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Title: Uarda : a Romance of Ancient Egypt — Volume 02
Author: Ebers, Georg
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Uarda : a Romance of Ancient Egypt — Volume 02" ***

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UARDA

Volume 2.

By Georg Ebers



CHAPTER V.

The night during which the Princess Bent-Anat and her followers had
knocked at the gate of the House of Seti was past.

The fruitful freshness of the dawn gave way to the heat, which began to
pour down from the deep blue cloudless vault of heaven.  The eye could no
longer gaze at the mighty globe of light whose rays pierced the fine
white dust which hung over the declivity of the hills that enclosed the
city of the dead on the west.  The limestone rocks showed with blinding
clearness, the atmosphere quivered as if heated over a flame; each minute
the shadows grew shorter and their outlines sharper.

All the beasts which we saw peopling the Necropolis in the evening had
now withdrawn into their lurking places; only man defied the heat of the
summer day.  Undisturbed he accomplished his daily work, and only laid
his tools aside for a moment, with a sigh, when a cooling breath blew
across the overflowing stream and fanned his brow.

The harbor or clock where those landed who crossed from eastern Thebes
was crowded with barks and boats waiting to return.

The crews of rowers and steersmen who were attached to priestly
brotherhoods or noble houses, were enjoying a rest till the parties they
had brought across the Nile drew towards them again in long processions.

Under a wide-spreading sycamore a vendor of eatables, spirituous drinks,
and acids for cooling the water, had set up his stall, and close to him,
a crowd of boatmen, and drivers shouted and disputed as they passed the
time in eager games at morra.

     [In Latin "micare digitis."  A game still constantly played in the
     south of Europe, and frequently represented by the Egyptians.  The
     games depicted in the monuments are collected by Minutoli, in the
     Leipziger Illustrirte Zeitung, 1852.]

Many sailors lay on the decks of the vessels, others on the shore; here
in the thin shade of a palm tree, there in the full blaze of the sun,
from those burning rays they protected themselves by spreading the cotton
cloths, which served them for cloaks, over their faces.

Between the sleepers passed bondmen and slaves, brown and black, in long
files one behind the other, bending under the weight of heavy burdens,
which had to be conveyed to their destination at the temples for
sacrifice, or to the dealers in various wares.  Builders dragged blocks
of stone, which had come from the quarries of Chennu and Suan,

     [The Syene of the Greeks, non, called Assouan at the first
     cataract.]

on sledges to the site of a new temple; laborers poured water under the
runners, that the heavily loaded and dried wood should not take fire.

All these working men were driven with sticks by their overseers, and
sang at their labor; but the voices of the leaders sounded muffled and
hoarse, though, when after their frugal meal they enjoyed an hour of
repose, they might be heard loud enough.  Their parched throats refused
to sing in the noontide of their labor.

Thick clouds of gnats followed these tormented gangs, who with dull and
spirit-broken endurance suffered alike the stings of the insects and the
blows of their driver.  The gnats pursued them to the very heart of the
City of the dead, where they joined themselves to the flies and wasps,
which swarmed in countless crowds around the slaughter houses, cooks'
shops, stalls of fried fish, and booths of meat, vegetable, honey, cakes
and drinks, which were doing a brisk business in spite of the noontide
heat and the oppressive atmosphere heated and filled with a mixture of
odors.

The nearer one got to the Libyan frontier, the quieter it became, and the
silence of death reigned in the broad north-west valley, where in the
southern slope the father of the reigning king had caused his tomb to be
hewn, and where the stone-mason of the Pharaoh had prepared a rock tomb
for him.

A newly made road led into this rocky gorge, whose steep yellow and brown
walls seemed scorched by the sun in many blackened spots, and looked like
a ghostly array of shades that had risen from the tombs in the night and
remained there.

At the entrance of this valley some blocks of stone formed a sort of
doorway, and through this, indifferent to the heat of day, a small but
brilliant troop of the men was passing.

Four slender youths as staff bearers led the procession, each clothed
only with an apron and a flowing head-cloth of gold brocade; the mid-day
sun played on their smooth, moist, red-brown skins, and their supple
naked feet hardly stirred the stones on the road.

Behind them followed an elegant, two-wheeled chariot, with two prancing
brown horses bearing tufts of red and blue feathers on their noble heads,
and seeming by the bearing of their arched necks and flowing tails to
express their pride in the gorgeous housings, richly embroidered in
silver, purple, and blue and golden ornaments, which they wore--and even
more in their beautiful, royal charioteer, Bent-Anat, the daughter of
Rameses, at whose lightest word they pricked their ears, and whose little
hand guided them with a scarcely perceptible touch.

Two young men dressed like the other runners followed the chariot, and
kept the rays of the sun off the face of their mistress with large fans
of snow-white ostrich feathers fastened to long wands.

By the side of Bent-Anat, so long as the road was wide enough to allow
of it, was carried Nefert, the wife of Mena, in her gilt litter, borne by
eight tawny bearers, who, running with a swift and equally measured step,
did not remain far behind the trotting horses of the princess and her
fan-bearers.

Both the women, whom we now see for the first time in daylight, were of
remarkable but altogether different beauty.

The wife of Mena had preserved the appearance of a maiden; her large
almond-shaped eyes had a dreamy surprised look out from under her long
eyelashes, and her figure of hardly the middle-height had acquired a
little stoutness without losing its youthful grace.  No drop of foreign
blood flowed in her veins, as could be seen in the color of her skin,
which was of that fresh and equal line which holds a medium between
golden yellow and bronze brown--and which to this day is so charming in
the maidens of Abyssinia--in her straight nose, her well-formed brow, in
her smooth but thick black hair, and in the fineness of her hands and
feet, which were ornamented with circles of gold.

The maiden princess next to her had hardly reached her nineteenth year,
and yet something of a womanly self-consciousness betrayed itself in her
demeanor.  Her stature was by almost a head taller than that of her
friend, her skin was fairer, her blue eyes kind and frank, without tricks
of glance, but clear and honest, her profile was noble but sharply cut,
and resembled that of her father, as a landscape in the mild and
softening light of the moon resembles the same landscape in the broad
clear light of day.  The scarcely perceptible aquiline of her nose, she
inherited from her Semitic ancestors,

     [Many portraits have come down to us of Rameses: the finest is the
     noble statue preserved at Turin.  A likeness has been detected
     between its profile, with its slightly aquiline nose, and that of
     Napoleon I.]

as well as the slightly waving abundance of her brown hair, over which
she wore a blue and white striped silk kerchief; its carefully-pleated
folds were held in place by a gold ring, from which in front a horned
urarus

     [A venomous Egyptian serpent which was adopted as the symbol of
     sovereign power, in consequence of its swift effects for life or
     death.  It is never wanting to the diadem of the Pharaohs.]

raised its head crowned with a disk of rubies.  From her left temple a
large tress, plaited with gold thread, hung down to her waist, the sign
of her royal birth.  She wore a purple dress of fine, almost transparent
stuff, that was confined with a gold belt and straps.  Round her throat
was fastened a necklace like a collar, made of pearls and costly stones,
and hanging low down on her well-formed bosom.

Behind the princess stood her charioteer, an old officer of noble birth.

Three litters followed the chariot of the princess, and in each sat two
officers of the court; then came a dozen of slaves ready for any service,
and lastly a crowd of wand-bearers to drive off the idle populace, and of
lightly-armed soldiers, who--dressed only in the apron and head-cloth--
each bore a dagger-shaped sword in his girdle, an axe in his right hand,
and in his left; in token of his peaceful service, a palm-branch.

Like dolphins round a ship, little girls in long shirt-shaped garments
swarmed round the whole length of the advancing procession, bearing
water-jars on their steady heads, and at a sign from any one who was
thirsty were ready to give him a drink.  With steps as light as the
gazelle they often outran the horses, and nothing could be more graceful
than the action with which the taller ones bent over with the water-jars
held in both arms to the drinker.

The courtiers, cooled and shaded by waving fans, and hardly perceiving
the noontide heat, conversed at their ease about indifferent matters, and
the princess pitied the poor horses, who were tormented as they ran, by
annoying gadflies; while the runners and soldiers, the litter-bearers and
fan-bearers, the girls with their jars and the panting slaves, were
compelled to exert themselves under the rays of the mid-day sun in the
service of their masters, till their sinews threatened to crack and their
lungs to burst their bodies.

At a spot where the road widened, and where, to the right, lay the steep
cross-valley where the last kings of the dethroned race were interred,
the procession stopped at a sign from Paaker, who preceded the princess,
and who drove his fiery black Syrian horses with so heavy a hand that the
bloody foam fell from their bits.

When the Mohar had given the reins into the hand of a servant, he sprang
from his chariot, and after the usual form of obeisance said to the
princess:

"In this valley lies the loathsome den of the people, to whom thou, O
princess, dost deign to do such high honor.  Permit me to go forward as
guide to thy party."

"We will go on foot," said the princess, "and leave our followers behind
here,"

Paaker bowed, Bent-Anat threw the reins to her charioteer and sprang to
the ground, the wife of Mena and the courtiers left their litters, and
the fan-bearers and chamberlains were about to accompany their mistress
on foot into the little valley, when she turned round and ordered,
"Remain behind, all of you.  Only Paaker and Nefert need go with me."

The princess hastened forward into the gorge, which was oppressive with
the noon-tide heat; but she moderated her steps as soon as she observed
that the frailer Nefert found it difficult to follow her.

At a bend in the road Paaker stood still, and with him Bent-Anat and
Nefert.  Neither of them had spoken a word during their walk.  The valley
was perfectly still and deserted; on the highest pinnacles of the cliff,
which rose perpendicularly to the right, sat a long row of vultures, as
motionless as if the mid-day heat had taken all strength out of their
wings.

Paaker bowed before them as being the sacred animals of the Great Goddess
of Thebes,

     [She formed a triad with Anion and Chunsu under the name of Muth.
     The great "Sanctuary of the kingdom"--the temple of Karnak--was
     dedicated to them.]

and the two women silently followed his example.

"There," said the Mohar, pointing to two huts close to the left cliff of
the valley, built of bricks made of dried Nile-mud, "there, the neatest,
next the cave in the rock."

Bent-Anat went towards the solitary hovel with a beating heart; Paaker
let the ladies go first.  A few steps brought them to an ill-constructed
fence of canestalks, palm-branches, briars and straw, roughly thrown
together.  A heart-rending cry of pain from within the hut trembled in
the air and arrested the steps of the two women.  Nefert staggered and
clung to her stronger companion, whose beating heart she seemed to hear.
Both stood a few minutes as if spellbound, then the princess called
Paaker, and said:

"You go first into the house."

Paaker bowed to the ground.

"I will call the man out," he said, "but how dare we step over his
threshold.  Thou knowest such a proceeding will defile us."

Nefert looked pleadingly at Bent-Anat, but the princess repeated her
command.

"Go before me; I have no fear of defilement."  The Mohar still hesitated.

"Wilt thou provoke the Gods?--and defile thyself?"  But the princess let
him say no more; she signed to Nefert, who raised her hands in horror and
aversion; so, with a shrug of her shoulders, she left her companion
behind with the Mohar, and stepped through an opening in the hedge into a
little court, where lay two brown goats; a donkey with his forelegs tied
together stood by, and a few hens were scattering the dust about in a
vain search for food.

Soon she stood, alone, before the door of the paraschites' hovel.  No one
perceived her, but she could not take her eyes-accustomed only to scenes
of order and splendor--from the gloomy but wonderfully strange picture,
which riveted her attention and her sympathy.  At last she went up to the
doorway, which was too low for her tall figure.  Her heart shrunk
painfully within her, and she would have wished to grow smaller, and,
instead of shining in splendor, to have found herself wrapped in a
beggar's robe.

Could she step into this hovel decked with gold and jewels as if in
mockery?--like a tyrant who should feast at a groaning table and compel
the starving to look on at the banquet.  Her delicate perception made her
feel what trenchant discord her appearance offered to all that surrounded
her, and the discord pained her; for she could not conceal from herself
that misery and external meanness were here entitled to give the key-note
and that her magnificence derived no especial grandeur from contrast with
all these modest accessories, amid dust, gloom, and suffering, but rather
became disproportionate and hideous, like a giant among pigmies.

She had already gone too far to turn back, or she would willingly have
done so.  The longer she gazed into the but, the more deeply she felt the
impotence of her princely power, the nothingness of the splendid gifts
with which she approached it, and that she might not tread the dusty
floor of this wretched hovel but in all humility, and to crave a pardon.

The room into which she looked was low but not very small, and obtained
from two cross lights a strange and unequal illumination; on one side the
light came through the door, and on the other through an opening in the
time-worn ceiling of the room, which had never before harbored so many
and such different guests.

All attention was concentrated on a group, which was clearly lighted up
from the doorway.

On the dusty floor of the room cowered an old woman, with dark weather-
beaten features and tangled hair that had long been grey.  Her black-blue
cotton shirt was open over her withered bosom, and showed a blue star
tattooed upon it.

In her lap she supported with her hands the head of a girl, whose slender
body lay motionless on a narrow, ragged mat.  The little white feet of
the sick girl almost touched the threshold.  Near to them squatted a
benevolent-looking old man, who wore only a coarse apron, and sitting all
in a heap, bent forward now and then, rubbing the child's feet with his
lean hands and muttering a few words to himself.

The sufferer wore nothing but a short petticoat of coarse light-blue
stuff.  Her face, half resting on the lap of the old woman, was graceful
and regular in form, her eyes were half shut-like those of a child, whose
soul is wrapped in some sweet dream-but from her finely chiselled lips
there escaped from time to time a painful, almost convulsive sob.

An abundance of soft, but disordered reddish fair hair, in which clung a
few withered flowers, fell over the lap of the old woman and on to the
mat where she lay.  Her cheeks were white and rosy-red, and when the
young surgeon Nebsecht--who sat by her side, near his blind, stupid
companion, the litany-singer--lifted the ragged cloth that had been
thrown over her bosom, which had been crushed by the chariot wheel, or
when she lifted her slender arm, it was seen that she had the shining
fairness of those daughters of the north who not unfrequently came to
Thebes among the king's prisoners of war.

The two physicians sent hither from the House of Seti sat on the left
side of the maiden on a little carpet.  From time to time one or the
other laid his hand over the heart of the sufferer, or listened to her
breathing, or opened his case of medicaments, and moistened the compress
on her wounded breast with a white ointment.

In a wide circle close to the wall of the room crouched several women,
young and old, friends of the paraschites, who from time to time gave
expression to their deep sympathy by a piercing cry of lamentation.  One
of them rose at regular intervals to fill the earthen bowl by the side of
the physician with fresh water.  As often as the sudden coolness of a
fresh compress on her hot bosom startled the sick girl, she opened her
eyes, but always soon to close them again for longer interval, and turned
them at first in surprise, and then with gentle reverence, towards a
particular spot.

These glances had hitherto been unobserved by him to whom they were
directed.

Leaning against the wall on the right hand side of the room, dressed in
his long, snow-white priest's robe, Pentaur stood awaiting the princess.
His head-dress touched the ceiling, and the narrow streak of light, which
fell through the opening in the roof, streamed on his handsome head and
his breast, while all around him was veiled in twilight gloom.

Once more the suffering girl looked up, and her glance this time met the
eye of the young priest, who immediately raised his hand, and half-
mechanically, in a low voice, uttered the words of blessing; and then
once more fixed his gaze on the dingy floor, and pursued his own
reflections.

Some hours since he had come hither, obedient to the orders of Ameni,
to impress on the princess that she had defiled herself by touching a
paraschites, and could only be cleansed again by the hand of the priests.

He had crossed the threshold of the paraschites most reluctantly, and the
thought that he, of all men, had been selected to censure a deed of the
noblest humanity, and to bring her who had done it to judgment, weighed
upon him as a calamity.

In his intercourse with his friend Nebsecht, Pentaur had thrown off many
fetters, and given place to many thoughts that his master would have held
sinful and presumptuous; but at the same time he acknowledged the
sanctity of the old institutions, which were upheld by those whom lie had
learned to regard as the divinely-appointed guardians of the spiritual
possessions of God's people; nor was he wholly free from the pride of
caste and the haughtiness which, with prudent intent, were inculcated in
the priests.  He held the common man, who put forth his strength to win a
maintenance for his belongings by honest bodily labor--the merchant--the
artizan--the peasant, nay even the warrior, as far beneath the godly
brotherhood who strove for only spiritual ends; and most of all he
scorned the idler, given up to sensual enjoyments.

He held him unclean who had been branded by the law; and how should it
have been otherwise?  These people, who at the embalming of the dead
opened the body of the deceased, had become despised for their office of
mutilating the sacred temple of the soul; but no paraschites chose his
calling of his own free will.--[Diodorus I, 91]--It was handed down from
father to son, and he who was born a paraschites--so he was taught--had
to expiate an old guilt with which his soul had long ago burdened itself
in a former existence, within another body, and which had deprived it of
absolution in the nether world.  It had passed through various animal
forms, and now began a new human course in the body of a paraschites,
once more to stand after death in the presence of the judges of the
under-world.

Pentaur had crossed the threshold of the man he despised with aversion;
the man himself, sitting at the feet of the suffering girl, had exclaimed
as he saw the priest approaching the hovel:

"Yet another white robe!  Does misfortune cleanse the unclean?"

Pentaur had not answered the old man, who on his part took no further
notice of him, while he rubbed the girl's feet by order of the leech; and
his hands impelled by tender anxiety untiringly continued the same
movement, as the water-wheel in the Nile keeps up without intermission
its steady motion in the stream.

"Does misfortune cleanse the unclean?"  Pentaur asked himself.  "Does it
indeed possess a purifying efficacy, and is it possible that the Gods,
who gave to fire the power of refining metals and to the winds power to
sweep the clouds from the sky, should desire that a man--made in their
own image--that a man should be tainted from his birth to his death with
an indelible stain?"

He looked at the face of the paraschites, and it seemed to him to
resemble that of his father.

This startled him!

And when he noticed how the woman, in whose lap the girl's head was
resting, bent over the injured bosom of the child to catch her breathing,
which she feared had come to a stand-still--with the anguish of a dove
that is struck down by a hawk--he remembered a moment in his own
childhood, when he had lain trembling with fever on his little bed.
What then had happened to him, or had gone on around him, he had long
forgotten, but one image was deeply imprinted on his soul, that of the
face of his mother bending over him in deadly anguish, but who had gazed
on her sick boy not more tenderly, or more anxiously, than this despised
woman on her suffering child.

"There is only one utterly unselfish, utterly pure and utterly divine
love," said he to himself, "and that is the love of Isis for Horus--the
love of a mother for her child.  If these people were indeed so foul as
to defile every thing they touch, how would this pure, this tender, holy
impulse show itself even in them in all its beauty and perfection?"

"Still," he continued, "the Celestials  have implanted maternal love in
the breast of the lioness, of the typhonic river-horse of the Nile."

He looked compassionately at the wife of the paraschites.

He saw her dark face as she turned it away from the sick girl.  She had
felt her breathe, and a smile of happiness lighted up her old features;
she nodded first to the surgeon, and then with a deep sigh of relief to
her husband, who, while he did not cease the movement of his left hand,
held up his right hand in prayer to heaven, and his wife did the same.

It seemed to Pentaur that he could see the souls of these two, floating
above the youthful creature in holy union as they joined their hands; and
again he thought of his parents' house, of the hour when his sweet, only
sister died.  His mother had thrown herself weeping on the pale form, but
his father had stamped his foot and had thrown back his head, sobbing and
striking his forehead with his fist.

"How piously submissive and thankful are these unclean ones!"  thought
Pentaur; and repugnance for the old laws began to take root in his heart.
"Maternal love may exist in the hyaena, but to seek and find God pertains
only to man, who has a noble aim.  Up to the limits of eternity--and God
is eternal!--thought is denied to animals; they cannot even smile.  Even
men cannot smile at first, for only physical life--an animal soul--dwells
in them; but soon a share of the world's soul--beaming intelligence--
works within them, and first shows itself in the smile of a child, which
is as pure as the light and the truth from which it comes.  The child of
the paraschites smiles like any other creature born of woman, but how few
aged men there are, even among the initiated, who can smile as innocently
and brightly as this woman who has grown grey under open ill-treatment."

Deep sympathy began to fill his heart, and he knelt down by the side of
the poor child, raised her arm, and prayed fervently to that One who had
created the heavens and who rules the world--to that One, whom the
mysteries of faith forbade him to name; and not to the innumerable gods,
whom the people worshipped, and who to him were nothing but incarnations
of the attributes of the One and only God of the initiated--of whom he
was one--who was thus brought down to the comprehension of the laity.

He raised his soul to God in passionate emotion; but he prayed, not for
the child before him and for her recovery, but rather for the whole
despised race, and for its release from the old ban, for the
enlightenment of his own soul, imprisoned in doubts, and for
strength to fulfil his hard task with discretion.

The gaze of the sufferer followed him as he took up his former position.

The prayer had refreshed his soul and restored him to cheerfulness of
spirit.  He began to reflect what conduct he must observe towards the
princess.

He had not met Bent-Anat for the first time yesterday; on the contrary,
he had frequently seen her in holiday processions, and at the high
festivals in the Necropolis, and like all his young companions had
admired her proud beauty--admired it as the distant light of the stars,
or the evening-glow on the horizon.

Now he must approach this lady with words of reproof.

He pictured to himself the moment when he must advance to meet her, and
could not help thinking of his little tutor Chufu, above whom he towered
by two heads while he was still a boy, and who used to call up his
admonitions to him from below.  It was true, he himself was tall and
slim, but he felt as if to-day he were to play the part towards Bent-Anat
of the much-laughed-at little tutor.

His sense of the comic was touched, and asserted itself at this serious
moment, and with such melancholy surroundings.  Life is rich in
contrasts, and a susceptible and highly-strung human soul would break
down like a bridge under the measured tread of soldiers, if it were
allowed to let the burden of the heaviest thoughts and strongest feelings
work upon it in undisturbed monotony; but just as in music every key-note
has its harmonies, so when we cause one chord of our heart to vibrate for
long, all sorts of strange notes respond and clang, often those which we
least expect.

Pentaur's glance flew round the one low, over-filled room of the
paraschites' hut, and like a lightning flash the thought, "How will the
princess and her train find room here?"  flew through his mind.

His fancy was lively, and vividly brought before him how the daughter of
the Pharaoh with a crown on her proud head would bustle into the silent
chamber, how the chattering courtiers would follow her, and how the women
by the walls, the physicians by the side of the sick girl, the sleek
white cat from the chest where she sat, would rise and throng round her.
There must be frightful confusion.  Then he imagined how the smart lords
and ladies would keep themselves far from the unclean, hold their slender
hands over their mouths and noses, and suggest to the old folks how they
ought to behave to the princess who condescended to bless them with her
presence.  The old woman must lay down the head that rested in her bosom,
the paraschites must drop the feet he so anxiously rubbed, on the floor,
to rise and kiss the dust before Bent-Anat.  Whereupon--the "mind's eye"
of the young priest seemed to see it all--the courtiers fled before him,
pushing each other, and all crowded together into a corner, and at last
the princess threw a few silver or gold rings into the laps of the father
and mother, and perhaps to the girl too, and he seemed to hear the
courtiers all cry out: "Hail to the gracious daughter of the Sun!"--to
hear the joyful exclamations of the crowd of women--to see the gorgeous
apparition leave the hut of the despised people, and then to see, instead
of the lovely sick child who still breathed audibly, a silent corpse on
the crumpled mat, and in the place of the two tender nurses at her head
and feet, two heart-broken, loud-lamenting wretches.

Pentaur's hot spirit was full of wrath.  As soon as the noisy cortege
appeared actually in sight he would place himself in the doorway, forbid
the princess to enter, and receive her with strong words.

She could hardly come hither out of human kindness.

"She wants variety," said he to himself, "something new at Court; for
there is little going on there now the king tarries with the troops in a
distant country; it tickles the vanity of the great to find themselves
once in a while in contact with the small, and it is well to have your
goodness of heart spoken of by the people.  If a little misfortune
opportunely happens, it is not worth the trouble to inquire whether the
form of our benevolence does more good or mischief to such wretched
people."

He ground his teeth angrily, and thought no more of the defilement which
might threaten Bent-Anat from the paraschites, but exclusively, on the
contrary, of the impending desecration by the princess of the holy
feelings astir in this silent room.

Excited as he was to fanaticism, his condemning lips could not fail to
find vigorous and impressive words.

He stood drawn to his full height and drawing his breath deeply, like a
spirit of light who holds his weapon raised to annihilate a demon of
darkness, and he looked out into the valley to perceive from afar the cry
of the runners and the rattle of the wheels of the gay train he expected.

And he saw the doorway darkened by a lowly, bending figure, who, with
folded arms, glided into the room and sank down silently by the side of
the sick girl.  The physicians and the old people moved as if to rise;
but she signed to them without opening her lips, and with moist,
expressive eyes, to keep their places; she looked long and lovingly in
the face of the wounded girl, stroked her white arm, and turning to the
old woman softly whispered to her

"How pretty she is!"

The paraschites' wife nodded assent, and the girl smiled and moved her
lips as though she had caught the words and wished to speak.

Bent-Anat took a rose from her hair and laid it on her bosom.

The paraschites, who had not taken his hands from the feet of the sick
child, but who had followed every movement of the princess, now
whispered, "May Hathor requite thee, who gave thee thy beauty."

The princess turned to him and said, "Forgive the sorrow, I have caused
you."

The old man stood up, letting the feet of the sick girl fall, and asked
in a clear loud voice:

"Art thou Bent-Anat?"

"Yes, I am," replied the princess, bowing her head low, and in so gentle
a voice, that it seemed as though she were ashamed of her proud name.

The eyes of the old man flashed.  Then he said softly but decisively:

"Leave my hut then, it will defile thee."

"Not till you have forgiven me for that which I did unintentionally."

"Unintentionally!  I believe thee," replied the paraschites.  "The hoofs
of thy horse became unclean when they trod on this white breast.  Look
here--" and he lifted the cloth from the girl's bosom, and showed her the
deep red wound, "Look here--here is the first rose you laid on my
grandchild's bosom, and the second--there it goes."

The paraschites raised his arm to fling the flower through the door of
his hut.  But Pentaur had approached him, and with a grasp of iron held
the old man's hand.

"Stay," he cried in an eager tone, moderated however for the sake of the
sick girl.  "The third rose, which this noble hand has offered you, your
sick heart and silly head have not even perceived.  And yet you must know
it if only from your need, your longing for it.  The fair blossom of pure
benevolence is laid on your child's heart, and at your very feet, by this
proud princess.  Not with gold, but with humility.  And whoever the
daughter of Rameses approaches as her equal, bows before her, even if he
were the first prince in the Land of Egypt.  Indeed, the Gods shall not
forget this deed of Bent-Anat.  And you--forgive, if you desire to be
forgiven that guilt, which you bear as an inheritance from your fathers,
and for your own sins."

The paraschites bowed his head at these words, and when he raised it the
anger had vanished from his well-cut features.  He rubbed his wrist,
which had been squeezed by Pentaur's iron fingers, and said in a tone
which betrayed all the bitterness of his feelings:

"Thy hand is hard, Priest, and thy words hit like the strokes of a
hammer.  This fair lady is good and loving, and I know; that she did not
drive her horse intentionally over this poor girl, who is my grandchild
and not my daughter.  If she were thy wife or the wife of the leech
there, or the child of the poor woman yonder, who supports life by
collecting the feet and feathers of the fowls that are slaughtered for
sacrifice, I would not only forgive her, but console her for having made
herself like to me; fate would have made her a murderess without any
fault of her own, just as it stamped me as unclean while I was still at
my mother's breast.  Aye--I would comfort her; and yet I am not very
sensitive.  Ye holy three of Thebes!--[The triad of Thebes: Anion, Muth
and Chunsu.]--how should I be?  Great and small get out of my way that I
may not touch them, and every day when I have done what it is my business
to do they throw stones at me.

     [The paraschites, with an Ethiopian knife, cuts the flesh of the
     corpse as deeply as the law requires: but instantly takes to flight,
     while the relatives of the deceased pursue him with stones, and
     curses, as if they wished to throw the blame on him.]

"The fulfilment of duty--which brings a living to other men, which makes
their happiness, and at the same time earns them honor, brings me every
day fresh disgrace and painful sores.  But I complain to no man, and must
forgive--forgive--forgive, till at last all that men do to me seems quite
natural and unavoidable, and I take it all like the scorching of the sun
in summer, and the dust that the west wind blows into my face.  It does
not make me happy, but what can I do?  I forgive all--"

The voice of the paraschites had softened, and Bent-Anat, who looked down
on him with emotion, interrupted him, exclaiming with deep feeling:

"And so you will forgive me?--poor man!"

The old man looked steadily, not at her, but at Pentaur, while he
replied: "Poor man! aye, truly, poor man.  You have driven me out of the
world in which you live, and so I made a world for myself in this hut.
I do not belong to you, and if I forget it, you drive me out as an
intruder--nay as a wolf, who breaks into your fold; but you belong just
as little to me, only when you play the wolf and fall upon me, I must
bear it!"

"The princess came to your hut as a suppliant, and with the wish of doing
you some good," said Pentaur.

"May the avenging Gods reckon it to her, when they visit on her the
crimes of her father against me!  Perhaps it may bring me to prison, but
it must come out.  Seven sons were mine, and Rameses took them all from
me and sent them to death; the child of the youngest, this girl, the
light of my eyes, his daughter has brought to her death.  Three of my
boys the king left to die of thirst by the Tenat,

     [Literally the "cutting" which, under Seti I., the father of
     Rameses, was the first Suez Canal; a representation of it is found
     on the northern outer wall of the temple of Karnak.  It followed
     nearly the same direction as the Fresh-water canal of Lesseps, and
     fertilized the land of Goshen.]

which is to join the Nile to the Red Sea, three were killed by the
Ethiopians, and the last, the star of my hopes, by this time is eaten by
the hyaenas of the north."

At these words the old woman, in whose lap the head of the girl rested,
broke out into a loud cry, in which she was joined by all the other
women.

The sufferer started up frightened, and opened her eyes.

"For whom are you wailing?"  she asked feebly.  "For your poor father,"
said the old woman.

The girl smiled like a child who detects some well-meant deceit,
and said:

"Was not my father here, with you?  He is here, in Thebes, and looked at
me, and kissed me, and said that he is bringing home plunder, and that a
good time is coming for you.  The gold ring that he gave me I was
fastening into my dress, when the chariot passed over me.  I was just
pulling the knots, when all grew black before my eyes, and I saw and
heard nothing more.  Undo it, grandmother, the ring is for you; I meant
to bring it to you.  You must buy a beast for sacrifice with it, and wine
for grandfather, and eye salve

     [The Egyptian mestem, that is stibium or antimony, which was
     introduced into Egypt by the Asiatics at a very early period and
     universally used.]

for yourself, and sticks of mastic,

     [At the present day the Egyptian women are fond of chewing them, on
     account of their pleasant taste.  The ancient Egyptians used various
     pills.  Receipts for such things are found in the Ebers Papyrus.]

which you have so long lead to do without."

The paraschites seemed to drink these words from the mouth of his
grandchild.  Again he lifted his hand in prayer, again Pentaur observed
that his glance met that of his wife, and a large, warm tear fell from
his old eyes on to his callous hand.  Then he sank down, for he thought
the sick child was deluded by a dream.  But there were the knots in her
dress.

With a trembling hand he untied them, and a gold ring rolled out on the
floor.

Bent-Anat picked it up, and gave it to the paraschites.  "I came here in
a lucky hour," she said, "for you have recovered your son and your child
will live."

"She will live," repeated the surgeon, who had remained a silent witness
of all that had occurred.

"She will stay with us," murmured the old man, and then said, as he
approached the princess on his knees, and looked up at her beseechingly
with tearful eyes:

"Pardon me as I pardon thee; and if a pious wish may not turn to a curse
from the lips of the unclean, let me bless thee."

"I thank you," said Bent-Anat, towards whom the old man raised his hand
in blessing.

Then she turned to Nebsecht, and ordered him to take anxious care of the
sick girl; she bent over her, kissed her forehead, laid her gold bracelet
by her side, and signing to Pentaur left the hut with him.



CHAPTER VI.

During the occurrence we have described, the king's pioneer and the young
wife of Mena were obliged to wait for the princess.

The sun stood in the meridian, when Bent-Anat had gone into the hovel of
the paraschites.

The bare limestone rocks on each side of the valley and the sandy soil
between, shone with a vivid whiteness that hurt the eyes; not a hand's
breadth of shade was anywhere to be seen, and the fan-beaters of the two,
who were waiting there, had, by command of the princess, staid behind
with the chariot and litters.

For a time they stood silently near each other, then the fair Nefert
said, wearily closing her almond-shaped eyes:

"How long Bent-Anat stays in the but of the unclean!  I am perishing
here.  What shall we do?"

"Stay!"  said Paaker, turning his back on the lady; and mounting a block
of stone by the side of the gorge, he cast a practised glance all round,
and returned to Nefert: "I have found a shady spot," he said, "out
there."

Mena's wife followed with her eyes the indication of his hand, and shook
her head.  The gold ornaments on her head-dress rattled gently as she did
so, and a cold shiver passed over her slim body in spite of the midday
heat.

"Sechet is raging in the sky," said Paaker.

     [A goddess with the head of a lioness or a cat, over which the Sun-
     disk is usually found.  She was the daughter of Ra, and in the form
     of the Uraeus on her father's crown personified the murderous heat
     of the star of day.  She incites man to the hot and wild passion of
     love, and as a cat or lioness tears burning wounds in the limbs of
     the guilty in the nether world; drunkenness and pleasure are her
     gifts  She was also named Bast and Astarte after her sister-divinity
     among the Phoenicians.]

"Let us avail ourselves of the shady spot, small though it be.  At this
hour of the day many are struck with sickness."

"I know it," said Nefert, covering her neck with her hand.  Then she went
towards two blocks of stone which leaned against each other, and between
them afforded the spot of shade, not many feet wide, which Paaker had
pointed out as a shelter from the sun.  Paaker preceded her, and rolled a
flat piece of limestone, inlaid by nature with nodules of flint, under
the stone pavilion, crushed a few scorpions which had taken refuge there,
spread his head-cloth over the hard seat, and said, "Here you are
sheltered."

Nefert sank down on the stone and watched the Mohar, who slowly and
silently paced backwards and forward in front of her.  This incessant to
and fro of her companion at last became unendurable to her sensitive and
irritated nerves, and suddenly raising her head from her hand, on which
she had rested it, she exclaimed

"Pray stand still."

The pioneer obeyed instantly, and looked, as he stood with his back to
her, towards the hovel of the paraschites.

After a short time Nefert said, "Say something to me!"

The Mohar turned his full face towards her, and she was frightened at the
wild fire that glowed in the glance with which he gazed at her.

Nefert's eyes fell, and Paaker, saying:

"I would rather remain silent," recommenced his walk, till Nefert called
to him again and said,

"I know you are angry with me; but I was but a child when I was betrothed
to you.  I liked you too, and when in our games your mother called me
your little wife, I was really glad, and used to think how fine it would
be when I might call all your possessions mine, the house you would have
so splendidly restored for me after your father's death, the noble
gardens, the fine horses in their stables, and all the male and female
slaves!"

Paaker laughed, but the laugh sounded so forced and scornful that it cut
Nefert to the heart, and she went on, as if begging for indulgence:

"It was said that you were angry with us; and now you will take my words
as if I had cared only for your wealth; but I said, I liked you.  Do you
no longer remember how I cried with you over your tales of the bad boys
in the school; and over your father's severity?  Then my uncle died;--
then you went to Asia."

And you," interrupted Paaker, hardly and drily, "you broke your
bethrothal vows, and became the wife of the charioteer Mena.  I know it
all; of what use is talking?"

"Because it grieves me that you should be angry, and your good mother
avoid our house.  If only you could know what it is when love seizes one,
and one can no longer even think alone, but only near, and with, and in
the very arms of another; when one's beating heart throbs in one's very
temples, and even in one's dreams one sees nothing--but one only."

"And do I not know it?"  cried Paaker, placing himself close before her
with his arms crossed.  "Do I not know it? and you it was who taught me
to know it.  When I thought of you, not blood, but burning fire, coursed
in my veins, and now you have filled them with poison; and here in this
breast, in which your image dwelt, as lovely as that of Hathor in her
holy of holies, all is like that sea in Syria which is called the Dead
Sea, in which every thing that tries to live presently dies and
perishes."

Paaker's eyes rolled as he spoke, and his voice sounded hoarsely as he
went on.

"But Mena was near to the king--nearer than I, and your mother--"

"My mother!"--Nefert interrupted the angry Mohar.  "My mother did not
choose my husband.  I saw him driving the chariot, and to me he resembled
the Sun God, and he observed me, and looked at me, and his glance pierced
deep into my heart like a spear; and when, at the festival of the king's
birthday, he spoke to me, it was just as if Hathor had thrown round me
a web of sweet, sounding sunbeams.  And it was the same with Mena; he
himself has told me so since I have been his wife.  For your sake my
mother rejected his suit, but I grew pale and dull with longing for him,
and he lost his bright spirit, and was so melancholy that the king
remarked it, and asked what weighed on his heart--for Rameses loves him
as his own son.  Then Mena confessed to the Pharaoh that it was love that
dimmed his eye and weakened his strong hand; and then the king himself
courted me for his faithful servant, and my mother gave way, and we were
made man and wife, and all the joys of the justified in the fields of
Aalu

     [The fields of the blest, which were opened to glorified souls.  In
     the Book of the Dead it is shown that in them men linger, and sow
     and reap by cool waters.]

are shallow and feeble by the side of the bliss which we two have known--
not like mortal men, but like the celestial gods."

Up to this point Nefert had fixed her large eyes on the sky, like a
glorified soul; but now her gaze fell, and she said softly--

"But the Cheta

     [An Aramaean race, according to Schrader's excellent judgment.  At
     the time of our story the peoples of western Asia had allied
     themselves to them.]

disturbed our happiness, for the king took Mena with him to the war.
Fifteen times did the moon, rise upon our happiness, and then--"

"And then the Gods heard my prayer, and accepted my offerings," said
Paaker, with a trembling voice, "and tore the robber of my joys from you,
and scorched your heart and his with desire.  Do you think you can tell
me anything I do not know?  Once again for fifteen days was Mena yours,
and now he has not returned again from the war which is raging hotly in
Asia."

"But he will return," cried the young wife.

"Or possibly not," laughed Paaker.  "The Cheta, carry sharp weapons, and
there are many vultures in Lebanon, who perhaps at this hour are tearing
his flesh as he tore my heart."

Nefert rose at these words, her sensitive spirit bruised as with stones
thrown by a brutal hand, and attempted to leave her shady refuge to
follow the princess into the house of the parascllites; but her feet
refused to bear her, and she sank back trembling on her stone seat.  She
tried to find words, but her tongue was powerless.  Her powers of
resistance forsook her in her unutterable and soul-felt distress--heart-
wrung, forsaken and provoked.

A variety of painful sensations raised a hot vehement storm in her bosom,
which checked her breath, and at last found relief in a passionate and
convulsive weeping that shook her whole body.  She saw nothing more, she
heard nothing more, she only shed tears and felt herself miserable.

Paaker stood over her in silence.

There are trees in the tropics, on which white blossoms hang close by the
withered fruit, there are days when the pale moon shows itself near the
clear bright sun;--and it is given to the soul of man to feel love and
hatred, both at the same time, and to direct both to the same end.

Nefert's tears fell as dew, her sobs as manna on the soul of Paaker,
which hungered and thirsted for revenge.  Her pain was joy to him, and
yet the sight of her beauty filled him with passion, his gaze lingered
spell-bound on her graceful form; he would have given all the bliss of
heaven once, only once, to hold her in his arms--once, only once, to hear
a word of love from her lips.

After some minutes Nefert's tears grew less violent.  With a weary,
almost indifferent gaze she looked at the Mohar, still standing before
her, and said in a soft tone of entreaty:

'My tongue is parched, fetch me a little water."

"The princess may come out at any moment," replied Paaker.

"But I am fainting," said Nefert, and began again to cry gently.

Paaker shrugged his shoulders, and went farther into the valley, which he
knew as well as his father's house; for in it was the tomb of his
mother's ancestors, in which, as a boy, he had put up prayers at every
full and new moon, and laid gifts on the altar.

The hut of the paraschites was prohibited to him, but he knew that
scarcely a hundred paces from the spot where Nefert was sitting, lived an
old woman of evil repute, in whose hole in the rock he could not fail to
find a drink of water.

He hastened forward, half intoxicated with had seen and felt within the
last few minutes.

The door, which at night closed the cave against the intrusions of the
plunder-seeking jackals, was wide open, and the old woman sat outside
under a ragged piece of brown sail-cloth, fastened at one end to the rock
and at the other to two posts of rough wood.  She was sorting a heap of
dark and light-colored roots, which lay in her lap.  Near her was a
wheel, which turned in a high wooden fork.  A wryneck made fast to it by
a little chain, and by springing from spoke to spoke kept it in continual
motion.--[From Theocritus' idyl: The Sorceress.]--A large black cat
crouched beside her, and smelt at some ravens' and owls' heads, from
which the eyes had not long since been extracted.

Two sparrow-hawks sat huddled up over the door of the cave, out of which
came the sharp odor of burning juniper-berries; this was intended to
render the various emanations rising from the different strange
substances, which were collected and preserved there, innocuous.

As Paaker approached the cavern the old woman called out to some one
within:

"Is the wax cooking?"

An unintelligible murmur was heard in answer.

Then throw in the ape's eyes,

     [The sentences and mediums employed by the witches, according to
     papyrus-rolls which remain.  I have availed myself of the Magic
     papyrus of Harris, and of two in the Berlin collection, one of which
     is in Greek. ]

and the ibis feathers, and the scraps of linen with the black signs on
them.  Stir it all a little; now put out the fire,

"Take the jug and fetch some water--make haste, here comes a stranger."

A sooty-black negro woman, with a piece of torn colorless stuff hanging
round her hips, set a large clay-jar on her grey woolly matted hair, and
without looking at him, went past Paaker, who was now close to the cave.

The old woman, a tall figure bent with years, with a sharply-cut and
wrinkled face, that might once have been handsome, made her preparations
for receiving the visitor by tying a gaudy kerchief over her head,
fastening her blue cotton garment round her throat, and flinging a fibre
mat over the birds' heads.

Paaker called out to her, but she feigned to be deaf and not to hear his
voice.  Only when he stood quite close to her, did she raise her shrewd,
twinkling eyes, and cry out:

"A lucky day! a white day that brings a noble guest and high honor."

"Get up," commanded Paaker, not giving her any greeting, but throwing a
silver ring among the roots that lay in her lap,

     [The Egyptians had no coins before Alexander and the Ptolemies, but
     used metals for exchange, usually in the form of rings.]

"and give me in exchange for good money some water in a clean vessel."

"Fine pure silver," said the old woman, while she held the ring, which
she had quickly picked out from the roots, close to her eyes; "it is too
much for mere water, and too little for my good liquors."

"Don't chatter, hussy, but make haste," cried Paaker, taking another ring
from his money-bag and throwing it into her lap.

"Thou hast an open hand," said the old woman, speaking in the dialect of
the upper classes; "many doors must be open to thee, for money is a pass-
key that turns any lock.  Would'st thou have water for thy good money?
Shall it protect thee against noxious beasts?--shall it help thee to
reach down a star?  Shall it guide thee to secret paths?--It is thy duty
to lead the way.  Shall it make heat cold, or cold warm?  Shall it give
thee the power of reading hearts, or shall it beget beautiful dreams?
Wilt thou drink of the water of knowledge and see whether thy friend or
thine enemy--ha! if thine enemy shall die?  Would'st thou a drink to
strengthen thy memory?  Shall the water make thee invisible? or remove
the 6th toe from thy left foot?"

"You know me?"  asked Paaker.

"How should I?"  said the old woman, "but my eyes are sharp, and I can
prepare good waters for great and small."

"Mere  babble!"  exclaimed  Paaker,  impatiently clutching at the whip in
his girdle; "make haste, for the lady for whom--"

"Dost thou want the water for a lady?"  interrupted the old woman.  "Who
would have thought it?--old men certainly ask for my philters much
oftener than young ones--but I can serve thee."

With these words the old woman went into the cave, and soon returned with
a thin cylindrical flask of alabaster in her hand.

"This is the drink," she said, giving the phial to Paaker.  "Pour half
into water, and offer it to the lady.  If it does not succeed at first,
it is certain the second time.  A child may drink the water and it will
not hurt him, or if an old man takes it, it makes him gay.  Ah, I know
the taste of it!"  and she moistened her lips with the white fluid.
"It can hurt no one, but I will take no more of it, or old Hekt will be
tormented with love and longing for thee; and that would ill please the
rich young lord, ha! ha!  If the drink is in vain I am paid enough, if it
takes effect thou shalt bring me three more gold rings; and thou wilt
return, I know it well."

Paaker had listened motionless to the old woman, and siezed the flask
eagerly, as if bidding defiance to some adversary; he put it in his money
bag, threw a few more rings at the feet of the witch, and once more
hastily demanded a bowl of Nile-water.

"Is my lord in such a hurry?"  muttered the old woman, once more going
into the cave.  "He asks if I know him? him certainly I do? but the
darling? who can it be hereabouts? perhaps little Uarda at the
paraschites yonder.  She is pretty enough; but she is lying on a mat, run
over and dying.  We must see what my lord means.  He would have pleased
me well enough, if I were young; but he will reach the goal, for he is
resolute and spares no one."

While she muttered these and similar words, she filled a graceful cup of
glazed earthenware with filtered Nile-water, which she poured out of a
large porous clay jar, and laid a laurel leaf, on which was scratched two
hearts linked together by seven strokes, on the surface of the limpid
fluid.  Then she stepped out into the air again.

As Paaker took the vessel from her looked at the laurel leaf, she said:

"This indeed binds hearts; three is the husband, four is the wife, seven
is the chachach, charcharachacha."--[This jargon is fund in a magic-
papyrus at Berlin.]

The old woman sang this spell not without skill; but the Mohar appeared
not to listen to her jargon.  He descended carefully into the valley, and
directed his steps to the resting place of the wife of Mena.

By the side of a rock, which hill him from Nefert, he paused, set the cup
on a flat block of stone, and drew the flask with the philter out of his
girdle.

His fingers trembled, but a thousand voices seemed to surge up and cry:

"Take it!--do it!--put in the drink!--now or never."  He felt like a
solitary traveller, who finds on his road the last will of a relation
whose possessions he had hoped for, but which disinherits him.  Shall he
surrender it to the judge, or shall he destroy it.

Paaker was not merely outwardly devout; hitherto he had in everything
intended to act according to the prescriptions of the religion of his
fathers.  Adultery was a heavy sin; but had not he an older right to
Nefert than the king's charioteer?

He who followed the black arts of magic, should, according to the law, be
punished by death, and the old woman had a bad name for her evil arts;
but he had not sought her for the sake of the philter.  Was it not
possible that the Manes of his forefathers, that the Gods themselves,
moved by his prayers and offerings, had put him in possession by an
accident--which was almost a miracle--of the magic potion efficacy he
never for an instant doubted?

Paaker's associates held him to be a man of quick decision, and, in fact,
in difficult cases he could act with unusual rapidity, but what guided
him in these cases, was not the swift-winged judgment of a prepared and
well-schooled brain, but usually only resulted from the outcome of a play
of question and answer.

Amulets of the most various kinds hung round his neck, and from his
girdle, all consecrated by priests, and of special sanctity or the
highest efficacy.

There was the lapis lazuli eye, which hung to his girdle by a gold chain;
When he threw it on the ground, so as to lie on the earth, if its
engraved side turned to heaven, and its smooth side lay on the ground, he
said "yes;" in the other case, on the contrary, "no."  In his purse lay
always a statuette of the god Apheru, who opened roads; this he threw
down at cross-roads, and followed the direction which the pointed snout
of the image indicated.  He frequently called into council the seal-ring
of his deceased father, an old family possession, which the chief priests
of Abydos had laid upon the holiest of the fourteen graves of Osiris, and
endowed with miraculous power.  It consisted of a gold ring with a broad
signet, on which could be read the name of Thotmes III., who had long
since been deified, and from whom Paaker's ancestors had derived it.  If
it were desirable to consult the ring, the Mohar touched with the point
of his bronze dagger the engraved sign of the name, below which were
represented three objects sacred to the Gods, and three that were, on the
contrary, profane.  If he hit one of the former, he concluded that his
father--who was gone to Osiris--concurred in his design; in the contrary
case he was careful to postpone it.  Often he pressed the ring to his
heart, and awaited the first living creature that he might meet,
regarding it as a messenger from his father;--if it came to him from
the right hand as an encouragement, if from the left as a warning.

By degrees he had reduced these questionings to a system.  All that he
found in nature he referred to himself and the current of his life.  It
was at once touching, and pitiful, to see how closely he lived with the
Manes of his dead.  His lively, but not exalted fancy, wherever he gave
it play, presented to the eye of his soul the image of his father and of
an elder brother who had died early, always in the same spot, and almost
tangibly distinct.

But he never conjured up the remembrance of the beloved dead in order to
think of them in silent melancholy--that sweet blossom of the thorny
wreath of sorrow; only for selfish ends.  The appeal to the Manes of his
father he had found especially efficacious in certain desires and
difficulties; calling on the Manes of his brother was potent in certain
others; and so he turned from one to the other with the precision of a
carpenter, who rarely doubts whether he should give the preference to a
hatchet or a saw.

These doings he held to be well pleasing to the Gods, and as he was
convinced that the spirits of his dead had, after their justification,
passed into Osiris that is to say, as atoms forming part of the great
world-soul, at this time had a share in the direction of the universe--
he sacrificed to them not only in the family catacomb, but also in the
temples of the Necropolis dedicated to the worship of ancestors, and with
special preference in the House of Seti.

He accepted advice, nay even blame, from Ameni and the other priests
under his direction; and so lived full of a virtuous pride in being one
of the most zealous devotees in the land, and one of the most pleasing to
the Gods, a belief on which his pastors never threw any doubt.

Attended and guided at every step by supernatural powers, he wanted no
friend and no confidant.  In the fleld, as in Thebes, he stood apart, and
passed among his comrades for a reserved man, rough and proud, but with a
strong will.

He had the power of calling up the image of his lost love with as much
vividness as the forms of the dead, and indulged in this magic, not only
through a hundred still nights, but in long rides and drives through
silent wastes.

Such visions were commonly followed by a vehement and boiling overflow of
his hatred against the charioteer, and a whole series of fervent prayers
for his destruction.

When Paaker set the cup of water for Nefert on the flat stone and felt
for the philter, his soul was so full of desire that there was no room
for hatred; still he could not altogether exclude the idea that he would
commit a great crime by making use of a magic drink.  Before pouring the
fateful drops into the water, he would consult the oracle of the ring.
The dagger touched none of the holy symbols of the inscription on the
signet, and in other circumstances he would, without going any farther,
have given up his project.

But this time he unwillingly returned it to its sheath, pressed the gold
ring to his heart, muttered the name of his brother in Osiris, and
awaited the first living creature that might come towards him.

He had not long to wait,  from the mountain slope opposite to him rose,
with heavy, slow wing-strokes, two light-colored vultures.

In anxious suspense he followed their flight, as they rose, higher and
higher.  For a moment they poised motionless, borne up by the air,
circled round each other, then wheeled to the left and vanished behind
the mountains, denying him the fulfilment of his desire.

He hastily grasped the phial to fling it from him, but the surging
passion in his veins had deprived him of his self-control.  Nefert's
image stood before him as if beckoning him; a mysterious power clenched
his fingers close and yet closer round the phial, and with the same
defiance which he showed to his associates, he poured half of the philter
into the cup and approached his victim.

Nefert had meanwhile left her shady retreat and come towards him.

She silently accepted the water he offered her, and drank it with
delight, to the very dregs.

"'Thank you," she said, when she had recovered breath after her eager
draught.

"That has done me good!  How fresh and acid the water tastes; but your
hand shakes, and you are heated by your quick run for me--poor man."

With these words she looked at him with a peculiar expressive glance of
her large eyes, and gave him her right hand, which he pressed wildly to
his lips.

"That will do," she said smiling; "here comes the princess with a priest,
out of the hovel of the unclean.  With what frightful words you terrified
me just now.  It is true I gave you just cause to be angry with me; but
now you are kind again--do you hear?--and will bring your mother again to
see mine.  Not a word.  I shall see, whether cousin Paaker refuses me
obedience."

She threatened him playfully with her finger, and then growing grave she
added, with a look that pierced Paaker's heart with pain, and yet with
ecstasy, "Let us leave off quarrelling.  It is so much better when people
are kind to each other."

After these words she walked towards the house of the paraschites, while
Paaker pressed his hands to his breast, and murmured:

"The drink is working, and she will be mine.  I thank ye--ye Immortals!"

But this thanksgiving, which hitherto he had never failed to utter when
any good fortune had befallen him, to-day died on his lips.  Close before
him he saw the goal of his desires; there, under his eyes, lay the magic
spring longed for for years.  A few steps farther, and he might slake at
its copious stream his thirst both for love and for revenge.

While he followed the wife of Mena, and replaced the phial carefully in
his girdle, so as to lose no drop of the precious fluid which, according
to the prescription of the old woman, he needed to use again, warning
voices spoke in his breast, to which he usually listened as to a fatherly
admonition; but at this moment he mocked at them, and even gave outward
expression to the mood that ruled him--for he flung up his right hand
like a drunken man, who turns away from the preacher of morality on his
way to the wine-cask; and yet passion held him so closely ensnared, that
the thought that he should live through the swift moments which would
change him from an honest man into a criminal, hardly dawned, darkly on
his soul.  He had hitherto dared to indulge his desire for love and
revenge in thought only, and had left it to the Gods to act for
themselves; now he had taken his cause out of the hand of the Celestials,
and gone into action without them, and in spite of them.

The sorceress Hekt passed him; she wanted to see the woman for whom she
had given him the philter.  He perceived her and shuddered, but soon the
old woman vanished among the rocks muttering.

"Look at the fellow with six toes.  He makes himself comfortable with the
heritage of Assa."

In the middle of the valley walked Nefert and the pioneer, with the
princess Bent-Anat and Pentaur who accompanied her.

When these two had come out of the hut of the paraschites, they stood
opposite each other in silence.  The royal maiden pressed her hand to her
heart, and, like one who is thirsty, drank in the pure air of the
mountain valley with deeply drawn breath; she felt as if released from
some overwhelming burden, as if delivered from some frightful danger.

At last she turned to her companion, who gazed earnestly at the ground.

"What an hour!"  she said.

Pentaur's tall figure did not move, but he bowed his head in assent, as
if he were in a dream.  Bent-Anat now saw him for the first time in fall
daylight; her large eyes rested on him with admiration, and she asked:

"Art thou the priest, who yesterday, after my first visit to this house,
so readily restored me to cleanness?"

"I am he," replied Pentaur.

"I recognized thy voice, and I am grateful to thee, for it was thou that
didst strengthen my courage to follow the impulse of my heart, in spite
of my spiritual guides, and to come here again.  Thou wilt defend me if
others blame me."

"I came here to pronounce thee unclean."

"Then thou hast changed thy mind?"  asked Bent-Anat, and a smile of
contempt curled her lips.

"I follow a high injunction, that commands us to keep the old
institutions sacred.  If touching a paraschites, it is said, does not
defile a princess, whom then can it defile? for whose garment is more
spotless than hers?"

"But this is a good man with all his meanness," interrupted Bent-Anat,
"and in spite of the disgrace, which is the bread of life to him as honor
is to us.  May the nine great Gods forgive me! but he who is in there is
loving, pious and brave, and pleases me--and thou, thou, who didst think
yesterday to purge away the taint of his touch with a word--what prompts
thee today to cast him with the lepers?"

"The admonition of an enlightened man, never to give up any link of the
old institutions; because thereby the already weakened chain may be
broken, and fall rattling to the ground."

"Then thou condemnest me to uncleanness for the sake of all old
superstition, and of the populace, but not for my actions?  Thou art
silent?  Answer me now, if thou art such a one as I took the for, freely
and sincerely; for it concerns the peace of my soul."  Pentaur breathed
hard; and then from the depths of his soul, tormented by doubts, these
deeply-felt words forced themselves as if wrung from him; at first
softly, but louder as he went on.

"Thou dost compel me to say what I had better not even think; but rather
will I sin against obedience than against truth, the pure daughter of the
Sun, whose aspect, Bent-Anat, thou dost wear.  Whether the paraschites is
unclean by birth or not, who am I that I should decide?  But to me this
man appeared--as to thee--as one moved by the same pure and holy emotions
as stir and bless me and mine, and thee and every soul born of woman; and
I believe that the impressions of this hour have touched thy soul as well
as mine, not to taint, but to purify.  If I am wrong, may the many-named
Gods forgive me, Whose breath lives and works in the paraschites as well
as in thee and me, in Whom I believe, and to Whom I will ever address my
humble songs, louder and more joyfully, as I learn that all that lives
and breathes, that weeps and rejoices, is the image of their sublime
nature, and born to equal joy and equal sorrow."

Pentaur had raised his eyes to heaven; now they met the proud and joyful
radiance of the princess' glance, while she frankly offered him her hand.
He humbly kissed her robe, but she said:

"Nay--not so.  Lay thy hand in blessing on mine.  Thou art a man and a
true priest.  Now I can be satisfied to be regarded as unclean, for my
father also desires that, by us especially, the institutions of the past
that have so long continued should be respected, for the sake of the
people.  Let us pray in common to the Gods, that these poor people may be
released from the old ban.  How beautiful the world might be, if men
would but let man remain what the Celestials have made him.  But Paaker
and poor Nefert are waiting in the scorching sun-come, follow me."

She went forward, but after a few steps she turned round to him, and
asked:

"What is thy name?"

"Pentaur."

"Thou then art the poet of the House of Seti?"

"They call me so."

Bent-Anat stood still a moment, gazing full at him as at a kinsman whom
we meet for the first time face to face, and said:

"The Gods have given thee great gifts, for thy glance reaches farther and
pierces deeper than that of other men; and thou canst say in words what
we can only feel--I follow thee willingly!"

Pentaur blushed like a boy, and said, while Paaker and Nefert came nearer
to them:

"Till to-day life lay before me as if in twilight; but this moment shows
it me in another light.  I have seen its deepest shadows; and," he added
in a low tone "how glorious its light can be."



CHAPTER VII.

An hour later, Bent-Anat and her train of followers stood before the gate
of the House of Seti.

Swift as a ball thrown from a man's hand, a runner had sprung forward and
hurried on to announce the approach of the princess to the chief priest.
She stood alone in her chariot, in advance of all her companions, for
Pentaur had found a place with Paaker.  At the gate of the temple they
were met by the head of the haruspices.

The great doors of the pylon were wide open, and afforded a view into the
forecourt of the sanctuary, paved with polished squares of stone, and
surrounded on three sides with colonnades.  The walls and architraves,
the pillars and the fluted cornice, which slightly curved in over the
court, were gorgeous with many colored figures and painted decorations.
In the middle stood a great sacrificial altar, on which burned logs of
cedar wood, whilst fragrant balls of Kyphi

     [Kyphi was a celebrated Egyptian incense.  Recipes for its
     preparation have been preserved in the papyrus of Ebers, in the
     laboratories of the temples, and elsewhere.  Parthey had three
     different varieties prepared by the chemist, L. Voigt, in Berlin.
     Kyphi after the formula of Dioskorides was the best.  It consisted
     of rosin, wine, rad, galangae, juniper berries, the root of the
     aromatic rush, asphalte, mastic, myrrh, Burgundy grapes, and honey.]

were consumed by the flames, filling the wide space with their heavy
perfume.  Around, in semi-circular array, stood more than a hundred
white-robed priests, who all turned to face the approaching princess,
and sang heart-rending songs of lamentation.

Many of the inhabitants of the Necropolis had collected on either side of
the lines of sphinxes, between which the princess drove up to the
Sanctuary.  But none asked what these songs of lamentation might signify,
for about this sacred place lamentation and mystery for ever lingered.
"Hail to the child of Rameses!"--"All hail to the daughter of the Sun!"
rang from a thousand throats; and the assembled multitude bowed almost to
the earth at the approach of the royal maiden.

At the pylon, the princess descended from her chariot, and preceded by
the chief of the haruspices, who had gravely and silently greeted her,
passed on to the door of the temple.  But as she prepared to cross the
forecourt, suddenly, without warning, the priests' chant swelled to a
terrible, almost thundering loudness, the clear, shrill voice of the
Temple scholars rising in passionate lament, supported by the deep and
threatening roll of the basses.

Bent-Anat started and checked her steps.  Then she walked on again.

But on the threshold of the door, Ameni, in full pontifical robes, stood
before her in the way, his crozier extended as though to forbid her
entrance.

"The advent of the daughter of Rameses in her purity," he cried in loud
and passionate tones, "augurs blessing to this sanctuary; but this abode
of the Gods closes its portals on the unclean, be they slaves or princes.
In the name of the Immortals, from whom thou art descended, I ask thee,
Bent-Anat, art thou clean, or hast thou, through the touch of the
unclean, defiled thyself and contaminated thy royal hand?"

Deep scarlet flushed the maiden's cheeks, there was a rushing sound in
her ears as of a stormy sea surging close beside her, and her bosom rose
and fell in passionate emotion.  The kingly blood in her veins boiled
wildly; she felt that an unworthy part had been assigned to her in a
carefully-premeditated scene; she forgot her resolution to accuse herself
of uncleanness, and already her lips were parted in vehement protest
against the priestly assumption that so deeply stirred her to rebellion,
when Ameni, who placed himself directly in front of the Princess, raised
his eyes, and turned them full upon her with all the depths of their
indwelling earnestness.

The words died away, and Bent-Anat stood silent, but she endured the
gaze, and returned it proudly and defiantly.

The blue veins started in Ameni's forehead; yet he repressed the
resentment which was gathering like thunder clouds in his soul, and said,
with a voice that gradually deviated more and more from its usual
moderation:

"For the second time the Gods demand through me, their representative:
Hast thou entered this holy place in order that the Celestials may purge
thee of the defilement that stains thy body and soul?"

"My father will communicate the answer to thee," replied Bent-Anat
shortly and proudly.

"Not to me," returned Ameni, "but to the Gods, in whose name I now command
thee to quit this sanctuary, which is defiled by thy presence."

Bent-Anat's whole form quivered.  "I will go," she said with sullen
dignity.

She turned to recross the gateway of the Pylon.  At the first step her
glance met the eye of the poet.  As one to whom it is vouchsafed to stand
and gaze at some great prodigy, so Pentaur had stood opposite the royal
maiden, uneasy and yet fascinated, agitated, yet with secretly uplifted
soul.  Her deed seemed to him of boundless audacity, and yet one suited
to her true and noble nature.  By her side, Ameni, his revered and
admired master, sank into insignificance; and when she turned to leave
the temple, his hand was raised indeed to hold her back, but as his
glance met hers, his hand refused its office, and sought instead to still
the throbbing of his overflowing heart.

The experienced priest, meanwhile, read the features of these two
guileless beings like an open book.  A quickly-formed tie, he felt,
linked their souls, and the look which he saw them exchange startled him.
The rebellious princess had glanced at the poet as though claiming
approbation for her triumph, and Pentaur's eyes had responded to the
appeal.

One instant Ameni paused.  Then he cried: "Bent-Anat!"

The princess turned to the priest, and looked at him gravely and
enquiringly.

Ameni took a step forward, and stood between her and the poet.

"Thou wouldst challenge the Gods to combat," he said sternly.  "That is
bold; but such daring it seems to me has grown up in thee because thou
canst count on an ally, who stands scarcely farther from the Immortals
than I myself.  Hear this:--to thee, the misguided child, much may be
forgiven.  But a servant of the Divinity," and with these words he turned
a threatening glance on Pentaur--"a priest, who in the war of free-will
against law becomes a deserter, who forgets his duty and his oath--he
will not long stand beside thee to support thee, for he--even though
every God had blessed him with the richest gifts--he is damned.  We drive
him from among us, we curse him, we--"

At these words Bent-Anat looked now at Ameni, trembling with excitement,
now at Pentaur standing opposite to her.  Her face was red and white by
turns, as light and shade chase each other on the ground when at noon-day
a palm-grove is stirred by a storm.

The poet took a step towards her.

She felt that if he spoke it would be to defend all that she had done,
and to ruin himself.  A deep sympathy, a nameless anguish seized her
soul, and before Pentaur could open his lips, she had sunk slowly down
before Ameni, saying in low tones:

"I have sinned and defiled myself; thou hast said it--as Pentaur said it
by the hut of the paraschites.  Restore me to cleanness, Ameni, for I am
unclean."

Like a flame that is crushed out by a hand, so the fire in the high-
priest's eye was extinguished.  Graciously, almost lovingly, he looked
down on the princess, blessed her and conducted her before the holy of
holies, there had clouds of incense wafted round her, anointed her with
the nine holy oils, and commanded her to return to the royal castle.

Yet, said he, her guilt was not expiated; she should shortly learn by
what prayers and exercises she might attain once more to perfect purity
before the Gods, of whom he purposed to enquire in the holy place.

During all these ceremonies the priests stationed in the forecourt
continued their lamentations.

The people standing before the temple listened to the priest's chant,
and interrupted it from time to time with ringing cries of wailing, for
already a dark rumor of what was going on within had spread among the
multitude.

The sun was going down.  The visitors to the Necropolis must soon be
leaving it, and Bent-Anat, for whose appearance the people impatiently
waited, would not show herself.  One and another said the princess had
been cursed, because she had taken remedies to the fair and injured
Uarda, who was known to many of them.

Among the curious who had flocked together were many embalmers, laborers,
and humble folk, who lived in the Necropolis.  The mutinous and
refractory temper of the Egyptians, which brought such heavy suffering
on them under their later foreign rulers, was aroused, and rising with
every minute.  They reviled the pride of the priests, and their
senseless, worthless, institutions.  A drunken soldier, who soon reeled
back into the tavern which he had but just left, distinguished himself as
ringleader, and was the first to pick up a heavy stone to fling at the
huge brass-plated temple gates.  A few boys followed his example with
shouts, and law-abiding men even, urged by the clamor of fanatical women,
let themselves be led away to stone-flinging and words of abuse.

Within the House of Seti the priests' chant went on uninterruptedly; but
at last, when the noise of the crowd grew louder, the great gate was
thrown open, and with a solemn step Ameni, in full robes, and followed by
twenty pastophori--[An order of priests]--who bore images of the Gods and
holy symbols on their shoulders--Ameni walked into the midst of the
crowd.

All were silent.

"Wherefore do you disturb our worship?"  he asked loudly and calmly.

A roar of confused cries answered him, in which the frequently repeated
name of Bent-Anat could alone be distinguished.

Ameni preserved his immoveable composure, and, raising his crozier, he
cried--

"Make way for the daughter of Rameses, who sought and has found
purification from the Gods, who behold the guilt of the highest as of the
lowest among you.  They reward the pious, but they punish the offender.
Kneel down and let us pray that they may forgive you, and bless both you
and your children."

Ameni took the holy Sistrum

     [A rattling metal instrument used by the Egyptians in the service of
     the Gods.  Many specimens are extant in Museums.  Plutarch describes
     it correctly, thus: "The Sistrum is rounded above, and the loop
     holds the four bars which are shaken."  On the bend of the Sistrum
     they often set the head of a cat with a human face.]

from one of the attendant pastophori, and held it on high; the priests
behind him raised a solemn hymn, and the crowd sank on their knees; nor
did they move till the chant ceased and the high-priest again cried out:

"The Immortals bless you by me their servant.  Leave this spot and make
way for the daughter of Rameses."

With these words he withdrew into the temple, and the patrol, without
meeting with any opposition, cleared the road guarded by Sphinxes which
led to the Nile.

As Bent-Anat mounted her chariot Ameni said "Thou art the child of kings.
The house of thy father rests on the shoulders of the people.  Loosen the
old laws which hold them subject, and the people will conduct themselves
like these fools."

Ameni retired.  Bent-Anat slowly arranged the reins in her hand, her eyes
resting the while on the poet, who, leaning against a door-post, gazed at
her in beatitude.  She let her whip fall to the ground, that he might
pick it up and restore it to her, but he did not observe it.  A runner
sprang forward and handed it to the princess, whose horses started off,
tossing themselves and neighing.

Pentaur remained as if spell-bound, standing by the pillar, till the
rattle of the departing wheels on the flag-way of the Avenue of Sphinxes
had altogether died away, and the reflection of the glowing sunset
painted the eastern hills with soft and rosy hues.

The far-sounding clang of a brass gong roused the poet from his ecstasy.
It was the tomtom calling him to duty, to the lecture on rhetoric which
at this hour he had to deliver to the young priests.  He laid his left
hand to his heart, and pressed his right hand to his forehead, as if to
collect in its grasp his wandering thoughts; then silently and
mechanically he went towards the open court in which his disciples
awaited him.  But instead of, as usual, considering on the way the
subject he was to treat, his spirit and heart were occupied with the
occurrences of the last few hours.  One image reigned supreme in his
imagination, filling it with delight--it was that of the fairest woman,
who, radiant in her royal dignity and trembling with pride, had thrown
herself in the dust for his sake.  He felt as if her action had invested
her whole being with a new and princely worth, as if her glance had
brought light to his inmost soul, he seemed to breathe a freer air, to be
borne onward on winged feet.

In such a mood he appeared before his hearers.  When he found himself
confronting all the the well-known faces, he remembered what it was he
was called upon to do.  He supported himself against the wall of the
court, and opened the papyrus-roll handed to him by his favorite pupil,
the young Anana.  It was the book which twenty-four hours ago he had
promised to begin upon.  He looked now upon the characters that covered
it, and felt that he was unable to read a word.

With a powerful effort he collected himself, and looking upwards tried
to find the thread he had cut at the end of yesterday's lecture, and
intended to resume to-day; but between yesterday and to-day, as it seemed
to him, lay a vast sea whose roaring surges stunned his memory and powers
of thought.

His scholars, squatting cross-legged on reed mats before him, gazed in
astonishment on their silent master who was usually so ready of speech,
and looked enquiringly at each other.  A young priest whispered to his
neighbor, "He is praying--" and Anana noticed with silent anxiety the
strong hand of his teacher clutching the manuscript so tightly that the
slight material of which it consisted threatened to split.

At last Pentaur looked down; he had found a subject.  While he was
looking upwards his gaze fell on the opposite wall, and the painted name
of the king with the accompanying title "the good God" met his eye.
Starting from these words he put this question to his hearers, "How do we
apprehend the Goodness of the Divinity?"

He challenged one priest after another to treat this subject as if he
were standing before his future congregation.

Several disciples rose, and spoke with more or less truth and feeling.
At last it came to Anana's turn, who, in well-chosen words, praised the
purpose-full beauty of animate and inanimate creation, in which the
goodness of Amon

     [Amon, that is to say, "the hidden one."  He was the God of Thebes,
     which was under his aegis, and after the Hykssos were expelled from
     the Nile-valley, he was united with Ra of Heliopolis and endowed
     with the attributes of all the remaining Gods.  His nature was more
     and more spiritualized, till in the esoteric philosophy of the time
     of the Rameses he is compared to the All filling and All guiding
     intelligence.  He is "the husband of his mother, his own father, and
     his own son," As the living Osiris, he is the soul and spirit of all
     creation.]

of Ra,

     [Ra, originally the Sun-God; later his name was introduced into the
     pantheistic mystic philosophy for that of the God who is the
     Universe.]

and Ptah,

     [Ptah is the Greek Henhaistas, the oldest of the Gods, the great
     maker of the material for the creation, the "first beginner," by
     whose side the seven Chnemu stand, as architects, to help him, and
     who was named "the lord of truth," because the laws and conditions
     of being proceeded from him.  He created also the germ of light, he
     stood therefore at the head of the solar Gods, and was called the
     creator of ice, from which, when he had cleft it, the sun and the
     moan came forth.  Hence his name "the opener."]

as well as of the other Gods, finds expression.

Pentaur listened to the youth with folded arms, now looking at him
enquiringly, now adding approbation.  Then taking up the thread of the,
discourse when it was ended, he began himself to speak.

Like obedient falcons at the call of the falconer, thoughts rushed down
into his mind, and the divine passion awakened in his breast glowed and
shone through his inspired language that soared every moment on freer and
stronger wings.  Melting into pathos, exulting in rapture, he praised the
splendor of nature; and the words flowed from his lips like a limpid
crystal-clear stream as he glorified the eternal order of things, and the
incomprehensible wisdom and care of the Creator--the One, who is one
alone, and great and without equal.

"So incomparable," he said in conclusion, "is the home which God has
given us.  All that He--the One--has created is penetrated with His own
essence, and bears witness to His Goodness.  He who knows how to find Him
sees Him everywhere, and lives at every instant in the enjoyment of His
glory.  Seek Him, and when ye have found Him fall down and sing praises
before Him.  But praise the Highest, not only in gratitude for the
splendor of that which he has created, but for having given us the
capacity for delight in his work.  Ascend the mountain peaks and look on
the distant country, worship when the sunset glows with rubies, and the
dawn with roses, go out in the nighttime, and look at the stars as they
travel in eternal, unerring, immeasurable, and endless circles on silver
barks through the blue vault of heaven, stand by the cradle of the child,
by the buds of the flowers, and see how the mother bends over the one,
and the bright dew-drops fall on the other.  But would you know where the
stream of divine goodness is most freely poured out, where the grace of
the Creator bestows the richest gifts, and where His holiest altars are
prepared?  In your own heart; so long as it is pure and full of love.
In such a heart, nature is reflected as in a magic mirror, on whose
surface the Beautiful shines in three-fold beauty.  There the eye can
reach far away over stream, and meadow, and hill, and take in the whole
circle of the earth; there the morning and evening-red shine, not like
roses and rubies, but like the very cheeks of the Goddess of Beauty;
there the stars circle on, not in silence, but with the mighty voices of
the pure eternal harmonies of heaven; there the child smiles like an
infant-god, and the bud unfolds to magic flowers; finally, there
thankfulness grows broader and devotion grows deeper, and we throw
ourselves into the arms of a God, who--as I imagine his glory--is a God
to whom the sublime nine great Gods pray as miserable and helpless
suppliants."

The tomtom which announced the end of the hour interrupted him.

Pentaur ceased speaking with a deep sigh, and for a minute not a scholar
moved.

At last the poet laid the papyrus roll out of his hand, wiped the sweat
from his hot brow, and walked slowly towards the gate of the court, which
led into the sacred grove of the temple.  He had hardly crossed the
threshold when he felt a hand laid upon his shoulder.

He looked round.  Behind him stood Ameni.  "You fascinated your hearers,
my friend," said the high-priest, coldly; "it is a pity that only the
Harp was wanting."

Ameni's words fell on the agitated spirit of the poet like ice on the
breast of a man in fever.  He knew this tone in his master's voice, for
thus he was accustomed to reprove bad scholars and erring priests; but to
him he had never yet so spoken.

"It certainly would seem," continued the high-priest, bitterly, "as if in
your intoxication you had forgotten what it becomes the teacher to utter
in the lecture-hall.  Only a few weeks since you swore on my hands to
guard the mysteries, and this day you have offered the great secret of
the Unnameable one, the most sacred possession of the initiated, like
some cheap ware in the open market."

"Thou cuttest with knives," said Pentaur.

"May they prove sharp, and extirpate the undeveloped canker, the rank
weed from your soul," cried the high-priest.  "You are young, too young;
not like the tender fruit-tree that lets itself be trained aright, and
brought to perfection, but like the green fruit on the ground, which will
turn to poison for the children who pick it up--yea even though it fall
from a sacred tree.  Gagabu and I received you among us, against the
opinion of the majority of the initiated.  We gainsaid all those who
doubted your ripeness because of your youth; and you swore to me,
gratefully and enthusiastically, to guard the mysteries and the law.
To-day for the first time I set you on the battle-field of life beyond
the peaceful shelter of the schools.  And how have you defended the
standard that it was incumbent on you to uphold and maintain?"

"I did that which seemed to me to be right and true," answered Pentaur
deeply moved.

"Right is the same for you as for us--what the law prescribes; and what
is truth?"

"None has lifted her veil," said Pentaur, "but my soul is the offspring
of the soul-filled body of the All; a portion of the infallible spirit of
the Divinity stirs in my breast, and if it shows itself potent in me--"

"How easily we may mistake the flattering voice of self-love for that of
the Divinity!"

"Cannot the Divinity which works and speaks in me--as in thee--as in each
of us--recognize himself and his own voice?"

"If the crowd were to hear you," Ameni interrupted him, "each would set
himself on his little throne, would proclaim the voice of the god within
him as his guide, tear the law to shreds, and let the fragments fly to
the desert on the east wind."

"I am one of the elect whom thou thyself hast taught to seek and to find
the One.  The light which I gaze on and am blest, would strike the crowd
--I do not deny it--with blindness--"

"And nevertheless you blind our disciples with the dangerous glare-"

"I am educating them for future sages."

"And that with the hot overflow of a heart intoxicated with love!"

"Ameni!"

"I stand before you, uninvited, as your teacher, who reproves you out of
the law, which always and everywhere is wiser  than  the individual,
whose defender the king--among his highest titles--boasts of being, and
to which the sage bows as much as the common man whom we bring up to
blind belief--I stand before you as your father, who has loved you from a
child, and expected from none of his disciples more than from you; and
who will therefore neither lose you nor abandon the hope he has set upon
you--

"Make ready to leave our quiet house early tomorrow morning.  You have
forfeited your office of teacher.  You shall now go into the school of
life, and make yourself fit for the honored rank of the initiated which,
by my error, was bestowed on you too soon.  You must leave your scholars
without any leave-taking, however hard it may appear to you.  After the
star of Sothis

     [The holy star of Isis, Sirius or the dog star, whose course in the
     time of the Pharaohs coincided with the exact Solar year, and served
     at a very early date as a foundation for the reckoning of time among
     the Egyptians.]

has risen come for your instructions.  You must in these next months try
to lead the priesthood in the temple of Hatasu, and in that post to win
back my confidence which you have thrown away.  No remonstrance; to-night
you will receive my blessing, and our authority--you must greet the
rising sun from the terrace of the new scene of your labors.  May the
Unnameable stamp the law upon your soul!"



Ameni returned to his room.

He walked restlessly to and fro.

On a little table lay a mirror; he looked into the clear metal pane, and
laid it back in its place again, as if he had seen some strange and
displeasing countenance.

The events of the last few hours had moved him deeply, and shaken his
confidence in his unerring judgment of men and things.

The priests on the other bank of the Nile were Bent-Anat's counsellors,
and he had heard the princess spoken of as a devout and gifted maiden.
Her incautious breach of the sacred institutions had seemed to him to
offer a welcome opportunity for humiliating--a member of the royal
family.

Now he told himself that he had undervalued this young creature that he
had behaved clumsily, perhaps foolishly, to her; for he did not for a
moment conceal from himself that her sudden change of demeanor resulted
much more from the warm flow of her sympathy, or perhaps of her,
affection, than from any recognition of her guilt, and he could not
utilize her transgression with safety to himself, unless she felt
herself guilty.

Nor was he of so great a nature as to be wholly free from vanity, and his
vanity had been deeply wounded by the haughty resistance of the princess.

When he commanded Pentaur to meet the princess with words of reproof, he
had hoped to awaken his ambition through the proud sense of power over
the mighty ones of the earth.

And now?

How had his gifted admirer, the most hopeful of all his disciples, stood
the test.

The one ideal of his life, the unlimited dominion of the priestly idea
over the minds of men, and of the priesthood over the king himself, had
hitherto remained unintelligible to this singular young man.

He must learn to understand it.

"Here, as the least among a hundred who are his superiors, all the powers
of resistance of his soaring soul have been roused," said Ameni to
himself.  "In the temple of Hatasu he will have to rule over the inferior
orders of slaughterers of victims and incense-burners; and, by requiring
obedience, will learn to estimate the necessity of it.  The rebel, to
whom a throne devolves, becomes a tyrant!"

"Pentuar's poet soul," so he continued to reflect "has quickly yielded
itself a prisoner to the charm of Bent-Anat; and what woman could resist
this highly favored being, who is radiant in beauty as Ra-Harmachis, and
from whose lips flows speech as sweet as Techuti's.  They ought never to
meet again, for no tie must bind him to the house of Rameses."

Again he paced to and fro, and murmured:

"How is this?  Two of my disciples have towered above their fellows, in
genius and gifts, like palm trees above their undergrowth.  I brought
them up to succeed me, to inherit my labors and my hopes.

"Mesu fell away;

     [Mesu is the Egyptian name of Moses, whom we may consider as a
     contemporary of Rameses, under whose successor the exodus of the
     Jews from Egypt took place.]

and Pentaur may follow him.  Must my aim be an unworthy one because it
does not attract the noblest?  Not so.  Each feels himself made of better
stuff than his companions in destiny, constitutes his own law, and fears
to see the great expended in trifles; but I think otherwise; like a brook
of ferruginous water from Lebanon, I mix with the great stream, and tinge
it with my color."

Thinking thus Ameni stood still.

Then he called to one of the so-called "holy fathers," his private
secretary, and said:

"Draw up at once a document, to be sent to all the priests'-colleges in
the land.  Inform them that the daughter of Rameses has lapsed seriously
from the law, and defiled herself, and direct that public--you hear me
public--prayers shall be put up for her purification in every temple.
Lay the letter before me to be signed within in hour.  But no!  Give me
your reed and palette; I will myself draw up the instructions."

The "holy father" gave him writing materials, and retired into the
background.  Ameni muttered:  "The King will do us some unheard-of
violence!  Well, this writing may be the first arrow in opposition
to his lance."



CHAPTER VIII.

The moon was risen over the city of the living that lay opposite the
Necropolis of Thebes.

The evening song had died away in the temples, that stood about a mile
from the Nile, connected with each other by avenues of sphinxes and
pylons; but in the streets of the city life seemed only just really
awake.

The coolness, which had succeeded the heat of the summer day, tempted the
citizens out into the air, in front of their doors or on the roofs and
turrets of their houses; or at the tavern-tables, where they listened to
the tales of the story-tellers while they refreshed them selves with
beer, wine, and the sweet juice of fruits.  Many simple folks squatted in
circular groups on the ground, and joined in the burden of songs which
were led by an appointed singer, to the sound of a tabor and flute.

To the south of the temple of Amon stood the king's palace, and near it,
in more or less extensive gardens, rose the houses of the magnates of the
kingdom, among which, one was distinguished by it splendor and extent.

Paaker, the king's pioneer, had caused it to be erected after the death
of his father, in the place of the more homely dwelling of his ancestors,
when he hoped to bring home his cousin, and install her as its mistress.
A few yards further to the east was another stately though older and less
splendid house, which Mena, the king's charioteer, had inherited from his
father, and which was inhabited by his wife Nefert and her mother
Isatuti, while he himself, in the distant Syrian land, shared the tent of
the king, as being his body-guard.  Before the door of each house stood
servants bearing torches, and awaiting the long deferred return home of
their masters.

The gate, which gave admission to Paaker's plot of ground through the
wall which surrounded it, was disproportionately, almost ostentatiously,
high and decorated with various paintings.  On the right hand and on the
left, two cedar-trunks were erected as masts to carry standards; he had
had them felled for the purpose on Lebanon, and forwarded by ship to
Pelusium on the north-east coast of Egypt.  Thence they were conveyed by
the Nile to Thebes.

On passing through the gate one entered a wide, paved court-yard, at the
sides of which walks extended, closed in at the back, and with roofs
supported on slender painted wooden columns.  Here stood the pioneer's
horses and chariots, here dwelt his slaves, and here the necessary store
of produce for the month's requirements was kept.

In the farther wall of this store-court was a very high doorway, that led
into a large garden with rows of well-tended trees and trellised vines,
clumps of shrubs, flowers, and beds of vegetables.  Palms, sycamores, and
acacia-trees, figs, pomegranates, and jasmine throve here particularly
well--for Paaker's mother, Setchem, superintended the labors of the
gardeners; and in the large tank in the midst there was never any lack of
water for watering the beds and the roots of the trees, as it was always
supplied by two canals, into which wheels turned by oxen poured water day
and night from the Nile-stream.

On the right side of this plot of ground rose the one-storied dwelling
house, its length stretching into distant perspective, as it consisted of
a single row of living and bedrooms.  Almost every room had its own door,
that opened into a veranda supported by colored wooden columns, and which
extended the whole length of the garden side of the house.  This building
was joined at a right angle by a row of store-rooms, in which the garden-
produce in fruits and vegetables, the wine-jars, and the possessions of
the house in woven stuffs, skins, leather, and other property were kept.

In a chamber of strong masonry lay safely locked up the vast riches
accumulated by Paaker's father and by himself, in gold and silver rings,
vessels and figures of beasts.  Nor was there lack of bars of copper and
of precious stones, particularly of lapis-lazuli and malachite.

In the middle of the garden stood a handsomely decorated kiosk, and a
chapel with images of the Gods; in the background stood the statues of
Paaker's ancestors in the form of Osiris wrapped in mummy-cloths.

     [The justified dead became Osiris; that is to say, attained to the
     fullest union (Henosis) with the divinity.]

The faces, which were likenesses, alone distinguished these statues from
each other.

The left side of the store-yard was veiled in gloom, yet the moonlight
revealed numerous dark figures clothed only with aprons, the slaves of
the king's pioneer, who squatted on the ground in groups of five or six,
or lay near each other on thin mats of palm-bast, their hard beds.

Not far from the gate, on the right side of the court, a few lamps
lighted up a group of dusky men, the officers of Paaker's household, who
wore short, shirt-shaped, white garments, and who sat on a carpet round a
table hardly two feet high.  They were eating their evening-meal,
consisting of a roasted antelope, and large flat cakes of bread.  Slaves
waited on them, and filled their earthen beakers with yellow beer.  The
steward cut up the great roast on the table, offered the intendant of the
gardens a piece of antelope-leg, and said:

     [The Greeks and Romans report that the Egyptians were so addicted to
     satire and pungent witticisms that they would hazard property and
     life to gratify their love of mockery.  The scandalous pictures in
     the so-called kiosk of Medinet Habu, the caricatures in an
     indescribable papyrus at Turin, confirm these statements.  There is
     a noteworthy passage in Flavius Vopiscus, that compares the
     Egyptians to the French.]

"My arms ache; the mob of slaves get more and more dirty and refractory."

"I notice it in the palm-trees," said the gardener, "you want so many
cudgels that their crowns will soon be as bare as a moulting bird."

"We should do as the master does," said the head-groom, "and get sticks
of ebony--they last a hundred years."

"At any rate longer than men's bones," laughed the chief neat-herd, who
had come in to town from the pioneer's country estate, bringing with him
animals for sacrifices, butter and cheese.  "If we were all to follow the
master's example, we should soon have none but cripples in the servant's
house."

"Out there lies the lad whose collar-bone he broke yesterday," said the
steward, "it is a pity, for he was a clever mat-platter.  The old lord
hit softer."

"You ought to know!" cried a small voice, that sounded mockingly behind
the feasters.

They looked and laughed when they recognized the strange guest, who had
approached them unobserved.

The new comer was a deformed little man about as big as a five-year-old
boy, with a big head and oldish but uncommonly sharply-cut features.

The noblest Egyptians kept house-dwarfs for sport, and this little wight
served the wife of Mena in this capacity.  He was called Nemu, or "the
dwarf," and his sharp tongue made him much feared, though he was a
favorite, for he passed for a very clever fellow and was a good tale-
teller.

"Make room for me, my lords," said the little man.  "I take very little
room, and your beer and roast is in little danger from me, for my maw is
no bigger than a fly's head."

"But your gall is as big as that of a Nile-horse," cried the cook.

"It grows," said the  dwarf laughing, "when  a turn-spit and spoon-
wielder like you turns up.  There--I will sit here."

"You are welcome," said the steward, "what do you bring?"

"Myself."

"Then you bring nothing great."

"Else I should not suit you either!"  retorted the dwarf.  "But
seriously, my lady mother, the noble Katuti, and the Regent, who just now
is visiting us, sent me here to ask you whether Paaker is not yet
returned.  He accompanied the princess and Nefert to the City of the
Dead, and the ladies are not yet come in.  We begin to be anxious, for it
is already late."

The steward looked up at the starry sky and said: "The moon is already
tolerably high, and my lord meant to be home before sun-down."

"The meal was ready," sighed the cook.  "I shall have to go to work again
if he does not remain all night."

"How should he?"  asked the steward.  "He is with the princess Bent-
Anat."

"And my mistress," added the dwarf.

"What will they say to each other," laughed gardener; "your chief litter-
bearer declared that yesterday on the way to the City of the Dead they
did not speak a word to each other."

"Can you blame the lord if he is angry with the lady who was betrothed to
him, and then was wed to another?  When I think of the moment when he
learnt Nefert's breach of faith I turn hot and cold."

"Care the less for that," sneered the dwarf, "since you must be hot in
summer and cold in winter."

"It is not evening all day," cried the head groom.  "Paaker never forgets
an injury, and we shall live to see him pay Mena--high as he is--for the
affront he has offered him.

"My lady Katuti," interrupted Nemu, "stores up the arrears of her son-in-
law."

Besides, she has long wished to renew the old friendship with your house,
and the Regent too preaches peace.  Give me a piece of bread, steward.
I am hungry!"

"The sacks, into which Mena's arrears flow seem to be empty," laughed the
cook.

"Empty! empty! much like your wit!"  answered the dwarf.  "Give me a bit
of roast meat, steward; and you slaves bring me a drink of beer."

"You just now said your maw was no bigger than a fly's head," cried the
cook, "and now you devour meat like the crocodiles in the sacred tank of
Seeland.  You must come from a world of upside-down, where the men are as
small as flies, and the flies as big as the giants of the past."

"Yet, I might be much bigger," mumbled  the dwarf while he munched on
unconcernedly, "perhaps as big as your spite which grudges me the third
bit of meat, which the steward--may Zefa bless him with great possessions
--is cutting out of the back of the antelope."

"There, take it, you glutton, but let out your girdle," said the steward
laughing, "I had cut the slice for myself, and admire your sharp nose."

"All noses," said the dwarf, "they teach the knowing better than any
haruspex what is inside a man."

"How is that?"  cried the gardener.

"Only try to display your wisdom," laughed the steward; for, if you want
to talk, you must at last leave off eating."

"The two may be combined," said the dwarf.  "Listen then!  A hooked nose,
which I compare to a vulture's beak, is never found together with a
submissive spirit.  Think of the Pharaoh and all his haughty race.  The
Regent, on the contrary, has a straight, well-shaped, medium-sized nose,
like the statue of Amon in the temple, and he is an upright soul, and as
good as the Gods.  He is neither overbearing nor submissive beyond just
what is right; he holds neither with the great nor yet with the mean, but
with men of our stamp.  There's the king for us!"

"A king of noses!"  exclaimed the cook, "I prefer the eagle Rameses.
But what do you say to the nose of your mistress Nefert?"

"It is delicate and slender and moves with every thought like the leaves
of flowers in a breath of wind, and her heart is exactly like it."

"And Paaker?"  asked the head groom.

"He has a large short nose with wide open nostrils.  When Seth whirls up
the sand, and a grain of it flies up his nose, he waxes angry--so it is
Paaker's nose, and that only, which is answerable for all your blue
bruises.  His mother Setchem, the sister of my lady Katuti, has a little
roundish soft--"

"You pigmy," cried the steward interrupting the speaker, "we have fed you
and let you abuse people to your heart's content, but if you wag your
sharp tongue against our mistress, I will take you by the girdle and
fling you to the sky, so that the stars may remain sticking to your
crooked hump."

At these words the dwarf rose, turned to go, and said indifferently: "I
would pick the stars carefully off my back, and send you the finest of
the planets in return for your juicy bit of roast.  But here come the
chariots.  Farewell!  my lords, when the vulture's beak seizes one of you
and carries you off to the war in Syria, remember the words of the little
Nemu who knows men and noses."

The pioneer's chariot rattled through the high gates into the court of
his house, the dogs in their leashes howled joyfully, the head groom
hastened towards Paaker and took the reins in his charge, the steward
accompanied him, and the head cook retired into the kitchen to make ready
a fresh meal for his master.

Before Paaker had reached the garden-gate, from the pylon of the enormous
temple of Amon, was heard first the far-sounding clang of hard-struck
plates of brass, and then the many-voiced chant of a solemn hymn.

The Mohar stood still, looked up to heaven, called to his servants--"The
divine star Sothis is risen!" threw himself on the earth, and lifted his
wards the star in prayer.

The slaves and officers immediately followed his example.

No circumstance in nature remained unobserved by the priestly guides of
the Egyptian people.  Every phenomenon on earth or in the starry heavens
was greeted by them as the manifestation of a divinity, and they
surrounded the life of the inhabitants of the Nile-valley--from morning
to evening--from the beginning of the inundation to the days of drought--
with a web of chants and sacrifices, of processions and festivals, which
inseparably knit the human individual to the Divinity and its earthly
representatives the priesthood.

For many minutes the lord and his servants remained on their knees in
silence, their eyes fixed on the sacred star, and listening to the pious
chant of the priests.

As it died away Paaker rose.  All around him still lay on the earth; only
one naked figure, strongly lighted by the clear moonlight, stood
motionless by a pillar near the slaves' quarters.

The pioneer gave a sign, the attendants rose; but Paaker went with hasty
steps to the man who had disdained the act of devotion, which he had so
earnestly performed, and cried:

"Steward, a hundred strokes on the soles of the feet of this scoffer."

The officer thus addressed bowed and said: "My lord, the surgeon
commanded the mat-weaver not to move and he cannot lift his arm.  He is
suffering great pain.  Thou didst break his collar-bone yesterday.

"It served him right!"  said Paaker, raising his voice so much that the
injured man could not fail to hear it.  Then he turned his back upon him,
and entered the garden; here he called the chief butler, and said: "Give
the slaves beer for their night draught--to all of them, and plenty."

A few minutes later he stood before his mother, whom he found on the roof
of the house, which was decorated with leafy plants, just as she gave her
two-years'-old grand daughter, the child of her youngest son, into the
arms of her nurse, that she might take her to bed.

Paaker greeted the worthy matron with reverence.  She was a woman of a
friendly, homely aspect; several little dogs were fawning at her feet.
Her son put aside the leaping favorites of the widow, whom they amused
through many long hours of loneliness, and turned to take the child in
his arms from those of the attendant.  But the little one struggled with
such loud cries, and could not be pacified, that Paaker set it down on
the ground, and involuntarily exclaimed:

"The naughty little thing!"

"She has been sweet and good the whole afternoon," said his mother
Setchem.  "She sees you so seldom."

"May be," replied Paaker; "still I know this--the dogs love me, but no
child will come to me."

"You have such hard hands."

"Take the squalling brat away," said Paaker to the nurse.  "Mother, I
want to speak to you."

Setchem quieted the child, gave it many kisses, and sent it to bed; then
she went up to her son, stroked his cheeks, and said:

"If the little one were your own, she would go to you at once, and teach
you that a child is the greatest blessing which the Gods bestow on us
mortals."  Paaker smiled and said: "I know what you are aiming at--but
leave it for the present, for I have something important to communicate
to you."

"Well?"  asked Setchem.

"To-day for the first time since--you know when, I have spoken to Nefert.
The past may be forgotten.  You long for your sister; go to her, I have
nothing more to say against it."

Setchem looked at her son with undisguised astonishment; her eyes which
easily filled with tears, now overflowed, and she hesitatingly asked:
"Can I believe my ears; child, have you?--"

"I have a wish," said Paaker firmly, "that you should knit once more the
old ties of affection with your relations; the estrangement has lasted
long enough."

"Much too long!" cried Setchem.

The pioneer looked in silence at the ground, and obeyed his mother's sign
to sit down beside her.

"I knew," she said, taking his hand, "that this day would bring us joy;
for I dreamt of your father in Osiris, and when I was being carried to
the temple, I was met, first by a white cow, and then by a wedding
procession.  The white ram of Anion, too, touched the wheat-cakes that I
offered him."--[It boded death to Germanicus when the Apis refused to eat
out of his hand.]

"Those are lucky presages," said Paaker in a tone of conviction.

"And let us hasten to seize with gratitude that which the Gods set before
us," cried Setchem with joyful emotion.  "I will go to-morrow to my
sister and tell her that we shall live together in our old affection, and
share both good and evil; we are both of the same race, and I know that,
as order and cleanliness preserve a house from ruin and rejoice the
stranger, so nothing but unity can keep up the happiness of the family
and its appearance before people.  What is bygone is bygone, and let it
be forgotten.  There are many women in Thebes besides Nefert, and a
hundred nobles in the land would esteem themselves happy to win you for a
son-in-law."

Paaker rose, and began thoughtfully pacing the broad space, while Setchem
went on speaking.

"I know," she said, that I have touched a wound in thy heart; but it is
already closing, and it will heal when you are happier even than the
charioteer Mena, and need no longer hate him.  Nefert is good, but she is
delicate and not clever, and scarcely equal to the management of so large
a household as ours.  Ere long I too shall be wrapped in mummy-cloths,
and then if duty calls you into Syria some prudent housewife must take my
place.  It is no small matter.  Your grandfather Assa often would say
that a house well-conducted in every detail was a mark of a family owning
an unspotted name, and living with wise liberality and secure solidity,
in which each had his assigned place, his allotted duty to fulfil, and
his fixed rights to demand.  How often have I prayed to the Hathors that
they may send you a wife after my own heart."

"A Setchem I shall never find!"  said Paaker kissing his mother's
forehead, "women of your sort are dying out."

"Flatterer!" laughed Setchem, shaking her finger at her son.  But it is
true.  Those who are now growing up dress and smarten themselves with
stuffs from Kaft,--[Phoenicia]--mix their language with Syrian words, and
leave the steward and housekeeper free when they themselves ought to
command.  Even my sister Katuti, and Nefert--

"Nefert is different from other women," interrupted Paaker, "and if you
had brought her up she would know how to manage a house as well as how to
ornament it."

Setchem looked at her son in surprise; then she said, half to herself:
"Yes, yes, she is a sweet child; it is impossible for any one to be angry
with her who looks into her eyes.  And yet I was cruel to her because you
were hurt by her, and because--but you know.  But now you have forgiven,
I forgive her, willingly, her and her husband."

Paaker's brow clouded, and while he paused in front of his mother he said
with all the peculiar harshness of his voice:

"He shall pine away in the desert, and the hyaenas of the North shall
tear his unburied corpse."

At these words Setchem covered her face with her veil, and clasped her
hands tightly over the amulets hanging round her neck.  Then she said
softly:

"How terrible you can be!  I know well that you hate the charioteer, for
I have seen the seven arrows over your couch over which is written 'Death
to Mena.'

"That is a Syrian charm which a man turns against any one whom he desires
to destroy.  How black you look!  Yes, it is a charm that is hateful to
the Gods, and that gives the evil one power over him that uses it.  Leave
it to them to punish the criminal, for Osiris withdraws his favor from
those who choose the fiend for their ally."

"My sacrifices," replied Paaker, "secure me the favor of the Gods; but
Mena behaved to me like a vile robber, and I only return to him the evil
that belongs to him.  Enough of this!  and if you love me, never again
utter the name of my enemy before me.  I have forgiven Nefert and her
mother--that may satisfy you."

Setchem shook her head, and said: "What will it lead to!  The war cannot
last for ever, and if Mena returns the reconciliation of to-day will turn
to all the more bitter enmity.  I see only one remedy.  Follow my advice,
and let me find you a wife worthy of you."

"Not now!" exclaimed Paaker impatiently.  "In a few days I must go again
into the enemy's country, and do not wish to leave my wife, like Mena, to
lead the life of a widow during my existence.  Why urge it?  my brother's
wife and children are with you--that might satisfy you."

"The Gods know how I love them," answered Setchem; "but your brother
Horns is the younger, and you the elder, to whom the inheritance belongs.
Your little niece is a delightful plaything, but in your son I should see
at once the future stay of our race, the future head of the family;
brought up to my mind and your father's; for all is sacred to me that my
dead husband wished.  He rejoiced in your early betrothal to Nefert, and
hoped that a son of his eldest son should continue the race of Assa."

"It shall be by no fault of mine that any wish of his remains
unfulfilled.  The stars are high, mother; sleep well, and if to-morrow
you visit Nefert and your sister, say to them that the doors of my house
are open to them.  But stay!  Katuti's steward has offered to sell a herd
of cattle to ours, although the stock on Mena's land can be but small.
What does this mean?"

"You know my sister," replied Setchem.  "She manages Mena's possessions,
has many requirements, tries to vie with the greatest in splendor, sees
the governor often in her house, her son is no doubt extravagant--and so
the most necessary things may often be wanting."

Paaker shrugged his shoulders, once more embraced his mother and left
her.

Soon after, he was standing in the spacious room in which he was
accustomed to sit and to sleep when he was in Thebes.  The walls of this
room were whitewashed and decorated with pious glyphic writing, which
framed in the door and the windows opening into the garden.

In the middle of the farther wall was a couch in the form of a lion.  The
upper end of it imitated a lion's head, and the foot, its curling tail; a
finely dressed lion's skin was spread over the bell, and a headrest of
ebony, decorated with pious texts, stood on a high foot-step, ready for
the sleeper.

Above the bed various costly weapons and whips were elegantly displayed,
and below them the seven arrows over which Setchem had read the words
"Death to Mena."  They were written across a sentence which enjoined
feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and clothing the naked;
with loving-kindness, alike to the great and the humble.

A niche by the side of the bed-head was closed with a curtain of purple
stuff.

In each corner of the room stood a statue; three of them symbolized the
triad of Thebes-Anion, Muth, and Chunsu--and the fourth the dead father
of the pioneer.  In front of each was a small altar for offerings, with a
hollow in it, in which was an odoriferous essence.  On a wooden stand
were little images of the Gods and amulets in great number, and in
several painted chests lay the clothes, the ornaments and the papers of
the master.  In the midst of the chamber stood a table and several stool-
shaped seats.

When Paaker entered the room he found it lighted with lamps, and a large
dog sprang joyfully to meet him.  He let him spring upon him, threw him
to the ground, let him once more rush upon him, and then kissed his
clever head.

Before his bed an old negro of powerful build lay in deep sleep.  Paaker
shoved him with his foot and called to him as he awoke--

"I am hungry."

The grey-headed black man rose slowly, and left the room.

As soon as he was alone Paaker drew the philter from his girdle, looked
at it tenderly, and put it in a box, in which there were several flasks
of holy oils for sacrifice.  He was accustomed every evening to fill the
hollows in the altars with fresh essences, and to prostrate himself in
prayer before the images of the Gods.  To-day he stood before the statue
of his father, kissed its feet, and murmured: "Thy will shall be done.--
The woman whom thou didst intend for me shall indeed be mine--thy eldest
son's."

Then he walked to and fro and thought over the events of the day.

At last he stood still, with his arms crossed, and looked defiantly at
the holy images; like a traveller who drives away a false guide, and
thinks to find the road by himself.

His eye fell on the arrows over his bed; he smiled, and striking his
broad breast with his fist, he exclaimed, "I--I--I--"

His hound, who thought his master meant to call him, rushed up to him.
He pushed him off and said--"If you meet a hyaena in the desert, you fall
upon it without waiting till it is touched by my lance--and if the Gods,
my masters, delay, I myself will defend my right; but thou," he continued
turning to the image of his father, "thou wilt support me."

This soliloquy was interrupted by the slaves who brought in his meal.

Paaker glanced at the various dishes which the cook had prepared for him,
and asked: "How often shall I command that not a variety, but only one
large dish shall be dressed for me?  And the wine?"

"Thou art used never to touch it?"  answered the old negro.

"But to-day I wish for some," said the pioneer."  Bring one of the old
jars of red wine of Kakem."

The slaves looked at each other in astonishment; the wine was brought,
and Paaker emptied beaker after beaker.  When the servants had left him,
the boldest among them said: "Usually the master eats like a lion, and
drinks like a midge, but to-day--"

"Hold your tongue!"  cried his companion, "and come into the court, for
Paaker has sent us out beer.  The Hathors must have met him."

The occurrences of the day must indeed have taken deep hold on the inmost
soul of the pioneer; for he, the most sober of all the warriors of
Rameses, to whom intoxication was unknown, and who avoided the banquets
of his associates--now sat at the midnight hours, alone at his table, and
toped till his weary head grew heavy.

He collected himself, went towards his couch and drew the curtain which
concealed the niche at the head of the bed.  A female figure, with the
head-dress and attributes of the Goddess Hathor, made of painted
limestone, revealed itself.

Her countenance had the features of the wife of Mena.

The king, four years since, had ordered a sculptor to execute a sacred
image with the lovely features of the newly-married bride of his
charioteer, and Paaker had succeeded in having a duplicate made.

He now knelt down on the couch, gazed on the image with moist eyes,
looked cautiously around to see if he was alone, leaned forward, pressed
a kiss to the delicate, cold stone lips; laid down and went to sleep
without undressing himself, and leaving the lamps to burn themselves out.

Restless dreams disturbed his spirit, and when the dawn grew grey, he
screamed out, tormented by a hideous vision, so pitifully, that the old
negro, who had laid himself near the dog at the foot of his bed, sprang
up alarmed, and while the dog howled, called him by his name to wake him.

Paaker awoke with a dull head-ache.  The vision which had tormented him
stood vividly before his mind, and he endeavored to retain it that he
might summon a haruspex to interpret it.  After the morbid fancies of the
preceding evening he felt sad and depressed.

The morning-hymn rang into his room with a warning voice from the temple
of Amon; he cast off evil thoughts, and resolved once more to resign the
conduct of his fate to the Gods, and to renounce all the arts of magic.

As he was accustomed, he got into the bath that was ready for him.  While
splashing in the tepid water he thought with ever increasing eagerness of
Nefert and of the philter which at first he had meant not to offer to
her, but which actually was given to her by his hand, and which might by
this time have begun to exercise its charm.

Love placed rosy pictures--hatred set blood-red images before his eyes.
He strove to free himself from the temptations, which more and more
tightly closed in upon him, but it was with him as with a man who has
fallen into a bog, who, the more vehemently he tries to escape from the
mire, sinks the deeper.

As the sun rose, so rose his vital energy and his self-confidence, and
when he prepared to quit his dwelling, in his most costly clothing, he
had arrived once more at the decision of the night before, and had again
resolved to fight for his purpose, without--and if need were--against the
Gods.

The Mohar had chosen his road, and he never turned back when once he had
begun a journey.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Blossom of the thorny wreath of sorrow
Eyes kind and frank, without tricks of glance
Money is a pass-key that turns any lock
Repugnance for the old laws began to take root in his heart
Thou canst say in words what we can only feel
Whether the form of our benevolence does more good or mischief





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