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Thothmes whispered to me that we ought to get the old men into bed, and so it came about that my father and the royal skull surgeon fell asleep on Kipas bed with arms about each others necks, slobbering oaths of eternal friendship to the last. Kipa wept and tore her hair and sprinkled herself with ash from the roasting pit. I was tormented by the thought of what the neighbors would say, for the roaring and racket had sounded far and wide into the still night.

Thothmes was placid, however, for he had seen wilder doings in barracks and in his fathers house when the charioteers talked of the old days and of the punitive expeditions into Syria and the land of Kush. He contrived to quiet Kipa, and after we had cleared away the traces of the feast as best we could, we, too, went to bed. The servant snored on. But I found this wearisome, being a year or two younger than he, and soon fell asleep. Early in the morning I was awakened by bumping and sounds of movement in the bedroom, and on entering I saw my father still sound asleep in his clothes with Ptahors collar about his neck.

Ptahor was sitting on the floor holding his head in his hands and asking in a woeful voice where he was. I greeted him respectfully and told him that he was still in the harbor quarter, at the house of Senmut the physician. This quieted him, and he asked for beer in the name of Ammon. I pointed out to him that he had emptied the beer jug over himself, as his robe testified. He then rose, drew himself up with a dignified frown, and went out.

I poured water over his hands, and he bowed his bald head with a groan, bidding me pour water over that, too. Thothmes, who had also awakened, brought him a can of sour milk and a salt fish. When he had eaten, he grew more cheerful. He went out to the sycamore where the servant lay sleeping and began to beat him with his stick till the fellow woke and stood up, his garment stained from the grass and his face earthy.

Miserable swine! Is it thus you mind your lords affairs and bear the torch before him? Where is my chair? Where is my clean robe? And my medicinal berries? Out of my sight, contemptible thief and swine! I am a thief and my lords swine, said the servant meekly. What are my lords commands? Ptahor gave him his orders, and he went off to look for the chair.

Ptahor settled himself comfortably under the sycamore, leaned against the trunk, and recited a poem concerning morning, lotus flowers, and a queen bathing in the river, and then related to us many things that boys love to hear. Kipa meanwhile awoke, lit the fire, and went in to my father. We could hear her voice right out in the garden, and when my father emerged later in a clean robe, he looked sorrowful indeed. You have a handsome son, said Ptahor. He carries himself like a prince, and his eyes are gentle as a gazelles.

Young as I was, I understood that he spoke thus to make us forget his behavior of the night before. After a while he went on, Has your son talent? Are the eyes of his soul as open as those of his body? Then Thothmes and I fetched our writing tablets. The royal skull. It ran thus: Rejoice, young man, in thy youth, For the throat of age is filled with ashes And the body embalmed smiles not In the darkness of the grave.

I did my best, first writing it down in ordinary script and then in pictures. Lastly I wrote the words age, ashes, body, and grave in all the ways in which they can be written, both in syllables and letters. I showed him my tablet. He found not one mistake, and I knew that my father was proud of me. And the other boy? Thothmes had been sitting apart, drawing pictures on his tablet, and he hesitated before handing it over, though there was mirth in his eyes.

When we bent forward to look, we saw that he had drawn Ptahor fastening his collar about fathers neck, then Ptahor pouring beer over himself, while in the third picture he and my father were singing with their arms round each others shoulderssuch a funny picture that you could see what manner of song it was that they were singing.

I wanted to laugh but dared not for fear that Ptahor might be angry. For Thothmes had not flattered him; he had made him just as short and bald and bandy and swagbellied as he really was.

For a long time Ptahor said nothing but looked keenly from the pictures to Thothmes and back again. Thothmes grew a little scared and balanced nervously on tiptoe. At last Ptahor asked, What do you want for your picture, boy? I will buy it. Thothmes, crimson in the face, replied, My tablet is not for sale. I would give itto a friend. Ptahor laughed. Let us then be friends, and the tablet is mine. He looked at it attentively once more, laughed, and smashed it to pieces against a stone.

We all started, and Thothmes begged forgiveness if he had offended. Am I wroth with water when it reflects my image? And the eye and the hand of the draftsman are more than water for I know now how I looked yesterday, and I do not desire that others shall see it. I smashed the tablet but acknowledge you as an artist. Thothmes jumped for glee. Ptahor turned to my father and, pointing to me, solemnly pronounced. I will undertake his treatment.

Pointing then to Thothmes he said, I will do what I can. And, having thus come into doctors talk again, they both laughed contentedly. My father, laying his hand upon my head, asked, Sinuhe, my son, will you be a physician like me?

Tears came into my eyes, and my throat tightened till I could not speak, but I nodded in answer. I looked about me, and the garden was dear to me; the sycamore, the stone-set poolall were dear to me. Sinuhe, my son, he went on.

Sinuhé, El Egipcio

Will you be a physician more skilled than I, better than Ilord of life and death and one to whom all, be they high or low, may entrust their lives? Neither like him nor like me! He straightened himself, and a shrewd glint came into his eye. A true physician, for that is the mightiest of all.

Before him Pharaoh himself stands naked, and the richest is to him one with the beggar. I would like to be a real physician, I said shyly, for I was still a boy and knew nothing of life nor that age ever seeks to lay its own dreams, its own disappointments, on the shoulders of youth.

But to Thothmes Ptahor showed a gold ring that was about his wrist and said, Read! Thothmes spelled out the characters there inscribed and then read aloud uncertainly, A full cup rejoiceth my heart. He could not repress a smile. There is nothing to laugh at, you rascal! This has nothing to do with wine. If you are to be an artist you must demand that your cup be full.

In the true artist Ptah reveals himselfthe creator, the builder. The artist is more than a reflecting pool. Art indeed may often be nothing but flattering water or a lying mirror, yet the artist is more. So let your cup never be less than full, son, and do not rest content with what men tell you.

Trust rather to your own clear eyes. He promised that I should soon be summoned as a pupil to the House of Life and that he would try to help Thothmes enter the art school in Ptahs temple, if such a thing were possible. But, boys, he added, listen carefully to what I say and then forget it at onceor forget at least that it was the royal skull surgeon who said it. You will now fall into the hands of priests; you, Sinuhe, will become one yourself in course of time. Your father and I were both initiated into the lowest grade, and no one may follow the physicians calling without being so initiated.

When you come among them, be wary as jackals and cunning. But outwardly be as harmless as doves, for not until the goal js attained may a man appear as he is. We conversed further until Ptahors servant appeared with a hired chair and fresh clothes for his master. The slaves had pawned Ptahors own chair at a neighboring brothel and were still sleeping there.

Ptahor gave his servant authority to redeem both chair and slaves, took leave of us, assuring my father of his friendship, and returned to the fashionable quarter of the city. But next day he sent a present to Kipaa sacred scarab carved from a precious stone, to be placed next her heart beneath the shroud at her burial.

He could have given my mother no greater joy, and she forgave him everything and ceased lecturing my father Senmut upon the curse of wine.

As everyone knows, the Houses of Life and of Death had stood for untold ages within the temple walls, and also the theological schools for priests in the higher grades. That the faculties of mathematics and astronomy should be subordinate to the priesthood can be understood, but when both juridical and mercantile training were taken over, misgivings arose in the minds of the more alert among the educated classes that the priests were meddling with matters that concerned Pharaoh and the taxation department alone.

Initiation was not, indeed, indispensable to membership in the merchants and lawyers guilds, but as Ammon controlled at least a fifth of the land of Egypt, and therefore also of its commerce, those who wished to become merchants on a large scale or enter the administration found it wise to qualify for the lowest grade of priesthood and submit themselves as the faithful servants of Ammon.

Before I might set foot in the House of Life I had to pass the examination for admission to the lowest grade of priesthood in the theological faculty. This took me more than two years, for at the same time I had to accompany my father on his visits to the sick and from his experience gain knowledge that would profit me in my future career. I lived at home as. Candidates for the lowest grade were divided into groups according to the profession they were to follow afterward.

We, that is to say those who were to be disciples in the House of Life, formed a group n our own, but I found no close friend among my companions. I had taken Ptahors wise warning to heart and kept myself aloof, meekly obeying every order and feigning stupidity when the others jested 0r blasphemed as boys will.

Among us were the sons of medical specialists whose advice and treatment were requited in gold. And there Were with us also the sons of country doctors, often older than the rest of us, full-grown, gawky, sunburned fellows who strove to hide their shyness and addressed themselves laboriously to their tasks. There were lads from the lower classes who wanted to rise above their fathers trade and social level and had a natural thirst for knowledge, but they received the severest treatment of any, for the priests were by nature mistrustful of all who were not content with the old ways.

My caution stood me in good stead, for I soon noticed that the priests had their spies and agents among us. A careless word, a spoken doubt, or a joke among friends soon came to the knowledge of the priests, and the culprit was summoned for examination and punishment.

Some were flogged, and some even expelled from the House of Life, which was thenceforth closed to them forever, both in Thebes and in the rest of Egypt. My ability to read and write gave me a marked advantage over many of my fellows, including some of the older ones. I considered myself ripe to enter the House of Life, but my initiation was delayed.

I lacked courage to ask the reason since that would have been regarded as insubordination to Ammon. I frittered away my time in copying out Texts of the Dead, which were sold in the forecourts, and grew rebellious and depressed, for already many of the less talented among my fellows had begun their studies in the House of Life. But under my fathers direction I was to gain a better grounding than they, and I have since reflected that Ammons priests were wise. They saw through me, noted my defiance and my unbelief, and therefore put me to this test.

At last I was told that my turn had come to hold vigil in the temple. I lived in the inner rooms for a week, during which time I was forbidden to leave the precincts. I had to fast and purify myself, and my father hastened to cut my hair and invite the neighbors to a feast in celebration of my maturity. For from this time, being now ripe for initiationsimple and meaningless though the ceremony in fact wasI would be regarded as. Kipa had done her best, but to me her honey bread was tasteless, and the mirth and coarse jests of the neighbors were no diversion.

In the evening after the guests had gone Senmut and Kipa caught my sadness, too. Senmut began to tell me the truth about my birth, Kipa prompting when his memory failed, while I gazed at the reed boat above my bed. Its blackened, broken struts made my heart ache.

In all the world I had no real father and mother but was alone beneath the stars in a great city. I was, perhaps, but a miserable foreigner in the land of Kem or my origin a shameful secret. There was pain in my heart when I went to the temple wearing the initiation robe that Kipa, with such care and love, had made for me.

When we had bathed in the temple pool, our heads were shaved and we put on coarse clothes. The priest appointed as our director was not so pettily meticulous as some.

Tradition entitled him to subject us to every kind of humiliating ceremony, but there were some among us of high rank and others who had already taken their law examinationfull-grown men who were entering Amnions service to make their future more secure.

These had brought plentiful provisions with them and made the priests presents of wine; some even ran off at night to the pleasure houses, for initiation held no meaning for them. I served with an aching heart and with many bitter thoughts in my mind, contenting myself with a piece of bread and a cup of waterthe traditional diet for novicesand waiting in mingled hope and foreboding for what was to come. For I was so young that I had an unspeakable longing to believe. It was said that Ammon himself appeared at the initiation and spoke individually to each candidate; it would have been ineffable comfort to find release from myself in the awareness of some ultimate and universal purpose.

But before the physician even Pharaoh stands naked; already as a child I had seen sickness and death at my fathers side, and my eye had been trained to greater keenness than others of my age possessed.

To a doctor nothing must be too sacred, and he bows to nothing but death; that my father taught me. Therefore, I doubted, and all that I had seen in the temple. Yet I hoped that behind the veil in the dimness of the holy of holies I should find the Unknown, that Ammon would appear to me and bring peace to my heart.

I was musing upon this as I wandered along the colonnades to which laymen had access. I surveyed the colorful sacred pictures and the inscriptions that told of the stupendous gifts the Pharaohs had brought back to Ammon from the wars, as the gods share of the spoils. And there I met a lovely woman whose robe was of linen so transparent that her breasts and loins might be seen through it. She was straight and slender, her lips, cheeks, and eyebrows were colored, and she looked at me in unabashed curiosity.

What is your name, you handsome boy? Sinuhe, I answered in confusion, not daring to meet her gaze; but she was so beautiful that I hoped she would ask me to be her guide about the temple. Such requests were often made to the novices. Sinuhe, she repeated thoughtfully, surveying me. Then you must be easily frightened and flee when a secret is confided to you. This was an allusion to the Sinuhe of the story, and it annoyed me; there had been enough of that teasing at school.

I drew myself up and looked her in the eye, and her glance was so strange and clear and searching that I felt my face beginning to burn and a flame seemed to be running over my body. Why should I fear? I retorted. A physician-to-be dreads no secrets.

Ah, she smiled, the chick has begun to cheep before it has cracked the shell. But tell me, have you among your comrades a young man named Metufer? He is the son of Pharaohs master builder. It was Metufer who had filled the priest with wine and given him a gold bracelet as initiation present. I felt a pang as I told her that I knew him and offered to fetch him. Then it struck me that she might be his sister or some other kinswoman; this cheered me and I smiled at her boldly. How am I to fetch him, though, when I do not know your name and cannot tell him who has sent me?

He knows, returned the woman, tapping the pavement impatiently with her jeweled sandal. I looked at the little feet, unsoiled by dust, and at.

He knows who it is. Perhaps he owes me something. Perhaps my husband is on a journey, and I am waiting for Metufer to come and console me in my grief. My heart sank once more at the thought that she was married, but I said briskly, Very well, fair unknown! I will fetch him. I will say that a woman younger and fairer than the moon goddess calls for him.

He will know then who it is, for whoever has seen you once can never forget you. Scared at my own presumption I turned to go, but she caught hold of me. Why such haste? You and I may have something more to say to one another. She surveyed me again until my heart melted in my breast and my stomach seemed to have slipped down to my knees. She stretched forth a hand heavy with rings and bracelets, touched my head and said kindly, Is not that handsome head cold, being so newly shaven?

Then softly, Were you speaking the truth? Do you think I am beautiful? Look more closely. I looked at her, and her robe was of royal linen, and in my eyes she was fairfairer than all the women I had seenand in truth she did nothing to hide her beauty. I looked at her and forgot the wound in my heart, forgot Ammon and the House of Life. Her nearness burned my body like fire. You do not answer, she said sadly, and need not.

In those v splendid eyes of yours I must appear a hag. Go then and fetch the young candidate Metufer, and be rid of me. I could neither leave her nor speak, though I knew she was teasing. It was dark between the huge temple pillars. Dim light from some distant stone tracery gleamed in her eyes, and there was no one to see us. Perhaps you need not fetch him.

She was smiling now. Perhaps I should be content if you delight me and take your pleasure with me, for I know of no other to give me joy. Then I remembered what Kipa had told me of women who entice handsome boys; I remembered it so suddenly that I started back a pace. Did I not guess that Sinuhe would be afraid? She approached me again, but I raised my hand in dismay to hold her off, saying, I know now what manner of woman you are.

Your husband is away, and your heart is a snare, and your body burns worse than fire. But though I spoke this way, I could not flee from her. She was taken aback but smiled again and came close against me. Do you believe that?

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But it is not true! My body does not burn at all like fire; indeed, it is said to be desirable. Feel for yourself! She took my limp hand and carried it to her belly. I felt her beauty through the thin stuff so that I began to quake, and my cheeks burned. She pulled away her robe and held my hand to her bare breast.

It was soft and cool beneath my hand. Come, Sinuhe, she said very softly. Come with me, and we will drink wine and take our pleasure together. I may not leave the precincts of the temple, I said in a fright and was ashamed of my cowardice and desired her and feared her as I would have feared death. I must keep myself undefiled until I have received my consecration, or I shall be driven from the temple and never again be admitted to the House of Life. Have pity on me! I said this knowing that if she asked me once again I must follow her.

But she was a woman of the world and knew my distress. She looked about her thoughtfully. We were still alone, but people were moving to and fro nearby, and a guide was loudly reciting the marvels of the temple to some visitors and begging copper from them before showing them new wonders.

You are a very shy young man, Sinuhe! The rich and great must offer gold before I call them to me. But you would remain undefiled. You would like me to call Metufer, I said desperately. I knew that Metufer would never hesitate to slip out of the temple when night fell, although it was his turn to watch. He could do such things, for his father was Pharaohs master builderbut I could have slain him for it. Perhaps I no longer wish you to call Metufer, she said, looking mischievously into my eyes.

Perhaps I should like us to part friends, Sinuhe. Therefore I will tell you my name, which is Nefernefernefer, because I am thought beautiful and because no one who has pronounced my name can resist saying it once more, and again.

It is a custom also for parting friends to give one another keepsakes. Therefore I want a gift from you, I was once more aware of my poverty, for I had nothing to give her: I was so bitterly ashamed. Then give me a present to revive my heart, she said, and she raised my chin with her finger and brought her face quite close.

When I understood what she wanted, I touched her soft lips with mine. She sighed a little. Thank you.

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That was a beautiful gift, Sinuhe. I shall not forget it. But you must be a stranger from a far country since you have not yet learned how to kiss. How else is it possible that the girls of Thebes have not taught you, though your hair is shorn for manhood?

She drew from her thumb a ring of gold and silver in which was set a large stone without any inscription and put it on my hand. I give you a present also, Sinuhe, so that you may not forget me.

When you have been initiated and have entered the House of Life, you can have your seal engraved upon this stone, like men of wealth and position. But remember that it is green because my name is Nefer- nefernefer, and because it has been said that my eyes are as green as Nile water in the heat of summer.

I cannot take your ring, Nefer, and I repeated it nefernefer and the repetition gave me untold joy, but I shall not forget you. Silly boy! Keep the ring because I wish it. Keep it for a whim of mine, and for the interest it will pay me some day.

She shook a slim finger before my face, and her eyes laughed as she said, And remember to beware of women whose bodies burn worse than fire!

She turned to go, forbidding me to follow her. Through the temple door I saw her step into a carved and ornamented chair that was awaiting her in the courtyard. A runner went before and shouted to clear a way, the people standing aside whispering and looking after her.

When she had gone, I was seized with a deadly emptiness as if I had dived headfirst into a dark abyss. Metufer noticed the ring on my finger some days later; he gripped my hand suspiciously and stared at it. By all the forty just baboons of Osiris! Nefemefernefer, eh?

I would never have believed it. He looked at me with something like respect although the priest had set me to scrub the floors and carry out the most menial tasks because I had not had the wit to give him a present.

Then I conceived such a hatred of Metufer and his words as only a youth can feel. However much I longed to ask him about Nefer I would not stoop to it.

I hid my secret in my heart, for a lie is more lovely than. I contemplated the green stone upon my finger, remembering her eyes and her cool bosom, and seemed still to sense her perfumed ointments on my fingers. I held her, and her soft lips still touched minein consolation, for by then Ammon had revealed himself to me and my faith was gone.

When I thought of her, I whispered with burning cheeks, My sister. And the word was a caress in my ears, for from untold ages its meaning has been and will ever be, My beloved. On the fourth night it was my turn to watch over the peace of Ammon. There were seven of us boys: Mose and Bek were also candidates for the House of Life, and so I knew them but not the others.

I was weak with fasting and suspense. We were in a solemn mood and walked unsmilingly after the priestmay his name perish in oblivionas he led us to the enclosed part of the temple.

Ammons ship had sailed beyond the hills in the west, the watchmen had blown their silver horns, and the temple gates were shut. But the priest who guided us had eaten a good meal of meat from the sacrifices and fruits and sweet cakes; oil dripped down his face, and his cheeks were rosy with wine. Laughing to himself, he raised the veil and let us look into the holy of holies. In his alcove, which was carved out of one huge block of stone, stood Ammon.

The jewels in his headdress and collar sparkled green, red, and blue like living eyes in the light of the sacred lamps. In the morning under the direction of the priest we were to anoint him and clothe him afresh, for each morning he required a new robe. I had seen him before at the Spring Festival when he was carried out to the forecourt in his golden boat and all the people prostrated themselves before him, and when the river was at its height, I had seen him sail upon the sacred lake in his ship of cedarwood.

But then as a lowly novice I had but glimpsed him at a distance. His red robe had never made so fierce an impact as now, by lamplight, in the inviolate silence of the sanctuary.

Red was worn by gods and Pharaohs alone, and as I gazed at his lifted face, I felt as if the very slabs of stone lay upon my breast to stifle me. Watch and pray before the evil, said the priest, clinging to the.

Perchance he will call you. It is his custom to reveal himself to the postulants, addressing them by name and speaking, if they be found worthy. Hurriedly he made the holy signs, mumbled the divine name of Ammon, and pulled the veil back into place without troubling even to bow and stretch forth his hands at knee level.

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He went, leaving us alone in the darkness of the inner antechamber, whose stone floor struck cold to our bare feet. But when he had gone, Mose brought forth a lamp from beneath his shoulder cloth while Ahmose walked coolly into the sanctuary and fetched some of the sacred flame with which to kindle it.

We should be fools to sit in darkness, said Mose, and we felt safer, though I think we were none of us without fear. Ahmose brought out bread and meat; Mata and Nefru started throwing dice on the flagstones, calling the score so loudly as to wake the echoes in the hall.

But when Ahmose had eaten, he rolled himself in his shoulder cloth and, after swearing a little at the hardness of the stones, settled down to sleep; a little later Sinufer and Nefru lay down beside him for warmth.

But I was young and I watched, though I knew that the priest had been given a jar of wine by Metufer, whom he had invited with one or two other distinguished candidates to his room, and therefore would not be coming to take us by surprise.

I watched, though I knew from the tales others had told me that it was the custom for would-be initiates to spend their vigil in eating, gaming, and sleeping. My night was long. While the others slept, I was filled with devotion and aspiration, and I reflected that I had kept myself pure and fasted and obeyed all the old commandments so that Ammon might reveal himself to me.

I repeated his holy names and listened to every rustle with senses alert but the temple was void and cold. With the approach of morning the veil of the sanctuary stirred in the draft, but nothing further happened.

As daylight began to creep into the hall, I blew out the lamp with a heavy heart and woke my companions. Soldiers blew their horns, on the walls the guard was changed, and from the forecourts came a murmur like the rushing of distant waters.

We knew that day and its work had begun. At last the priest entered in a great hurry and with him, to my surprise, Metufer. A strong reek of wine came from them; they were walking arm in arm, the priest swinging the keys of the sacred shrines in his hand. Prompted by Metufer, he gabbled off the holy formulas before greeting us. Have you watched and prayed as you were commanded, that you might be acceptable to the Most High?

We have watched and prayed, we answered with one voice. Has Ammon revealed himself to you according to his word? The priest belched, and his eyes traveled over us unsteadily. We glanced sideways at each other and hesitated.

At last Mose faltered, He has revealed himself. One after the other my companions repeated, He has revealed himself. Last of all Ahmose firmly and reverently declared, Most certainly did he reveal himself. He stared the priest straight in the eye, but I said nothing. I felt as if a hand were squeezing my heart, for to me my companions words were blasphemy.

Metufer said impudently, I also have watched and prayed to be worthy of initiation, for this next night I have other things to do than to tarry here.

And to me also Ammon appeared, as the priest can testify. His form was that of a huge wine jar, and he spoke to me of many sacred matters that it is not fitting I should repeat to you; but his words were as refreshing to me as wine so that I thirsted to hear more and yet more until the dawn. Then Mose plucked up courage and said, To me he appeared in the shape of his son Horus, perching upon my shoulder like a hawk and saying, Blessed be thou, Mose, and thy family and all thy deeds, that thou mayst come to dwell in a house with two gates and have command over many servants.

Now the others also hastened to relate what Ammon had said to them; they talked eagerly, several at a time, while the priest listened and nodded and laughed. I do not know whether they spoke of their dreams or whether they were lying.

content and tasted no more crocodiles tails that day.

I only know that I stood apart and said nothing. At last the priest turned to me, knitted his shaven eyebrows, and said sternly, And you, Sinuhe! Are you not worthy? Did not Ammon appear to you in any shape at all? Have you not seen him even in the likeness of a little mouse? For he manifests himself under many forms.

My entry into the House of Life was at stake, so I summoned courage and answered, At dawn I saw the holy veil of the sanctuary stirring a little, but I have seen nothing else, and Ammon did not speak to me.

Then everyone burst out laughing; Metufer laughed and slapped his knees and said to the priest, Hes simple. Then tugging his wine- soaked sleeve, he whispered something to him, his eyes still upon me. The priest looked at me again sternly and said, If you have not heard. Yet, for all that, we may find a remedy, for I believe you to be a steadfast youth, full of honest purpose. When he had said this, he vanished into the holy of holies, and Metufer came forward to me.

When he saw my woeful face, he smiled in a friendly way and said, Have no fear! A moment later we all jumped, for through the darkness of the hall came the braying of a supernatural voice that was unlike the voice of any man. It seemed to come from everywhere at once: Sinuhe, Sinuhe, thou sluggard, where art thou?

Come swiftly and bow down before me, for I have but little time and cannot tarry all day for thee. Metufer drew aside the veil of the sanctuary and, pushing me in, gripped the back of my neck and bent me to the floor and into the attitude in which salutation is made to gods and Pharaohs. But I raised my head at once and saw that the holy of holies was full of light. A voice came from Ammons mouth, saying, Sinuhe, Sinuhe, thou swine and baboon!

Wast thou then drunk and sleeping when I called thee? Verily thou shouldst be cast into a pool of slime and eat mud all thy days; nevertheless, for thy youths sake I will have mercy, despite thy foolishness, thy uncleanness, and thy sloth. For I have compassion on those who believe in me, but all others shall be cast into the abyss of the Kingdom of Death. Many more things were spoken by the voice, with howls, revilings, and curses, but I no longer remember it all nor desire to remember, such was my humiliation and bitterness of spirit.

For as I listened, I could detect through the superhuman reverberations the voice of the priest, and this discovery so shocked and horrified me that I could no longer give ear to it.

After the voice had ceased, I remained lying before the statue of Ammon until the priest came in and kicked me aside. My companions made haste to bear incense, ointments, cosmetics, and red cloths. Each of us had a task allotted to him, and remembering mine, I went out to the forecourt to fetch a vessel of holy water and the consecrated towels for washing the gods face, hands, and feet.

On my return I saw the priest spit in Ammons face and rub it with his dirty sleeve. Then Mose and Nefru painted his lips and cheeks and eyebrows. Metufer anointed him and laughingly rubbed holy oil into the priests face and his own. Lastly the statue was undressed to be washed and wiped as if it had. When all this had been done, the priest collected the cast-off garments and took charge of the washing water and the towels.

All this was to be divided up and sold in the forecourt to wealthy travelers, the water being dispensed as a remedy for skin diseases. Then we were free to go out into the sunshine of the court, where I vomited. My brain and heart were as empty as my belly, for I no longer believed in the gods. But when the week had passed, my head was anointed with oil, and having sworn the priestly oath, I was given a certificate. On this document was the great seal of the temple of Ammon and my name, and it entitled me to enter the House of Life.

So we entered it, Mose, Bek, and I. Its gate was opened to us, and my name was inscribed in the Book of Life as my father Senmuts name had been inscribed before me and his fathers name before him, But I was happy no longer. We saw them but seldom, however, for their practices were large, they received costly presents from the wealthy, and they lived in spacious houses outside the city.

But, when any patient came to the House of Life whose sickness puzzled the ordinary doctors, or if these would not venture to undertake the cure, a royal physician would come to treat him and to demonstrate his proficiency before those who were specializing in his branch. Thus even the poorest sufferer might have the benefit of a royal physicians care, to the glory of Ammon. The training period was a long one even for those with talent.

We had to take a course on drugs and potions, learn the names and properties of herbs and the seasons and hours at which they must be gathered, and also dry them and make extracts from them; for a physician must be able to prepare his own remedies at need. Many of us grumbled at this, not seeing the use of it, since by merely writing a prescription one could obtain from the House of Life all the known remedies correctly mixed and measured.

Later, however, this knowledge was to stand me in good stead, as I shall show. We had to learn the names of the different parts of the body, also the functions and purpose of every human organ.

We learned to handle scalpel and forceps, but above all we had to accustom our hands to recognize disease both through the natural orifices of the body and through the skin; from the eyes also we had to detect the nature of a disorder.

We must be able to deliver a woman in childbirth when the midwifes help was of no avail. We must stimulate and alleviate pain as occasion required and learn to distinguish between trifling complaints and severe ones, between ailments of mental and physical origin. We had to know truth from falsehood in the patients talk and what questions to ask in order to gain a clear picture of the complaint.

The long period of probation was followed by the day whenafter ceremonial purificationI was clothed in a white gown and started work in the reception hall, where I learned to draw teeth from the jaws of strong men, to bandage wounds, lance boils, and set broken limbs. None of this was new to me; thanks to my fathers teaching I made good progress and was promoted to the charge and instruction of my companions. Sometimes I received gifts such as are given to doctors, and I had my name engraved on the green stone that Nefer- nefernefer had given me so that I could set my seal below my prescriptions.

I was put to ever more exacting tasks. I went on duty in the rooms where the incurably sick lay and attended renowned physicians at their treatments and at the operations, in which for every one that was cured ten died. I learned that death holds no terrors for a doctor and for the sick comes often as a merciful friend so that their faces after release are apt to be more serene than at any time during their life of drudgery.

Yet I was blind and deaf until the day of awakening came as it had come in my childhood, when pictures, words, and letters sprang to life. Once more my eyes were opened, and I woke as from a dream; my spirit welled up in its joy because I asked myself why?

The dread key to all true knowledge is why? It is mightier than the reed of Thoth, more potent than inscriptions in stone. It happened thus: A wife came to me who had had no children and who believed herself to be barren, for she was already forty years of age. But her monthly flow had ceased, and she was uneasy; she came to the House of Life because she feared that an evil spirit had taken possession of her and poisoned her body.

As was prescribed in such cases, I planted grains of corn in some earth, watering half of them with Nile water and the rest with the womans urine. I then exposed the soil to the warmth of. When she came again, the seeds had sprouted, those which had been watered with Nile water being small and the other shoots green and strong.

What had been written of old was true, and I said to the astonished woman, Rejoice, for holy Ammon in his grace has blessed your womb, and you shall bring forth a child like other favored women. And as soon as she could believe me, she asked, Is it a son? I plucked up courage, looked her in the eye, and said, It is a son.

For the chances were even and at that time my gambling luck was good. The woman rejoiced still more and gave me a bracelet from her other wrist, of two deben weight.

But when she had gone, I asked myself how it was possible for a grain of corn to know what no doctor could discover and know it before the eye could detect the signs of pregnancy?

Summoning up my resolution, I asked my teacher. He merely looked at me as if I were half-witted and said, It is so written. But this was no answer. I took courage again and asked the royal obstetrician in the maternity house. He said, Ammon is chief of all the gods. His eye sees the womb that receives the seed; if he permits germination, why should he not also allow corn to grow when moistened with water from the pregnant womans body?

He, too, stared at me as if I were half-witted, but his was no answer. Then my eyes were opened, and I saw that the doctors in the House of Life knew the writings and the traditions but no more. If I asked why a festering wound must be burned while an ordinary one is merely dressed and bandaged and why boils are healed with mildew and cobwebs, they said only, So it has always been. In the same way a surgeon might perform the hundred and eighty-two operations and incisions prescribed, and perform them according to his experience and skill, well or badly, quickly or slowly, more or less painfully; but more he cannot do because only these are described and illustrated in the books, and nothing else has ever been done.

There were some cases in which the sufferer grew thin and pale, though the doctor could find in him no disease or injury; he could be revived and cured by a diet of raw liver from the sacrificial beasts, bought at a high price, but one must on no account ask why.

There were some who had pains in their bellies and whose hands and feet burned. No one knew why this was; no one might seek to know. I soon noticed that I was asking too many questions, for people began to look at me askance, and those who had come after me were set in authority over me.

Then I took off my white robe, cleaned myself. I noted it as I walked along the Avenue of Rams and through the markets. There was restlessness everywhere; peoples dress had become more elaborate and costly so that one could no longer distinguish men from women by their wigs and pleated skirts. From wine shops and pleasure houses came shrill Syrian music; foreign speech was heard in the streets, where Syrians and wealthy Negroes rubbed shoulders with Egyptians unabashed.

The wealth and power of Egypt were immeasurable; for centuries past no enemy had entered its cities, and men who had never known war had reached middle age. But I cannot tell whether the people were any happier on this account, for their eyes were restless, their movements hurried, and they seemed always to be waiting impatiently for some new thing and could not be content with the day that was passing. I walked alone along the streets of Thebes with a heavy and rebellious heart.

On coming home, I found that my father Senmut had aged; his back was bent, and he could no longer distinguish written characters. My mother Kipa was old also; she panted as she moved and talked of nothing but her grave. For with his savings my father had bought a tomb in the City of the Dead on the west bank of the river. I had seen it: I had written out a death book to be laid in their tomb so that they should not go astray on the long journey: My mother gave me food, and my father asked about my studies, but beyond this we found nothing to say to each other; the house was strange to me, as were the street and the people in the street.

My heart grew heavier still until I remembered the temple of Ptah and Thothmes who had been my friend and was to become an artist. I thought: I have four deben of silver in my pocket. I will seek out my friend Thothmes, that we may rejoice together and make merry with wine, for I shall find no answer to my questions.

So I took leave of my parents, saying that I must return to the House of Life, and shortly before sunset I found the temple of Ptah. Having learned from the porter where the art school lay, I entered and inquired for the student Thothmes; only then did I hear that he had been expelled long ago.

The students spat upon the ground before me when they spoke his name, because the teacher was present; when he turned his back, they counseled me to go to a tavern called the Syrian Jar. I found this place; it lay between the poor quarter and the rich and had an inscription over the door praising the wine from Amnions vineyard and also that from the harbor.

Inside there were artists squatting on the floor drawing pictures while an old man sat in sad contemplation of the empty wine bowl before him. Sinuhe, by all the potters wheels! I recognized Thothmes, though his shoulder cloth was dirty and tattered and his eyes were bloodshot and there was a big bump on his forehead. He had grown older and thinner, and there were lines at the corners of his mouth, but his eyes still held that cheerful, impudent, irresistible glint, and he bent forward till our cheeks touched.

I knew then that we were still friends. My heart is heavy, I said to him. All is vanity, and I have sought you out so that we may rejoice our hearts with winefor no one answers when I ask why. Thothmes lifted his apron to show that he lacked the means to buy wine.

I carry four deben of silver on my wrists, said I with pride. Thothmes then pointed at my head, which was still shaven because I wanted men to know that I was a priest of the first grade: But now I was vexed that I had not let my hair grow and said impatiently, I am a physician, not a priest.

I think I read over the door that wine from the harbor can be had here; let us see if it is good. Thothmes ordered mixed wine, and a slave came to pour water over. The landlord himself brought the brightly colored goblets. Thothmes raised his, spilled a drop on the ground, and said, For the divine Potter!

May the plague consume the art school and its teachers! And he recited the names of those he hated most. I also raised my goblet and let a drop fall on the ground. In the name of Ammon! May his boat leak to all eternity, may the bellies of his priests rupture, and may the pestilence destroy the ignorant teachers in the House of Life! But I said this in a low voice and looked about me lest a stranger should overhear my words.

Have no fear, said Thothmes. So many of Ammons ears have been boxed in this tavern that they have had enough of listeningand all of us here are lost already.

I could not find even bread and beer if I had not hit upon the idea of making picture books for rich mens children. He showed me the scroll he had been working on when I came.

I could not help laughing, for there he had drawn a fortress defended by a quaking, terrified cat against the onslaught of mice, also a hippopotamus singing in a treetop while a dove climbed painfully up the tree by means of a ladder.

There was a smile in Thothmes brown eyes, but it faded as he unrolled the papyrus further and disclosed the picture of a bald little priest leading a big Pharaoh on a rope to the temple, like a beast of sacrifice. Next he showed me a little Pharaoh bowing before a massive statue of Ammon. He nodded at my questioning look. You see? Grown people laugh at the pictures, too, because theyre so crazy.

It is ridiculous for a mouse to attack a cat or a priest to lead a Pharaohbut those who know begin to reflect upon a number of things. Therefore, I shall not lack for bread and beeruntil the priests have me clubbed to death in the street.

Such things have happened. Let us drink, I said, and drink we did, but my heart was not gladdened. Presently I put my question to him. Is it wrong to ask why? Of course it is wrong, for a man who presumes to ask why has no home nor resting place in the land of Kem. All must be as it has been and you know it. I trembled with joy when I entered the art schoolI was like a thirsty man who has found a spring, a hungry man clutching at bread.

And I learned many fine things. I learned how to hold a pen and handle a chisel, how to model in wax what will be hewn from stone, how stone is polished, how colored stones are fitted together, and how to paint on alabaster.

But when I longed to get to work and make. For high above everything stands the convention. Art has its convention no less than writing, and he who breaks with it is damned. From the beginning of time it has been laid down how one should represent a standing figure and how a sitting one, how a horse lifts his hooves, how an ox draws a sled. From the beginning the technique has been fixed; whoever departs from it is unfit for the temple, and stone and chisel are denied him.

O Sinuhe, my friend, I, too, have asked why-and only too often. That is why I sit here with bumps on my head. We drank and grew merry, and my heart lightened as if a boil in it had been lanced, for I was no longer alone. Sinuhe, my friend, we have been born into strange times. Everything is meltingchanging its shapelike clay on a potters wheel. Dress is changing, words, customs are changing, and people no longer believe in the godsthough they may fear them.

Sinuhe, my friend, perhaps we were born to see the sunset of the world, for the world is already old, and twelve hundred years have passed since the building of the pyramids. When I think of this, I want to bury my head in my hands and cry like a child. Please create a new list with a new name; move some items to a new or existing list; or delete some items. Your request to send this item has been completed. APA 6th ed. Citations are based on reference standards. However, formatting rules can vary widely between applications and fields of interest or study.

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Would you also like to submit a review for this item? You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: Preview this item Preview this item. Sinuhe the Egyptian: Mika Waltari Publisher: Chivers, English View all editions and formats Rating: Subjects Egypt -- Fiction.

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