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In Egypt in 1895, Stephen Banning leads an archaeological dig with son John and brother-in-law Joseph Whemple. Stephen believes they are just days away from uncovering the 4,000-year-old tomb of ancient princess Ananka, the culmination of twenty years of work. Although Joe wants Stephen to order John, who has broken his leg, to return to the city in order to have the bone set properly, Stephen allows John to stay, knowing that the dig is vitally important to them both. Finally, Stephen and Joe prepare to enter the tomb, ignoring the warning of local man Mehemet Bey that robbing the graves of Egypt will lead to death. As soon as Stephen identifies Ananka's mummified body, Joe leaves to inform the bedridden John of the find, after which Stephen removes The Scroll of Life from the wall of the mausoleum and reads it. Moments later, Joe returns to the tomb and finds Stephen on the ground, muttering incoherently. Six months later, John and Joe finish the site excavation and prepare to return to England, where Stephen remains catatonic in a sanitarium. At the same time that they set off an explosion to re-seal the mouth of the tomb, Mehemet prays in secret to his god Karnak, vowing to avenge the desecration of his princess' crypt. Three years pass, during which Stephen remains incoherent, until one day he suddenly asks for John. John visits, thrilled, but is disturbed to hear his father rave about a mummy who stood guard over Ananka's tomb, who was awakened and now wants to kill them for despoiling her resting place. Soon after, Mehemet rents a house near the sanitarium and hires two drivers to transport a box containing the Mummy. After Stephen senses the Mummy's presence, his screams prompt the doctors to move him to a padded cell to protect him from his "paranoid delusions." Stephen's screams also scare the drivers, whose subsequent rush to cross the nearby swamp causes the Mummy's box to fall into the water. That night, Mehemet prays to Karnak and raises the Mummy out of the swamp, sending the creature to Stephen's cell to kill him. After Stephen's body is found, John and Joe pore over his father's papers searching for clues to his murder. John is fascinated by a paper describing the legend of Ananka: In 2000 B.C., the princess dies while on a religious pilgrimage. Her high priest, Kharis, whose love for her is forbidden and therefore secret, presides over days of formal mourning, during which her body is consecrated and mummified. Although tradition calls for her body to be returned to her home village, Kharis prepares a lavish tomb nearby and leads the burial procession and final rites. Finally, the tomb is sealed, but that night Kharis secretly re-enters the tomb in order to attempt the ultimate blasphemy: to bring his beloved back to life. He is caught and sentenced to have his tongue cut out and be buried alive, to serve as her guard for all time. John wonders why the entire traveling party vanished without a trace, but Joe counsels him that the tale is only a myth. Later that night, Mehemet once again releases the Mummy into the countryside, and after passing a stunned poacher, it enters John's house and attacks Joe. John shoots at it, but the bullets have no effect on the Mummy, which soon leaves. Later, John relates the story to Inspector Mulrooney, who is skeptical until he canvasses the poacher and the drivers and learns about Mehemet's presence. Meanwhile, John, who is certain he will be the next victim, is forced to inform his wife Isobel about the impending danger. He orders her to remain upstairs, but when the Mummy attacks that night, Isobel runs into the study to help. Isobel's strong resemblance to Ananka causes the Mummy to turn away from John and approach her tenderly. Confused, the creature leaves the house without a sound. Called to investigate, Mulrooney informs John about Mehemet's presence, and against the inspector's orders, the next night John goes to Mehemet's rented house. Mehemet is shocked to learn that John is still alive, but invites him in pleasantly. John refers to Karnak as "insignificant," succeeding, as he has planned, in inciting Mehemet to accuse him of blasphemy, profanity and condescension. After a heated exchange, each apologizes, and John returns home, knowing that the Mummy will soon attack again. John informs Mulrooney that they must take precautions, but the inspector can arrange for only two guards, Blake and the poacher. Mulrooney takes Isobel outside with him to wait, while John paces in the study with a rifle. Mehemet accompanies the Mummy to the house, and knocks out Blake and the poacher before they can fire warning shots. While Mulrooney guards the driveway, Mehemet and the Mummy break into the study and John fires his gun at them. Isobel races inside, and although the Mummy looks up, her hair is in an upsweep and so this time the creature does not stop choking John. John, however, is able to signal to Isobel to put her hair down, and after she does, her appearance transfixes the Mummy. When Mehemet then orders it to kill Isobel, the Mummy becomes enraged at the suggestion and instead kills Mehemet. Isobel faints, and the Mummy carries her off to the swamp, chased by John and Mulrooney, who calls in police reinforcement. Just before the Mummy can drag Isobel under the water, John awakens her by shouting her name, and instructs her to command the Mummy to put her down. It obeys, allowing the police to shoot repeatedly. Staggering under the force of the bullets, the Mummy collapses into the swamp and sinks, as John pulls his beloved wife to safety.