Then Nefert turned to a large group of the girls, who were sorting plants, and said: “Do you, children, know the origin of all these wholesome, healing herbs? The good Horus went out to fight against Seth, the murderer of his father, and the horrible enemy wounded Horus in the eye in the struggle; but the son of Osiris conquered, for good always conquers evil. But when Isis saw the bad wound, she pressed her son’s head to her bosom, and her heart was as sad as that of any poor human mother that holds her suffering child in her arms. And she thought: ’How easy it is to give wounds, and how hard it is to heal them!’ and so she wept; one tear after another fell on the earth, and wherever they wetted the ground there sprang up a kindly healing plant.”
“Isis is good!” cried a little girl opposite to her. Mother says Isis loves children when they are good.”
“Your mother is right,” replied Nefert. “Isis herself has her dear little son Horus; and every human being that dies, and that was good, becomes a child again, and the Goddess makes it her own, and takes it to her breast, and nurses it with her sister Nephthys till he grows up and can fight for his father.”
Nefert observed that while she spoke one of the women was crying. She went up to her, and learned that her husband and her son were both dead, the former in Syria, and the latter after his return to Egypt. “Poor soul!” said Nefert. “Now you will be very careful, that the wounds of others may be healed. I will tell you something more about Isis. She loved her husband Osiris dearly, as you did your dead husband, and I my husband Mena, but he fell a victim to the cunning of Seth, and she could not tell where to find the body that had been carried away, while you can visit your husband in his grave. Then Isis went through the land lamenting, and ah! what was to become of Egypt, which received all its fruitfulness from Osiris. The sacred Nile was dried up, and not a blade of verdure was green on its banks. The Goddess grieved over this beyond words, and one of her tears fell in the bed of the river, and immediately it began to rise. You know, of course, that each inundation arises from a tear of Isis. Thus a widow’s sorrow may bring blessing to millions of human beings.”
The woman had listened to her attentively, and when Nefert ceased speaking she said:
“But I have still three little brats of my son’s to feed, for his wife, who was a washerwoman, was eaten by a crocodile while she was at work. Poor folks must work for themselves, and not for others. If the princess did not pay us, I could not think of the wounds of the soldiers, who do not belong to me. I am no longer strong, and four mouths to fill—”
Nefert was shocked—as she often was in the course of her new duties—and begged Bent-Gnat to raise the wages of the woman.