ANUBIS—God of Rebirth
A Fable by Allen McGill
She roamed slowly, starving amid the crowds, picking up scraps where and when she could find them. But need burned in her, hunger both of the body and of her un-fed soul. Without love, a dog cannot live.
As the days passed she grew weaker, drifting farther away from the busy clatter of the central city. She was a puppy still and could not understand why she had been flung away, rejected, unwanted. She had learned not to attempt to return. Stones and kicks had convinced her of that.
Endless days passed as she wandered farther from the home that was no longer hers. As her strength ebbed, she stopped more and more often to rest, panting in the small patches of shade not claimed by others. It would not be much longer when she would slide into death with no one to care.
She came to a street that seemed quieter than most. She rose slowly to pad along it, seeking silence. Toward the end was a building where she could rest in the shade. Drawn by the scent of cooking, she eased her gaunt body through the open doorway. She barely remembered the taste of food.
Oblivious to her watching eyes, a priest laid offerings upon a low altar. Then his sandals scuffed away across the brick floor. With an eye on the door and an ear alert for returning steps, she fell upon the food, bolted it down with desperation. The bowl of milk was lapped well beyond the last drops having been drawn. She sat back, satiated, panting.
The powerful one, the priest, reentered, a God drawn by the sound of his altar being desecrated. He stood, gazing down at the tiny blasphemer, looking into the eyes of the pup that looked timidly up at him. In her short life, she had learned fear, but she felt none now. This powerful one was different, she sensed. Though his body might be human, his head was like hers, eyes filled with surprising kindness.
Anubis, Lord of the Dead, read her history in one encompassing glance. He looked into the brown eyes lifted so hopefully to his. In them he read more, a pride, a dignity not yet destroyed. Heart, hunger and hope, belief in a life as yet unjustified. The desire to live surged like a clear flame in this abused daughter.
Anubis shrugged. He was the God of Death; what did he have to do with Life?
Still, compassion stirred within the Jackal-headed deity. She was kin, the small one who stared up at him with hesitant trust. Of what extent was his power if now and again he could not use it as he wished. His hands reached out to gather the helpless creature in his arms. The puppy had fallen asleep, dreaming, as he studied her. His fingers stroked the mutilated tail, slid down the short, weak bowed legs. He caressed the ragged ears, the thin flanks. He lifted a hand above the stirring form. It would please him to do this, to reverse the fate of this living being with his power, to give life instead of death.
He smiled and spoke softly: “I give you pride and the heart of the desert wind, little daughter. I give you beauty without, that my worshipers shall see the beauty within. These gifts shall be yours and your children’s so long as the winds still blow across desert sands.”
He watched the transformation of the girl-pup with warm pleasure. It would not do to have her stay here. But a God knows the hearts of his people. He knew of a man who would love this new child of Anubis, and sent her there to lie sleeping before the household shrine, to be found by man who would cherish her for the first time and throughout her life.
And cherished she was. Daughter of the desert wind and the hunt, change-child of a God. She endowed the world with strong sons and fleet daughters. At first they had no name but later it would be known. They were the Saluki, the favored of Anubis, and a hundred lands would pay honor to her breed.