After a vigorous holiday with the great-granddaughters, Professor Bill reports progress on his study of parenthood in ancient Egypt.
Bill, my trail buddy and wilderness companion for many happy and indolent summers, is a tenured professor of fractured history at the Caucomagomick Dam Institute of Fine, Medium, and Coarse Art, a college of lower learning dedicated to the needs of the uninhabited township of Twelve, Range Six, west of the eastern line of Maine.
It's possible you have heard of some of his accomplished works in the general field of academics. He first attained prominence with his monograph, "January Thor, a mythological study of Scandinavian weather."
Next he became well established as a scholar with his biography of Sahib Lancelot, the Arabian Knight. He gained further fame by cloning pulpwood and was made an honorary citizen of Millinocket. Using his method, the Great Northern Paper Co, has been able to dispense with its great fleet of expensive trucks and moves all its logs by one boy on a bicycle.
In our fishing camp, he made the hot potato salad, and never used caraway seeds.
Professor Bill tells me there has long been a doubt that the famed and youthful King Tutankhamen of ancient Egypt was truthfully of royal lineage.
As the professor pondered this, he found himself looking off into space and he began to forget what he did with things, like where did he leave his polo mallet, and he noticed his academic prowess was flickering. He was so constantly thinking on King Tut that he often got no more than 11 hours of sleep each night.
He realized he was losing his snap. It's a pity he didn't mention this to me at the time, for I have a dandy way to turn such distractions aside and get back on the track.
I think on Miss Jones, who taught me fifth grade. Miss Jones was the best mumblety-pegger I ever heard of. She could go up an eight-foot stepladder, stand on top, cast her jackknife off her thumbnail, and stick the blade in your recess apple on the ground every time. She was a darb!
Every time I think of Miss Jones, I forget my problems. How did she do it?
So if I were to think about King Tut, I'd just shift over to Miss Jones and it would be great to see her again, pretty as a pail of new milk, tomboy fashion, standing on the stepladder with her dirk on her thumb and yelling, "Allie-allie look see!"
Sometimes I think about Miss Jones when I haven't been thinking about King Tut at all. Come to think about it, I don't remember ever having King Tut on my mind.
Professor Bill tells me ancient Egypt had a barrel of priests to go with all the gods they had, and it's difficult to find some things the priests may have suppressed, and they well may have not meant to keep Tut looking good.
I'd like to explain it to you somewhat better, but I guess it's a lot like cloning pulpwood: easier if you know how. It makes me think of Winfield Ferguson, who invented a self-starter for his automobile. Early model cars had to be hand-cranked and often were hard to start.
Winfield devised a simple starter, and it had 17 buttons on the dashboard of his Cleveland. When he pushed the first button, that always started the engine. Somebody asked Winfield why he had 17 buttons if the first one always started the car, and Winfield said, "That, my friend, is what we mechanics call 'backup.' "
It's possible the ancient Egyptians lacked the right backup to check a king's bloodline. But after all these years, new ways have been found, and they think they're on the right track. They just have to find out who Tut's father was.
Meantime, Professor Bill of our obscure little seminary has an even better way. He tells me that he is finding out all those who were not Tut's father, narrowing it down to one. In this way, more accurate results will be found, and we should have an answer soon. The professor may spare us further great errors by the Cairo scholars who have been so wrong for 3,000-odd years.
It will be comforting to hear that King Tut is indeed a pharaoh and deserves our respect. It will make me proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Professor Bill at one of our faculty meetings and bask in the full-throated shadow of his erudition. What an honor to be his associate!
To whom should he be compared? I ask in awe. Newton? Galileo? Franklin? Edison? With Winfield Ferguson?
Does E equals mass times the speed of light squared? How pleased King Tutankhamen must be!
Allow me, before King Tut's situation is tarnished again by 3,000 years of common gossip, to set Professor Bill's scientific formula down in the tables, so that he may run that readeth it! "In ancient Egypt, it was a wise mummy that knew its own daddy."
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society