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Black Fire

By Katharine Metcalf Roof

A "Different" Story

A BLUE Egyptian night of stars, the distant wail of native music like the wind of the desert made audible, the vast black pile of the pyramids against the sky; I was alone as the soul in the gulf of eternity is alone, when, breaking the spell of that immeasurable solitude of the ages, I heard a voice.

"The effendi does not fear to be alone before the pyramid of the moon?"

I turned to see Mushad the fakir, who works miracles in the market-place and divines the future in the sand of the desert. Saluting him I answered rather than questioned, "What is there to fear, oh wise man of the East?"

Mashud stared at me for a silent moment with his eyes of the sphinx. "There are men who fear the dark rays of the moon," he said.

In Egypt, legend and mythology can seem more true than history, and I did not laugh. "Are the dark rays of the moon then evil?" I asked.

The Oriental shrugged. "So the old men say." He stood a moment, a figure of symbolic mystery against the night, and raised a majestic arm. "And so believed the great magicians who raised these—"

I stared at the inscrutable triangular mass against the infinity of sky and desert. "Why are they there, Mushad?" I asked, curious to hear his version. "What did men use them for? The wise men of the West tell us that they are the tombs of the Pharaohs, but the wiser men of the East believe that they were here centuries before the kings of Egypt took them for their tombs."

"Have I not called it," said Mushad, "the pyramid of the moon?"

"Why of the moon?" I asked.

It was a moment before he answered—if you could call his strange communication an answer—

"In the day of the pyramids—so the old men say—they did not worship the true and only Allah, but the sun, the moon, and the stars. And there was in those days a great forgotten wisdom of numbers. And in those days men built by that wisdom of numbers great stones like these, to draw down to earth the magic of the su...

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