Will Cuppy
The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody

The fact is that building a pyramid is fairly easy, aside from the lifting. You just pile up stones in receding layers, placing one layer carefully upon another, and pretty soon you have a Pyramid. You can't help it. And once it is up, it stays there. Why wouldn't it? In other words, it is not the nature of a pyramid to fall down, and that explains why the Great Pyramid is still standing after all these years.

Khufu also built those three small pyramids at the eastern side of the Great Pyramid. They were for three of his wives. Which brings us to another aspect of this Pharaoh, for you may be sure that he had one. Egyptologists say they have no idea what Khufu was doing when he was not building pyramids, since he left no inscriptions describing his daily activities, and they would give a good deal to know. Then they say he had six wives and a harem full of concubines. They do not seem to make the connection here, but you get it and I get it. We do not need any hieroglyphics to inform us that Khufu dropped around occasionally to see how things were getting along and to tell the ladies how many cubic yards of limestone he had laid that afternoon.

Personally, I would call the royal harem one of Khufu's main interests in life and one of his claims to our attention. Although we lack statistics, it must have been one of the largest in the ancient world, completely equipped with the very best concubines obtainable in Africa, all skilled in dancing, singing, and playing on the bazinga, or seven-stringed harp. Khufu was no man for half measures, as we have seen, and he would hardly have been content with a mere seventy inmates, the number possessed by King Zer of the First Dynasty. He would have several hundred, if only to break the record, yet they ask how he spent his time. If you do not think managing such an establishment is a real job, at least the equivarent of building a few pyramids, you've never tried it. Khufu evidently brought to the task a high order of executive ability and a happy faculty of keeping ever-lastingly at it during a reign of twenty-three years.

Khufu's six wives were probably not much fun. In accordance with custom, he had to marry some of his sisters and half sisters, not to mention one of his stepmothers and perhaps other close female connections with exactly the same line of family jokes and reminiscences. When he had stood enough, he could always go out to Gizeh and rush construction work on their tombs. The name of his chief wife and sister, the mother of Khafre, is lost. She is now known to Egyptologists as the lady who used to be in G I-a the first small pyramid. Queen Henutsen, a wife and half sister drew G I-c, and the occupant of G I-b, the middle small pyramid, appears to have been a blonde of uncertain origin, an outsider who broke into the royal circle somehow and made good. This Queen must have been a great comfort to Khufu. At least she was not a relative.

We do not know much about this blonde lady. It seems, though, that Hetepheres II, one of Khufu's daughters, was a blonde, perhaps the first of actual record. She is shown with bright yellow hair, striped horizontally with red, in a wall painting in the tomb of Meresankh III, and certain scholars draw the conclusion that she must therefore have had a mother with the same coloring—probably a foreigner, since all the Egyptian women were brunettes. I am afraid those are the only facts available at present.

If you want to make trouble, of course, you can say the picture does not prove either that Hetepheres II's hair was like that in real life or that her mother was a blonde who was buried in G I-b. It does prove, rather neatly, that the artist who decorated the tomb of Meresankh III had some red and yellow paint. Herodotus gives us a different story about the middle small pyramid. He states that Khufu, suddenly going broke, left it to one of his daughters to raise the necessary funds and finish the Great Pyramid. She demanded a staggering fee and a block of stone from each person she interested and did so well that she paid off the mortgage on her father's pyramid and had enough stones to build a little one of her own. Seems her heart was in the work. All Egyptologists regard this story as false. According to their computations, founded on careful and repeated measurements of the pyramid, the base of which is 150 feet square, they say it can't be done. I suppose they would know.

  The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,

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Through Eden took their solitary way.