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Morning Star   By: (1856-1925)

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by H. Rider Haggard


My dear Budge,

Only a friendship extending over many years emboldened me, an amateur, to propose to dedicate a Romance of Old Egypt to you, one of the world's masters of the language and lore of the great people who in these latter days arise from their holy tombs to instruct us in the secrets of history and faith.

With doubt I submitted to you this story, asking whether you wished to accept pages that could not, I feared, be free from error, and with surprise in due course I read, among other kind things, your advice to me to "leave it exactly as it is." So I take you at your word, although I can scarcely think that in paths so remote and difficult I have not sometimes gone astray.

Whatever may be the shortcomings, therefore, that your kindness has concealed from me, since this tale was so fortunate as to please and interest you, its first critic, I offer it to you as an earnest of my respect for your learning and your labours.

Very sincerely yours,

H. Rider Haggard.


To Doctor Wallis Budge,

Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities, British Museum.


It may be thought that even in a story of Old Egypt to represent a "Ka" or "Double" as remaining in active occupation of a throne, while the owner of the said "Double" goes upon a long journey and achieves sundry adventures, is, in fact, to take a liberty with Doubles. Yet I believe that this is scarcely the case. The Ka or Double which Wiedermann aptly calls the "Personality within the Person" appears, according to Egyptian theory, to have had an existence of its own. It did not die when the body died, for it was immortal and awaited the resurrection of that body, with which, henceforth, it would be reunited and dwell eternally. To quote Wiedermann again, "The Ka could live without the body, but the body could not live without the Ka . . . . . it was material in just the same was as the body itself." Also, it would seem that in certain ways it was superior to and more powerful than the body, since the Egyptian monarchs are often represented as making offerings to their own Kas as though these were gods. Again, in the story of "Setna and the Magic Book," translated by Maspero and by Mr. Flinders Petrie in his "Egyptian Tales," the Ka plays a very distinct part of its own. Thus the husband is buried at Memphis and the wife in Koptos, yet the Ka of the wife goes to live in her husband's tomb hundreds of miles away, and converses with the prince who comes to steal the magic book.

Although I know no actual precedent for it, in the case of a particularly powerful Double, such as was given in this romance to Queen Neter Tua by her spiritual father, Amen, the greatest of the Egyptian gods, it seems, therefore, legitimate to suppose that, in order to save her from the abomination of a forced marriage with her uncle and her father's murderer, the Ka would be allowed to anticipate matters a little, and to play the part recorded in these pages.

It must not be understood, however, that the fact of marriage with an uncle would have shocked the Egyptian mind, since these people, and especially their royal Houses, made a habit of wedding their own brothers and sisters, as in this tale Mermes wed his half sister Asti.

I may add that there is authority for the magic waxen image which the sorcerer Kaku and his accomplice used to bewitch Pharaoh. In the days of Rameses III., over three thousand years ago, a plot was made to murder the king in pursuance of which such images were used. "Gods of wax . . . . . . for enfeebling the limbs of people," which were "great crimes of death, the great abomination of the land." Also a certain "magic roll" was brought into play which enabled its user to "employ the magic powers of the gods."

Still, the end of these wizards was not encouraging to others, for they were found guilty and obliged to take their own lives.

But even if I am held to have stretched the prerogative of the Ka , or of the waxen image which, by the way, has survived almost to our own time, and in West Africa, as a fetish, is still pierced with pins or nails, I can urge in excuse that I have tried, so far as a modern may, to reproduce something of the atmosphere and colour of Old Egypt, as it has appeared to a traveller in that country and a student of its records... Continue reading book >>

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