The calm waters of the mighty Nile lap against the sides of your tiny skiff as you drift down its waters. A thin band of green, lush reeds and grasses lines the shoreline but beyond that stretches the warm, sandy expanse of the deserts.
Your boat is made of papyrus reeds bound tightly together, light, buoyant, agile, but so fragile compared to the endless waters and the unseen dangers that lurk along the banks. Now you see no such monsters, only the ibises, long legged birds that wade among the rushes, their white bodies and black heads standing out starkly against the green.
You come to a stretch of the river that winds between great fields. Farmers have dug ditches to harness the lifegiving waters of the Nile and bring them to their crops. Shadufs, buckets hung from the end of long poles, line the banks allowing farmers to dip into the water to fill their vessels. An alluring aroma of distant fruit groves wafts towards you, its sweetness gentle above the fresh aroma of the water.
Taking a risk, you dip your fingers in the cool waters, only to have a churning of the surface catch your eye. You pull your hand back and watch in fear and fascination as a massive crocodile rises from the river only a stone's throw from you. The beast's armored back breaks the surface, and it eyes you. Then with a flick of its tail it turns and heads towards the shallows, the waters parting and frothing in its wake.
Your heart is still calming from this encounter when you hear the sound of harp and drum. Your eyes follow the music to the bend in the river.
As you watch, a larger vessel comes into view. With many rowers at the oars, it moves much faster than your small skiff. Upon it sits a gilt-framed canopy with pristine linen curtains fluttering in the cool river breeze.
When it approaches you can almost smell the perfume of the royal lady who lounges on a couch beneath these curtains, flowers strewn about her, a golden goblet in her hand. Jewels drip from her and a golden headdress crowns her dark hair. She considers you from beneath her heavy lashes before her boat passes yours, the waves it creates bobbing your much smaller skiff up and down.
Alone once more upon the great waters, you continue to drift until you spy the stately walls of a temple with a dock before it. The royal vessel is already moored here, and the queen and her retinue are walking towards the temple entrance, servants fanning them as they go.
You have found a place of rest. Not wishing to appear presumptuous, you are careful to moor your boat far from the queen's, but you do secure your boat and climb onto the docks. You walk along the path into the gardens of the temple. Here a small meal has been laid out, just for you. You sit and eat. A servant brings a tray with a jug of sweet currant wine and a single candle. You thank him and begin to sip the luxurious, calming beverage.
Your long journey has tired you, and you stretch out on the mat, watching the candle flicker as you drift away, dreaming of floating the Nile as ibises fly above.
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