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H Rider Haggard - Belshazzar

H Rider Haggard - Belshazzar

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H Rider Haggard
H Rider Haggard

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 Title: BelshazzarAuthor: H. Rider Haggard* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *eBook No.: 0300971.txtEdition: 1Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bitDate first posted: July 2003Date most recently updated: July 2003This eBook was produced by: John Bickers, jbickers@ihug.co.nzand Dagny, dagnypg@hotmail.comProject Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editionswhich are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright noticeis included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particularpaper edition.Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check thecopyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing thisfile.This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictionswhatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the termsof the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online athttp://gutenberg.net.au/licence.htmlTo contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to http://gutenberg.net.au--------------------------------------------------------------------------A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook 
BelshazzarH. Rider Haggard
"In that night was Belshazzar theKing of the Chaldeans slain."
 
DEDICATIONDear Cowan Guthrie,You, a student of that age, persuaded me to write this tale of Belshazzar and Babylon. Therefore I offer it to you.Sincerely yours,H. Rider Haggard.A. Cowan Guthrie, Esq., M.B.BELSHAZZARCHAPTER IRAMOSE AND HIS MOTHERNow when by the favour of the most high God, Him whom I worship, towhom every man is gathered at last, now, I say, when I am old, manyhave urged upon me that I, Ramose, should set down certain of thosethings that I have seen in the days of my life, and particularly thetale of the fall of Babylon, the mighty city, before Cyrus thePersian, which chanced when he whom the Greeks called Nabonidus beingnewly dead, Belshazzar his son was king.Therefore, having ever been a lover of letters, this I do in theGrecian tongue here in my house at Memphis, the great city of theNile, whereof to-day I am the governor under Darius the Persian, forit has pleased God after many adversities to bring me to this peaceand dignity at last. Whether any will read this book when it iswritten, or whether it will perish with me, I do not know, nor indeeddoes it trouble me much, since none can tell the end of anything goodor ill, and all must happen as it is decreed. Man makes a beginning,but the rest is in the hands of fate; indeed his life itself is but abeginning of which the end is hid.Now to-day when he is almost forgotten, I can say without fear that Iam a king's son, for my father was none other than the Pharaoh Uah-ab-Ra, whom the Greeks called Apries and the Hebrews Hophra. Nor is myblood all royal, seeing that I was not the son of the wife of Pharaoh,but of one of his women, a Grecian lady named Chloe, the daughter of Chion, an Athenian by birth, of whom the less said the better for mymother told me that being a spendthrift and in want of money, heturned her beauty to account by giving her to Apries in exchange for agreat present. I know no more of the matter because she would seldomspeak of it, saying that it was shameful, adding only that her fatherwas well-born; that her mother had died when she was an infant, andthat before she came to the court at Sais, they saw many changes of 
 
fortune, living sometimes in wealth, but for the most part humbly andin great poverty which in after years bred in her a love of rank andriches.Here in the palace of Sais during the little time that my mother wasin favour with Pharaoh, I was born, and here I lived till I was ayoung man grown, being brought up with the sons of the great noblesand taught all things that one of my station should know, especiallythe art of war and how to ride and handle weapons. Further I gotlearning because always from the first I loved it, being taught manythings by Greek masters who were about the court, as well as byEgyptians; also by a certain Babylonian named Belus, a doctor who wasversed in strange lore concerning the stars. Of this Belus, my masterand friend but for whom I should long ago be dead, I shall have muchto tell.Thus it came about that in the end I could read and speak Greek aswell as I could Egyptian, which was not to be wondered at, seeing thatI learned it at my mother's breast. Also I mastered the Babylonian orChaldean tongue, though not so well, and with it the curious writingof that people.Of my father, the Pharaoh, I saw little for he had so many childrensuch as I, born of different mothers, that he took small heed of us,he upon whom lay this hard fortune, that from those who were hisqueens according to the law of Egypt, he had no offspring save onedaughter only, while from those who were not his queens he had many.This was a heavy grief to the Pharaoh my father, who saw in it thehands of the gods to whom he made great sacrifices, especially toPtah-Khepera the Creator and Father of Life, building up his temple atMemphis, and praying of him a son of the pure blood. But no son cameand an oracle told him that he who loved the Greeks so much must tothe Greeks for offspring, which was true, for all his sons were bornof Grecian women, as perhaps the oracle knew already.On a certain day I and other lads of my age were running races afterthe Grecian fashion. In the long race I outran all the rest, and fellpanting and exhausted into the arms of one who, followed by threecompanions, stood wrapped in a dark cloak, (for the time was winter,) just by a wand that we had set in the ground to serve us as a winning-post."Well run and well won!" said a voice which I knew for that of Apries."How are you named and who begot you?"Now I rose from the ground upon which I had sunk, and pretending thathe was a stranger to me, gasped out,"Ramose is my name, and as for that of my begetter, go ask his of Pharaoh."

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