The Slipper

Melia Suez

Bored, he thought. So bored. It is so wrong for Pharaoh to be bored. Who knew how often he would be bored when he became ruler?  Bored, bored, bored.

Amasis shifted restlessly on his throne, looking out over his people as they came to see him hold court in Memphis.  How long must I sit here before I can go riding?  How long must I be responsible before I can leave to go hunt?

Movement in the cloudless sky caught his restless gaze.  It was a falcon, the largest falcon he had ever seen.  Amasis gazed in wonder as the bird appeared to be heading directly for him.  Soon the crowd quieted as they followed their ruler’s gaze.  (Later they would claim that the bird had gold trappings, but Pharaoh knew it was just the shine of its feathers.)  The falcon came to hover just above Pharaoh. Something dropped from its claws.  The crowds gasped in a combination of horror and delight.

Amasis just stared at his lap.  It was a slipper, a feminine slipper. It had a leather sole, but the remainder of it had been artistically gilded in rose gold.

A quest! he thought. Relief from boredom!

As he continued to study the slipper, he marveled at the workmanship and wondered about the owner.  She must be lovely and well formed to have such an item.  Pharaoh called out to the quiet crowd. “Hail Heru-wer!”

“Hail Heru-wer!” they shouted.

“Harmerty, my father, has presented me with a quest!”  He snapped his fingers to summon his favorite servant, Aisa.  “Get a pillow and then display this to the people.”

As they oohed and ahhed, he continued to speak “All maidens of this land must try on this slipper.  The maiden who fits this slipper will be my queen.”  Even Pharaoh looked stunned by his own decree.  “As Heru-wer wills.”

He promptly called for his chariot and commenced his search for the owner of the rose gold slipper.  Everywhere he encountered a maiden, Aisa would present her the slipper to try on, with no success.  When his search by land yielded no owner, he called for his barge and continued his search at every port along the Nile.

Bored, he thought. So bored.  It is so wrong for a pharaoh to be bored.  Who knew how long this search would be?  Bored, bored, bored. Amasis shifted restlessly as they rounded the latest bend of the Nile.  Up ahead was a landing with maidens already lined up to try on the slipper.

As he watched the seemingly endless procession of hopefuls, a feather floated out of the sky and landed next to a pretty foot barely peeping out from some rushes near the landing.

“Guards!” Pharaoh shouted, “Gently bring that maiden out of hiding so that she may try on the slipper.  Let it not be said that I am not fair or thorough in my search.”

The guards retrieved the hidden maiden and guided her to the front of the line where Aisa waited with the slipper.  Daintily, the pretty foot slid into the slipper.  It fit perfectly.  Then before the Pharaoh’s stunned eyes, she pulled out the matching slipper from her tunic.

Amasis quietly looked her over and was pleased by what he saw. Though plainly dressed, she was beautiful.  She had pale skin, curly, golden hair and beautiful green eyes.  “Tell me, Mistress mine, who are you and how came you by these slippers.”

The maid bowed and stated, “My name is Doricha, slave to Xanthes of Naukratis.  He, however, calls me Rhodopis on account of my rosy cheeks.  My master gave me these slippers in reward for dancing so beautifully for him.”

“He will never call you by either name again, unless it is preceded by your title of Queen.  Step aboard, my Lady and sail with me into the sunset.”

Screeches came from two of the maids in the line. “But she isn’t even Egyptian!”  “She’s a slave!”

Pharaoh flicked his hand as if knocking their protests out of the sky, “She is the most Egyptian of all.  Her eyes are the Nile, her hair is the feathery papyrus on its banks and her skin is the lotus flower. My praise and thanks to Heru-wer for such a lovely wife.  May she bear me strong sons and daughters as beautiful as she.”

***

Copied faithfully by KeKe Thothis, scribe of the Temple of Heru-wer during the 10th year of Amasis

 

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