“And what tale do they tell of this in Memphis, Prince?” I asked astonished.
“Certain of them say that not Ki but I am the greatest magician in Egypt—never, Ana, was fame more lightly earned. And certain say that Merapi, of whose doings in the temple at Tanis some tale has reached them, is the real magician, she being an Israelite of the tribe of the Hebrew prophets. Hush! She returns.”
KI COMES TO MEMPHIS
Now of all the terrors of which this turning of the water into blood was the beginning in Egypt, I, Ana, the scribe, will not write, for if I did so, never in my life-days should I, who am old, find time to finish the story of them. Over a period of many, many moons they came, one by one, till the land grew mad with want and woe. Always the tale was the same. The Hebrew prophets would visit Pharaoh at Tanis and demand that he should led their people go, threatening him with vengeance if he refused. Yet he did refuse, for some madness had hold of him, or perhaps the god of the Israelites laid an enchantment on him, why I know not.
Thus but a little while after the terror of blood came a plague of frogs that filled Egypt from north to south, and when these were taken away made the air to stink. This miracle Ki and his company worked also, sending the frogs into Goshen, where they plagued the Israelites. But however it came about, at Seti’s palace at Memphis and on the land that he owned around it there were no frogs, or at least but few of them, although at night from the fields about the sound of their croaking went up like the sound of beaten drums.
Next came a plague of lice, and these Ki and his companions would have also called down upon the Hebrews, but they failed, and afterwards struggled no more against the magic of the Israelites. Then followed a plague of flies, so that the air was black with them and no food could be kept sweet. Only in Seti’s palace there were no flies, and in the garden but a few. After this a terrible pest began among the cattle, whereof thousands died. But of Seti’s great herd not one was even sick, nor, as we learned, was there a hoof the less in the land of Goshen.
This plague struck Egypt but a little while after Merapi had given birth to a son, a very beautiful child with his mother’s eyes, that was named Seti after his father. Now the marvel of the escape of the Prince and his household and all that was his from these curses spread abroad and made much talk, so that many sent to inquire of it.