By the aid of the mental and external experiences of the characters, whose acts have in part been freely guided by the author’s imagination, he has endeavored to bring nearer to the sympathizing reader the human side of the mighty destiny of the nation which it was incumbent on him to describe. If he has succeeded in doing so, without belittling the magnificent Biblical narrative, he has accomplished his desire; if he has failed, he must content himself with the remembrance of the pleasure and mental exaltation he experienced during the creation of this work.
Tutzing on the Starnberger See,
September 20th, 1889.
“Go down, grandfather: I will watch.”
But the old man to whom the entreaty was addressed shook his shaven head.
“Yet you can get no rest here. . . .
“And the stars? And the tumult below? Who can think of rest in hours like these? Throw my cloak around me! Rest—on such a night of horror!”
“You are shivering. And how your hand and the instrument are shaking.”
“Then support my arm.”
The youth dutifully obeyed the request; but in a short time he exclaimed: “Vain, all is vain; star after star is shrouded by the murky clouds. Alas, hear the wailing from the city. Ah, it rises from our own house too. I am so anxious, grandfather, feel how my head burns! Come down, perhaps they need help.”
“Their fate is in the hands of the gods—my place is here.
“But there—there! Look northward across the lake. No, farther to the west. They are coming from the city of the dead.”
“Oh, grandfather! Father—there!” cried the youth, a grandson of the astrologer of Amon-Ra, to whom he was lending his aid. They were standing in the observatory of the temple of this god in Tanis, the Pharaoh’s capital in the north of the land of Goshen. He moved away, depriving the old man of the support of his shoulder, as he continued: “There, there! Is the sea sweeping over the land? Have the clouds dropped on the earth to heave to and fro? Oh, grandfather, look yonder! May the Immortals have pity on us! The under-world is yawning, and the giant serpent Apep has come forth from the realm of the dead. It is moving past the temple. I see, I hear it. The great Hebrew’s menace is approaching fulfilment. Our race will be effaced from the earth. The serpent! Its head is turned toward the southeast. It will devour the sun when it rises in the morning.”
The old man’s eyes followed the youth’s finger, and he, too, perceived a huge, dark mass, whose outlines blended with the dusky night, come surging through the gloom; he, too, heard, with a thrill of terror, the monster’s loud roar.