The Arabians and few English fellows who were brave enough to join my search months ago shouted at my back, curious as to what our team had found. I could not in good conscience turn around and tell these men, my friends, that this search was for naught. But what other choice did I have? I could not deny my failure, for how could I conceal such a lie?
I slowly turned to face their eager faces. Those closest to the entrance scanned the barren room. Their eyes struggled against the weakening flame to see if anything lurked inside. Realization dawned on them once they saw the disappointment in my face. The others still touched by the desert sun had yet to learn the truth.
“There is nothing here,” I shouted.
The pot-bellied Arab, who still stood by the entrance, said in his native language, “Not even another sealed slab? Or a hidden passage?”
I shook my head. One of the Englishman, whom we called Jonathan, asked what the Arab had said. My answer was, “He asked if there were any hidden passages. As I said, there is nothing. Nothing but four gray walls, a gray ceiling, and a sandy floor.”
“We came all this way for nothing!” Jonathan shouted.
“Keep your voice down. This is disappointing enough,” I said.
“I will not. You promised us a tomb. You promised us Akhenaten’s tomb! And all we found was, well, whatever that is!”
“No! You shall not silence me. I left my country home in Derbyshire for this? What a waste!”
A few told Jonathan to keep quiet. He shrugged off their insults and demands.
“I am leaving!” Jonathan shouted, slashing the air in front of him with his hand.
“Alone?” I asked.
“How else? I am certain that you and most of these other fools will continue on a wild goose chase for the next quarter of a century. These devoted puppies of yours can follow you to the ends of the earth, but I am going back to mine in England!” Jonathan whirled around and began to march over to a camel, stumbling every now and again.
Knowing the dangers of the desert, we began to shout after him pleading with him to stay. The Englishmen said that he would miss out on the adventure of the lifetime. The Arabs said that he would get lost in a sandstorm. I shouted out apologies. Nothing stalled his progress. At least until the earth swallowed him whole.
By Katherine Givens