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Death comes as the end – Agatha Christie

DEATH COMES AS THE END

Agatha Christie

Author’s Note

The action of this book takes place on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes in Egypt about 2000 B.C. Both places and time are incidental to the story. Any other place at any other time would have served as well, but it so happened that the inspiration of both characters and plot was derived from two or three Egyptian letters of the XIth Dynasty, found about twenty years ago by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in a rock tomb opposite Luxor, and translated by Professor (then Mr) Battiscombe Gunn in the Museum’s Bulletin.

It may be of interest to the reader to note that an endowment for ka- service – an everyday feature of ancient Egyptian civilization – was very similar in principle to a medieval chantry bequest. Property was bequeathed to the ka-priest, in return for which he was expected to maintain the tomb of the testator, and to provide offerings at the tomb on certain feast days throughout the year for the repose of the deceased’s soul.

The terms “Brother,” “Sister,” in Egyptian text regularly meaning

“Lover” are frequently interchangeable with “Husband,” “Wife.” They are so used on occasion in this book.

The agricultural calendar of Ancient Egypt, consisting of three seasons of four months of thirty days, formed the background of peasant life, and with the addition of five intercalary days at the end of the year was used as the official calendar of 365 days to the year. This

“year” originally began with the arrival in Egypt of the flood-water of the Nile in the third week of July by our reckoning. The absence of a leap year caused this to lag through the centuries, so that at the time of our story, the official New Year’s Day fell about six months earlier than the opening of the agricultural year, i.e., in January instead of July. To save the reader from continually having to make allowance for this six months, however, the dates here used as chapter headings are calculated by the agricultural year of the time, i.e., Inundation – late July to late November; Winter – late November to late March; and Summer – late Match to late July.

Chapter 1

SECOND MONTH OF INUNDATION, 20TH DAY

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