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2017年4月27日 (木)

were gradually deformed

They were soon in the outskirts of Ancon, and found the Marquis, Uncle Francis, and their fellow-scientists busily arguing in the center of an Inca cemetery. On all sides were opened tombs, each containing a mummy rudely drawn from its thousand-year sleep by the pick of the excavator. Dick and Maria-Teresa had left their motor, but did not join the others. Instead, they wandered silently, almost sadly, in another direction, and the car had started off again in the care of the negro chauffeur, to be garaged at Ancon SMILE .

It is horrible,” said Maria-Teresa, pressing Dick’s hand. Why cannot they leave them in peace?”

Seated on a little mound well out of sight of the others, they forgot their surroundings. And it was in this horrible burial-ground they exchanged their first true lovers’ kiss.

The sound of voices brought them back to reality. The president of the Society, followed by an interested retinue, was explaining the most interesting tombs .

Walking through this necropolis,” he said, it is no effort to evoke the shades of the Incas, and to feel for a minute as if one were living among them.... Here, six feet below ground, we first found a dog which had been sacrificed on its master’s tomb.... The dead man’s wife and chief servants also followed him to the next world.... We next found the wife’s body.... Like the dog, she had been strangled, probably because she had not had the courage to take her own life.... Finally, we heard the Indian workman cry ont, ‘Aqui esta el muer to.’ (Here is the dead one)... for to the native mind, the only body worthy of notice is that of the master.... When we cut the thongs and unrolled the wrappings about him—the man had evidently been a great chief—we found the mummy in an extraordinary state of preservation,—the head was almost intact.... Gentlemen, the ancient Egyptians did no better.”

At this moment, excited ones from another part of the cemetery attracted their attention, and a workman ran up to tell them that a sensational discovery had been made—the tomb of three Inca chiefs with strange-shaped skulls. Dick and Maria-Teresa followed the others to the spot indicated .

When they reached the newly-discovered tomb, workmen were passing up to the surface little sacks full of corn, jars which had once contained chicha—all the things necessary for a long voyage. Then came golden-vases, silver amphora, goblets, hammered statuettes, jewels:—a veritable treasure brought to light by one Stroke of the pick. Finally, the three mummies were brought to the surface and unrolled with every precaution. One of the scientists present bent down to uncover the faces, and there was a murmur of horror from those present.

To understand what Dick and Maria-Teresa had been among the first to see, it is necessary for the reader to know that it was customary among the Incas to shape living skulls to any form they wished. This strange custom exists even in modern days, though in a far lesser degree, among the Basque inhabitants of the Pyrenees. The skulls of babies, set in vices or bound into various molds, were gradually deformed till they took the shape of a sugar-loaf, of a squarish box, of an enormous lime, and so forth. Phrenology was evidently a science known to the Incas, who, precursors of Gall and Spezhurn, thus sought to develop abnormally the intellectual or warlike qualities of a child by compressing or enlarging such and such a part of the brain. It has been proved, though, that this practise was allowed only in the case of children of the Inca himself, called upon in afterlife to take high position in the State. The common people kept their normal skulls and normal brains.

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