We were the two children
of the King Merneptah, and he loved us very much, for he had no others;
and Naneferkaptah was in his palace as heir over all the land. And when
we were grown, the king said to the queen, "I will marry Naneferkaptah
to the daughter of a general, and Ahura to the son of another general."
And the queen said, "No, he is the heir, let him marry his sister, like
the heir of a king, none other is fit for him." And the king said,
"That is not fair; they had better be married to the children of the general."
And the queen said, "It is you who are not dealing rightly with me."
And the king answered, "If I have no more than these two children, is it
right that they should marry one another? I will marry Naneferkaptah
to the daughter of an officer, and Ahura to the son of another officer.
It has often been done so in our family."
And at a time when there was a great
feast before the king, they came to fetch me to the feast. And I
was very troubled, and did not behave as I used to do. And the king
said to me, "Ahura, have you sent some one to me about this sorry matter,
saying, 'Let me be married to my elder brother?'" I said to him,
"Well, let me marry the son of an officer, and he marry the daughter of
another officer, as it often happens so in our family." I laughed,
and the king laughed. And the king told the steward of the palace,"Let
them take Ahura to the house of Naneferkaptah tonight, and all kinds of
good things with her." So they brought me as a wife to the house
of Naneferkaptah; and the king ordered them to give me presents of silver
and gold, and things from the palace.
And Naneferkaptah passed a happy
time with me, and received all the presents from the palace; and we loved
one another. And when I expected a child, they told the king, and
he was most heartily glad; and he sent me many things, and a present of
the best silver and gold and linen. And when the time came, I bore
this little child that is before you. And they gave him the name
of Merab, and registered him in the book of the "House of Life."
And when my brother Naneferkaptah
went to the cemetery of Memphis, he did nothing on earth but read the writings
that are in the catacombs of the kings and on the tablets of the "House
of Life," and the inscriptions that are seen on the monuments, and he worked
hard on the writings. And there was a priest there called Nesiptah;
and as Naneferkaptah went into a temple to pray, it happened that he went
behind this priest, and was reading the inscriptions that were on the chapels
of the gods. And the priest mocked him and laughed. So Naneferkaptah
said to him, "Why are you laughing at me?" And he replied, "I was
not laughing at you, or if I happened to do so, it was at your reading
writings that are worthless. If you wish so much to read writings, come
to me, and I will bring you to the place where the book is that Thoth himself
wrote with his own hand, and which will bring you to the gods. When you
read but two pages in this, you will enchant the heaven, the earth, the
abyss, the mountains, and the sea; you shall know what the birds of the
sky and the crawling things are saying; you shall see the fishes of the
deep, for a divine power is there to bring them up out of the depth.
And when you read the second page, if you are in the world of ghosts, you
will become again in the shape you were in on earth. You will see
the sun shining in the sky, with all the gods, and the full moon."
And Naneferkaptah said, "By the
life of the king! Tell me of anything you want done, and I'll do
it for you, if you will only send me where this book is." And the
priest answered Naneferkaptah, "If you want to go to the place where the
book is, you must give me a hundred pieces of silver for my funeral, and
provide that they shall bury me as a rich priest." So Naneferkaptah
called his lad and told him to give the priest a hundred pieces of silver;
and he made them do as he wished, even everything that he asked for.
Then the priest said to Naneferkaptah, "This book is in the middle of the
river at Koptos, in an iron box; in the iron box is a bronze box; in the
bronze box is a sycamore box; in the sycamore box is an ivory and ebony
box; in the ivory and ebony box is a silver box; in the silver box is a
golden box; and in that is the book. It is twisted all round with
snakes and scorpions and all the other crawling things around the box in
which the book is; and there is a deathless snake by the box." And
when the priest told Naneferkaptah, he did not know where on earth he was,
he was so much delighted.
And when he came from the temple,
he told me all that had happened to him. And he said, "I shall go to Koptos,
for I must fetch this book; I will not stay any longer in the north."
And I said, "Let me dissuade you, for you prepare sorrow and you will bring
me into trouble in the Thebaid." And I laid my hand on Naneferkaptah,
to keep him from going to Koptos, but he would not listen to me; and he
went to the king, and told the king all that the priest had said.
The king asked him, "What is it that you want?" And he replied, "Let
them give me the royal boat with its belongings, for I will go to the south
with Ahura and her little boy Merab, and fetch this book without delay."
So they gave him the royal boat with its belongings, and we went with him
to the haven, and sailed from there up to Koptos.
Then the priests of Isis of Koptos,
and the high priest of Isis, came down to us without waiting, to meet Naneferkaptah,
and their wives also came to me. We went into the temple of Isis
and Harpokrates; and Naneferkaptah brought an ox, a goose, and some wine,
and made a burnt offering and a drink offering before Isis of Koptos and
Harpokrates. They brought us to a very fine house, with all good
things; and Naneferkaptah spent four days there and feasted with the priests
of Isis of Koptos, and the wives of the priests of Isis also made holiday
And the morning of the fifth day
came; and Naneferkaptah called a priest to him, and made a magic cabin
that was full of men and tackle. He put the spell upon it and put
life into it, and gave them breath, and sank it in the water. He
filled the royal boat with sand, and took leave of me, and sailed from
the haven: and I sat by the river at Koptos that I might see what would
become of him. And he said, "Workmen, work for me, even at the place
where the book is." And they toiled by night and by day; and when
they had reached it in three days, he threw the sand out and made a shoal
in the river. And then he found on it entwined serpents and scorpions,
and all kinds of crawling things around the box in which the book was;
and by it he found a deathless snake around the box. And he laid
the spell upon the entwined serpents and scorpions and all kinds of crawling
things which were around the box, that they would not come out. And
he went to the deathless snake, and fought with him, and killed him; but
he came to life again, and took a new form. He then fought again
with him a second time; but he came to life again, and took a third form.
He then cut him in two parts, and put sand between the parts, that he should
not appear again.
Naneferkaptah then went to the place
where he found the box. He uncovered a box of iron, and opened it;
he found then a box of bronze, and opened that; then he found a box of
sycamore wood, and opened that; again he found a box of ivory and ebony,
and opened that; yet, he found a box of silver, and opened that; and then
he found a box of gold; he opened that, and found the book in it.
He took the book from the golden box, and read a page of spells from it.
He enchanted the heaven and the earth, the abyss, the mountains, and the
sea; he knew what the birds of the sky, the fish of the deep, and the beasts
of the hills all said. He read another page of the spells, and saw
the sun shining in the sky, with all the gods, the full moon, and the stars
in their shapes; he saw the fishes of the deep, for a divine power was
present that brought them up from the water. He then read the spell
upon the workmen that he had made, and taken from the haven, and said to
them, "Work for me, back to the place from which I came." And they
toiled night and day, and so he came back to the place where I sat by the
river of Koptos; I had not drunk nor eaten anything, and had done nothing
on earth, but sat like one who is gone to the grave.
I then told Naneferkaptah that I
wished to see this book, for which we had taken so much trouble.
He gave the book into my hands; and when I read a page of the spells in
it, I also enchanted heaven and earth, the abyss, the mountains, and the
sea; I also knew what the birds of the sky, the fishes of the deep, and
the beasts of the hills all said. I read another page of the spells,
and I saw the sun shining in the sky with all the gods, the full moon,
and the stars in their shapes; I saw the fishes of the deep, for a divine
power was present that brought them up from the water. As I could
not write, I asked Naneferkaptah, who was a good writer and a very learned
one; he called for a new piece of papyrus, and wrote on it all that was
in the book before him. He dipped it in beer, and washed it off in
the liquid; for he knew that if it were washed off, and he drank it, he
would know all that there was in the writing.
We went back to Koptos the same
day, and made a feast before Isis of Koptos and Harpokrates. We then
went to the haven and sailed, and went northward of Koptos. And as
we went on, Thoth discovered all that Naneferkaptah had done with the book;
and Thoth hastened to tell Ra, and said, "Now, know that my book and my
revelation are with Naneferkaptah, son of the King Merneptah. He
has forced himself into my place, and robbed it, and seized my box with
the writings, and killed my guards who protected it." And Ra replied
to him, "He is before you, take him and all his kin." He sent a power
from heaven with the command, "Do not let Naneferkaptah return safe to
Memphis with all his kin." And after this hour, the little boy Merab,
going out from the awning of the royal boat, fell into the river: he called
on Ra, and everybody who was on the bank raised a cry. Naneferkaptah went
out of the cabin, and read the spell over him; he brought the body up because
a divine power brought him to the surface. He read another spell
over him, and made him tell of all that happened to him, and of what Thoth
had said before Ra. We turned back with him to Koptos. We brought
him to the Good House, we fetched the people to him, and made one embalm
him; and we buried him in his coffin in the cemetery of Koptos like a great
and noble person.
And Naneferkaptah, my brother, said,
"Let us go down, let us not delay, for the king has not yet heard of what
has happened to him, and his heart will be sad about it." So we went
to the haven, we sailed, and did not stay to the north of Koptos.
When we were come to the place where the little boy Merab had fallen into
the water, I went out from the awning of the royal boat, and I fell into
the river. They called Naneferkaptah, and he came out from the cabin
of the royal boat. He read a spell over me, and brought my body up,
because a divine power brought me to the surface. He drew me out,
and read the spell over me, and made me tell him of all that had happened
to me, and of what Thoth had said before Ra. Then he turned back
with me to Koptos, he brought me to the Good House, he fetched the people
to me, and made one embalm me, as great and noble people are buried, and
laid me in the tomb where Merab my young child was.
He turned to the haven, and sailed
down, and delayed not in the northof Koptos. When he was come to
the place where we fell into the river, he said to his heart, "Shall I
not better turn back again to Koptos, that I may lie by them? For
if not, when I go down to Memphis, and the king asks after his children,
what shall I say to him? Can I tell him, "I have taken your children
to the Thebaid and killed them, while I remained alive, and I have come
to Memphis still alive?" Then he made them bring him a linen cloth
of striped byssus; he made a band, and bound the book firmly, and tied
it upon him. Naneferkaptah then went out of the awning of the royal
boat and fell into the river. He cried on Ra; and all those who were
on the bank made an outcry, saying, "Great woe! Sad woe! Is
he lost, that good scribe and able man that has no equal?"
The royal boat went on without any
one on earth knowing where Naneferkaptah was. It went on to Memphis,
and they told all this to the king. Then the king went down to the
royal boat in mourning, and all the soldiers and high priests and priests
of Ptah were in mourning, and all the officials and courtiers. And
when he saw Naneferkaptah, who was in the inner cabin of the royal boat---from
his rank of high scribe---he lifted him up. And they saw the book
by him; and the king said, "Let one hide this book that is with him."
And the officers of the king, the priests of Ptah, and the high priest
of Ptah, said to the king, "Our Lord, may the king live as long as the
sun! Naneferkaptah was a good scribe and a very skillful man."
And the king had him laid in his Good House to the sixteenth day, and then
had him wrapped to the thirty-fifth day, and laid him out to the seventieth
day, and then had him put in his grave in his resting-place.
I have now told you the sorrow which
has come upon us because of this book.