Morning Star eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 254 pages of information about Morning Star.

Then that priest fell swooning to the ground, and another had to be summoned to utter the Ritual of Departing.

CHAPTER X

THE COMING OF THE KA

Now it was morning, and while the physicians embalmed the body of Pharaoh as best they could, Tua consulted with her officers.  Long and earnest was that council, for all of them felt that their danger was very great.  Abi had escaped, and if he were re-taken, none knew better than he that his death and that of all his House would be the reward of his crimes and sorceries which could only be covered up in one way—­by marriage with the Queen of Egypt.  Moreover, he had thousands of soldiers in the city and around it, all of them sworn to his service, whereas the royal guard was but five companies, each of a hundred men, trapped in a snare of streets and stone.

One of them suggested that they should break a way through the wall of the temple, and escape to the royal barges that lay moored on the Nile beneath them, and this plan was approved.  But when they went to set about the work it was seen that these barges had been seized and were already sailing away up the river.  So but two alternatives remained—­to bide within the fortifications of the old temple, and send out messengers for help, or to march through the city boldly, break down the gates if these were shut against them, seize boats, and sail up the Nile for some loyal town, or if that could not be done, to take their chance in the open lands.

Now some favoured one scheme, and some the other, so that at last the decision was left with her Majesty.  She thought awhile, then said: 

“Here I will not stay, to be starved out as we must ere ever an army could be gathered to rescue us, and be given into the power of that vile and wicked man, the murderer of the good god, my father.  Better that I should die fighting in the streets, for then at least I shall pass undefiled to join him in his eternal habitation beyond the sun.  We march at midnight.”

So they bowed beneath her word, and made ready while the women of his household raised a death-wail for Pharaoh, and criers standing on the high towers proclaimed the accession of Neter-Tua, Morning-Star of Amen, Glorious in Ra, Hathor, Strong in Beauty, as sole Lord and Sovereign of the North and South, and of Egypt’s subject lands.  Again and again they proclaimed it, and of the multitudes who listened some cheered, but the most remained silent, fearing the vengeance of their Prince, whom the heralds summoned to do homage, but who made no sign.

Night came at last.  At a signal the gates were opened, and through them, borne upon the shoulders of his Councillors, preceded by a small body of guards, and followed by his women and household, went the remains of Pharaoh, in a coffin roughly fashioned from the sycamore timbers of the temple.  With solemn step and slow, they went as though they feared no harm, the priests and singers chanting some ancient, funeral hymn.  Next followed the baggage bearers, and after these the royal bodyguard in the midst of whom the Queen, clad in mail, as a man, rode in a chariot, and with her the waiting-lady, Asti, wife of Mermes.

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Morning Star from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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