“Show me the heart,” said the superintendent of the sacrifices as he approached the vase. “I can decide in the dark if you have seen rightly. I examine a hundred animals every day. Give it here!—By all the Gods of Heaven and Hell that is the heart of a ram!”
“It was found in the breast of Rui,” said one of the taricheutes decisively. “It was opened yesterday in the presence of us all by this old paraschites.”
“It is extraordinary,” said the priest of Anion. “And incredible. But perhaps an exchange was effected.—Did you slaughter any victims here yesterday or—?”
“We are purifying ourselves,” the chief of the kolchytes interrupted, for the great festival of the valley, and for ten days no beast can have been killed here for food; besides, the stables and slaughterhouses are a long way from this, on the other side of the linen-factories.”
“It is strange!” replied the priest. “Preserve this heart carefully, kolchytes: or, better still, let it be enclosed in a case. We will take it over to the chief prophet of Anion. It would seem that some miracle has happened.”
“The heart belongs to the Necropolis,” answered the chief kolchytes, “and it would therefore be more fitting if we took it to the chief priest of the temple of Seti, Ameni.”
“You command here!” said the other. “Let us go.” In a few minutes the priest of Anion and the chief of the kolchytes were being carried towards the valley in their litters. A taricheut followed them, who sat on a seat between two asses, and carefully carried a casket of ivory, in which reposed the ram’s heart.
The old paraschites watched the priests disappear behind the tamarisk bushes. He longed to run after them, and tell them everything.
His conscience quaked with self reproach, and if his sluggish intelligence did not enable him to take in at a glance all the results that his deed might entail, he still could guess that he had sown a seed whence deceit of every kind must grow. He felt as if he had fallen altogether into sin and falsehood, and that the goddess of truth, whom he had all his life honestly served, had reproachfully turned her back on him. After what had happened never could he hope to be pronounced a “truth-speaker” by the judges of the dead. Lost, thrown away, was the aim and end of a long life, rich in self-denial and prayer! His soul shed tears of blood, a wild sighing sounded in his ears, which saddened his spirit, and when he went back to his work again, and wanted to remove the soles of the feet
[One of the mummies of Prague which were dissected by Czermak, had the soles of the feet removed and laid on the breast. We learn from Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead that this was done that the sacred floor of the hall of judgment might not be defiled when the dead were summoned before Osiris.]
from a body, his hand trembled so that he could not hold the knife.