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wise there were the inevitable Aies. But the latter we have now come to regard as a matter of course, and the dust of our cavalcade is nothing to a sandstorm
which latter we have been mercifully spared for many a day.
The western shore presented a splendid picture when we rose. It stretched away for several level miles, its sands interspersed with fields of green, until it reached the point where the desert cliffs rose in their mountainous majesty; and its foreground was bright and gay with a numerous company of natives, assembled to man the donkeys and sand-carts for the excursion. They presented a kaleidoscopic array of colors, even from a distance, grouped as they were in a long line just above the rim of the bank.
We were ferried over in detachments to the accompaniment of much“Illy-Haley" and "Soulless Alice." The current was swift, and we had to be tugged manfully a long distance up river in the slack waters of the Luxor shore before it was safe to put out into midstream- and even then our progress to the other bank was crabwise. Lazy feluccas swept past us floating with the racing current, whilst others, bound up river, were towed by chanting crews along the low western bank, straining their limbs to the sagging hawsers as they trod gingerly in the slushy sand.
Abd'allah, Joseph, and Hassan were dancing up and down on the top of the bank when we stepped ashore, crazy with anxiety lest we forget them. Their steeds were tethered to a long fence that recalled the horse-rail of an old-fashioned New England meetinghouse. There was an incessant bawling, a universal scrambling, a mighty tightening of girth-straps and adjustment of stirrups. Katrina, the Professor, and I leaped forth with to the saddle and galloped all three — the muleteers tucking the ends of their flowing gowns into their mouths and scampering after. We headed northward.
For a space the road lay along a dike, which at the present low stage of the river is well inland across a broad stretch of beach. Along this we clattered in single file with but a wondering sidelong glance at the broad expanses of the plain, from the midst of which towered the distant colossi of Memnon and various half-hidden ruins. It must have been an imposing place in the day of it, for here lay the mortuary shrines of the greatest of the Imperial Pharaohs, no longer built hard-by their graves as in the days of old, but sagely separated from them by miles of rugged mountain, to the end that the shrine of the ka should no longer draw attention to the actual resting-place of the body with its much spoil and temptation to secret thievery. Of these temples
we could descry almost nothing as we rode, save only the commanding site of Queen Hatasu's terraced shrine at the very base of the sheer cliff.
After a ride of something like two miles along the level reaches of the river, we were permitted to alight at Kurna for the inspection of its sole surviving temple— a sadly ruined shrine, which, however, we found in the ministering hand of the restorer. The machinery of the engineers somewhat impaired its native impressiveness and made the inspection of its ruined colonnades less satisfying than it is destined to be in a year or two when the work is complete.
The structure which survives is only a portion of the main part of an old Ammon temple, whereof the fore-court and propylon are completely obliterated. It was built by Seti I, son of the first Rameses and father of Rameses II, called “the Great." Indeed, the latter really finished it, to the glory of Ammon and the loving memory of his father's ka. Inwardly it bore reliefs of magnificent workmanship setting forth representations of the usual subjects — the worship of Ammon and the functions of various other venerated gods of Thebes, with Seti, of course, always in evidence as their favorite. And yet, curiously enough it seems to partake of the nature of a mortuary shrine for Rameses I and Rameses the Great as well, for there appear to have been side chapels for each on either hand of the great apartment sacred to the god. The rest of the building was made up of a large number of antechambers surrounding the sanctuaries. In general plan, therefore, it was rather like the nonmortuary temples such as we have seen at Dendera and Karnak, although on a somewhat smaller scale. I take it this following of the general plan may be significant of the fact that the apotheosized Pharaoh thought it not mockery to make himself equal with the god.
From Kurna the road branched off into the west, winding around the outlying projections of the desert spurs and very gradually ascending. It proved a pleasant, though dusty, highway, steadily creeping into a deep and secluded vale as desolate as that through which Childe Roland sought the dark tower. The desert cliffs loomed high overhead, and on either hand rose sharp foothills of rock that served to inclose the last resting-place of the kings. The surroundings were utterly devoid of vegetation. All was bare, yellow rock, pitilessly giving back the heat of the sun. It seemed a fit setting for some awful tragedy—as wild, and bleak, and forbidding a valley as that of the shadow of death, which it really is. Of the inclosed bowl in the midst of the mountains where lie the tombs, there was no hint until we had passed the imposing portal formed by a narrow pass be
tween two jutting cliffs - and then it opened out in all its fearful majesty.
Nothing we have yet seen in Egypt has been more tinctured with austere sublimity than this secluded vale. Down through the midst of it wound the road,
-glaring white, – and from it here and there diverged tiny paths to little holes in the mountain-side, which resembled rabbit-warrens. These must be the tombs, then, — the portals of the subterranean caverns hewn out of the living rock and so carefully concealed, when the regal funeral was done, that they might hope to remain forever inviolate.
As I reflect on the experiences of the day I find myself more impressed with the general grandeur of the valley than with the four or five actual sepulchres which we visited. There is a certain sameness to the latter, wonderful as they are and magnificently decorated with painted figures that neither moth nor rust have corrupted. The idea in each case was the same. The variations on the theme only lend themselves to confused memories. But to climb the lofty side of that huge amphitheatre as we did and gaze down into that appalling gulf on all the tombs at once is an experience never to be forgotten. Surely there could be no place more suitable for a royal cemetery such as the greatness of Imperial Egypt demanded. Moses himself had no grander sepulchre