By Jane Richards
Tepi's heart was thumping so hard she just KNEW it could be heard echoing through the narrow passageways of the tomb. Every breath seemed loud.
"I can't tell which direction to go," whispered Sethi, as they stood at a group of tunnels, each winding in a different route. The sounds had stopped for the moment. Tepi pondered for a moment and then set off into a tunnel that showed much more wear than the others by the dim and flickering torch light.
"This way--I think. It looks like it's been used more. Besides, this tunnel is the largest."
As they made their way carefully through, more scratches were cut on the tunnel walls with Sethi's stone knife. Suddenly, as they turned a sharp corner Tepi drew to a halt with a gasp. There, in a large colonnaded room, walls covered with brightly painted figures and heiroglyphs, stood a shiny, jet black saracophagus, surrounded by all sorts of objects meant to help the tomb's occupant in the 'other world'. Servants made of wood,- Tepi knew they were called ushabti, and were placed in tombs to serve the owner of the tomb,- vases, statues, tables, chairs, and a variety of other things. All were crowded into this one room.
"Sethi," Tepi murmured, "This must be the main tomb chamber, but the things I see aren't Egyptian. I mean, I don't recognize these as anything we use for our tombs. I've been on the street by our temple where the funerary equipment is made especially for tombs, and these don't look like what I've seen. They all look---foreign." She walked carefully around the chamber, being respectful to the occupant, but saw another smaller tunnel to her left. Ducking into this she found another larger chamber, again with wall painting, funerary equipment and a saracophagus. For a moment she was quite puzzled, until the realization that this tomb must have been used more than once, by different people. "Sethi," she called quietly, "come and see this."
As her companion joined her she continued, putting her thoughts into words. "This must have been the original burial chamber, and it probably contains the original owner, too. I can recognize the objects here, and the clothing of the people on the painted wall. It looks just like what we wear." She hesitated for a moment then added " I think these foreigners have opened these ancient tombs and began to use them again for their own burials! This is an insult to the people of Egypt!", she fumed.
"Settle down and be silent," advised her friend, "or we'll never find your brother, nor anyone else."
They returned the way they had entered the chambers and continued down the passageway, stopping every so often to listen. There it was again, the muffled noises, and now they sounded very near.
Sethi beckoned silently in the direction of a small tunnel which ended in what looked like a blank stone wall, but on closer inspection showed worn spots in this wall.
He had twisted more reeds together to make another torch, and lit it before they began to inspect the worn indentations in the stone.
"Let's press these spots real hard, and see what happens," Tepi suggested.
"All right, here goes," Sethi grunted as he threw his weight onto the worn places. Slowly the wall began to pivot in the middle creating an opening to a small dark room, and Tepi saw the huddled figures of three people against the far wall.
"Nekhi, are you there?", she called softly. "Tepi!, What are you doing here?', came a befuddled answer from the gloom.