Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt
Page: 85So pleased was Khufu with this story that he ordered that the shade of Nebka should be presented with a thousand loaves, a hundred draughts of beer, an ox, and two jars of incense, and that the ka of Uba-aner should receive a loaf, a jar of beer, a jar of incense, and a portion of meat.
Another of the king's sons then told of a marvellous happening which came to pass in the days of King Seneferu. Seneferu, feeling extremely bored and jaded, sought in every apartment of his palace for something with which to amuse himself, but in vain; so he called for Zazamankh, his chief reciter and scribe of the rolls, to whom he told his predicament. Zazamankh advised that the king should command that a boat be made ready, and that he should go upon the lake of the palace and be rowed to and fro upon its glassy surface by the royal ladies. He asked for twenty oars of ebony inlaid with gold, with blades of light wood inlaid with electrum. These were to be rowed by twenty ladies. The king's heart was gladdened by the exercise; but one of the ladies who was steering lost a jewel of malachite from her hair. Immediately she ceased her singing, and so did her companions, and[Pg 200] they ceased to row. Seneferu inquired the reason, and they replied, "The steerswoman rows not." The king then turned to the lady who had lost her jewel and asked her why she did not row. "Alas!" she replied, "my jewel of malachite has fallen in the water, and my heart is sad." The king bade her be of good cheer and said that he would replace it; but she childishly replied that she wanted her own piece of malachite back in its setting. The king then called for Zazamankh and acquainted him with the circumstance which had befallen. Zazamankh then uttered a powerful spell, and behold! one part of the waters of the lake was piled upon the other, so that far below them the king and the rowers could see the jewel lying upon a piece of potsherd. Zazamankh descended from the boat and secured the jewel and brought it back to its owner, after which he once more commanded the waters to return to the place whence they came. This surprising act lightened the hearts of the entire company, so that they spent a joyful afternoon, and Zazamankh was richly rewarded for his magical skill. Pharaoh was so pleased with this tale that he commanded that the shade of Seneferu should receive an offering similar to what had been presented to Nebka, and that the ka of Zazamankh should have presented to it a loaf, a jar of beer, and a jar of incense.
But a third son told the king that, so far from recounting tales concerning persons of bygone times, he could tell him a magical story of a man who lived in his own days. His name was Dedi, and he dwelt at Dedsneferu. He was 110 years old, and he ate daily five hundred loaves of bread and a side of beef, and drank a hundred draughts of beer. So great was his magical learning[Pg 201] that if the head of a man or an animal were smitten off, Dedi could restore the deceased to life. He could tame wild beasts, and knew the designs of the House of Thoth. This design the king, Khufu, might like to know, and it would perhaps be of use to him in the construction of his pyramid. Khufu at once ordered his son to bring this Dedi before him, and the prince, whose name was Hordedef, took ship up the Nile to where the venerable magician dwelt. He was carried in a litter to the house of Dedi, whom he found lying on a couch at the door of his house in process of being massaged by his servants. Hordedef told him that he had come from afar to bring him before his father, Khufu. Dedi replied with the salutation of praise, and together they went toward the ship which had brought the prince thither. Dedi asked that he might be given a boat and that his youths and his books might be brought to him. He was provided with two boats, in which these were stowed, and Dedi himself sat in the barge of the prince. They duly reached the palace, where Hordedef announced to the king that he had brought the ancient sorcerer. The Pharaoh at once gave orders that he should be led before him, and when he came asked how it was that he had not before heard of him; and Dedi replied, "He only who is called cometh; the king calleth me, and behold I come." Khufu said to him, "Is it sooth, as is said of thee, that if the head is smitten off a man or an animal, thou canst restore either to life?" Dedi replied in the affirmative. The king then requested that a prisoner be brought to him, but Dedi begged that a man should not be used for this purpose, saying, "Behold, we do not even thus to our cattle." A duck was then brought to him and decapitated, and its body was laid on the west side of the hall,[Pg 202] and its head on the east side. Dedi then spoke some magic words, and lo! the body and the head of the bird approached each other and joined, and the duck stood up and quacked. He then performed the same feat with a goose and an ox.