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The Ancient Allan eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 266 pages of information about The Ancient Allan.

“But, Bes,” I said, “what is, is and may always be learned in this way or in that.”

“Master, if what is were always learned, I think the world would fall to pieces, or at least there would be no men left on it.  Why should this matter be learned?  It is known to you and me alone, leaving out the Great King who probably has forgotten as he was drunk at the time.  Oh!  Master, when you have neither bow nor spear at hand, it is not wise to kick a sleeping lion in the stomach, for then he will remember its emptiness and sup off you.  Beside, when first I told you that tale I made a mistake.  I did tell the Great King, as I now remember quite clearly, that the beautiful lady was named Amada, and he only sent for you to ask if I spoke the truth.”

“Bes,” I exclaimed, “you worshippers of the Grasshopper wear virtue easily.”

“Easily as an old sandal, Master, or rather not at all, since the Grasshopper has need of none.  For ages they have studied the ways of those who worship the gods of Egypt, and from them have learned——­”

“What?”

“Amongst other things, Master, that woman, being modest, is shocked at the sight of the naked Truth.”

CHAPTER XI

THE HOLY TANOFIR

We entered the City of Graves that is called Sekera.  In the centre towered pyramids that hid the bones of ancient and forgotten kings, and everywhere around upon the desert sands was street upon street of monuments, but save for a priest or two hurrying to patter his paid office in the funeral chapels of the departed, never a living man.  Bes looked about him and sniffed with his wide nostrils.

“Is there not death enough in the world, Master,” he asked, “that the living should wish to proclaim it in this fashion, rolling it on their tongues like a morsel they are loth to swallow, because it tastes so good?  Oh! what a waste is here.  All these have had their day and yet they need houses and pyramids and painted chambers in which to sleep, whereas if they believed the faith they practised, they would have been content to give their bones to feed the earth they fed on, and fill heaven with their souls.”

“Do your people thus, Bes?”

“For the most part, Master.  Our dead kings and great ones we enclose in pillars of crystal, but we do this that they may serve a double purpose.  One is that the pillars may support the roof of their successors, and the other, that those who inherit their goods may please themselves by reflecting how much handsomer they are than those who went before them.  For no mummy looks really nice, Master, at least with its wrappings off, and our kings are put naked into the crystal.”

“And what becomes of the rest, Bes?”

“Their bodies go to the earth or the water and the Grasshopper carries off their souls to—­where, Master?”

“I do not know, Bes.”

“No, Master, no one knows, except the lady Amada and perhaps the holy Tanofir.  Here I think is the entrance to his hole,” and he pulled up his beast with a jerk at what looked like the doorway of a tomb.

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