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Ardeth's Quest: The Liberation of London
 

BOOK TWO: The Liberation of London--Part One 


 
CHAPTER EIGHT

O'Connell estate, September 17, 1940, early morning 

"Arrdddeth!" Evie screamed and suddenly threw off the coverlet of the bed she and Rick were sharing. The Luftwaffe, created just four years ago, had proven quite efficient in their daily (and nightly) bombings of London.  

"Honey! What's wrong with Ardeth?" Rick asked, sitting up and putting his arms around his wife. 

In a shaking voice, Evie replied, "It's Seth's dream again. He's telling me he's drowned Ardeth! Rick! What shall we do?"  

"Shhhh. I sent Ardeth a telegram. He'll be all right." 

"No. I don't think he'll be all right," Evie retorted. "Seth is dangerous!" 

"Why won't he be all right?"  

"His lips were blue," Evie replied definitively. 

"Evie, you're reading too much into Seth's dreams. Ardeth is all right. I can't explain it, but somehow I know he's all right," Rick said, pulling his wife down onto the bed so he could hug her to him.  

But Evie sat up and threw off the covers. "We're awake, we might as well get up," she said petulantly. She was feeling miffed at being used by Seth.  

"Ardeth will be all right. This is Ardeth we're talking about," Rick said definitively. "And you're right," he said, his voice softening, "we might as well get up. We've got a lot of people to help feed. Damn the Luftwaffe for taking out sixteen stations and three rail lines." 

"Mummy? Daddy?" Alex's voice called faintly. "I've found a huge store of sugar, tea, flour, rice, oatmeal, biscuits, tinned meat, you name it!" 

"Huh?" Rick and Evie said to each other simultaneously. "What was that Alex?" Rick shouted. 

"Food!" came back the reply. 

Tears burned hotly in Evie's eyes. "Seems like Tallulah stored up some things before she," Evie started to say, but she couldn't finish her sentence. 

"She was helping to save others, Evie, by donating blood. I'm sure she found her way to the Afterlife," Rick gently told his wife. Tallulah, their housemaid, could not bear to stand by and watch the bombings daily with all the wounded. She had been an ambulance driver in France during the first World War and she had immediately organized a blood drive, considering it her patriotic duty. 

The thirty eight year old Tallulah had been killed by shrapnel two days previously on her way to the Red Cross center. She'd died instantly. Rick was going to miss her terribly; she had been, simply put, a most efficient maid. 

"It's not fair!" Evie protested, falling into Rick's arms.  

"Sweetheart, it's impossible for all of us to stay on the estate all the time," he told her gently. 

"I know! I just wish Ardeth would arrive. He would know what to do!"  

Rick held his wife, stroking her dark curly hair, and soon Evie's sobs quieted.  
 

Tripoli, Souk (marketplace), September 17, dusk 

Sunburned, tired, thirsty and hungry were four adjectives Martin and Ardeth were willing to use as they straggled into the outskirts of the sea city of Tripoli. The sights and especially the smells of the souks were welcoming. 

The two men fell hungrily upon the first food stall they could find. Libya had, in times past, been invaded and occupied by Italy. Although the Libyans didn't take kindly to the invading Italians, Italian food was well loved by the Libyans, and the smells of lasagna and spaghetti filled Ardeth's and Martin's senses.  

"Masa' al-kheir. Salaam aleikum. Do you speak English?" a young male voice said behind them. 

Ardeth and Martin turned. "Aleikum as-salaam," Ardeth responded. "Yes, I speak English." 

Martin said, "And I am English. From London." 

The teenager nodded. "My name is Achmed. I am going to go to Oxford University and I wish to practice my English. It is very strange but everyone I meet who is from England, they are from London." 

Martin laughed. "Yes. It does seem that way doesn't it?" 

Ardeth cut in, "Do you work here? We would like to order a meal." 

"Yes. This is my father's cafe. If you wish to bathe and change, there are showers behind that door. My father is very devout and likes cleanliness. So he provides these things to our customers in case they wish to be as clean as he does. You," he indicated Martin, "will need sunburn cream. I will ask my sister for some." 

"Thank you, Achmed." The two men went to shower and change. Martin came out of the shower to find a large jar of sunburn cream, which he applied liberally before changing into a fresh set of clothing provided by Achmed.  

Ardeth had changed into a pair of white cotton pants and a turquoise tunic. He noticed Martin looking at his new set of clothes. "I know," was all Ardeth said. "I will have my own clothes cleaned." 

Martin nodded as the two men went back through the door into the small outdoor cafe. A table was set for them already, with bowls of couscous, vegetables, meat, spaghetti. Most importantly on the table were large pitchers of cold water, although both Martin and Ardeth had drunk water from the sink faucet. 

Achmed was standing beside the table, smiling, his white teeth gleaming in the encroaching dusk. "I had thought you two would be more than a bit hungry, so I laid out your dinner." 

"Shukran. Thank you," Ardeth said, sitting down.  

"Yes, thank you," Martin said as he too sat down to enjoy the meal Achmed had provided for them. 


The Underworld, Sometime in Eternity (scuttlebutt has the date near late September 1940) 

Pain seared his soul. He'd lost count of the times the demons devoured him. Demons in the underworld didn't consume souls just once--the underworld was eternity and when he'd dived into the underworld, he'd known what would happen: time would slow and astrological ages would march on but time would seem to stand still for him.  

Welcome to the underworld. 

Eventually, he too would transform into a demon and would shove other demons aside in his zeal to reach the new arrivals first.  

A dim light burned his eyes. The pain of the demons' knashing teeth lessened and then disappeared entirely.  

That action was unusual enough to cause him to raise his head towards the dim light. He saw a gaping hole with a golden shimmering light and the threads of his memory recalled that the golden light represented Nuit.  

What catastrophe had happened for an Egyptian god to throw a soul directly into the underworld? The Gods usually did not accompany doomed souls to the underworld--they preferred to let souls be weighed against Ma'at and let the doomed soul be devoured by Ammit, the crocodile headed monster.  

Then the soul would face the demons alone. For eternity. 

Despite the plagues he'd imposed upon her (she had risen from plagues before), despite his previous transgressions, he cared deeply about his beloved Egypt--his desert home--and he would do anything to ensure she survived. 

He stood up as best he could. He straightened his loincloth and went to interrogate the new arrival. 


CHAPTER NINE

Lands End, Cornwall (Southwestern England), late September, The Grayson Pub 

Blonde David Dunlop shaded his blue eyes with his pudgy four year old hand. He was standing near Zawn Reeth, a gully forming part of the seaside cliffs which surrounded his home. His mother was forever explaining to him that he needed to be careful around Zawn Reeth, for the gully wended its way down the cliff to the sea.  

Right now, David was in what his mother called a pickle. He had borrowed, unbeknownst to his mother, the handheld telescope that his father owned. David was tall for his age (at 24 months, he'd stood 40 inches tall and his American born mother was proud of telling him he would stand about six foot six as an adult).  

Now, looking through the purloined telescope, David thought he saw somebody out on Wolf Rock, where a lighthouse had been built last century because the sailors hated the rock with a vegeance. He also thought he heard a humming sound but that might have been the wind. He knew Wolf Rock had been named because when the wind blew around the rock formation, the resulting noise was said to sound like wolves howling. 

David knew the sailors hated Wolf Rock, because his daddy ran a pub and the sailors who came in were always talking about Wolf Rock and the deep waters which surrounded it. The rock was especially dangerous with storm surges and sometimes his mummy had to take David into the back room because she said the sailors' language got too bad for his ears ("little pitchers have big ears" was the phrase his mum used). 

He wasn't sure if he saw somebody on Wolf Rock--he was only four, and at four, he wasn't too sure about most things. And besides, Wolf Rock was almost thirteen kilometers out to sea and at four, he knew thirteen kilometers out to sea was a long way out. But the Wolf Rock Lighthouse was white, and the rocks were brown, and David thought he saw a big something black lying on top of the rocks, right next to the lighthouse. 

And David had been out to Wolf Rock and the Scilly Isles dozens of times in his short life, and he knew that the big something black was assuredly not a puffin.  

He shivered and realized there were four things he was sure of: he was hungry, he was cold, the storm surge tide was coming in and when his mum found out he'd purloined the telescope, David would be in trouble. 

He knew he could easily rectify two of those things simply by going into the pub and asking his mum for something to eat. The fire would warm him.  

But he couldn't do anything about the tide. He would have to brave the punishment coming to him for taking the telescope; he had been told not to take the telescope.  

David decided to keep his vigil on Zawn Reeth for a while longer. He was trying to decide if there really was somebody--somebody dressed in black--on Wolf Rock. He kept up his vigil because as he had noted a moment before, the tide was coming in, and the sailors always said that the tide and Wolf Rock created a bitch. 

He didn't know what a bitch was, but he knew that the somebody who was on Wolf Rock would be in a real pickle soon, as his mummy said. By now, he was quite sure there was somebody on the Wolf Rock. There had to be somebody there, for as he had reasoned earlier, the lighthouse was white, the rocks brown, and there was a large black object lying on top of the rock, near the lighthouse. 

David's father Daniel kept a boat, which sometimes carried people out to the Scilly Isles if the people had missed the ferry from Penzance. David often went along on these trips, having taken to the sea from a very early age.  

Daniel also went on rescue missions out to Wolf Rock, for many a ship had been wrecked in the deep, treacherous water and at times there were survivors. Being the closest sailor to Wolf Rock, Daniel would be the first to reach the survivors and bring them back to the Grayson Pub.  

David's blue eyes through the telescope saw a gull circling Wolf Rock then glide down to land near the black someone that David was now sure he saw through the purloined telescope.  

He made his decision. "Muuummmmyyy!" he called as he turned around and ran as fast as his four year old legs could carry him to the pub. 

"Mummy! Mummy! Come quick! Somebody's out on Wolf Rock!" he called as he ran into the pub. The lone sailor and customer in the pub turned and watched David with interest. 

His mother, a petite woman but strong willed and a female version of her son, answered, "What's that, sweetie?" as she looked up from behind the pub's counter.  

"Mummy! Somebody's out on Wolf Rock! And the tide's coming in!" 

"David, you took the telescope didn't you?" She held out her hand for the telescope. David surrendered it.  

"Yes, mummy, but," but his mother stopped him.  

"We'll talk punishment later, young man. There's no one out on Wolf Rock, David," she finished firmly. 

"But there is, mummy! I saw him!" 

"How do you know it's a him?" his mother asked drily, pouring half a cup of tea and filling the rest of the cup with milk. "Here, sweetie. You're cold. Sit down and drink your tea." 

"No! Somebody's out on Wolf Rock!" David protested but his mother had taken him by the hand, quite firmly, and led David to a small table in the far corner. This was David's usual table. He screwed up his face to cry but his mother stopped him. 

"Stop snivelling, David. It's just your imagination. Wolf Rock is nearly thirteen kilometers out to sea." 

"But mummy!" 

"No protestations from you, young man!" 

"But," and David was again cut off by his mother. 

"One more word out of you, and your punishment will be doubled!" she said firmly, shaking her forefinger at David.  

David didn't say anything but tears filled his big blue eyes. His mother helped him into the chair and went back to get his cup of tea. She brought it and set it down in front of him then went back behind the counter.  

The sailor spoke softly to his mother. "It wouldn't hurt to take a look, ma'am." He was American, like herself, Martha thought. "The tide is coming in, and that rock's a bitch." 

Martha started to open her mouth, then she shut it. It was no use trying to teach men to not speak like that in front of David. "Don't have the time to go out." she said by way of refusal. 

"I'll be willing to take the boat out and look. I know how to sail at night. Just leave a light on," the sailor said, gathering up his things. "We sailors look out for each other and if your boy's word is true, well then, we'll have saved a life. Too much life being lost as it is, ma'am."  

Martha looked at him. He really was going to take a boat out to Wolf Rock. And all because her highly imaginative little boy had said he'd seen somebody through the purloined telescope. But on the other hand, with the war, business had dropped off. Saving a life was a good thing and the sailor was correct: too much life had been taken already.  

"All right. Boat's down Zawn Reeth."  

"Thank you, ma'am," the sailor said, putting on a thick pea jacket, and going out the door.  

"Yeaaaa!" David said. "Can I go along, mummy? Please?" he was jumping up and down, forgetting he was to be punished for taking the telescope. He was wearing his pea jacket as if he'd been expecting to go along. When had he changed into his pea jacket? Martha wondered.  

"Please? I've been out on the boat before," David tried to entreat his mother with his huge blue eyes. "Sometimes we take people out near Wolf Rock to get their picture taken," he finished.  

"Caught in a pickle, aren't I, David?" Martha said, smiling and forgetting David's transgression. 

Her four year old son was correct: at times, especially near sunset, some people wanted to go to Wolf Rock and have their pictures taken as the sun was sinking on the horizon. The storm surge was coming in and if his story was true, then anyone on Wolf Rock wouldn't survive the night.  

"Mummy! We have to hurry!"  

She looked at her son, still jumping up and down. "All right, you can go," but David was out the pub's door by the time she finished her sentence.  

"Fast, that one," she said. Walking to the door, she looked out. The wind was cooling rapidly and the sun was just touching the horizon. She shaded her eyes, and looked towards Wolf Rock.  

The sailor had unmoored the boat. He helped David get in and then he set the boat off. David turned and waved at his mother standing on the cliff.  

Martha went back into the pub. If David's story was true, then the man would be chilled to the bone and needing hot tea and food. She put on a pot of stew, took out a large potato from the oven. Thinking it over, she took out another large potato. Then she put on another pot of water to boil for tea.  

As the food was warming, she went upstairs to the second floor. She and her husband's pub, like many in England, also functioned as a very small hotel and The Grayson Pub had six rooms to let. Walking into the biggest room, she drew a hot bath and put out a couple of thick towels.  

The bath was drawn, steaming hot, when she'd finished laying out the towels and turning down the bedding. She went back downstairs to wait. A little preparedness never hurt.  
 

Wolf Rock Lighthouse, along the ferry route to St Mary's in the Scilly Islands, nearest to Land's End, Cornwall, late September, 1940 

The waves from the English Channel met the brine of the Atlantic Ocean. Water swelled up to a height of three feet and rushed towards the shore on the horizon. Although the warming Gulf Stream passed Land's End about fifty five kilometers offshore to the west, the late September water temperature was bitterly cold.  

The deep water met the steep side of the rock and sprayed the black clad man sprawled facedown on the rock. His arms were crossed over each other and his head rested on top of his left hand.  

A gull circling overhead landed near the body and squawked a greeting, hoping for a handout. He was hungry and many times in the summer the tall two legged humans had fed it when he'd called a greeting to them. The man didn't move, and he didn't blink an eye when the water washed up around his face.  

The gull cocked its head sideways when it heard a humming sound and a soft voice speaking in a language the gull could almost understand. But the words were too faint to it to understand what was being said, so the gull concentrated its attention on the human. 

It was an unusual sight to see a human unresponsive, for usually humans don't lie face down near a waterline, especially with a storm surge. The gull thought that perhaps the human was sleeping and needed something to wake it up, so he hopped a few hops and landed on the human's back, near the human's upturned ear. The gull cried loudly. 

And then it watched the human for a response.  
 


Beachfront home near Lizard Point, Cornwall, late September 1940  

"You alive?" the voice said rather loudly. Martin moaned and tried to cover his ears.  

"Easy," the voice said, softer now. "'Ow you feeling?" 

Martin tried to sit up but failed. "I. I. Don't know. Feeling bad." 

"I would say so. You got a deep cut across your fore'ead. I stitched it up right tight and you'll be fine once you get a cuppa in you," the voice said. Martin's head cleared and he saw the owner and gender of the voice: a woman in her early forties was tending a teapot on the stove.  

"You're English. Like me," she said. "Tea will be up in a few minutes. I've done up some toast as well. Don't think you're up to a Cornish tea with all that water that came from your stomach," she finished, and took the teapot off the low gas flame. Throwing a handful of into the pot, she set it in a tea caddy. 

"No. I don't think I can handle a Cornish cream tea. Toast will do just fine. I swallowed a lot of sea water," Martin replied. 

"Aye, bad storm out there. Just swept down all of a sudden. But that's English weather. What do you know? I forgot to introduce myself. "Ida Dunham." 

"Martin Wilkes. From London." 

Ida sucked in her breath. "London's 'ad a difficult time these past weeks. Thousands dead. Sixteen London rail stations and three rail lines knocked out of service though I 'eard through the grapevine that Puffing Billy's still up and running," she chattered as she fixed Martin's cup of tea. "Out here, we like to walk." 

Martin paled. "There's no train service to London?" How were he and Ardeth supposed to get to London? "Ardeth! Where's Ardeth!" 

"Calm down, lad. Who's Ardeth?" 

"He's the man I was on the boat with. Where is he?" Panic flooded Martin's stomach and twisted it. Hot bile rose up in Martin's throat and he automatically rolled over on his side, opened his mouth and out poured a thick, long stream of water.  

"That should make you feel better," Ida remarked as she took a thick rag, dropped it onto the water. Martin and Ida watched the rag soak up the water, and Ida picked the rag up, walked over and dropped it into her washing bin. 

Martin lay back on the pillow. "I need to find Ardeth." 

"What's e' look like?"  

"Tall man, dressed all in black."  

Ida tsked. "No one else washed up on the shore out there. You were the only one. Perhaps he washed ashore somewhere else. I can work the phone for you later and call round." She handed Martin a cup of tea. "It's brewed weak so you don't upchuck it," she said.  

Martin paled but he accepted the tea. "Thank you. I would like to know if he's been washed ashore."  

He leaned back against the fluffy pillow and sipped his tea. Although he was distressed, he didn't think Ardeth had died. Martin thought he felt a thrumming that connected his and Ardeth's souls and Martin thought the ceremony to transfer the Bracelet of Lostris from himself to Ardeth had bonded their souls.  

He had had confidence in the Daughter of the Waters and true to her name, she had guided the two men down the suddenly full wadi, depositing them only half a day's hike from Tripoli. He was still awed by his talk with his deceased mother; and he vowed to make an offering to the God Imhotep, who had arranged the meeting.  

During their half a day's journey to Tripoli, Martin had both been badly sunburned and had been awed at the majestic red sandstone of the Hamadah al-Hamra--the Red Desert. When the two travelers had reached the Tripoli souks near dusk, the stall owners were already weaving stories about the extreme temperature.  

In Wau en Namus, Ardeth had loaned him the black robe and Ardeth's own skin had deepened to a bronze tone which brought out the blue tattoos on Ardeth's face. The wild fig trees that Ardeth had promised grew in the Libyan desert provided a meal and a few scattered desert succulent plants had provided their scant--but life sustaining--supply of water until they reached Tripoli and the souks, the outdoor markets where the two men could buy food and water.  

Now Martin had seen enough water to last him two more lifetimes. As he sipped the hot tea laced liberally with sugar, he could sense the thrumming from the Bracelet. The two things he had to figure out were how to get to London and where to find Ardeth. 


Wolf Rock, along the Penzance ferry route to St Mary's, Scilly Islands, nearest to Land's End, Cornwall, late September, 1940 

The prone man was unresponsive to his calls. Thinking the nonresponsiveness strange, the gull fluffed his feathers out then hunched his head closer to his shoulders as if the posture would enable him to think better.  

He wondered what to do. His flock-mates had deserted their home stretch of the beach, so he was alone. After the storm, he'd decided to practice flying and had chosen to fly to the rock formation some ways from the shore. He was a young gull--hatched just that spring--and he wasn't at all sure how to handle this situation. 

The juvenile gull studied the man. He thought he detected the skin around the two holes flapping ever so slightly. He walked closer to the man's face for a better look. Was the man breathing? Is that how they breathed--with those two holes in the soft beak? He thought for a moment. He himself breathed through two holes at the top of his beak, at least that's what his flock-mates told him during their noisy playtime.  

He flipped his head a few times. Making his decision, he slowly stretched his neck until his beak nearly touched the man's soft beak. He opened his own beak then bit down firmly. 

"Yeeeeeooowwwwww!" the man suddenly responded, opening his eyes and raising his hand to bat at the air around his nose. His actions startled the gull, who squawked and skip-hopped a few steps backward, then jumped to the rock beside the man.  

He ruffled his feathers but he'd accomplished his objective of seeing if the man was alive, and the gull was feeling a flush of pride.  

The man sat up and shook his head. He looked at the gull. "Was that you who bit me? I'm afraid I'm not very tasty. Sorry." He looked around, seeing nothing but water and the lighthouse behind him. The lighthouse didn't appear to offer much shelter, which, in Ardeth's opinion, was not a good omen. 

The gull called a greeting and the man smiled. "Sorry. I don't have any food. I bet that's what you're after, isn't it? I would offer something if I were home, for the Tuareg welcome visitors with aragaiga. That's green tea to you, young fellow! But it seems that I appear to be stranded."   

The gull squawked and flew upwards into the air. He circled twice around the lighthouse and then headed back towards land.  

Ardeth's eyes followed the gull, and then noticed a pale white smudge heading towards him. "Help, just when I need help, it arrives. Thank the Gods," Ardeth said aloud, smiling, pulling his wet robe around him. The Tuareg wove their robes with care for at times the Saharan weather could be capricious and the nighttimes temperatures would sometimes dip to well below freezing. 

Standing with his face towards the chilly winds as he waited for the ghostly smudge of a boat to reach the rock, Ardeth wondered how long he'd lain insensate. His muscles ached from a long swim, and he remembered fighting the swelling seas in his attempt to reach the white lighthouse he'd somehow known was standing on the outcrop of rock.   

He dimly remembered trying to scale the sides of the cliff he was standing on and he remembered he kept falling. Undoubtedly he would be bruised but he didn't stop to think about any injuries now.  

Ardeth reached under his robe to see if the Bracelet of Lostris was still there. But he hadn't needed to check. He could feel the thrumming of Power emanating from the Bracelet.   

As he waited to be rescued, worry creased his forehead: why hadn't the Bracelet helped him and Martin escape the freak wave? 


CHAPTER TEN

Afterlife, Sometime in Eternity 

"Taita, tell us a story to take our minds off Seth. He's been nasty as of late," Lostris persisted, picking up a golden cup of wine. She looked at her lover Tanus, the father of her son. Tanus smiled at her.  

They'd helped the Restorer of Ma'at defeat Set's plans for him but what mortals didn't know was the work was exhausting, for Set was a God, and Lostris had been mortal. Even with her son, the God-King Pharoah Tamose, it was draining work keeping Set at bay.  

Everyone was in high spirits at their temporary subjugation of Seth. Ardeth was safe, for the time being, and Lostris had decided a little celebration was in order.  

"My Queen, I what story shall I tell?" Taita asked, smoothing down his red-gold hair that had been restored to him in its full glory in the Afterlife. "Not the only thing that was restored in the Afterlife," Taita thought, smiling inwardly as he remembered how Lord Intef and Rasfer's handiwork in creating a eunuch out of the sixteen year old slave Taita all those decades ago had disappeared in an instant.  

"Isis and the Seven Scorpions!" shouted Pharoah Tamose, who, for this particular gathering, had appeared to the group as he did when his mother was first appointed Regent of Egypt in her 21st year--Tamose was a five year old and at the time he was called Prince Memnon: Ruler of the Dawn. 

"Memnon," his mother warned but she, too, giggled, her dark green eyes crinkling at the corners. She had thought his childhood name apt. Memnon had indeed been the Ruler of the Dawn: the Hyksos had brought a new dawn to Egyptian history and Memnon had been a prince in exile.  

Taita and Tanus laughed. "My Queen, my Prince Memnon, and Lord Tanus, I will tell the story of Isis and the Seven Scorpions," Taita intoned, quite seriously.  "The tale is part of a potent spell to protect against venomous stings and Seth has tried to sting us recently," he added with a wink of his eye. 

    "After Isis resurrected Osiris long enough to impregnate herself, her son Horus was born. Isis's evil brother Seth took her and Horus as hostages.  

    Thoth took pity on their plight, and provided seven scorpions to escort Isis and Horus in their flight from captivity.  Their names were Petet, Tjetet, Matet, Mesetet, Mesetetef, Tefen and Befen.   

    After walking many hours in the swampy Delta, Isis and Horus straggled into a village, tired and hungry. The first house that Isis tried to get food and shelter at belonged to a wealthy noblewoman. As soon as she saw the scorpions, she promptly shut the door in Isis's face. Undeterred, Isis took Horus by the hand and tried her luck elsewhere. 

    Eventually, Isis found shelter in the dilapidated home of a peasant girl.  

    "Yes, you may stay the night in my home, my Lady," the peasant girl said, showing Isis, Horus, and the seven scorpions into her home. "I will prepare a meal," she said, showing Isis and Horus to a small table.  

    "You are very kind," Isis said, allowing herself and Horus to be seated.  

    "I am afraid I have only barley bread and beer to offer you," the peasant girl said as she laid out a simple meal.  

    "We had no food and no shelter before your offer. We are grateful," Isis said as her son ate the still warm barley bread.  

    After seeing their mistress and her son settled with food, drink and a bed, the seven scorpions discussed the noblewoman's actions.  

    "A peasant girl can hardly afford to share bread and  beer, yet she did so willingly," Petet said.  

    "But the noblewoman had jewels on her fingers and silver on her wrists, and she refused to help a traveller," Mesetet said.  

    The scorpions agreed that the noblewoman deserved revenge. In preparation, six of the scorpions gave their individual poisons to Tefen who loaded his stinger with the poisons.  

    After Isis and Horus were asleep, Tefen sneaked into the noblewoman's home and stung her son. Distraught, the woman wandered through the town seeking help for her child who was on the verge of death.  But no one wanted to help her because of her previous inhospitality. 

    Isis heard the woman's cries for help. Although the woman had been unkind to her, Isis could not bear the thought of the death of an innocent child and left with the woman to help her son. Isis held the boy in her arms and spoke words of great magic. 

    She named each of the scorpions and thereby dominated them; rendering their combined poison to be harmless in the child. The noblewoman was humbled by Isis' unconditional kindness and as thanks offered all of her worldly wealth to Isis and to the peasant girl who had shown hospitality to a stranger who turned out to be a Goddess." 
     

"Now, young Prince," Tanus said, fingering the Gold of Valor hung around his neck. "What is the moral of the story?" 

"Always be kind and help those in need?" the green-eyed Prince asked a bit shyly, fingering his own Gold of Valor that he had earned when he was just a child. It had been unusual for a child to earn the Gold of Valor, but times in Egypt had been unusual and he did, if he said so himself, show great initiative in helping Tanus.  

Even if he'd been ten when he'd earned the Gold of Valor. He knew he was cheating a bit with his appearances in the Afterlife but he did so love the Gold of Valor that Taita had made especially for his ten year old incarnation.  

"You are right, my Prince. And we shall have to help Ardeth Bey again, and soon," Taita replied. "So let us enjoy the meals and wine offered us by our subjects," he finished.  

Tanus laughed, and Taita, Lostris and Memnon joined in the merriment the afterlife offered them. Taita had a sneaking suspicion that their help would be needed more than once in the near future of the earthbound world. 

He didn't know why but he had a terrible foreboding every time the golden light shimmered. And the golden light had shimmered thousands of times in the past minutes? days? Taita didn't know how to tell time here in the Crossroads and in the Afterlife, but Taita thought that way too many souls had passed through the Crossroads--and the souls had all passed together, as if a terrible catastrophe had occured in the earthbound world.  

"Another war," Taita thought. "Like the final battle that ended Pharoah Mamose's life and started the 250 year reign of the Hyksos Kings."  


The Underworld, Sometime in Eternity (scuttlebutt has the date as late September, 1940) 

"You planned the destruction of the Pyramids and of the tombs and temples of Egypt?" Imhotep asked the new arrival, a fresh-faced young man.  

Every demon in the underworld had wanted a piece of the new arrival and they had temporarily stopped devouring the other doomed souls when Nuit had thrown the new soul into the Underworld. The demons waited, impatient, shaking their fists at Imhotep.  

"We want him!"  a multitude of voices shouted. 

"Give him to us!" another chorus of voices called.  

"I'm hungry!" shouted one female demon, her voice louder than the rest.  

Imhotep looked at her gently--he had a soft spot for women (Anck Su Namun's betrayal still weighed upon him and he vowed he would get his revenge on her one day). That particular female demon hadn't yet fully transformed into a hideousness better left to nightmares and most of her beautiful face remained.  

Imhotep raised his hand for silence. The demons quieted but loud grumblings were heard from the eternally long line.  

The young man looked scared. Imhotep didn't want to know his name. "Ye, ye, yes. That was the plan," he finally choked out. "Where am I?" he asked, looking around. "How can I understand you?" 

"In the underworld, we understand everything," Imhotep's voice was deceptively soft.  

"What will happen to me? Where's my mother and father? Aren't they supposed to meet me or something? I mean, that's like the thing, isn't it? They meet me?" the young man asked, scanning the human crowd which had gathered to one side of the demons.  

"Are your parents dead?" 

"Five years ago in an accident," the young man replied. "Are they here?" he repeated. 

Imhotep laughed darkly. "No, your parents are not here. But you are, and you will be here for eternity." 

"Wha, what did I do to get here? What are these creatures?" he asked, waving his hand at the demons, who started salivating. 

"You planned the destruction of the Pyramids, and the destruction of the tombs and temples of Egypt. That plan was enough to damn your soul eternally," Imhotep replied. "Planning to destroy the Pyramids would be enough to cause you to suffer the Hom-Dai."  

"But I thought it would be a good plan! They're just buildings!" the young man protested. Demons howled their disapproval of the new arrival and they started clawing. Imhotep raised his hand. The demons quieted. 

Imhotep leaned down until his face was close to Josef's face. He saw Josef swallow back his fear. "Do you know why the Egyptians painted their tombs and temples?" he asked Josef.  

The unfortunate young man shook his head. 

"We painted our tombs and temples so that in the Afterlife we may enjoy the pleasures that we enjoyed during our earthbound life." 

"I, I d-d-don't understand," Josef stammered. He was beginning to be afraid, to be very afraid for himself.  

"People in the Afterlife can receive sustenance through two means: tomb paintings and an earthbound mortuary cult to perform rituals and prayers. The tomb paintings would provide sustenance to the deceased in the event the mortuary cult failed to perform its duties of prayers and offerings. In other words, the Egyptians stocked their tombs with the objects--and paintings of the objects, feasts and offerings--that they wished to enjoy in the Afterlife," Imhotep explained.  

Young Josef was sweating profusely and the onion-like smell offended Imhotep's nose. "Like if a musician wanted to play music in the afterlife, he'd have musical instruments in his tomb?"  

Imhotep nodded. "And the temples dedicated to the gods were painted with singers, dancers, feasts and offerings because?" he asked Josef softly.  

Josef swallowed again. "Because if the mortuary cult failed to perform its duties, then the gods would continue to receive sustenance?" 

"If the mortuary cult failed to perform its duties for any reason, including invasion of Egypt, then the images of the gods in the paintings would remain alive in the afterlife and receive sustenance through the paintings of the dancers, singers, offerings, feasts and the prayers inscribed and painted on the temple walls," Imhotep corrected.  

"So, if the temples and tombs of Egypt are destroyed, then the Egyptian afterlife would cease to exist?" Josef asked.  

"Yes. Any plan to destroy the Pyramids goes against the gods and the plan goes against the gods of the underworld. Your arrival has granted a reprieve to the other people," Imhotep indicated the human crowd with a nod of his shaven head. "Their sins together do not equal the sin of attempting to destroy the Pyramids and the Afterlife of Egypt," Imhotep told the young man. 

"The pain is exquisite when the soul is devoured," Imhotep now pointed at the eternally long line of waiting demons. "I thought it would be better for you if your soul was devoured by one demon at a time. Much more painful that way." 

The young man gulped. His eyes were bugged out in terror as he watched the poison saliva drip from the demons' jaws. They shook their fists at him.  

"Now," Imhotep told him, taking a step closer to the frightened young man and leaning even closer towards him. "Tell me everything that Hitler is planning on doing to Egypt. I can make things much easier for you." 
 


CHAPTER ELEVEN

Wolf Rock, along the Penzance ferry route to St Mary's, Scilly Islands, nearest to Land's End, Cornwall, late September, 1940 

"There is a man! There is a man!" David jumped up, nearing tipping the boat over. 

"By jove, he's right," the sailor, Thomas Wheaton, said softly, picking up a British saying. He slowed the boat, watching carefully the storm surge, and cupping his hands around his mouth he called, "Hello!" 

Ardeth waved at the white smudge. He mimicked the man and cupped his hands around his mouth. "Hello! Can you help?" 

"Yes! We'll be there shortly!" Thomas steered the boat towards the closest outcrop of Wolf Rock that the man would be able jump into the boat. The man understood Thomas's actions and nimbly made his way towards the rocky outcrop. 

"Hullo, there, mister!" David piped up, as Ardeth stepped into the boat, which rocked and swayed but stayed put under Thomas's expert direction.  

"Hello! Guess ah came by at a good time," Thomas tried to joke as Ardeth seated himself.  

"Are there any others?" Thomas asked.  

Ardeth shook his head. "I'm not sure how many survived. I was traveling with Martin Wilkes. We were both washed overboard when a freak wave washed over the ferry's deck. I'm not even sure how many were washed overboard." 

"How many people were on the ferry?"  

"Myself, Martin, the captain and a crew of seven." 

"Boat's name? We'll start a search." 

"Gilgamesh. Owned by Roger Wiltshire of Penzance. That's where we were headed." 

Thomas nodded, his dark brown curls bobbing in time. "Ah'll radio it in when we get back. You're at Land's End when we get back. It's eight miles to shore." 

"Is Land's End very far from Penzance?" Ardeth inquired.  

Thomas shook his head. "It's about an hour's sail. But with the heavy bombing of London by the Luftwaffe, the government has suspended private sailing craft from Land's End up to Dover. There's blackout restrictions on fuel, too, so cars are not used during the night." 

"Any way to get to London?" 

"By land," Thomas replied. "Pub owners around these parts rent out horses. Ah like to go riding myself." 

"Do you have a blanket?" Ardeth asked, shivering slightly despite his heavy wet robes. 

"Here it is mister!" David piped up, wanting to be of help. He pointed to a pile of blankets near Ardeth's feet. "What's your name?" he asked Ardeth. He was awed to discover this man had been washed overboard the side of the Penzance ferry. He'd never known anyone who'd been washed overboard before.  

"I am called Ardeth Bey," Ardeth replied, picking up a blanket and wrapping it around himself. "And what's your name, little one?" he asked the youngster. 

"David. David Dunlop. I'm four although I look older," David replied, holding up four of his fingers. He looked behind him. The setting sun was just about to sink below the horizon. "Where's the gull? I saw the gull when you were on Wolf Rock." 

"He left to go home to sleep," Ardeth replied. David yawned in response then he smiled at Ardeth.  

Thomas chose that moment to break in. "Name's Thomas Wheaton. Ah'm from Savannah, Georgia."  

"United States," Ardeth replied.  

"You're from Spain?"  

Ardeth shook his head. "Egypt. I am Tuareg." 

"Tuareg? I didn't think that accent sounded Spanish." 

"What's Egypt?" David put in. 

"Egypt is where the Pyramids were built. My people live in the desert along the Nile," Ardeth replied.  

"What's Spanish, Arder?" David now wanted to know as he leaned on Ardeth's knee. "Are you Spanish?" 

Ardeth smiled at David but it was Thomas who answered David. "Spain is a country, and the Spanish live in Spain. You know, like the Danes live in Daneland," Thomas finished, with a sly tone in his voice. 

"Nuh uh! Danes don't live in Daneland!" David retorted. He wasn't sure where the Danes lived but Daneland didn't sound right, and he wasn't sure how he knew that. He knitted his brows together. There was a lot he wasn't sure of and he wasn't sure about how much he didn't know. By jove, life was perplexing! 

Ardeth smiled again. "But the Danes do live in Daneland," he said, quite seriously, his dark eyes large. David leaned forward and tipped his small face up to look Ardeth in the eyes. Ardeth looked down at David. David knitted his brows again. 

"You are not sure where the Danes live but you know, somehow, that the Danes do not live in Daneland. Am I right?" Ardeth asked the child.  

Thomas laughed and David nodded his head vigorously. "Where do the Danes live, Arder?" he asked Ardeth. 

"The Danes are also known as the Danish. And the Danes live in Denmark," Ardeth replied, smiling again. This child was refreshing to him. "Does that sound better? The Danes live in Denmark?" 

David nodded, a tear forming in his eye. "But..." 

"Yes?" Ardeth asked softly. 

"But sometimes," David was hesitating. He was a bit afraid; in fact, he was miserable about his next statement, but Arder seemed a nice person. "But sometimes, sometimes we eat the danish for breakfast," he finished miserably, looking down. Tears fell down his cheeks to wet his pea jacket.  

Ardeth took his hand and tipped David's head upwards. "A danish is a sweet breakfast pastry. You haven't eaten the Danish people. Don't worry, little one. The breakfast pastry is called danish, just like the Danes are also referred to as Danish," Ardeth said.  

"Better?" he asked the child.  

David smiled through his tears. He jumped up and hugged Ardeth, who couldn't help but hug David back.  

"He's only four," Ardeth told Thomas, who nodded.  

"Ah'm not much good around children. Ah guess language games aren't a good idea. But, it was David's idea to come out to this rock," Thomas said, wanting to give the little guy some credit. 

"Was it your idea to come out here, David?"  

"Uh-huh! Wolf Rock is a baaad place! The sailors said so!" David said and crawled down to sit on Ardeth's lap. Despite the warmth his robe gave him, Ardeth found the warmth of the child necessary--and comforting--for as the sun set, a chilling wind came off the ocean.  

David decided this was a good time to tell his story.  

"I was standing on the shore and I was looking at the lighthouse because daddy sometimes takes people out here to take pictures and I saw something black near the lighthouse," David took a deep breath. At four, he had just learned to describe his day in nearly complete sentences and he wanted to make sure he got his thoughts out of his mind before he forgot them.  

He continued, "And that was you, Arder, and I saw the gull and then I went and called mummy! And here we are!" David finished with a flourish. He took another deep breath.  
"I owe you my thanks, and my life," Ardeth said to David. Looking at Thomas, he said, "I thank you for believing in David's assertations that I was here."  

"You're welcome," David said as the small boat carrying the three males reached the shore.  

"Sea folk take care of each other. There's been too much loss of life as it is," Thomas replied. 

Ardeth nodded, and his soul cried out in agony about the bombings.  

Martha was standing on the shore, waiting for them. "Well, I'll be..." her voice trailed off in awe. "There was someone on Wolf Rock!"  

"Hello, ma'am! Ah brought someone for you!"  

"I see that!" Martha tried to hide her shock. "The tide is coming up over Wolf Rock. He would have drowned," Martha thought to herself.  

"Ah'll go alert the coast guard to be on patrol for the Gilgamesh and any survivors," Thomas said as he gathered up the ropes to moor the small boat to the dock.  

"That was an authorized supply run Roger was on. You'll find the phone to the left of the door. Just dial 999 and they'll connect you," Martha said in a tone of sadness as Thomas went to make the call. "Anyone else survive?" 

Ardeth shook his head but he was hoping that Martin survived. He didn't want to mention that he thought Martin had survived.  

"Mummy! This is Arder Bey! He told me that the Danish live in Denmark and we don't eat them for breakfast!" Ardeth swung David out of the boat and into his mother's arms.  

"Well now, that sounds right! Welcome, Arthur Bey," Martha said. "I'm Martha Dunlop. You've met my son. I've a hot bath and a meal waiting for you." Martha put her son down on the ground.  

"Thank you, Mrs Dunlop," Ardeth said, his dark eyes looking directly at Martha. He didn't correct the mispronunciation of his name. He would be Arthur for David and Martha. "But what I really need is a way to get to London. Can you help?"  

"London?" Martha peered at Ardeth. Arthur needs to get to London? she asked herself. "Why, yes. I can rent you a horse. We don't own a car and there's three rail lines to London that are bombed. Trains aren't running and the coast is shut to private sailing craft as a result of the Luftwaffe. On top of all that, there's a blackout in effect during the evenings."  

"A horse will be fine," Ardeth said. He looked at Martha with an expression of gratitude. "That hot bath and dinner sounds wonderful as well," Ardeth finished, smiling. The Gods were providing.  

"Yes," a flustered Martha started to say but she was interrupted by David.  

"Are you going to stay the night? Can you tell me some stories?" David asked, grabbing Ardeth's hand and tugging him towards the pub. Thomas, meanwhile, had gone off to phone the coast guard.  

Martha kept in step with her son, who was still tugging on Ardeth's hand. 

"You were lucky. The submarine SS Joshua Nicholson sunk off Wolf Rock in March 1917 and there've been a lot of shipwrecks off that rock." 

"It's a good thing there was a lighthouse put there and a good thing your son was looking through the telescope," he said, smiling down at David's blonde head and allowing David to lead him to the pub, David chattering all the way to the staircase leading to the second floor. 

"The lighthouse was built there in 1869," Marth replied, her irriation at the purloining of the telescope dissipating as she realized that without David's misbehavior, this man would be amongst the dead Wolf Rock claimed. "David, why not go and set the table for Arthur? You can have dinner with him."  

"Yeahh!" David said, turning and running off as fast as he could. 

"He's a very good child," Ardeth commented after they'd climbed the stairs. Martha showed Ardeth where the hot bath waited.  
  
"He can be a trial at times," Martha replied. "If you'll leave those clothes, I'll have them washed out for you." 

"Thank you," Ardeth commented as Martha took her leave of him. Ardeth undressed and removed the Bracelet of Lostris from its leather pouch. The Bracelet still thrummed and Ardeth knew that somehow, Martin was alive. But where was Martin? Looking down at his legs, he noted his knees and thighs had swelling purple bruises. 

Ardeth slid into the still very hot bath. He felt the heated water relaxing his muscles and draining some of the tension. He still had to find Martin and get to London. Boat, car and train were out of the equation now, so by way of horse he would travel to London.  

But why hadn't the Bracelet helped them?  

Then Ardeth sat up in the bathtub. Didn't Thomas say Wolf Rock was eight miles from Land's End? That was nearly thirteen kilometers. How did David see a lighthouse eight miles away with a telescope unless...unless the Bracelet did help him.  

Ardeth relaxed back into the hot water again. Martha did draw a very fine bath.  

And the Bracelet of Lostris that Taita had fashioned some thirty five hundred years ago and had imbued with Lostris' power? The Bracelet had enabled a four year old child peering through a telescope to see a shipwreck victim lying on a rock formation eight miles from shore.  

"Lostris must be associated with the magic of Isis," was Ardeth's last thought before the warm water relaxed his muscles and he napped.  


The Throne Room where the Dead go before Osiris and Ammit, Sometime in Eternity (but scuttlebutt has heard rumor it is late September 1940) 

"And Ardeth will have only granted Egypt a temporary reprieve from Hitler," Imhotep told the assembled Egyptian Gods. Only Set was missing; he was busy elsewhere with his new follower. Set was also battling with his mother, which, while bad for Ardeth and Martin, kept Set distracted from the secret council of the Gods. 

But Set was used to missing secret councils of the Gods; he and Horus had been absent hundreds of times from council meetings when Set was battling Horus for control of the Throne.  

Ammit, the Crocodile Monster who preferred the name Devourer of the Dead, and who devoured the hearts of the unworthy, snapped his jaws. "Hitler will not have to be judged by Ma'at. He is already judged unworthy!" 

The demons of the underworld were assembled behind Imhotep: the balance between good and evil was equally represented. The female demon Imhotep had noted earlier was happily sucking on the soul of the young man, Josef.  

The faces of the gods registered shock. Bastet growled, her cat face scrunching up and her green eyes flashed anger. Horus was walking back and forth, stamping his feet while his mother Isis was weeping uncontrollably. Geb had his hand on Isis' shoulder.  

"I want Hitler for myself," the female demon growled between sips of Josef's soul. Imhotep smiled wanly at her and she continued sucking on Josef's soul.  

"If London falls, then all of the land north of the Great Green will fall. Hitler will have guessed Josef's plans and he will assemble an army to invade Egypt. But with the land north of the Great Green under his control, he will succeed in destroying Egypt, the Pyramids, and the tombs and temples," Imhotep said.  

Sharp intakes of breath from the Gods told Imhotep that there were crimes which were considered worse than his own crimes.  

His words about Hitler's plans had chilled the Throne Room and clouds of mist swirled in the air.  

Imhotep looked around the Throne Room. "Hitler plans on destroying all traces of the Egyptian civilization, from our beginnings with the Scorpion King up to the present. The destruction of the temples and their paintings would be enough to ensure the Gods' destruction." 

"Egypt and Her Gods will not allow Hitler to succeed!"  Hathor exclaimed, her anger changing her normal cow form to that of an angry lioness.  

"What does that mean?" a young male demon asked the God of the Dead, Osiris. 

"It means that we, as Gods, would no longer exist if the temples and their paintings were destroyed. Because even if the temples fall into neglect, the paintings on the temple walls of the feasts, offerings, singers, dancers and inscribed prayers would continue to keep the Gods alive and with sustenence," Osiris replied, repeating Imhotep's earlier words.  

Nepthys put in, "Tuthmothis III erased Hatshepsut's name from public buildings. By removing her name, he tried to ensure her erasure from the Afterlife."  

"So by destroying the temples and tombs, all Egyptian afterlife would be destroyed? Including us in the underworld?" the male demon queried, his voice shaking.  

"Including the demons in the underworld," Osiris confirmed. The demons howled in frustration. 

"What do we do?" a frightened Bes, a dwarf fertility god and guardian of pregnant women, asked. The question was repeated by many of the lesser goddesses.  

"We need to help prevent the fall of London," the female demon growled, lifting her head up from Josef's soul. She had been slowly sucking on Josef's soul to better draw out his pain. 

"Yes! Yes!" shouts came from both sides of the underworld.  

"Then we are in agreement?" Osiris asked the assembled gods, sans Set, and including the demons of the underworld in his statement. 

A roar of approval sounded.   

"Then this meeting is adjourned. We will do everything we can to prevent the fall of London. Then we will focus on getting Hitler to the Underworld," Osiris said. "I just hope that wayward brother of mine doesn't prevent Ardeth from reaching London in time."  

The assembled gods and demons began to disperse.  

"High Priest Imhotep?" Osiris called to his former High Priest. 

Imhotep turned, the light from Nuit's still-falling tears illuminating the gold in his robe. "Yes, my Lord?"  

"Thank you for letting us know about Hitler's plans," Osiris said. Imhotep inclined his head, then left the Throne Room, his golden robes fluttering around his ankles. He would be allowed to keep his golden robes in the Underworld.  

Isis turned to Osiris. "That deed he did, will that outweigh his crime?" 

Osiris thought a moment. "Ma'at will weigh his heart against the feather again. And the demons won't eat his soul until Ma'at weighs his heart. He deserves that much. " 
 


CHAPTER TWELVE

The Grayson Pub, September 23, 1940, just before David's late bedtime  

"Tell me a story, Arthur!" David asked of his new friend, leading him by the hand to a couch nestled cozily by the fireplace. Ardeth was babysitting, for Martha had gone to saddle up the stallion Ardeth had rented from her. He'd paid her with the gold pinky ring he had worn on his right hand.  

Ardeth smiled. There was something totally irresistable about David which struck a chord in Ardeth's heart. And Ardeth couldn't help but respond warmly. Perhaps it was the irresistable lure of the very young which had caused Ardeth to express more emotions than he'd expressed to anyone. In the few hours which had passed since his rescue, Ardeth had found himself smiling at, hugging, and singing to this irresistable young child.  

"What story shall I tell you?" he asked David as the two sat down on the couch. David looked at Ardeth, then decided to sit on his new friend's knee. 

"Stories about Egypt!"   

Should he tell a myth? Or stories from his childhood travels across the Sahara? He looked at the smiling blonde youngster and remembered that four year olds liked stories about magic.  

Making his decision, he replied, "This is a story about magic spells."  

"Yeahhhhh!" David cheered, clapping his hands. 

"It's called Siosire and the Magician of Nubia: 

    "Holding a sealed letter up to Rameses, a Nubian boy asked, "Can anyone here read this letter without opening it? If there is none wise enough to do so, all of Nubia shall know of Egypt's shame." 

    Perplexed, and still distressed over the recent death of his father, Seti, Rameses, the second to hold that Throne Name, called for Prince Setna, the most learned of his sons. But Setna was baffled by the puzzle. 

    Not wanting to shame Egypt, he parried and asked for ten days' grace so that he may solve the puzzle put forth by the Nubian. But he was worried and fretted during the ten days of grace that he had been granted. 

    Setna's son, Siosire, had asked his father what was wrong. When he was told of the Nubian puzzle, Siosire said, "Why Father! I can read that letter!"  

    Setna was puzzled even more but he got a papyrus scroll from his wooden chest and Siosire read the contents without unrolling it."  

    "What's a papryus?" David interrupted.  

    "It's Egyptian writing paper," Ardeth explained, then continued his tale. 

    "Setna was astonished and the next day Siosire and Setna went to Rameses and the young Nubian. Siosire proceeded to tell the court what the Nubian's scroll contained."  

    "What's Nubian?" David interrupted again. 

    "Nubia is a country just south of Egypt and the citizens are referred to as Nubians," Ardeth replied. He softened his voice, in order to relax the child for sleep.  

    "One thousand, five hundred floodings ago, the Prince of Nubia had used the powers of his great magician Sa-Neheset to bring Egypt's pharoah to the Nubian court. The Prince of Nubia then administered a brutal beating to the pharoah. 

    Shamed, the pharoah sought help from his own magician, Sa-Paneshe and the two great magicians began a great struggle.  

    In the end, Sa-Paneshe triumphed and the Nubian sorcerer vowed not to return to Egypt for one and a half thousand floodings.  

    At the end of his reading, Siosire said, "This Nubian boy is really Sa-Neheset reincarnated after one and a half thousand floodings. But I am the reincarnation of Sa-Paneshe and I challenge him once again!" 

    Immdiately, Sa-Neheset began to recite spells, which were countered by Sa-Paneshe. Thunder roiled, lightning struck, and the earth shook but the two magicians were locked in a great battle.  

    Finally, the reincarnation of Sa-Paneshe sent a fire-spell which rendered Sa-Neheset's magic useless and Sa-Neheset was consumed in the flames. 

    But as Setna and Rameses watched, their faces full of pride for Egypt, Sa-Paneshe disappeared. The voice of Osiris said that he had called Sa-Paneshe back to the underworld."

Martha cut in, "Time for bed, David," she said, reaching out for her son. David allowed himself to be picked up. Her cheeks were ruddy from the chilly night. "The horse is saddled up and ready," she told Ardeth. Ardeth hadn't heard her come in the front door of the pub.  

"That was a good story, Arthur! Good night, Arthur! You need to come back soon!" David said cheerfully, then yawned. He'd been forgiven for purloining the telescope, he'd learned a new story tonight and his new friend Arthur had said he'd try to come back and see David. All this put David in a fine mood to go to sleep and it showed on his four year old face. He yawned again. 

"Good night, David. I will try to come back here as soon as I can," Ardeth softly replied, smiling again at David. In the past few hours, he'd found he couldn't help but smile whenever David was the room--somehow David managed to dispel the gloom Ardeth's heart had felt everytime people were wrenched from their lives and suddenly transported through the Crossroads of Time.  

"He'll miss you, Arthur," Martha said, settling David on her left hip. For his part, David put his head on his mum's shoulder. "When there's a need for overnight messages or deliveries, we have a network of riders who bring food, letters and supplies along the Cornish coastline," she said. 

"That would work with physicians as well," Ardeth commented, thinking of a young child living more than a few kilometers from the nearest physician.    

Martha nodded and took off her heavy pea jacket. Placing the jacket over the top of the couch, she replied, "With the fuel war rations and the blackout restrictions, we found that horses are the best way to transport lightweight loads." 

"I am at home with horses," Ardeth replied easily, then made his next request. "Would you send a telegram to London, attention of Rick O'Connell?" 

"What shall I tell him?" Martha asked.  

"Just that I'm on my way to London," Ardeth replied.  

"That I will do, Arthur Bey. Good luck," she said, turning to walk out of the room, David's head on her shoulder. 

"Thank you, Martha."  

David twisted around and called sleepily over his mother's shoulder. 

"Arthur, would you tuck me in?" David inquired as his mother walked towards the second staircase located next to the kitchen.  

"If your mother says yes, then I would be pleased," Ardeth replied.  

"Mummy?" David entreatied his mother. She chuckled and nodded her head. "Yeaaah!" David's soft voice, full of sleep, replied. Ardeth followed Martha up the stairs towards the pub's front apartment. 

Martha pulled the covers up under David's chin and Ardeth leaned forward to kiss David on the forehead. "Sing me a lullaby," the four year old murmured as he settled back into the warmth the bed provided.  

Martha chuckled softly. "Insistent, aren't you?" she asked of her son as a soft humming was heard. 

David nodded his head as he simultaneously gave a big yawn. He'd never been awake this late before and Ardeth's soft humming was soothing. David settled back into the fluffy pillow, closing his blue eyes. Memories of the day's events flashed before his eyes and softly, David heard Ardeth sing in another language.  

David's eyes fluttered as soft humming began again. Ardeth's soft voice filled David's ears as Ardeth sang,  

    What is it, little one?   
    My good little one,   
    My brave little one   
    My dear little one   
    What is it, little one?   
    Be still, I will stroke your fingers   
    I kiss the sweat from your brow   
    I will stay near you   
    You and I belong together 
Martha put her finger to her lips and motioned Ardeth out of David's room. The child was fast asleep, Martha softly closed the door and caught up with Ardeth. 

"What language were you singing in?" 

"Tamasheqt. It is the language of my people, the Tuareg." 

"It's beautiful. That was a Tuareg lullaby you sang?" 

Ardeth nodded, a smile playing on his red lips. "And one my mother used to sing to me when I was little. She always hummed the lullaby before starting to sing," he said. "I translated the words into English when my friends Rick and Evie O'Connell had their son Alex," he finished.  

"Tuareg," Martha said thoughtfully. "Do they have a king?" she asked as they descended the stairs back to the pub's main level. 

"Not a king, a commander. My tribe is a confederation and we are part of the Tuareg people known as the Medjai," he replied as he reached the bottom of the stairs. He turned to look at Martha. "The Medjai now protect Hamunuptra and in the time of the Pharaohs, the Medjai were the Pharoah's sacred bodyguards," he finished.  

"You would have protected King Tut?" she asked, disclosing her unabashed interest in things Egyptian and this was interesting information Ardeth was telling her.  

"Yes. As the Medjai, my ancestors protected the boy-king," Ardeth said, knowing the English fascination with the tomb of King Tut. He looked in Martha's eyes. "I thank you again, Martha. I owe my life to you and your son David. You and your family have earned the eternal thanks of my tribe."  

Martha didn't know what to say, so she said the obvious. "You're welcome."  

He picked up a leather satchel that Martha had provided which contained extra blankets and a supply of food until he reached the next stop nearly seventy kilometers down the coastline. Opening the door, a chill wind blew into the pub.  

Martha shivered. "Cold night out," she commented.  

"The Sahara, at night, gets so cold that ice forms in the tea pots," he told Martha. The Tuareg were predilected towards their foaming tea ceremony--and the Tuareg preferred green tea in particular--and Ardeth's statement was true: at times, the Sahara could get so cold at night ice formed from water and people were known to have frozen to death in the desert night. 

Ardeth's stallion mount saw him and neighed a greeting. Ardeth chuckled. "Good evening to you!" he said as he stepped through the door and turning one last time to look at Martha, he smiled at her and shut the door.  

Ensuring the satchel was secure on his mount, he swung himself into the saddle. Ardeth was  about to nudge the horse into action when the pub's door opened.  

"I won't forget to send a telegram to Rick O'Connell in London!" Martha said.  

"I appreciate it, Martha," Ardeth replied.  

Martha started to shut the door, then her curiosity got the better of her. "Ardeth? Who is the commander of the Medjai?" 

"I am," he replied as his heels came down on the stallion's flank and the magnificent horse galloped towards London.  

"Commander of the Medjai," Martha repeated as she looked after Ardeth. She shut the door, then went to the bookshelf and pulled out the book on King Tut and Ancient Egypt. Sitting down on the couch, she began to read enthusiastically about the young boy-king who had ruled Egypt more than three thousand years ago and whose artisans had fashioned such exquisite objects of gold and ivory.  


Beachfront home near Lizard Point, Cornwall, late September 1940, after sunset 

"Just 'ow did you get to England?" Ida, suspicious, and dropping the h's at the beginning of her words, was asking Martin as she spooned mashed potatoes onto Martin's plate. The two were seated at Ida's dining room table.  

"My friend Ardeth and I were deckhands on the Gilgamesh." 

"The supply ferry!" Ida was alarmed. "Did Roger survive?" True concern showed in her voice. "He's known from Plymouth down to Land's End." 

Unwittingly echoing Ardeth's words, Martin replied, "I'm not sure how many survived. I was traveling with an Egyptian, Ardeth Bey. We were both washed overboard when a freak wave washed over the ferry's deck. I'm not even sure how many were washed overboard." 

Ida sat down on the chair, hard. A small oomph came out of her mouth. She fought to keep back tears. "Roger. A good man, Roger was." 

"Let's hold out hope. He may have been washed ashore," Martin said, reaching over the table and patted her hand.  

Ida sniffed back her tears. "Stiff upper lip, I know. English thing to do. Roger was supposed to be ferrying back the mail from the troops stationed there. My boys, both of them, are stationed in Paris and I was expecting letters from them." 

Martin sucked in his breath. Ida had sent off her two sons to war. "I sent my 'usband off to the first war. 'e served with Sigfried Sassoon, same regiment, even wounded the same day Siefried was. 'e came 'ome but 'e was never the same after that. Our twin sons were born nine months after their daddy came 'ome. But my 'usband died the night the twins were born. 'eart attack," she told Martin, sniffing back more tears.  

"And now your twins are off in war," Martin stated. Ida nodded.  

"Tis the way of war: they take your 'usbands, then they take your sons. Mums never win," she replied. "Now let's 'ear your story. 'ow did you meet a man from Egypt?" 

Martin spooned mashed potatoes into his mouth. Ida had mixed in rosemary and garlic before roasting the potatoes before deciding to mash them. The potatoes were hot. And delicious.  

He ran the events of the last month through his mind. "I enjoy being in Egypt," he began. 

Ida nodded assent. "King Tut's what got me fascinated in going there. Always wanted to go, but with my 'usband dead and two young boys to raise, I never could afford to go." 

"I met Ardeth in Cairo," he began to say but Ida interrupted him again.  

"Milk? Fresh from the udder, boiled then chilled." 

"Yes. Milk would be fine." Martha poured the milk. "Where was I? Oh, Cairo. Ardeth and I were traveling in Libya when we ran out of money in Tripoli. So we signed on as deckhands to a French supply boat." 

"Ah, working your way back to England, eh?" Ida asked, smiling through her sniffles.  

Martin chuckled. "It's something like that." 

"Ow did you get to Cherbourg? Fighting lines are thick and fast in France with the Nazis there," Ida commented, taking up a glass and pouring milk for herself. "The cow was the best investment I ever made. Even if I didn't get to take the kids on vacation that year." 

"When did you buy the cow?" Martin asked, hoping to buy himself some time to work out an adequate cover story.  

"Six years ago," she replied, smiling. "But 'ow did you get through the lines?" she insisted. 

"We hitchhiked until we arrived in Paris. We couldn't go any further by car." 

Martha sneered. "Nazis occupy Paris."  

Martin nodded. "Ardeth thought it too risky to walk to Cherbourg, so we bought horses," Martin stuffed a spoonful of potatoes into his mouth, chewed a bit, then swallowed. "And rode by horseback to Cherbourg." 

"You rode from Paris to Cherbourg? And the Nazi's didn't catch you?" Ida asked. "Your Ardeth must be very courageous or else he's very favored." 

"We rode at night and no, the Nazi's didn't seem to see us," Martin replied, stuffing another spoonful of potatoes into his mouth. Now that Ida mentioned it, it did seem strange that although he and Ardeth had passed dozens of Nazi encampments on the way to the French shore of the English Channel, not one Nazi soldier had paid any attention to the two men riding either in a lorry or riding past Nazi encampments on galloping horses.  

"If they had seen you, you wouldn't be sitting here today," Ida rightly proclaimed, drinking the milk.  

Martin nodded. "If you would please, may I have some of that vegetable stew?" Martin asked Ida. His stomach was empty of water now, and he discovered he was famished.  

He plucked a hot piece of black rye bread from the basket Ida had on her table and buttered it, then took a huge bite of the bread. Ida grew her own vegetable garden, replete with potatoes and herbs; she sold most of the herbs. 

War rations were beginning to be hard on everyone, including Ida, but she always had enough bread. With the milk from her cow, Ida always had fresh butter. She kept a small portion for herself, used mainly for guests, and sold or traded the rest of the butter.  

Ida nodded and got up to get a bowl from the antique sideboard. Filling the bowl from the pot of vegetable stew, she placed the bowl in front of Martin.  

He took up a spoon, dipped the spoon into the stew, then paused as something occured to him. The Nazis assuredly had not seen him, Ardeth (and any traveling companions), nor had the Nazis heard the sounds of galloping horses passing their encampments. 

Since their trip down the temporarily full Libyan wadi, the Bracelet had thrummed with power. From his past life, and from his studies in his current life, Martin was aware that heka, the divine creative force which has existed since the beginning of time, was used by the first gods to bring the world into being. 

Isis and Thoth were the two gods most associated with Egyptian magic. Martin knew Thoth was considered to have invented hieroglyphics, and thus Thoth brought Egypt into the civiilized world to rival the Mesopotamian world and their cuneiform scripts already invented. Written magic was extremely powerful and as the inventor of hieroglyphics, Thoth was also considered to have invented magic.  

But Isis was the most accomplished magician. And the Pyramid Texts on Imhotep's Step Pyramid incorporated the tale of Isis using magic to resurrect her husband/brother Osiris after Seth had murdered him.  

Queen Lostris had been tasked by Pharaoh Tamose with protecting the double crown of Egypt. What the Pharaoh, dying from an infected lung wound inflicted by the Hyksos, had meant was that the Regent Queen Lostris was to protect the heir to the Horus Throne, Prince Memnon. She had protected the five year old by exiling him, herself, Tanus, Taita and thousands of loyal subjects for twenty years--until the Prince came of age--in the land south of the sixth cataract of the Nile. 

And Taita had been in love with Lostris and had mummified her body after her death of uterine cancer in her early forties. But Taita had taken a lock of her hair and kept it with him, until at the end of his life when he embedded the lock of hair into the softened electrum he was using to fashion the Bracelet of Lostris.  

And there were protective spells attributed to either Isis or Thoth that Taita, as a hery-heb--a lector priest (better known as a warlock)--could have uttered when fashioning the Bracelet. A magic spell, perhaps from the Book of Thoth, had obviously been used during the creation of the Bracelet of Lostris.  

Martin had come to this nearly-instant conclusion because thinking back on his and Ardeth's trip from the Mediterranean Sea to the French shore of the English Channel in Nazi occupied France, it now seemed impossible that the two men could have slipped unnoticed by Nazi encampments without magical help. 

Especially since he and Ardeth, on no less than a dozen occasions, had been driven past, or had galloped on horses, past fully alert Nazi officers who appeared to be looking straight at the travelers.  

But the travelers had been totally ignored by the Nazis. 

This last fact indicated that the wily Taita had indeed uttered a protective spell over the Bracelet, a spell which obviously conferred invisibility to the wearer in extreme situations.  

Now Martin desperately wanted a copy of the magical text known as the Book of Thoth, which had purportedly contained spells to raise the dead and spells to gain dominion over the sky above, the earth below and all the living creatures which dwell on land and in the sea.  

Although the Greeks and Romans rewrote the Book of Thoth as the Hermetica, a original copy of the Book of Thoth had not been found. Perhaps, Martin thought, the Hermetica contained protection spells which might prove useful to their current situation.  

"Eh? That's a pretty good dream, isn't it? Going to see the Pyramids when the war is over and then on to an around the world trip," Ida was saying, apparently oblivious to Martin's woolgathering. 

"Absolutely a wonderful idea. Where else would you go?" he asked, scooping up a spoonful of thick vegetable stew.  

"After the war, I suppose this 'ouse could be rented or sold as a vacation 'ouse. I'm still strong yet and I could work in the olive fields of Greece. Perhaps Perth and Sydney. And the United States. I always 'eard there were fields of corn and wheat there," Ida continued to chatter about her around the world trip as Martin ate. A fire crackled in the fireplace. 

And Martin's soul could feel the Bracelet thrumming. For a moment, the thrumming seemed to intensify, then drifted into the back of Martin's mind, where the thrumming stayed as a comforting presence as Ida's chatter filled his ears.  


Land's End, September 24, 1940, The Grayson Pub private apartment, dawn 

Mar-aha was awakened before dawn by an overnight temple servant who had found it necessary to contract herself to the Temple of Osiris for a short time. Mar-aha stood up, and allowed the servant to slip the fine linen sleeping gown off of Mar-aha's young lithe body. 

She smoothed her hands over her taut abdomen, and down her thighs--dancer's legs, she thought. Born in Egypt to foreign parents who came from the land north of the Black Sea, Mar-aha would turn twenty years on the fifteenth day of the third month of Shemu. Twenty years of age was a milestone, for many people did not live to see their fortieth year.  

Hunro led Mar-aha to the small enclosure that served as a bath. Mar-aha stepped over the ankle high wall and allowed Hunro to rub natron on her body and then pour warm water that ran in rivulets down the taut muscles of Mar-aha's body.  

After bathing, Hunro rubbed Mar-aha's body with scented oil and then oiled Mar-aha's shaven scalp. Hunro would have to shave Mar-aha's head again after morning prayers. Face paint was applied next and Mar-aha especially liked the green malachite powder applied to lids of her grey eyes. Gold dust was applied to Mar-aha's body so that she would shimmer in Ra's golden rays.  

Mar-aha's wig was placed on her head and Mar-aha was finally ready to take up the sistrum and dance for Osiris. She wore no clothes, preferring to dance unencumbered for the God.  

Shaking the sistrum, Mar-aha went dancing out of her chamber and joined the other temple dancers as they danced and shook the sistrum behind the priests of the Temple. The priests chanted and prayed to Osiris. 

The priests offered the food to sustain the God and Mar-aha felt when the God partook of the spirit of the food. She danced and shook her sistrum. Placing her sistrum on the finely hewn stone floor, Mar-aha bent herself backward and tumbled before the statue of the God of Osiris. 

Mar-aha hoped with all her ka that her dancing pleased the God. She especially needed his blessing today.  

For today was the Pharoah's natal day and Mar-aha had been selected to be one of the dancers who would dance before the God-King.  

"Mummy! Wake up!" David shouted, jumping up and down on Martha's bed and interrupting Martha's dream. She blinked a few times, then rubbed her blue eyes.  

"Oomph! Can't it wait until morning?" she groggily asked her exuberant son, who preferred to wake up with the sun.  

"It is morning!" he cheerfully said. "Do you think Arthur is okay?" he asked, a worry line transecting his smooth forehead. He'd learned to dress himself, but this morning found David wearing the same clothes as yesterday: blue jeans and a dark green turtleneck wool sweater.  

"I think he's okay, David. Why don't you go brush your teeth?" she suggested, hoping to get a few more minutes of sleep. She wanted her dream to continue; she wanted to dream about living in an ancient time, living in ancient Egypt. Martha suspected her reading the book on the treasures of King Tut, and Arthur's rescue, had had something to do with her pleasant dream.  

But David had been through this morning ritual before, and he knew his mother was trying to get rid of him so she could sleep a little more. She could take a nap later on, at the same time he did, David reasoned to himself. So he replied, "No!"  

Then he began to tickle his mother. Obligingly, she burst out into laughter.  

"When you laugh, you're awake, so you have to make my breakfast now!" he intoned, a big smile nearly splitting his face in two. 

Martha groaned a mock groan, long and low. David just laughed.  

"Okay, okay. I'll get up. We are a bit luckier than most, you know," she told her son.  

"I know! We get lots of sugar and tea and flour and other stuff from the sailors!" he practically shouted. He was a happy child, too young to really know what the Blitzkreig was, too young to know about war. David knew about the sun, the sea, and happy times and Martha desperately wanted David to hang onto his childhood innocence for as long as possible. 

"And, we have eight chickens, a cow and a vegetable garden like the Queen planted at Windsor Castle," she told her son. 

"We have ten chickens," David corrected.  

"Ten?"  

"Ten," he agreed vigorously.  

She smiled, and tickled her son. "How do you know we have ten chickens?" she asked.  

David held up his fingers and put each finger down as he counted, "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten! We have as many chickens as I have fingers on my hands!" he told his mother, then kissed her on the cheek. "Let's go make my breakfast," he ordered, climbing down off the bed and charging out the bedroom door.  

"Yes, my king!" she said to the empty doorway. 


Land's End, telegraph office, September 24, 1940 

"The first inquiry is a general inquiry. I am in possession of two more chickens than I had last night," she told William Barnstone, the telegraph operator, as she put a large leather shopper bag which had been given to her by a Spanish sailor in return for room and board for a few month. Leather was a luxury for Martha, even in peacetime.  

Martha had discovered David was right in his assertations: there were ten chickens in her chicken yard. The newcomers were both roosters. Martha had left David in the care of Thomas Wheaton, who would be leaving the Grayson Pub late that afternoon.   

"Full grown?" Will asked. Full grown chickens were Cornwallian's pride and joy, for they provided fresh eggs every day.  

Martha nodded. She opened her mouth to add that the gender of the fowls was male but decided to keep that information from her general notice. She thought she'd be able to root out false reports of missing fowl birds.  

Then the day faded, and for a moment, she was back in her dream dancing as Mar-aha once again.  

"And the second inquiry?" Will asked, interrupting her daydream. Will was a few years younger then her own age, which was thirty.  

"This telegram needs to get to Rick O'Connell in London." 

"Address?" 

Martha again opened her mouth to give an address, but realized that Arthur hadn't given an address. She thought a moment, then made a decision.  

"Could we send it general delivery?" 

William looked over his wire rim glasses at her. "General delivery? How's he going to know the telegram arrived?" 

"You're right. I suppose I'll have to send a letter, but," 

"But you still don't have an address," Will finished for her. Martha nodded. 

"Well, still let the village know about the missing chickens, Will. I'd like to ask a favor." 

"Sure thing,"  

"I'd like to save most of the money I earn from the pub. I've got a healthy barter going on, especially with the foreign sailors. I'd like to do the same thing here," she reached into her shopper. Pulling out a smaller bag, she placed it on the counter. 

Will stood up and looked in the bag. "Tea! And sugar!" He pulled out the items and looked at the items. The tea was in a tin, loose, and the tin proclaimed the tea authentic Fortnum & Mason.  

"Earl Grey!" Will exclaimed.  

"The American brought it from New York. Along with the sugar. Left them as payment for his meals and lodging," Martha said.  

"Eh, war's so bad we've to get our tea from New York City," Will said, but his eyes crinkled at the corners and he was grinning hugely. "Uh, sure, Martha. You know, bartering's probably a good idea. I've got several fields of potatoes. I'll spread the word around about the bartering system," he finished, fingering the bag of sugar before going over to the small alcove which served as a kitchen.  

"Thank you," Martha said, picking up her shopper bag. Turning, she heard the sounds of Will putting his newfound objects away in the cupboard. She also heard the soft click of a lock. "War. Now we have to lock up our food," she thought to herself as she reached out her hand to open the door.  

"Martha? I've an idea on how to reach your Rick O'Connell." 

"How?" She turned back to face Will, pulling her Campbell plaid overcoat tighter around her. The early morning was chilly and she had a bit of a walk to get back to the pub.  

"I'll put an an ad in The Mirror." 

Martha smiled: problem solved. "That should do it." 

Will walked back to his desk and picked up a pencil. "What shall I say?" 

Martha thought a moment. "To: Rick O'Connell, London. King Arthur is coming to London." 

The pencil stopped scritching. "King Arthur?" he asked. 

Arthur said he was Commander of the Medjai but that doesn't sound right to my ears, she thought. Commander Arthur is coming to London? Remembering her dream, she said, 

"To Rick O'Connell, London. King Arthur is coming to London," Martha repeated.  

"Got that. I'll put the ad through to the Mirror. If he can get the paper daily, he should see it in tomorrow's paper. If not, maybe someone will point out your ad to him." 

"I hope so. It seems to be the only way to get a message to him. Thank you, Will. Stop round by the pub this evening and I'll make you dinner." She knew Will was a bachelor.  

"Will do. And I'll be there. Thank you!" he said as the door banged into Martha.  

"Ouch!"  she said, then thought of something. "Will? Could you have that ad run for a week?" 

"Sure thing, Martha," Will replied.  

"Sorry about that. Hullo, Will!" Hullo, Martha!" Joshua Mills said as he hefted a sack of letters to be posted in that day's mail. The two men started to talk and Martha chose that time to leave. 

Leaving the telegraph office, she thought about Arthur and wondered how soon it would be before he arrived in London. 


Lizard Point, beachfront home, dawn, September 24, 1940 

For his part, Martin had been much obliged to Ida for her hospitality. And like Ardeth, he could only feel a tenuous link between the men.

Leaving Lizard Point the morning after Ardeth had left meant that Ardeth had passed Lizard Point sometime in the night, without Martin's knowing about Ardeth passing.

This bit of knowledge had distressed Martin, for it seemed like the forces of the Dark One were keen on keeping Martin in the proverbial dark.

However, as Martin knew that Ardeth was trying to get to London, he felt that he too would make his way to London and meet up with Ardeth there.

So he'd left Ida Dunham and her hospitality, much to Ida's dismay. She had sent her two sons off to war, as she'd sent her husband off to the first World War, and Ida was much worried about his safety.

Naturally, Martin had reassured her he would be fine. When she had inquired, "But 'ow do you know you'll be okay?" (and Martin loved the way Ida dropped her h's only at the beginnings of words), her eyes showed deep concern.

He had studied her for a moment, then, knowing the utter fascination of the English with the minor boy-King Tut, he'd replied, "I'm a reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian priest."

"My lands! A real reincarnated Egyptian in my 'ouse! 'ow did you know?" Ida had accepted the concept of reincarnation readily and Martin suspected that Ida, as a single woman living alone with her military husband deceased and her twin sons both active in the current war, would want to hang onto a concept of living again. He suspected the Egyptian concept of being reunited in the afterlife and reincarnation appealed to her senses.

Precisely at that moment, Martin knew what he could do to repay her hospitality: he would arrange for her a position to teach English in Egypt.

Martin shrugged his shoulder. "Dreams, mostly. Vivid dreams of Egyptian vistas, when the Pyramids were smooth sided with white limestone and the Pyramidions--the capstones--were gilded in solid gold. Those magnificent vistas were in the background as I stood in the Red Land, the desert, and looked upwards at the Pyramids. I could feel the heat of the desert and knew I was, at last, home."

Ida had sucked in her breath. "My!" she'd exclaimed. "Wish I 'ad dreams like that."

"You know," Martin began cautiously, for he didn't know how to breach this subject, then an idea began to form in his head--an idea which had sprung from the seeds of the conversation they'd had the night before during dinner. "I have had some employment in Egypt, and there is a need for the hospitality service to learn English."

"Really? I thought Arabic and French were the languages of Egypt!"

"They are. Arabic is a Semitic language, related to Hebrew and the ancient Akkadian and Sumerian languages. French, naturally, became a second language for many when the French conquered Egypt."

"Je parle Francias," she replied, then laughed. "But not very good. I understand more than I can speak."

"In Cairo, there is a growing need to learn English to accommodate the foreign tourists. I can arrange for you some employment. In exchange for room and board, you would be teaching English. You would need to re-acquaint yourself with adding your h's to the beginnings of your words," Martin told an increasingly excited Ida, whose eyes glittered brightly with the idea of going to Egypt.

"Yes, yes. I can do that, add my h's," she said, then thought carefully. Speaking slowly, she said "Howard had help hanging hyssops high," she said. "And 'ow's, I mean how is that?"

Martin smiled. "Teaching English will be a slow process anyways. You would need to speak slowly at first, then gradually increase the speed of your conversation to attenuate the Arabic ear," he said.

"I can do that," she said slowly. "I won an elocution award as a girl and I only gradually dropped my h's as I grew older," she replied.

"English did form from an archaic sub branch of German and there are a lot of ways to pronounce the vowels. And English has one of the most unusual vowels sounds of all--the sounds in 'bird' and 'heard'. Those sounds are almost unheard of in other languages. Perhaps one of the 'clicking' languages of South Africa has those sounds," Martin told her, deciding to cut short his impromptu speech on the development of the English language. Was there anyone else who understood--and enjoyed--the rather esoteric beginnings of his mother tongue?

"Would I be able go to after the war?" she asked. "And would I be able to go to Palestine? See Jericho?" she inquired, visibly excited, and her reddening cheeks showed her excitement.

Martin nodded. "There are many transports available to Palestine."

"If you could arrange that for me, I would be most appreciative," she replied.

"Not as appreciative as I," he told her. "If you hadn't found me, I don't know if I would have lived."

She smiled, her white teeth flashing in the early morning light. "You are welcome. Here," she said with a bit of an emphasis on the 'h', "this is a bag of food: bread, onions and cheese. You can stop off at farms in Cornwall and Devon. It's nearing harvest time and there will be need of hired hands to help with the various crops," she finished, holding out a satchel to Martin.

"Thank you, Ida. I will send word to my place of employment in Egypt and have them contact you regarding a position," Martin said, accepting the satchel of food.

"Transport will have to be by foot, unless you can hitch a ride with someone," Ida continued. "Blackout and rations mean that fuel is used sparingly, and we 'ere in Cornwall tend to conserve fuel for the transport of crops," Ida said, and Martin noted Ida was making an effort to enunciate her h's. "Wish there was private sailing transport," she said.

"That will come again. Do you know if the authorities have been notified of the Gilgamesh's sinking?"

Ida shook her head. "I can get word to them about the sinking. They can see if there are any other survivors," she replied.

Martin slung the satchel over his shoulder, feeling very much like a pilgrim making his way to London in the 13th century, when the paupers of England had to walk long distances by foot, begging bread at the monasteries, or exchanging their labor for a loaf of bread.

"Thank you again, Ida. This is one thing I won't forget," he said, looking into her eyes. If he could, he would have wanted Ida for his mother: a warm, generous heart was all he required. Cooking was optional and good conversation was a bonus.

She smiled at him. "Don't forget to try and brush your teeth," she said, paused a moment, then laughed. "'ere, I mean, here I am, reminding you to brush your teeth." Her own teeth flashed in the morning sunlight.

"I won't forget, mummy," Martin said, a smile playing at his lips.

"Well, on with you, then," she told him, waving her hand. "London's waiting."

Martin looked shocked. "How did you know I was going to London?"

She smiled slyly. "Let's just say a dream told me," she replied.

Martin looked at her hard. A dream? But then, wasn't it the dream of every Englishman, Englishwoman, and English child to see London liberated from the daily bombs? Even the Princess Elizabeth hadn't yet reached her 18th birthday, and rumor had it she wouldn't be declared 'of age' as most 18 years olds are.

Martin rather suspected that Princess Elizabeth was being protected by her parents, but she was always in the Windsor Gardens, helping to plant the war gardens, and she and her sister Margaret had bought large quantities of wool and were in the process of knitting for the soldiers. The Princess would make an exceptional Queen one day, and a Queen whose reign would be far-reaching, not to mention long-lasting.

"Aye, I'm trying to reach London. I don't know how I know, but I know that my friend, Ardeth, is alive and well, and is on his way to London," he told her bluntly.

Ida studied him for a moment before replying. "If I hear anything about him, I'll send word to General Delivery, London, at the post office nearest Buckingham Palace," she told him.

"I'll be sure to check in there," he told her.

"I rather suspect that word of your Ardeth would precede your arrival in London," she said, wiping her hands on her apron.

Martin smiled. "I rather suspect that as well."

"Well, then, I guess it's goodbye," Ida said.

"Yes. It is. I will send word to you about the teaching position in Egypt," Martin said as he turned and began to walk down the garden path towards the main road. He began to hum under his breath: his clothes were clean, as was his body, and his stomach was full of good food and hot tea. He was at home in England, although he dearly missed Egypt. The desert heat, the remains of the Pyramids, the hugeness of the Egyptian setting sun; he missed all of that. Not to mention the baklava, the iced tea, and the conversations he had found himself engaged in as a Priest of Osiris.

Ida watched his back. "Good luck!" she called. She watched Martin raise his right hand in response. His stride was long, and he was nearly at the garden gate when she had called out to him. Could it really be true? Did he really just offer her her greatest dream: to go to Egypt and Palestine? And at the drop of a hat, too!

Ida would be teaching English, of course. English was her native tongue. She supposed she could teach English to a non-native English speaker. She would, of course, teach them to pronounce their h's at the beginnings of words.

While she herself had tended over the years to drop her h's at the beginnings of words, she knew that speakers of Cockney, mainly residing in London, often dropped many sounds from their words, sometimes making their speech incomprehensible to those who didn't speak the English language.

Her resolve strengthened as she turned back to the entranceway to her beachfront home. Just as she was about to enter, she paused a moment and looked around at her property. Her late husband had bought what had been a dilapidated property on the shore just outside of Lizard Point. Over the years that she had had with him, Arnold had refurbished the home and the gardens and the improvements had been quite noticeable.

The Dunham home was the only home within sight, for Arnold had bought up the property on either side, going so far as to trade their four stallions for the property. Now the Dunham property stretched for a forty minute walk on either side of the house--a large enough stretch--Ida now thought, to provide for an exceedingly good subdivision after the war. Selling part of the property would net her a good income for her retirement.

And the income would guarantee that she would be able to support her travels. Plus, she wanted to provide something for her grandchildren to inherit: memories of the stories that their grandmother had lived in Egypt for some years, teaching English and then traveling the world. Ida also wanted to leave her grandchildren an English Estate, replete with gardens and a large plot of land.

Grandchildren were the one thing that Ida hoped her sons would be able to provide for her. For in the event both were killed, there would be a grand-offspring for her to love. Ida found herself fervently hoping that her sons were 'making merry' with French country maidens, maybe one with a small farmhouse and vineyard, and that one day, a young woman toting a young child would appear at her door, telling her in broken French that the child she carried was Ida's grandchild.

Ida turned around, and looked at the dot that was Martin. She wished him well in his quest--and hoped he would find his Ardeth. Thinking of Ardeth caused Ida to remember that the sinking of the Gilgamesh would need to be reported, so instead of going inside her home, Ida took her coat off the hook just inside the doorway, put on her coat, shut the door, and went to inform the authorities about the sinking of the Gilgamesh.  


INTERMISSION II
    Ancient Egyptian Love Poems   

    (I think I'll go home and lie very still)  

    I think I'll go home and lie very still,  
    feigning terminal illness.  
    Then the neighbors will all troop over to stare,  
    my love, perhaps, among them.  
    How she'll smile while the specialists  
    snarl in their teeth!  

    She perfectly well knows what ails me.  


    (I was simply off to see Nefrus my friend)   

    [note: ellipses marks indicate there is no translation available because the papyrus was either destroyed in places or degraded] 

    I was simply off to see Nefrus my friend,  
    Just to sit and chat at her place  

      (about men),
    When there hot on his horses, comes Mehy  
      (oh gods, I said to myself, it's Mehy!)
    Right over the crest of the road  
    wheeling along with the boys.  

    Oh Mother Hathor, what shall I do?  
    Don't let him see me!  
    Where can I hide?  
    Make me a small creeping thing  
    to slip by his eye  

       (sharp as Horus)  
          unseen
    Oh, look at you, feet--  
       (this road is a river!) 
    you walk me right out of my depth!  
    Someone, silly heart, is exceedingly ignorant here--  
    aren't you a little too easy near Mehy?  

    If he sees that I see him, I know  
    he will know how my heart flutters (Oh, Mehy!)  
    I know I will blurt out,  
    "Please take me!"  

        (I mustn't!)
    No, all he would do is brag out my name,  
    just one of the many....(I know)....  
    Mehy would make me just one of the girls  
    for all of the boys in the palace  
       (Oh Mehy!)

    (Why, just now, must you question your heart?)  

    Why, just now, must you question your heart?  
    Is it really the time for discussion?  
    To her, say I,  
    take her tight in your arms!  
    For god's sake, sweet man,  
    it's me coming at you,  
    My tunic loose at the shoulder!

The above three poems were translated by John L. Foster, Echoes of Egyptian Voices and Love Songs of Ancient Egypt. If you can't find these books, use the ever omnipotent Norton's Anthology of World Masterpieces (or alternatively: Norton's World Literature), commonly found in bookstores and used copies can be obtained in college bookstores. 

The following selections are from Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume II: The New Kingdom (Miriam Lichtheim).  
    Alternate translation of "(I think I'll go home and lie very still)" from the Papyrus Harris 500: 

    I shall lie down at home 
    and pretend to be ill 
    Then enter the neighbors to see me, 
    Then comes my sister with them. 
    She will make the physicians unneeded. 
    She understands my illness 
     


    Author of the next three poems: the scribe of the Necropolis, Nakht-Sobk (from Ancient Egyptian Literature) 

    Alternate translation of: "(Why, just now, must you question your heart?)" from the Papyrus Chester Beatty I 

    Why do you argue with your heart? 
    Go after her, embrace her! 
    As Amun lives, 
    I come to you, 
    My cloak over my arm. 


    What my sister did to me! 
    Why keep silent about it? 
    She left me to stand at her house door 
    while she herself went inside 
     

      She didn't say: "come in young man?" 
       
    She was deaf tonight.  


    How well she knows to cast the noose, 
    And yet, not pay the cattle tax! 

    She casts the noose on me with her hair, 
    She captures me with her eye. 
    She curbs me with her necklace. 
    She brands me with her seal ring. 
     


    These next two are from the "Cairo Vase" & translated by G. Posener: 

    My sister's love is on yonder side 
    The river is between our bodies 
    The waters are mighty at flood time 
    A crocodile waits in the shallows. 

    I enter the water and brave the waves 
    My heart is strong on the deep 
    The crocodile seems like a mouse to me 
    The flood as land to my feet 

    It is her love that give me strength 
    It makes a water spell for me 
    I gaze at my heart's desire 
    As she stands facing me. 


    My sister has come 
    My heart exalts 
    My arms spread out to embace her 
    My heart bounds in its place,  
    like the red fish in its pond. 

    O night, be mine forever! 
    Now that my Queen has come!



Coming soon! Charge forward to Liberation: London (Book Two, Part Two) where Ardeth finally gets to London

Return to: Liberation: Shifting Saharan Sands (Book One) Chapters 1-7