NE-NE-HOFRA.

I.

“There is no parallelism in human lives.

“No life runs a straight line.

“The most perfect life develops as a circle, and terminates in its beginning, making it impossible to say, This is the commencement, that the end.

“Perfect lives are the treasures of God; of great days he wears them on the ring-finger of his heart hand.”

II.

“Ne-ne-hofra dwelt in a house close by Essouan, yet closer to the first cataract- so close, indeed, that the sound of the eternal battle waged there between river and rocks was of the place a part.

“She grew in beauty day by day, so that it was said of her, as of the poppies in her father’s garden, What will she not be in the time of blooming? “Each year of her life was the beginning of a new song more delightful than any of those which went before.

“Child was she of a marriage between the North, bounded by the sea, and the South, bounded by the desert beyond the Luna mountains; and one gave her its passion, the other its genius; so when they beheld her, both laughed, saying, not meanly, ‘She is mine,’ but generously, ‘Ha, ha! she is ours.’ “All excellences in nature contributed to her perfection and rejoiced in her presence. Did she come or go, the birds ruffled their wings in greeting; the unruly winds sank to cooling zephyrs; the white lotus rose from the water’s depth to look at her; the solemn river loitered on its way; the palm-trees, nodding, shook all their plumes; and they seemed to say, this one, I gave her of my grace; that, I gave her of my brightness; the other, I gave her of my purity: and so each as it had a virtue to give.

“At twelve, Ne-ne-hofra was the delight of Essouan; at sixteen, the fame of her beauty was universal; at twenty, there was never a day which did not bring to her door princes of the desert on swift camels, and lords of Egypt in gilded barges; and, going away disconsolate, they reported everywhere, ‘I have seen her, and she is not a woman, but Athor herself.'”

III.

“Now of the three hundred and thirty successors of good King Menes, eighteen were Ethiopians, of whom Oraetes was one hundred and ten years old. He had reigned seventy-six years. Under him the people thrived, and the land groaned with fatness of plenty. He practised wisdom because, having seen so much, he knew what it was. He dwelt in Memphis, having there his principal palace, his arsenals, and his treasure-house. Frequently he went down to Butos to talk with Latona.

“The wife of the good king died. Too old was she for perfect embalmment; yet he loved her, and mourned as the inconsolable; seeing which, a colchyte presumed one day to speak to him.

“‘O Oraetes, I am astonished that one so wise and great should not know how to cure a sorrow like this.’ “‘Tell me a cure,’ said the king.