Tales of Ancient Egypt (Puffin Classics) by Green Roger Lancelyn

Tales of Ancient Egypt (Puffin Classics) by Green Roger Lancelyn

Author:Green, Roger Lancelyn [Green, Roger Lancelyn]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
ISBN: 9780141338224
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Published: 2011-07-27T16:00:00+00:00

Se-Osiris and the Sealed Letter

Many tales were told in Ancient Egypt of Setna, the son of Rameses the Great, who was the wisest of all scribes, and who found and read the Book of Thoth. And tales were told also of his son Se-Osiris – ‘the Gift of Osiris’ – the wonderful child who, at the age of twelve, was the greatest magician Egypt had ever known.

His most famous exploit began on a day when Rameses sat in the great hall of his palace at Thebes with his princes and nobles about him, and the Grand Vizier came bustling in with a look of shocked surprise on his face and prostrated himself before Rameses, crying: ‘Life, health, strength be with you, O Pharaoh! There has come to your court a rascally Ethiopian seven feet tall who demands speech with you, saying that he is here to prove that the magic of Egypt is nothing compared with the magic of Ethiopia.’

‘Bid him enter,’ commanded Pharaoh, and presently a huge Ethiopian strode into his presence, bowed to the ground, and said: ‘King of Egypt, I have brought here in my hand a sealed letter to see if any of your priests or scribes or magicians can read what is written in it without breaking the seal. And if none of them can read it, I will go back to Ethiopia and tell my king and all his people how weak is the magic of the Egyptians, and you will be a jest on the lips of all men.’

Pharaoh was both angry and troubled when he heard this, and he sent in haste for his wise son Setna and told him what had chanced. Setna also was dismayed, but he said, ‘O Pharaoh, my father – life, health, strength be to you! – bid this barbarian go and take his rest; let him eat, drink and sleep in the Royal Guest-House until your court is assembled next, when I will bring a magician who will show that we who practise the magic art in Egypt are a match for anyone from the lands beyond Kush.’

‘Be it so,’ answered Pharaoh, and the Ethiopian was led away to the hospitable entertainment of the Royal Guest-House.

But although he had spoken so confidently, Setna was troubled. Though he had read the Book of Thoth and was the wisest man in Egypt and the most skilled magician, he could not read a letter that was written on a papyrus scroll that was rolled up and sealed without breaking the seal and unrolling the letter.

When he returned to his palace he lay down on his couch to think; and he looked so pale and troubled that his wife came to him fearing that he was ill. With her came their son Se-Osiris, and when Setna had told all his trouble the woman burst into tears but the boy began to laugh gleefully.

‘My son,’ said Setna with a puzzled look, ‘why do you laugh when I tell you of that


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