They call her Cinderella now and in doing so, changed many details of her life. A doting father, an evil stepmother , cruel step sisters, a fairy godmother and glass slippers. Nonsense. Whoever heard of a shoe being made of glass?! By Ma’at, I, Pharaoh Amasis, though only a shade caught in the underworld, will tell you the truth of the tale. May its telling bring me favor with that Goddess. Besides, it isn’t even “Cinderella’s” tale to tell, but my own. It is the tale of how Heru-wer, the falcon god and my divine father, found me a wife.
Bored. I was so bored. It is so wrong for a pharaoh to be bored. Who knew how often I would be bored when I became pharaoh? There were so many other things that I’d rather have been doing than holding court in Memphis. Bored, bored, bored. I was shifting restlessly on my throne looking for any excuse to end this boredom. There were horses to ride and animals to hunt.
Movement in the cloudless sky caught my attention. It was a falcon, the largest falcon I had ever seen. I gazed in wonder as the bird appeared to be heading directly toward me. Soon the crowd quieted as they looked to see what their pharaoh had focused upon. (Later the peasants would claim that the bird had gold trappings but I knew it was just the shine of the sun on its feathers.) The falcon came to hover just above me. Something dropped from its claws to land in my lap. The crowded square echoed with the crowd’s gasp of horror and delight.
I just stared at my lap. I was partly relieved that it wasn’t a rock for my inattention to court proceedings. I also stared in disbelief. The falcon dropped a slipper, a feminine slipper. The slipper had a leather sole but the rest of it had been artistically gilded in rose gold. “A quest!” I thought, “Relief from boredom!” As I continued to study the slipper, I marveled at the workmanship and wondered about the owner. She must be lovely and well formed to have such an item. I called out to the quiet crowd. “Hail Heru-wer!”
“Hail Heru-wer!” They shouted obediently back.
“Harmerty, my father, has presented me with a quest!” I snapped my fingers to summon my favorite Greek slave girl, Aisa. “Get a pillow and then display this to the people.”
As the crowd oohed and ahhed, I declared, “All maidens of this land must try on this slipper. The maiden who fits this slipper will be my queen.” I was stunned by my own decree. “As Heru-wer wills.”
I promptly called for my chariot and commenced my search for the owner of the rose gold slipper. It was a hunt of sorts, even though no blood would be shed. Everywhere I encountered a maiden, Aisa would present her the slipper to try on, with no success. When my search by land yielded no owner, I called for my barge and continued my search at every port along the Nile.
Bored, I was. So bored. It is so wrong for a pharaoh to be bored. I really thought this hunt for the female of the rose gold slipper would have been more entertaining. Some of these women were so ugly! Who knew how long this search would be? Bored, bored, bored. I shifted restlessly as the rowers took the barge rounded the latest bend of the Nile. At least I was moving instead of being stuck in court. Up ahead was a landing with more maidens already lined up to try on the slipper.
As I watched the seemingly endless procession of hopefuls, a feather floated out of the sky and landed next to a pretty foot barely peeping out from some rushes near the landing. “Guards!” I shouted, “GENTLY bring the owner of that foot out of hiding so that she may try on the slipper. Let it not be said that I am not fair or thorough in my search.”
My guards retrieved the hidden maiden and guided her to the front of the line where Aisa waited with the slipper. Daintily, the pretty foot slid into the slipper. It fit perfectly. Then before my eyes, she pulled out the matching slipper from her tunic.
I quietly looked her over and was pleased by what I saw. Though plainly dressed, she was beautiful. She had pale skin, rosy cheeks, golden hair and beautiful green eyes. “Tell me, Mistress mine, who are you and how came you by these slippers.”
The maid bowed and stated, “My name is Doricha, slave to Xanthes of Naukratis. He, however, calls me Rhodopis on account of my rosy cheeks. My master gave me these slippers in reward for dancing so beautifully for him.”
“He will never call you by either name again. Step aboard, Lady of the Slipper and sail with me into the sunset for you were divinely chosen to be my bride.”
Screeches came from two of the slaves in the line. “But she isn’t even EGYPTIAN!” “She’s a SLAVE!”
I flicked my hand as if knocking their protests out of the sky, “She is the most Egyptian of all. Her eyes are the Nile, her hair is the feathery papyrus on its banks and her skin is the lotus flower. My praise and thanks to Heru-wer for such a lovely wife. May she bear me strong sons and daughters as beautiful as she.” (Later I found out that these slaves had been cruel to my lovely wife-to-be and were the reason why she hid in the rushes. They were properly punished for such treatment and for questioning my decision.)