Adam had an idea. “Laila,” he interrupted, “what does the word ‘Shemsu-Hor’ mean?”
“What?” Laila paled, looking quite astonished.
“Shemsu-Hor,” Adam repeated.
“Where did you hear that word?”
Adam still didn’t want to tell her about the peddler. He frowned as if trying to remember. “I’m not sure. I just heard it today. Maybe at the Egyptian Museum?”
He grinned. “All those other tour guides speak so loudly that every time you walk past them it’s impossible not to hear what they’re saying.”
Laila hesitated before she spoke. “Remember yesterday I told you about the Neteru, the divine beings who were thought to rule before Egypt’s mortal kings?”
The boys nodded.
“Well,” Laila continued, “the Shemsu-Hor were the descendants of the Neteru. They were the semidivine rulers who came afterward and maintained the traditions and knowledge of the Neteru, before the time of the mortal kings. Legend says the Shemsu-Hor were great magicians, teachers, astronomers, and mathematicians. They created the rituals of passing on kingship. Remember? I explained it to you yesterday.”
Adam looked eagerly at Laila.
“Were the Shemsu-Hor special in any way?”
Again, Laila was silent for a few moments. When she spoke, she sounded reluctant to tell them much.
“The Shemsu-Hor were supposed to hold the great Secret of Power.”
“Wow,” the cousins breathed and looked at each other. Secret? What secret? they both wondered. Adam was curious to know if the scarab was part of it all.
Adam leaned forward with an earnest look on his face. “What kind of secret?”
Justin followed Adam’s lead. “What kind of power?”
“I really don’t know,” Laila said in an abrupt tone. “There are so many legends and stories of prehistory that sometimes one gets quite confused about what is fact and what is fiction.”
She stood up, looking at her watch. “Please excuse me. I have to speak to our driver.”
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