Egyptian Literature/Egyptian Tales/The Doomed Prince
THE DOOMED PRINCE
There once was a king to whom no son was born; and his heart was grieved, and he prayed for himself unto the gods around him for a child. They decreed that one should be born to him. And his wife, after her time was fulfilled, brought forth a son. Then came the Hathors to decree for him a destiny; they said, “His death is to be by the crocodile, or by the serpent, or by the dog.” Then the people who stood by heard this, and they went to tell it to his Majesty. Then his Majesty’s heart sickened very greatly. And his Majesty caused a house to be built upon the desert; it was furnished with people and with all good things of the royal house, that the child should not go abroad. And when the child was grown, he went up upon the roof, and he saw a dog; it was following a man who was walking on the road. He spoke to his page, who was with him, “What is this that walks behind the man who is coming along the road?“ He answered him, “This is a dog.” The child said to him, “Let there be brought to me one like it.” The page went to repeat it to his Majesty. And his Majesty said, “Let there be brought to him a little pet dog, lest his heart be sad.” And behold they brought to him the dog.
Then when the days increased after this, and when the child became grown in all his limbs, he sent a message to his father saying, “Come, wherefore am I kept here? Inasmuch as I am fated to three evil fates, let me follow my desire. Let God do what is in his heart.” They agreed to all he said, and gave him all sorts of arms, and also his dog to follow him, and they took him to the east country, and said to him, “Behold, go thou whither thou wilt.” His dog was with him, and he went northward, following his heart in the desert, while he lived on all the best of the game of the desert. He went to the chief of Naharaina.
And behold there had not been any born to the chief of Naharaina, except one daughter. Behold, there had been built for her a house; its seventy windows were seventy cubits from the ground. And the chief caused to be brought all the sons of the chiefs of the land of Khalu, and said to them, “He who reaches the window of my daughter, she shall be to him for a wife.”
And many days after these things, as they were in their daily task, the youth rode by the place where they were. They took the youth to their house, they bathed him, they gave provender to his horses, they brought all kinds of things for the youth, they perfumed him, they anointed his feet, they gave him portions of their own food; and they spake to him, “Whence comest thou, goodly youth?“ He said to them, “I am son of an officer of the land of Egypt; my mother is dead, and my father has taken another wife. And when she bore children, she grew to hate me, and I have come as a fugitive from before her.” And they embraced him, and kissed him.
And after many days were passed, he said to the youths, “What is it that ye do here?“ And they said to him: “We spend our time in this: we climb up, and he who shall reach the window of the daughter of the chief of Naharaina, to him will be given her to wife.” He said to them, “If it please you, let me behold the matter, that I may come to climb with you.” They went to climb, as was their daily wont: and the youth stood afar off to behold; and the face of the daughter of the chief of Naharaina was turned to them. And another day the sons came to climb, and the youth came to climb with the sons of the chiefs. He climbed, and he reached the window of the daughter of the chief of Naharaina. She kissed him, she embraced him in all his limbs.
And one went to rejoice the heart of her father, and said to him, “One of the people has reached the window of thy daughter.” And the prince inquired of the messenger, saying, “The son of which of the princes is it?“ And he replied to him, “It is the son of an officer, who has come as a fugitive from the land of Egypt, fleeing from before his stepmother when she had children.” Then the chief of Naharaina was exceeding angry; and he said: “Shall I indeed give my daughter to the Egyptian fugitive? Let him go back whence he came.” And one came to tell the youth, “Go back to the place thou carnest from.” But the maiden seized his hand; she swore an oath by God, saying, “By the being of Ra Harakhti, if one takes him from me, I will not eat, I will not drink, I shall die in that same hour.” The messenger went to tell unto her father all that she said. Then the prince sent men to slay the youth, while he was in his house. But the maiden said: “By the being of Ra, if one slay him I shall be dead ere the sun goeth down. I will not pass an hour of life if I am parted from him.” And one went to tell her father. Then the prince made them bring the youth with the maiden. The youth was seized with fear when he came before the prince. But he embraced him, he kissed him all over, and said: “Oh, tell me who thou art; behold, thou art to me as a son.” He said to him: “I am a son of an officer of the land of Egypt; my mother died, my father took to him a second wife; she came to hate me, and I fled a fugitive from before her.” He then gave to him his daughter to wife; he gave also to him a house, and serfs, and fields, also cattle and all manner of good things.
But after the days of these things were passed, the youth said to his wife, “I am doomed to three fates a crocodile, a serpent, and a dog.” She said to him, “Let one kill the dog which belongs to thee.” He replied to her, “I am not going to kill my dog, which I have brought up from when it was small.” And she feared greatly for her husband, and would not let him go alone abroad.
And one went with the youth toward the land of Egypt, to travel in that country. Behold the crocodile of the river, he came out by the town in which the youth was. And in that town was a mighty man. And the mighty man would not suffer the crocodile to escape. And when the crocodile was bound, the mighty man went out and walked abroad. And when the sun rose the mighty man went back to the house; and he did so every day, during two months of days.
Now when the days passed after this, the youth sat making a good day in his house. And when the evening came he lay down on his bed, sleep seized upon his limbs; and his wife filled a bowl of milk, and placed it by his side. Then came out a serpent from his hole, to bite the youth; behold his wife was sitting by him, she lay not down. Thereupon the servants gave milk to the serpent, and he drank, and was drunk, and lay upside down. Then his wife made it to perish with the blows of her dagger. And they woke her husband, who was astonished; and she said unto him: “Behold thy God has given one of thy dooms into thy hand; he will also give thee the others.” And he sacrificed to God, adoring him, and praising his spirits from day to day.
And when the days were passed after these things, the youth went to walk in the fields of his domain. He went not alone, behold his dog was following him. And his dog ran aside after the wild game, and he followed the dog. He came to the river, and entered the river behind his dog. Then came out the crocodile, and took him to the place where the mighty man was. And the crocodile said to the youth, “I am thy doom, following after thee. . . .”
(Here the papyrus breaks off.)