The Golden Foot
More than two thousand years ago, in the land of Ancient Egypt, a young lad named Kut and his twin sister Nefos were in the fields beside the great River Nile, collecting bundles of ‘reeds. These reeds were called papyrus, and they sold them to be made into a kind of writing paper.
Their reed boat was almost complete. Kut was collecting the last few armfuls, but Nefos wandered happily away to where she could gather some lovely flowers to take home.
In a clear pool, Nefos saw a clump of beautiful water lilies. Slipping off her sandals, she waded in. Suddenly a bubbling and a swirling, and a considerable crocodile rose out of the water and snapped at her ankle.
She screamed. Kut was at her side for a moment. He drove off the monster and pulled his sister to safety.
“Your poor ankle is badly bitte,” he exclaimed. “Lie there while I run to fetch our reed- boat to carry you home. You will not be able to walk.”
While her brother sped away, a terrible weakness came over Nefos. Her ankle hurt dreadfully, but this was nothing compared to the pain of knowing that she would never be able to walk on that foot again.
Her eyes flooded with tears. Then there was a rustle of wings and the sound of birds alighting. It was a flock of sacred ibis birds. One of them advanced towards Nefos and, to her dazed vision, seemed to become the tall figure of a man with a head like a bird.
In a flash, Nefos knew him. “You are the god Thoth!” she whispered. “Please help me.”
“Little one, be not afraid,” he replied. “I am the Egyptian god of healing and will help you. But first, you must promise to keep my help secret from all people.”
Nefos promised. What happened next, she did not remember. All she knew was that she suddenly felt well again, and when Kut came running towards her, she stood up and danced to meet him.
Kut looked at her in surprise. By some strange magic, Nefos was now wearing one gold shoe. It came above her damaged ankle and fitted so perfectly that it looked like a golden foot.
“It is so wonderful, gasped Kut. “But how?”
Nefos shook her head. She would not tell him. Not even her brother must know the secret she had promised to keep.
In the following months, Nefos worked and played as happily as ever. She kept the golden foot hidden with the hem of her long robe and wore a sandal so that onlookers only saw what they thought was a gold ankle bracelet.
It was a happiness that did not last. After a while, poor Kut fell ill with a sickness that nothing seemed to cure. They became inferior. By herself, Nefos could not gather enough. Reeds to sell.
At last, without saying a word to her brother, Nefos went into the city to a shop where Nebka, the goldsmith, lived. After making him promise to keep it a secret, she sold him the golden foot and sadly hobbled away. Now she was lame and could not walk properly, but she had enough money to buy food for Kut.
As she limped homeward, she passed two priests. One talked about a great temple many miles away in the desert, where prayers were granted. When Nefos heard this, she longed to make the journey and pray that her brother should. be healed-but now that her golden foot was gone, she was too lame to get there.
That night she cried herself to sleep.
In the Royal Palace of Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler, lived Sekar, a wealthy young lawyer who often bought things of beauty from Nebka, the goldsmith. One morning he found Nebka bubbling over with excitement.
From a wrapping of linen, Nebka brought out the golden foot, and Sekar could hardly believe his own eyes.
“It is beautiful-it must belong to the statue of a goddess,” he said. “Where is the rest of the statue?”
“Be not angry, gracious one,” said Nebka, “but the rest of the figure is of no value. I cannot say more.”
“Very well, but I intend to find out,” said Sekar. He had thought of the lonely temple in the desert and decided to go there and pray that he might find the answer.
Sekar set out that same day with Abu, his faithful servant. After three harrowing days, they were only halfway there when suddenly they saw a figure lying on the sand. It was Nefos. She could not stagger one step farther, and the tracks in the sand showed that she had come from the temple.
“Master, I know her,” said Abu. “She is called Nefos, and just lately, she has had a disability with one lame foot. Her brother is sick; doubtless, she has made the long journey to the temple to pray that he be cured.”
Nefos opened her eyes. She saw the golden foot in Sekar’s hand, and her expression told him all he wanted to know.
“I was going to offer a prayer, but it has been answered,” he said. “I know now who the golden foot belongs to.”
When they returned to the city, Nefos was overjoyed to find that her prayer had also been answered. Kut was well again shortly after, and Nefos and Sekar married.