots in Egypt. And at this thought my mind
gave way. I sank and swooned even where I stood.

My sense came back to me, and the lengthening shadows told me that it
was afternoon. I staggered to my feet; the corpse of Paulus was still
there, keeping its awful watch above me. I ran desperately to the
door. It was barred, and without I heard the tramp of sentinels. As I
stood they challenged and grounded their spears. Then the bolts were
shot back, the door opened, and radiant, clad in royal attire, came
the conquering Cleopatra. She came alone, and the door was shut behind
her. I stood like one distraught; but she swept on till she was face
to face with me.

"Greeting, Harmachis," she said, smiling sweetly. "So, my messenger
has found thee!" and she pointed to the corpse of Paulus. "Pah! he has
an ugly look. Ho! guards!"

The door was opened, and two armed Gauls stepped across the threshold.

"Take away this carrion," said Cleopatra, "and fling it to the kites.
Stay, draw that dagger from his traitor breast." The men bowed low,
and the knife, rusted red with blood, was dragged from the heart of
Paulus and laid upon the table. Then they seized him by the head and
body and staggered thence, and I heard their heavy footfalls as they
bore him down the stairs.

"Methinks, Harmachis, thou art in an evil case," she said, when the
sound of the footfalls had died away. "How strangely the wheel of
Fortune turns! But for that traitor," and she nodded towards the door
through which the corpse of Paulus had been carried, "I should now be
as ill a thing to look on as he is, and the red rust on yonder knife
would have been gathered from /my/ heart."

So it was Paulus who had betrayed me.

"Ay," she went on, "and when thou camest to me last night, I /knew/
that thou camest to slay. When, time upon time, thou didst place thy
hand within thy robe, I knew that it grasped a dagger hilt, and that
thou wast gathering thy courage to the deed which thou didst little
love to do. Oh! it was a strange wild hour, well worth the living, and
I wondered greatly, from moment to moment, which of us twain would
conquer, as we matched guile with guile and force to force!

"Yea, Harmachis, the guards tramp before thy door, but be not
deceived. Did I not know that I hold thee to me by bonds more strong
than prison chains--did I not know that I am hedged from ill at thy
hands by a fence of honour harder for thee to pass than all the spears
of all my legions, thou hadst been dead ere now, Harmachis. See, here
is thy knife," and she handed me the dagger; "now slay me if thou
canst," and she drew near, tore open the bosom of her robe, and stood
waiting with calm eyes.

"Thou canst not slay me," she went on; "for there are things, as I
know well, that no man--no man such as thou art--may do and live: and
this is the chief of them--to slay the woman who is all his own. Nay,
stay thy hand! Turn not that dagger against thy breast, for if thou
mayst not slay me, by how much more mayst thou not slay thyself, O
thou forsworn Priest of Isis! Art thou, then, so eager to face that
outraged Majesty in Amenti? With what eyes, thinkest thou, will the
Heavenly Mother look upon Her son, who, shamed in all things and false
to his most sacred vow, comes to greet Her, his life-blood on his
hands? Where, then, will be the space for thy atonement?--if, indeed,
thou mayest atone!"

Then I could bear no more, for my heart was broken. Alas! it was too
true--I dared not die! I was come to such a pass that I did not even
dare to die! I flung myself upon the couch and wept--wept tears of
blood and anguish.

But Cleopatra came to me, and, seating herself beside me, she strove
to comfort me, throwing her arms about my neck.

"Nay, love, look up," she said; "all is not lost for thee, nor am I
angered against thee. We did play a mighty game; but, as I warned
thee, I matched my woman's magic against thine, and I have conquered.
But I will be open with thee. Both as Queen and woman thou hast my
pity--ay, and more; nor do I love to see thee plunged in sorrow. It
was well and right that thou shouldst strive to win back that throne
my fathers seized, and the ancient liberty of Egypt. Myself as lawful
Queen had done the same, nor shrunk from the deed of darkness to which
I was sworn. Therein, then, thou hast my sympathy, that ever goes out
to what is great and bold. It is well also that thou shouldst grieve
over the greatness of thy fall. Therein, then, as woman--as loving
woman--thou hast my sympathy. Nor is all lost. Thy plan was foolish--
for, as I hold, Egypt could never have stood alone--for though thou
hadst won the crown and country--as without a doubt thou must have
done--yet there was the Roman to be reckoned with. And for thy hope
learn this: I am little known. There is no heart in this wide land
that beats with a truer love for ancient Khem than does this heart of
mine--nay, not thine own, Harmachis. Yet I have been heavily shackled
heretofore--for wars, rebellions, envies, plots, have hemmed me in on
every side, so that I might not serve my people as I would. But thou,
Harmachis, shalt show me how. Thou shalt be my counsellor and my love.
Is it a little thing, Harmachis, to have won the heart of Cleopatra;
that heart--fie on thee!--that thou wouldst have stilled? Yes, /thou/
shalt unite me to my people and we will reign together, thus linking
in one the new kingdom and the old and the new thought and the old. So
do all things work for good--ay, for the very best: and thus, by
another and a gentler road, thou shalt climb to Pharaoh's throne.

"See thou this, Harmachis: thy treachery shall be cloaked about as
much as may be. Was it, then, thy fault that a Roman knave betrayed
thy plans? that, thereon, thou wast drugged, thy secret papers stolen
and their key guessed? Will it, then, be a blame to thee, the great
plot being broken and those who built it scattered, that thou, still
faithful to thy trust, didst serve thee of such means as Nature gave
thee, and win the heart of Egypt's Queen, that, through her gentle
love, thou mightest yet attain thy ends and spread thy wings of power
across the land of Nile? Am I an ill-counsellor, thinkest thou,

I lifted my head, and a ray of hope crept into the darkness of my
heart; for when men fall they grasp at feathers. Then, I spoke for the
first time:

"And those with me--those who trusted me--what of them?"

"Ay," she answered, "Amenemhat, thy father, the aged Priest of
Abouthis; and Sepa, thy uncle, that fiery patriot, whose great heart
is hid beneath so common a shell of form; and----"

I thought she would have said Charmion, but she named her not.

"And many others--oh, I know them all!"

"Ay!" I said, "what of them?"

"Hear now, Harmachis," she answered, rising and placing her hand upon
my arm, "for thy sake I will show mercy to them. I will do no more
than must be done. I swear by my throne and by all the Gods of Egypt
that not one hair of thy aged father's head shall be harmed by me;
and, if it be not too late, I will also spare thy uncle Sepa, ay, and
the others. I will not do as did my forefather, Epiphanes, who, when
the Egyptians rose against him, dragged Athinis, Pausiras, Chesuphus,
and Irobasthus, bound to his chariot--not as Achilles dragged Hector,
but yet living--round the city walls. I will spare them all, save the
Hebrews, if there be any Hebrews; for the Jews I hate."

"There are no Hebrews," I said.

"It is well," she said, "for no Hebrew will I ever spare. Am I then,
indeed, so cruel a woman as they say? In thy list, Harmachis, were
many doomed to die; and I have but taken the life of one Roman knave,
a double traitor, for he betrayed both me and thee. Art thou not
overwhelmed, Harmachis, with the weight of mercy which I give thee,
because--such are a woman's reasons--thou pleasest me, Harmachis? Nay,
by Serapis!" she added with a little laugh, "I'll change my mind; I
will not give thee so much for nothing. Thou shalt buy it from me, and
the price shall be a heavy one--it shall be a kiss, Harmachis."

"Nay," I said, turning from that fair temptress, "the price is too
heavy; I kiss no more."

"Bethink thee," she answered, with a heavy frown. "Bethink thee and
choose. I am but a woman, Harmachis, and one who is not wont to sue to
men. Do as thou wilt; but this I say to thee--if thou dost put me
away, I will gather up the mercy I have meted out. Therefore, most
virtuous priest, choose thou between the heavy burden of my love and
the swift death of thy aged father and of all those who plotted with

I glanced at her and saw that she was angered, for her eyes shone and
her bosom heaved. So, I sighed and kissed her, thereby setting the
seal upon my shame and bondage. Then, smiling like the triumphant
Aphrodité of the Greeks, she went thence, bearing the dagger with her.

I knew not yet how deeply I was betrayed; or why I was still left to
draw the breath of life; or why Cleopatra, the tiger-hearted, had
grown merciful. I did not know that she feared to slay me, lest, so
strong was the plot and so feeble her hold upon the Double Crown, the
tumult that might tread hard upon the tidings of my murder should
shake her from the throne--even when I was no more. I did not know
that because of fear and the weight of policy only she showed scant
mercy to those whom I had betrayed, or that because of cunning and not
for the holy sake of woman's love--though, in truth, she liked me well
enough--she chose rather to bind me to her by the fibres of my heart.
And yet I will say this in her behalf: even when the danger-cloud had
melted from her sky she kept faith, nor, save Paulus and one other,
did any suffer the utmost penalty of death for their part in the great
plot against Cleopatra's crown and dynasty. But they suffered many
other things.

And so she went, leaving the vision of her glory to strive with the
shame and sorrow in my heart. Oh, bitter were the hours that could not
now be made light with prayer. For the link between me and the Divine
was snapped, and Isis communed with Her Priest no more. Bitter were
the hours and dark, but ever through their darkness shone the starry
eyes of Cleopatra, and came the echo of her whispered love. For not
yet was the cup of sorrow full. Hope still lingered in my heart, and I
could almost think that I had failed to some higher end, and that in
the depths of ruin I should find another and more flowery path to

For thus those who sin deceive themselves, striving to lay the burden
of their evil deeds upon the back of Fate, striving to believe their
wickedness may compass good, and to murder Conscience with the sharp
plea of Necessity. But it can avail nothing, for hand in hand down the
path of sin rush Remorse and Ruin, and woe to him they follow! Ay, and
woe to me who of all sinners am the chief!



For a space of eleven days I was thus kept prisoned in my chamber; nor
did I see anyone except the sentries at my doors, the slaves who in
silence brought me food and drink, and Cleopatra's self, who came
continually. But, though her words of love were many, she would tell
me nothing of how things went without. She came in many moods--now gay
and laughing, now full of wise thoughts and speech, and now passionate
only, and to every mood she gave some new-found charm. She was full of
talk as to how I should help her make Egypt great, and lessen the
burdens on the people, and fright the Roman eagles back. And, though
at first I listened heavily when she spoke thus, by slow advance as
she wrapped me closer and yet more close in her magic web, from which
there was no escape, my mind fell in time with hers. Then I, too,
opened something of my heart, and somewhat also of the plans that I
had formed for Egypt. She seemed to listen gladly, weighing them all,
and spoke of means and methods, telling me how she would purify the
Faith and repair the ancient temples--ay, and build new ones to the
Gods. And ever she crept deeper into my heart, till at length, now
that every other thing had gone from me, I learned to love her with
all the unspent passion of my aching soul. I had naught left to me but
Cleopatra's love, and I twined my life about it, and brooded on it as
a widow over her only babe. And thus the very author of my shame
became my all, my dearest dear, and I loved her with a strong love
that grew and grew, till it seemed to swallow up the past and make the
present a dream. For she had conquered me, she had robbed me of my
honour, and steeped me to the lips in shame, and I, poor fallen,
blinded wretch, I kissed the rod that smote me, and was her very

Ay, even now, in those dreams which still come when Sleep unlocks the
secret heart, and sets its terrors free to roam through the opened
halls of Thought, I seem to see her royal form, as erst I saw it, come
with arms outstretched and Love's own light shining in her eyes, with
lips apart and flowing locks, and stamped upon her face the look of
utter tenderness that she alone could wear. Ay, still, after all the
years, I seem to see her come as erst she came, and still I wake to
know her an unutterable lie!

And thus one day she came. She had fled in haste, she said, from some
great council summoned concerning the wars of Antony in Syria, and she
came, as she had left the council, in all her robes of state, the
sceptre in her hand, and on her brow the uręus diadem of gold. There
she sat before me, laughing; for, wearying of them, she had told the
envoys to whom she gave audience in the council that she was called
from their presence by a sudden message come from Rome; and the jest
seemed merry to her. Suddenly she rose, took the diadem from her brow,
and set it on my hair, and on my shoulders her royal mantle, and in my
hand the sceptre, and bowed the knee before me. Then, laughing again,
she kissed me on the lips, and said I was indeed her King. But,
remembering how I had been crowned in the halls of Abouthis, and
remembering also that wreath of roses of which the odour haunts me
yet, I rose, pale with wrath, and cast the trinkets from me, asking
how she dared to mock me--her caged bird. And I think there was that
about me which startled her, for she fell back.

"Nay, Harmachis," she said, "be not wroth! How knowest thou that I
mock thee? How knowest thou that thou shalt not be Pharaoh in fact and

"What meanest thou?" I said. "Wilt thou, then, wed me before Egypt?
How else can I be Pharaoh now?"

She cast down her eyes. "Perchance, love, it is in my mind to wed
thee," she said gently. "Listen," she went on: "Thou growest pale,
here, in this prison, and thou dost eat little. Gainsay me not! I know
it from the slaves. I have kept thee here, Harmachis, for thy own
sake, that is so dear to me; and for thy own sake, and thy honour's
sake, thou must still seem to be my prisoner. Else wouldst thou be
shamed and slain--ay, murdered secretly. But I can meet thee here no
more! therefore to-morrow I shall free thee in all, save in the name,
and thou shalt once more be seen at Court as my astronomer. And I will
give this reason--that thou hast cleared thyself; and, moreover, that
thy auguries as regards the war have been auguries of truth--as,
indeed, they have, though for this I have no cause to thank thee,
seeing that thou didst suit thy prophecies to fit thy cause. Now,
farewell; for I must return to those heavy-browed ambassadors; and
grow not so sudden wroth, Harmachis, for who knows what may come to
pass betwixt thee and me?"

And, with a little nod, she went, leaving it on my mind that she had
it in her heart to wed me openly. And of a truth, I believe that, at
this hour, such was her thought. For, if she loved me not, still she
held me dear, and as yet she had not wearied of me.

On the morrow Cleopatra came not, but Charmion came--Charmion, whom I
had not seen since that fatal night of ruin. She entered and stood
before me, with pale face and downcast eyes, and her first words were
words of bitterness.

"Pardon me," she said, in her gentle voice, "in that I dare to come to
thee in Cleopatra's place. Thy joy is not delayed for long, for thou
shalt see her presently."

I shrank at her words, as well I might, and, seeing her vantage, she
seized it.

"I come, Harmachis--royal no more!--I come to say that thou art free!
Thou art free to face thine own infamy, and see it thrown back from
every eye which trusted thee, as shadows are from water. I come to
tell thee that the great plot--the plot of twenty years and more--is
at its utter end. None have been slain, indeed, unless it is Sepa, who
has vanished. But all the leaders have been seized and put in chains,
or driven from the land, and their party is broken and scattered. The
storm has melted before it burst. Egypt is lost, and lost for ever,
for her last hope is gone! No longer may she struggle--now for all
time she must bow her neck to the yoke, and bare her back to the rod
of the oppressor!"

I groaned aloud. "Alas, I was betrayed!" I said. "Paulus betrayed us."

"Thou wast betrayed? Nay, thou thyself wast the betrayer! How came it
that thou didst not slay Cleopatra when thou wast alone with her?
Speak, thou forsworn!"

"She drugged me," I said again.

"O Harmachis!" answered the pitiless girl, "how low art thou fallen
from that Prince whom once I knew!--thou who dost not scorn to be a
liar! Yea, thou wast drugged--drugged with a love-philtre! Yea, thou
didst sell Egypt and thy cause for the price of a wanton's kiss! Thou
Sorrow and thou Shame!" she went on, pointing her finger at me and
lifting her eyes to my face, "thou Scorn!--thou Outcast!--and thou
Contempt! Deny if it thou canst. Ay, shrink from me--knowing what thou
art, well mayst thou shrink! Crawl to Cleopatra's feet, and kiss her
sandals till such time as it pleases her to trample thee in thy
kindred dirt; but from all honest folk /shrink!/--/shrink!/"

My soul quivered beneath the lash of her bitter scorn and hate, but I
had no words to answer.

"How comes it," I said at last in a heavy voice, "that thou, too, art
not betrayed, but art still here to taunt me, thou who once didst
swear that thou didst love me? Being a woman, hast thou no pity for
the frailty of man?"

"My name was not on the lists," she said, dropping her dark eyes.
"Here is an opportunity: betray me also, Harmachis! Ay, it is because
I once loved thee--dost thou, indeed, remember it?--that I feel thy
fall the more. The shame of one whom we have loved must in some sort
become our shame, and must ever cling to us, because we blindly held a
thing so base close to our inmost heart. Art thou also, then, a fool?
Wouldst thou, fresh from thy royal wanton's arms, come to me for
comfort--to /me/ of all the world?"

"How know I," I said, "that it was not thou who, in thy jealous anger,
didst betray our plans? Charmion, long ago Sepa warned me against
thee, and of a truth now that I recall----"

"It is like a traitor," she broke in, reddening to her brow, "to think
that all are of his family, and hold a common mind! Nay, I betrayed
thee not; it was that poor knave, Paulus, whose heart failed him at
the last, and who is rightly served. Nor will I stay to hear thoughts
so base. Harmachis--royal no more!--Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, bids me
say that thou art free, and that she waits thee in the Alabaster

And shooting one swift glance through her long lashes she curtsied and
was gone.

So once more I came and went about the Court, though but sparingly,
for my heart was full of shame and terror, and on every face I feared
to see the scorn of those who knew me for what I was. But I saw
nothing, for all those who had knowledge of the plot had fled, and
Charmion had spoken no word, for her own sake. Also, Cleopatra had put
it about that I was innocent. But my guilt lay heavy on me, and made
me thin and wore away the beauty of my countenance. And though I was
free in name, yet I was ever watched; nor might I stir beyond the
palace grounds.

And at length came the day which brought with it Quintus Dellius, that
false Roman knight who ever served the rising star. He bore letters to
Cleopatra from Marcus Antonius, the Triumvir, who, fresh from the
victory of Philippi, was now in Asia wringing gold from the subject
kings with which to satisfy the greed of his legionaries.

Well I mind me of the day. Cleopatra, clad in her robes of state,
attended by the officers of her Court, among whom I stood, sat in the
great hall on her throne of gold, and bade the heralds admit the
Ambassador of Antony, the Triumvir. The great doors were thrown wide,
and amidst the blare of trumpets and salutes of the Gallic guards the
Roman came in, clad in glittering golden armour and a scarlet cloak of
silk, and followed by his suite of officers. He was smooth-faced and
fair to look upon, and with a supple form; but his mouth was cold, and
false were his shifting eyes. And while the heralds called out his
name, titles, and offices, he fixed his gaze on Cleopatra--who sat
idly on her throne all radiant with beauty--as a man who is amazed.
Then when the heralds had made an end, and he still stood thus, not
stirring, Cleopatra spoke in the Latin tongue:

"Greeting to thee, noble Dellius, envoy of the most mighty Antony,
whose shadow lies across the world as though Mars himself now towered
up above us petty Princes--greeting and welcome to our poor city of
Alexandria. Unfold, we pray thee, the purpose of thy coming."

Still the crafty Dellius made no answer, but stood as a man amazed.

"What ails thee, noble Dellius, that thou dost not speak?" asked
Cleopatra. "Hast thou, then, wandered so long in Asia that the doors
of Roman speech are shut to thee? What tongue hast thou? Name it, and
We will speak in it--for all tongues are known to Us."

Then at last he spoke in a soft full voice: "Oh, pardon me, most
lovely Egypt, if I have thus been stricken dumb before thee: but too
great beauty, like Death himself, doth paralyse the tongue and steal
our sense away. The eyes of him who looks upon the fires of the mid-
day sun are blind to all beside, and thus this sudden vision of thy
glory, royal Egypt, overwhelmed my mind, and left me helpless and
unwitting of all things else."

"Of a truth, noble Dellius," answered Cleopatra, "they teach a pretty
school of flattery yonder in Cilicia."

"How goes the saying here in Alexandria?" replied the courtly Roman:
"'The breath of flattery cannot waft a cloud,'[*] does it not? But to
my task. Here, royal Egypt, are letters under the hand and seal of the
noble Antony treating of certain matters of the State. Is it thy
pleasure that I should read them openly?"

[*] In other words, what is Divine is beyond the reach of human

"Break the seals and read," she answered.

Then bowing, he broke the seals and read:

"The /Triumviri Reipublicę Constituendę/, by the mouth of Marcus
Antonius, the Triumvir, to Cleopatra, by grace of the Roman People
Queen of Upper and Lower Egypt, send greeting. Whereas it has come to
our knowledge that thou, Cleopatra, hast, contrary to thy promise and
thy duty, both by thy servant Allienus and by thy servant Serapion,
the Governor of Cyprus, aided the rebel murderer Cassius against the
arms of the most noble Triumvirate. And, whereas it has come to our
knowledge that thou thyself wast but lately making ready a great fleet
to this end. We summon thee that thou dost without delay journey to
Cilicia, there to meet the noble Antony, and in person make answer
concerning these charges which are laid against thee. And we warn thee
that if thou dost disobey this our summons it is at thy peril.

The eyes of Cleopatra flashed as she hearkened to these high words,
and I saw her hands tighten on the golden lions' heads whereon they

"We have had the flattery," she said; "and now, lest we be cloyed with
sweets, we have its antidote! Listen thou, Dellius: the charges in
that letter, or, rather, in that writ of summons, are false, as all
folk can bear us witness. But it is not now, and it is not to thee,
that We will make defence of our acts of war and policy. Nor will We
leave our kingdom to journey into far Cilicia, and there, like some
poor suppliant at law, plead our cause before the Court of the Noble
Antony. If Antony would have speech with us, and inquire concerning
these high matters, the sea is open, and his welcome shall be royal.
Let him come thither! That is our answer to thee and to the
Triumvirate, O Dellius!"

But Dellius smiled as one who would put away the weight of wrath, and
once more spoke:

"Royal Egypt, thou knowest not the noble Antony. He is stern on paper,
and ever he sets down his thoughts as though his stylus were a spear
dipped in the blood of men. But face to face with him, thou, of all
the world, shalt find him the gentlest warrior that ever won a battle.
Be advised, O Egypt! and come. Send me not hence with such angry
words, for if thou dost draw Antony to Alexandria, then woe to
Alexandria, to the people of the Nile, and to thee, great Egypt! For
then he will come armed and breathing war, and it shall go hard with
thee, who dost defy the gathered might of Rome. I pray thee, then,
obey this summons. Come to Cilicia; come with peaceful gifts and not
in arms. Come in thy beauty, and tricked in thy best attire, and thou
hast naught to fear from the noble Antony." He paused and looked at
her meaningly; while I, taking his drift, felt the angry blood surge
into my face.

Cleopatra, too, understood, for I saw her rest her chin upon her hand
and the cloud of thought gathered in her eyes. For a time she sat
thus, while the crafty Dellius watched her curiously. And Charmion,
standing with the other ladies by the throne, she also read his
meaning, for her face lit up, as a summer cloud lights in the evening
when the broad lightning flares behind it. Then once more it grew pale
and quiet.

At length Cleopatra spoke. "This is a heavy matter," she said, 'and
therefore, noble Dellius, we must have time to let our judgment ripen.
Rest thou here, and make thee as merry as our poor circumstances
allow. Thou shalt have thy answer within ten days."

The envoy thought awhile, then replied smiling: "It is well, O Egypt;
on the tenth day from now I will attend for my answer, and on the
eleventh I sail hence to join Antony my Lord."

Once more, at a sign from Cleopatra, the trumpets blared, and he
withdrew bowing.



That same night Cleopatra summoned me to her private chamber. I went,
and found her much troubled in mind; never before had I seen her so
deeply moved. She was alone, and, like some trapped lioness, walked to
and fro across the marble floor, while thought chased thought across
her mind, each, as clouds scudding over the sea, for a moment casting
its shadow in her deep eyes.

"So thou art come, Harmachis," she said, resting for a while, as she
took my hand. "Counsel me, for never did I need counsel more. Oh, what
days have the Gods measured out to me--days restless as the ocean! I
have known no peace from childhood up, and it seems none shall I know.
Scarce by a very little have I escaped thy dagger's point, Harmachis,
when this new trouble, that, like a storm, has gathered beneath the
horizon's rim, suddenly bursts over me. Didst mark that tigerish fop?
Well should I love to trap him! How soft he spoke! Ay, he purred like
a cat, and all the time he stretched his claws. Didst hear the letter,
too? it has an ugly sound. I know this Antony. When I was but a child,
budding into womanhood, I saw him; but my eyes were ever quick, and I
took his measure. Half Hercules and half a fool, with a dash of genius
veining his folly through. Easily led by those who enter at the gates
of his voluptuous sense; but if crossed, an iron foe. True to his
friends, if, indeed, he loves them; and ofttimes false to his own
interest. Generous, hardy, and in adversity a man of virtue; in
prosperity a sot and a slave to woman. That is Antony. How deal with
such a man, whom fate and opportunity, despite himself, have set on
the crest of fortune's wave? One day it will overwhelm him; but till
that day he sweeps across the world and laughs at those who drown."

"Antony is but a man," I answered, "and a man with many foes; and,
being but a man, he can be overthrown."

"Ay, he can be overthrown; but he is one of three, Harmachis. Now that
Cassius hath gone where all fools go, Rome has thrown out a hydra
head. Crush one, and another hisses in thy face. There's Lepidus, and
with him, that young Octavianus, whose cold eyes may yet with a smile
of triumph look on the murdered forms of empty, worthless Lepidus, of
Antony, and of Cleopatra. If I go not to Cilicia, mark thou! Antony
will knit up a peace with these Parthians, and, taking the tales they
tell of me for truth--and, indeed, there is truth in them--will fall
with all his force on Egypt. And how then?"

"How then? Why, then we'll drum him back to Rome."

"Ah, thou sayest so, and, perchance, Harmachis, had I not won that
game we played together some twelve days gone, thou, being Pharaoh,
mightest well have done this thing, for round thy throne old Egypt
would have gathered. But Egypt loves not me nor my Greek blood; and I
have but now scattered that great plot of thine, in which half the
land was meshed. Will these men, then, arise to succour me? Were Egypt
true to me, I could, indeed, hold my own against all the force that
Rome may bring; but Egypt hates me, and had as lief be ruled by the
Roman as the Greek. Still I might make defence had I the gold, for
with money soldiers can be bought to feed the maw of mercenary battle.
But I have none; my treasuries are dry, and though there is wealth in
the land, yet debts perplex me. These wars have brought me ruin, and I
know not how to find a talent. Perchance, Harmachis, thou who art, by
hereditary right, Priest of the Pyramids," and she drew near and
looked me in the eyes, "perchance, if long descended rumour does not
lie, thou canst tell me where I can touch the gold to save thy land
from ruin, and thy Love from the grasp of Antony? Say, is it so?"

I thought a while, and then I answered:

"And if such a tale were true, and if I could show thee treasure
stored by the mighty Pharaohs of the most far-off age against the
needs of Khem, how can I know that thou wouldst indeed make use of
that wealth to those good ends?"

"Is there, then, a treasure?" she asked curiously. "Nay, fret me not,
Harmachis; for of a truth the very name of gold at this time of want
is like the sight of water in the desert."

"I believe," I said, "that there is such a treasure, though I myself
have never seen it. But I know this, that if it still lie in the place
where it was set, it is because so heavy a curse will rest upon him
who shall lay hands on it wickedly and for selfish ends, that none of
those Pharaohs to whom it has been shown have dared to touch it,
however sore their need."

"So," she said, "they were cowardly aforetime, or else their need was
not great. Wilt thou show me this treasure, then, Harmachis?"

"Perhaps," I answered, "I will show it to thee if it still be there,
when thou hast sworn that thou wilt use it to defend Egypt from this
Roman Antony and for the welfare of her people."

"I swear it!" she said earnestly. "Oh, I swear by every God in Khem
that if thou showest me this great treasure, I will defy Antony and
send Dellius back to Cilicia with sharper words than those he brought.
Yes, I'll do more, Harmachis: so soon as may be, I will take thee to
husband before all the world, and thou thyself shalt carry out thy
plans and beat off the Roman eagles."

Thus she spoke, gazing at me with truthful, earnest eyes. I believed
her, and for the first time since my fall was for a moment happy,
thinking that all was not lost to me, and that with Cleopatra, whom I
loved thus madly, I might yet win my place and power back.

"Swear it, Cleopatra!" I said.

"I swear, beloved! and thus I seal my oath!" and she kissed me on the
forehead. And I, too, kissed her; and we talked of what we would do
when we were wed, and how we should overcome the Roman.

And thus I was again beguiled; though I believe that, had it not been
for the jealous anger of Charmion--which, as shall be seen, was ever
urging her forward to fresh deeds of shame--Cleopatra would have
wedded me and broken with the Roman. And, indeed, in the issue, it had
been better for her and Egypt.

We sat far into the night, and I revealed to her somewhat of that
ancient secret of the mighty treasure hid beneath the mass of /Her/.
Thither, it was agreed, we should go on the morrow, and the second
night from now attempt its search. So, early on the next day, a boat
was secretly made ready, and Cleopatra entered it, veiled as an
Egyptian lady about to make a pilgrimage to the Temple of Horemkhu.
And I also entered, cloaked as a pilgrim, and with us ten of her most
trusted servants disguised as sailors. But Charmion went not with us.
We sailed with a fair wind from the Canopic mouth of the Nile; and
that night, pushing on with the moon, we reached Sais at midnight, and
here rested for a while. At dawn we once more loosed our craft, and
all that day sailed swiftly, till, at last, at the third hour from the
sunset, we came in sight of the lights of that fortress which is
called Babylon. Here, on the opposite bank of the river, we moored our
ship safely in a bed of reeds.

Then, on foot and secretly, we set out for the pyramids, which were at
a distance of two leagues, Cleopatra, I and one trusted eunuch, for we
left the other servants with the boat. Only I caught an ass for
Cleopatra to ride that was wandering in a tilled field, and threw a
cloak upon it. She sat on it and I led the ass by paths I knew, the
eunuch following us on foot. And, within little more than an hour,
having gained the great causeway, we saw the mighty pyramids towering
up through the moonlit air and aweing us to silence. We passed on in
utter silence, through the haunted city of the dead, for all around us
stood the solemn tombs, till at length we climbed the rocky hill, and
stood in the deep shadow of Khufu Khut, the splendid Throne of Khufu.

"Of a truth," whispered Cleopatra, as she gazed up the dazzling marble
slope above her, everywhere blazoned over with a million mystic
characters--"of a truth, there were Gods ruling in Khem in those days,
and not men. This place is sad as Death--ay, and as mighty and far
from man. Is it here that we must enter?"

"Nay," I answered, "it is not here. Pass on."

I led the way through a thousand ancient tombs, till we stood in the
shadow of Ur the Great, and gazed at his red heaven-piercing mass.

"Is it here that we must enter?" she whispered once again.

"Nay," I answered, "it is not here. Pass on."

We passed on through many more tombs, till we stood in the shadow of
/Her/,[*] and Cleopatra gazed astonished at its polished beauty, which
for thousands of years, night by night, had mirrored back the moon,
and at the black girdle of Ethiopian stone that circled its base
about. For this is the most beautiful of all pyramids.

[*] The "Upper," now known as the Third Pyramid.--Editor.

"Is it that we must enter?" she said.

I answered, "It is here."

We passed round between the Temple of the Worship of his Divine
Majesty, Menkau-ra, the Osirian, and in the base of the pyramid till
we came to the north side. Here in the centre is graved the name of
Pharaoh Menkau-ra, who built the pyramid to be his tomb, and stored
his treasure in it against the need of Khem.

"If the treasure still remains," I said to Cleopatra, "as it remained
in the days of my great-great-grandfather, who was Priest of this
Pyramid before me, it is hid deep in the womb of the mass before thee,
Cleopatra; nor can it be come by without toil, danger, and terror of
mind. Art thou prepared to enter--for thou thyself must enter and must

"Canst thou not go in with the eunuch, Harmachis, and bring the
treasure forth?" she said, for a little her courage began to fail her.

"Nay, Cleopatra," I answered, "not even for thee and for the weal of
Egypt can I do this thing, for of all sins it would be the greatest
sin. But it is lawful for me to do this. I, as hereditary holder of
the secret, may, upon demand, show to the ruling monarch of Khem the
place where the treasure lies, and show also the warning that is
written. And if on seeing and reading, the Pharaoh deems that the need
of Khem is so sore and strait that it is lawful for him to brave the
curse of the Dead and draw forth the treasure, it is well, for on his
head must rest the weight of this dread deed. Three monarchs--so say
the records that I have read--have thus dared to enter in the time of
need. They were the Divine Queen Hatshepsu, that wonder known to the
Gods alone; her Divine brother Tahutimes Men-Kheper-ra; and the Divine
Rameses Mi-amen. But of these three Majesties, not one when they saw
dared to touch; for, though sharp their need, it was not great enough
to consecrate the act. So, fearing lest the curse should fall upon
them, they went hence sorrowing."

She thought a little, till at last her spirit overcame her fear.

"At the least I will see with mine own eyes," she said.

"It is well," I answered. Then, stones having been piled up by me and
the eunuch who was with us on a certain spot at the base of the
pyramid, to somewhat more than the height of a man, I climbed on them
and searched for the secret mark, no larger than a leaf. I found it
with some trouble, for the weather and the rubbing of the wind-stirred
sand had worn even the Ethiopian stone. Having found it, I pressed on
it with all my strength in a certain fashion. even after the lapse of
many years the stone swung round, showing a little opening, through
which a man might scarcely creep. As it swung, a mighty bat, white in
colour as though with unreckoned age, and such as I had never seen
before for bigness, for his measure was the measure of a hawk, flew
forth and for a moment hovered over Cleopatra, then sailed slowly up
and up in circles, till at last he was lost in the bright light of the

But Cleopatra uttered a cry of terror, and the eunuch, who was
watching, fell down in fear, believing it to be the guardian Spirit of
the pyramid. And I, too, feared, though I said nothing. For even now I
believe that it was the Spirit of Menkau-ra, the Osirian, who, taking
the form of a bat, flew forth from his holy House in warning.

I waited a while, till the foul air should clear from the passage.
Then I drew out the lamps, kindled them, and passed them, to the
number of three, into the entrance of the passage. This done, I went
to the eunuch, and, taking him aside, I swore him by the living spirit
of Him who sleeps at Abouthis that he should not reveal those things
which he was about to see.

This he swore, trembling sorely, for he was very much afraid. Nor,
indeed, did he reveal them.

This done, I clambered through the opening, taking with me a coil of
rope, which I wound around my middle, and beckoned to Cleopatra to
come. Making fast the skirt of her robe, she came, and I drew her
through the opening, so that at length she stood behind me in the
passage which is lined with slabs of granite. After her came the
eunuch, and he also stood in the passage. Then, having taken counsel
of the plan of the passage that I had brought with me, and which, in
signs that none but the initiated can read, was copied from those
ancient writings that had come down to me through one-and-forty
generations of my predecessors, the Priests of this Pyramid of /Her/,
and of the worship of the Temple of the Divine Menkau-ra, the Osirian,
I led the way through that darksome place towards the utter silence of
the tomb. Guided by the feeble light of our lamps, we passed down the
steep incline, gasping in the heat and the thick, stagnated air.
Presently we had left the region of the masonry and were slipping down
a gallery hewn in the living rock. For twenty paces or more it ran
steeply. Then its slope lessened and shortly we found ourselves in a
chamber painted white, so low that I, being tall, had scarcely room to
stand; but in length four paces, and in breadth three, and cased
throughout with sculptured panels. Here Cleopatra sank upon the floor
and rested awhile, overcome by the heat and the utter darkness.

"Rise!" I said. "We must not linger here, or we faint."

So she rose, and passing hand in hand through that chamber, we found
ourselves face to face with a mighty door of granite, let down from
the roof in grooves. Once more I took counsel of the plan, pressed
with my foot upon a certain stone, and waited. Then, suddenly and
softly, I know not by what means, the mass heaved itself from its bed
of living rock. We passed beneath, and found ourselves face to face
with a second door of granite. Again I pressed on a certain spot, and
this door swung wide of itself, and we went through, to find ourselves
face to face with a third door, yet more mighty than the two through
which we had won our way. Following the secret plan, I struck this
door with my foot upon a certain spot, and it sank slowly as though at
a word of magic till its head was level with the floor of rock. We
crossed and gained another passage which, descending gently for a
length of fourteen paces, led us into a great chamber, paved with
black marble, more than nine cubits high, by nine cubits broad, and
thirty cubits long. In this marble floor was sunk a great sarcophagus
of granite, and on its lid were graved the name and titles of the
Queen of Menkau-ra. In this chamber, too, the air was purer, though I
know not by what means it came thither.

"Is the treasure here?" gasped Cleopatra.

"Nay," I answered; "follow me," and I led the way to a gallery, which
we entered through an opening in the floor of the great chamber. It
had been closed by a trap-door of stone, but the door was open.
Creeping along this shaft, or passage, for some ten paces, we came at
length to a well, seven cubits in depth. Making fast one end of the
rope that I had brought about my body and the other to a ring in the
rock, I was lowered, holding the lamp in my hand, till I stood in the
last resting-place of the Divine Menkau-ra. Then the rope was drawn
up, and Cleopatra, being made fast to it, was let down by the eunuch,
and I received her in my arms. But I bade the eunuch, sorely against
his will, since he feared to be left alone, await our return at the
mouth of the shaft. For it was not lawful that he should enter whither
we went.



We stood within a small arched chamber, paved and lined with great
blocks of the granite stone of Syene. There before us--hewn from a
single mass of basalt shaped like a wooden house and resting on a
sphinx with a face of gold--was the sarcophagus of the Divine

We stood and gazed in awe, for the weight of the silence and the
solemnity of that holy place seemed to crush us. Above us, cubit over
cubit in its mighty measure, the pyramid towered up to heaven and was
kissed of the night air. But we were deep in the bowels of the rock
beneath its base. We were alone with the dead, whose rest we were
about to break; and no sound of the murmuring air, and no sight of
life came to dull the awful edge of solitude. I gazed on the
sarcophagus; its heavy lid had been lifted and rested at its side, and
around it the dust of ages had gathered thick.

"See," I whispered, pointing to a writing, daubed with pigment upon
the wall in the sacred symbols of ancient times.

"Read it, Harmachis," answered Cleopatra, in the same low voice; "for
I cannot."

Then I read: "I, Rameses Mi-amen, in my day and in my hour of need,
visited this sepulchre. But, though great my need and bold my heart, I
dared not face the curse of Menkau-ra. Judge, O thou who shalt come
after me, and, if thy soul is pure and Khem be utterly distressed,
take thou that which I have left."

"Where, then, is the treasure?" she whispered. "Is that Sphinx-face of

"Even there," I answered, pointing to the sarcophagus. "Draw near and

And she took my hand and drew near.

The cover was off, but the painted coffin of the Pharaoh lay in the
depths of the sarcophagus. We climbed the Sphinx, then I blew the dust
from the coffin with my breath and read that which was written on its
lid. And this was written:

 "Pharaoh Menkau-ra, the Child of Heaven.

 "Pharaoh Menkau-ra, Royal Son of the Sun.

 "Pharaoh Menkau-ra, who didst lie beneath the heart of Nout.

 "Nout, thy Mother, wraps thee in the spell of Her holy name.

 "The name of thy Mother, Nout, is the mystery of Heaven.

 "Nout, thy Mother, gathers thee to the number of the Gods.

 "Nout, thy Mother, breathes on thy foes and utterly destroys them.

 "O Pharaoh Menkau-ra, who livest for ever!"

"Where, then, is the treasure?" she asked again. "Here, indeed, is the
body of the Divine Menkau-ra; but the flesh even of Pharaohs is not
gold, and if the face of this Sphinx be gold how may we move it?"

For answer I bade her stand upon the Sphinx and grasp the upper part
of the coffin while I grasped its foot. Then, at my word, we lifted,
and the lid of the case, which was not fixed, came away, and we set it
upon the floor. And there in the case was the mummy of Pharaoh, as it
had been laid three thousand years before. It was a large mummy, and
somewhat ungainly. Nor was it adorned with a gilded mask, as is the
fashion of our day, for the head was wrapped in clothes yellow with
age, which were made fast with pink flaxen bandages, under which were
pushed the stems of lotus-blooms. And on the breast, wreathed round
with lotus-flowers, lay a large plate of gold closely written over
with sacred writing. I lifted up the plate, and, holding it to the
light, I read:

 "I, Menkau-ra, the Osirian, aforetime Pharaoh of the Land of Khem,
  who in my day did live justly and ever walked in the path marked
  for my feet by the decree of the Invisible, who was the beginning
  and is the end, speak from my tomb to those who after me shall for
  an hour sit upon my Throne. Behold, I, Menkau-ra, the Osirian,
  having in the days of my life been warned of a dream that a time
  will come when Khem shall fear to fall into the hands of
  strangers, and her monarch shall have great need of treasure
  wherewith to furnish armies to drive the barbarian back, have out
  of my wisdom done this thing. For it having pleased the protecting
  Gods to give me wealth beyond any Pharaoh who has been since the
  days of Horus--thousands of cattle and geese, thousands of calves
  and asses, thousands of measures of corn, and hundreds of measures
  of gold and gems; this wealth I have used sparingly, and that
  which remains I have bartered for precious stones--even for
  emeralds, the most beautiful and largest that are in the world.
  These stones, then, I have stored up against that day of the need
  of Khem. But because as there have been, so there shall be, those
  who do wickedly on the earth, and who, in the lust of gain, might
  seize this wealth that I have stored, and put it to their uses;
  behold, thou Unborn One, who in the fulness of time shalt stand
  above me and read this that I have caused to be written, I have
  stored the treasure thus--even among my bones. Therefore, O thou
  Unborn One, sleeping in the womb of Nout, I say this to thee! If
  thou indeed hast need of riches to save Khem from the foes of
  Khem, fear not and delay not, but tear me, the Osirian, from my
  tomb, loose my wrappings and rip the treasure from my breast, and
  all shall be well with thee; for this only I do command, that thou
  dost replace my bones within my hollow coffin. But if the need be
  passing and not great, or if there be guile in thy heart, then the
  curse of Menkau-ra be on thee! On thee be the curse that shall
  smite him who breaks in upon the dead! On thee be the curse that
  follows the traitor! On thee be the curse that smites him who
  outrages the Majesty of the Gods! Unhappy shalt thou live, in
  blood and misery shalt thou die, and in misery shalt thou be
  tormented for ever and for ever! For, Wicked One, there in Amenti
  we shall come face to face!

 "And to the end of the keeping of this secret, I, Menkau-ra, have
  set up a Temple of my Worship, which I have built upon the
  eastern side of this my House of Death. It shall be made known
  from time to time to the Hereditary High Priest of this my Temple.
  And if any High Priest that shall be do reveal this secret to
  another than the Pharaoh, or Her who wears the Pharaoh's crown and
  is seated upon the throne of Khem, accursed be he also. Thus have
  I, Menkau-ra, the Osirian, written. Now to thee, who, sleeping in
  the womb of Nout, yet shall upon a time stand over me and read, I
  say, judge thou! and if thou judgest evilly, on thee shall fall
  this the curse of Menkau-ra from which there is no escape.
  Greeting and farewell."

"Thou hast heard, O Cleopatra," I said solemnly; "now search thy
heart; judge thou, and for thine own sake judge justly."

She bent her head in thought.

"I fear to do this thing," she said presently. "Let us hence."

"It is well," I said, with a lightening of the heart, and bent down to
lift the wooden lid. For I, too, feared.

"And yet, what said the writing of the Divine Menkau-ra?--it was
emeralds, was it not? And emeralds are now so rare and hard to come
by. Ever did I love emeralds, and I can never find them without a

"It is not a matter of what thou dost love, Cleopatra," I said; "it is
a matter of the need of Khem and of the secret meaning of thy heart,
which thou alone canst know."

"Ay, surely, Harmachis; surely! And is not the need of Egypt great?
There is no gold in the treasury, and how can I defy the Roman if I
have no gold? And have I not sworn to thee that I will wed thee and
defy the Roman; and do I not swear it again--yes, even in this solemn
hour, with my hand upon dead Pharaoh's heart? Why, here is that
occasion of which the Divine Menkau-ra dreamed. Thou seest it is so,
for else Hat-shepsu or Rameses or some other Pharaoh had drawn forth
the gems. But no; they left them to come to this hour because the time
was not yet come. Now it must be come, for if I take not the gems the
Roman will surely seize on Egypt, and then there will be no Pharaoh to
whom the secret may be told. Nay, let us away with fears and to the
work. Why dost look so frightened? Having pure hearts, there is naught
to fear, Harmachis."

"Even as thou wilt," I said again; "it is for thee to judge, since if
thou judgest falsely on thee will surely fall the curse from which
there is no escape."

"So, Harmachis, take Pharaoh's head and I will take his---- Oh, what
an awful place is this!" and suddenly she clung to me. "Methought I
saw a shadow yonder in the darkness! Methought that it moved toward us
and then straightway vanished! Let us be going! Didst thou see

"I saw nothing, Cleopatra; but mayhap it was the Spirit of the Divine
Menkau-ra, for the spirit ever hovers round its mortal tenement. Let
us, then, be going; I shall be right glad to go."

She made as though to start, then turned back again and spoke once

"It was naught--naught but the mind that, in such a house of Horror,
bodies forth those shadowy forms of fear it dreads to see. Nay, I must
look upon these emeralds; indeed, if I die, I must look! Come--to the
work!" and stooping, she with her own hands lifted from the tomb one
of the four alabaster jars, each sealed with the graven likeness of
the heads of the protecting Gods, that held the holy heart and
entrails of the Divine Menkau-ra. But nothing was found in these jars,
save only what should be there.

Then together we mounted on the Sphinx, and with toil drew forth the
body of the Divine Pharaoh, laying it on the ground. Now Cleopatra
took my dagger, and with it cut loose the bandages which held the
wrappings in their place, and the lotus-flowers that had been set in
them by loving hands, three thousand years before, fell down upon the
pavement. Then we searched and found the end of the outer bandage,
which was fixed in at the hinder part of the neck. This we cut loose,
for it was glued fast. This done, we began to unroll the wrappings of
the holy corpse. Setting my shoulders against the sarcophagus, I sat
upon the rocky floor, the body resting on my knees, and, as I turned
it, Cleopatra unwound the cloths; and awesome was the task. Presently
something fell out; it was the sceptre of the Pharaoh, fashioned of
gold, and at its end was a pomegranate cut from a single emerald.

Cleopatra seized the sceptre and gazed on it in silence. Then once
more we went on with our dread business. And ever as we unwound, other
ornaments of gold, such as are buried with Pharaohs, fell from the
wrappings--collars and bracelets, models of sistra, an inlaid axe, and
an image of the holy Osiris and of the holy Khem. At length all the
bandages were unwound, and beneath we found a covering of coarsest
linen; for in those very ancient days the craftsmen were not so
skilled in matters pertaining to the embalming of the body as they are
now. And on the linen was written in an oval, "Menkau-ra, Royal Son of
the Sun." We could in no wise loosen this linen, it held so firm on to
the body. Therefore, faint with the great heat, choked with mummy dust
and the odour of spices, and trembling with fear of our unholy task,
wrought in that most lonesome and holy place, we laid the body down,
and ripped away the last covering with the knife. First we cleared
Pharaoh's head, and now the face that no man had gazed on for three
thousand years was open to our view. It was a great face, with a bold
brow, yet crowned with the royal uręus, beneath which the white locks,
stained yellow by the spices, fell in long, straight wisps. Not the
cold stamp of death, and not the slow flight of three thousand years,
had found power to mar the dignity of those shrunken features. We
gazed on them, and then, made bold with fear, stripped the covering
from the body. There at last it lay before us, stiff, yellow, and
dread to see; and on the left side, above the thigh, was the cut
through which the embalmers had done their work, but it was sewn up so
deftly that we could scarcely find the mark.

"The gems are within," I whispered, for I felt that the body was very
heavy. "Now, if thy heart fail thee not, thou must make an entry to
this poor house of clay that once was Pharaoh," and I gave her the
dagger--the same dagger which had drunk the life of Paulus.

"It is too late to doubt," she answered, lifting her white beauteous
face and fixing her blue eyes all big with terror upon my own. She
took the dagger, and with set teeth the Queen of this day plunged it
into the dead breast of the Pharaoh of three thousand years ago. And
even as she did so there came a groaning sound from the opening to the
shaft where we had left the eunuch! We leapt to our feet, but heard no
more, and the lamp-light still streamed down through the opening.

"It is nothing," I said. "Let us make an end."

Then with much toil we hacked and rent the hard flesh open, and as we
did so I heard the knife point grate upon the gems within.

Cleopatra plunged her hand into the dead breast and drew forth
somewhat. She held it to the light, and gave a little cry, for from
the darkness of Pharaoh's heart there flashed into light and life the
most beauteous emerald that ever man beheld. It was perfect in colour,
very large, without a flaw, and fashioned to a scarabęus form, and on
the under side was an oval, inscribed with the divine name of
Menkau-ra, Son of the Sun.

Again, again, and yet again, she plunged in her hand and drew emeralds
from Pharaoh's breast bedded there in spices. Some were fashioned and
some were not; but all were perfect in colour without a flaw, and in
value priceless. Again and again she plunged her white hand into that
dread breast, till at length all were found, and there were one
hundred and forty and eight of such gems as are not known in the
world. The last time that she searched she brought forth not emeralds,
indeed, but two great pearls, wrapped in linen, such as never have
been seen. And of these pearls more hereafter.

So it was done, and all the mighty treasure lay glittering in a heap
before us. There it lay, and there, too, lay the regalia of gold, the
spiced and sickly-scented wrappings, and the torn body of white-haired
Pharaoh Menkau-ra, the Osirian, the ever living in Amenti.

We rose, and a great awe fell upon us, now that the deed was done and
our hearts were no more upborne by the rage of search--so great an
awe, indeed, that we could not speak. I made a sign to Cleopatra. She
grasped the head of Pharaoh and I grasped his feet, and together we
lifted him, climbed the Sphinx, and placed him once more within his
coffin. I piled the torn mummy cloths over him and on them laid the
lid of the coffin.

And now we gathered up the great gems, and such of the ornaments as
might be carried with ease, and I hid them as many as I could, in the
folds of my robe. Those that were left Cleopatra hid upon her breast.
Heavily laden with the priceless treasure, we gave one last look at
the solemn place, at the sarcophagus and the Sphinx on which it
rested, whose gleaming face of calm seemed to mock us with its
everlasting smile of wisdom. Then we turned and went from the tomb.

At the shaft we halted. I called to the eunuch, who stayed above, and
methought a faint mocking laugh answered me. Too smitten with terror
to call again, and fearing that, should we delay, Cleopatra would
certainly swoon, I seized the rope, and being strong and quick mounted
by it and gained the passage. There burnt the lamp: but the eunuch I
saw not. Thinking, surely, that he was a little way down the passage,
and slept--as, in truth, he did--I bade Cleopatra make the rope fast
about her middle, and with much labour, drew her up. Then, having
rested awhile, we moved with the lamps to seek for the eunuch.

"He was stricken with terror and has fled, leaving the lamp," said
Cleopatra. "O ye Gods! who is /that/ seated there?"

I peered into the darkness, thrusting out the lamps, and this was what
their light fell on--this at the very dream of which my soul sickens!
There, facing us, his back resting against the rock, and his hands
splayed on either side upon the floor, sat the eunuch--/dead!/ His
eyes and mouth were open, his fat cheeks dropped down, his thin hair
yet seemed to bristle, and on his countenance was frozen such a stamp
of hideous terror as well might turn the beholder's brain. And lo!
fixed to his chin, by its hinder claws, hung that grey and mighty bat,
which, flying forth when we entered the pyramid, vanished in the sky,
but, returning, had followed us to its depths. There it hung upon the
dead man's chin slowly rocking itself to and fro, and we could see the
fiery eyes shining in its head.

Aghast, utterly aghast, we stood and stared at the hateful sight; till
presently the bat spread his huge wings and, losing his hold, sailed
to us. Now he hovered before Cleopatra's face, fanning her with his
white wings. Then with a scream, like a woman's shriek of fury, the
accursed Thing flittered on, seeking his violated tomb, and vanished
down the well into the sepulchre. I fell against the wall. But
Cleopatra sank in a heap upon the floor, and, covering her head with
her arms, she shrieked till the hollow passages rang with the echoes
of her cries, that seemed to grow and double and rush along the depths
in volumes of shrill sound.

"Rise!" I cried, "rise and let us hence before the Spirit shall return
to haunt us! If thou dost suffer thyself to be overwhelmed in this
place thou art lost for ever."

She staggered to her feet, and never may I forget the look upon her
ashy face or in her glowing eyes. Seizing lamps with a rush, we passed
the dead eunuch's horrid form, I holding her by the hand. We gained
the great chamber, where was the sarcophagus of the Queen of
Menkau-ra, and traversed its length. We fled along the passage. What
if the Thing had closed the three mighty doors? No; they were open,
and we sped through them; the last only did I stay to close. I touched
the stone, as I knew how, and the great door crashed down, shutting us
off from the presence of the dead eunuch and the Horror that had hung
upon the eunuch's chin. Now we were in the white chamber with the
sculptured panels, and now we faced the last steep ascent. Oh that
last ascent! Twice Cleopatra slipped and fell upon the polished floor.
The second time--it was when half the distance had been done--she let
fall her lamp, and would, indeed, have rolled down the slide had I not
saved her. But in doing thus I, too, let fall my lamp that bounded
away into shadow beneath us, and we were in utter darkness. And
perchance about us, in the darkness, hovered that awful Thing!

"Be brave!" I cried; "O love, be brave, and struggle on, or both are
lost! The way, though steep, is not far; and, though it be dark, we
can scarce come to harm in this straight shaft. If the gems weight
thee, cast them away!"

"Nay," she gasped, "that I will not; this shall not be endured to no
end. I die with them!"

Then it was that I saw the greatness of this woman's heart; for in the
dark, and notwithstanding the terrors we had passed and the awfulness
of our state, she clung to me and clambered on up that dread passage.
On we clambered, hand in hand, with bursting hearts, till there, by
the mercy or the anger of the Gods, at length we saw the faint light
of the moon, creeping through the little opening in the pyramid. One
struggle more, now the hole was gained, and like a breath from heaven,
the sweet night air played upon our brows. I climbed through, and,
standing on a pile of stones, lifted and dragged Cleopatra after me.
She fell to the ground and then sank down upon it motionless.

I pressed upon the turning stone with trembling hands. It swung to and
caught, leaving no mark of the secret place of entry. Then I leapt
down and, having pushed away the pile of stones, looked on Cleopatra.
She had swooned, and notwithstanding the dust and grime upon her face,
it was so pale that at first I believed she must be dead. But placing
my hand upon her heart I felt it stir beneath; and, being spent, I
flung myself down beside her upon the sand, to gather up my strength



Presently I lifted myself, and, laying the head of Egypt's Queen upon
my knee, strove to call her back to life. How fair she seemed, even in
her disarray, her long hair streaming down her breast! how deadly fair
she seemed in the faint light--this woman the story of whose beauty
and whose sin shall outlive the solid mass of the mighty pyramid that
towered over us! The heaviness of her swoon had smoothed away the
falseness of her face, and nothing was left but the divine stamp of
Woman's richest loveliness, softened by shadows of the night and
dignified by the cast of deathlike sleep. I gazed upon her and all my
heart went out to her; it seemed that I did but love her more because
of the depth of the treasons to which I had sunk to reach her, and
because of the terrors we had outfaced together. Weary and spent with
fears and the pangs of guilt, my heart sought hers for rest, for now
she alone was left to me. She had sworn to wed me also, and with the
treasure we had won we would make Egypt strong and free her from her
foes, and all should yet be well. Ah! could I have seen the picture
that was to come, how, and in what place and circumstance, once again
this very woman's head should be laid upon my knee, pale with that
cast of death! Ah! could I have seen!

I chafed her hand between my hands. I bent down and kissed her on the
lips, and at my kiss she woke. She woke with a little sob of fear--a
shiver ran along her delicate limbs, and she stared upon my face with
wide eyes.

"Ah! it is thou!" she said. "I mind me--thou hast saved me from that
horror-haunted place!" And she threw her arms about my neck, drew me
to her and kissed me. "Come, love," she said, "let us be going! I am
sore athirst, and--ah! so very weary! The gems, too, chafe my breast!
Never was wealth so hardly won! Come, let us be going from the shadow
of this ghostly spot! See the faint lights glancing from the wings of
Dawn. How beautiful they are, and how sweet to behold! Never, in those
Halls of Eternal Night, did I think to look upon the blush of dawn
again! Ah! I can still see the face of that dead slave, with the
Horror hanging to his beardless chin! Bethink thee!--there he'll sit
for ever--there--with the Horror! Come; where may we find water? I
would give an emerald for a cup of water!"

"At the canal on the borders of the tilled land below the Temple of
Horemkhu--it is close by," I answered. "If any see us, we will say
that we are pilgrims who have lost our way at night among the tombs.
Veil thyself closely, therefore, Cleopatra; and beware lest thou dost
show aught of those gems about thee."

So she veiled herself, and I lifted her on to the ass which was
tethered near at hand. We walked slowly through the plain till we came
to the place where the symbol of the God Horemkhu,[*] fashioned as a
mighty Sphinx (whom the Greeks call Harmachis), and crowned with the
royal crown of Egypt, looks out in majesty across the land, his eyes
ever fixed upon the East. As we walked the first arrow of the rising
sun quivered through the grey air, striking upon Horemkhu's lips of
holy calm, and the Dawn kissed her greeting to the God of Dawn. Then
the light gathered and grew upon the gleaming sides of twenty
pyramids, and, like a promise from Life to Death, rested on the
portals of ten thousand tombs. It poured in a flood of gold across the
desert sand--it pierced the heavy sky of night, and fell in bright
beams upon the green of fields and the tufted crest of palms. Then
from his horizon bed royal Ra rose up in pomp and it was day.

[*] That is, "Horus on the horizon"; and signifies the power of Light
    and Good overcoming the power of Darkness and Evil incarnate in
    his enemy, Typhon.--Editor.

Passing the temple of granite and of alabaster that was built before
the days of Khufu, to the glory of the Majesty of Horemkhu, we
descended the slope, and came to the banks of the canal. There we
drank; and that draught of muddy water was sweeter than all the
choicest wine of Alexandria. Also we washed the mummy dust and grime
from our hands and brows and made us clean. As she bathed her neck,
stooping over the water, one of the great emeralds slipped from
Cleopatra's breast and fell into the canal, and it was but by chance
that at length I found it in the mire. Then, once more, I lifted
Cleopatra onto the beast, and slowly, for I was very weary, we marched
back to the banks of Sihor, where our craft was. And having at length
come thither, seeing no one save some few peasants going out to labour
on the lands, I turned the ass loose in that same field where we had
found him, and we boarded the craft while the crew were yet sleeping.
Then, waking them, we bade them make all sail, saying that we had left
the eunuch to sojourn a while behind us, as in truth we had. So we
sailed, having first hidden away the gems and such of the ornaments of
gold as we could bring to the boat.

We spent four days and more in coming to Alexandria, for the wind was
for the most part against us; and they were happy days! At first,
indeed, Cleopatra was somewhat silent and heavy at heart, for what she
had seen and felt in the womb of the pyramid weighed her down. But
soon her Imperial spirit awoke and shook the burden from her breast,
and she became herself again--now gay, now learned; now loving, and
now cold; now queenly, and now altogether simple--ever changing as the
winds of heaven, and as the heaven, deep, beauteous, and unsearchable!

Night after night for those four perfect nights, the last happy hours
I ever was to know, we sat hand in hand upon the deck and heard the
waters lap the vessel's side, and watched the soft footfall of the
moon as she trod the depths of Nile. There we sat and talked of love,
talked of our marriage and all that we would do. Also I drew up plans
of war and of defence against the Roman, which now we had the means to
carry out; and she approved them, sweetly saying that what seemed good
to me was good to her. And so the time passed all too swiftly.

Oh those nights upon the Nile! their memory haunts me yet! Yet in my
dreams I see the moonbeams break and quiver, and hear Cleopatra's
murmured words of love mingle with the sound of murmuring waters. Dead
are those dear nights, dead is the moon that lit them; the waters
which rocked us on their breast are lost in the wide salt sea, and
where we kissed and clung there lips unborn shall kiss and cling! How
beautiful was their promise, doomed, like an unfruitful blossom, to
wither, fall, and rot! and their fulfilment, ah, how drear! For all
things end in darkness and in ashes, and those who sow in folly shall
reap in sorrow. Ah! those nights upon the Nile!

And so at length once more we stood within the hateful walls of that
fair palace on the Lochias, and the dream was done.

"Whither hast thou wandered with Cleopatra, Harmachis?" Charmion asked
of me when I met her by chance on that day of return. "On some new
mission of betrayal? Or was it but a love-journey?"

"I went with Cleopatra upon secret business of the State," I answered

"So! Those who go secretly, go evilly; and foul birds love to fly at
night. Not but what thou art wise, for it would scarce beseem thee,
Harmachis, to show thy face openly in Egypt."

I heard, and felt my passion rise within me, for I could ill bear this
fair girl's scorn.

"Hast thou never a word without a sting?" I asked. "Know, then, that I
went whither thou hadst not dared to go, to gather means to hold Egypt
from the grasp of Antony."

"So," she answered, looking up swiftly. "Thou foolish man! Thou hadst
done better to save thy labour, for Antony will grasp Egypt in thy
despite. What power hast thou to-day in Egypt?"

"That he may do in my despite; but in despite of Cleopatra that he
cannot do," I said.

"Nay, but with the /aid/ of Cleopatra he can and will do it," she
answered with a bitter smile. "When the Queen sails in state up Cydnus
stream she will surely draw this coarse Antony thence to Alexandria,
conquering, and yet, like thee, a slave!"

"It is false! I say that it is false! Cleopatra goes not to Tarsus,
and Antony comes not to Alexandria; or, if he come, it will be to take
the chance of war."

"Now, thinkest thou thus?" she answered with a little laugh. "Well, if
it please thee, think as thou wilt. Within three days thou shalt know.
It is pretty to see how easily thou art fooled. Farewell! Go, dream on
Love, for surely Love is sweet."

And she went, leaving me angered and troubled at heart.

I saw Cleopatra no more that day, but on the day which followed I saw
her. She was in a heavy mood, and had no gentle word for me. I spake
to her of the defence of Egypt, but she put the matter away.

"Why dost thou weary me?" she said with anger; "canst thou not see
that I am lost in troubles? When Dellius has had his answer to-morrow
then we will speak of these matters."

"Ay," I said, "when Dellius has had his answer; and knowest thou that
but yesterday, Charmion--whom about the palace they name the 'Keeper
of the Queen's secrets'--Charmion swore that the answer would be 'Go
in peace, I come to Antony!'"

"Charmion knows nothing of my heart," said Cleopatra, stamping her
foot in anger, "and if she talk so freely the girl shall be scourged
out of my Court, as is her desert. Though, in truth," she added, "she
has more wisdom in that small head of hers than all my privy
councillors--ay, and more wit to use it. Knowest thou that I have sold
a portion of those gems to the rich Jews of Alexandria, and at a great
price, ay, at five thousand sestertia for each one?[*] But a few, in
truth, for they could not buy more as yet. It was rare to see their
eyes when they fell upon them: they grew large as apples with avarice
and wonder. And now leave me, Harmachis, for I am weary. The memory of
that dreadful night is with me yet."

[*] About forty thousand pounds of our money.--Editor.

I bowed and rose to go, and yet stood wavering.

"Pardon me, Cleopatra; it is of our marriage."

"Our marriage! Why, are we not indeed already wed?" she answered.

"Yes; but not before the world. Thou didst promise."

"Ay, Harmachis, I promised; and to-morrow, when I have rid me of this
Dellius, I will keep my promise, and name thee Cleopatra's Lord before
the Court. See that thou art in thy place. Art content?"

And she stretched out her hand for me to kiss, looking on me with
strange eyes, as though she struggled with herself. Then I went; but
that night I strove once more to see Cleopatra, and could not. "The
Lady Charmion was with the Queen," so said the eunuchs, and none might

On the morrow the Court met in the great hall one hour before mid-day,
and I went thither with a trembling heart to hear Cleopatra's answer
to Dellius, and to hear myself also named King-consort to the Queen of
Egypt. It was a full and splendid Court; there were councillors,
lords, captains, eunuchs, and waiting-women, all save Charmion. The
house passed, but Cleopatra and Charmion came not. At length Charmion
entered gently by a side entrance, and took her place among the
waiting-ladies about the throne. Even as she did so she cast a glance
at me, and there was triumph in her eyes, though I knew not over what
she triumphed. I little guessed that she had but now brought about my
ruin and sealed the fate of Egypt.

Then presently the trumpets blared, and, clad in her robes of state,
the uręus crown upon her head, and on her breast, flashing like a
star, that great emerald scarabęus which she had dragged from dead
Pharaoh's heart, Cleopatra swept in splendour to her throne, followed
by a glittering guard of Northmen. Her lovely face was dark, dark were
her slumbrous eyes, and none might read their message, though all that
Court searched them for a sign of what should come. She seated herself
slowly as one who may not be moved, and spoke to the chief of the
heralds in the Greek tongue:

"Does the Ambassador of the noble Antony wait?"

The herald bowed low and made assent.

"Let him come in and hear our answer."

The doors were flung wide, and, followed by his train of knights,
Dellius, clad in his golden armour and his purple mantle, walked with
cat-like step up the great hall, and made obeisance before the throne.

"Most royal and beauteous Egypt," he said, in his soft voice, "as thou
hast graciously been pleased to bid me, thy servant, I am here to take
thy answer to the letter of the noble Antony the Triumvir, whom
to-morrow I sail to meet at Tarsus, in Cilicia. And I will say this,
royal Egypt, craving pardon the while for the boldness of my speech--
bethink thee well before words that cannot be unspoken fall from those
sweet lips. Defy Antony, and Antony will wreck thee. But, like thy
mother Aphrodité, rise glorious on his sight from the bosom of the
Cyprian wave, and for wreck he will give thee all that can be dear to
woman's royalty--Empire, and pomp of place, cities and the sway of
men, fame and wealth, and the Diadem of rule made sure. For mark:
Antony holds this Eastern World in the hollow of his warlike hand; at
his will kings are, and at his frown they cease to be."

And he bowed his head and, folding his hands meekly on his breast,
awaited answer.

For a while Cleopatra answered not, but sat like the Sphinx Horemkhu,
dumb and inscrutable, gazing with lost eyes down the length of that
great hall.

Then, like soft music, her answer came; and trembling I listened for
Egypt's challenge to the Roman:

"Noble Dellius,--We have bethought us much of the matter of thy
message from great Antony to our poor Royalty of Egypt. We have
bethought us much, and we have taken counsel from the oracles of the
Gods, from the wisest among our friends, and from the teachings of our
heart, that ever, like a nesting bird, broods over our people's weal.
Sharp are the words that thou has brought across the sea; methinks
they had been better fitted to the ears of some petty half-tamed
prince than to those of Egypt's Queen. Therefore we have numbered the
legions that we can gather, and the triremes and the galleys wherewith
we may breast the sea, and the moneys which shall buy us all things
wanting to our war. And we find this, that, though Antony be strong,
yet has Egypt naught to fear from the strength of Antony."

She paused, and a murmur of applause of her high words ran down the
hall. Only Dellius stretched out his hand as though to push them back.
Then came the end!

"Noble Dellius,--Half are we minded there to bid our tongue stop, and,
strong in our fortresses of stone, and our other fortresses built of
the hearts of men, abide the issue. And yet thou shalt not go thus. We
are guiltless of those charges against us that have come to the ears
of noble Antony, and which now he rudely shouts in ours; nor will we
journey into Cilicia to answer them."

Here the murmur arose anew, while my heart beat high in triumph; and
in the pause that followed, Dellius spoke once more.

"Then, royal Egypt, my word to Antony is word of War?"

"Nay," she answered; "it shall be one of Peace. Listen; we said that
we would not come to make answer to these charges, nor will we. But"--
and she smiled for the first time--"we will gladly come, and that
swiftly, in royal friendship to make known our fellowship of peace
upon the banks of Cydnus."

I heard, and was bewildered. Could I hear aright? Was it thus that
Cleopatra kept her oaths? Moved beyond the hold of reason, I lifted up
my voice and cried:

"O Queen, /remember!/"

She turned upon me like a lioness, with a flashing of the eyes and a
swift shake of her lovely head.

"Peace, Slave!" she said; "who bade thee break in upon our counsels?
Mind thou thy stars, and leave matters of the world to the rulers of
the world!"

I sank back shamed, and, as I did so, once more I saw the smile of
triumph on the face of Charmion, followed by what was, perhaps, the
shadow of pity for my fall.

"Now that yon brawling charlatan," said Dellius, pointing at me with
his jewelled finger, "has been rebuked, grant me leave, O Egypt, to
thank thee from my heart for these gentle words----"

"We ask no thanks from thee, noble Dellius; nor lies it in thy mouth
to chide our servant," broke in Cleopatra, frowning heavily; "we will
take thanks from the lips of Antony alone. Get thee to thy master, and
say to him that before he can make ready a fitting welcome our keels
shall follow in the track of thine. And now, farewell! Thou shalt find
some small token of our bounty upon thy vessel."

Dellius bowed thrice and withdrew, while the Court stood waiting the
Queen's word. And I, too, waited, wondering if she would yet make good
her promise, and name me royal Spouse there in the face of Egypt. But
she said nothing. Only, still frowning heavily, she rose, and,
followed by her guards, left the throne, and passed into the Alabaster
Hall. Then the Court broke up, and as the lords and councillors went
by they looked on me with mockery. For though none knew all my secret,
nor how it stood between me and Cleopatra, yet they were jealous of
the favour shown me by the Queen, and rejoiced greatly at my fall. But
I took no heed of their mocking as I stood dazed with misery and felt
the world of Hope slip from beneath my feet.



And at length, all being gone, I, too, turned to go, when a eunuch
struck me on the shoulder and roughly bade me wait on the presence of
the Queen. An hour past this fellow would have crawled to me on his
knees; but he had heard, and now he treated me--so brutish is the
nature of such slaves--as the world treats the fallen, with scorn. For
to come low after being great is to learn all shame. Unhappy,
therefore, are the Great, for they may fall!

I turned upon the slave with so fierce a word that, cur-like, he
sprang behind me; then I passed on to the Alabaster Hall, and was
admitted by the guards. In the centre of the hall, near the fountain,
sat Cleopatra, and with her were Charmion and the Greek girl Iras, and
Merira and other of her waiting-ladies. "Go," she said to these, "I
would speak with my astrologer." So they went, and left us face to

"Stand thou there," she said, lifting her eyes for the first time.
"Come not nigh me, Harmachis: I trust thee not. Perchance thou hast
found another dagger. Now, what hast thou to say? By what right didst
thou dare to break in upon my talk with the Roman?"

I felt the blood rush through me like a storm; bitterness and burning
anger took hold of my heart. "What hast /thou/ to say, Cleopatra?" I
answered boldly. "Where is thy vow, sworn on the dead heart of
Menkau-ra, the ever-living? Where now thy challenge to this Roman
Antony? Where thy oath that thou wouldest call me 'husband' in the
face of Egypt?" and I choked and ceased.

"Well doth it become Harmachis, who never was forsworn, to speak to me
of oaths!" she said in bitter mockery. "And yet, O thou most pure
Priest of Isis; and yet, O thou most faithful friend, who never didst
betray thy friends; and yet, O thou most steadfast, honourable, and
upright man, who never bartered thy birthright, thy country, and thy
cause for the price of a woman's passing love--by what token knowest
thou that my word is void?"

"I will not answer thy taunts, Cleopatra," I said, holding back my
heart as best I might, "for I have earned them all, though not from
thee. By this token, then, I know it. Thou goest to visit Antony; thou
goest, as said that Roman knave, 'tricked in thy best attire,' to
feast with him whom thou shouldst give to vultures for their feast.
Perhaps, for aught I know, thou art about to squander those treasures
that thou hast filched from the body of Menkau-ra, those treasures
stored against the need of Egypt, upon wanton revels which shall
complete the shame of Egypt. By these things, then, I know that thou
art forsworn, and I, who, loving thee, believed thee, tricked; and by
this, also, that thou who didst but yesternight swear to wed me, dost
to-day cover me with taunts, and even before that Roman put me to an
open shame!"

"To wed thee? and I did swear to wed thee? Well, and what is marriage?
Is it the union of the heart, that bond beautiful as gossamer and than
gossamer more light, which binds soul to soul, as they float through
the dreamy night of passion, a bond to be, perchance, melted in the
dews of dawn? Or is it the iron link of enforced, unchanging union
whereby if sinks the one the other must be dragged beneath the sea of
circumstance, there, like a punished slave, to perish of unavoidable
corruption?[*] Marriage! /I/ to marry! /I/ to forget freedom and court
the worst slavery of our sex, which, by the selfish will of man, the
stronger, still binds us to a bed grown hateful, and enforces a
service that love mayhap no longer hallows! Of what use, then, to be a
Queen, if thereby I may not escape the evil of the meanly born? Mark
thou, Harmachis: Woman being grown hath two ills to fear--Death and
Marriage; and of these twain is Marriage the more vile; for in Death
we may find rest, but in Marriage, should it fail us, we must find
hell. Nay, being above the breath of common slander that enviously
would blast those who of true virtue will not consent to stretch
affection's links, I /love/, Harmachis; but I /marry/ not!"

[*] Referring to the Roman custom of chaining a living felon to the
    body of one already dead.--Editor.

"And yesternight, Cleopatra, thou didst swear that thou wouldst wed
me, and call me to thy side before the face of Egypt!"

"And yesternight, Harmachis, the red ring round the moon marked the
coming of the storm, and yet the day is fair! But who knows that the
tempest may not break to-morrow? Who knows that I have not chosen the
easier path to save Egypt from the Roman? Who knows, Harmachis, that
thou shalt not still call me wife?"

Then I no longer could bear her falsehood, for I saw that she but
played with me. And so I spoke that which was in my heart:

"Cleopatra!" I cried," thou didst swear to protect Egypt, and thou art
about to betray Egypt to the Roman! Thou didst swear to use the
treasures that I revealed to thee for the service of Egypt, and thou
art about to use them to be her means of shame--to fashion them as
fetters for her wrists! Thou didst swear to wed me, who loved thee,
and for thee gave all, and thou dost mock me and reject me! Therefore
I say--with the voice of the dread Gods I say it!--that on /thee/
shall fall the curse of Menkau-ra, whom thou hast robbed indeed! Let
me go hence and work out my fate! Let me go, O thou fair Shame! thou
living Lie! whom I have loved to my doom, and who hast brought upon me
the last curse of doom! Let me hide myself and see thy face no more!"

She rose in her wrath, and she was terrible to see.

"Let thee go to stir up evil against me! Nay, Harmachis, thou shalt
not go to build new plots against my throne! I say to thee that thou,
too, shalt come to visit Antony in Cilicia, and there, perchance, I
will let thee go!" And ere I could answer, she had struck upon the
silver gong that hung near her.

Before its rich echo had died away, Charmion and the waiting-women
entered from one door, and from the other, a file of soldiers--four of
them of the Queen's bodyguard, mighty men, with winged helmets and
long fair hair.

"Seize that traitor!" cried Cleopatra, pointing to me. The captain of
the guard--it was Brennus--saluted and came towards me with drawn

But I, being mad and desperate, and caring little if they slew me,
flew straight at his throat, and dealt him such a heavy blow that the
great man fell headlong, and his armour clashed upon the marble floor.
As he fell I seized his sword and targe, and, meeting the next, who
rushed on me with a shout, caught his blow upon the shield, and in
answer smote with all my strength. The sword fell where the neck is
set into the shoulder, and, shearing through the joints of his
harness, slew him, so that his knees were loosened and he sank down
dead. And the third, as he came, I caught upon the point of my sword
before he could strike, and it pierced him and he died. Then the last
rushed on me with a cry of "Taranis!" and I, too, rushed on him, for
my blood was aflame. Now the women shrieked--only Cleopatra said
nothing, but stood and watched the unequal fray. We met, and I struck
with all my strength, and it was a mighty blow, for the sword shore
through the iron shell and shattered there, leaving me weaponless.
With a shout of triumph the guard swung up his sword and smote down
upon my head, but I caught the blow with my shield. Again he smote,
and again I parried; but when he raised his sword a third time I saw
this might not endure, so with a cry I hurled my buckler at his face.
Glancing from his shield it struck him on the breast and staggered
him. Then, before he could gain his balance, I rushed in beneath his
guard and gripped him round the middle.

For a full minute the tall man and I struggled furiously, and then, so
great was my strength in those days, I lifted him like a toy and
dashed him down upon the marble floor in such fashion that his bones
were shattered so that he spoke no more. But I could not save myself
and fell upon him, and as I fell the Captain Brennus, whom I had
smitten to earth with my fist, having once more found his sense, came
up behind me and smote me upon the head and shoulders with the sword
of one of those whom I had slain. But I being on the ground, the blow
did not fall with all its weight, also my thick hair and broidered cap
broke its force; and thus it came to pass that, though sorely wounded,
the life was yet whole in me. But I could struggle no more.

Then the cowardly eunuchs, who had gathered at the sound of blows and
stood huddled together like a herd of cattle, seeing that I was spent,
threw themselves upon me, and would have butchered me with their
knives. But Brennus, now that I was down, would strike no more, but
stood waiting. And the eunuchs had surely slain me, for Cleopatra
watched like one who watches in a dream and made no sign. Already my
head was dragged back, and their knife-points were at my throat, when
Charmion, rushing forward, threw herself upon me and, calling them
"Dogs!" desperately thrust her body before them in such fashion that
they could not smite. Now Brennus with an oath seized first one and
then another and cast them from me.

"Spare his life, Queen!" he cried in his barbarous Latin. "By Jupiter,
he is a brave man! Myself felled like an ox in the shambles, and three
of my boys finished by a man without armour and taken unawares! I
grudge them not to such a man! A boon, Queen! spare his life, and give
him to me!"

"Ay, spare him! spare him!" cried Charmion, white and trembling.

Cleopatra drew near and looked upon the dead and him who lay dying as
I had dashed him to the ground, and on me, her lover of two days gone,
whose wounded head rested now on Charmion's white robes.

I met the Queen's glance. "Spare not!" I gasped; "/vę victis!/" Then a
flush gathered on her brow--methinks it was a flush of shame!

"Dost after all love this man at heart, Charmion," she said with a
little laugh, "that thou didst thrust thy tender body between him and
the knives of these sexless hounds?" and she cast a look of scorn upon
the eunuchs.

"Nay!" the girl answered fiercely; "but I cannot stand by to see a
brave man murdered by such as these."

"Ay!" said Cleopatra, "he is a brave man, and he fought gallantly; I
have never seen so fierce a fight even in the games at Rome! Well, I
spare his life, though he is weak of me--womanish weak. Take him to
his own chamber and guard him there till he is healed or--dead."

Then my brain reeled, a great sickness seized upon me, and I sank into
the nothingness of a swoon.

Dreams, dreams, dreams! without end and ever-changing, as for years
and years I seemed to toss upon a sea of agony. And through them a
vision of a dark-eyed woman's tender face and the touch of a white
hand soothing me to rest. Visions, too, of a royal countenance bending
at times over my rocking bed--a countenance that I could not grasp,
but whose beauty flowed through my fevered veins and was a part of me
--visions of childhood and of the Temple towers of Abouthis, and of
the white-haired Amenemhat, my father--ay, and an ever-present vision
of that dread hall in Amenti, and of the small altar and the Spirits
clad in flame! There I seemed to wander everlastingly, calling on the
Holy Mother, whose memory I could not grasp; calling ever and in vain!
For no cloud descended upon the altar, only from time to time the
great Voice pealed aloud: "Strike out the name of Harmachis, child of
Earth, from the living Book of Her who Was and Is and Shall Be! /Lost!
lost! lost!/"

And then another voice would answer:

"Not yet! not yet! Repentance is at hand; strike not out the name of
Harmachis, child of Earth, from the living Book of Her who Was and Is
and Shall Be! By suffering may sin be wiped away!"

I woke to find myself in my own chamber in the tower of the palace. I
was so weak that I scarce could lift my hand, and life seemed but to
flutter in my breast as flutters a dying dove. I could not turn my
head; I could not stir; yet in my heart there was a sense of rest and
of dark trouble done. The light from the lamp hurt my eyes: I shut
them, and, as I shut them, heard the sweep of a woman's robes upon the
stair, and a swift, light step that I knew well. It was that of

She entered and drew near. I felt her come! Every pulse of my poor
frame beat an answer to her footfall, and all my mighty love and hate
rose from the darkness of my death-like sleep, and rent me in their
struggle! She leaned over me; her ambrosial breath played upon my
face: I could hear the beating of her heart! Lower she leaned, till at
last her lips touched me softly on the brow.

"Poor man!" I heard her murmur. "Poor, weak, dying Man! Fate hath been
hard to thee! Thou wert too good to be the sport of such a one as I--
the pawn that I must move in my play of policy! Ah, Harmachis! thou
shouldst have ruled the game! Those plotting priests could give thee
learning; but they could not give thee knowledge of mankind, nor fence
thee against the march of Nature's law. And thou didst love me with
all thy heart--ah! well I know it! Manlike, thou didst love the eyes
that, as a pirate's lights, beckoned thee to shipwrecked ruin, and
didst hang doting on the lips which lied thy heart away and called
thee 'slave'! Well; the game was fair, for thou wouldst have slain me;
and yet I grieve. So thou dost die? and this is my farewell to thee!
Never may we meet again on earth; and, perchance, it is well, for who
knows, when my hour of tenderness is past, how I might deal with thee,
didst thou live? Thou dost die, they say--those learned long-faced
fools, who, if they let thee die, shall pay the price. And where,
then, shall we meet again when my last throw is thrown? We shall be
equal there, in the kingdom that Osiris rules. A little time, a few
years--perhaps to-morrow--and we shall meet; then, knowing all I am,
how wilt thou greet me? Nay, here, as there, still must thou worship
me! for injuries cannot touch the immortality of such a love as thine.
Contempt alone, like acid, can eat away the love of noble hearts, and
reveal the truth in its pitiful nakedness. Thou must still cling to
thee, Harmachis; for, whatever my sins, yet I am great and set above
thy scorn. Would that I could have loved thee as thou lovest me!
Almost I did so when thou slewest those guards; and yet--not quite.

"What a fenced city is my heart, that none can take it, and, even when
I throw the gates wide, no man may win its citadel! Oh, to put away
this loneliness and lose me in another's soul! Oh, for a year, a
month, an hour to quite forget policy, peoples, and my pomp of place,
and be but a loving woman! Harmachis, fare thee well! Go join great
Julius whom thy art called up from death before me, and take Egypt's
greetings to him. Ah well! I fooled thee, and I fooled Cęsar--
perchance before all is done Fate will find me, and myself I shall be
fooled. Harmachis, fare thee well!"

She turned to go, and as she turned I heard the sweep of another dress
and the light fall of another woman's foot.

"Ah! it is thou, Charmion. Well, for all thy watching the man dies."

"Ay," she answered, in a voice thick with grief. "Ay, O Queen, so the
physicians say. Forty hours has he lain in stupor so deep that at
times his breath could barely lift this tiny feather's weight, and
hardly could my ear, placed against his breast, take notice of the
rising of his heart. I have watched him now for ten long days, watched
him day and night, till my eyes stare wide with want of sleep, and for
faintness I can scarce keep myself from falling. And this is the end
of all my labour! The coward blow of that accursed Brennus has done
its work, and Harmachis dies!"

"Love counts not its labour, Charmion, nor can it weight its
tenderness on the scale of purchase. That which it has it gives, and
craves for more to give and give, till the soul's infinity be drained.
Dear to thy heart are these heavy nights of watching; sweet to thy
weary eyes is that sad sight of strength brought so low that it hangs
upon thy weakness like a babe to its mother's breast! For, Charmion,
thou dost love this man who loves thee not, and now that he is
helpless thou canst pour thy passion forth over the unanswering
darkness of his soul, and cheat thyself with dreams of what yet might

"I love him not, as thou hast proof, O Queen! How can I love one who
would have slain thee, who art as my heart's sister? It is for pity
that I nurse him."

She laughed a little as she answered, "Pity is love's own twin,
Charmion. Wondrous wayward are the paths of woman's love, and thou
hast shown thine strangely, that I know. But the more high the love,
the deeper the gulf whereinto it can fall--ay, and thence soar again
to heaven, once more to fall! Poor woman! thou art thy passion's
plaything: now tender as the morning sky, and now, when jealousy grips
thy heart, more cruel than the sea. Well, thus are we made. Soon,
after all this troubling, nothing will be left thee but tears,
remorse, and--memory."

And she went forth.



Cleopatra went, and for a while I lay silent, gathering up my strength
to speak. But Charmion came and stood over me, and I felt a great tear
fall from her dark eyes upon my face, as the first heavy drop of rain
falls from a thunder cloud.

"Thou goest," she whispered; "thou goest fast whither I may not
follow! O Harmachis, how gladly would I give my life for thine!"

Then at length I opened my eyes, and spoke as best I could:

"Restrain thy grief, dear friend," I said, "I live yet; and, in truth,
I feel as though new life gathered in my breast!"

She gave a little cry of joy, and I never saw aught more beautiful
than the change that came upon her weeping face! It was as when the
first lights of the day run up the pallor of that sad sky which veils
the night from dawn. All rosy grew her lovely countenance; her dim
eyes shone out like stars; and a smile of wonderment, more sweet than
the sudden smile of the sea as its ripples wake to brightness beneath
the kiss of the risen moon, broke through her rain of tears.

"Thou livest!" she cried, throwing herself on her knees beside my
couch. "Thou livest--and I thought thee gone! Thou art come back to
me! Oh! what say I? How foolish is a woman's heart! 'Tis this long
watching! Nay; sleep and rest thee, Harmachis!--why dost thou talk?
Not one more word, I command thee straitly! Where is the draught left
by that long-bearded fool? Nay thou shalt have no draught! There,
sleep, Harmachis; sleep!" and she crouched down at my side and laid
her cool hand upon my brow, murmuring, "/Sleep! sleep!/"

And when I woke there she was still, but the lights of dawn were
peeping through the casement. There she knelt, one hand upon my
forehead, and her head, in all its disarray of curls, resting upon her
outstretched arm.

"Charmion," I whispered, "have I slept?"

Instantly she was wide awake, and, gazing on me with tender eyes,
"Yea, thou hast slept, Harmachis."

"How long, then, have I slept?"

"Nine hours."

"And thou hast held thy place there, at my side, for nine long hours?"

"Yes, it is nothing; I also have slept--I feared to waken thee if I

"Go, rest," I said; "it shames me to think of this thing. Go rest
thee, Charmion!"

"Vex not thyself," she answered; "see, I will bid a slave watch thee,
and to wake me if thou needest aught; I sleep there, in the outer
chamber. Peace--I go!" and she strove to rise, but, so cramped was
she, fell straightway on the floor.

I can scarcely tell the sense of shame that filled me when I saw her
fall. Alas! I could not stir to help her.

"It is naught," she said; "move not, I did but catch my foot. There!"
and she rose, again to fall--"a pest upon my awkwardness! Why--I must
be sleeping. 'Tis well now. I'll send the slave;" and she staggered
thence like one overcome with wine.

And after that, I slept once more, for I was very weak. When I woke it
was afternoon, and I craved for food, which Charmion brought me.

I ate. "Then I die not," I said.

"Nay," she answered, with a toss of her head, "thou wilt live. In
truth, I did waste my pity on thee."

"And thy pity saved my life," I said wearily, for now I remembered.

"It is nothing," she answered carelessly. "After all, thou art my
cousin; also, I love nursing--it is a woman's trade. Like enough I had
done as much for any slave. Now, too, that the danger is past, I leave

"Thou hadst done better to let me die, Charmion," I said after a
while, "for life to me can now be only one long shame. Tell me, then,
when sails Cleopatra for Cilicia?"

"She sails in twenty days, and with such pomp and glory as Egypt has
never seen. Of a truth, I cannot guess where she has found the means
to gather in this store of splendour, as a husbandman gathers his
golden harvest."

But I, knowing whence the wealth came, groaned in bitterness of
spirit, and made no answer.

"Goest thou also, Charmion?" I asked presently.

"Ay, I and all the Court. Thou, too--thou goest."

"I go? Nay, why is this?"

"Because thou art Cleopatra's slave, and must march in gilded chains
behind her chariot; because she fears to leave thee here in Khem;
because it is her will, and there is an end."

"Charmion, can I not escape?"

"Escape, thou poor sick man? Nay, how canst thou escape? Even now thou
art most strictly guarded. And if thou didst escape, whither wouldst
thou fly? There's not an honest man in Egypt but would spit on thee in

Once more I groaned in spirit, and, being so very weak, I felt the
tears roll adown my cheek.

"Weep not!" she said hastily, and turning her face aside. "Be a man,
and brave these troubles out. Thou hast sown, now must thou reap; but
after harvest the waters rise and wash away the rotting roots, and
then seed-time comes again. Perchance, yonder in Cilicia, a way may be
found, when once more thou art strong, by which thou mayst fly--if in
truth thou canst bear thy life apart from Cleopatra's smile; then in
some far land must thou dwell till these things are forgotten. And now
my task is done, so fare thee well! At times I will come to visit thee
and see that thou needest nothing."

So she went, and I was nursed thenceforward, and that skilfully, by
the physician and two women-slaves; and as my wound healed so my
strength came back to me, slowly at first, then most swiftly. In four
days from that time I left my couch, and in three more I could walk an
hour in the palace gardens; another week and I could read and think,
though I went no more to Court. And at length one afternoon Charmion
came and bade me make ready, for the fleet would sail in two days,
first for the coast of Syria, and thence to the gulf of Issus and

Thereon, with all formality, and in writing, I craved leave of
Cleopatra that I might be left, urging that my health was so feeble
that I could not travel. But a message was sent to me in answer that I
must come.

And so, on the appointed day, I was carried in a litter down to the
boat, and together with that very soldier who had cut me down, the
Captain Brennus, and others of his troop (who, indeed, were sent to
guard me), we rowed aboard a vessel where she lay at anchor with the
rest of the great fleet. For Cleopatra was voyaging as though to war
in much pomp, and escorted by a fleet of ships, among which her
galley, built like a house and lined throughout with cedar and silken
hangings, was the most beautiful and costly that the world has ever
seen. But I went not on this vessel, and therefore it chanced that I
did not see Cleopatra or Charmion till we landed at the mouth of the
river Cydnus.

The signal being made, the fleet set sail; and, the wind being fair,
we came to Joppa on the evening of the second day. Thence we sailed
slowly with contrary winds up the coast of Syria, making Cęsarea, and
Ptolemais, and Tyrus, and Berytus, and past Lebanon's white brow
crowned with his crest of cedars, on to Heraclea and across the gulf
of Issus to the mouth of Cydnus. And ever as we journeyed, the strong
breath of the sea brought back my health, till at length, save for a
line of white upon my head where the sword had fallen, I was almost as
I had been. And one night, as we drew near Cydnus, while Brennus and I
sat alone together on the deck, his eye fell upon the white mark his
sword had made, and he swore a great oath by his heathen Gods. "An
thou hadst died, lad," he said, "methinks I could never again have
held up my head! Ah! that was a coward stroke, and I am shamed to
think that it was I who struck it, and thou on the ground with thy
back to me! Knowest thou that when thou didst lie between life and
death, I came every day to ask tidings of thee? and I swore by Taranis
that if thou didst die I'd turn my back upon that soft palace life and
then away for the bonny North."

"Nay, trouble not, Brennus," I answered; "it was thy duty."

"Mayhap! but there are duties that a brave man should not do--nay, not
at the bidding of any Queen who ever ruled in Egypt! Thy blow had
dazed me or I had not struck. What is it, lad?--art in trouble with
this Queen of ours? Why art thou dragged a prisoner upon this pleasure
party? Knowest thou that we are strictly charged that if thou dost
escape our lives shall pay the price?"

"Ay, in sore trouble, friend," I answered; "ask me no more."

"Then, being of the age thou art, there's a woman in it--that I swear
--and, perchance, though I am rough and foolish, I might make a guess.
Look thou, lad, what sayest thou? I am weary of this service of
Cleopatra and this hot land of deserts and of luxury, that sap a man's
strength and drain his pocket; and so are others whom I know of. What
sayest thou: let's take one of these unwieldy vessels and away to the
North? I'll lead thee to a better land than Egypt--a land of lake and
mountain, and great forests of sweet-scented pine; ay, and find thee a
girl fit to mate with--my own niece--a girl strong and tall, with wide
blue eyes and long fair hair, and arms that could crack thy ribs were
she of a mind to hug thee! Come, what sayest thou? Put away the past,
and away for the bonny North, and be a son to me."

For a moment I thought, and then sadly shook my head; for though I was
sorely tempted to be gone, I knew that my fate lay in Egypt, and I
might not fly my fate.

"It may not be, Brennus," I answered. "Fain would I that it might be,
but I am bound by a chain of destiny which I cannot break, and in the
land of Egypt I must live and die."

"As thou wilt, lad," said the old warrior. "I should have dearly loved
to marry thee among my people, and make a son of thee. At the least,
remember that while I am here thou hast Brennus for a friend. And one
thing more; beware of that beauteous Queen of thine, for, by Taranis,
perhaps an hour may come when she will hold that thou knowest too
much, and then----" and he drew his hand across his throat. "And now
good night; a cup of wine, then to sleep, for to-morrow the

[Here several lengths of the second roll of papyrus are so broken as
to be undecipherable. They seem to have been descriptive of
Cleopatra's voyage up the Cydnus to the city of Tarsus.]

"And--[the writing continues]--to those who could take joy in such
things, the sight must, indeed, have been a gallant one. For the stern
of our galley was covered with sheets of beaten gold, the sails were
of the scarlet of Tyre, and the oars of silver touched the water to a
measure of music. And there, in the centre of the vessel, beneath an
awning ablaze with gold embroidery, lay Cleopatra, attired as the
Roman Venus (and surely Venus was not more fair!), in thin robes of
whitest silk, bound in beneath her breast with a golden girdle
delicately graven over with scenes of love. All about her were little
rosy boys, chosen for their beauty, and clad in naught save downy
wings strapped upon their shoulders, and on their backs Cupid's bow
and quiver, who fanned her with fans of plumes. Upon the vessel's
decks, handling the cordage, that was of silken web, and softly
singing to the sound of harps and the beat of oars, were no rough
sailors, but women lovely to behold, some robed as Graces and some as
Nereids--that is, scarce robed at all, except in their scented hair.
And behind the couch, with drawn sword, stood Brennus, in splendid
armour and winged helm of gold; and by him others--I among them--in
garments richly worked, and knew that I was indeed a slave! On the
high poop also burned censers filled with costliest incense, of which
the fragrant steam hung in little clouds about our wake.

Thus, as in a dream of luxury, followed by many ships, we glided on
towards the wooded slopes of Taurus, at whose foot lay that ancient
city Tarshish. And ever as we came the people gathered on the banks
and ran before us, shouting: "Venus is risen from the sea! Venus hath
come to visit Bacchus!" We drew near to the city, and all its people--
everyone who could walk or be carried--crowded down in thousands to
the docks, and with them came the whole army of Antony, so that at
length the Triumvir was left alone upon the judgment seat.

Dellius, the false-tongued, came also, fawning and bowing, and in the
name of Antony gave the "Queen of Beauty" greeting, bidding her to a
feast that Antony had made ready. But she made high answer, and said,
"Forsooth, it is Antony who should wait on us; not we on Antony. Bid
the noble Antony to our poor table this night--else we dine alone."

Dellius went, bowing to the ground; the feast was made ready; and then
at last I set eyes on Antony. He came clad in purple robes, a great
man and beautiful to see, set in the stout prime of life, with bright
eyes of blue, and curling hair, and features cut sharply as a Grecian
gem. For he was great of form and royal of mien, and with an open
countenance on which his thoughts were so clearly written that all
might read them; only the weakness of the mouth belied the power of
the brow. He came attended by his generals, and when he reached the
couch where Cleopatra lay he stood astonished, gazing on her with
wide-opened eyes. She, too, gazed on him earnestly; I saw the red
blood run up beneath her skin, and a great pang of jealousy seized
upon my heart. And Charmion, who saw all beneath her downcast eyes,
saw this also and smiled. But Cleopatra spoke no word, only she
stretched out her white hand for him to kiss; and he, saying no word,
took her hand and kissed it.

"Behold, noble Antony!" she said at last in her voice of music, "thou
hast called me, and I am come."

"Venus has come," he answered in his deep notes, and still holding his
eyes fixed upon her face. "I called a woman--a Goddess hath risen from
the deep!"

"To find a God to greet her on the land," she laughed with ready wit.
"Well, a truce to compliments, for being on the earth even Venus is
ahungered. Noble Antony, thy hand."

The trumpets blared, and through the bowing crowd Cleopatra, followed
by her train, passed hand in hand with Antony to the feast.

[Here there is another break in the papyrus.]



On the third night the feast was once more prepared in the hall of the
great house that had been set aside to the use of Cleopatra, and on
this night its splendour was greater even than on the nights before.
For the twelve couches that were set about the table were embossed
with gold, and those of Cleopatra and Antony were of gold set with
jewels. The dishes also were all of gold set with jewels, the walls
were hung with purple cloths sewn with gold, and on the floor, covered
with a net of gold, fresh roses were strewn ankle-deep, that as the
slaves trod them sent up their perfume. Once again I was bidden to
stand, with Charmion and Iras and Merira, behind the couch of
Cleopatra, and, like a slave, from time to time call out the hours as
they flew. And there being no help, I went wild at heart; but this I
swore--it should be for the last time, since I could not bear that
shame. For though I would not yet believe what Charmion told me--that
Cleopatra was about to become the Love of Antony--yet I could no more
endure this ignominy and torture. For from Cleopatra now I had no
words save such as a Queen speaks to her slave, and methinks it gave
her dark heart pleasure to torment me.

Thus it came to pass that I, the Pharaoh, crowned of Khem, stood among
eunuchs and waiting-women behind the couch of Egypt's Queen while the
feast went merrily and the wine-cup passed. And ever Antony sat, his
eyes fixed upon the face of Cleopatra, who from time to time let her
deep glance lose itself in his, and then for a little while their talk
died away. For he told her tales of war and of deeds that he had done
--ay, and love-jests such as are not meet for the ears of women. But
she took offence at nothing; rather, falling into his humour, she
would cap his stories with others of a finer wit, but not less

At length, the rich meal being finished, Antony gazed at the splendour
around him.

"Tell me, then, most lovely Egypt," he said; "are the sands of Nile
compact of gold, that thou canst, night by night, thus squander the
ransom of a King upon a single feast? Whence comes this untold

I bethought me of the tomb of the Divine Menkau-ra, whose holy
treasure was thus wickedly wasted, and looked up so that Cleopatra's
eye caught mine; but, reading my thoughts, she frowned heavily.

"Why, noble Antony," she said, "surely it is nothing! In Egypt we have
our secrets, and know whence to conjure riches at our need. Say, what
is the value of this golden service, and of the meats and drinks that
have been set before us?"

He cast his eyes about, and hazarded a guess.

"Maybe a thousand sestertia."[*]

[*] About eight thousand pounds of English money.--Editor.

"Thou hast understated it by half, noble Antony! But such as it is I
will give it thee and those with thee as a free token of my
friendship. And more will I show thee now: I myself will eat and drink
ten thousand sestertia at a draught."

"That cannot be, fair Egypt!"

She laughed, and bade a slave bring her white vinegar in a glass. When
it was brought she set it before her and laughed again, while Antony,
rising from his couch, drew near and set himself at her side, and all
the company leant forward to see what she would do. And this she did.
She took from her ear one of those great pearls which last of all had
been drawn from the body of the Divine Pharaoh; and before any could
guess her purpose she let it fall into the vinegar. Then came silence,
the silence of wonder, and slowly the priceless pearl melted in the
strong acid. When it was melted she lifted the glass and shook it,
then drank the vinegar, to the last drop.

"More vinegar, slave!" she cried; "my meal is but half finished!" and
she drew forth the second pearl.

"By Bacchus, no! that shalt thou not!" cried Antony, snatching at her
hands; "I have seen enough;" and at that moment, moved to it by I know
not what, I called aloud:

"The hour falls, O Queen!--/the hour of the coming of the curse of

An ashy whiteness grew upon Cleopatra's face, and she turned upon me
furiously, while all the company gazed wondering, not knowing what the
words might mean.

"Thou ill-omened slave!" she cried. "Speak thus once more and thou
shalt be scourged with rods!--ay, scourged like an evildoer--that I
promise thee, Harmachis!"

"What means the knave of an astrologer?" asked Antony. "Speak, sirrah!
and make clear thy meaning, for those who deal in curses must warrant
their wares."

"I am a servant of the Gods, noble Antony. That which the Gods put in
my mind that must I say; nor can I read their meaning," I answered

"Oh, oh! thou servest the Gods, dost thou, thou many-coloured
mystery?" This he said having reference to my splendid robes. "Well, I
serve the Goddesses, which is a softer cult. And there's this between
us: that though what they put in my mind I say, neither can I read
their meaning," and he glanced at Cleopatra as one who questions.

"Let the knave be," she said impatiently; "to-morrow we'll be rid of
him. Sirrah, begone!"

I bowed and went; and, as I went, I heard Antony say: "Well, he may be
a knave--for that all men are--but this for thy astrologer: he hath a
royal air and the eye of a King--ay, and wit in it."

Without the door I paused, not knowing what to do, for I was
bewildered with misery. And, as I stood, someone touched me on the
hand. I glanced up--it was Charmion, who in the confusion of the
rising of the guests, had slipped away and followed me.

For in trouble Charmion was ever at my side.

"Follow me," she whispered; "thou art in danger."

I turned and followed her. Why should I not?

"Whither go we?" I asked at length.

"To my chamber," she said. "Fear not; we ladies of Cleopatra's Court
have small good fame to lose; if anyone by chance should see us,
they'll think that it is a love-tryst, and such are all the fashion."

I followed, and, presently, skirting the crowd, we came unseen to a
little side entrance that led to a stair, up which we passed. The
stair ended in a passage; we turned down it till we found a door on
the left hand. Charmion entered silently, and I followed her into a
dark chamber. Being in, she barred the door and, kindling tinder to a
flame, lit a hanging lamp. As the light grew strong I gazed around.
The chamber was not large, and had but one casement, closely
shuttered. For the rest, it was simply furnished, having white walls,
some chests for garments, an ancient chair, what I took to be a tiring
table, on which were combs, perfumes, and all the frippery that
pertains to woman, and a white bed with a broidered coverlid, over
which was hung a gnat-gauze.

"Be seated, Harmachis," she said, pointing to the chair. I took the
chair, and Charmion, throwing back the gnat-gauze, sat herself upon
the bed before me.

"Knowest thou what I heard Cleopatra say as thou didst leave the
banqueting-hall?" she asked presently.

"Nay, I know not."

"She gazed after thee, and, as I went over to her to do some service,
she murmured to herself: 'By Serapis, I will make an end! I will wait
no longer: to-morrow he shall be strangled!'"

"So!" I said, "it may be; though, after all that has been, I can
scarce believe that she will murder me."

"Why canst thou not believe it, thou most foolish of men? Dost forget
how nigh thou wast to death there in the Alabaster Hall? Who saved
thee then from the knives of the eunuchs? Was it Cleopatra? Or was it
I and Brennus? Stay, I will tell thee. Thou canst not yet believe it,
because, in thy folly, thou dost not think it possible that the woman
who has but lately been as a wife to thee can now, in so short a time,
doom thee to be basely done to death. Nay, answer not--I know all; and
I tell thee this: thou hast not measured the depth of Cleopatra's
perfidy, nor canst thou dream the blackness of her wicked heart. She
had surely slain thee in Alexandria had she not feared that thy
slaughter being noised abroad might bring trouble on her. Therefore
has she brought thee here to kill thee secretly. For what more canst
thou give her? She has thy heart's love, and is wearied of thy
strength and beauty. She has robbed thee of thy royal birthright and
brought thee, a King, to stand amidst the waiting-women behind her at
her feasts; she has won from thee the great secret of the holy

"Ah, thou knowest that?"

"Yes, I know all; and to-night thou seest how the wealth stored
against the need of Khem is being squandered to fill up the wanton
luxury of Khem's Macedonian Queen! Thou seest how she has kept her
oath to wed thee honourably. Harmachis--at length thine eyes are open
to the truth!"

"Ay, I see too well; and yet she swore she loved me, and I, poor fool,
I believed her!"

"She swore she loved thee!" answered Charmion, lifting her dark eyes:
"now I will show thee how she loves thee. Knowest thou what was this
house? It was a priest's college; and, as thou wottest, Harmachis,
priests have their ways. This little room aforetime was the room of
the Head Priest, and the chamber that is beyond and below was the
gathering-place of the other priests. The old slave who keeps the
house told me all this, and also she revealed what I shall show thee.
Now, Harmachis, be silent as the dead, and follow me!"

She blew out the lamp, and by the little light that crept through the
shuttered casement led me by the hand to the far corner of the room.
Here she pressed upon the wall, and a door opened in its thickness. We
entered, and she closed the spring. Now we were in a little chamber,
some five cubits in length by four in breadth; for a faint light
struggled into the closet, and also the sound of voices, I knew not
whence. Loosing my hand, she crept to the end of the place, and looked
steadfastly at the wall; then crept back and, whispering "Silence!"
led me forward with her. Then I saw that there were eyeholes in the
wall, which pierced it, and were hidden on the farther side by carved
work in stone. I looked through the hole that was in front of me, and
I saw this: six cubits below was the level of the floor of another
chamber, lit with fragrant lamps, and most richly furnished. It was
the sleeping-place of Cleopatra, and there, within ten cubits of where
we stood, sat Cleopatra on a gilded couch, and by her side sat Antony.

"Tell me," Cleopatra murmured--for this place was so built that every
word spoken in the room below came to the ears of the listener above--
"tell me, noble Antony, wast pleased with my poor festival?"

"Ay," he answered in his deep soldier's voice, "ay, Egypt, I have made
feasts, and been bidden to feasts, but never saw I aught like thine;
and I tell thee this, though I am rough of tongue and unskilled in
pretty sayings such as women love, thou wast the richest sight of all
that splendid board. The red wine was not so red as thy beauteous
cheek, the roses smelt not so sweet as the odour of thy hair, and no
sapphire there with its changing light was so lovely as thy eyes of
ocean blue."

"What! Praise from Antony! Sweet words from the lips of him whose
writings are so harsh! Why, it is praise indeed!"

"Ay," he went on, "it was a royal feast, though I grieve that thou
didst waste that great pearl; and what meant that hour-calling
astrologer of thine, with his ill-omened talk of the curse of

A shadow fled across her glowing face. "I know not; he was lately
wounded in a brawl, and methinks the blow has crazed him."

"He seemed not crazed, and there was that about his voice which rings
in my ears like some oracle of fate. So wildly, too, he looked upon
thee, Egypt, with those piercing eyes of his, like one who loved and
yet hated through the love."

"He is a strange man, I tell thee, noble Antony, and a learned.
Myself, at times, I almost fear him, for he is deeply versed in the
ancient arts of Egypt. Knowest thou that the man is of royal blood,
and once he plotted to slay me? But I won him over, and slew him not,
for he had the key to secrets that I fain would learn; and, indeed, I
loved his wisdom, and to listen to his deep talk of all hidden

"By Bacchus, I grow jealous of the knave! And now, Egypt?"

"And now I have sucked his knowledge dry, and have no more cause to
fear him. Didst thou not see that I have made him stand these three
nights a slave amid my slaves, and call aloud the hours as they fled
in festival. No captive King marching in thy Roman triumphs can have
suffered pangs so keen as that proud Egyptian Prince when he stood
shamed behind my couch."

Here Charmion laid her hand on mine and pressed it, as though in

"Well, he shall trouble us no more with his words of evil omen,"
Cleopatra went on slowly; "to-morrow morn he dies--dies swiftly and in
secret, leaving no trace of what his fate has been. On this is my mind
fixed; of a truth, noble Antony, it is fixed. Even as I speak the fear
of this man grows and gathers in my breast. Half am I minded to give
the word even now, for I breathe not freely till he be dead," and she
made as though to rise.

"Let it be till morning," he said, catching her by the hand; "the
soldiers drink, and the deed will be ill done. 'Tis pity too. I love
not to think of men slaughtered in their sleep."

"In the morning, perchance, the hawk may have flown," she answered,
pondering. "He hath keen ears, this Harmachis, and can summon things
to aid him that are not of the earth. Perchance, even now he hears me
in the spirit; for, of a truth, I seem to feel his presence breathing
round me. I could tell thee--but no, let him be! Noble Antony, be my
tiring-woman and loose me this crown of gold, it chafes my brow. Be
gentle, hurt me not--so."

He lifted the uręus crown from her brows, and she shook loose her
heavy weight of hair that fell about her like a garment.

"Take back thy crown, royal Egypt," he said, speaking low, "take it
from my hand; I will not rob thee of it, but rather set it more firmly
on that beauteous brow."

"What means my Lord?" she asked, smiling and looking into his eyes.

"What mean I? Why then, this: thou camest hither at my bidding to make
answer of the charges laid against thee as to matters politic. And
knowest thou, Egypt, that hadst thou been other than thou art thou
hadst not gone back to queen it on the Nile; for of this I am sure,
the charges against thee are true in fact. But, being what thou art--
and look thou! never did Nature serve a woman better!--I forgive thee
all. For the sake of thy grace and beauty I forgive thee that which
had not been forgiven to virtue, or to patriotism, or to the dignity
of age! See now how good a thing is woman's wit and loveliness, that
can make kings forget their duty and cozen even blindfolded Justice to
peep ere she lifts her sword! Take back thy crown, O Egypt! It is now
my care that, though it be heavy, it shall not chafe thee."

"These are royal words, most notable Antony," she made answer;
"gracious and generous words, such as befit the Conqueror of the
world! And touching my misdeeds in the past--if misdeeds there have
been--I say this, and this alone--then I knew not Antony. For, knowing
Antony, who could sin against him? What woman could lift a sword
against one who must be to all women as a God--one who, seen and
known, draws after him the whole allegiance of the heart, as the sun
draws flowers? And what more can I say and not cross the bounds of
woman's modesty? Why, only this--set that crown upon my brow, great
Antony, and I will take it as a gift from thee, by the giving made
doubly dear, and to thy uses I will guard it.

"There, now I am thy vassal Queen, and through me all old Egypt that I
rule does homage to Antony the Triumvir, who shall be Antony the
Emperor of Rome and Khem's Imperial Lord!"

And, having set the crown upon her locks, he stood gazing on her,
grown passionate in the warm breath of her living beauty, till at
length he caught her by both hands and drawing her to him kissed her
thrice, saying:

"Cleopatra, I love thee, Sweet--I love thee as I never loved before."
She drew back from his embrace, smiling softly; and as she did so the
golden circlet of the sacred snakes fell, being but loosely set upon
her brow, and rolled away into the darkness beyond the ring of light.

I saw the omen, and even in the bitter anguish of my heart knew its
evil import. But these twain took no note.

"Thou lovest me?" she said, most sweetly; "how know I that thou lovest
me? Perchance it is Fulvia whom thou lovest--Fulvia, thy wedded wife?"

"Nay, it is not Fulvia, 'tis thou, Cleopatra, and thou alone. Many
women have looked favourably upon me from my boyhood up, but to never
a one have I known such desire as to thee, O thou Wonder of the World,
like unto whom no woman ever was! Canst thou love me, Cleopatra, and
to me be true, not for my place or power, not for that which I can
give or can withhold, not for the stern music of my legion's tramp, or
for the light that flows from my bright Star of Fortune; but for
myself, for the sake of Antony, the rough captain, grown old in camps?
Ay, for the sake of Antony the reveller, the frail, the unfixed of
purpose, but who yet never did desert a friend, or rob a poor man, or
take an enemy unawares? Say, canst thou love me, Egypt? Oh! if thou
wilt, why, I am more happy than though I sat to-night in the Capitol
at Rome crowned absolute Monarch of the World!"

And, ever as he spoke, she gazed on him with wonderful eyes, and in
them shone a light of truth and honesty such as was strange to me.

"Thou speakest plainly," she said, "and thy words are sweet to mine
ears--they would be sweet, even were things otherwise than they are,
for what woman would not love to see the world's master at her feet?
But things being as they are, why, Antony, what can be so sweet as thy
sweet words? The harbour of his rest to the storm-tossed mariner--
surely that is sweet! The dream of Heaven's bliss which cheers the
poor ascetic priest on his path of sacrifice--surely that is sweet!
The sight of Dawn, the rosy-fingered, coming in his promise to glad
the watching Earth--surely that is sweet! But, ah! not one of these,
nor all dear delightful things that are, can match the honey-sweetness
of thy words to me, O Antony! For thou knowest not--never canst thou
know--how drear my life hath been, and empty, since thus it is
ordained that in love only can woman lose her solitude! And I have
/never/ loved--never might I love--till this happy night! Ay, take me
in thy arms, and let us swear a great vow of love--an oath that may
not be broken while life is in us! Behold! Antony! now and for ever I
do vow most strict fidelity unto thee! Now and for ever I am thine,
and thine alone!"

Then Charmion took me by the hand and drew me thence.

"Hast seen enough?" she asked, when we were once more within the
chamber and the lamp was lit.

"Yea," I answered; "my eyes are opened."



For some while I sat with bowed head, and the last bitterness of shame
sank into my soul. This, then, was the end. For this I had betrayed my
oaths; for this I had told the secret of the pyramid; for this I had
lost my Crown, my Honour, and, perchance, my hope of Heaven! Could
there be another man in the wide world so steeped in sorrow as I was
that night? Surely not one! Where should I turn? What could I do? And
even through the tempest of my torn heart the bitter voice of jealousy
called aloud. For I loved this woman, to whom I had given all; and she
at this moment--she was---- Ah! I could not bear to think of it; and
in my utter agony, my heart burst in a river of tears such as are
terrible to weep!

Then Charmion drew near me, and I saw that she, too, was weeping.

"Weep not, Harmachis!" she sobbed, kneeling at my side. "I cannot
endure to see thee weep. Oh! why wouldst thou not be warned? Then
hadst thou been great and happy, and not as now. Listen, Harmachis!
Thou didst hear what that false and tigerish woman said--to-morrow she
hands thee over to the murderers!"

"It is well," I gasped.

"Nay: it is not well. Harmachis, give her not this last triumph over
thee. Thou hast lost all save life: but while life remains, hope
remains also, and with hope the chance of vengeance."

"Ah!" I said, starting from my seat. "I had not thought of that. Ay--
the chance of vengeance! It would be sweet to be avenged!"

"It would be sweet, Harmachis, and yet this--Vengeance is an arrow
that in falling oft pierces him who shot it. Myself--I know it," and
she sighed. "But a truce to talk and grief. There will be time for us
twain to grieve, if not to talk, in all the heavy coming years. Thou
must fly--before the coming of the light must thou fly. Here is a
plan. To-morrow, ere the dawn, a galley that but yesterday came from
Alexandria, bearing fruit and stores, sails thither again, and its
captain is known to me, but to thee he is not known. Now, I will find
thee the garb of a Syrian merchant, and cloak thee, as I know how, and
furnish thee with a letter to the captain of the galley. He shall give
thee passage to Alexandria; for to him thou wilt seem but as a
merchant going on the business of thy trade. Brennus is officer of the
guard to-night, and Brennus is a friend to me and thee. Perhaps he
will guess somewhat; or, perhaps, he will not guess; at the least, the
Syrian merchant shall safely pass the lines. What sayest thou?"

"It is well," I answered wearily; "little do I reck the issue."

"Rest thou, then, here, Harmachis, while I make these matters ready;
and, Harmachis, grieve not overmuch; there are others who should
grieve more heavily than thou." And she went, leaving me alone with my
agony which rent me like a torture-bed. Had it not been for that
fierce desire of vengeance which from time to time flashed across my
tormented mind as the lightning over a midnight sea, methinks my
reason had left me in that dark hour. At length I heard her footstep
at the door, and she entered, breathing heavily, for she bore a sack
of clothing in her arms.

"It is well," she said: "here is the garb with spare linen, and
writing-tablets, and all things needful. I have seen Brennus also, and
told him that a Syrian merchant would pass the guard an hour before
the dawn. And though he made pretence of sleep, I think he understood,
for he answered, yawning, that if they but had the pass-word,
'Antony,' fifty Syrian merchants might go through about their lawful
business. And here is the letter to the captain--thou canst not
mistake the galley, for she is moored along to the right--a small
galley, painted black, as thou dost enter on the great quay, and,
moreover, the sailors make ready for sailing. Now I will wait here
without, while thou dost put off the livery of thy service and array

When she was gone I tore off my gorgeous garments and spat upon them
and trod them on the ground. Then I put on the modest robe of a
merchant, and bound the tablets round me, on my feet the sandals of
untanned hide, and at my waist the knife. When it was done Charmion
entered once again and looked on me.

"Too much art thou still the royal Harmachis," she said; "see, it must
be changed."

Then she took scissors from her tiring-table, and, bidding me be
seated, she cut off my locks, clipping the hair close to the head.
Next she found stains of such sort as women use to make dark the eyes,
and mixed them cunningly, rubbing the stuff on my face and hands and
on the white mark in my hair where the sword of Brennus had bitten to
the bone.

"Now thou art changed--somewhat for the worse, Harmachis," she said,
with a dreary laugh, "scarce myself should I know thee. Stay, there is
one more thing," and, going to a chest of garments, she drew thence a
heavy bag of gold.

"Take thou this," she said; "thou wilt have need of money."

"I cannot take thy gold, Charmion."

"Yes, take it. It was Sepa who gave it to me for the furtherance of
our cause, and therefore it is fitting that thou shouldst spend it.
Moreover, if I want money, doubtless Antony, who is henceforth my
master, will give me more; he is much beholden to me, and this he
knows well. There, waste not the precious time in haggling o'er the
pelf--not yet art thou all a merchant, Harmachis;" and, without more
words, she thrust the pieces into the leather bag that hung across my
shoulders. Then she made fast the sack containing the spare garments,
and, so womanly thoughtful was she, placed in it an alabaster jar of
pigment, with which I might stain my countenance afresh, and, taking
the broidered robes of my office that I had cast off, hid them in the
secret passage. And so at last all was made ready.

"Is it time that I should go," I asked.

"Not yet a while. Be patient, Harmachis, for but one little hour more
must thou endure my presence, and then, perchance, farewell for ever."

I made a gesture signifying that this was no time for sharp words.

"Forgive me my quick tongue," she said; "but from a salt spring bitter
waters well. Be seated, Harmachis; I have heavier words to speak to
thee before thou goest."

"Say on," I answered; "words, however heavy, can move me no more."

She stood before me with folded hands, and the lamp-light shone upon
her beauteous face. I noticed idly how great was its pallor and how
wide and dark were the rings about the deep black eyes. Twice she
lifted her white face and strove to speak, twice her voice failed her;
and when at last it came it was in a hoarse whisper.

"I cannot let thee go," she said--"I cannot let thee go unwitting of
the truth.

"/Harmachis, 'twas I who did betray thee!/"

I sprang to my feet, an oath upon my lips; but she caught me by the

"Oh, be seated," she said--"be seated and hear me; then, when thou
hast heart, do to me as thou wilt. Listen. From that evil moment when,
in the presence of thy uncle Sepa, for the second time I set eyes upon
thy face, I loved thee--how much, thou canst little guess. Think upon
thine own love for Cleopatra, and double it, and double it again, and
perchance thou mayst come near to my love's mighty sum. I loved thee,
day by day I loved thee more, till in thee and for thee alone I seemed
to live. But thou wast cold--thou wast worse than cold! thou didst
deal with me not as a breathing woman, but rather as the instrument to
an end--as a tool with which to grave thy fortunes. And then I saw--
yes, long before thou knewest it thyself--thy heart's tide was setting
strong towards that ruinous shore whereon to-day thy life is broken.
And at last that night came, that dreadful night when, hid within the
chamber, I saw thee cast my kerchief to the winds, and with sweet
words cherish my royal Rival's gift. Then--oh, thou knowest--in my
pain I betrayed the secret that thou wouldst not see, and thou didst
make a mock of me, Harmachis! Oh! the shame of it--thou in thy
foolishness didst make a mock of me! I went thence, and within me were
rising all the torments which can tear a woman's heart, for now I was
sure that thou didst love Cleopatra! Ay, and so mad was I, even that
night I was minded to betray thee: but I thought--not yet, not yet;
to-morrow he may soften. Then came the morrow, and all was ready for
the bursting of the great plot that should make thee Pharaoh. And I
too came--thou dost remember--and again thou didst put me away when I
spake to thee in parables, as something of little worth--as a thing
too small to claim a moment's weighty thought. And, knowing that this
was because--though thou knewest it not--thou didst love Cleopatra,
whom now thou must straightway slay, I grew mad, and a wicked Spirit
entered into me, possessing me utterly, so that I was myself no
longer, nor could control myself. And because thou hadst scorned me, I
did this, to my everlasting shame and sorrow!--I passed into
Cleopatra's presence and betrayed thee and those with thee, and our
holy cause, saying that I had found a writing which thou hadst let
fall and read all this therein."

I gasped and sat silent; and gazing sadly at me she went on:

"When she understood how great was the plot, and how deep its roots,
Cleopatra was much troubled; and, at first, she would have fled to
Sais or taken ship and run for Cyprus, but I showed her that the ways
were barred. Then she said she would cause thee to be slain, there, in
the chamber, and I left her so believing; for, at that hour, I was
glad that thou shouldst be slain--ay, even if I wept out my heart upon
thy grave, Harmachis. But what said I just now?--Vengeance is an arrow
that oft falls on him who looses it. So it was with me; for between my
going and thy coming Cleopatra hatched a deeper plan. She feared that
to slay thee would only be to light a fiercer fire of revolt; but she
saw that to bind thee to her, and, having left men awhile in doubt, to
show thee faithless, would strike the imminent danger at its roots and
wither it. This plot once formed, being great, she dared its doubtful
issue, and--need I go on? Thou knowest, Harmachis, how she won; and
thus the shaft of vengeance that I loosed fell upon my own head. For
on the morrow I knew that I had sinned for naught, that the burden of
my betrayal had been laid on the wretched Paulus, and that I had but
ruined the cause to which I was sworn and given the man I loved to the
arms of wanton Egypt."

She bowed her head awhile, and then, as I spoke not, once more went

"Let all my sin be told, Harmachis, and then let justice come. See
now, this thing happened. Half did Cleopatra learn to love thee, and
deep in her heart she bethought her of taking thee to wedded husband.
For the sake of this half love of hers she spared the lives of those
in the plot whom she had meshed, bethinking her that if she wedded
thee she might use them and thee to draw the heart of Egypt, which
loves not her nor any Ptolemy. And then, once again she entrapped
thee, and in thy folly thou didst betray to her the secret of the
hidden wealth of Egypt, which to-day she squanders to delight the
luxurious Antony; and, of a truth, at that time she purposed to make
good her oath and marry thee. But on the very morn when Dellius came
for answer she sent for me, and telling me all--for my wit, above any,
she holds at price--demanded of me my judgment whether she should defy
Antony and wed thee, or whether she should put the thought away and
come to Antony. And I--now mark thou all my sin--I, in my bitter
jealousy, rather than I would see her thy wedded wife and thou her
loving lord, counselled her most strictly that she should come to
Antony, well knowing--for I had had speech with Dellius--that if she
came, this weak Antony would fall like a ripe fruit at her feet, as,
indeed, he has fallen. And but now I have shown thee the issue of the
scheme. Antony loves Cleopatra and Cleopatra loves Antony, and thou
art robbed, and matters have gone well for me, who of all women on the
earth to-night am the wretchedest by far. For when I saw how thy heart
broke but now, my heart seemed to break with thine, and I could no
longer bear the burden of my evil deeds, but knew that I must tell
them and take my punishment.

"And now, Harmachis, I have no more to say; save that I thank thee for
thy courtesy in hearkening, and this one thing I add. Driven by my
great love I have sinned against thee unto death! I have ruined thee,
I have ruined Khem, and myself also I have ruined! Let death reward
me! Slay thou me, Harmachis--I will gladly die upon thy sword; ay, and
kiss its blade! Slay thou me and go; for if thou slayest me not,
myself I will surely slay!" And she threw herself upon her knees,
lifting her fair breast toward me, that I might smite her with my
dagger. And, in my bitter fury, I was minded to strike; for, above
all, I thought how, when I was fallen, this woman, who herself was my
cause of shame, had scourged me with her whip of scorn. But it is hard
to slay a fair woman; and, even as I lifted my hand to strike, I
remembered that she had now twice saved my life.

"Woman! thou shameless woman!" I said, "arise! I slay thee not! Who am
I, that I should judge thy crime, that, with mine own, doth overtop
all earthly judgment?"

"Slay me, Harmachis!" she moaned; "slay me, or I slay myself! My
burden is too great for me to bear! Be not so deadly calm! Curse me,
and slay!"

"What was it that thou didst say to me just now, Charmion--that as I
had sown so I must reap? It is not lawful that thou shouldst slay
thyself; it is not lawful that I, thine equal in sin, should slay thee
because through thee I sinned. As /thou/ hast sown, Charmion, so must
/thou/ also reap. Base woman! whose cruel jealousy has brought all
these woes on me and Egypt, live--live on, and from year to year pluck
the bitter fruit of crime! Haunted be thy sleep by visions of thy
outraged Gods, whose vengeance awaits thee and me in their dim Amenti!
Haunted be thy days by memories of that man whom thy fierce love
brought to shame and ruin, and by the sight of Khem a prey to the
insatiate Cleopatra and a slave to Roman Antony."

"Oh, speak not thus, Harmachis! Thy words are sharper than any sword;
and more surely, if more slowly, shall they slay! Listen, Harmachis,"
and she grasped my robe: "when thou wast great, and all power lay
within thy grasp, thou didst reject me. Wilt reject me now that
Cleopatra hast cast thee from her--now that thou art poor and shamed
and with no pillow to thy head? Still am I fair, and still I worship
thee. Let me fly with thee, and make atonement for my lifelong love.
Or, if this be too great a thing to ask, let me be but as thy sister
and thy servant--thy very slave, so that I may still look upon thy
face, and share thy trouble and minister to thee. O Harmachis, let me
but come and I will brave all things and endure all things, and
nothing but Death himself shall stay me from thy side. For I do
believe that the love that sank me to so low a depth, dragging thee
with me, can yet lift me to an equal height, and thee with me!"

"Wouldst tempt me to fresh sin, woman? And dost thou think, Charmion,
that in some hovel where I must hide, I could bear, day by day, to
look upon thy fair face, and seeing, remember that those lips betrayed
me? Not thus easily shalt thou atone! This I know even now: many and
heavy shall be thy lonely days of penance! Perchance that hour of
vengeance yet may come, and perchance thou shalt live to play thy part
in it. Thou must still abide in the Court of Cleopatra; and, while
thou art there, if I yet live, I will from time to time find means to
give thee tidings. Perhaps a day may dawn when once more I shall need
thy service. Now, swear that, in this event, thou wilt not fail me a
second time."

"I swear, Harmachis!--I swear! May everlasting torments, too hideous
to be dreamed--more hideous, even, by far, than those that wring me
now--be my portion if I fail thee in one jot or tittle--ay, though I
wait a lifetime for thy word!"

"It is well; see that thou keep the oath--not twice may we betray. I
go to work out my fate; abide thou to work out thine. Perchance our
divers threads will once more mingle ere the web be spun. Charmion,
who unasked didst love me--and who, prompted by that gentle love of
thine, didst betray and ruin me--fare thee well!"

She gazed wildly upon my face--she stretched out her arms as though to
clasp me; then, in the agony of her despair, she cast herself at
length and grovelled upon the ground.

I took up the sack of clothing and the staff and gained the door, and,
as I passed it, I threw one last glance upon her. There she lay, with
arms outstretched--more white than her white robes--her dark hair
streaming about her, and her fair brows hidden in the dust.

And thus I left her, nor did I again set my eyes upon her till nine
long years had come and gone.

[Here ends the second and largest roll of papyrus.]





I made my way down the stair in safety, and presently stood in the
courtyard of that great house. It was but an hour from dawn, and none
were stirring. The last reveller had drunk his fill, the dancing-girls
had ceased their dancing, and silence lay upon the city. I drew near
the gate, and was challenged by an officer who stood on guard, wrapped
in a heavy cloak.

"Who passes," said the voice of Brennus.

"A merchant, may it please you, Sir, who, having brought gifts from
Alexandria to a lady of the Queen's household, and, having been
entertained of the lady, now departs to his galley," I answered in a
feigned voice.

"Umph!" he growled. "The ladies of the Queen's household keep their
guests late. Well; it is a time of festival. The pass-word, Sir
Shopkeeper? Without the pass-word you must needs return and crave the
lady's further hospitality."

"'/Antony/,' Sir; and a right good word, too. Ah! I've wandered far,
and never saw I so goodly a man or so great a general. And, mark you,
Sir! I've travelled far, and seen many generals."

"Ay; '/Antony/''s the word! And Antony is a good general in his way--
when it is a sober way, and when he cannot find a skirt to follow.
I've served with Antony--and against him, too; and know his points.
Well, well; he's got an armful now!"

And all this while that he was holding me in talk, the sentry had been
pacing to and fro before the gate. But now he moved a little way to
the right, leaving the entrance clear.

"Fare thee well, Harmachis, and begone!" whispered Brennus, leaning
forward and speaking quickly. "Linger not. But at times bethink thee
of Brennus who risked his neck to save thine. Farewell, lad, I would
that we were sailing North together," and he turned his back upon me
and began to hum a tune.

"Farewell, Brennus, thou honest man," I answered, and was gone. And,
as I heard long afterwards, when on the morrow the hue and cry was
raised because the murderers could not find me, though they sought me
everywhere to slay me, Brennus did me a service. For he swore that as
he kept his watch alone an hour after midnight he saw me come and
stand upon the parapet of the roof, that then I stretched out my robes
and they became wings on which I floated up to Heaven, leaving him
astonished. And all those about the Court lent ear to this history,
believing in it, because of the great fame of my magic; and they
wondered much what the marvel might portend. The tale also travelled
into Egypt, and did much to save my good name among those whom I had
betrayed; for the more ignorant among them believed that I acted not
of my will, but of the will of the dread Gods, who of their own
purpose wafted me into Heaven. And thus to this day the saying runs
that "/When Harmachis comes again Egypt shall be free./" But alas,
Harmachis comes no more! Only Cleopatra, though she was much afraid,
doubted her of the tale, and sent an armed vessel to search for the
Syrian merchant, but not to find him, as shall be told.

When I reached the galley of which Charmion had spoken, I found her
about to sail, and gave the writing to the captain, who conned it,
looking on me curiously, but said nothing.

So I went aboard, and immediately we dropped swiftly down the river
with the current. And having come to the mouth of the river
unchallenged, though we passed many vessels, we put out to sea with a
strong favouring wind that before night freshened to a great gale.
Then the sailor men, being much afraid, would have put about and run
for the mouth of Cydnus again, but could not because of the wildness
of the sea. All that night it blew furiously, and by dawn our mast was
carried away, and we rolled helplessly in the trough of the great
waves. But I sat wrapped in a cloak, little heeding; and because I
showed no fear the sailors cried out that I was a wizard, and sought
to cast me into the sea, but the captain would not. At dawn the wind
slackened, but ere noon it once more blew in terrible fury, and at the
fourth hour from noon we came in sight of the rocky coast of that cape
in the island of Cyprus which is called Dinaretum, where is a mountain
named Olympus, and thither-wards we drifted swiftly. Then, when the
sailors saw the terrible rocks, and how the great waves that smote on
them spouted up in foam, once more they grew much afraid, and cried
out in their fear. For, seeing that I still sat unmoved, they swore
that I certainly was a wizard, and came to cast me forth as a
sacrifice to the Gods of the sea. And this time the captain was over-
ruled, and said nothing. Therefore, when they came to me I rose and
defied them, saying, "Cast me forth, if ye will; but if ye cast me
forth ye shall perish."

For in my heart I cared little, having no more any love of life, but
rather a desire to die, though I greatly feared to pass into the
presence of my Holy Mother Isis. But my weariness and sorrow at the
bitterness of my lot overcame even this heavy fear; so that when,
being mad as brute beasts, they seized me and, lifting me, hurled me
into the raging waters, I did but utter one prayer to Isis and made
ready for death. But it was fated that I should not die; for, when I
rose to the surface of the water, I saw a spar of wood floating near
me, to which I swam and clung. And a great wave came and swept me,
riding, as it were, upon the spar, as when a boy I had learned to do
in the waters of the Nile, past the bulwarks of the galley where the
fierce-faced sailors clustered to see me drown. And when they saw me
come mounted on the wave, cursing them as I came, and saw, too, that
the colour of my face had changed--for the salt water had washed way
the pigment, they shrieked with fear and threw themselves down upon
the deck. And within a very little while, as I rode toward the rocky
coast, a great wave poured into the vessel, that rolled broadside on,
and pressed her down into the deep, whence she rose no more.

So she sank with all her crew. And in that same storm also sank the
galley which Cleopatra had sent to search for the Syrian merchant.
Thus all traces of me were lost, and of a surety she believed that I
was dead.

But I rode on toward the shore. The wind shrieked and the salt waves
lashed my face as, alone with the tempest, I rushed upon my way, while
the sea-birds screamed about my head. I felt no fear, but rather a
wild uplifting of the heart; and in the stress of my imminent peril
the love of life seemed to waken again. And so I plunged and drifted,
now tossed high toward the lowering clouds, now cast into the deep
valleys of the sea, till at length the rocky headland loomed before
me, and I saw the breakers smite upon the stubborn rocks, and through
the screaming of the wind heard the sullen thunder of their fall and
the groan of stones sucked seaward from the beach. On! high-throned
upon the mane of a mighty billow--fifty cubits beneath me the level of
the hissing waters; above me the inky sky! It was done! The spar was
torn from me, and, dragged downwards by the weight of the bag of gold
and the clinging of my garments, I sank struggling furiously.

Now I was under--the green light for a moment streamed through the
waters, and then came darkness, and on the darkness pictures of the
past. Picture after picture--all the long scene of life was written
here. Then in my ears I only heard the song of the nightingale, the
murmur of the summer sea, and the music of Cleopatra's laugh of
victory, following me softly and yet more soft as I sank away to

Once more my life came back, and with it a sense of deadly sickness
and of aching pain. I opened my eyes and saw a kind face bending over
me, and knew that I was in the room of a builded house.

"How came I hither?" I asked faintly.

"Of a truth, Poseidon brought thee, Stranger," answered a rough voice
in barbarous Greek; "we found thee cast high upon the beach like a
dead dolphin and brought thee to our house, for we are fisher-folk.
And here, methinks, thou must lie a while, for thy left leg is broken
by the force of the waves."

I strove to move my foot and could not. It was true, the bone was
broken above the knee.

"Who art thou, and how art thou named?" asked the rough-bearded

"I am an Egyptian traveller whose ship has sunk in the fury of the
gale, and I am named Olympus," I answered, for these people called a
mountain that we had sighted Olympus, and therefore I took the name at
hazard. And as Olympus I was henceforth known.

Here with these rough fisher-folk I abode for the half of a year,
paying them a little out of the sum of gold that had come safely
ashore upon me. For it was long before my bones grew together again,
and then I was left somewhat of a cripple; for I, who had been so tall
and straight and strong, now limped--one limb being shorter than the
other. And after I recovered from my hurt, I still lived there, and
toiled with them at the trade of fishing; for I knew not whither I
should go or what I should do, and, for a while, I was fain to become
a peasant fisherman, and so wear my weary life away. And these people
entreated me kindly, though, as others, they feared me much, holding
me to be a wizard brought hither by the sea. For my sorrows had
stamped so strange an aspect on my face that men gazing at me grew
fearful of what lay beneath its calm.

There, then, I abode, till at length, one night as I lay and strove to
sleep, great restlessness came upon me, and a mighty desire once more
to see the face of Sihor. But whether this desire was of the Gods or
born of my own heart, not knowing, I cannot tell. So strong was it, at
the least, that before it was dawn I rose from my bed of straw and
clothed myself in my fisher garb, and, because I had no wish to answer
questions, thus I took farewell of my humble hosts. First I placed
some pieces of gold on the well-cleaned table of wood, and then taking
a pot of flour I strewed it in the form of letters, writing:

 "This gift from Olympus, the Egyptian, who returns into the sea."

Then I went, and on the third day I came to the great city of Salamis,
that is also on the sea. Here I abode in the fishermen's quarters till
a vessel was about to sail for Alexandria, and to the captain of this
vessel, a man of Paphos, I hired myself as a sailor. We sailed with a
favouring wind, and on the fifth day I came to Alexandria, that
hateful city, and saw the light dancing on its golden domes.

Here I might not abide. So again I hired myself out as a sailor,
giving my labour in return for passage, and we passed up the Nile. And
I learned from the talk of men that Cleopatra had come back to
Alexandria, drawing Antony with her and that they lived together with
royal state in the palace on the Lochias. Indeed, the boatmen already
had a song thereon, which they sang as they laboured at the oar. Also
I heard how the galley that was sent to search for the vessel which
carried the Syrian merchant had foundered with all her crew, and the
tale that the Queen's astronomer, Harmachis, had flown to Heaven from
the roof of the house at Tarsus. And the sailors wondered because I
sat and laboured and would not sing their ribald song of the loves of
Cleopatra. For they, too, began to fear me, and mutter concerning me
among themselves. Then I knew that I was a man accursed and set apart
--a man whom none might love.

On the sixth day we drew nigh to Abouthis, where I left the craft, and
the sailors were right glad to see me go. And, with a breaking heart,
I walked through the fertile fields, seeing faces that I knew well.
But in my rough disguise and limping gait none knew me. At length, as
the sun sank, I came near to the great outer pylon of the temple; and
here I crouched down in the ruins of a house, not knowing why I had
come or what I was about to do. Like a lost ox I had strayed from far,
back to the fields of my birth, and for what? If my father, Amenemhat,
still lived, surely he would turn his face from me. I dared not go
into the presence of my father. I sat hidden there among the broken
rafters, and idly watched the pylon gates, to see if, perchance, a
face I knew should issue from them. But none came forth or entered in,
though the great gates stood wide; and then I saw that herbs were
growing between the stones, where no herbs had grown for ages. What
could this be? Was the temple deserted? Nay; how could the worship of
the eternal Gods have ceased, that for thousands of years had, day by
day, been offered in the holy place? Was, then, my father dead? It
well might be. And yet, why this silence? Where were the priests:
where the worshippers?

I could bear the doubt no more, but as the sun sank red I crept like a
hunted jackal through the open gates, and on till I reached the first
great Hall of Pillars. Here I paused and gazed around me--not a sight,
not a sound, in the dim and holy place! I went on with a beating heart
to the second great hall, the hall of six-and-thirty pillars where I
had been crowned Lord of all the Lands: still not a sight or a sound!
Thence, half fearful of my own footfall, so terribly did it echo in
the silence of the deserted Holies, I passed down the passage of the
names of the Pharaohs towards my father's chamber. The curtain still
swung over the doorway; but what would there be within?--also
emptiness? I lifted it, and noiselessly passed in, and there in his
carven chair at the table on which his long white beard flowed, sat my
father, Amenemhat, clad in his priestly robes. At first I thought that
he was dead, he sat so still; but at length he turned his head, and I
saw that his eyes were white and sightless. He was blind, and his face
was thin as the face of a dead man, and woeful with age and grief.

I stood still and felt the blind eyes wandering over me. I could not
speak to him--I dared not speak to him; I would go and hide myself

I had already turned and grasped the curtain, when my father spoke in
a deep, slow voice:

"Come hither, thou who wast my son and art a traitor. Come hither,
thou Harmachis, on whom Khem builded up her hope. Not in vain, then,
have I drawn thee from far away! Not in vain have I held my life in me
till I heard thy footfall creeping down these empty Holies, like the
footfall of a thief!"

"Oh! my father," I gasped, astonished. "Thou art blind: how knowest
thou me?"

"How do I know thee?--and askest thou that who hast learned of our
lore? Enough, I know thee and I brought thee hither. Would, Harmachis,
that I knew thee not! Would that I had been blasted of the Invisible
ere I drew thee down from the womb of Nout, to be my curse and shame,
and the last woe of Khem!"

"Oh, speak not thus!" I moaned; "is not my burden already more than I
can bear? Am I not myself betrayed and utterly outcast? Be pitiful, my

"Be pitiful!--be pitiful to thee who hast shown so great pity? It was
thy pity which gave up noble Sepa to die beneath the hands of the

"Oh, not that--not that!" I cried.

"Ay, traitor, that!--to die in agony, with his last poor breath
proclaiming thee, his murderer, honest and innocent! Be pitiful to
thee, who gavest all the flower of Khem as the price of a wanton's
arms!--thinkest thou that, labouring in the darksome desert mines,
those noble ones in thought are pitiful to thee, Harmachis? Be pitiful
to thee, by whom this Holy Temple of Abouthis hath been ravaged, its
lands seized, its priests scattered, and I alone, old and withered,
left to count out its ruin--to thee, who hast poured the treasures of
/Her/ into thy leman's lap, who hast forsworn Thyself, thy Country,
thy Birthright, and thy Gods! Yea, thus am I pitiful: Accursed be
thou, fruit of my loins!--Shame be thy portion, Agony thy end, and
Hell receive thee at the last! Where art thou? Yea, I grew blind with
weeping when I heard the truth--sure, they strove to hide it from me.
Let me find thee that I may spit upon thee, thou Renegade! thou
Apostate! thou Outcast!"--and he rose from his seat and staggered like
a living Wrath toward me, smiting the air with his wand. And as he
came with outstretched arms, awful to see, suddenly his end found him,
and with a cry he sank down upon the ground, the red blood streaming
from his lips. I ran to him and lifted him; and as he died, he

"He was my son, a bright-eyed lovely boy, and full of promise as the
Spring; and now--and now--oh, would that he were dead!"

Then came a pause and the breath rattled in his throat.

"Harmachis," he gasped, "art there?"

"Yea, father."

"Harmachis, atone!--atone! Vengeance can still be wreaked--forgiveness
may still be won. There's gold; I've hidden it--Atoua--she can tell
thee--ah, this pain! Farewell!"

And he struggled faintly in my arms and was dead.

Thus, then, did I and my holy father, the Prince Amenemhat, meet
together for the last time in the flesh, and for the last time part.



I crouched upon the floor gazing at the dead body of my father, who
had lived to curse me, the utterly accursed, while the darkness crept
and gathered round us, till at length the dead and I were alone in the
black silence. Oh, how tell the misery of that hour! Imagination
cannot dream it, nor words paint it forth. Once more in my
wretchedness I bethought me of death. A knife was at my girdle, with
which I might cut the thread of sorrow and set my spirit free. Free?
ay, free to fly and face the last vengeance of the Holy Gods! Alas!
and alas! I did not dare to die. Better the earth with all its woes
than the quick approach of those unimagined terrors that, hovering in
dim Amenti, wait the advent of the fallen.

I grovelled on the ground and wept tears of agony for the lost
unchanging past--wept till I could weep no more; but no answer came
from the silence--no answer but the echoes of my grief. Not a ray of
hope! My soul wandered in a darkness more utter than that which was
about me--I was forsaken of the Gods and cast out of men. Terror took
hold upon me crouching in that lonely place hard by the majesty of the
awful Dead. I rose to fly. How could I fly in this gloom?--And where
should I fly who had no place of refuge? Once more I crouched down,
and the great fear grew on me till the cold sweat ran from my brow and
my soul was faint within me. Then, in my last despair, I prayed aloud
to Isis, to whom I had not dared to pray for many days.

"O Isis! Holy Mother!" I cried; "put away Thy wrath, and of Thine
infinite pity, O Thou all-pitiful, hearken to the voice of the anguish
of him who was Thy son and servant, but who by sin hath fallen from
the vision of Thy love. O throned Glory, who, being in all things,
hast of all things understanding and of all griefs knowledge, cast the
weight of Thy mercy against the scale of my evil-doing, and make the
balance equal. Look down upon my woe, and measure it; count up the sum
of my repentance and take Thou note of the flood of sorrow that sweeps
my soul away. O Thou Holy, whom it was given to me to look upon face
to face, by that dread hour of commune I summon Thee; I summon Thee by
the mystic word. Come, then, in mercy, to save me; or, in anger, to
make an end of that which can no more be borne."

And, rising from my knees, I stretched out my arms and dared to cry
aloud the Word of Fear, to use which unworthily is death.

Swiftly the answer came. For in the silence I heard the sound of the
shaken sistra heralding the coming of the Glory. Then, at the far end
of the chamber, grew the semblance of the horned moon, gleaming
faintly in the darkness, and betwixt the golden horns rested a small
dark cloud, in and out of which the fiery serpent climbed.

My knees waxed loose in the presence of the Glory, and I sank down
before it.

Then spake the small, sweet Voice within the cloud:

"Harmachis, who wast my servant and my son, I have heard thy prayer,
and the summons that thou hast dared to utter, which on the lips of
one with whom I have communed, hath power to draw Me from the
Uttermost. No more, Harmachis, may we be one in the bond of Love
Divine, for thou hast put Me away of thine own act. Therefore, after
this long silence I come, Harmachis, clothed in terrors, and,
perchance, ready for vengeance, for not lightly can Isis be drawn from
the halls of Her Divinity."

"Smite, Goddess!" I answered. "Smite, and give me over to those who
wreak Thy vengeance; for I can no longer bear the burden of my woe!"

"And if thou canst not bear thy burden here, upon this upper earth,"
came the soft reply, "how then shalt thou bear the greater burden that
shall be laid upon thee there, coming defiled and yet unpurified into
my dim realm of Death, that is Life and Change unending? Nay,
Harmachis, I smite thee not, for not all am I wroth that thou hast
dared to utter the awful Word which calls Me down to thee. Hearken,
Harmachis; I praise not, and I reproach not, for I am the Minister of
Reward and Punishment and the Executrix of Decrees; and if I give, I
give in silence; and if I smite, in silence do I smite. Therefore, I
will add naught to thy burden by the weight of heavy words, though
through thee it has come to pass that soon shall Isis, the Mother-
Mystery, be but a memory in Egypt. Thou hast sinned, and heavy shall
be thy punishment, as I did warn thee, both in the flesh and in my
kingdom of Amenti. But I told thee that there is a road of repentance,
and surely thy feet are set thereon, and therein must thou walk with a
humble heart, eating of the bread of bitterness, till such time as thy
doom be measured."

"Have I, then, no hope, O holy?"

"That which is done, Harmachis, is done, nor can its issues be
altered. Khem shall no more be free till all its temples are as the
desert dust; strange Peoples shall, from age to age, hold her hostage
and in bonds; new Religions shall arise and wither within the shadow
of her pyramids, for to every World, Race, and Age the countenances of
the Gods are changed. This is the tree that shall spring from thy seed
of sin, Harmachis, and from the sin of those who tempted thee!"

"Alas! I am undone!" I cried.

"Yea, thou art undone; and yet shall this be given to thee: thy
Destroyer thou shalt destroy--for so, in the purpose of my justice, it
is ordained. When the sign comes to thee, arise, go to Cleopatra, and
in such manner as I shall put into thy heart do Heaven's vengeance
upon her! And now for thyself one word, for thou hast put Me from
thee, Harmachis, and no more shall I come face to face with thee till,
cycles hence, the last fruit of thy sin hath ceased to be upon this
earth! Yet, through the vastness of the unnumbered years, remember
thou this: the Love Divine is Love Eternal, which cannot be
extinguished, though it be everlastingly estranged. Repent, my son;
repent and do well while there is yet time, that at the dim end of
ages thou mayest once more be gathered unto Me. Still, Harmachis,
though thou seest Me not; still, when the very name by which thou
knowest Me has become a meaningless mystery to those who shall be
after thee; still I, whose hours are eternal--I, who have watched
Universes wither, wane, and, beneath the breath of Time, melt into
nothingness; again to gather, and, re-born, thread the maze of space--
still, I say, I shall companion thee. Wherever thou goest, in whatever
form of life thou livest, there I shall be! Art thou wafted to the
farthest star, art thou buried in Amenti's lowest deep--in lives, in
deaths, in sleeps, in wakings, in remembrances, in oblivions, in all
the fevers of the outer Life, in all the changes of the Spirit--still,
if thou wilt but atone and forget Me no more, I shall be with thee,
waiting thine hour of redemption. For this is the nature of Love
Divine, wherewith it loves that which partakes of its divinity and by
the holy tie hath once been bound to it. Judge then, Harmachis: was it
well to put this from thee to win the dust of earthly woman? And, now,
dare not again to utter the Word of Power till these things are done!
Harmachis, for this season, fare thee well!"

As the last note of the sweet Voice died away, the fiery snake climbed
into the heart of the cloud. Now the cloud rolled from the horns of
light, and was gathered into the blackness. The vision of the crescent
moon grew dim and vanished. Then, as the Goddess passed, once more
came the faint and dreadful music of the shaken sistra, and all was

I hid my face in my robe, and even then, though my outstretched hand
could touch the chill corpse of that father who had died cursing me, I
felt hope come back into my heart, knowing that I was not altogether
lost nor utterly rejected of Her whom I had forsaken, but whom I yet
loved. And then weariness overpowered me, and I slept.

I woke, the faint lights of dawn were creeping from the opening in the
roof. Ghastly they lay upon the shadowy sculptured walls and ghastly
upon the dead face and white beard of my father, the gathered to
Osiris. I started up, remembering all things, and wondering in my
heart what I should do, and as I rose I heard a faint footfall
creeping down the passage of the names of the Pharaohs.

"/La! La! La!/" mumbled a voice that I knew for the voice of the old
wife, Atoua. "Why, 'tis dark as the House of the Dead! The Holy Ones
who built this Temple loved not the blessed sun, however much they
worshipped him. Now, where's the curtain?"

Presently it was drawn, and Atoua entered, a stick in one hand and a
basket in the other. Her face was somewhat more wrinkled, and her
scanty locks were somewhat whiter than aforetime, but for the rest she
was as she had ever been. She stood and peered around with her sharp
black eyes, for as yet she could see nothing because of the shadows.

"Now where is he?" she muttered. "Osiris--glory to His name--send that
he has not wandered in the night, and he blind! Alack! that I could
not return before the dark. Alack! and alack! what times have we
fallen on, when the Holy High Priest and the Governor, by descent, of
Abouthis, is left with one aged crone to minister to his infirmity! O
Harmachis, my poor boy, thou hast laid trouble at our doors! Why,
what's this? Surely he sleeps not, there upon the ground?--'twill be
his death! Prince! Holy Father! Amenemhat! awake, arise!" and she
hobbled towards the corpse. "Why, how is it! By Him who sleeps, he's
dead! untended and alone--/dead! dead!/" and she sent her long wail of
grief ringing up the sculptured walls.

"Hush! woman, be still!" I said, gliding from the shadows.

"Oh, what art thou?" she cried, casting down her basket. "Wicked man,
hast thou murdered this Holy One, the only Holy One in Egypt? Surely
the curse will fall on thee, for though the Gods do seem to have
forsaken us now in our hour of trial, yet is their arm long, and
certainly they will be avenged on him who hath slain their anointed!"

"Look on me, Atoua," I cried.

"Look! ay, I look--thou wicked wanderer who hast dared this cruel
deed! Harmachis is a traitor and lost far away, and Amenemhat his holy
father is murdered, and now I'm all alone without kith or kin. I gave
them for him. I gave them for Harmachis, the traitor! Come, slay me
also, thou wicked one!"

I took a step toward her, and she, thinking that I was about to smite
her, cried out in fear:

"Nay, good Sir, spare me! Eighty and six, by the Holy Ones, eighty and
six, come next flood of Nile, and yet I would not die, though Osiris
is merciful to the old who served him! Come no nearer--help! help!"

"Thou fool, be silent," I said; "knowest thou me not?"

"Know thee? Can I know every wandering boatman to whom Sebek grants to
earn a livelihood till Typhon claims his own? And yet--why, 'tis
strange--that changed countenance!--that scar!--that stumbling gait!
It is thou, Harmachis!--'tis thou, O my boy! Art come back to glad
mine old eyes? I hoped thee dead! Let me kiss thee?--nay, I forget.
Harmachis is a traitor, ay, and a murderer! Here lies the holy
Amenemhat, murdered by the traitor, Harmachis! Get thee gone! I'll
have none of traitors and of parricides! Get thee to thy wanton!--it
is not thou whom I did nurse."

"Peace! woman; peace! I slew not my father--he died, alas!--he died
even in my arms."

"Ay, surely, and cursing thee, Harmachis! Thou hast given death to him
who gave thee life! /La! la!/ I am old, and I've seen many a trouble;
but this is the heaviest of them all! I never liked the looks of
mummies; but I would I were one this hour! Get thee gone, I pray

"Old nurse, reproach me not! Have I not enough to bear?"

"Ah! yes, yes!--I did forget! Well; and what is thy sin? A woman was
thy bane, as women have been to those before thee, and shall be to
those after thee. And what a woman! /La! la!/ I saw her, a beauty such
as never was--an arrow pointed by the evil Gods for destruction! And
thou, a young man bred as a priest--an ill training--a very ill
training! 'Twas no fair match. Who can wonder that she mastered thee?
Come, Harmachis; let me kiss thee! It is not for a woman to be hard on
a man because he loved our sex too much. Why, that is but nature; and
Nature knows her business, else she had made us otherwise. But here is
an evil case. Knowest thou that this Macedonian Queen of thine hath
seized the temple lands and revenues, and driven away the priests--
all, save the holy Amenemhat, who lies here, and whom she left, I know
not why; ay, and caused the worship of the Gods to cease within these
walls. Well, he's gone!--he's gone! and indeed he is better with
Osiris, for his life was a sore burden to him. And hark thou,
Harmachis: he hath not left thee empty-handed; for, so soon as the
plot failed, he gathered all his wealth, and it is large, and hid it--
where, I can show thee--and it is thine by right of descent."

"Talk not to me of wealth, Atoua. Where shall I go and how shall I
hide my shame?"

"Ah! true, true; here mayst thou not abide, for if they found thee,
surely they would put thee to the dreadful death--ay, to the death by
the waxen cloth. Nay, I will hide thee, and, when the funeral rites of
the holy Amenemhat have been performed, we will fly hence, and cover
us from the eyes of men till these sorrows are forgotten. /La! la!/ it
is a sad world, and full of trouble as the Nile mud is full of
beetles. Come, Harmachis, come."



These things then came to pass. For eighty days I was hidden of the
old wife, Atoua, while the body of the Prince, my father, was made
ready for burial by those skilled in the arts of embalming. And when
at last all things were done in order, I crept from my hiding-place
and made offerings to the spirit of my father, and placing lotus-
flowers on his breast went thence sorrowing. And on the following day,
from where I lay hid, I saw the Priests of the Temple of Osiris and of
the holy shrine of Isis come forth, and in slow procession bear his
painted coffin to the sacred lake and lay it beneath the funeral tent
in the consecrated boat. I saw them celebrate the symbol of the trial
of the dead, and name him above all men just, and then bear him thence
to lay him by his wife, my mother, in the deep tomb that he had hewn
in the rock near to the resting-place of the Holy Osiris, where,
notwithstanding my sins, I, too, hope to sleep ere long. And when all
these things were done and the deep tomb sealed, the wealth of my
father having been removed from the hidden treasury and placed in
safety, I fled, disguised, with the old wife, Atoua, up the Nile till
we came to Tįpé,[*] and here in this great city I lay a while, till a
place could be found where I should hide myself.

[*] Thebes.--Editor.

And such a place I found. For to the north of the great city are brown
and rugged hills, and desert valley blasted of the sun, and in this
place of desolation the Divine Pharaohs, my forefathers, hollowed out
their tombs in the solid rock, the most part of which are lost to this
day, so cunningly have they been hidden. But some are open, for the
accursed Persians and other thieves broke into them in search of
treasure. And one night--for by night only did I leave my hiding-place
--just as the dawn was breaking on the mountain tops, I wandered alone
in this sad valley of death, like to which there is no other, and
presently came to the mouth of a tomb hidden amid great rocks, which
afterwards I knew for the place of the burying of the Divine Rameses,
the third of that name, now long gathered to Osiris. And by the faint
light of the dawn creeping through the entrance I saw that it was
spacious and that within were chambers.

On the following night, therefore, I returned, bearing lights, with
Atoua, my nurse, who ever ministered faithfully to me as when I was
little and without discretion. And we searched the mighty tomb and
came to the great Hall of the Sarcophagus of granite, in which the
Divine Rameses sleeps, and saw the mystic paintings on the walls: the
symbol of the Snake unending, the symbol of Ra resting upon the
Scarabęus, the symbol of Ra resting upon Nout, the symbol of the
Headless men, and many others, whereof, being initiated, well I read
the mysteries. And opening from the long descending passage I found
chambers in which were paintings beautiful to behold, and of all
manner of things. For beneath each chamber is entombed the master of
the craft of which the paintings tell, he who was the chief of the
servants of that craft in the house of this Divine Rameses. And on the
walls of the last chamber--on the left-hand side, looking toward the
Hall of the Sarcophagus--are paintings exceedingly beautiful, and two
blind harpers playing upon their bent harps before the God Mou; and
beneath the flooring these harpers, who harp no more, are soft at
sleep. Here, then, in this gloomy place, even in the tomb of the
Harpers and the company of the dead, I took up my abode; and here for
eight long years I worked out my penance and made atonement for my
sin. But Atoua, because she loved to be near the light, abode in the
chamber of the Boats--that is, the first chamber on the right-hand
side of the gallery looking toward the Hall of the Sarcophagus.

And this was the manner of my life. On every second day the old wife,
Atoua, went forth and brought water from the city and such food as is
necessary to keep the life from failing, and also tapers made from
fat. And one hour at the time of sunrise and one hour at the time of
sunset I did go forth also to wander in the valley for my health's
sake and to save my sight from failing in the great darkness of the
tomb. But the other hours of the day and night, except when I climbed
the mountain to watch the course of the stars, I spent in prayer and
meditation and sleep, till the cloud of sin lifted from my heart and
once more I drew near to the Gods, though with Isis, my heavenly
Mother, I might speak no more. And I grew exceedingly wise also,
pondering on all those mysteries to which I held the key. For
abstinence and prayer and sorrowful solitude wore away the grossness
of my flesh, and with the eyes of the Spirit I learned to look deep
into the heart of things till the joy of Wisdom fell like dew upon my

Soon the rumour was wafted about the city that a certain holy man
named Olympus abode in solitude in the tombs of the awful Valley of
the Dead; and hither came people bearing sick that I might cure them.
And I gave my mind to the study of simples, in which Atoua instructed
me; and by lore and the weight of my thought I gained great skill in
medicine, and healed many sick. And thus ever, as time went on, my
fame was noised abroad; for it was said that I was also a magician and
that in the tombs I had commune with the Spirits of the Dead. And
this, indeed, I did--though it is not lawful for me to speak of these
matters. Thus, then, it came to pass that no more need Atoua go forth
to seek food and water, for the people brought it--more than was
needful, for I would receive no fee. Now at first, fearing lest some
in the hermit Olympus might know the lost Harmachis, I would only meet
those who came in the darkness of the tomb. But afterwards, when I
learned how it was held through all the land that Harmachis was
certainly no more, I came forth and sat in the mouth of the tomb, and
ministered to the sick, and at times calculated nativities for the
great. And thus my fame grew continually, till at length folk
journeyed even from Memphis and Alexandria to visit me; and from them
I learned how Antony had left Cleopatra for a while, and, Fulvia being
dead, had married Octavia, the sister of Cęsar. Many other things I
learned also.

And in the second year I did this: I despatched the old wife, Atoua,
disguised as a seller of simples, to Alexandria, bidding her seek out
Charmion, and, if yet she found her faithful, reveal to her the secret
of my way of life. So she went, and in the fifth month from her
sailing returned, bearing Charmion's greetings and a token. And she
told me that she had found means to see Charmion, and, in talk, had
let fall the name of Harmachis, speaking of me as one dead; at which
Charmion, unable to control her grief, wept aloud. Then, reading her
heart--for the old wife was very clever, and held the key of knowledge
--she told her that Harmachis yet lived, and sent her greetings.
Thereon Charmion wept yet more with joy, and kissed the old wife, and
made her gifts, bidding her tell me that she had kept her vow, and
waited for my coming and the hour of vengeance. So, having learned
many secrets, Atoua returned again to Tįpé.

And in the following year messengers came to me from Cleopatra,
bearing a sealed roll and great gifts. I opened the roll, and read
this in it:

 "Cleopatra to Olympus, the learned Egyptian who dwells in the
  Valley of Death by Tįpé--

 "The fame of thy renown, O learned Olympus, hath reached our ears.
  Tell thou, then, this to us, and if thou tellest aright greater
  honour and wealth shalt thou have than any in Egypt: How shall we
  win back the love of noble Antony, who is bewitched of cunning
  Octavia, and tarries long from us?"

Now, in this I saw the hand of Charmion, who had made my renown known
to Cleopatra.

All that night I took counsel with my wisdom, and on the morrow wrote
my answer as it was put into my heart to the destruction of Cleopatra
and Antony. And thus I wrote:

 "Olympus the Egyptian to Cleopatra the Queen--

 "Go forth into Syria with one who shall be sent to lead thee; thus
  shalt thou win Antony to thy arms again, and with him gifts more
  great than thou canst dream."

And with this letter I dismissed the messengers, bidding them share
the presents sent by Cleopatra among their company.

So they went wondering.

But Cleopatra, seizing on the advice to which her passion prompted
her, departed straightway with Fonteius Capito into Syria, and there
the thing came about as I had foretold, for Antony was subdued of her
and gave her the greater part of Cilicia, the ocean shore of Arabia
Nabathęa, the balm-bearing provinces of Judęa, the province of
Phœnicia, the province of Cœle-Syria, the rich isle of Cyprus, and all
the library of Pergamus. And to the twin children that, with the son
Ptolemy, Cleopatra had borne to Antony, he impiously gave the names of
"Kings, the Children of Kings"--of Alexander Helios, as the Greeks
name the sun, and of Cleopatra Selene, the moon, the long-winged.

These things then came to pass.

Now on her return to Alexandria Cleopatra sent me great gifts, of
which I would have none, and prayed me, the learned Olympus, to come
to her at Alexandria; but it was not yet time, and I would not. But
thereafter she and Antony sent many times to me for counsel, and I
ever counselled them to their ruin, nor did my prophecies fail.

Thus the long years rolled away, and I, the hermit Olympus, the
dweller in a tomb, the eater of bread and the drinker of water, by
strength of the wisdom that was given me of the avenging Power, became
once more great in Khem. For I grew ever wiser as I trampled the
desires of the flesh beneath my feet and turned my eyes to heaven.

At length eight full years were accomplished. The war with the
Parthians had come and gone, and Artavasdes, King of Armenia, had been
led in triumph through the streets of Alexandria. Cleopatra had
visited Samos and Athens; and, by her counselling, the noble Octavia
had been driven, like some discarded concubine, from the house of
Antony at Rome. And now, at the last, the measure of the folly of
Antony was full even to the brim. For this Master of the World had no
longer the good gift of reason; he was lost in Cleopatra as I had been
lost. Therefore, in the event, Octavianus declared war against him.

And as I slept upon a certain day in the chamber of the Harpers, in
the tomb of Pharaoh that is by Tįpé, there came to me a vision of my
father, the aged Amenemhat, and he stood over me, leaning on his
staff, and spoke, saying:

"Look forth, my son."

Then I looked forth, and with the eyes of my spirit saw the sea, and
two great fleets grappling in war hard by a rocky coast. And the
emblems were those of Octavian, and of the other those of Cleopatra
and Antony. The ships of Antony and Cleopatra bore down upon the ships
of Cęsar, and drove them on, for victory inclined to Antony.

I looked again. There sat Cleopatra in a gold-decked galley watching
the fight with eager eyes. Then I cast my Spirit on her so that she
seemed to hear the voice of dead Harmachis crying in her ear.

"/Fly, Cleopatra,/" it seemed to say, "/fly or perish!/"

She looked up wildly, and again she heard my Spirit's cry. Now a
mighty fear took hold of her. She called aloud to the sailors to hoist
the sails and make signal to her fleet to put about. This they did
wondering but little loath, and fled in haste from the battle.

Then a great roar went up from friend and foe.

"Cleopatra is fled! Cleopatra is fled!" And I saw wreck and red ruin
fall upon the fleet of Antony and awoke from my trance.

The days passed, and again a vision of my father came to me and spoke,

"Arise, my son!--the hour of vengeance is at hand! Thy plots have not
failed; thy prayers have been heard. By the bidding of the Gods, as
she sat in her galley at the fight of Actium, the heart of Cleopatra
was filled with fears, so that, deeming she heard thy voice bidding
her fly or perish, she fled with all her fleet. Now the strength of
Actium is broken on the sea. Go forth, and as it shall be put into thy
mind, so do thou."

In the morning I awoke, wondering, and went to the mouth of the tomb,
and there, coming up the valley, I saw the messengers of Cleopatra,
and with them a Roman guard.

"What will ye with me now?" I asked, sternly.

"This is the message of the Queen and of great Antony," answered the
Captain, bowing low before me, for I was much feared by all men. "The
Queen commands thy presence at Alexandria. Many times has she sent,
and thou wouldst not come; now she bids thee to come, and that
swiftly, for she has need of thy counsel."

"And if I say Nay, soldier, what then?"

"These are my orders, most holy Olympus; that I bring thee by force."

I laughed aloud. "By force, thou fool! Use not such talk to me, lest I
smite thee where thou art. Know, then, that I can kill as well as

"Pardon, I beseech thee!" he answered, shrinking. "I say but those
things that I am bid."

"Well, I know it, Captain. Fear not; I come."

So on that very day I departed, together with the aged Atoua. Ay, I
went as secretly as I had come; and the tomb of the Divine Rameses
knew me no more. And with me I took all the treasures of my father,
Amenemhat, for I was not minded to go to Alexandria empty-handed and
as a suppliant, but rather as a man of much wealth and condition. Now,
as I went, I learned that Antony, following Cleopatra, had, indeed,
fled from Actium, and knew that the end drew nigh. For this and many
other things had I foreseen in the darkness of the tomb of Tįpé, and
planned to bring about.

Thus, then, I came to Alexandria, and entered into a house which had
been made ready for me at the palace gates.

And that very night Charmion came to me--Charmion whom I had not seen
for nine long years.



Clad in my plain black robe, I sat in the guest-chamber of the house
that had been made ready for me. I sat in a carven lion-footed chair,
and looked upon the swinging lamps of scented oil, the pictured
tapestries, the rich Syrian rugs--and, amidst all this luxury,
bethought me of that tomb of the Harpers which is at Tįpé, and of the
nine long years of dark loneliness and preparation. I sat; and
crouched upon a rug near to the door, lay the aged Atoua. Her hair was
white as snow, and shrivelled with age was the wrinkled countenance of
the woman who, when all deserted me, had yet clung to me, in her great
love forgetting my great sins. Nine years! nine long years! and now,
once again, I set my foot in Alexandria! Once again in the appointed
circle of things I came forth from the solitude of preparation to be a
fate to Cleopatra; and this second time I came not forth to fail.

And yet how changed the circumstance! I was out of the story: my part
now was but the part of the sword in the hands of Justice; I might no
more hope to make Egypt free and great and sit upon my lawful throne.
Khem was lost, and lost was I, Harmachis. In the rush and turmoil of
events, the great plot of which I had been the pivot was covered up
and forgotten; scarce a memory of it remained. The curtain of dark
night was closing in upon the history of my ancient Race; its very
Gods were tottering to their fall; I could already, in the spirit,
hear the shriek of the Roman eagles as they flapped their wings above
the furthest banks of Sihor.

Presently I roused myself and bade Atoua go seek a mirror and bring it
to me, that I might look therein.

And I saw this: a face shrunken and pallid, on which no smile came;
great eyes grown wan with gazing into darkness looking out beneath the
shaven head, emptily, as the hollow eye-pits of a skull; a wizened
halting form wasted by abstinence, sorrow, and prayer; a long wild
beard of iron grey; thin blue-veined hands that ever trembled like a
leaf; bowed shoulders and lessened limbs. Time and grief had done
their work indeed; scarce could I think myself the same as when, the
royal Harmachis--in all the splendour of my strength and youthful
beauty--I first had looked upon the woman's loveliness that did
destroy me. And yet within me burned the same fire as of yore; yet I
was not changed, for time and grief have no power to alter the
immortal spirit of man. Seasons may come and go; Hope, like a bird,
may fly away; Passion may break its wings against the iron bars of
Fate; Illusions may crumble as the cloudy towers of sunset flame;
Faith, as running water, may slip from beneath our feet; Solitude may
stretch itself around us like the measureless desert sand; Old Age may
creep as the gathering night over our bowed heads grown hoary in their
shame--yea, bound to Fortune's wheel, we may taste of every turn of
chance--now rule as Kings, now serve as Slaves; now love, now hate;
now prosper, and now perish. But still, through all, we are the same;
for this is the marvel of Identity.

And as I sat and thought these things in bitterness of heart, there
came a knocking at the door.

"Open, Atoua!" I said.

She rose and did my bidding; and a woman entered, clad in Grecian
robes. It was Charmion, still beautiful as of old, but sad faced now
and very sweet to see, with a patient fire slumbering in her downcast

She entered unattended; and, speaking no word, the old wife pointed to
where I sat, and went.

"Old man," she said, addressing me, "lead me to the learned Olympus. I
come upon the Queen's business."

I rose, and, lifting my head, looked upon her.

She gazed, and gave a little cry.

"Surely," she whispered, glancing round, "surely thou art not
that----" And she paused.

"That Harmachis whom once thy foolish heart did love, O Charmion? Yes,
I am he and what thou seest, most fair lady. Yet is Harmachis dead
whom thou didst love; but Olympus, the skilled Egyptian, waits upon
thy words!"

"Cease!" she said, "and of the past but one word, and then--why, let
it lie. Not well, with all thy wisdom, canst thou know a true woman's
heart, if thou dost believe, Harmachis, that it can change with the
changes of the outer form, for then assuredly could no love follow its
beloved to that last place of change--the Grave. Know thou, learned
Physician, I am of that sort who, loving once, love always, and being
not beloved again, go virgin to the death."

She ceased, and having naught to say, I bowed my head in answer. Yet
though I said nothing and though this woman's passionate folly had
been the cause of all our ruin, to speak truth, in secret I was
thankful to her who, wooed of all and living in this shameless Court,
had still through the long years poured out her unreturned love upon
an outcast, and who, when that poor broken slave of Fortune came back
in such unlovely guise, held him yet dear at heart. For what man is
there who does not prize that gift most rare and beautiful, that one
perfect thing which no gold can buy--a woman's unfeigned love?

"I thank thee that thou dost not answer," she said; "for the bitter
words which thou didst pour upon me in those days that long are dead,
and far away in Tarsus, have not lost their poisonous sting, and in my
heart is no more place for the arrows of thy scorn, new venomed
through thy solitary years. So let it be. Behold! I put it from me,
that wild passion of my soul," and she looked up and stretched out her
hands as though to press some unseen presence back, "I put it from me
--though forget it I may not! There, 'tis done, Harmachis; no more
shall my love trouble thee. Enough for me that once more my eyes
behold thee, before sleep seals thee from their sight. Dost remember
how, when I would have died by thy dear hand, thou wouldst not slay,
but didst bid me live to pluck the bitter fruit of crime, and be
accursed by visions of the evil I had wrought and memories of thee
whom I have ruined?"

"Ay, Charmion, I remember well."

"Surely the cup of punishment has been filled. Oh! couldst thou see
into the record of my heart, and read in it the suffering that I have
borne--borne with a smiling face--thy justice would be satisfied

"And yet, if report be true, Charmion, thou art the first of all the
Court, and therein the most powerful and beloved. Does not Octavianus
give it out that he makes war, not on Antony, nor even on his
mistress, Cleopatra, but on Charmion and Iras?"

"Yes, Harmachis, and think that it has been to me thus, because of my
oath to thee, to be forced to eat the bread and do the tasks of one
whom so bitterly I hate!--one who robbed me of thee, and who, through
the workings of my jealousy, brought me to be that which I am, brought
thee to shame, and all Egypt to its ruin! Can jewels and riches and
the flattery of princes and nobles bring happiness to such a one as I,
who am more wretched than the meanest scullion wench? Oh, I have often
wept till I was blind; and then, when the hour came, I must arise and
tire me, and, with a smile, go do the bidding of the Queen and that
heavy Antony. May the Gods grant me to see them dead--ay, the twain of
them!--then myself I shall be content to die! Thy lot has been hard,
Harmachis; but at least thou have been free, and many is the time that
I have envied thee the quiet of thy haunted cave."

"I do perceive, O Charmion, that thou art mindful of thy oaths; and
it is well, for the hour of vengeance is at hand."

"I am mindful, and in all things I have worked for thee in secret--for
thee, and for the utter ruin of Cleopatra and the Roman. I have fanned
his passion and her jealousy, I have egged her on to wickedness and
him to folly, and of all have I caused report to be brought to Cęsar.
Listen! thus stands the matter. Thou knowest how went the fight at
Actium. Thither went Cleopatra with her fleet, sorely against the will
of Antony. But, as thou sentest me word, I entreated him for the
Queen, vowing to him, with tears, that, did he leave her, she would
die of grief; and he, poor slave, believed me. And so she went, and in
the thick of the fight, for what cause I know not, though perchance
thou knowest, Harmachis, she made signal to her squadron, and, putting
about fled from the battle, sailing for Peloponnesus. And now, mark
the end! When Antony saw that she was gone, he, in his madness, took a
galley, and deserting all, followed hard after her, leaving his fleet
to be shattered and sunk, and his great army in Greece, of twenty
legions and twelve thousand horse, without a leader. And all this no
man would believe, that Antony, the smitten of the Gods, had fallen so
deep in shame. Therefore for a while the army tarried, and but now
to-night comes news brought by Canidius, the General, that, worn with
doubt and being at length sure that Antony had deserted them, the
whole of his great force has yielded to Cęsar."

"And where, then, is Antony?"

"He has built him a habitation on a little isle in the Great Harbour
and named it Timonium; because, forsooth, like Timon, he cries out at
the ingratitude of mankind that has forsaken him. And there he lies
smitten by a fever of the mind, and thither thou must go at dawn, so
wills the Queen, to cure him of his ills and draw him to her arms; for
he will not see her, nor knows he yet the full measure of his woe. But
first my bidding is to lead thee instantly to Cleopatra, who would ask
thy counsel."

"I come," I answered, rising. "Lead thou on."

And so we passed the palace gates and along the Alabaster Hall, and
presently once again I stood before the door of Cleopatra's chamber,
and once again Charmion left me to warn her of my coming.

Presently she came back and beckoned to me. "Make strong thy heart,"
she whispered, "and see that thou dost not betray thyself, for still
are the eyes of Cleopatra keen. Enter!"

"Keen, indeed, must they be to find Harmachis in the learned Olympus!
Had I not willed it, thyself thou hadst not known me, Charmion," I
made answer.

Then I entered that remembered place and listened once more to the
plash of the fountain, the song of the nightingale, and the murmur of
the summer sea. With bowed head and halting gait I came, till at
length I stood before the couch of Cleopatra--that same golden couch
on which she had sat the night she overcame me. Then I gathered my
strength, and looked up. There before me was Cleopatra, glorious as of
old, but, oh! how changed since that night when I saw Antony clasp her
in his arms at Tarsus! Her beauty still clothed her like a garment;
the eyes were yet deep and unfathomable as the blue sea, the face
still splendid in its great loveliness. And yet all was changed. Time,
that could not touch her charms, had stamped upon her presence such a
look of weary grief as may not be written. Passion, beating ever in
that fierce heart of hers, had written his record on her brow, and in
her eyes shone the sad lights of sorrow.

I bowed low before this most royal woman, who once had been my love
and destruction, and yet knew me not.

She looked up wearily, and spoke in her slow, well remembered voice:

"So thou art come at length, Physician. How callest thou thyself?--
Olympus? 'Tis a name of promise, for surely now that the Gods of Egypt
have deserted us, we do need aid from Olympus. Well, thou hast a
learned air, for learning does not with beauty. Strange, too, there is
that about thee which recalls what I know not. Say, Olympus, have we
met before?"

"Never, O Queen, have my eyes fallen on thee in the body," I answered
in a feigned voice. "Never till this hour, when I come forth from my
solitude to do thy bidding and cure thee of thy ills!"

"Strange! and even in the voice--Pshaw! 'tis some memory that I cannot
catch. In the body, thou sayest? then, perchance, I knew thee in a

"Ay, O Queen; we have met in dreams."

"Thou art a strange man, who talkest thus, but, if what I hear be
true, one well learned; and, indeed, I mind me of thy counsel when
thou didst bid me join my Lord Antony in Syria, and how things befell
according to thy word. Skilled must thou be in the casting of
nativities and in the law of auguries, of which these Alexandrian
fools have little knowledge. Once I knew such another man, one
Harmachis," and she sighed: "but he is long dead--as I would I were
also!--and at times I sorrow for him."

She paused, while I sank my head upon my breast and stood silent.

"Interpret me this, Olympus. In the battle at that accursed Actium,
just as the fight raged thickest and Victory began to smile upon us, a
great terror seized my heart, and thick darkness seemed to fall before
my eyes, while in my ears a voice, ay, the voice of that long dead
Harmachis, cried '/Fly! fly, or perish!/' and I fled. But from my
heart the terror leapt to the heart of Antony, and he followed after
me, and thus was the battle lost. Say, then, what God brought this
evil thing about?"

"Nay, O Queen," I answered, "it was no God--for wherein hast thou
angered the Gods of Egypt? Hast thou robbed the temples of their
Faith? Hast thou betrayed the trust of Egypt? Having done none of
these things, how, then, can the Gods of Egypt be wroth with thee?
Fear not, it was nothing but some natural vapour of the mind that
overcame thy gentle soul, made sick with the sight and sound of
slaughter; and as for the noble Antony, where thou didst go needs must
that he should follow."

And as I spoke, Cleopatra turned white and trembled, glancing at me
the while to find my meaning. But I well knew that the thing was of
the avenging Gods, working through me, their instrument.

"Learned Olympus," she said, not answering my words; "my Lord Antony
is sick and crazed with grief. Like some poor hunted slave he hides
himself in yonder sea-girt Tower and shuns mankind--yes, he shuns even
me, who, for his sake, endure so many woes. Now, this is my bidding to
thee. To-morrow, at the coming of the light, do thou, led by Charmion,
my waiting-lady, take boat and row thee to the Tower and there crave
entry, saying that ye bring tidings from the army. Then he will cause
you to be let in, and thou, Charmion, must break this heavy news that
Canidius bears; for Canidius himself I dare not send. And when his
grief is past, do thou, Olympus, soothe his fevered frame with thy
draughts of value, and his soul with honeyed words, and draw him back
to me, and all will yet be well. Do thou this, and thou shalt have
gifts more than thou canst count, for I am yet a Queen and yet can pay
back those who serve my will."

"Fear not, O Queen," I answered, "this thing shall be done, and I ask
no reward, who have come hither to do thy bidding to the end."

So I bowed and went and, summoning Atoua, made ready a certain potion.



Ere it was yet dawn Charmion came again, and we walked to the private
harbour of the palace. There, taking boat, we rowed to the island
mount on which stands the Timonium, a vaulted tower, strong, small,
and round. And, having landed, we twain came to the door and knocked,
till at length a grating was thrown open in the door, and an aged
eunuch, looking forth, roughly asked our business.

"Our business is with the Lord Antony," said Charmion.

"Then it is no business, for Antony, my master, sees neither man nor

"Yet will he see us, for we bring tidings. Go tell him that the Lady
Charmion brings tidings from the army."

The man went, and presently returned.

"The Lord Antony would know if the tidings be good or ill, for, if
ill, then will he none of it, for with evil tidings he has been
overfed of late."

"Why--why, it is both good and ill. Open, slave, I will make answer to
thy master!" and she slipped a purse of gold through the bars.

"Well, well," he grumbled, as he took the purse, "the times are hard,
and likely to be harder; for when the lion's down who will feed the
jackal? Give thy news thyself, and if it do but draw the noble Antony
out of this hall of Groans, I care not what it be. Now the palace door
is open, and there's the road to the banqueting-chamber."

We passed on, to find ourselves in a narrow passage, and, leaving the
eunuch to bar the door, advanced till we came to a curtain. Through
this entrance we went, and found ourselves in a vaulted chamber, ill-
lighted from the roof. On the further side of this rude chamber was a
bed of rugs, and on them crouched the figure of a man, his face hidden
in the folds of his toga.

"Most noble Antony," said Charmion drawing near, "unwrap thy face and
hearken to me, for I bring thee tidings."

Then he lifted up his head. His face was marred by sorrow; his tangled
hair, grizzled with years, hung about his hollow eyes, and white on
his chin was the stubble of an unshaven beard. His robe was squalid,
and his aspect more wretched than that of the poorest beggar at the
temple gates. To this, then, had the love of Cleopatra brought the
glorious and renowned Antony, aforetime Master of half the World!

"What will ye with me, Lady," he asked, "who would perish here alone?
And who is this man who comes to gaze on fallen and forsaken Antony?"

"This is Olympus, noble Antony, that wise physician, the skilled in
auguries, of whom thou hast heard much, and whom Cleopatra, ever
mindful of thy welfare, though but little thou dost think of hers, has
sent to minister to thee."

"And, can thy physician minister to a grief such as my grief? Can his
drugs give me back my galleys, my honour, and my peace? Nay! Away with
thy physician! What are thy tidings?--quick!--out with it! Hath
Canidius, perchance, conquered Cęsar? Tell me but that, and thou shalt
have a province for thy guerdon--ay! and if Octavianus be dead, twenty
thousand sestertia to fill its treasury. Speak--nay--speak not! I fear
the opening of thy lips as never I feared an earthly thing. Surely the
wheel of fortune has gone round and Canidius has conquered? Is it not
so? Nay--out with it! I can no more!"

"O noble Antony," she said, "steel thy heart to hear that which I
needs must tell thee! Canidius is in Alexandria. He has fled far and
fast, and this is his report. For seven whole days did the legions
wait the coming of Antony, to lead them to victory, as aforetime,
putting aside the offers of the envoys of Cęsar. But Antony came not.
And then it was rumoured that Antony had fled to Tęnarus, drawn
thither by Cleopatra. The man who first brought that tale to the camp
the legionaries cried shame on--ay, and beat him to the death! But
ever it grew, until at length there was no more room to doubt; and
then, O Antony, thy officers slipped one by one away to Cęsar, and
where the officers go there the men follow. Nor is this all the story;
for thy allies--Bocchus of Africa, Tarcondimotus of Cilicia,
Mithridates of Commagene, Adallas of Thrace, Philadelphus of
Paphlagonia, Archelaus of Cappadocia, Herod of Judęa, Amyntas of
Galatia, Polemon of Pontus, and Malchus of Arabia--all, all have fled
or bid their generals fly back to whence they came; and already their
ambassador's crave cold Cęsar's clemency."

"Hast done thy croakings, thou raven in a peacock's dress, or is there
more to come?" asked the smitten man, lifting his white and trembling
face from the shelter of his hands. "Tell me more; say that Egypt's
dead in all her beauty; say that Octavianus lowers at the Canopic
gate; and that, headed by dead Cicero, all the ghosts of Hell do
audibly shriek out the fall of Antony! Yea, gather up every woe that
can o'erwhelm those who once were great, and loose them on the hoary
head of him whom--in thy gentleness--thou art still pleased to name
'the noble Antony'!"

"Nay, my Lord, I have done."

"Ay, and so have I done--done, quite done! It is altogether finished,
and thus I seal the end," and snatching a sword from the couch, he
would, indeed, have slain himself had I not sprung forward and grasped
his hand. For it was not my purpose that he should die as yet; since
had he died at that hour Cleopatra had made her peace with Cęsar, who
rather wished the death of Antony than the ruin of Egypt.

"Art mad, Antony? Art, indeed, a coward?" cried Charmion, "that thou
wouldst thus escape thy woes, and leave thy partner to face the sorrow
out alone?"

"Why not, woman? Why not? She would not be long alone. There's Cęsar
to keep her company. Octavianus loves a fair woman in his cold way,
and still is Cleopatra fair. Come now, thou Olympus! thou hast held my
hand from dealing death upon myself, advise me of thy wisdom. Shall I,
then, submit myself to Cęsar, and I, Triumvir, twice Consul, and
aforetime absolute Monarch of all the East, endure to follow in his
triumph along those Roman ways where I myself have passed in triumph?"

"Nay, Sire," I answered. "If thou dost yield, then art thou doomed.
All last night I questioned of the Fates concerning thee, and I saw
this: when thy star draws near to Cęsar's it pales and is swallowed
up; but when it passes from his radiance, then bright and big it
shines, equal in glory to his own. All is not lost, and while some
part remains, everything may be regained. Egypt can yet be held,
armies can still be raised. Cęsar has withdrawn himself; he is not yet
at the gates of Alexandria, and perchance may be appeased. Thy mind in
its fever has fired thy body; thou art sick and canst not judge
aright. See, here, I have a potion that shall make thee whole, for I
am well skilled in the art of medicine," and I held out the phial.

"A potion, thou sayest man!" he cried. "More like it is a poison, and
thou a murderer, sent by false Egypt, who would fain be rid of me now
that I may no more be of service to her. The head of Antony is the
peace offering she would send to Cęsar--she for whom I have lost all!
Give me thy draught. By Bacchus! I will drink it, though it be the
very elixir of Death!"

"Nay, noble Antony; it is no poison, and I am no murderer. See, I will
taste it, if thou wilt," and I held forth the subtle drink that has
the power to fire the veins of men.

"Give it me, Physician. Desperate men are brave men. There!---- Why,
what is this? Yours is a magic draught! My sorrows seem to roll away
like thunder-clouds before the southern gale, and the spring of Hope
blooms fresh upon the desert of my heart. Once more I am Antony, and
once again I see my legions' spears asparkle in the sun, and hear the
thunderous shout of welcome as Antony--beloved Antony--rides in pomp
of war along his deep-formed lines! There's hope! there's hope! I may
yet see the cold brows of Cęsar--that Cęsar who never errs except from
policy--robbed of their victor bays and crowned with shameful dust!"

"Ay," cried Charmion, "there still is hope, if thou wilt but play the
man! O my Lord! come back with us; come back to the loving arms of
Cleopatra! All night she lies upon her golden bed, and fills the
hollow darkness with her groans for 'Antony!' who, enamoured now of
Grief, forgets his duty and his love!"

"I come! I come! Shame upon me, that I dared to doubt her! Slave,
bring water, and a purple robe: not thus can I be seen of Cleopatra.
Even now I come."

In this fashion, then, did we draw Antony back to Cleopatra, that the
ruin of the twain might be made sure.

We led him up the Alabaster Hall and into Cleopatra's chamber, where
she lay, her cloudy hair about her face and breast, and tears flowing
from her deep eyes.

"O Egypt!" he cried, "behold me at thy feet!"

She sprang from the couch. "And art thou here, my love?" she murmured;
"then once again are all things well. Come near, and in these arms
forget thy sorrows and turn my grief to joy. Oh, Antony, while love is
left to us, still have we all!"

And she fell upon his breast and kissed him wildly.

That same day, Charmion came to me and bade me prepare a poison of the
most deadly power. And this at first I would not do, fearing that
Cleopatra would therewith make an end of Antony before his time. But
Charmion showed me that this was not so, and told me also for what
purpose was the poison. Therefore I summoned Atoua, the skilled in
simples, and all that afternoon we laboured at the deadly work. And
when it was done, Charmion came once more, bearing with her a chaplet
of fresh roses, that she bade me steep in the poison.

This then I did.

That night at the great feast of Cleopatra, I sat near Antony, who was
at her side, and wore the poisoned wreath. Now as the feast went on,
the wine flowed fast, till Antony and the Queen grew merry. And she
told him of her plans, and of how even now her galleys were being
drawn by the canal that leads from Bubastis on the Pelusiac branch of
the Nile, to Clysma at the head of the Bay of Heroopolis. For it was
her design, should Cęsar prove stubborn, to fly with Antony and her
treasure down the Arabian Gulf, where Cęsar had no fleet, and seek
some new home in India, whither her foes might not follow. But,
indeed, this plan came to nothing, for the Arabs of Petra burnt the
galleys, incited thereto by a message sent by the Jews of Alexandria,
who hated Cleopatra and were hated of her. For I caused the Jews to be
warned of what was being done.

Now, when she had made an end of telling him, the Queen called on him
to drink a cup with her, to the success of this new scheme, bidding
him, as she did so, steep his wreath of roses in the wine, and make
the draught more sweet. This, then, he did, and it being done, she
pledged him. But when he was about to pledge her back, she caught his
hand, crying "/Hold!/" whereat he paused, wondering.

Now, among the servants of Cleopatra was one Eudosius, a steward; and
this Eudosius, seeing that the fortunes of Cleopatra were at an end,
had laid a plan to fly that very night to Cęsar, as many of his
betters had done, taking with him all the treasure in the palace that
he could steal. But this design being discovered to Cleopatra, she
determined to be avenged upon Eudosius.

"Eudosius," she cried, for the man stood near; "come hither, thou
faithful servant! Seest thou this man, most noble Antony; through all
our troubles he has clung to us and been of comfort to us. Now,
therefore, he shall be rewarded according to his deserts and the
measure of his faithfulness, and that from thine own hand. Give him
thy golden cup of wine, and let him drink a pledge to our success; the
cup shall be his guerdon."

And still wondering, Antony gave it to the man, who, stricken in his
guilty mind, took it, and stood trembling. But he drank not.

"Drink! thou slave; drink!" cried Cleopatra, half rising from her seat
and flashing a fierce look on his white face. "By Serapis! so surely
as I yet shall sit in the Capitol at Rome, if thou dost thus flout the
Lord Antony, I'll have thee scourged to the bones, and the red wine
poured upon thy open wounds to heal them! /Ah!/ at length thou
drinkest! Why, what is it, good Eudosius? art sick? Surely, then, this
wine must be as the water of jealousy of those Jews, that has power to
slay the false and strengthen the honest only. Go, some of you, search
this man's room; methinks he is a traitor!"

Meanwhile the man stood, his hands to his head. Presently he began to
tremble, and then fell, clutching at his bosom, as though to tear out
the fire in his heart. He staggered, with livid, twisted face and
foaming lips, to where Cleopatra lay watching him with a slow and
cruel smile.

"Ah, traitor! thou hast it now!" she said. "Prithee, is death sweet?"

"Thou wanton!" yelled the dying man, "thou hast poisoned me! Thus
mayst thou also perish!" and with one shriek he flung himself upon
her. She saw his purpose, and swift and supple as a tiger sprang to
one side, so that he did but grasp her royal cloak, tearing it from
its emerald clasp. Down he fell upon the ground, rolling over and over
in the purple chiton, till presently he lay still and dead, his
tormented face and frozen eyes peering ghastly from its folds.

"Ah!" said the Queen, with a hard laugh, "the slave died wondrous
hard, and fain would have drawn me with him. See, he has borrowed my
garment for a pall! Take him away and bury him in his livery."

"What means Cleopatra?" said Antony, as the guards dragged the corpse
away; "the man drank of my cup. What is the purpose of this most sorry

"It serves a double end, noble Antony! This very night that man would
have fled to Octavianus, bearing of our treasure with him. Well, I
have lent him wings, for the dead fly fast! Also this: thou didst fear
that I should poison thee, my Lord; nay, I know it. See now, Antony,
how easy it were that I should slay thee if I had the will. That
wreath of roses which thou didst steep within the cup is dewed with
deadly bane. Had I, then, a mind to make an end of thee, I had not
stayed thy hand. O Antony, henceforth trust me! Sooner would I slay
myself than harm one hair of thy beloved head! See, here come my
messengers! Speak, what did ye find?"

"Royal Egypt, we found this. All things in the chamber of Eudosius are
made ready for flight, and in his baggage is much treasure."

"Thou hearest?" she said, smiling darkly. "Think ye, my loyal servants
all, that Cleopatra is one with whom it is well to play the traitor?
Be warned by this Roman's fate!"

Then a great silence of fear fell upon the company, and Antony sat
also silent.



Now I, Harmachis, must make speed with my task, setting down that
which is permitted as shortly as may be, and leaving much untold. For
of this I am warned, that Doom draws on and my days are wellnigh sped.
After the drawing forth of Antony from the Timonium came that time of
heavy quiet which heralds the rising of the desert wind. Antony and
Cleopatra once again gave themselves up to luxury, and night by night
feasted in splendour at the palace. They sent ambassadors to Cęsar;
but Cęsar would have none of them; and, this hope being gone, they
turned their minds to the defence of Alexandria. Men were gathered,
ships were built, and a great force was made ready against the coming
of Cęsar.

And now, aided by Charmion, I began my last work of hate and
vengeance. I wormed myself deep into the secrets of the palace,
counselling all things for evil. I bade Cleopatra keep Antony gay,
lest he should brood upon his sorrows: and thus she sapped his
strength and energy with luxury and wine. I gave him of my draughts--
draughts that sank his soul in dreams of happiness and power, leaving
him to wake to a heavier misery. Soon, without my healing medicine he
could not sleep, and thus, being ever at his side, I bound his
weakened will to mine, till at last he would do little if I said not
"It is well." Cleopatra, also grown very superstitious, leaned much
upon me; for I prophesied falsely to her in secret.

Moreover, I wove other webs. My fame was great throughout Egypt, for
during the long years that I had dwelt in Tįpé it had spread through
all the land. Therefore many men of note came to me, both for their
health's sake and because it was known that I had the ear of Antony
and the Queen; and, in these days of doubt and trouble, they were fain
to learn the truth. All these men I worked upon with doubtful words,
sapping their loyalty; and I caused many to fall away, and yet none
could bear an evil report of what I had said. Also, Cleopatra sent me
to Memphis, there to move the Priests and Governors that they should
gather men in Upper Egypt for the defence of Alexandria. And I went
and spoke to the priests with such a double meaning and with so much
wisdom that they knew me to be one of the initiated in the deeper
mysteries. But how I, Olympus the physician, came thus to be initiated
none might say. And afterwards they sought me secretly, and I gave
them the holy sign of brotherhood; and thereunder bade them not to ask
who I might be, but send no aid to Cleopatra. Rather, I said, must
they make peace with Cęsar, for by Cęsar's grace only could the
worship of the Gods endure in Khem. So, having taken counsel of the
Holy Apis, they promised in public to give help to Cleopatra, but in
secret sent an embassy to Cęsar.

Thus, then, it came to pass that Egypt gave but little aid to its
hated Macedonian Queen. Thence from Memphis I came once more to
Alexandria, and, having made favourable report, continued my secret
work. And, indeed, the Alexandrians could not easily be stirred, for,
as they say in the marketplace, "The ass looks at its burden and is
blind to its master." Cleopatra had oppressed them so long that the
Roman was like a welcome friend.

Thus the time passed on, and every night found Cleopatra with fewer
friends than that which had gone before, for in evil days friends fly
like swallows before the frost. Yet she would not give up Antony, whom
she loved; though to my knowledge Cęsar, by his freedman, Thyreus,
made promise to her of her dominions for herself and for her children
if she would but slay Antony, or even betray him bound. But to this
her woman's heart--for still she had a heart--would not consent, and,
moreover, we counselled her against it, for of necessity we must hold
him to her, lest, Antony escaping or being slain, Cleopatra might ride
out the storm and yet be Queen of Egypt. And this grieved me, because
Antony, though weak, was still a brave man, and a great; and,
moreover, in my own heart I read the lesson of his woes. For were we
not akin in wretchedness? Had not the same woman robbed us of Empire,
Friends, and Honour? But pity has no place in politics, nor could it
turn my feet from the path of vengeance it was ordained that I should
tread. Cęsar drew nigh; Pelusium fell; the end was at hand. It was
Charmion who brought the tidings to the Queen and Antony, as they
slept in the heat of the day, and I came with her.

"Awake!" she cried. "Awake! This is no time for sleep! Seleucus hath
surrendered Pelusium to Cęsar, who marches straight on Alexandria!"

With a great oath, Antony sprang up and clutched Cleopatra by the arm.

"Thou hast betrayed me--by the Gods I swear it! Now thou shalt pay the
price!" And snatching up his sword he drew it.

"Stay thy hand, Antony!" she cried. "It is false--I know naught of
this!" And she sprang upon him, and clung about his neck, weeping. "I
know naught, my Lord. Take thou the wife of Seleucus and his little
children, whom I hold in guard, and avenge thyself. O Antony, Antony!
why dost thou doubt me?"

Then Antony threw down his sword upon the marble, and, casting himself
upon the couch, hid his face, and groaned in bitterness of spirit.

But Charmion smiled, for it was she who had sent secretly to Seleucus,
her friend, counselling him to surrender forthwith, saying that no
fight would be made at Alexandria. And that very night Cleopatra took
all her great store of pearls and emeralds--those that remained of the
treasure of Menkau-ra--all her wealth of gold, ebony, ivory, and
cinnamon, treasure without price, and placed it in the mausoleum of
granite which, after our Egyptian fashion, she had built upon the hill
that is by the Temple of the Holy Isis. These riches she piled up upon
a bed of flax, that, when she fired it, all might perish in the flame
and escape the greed of money-loving Octavianus. And she slept
henceforth in this tomb, away from Antony; but in the daytime she
still saw him at the palace.

But a little while after, when Cęsar with all his great force had
already crossed the Caponic mouth of the Nile and was hard on
Alexandria, I came to the palace, whither Cleopatra had summoned me.
There I found her in the Alabaster Hall, royally clad, a wild light in
her eyes, and, with her, Iras and Charmion, and before her guards; and
stretched here and there upon the marble, bodies of dead men, among
whom lay one yet dying.

"Greeting, thou Olympus!" she cried. "Here is a sight to glad a
physician's heart--men dead and men sick unto death!"

"What doest thou, O Queen?" I said affrighted.

"What do I? I wreak justice on these criminals and traitors; and,
Olympus, I learn the ways of death. I have caused six different
poisons to be given to these slaves, and with an attentive eye have
watched their working. That man," and she pointed to a Nubian, "he
went mad, and raved of his native deserts and his mother. He thought
himself a child again, poor fool! and bade her hold him close to her
breast and save him from the darkness which drew near. And that Greek,
he shrieked, and, shrieking, died. And this, he wept and prayed for
pity, and in the end, like a coward, breathed his last. Now, note the
Egyptian yonder, he who still lives and groans; first he took the
draught--the deadliest draught of all, they swore--and yet the slave
so dearly loves his life he will not leave it! See, he yet strives to
throw the poison from him; twice have I given him the cup and yet he
is athirst. What a drunkard we have here! Man, man, knowest thou not
that in death only can peace be found? Struggle no more, but enter
into rest." And even as she spoke, the man, with a great cry, gave up
the spirit.

"There!" she cried, "at length the farce is played--away with those
slaves whom I have forced through the difficult gates of Joy!" and she
clapped her hands. But when they had borne the bodies thence she drew
me to her, and spoke thus:

"Olympus, for all thy prophecies, the end is at hand. Cęsar must
conquer, and I and my Lord Antony be lost. Now, therefore, the play
being wellnigh done, I must make ready to leave this stage of earth in
such fashion as becomes a Queen. For this cause, then, I do make trial
of these poisons, seeing that in my person I must soon endure those
agonies of death that to-day I give to others. These drugs please me
not; some wrench out the soul with cruel pains, and some too slowly
work their end. But thou art skilled in the medicines of death. Now,
do thou prepare me such a draught as shall, pangless, steal my life

And as I listened the sense of triumph filled my bitter heart, for I
knew now that by my own hand should this ruined woman die and the
justice of the Gods be done.

"Spoken like a Queen, O Cleopatra!" I said. "Death shall cure thy
ills, and I will brew such a wine as shall draw him down a sudden
friend and sink thee in a sea of slumber whence, upon this earth, thou
shalt never wake again. Oh! fear not Death: Death is thy hope; and,
surely, thou shalt pass sinless and pure of heart into the dreadful
presence of the Gods!"

She trembled. "And if the heart be not altogether pure, tell me--thou
dark man--what then? Nay, I fear not the Gods! for if the Gods of Hell
be men, there I shall Queen it also. At the least, having once been
royal, royal I shall ever be."

And, as she spoke, suddenly from the palace gates came a great
clamour, and the noise of joyful shouting.

"Why, what is this?" she said, springing from her couch.

"Antony! Antony!" rose the cry; "Antony hath conquered!"

She turned swiftly and ran, her long hair streaming on the wind. I
followed her, more slowly, down the great hall, across the courtyards,
to the palace gates. And here she met Antony, riding through them,
radiant with smiles and clad in his Roman armour. When he saw her he
leapt to the ground, and, all armed as he was, clasped her to his

"What is it?" she cried; "is Cęsar fallen?"

"Nay, not altogether fallen, Egypt: but we have beat his horsemen back
to their trenches, and, like the beginning, so shall be the end, for,
as they say here, 'Where the head goes, the tail will follow.'
Moreover, Cęsar has my challenge, and if he will but meet me hand to
hand, the world shall soon see which is the better man, Antony or
Octavian." And even as he spoke and the people cheered there came the
cry of "A messenger from Cęsar!"

The herald entered, and, bowing low, gave a writing to Antony, bowed
again, and went. Cleopatra snatched it from his hand, broke the silk
and read aloud:

 "Cęsar to Antony, greeting.

 "This answer to thy challenge: Can Antony find no better way of
  death than beneath the sword of Cęsar? Farewell!"

And thereafter they cheered no more.

The darkness came, and before it was midnight, having feasted with his
friends who to-night went over his woes and to-morrow should betray
him, Antony went forth to the gathering of the captains of the land-
forces and of the fleet, attended by many, among whom was I.

When all were come together, he spoke to them, standing bareheaded in
their midst, beneath the radiance of the moon. And thus he most nobly

"Friends and companions in arms! who yet cling to me, and whom many a
time I have led to victory, hearken to me now, who to-morrow may lie
in the dumb dust, disempired and dishonoured. This is our design: no
longer will we hang on poised wings above the flood of war, but will
straightway plunge, perchance thence to snatch the victor's diadem,
or, failing, there to drown. Be now but true to me, and to your
honour's sake, and you may still sit, the most proud of men, at my
right hand in the Capitol of Rome. Fail me now, and the cause of
Antony is lost and so are ye. To-morrow's battle must be hazardous
indeed, but we have stood many a time and faced a fiercer peril, and
ere the sun had sunk, once more have driven armies like desert sands
before our gale of valour and counted the spoil of hostile kings. What
have we to fear? Though allies be fled, still is our array as strong
as Cęsar's! And show we but as high a heart, why, I swear to you, upon
my princely word, to-morrow night I shall deck yonder Canopic gate
with the heads of Octavian and his captains!

"Ay, cheer, and cheer again! I love that martial music which swells,
not as from the indifferent lips of clarions, now 'neath the breath of
Antony and now of Cęsar, but rather out of the single hearts of men
who love me. Yet--and now I will speak low, as we do speak o'er the
bier of some beloved dead--yet, if Fortune should rise against me and
if, borne down by the weight of arms, Antony, the soldier, dies a
soldier's death, leaving you to mourn him who ever was your friend,
this is my will, that, after our rough fashion of the camp, I here
declare to you. You know where all my treasure lies. Take it, most
dear friends; and, in the memory of Antony, make just division. Then
go to Cęsar and speak thus: 'Antony, the dead, to Cęsar, the living,
sends greeting; and, in the name of ancient fellowship and of many a
peril dared, craves this boon: the safety of those who clung to him
and that which he hath given them.'

"Nay, let not my tears--for I must weep--overflow your eyes! Why, it
is not manly; 'tis most womanish! All men must die, and death were
welcome were it not so lone. Should I fall, I leave my children to
your tender care--if, perchance, it may avail to save them from the
fate of helplessness. Soldiers, enough! to-morrow at the dawn we
spring on Cęsar's throat, both by land and sea. Swear that ye will
cling to me, even to the last issue!"

"We swear!" they cried. "Noble Antony, we swear!"

"It is well! Once more my star grows bright; to-morrow, set in the
highest heaven, it yet may shine the lamp of Cęsar down! Till then,

He turned to go. As he went they caught his hand and kissed it; and so
deeply were they moved that many wept like children; nor could Antony
master his grief, for, in the moonlight, I saw tears roll down his
furrowed cheeks and fall upon that mighty breast.

And, seeing all this, I was much troubled. For I well knew that if
these men held firm to Antony all might yet go well for Cleopatra; and
though I bore no ill-will against Antony, yet he must fall, and in
that fall drag down the woman who, like some poisonous plant, had
twined herself about his giant strength till it choked and mouldered
in her embrace.

Therefore, when Antony went I went not, but stood back in the shadow
watching the faces of the lords and captains as they spoke together.

"Then it is agreed!" said he who should lead the fleet. "And this we
swear to, one and all, that we will cling to noble Antony to the last
extremity of fortune!"

"Ay! ay!" they answered.

"Ay! ay!" I said, speaking from the shadow; "cling, and /die!/"

They turned fiercely and seized me.

"Who is he?" quoth one.

"'Tis that dark-faced dog, Olympus!" cried another. "Olympus, the

"Olympus, the traitor!" growled another; "put an end to him and his
magic!" and he drew his sword.

"Ay! slay him; he would betray the Lord Antony, whom he is paid to

"Hold a while!" I said in a slow and solemn voice, "and beware how ye
try to murder the servant of the Gods. I am no traitor. For myself, I
abide the event here in Alexandria, but to you I say, Flee, flee to
Cęsar! I serve Antony and the Queen--I serve them truly; but above all
I serve the Holy Gods; and what they make known to me, that, Lords, I
do know. And I know this: that Antony is doomed, and Cleopatra is
doomed, for Cęsar conquers. Therefore, because I honour you, noble
gentlemen, and think with pity on your wives, left widowed, and your
little fatherless children, that shall, if ye hold to Antony, be sold
as slaves--therefore, I say, cling to Antony if ye will and die; or
flee to Cęsar and be saved! And this I say because it is so ordained
of the Gods."

"The Gods!" they growled; "what Gods? Slit the traitor's throat, and
stop his ill-omened talk!"

"Let him show us a sign from his Gods or let him die: I do mistrust
this man," said another.

"Stand back, ye fools!" I cried. "Stand back--free mine arms--and I
will show you a sign;" and there was that in my face which frightened
them, for they freed me and stood back. Then I lifted up my hands and
putting out all my strength of soul searched the depths of space till
my Spirit communed with the Spirit of my Mother Isis. Only the Word of
Power I uttered not, as I had been bidden. And the holy mystery of the
Goddess answered to my Spirit's cry, falling in awful silence upon the
face of the earth. Deeper and deeper grew the terrible silence; even
the dogs ceased to howl, and in the city men stood still afeared.
Then, from far away, there came the ghostly music of the sistra. Faint
it was at first, but ever as it came it grew more loud, till the air
shivered with the unearthly sound of terror. I said naught, but
pointed with my hand toward the sky. And behold! bosomed upon the air,
floated a vast veiled Shape that, heralded by the swelling music of
the sistra, drew slowly near, till its shadow lay upon us. It came, it
passed, it went toward the camp of Cęsar, till at length the music
died away, and the awful Shape was swallowed in the night.

"It is Bacchus!" cried one. "Bacchus, who leaves lost Antony!" and, as
he spoke, there rose a groan of terror from all the camp.

But I knew that it was not Bacchus, the false God, but the Divine Isis
who deserted Khem, and, passing over the edge of the world, sought her
home in space, to be no more known of men. For though her worship is
still upheld, though still she is here and in all Earths, Isis
manifests herself no more in Egypt. I hid my face and prayed, but when
I lifted it from my robe, lo! all had fled and I was alone.



On the morrow, at dawn, Antony came forth and gave command that his
fleet should advance against the fleet of Cęsar, and that his cavalry
should open the land-battle with the cavalry of Cęsar. Accordingly,
the fleet advanced in a triple line, and the fleet of Cęsar came out
to meet it. But when they met, the galleys of Antony lifted their oars
in greeting, and passed over to the galleys of Cęsar; and they sailed
away together. And the cavalry of Antony rode forth beyond the
Hippodrome to charge the cavalry of Cęsar; but when they met, they
lowered their swords and passed over to the camp of Cęsar, deserting
Antony. Then Antony grew mad with rage and terrible to see. He shouted
to his legions to stand firm and wait attack; and for a little while
they stood. One man, however--that same officer who would have slain
me on the yesternight--strove to fly; but Antony seized him with his
own hand, threw him to the earth, and, springing from his horse, drew
his sword to slay him. He held his sword on high, while the man,
covering his face, awaited death. But Antony dropped his sword and
bade him rise.

"Go!" he said. "Go to Cęsar, and prosper! I did love thee once. Why,
then, among so many traitors, should I single thee out for death?"

The man rose and looked upon him sorrowfully. Then, shame overwhelming
him, with a great cry he tore open his shirt of mail, plunged his
sword into his own heart and fell down dead. Antony stood and gazed at
him, but he said never a word. Meanwhile the ranks of Cęsar's legions
drew near, and so soon as they crossed spears the legions of Antony
turned and fled. Then the soldiers of Cęsar stood still mocking them;
but scarce a man was slain, for they pursued not.

"Fly, Lord Antony! fly!" cried Eros, his servant, who alone with me
stayed by him. "Fly ere thou art dragged a prisoner to Cęsar!"

So he turned and fled, groaning heavily. I went with him, and as we
rode through the Canopic gate, where many folk stood wondering, Antony
spoke to me:

"Go, thou, Olympus; go to the Queen and say: 'Antony sends greeting to
Cleopatra, who hath betrayed him! To Cleopatra he sends greeting and

And so I went to the tomb, but Antony fled to the palace. When I came
to the tomb I knocked upon the door, and Charmion looked forth from
the window.

"Open," I cried, and she opened.

"What news, Harmachis?" she whispered.

"Charmion," I said, "the end is at hand. Antony is fled!"

"It is well," she answered; "I am aweary."

And there on her golden bed sat Cleopatra.

"Speak, man!" she cried.

"Antony has fled, his forces are fled, Cęsar draws near. To Cleopatra
the great Antony sends greeting and farewell. Greeting to Cleopatra
who betrayed him, and farewell."

"It is a lie!" she screamed; "I betrayed him not! Thou, Olympus, go
swiftly to Antony and answer thus: 'To Antony, Cleopatra, who hath not
betrayed him, sends greeting and farewell. Cleopatra is no more.'"

And so I went, following out my purpose. In the Alabaster Hall I found
Antony pacing to and fro, tossing his hands toward heaven, and with
him Eros, for of all his servants Eros alone remained by this fallen

"Lord Antony," I said, "Egypt bids thee farewell. Egypt is dead by her
own hand."

"Dead! dead!" he whispered, "and is Egypt dead? and is that form of
glory now food for worms? Oh, what a woman was this! E'en now my heart
goes out towards her. And shall she outdo me at the last, I who have
been so great; shall I become so small that a woman can overtop my
courage and pass where I fear to follow? Eros, thou hast loved me from
a boy--mindest thou how I found thee starving in the desert, and made
thee rich, giving thee place and wealth? Come, now pay me back. Draw
that sword thou wearest and make an end of the woes of Antony."

"Oh, Sire," cried the Greek, "I cannot! How can I take away the life
of godlike Antony?"

"Answer me not, Eros; but in the last extreme of fate this I charge
thee. Do thou my bidding, or begone and leave me quite alone! No more
will I see thy face, thou unfaithful servant!"

Then Eros drew his sword and Antony knelt before him and bared his
breast, turning his eyes to heaven. But Eros, crying "I cannot! oh, I
cannot!" plunged the sword to his own heart, and fell dead.

Antony rose and gazed upon him. "Why, Eros, that was nobly done," he
said. "Thou art greater than I, yet I have learned thy lesson!" and he
knelt down and kissed him.

Then, rising of a sudden, he drew the sword from the heart of Eros,
plunged it into his bowels, and fell, groaning, on the couch.

"O thou, Olympus," he cried, "this pain is more than I can bear! Make
an end of me, Olympus!"

But pity stirred me, and I could not do this thing.

Therefore I drew the sword from his vitals, staunched the flow of
blood, and, calling to those who came crowding in to see Antony die, I
bade them summon Atoua from my house at the palace gates. Presently
she came, bringing with her simples and life-giving draughts. These I
gave to Antony, and bade Atoua go with such speed as her old limbs
might to Cleopatra, in the tomb, and tell her of the state of Antony.

So she went, and after a while returned, saying that the Queen yet
lived and summoned Antony to die in her arms. And with her came
Diomedes. When Antony heard, his ebbing strength came back, for he was
fain to look upon Cleopatra's face again. So I called to the slaves--
who peeped and peered through curtains and from behind pillars to see
this great man die--and together, with much toil, we bore him thence
till we came to the foot of the Mausoleum.

But Cleopatra, being afraid of treachery, would no more throw wide the
door; so she let down a rope from the window and we made it fast
beneath the arms of Antony. Then did Cleopatra, who the while wept
most bitterly, together with Charmion and Iras the Greek, pull on the
rope with all their strength, while we lifted from below till the
dying Antony swung in the air, groaning heavily, and the blood dropped
from his gaping wound. Twice he nearly fell to earth: but Cleopatra,
striving with the strength of love and of despair, held him till at
length she drew him through the windowplace, while all who saw the
dreadful sight wept bitterly, and beat their breasts--all save myself
and Charmion.

When he was in, once more the rope was let down, and, with some aid
from Charmion, I climbed into the tomb, drawing up the rope after me.
There I found Antony, laid upon the golden bed of Cleopatra; and she,
her breast bare, her face stained with tears, and her hair streaming
wildly about him, knelt at his side and kissed him, wiping the blood
from his wounds with her robes and hair. And let all my shame be
written: as I stood and watched her the old love awoke once more
within me, and mad jealousy raged in my heart because--though I could
destroy these twain--I could not destroy their love.

"O Antony! my Sweet, my Husband, and my God!" she moaned. "Cruel
Antony, hast thou the heart to die and leave me to my lonely shame? I
will follow thee swiftly to the grave. Antony, awake! awake!"

He lifted up his head and called for wine, which I gave him, mixing
therein a draught that might allay his pain, for it was great. And
when he had drunk he bade Cleopatra lie down on the bed beside him,
and put her arms about him; and this she did. Then was Antony once
more a man; for, forgetting his own misery and pain, he counselled her
as to her own safety: but to this talk she would not listen.

"The hour is short," she said; "let us speak of this great love of
ours that hath been so long and may yet endure beyond the coasts of
Death. Mindest thou that night when first thou didst put thine arms
about me and call me 'Love'? Oh! happy, happy night! Having known that
night it is well to have lived--even to this bitter end!"

"Ay, Egypt, I mind it well and dwell upon its memory, though from that
hour fortune has fled from me--lost in my depth of love for thee, thou
Beautiful. I mind it!" he gasped; "then didst thou drink the pearl in
wanton play, and then did that astrologer of thine call out his hour--
'The hour of the coming of the curse of Menkau-ra.' Through all the
after-days those words have haunted me, and now at the last they ring
in my ears."

"He is long dead, my love," she whispered.

"If he be dead, then I am near him. What meant he?"

"He is dead, the accursed man!--no more of him! Oh! turn and kiss me,
for thy face grows white. The end is near!"

He kissed her on the lips, and for a little while so they stayed, to
the moment of death, babbling their passion in each other's ears, like
lovers newly wed. Even to my jealous heart, it was a strange and awful
thing to see.

Presently, I saw the Change of Death gather on his face. His head fell

"Farewell, Egypt; farewell!--I die!"

Cleopatra lifted herself upon her hands, gazed wildly on his ashen
face, and then, with a great cry, she sank back swooning.

But Antony yet lived, though the power of speech had left him. Then I
drew near and, kneeling, made pretence to minister to him. And as I
ministered I whispered in his ear:

"Antony," I whispered, "Cleopatra was my love before she passed from
me to thee. I am Harmachis, that astrologer who stood behind thy couch
at Tarsus; and I have been the chief minister of thy ruin.

"/Die, Antony!--the curse of Menkau-ra hath fallen!/"

He raised himself, and stared upon my face. He could not speak, but,
gibbering, he pointed at me. Then with a groan his spirit fled.

Thus did I accomplish my revenge upon Roman Antony, the World-loser.

Thereafter, we recovered Cleopatra from her swoon, for not yet was I
minded that she should die. And taking the body of Antony, Cęsar
permitting, I and Atoua caused it to be most skilfully embalmed after
our Egyptian fashion, covering the face with a mask of gold fashioned
like to the features of Antony. Also I wrote upon his breast his name
and titles, and painted his name and the name of his father within his
inner coffin, and drew the form of the Holy Nout folding her wings
about him.

Then with great pomp Cleopatra laid him in that sepulchre which had
been made ready, and in a sarcophagus of alabaster. Now, this
sarcophagus was fashioned so large that place was left in it for a
second coffin, for Cleopatra would lie by Antony at the last.

These things then happened. And but a little while after I learned
tidings from one Cornelius Dolabella, a noble Roman who waited upon
Cęsar, and, moved by the beauty that swayed the souls of all who
looked upon her, had pity for the woes of Cleopatra. He bade me warn
her--for, as her physician, it was allowed me to pass in and out of
the tomb where she dwelt--that in three days she would be sent away to
Rome, together with her children, save Cęsarion, whom Octavian had
already slain, that she might walk in the triumph of Cęsar.
Accordingly I went in, and found her sitting, as now she always sat,
plunged in a half stupor, and before her that blood-stained robe with
which she had staunched the wounds of Antony. For on this she would
continually feast her eyes.

"See how faint they grow, Olympus," she said, lifting her sad face and
pointing to the rusty stains, "and he so lately dead! Why, Gratitude
could not fade more fast. What is now thy news? Evil tidings is writ
large in those dark eyes of thine, which ever bring back to me
something that still slips my mind."

"The news is ill, O Queen," I answered. "I have this from the lips of
Dolabella, who has it straight from Cęsar's secretary. On the third
day from now Cęsar will send thee and the Princes Ptolemy and
Alexander and the Princess Cleopatra to Rome, there to feast the eyes
of the Roman mob, and be led in triumph to that Capitol where thou
didst swear to set thy throne!"

"Never, never!" she cried, springing to her feet. "Never will I walk
in chains in Cęsar's triumph! What must I do? Charmion, tell me what I
can do!"

And Charmion, rising, stood before her, looking at her through the
long lashes of her downcast eyes.

"Lady, thou canst die," she said quietly.

"Ay, of a truth I had forgotten; I can die. Olympus, hast thou the

"Nay; but if the Queen wills it, by to-morrow morn it shall be brewed
--a drug so swift and strong that not the Gods themselves can hold him
who drinks it back from sleep."

"Let it be made ready, thou Master of Death!"

I bowed, and withdrew myself; and all that night I and old Atoua
laboured at the distilling of the deadly draught. At length it was
done, and Atoua poured it into a crystal phial, and held it to the
light of the fire; for it was white as the purest water.

"/La! la!/" she sang, in her shrill voice; "a drink for a Queen! When
fifty drops of that water of my brewing have passed those red lips of
hers, thou wilt indeed be avenged of Cleopatra, O Harmachis! Ah, that
I could be there to see thy Ruin ruined! /La! la!/ it would be sweet
to see!"

"Vengeance is an arrow that oft-times falls upon the archer's head," I
answered, bethinking me of Charmion's saying.



On the morrow Cleopatra, having sought leave of Cęsar, visited the
tomb of Antony, crying that the Gods of Egypt had deserted her. And
when she had kissed the coffin and covered it with lotus-flowers she
came back, bathed, anointed herself, put on her most splendid robes,
and, together with Iras, Charmion, and myself, she supped. Now as she
supped her spirit flared up wildly, even as the sky lights up at
sunset; and once more she laughed and sparkled as in bygone years,
telling us tales of feasts which she and Antony had eaten of. Never,
indeed, did I see her look more beauteous than on that last fatal
night of vengeance. And thus her mind drew on to that supper at Tarsus
when she drank the pearl.

"Strange," she said; "strange that at the last the mind of Antony
should have turned back to that night among all the nights and to the
saying of Harmachis. Charmion, dost thou remember Harmachis the

"Surely, O Queen," she answered slowly.

"And who, then, was Harmachis?" I asked; for I would learn if she
sorrowed o'er my memory.

"I will tell thee. It is a strange tale, and now that all is done it
may well be told. This Harmachis was of the ancient race of the
Pharaohs, and, having, indeed, been crowned in secret at Abydus, was
sent hither to Alexandria to carry out a great plot that had been
formed against the rule of us royal Lagidę. He came and gained entry
to the palace as my astrologer, for he was very learned in all magic--
much as thou art, Olympus--and a man beautiful to see. Now this was
his plot--that he should slay me and be named Pharaoh. In truth it was
a strong one, for he had many friends in Egypt, and I had few. And on
that very night when he should carry out his purpose, yea, at the very
hour, came Charmion yonder, and told the plot to me; saying that she
had chanced upon its clue. But, in after days--though I have said
little thereon to thee, Charmion--I misdoubted me much of that tale of
thine; for, by the Gods! to this hour I believe that thou didst love
Harmachis, and because he scorned thee thou didst betray him; and for
that cause also hast all thy days remained a maid, which is a thing
unnatural. Come, Charmion, tell us; for naught matters now at the

Charmion shivered and made answer: "It is true, O Queen; I also was of
the plot, and because Harmachis scorned me I betrayed him; and because
of my great love for him I have remained unwed." And she glanced up at
me and caught my eyes, then let the modest lashes veil her own.

"So! I thought it. Strange are the ways of women! But little cause,
methinks, had that Harmachis to thank thee for thy love. What sayest
thou, Olympus? Ah, and so thou also wast a traitor, Charmion? How
dangerous are the paths which Monarchs tread! Well, I forgive thee,
for thou hast served me faithfully since that hour.

"But to my tale. Harmachis I dared not slay, lest his great party
should rise in fury and cast me from the throne. And now mark the
issue. Though he must murder me, in secret this Harmachis loved me,
and something thereof I guessed. I had striven a little to draw him to
me, for the sake of his beauty and his wit; and for the love of man
Cleopatra never strove in vain. Therefore when, with the dagger in his
robe, he came to slay me, I matched my charms against his will, and
need I tell you, being man and woman, how I won? Oh, never can I
forget the look in the eyes of that fallen prince, that forsworn
priest, that discrowned Pharaoh, when, lost in the poppied draught, I
saw him sink into a shameful sleep whence he might no more wake with
honour! And, thereafter--till, in the end, I wearied of him, and his
sad learned mind, for his guilty soul forbade him to be gay--a little
I came to care for him, though not to love. But he--he who loved me--
clung to me as a drunkard to the cup which ruins him. Deeming that I
should wed him, he betrayed to me the secret of the hidden wealth of
the pyramid of /Her/--for at the time I much needed treasure--and
together we dared the terrors of the tomb and drew it forth, even from
dead Pharaoh's breast. See, this emerald was a part thereof!"--and she
pointed to the great scarabęus that she had drawn from the holy heart
of Menkau-ra.

"And because of what was written in the tomb, and of that Thing which
we saw in the tomb--ah, pest upon it! why does its memory haunt me
now?--and also because of policy, for I would fain have won the love
of the Egyptians, I was minded to marry this Harmachis and declare his
place and lineage to the world--ay, and by his aid hold Egypt from the
Roman. For Dellius had then come to call me to Antony, and after much
thought I determined to send him back with sharp words. But on that
very morning, as I tired me for the Court, came Charmion yonder, and I
told her this, for I would see how the matter fell upon her mind. Now
mark, Olympus, the power of jealousy, that little wedge which yet has
strength to rend the tree of Empire, that secret sword which can carve
the fate of Kings! This she could in no wise bear--deny it, Charmion,
if thou canst, for now it is clear to me!--that the man she loved
should be given to me as husband--me, whom /he/ loved! And therefore,
with more skill and wit than I can tell, she reasoned with me, showing
that I should by no means do this thing, but journey to Antony; and
for that, Charmion, I thank thee, now that all is come and gone. And
by a very little, her words weighed down my scale of judgment against
Harmachis, and I went to Antony. Thus it is through the jealous spleen
of yonder fair Charmion and the passion of a man on which I played as
on a lyre, that all these things have come to pass. For this cause
Octavian sits a King in Alexandria; for this cause Antony is
discrowned and dead; and for this cause I, too, must die to-night! Ah!
Charmion! Charmion! thou hast much to answer, for thou hast changed
the story of the world; and yet, even now--I would not have it

She paused awhile, covering her eyes with her hand; and, looking, I
saw great tears upon the cheek of Charmion.

"And of this Harmachis," I asked; "where is he now, O Queen?"

"Where is he? In Amenti, forsooth--making his peace with Isis,
perchance. At Tarsus I saw Antony, and loved him; and from that moment
I loathed the sight of the Egyptian, and swore to make an end of him;
for a lover done with should be a lover dead. And, being jealous, he
spoke some words of evil omen, even at that Feast of the Pearl; and on
the same night I would have slain him, but before the deed was done,
he was gone."

"And whither was he gone?"

"Nay; that know not I. Brennus--he who led my guard, and last year
sailed North to join his own people--Brennus swore he saw him float to
the skies; but in this matter I misdoubted me of Brennus, for methinks
he loved the man. Nay, he sank off Cyprus, and was drowned; perchance
Charmion can tell us how?"

"I can tell thee nothing, O Queen; Harmachis is lost."

"And well lost, Charmion, for he was an evil man to play with--ay,
although I bettered him I say it! Well he served my purpose; but I
loved him not, and even now I fear him; for it seemed to me that I
heard his voice summoning me to fly, through the din of the fight at
Actium. Thanks be to the Gods, as thou sayest, he is lost, and can no
more be found."

But I, listening, put forth my strength, and, by the arts I have, cast
the shadow of my Spirit upon the Spirit of Cleopatra so that she felt
the presence of the lost Harmachis.

"Nay, what is it?" she said. "By Serapis! I grow afraid! It seems to
me that I feel Harmachis here! His memory overwhelms me like a flood
of waters, and he these ten years dead! Oh! at such a time it is

"Nay, O Queen," I answered, "if he be dead then he is everywhere, and
well at such a time--the time of thy own death--may his Spirit draw
near to welcome thine at its going."

"Speak not thus, Olympus. I would see Harmachis no more; the count
between us is too heavy, and in another world than this more evenly,
perchance should we be matched. Ah, the terror passes! I was but
unnerved. Well the fool's story hath served to wile away the heaviest
of our hours, the hour which ends in death. Sing to me, Charmion,
sing, for thy voice is very sweet, and I would soothe my soul to
sleep. The memory of that Harmachis has wrung me strangely! Sing,
then, the last song I shall hear from those tuneful lips of thine, the
last of so many songs."

"It is a sad hour for song, O Queen!" said Charmion; but,
nevertheless, she took her harp and sang. And thus she sang, very soft
and low, the dirge of the sweet-tongued Syrian Meleager:

  Tears for my lady dead,
  Salt tears and strange to shed,
    Over and o'er;
  Go tears and low lament
    Fare from her tomb,
  Wend where my lady went,
    Down through the gloom--
  Sighs for my lady dead,
    Tears do I send,
  Long love remembered,
    Mistress and friend!
  Sad are the songs we sing,
    Tears that we shed,
  Empty the gifts we bring--
    Gifts to the dead!
  Ah, for my flower, my Love,
    Hades hath taken,
  Ah, for the dust above,
    Scattered and shaken!
  Mother of blade and grass,
    Earth, in thy breast
  Lull her that gentlest was,
    Gently to rest!

The music of her voice died away, and it was so sweet and sad that
Iras began to weep and the bright tears stood in Cleopatra's stormy
eyes. Only I wept not; my tears were dry.

"'Tis a heavy song of thine, Charmion," said the Queen. "Well, as thou
saidst, it is a sad hour for song, and thy dirge is fitted to the
hour. Sing it over me once again when I lie dead, Charmion. And now
farewell to music, and on to the end. Olympus, take yonder parchment
and write what I shall say."

I took the parchment and the reed, and wrote thus in the Roman tongue:

 "Cleopatra to Octavianus, greeting.

 "This is the state of life. At length there comes an hour when,
  rather than endure those burdens that overwhelm us, putting off
  the body we would take wing into forgetfulness. Cęsar, thou hast
  conquered: take thou the spoils of victory. But in thy triumph
  Cleopatra cannot walk. When all is lost, then we must go to seek
  the lost. Thus in the desert of Despair the brave do harvest
  Resolution. Cleopatra hath been great as Antony was great, nor
  shall her fame be minished in the manner of her end. Slaves live
  to endure their wrong; but Princes, treading with a firmer step,
  pass through the gates of Wrong into the royal Dwellings of the
  Dead. This only doth Egypt ask of Cęsar--that he suffer her to lie
  in the tomb of Antony. Farewell!"

This I wrote, and having sealed the writing, Cleopatra bade me go find
a messenger, despatch it to Cęsar, and then return. So I went, and at
the door of the tomb I called a soldier who was not on duty, and,
giving him money, bade him take the letter to Cęsar. Then I went back,
and there in the chamber the three women stood in silence, Cleopatra
clinging to the arm of Iras, and Charmion a little apart watching the

"If indeed thou art minded to make an end, O Queen," I said, "the time
is short, for presently Cęsar will send his servants in answer to thy
letter," and I drew forth the phial of white and deadly bane and set
it upon the board.

She took it in her hand and gazed thereon. "How innocent it seems!"
she said; "and yet therein lies my death. 'Tis strange."

"Ay, Queen, and the death of ten other folk. No need to take so long a

"I fear," she gasped--"how know I that it will slay outright? I have
seen so many die by poison and scarce one has died outright. And some
--ah, I cannot think on them!"

"Fear not," I said, "I am a master of my craft. Or, if thou dost fear,
cast this poison forth and live. In Rome thou mayst still find
happiness; ay, in Rome, where thou shalt walk in Cęsar's triumph,
while the laughter of the hard-eyed Latin women shall chime down the
music of thy golden chains."

"Nay, I will die, Olympus. Oh, if one would but show the path."

Then Iras loosed her hand and stepped forward. "Give me the draught,
Physician," she said. "I go to make ready for my Queen."

"It is well," I answered; "on thy own head be it!" and I poured from
the phial into a little golden goblet.

She raised it, curtsied low to Cleopatra, then, coming forward, kissed
her on the brow, and Charmion she also kissed. This done, tarrying not
and making no prayer, for Iras was a Greek, she drank, and, putting
her hand to her head, instantly fell down and died.

"Thou seest," I said, breaking in upon the silence, "it is swift."

"Ay, Olympus; thine is a master drug! Come now, I thirst; fill me the
bowl, lest Iras weary in waiting at the gates!"

So I poured afresh into the goblet; but this time, making pretence to
rinse the cup, I mixed a little water with the bane, for I was not
minded that she should die before she knew me.

Then did the royal Cleopatra, taking the goblet in her hand, turn her
lovely eyes to heaven and cry aloud:

"O ye Gods of Egypt! who have deserted me, to you no longer will I
pray, for your ears are shut unto my crying and your eyes blind to my
griefs! Therefore, I make entreaty of that last friend whom the Gods,
departing, leave to helpless man. Sweep hither, Death, whose winnowing
wings enshadow all the world, and give me ear! Draw nigh, thou King of
Kings! who, with an equal hand, bringest the fortunate head of one
pillow with the slave, and by thy spiritual breath dost waft the
bubble of our life far from this hell of earth! Hide me where winds
blow not and waters cease to roll; where wars are done and Cęsar's
legions cannot march! Take me to a new dominion, and crown me Queen of
Peace! Thou art my Lord, O Death, and in thy kiss I have conceived. I
am in labour of a Soul: see--it stands new-born upon the edge of Time!
Now--now--go, Life! Come, Sleep! Come, Antony!"

And, with one glance to heaven, she drank, and cast the goblet to the

Then at last came the moment of my pent-up vengeance, and of the
vengeance of Egypt's outraged Gods, and of the falling of the curse of

"What's this?" she cried; "I grow cold, but I die not! Thou dark
physician, thou hast betrayed me!"

"Peace, Cleopatra! Presently shalt thou die and know the fury of the
Gods! /The curse of Menkau-ra hath fallen!/ It is finished! Look upon
me, woman! Look upon this marred face, this twisted form, this living
mass of sorrow! /Look! look!/ Who am I?"

She stared upon me wildly.

"Oh! oh!" she shrieked, throwing up her arms; "at last I know thee! By
the Gods, thou art Harmachis!--Harmachis risen from the dead!"

"Ay, Harmachis risen from the dead to drag thee down to death and
agony eternal! See, thou Cleopatra; /I/ have ruined thee as thou didst
ruin me! I, working in the dark, and helped of the angry Gods, have
been thy secret spring of woe! I filled thy heart with fear at Actium;
I held the Egyptians from thy aid; I sapped the strength of Antony; I
showed the portent of the Gods unto thy captains! By my hand at length
thou diest, for I am the instrument of Vengeance! Ruin I pay thee back
for ruin, Treachery for treachery, Death for death! Come hither,
Charmion, partner of my plots, who betrayed me, but, repenting, art
the sharer of my triumph, come watch this fallen wanton die!"

Cleopatra heard, and sank back upon the golden bed, groaning "And
thou, too, Charmion!"

A moment so she sat, then her Imperial spirit burnt up glorious before
she died.

She staggered from the bed, and, with arms outstretched, she cursed

"Oh! for one hour of life!" she cried--"one short hour, that therein I
might make thee die in such fashion as thou canst not dream, thou and
that false paramour of thine, who betrayed both me and thee! And thou
didst love me! Ah, /there/ I have thee still! See, thou subtle,
plotting priest"--and with both hands she rent back the royal robes
from her bosom--"see, on this fair breast once night by night thy head
was pillowed, and thou didst sleep wrapped in these same arms. Now,
put away their memory /if thou canst!/ I read it in thine eyes--that
mayst thou not! No torture which I bear can, in its sum, draw nigh to
the rage of that deep soul of thine, rent with longings never, never
to be reached! Harmachis, thou slave of slaves, from thy triumph-
depths I snatch a deeper triumph, and conquered yet I conquer! I spit
upon thee--I defy thee--and, dying, doom thee to the torment of thy
deathless love! O Antony! I come, my Antony!--I come to thy own dear
arms! Soon I shall find thee, and, wrapped in a love undying and
divine, together we will float through all the depths of space, and,
lips to lips and eyes to eyes, drink of desires grown more sweet with
every draught! Or if I find thee not, then I shall sink in peace down
the poppied ways of Sleep: and for me the breast of Night, whereon I
shall be softly cradled, will yet seem thy bosom, Antony! Oh, I die!--
come, Antony--and give me peace!"

Even in my fury I had quailed beneath her scorn, for home flew the
arrows of her winged words. Alas! and alas! it was /true/--the shaft
of my vengeance fell upon my own head; never had I loved her as I
loved her now. My soul was rent with jealous torture, and thus I swore
she should not die.

"Peace!" I cried; "what peace is there for thee? Oh! ye Holy Three,
hear now my prayer. Osiris, loosen Thou the bonds of Hell and send
forth those whom I shall summon! Come Ptolemy, poisoned of thy sister
Cleopatra; come Arsinoė, murdered in the sanctuary by thy sister
Cleopatra; come Sepa, tortured to death of Cleopatra; come Divine
Menkau-ra, whose body Cleopatra tore and whose curse she braved for
greed; come one, come all who have died at the hands of Cleopatra!
Rush from the breast of Nout and greet her who murdered you! By the
link of mystic union, by the symbol of the Life, Spirits, I summon

Thus I spoke the spell; while Charmion, affrighted, clung to my robe,
and the dying Cleopatra, resting on her hands, swung slowly to and
fro, gazing with vacant eyes.

Then the answer came. The casement burst asunder, and on flittering
wings that great bat entered which last I had seen hanging to the
eunuch's chin in the womb of the pyramid of /Her/. Thrice it circled
round, once it hovered o'er dead Iras, then flew to where the dying
woman stood. To her it flew, on her breast it settled, clinging to
that emerald which was dragged from the dead heart of Menkau-ra.
Thrice the grey Horror screamed aloud, thrice it beat its bony wings,
and lo! it was gone.

Then suddenly within that chamber sprang up the Shapes of Death. There
was Arsinoė, the beautiful, even as she had shrunk beneath the
butcher's knife. There was young Ptolemy, his features twisted by the
poisoned cup. There was the majesty of Menkau-ra, crowned with the
uręus crown; there was grave Sepa, his flesh all torn by the
torturer's hooks; there were those poisoned slaves; and there were
others without number, shadowy and dreadful to behold! who, thronging
that narrow chamber, stood silently fixing their glassy eyes upon the
face of her who slew them!

"Behold! Cleopatra!" I said. "/Behold thy peace, and die!/"

"Ay!" said Charmion. "Behold and die! thou who didst rob me of my
honour, and Egypt of her King!"

She looked, she saw the awful Shapes--her Spirit, hurrying from the
flesh, mayhap could hear words to which my ears were deaf. Then her
face sank in with terror, her great eyes grew pale, and, shrieking,
Cleopatra fell and died: passing, with that dread company, to her
appointed place.

Thus, then, I, Harmachis, fed my soul with vengeance, fulfilling the
justice of the Gods, and yet knew myself empty of all joy therein. For
though that thing we worship doth bring us ruin, and Love being more
pitiless than Death, we in turn do pay all our sorrow back; yet we
must worship on, yet stretch out our arms towards our lost Desire, and
pour our heart's blood upon the shrine of our discrowned God.

For Love is of the Spirit, and knows not Death.



Charmion unclasped my arm, to which she had clung in terror.

"Thy vengeance, thou dark Harmachis," she said, in a hoarse voice, "is
a thing hideous to behold! O lost Egypt, with all thy sins thou wast
indeed a Queen!

"Come, aid me, Prince; let us stretch this poor clay upon the bed and
deck it royally, so that it may give its dumb audience to the
messengers of Cęsar as becomes the last of Egypt's Queens."

I spoke no word in answer, for my heart was very heavy, and now that
all was done I was weary. Together, then, we lifted up the body and
laid it on the golden bed. Charmion placed the uręus crown upon the
ivory brow, and combed the night-dark hair that showed never a thread
of silver, and, for the last time, shut those eyes wherein had shone
all the changing glories of the sea. She folded the chill hands upon
the breast whence Passion's breath had fled, and straightened the bent
knees beneath the broidered robe, and by the head set flowers. And
there at length Cleopatra lay, more splendid now in her cold majesty
of death than in her richest hour of breathing beauty!

We drew back and looked on her, and on dead Iras at her feet.

"It is done!" quoth Charmion; "we are avenged, and now, Harmachis,
dost follow by this same road?" And she nodded towards the phial on
the board.

"Nay, Charmion. I fly--I fly to a heavier death! Not thus easily may I
end my space of earthly penance."

"So be it, Harmachis! And I, Harmachis--I fly also, but with swifter
wings. My game is played. I, too, have made atonement. Oh! what a
bitter fate is mine, to have brought misery on all I love, and, in the
end, to die unloved! To thee I have atoned; to my angered Gods I have
atoned; and now I go to find a way whereby I may atone to Cleopatra in
that Hell where she is, and which I must share! For she loved me well,
Harmachis; and, now that she is dead, methinks that, after thee, I
loved her best of all. So of her cup and the cup of Iras I will surely
drink!" And she took the phial, and with a steady hand poured what was
left of the poison into the goblet.

"Bethink thee, Charmion," I said; "yet mayst thou live for many years,
hiding these sorrows beneath the withered days."

"Yet I may, but I will not! To live the prey of so many memories, the
fount of an undying shame that night by night, as I lie sleepless,
shall well afresh from my sorrow-stricken heart!--to live torn by a
love I cannot lose!--to stand alone like some storm-twisted tree, and,
sighing day by day to the winds of heaven, gaze upon the desert of my
life, while I wait the lingering lightning's stroke--nay, that will
not I, Harmachis! I had died long since, but I lived on to serve thee;
now no more thou needest me, and I go. Oh, fare thee well!--for ever
fare thee well! For not again shall I look again upon thy face, and
there I go thou goest not! For thou dost not love me who still dost
love that queenly woman thou hast hounded to the death! Her thou shalt
never win, and I thee shall never win, and this is the bitter end of
Fate! See, Harmachis: I ask one boon before I go and for all time
become naught to thee but a memory of shame. Tell me that thou dost
forgive me so far as thine is to forgive, and in token thereof kiss me
--with no lover's kiss, but kiss me on the brow, and bid me pass in

And she drew near to me with arms outstretched and pitiful trembling
lips and gazed upon my face.

"Charmion," I answered, "we are free to act for good or evil, and yet
methinks there is a Fate above our fate, that, blowing from some
strange shore, compels our little sails of purpose, set them as we
will, and drives us to destruction. I forgive thee, Charmion, as I
trust in turn to be forgiven, and by this kiss, the first and the
last, I seal our peace." And with my lips I touched her brow.

She spoke no more; only for a little while she stood gazing on me with
sad eyes. Then she lifted the goblet, and said:

"Royal Harmachis, in this deadly cup I pledge thee! Would that I had
drunk of it ere ever I looked upon thy face! Pharaoh, who, thy sins
outworn, yet shalt rule in perfect peace o'er worlds I may not tread,
who yet shalt sway a kinglier sceptre than that I robbed thee of, for
ever, fare thee well!"

She drank, cast down the cup, and for a moment stood with the wide
eyes of one who looks for Death. Then He came, and Charmion the
Egyptian fell prone upon the floor, dead. And for a moment more I
stood alone with the dead.

I crept to the side of Cleopatra, and, now that none were left to see,
I sat down on the bed and laid her head upon my knee, as once before
it had been laid in that night of sacrilege beneath the shadow of the
everlasting pyramid. Then I kissed her chill brow and went from the
House of Death--avenged, but sorely smitten with despair!

"Physician," said the officer of the Guard as I went through the
gates, "what passes yonder in the Monument? Methought I heard the
sounds of death."

"Naught passes--all hath passed," I made reply, and went.

And as I went in the darkness I heard the sound of voices and the
running of the feet of Cęsar's messengers.

Flying swiftly to my house I found Atoua waiting at the gates. She
drew me into a quiet chamber and closed the doors.

"Is it done?" she asked, and turned her wrinkled face to mine, while
the lamplight streamed white upon her snowy hair. "Nay, why ask I--I
know that it is done!"

"Ay, it is done, and well done, old wife! All are dead! Cleopatra,
Iras, Charmion--all save myself!"

The aged woman drew up her bent form and cried: "Now let me go in
peace, for I have seen my desire upon thy foes and the foes of Khem.
/La! la!/--not in vain have I lived on beyond the years of man! I have
seen my desire upon thy enemies---I have gathered the dews of Death,
and thy foe hath drunk thereof! Fallen is the brow of Pride! the Shame
of Khem is level with the dust! Ah, would that I might have seen that
wanton die!"

"Cease, woman! cease! The Dead are gathered to the Dead! Osiris holds
them fast, and everlasting silence seals their lips! Pursue not the
fallen great with insults! Up!--let us fly to Abouthis, that all may
be accomplished!"

"Fly thou, Harmachis!--Harmachis, fly--but I fly not! To this end only
I have lingered on the earth. Now I untie the knot of life and let my
spirit free! Fare thee well, Prince, the pilgrimage is done!
Harmachis, from a babe have I loved thee, and love thee yet!--but no
more in this world may I share thy griefs--I am spent. Osiris, take
thou my Spirit!" and her trembling knees gave way and she sank to the

I ran to her side and looked upon her. She was already dead, and I was
alone upon the earth without a friend to comfort me!

Then I turned and went, no man hindering me, for all was confusion in
the city, and departed from Alexandria in a vessel I had made ready.
On the eighth day, I landed, and, in the carrying out of my purpose,
travelled on foot across the fields to the Holy Shrine of Abouthis.
And here, as I knew, the worship of the Gods had been lately set up
again in the Temple of the Divine Sethi: for Charmion had caused
Cleopatra to repent of her decree of vengeance and to restore the
lands that she had seized, though the treasure she restored not. And
the temple having been purified, now, at the season of the Feast of
Isis, all the High Priests of the ancient Temples of Egypt were
gathered together to celebrate the coming home of the Gods into their
holy place.

I gained the city. It was on the seventh day of the Feast of Isis.
Even as I came the long array wended through the well-remembered
streets. I joined in the multitude that followed, and with my voice
swelled the chorus of the solemn chant as we passed through the pylons
into the imperishable halls. How well known were the holy words:

 "Softly we tread, our measured footsteps falling
      Within the Sanctuary Sevenfold;
  Soft on the Dead that liveth are we calling:
     'Return, Osiris, from thy Kingdom cold!
      Return to them that worship thee of old!'"

And then, when the sacred music ceased, as aforetime on the setting of
the majesty of Ra, the High Priest raised the statue of the living God
and held it on high before the multitude.

With a joyful shout of

 "Osiris! our hope, Osiris! Osiris!"

the people tore the black wrappings from their dress, showing the
white robes beneath, and, as one man, bowed before the God.

Then they went to feast each at his home; but I stayed in the court of
the temple.

Presently a priest of the temple drew near, and asked me of my
business. And I answered him that I came from Alexandria, and would be
led before the council of the High Priests, for I knew that the Holy
Priests were gathered together debating the tidings from Alexandria.

Thereon the man left, and the High Priests, hearing that I was from
Alexandria, ordered that I should be led into their presence in the
Hall of Columns--and so I was led in. It was already dark, and between
the great pillars lights were set, as on that night when I was crowned
Pharaoh of the Upper and the Lower Land. There, too, was the long line
of Dignitaries seated in their carven chairs, and taking counsel
together. All was the same; the same cold images of Kings and Gods
gazed with the same empty eyes from the everlasting walls. Ay, more;
among those gathered there were five of the very men who, as leaders
of the great plot, had sat here to see me crowned, being the only
conspirators who had escaped the vengeance of Cleopatra and the
clutching hand of Time.

I took my stand on the spot where once I had been crowned and made me
ready for the last act of shame with such bitterness of heart as
cannot be written.

"Why, it is the physician Olympus," said one. "He who lived a hermit
in the Tombs of Tįpé, and who but lately was of the household of
Cleopatra. Is it, then, true that the Queen is dead by her own hand,

"Yea, holy Sirs, I am that physician; also Cleopatra is dead by /my/

"By thy hand? Why, how comes this?--though well is she dead, forsooth,
the wicked wanton!"

"Your pardon, Sirs, and I will tell you all, for I am come hither to
that end. Perchance among you there may be some--methinks I see some--
who, nigh eleven years ago, were gathered in this hall to secretly
crown one Harmachis, Pharaoh of Khem?"

"It is true!" they said; "but how knowest thou these things, thou

"Of the rest of those seven-and-thirty nobles," I went on, making no
answer, "are two-and-thirty missing. Some are dead, as Amenemhat is
dead; some are slain, as Sepa is slain; and some, perchance, yet
labour as slaves within the mines, or live afar, fearing vengeance."

"It is so," they said: "alas! it is so. Harmachis the accursed
betrayed the plot, and sold himself to the wanton Cleopatra!"

"It is so," I went on, lifting up my head. "Harmachis betrayed the
plot and sold himself to Cleopatra; and, holy Sirs--/I am that

The Priests and Dignitaries gazed astonished. Some rose and spoke;
some said naught.

"I am that Harmachis! I am that traitor, trebly steeped in crime!--a
traitor to my Gods, a traitor to my Country, a traitor to my Oath! I
come hither to say that I have done this. I have executed the Divine
vengeance on her who ruined me and gave Egypt to the Roman. And now
that, after years of toil and patient waiting, this is accomplished by
my wisdom and the help of the angry Gods, behold I come with all my
shame upon my head to declare the thing I am, and take the traitor's

"Mindest thou of the doom of him who hath broke the oath that may not
be broke?" asked he who first had spoken, in heavy tones.

"I know it well," I answered; "I court that awful doom."

"Tell us more of this matter, thou who wast Harmachis."

So, in cold clear words, I laid bare all my shame, keeping back
nothing. And ever as I spoke I saw their faces grow more hard, and
knew that for me there was no mercy; nor did I ask it, nor, had I
asked, could it have been granted.

When, at last, I had done, they put me aside while they took counsel.
Then they drew me forth again, and the eldest among them, a man very
old and venerable, the Priest of the Temple of the Divine Hatshepu at
Tįpé, spoke, in icy accents:

"Thou Harmachis, we have considered this matter. Thou hast sinned the
threefold deadly sin. On thy head lies the burden of the woe of Khem,
this day enthralled of Rome. To Isis, the Mother Mystery, thou hast
offered the deadly insult, and thou hast broken thy holy oath. For all
of these sins there is, as well thou knowest, but one reward, and that
reward is thine. Naught can it weigh in the balance of our justice
that thou hast slain her who was thy cause of stumbling; naught that
thou comest to name thyself the vilest thing who ever stood within
these walls. On thee also must fall the curse of Menkau-ra, thou false
priest! thou forsworn patriot! thou Pharaoh shameful and discrowned!
Here, where we set the Double Crown upon thy head, we doom thee to the
doom! Go to thy dungeon and await the falling of its stroke! Go,
remembering what thou mightest have been and what thou art, and may
those Gods who through thy evil doing shall perchance ere long cease
to be worshipped within these holy temples, give to thee that mercy
which we deny! Lead him forth!"

So they took me and led me forth. With bowed head I went, looking not
up, and yet I felt their eyes burn upon my face.

Oh! surely of all my shames this is the heaviest!



They led me to the prison chamber that is high in the pylon tower and
here I wait my doom. I know not when the sword of Fate shall fall.
Week grows to week, and month to month, and still it is delayed. Still
it quivers unseen above my head. I know that it will fall, but when I
know not. Perchance, I shall wake in some dead hour of midnight to
hear the stealthy steps of the slayers and be hurried forth.
Perchance, they are now at hand. Then will come the secret cell! the
horror! the nameless coffin! and at last it will be done! Oh, let it
come! let it come swiftly!

All is written; I have held back nothing--my sin is sinned--my
vengeance is finished. Now all things end in darkness and in ashes,
and I prepare to face the terrors that are to come in other worlds
than this. I go, but not without hope I go: for, though I see Her not,
though no more She answers to my prayers, still I am aware of the Holy
Isis, who is with me for evermore, and whom I shall yet again behold
face to face. And then at last in that far day I shall find
forgiveness; then the burden of my guilt will roll from me and
innocency come back and wrap me round, bringing me holy Peace.

Oh! dear land of Khem, as in a dream I see thee! I see Nation after
Nation set its standard on thy shores, and its yoke upon thy neck! I
see new Religions without end calling out their truths upon the banks
of Sihor, and summoning thy people to their worship! I see thy temples
--thy holy temples--crumbling in the dust: a wonder to the sight of
men unborn, who shall peer into thy tombs and desecrate the great ones
of thy glory! I see thy mysteries a mockery to the unlearned, and thy
wisdom wasted like waters on the desert sands! I see the Roman Eagles
stoop and perish, their beaks yet red with the blood of men, and the
long lights dancing down the barbarian spears that follow in their
wake! And then, at last, I see Thee once more great, once more free,
and having once more a knowledge of thy Gods--ay, thy Gods with a
changed countenance, and called by other names, but still thy Gods!

The sun sinks over Abouthis. The red rays of Ra flame on temple roofs,
upon green fields, and the wide waters of father Sihor. So as a child
I watched him sink; just so his last kiss touched the further pylon's
frowning brow; just that same shadow lay upon the tombs. All is
unchanged! I--I only am changed--so changed, and yet the same!

Oh, Cleopatra! Cleopatra! thou Destroyer! if I might but tear thy
vision from my heart! Of all my griefs, this is the heaviest grief--
still must I love thee! Still must I hug this serpent to my heart!
Still in my ears must ring that low laugh of triumph--the murmur of
the falling fountain--the song of the nightinga----

[Here the writing on the third roll of papyrus abruptly ends. It would
almost seem that the writer was at this moment broken in upon by those
who came to lead him to his doom.]