Egypt’s sun god Ra was rising in the eastern sky to cast his vibrant rays on the white walls of Pharaoh Amenhotep III’s grand new house. A newborn, about to arrive at sunrise in Pharaoh’s Harem, would foretell of exceptional heavenly influences.
The mother, Princess Attah of Mitanni, was twelve summers old. Her diminutive frame carried the belly of a hippopotamus. Gaunt and exhausted from slow labor, her birthing was half a moon cycle early, the baby large.
Maja, Attah’s only slave, tried to comfort her princess with damp cloths and soothing words as Attah suffered strong and rapid thrusts. Maja overheard two women sitting on their cots watching her princess struggle.
“The foreigner slept with Pharaoh but once, and is bearing his child. Luck is with her. She hasn’t even learned to speak in Egyptian yet,” one said.
The other pregnant woman said, “I feel sorry for her. No one has brought effigies of Goddess Hathor to bring the sweet north wind, or God Bes to aid her in her childbearing. The tattoo artist is coming in two Ras to paint my breasts with pictures of God Bes so the magic will be with me when I give birth.”
Slave Maja was on her knees at Attah’s cot asking all the gods she had ever heard of not to let her mistress die in childbirth.