My New Years Eve Among The Mummies

I have been a wanderer and a vagabond on the face of the earth for a

good many years now, and I have certainly had some odd adventures in my

time; but I can assure you, I never spent twenty-four queerer hours than

those which I passed some twelve months since in the great unopened

Pyramid of Abu Yilla.

The way I got there was itself a very strange one. I had come to Egypt

for a winter tour with the Fitz-S
mkinses, to whose daughter Editha I

was at that precise moment engaged. You will probably remember that old

Fitz-Simkins belonged originally to the wealthy firm of Simkinson and

Stokoe, worshipful vintners; but when the senior partner retired from

the business and got his knighthood, the College of Heralds opportunely

discovered that his ancestors had changed their fine old Norman name for

its English equivalent some time about the reign of King Richard I.; and

they immediately authorized the old gentleman to resume the patronymic

and the armorial bearings of his distinguished forefathers. It's really

quite astonishing how often these curious coincidences crop up at the

College of Heralds.

Of course it was a great catch for a landless and briefless barrister

like myself--dependent on a small fortune in South American securities,

and my precarious earnings as a writer of burlesque--to secure such a

valuable prospective property as Editha Fitz-Simkins. To be sure, the

girl was undeniably plain; but I have known plainer girls than she was,

whom forty thousand pounds converted into My Ladies: and if Editha

hadn't really fallen over head and ears in love with me, I suppose old

Fitz-Simkins would never have consented to such a match. As it was,

however, we had flirted so openly and so desperately during the

Scarborough season, that it would have been difficult for Sir Peter to

break it off: and so I had come to Egypt on a tour of insurance to

secure my prize, following in the wake of my future mother-in-law, whose

lungs were supposed to require a genial climate--though in my private

opinion they were really as creditable a pair of pulmonary appendages as

ever drew breath.

Nevertheless, the course of our true love did not run so smoothly as

might have been expected. Editha found me less ardent than a devoted

squire should be; and on the very last night of the old year she got up

a regulation lovers' quarrel, because I had sneaked away from the boat

that afternoon, under the guidance of our dragoman, to witness the

seductive performances of some fair Ghawazi, the dancing girls of a

neighbouring town. How she found it out heaven only knows, for I gave

that rascal Dimitri five piastres to hold his tongue: but she did find

it out somehow, and chose to regard it as an offence of the first

magnitude: a mortal sin only to be expiated by three days of penance and


I went to bed that night, in my hammock on deck, with feelings far from

satisfactory. We were moored against the bank at Abu Yilla, the most

pestiferous hole between thee cataracts and the Delta. Tho mosquitoes

were worse than the ordinary mosquitoes of Egypt, and that is saying a

great deal. The heat was oppressive even at night, and the malaria from

the lotus beds rose like a palpable mist before my eyes. Above all, I

was getting doubtful whether Editha Fitz-Simkins might not after all

slip between my fingers. I felt wretched and feverish: and yet I had

delightful interlusive recollections, in between, of that lovely little

Ghaziyah, who danced that exquisite, marvellous, entrancing, delicious,

and awfully oriental dance that I saw in the afternoon.

By Jove, she was a beautiful creature. Eyes like two full moons; hair

like Milton's Penseroso; movements like a poem of Swinburne's set to

action. If Editha was only a faint picture of that girl now! Upon my

word, I was falling in love with a Ghaziyah!

Then the mosquitoes came again. Buzz--buzz--buzz. I make a lunge at the

loudest and biggest, a sort of prima donna in their infernal opera. I

kill the prima donna, but ten more shrill performers come in its place.

The frogs croak dismally in the reedy shallows. The night grows hotter

and hotter still. At last, I can stand it no longer. I rise up, dress

myself lightly, and jump ashore to find some way of passing the time.

Yonder, across the flat, lies the great unopened Pyramid of Abu Yilla.

We are going to-morrow to climb to the top; but I will take a turn to

reconnoitre in that direction now. I walk across the moonlit fields, my

soul still divided between Editha and the Ghaziyah, and approach the

solemn mass of huge, antiquated granite-blocks standing out so grimly

against the pale horizon. I feel half awake, half asleep, and altogether

feverish: but I poke about the base in an aimless sort of way, with a

vague idea that I may perhaps discover by chance the secret of its

sealed entrance, which has ere now baffled so many pertinacious

explorers and learned Egyptologists.

As I walk along the base, I remember old Herodotus's story, like a page

from the "Arabian Nights," of how King Rhampsinitus built himself a

treasury, wherein one stone turned on a pivot like a door; and how the

builder availed himself of this his cunning device to steal gold from

the king's storehouse. Suppose the entrance to the unopened Pyramid

should be by such a door. It would be curious if I should chance to

light upon the very spot.

I stood in the broad moonlight, near the north-east angle of the great

pile, at the twelfth stone from the corner. A random fancy struck me,

that I might turn this stone by pushing it inward on the left side. I

leant against it with all my weight, and tried to move it on the

imaginary pivot. Did it give way a fraction of an inch? No, it must have

been mere fancy. Let me try again. Surely it is yielding! Gracious

Osiris, it has moved an inch or more! My heart beats fast, either with

fever or excitement, and I try a third time. The rust of centuries on

the pivot wears slowly off, and the stone turns ponderously round,

giving access to a low dark passage.

It must have been madness which led me to enter the forgotten corridor,

alone, without torch or match, at that hour of the evening; but at any

rate I entered. The passage was tall enough for a man to walk erect, and

I could feel, as I groped slowly along, that the wall was composed of

smooth polished granite, while the floor sloped away downward with a

slight but regular descent. I walked with trembling heart and faltering

feet for some forty or fifty yards down the mysterious vestibule: and

then I felt myself brought suddenly to a standstill by a block of stone

placed right across the pathway. I had had nearly enough for one

evening, and I was preparing to return to the boat, agog with my new

discovery, when my attention was suddenly arrested by an incredible, a

perfectly miraculous fact.

The block of stone which barred the passage was faintly visible as a

square, by means of a struggling belt of light streaming through the

seams. There must be a lamp or other flame burning within. What if this

were a door like the outer one, leading into a chamber perhaps

inhabited by some dangerous band of outcasts? The light was a sure

evidence of human occupation: and yet the outer door swung rustily on

its pivot as though it had never been opened for ages. I paused a moment

in fear before I ventured to try the stone: and then, urged on once more

by some insane impulse, I turned the massive block with all my might to

the left. It gave way slowly like its neighbour, and finally opened into

the central hall.

Never as long as I live shall I forget the ecstasy of terror,

astonishment, and blank dismay which seized upon me when I stepped into

that seemingly enchanted chamber. A blaze of light first burst upon my

eyes, from jets of gas arranged in regular rows tier above tier, upon

the columns and walls of the vast apartment. Huge pillars, richly

painted with red, yellow, blue, and green decorations, stretched in

endless succession down the dazzling aisles. A floor of polished syenite

reflected the splendour of the lamps, and afforded a base for red

granite sphinxes and dark purple images in porphyry of the cat-faced

goddess Pasht, whose form I knew so well at the Louvre and the British

Museum. But I had no eyes for any of these lesser marvels, being wholly

absorbed in the greatest marvel of all: for there, in royal state and

with mitred head, a living Egyptian king, surrounded by his coiffured

court, was banqueting in the flesh upon a real throne, before a table

laden with Memphian delicacies!

I stood transfixed with awe and amazement, my tongue and my feet alike

forgetting their office, and my brain whirling round and round, as I

remember it used to whirl when my health broke down utterly at Cambridge

after the Classical Tripos. I gazed fixedly at the strange picture

before me, taking in all its details in a confused way, yet quite

incapable of understanding or realizing any part of its true import. I

saw the king in the centre of the hall, raised on a throne of granite

inlaid with gold and ivory; his head crowned with the peaked cap of

Rameses, and his curled hair flowing down his shoulders in a set and

formal frizz. I saw priests and warriors on either side, dressed in the

costumes which I had often carefully noted in our great collections;

while bronze-skinned maids, with light garments round their waists, and

limbs displayed in graceful picturesqueness, waited upon them, half

nude, as in the wall paintings which we had lately examined at Karnak

and Syene. I saw the ladies, clothed from head to foot in dyed linen

garments, sitting apart in the background, banqueting by themselves at a

separate table; while dancing girls, like older representatives of my

yesternoon friends, the Ghawazi, tumbled before them in strange

attitudes, to the music of four-stringed harps and long straight pipes.

In short, I beheld as in a dream the whole drama of everyday Egyptian

royal life, playing itself out anew under my eyes, in its real original

properties and personages.

Gradually, as I looked, I became aware that my hosts were no less

surprised at the appearance of their anachronistic guest than was the

guest himself at the strange living panorama which met his eyes. In a

moment music and dancing ceased; the banquet paused in its course, and

the king and his nobles stood up in undisguised astonishment to survey

the strange intruder.

Some minutes passed before any one moved forward on either side. At last

a young girl of royal appearance, yet strangely resembling the Ghaziyah

of Abu Yilla, and recalling in part the laughing maiden in the

foreground of Mr. Long's great canvas at the previous Academy, stepped

out before the throng.

"May I ask you," she said in Ancient Egyptian, "who you are, and why you

come hither to disturb us?"

I was never aware before that I spoke or understood the language of the

hieroglyphics: yet I found I had not the slightest difficulty in

comprehending or answering her question. To say the truth, Ancient

Egyptian, though an extremely tough tongue to decipher in its written

form, becomes as easy as love-making when spoken by a pair of lips like

that Pharaonic princess's. It is really very much the same as English,

pronounced in a rapid and somewhat indefinite whisper, and with all the

vowels left out.

"I beg ten thousand pardons for my intrusion," I answered

apologetically; "but I did not know that this Pyramid was inhabited, or

I should not have entered your residence so rudely. As for the points

you wish to know, I am an English tourist, and you will find my name

upon this card;" saying which I handed her one from the case which I had

fortunately put into my pocket, with conciliatory politeness. The

princess examined it closely, but evidently did not understand its


"In return," I continued, "may I ask you in what august presence I now

find myself by accident?"

A court official stood forth from the throng, and answered in a set

heraldic tone: "In the presence of the illustrious monarch, Brother of

the Sun, Thothmes the Twenty-seventh, king of the Eighteenth Dynasty."

"Salute the Lord of the World," put in another official in the same

regulation drone.

I bowed low to his Majesty, and stepped out into the hall. Apparently my

obeisance did not come up to Egyptian standards of courtesy, for a

suppressed titter broke audibly from the ranks of bronze-skinned

waiting-women. But the king graciously smiled at my attempt, and turning

to the nearest nobleman, observed in a voice of great sweetness and

self-contained majesty: "This stranger, Ombos, is certainly a very

curious person. His appearance does not at all resemble that of an

Ethiopian or other savage, nor does he look like the pale-faced sailors

who come to us from the Achaian land beyond the sea. His features, to be

sure, are not very different from theirs; but his extraordinary and

singularly inartistic dress shows him to belong to some other barbaric


I glanced down at my waistcoat, and saw that I was wearing my tourist's

check suit, of grey and mud colour, with which a Bond Street tailor had

supplied me just before leaving town, as the latest thing out in fancy

tweeds. Evidently these Egyptians must have a very curious standard of

taste not to admire our pretty and graceful style of male attire.

"If the dust beneath your Majesty's feet may venture upon a suggestion,"

put in the officer whom the king had addressed, "I would hint that this

young man is probably a stray visitor from the utterly uncivilized lands

of the North. The head-gear which he carries in his hand obviously

betrays an Arctic habitat."

I had instinctively taken off my round felt hat in the first moment of

surprise, when I found myself in the midst of this strange throng, and I

standing now in a somewhat embarrassed posture, holding it awkwardly

before me like a shield to protect my chest.

"Let the stranger cover himself," said the king.

"Barbarian intruder, cover yourself," cried the herald. I noticed

throughout that the king never directly addressed anybody save the

higher officials around him.

I put on my hat as desired. "A most uncomfortable and silly form of

tiara indeed," said the great Thothmes.

"Very unlike your noble and awe-spiring mitre, Lion of Egypt," answered


"Ask the stranger his name," the king continued.

It was useless to offer another card, so I mentioned it in a clear


"An uncouth and almost unpronounceable designation truly," commented his

Majesty to the Grand Chamberlain beside him. "These savages speak

strange languages, widely different from the flowing tongue of Memnon

and Sesostris."

The chamberlain bowed his assent with three low genuflexions. I began to

feel a little abashed at these personal remarks, and I almost think

(though I shouldn't like it to be mentioned in the Temple) that a blush

rose to my cheek.

The beautiful princess, who had been standing near me meanwhile in an

attitude of statuesque repose, now appeared anxious to change the

current of the conversation. "Dear father," she said with a respectful

inclination, "surely the stranger, barbarian though he be, cannot relish

such pointed allusions to his person and costume. We must let him feel

the grace and delicacy of Egyptian refinement. Then he may perhaps carry

back with him some faint echo of its cultured beauty to his northern


"Nonsense, Hatasou," replied Thothmes XXVII. testily. "Savages have no

feelings, and they are as incapable of appreciating Egyptian sensibility

as the chattering crow is incapable of attaining the dignified reserve

of the sacred crocodile."

"Your Majesty is mistaken," I said, recovering my self-possession

gradually and realizing my position as a free-born Englishman before the

court of a foreign despot--though I must allow that I felt rather less

confident than usual, owing to the fact that we were not represented in

the Pyramid by a British Consul--"I am an English tourist, a visitor

from a modern land whose civilization far surpasses the rude culture of

early Egypt; and I am accustomed to respectful treatment from all other

nationalities, as becomes a citizen of the First Naval Power in the


My answer created a profound impression. "He has spoken to the Brother

of the Sun," cried Ombos in evident perturbation. "He must be of the

Blood Royal in his own tribe, or he would never have dared to do so!"

"Otherwise," added a person whose dress I recognized as that of a

priest, "he must be offered up in expiation to Amon-Ra immediately."

As a rule I am a decently truthful person, but under these alarming

circumstances I ventured to tell a slight fib with an air of nonchalant

boldness. "I am a younger brother of our reigning king," I said without

a moment's hesitation; for there was nobody present to gainsay me, and I

tried to salve my conscience by reflecting that at any rate I was only

claiming consanguinity with an imaginary personage.

"In that case," said King Thothmes, with more geniality in his tone,

"there can be no impropriety in my addressing you personally. Will you

take a place at our table next to myself, and we can converse together

without interrupting a banquet which must be brief enough in any

circumstances? Hatasou, my dear, you may seat yourself next to the

barbarian prince."

I felt a visible swelling to the proper dimensions of a Royal Highness

as I sat down by the king's right hand. The nobles resumed their places,

the bronze-skinned waitresses left off standing like soldiers in a row

and staring straight at my humble self, the goblets went round once

more, and a comely maid soon brought me meat, bread, fruits, and date


All this time I was naturally burning with curiosity to inquire who my

strange hosts might be, and how they had preserved their existence for

so many centuries in this undiscovered hall; but I was obliged to wait

until I had satisfied his Majesty of my own nationality, the means by

which I had entered the Pyramid, the general state of affairs throughout

the world at the present moment, and fifty thousand other matters of a

similar sort. Thothmes utterly refused to believe my reiterated

assertion that our existing civilization was far superior to the

Egyptian; "because," said he, "I see from your dress that your nation is

utterly devoid of taste or invention;" but he listened with great

interest to my account of modern society, the steam-engine, the

Permissive Prohibitory Bill, the telegraph, the House of Commons, Home

Rule, and the other blessings of our advanced era, as well as to a brief

resume of European history from the rise of the Greek culture to the

Russo-Turkish war. At last his questions were nearly exhausted, and I

got a chance of making a few counter inquiries on my own account.

"And now," I said, turning to the charming Hatasou, whom I thought a

more pleasing informant than her august papa, "I should like to know who

you are."

"What, don't you know?" she cried with unaffected surprise. "Why, we're


She made this astounding statement with just the same quiet

unconsciousness as if she had said, "we're French," or "we're

Americans." I glanced round the walls, and observed behind the columns,

what I had not noticed till then--a large number of empty mummy-cases,

with their lids placed carelessly by their sides.

"But what are you doing here?" I asked in a bewildered way.

"Is it possible," said Hatasou, "that you don't really know the object

of embalming? Though your manners show you to be an agreeable and

well-bred young man, you must excuse my saying that you are shockingly

ignorant. We are made into mummies in order to preserve our immortality.

Once in every thousand years we wake up for twenty-four hours, recover

our flesh and blood, and banquet once more upon the mummied dishes and

other good things laid by for us in the Pyramid. To-day is the first day

of a millennium, and so we have waked up for the sixth time since we

were first embalmed."

"The sixth time?" I inquired incredulously. "Then you must have been

dead six thousand years."

"Exactly so."

"But the world has not yet existed so long," I cried, in a fervour of

orthodox horror.

"Excuse me, barbarian prince. This is the first day of the three

hundred and twenty-seven thousandth millennium."

My orthodoxy received a severe shock. However, I had been accustomed to

geological calculations, and was somewhat inclined to accept the

antiquity of man; so I swallowed the statement without more ado.

Besides, if such a charming girl as Hatasou had asked me at that moment

to turn Mohammedan, or to worship Osiris, I believe I should

incontinently have done so.

"You wake up only for a single day and night, then?" I said.

"Only for a single day and night. After that, we go to sleep for another


"Unless you are meanwhile burned as fuel on the Cairo Railway," I added

mentally. "But how," I continued aloud, "do you get these lights?"

"The Pyramid is built above a spring of inflammable gas. We have a

reservoir in one of the side chambers in which it collects during the

thousand years. As soon as we awake, we turn it on at once from the tap,

and light it with a lucifer match."

"Upon my word," I interposed, "I had no notion you Ancient Egyptians

were acquainted with the use of matches."

"Very likely not. 'There are more things in heaven and earth, Cephrenes,

than are dreamt of in your philosophy,' as the bard of Philae puts it."

Further inquiries brought out all the secrets of that strange

tomb-house, and kept me fully interested till the close of the banquet.

Then the chief priest solemnly rose, offered a small fragment of meat to

a deified crocodile, who sat in a meditative manner by the side of his

deserted mummy-case, and declared the feast concluded for the night. All

rose from their places, wandered away into the long corridors or

side-aisles, and formed little groups of talkers under the brilliant


For my part, I scrolled off with Hatasou down the least illuminated of

the colonnades, and took my seat beside a marble fountain, where several

fish (gods of great sanctity, Hatasou assured me) were disporting

themselves in a porphyry basin. How long we sat there I cannot tell, but

I know that we talked a good deal about fish, and gods, and Egyptian

habits, and Egyptian philosophy, and, above all, Egyptian love-making.

The last-named subject we found very interesting, and when once we got

fully started upon it, no diversion afterwards occurred to break the

even tenour of the conversation. Hatasou was a lovely figure, tall,

queenly, with smooth dark arms and neck of polished bronze: her big

black eyes full of tenderness, and her long hair bound up into a bright

Egyptian headdress, that harmonized to a tone with her complexion and

her robe. The more we talked, the more desperately did I fall in love,

and the more utterly oblivious did I become of my duty to Editha

Fitz-Simkins. The mere ugly daughter of a rich and vulgar brand-new

knight, forsooth, to show off her airs before me, when here was a

Princess of the Blood Royal of Egypt, obviously sensible to the

attentions which I was paying her, and not unwilling to receive them

with a coy and modest grace.

Well, I went on saying pretty things to Hatasou, and Hatasou went on

deprecating them in a pretty little way, as who should say, "I don't

mean what I pretend to mean one bit;" until at last I may confess that

we were both evidently as far gone in the disease of the heart called

love as it is possible for two young people on first acquaintance to

become. Therefore, when Hatasou pulled forth her watch--another piece of

mechanism with which antiquaries used never to credit the Egyptian

people--and declared that she had only three more hours to live, at

least for the next thousand years, I fairly broke down, took out my

handkerchief, and began to sob like a child of five years old.

Hatasou was deeply moved. Decorum forbade that she should console me

with too much empressement; but she ventured to remove the

handkerchief gently from my face, and suggested that there was yet one

course open by which we might enjoy a little more of one another's

society. "Suppose," she said quietly, "you were to become a mummy. You

would then wake up, as we do, every thousand years; and after you have

tried it once, you will find it just as natural to sleep for a

millennium as for eight hours. Of course," she added with a slight

blush, "during the next three or four solar cycles there would be plenty

of time to conclude any other arrangements you might possibly

contemplate, before the occurrence of another glacial epoch."

This mode of regarding time was certainly novel and somewhat bewildering

to people who ordinarily reckon its lapse by weeks and months; and I had

a vague consciousness that my relations with Editha imposed upon me a

moral necessity of returning to the outer world, instead of becoming a

millennial mummy. Besides, there was the awkward chance of being

converted into fuel and dissipated into space before the arrival of the

next waking day. But I took one look at Hatasou, whose eyes were filling

in turn with sympathetic tears, and that look decided me. I flung

Editha, life, and duty to the dogs, and resolved at once to become a


There was no time to be lost. Only three hours remained to us, and the

process of embalming, even in the most hasty manner, would take up fully

two. We rushed off to the chief priest, who had charge of the particular

department in question. He at once acceded to my wishes, and briefly

explained the mode in which they usually treated the corpse.

That word suddenly aroused me. "The corpse!" I cried; "but I am alive.

You can't embalm me living."

"We can," replied the priest, "under chloroform."

"Chloroform!" I echoed, growing more and more astonished: "I had no idea

you Egyptians knew anything about it."

"Ignorant barbarian!" he answered with a curl of the lip; "you imagine

yourself much wiser than the teachers of the world. If you were versed

in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, you would know that chloroform is

one of our simplest and commonest anaesthetics."

I put myself at once under the hands of the priest. He brought out the

chloroform, and placed it beneath my nostrils, as I lay on a soft couch

under the central court. Hatasou held my hand in hers, and watched my

breathing with an anxious eye. I saw the priest leaning over me, with a

clouded phial in his hand, and I experienced a vague sensation of

smelling myrrh and spikenard. Next, I lost myself for a few moments, and

when I again recovered my senses in a temporary break, the priest was

holding a small greenstone knife, dabbled with blood, and I felt that a

gash had been made across my breast. Then they applied the chloroform

once more; I felt Hatasou give my hand a gentle squeeze; the whole

panorama faded finally from my view; and I went to sleep for a seemingly

endless time.

When I awoke again, my first impression led me to believe that the

thousand years were over, and that I had come to life once more to feast

with Hatasou and Thothmes in the Pyramid of Abu Yilla. But second

thoughts, combined with closer observation of the surroundings,

convinced me that I was really lying in a bedroom of Shepheard's Hotel

at Cairo. An hospital nurse leant over me, instead of a chief priest;

and I noticed no tokens of Editha Fitz-Simkins's presence. But when I

endeavoured to make inquiries upon the subject of my whereabouts, I was

peremptorily informed that I mustn't speak, as I was only just

recovering from a severe fever, and might endanger my life by talking.

Some weeks later I learned the sequel of my night's adventure. The

Fitz-Simkinses, missing me from the boat in the morning, at first

imagined that I might have gone ashore for an early stroll. But after

breakfast time, lunch time, and dinner time had gone past, they began to

grow alarmed, and sent to look for me in all directions. One of their

scouts, happening to pass the Pyramid, noticed that one of the stones

near the north-east angle had been displaced, so as to give access to a

dark passage, hitherto unknown. Calling several of his friends, for he

was afraid to venture in alone, he passed down the corridor, and through

a second gateway into the central hall. There the Fellahin found me,

lying on the ground, bleeding profusely from a wound on the breast, and

in an advanced stage of malarious fever. They brought me back to the

boat, and the Fitz-Simkinses conveyed me at once to Cairo, for medical

attendance and proper nursing.

Editha was at first convinced that I had attempted to commit suicide

because I could not endure having caused her pain, and she accordingly

resolved to tend me with the utmost care through my illness. But she

found that my delirious remarks, besides bearing frequent reference to a

princess, with whom I appeared to have been on unexpectedly intimate

terms, also related very largely to our casus belli itself, the

dancing girls of Abu Yilla. Even this trial she might have borne,

setting down the moral degeneracy which led me to patronize so degrading

an exhibition as a first symptom of my approaching malady: but certain

unfortunate observations, containing pointed and by no means flattering

allusions to her personal appearance--which I contrasted, much to her

disadvantage, with that of the unknown princess--these, I say, were

things which she could not forgive; and she left Cairo abruptly with her

parents for the Riviera, leaving behind a stinging note, in which she

denounced my perfidy and empty-heartedness with all the flowers of

feminine eloquence. From that day to this I have never seen her.

When I returned to London and proposed to lay this account before the

Society of Antiquaries, all my friends dissuaded me on the ground of its

apparent incredibility. They declare that I must have gone to the

Pyramid already in a state of delirium, discovered the entrance by

accident, and sunk exhausted when I reached the inner chamber. In

answer, I would point out three facts. In the first place, I undoubtedly

found my way into the unknown passage--for which achievement I

afterwards received the gold medal of the Societee Khediviale, and of

which I retain a clear recollection, differing in no way from my

recollection of the subsequent events. In the second place, I had in my

pocket, when found, a ring of Hatasou's, which I drew from her finger

just before I took the chloroform, and put into my pocket as a keepsake.

And in the third place, I had on my breast the wound which I saw the

priest inflict with a knife of greenstone, and the scar may be seen on

the spot to the present day. The absurd hypothesis of my medical

friends, that I was wounded by falling against a sharp edge of rock, I

must at once reject as unworthy a moment's consideration.

My own theory is either that the priest had not time to complete the

operation, or else that the arrival of the Fitz-Simkins' scouts

frightened back the mummies to their cases an hour or so too soon. At

any rate, there they all were, ranged around the walls undisturbed, the

moment the Fellahin entered.

Unfortunately, the truth of my account cannot be tested for another

thousand years. But as a copy of this book will be preserved for the

benefit of posterity in the British Museum, I hereby solemnly call upon

Collective Humanity to try the veracity of this history by sending a

deputation of archaeologists to the Pyramid of Abu Yilla, on the last day

of December, Two thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven. If they do

not then find Thothmes and Hatasou feasting in the central hall exactly

as I have described, I shall willingly admit that the story of my New

Year's Eve among the Mummies is a vain hallucination, unworthy of

credence at the hands of the scientific world.