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Personal dislike? Could be. Stranger things had happened. But, on reflection, it seemed to Gosseyn that that was not the explanation. More thoughtfully, he played over what Crang had said about possible hidden players and his danger from them.
It was oddly convincing, and it directed his thought back to Janasen like a beacon, The man was his starting point. Somebody had moved Janasen onto the "board", perhaps only for a fleeting moment of universe time, perhaps only for a fleeting purpose, a mere pawn in this great game—but pawns, also, were looked after. Pawns came from somewhere and, when they were human, returned whence they came. He considered a few of the possibilities, then sat down at the apartment communicator, and made his call.
When the roboperator asked him what star he wanted, he said: "Give me the highest official available at the head offices of the Galactic League. His plan was simple. Neither Crang nor Patricia Hardie would have been able to advise the League as to what had happened in the solar system.
It was a chance that neither could have taken without grave risks. The man seemed about forty-five years old, and many passions were written on his face. His blue eyes had a burning quality. There was a short delay, and then: "Gilbert Gosseyn? If it was a reasonably exact representation of the original, then it was a remarkable job.
Who, the tone suggested, was Gilbert Gosseyn? He kept his account to events in the solar system "in which I have reason to believe the League has interested itself". Emotions would rule him. Now, he mustered a bleak, humorless smile, and said: "Naturally, null-A men would be of assistance in a technical capacity.
If we attempted to break through, it might seem as if we attached some special importance to Venus, in which case Enro might destroy your planets. However, I will take the matter up with the proper officials, and you may be sure that what can be done will be. But now, if you please—" It was dismissal.
Gosseyn said quickly: "Your excellency, surely some subtle arrangement can be made. Small ships could slip through, and take a few thousand of the most highly trained men out where they could be of assistance.
Perhaps your people could make use of that. He had set another process in motion and, though he had no intention of waiting, at least he was doing what he could. Next, Janasen—even if it meant going back to Earth. Abstracts In order to be sane and adjusted, an individual must realize that he cannot know all there is to know. It is not enough to understand this limitation intellectually. He had not suspected the presence of a transport machine in his own office. The Follower must have other agents in this planetary system.
He looked around him cautiously. He was in a dimly lighted park area. A waterfall cascaded from some invisible height beyond a clump of trees. The plume of spray glittered in the vague light. The Follower stood partly silhouetted against the spray, but his formless body seemed to merge with the greater darkness on every side. The silence grew long, and Janasen fidgeted, but he knew better than to speak first.
He had not expected an explanation, and he did not feel qualified to interpret the one he had received. He waited. For a moment, then, he wondered at his own indifference. For a moment there was a bright thought in his mind that there was something supernormal about a man like himself. The thought passed. For he was intoxicated with his own ego, and the things that he did and felt and thought. David Janasen. The Follower spoke again: "There are curious blurs," he said, "in the future of this man Gosseyn, but pictures do come through.
Yet I am sure that he will seek you out. Do not try to prevent him. He will find that your name was on the list of passengers of the President Hardie. He will wonder that he did not see you, but at least it will indicate to him that you are now on Venus. At this moment we are in a park in downtown New Chicago—" "Huh! Everything is free, food, transport, shelter—everything. The Venusians have become aware of the existence of human beings on the planets of other stars.
Having been invaded once they are likely to take precautions. It lay on the grass shining like a mirror in sunlight. It seemed to be a plastic card of some kind.
It felt smooth and glassy. There was printing on it, which was too small for him to read with the naked eye. Just carry out my instructions. Any more questions? There was silence. Then the Follower began to fade.
But presently he knew that he was alone. Gosseyn looked down at the "card", then up at Janasen. Janasen was a solipsist who had struck a balance with his neurosis by developing a compensatory attitude of immense boldness.
It was a balance that had little survival value, since again and again it would depend on whether other stronger men would tolerate his insolence. The setting of their face-to-face meeting was colorfully Venusian. They sat in a room that opened onto a patio, with young flowering shrubs just outside.
Gosseyn studied the hollow-cheeked man with hostile gaze. The task of finding Janasen had not been too involved. A few interplanetary messages—not obstructed this time —a quick canvassing of hotel roboregisters—and here was the end of the trail. It was Janasen who spoke first: "The system on this planet sort of interests me. What I do to you depends entirely on how much you tell me.
He made no comment, however, and presently Janasen began to talk. He described his relations with the Follower. He seemed to be quite candid. He had been in the secret service of the Greatest Empire, and somehow he must have come to the attention of the shadow-shape. He proceeded to give a word-for-word account of his conversations with the Follower about Gosseyn. For this was sanity itself that was being discussed, and that could not be explained with words alone.
If Janasen was interested, let him go to the elementary schools. The other must have realized his mood, for he shrugged again. Gosseyn did not answer immediately. He had the impression that it was an absorbing material. Because the Follower was not of Earth, not of the solar system. And pictured him doing a particular thing at a particular time. The intricacy of prophecy involved was staggering.
It made the "card" valuable. He leaned closer. Still the print was too small. Jansen shoved a magnifying glass towards him. Gosseyn hesitated, but presently he picked up the card and examined it. He tried to think of it as a switch that might activate a larger mechanism. But what? He looked around the room. At the moment of entering he had "memorized" the nearest electric sockets and traced live wires. Some ran to the table at which he sat, and supplied power to the built-in compact electronic cooking machine.
Gosseyn looked up finally. Janasen," he said. I intend to go with you. Gosseyn attuned the card to one of his "memorized" areas, and simultaneously, he made the action cue a simple fear-doubt. The precaution was not altogether adequate, but it seemed to him he had to take the chance.
He focused his glass on the card, and read: Gosseyn: A "Distorter" has a fascinating quality. It is electrically powered, but shows no unusual characteristics even when it is on. Such an instrument is built into the table at which you are sitting. If the emotion of fear came, he did not recall it then or afterwards. For there was night. Hence, we have a "well educated" man or woman who reacts in an infantile fashion.
The wheel glinted as it turned. Gosseyn watched it idly, as he lay in the cart. His gaze lifted finally from the gleaming metal wheel, and took in the near horizon, where a building spread itself. It was a wide structure which curved up from the ground like a huge ball only a small part of which was exposed to view. Gosseyn allowed the picture to seep into his consciousness, and at first he did not feel either puzzled or concerned.
He found himself making a comparison between the scene before him and the hotel room where he had been talking to Janasen. And then he thought: I am Ashargin. Not quite for granted. Gilbert Gosseyn rejected the identification with amazement that yielded to a thrill of alarm and then a sense of confusion. A summer breeze blew into his face. There were other buildings beside the great one, outbuildings scattered here and there inside a pattern of trees.
The trees seemed to form a kind of fence. Beyond them, a backdrop of unsurpassed splendor, reared a majestic, snow-capped mountain. He jerked around, but in the middle of the action caught a glimpse of his fingers. That stopped him. He forgot the man, forgot even to look at the man.
Thunderstruck, he examined his hands. He looked down at himself. His body was slim, boyish. No, not thoughts. Expressions out of organs that had once been under the control of a different mind. With eager fingers he tightened the loosened cinch on the collar of the husky, oxlike beast. All this before he could think. The job done, he crawled back into the cart.
The driver, a priest in work garb, applied the whip. The cart jogged on, and turned presently into the yard itself. It was hard to think. There was so much confusion. But at last a measure of comprehension came. Another mind had once controlled this body. The mind of Ashargin. Unintegrated, insecure mind it had been. The deadly part of that domination was that the living flesh of Ashargin would react to all that internal imbalance on the unconscious level.
Until he could train it— "Is that it? To train this body? The Ashargin heir. The immense meaning of that came slowly, came dimly, came sketchily because there was so much that had happened. On that tense day he had expected death from the creatures of the usurper. There he labored in the fields, and hungered.
They fed him in the morning like an animal. Each night he slept with a shuddering uneasiness longing for the morning that would bring the one meal a day that kept him alive. In such periods the greatest empires had a habit of falling by default into the possession of masterful men like Enro the Red. The cart rounded a clump of trees that ornamented a central portion of the grounds, and they came abruptly within sight of a skycar.
Several men in black, priestly uniforms and one gorgeously arrayed individual stood in the grass beside the plane, and watched the approach of the cart. The work priest leaned back in agitation, and nudged Ashargin with the blunt end of his whip, a hurriedly brutal gesture. He said hastily: "Down on your face. He flipped over, and crashed to the bottom of the cart, He was lying there, dazed, as it slowly penetrated to him that the muscles of Ashargin had obeyed the command with automatic speed.
The shock of that was still running its course when a strong, resonant voice said: "Koorn, have the Prince Ashargin enter the plane, and consider yourself dismissed. The prince will not be returning to the work camp. His sense blurred. His limbs moved convulsively. Gosseyn recalled collapsing into a seat.
And then the skycar began to move. It was all as fast as that. Where was he being taken? It was the first thought that came when he could think again. His eyes came into focus, and he saw that the plane was well off the ground, and climbing up over the snow-capped peak beyond the temple of the Sleeping God.
His mind poised at that point like a bird arrested in mid-flight. It certainly seemed to us that the old-fashioned wooden dahabeeyah—flat-bottomed, drawing little water, light in hand, and easily poled off when stuck—was the one vessel best constructed for the navigation of the Nile.
Other considerations, as time and cost, are, of course, involved in this question. The choice between dahabeeyah and steamer is like the choice between travelling with post-horses and travelling by rail.
The one is expensive, leisurely, delightful; the other is cheap, swift, and comparatively comfortless. Those who are content to snatch but a glimpse of the Nile will doubtless prefer the steamer. With regard to temperature, we found it cool—even cold, sometimes—in December and January; mild in February; very warm in March and April.
The climate of Nubia is simply perfect. It never rains; and once past the limit of the tropic, there is no morning or evening chill upon the air. Yet even in Nubia, and especially along the forty miles which divide Abou Simbel from Wady Halfeh, it is cold when the wind blows strongly from the north.
But from the Rock of Abusir, five miles above Wady Halfeh, the traveller looks over an extent of country far exceeding the thirty or thirty-five miles necessary to make up the full tale of a thousand. We distinctly saw from this point the summits of mountains which lie about miles to the southward of Wady Halfeh, and which look down upon the Third Cataract.
Perhaps I ought to say something in answer to the repeated inquiries of those who looked for the publication of this volume a year ago. I can, however, only reply that the Writer, instead of giving one year, has given two years to the work.
To write rapidly about Egypt is impossible. The subject grows with the book, and with the knowledge one acquires by the way. It is, moreover, a subject beset with such obstacles as must impede even the swiftest pen; and to that swiftest pen I lay no claim.
Moreover the writer, who seeks to be accurate, has frequently to go for his facts, if not actually to original sources which would be the texts themselves , at all events to translations and commentaries locked up in costly folios, or dispersed far and wide among the pages of scientific journals and the transactions of learned societies. A date, a name, a passing reference, may cost hours of seeking.
This by way of apology. More pleasant is it to remember labour lightened than to consider time spent; and I have yet to thank the friends who have spared no pains to help this book on its way. Birch, Esq. Owen, C.
Cox, I desire to offer my hearty and grateful acknowledgments. It is surely not least among the glories of learning, that those who adorn it most and work hardest should ever be readiest to share the stores of their knowledge. I am anxious also to express my cordial thanks to Mr.
Pearson, under whose superintendence the whole of the illustrations have been engraved. To say that his patience and courtesy have been inexhaustible, and that he has spared neither time nor cost in the preparation of the blocks, is but a dry statement of facts, and conveys no idea of the kind of labour involved.
Where engravings of this kind are executed, not from drawings made at first-hand upon the wood, but from water-colour drawings which have not only to be reduced in size, but to be, as it were, translated into black and white, the difficulty of the work is largely increased. In order to meet this difficulty and to ensure accuracy, Mr. Pearson has not only called in the services of accomplished draughtsmen, but in many instances has even photographed the subjects direct upon the wood.
It seems to me that some of these blocks may stand for examples of the farthest point to which the art of engraving upon wood has yet been carried. The principal illustrations have all been drawn upon the wood by Mr. Percival Skelton; and no one so fully as myself can appreciate how much the subjects owe to the delicacy of his pencil, and to the artistic feelings with which he has interpreted the original drawings.
Of the fascination of Egyptian travel, of the charm of the Nile, of the unexpected and surpassing beauty of the desert, of the ruins which are the wonder of the world, I have said enough elsewhere. I must, however, add that I brought home with me an impression that things and people are much less changed in Egypt than we of the present day are wont to suppose. The household life and social ways of even the provincial gentry are little changed.
Though the lotus-blossom is missing, a bouquet is still given to each guest when he takes his place at table. The head of the sheep killed for the banquet is still given to the poor. Those who are helped to meat or drink touch the head and breast in acknowledgment, as of old.
The musicians still sit at the lower end of the hall; the singers yet clap their hands in time to their own voices; the dancing-girls still dance, and the buffoon in his high cap still performs uncouth antics, for the entertainment of the guests.
Water is brought to table in jars of the same shape manufactured at the same town, as in the days of Cheops and Chephren; and the mouths of the bottles are filled in precisely the same way with fresh leaves and flowers. The cucumber stuffed with minced-meat was a favorite dish in those times of old; and I can testify to its excellence in Little boys in Nubia yet wear the side-lock that graced the head of Rameses in his youth; and little girls may be seen in a garment closely resembling the girdle worn by young princesses of the time of Thothmes the First.
In these and in a hundred other instances, all of which came under my personal observation and have their place in the following pages, it seemed to me that any obscurity which yet hangs over the problem of life and thought in ancient Egypt originates most probably with ourselves.
Our own habits of life and thought are so complex that they shut us off from the simplicity of that early world. So it was with the problem of hieroglyphic writing. The thing was so obvious that no one could find it out. As long as the world persisted in believing that every hieroglyph was an abstruse symbol, and every hieroglyphic inscription a profound philosophical rebus, the mystery of Egyptian literature remained insoluble. If there were not thousands who still conceive that the sun and moon were created, and are kept going, for no other purpose than to lighten the darkness of our little planet; if only the other day a grave gentleman had not written a perfectly serious essay to show that the world is a flat plain, one would scarcely believe that there could still be people who doubt that ancient Egyptian is now read and translated as fluently as ancient Greek.
Yet an Englishman whom I met in Egypt—an Englishman who had long been resident in Cairo, and who was well acquainted with the great Egyptologists who are attached to the service of the Khedive—assured me of his profound disbelief in the discovery of Champollion. Since that time, however, and while writing this book, I have been led on step by step to the study of hieroglyphic writing, and I now know that Egyptian can be read, for the simple reason that I find myself able to read an Egyptian sentence.
My testimony may not be of much value; but I give it for the little that it is worth. The study of Egyptian literature has advanced of late years with rapid strides. Papyri are found less frequently than they were some thirty or forty years ago; but the translation of those contained in the museums of Europe goes on now more diligently than at any former time.
Religious books, variants of the Ritual, moral essays, maxims, private letters, hymns, epic poems, historical chronicles, accounts, deeds of sale, medical, magical and astronomical treatises, geographical records, travels, and even romances and tales, are brought to light, photographed, facsimiled in chromo-lithography, printed in hieroglyphic type, and translated in forms suited both to the learned and to the general reader.
Not all this literature is written, however, on papyrus.
The greater proportion of it is carved in stone. Some is painted on wood, written on linen, leather, potsherds, and other substances. So the old mystery of Egypt, which was her literature, has vanished. The key to the hieroglyphs is the master-key that opens every door.
Each year that now passes over our heads sees some old problem solved. Each day brings some long-buried truth to light. Some thirteen years ago, 2 a distinguished American artist painted a very beautiful pictured called The Secret of the Sphinx. In its widest sense, the Secret of the Sphinx would mean, I suppose, the whole uninterpreted and undiscovered past of Egypt.
In its narrower sense, the Secret of the Sphinx was, till quite lately, the hidden significance of the human-headed lion which is one of the typical subjects of Egyptian Art.
Thirteen years is a short time to look back upon; yet great things have been done in Egypt, and in Egyptology, since then. Edfu, with its extraordinary wealth of inscriptions, has been laid bare. The whole contents of the Boulak Museum have been recovered from the darkness of the tombs. The very mystery of the Sphinx has been disclosed; and even within the last eighteen months, M. Chabas announces that he has discovered the date of the pyramid of Mycerinus; so for the first time establishing the chronology of ancient Egypt upon an ascertained foundation.
Thus the work goes on; students in their libraries, excavators under Egyptian skies, toiling along different paths towards a common goal. The picture means more to-day than it meant thirteen years ago—means more, even, than the artist intended. The Sphinx has no secret now, save for the ignorant. Some instinct of the old Egyptian blood tells him that the creature is God-like.
He is conscious of a great mystery lying far back in the past. He has, perhaps, a dim, confused notion that the Big Head knows it all, whatever it may be. He has never heard of the morning-song of Memnon; but he fancies, somehow, that those closed lips might speak if questioned. It is night, and the stars are shining. Has he chosen the right hour?
What does he seek to know? What does he hope to hear? Vedder has permitted me to enrich this book with an engraving from his picture. It tells its own tale; or rather it tells as much of its own tale as the artist chooses. They offer everything from explorations of their beautiful homelands to epic circumnavigations of the world. Olsen cruise You can save even more with their All Inclusive Upgrade, another service they offer to their guests to ensure they enjoy a hassle-free holiday.
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