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'Tis autumn, again to Pocantico's stream
This bridge has a legend we all love to read,
There's a hush over all things—how tranquil this hour,
Again on the bridge, but as watcher, I stand,
The companions of youth and companions of age,
When I saw the great concourse that followed the dead,
The storms of the winter, its rude borean blasts
Old bridge and old church and old burial-ground,
AN EXPLORATION OF THE PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT.
To become a traveller was the ruling Sphynx opened its lips, charged with the passion of my boyhood. Books of secrets of the far-off, shadowy past. travels were my only reading, and a But now there was a dawn upon this story of times and men far remote even Egyptian darkness. One by one, these then possessed an interest beyond the cryptographs gave up to Champollion fascination of romance.
and his eager rivals their long-locked As years passed on, circumstances meanings. Each mighty column was permitted me the indulgence of my pas- but a volume in the regal library of sion. A competence had been left me; kings, whose last descendant was far there lacked ties to enchain me to a sin- above Pharaoh on that misty river of gle spot; there was no place which, Time. above another, was home. There clung I had followed these explorations with around me none of those gentle associ. an interest which is ever the child of ations which bind the majority of man- mystery. I yielded to the fascination, kind to the place of their nativity. and resorted to Egypt. It is hard to ex
The field of Egyptian research had press the emotion with which I first just been invaded. The most renowned stepped upon that shore. I was, as it scholars of Europe were laboring in it, were, wafted back by enchantment, far, with a zeal stimulated almost to excite- far into the night of the ages. The comment by the astonishing discoveries on panions of my thoughts were those old, the threshold.
strange races of men. So long and vivid Hoary Time seemed about to give up was the exercise of my imagination, that all his secrets. Egypt's old tombs were these beings of the mind took substantial yielding their story; their cryptograph- forms; they were always with me; and ic inscriptions were being rapidly deci. the dust became animated with the great phered. The Sphynx, that dumb riddle souls which once tenanted it; the desert of the centuries, seemed now ready to was populous with myriads that once open its stony lips.
poured from Thebes' hundred gates. It is a land of mystery. The pilgrim The effete barbarians who built their treads upon the dust of countless gen- huts among the columns of Karnak, or erations. The rocks are graven with at the feet of the Pyramids, were unnocharacters, the work of hands returned ticed and wholly unknown. All that to dust, ages before Jacob sent his sons had been discovered I mastered. The thither to buy corn. There, indeed, a few short syllables which genius and thousand years are but as a day, and a toil had spelt out in this dead lore, I generation is a thing that passeth away, learned. I devoted my labor and means even as a man putteth off a garment to the work, under the guidance of those
The traces of a civilization, of an art, high-priests of learning to whom Mema grandeur, of a pride and splendor, non had opened his stony lips, in half which dwarf the achievements of the in- disclosure of the secrets of the vast Nefant world, impress the shores of the cropolis around his mighty throne. I Nile. The ruins of Thebes, the columns pursued the explorations with a zeal of Karnak, had held out, almost from averred at times to approach monomania. the birth of time, their sculptured story. In my searches, extending far and In these hieroglyphics was the record of near, to the high and the low, I chanced a mighty people, but there had been several times to meet native Egyptians none to read them. To none had the who professed to be members of an he
reditary priesthood, to be the deposita- characters, and in two languages, one of ries by tradition of the ancient magic, which was the Greek; that each of the and of that occult knowledge for which temples whose ruins we explored, and old Egypt was famous among the na- thousands of which no vestige remained, tions. More than one of these mystic had once contained a copy of the tablet, seers hinted himself to be possessed, but that priestly jealousy bad destroyed • also by tradition from hoary ages, of all that had escaped the tooth of time, strange and peculiar knowledge touch- so that there remained but this one. I ing the great tombs, and especially the besought him for a disclosure of this Pyramids.
stone. Written in Greek, as well as in All of these professed revealers I em- cryptograph, it was a dictionary to the ployed, and eagerly questioned. They lore I was striving to decipher. all held strange secrets, but all were im- But he declared it to be distant, and postors, save a single one. It is true that a solemn oath bound him to reveal that they did reveal the places of several it to no Frank. I could not prevail with tombs, unknown since the drifting sands him, and relinquished the attempt with had buried them, centuries ago; but feelings I cannot describe. Armed with they had no peculiar knowledge; they this tablet, I conceived the possibility of could afford no aid in my study of the immediate and vast advances in the work cryptographs; they could reveal no se- of unlocking and exploring this ancient crets of the mighty dead.
lore. But in Ach met, of Upper Egypt, I at It is enough to say, in passing, that last found one superior to his class, a not long afterwards I was gratified by man who indeed possessed a profound the discovery of the “Rosetta Stone,' and an exclusive knowledge of the great which, doubtless, is a mutilated copy of tombs and monuments, and whom I the tablet whereof Achmet spoke. really believe to have been the heredi. On one occasion he guided me far up tary recipient of secrets handed down the Nile, where we made a midnight exby tradition from the far-off ages and ploration of an unknown catacomb, in people, whose study fired my brain which were deposited the mummies of . He declared that these secrets had many thousand crocodiles, worshipped reached him through an interminable and embalmed in those distant ages as line of his mystic priesthood, from ages sacred reptiles. It was a strange and beyond any written history, cozval with thrilling adventure, accomplished not the Pyramids themselves.
without serious danger. We explored many tombs and cata- But it is my purpose, at present, to combs together. Even in those long relate the story of another strange exploknown and explored, he astounded me ration, in which Achmet was my guide. by the disclosure of secret apartments The Pyramids, from whose summits and passages which had escaped discov- fifty centuries looked down upon the ery. Though the secret of the crypto- sluggish Nile, had awakened in me a graphic character was lost, he said, and singular interest. A strange attraction he had made no greater progress than I drew me often to the feet of these stuin deciphering the hieroglyphs, yet he pendous piles, whose Titanic masonry, had received from tradition the meanings measureless bulk and duration, dwarf of many of the carved and painted in- the mightiest deeds essayed since their scriptions which we found in the tombs; erection. I doubted the explanations and with these he acquainted me. given by the learned of their origin.
He averred that he knew the where. The labor of one hundred thousand abouts of a certain stone tablet, which men for twenty years could hardly have contained voluminous inscriptions of the been needed to fix a meridian. I was same royal decree, in three species of equally confident that the greatest of
them all, Cheops, had not been erected his own mystic line had always shrunk for the tomb of a single king.
from entering. He had been led to its Explorations had been made long be- threshold once, long years ago, by his fore. An entrance to the greatest had ancestor, who suffered him to look withrewarded the zeal of Belzoni. A narrow in, but not to enter. This ancestor depassage had led him deep into the rocky clared to Achmet that the disclosure centre, where he, the first who had dis- had been handed down to himself in turbed the silence of the ages which precisely the same solemn manner, and reigned there, had found himself before with the like solemn adjuration, never an empty sarcophagus. I had also ex- to touch with foot or hand the stony plored this Pyramid, but the royal one floor inside the door. who, il may be, had afar off in the night I lent a greedy ear to Achmet's asserof time tenanted this deep chamber, had tion, for, as I have related, I had long vanished ages before.
felt a conviction that former explorers The firm conviction that took posses- had turned away from the Great Pyrasion of me that this great explorer had mid and its mystery, satisfied that the paused upon the threshold of the mys- whole had been revealed in the single tery, that he had turned back from the little apartment and the empty sarcophvery door, excited my imagination to a agus. feverish intensity of action. I now de- Ho yielded to my will, and consented, voted myself, my life, my studies, and though reluctantly, to become my guide my whole soul, to this greatest of the to the Mystery of the Great Cheops-s0 Pyramids. I spent my days alone, in is it called. scaling the faces of the work, climbing I assented to his entreaty that our exits steps, seemingly laid for those Titan's pedition should be by night, and that who warred with Jove; I criticised each his disclosures should be inviolable seseam and fissure; I sounded and tried crets. I could with difficulty await the every stone with bar and hammer. By hour, and I paced the earthen floor of night I wandered around its base, my our temporary hovel, exalted by hope, eyes and thoughts riveted on the mighty but a prey to a strange agitation. pile with a thrilling fascination. It was Thick darkness at last crept from the silent, grand, awful. The night-wind, eastward, tardily following the departed drifting from the Lybian desert, moaned sun across the trackless desert and the around its summit, as sadly and mourn- old Nile. Black clouds drooped from fully as if it were nature's requiem for the sky until they seemed to rest upon tbe souls of the unnumbered dead whose the very apex of the Pyramid. The dust drifted around its deep foundations. moon, a waning crescent, had closely My servant Achmet, or companion-he followed the sun in its departure, and partook more of the latter than the for- not a single star lent its ineffectual ray mer character--finally joined me in my to cheer the gloomy scene. researches here.
Solemn and awful, charged with the At last, affected by my zeal, he de- secrets of fifty centuries, stood, in its clared that he was able to reveal a secret eternal, imperishable majesty, the Pyraof the Great Pyramid likewise never yet MID. disclosed to a Frank. He had received To my excited ear, the gentle nightthe knowledge with solemn adjurations wind, moaning in snatches across the to reveal it to none save those of his black, melancholy waste, now sinking, race and mystery.
now swelling in volume, brought, as I He said that he could point out an half fancied, an articulate, sorrowful apartment deep under the stony centre warning against the meditated desecraof the pile, which no Frankish explorer tion. had even suspected, and which those of Provided with torches, to be lighted