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Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt

Page: 77

Now the land of Bekhten was far from the land of Egypt, and the journey between them occupied a year and five months. When the messenger of the Prince of Bekhten reached Egypt he found Rameses in Thebes, in the temple of Khonsu, for it was the month which was sacred to that god. And the messenger bowed before Rameses and gave him the message sent by the queen's father. In the temple at Thebes there were two statues of the god Khonsu, one called Khonsu in Thebes Neferhetep, the other Khonsu, Expeller of Demons, both representing the god as a handsome youth. Rameses approached Khonsu in Thebes Neferhetep and prayed that he would permit Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, to go to the land of Bekhten for[Pg 179] the healing of Bent-reshy, the queen's little sister. Khonsu in Thebes Neferhetep bowed his assent, and gave his protection to the Expeller of Demons. When this was done Khonsu, Expeller of Demons, was dispatched to Bekhten, accompanied by a large retinue, and with ceremony befitting a king. They journeyed for a year and five months, and at length reached the land of the queen's father. The prince himself and all his people hastened to greet Khonsu, prostrating themselves and offering rich gifts even as they might have done to the King of Egypt himself. Meanwhile Bent-reshy's illness had continued unabated, for the demon who possessed her was very potent. But when Khonsu was conducted to her chamber, behold! she grew well in a moment, to the joy of her father and his courtiers. The demon who had come out of her acknowledged Khonsu as his superior, and those who stood by heard with awe a conversation pass between them.

"O Khonsu," said the spirit, "I am thy slave. If thou commandest that I go from hence, I will go. But I pray thee ask of the Prince of Bekhten that he will make a holy day for me and a sacrifice. Then shall I go in peace."

"It shall be as thou hast said," replied Khonsu, and he commanded the Prince of Bekhten to make a sacrifice and a holy day for the demon who had possessed Bent-reshy.

First the people made a great sacrifice to Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons; then they made one for the demon, who thereafter departed in peace. But when he had gone the mind of the Prince of Bekhten was grievously troubled, for he thought: "Perchance he will come again unto our land, and torment the people even as he has tormented my daughter, Bent-reshy." So he determined that Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons,[Pg 180] must not be allowed to depart from Bekhten, but must be kept there always, lest the demon should return.

For more than three years, therefore, the Prince of Bekhten kept Khonsu within his domains, and would not allow him to depart. But one night he had a dream which altered his determination. In his dream he stood before the shrine of Khonsu, Expeller of Demons. And as he looked, behold! the doors of the shrine were flung wide, and the god himself issued forth, took the form of a hawk with wonderful golden plumage, and flew toward Egypt. When he awoke the Lord of Bekhten knew that the real god had departed to Egypt, and that it was useless to keep any longer his statue. Moreover, he feared the vengeance of Khonsu. So on the morrow he loaded the statue of Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, with rich and beautiful gifts, and sent him away to Egypt with a princely retinue.


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