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In spite of these dreadful scenes, the Egyptians showed no signs of haste or alarm, and seemed to regard the terror-stricken people with mingled curiosity and contempt. At first this conduct was ascribed to the gloomy nature of their religion, and to the fact that in their own cities the plague was said to be never altogether stifled. But gradually a rumour spread that they had in their possession some drug or charm by which they made themselves proof against the pestilence.

In a short time they were surrounded by a tumultuous throng of men and women. A deafening outcry arose of threats and entreaties. Some tried to embrace the knees of the merchants, and offered them masses of gold and precious stones; others shrieked like madmen, "Give us life,—save us!" Some, on the other hand, tried to terrify them with brandished weapons; whilst others, hoping more from