H. RIDER HAGGARD
To Doctor Wallis Budge
Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities British Museum.
It may be thought that even in a story of Old Egypt to represent a
"Ka" or "Double" as remaining in active occupation of a throne while
the owner of the said "Double" goes upon a long journey and achieves
sundry adventures is in fact to take a liberty with Doubles. Yet I
believe that this is scarcely the case. The /Ka/ or Double which
Wiedermann aptly calls the "Personality within the Person" appears
according to Egyptian theory to have had an existence of its own. It
did not die when the body died for it was immortal and awaited the
resurrection of that body with which henceforth it would be
reunited and dwell eternally. To quote Wiedermann again "The /Ka/
could live without the body but the body could not live without the
/Ka/ . . . . . it was material in just the same was as the body
itself." Also it would seem that in certain ways it was superior to
and more powerful than the body since the Egyptian monarchs are often
represented as making offerings to their own /Kas/ as though these
were gods. Again in the story of "Setna and the Magic Book"
translated by Maspero and by Mr. Flinders Petrie in his "Egyptian
Tales" the /Ka/ plays a very distinct part of its own. Thus the
husband is buried at Memphis and the wife in Koptos yet the /Ka/ of
the wife goes to live in her husband's tomb hundreds of miles away
and converses with the prince who comes to steal the magic book.
Although I know no actual precedent for it in the case of a
particularly powerful Double such as was given in this romance to
Queen Neter-Tua by her spiritual father Amen the greatest of the
Egyptian gods it seems therefore legitimate to suppose that in
order to save her from the abomination of a forced marriage with her
uncle and her father's murderer the /Ka/ would be allowed to
anticipate matters a little and to play the part recorded in these
It must not be understood however that the fact of marriage with an
uncle would have shocked the Egyptian mind since these people and
especially their royal Houses made a habit of wedding their own
brothers and sisters as in this tale Mermes wed his half sister Asti.
I may add that there is authority for the magic waxen image which the
sorcerer Kaku and his accomplice used to bewitch Pharaoh. In the days
of Rameses III. over three thousand years ago a plot was made to
murder the king in pursuance of which such images were used. "Gods of
wax . . . . . . for enfeebling the limbs of people" which were "great
crimes of death the great abomination of the land." Also a certain
"magic roll" was brought into play which enabled its user to "employ
the magic powers of the gods."
Still the end of these wizards was not encouraging to others for
they were found guilty and obliged to take their own lives.
But even if I am held to have stretched the prerogative of the /Ka/
or of the waxen image which by the way has survived almost to our
own time and in West Africa as a fetish is still pierced with pins
or nails I can urge in excuse that I have tried so far as a modern
may to reproduce something of the atmosphere and colour of Old Egypt
as it has appeared to a traveller in that country and a student of its
records. If Neter-Tua never sat upon its throne at least another
daughter of Amen a mighty queen Hatshepu wore the crown of the
Upper and the Lower Lands and sent her embassies to search out the
mysteries of Punt. Of romance also in high places there must have
been abundance though the short-cut records of the religious texts of
the priests do not trouble themselves with such matters.
At any rate so believing in the hope that it may interest readers of
to-day I have ventured to discover and present one such romance
whereof the motive we may be sure is more ancient by far than the
old Egyptians namely the triumph of true love over great
difficulties and dangers. It is pleasant to dream that the gods are on
the side of such lovers and deign for their sakes to work the
miracles in which for thousands of years mankind has believed
although the scientist tells us that they do not happen.
How large a part marvel and magic of the most terrible and exalted
kind played in the life of Old Egypt and of the nations with which she
fought and traded we need go no further than the Book of Exodus to
learn. Also all her history is full of it since among the Egyptians
it was an article of faith that the Divinity which they worshipped
under so many names and symbols made use of such mysterious means to
influence or direct the affairs of men and bring about the
accomplishment of Its decrees.
H. R. H.
by H. Rider Haggard
THE PLOT OF ABI
It was evening in Egypt thousands of years ago when the Prince Abi
governor of Memphis and of great territories in the Delta made fast
his ship of state to a quay beneath the outermost walls of the mighty
city of Uast or Thebes which we moderns know as Luxor and Karnac on
the Nile. Abi a large man very dark of skin for his mother was one
of the hated Hyksos barbarians who once had usurped the throne of
Egypt sat upon the deck of his ship and stared at the setting sun
which for a few moments seemed to rest a round ball of fire upon the
bare and rugged mountains that ring round the Tombs of the Kings.
He was angry as the slave-women who stood on either side fanning
him could see well enough by the scowl on his coarse face and the
fire in his large black eyes. Presently they felt it also for one of
them staring at the temples and palaces of the wonderful city made
glorious by the light of the setting sun that city of which she had
heard so often touched his head with the feathers of her fan.
Thereon as though glad of an excuse to express his ill-humour Abi
sprang up and boxed her ears so heavily that the poor girl fell to the
"Awkward cat" he cried "do that again and you shall be flogged until
your robe sticks to your back!"
"Pardon mighty Lord" she said beginning to weep "it was an
accident; the wind caught my fan."
"So the rod shall catch your skin if you are not more careful
Merytra. Stop that snivelling and go send Kaku the Astrologer here.
Go both I weary of the sight of your ugly faces."
The girl rose and with her fellow slave ran swiftly to the ladder
that led to the waist of the ship.
"He called me a cat" Merytra hissed through her white teeth to her
companion. "Well if so Sekhet the cat-headed is my godmother and
she is the Lady of Vengeance."
"Yes" answered the other "and he said that we were both ugly--we
whom every lord who comes near the Court admires so much! Oh! I wish a
holy crocodile would eat him black pig!"
"Then why don't they buy us? Abi would sell his daughters much more
his fan-bearers--at a price."
"Because they hope to get us for nothing my dear and what is more
if I can manage it one of them shall for I am tired of this life.
Have your fling while you can I say. Who knows at which corner
Osiris Lord of Death is waiting."
"Hush!" whispered Merytra "there is that knave of an astrologer and
he looks cross too."
Then hand in hand they went to this lean and learned man and humbly
bowed themselves before him.
"Master of the Stars" said Merytra "we have a message for you. No
do not look at my cheek please the marks are not magical only those
of the divine fingers of the glorious hand of the most exalted Prince
Abi son of the Pharaoh happily ruling in Osiris etc. etc. etc. of
the right royal blood of Egypt--that is on one side and on the other
of a divine lady whom Khem the Spirit or Ptah the Creator thought
fit to dip in a vat of black dye."
"Hem!" said Kaku glancing nervously over his shoulder. Then seeing