He remembered well the execution of the hundred counterfeiters in one night, and their heads exposed in the market. A rapid descent from Bou-Kteun to the bed of a river of the same name, and a pursuit of the latter to its confluence with the river Biban, lead through impressive ravines to the Iron Gates.
The Greek walked a few steps ahead of the nobleman and the scholar like a well-bred man who knows what is proper. He walked lightly and firmly, like a man who feels that he is on his own ground. The narrow defile which forms the entrance to the valley of Biban el Molûk was soon reached.
The valley of Biban el Molûk contains the tombs of kings only: the necropolis of the queens is situated farther away, in another mountain gorge. The tombs of the queens are very simple, and usually consist of two or three passage-ways and one or two rooms. Women in the East have always been considered as inferior to men, even in death.
Those were something stranger, more wonderful, and more splendid, even than Abou-Simbel and Karnak, Many an evening, while the firelight from a Southern pine knot danced on my page, I was gone on the wings of fancy thousands of miles away; and went with discoverers or explorers, up and down the passages and halls and staircases and chambers, to which the entrance is from Biban el Malook.
"I have a presentiment that we shall find in the valley of Biban el Molûk a tomb intact," said to a high-bred-looking young Englishman a much more humble personage who was wiping, with a big, blue-checked handkerchief, his bald head, on which stood drops of perspiration, just as if it had been made of porous clay and filled with water like a Theban water-jar.
The lord and the doctor were travelling towards the cliffs which encircle the sombre valley of Biban el Molûk, the royal necropolis of ancient Thebes, indulging in the conversation of which we have related a part, when, rising like a Troglodyte from the black mouth of an empty sepulchre the ordinary habitation of the fellahs another person, dressed in somewhat theatrical fashion, abruptly entered on the scene, stood before the travellers, and saluted them with the graceful salute of the Orientals, which is at once humble, caressing, and noble.
The fashion of royal burial in the great valley behind Dêr el-Bahari was followed during the XVIIIth, XIXth, and XXth Dynasties. Here in the eastern branch of the Wadiyên, now called the Bibân el-Mulûk, "the Tombs of the Kings," the greater number of the mightiest Theban Pharaohs were buried.
Many an evening, while the firelight from a Southern pine knot danced on my page, I was gone on the wings of fancy thousands of miles away; and went with discoverers or explorers up and down the passages and halls and staircases and chambers, to which the entrance is from Biban el Malook.
On the east side, Bab el Zeyt, or Bab el Ashra, through which the ten first Sahabe, or adherents of Mohammed, used to enter; Bab el Szafa; two gates called Biban el Sherif, opposite the palaces of the Sherif.
Mounting the diminutive donkeys caused peals of laughter; the hamlets of Naza'er-Rizkeh and Naza'el Ba'irait rang with the cries of the cavalcade, and Damaris blindly followed Lady Thistleton's energetic offspring, as with note-book and pencil they followed the guide in and out of the regulation tombs of Biban el-Muluk, the history of which he repeated with parrot-like monotony.