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HOME > Classical Novels > The Last Egyptian > CHAPTER VIII. HIS GRANDMOTHER’S MUMMY.
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CHAPTER VIII. HIS GRANDMOTHER’S MUMMY.
When Fedah seemed asleep, Kāra took the lamp and the bronze dagger from their hiding place and swung back the stone in the rear wall, passing through into the mountain cavern. Then, replacing the stone, he made his way along the crevice, through the circular rock door into the arched passage, and down the latter to the mummy chamber.

Here he removed the lid of Hatatcha’s mummy case and carefully dusted the interior. The forty days were ended. The case might have its occupant before morning.

Within the splendidly carven casket Kāra found an oblong green stone, with polished flat surfaces. On one of these surfaces was the cartouche of Ahtka-Rā, as follows:
[Image of the hyroglyphic cartouche not available.]

The Egyptian examined this relic carefully and placed it in his pocket. It was the emerald that Hatatcha had promised the dwarf Sebbet in payment for embalming her body. How Andalaft’s eyes would sparkle could he but see this wonder!{96}

But this thought reminded Kāra that he was loitering. He picked up his lamp and went to the mummy of Ahtka-Rā, sliding back the slab of malachite and descending through the opening to the treasure chamber hidden below.

His first act was to inventory carefully the contents of the twelve great vases that stood upon their alabaster pedestals. From these vases he abstracted choice specimens of emeralds, sapphires, diamonds and rubies, filling with them several small leathern sacks he had brought concealed upon his person. Perhaps he had taken a fortune in this careless manner; but so vast was the treasure that the contents of the vases seemed scarcely disturbed.

In one of the numerous jars resting upon the granite floor, and which had doubtless been added to the hoard at a much later period than that of Ahtka-Rā, the Egyptian found a quantity of pearls of a size and quality that rendered them almost peerless among the treasures of the world. The jar contained a full quart, and Kāra took them all. At the moment he did not comprehend their value, although Hatatcha had told him that a single one of these pearls would be sufficient to ransom a kingdom.

The gems he had already secured were enough to weigh heavily upon his person; but Kāra was greedy. He examined the contents of many jars and vases, choosing here and there a jewel that appealed to his fancy, and adding to his selection a number of exquisite{97} ornaments of wrought gold; but at last he was forced to admit that he had taken enough from the treasure chamber to answer his present purposes, and so he reluctantly returned to the vault above.

As he closed the slab, his eye fell upon a strange jewel set in the mummy case of Ahtka-Rā. It was surrounded by a protecting band of chased gold, and sparkled under the rays of Kāra’s lamp in a manner that distinguished it from any of the thousands of other gems that literally covered the mummy case of the great Egyptian; for at first this odd jewel had a dark steely lustre, which changed while Kāra’s eyes rested upon it to a rich transparent orange, and then to an opal ground with tongues of flame running through it. A moment later the color had faded to a dull gray, which gradually took on a greenish tinge.

Kāra set down the lamp and pried the stone from its setting with the point of his dagger, placing it afterward in a secure inner pocket of his robe. As he did so, a golden bust of Isis that stood upon the mummy case toppled and fell to the pavement, and from a hollow underneath the bust rolled a small manuscript of papyrus. This Kāra took also, and replaced the bust in its former position. His nerves must have been of iron, for the uncanny incident had not even startled him.

Now he made his way back to the entrance and along the passage, finally emerging with his treasure into the room that had been his former dwelling-place. All was silent and dark. A mild bray from the blind Nikko’s{98} donkey was occasionally heard, and at times the far-away hoot of a desert owl; but those within the village seemed steeped in slumber.

Kāra divided his burden by placing the greater part in his traveling case, which he locked securely. Then he reclined upon the rushes and was about to compose himself to sleep when the mat across the archway was thrust aside and Sebbet entered.

“I am here, most royal one!” he announced.

Kāra sat up.

“And my grandmother?” he inquired.

“Here also, my prince. Ah, how natural is Hatatcha! You will be delighted. It is a skilful and almost perfect piece of work, even though I praise my own craft in saying so.”

With these words the dwarf led in the donkey. Upon its back was the form of a swaddled mummy, which was bound to a flat plank to hold it rigidly extended.

“I will show you the face,” continued Sebbet, in an eager tone, as he lifted the mummy and placed it upon the ground.

“Do not trouble yourself,” said Kāra. “I will look upon my grandmother at my leisure. The night is waning. Take your price and go your way.”

He handed the dwarf the emerald, holding the lamp, which he had relighted, while Sebbet examined the stone with great care.

“Yes; it is the great emerald with the cartouche of Ahtka-Rā,” said the embalmer, in a low, grave voice.{99} “Osiris be praised that at last it is my own! Hatatcha was a wise woman, and she kept her word.”

Kāra extinguished the light, but the moon was shining and sent some of its rays through the arch to relieve the gloom.

“Good-night,” said he.

The dwarf stood still, thinking deeply. Finally he said, glancing at the mummy:

“Where will my old friend repose?”

“It is her secret,” returned the prince, brusquely. “She trusted you not to ask questions.”

“And yourself? Will you not wish to be mummified when your course is run?”

Kāra laughed.

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