Chapter XV: The Purpose of Queen Tera
"Now, as to the Star Jewel! This she manifestly regarded as the
greatest of her treasures. On it she had engraven words which none of
her time dared to speak.
"In the old Egyptian belief it was held that there were words, which, if
used properly--for the method of speaking them was as important as the
words themselves--could command the Lords of the Upper and the Lower
Worlds. The 'hekau', or word of power, was all-important in certain
ritual. On the Jewel of Seven Stars, which, as you know, is carved into
the image of a scarab, are graven in hieroglyphic two such hekau, one
above, the other underneath. But you will understand better when you
see it! Wait here! Do not stir!"
As he spoke, he rose and left the room. A great fear for him came over
me; but I was in some strange way relieved when I looked at Margaret.
Whenever there had been any possibility of danger to her father, she had
shown great fear for him; now she was calm and placid. I said nothing,
In two or three minutes, Mr. Trelawny returned. He held in his hand a
little golden box. This, as he resumed his seat, he placed before him
on the table. We all leaned forward as he opened it.
On a lining of white satin lay a wondrous ruby of immense size, almost
as big as the top joint of Margaret's little finger. It was carven--it
could not possibly have been its natural shape, but jewels do not show
the working of the tool--into the shape of a scarab, with its wings
folded, and its legs and feelers pressed back to its sides. Shining
through its wondrous "pigeon's blood" colour were seven different stars,
each of seven points, in such position that they reproduced exactly the
figure of the Plough. There could be no possible mistake as to this in
the mind of anyone who had ever noted the constellation. On it were
some hieroglyphic figures, cut with the most exquisite precision, as I
could see when it came to my turn to use the magnifying-glass, which Mr.
Trelawny took from his pocket and handed to us.
When we all had seen it fully, Mr. Trelawny turned it over so that it
rested on its back in a cavity made to hold it in the upper half of the
box. The reverse was no less wonderful than the upper, being carved to
resemble the under side of the beetle. It, too, had some hieroglyphic
figures cut on it. Mr. Trelawny resumed his lecture as we all sat with
our heads close to this wonderful jewel:
"As you see, there are two words, one on the top, the other underneath.
The symbols on the top represent a single word, composed of one syllable
prolonged, with its determinatives. You know, all of you, I suppose,
that the Egyptian language was phonetic, and that the hieroglyphic
symbol represented the sound. The first symbol here, the hoe, means
'mer', and the two pointed ellipses the prolongation of the final r:
mer-r-r. The sitting figure with the hand to its face is what we call
the 'determinative' of 'thought'; and the roll of papyrus that of
'abstraction'. Thus we get the word 'mer', love, in its abstract,
general, and fullest sense. This is the hekau which can command the
Margaret's face was a glory as she said in a deep, low, ringing tone:
"Oh, but it is true. How the old wonder-workers guessed at almighty
Truth!" Then a hot blush swept her face, and her eyes fell. Her father
smiled at her lovingly as he resumed:
"The symbolisation of the word on the reverse is simpler, though the
meaning is more abstruse. The first symbol means 'men', 'abiding', and
the second, 'ab', 'the heart'. So that we get 'abiding of heart', or in
our own language 'patience'. And this is the hekau to control the Lower
He closed the box, and motioning us to remain as we were, he went back
to his room to replace the Jewel in the safe. When he had returned and
resumed his seat, he went on:
"That Jewel, with its mystic words, and which Queen Tera held under her
hand in the sarcophagus, was to be an important factor--probably the most
important--in the working out of the act of her resurrection. From the
first I seemed by a sort of instinct to realise this. I kept the Jewel
within my great safe, whence none could extract it; not even Queen Tera
herself with her astral body."
"Her 'astral body'? What is that, Father? What does that mean?"
There was a keenness in Margaret's voice as she asked the question which
surprised me a little; but Trelawny smiled a sort of indulgent parental
smile, which came through his grim solemnity like sunshine through a
rifted cloud, as he spoke:
"The astral body, which is a part of Buddhist belief, long subsequent to
the time I speak of, and which is an accepted fact of modern mysticism,
had its rise in Ancient Egypt; at least, so far as we know. It is that
the gifted individual can at will, quick as thought itself, transfer his
body whithersoever he chooses, by the dissolution and reincarnation of
particles. In the ancient belief there were several parts of a human
being. You may as well know them; so that you will understand matters
relative to them or dependent on them as they occur.
"First there is the 'Ka', or 'Double', which, as Doctor Budge explains,
may be defined as 'an abstract individuality of personality' which was
imbued with all the characteristic attributes of the individual it
represented, and possessed an absolutely independent existence. It was
free to move from place to place on earth at will; and it could enter
into heaven and hold converse with the gods. Then there was the 'Ba',
or 'soul', which dwelt in the 'Ka', and had the power of becoming
corporeal or incorporeal at will; 'it had both substance and form...
It had power to leave the tomb... It could revisit the body in the
tomb... and could reincarnate it and hold converse with it.' Again
there was the 'Khu', the 'spiritual intelligence', or spirit. It took
the form of 'a shining, luminous, intangible shape of the body.'...
Then, again, there was the 'Sek-hem', or 'power' of a man, his strength
or vital force personified. These with the 'Khaibit', or 'shadow', the
'Ren', or 'name', the 'Khat', or 'physical body', and 'Ab', the 'heart',
in which life was seated, went to the full making up of a man.
"Thus you will see, that if this division of functions, spiritual and
bodily, ethereal and corporeal, ideal and actual, be accepted as exact,
there are all the possibilities and capabilities of corporeal
transference, guided always by an unimprisonable will or intelligence."
As he paused I murmured the lines from Shelley's "Prometheus Unbound":
"'The Magus Zoroaster... Met his own image walking in the garden.'"
Mr. Trelawny was not displeased. "Quite so!" he said, in his quiet way.
"Shelley had a better conception of ancient beliefs than any of our
poets." With a voice changed again he resumed his lecture, for so it
was to some of us:
"There is another belief of the ancient Egyptian which you must bear in
mind; that regarding the ushaptiu figures of Osiris, which were placed
with the dead to do its work in the Under World. The enlargement of this
idea came to a belief that it was possible to transmit, by magical
formulae, the soul and qualities of any living creature to a figure made
in its image. This would give a terrible extension of power to one who
held the gift of magic.
"It is from a union of these various beliefs, and their natural
corollaries, that I have come to the conclusion that Queen Tera expected
to be able to effect her own resurrection, when, and where, and how, she
would. That she may have held before her a definite time for making her
effort is not only possible but likely. I shall not stop now to explain
it, but shall enter upon the subject later on. With a soul with the
Gods, a spirit which could wander the earth at will, and a power of
corporeal transference, or an astral body, there need be no bounds or
limits to her ambition. The belief is forced upon us that for these
forty or fifty centuries she lay dormant in her tomb--waiting. Waiting
with that 'patience' which could rule the Gods of the Under World, for
that 'love' which could command those of the Upper World. What she may
have dreamt we know not; but her dream must have been broken when the
Dutch explorer entered her sculptured cavern, and his follower violated
the sacred privacy of her tomb by his rude outrage in the theft of her
"That theft, with all that followed, proved to us one thing, however:
that each part of her body, though separated from the rest, can be a
central point or rallying place for the items or particles of her astral
body. That hand in my room could ensure her instantaneous presence in
the flesh, and its equally rapid dissolution.
"Now comes the crown of my argument. The purpose of the attack on me
was to get the safe open, so that the sacred Jewel of Seven Stars could
be extracted. That immense door of the safe could not keep out her
astral body, which, or any part of it, could gather itself as well
within as without the safe. And I doubt not that in the darkness of the
night that mummied hand sought often the Talisman Jewel, and drew new
inspiration from its touch. But despite all its power, the astral body
could not remove the Jewel through the chinks of the safe. The Ruby is
not astral; and it could only be moved in the ordinary way by the
opening of the doors. To this end, the Queen used her astral body and
the fierce force of her Familiar, to bring to the keyhole of the safe
the master key which debarred her wish. For years I have suspected,
nay, have believed as much; and I, too, guarded myself against powers of
the Nether World. I, too, waited in patience till I should have
gathered together all the factors required for the opening of the Magic
Coffer and the resurrection of the mummied Queen!" He paused, and his
daughter's voice came out sweet and clear, and full of intense feeling:
"Father, in the Egyptian belief, was the power of resurrection of a
mummied body a general one, or was it limited? That is: could it
achieve resurrection many times in the course of ages; or only once, and
that one final?"
"There was but one resurrection," he answered. "There were some who
believed that this was to be a definite resurrection of the body into
the real world. But in the common belief, the Spirit found joy in the
Elysian Fields, where there was plenty of food and no fear of famine.
Where there was moisture and deep-rooted reeds, and all the joys that
are to be expected by the people of an arid land and burning clime."
Then Margaret spoke with an earnestness which showed the conviction of
her inmost soul:
"To me, then, it is given to understand what was the dream of this great
and far-thinking and high-souled lady of old; the dream that held her
soul in patient waiting for its realisation through the passing of all
those tens of centuries. The dream of a love that might be; a love that
she felt she might, even under new conditions, herself evoke. The love
that is the dream of every woman's life; of the Old and of the New;
Pagan or Christian; under whatever sun; in whatever rank or calling;
however may have been the joy or pain of her life in other ways. Oh! I
know it! I know it! I am a woman, and I know a woman's heart. What
were the lack of food or the plenitude of it; what were feast or famine
to this woman, born in a palace, with the shadow of the Crown of the Two
Egypts on her brows! What were reedy morasses or the tinkle of running
water to her whose barges could sweep the great Nile from the mountains
to the sea. What were petty joys and absence of petty fears to her, the
raising of whose hand could hurl armies, or draw to the water-stairs of
her palaces the commerce of the world! At whose word rose temples
filled with all the artistic beauty of the Times of Old which it was her
aim and pleasure to restore! Under whose guidance the solid rock yawned
into the sepulchre that she designed!
"Surely, surely, such a one had nobler dreams! I can feel them in my
heart; I can see them with my sleeping eyes!"
As she spoke she seemed to be inspired; and her eyes had a far-away look
as though they saw something beyond mortal sight. And then the deep
eyes filled up with unshed tears of great emotion. The very soul of the
woman seemed to speak in her voice; whilst we who listened sat
"I can see her in her loneliness and in the silence of her mighty pride,
dreaming her own dream of things far different from those around her.
Of some other land, far, far away under the canopy of the silent night,
lit by the cool, beautiful light of the stars. A land under that
Northern star, whence blew the sweet winds that cooled the feverish
desert air. A land of wholesome greenery, far, far away. Where were no
scheming and malignant priesthood; whose ideas were to lead to power
through gloomy temples and more gloomy caverns of the dead, through an
endless ritual of death! A land where love was not base, but a divine
possession of the soul! Where there might be some one kindred spirit
which could speak to hers through mortal lips like her own; whose being
could merge with hers in a sweet communion of soul to soul, even as
their breaths could mingle in the ambient air! I know the feeling, for
I have shared it myself. I may speak of it now, since the blessing has
come into my own life. I may speak of it since it enables me to
interpret the feelings, the very longing soul, of that sweet and lovely
Queen, so different from her surroundings, so high above her time!
Whose nature, put into a word, could control the forces of the Under
World; and the name of whose aspiration, though but graven on a star-lit
jewel, could command all the powers in the Pantheon of the High Gods.
"And in the realisation of that dream she will surely be content to
We men sat silent, as the young girl gave her powerful interpretation of
the design or purpose of the woman of old. Her every word and tone
carried with it the conviction of her own belief. The loftiness of her
thoughts seemed to uplift us all as we listened. Her noble words,
flowing in musical cadence and vibrant with internal force, seemed to
issue from some great instrument of elemental power. Even her tone was
new to us all; so that we listened as to some new and strange being from
a new and strange world. Her father's face was full of delight. I knew
now its cause. I understood the happiness that had come into his life,
on his return to the world that he knew, from that prolonged sojourn in
the world of dreams. To find in his daughter, whose nature he had never
till now known, such a wealth of affection, such a splendour of
spiritual insight, such a scholarly imagination, such... The rest of
his feeling was of hope!
The two other men were silent unconsciously. One man had had his
dreaming; for the other, his dreams were to come.
For myself, I was like one in a trance. Who was this new, radiant being
who had won to existence out of the mist and darkness of our fears?
Love has divine possibilities for the lover's heart! The wings of the
soul may expand at any time from the shoulders of the loved one, who
then may sweep into angel form. I knew that in my Margaret's nature
were divine possibilities of many kinds. When under the shade of the
overhanging willow-tree on the river, I had gazed into the depths of her
beautiful eyes, I had thenceforth a strict belief in the manifold
beauties and excellences of her nature; but this soaring and
understanding spirit was, indeed, a revelation. My pride, like her
father's, was outside myself; my joy and rapture were complete and
When we had all got back to earth again in our various ways, Mr.
Trelawny, holding his daughter's hand in his, went on with his
"Now, as to the time at which Queen Tera intended her resurrection to
take place! We are in contact with some of the higher astronomical
calculations in connection with true orientation. As you know, the
stars shift their relative positions in the heavens; but though the real
distances traversed are beyond all ordinary comprehension, the effects
as we see them are small. Nevertheless, they are susceptible of
measurement, not by years, indeed, but by centuries. It was by this
means that Sir John Herschel arrived at the date of the building of the
Great Pyramid--a date fixed by the time necessary to change the star of
the true north from Draconis to the Pole Star, and since then verified
by later discoveries. From the above there can be no doubt whatever
that astronomy was an exact science with the Egyptians at least a
thousand years before the time of Queen Tera. Now, the stars that go to
make up a constellation change in process of time their relative
positions, and the Plough is a notable example. The changes in the
position of stars in even forty centuries is so small as to be hardly
noticeable by an eye not trained to minute observances, but they can be
measured and verified. Did you, or any of you, notice how exactly the
stars in the Ruby correspond to the position of the stars in the Plough;
or how the same holds with regard to the translucent places in the Magic
We all assented. He went on:
"You are quite correct. They correspond exactly. And yet when Queen
Tera was laid in her tomb, neither the stars in the Jewel nor the
translucent places in the Coffer corresponded to the position of the
stars in the Constellation as they then were!"
We looked at each other as he paused: a new light was breaking upon us.
With a ring of mastery in his voice he went on:
"Do you not see the meaning of this? Does it not throw a light on the
intention of the Queen? She, who was guided by augury, and magic, and
superstition, naturally chose a time for her resurrection which seemed
to have been pointed out by the High Gods themselves, who had sent
their message on a thunderbolt from other worlds. When such a time was
fixed by supernal wisdom, would it not be the height of human wisdom to
avail itself of it? Thus it is"--here his voice deepened and trembled
with the intensity of his feeling--"that to us and our time is given the
opportunity of this wondrous peep into the old world, such as has been
the privilege of none other of our time; which may never be again.
"From first to last the cryptic writing and symbolism of that wondrous
tomb of that wondrous woman is full of guiding light; and the key of the
many mysteries lies in that most wondrous Jewel which she held in her
dead hand over the dead heart, which she hoped and believed would beat
again in a newer and nobler world!
"There are only loose ends now to consider. Margaret has given us the
true inwardness of the feeling of the other Queen!" He looked at her
fondly, and stroked her hand as he said it. "For my own part I
sincerely hope she is right; for in such case it will be a joy, I am
sure, to all of us to assist at such a realisation of hope. But we must
not go too fast, or believe too much in our present state of knowledge.
The voice that we hearken for comes out of times strangely other than
our own; when human life counted for little, and when the morality of
the time made little account of the removing of obstacles in the way to
achievement of desire. We must keep our eyes fixed on the scientific
side, and wait for the developments on the psychic side.
"Now, as to this stone box, which we call the Magic Coffer. As I have
said, I am convinced that it opens only in obedience to some principle
of light, or the exercise of some of its forces at present unknown to
us. There is here much ground for conjecture and for experiment; for as
yet the scientists have not thoroughly differentiated the kinds, and
powers, and degrees of light. Without analysing various rays we may, I
think, take it for granted that there are different qualities and powers
of light; and this great field of scientific investigation is almost
virgin soil. We know as yet so little of natural forces, that
imagination need set no bounds to its flights in considering the
possibilities of the future. Within but a few years we have made such
discoveries as two centuries ago would have sent the discoverer's to the
flames. The liquefaction of oxygen; the existence of radium, of helium,
of polonium, of argon; the different powers of Roentgen and Cathode and
Bequerel rays. And as we may finally prove that there are different
kinds and qualities of light, so we may find that combustion may have its
own powers of differentiation; that there are qualities in some flames
non-existent in others. It may be that some of the essential conditions
of substance are continuous, even in the destruction of their bases.
Last night I was thinking of this, and reasoning that as there are
certain qualities in some oils which are not in others, so there may be
certain similar or corresponding qualities or powers in the combinations
of each. I suppose we have all noticed some time or other that the
light of colza oil is not quite the same as that of paraffin, or that
the flames of coal gas and whale oil are different. They find it so in
the light-houses! All at once it occurred to me that there might be some
special virtue in the oil which had been found in the jars when Queen
Tera's tomb was opened. These had not been used to preserve the
intestines as usual, so they must have been placed there for some other
purpose. I remembered that in Van Huyn's narrative he had commented on
the way the jars were sealed. This was lightly, though effectually;
they could be opened without force. The jars were themselves preserved
in a sarcophagus which, though of immense strength and hermetically
sealed, could be opened easily. Accordingly, I went at once to examine
the jars. A little--a very little of the oil still remained, but it had
grown thick in the two and a half centuries in which the jars had been
open. Still, it was not rancid; and on examining it I found it was
cedar oil, and that it still exhaled something of its original aroma.
This gave me the idea that it was to be used to fill the lamps. Whoever
had placed the oil in the jars, and the jars in the sarcophagus, knew
that there might be shrinkage in process of time, even in vases of
alabaster, and fully allowed for it; for each of the jars would have
filled the lamps half a dozen times. With part of the oil remaining I
made some experiments, therefore, which may give useful results. You
know, Doctor, that cedar oil, which was much used in the preparation and
ceremonials of the Egyptian dead, has a certain refractive power which
we do not find in other oils. For instance, we use it on the lenses of
our microscopes to give additional clearness of vision. Last night I
put some in one of the lamps, and placed it near a translucent part of
the Magic Coffer. The effect was very great; the glow of light within
was fuller and more intense than I could have imagined, where an
electric light similarly placed had little, if any, effect. I should
have tried others of the seven lamps, but that my supply of oil ran out.
This, however, is on the road to rectification. I have sent for more
cedar oil, and expect to have before long an ample supply. Whatever may
happen from other causes, our experiment shall not, at all events, fail
from this. We shall see! We shall see!"
Doctor Winchester had evidently been following the logical process of
the other's mind, for his comment was:
"I do hope that when the light is effective in opening the box, the
mechanism will not be impaired or destroyed."
His doubt as to this gave anxious thought to some of us.