Hatsu: A Story of Egypt
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The fifth day of the first month of summer had come, and in a sunset of gold and purple hues, the Nile was glorified; birds had ceased their songs, the air was heavy with the perfume of flowers, and away to the westward the evening star was setting.
Here, and there, along the shore, lithe, tawney-skinned girls filled earthern jars with water, then lifted them to their shoulders, and walked across the greenness, into the deepening night.
On this delta—or plain—of lower Egypt, there stood, three thousand years ago, the city of Abydos; it measured ten square miles in circumference, and was shut in on three sides, by walls of reddish sand-stone and the unwalled side—fronting the Nile—was a pleasure ground, belonging to a Royal residence and named, the “Palace of Tears,” so called because it was occupied by the King or his family only during seasons of personal, or national distress. Entrance into Abydos, was obtainable through three gateways, and over each there were towers, in which night and day, year in, and year out, the priests of Osirus, kept watch and ward with much fasting and many prayers.
The word “SILENCE” was cut into the stone arch above each gate, and within the city, conversation was carried on in whispers; no sound of instruments of music, no peal of bells, was ever heard, only the lowing of cattle in the Royal meadows, and the bellowing of sacred bulls, in the temple grounds, only the singing of birds among the trees, and the never ceasing chant of the priests broke the stillness.
The reason the city of Abydos was so sanctified a spot was because it was believed to be the resting place of all that had once been mortal of the Man-GOD, Osirus.
On this summer night three thousand years ago, in the Palace of Tears, Tothmes the First, of Egypt, lay dying.
He had been a wise ruler, an able statesman, a brave and successful soldier. Under his guidance and supervision, architecture in Egypt had progressed, many new temples had been built, many ancient ruins restored.
At Memphis he had erected a grand palace, and in the same city had beautified the temple of Ammon; but the greatest act of his reign, was the taking down, of the barriers, that had isolated Egypt from the world, beyond its borders, for ten centuries of time; the only blot on this King’s life page was the enslavement of the Israelites, in a bitter and cruel bondage.
Now, this great ruler lay upon his golden couch in an upper room in the Palace of Tears, waiting, in perfect consciousness, for the end.
It was his wish that in his last hour, all should leave him, save his daughter, the Princess Hatsu, an olive-skinned, dark-eyed girl, who lay sobbing upon his breast.
All sense of pain had left the once tortured body of the King, and a peace, like that of the twilight without, had fallen upon him.
One hand cold with the damps of departing life was slowly and tenderly caressing the long braids of the girl’s dark hair.
“Hatsu,” said the King, “do not cry any more, all the tears of Egypt, all the prayers of her priests avail not to stay this life of mine. Child, it matters not whether that which we call breath, is lodged under a King’s robe, or a beggar’s rags, at the bidding of some almighty power, it comes forth and goes its way into the unknown. Hatsu, the call has come to me, and I would fain be gone. I only linger to gain the promise that you will wed Tothmes the Second, for, full well I know, that, when your brother sits upon the throne, his mother,—standing behind the chair of state,—will speak her wish, through his poor faltering lips; full well I know that she will so guide and counsel her son that worse than sorrow may come to be your portion, because you will not become wife to the Prince—your brother. Child, how can I meet in some beyond the young mother who gave her life for yours, and to her question, ‘Is it well with my babe?’ make answer ‘nay.’”