Chapters 13-14 Summary

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 874

Moods and Maybes

By the middle of the week after Halloween, the original "Egyptians" finally receive permission to play outside in the neighborhood again. The timing is perfect; Toby has been grounded for a few days for ruining his box-man costume, so he and Ken will not be able to...

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Moods and Maybes

By the middle of the week after Halloween, the original "Egyptians" finally receive permission to play outside in the neighborhood again. The timing is perfect; Toby has been grounded for a few days for ruining his box-man costume, so he and Ken will not be able to come until Friday. Anxious to spend at least one day in Egypt without the newcomers, April, Melanie, and Elizabeth pick Marshall up from his nursery school immediately after class and hurry over to the Professor's storage yard. The sense of happy anticipation surrounding the occasion is dampened, however, because April is in a very bad mood.

Unbeknownst to the others, April had received a long-awaited letter from her mother. In it, Dorothea prattled happily that she has gotten married, and is sending the rest of April's things over to the Casa Rosada, because "there...[isn't] much room" at her new husband's apartment. With her hopes of being reunited with her mother dashed, April had torn the letter to pieces and flushed them down the toilet, and when her grandmother had come in to offer quiet sympathy, the devastated child unleashed her hurt and rage in a torrent of angry tears. Although the outburst was somewhat therapeutic, April is still cranky and subdued when the group returns to Egypt.

By Friday, however, April's mood is much improved. The boys arrive, and although Ken is clearly there only because of his friend, Toby is completely intrigued by the Egypt Game and makes the original Egyptians tell and show everything about it. That evening, April and Melanie discuss the new additions to their group. Secretly, they are flattered by the boys' interest, but outwardly, they both conclude that Ken and Toby will quickly lose interest in the Egypt Game and things will go back to being the way they were before.

Hieroglyphics

Contrary to the girls' expectations, Ken and Toby return the next day full of "stuff" and ideas. Among their contributions are a number of creepy items to place upon the altar of Set, which is largely bare in comparison to Isis' bejeweled and flowered throne. Included in the motley assortment are lifelike rubber spiders and bugs, a dead tarantula, and a large, beat-up, stuffed owl. The children name this latter creature Thoth, after the Egyptian "bird-headed god of wisdom and writing."

In addition to everything else, Toby has also brought pencils and paper so that the group can finish the system of hieroglyphics the girls had started earlier. When the alphabet is complete, the group can use it to write each other secret messages. Toby also suggests that each of them should choose an Egyptian name, along with a special symbol to represent it; he has even written down a variety of possible suggestions taken from books he had perused the night before.

Eagerly, the children discuss and decide on their new monikers. Marshall, as the young prince Marshamosis, and Elizabeth as Neferbeth, already have their titles, and April chooses to call herself Bastet, after the famous Egyptian cat goddess. Toby decides his name will be Ramose, after a well-known ancient wise man, while Melanie chooses Aida, for a beautiful princess who had been held captive in ancient Egypt. Ken picks the name Horemheb, after a figure who had been a great general and pharaoh. When everyone is through choosing, Melanie records the names and symbols on a homemade scroll, which is placed ceremonially in a secret compartment in an old statue in the storage yard for safekeeping.

During the next few meetings, the children work on their hieroglyphics, until someone decides that they should get some colored pens to do the job right. The Egyptians spend a few days collecting empty bottles and doing odd jobs to earn money, then spend a whole afternoon making their purchase at Schmitt's Variety Store. Except for the owner's cousin, a "stocky redheaded young man with blotchy freckles" who works at the establishment, there is only Mr. Schmitt to serve the customers, and the wait is notoriously long.

The pens are worth the effort taken to secure them however, and during the following days, elaborate missives are written and exchanged. Letters are hidden in secret locations around the neighborhood, and the walls of Egypt's temple are adorned with decorative hieroglyphic borders. After awhile, an argument erupts between Ramose and Bastet over whether their writings should have a horizontal or vertical orientation, and Egypt descends into a state of bloodless war for a few days, with the boys refusing to participate at all during that time. Tempers eventually cool, however, and the game resumes, but the subject of hieroglyphics is carefully avoided. In the greater scheme of things, this works out perfectly, because everyone has gotten a little tired of that part of the proceedings by now. This is especially true of Marshall, who, after all, is only four, and has long since mastered as much reading and writing in Egyptian as he knows in English. Toward the end of the hieroglyphic period, the precocious child has spent most of his time just watching everything, including the other Egyptians, the insects running around the ground in the storage yard, and the little window in the far wall of Egypt. 

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