An Egyptian Princess — Volume 03 eBook

Georg Ebers
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 74 pages of information about An Egyptian Princess — Volume 03.
of Kyphi and incense, and the odors which arose from the laboratory attached to the temple.  Strains of soft music, proceeding from invisible hands, flowed on unceasingly, only occasionally interrupted by the deep lowing of the sacred cows of Isis, or the shrill call of the sparrow-hawk of Horus, whose habitations were in one of the adjoining halls.  No sooner did the prolonged low of a cow break like distant thunder on the ear, or the sharp cry of the sparrow-hawk shoot like a flash of lightning through the nerves of the worshippers, than each crouching form bent lower still, and touched the pavement with his forehead.  On a portion of this pavement, raised above the rest, stood the priests, some wearing ostrich-feathers on their bald and shining heads; others panther-skins over their white-robed shoulders.  Muttering and singing, bowing low and rising again, they swung the censers and poured libations of pure water to the gods out of golden vessels.  In this immense temple man seemed a dwarf in his own eyes.  All his senses even to the organs of respiration, were occupied by objects far removed from daily life, objects that thrilled and almost oppressed him.  Snatched from all that was familiar in his daily existence, he seemed to grow dizzy and seek support beyond himself.  To this the voice of the priests directed him and the cries of the sacred animals were believed to prove a divinity at hand.

Psamtik assumed the posture of a worshipper on the low, gilded and cushioned couch set apart for him, but was unable to pay any real devotion, and passed on to the adjoining apartment before mentioned, where the sacred cows of Isis-Neith and the sparrow-hawk of Horus were kept.  These creatures were concealed from the gaze of the worshippers by a curtain of rich fabric embroidered with gold; the people were only allowed an occasional and distant glimpse of the adorable animals.  When Psamtik passed they were just being fed; cakes soaked in milk, salt and clover-blossoms were placed in golden cribs for the cows, and small birds of many-colored plumage in the beautifully-wrought and ornamented cage of the sparrow-hawk.  But, in his present mood, the heir to the throne of Egypt had no eye for these rare sights; but ascended at once, by means of a hidden staircase, to the chambers lying near the observatory, where the high-priest was accustomed to repose after the temple-service.

Neithotep, a man of seventy years, was seated in a splendid apartment.  Rich Babylonian carpets covered the floor and his chair was of gold, cushioned with purple.  A tastefully-carved footstool supported his feet, his hands held a roll covered with hieroglyphics, and a boy stood behind him with a fan of ostrich-feathers to keep away the insects.

The face of the old man was deeply lined now, but it might once have been handsome, and in the large blue eyes there still lay evidence of a quick intellect and a dignified self-respect.

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An Egyptian Princess — Volume 03 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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