“Dweller on the world where once we had our place, and therefore brother of us, the dead,” began Menes, “this divine priest and magician”–and he pointed to Khaemuas–“declares that you are one of those who foully violate our sepulchres and desecrate our ashes. He declares, moreover, that at this very moment you have with you a portion of the mortal flesh of a certain Majesty whose spirit is present here. Say, now, are these things true?”
To his astonishment Smith found that he had not the slightest difficulty in answering in the same sweet tongue.
“O King, they are true, and not true. Hear me, rulers of Egypt. It is true that I have searched in your graves, because my heart has been drawn towards you, and I would learn all that I could concerning you, for it comes to me _now_ that once I was one of you–no king, indeed, yet perchance of the blood of kings. Also–for I would hide nothing even if I could–I searched for one tomb above all others.”
“Why, O man?” asked the Judge.
“Because a face drew me, a lovely face that was cut in stone.”
Now all that great audience turned their eyes towards him and listened as though his words moved them.
“Did you find that holy tomb?” asked Menes. “If so, what did you find therein?”
“Aye, Pharaoh, and in it I found these,” and he took from the box the withered hand, from his pocket the broken bronze, and from his finger the ring.
“Also I found other things which I delivered to the keeper of this place, articles of jewellery that I seem to see to-night upon one who is present here among you.”
“Is the face of this figure the face you sought?” asked the Judge.
“It is the lovely face,” he answered.
Menes took the effigy in his hand and read the cartouche that was engraved beneath its breast.
“If there be here among us,” he said, presently, “one who long after my day ruled as queen in Egypt, one who was named Ma-Me, let her draw near.”
Now from where she stood glided Ma-Mee and took her place opposite to Smith.
“Say, O Queen,” asked Menes, “do you know aught of this matter?”
“I know that hand; it was my own hand,” she answered. “I know that ring; it was my ring. I know that image in bronze; it was my image. Look on me and judge for yourselves whether this be so. A certain sculptor fashioned it, the son of a king’s son, who was named Horu, the first of sculptors and the head artist of my Court. There, clad in strange garments, he stands before you. Horu, or the Double of Horu, he who cut the image when I ruled in Egypt, is he who found the image and the man who stands before you; or, mayhap, his Double cast in the same mould.”
The Pharaoh Menes turned to the magician Khaemuas and said:–
“Are these things so, O Seer?”
“They are so,” answered Khaemuas. “This dweller on the earth is he who, long ago, was the sculptor Horu. But what shall that avail? He, once more a living man, is a violator of the hallowed dead. I say, therefore, that judgment should be executed on his flesh, so that when the light comes here to-morrow he himself will again be gathered to the dead.”
Menes bent his head upon his breast and pondered. Smith said nothing. To him the whole play was so curious that he had no wish to interfere with its development. If these ghosts wished to make him of their number, let them do so. He had no ties on earth, and now when he knew full surely that there was a life beyond this of earth he was quite prepared to explore its mysteries. So he folded his arms upon his breast and awaited the sentence.
But Ma-Mee did not wait. She raised her hand so swiftly that the bracelets jingled on her wrists, and spoke out with boldness.
“Royal Khaemuas, prince and magician,” she said, “hearken to one who, like you, was Egypt’s heir centuries before you were born, one also who ruled over the Two Lands, and not so ill–which, Prince, never was your lot. Answer me! Is all wisdom centred in your breast? Answer me! Do you alone know the mysteries of Life and Death? Answer me! Did your god Amen teach you that vengeance went before mercy? Answer me! Did he teach you that men should be judged unheard? That they should be hurried by violence to Osiris ere their time, and thereby separated from the dead ones whom they loved and forced to return to live again upon this evil Earth?