the jewel of the seven stars (1902)


Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars was written at a time when the trade in Egyptian antiquities was widespread in England.
The story – It is about an Egyptologist who was investigating the tomb of an ancient Egyptian Queen, Tera. His But the finding of the tomb corresponds to his daughter Margaret’s birth and, at the same time, at his wife’s death. Then, when he moved the mummy to England, his daughter became possessed and he fell into a trance. It would be up to Malcolm Ross, in love with Margareth, to try to save them both. In the closing scenes of the novel Tera resurrects. This event emphasizes the idea of the promised return of the absent mother, here represented by an Egyptian Mummy.

The following scene is taken from the end of the novel, when Margareth, his father and Malcom Ross unveil the mummy of Queen Tera.

The Jewel of Seven Stars
We all stood awed at the beauty of the figure which, save for the face cloth, now lay completely nude before us. Mr. Trelawny bent over, and with hands that trembled slightly, raised this linen cloth which was of the same fineness as the robe. As he stood back and the whole glorious beauty of the Queen was revealed, I felt a rush of shame sweep over me. It was not right that we should be there, gazing with irreverent eyes on such unclad beauty: it was indecent; it was almost sacrilegious! And yet the white wonder of that beautiful form was something to dream of. It was not like death at all; it was like a statue carven in ivory by the hand of a Praxiteles. There was nothing of that horrible shrinkage which death seems to effect in a moment. There was none of the wrinkled toughness which seems to be a leading characteristic of most mummies.
There was not the shrunken attenuation of a body dried in the sand, as I had seen before in museums. All the pores of the body seemed to have been preserved in some wonderful way. The flesh was full and round, as in a living person; and the skin was as smooth as satin. The colour
seemed extraordinary. It was like ivory, new ivory; except where the right arm, with shattered, bloodstained wrist and missing hand had lain bare to exposure in the sarcophagus for so many tens of centuries. With a womanly impulse; with a mouth that drooped with pity, with eyes that flashed with anger, and cheeks that flamed, Margaret threw over the body the beautiful robe which lay across her arm. Only the face was then to be seen. This was more startling even than the body, for it seemed not dead, but alive. The eyelids were closed; but the long, black, curling lashes lay over on the cheeks. The nostrils, set in grave pride, seemed to have the repose which, when it is seen in life, is greater than the repose of death. The full, red lips, though the mouth was not open, showed the tiniest white line of pearly teeth within. Her hair, glorious in quantity and glossy black as the raven’s wing, was piled in great masses over the white forehead, on which a few curling tresses strayed like tendrils. I was amazed at the likeness to Margaret, though I had had my mind prepared for this by Mr. Corbeck’s quotation of her father’s statement. This woman- I could not think of
her as a mummy or a corpse- was the image of Margaret as my eyes had first lit on her. The likeness was increased by the jewelled ornament which she wore in her hair, the “Disk and Plumes”, such as Margaret, too, had worn. It, too, was a glorious jewel; one noble pearl of moonlight lustre, flanked by carven pieces of moonstone.

Notes
awed: impressed, frightened
cloth: textile, rag
slightly: a little
raised: lifted
rush: quick moment
shame: embarassement
sweep: pass
unclad: unveiled
carven: made, engraved
shrinkage: decay
wrinkled: lined
toughness: stiffness, harshness
shrunken: emaciated
smooth: soft
satin: kind of cloth
shattered: traumatized
bloodstained: with spots of blood, bloody
missing: lost; without
lain: was
drooped. hanged down
flamed: were very re, bushy
robe: dressing gown
startling : astonishing, shocking
lashes: hairy parts of the eyes (ciglia)
nostrils: parts of the nose (narici)
tiniest: smallest
glossy: shiny
raven: black bird
wing: arm of a bird (ala)
piled: massed, combed
strayed: put rebellious
tendril: stems of grapes
likeness: similarity
lit on: seen
increased: amplified
flanked: sided
moonstone: precious gem

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