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Title: Uarda : a Romance of Ancient Egypt — Complete
Author: Ebers, Georg
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 — Complete" ***



By Georg Ebers

Translated from the German by Clara Bell


        Thou knowest well from what this book arose.
        When suffering seized and held me in its clasp
        Thy fostering hand released me from its grasp,
        And from amid the thorns there bloomed a rose.
        Air, dew, and sunshine were bestowed by Thee,
        And Thine it is; without these lines from me.


In the winter of 1873 I spent some weeks in one of the tombs of the
Necropolis of Thebes in order to study the monuments of that solemn city
of the dead; and during my long rides in the silent desert the germ was
developed whence this book has since grown. The leisure of mind and body
required to write it was given me through a long but not disabling illness.

In the first instance I intended to elucidate this story--like my
“Egyptian Princess”--with numerous and extensive notes placed at the
end; but I was led to give up this plan from finding that it would lead
me to the repetition of much that I had written in the notes to that
earlier work.

The numerous notes to the former novel had a threefold purpose. In the
first place they served to explain the text; in the second they were
a guarantee of the care with which I had striven to depict the
archaeological details in all their individuality from the records of
the monuments and of Classic Authors; and thirdly I hoped to supply the
reader who desired further knowledge of the period with some guide to
his studies.

In the present work I shall venture to content myself with the simple
statement that I have introduced nothing as proper to Egypt and to the
period of Rameses that cannot be proved by some authority; the numerous
monuments which have descended to us from the time of the Rameses,
in fact enable the enquirer to understand much of the aspect and
arrangement of Egyptian life, and to follow it step try step through
the details of religious, public, and private life, even of particular
individuals. The same remark cannot be made in regard to their mental
life, and here many an anachronism will slip in, many things will appear
modern, and show the coloring of the Christian mode of thought.

Every part of this book is intelligible without the aid of notes; but,
for the reader who seeks for further enlightenment, I have added some
foot-notes, and have not neglected to mention such works as afford more
detailed information on the subjects mentioned in the narrative.

The reader who wishes to follow the mind of the author in this work
should not trouble himself with the notes as he reads, but merely at
the beginning of each chapter read over the notes which belong to the
foregoing one. Every glance at the foot-notes must necessarily disturb
and injure the development of the tale as a work of art. The story
stands here as it flowed from one fount, and was supplied with notes
only after its completion.

A narrative of Herodotus combined with the Epos of Pentaur, of which
so many copies have been handed down to us, forms the foundation of the

The treason of the Regent related by the Father of history is referable
perhaps to the reign of the third and not of the second Rameses. But it
is by no means certain that the Halicarnassian writer was in this case
misinformed; and in this fiction no history will be inculcated, only
as a background shall I offer a sketch of the time of Sesostris, from
a picturesque point of view, but with the nearest possible approach to
truth. It is true that to this end nothing has been neglected that could
be learnt from the monuments or the papyri; still the book is only a
romance, a poetic fiction, in which I wish all the facts derived from
history and all the costume drawn from the monuments to be regarded as
incidental, and the emotions of the actors in the story as what I attach
importance to.

But I must be allowed to make one observation. From studying the
conventional mode of execution of ancient Egyptian art--which was
strictly subject to the hieratic laws of type and proportion--we have
accustomed ourselves to imagine the inhabitants of the Nile-valley in
the time of the Pharaohs as tall and haggard men with little distinction
of individual physiognomy, and recently a great painter has sought to
represent them under this aspect in a modern picture. This is an error;
the Egyptians, in spite of their aversion to foreigners and their strong
attachment to their native soil, were one of the most intellectual and
active people of antiquity; and he who would represent them as they
lived, and to that end copies the forms which remain painted on the
walls of the temples and sepulchres, is the accomplice of those priestly
corrupters of art who compelled the painters and sculptors of the
Pharaonic era to abandon truth to nature in favor of their sacred laws
of proportion.

He who desires to paint the ancient Egyptians with truth and fidelity,
must regard it in some sort as an act of enfranchisement; that is to
say, he must release the conventional forms from those fetters which
were peculiar to their art and altogether foreign to their real life.
Indeed, works of sculpture remain to us of the time of the first
pyramid, which represent men with the truth of nature, unfettered by the
sacred canon. We can recall the so-called “Village Judge” of Bulaq, the
“Scribe” now in Paris, and a few figures in bronze in different museums,
as well as the noble and characteristic busts of all epochs, which amply
prove how great the variety of individual physiognomy, and, with that,
of individual character was among the Egyptians. Alma Tadelna in
London and Gustav Richter in Berlin have, as painters, treated Egyptian
subjects in a manner which the poet recognizes and accepts with delight.

Many earlier witnesses than the late writer Flavius Vopiscus might be
referred to who show us the Egyptians as an industrious and peaceful
people, passionately devoted it is true to all that pertains to the
other world, but also enjoying the gifts of life to the fullest extent,
nay sometimes to excess.

Real men, such as we see around us in actual life, not silhouettes
constructed to the old priestly scale such as the monuments show
us--real living men dwelt by the old Nile-stream; and the poet who would
represent them must courageously seize on types out of the daily life
of modern men that surround him, without fear of deviating too far from
reality, and, placing them in their own long past time, color them only
and clothe them to correspond with it.

I have discussed the authorities for the conception of love which I have
ascribed to the ancients in the preface to the second edition of “An
Egyptian Princess.”

With these lines I send Uarda into the world; and in them I add my
thanks to those dear friends in whose beautiful home, embowered in
green, bird-haunted woods, I have so often refreshed my spirit and
recovered my strength, where I now write the last words of this book.

        Rheinbollerhutte, September 22, 1876.
                         GEORG EBERS.


The earlier editions of “Uarda” were published in such rapid succession,
that no extensive changes in the stereotyped text could be made; but
from the first issue, I have not ceased to correct it, and can now
present to the public this new fifth edition as a “revised” one.

Having felt a constantly increasing affection for “Uarda” during the
time I was writing, the friendly and comprehensive attention bestowed
upon it by our greatest critics and the favorable reception it met with
in the various classes of society, afforded me the utmost pleasure.

I owe the most sincere gratitude to the honored gentlemen, who called
my attention to certain errors, and among them will name particularly
Professor Paul Ascherson of Berlin, and Dr. C. Rohrbach of Gotha. Both
will find their remarks regarding mistakes in the geographical location
of plants, heeded in this new edition.

The notes, after mature deliberation, have been placed at the foot of
the pages instead of at the end of the book.

So many criticisms concerning the title “Uarda” have recently reached
my ears, that, rather by way of explanation than apology, I will here
repeat what I said in the preface to the third edition.

This title has its own history, and the more difficult it would be for
me to defend it, the more ready I am to allow an advocate to speak for
me, an advocate who bears a name no less distinguished than that of G.
E. Lessing, who says:

“Nanine? (by Voltaire, 1749). What sort of title is that? What thoughts
does it awake? Neither more nor less than a title should arouse. A title
must not be a bill of fare. The less it betrays of the contents, the
better it is. Author and spectator are both satisfied, and the ancients
rarely gave their comedies anything but insignificant names.”

This may be the case with “Uarda,” whose character is less prominent
than some others, it is true, but whose sorrows direct the destinies of
my other heroes and heroines.

Why should I conceal the fact? The character of “Uarda” and the present
story have grown out of the memory of a Fellah girl, half child, half
maiden, whom I saw suffer and die in a hut at Abu el Qurnah in the
Necropolis of Thebes.

I still persist in the conviction I have so frequently expressed, the
conviction that the fundamental traits of the life of the soul have
undergone very trivial modifications among civilized nations in all
times and ages, but will endeavor to explain the contrary opinion, held
by my opponents, by calling attention to the circumstance, that
the expression of these emotions show considerable variations among
different peoples, and at different epochs. I believe that Juvenal, one
of the ancient writers who best understood human nature, was right in

       “Nil erit ulterius, quod nostris moribus addat
        Posteritas: eadem cupient facientque minores.”

Leipsic, October 15th, 1877.

U A R D A.


By the walls of Thebes--the old city of a hundred gates--the Nile
spreads to a broad river; the heights, which follow the stream on both
sides, here take a more decided outline; solitary, almost cone-shaped
peaks stand out sharply from the level background of the many-colored.
limestone hills, on which no palm-tree flourishes and in which no humble
desert-plant can strike root. Rocky crevasses and gorges cut more or
less deeply into the mountain range, and up to its ridge extends the
desert, destructive of all life, with sand and stones, with rocky cliffs
and reef-like, desert hills.

Behind the eastern range the desert spreads to the Red Sea; behind the
western it stretches without limit, into infinity. In the belief of the
Egyptians beyond it lay the region of the dead.

Between these two ranges of hills, which serve as walls or ramparts to
keep back the desert-sand, flows the fresh and bounteous Nile, bestowing
blessing and abundance; at once the father and the cradle of millions of
beings. On each shore spreads the wide plain of black and fruitful soil,
and in the depths many-shaped creatures, in coats of mail or scales,
swarm and find subsistence.

The lotos floats on the mirror of the waters, and among the papyrus
reeds by the shore water-fowl innumerable build their nests. Between the
river and the mountain-range lie fields, which after the seed-time are
of a shining blue-green, and towards the time of harvest glow like gold.
Near the brooks and water-wheels here and there stands a shady sycamore;
and date-palms, carefully tended, group themselves in groves. The
fruitful plain, watered and manured every year by the inundation, lies
at the foot of the sandy desert-hills behind it, and stands out like a
garden flower-bed from the gravel-path.

In the fourteenth century before Christ--for to so remote a date we must
direct the thoughts of the reader--impassable limits had been set by the
hand of man, in many places in Thebes, to the inroads of the water; high
dykes of stone and embankments protected the streets and squares, the
temples and the palaces, from the overflow.

Canals that could be tightly closed up led from the dykes to the land
within, and smaller branch-cuttings to the gardens of Thebes.

On the right, the eastern bank of the Nile, rose the buildings of
the far-famed residence of the Pharaohs. Close by the river stood the
immense and gaudy Temples of the city of Amon; behind these and at a
short distance from the Eastern hills--indeed at their very foot and
partly even on the soil of the desert--were the palaces of the King and
nobles, and the shady streets in which the high narrow houses of the
citizens stood in close rows.

Life was gay and busy in the streets of the capital of the Pharaohs.

The western shore of the Nile showed a quite different scene. Here too
there was no lack of stately buildings or thronging men; but while on
the farther side of the river there was a compact mass of houses, and
the citizens went cheerfully and openly about their day’s work, on this
side there were solitary splendid structures, round which little houses
and huts seemed to cling as children cling to the protection of a
mother. And these buildings lay in detached groups.

Any one climbing the hill and looking down would form the notion that
there lay below him a number of neighboring villages, each with its
lordly manor house. Looking from the plain up to the precipice of the
western hills, hundreds of closed portals could be seen, some solitary,
others closely ranged in rows; a great number of them towards the foot
of the slope, yet more half-way up, and a few at a considerable height.

And even more dissimilar were the slow-moving, solemn groups in the
roadways on this side, and the cheerful, confused throng yonder. There,
on the eastern shore, all were in eager pursuit of labor or recreation,
stirred by pleasure or by grief, active in deed and speech; here, in
the west, little was spoken, a spell seemed to check the footstep of the
wanderer, a pale hand to sadden the bright glance of every eye, and to
banish the smile from every lip.

And yet many a gaily-dressed bark stopped at the shore, there was no
lack of minstrel bands, grand processions passed on to the western
heights; but the Nile boats bore the dead, the songs sung here were
songs of lamentation, and the processions consisted of mourners
following the sarcophagus.

We are standing on the soil of the City of the Dead of Thebes.

Nevertheless even here nothing is wanting for return and revival, for to
the Egyptian his dead died not. He closed his eyes, he bore him to the
Necropolis, to the house of the embalmer, or Kolchytes, and then to the
grave; but he knew that the souls of the departed lived on; that the
justified absorbed into Osiris floated over the Heavens in the vessel
of the Sun; that they appeared on earth in the form they choose to take
upon them, and that they might exert influence on the current of the
lives of the survivors. So he took care to give a worthy interment to
his dead, above all to have the body embalmed so as to endure long: and
had fixed times to bring fresh offerings for the dead of flesh and fowl,
with drink-offerings and sweet-smelling essences, and vegetables and

Neither at the obsequies nor at the offerings might the ministers of
the gods be absent, and the silent City of the Dead was regarded as a
favored sanctuary in which to establish schools and dwellings for the

So it came to pass that in the temples and on the site Of the
Necropolis, large communities of priests dwelt together, and close to
the extensive embalming houses lived numerous Kolchytes, who handed down
the secrets of their art from father to son.

Besides these there were other manufactories and shops. In the former,
sarcophagi of stone and of wood, linen bands for enveloping mummies, and
amulets for decorating them, were made; in the latter, merchants kept
spices and essences, flowers, fruits, vegetables and pastry for sale.
Calves, gazelles, goats, geese and other fowl, were fed on enclosed
meadow-plats, and the mourners betook themselves thither to select what
they needed from among the beasts pronounced by the priests to be clean
for sacrifice, and to have them sealed with the sacred seal. Many bought
only part of a victim at the shambles--the poor could not even do
this. They bought only colored cakes in the shape of beasts, which
symbolically took the place of the calves and geese which their means
were unable to procure. In the handsomest shops sat servants of the
priests, who received forms written on rolls of papyrus which were
filled up in the writing room of the temple with those sacred verses
which the departed spirit must know and repeat to ward off the evil
genius of the deep, to open the gate of the under world, and to be held
righteous before Osiris and the forty-two assessors of the subterranean
court of justice.

What took place within the temples was concealed from view, for each
was surrounded by a high enclosing wall with lofty, carefully-closed
portals, which were only opened when a chorus of priests came out to
sing a pious hymn, in the morning to Horus the rising god, and in the
evening to Tum the descending god.

   [The course of the Sun was compared to that of the life of Man.
   He rose as the child Horns, grew by midday to the hero Ra, who
   conquered the Uraeus snake for his diadem, and by evening was an old
   Man, Tum. Light had been born of darkness, hence Tum was regarded
   as older than Horns and the other gods of light.]

As soon as the evening hymn of the priests was heard, the Necropolis was
deserted, for the mourners and those who were visiting the graves were
required by this time to return to their boats and to quit the City of
the Dead. Crowds of men who had marched in the processions of the
west bank hastened in disorder to the shore, driven on by the body of
watchmen who took it in turns to do this duty and to protect the graves
against robbers. The merchants closed their booths, the embalmers and
workmen ended their day’s work and retired to their houses, the priests
returned to the temples, and the inns were filled with guests, who
had come hither on long pilgrimages from a distance, and who preferred
passing the night in the vicinity of the dead whom they had come to
visit, to going across to the bustling noisy city farther shore.

The voices of the singers and of the wailing women were hushed, even the
song of the sailors on the numberless ferry boats from the western shore
to Thebes died away, its faint echo was now and then borne across on the
evening air, and at last all was still.

A cloudless sky spread over the silent City of the Dead, now and then
darkened for an instant by the swiftly passing shade of a bat returning
to its home in a cave or cleft of the rock after flying the whole
evening near the Nile to catch flies, to drink, and so prepare itself
for the next day’s sleep. From time to time black forms with long
shadows glided over the still illuminated plain--the jackals, who
at this hour frequented the shore to slake their thirst, and often
fearlessly showed themselves in troops in the vicinity of the pens of
geese and goats.

It was forbidden to hunt these robbers, as they were accounted sacred to
the god Anubis, the tutelary of sepulchres; and indeed they did little
mischief, for they found abundant food in the tombs.

   [The jackal-headed god Anubis was the son of Osiris and Nephthys,
   and the jackal was sacred to him. In the earliest ages even he is
   prominent in the nether world. He conducts the mummifying process,
   preserves the corpse, guards the Necropolis, and, as Hermes
   Psychopompos (Hermanubis), opens the way for the souls. According
   to Plutarch “He is the watch of the gods as the dog is the watch of

The remnants of the meat offerings from the altars were consumed by
them; to the perfect satisfaction of the devotees, who, when they found
that by the following day the meat had disappeared, believed that it had
been accepted and taken away by the spirits of the underworld.

They also did the duty of trusty watchers, for they were a dangerous foe
for any intruder who, under the shadow of the night, might attempt to
violate a grave.

Thus--on that summer evening of the year 1352 B.C., when we invite the
reader to accompany us to the Necropolis of Thebes--after the priests’
hymn had died away, all was still in the City of the Dead.

The soldiers on guard were already returning from their first round when
suddenly, on the north side of the Necropolis, a dog barked loudly; soon
a second took up the cry, a third, a fourth. The captain of the watch
called to his men to halt, and, as the cry of the dogs spread and grew
louder every minute, commanded them to march towards the north.

The little troop had reached the high dyke which divided the west bank
of the Nile from a branch canal, and looked from thence over the plain
as far as the river and to the north of the Necropolis. Once more
the word to “halt” was given, and as the guard perceived the glare
of torches in the direction where the dogs were barking loudest, they
hurried forward and came up with the author of the disturbance near
the Pylon of the temple erected by Seti I., the deceased father of the
reigning King Rameses II.

   [The two pyramidal towers joined by a gateway which formed the
   entrance to an Egyptian temple were called the Pylon.]

The moon was up, and her pale light flooded the stately structure, while
the walls glowed with the ruddy smoky light of the torches which flared
in the hands of black attendants.

A man of sturdy build, in sumptuous dress, was knocking at the
brass-covered temple door with the metal handle of a whip, so violently
that the blows rang far and loud through the night. Near him stood a
litter, and a chariot, to which were harnessed two fine horses. In the
litter sat a young woman, and in the carriage, next to the driver, was
the tall figure of a lady. Several men of the upper classes and many
servants stood around the litter and the chariot. Few words were
exchanged; the whole attention of the strangely lighted groups seemed
concentrated on the temple-gate. The darkness concealed the features
of individuals, but the mingled light of the moon and the torches was
enough to reveal to the gate-keeper, who looked down on the party from a
tower of the Pylon, that it was composed of persons of the highest rank;
nay, perhaps of the royal family.

He called aloud to the one who knocked, and asked him what was his will.

He looked up, and in a voice so rough and imperious, that the lady in
the litter shrank in horror as its tones suddenly violated the place of
the dead, he cried out--“How long are we to wait here for you--you
dirty hound? Come down and open the door and then ask questions. If
the torch-light is not bright enough to show you who is waiting, I will
score our name on your shoulders with my whip, and teach you how to
receive princely visitors.”

While the porter muttered an unintelligible answer and came down the
steps within to open the door, the lady in the chariot turned to her
impatient companion and said in a pleasant but yet decided voice, “You
forget, Paaker, that you are back again in Egypt, and that here you have
to deal not with the wild Schasu,--[A Semitic race of robbers in the
cast of Egypt.]--but with friendly priests of whom we have to solicit
a favor. We have always had to lament your roughness, which seems to
me very ill-suited to the unusual circumstances under which we approach
this sanctuary.”

Although these words were spoken in a tone rather of regret than of
blame, they wounded the sensibilities of the person addressed; his wide
nostrils began to twitch ominously, he clenched his right hand over the
handle of his whip, and, while he seemed to be bowing humbly, he struck
such a heavy blow on the bare leg of a slave who was standing near
to him, an old Ethiopian, that he shuddered as if from sudden cold,
though-knowing his lord only too well--he let no cry of pain escape him.
Meanwhile the gate-keeper had opened the door, and with him a tall young
priest stepped out into the open air to ask the will of the intruders.

Paaker would have seized the opportunity of speaking, but the lady in
the chariot interposed and said:

“I am Bent-Anat, the daughter of the King, and this lady in the litter
is Nefert, the wife of the noble Mena, the charioteer of my father. We
were going in company with these gentlemen to the north-west valley of
the Necropolis to see the new works there. You know the narrow pass in
the rocks which leads up the gorge. On the way home I myself held the
reins and I had the misfortune to drive over a girl who sat by the road
with a basket full of flowers, and to hurt her--to hurt her very badly
I am afraid. The wife of Mena with her own hands bound up the child, and
then she carried her to her father’s house--he is a paraschites--[One
who opened the bodies of the dead to prepare them for being
embalmed.]--Pinem is his name. I know not whether he is known to you.”

“Thou hast been into his house, Princess?”

“Indeed, I was obliged, holy father,” she replied, “I know of course
that I have defiled myself by crossing the threshold of these people,

“But,” cried the wife of Mena, raising herself in her litter, “Bent-Anat
can in a day be purified by thee or by her house-priest, while she can
hardly--or perhaps never--restore the child whole and sound again to the
unhappy father.”

“Still, the den of a paraschites is above every thing unclean,” said
the chamberlain Penbesa, master of the ceremonies to the princess,
interrupting the wife of Mena, “and I did not conceal my opinion when
Bent-Anat announced her intention of visiting the accursed hole in
person. I suggested,” he continued, turning to the priest, “that she
should let the girl be taken home, and send a royal present to the

“And the princess?” asked the priest.

“She acted, as she always does, on her own judgment,” replied the master
of the ceremonies.

“And that always hits on the right course,” cried the wife of Mena.

“Would to God it were so!” said the princess in a subdued voice. Then
she continued, addressing the priest, “Thou knowest the will of the Gods
and the hearts of men, holy father, and I myself know that I give alms
willingly and help the poor even when there is none to plead for them
but their poverty. But after what has occurred here, and to these
unhappy people, it is I who come as a suppliant.”

“Thou?” said the chamberlain.

“I,” answered the princess with decision. The priest who up to this
moment had remained a silent witness of the scene raised his right hand
as in blessing and spoke.

“Thou hast done well. The Hathors fashioned thy heart and the Lady of
Truth guides it. Thou hast broken in on our night-prayers to request us
to send a doctor to the injured girl?”

   [Hathor was Isis under a substantial form. She is the goddess of
   the pure, light heaven, and bears the Sun-disk between cow-horns on
   a cow’s head or on a human head with cow’s ears. She was named the
   Fair, and all the pure joys of life are in her gift. Later she was
   regarded as a Muse who beautifies life with enjoyment, love, song,
   and the dance. She appears as a good fairy by the cradle of
   children and decides their lot in life. She bears many names: and
   several, generally seven, Hathors were represented, who personified
   the attributes and influence of the goddess.]

“Thou hast said.”

“I will ask the high-priest to send the best leech for outward wounds
immediately to the child. But where is the house of the paraschites
Pinem? I do not know it.”

“Northwards from the terrace of Hatasu,--[A great queen of the 18th
dynasty and guardian of two Pharaohs]--close to--; but I will charge one
of my attendants to conduct the leech. Besides, I want to know early in
the morning how the child is doing.--Paaker.”

The rough visitor, whom we already know, thus called upon, bowed to the
earth, his arms hanging by his sides, and asked:

“What dost thou command?”

“I appoint you guide to the physician,” said the princess. “It will be
easy to the king’s pioneer to find the little half-hidden house again--

   [The title here rendered pioneer was that of an officer whose duties
   were those at once of a scout and of a Quarter-Master General. In
   unknown and comparatively savage countries it was an onerous post.

besides, you share my guilt, for,” she added, turning to the priest, “I
confess that the misfortune happened because I would try with my horses
to overtake Paaker’s Syrian racers, which he declared to be swifter than
the Egyptian horses. It was a mad race.”

“And Amon be praised that it ended as it did,” exclaimed the master of
the ceremonies. “Packer’s chariot lies dashed in pieces in the valley,
and his best horse is badly hurt.”

“He will see to him when he has taken the physician to the house of the
paraschites,” said the princess. “Dost thou know, Penbesa--thou anxious
guardian of a thoughtless girl--that to-day for the first time I am glad
that my father is at the war in distant Satiland?”--[Asia].

“He would not have welcomed us kindly!” said the master of the
ceremonies, laughing.

“But the leech, the leech!” cried Bent-Anat. “Packer, it is settled
then. You will conduct him, and bring us to-morrow morning news of the
wounded girl.”

Paaker bowed; the princess bowed her head; the priest and his
companions, who meanwhile had come out of the temple and joined him,
raised their hands in blessing, and the belated procession moved towards
the Nile.

Paaker remained alone with his two slaves; the commission with which
the princess had charged him greatly displeased him. So long as the
moonlight enabled him to distinguish the litter of Mena’s wife, he gazed
after it; then he endeavored to recollect the position of the hut of the
paraschites. The captain of the watch still stood with the guard at the
gate of the temple.

“Do you know the dwelling of Pinem the paraschites?” asked Paaker.

“What do you want with him?”

“That is no concern of yours,” retorted Paaker.

“Lout!” exclaimed the captain, “left face and forwards, my men.”

“Halt!” cried Paaker in a rage. “I am the king’s chief pioneer.”

“Then you will all the more easily find the way back by which you came.

The words were followed by a peal of many-voiced laughter: the
re-echoing insult so confounded Paaker that he dropped his whip on the
ground. The slave, whom a short time since he had struck with it, humbly
picked it up and then followed his lord into the fore court of the
temple. Both attributed the titter, which they still could hear without
being able to detect its origin, to wandering spirits. But the mocking
tones had been heard too by the old gate-keeper, and the laughers were
better known to him than to the king’s pioneer; he strode with heavy
steps to the door of the temple through the black shadow of the pylon,
and striking blindly before him called out--

“Ah! you good-for-nothing brood of Seth.”

   [The Typhon of the Greeks. The enemy of Osiris, of truth, good
   and purity. Discord and strife in nature. Horns who fights against
   him for his father Osiris, can throw him and stun him, but never
   annihilate him.]

“You gallows-birds and brood of hell--I am coming.”

The giggling ceased; a few youthful figures appeared in the moonlight,
the old man pursued them panting, and, after a short chase, a troop of
youths fled back through the temple gate.

The door-keeper had succeeded in catching one miscreant, a boy of
thirteen, and held him so tight by the ear that his pretty head seemed
to have grown in a horizontal direction from his shoulders.

“I will take you before the school-master, you plague-of-locusts,
you swarm of bats!” cried the old man out of breath. But the dozen of
school-boys, who had availed themselves of the opportunity to break out
of bounds, gathered coaxing round him, with words of repentance, though
every eye sparkled with delight at the fun they had had, and of which no
one could deprive them; and when the biggest of them took the old man’s
chin, and promised to give him the wine which his mother was to send him
next day for the week’s use, the porter let go his prisoner--who tried
to rub the pain out of his burning ear--and cried out in harsher tones
than before:

“You will pay me, will you, to let you off! Do you think I will let your
tricks pass? You little know this old man. I will complain to the Gods,
not to the school-master; and as for your wine, youngster, I will offer
it as a libation, that heaven may forgive you.”


The temple where, in the fore-court, Paaker was waiting, and where
the priest had disappeared to call the leech, was called the “House of
Seti”--[It is still standing and known as the temple of Qurnah.]--and
was one of the largest in the City of the Dead. Only that magnificent
building of the time of the deposed royal race of the reigning king’s
grandfather--that temple which had been founded by Thotmes III.,
and whose gate-way Amenophis III. had adorned with immense colossal
statues--[That which stands to the north is the famous musical statue,
or Pillar of Memmon]--exceeded it in the extent of its plan; in every
other respect it held the pre-eminence among the sanctuaries of the
Necropolis. Rameses I. had founded it shortly after he succeeded in
seizing the Egyptian throne; and his yet greater son Seti carried on the
erection, in which the service of the dead for the Manes of the members
of the new royal family was conducted, and the high festivals held in
honor of the Gods of the under-world. Great sums had been expended
for its establishment, for the maintenance of the priesthood of its
sanctuary, and the support of the institutions connected with it. These
were intended to be equal to the great original foundations of priestly
learning at Heliopolis and Memphis; they were regulated on the same
pattern, and with the object of raising the new royal residence of Upper
Egypt, namely Thebes, above the capitals of Lower Egypt in regard to
philosophical distinction.

One of the most important of these foundations was a very celebrated
school of learning.

   [Every detail of this description of an Egyptian school is derived
   from sources dating from the reign of Rameses II. and his
   successor, Merneptah.]

First there was the high-school, in which priests, physicians, judges,
mathematicians, astronomers, grammarians, and other learned men, not
only had the benefit of instruction, but, subsequently, when they had
won admission to the highest ranks of learning, and attained the dignity
of “Scribes,” were maintained at the cost of the king, and enabled to
pursue their philosophical speculations and researches, in freedom
from all care, and in the society of fellow-workers of equal birth and
identical interests.

An extensive library, in which thousands of papyrus-rolls were
preserved, and to which a manufactory of papyrus was attached, was at
the disposal of the learned; and some of them were intrusted with
the education of the younger disciples, who had been prepared in
the elementary school, which was also dependent on the House--or
university--of Seti. The lower school was open to every son of a free
citizen, and was often frequented by several hundred boys, who also
found night-quarters there. The parents were of course required either
to pay for their maintenance, or to send due supplies of provisions for
the keep of their children at school.

In a separate building lived the temple-boarders, a few sons of the
noblest families, who were brought up by the priests at a great expense
to their parents.

Seti I., the founder of this establishment, had had his own sons, not
excepting Rameses, his successor, educated here.

The elementary schools were strictly ruled, and the rod played so
large a part in them, that a pedagogue could record this saying: “The
scholar’s ears are at his back: when he is flogged then he hears.”

Those youths who wished to pass up from the lower to the high-school
had to undergo an examination. The student, when he had passed it,
could choose a master from among the learned of the higher grades,
who undertook to be his philosophical guide, and to whom he remained
attached all his life through, as a client to his patron. He could
obtain the degree of “Scribe” and qualify for public office by a second

Near to these schools of learning there stood also a school of art, in
which instruction was given to students who desired to devote themselves
to architecture, sculpture, or painting; in these also the learner might
choose his master.

Every teacher in these institutions belonged to the priesthood of the
House of Seti. It consisted of more than eight hundred members, divided
into five classes, and conducted by three so-called Prophets.

The first prophet was the high-priest of the House of Seti, and at the
same time the superior of all the thousands of upper and under servants
of the divinities which belonged to the City of the Dead of Thebes.

The temple of Seti proper was a massive structure of limestone. A row
of Sphinxes led from the Nile to the surrounding wall, and to the
first vast pro-pylon, which formed the entrance to a broad fore-court,
enclosed on the two sides by colonnades, and beyond which stood a second
gate-way. When he had passed through this door, which stood between two
towers, in shape like truncated pyramids, the stranger came to a second
court resembling the first, closed at the farther end by a noble row of
pillars, which formed part of the central temple itself.

The innermost and last was dimly lighted by a few lamps.

Behind the temple of Seti stood large square structures of brick of the
Nile mud, which however had a handsome and decorative effect, as the
humble material of which they were constructed was plastered with
lime, and that again was painted with colored pictures and hieroglyphic

The internal arrangement of all these houses was the same. In the midst
was an open court, on to which opened the doors of the rooms of the
priests and philosophers. On each side of the court was a shady, covered
colonnade of wood, and in the midst a tank with ornamental plants. In
the upper story were the apartments for the scholars, and instruction
was usually given in the paved courtyard strewn with mats.

The most imposing was the house of the chief prophets; it was
distinguished by its waving standards and stood about a hundred paces
behind the temple of Seti, between a well kept grove and a clear
lake--the sacred tank of the temple; but they only occupied it while
fulfilling their office, while the splendid houses which they lived in
with their wives and children, lay on the other side of the river, in
Thebes proper.

The untimely visit to the temple could not remain unobserved by the
colony of sages. Just as ants when a hand breaks in on their dwelling,
hurry restlessly hither and thither, so an unwonted stir had agitated,
not the school-boys only, but the teachers and the priests. They
collected in groups near the outer walls, asking questions and hazarding
guesses. A messenger from the king had arrived--the princess Bent-Anat
had been attacked by the Kolchytes--and a wag among the school-boys who
had got out, declared that Paaker, the king’s pioneer, had been brought
into the temple by force to be made to learn to write better. As the
subject of the joke had formerly been a pupil of the House of Seti, and
many delectable stories of his errors in penmanship still survived in
the memory of the later generation of scholars, this information was
received with joyful applause; and it seemed to have a glimmer of
probability, in spite of the apparent contradiction that Paaker filled
one of the highest offices near the king, when a grave young priest
declared that he had seen the pioneer in the forecourt of the temple.

The lively discussion, the laughter and shouting of the boys at such an
unwonted hour, was not unobserved by the chief priest.

This remarkable prelate, Ameni the son of Nebket, a scion of an old
and noble family, was far more than merely the independent head of
the temple-brotherhood, among whom he was prominent for his power and
wisdom; for all the priesthood in the length and breadth of the land
acknowledged his supremacy, asked his advice in difficult cases, and
never resisted the decisions in spiritual matters which emanated from
the House of Seti--that is to say, from Ameni. He was the embodiment
of the priestly idea; and if at times he made heavy--nay
extraordinary--demands on individual fraternities, they were submitted
to, for it was known by experience that the indirect roads which he
ordered them to follow all converged on one goal, namely the exaltation
of the power and dignity of the hierarchy. The king appreciated this
remarkable man, and had long endeavored to attach him to the court, as
keeper of the royal seal; but Ameni was not to be induced to give up
his apparently modest position; for he contemned all outward show
and ostentatious titles; he ventured sometimes to oppose a decided
resistance to the measures of the Pharaoh,

   [Pharaoh is the Hebrew form of the Egyptian Peraa--or Phrah. “The
   great house,” “sublime house,” or “high gate” is the literal

and was not minded to give up his unlimited control of the priests for
the sake of a limited dominion over what seemed to him petty external
concerns, in the service of a king who was only too independent and hard
to influence.

He regularly arranged his mode and habits of life in an exceptional way.

Eight days out of ten he remained in the temple entrusted to his charge;
two he devoted to his family, who lived on the other bank of the Nile;
but he let no one, not even those nearest to him, know what portion of
the ten days he gave up to recreation. He required only four hours of
sleep. This he usually took in a dark room which no sound could reach,
and in the middle of the day; never at night, when the coolness and
quiet seemed to add to his powers of work, and when from time to time he
could give himself up to the study of the starry heavens.

All the ceremonials that his position required of him, the cleansing,
purification, shaving, and fasting he fulfilled with painful exactitude,
and the outer bespoke the inner man.

Ameni was entering on his fiftieth year; his figure was tall, and had
escaped altogether the stoutness to which at that age the Oriental is
liable. The shape of his smoothly-shaven head was symmetrical and of a
long oval; his forehead was neither broad nor high, but his profile was
unusually delicate, and his face striking; his lips were thin and dry,
and his large and piercing eyes, though neither fiery nor brilliant, and
usually cast down to the ground under his thick eyebrows, were raised
with a full, clear, dispassionate gaze when it was necessary to see and
to examine.

The poet of the House of Seti, the young Pentaur, who knew these eyes,
had celebrated them in song, and had likened them to a well-disciplined
army which the general allows to rest before and after the battle, so
that they may march in full strength to victory in the fight.

The refined deliberateness of his nature had in it much that was royal
as well as priestly; it was partly intrinsic and born with him, partly
the result of his own mental self-control. He had many enemies, but
calumny seldom dared to attack the high character of Amemi.

The high-priest looked up in astonishment, as the disturbance in the
court of the temple broke in on his studies.

The room in which he was sitting was spacious and cool; the lower part
of the walls was lined with earthenware tiles, the upper half plastered
and painted. But little was visible of the masterpieces of the artists
of the establishment, for almost everywhere they were concealed by
wooden closets and shelves, in which were papyrus-rolls and wax-tablets.
A large table, a couch covered with a panther’s skin, a footstool in
front of it, and on it a crescent-shaped support for the head, made of

   [A support of crescent form on which the Egyptians rested their
   heads. Many specimens were found in the catacombs, and similar
   objects are still used in Nubia]

several seats, a stand with beakers and jugs, and another with flasks of
all sizes, saucers, and boxes, composed the furniture of the room,
which was lighted by three lamps, shaped like birds and filled with kiki
oil.--[Castor oil, which was used in the lamps.]

Ameni wore a fine pleated robe of snow-white linen, which reached to his
ankles, round his hips was a scarf adorned with fringes, which in front
formed an apron, with broad, stiffened ends which fell to his knees; a
wide belt of white and silver brocade confined the drapery of his robe.
Round his throat and far down on his bare breast hung a necklace more
than a span deep, composed of pearls and agates, and his upper arm was
covered with broad gold bracelets. He rose from the ebony seat with
lion’s feet, on which he sat, and beckoned to a servant who squatted by
one of the walls of the sitting-room. He rose and without any word
of command from his master, he silently and carefully placed on the
high-priest’s bare head a long and thick curled wig,

   [Egyptians belonging to the higher classes wore wigs on their shaven
   heads. Several are preserved in museums.]

and threw a leopard-skin, with its head and claws overlaid with
gold-leaf, over his shoulders. A second servant held a metal mirror
before Ameni, in which he cast a look as he settled the panther-skin and

A third servant was handing him the crosier, the insignia of his dignity
as a prelate, when a priest entered and announced the scribe Pentaur.

Ameni nodded, and the young priest who had talked with the princess
Bent-Anat at the temple-gate came into the room.

Pentaur knelt and kissed the hand of the prelate, who gave him his
blessing, and in a clear sweet voice, and rather formal and unfamiliar
language--as if he were reading rather than speaking, said:

“Rise, my son; your visit will save me a walk at this untimely hour,
since you can inform me of what disturbs the disciples in our temple.

“Little of consequence has occurred, holy father,” replied Pentaur. “Nor
would I have disturbed thee at this hour, but that a quite unnecessary
tumult has been raised by the youths; and that the princess Bent-Anat
appeared in person to request the aid of a physician. The unusual hour
and the retinue that followed her--”

“Is the daughter of Pharaoh sick?” asked the prelate.

“No, father. She is well--even to wantonness, since--wishing to
prove the swiftness of her horses--she ran over the daughter of the
paraschites Pinem. Noble-hearted as she is, she herself carried the
sorely-wounded girl to her house.”

“She entered the dwelling of the unclean.”

“Thou hast said.”

“And she now asks to be purified?”

“I thought I might venture to absolve her, father, for the purest
humanity led her to the act, which was no doubt a breach of discipline,

“But,” asked the high-priest in a grave voice and he raised his eyes
which he had hitherto on the ground.

“But,” said the young priest, and now his eyes fell, “which can surely
be no crime. When Ra--[The Egyptian Sun-god.]--in his golden bark sails
across the heavens, his light falls as freely and as bountifully on the
hut of the despised poor as on the Palace of the Pharaohs; and shall the
tender human heart withhold its pure light--which is benevolence--from
the wretched, only because they are base?”

“It is the poet Pentaur that speaks,” said the prelate, “and not the
priest to whom the privilege was given to be initiated into the highest
grade of the sages, and whom I call my brother and my equal. I have no
advantage over you, young man, but perishable learning, which the past
has won for you as much as for me--nothing but certain perceptions and
experiences that offer nothing new, to the world, but teach us, indeed,
that it is our part to maintain all that is ancient in living efficacy
and practice. That which you promised a few weeks since, I many years
ago vowed to the Gods; to guard knowledge as the exclusive possession
of the initiated. Like fire, it serves those who know its uses to the
noblest ends, but in the hands of children--and the people, the mob,
can never ripen into manhood--it is a destroying brand, raging and
unextinguishable, devouring all around it, and destroying all that has
been built and beautified by the past. And how can we remain the Sages
and continue to develop and absorb all learning within the shelter
of our temples, not only without endangering the weak, but for their
benefit? You know and have sworn to act after that knowledge. To bind
the crowd to the faith and the institutions of the fathers is your
duty--is the duty of every priest. Times have changed, my son; under the
old kings the fire, of which I spoke figuratively to you--the poet--was
enclosed in brazen walls which the people passed stupidly by. Now I see
breaches in the old fortifications; the eyes of the uninitiated have
been sharpened, and one tells the other what he fancies he has spied,
though half-blinded, through the glowing rifts.”

A slight emotion had given energy to the tones of the speaker, and while
he held the poet spell-bound with his piercing glance he continued:

“We curse and expel any one of the initiated who enlarges these
breaches; we punish even the friend who idly neglects to repair and
close them with beaten brass!”

“My father!” cried Pentaur, raising his head in astonishment while the
blood mounted to his cheeks. The high-priest went up to him and laid
both hands on his shoulders.

They were of equal height and of equally symmetrical build; even the
outline of their features was similar. Nevertheless no one would have
taken them to be even distantly related; their countenances were so
infinitely unlike in expression.

On the face of one were stamped a strong will and the power of firmly
guiding his life and commanding himself; on the other, an amiable desire
to overlook the faults and defects of the world, and to contemplate life
as it painted itself in the transfiguring magic-mirror of his poet’s
soul. Frankness and enjoyment spoke in his sparkling eye, but the subtle
smile on his lips when he was engaged in a discussion, or when his soul
was stirred, betrayed that Pentaur, far from childlike carelessness, had
fought many a severe mental battle, and had tasted the dark waters of

At this moment mingled feelings were struggling in his soul. He felt as
if he must withstand the speaker; and yet the powerful presence of the
other exercised so strong an influence over his mind, long trained to
submission, that he was silent, and a pious thrill passed through him
when Ameni’s hands were laid on his shoulders.

“I blame you,” said the high-priest, while he firmly held the young man,
“nay, to my sorrow I must chastise you; and yet,” he said, stepping back
and taking his right hand, “I rejoice in the necessity, for I love you
and honor you, as one whom the Unnameable has blessed with high gifts
and destined to great things. Man leaves a weed to grow unheeded or
roots it up but you are a noble tree, and I am like the gardener who
has forgotten to provide it with a prop, and who is now thankful to
have detected a bend that reminds him of his neglect. You look at me
enquiringly, and I can see in your eyes that I seem to you a severe
judge. Of what are you accused? You have suffered an institution of
the past to be set aside. It does not matter--so the short-sighted and
heedless think; but I say to you, you have doubly transgressed, because
the wrong-doer was the king’s daughter, whom all look up to, great and
small, and whose actions may serve as an example to the people. On whom
then must a breach of the ancient institutions lie with the darkest
stain if not on the highest in rank? In a few days it will be said the
paraschites are men even as we are, and the old law to avoid them as
unclean is folly. And will the reflections of the people, think you, end
there, when it is so easy for them to say that he who errs in one point
may as well fail in all? In questions of faith, my son, nothing is
insignificant. If we open one tower to the enemy he is master of the
whole fortress. In these unsettled times our sacred lore is like a
chariot on the declivity of a precipice, and under the wheels thereof a
stone. A child takes away the stone, and the chariot rolls down into the
abyss and is dashed to pieces. Imagine the princess to be that child,
and the stone a loaf that she would fain give to feed a beggar. Would
you then give it to her if your father and your mother and all that is
dear and precious to you were in the chariot? Answer not! the princess
will visit the paraschites again to-morrow. You must await her in the
man’s hut, and there inform her that she has transgressed and must crave
to be purified by us. For this time you are excused from any further

“Heaven has bestowed on you a gifted soul. Strive for that which is
wanting to you--the strength to subdue, to crush for One--and you know
that One--all things else--even the misguiding voice of your heart, the
treacherous voice of your judgment.--But stay! send leeches to the house
of the paraschites, and desire them to treat the injured girl as though
she were the queen herself. Who knows where the man dwells?”

“The princess,” replied Pentaur, “has left Paaker, the king’s pioneer,
behind in the temple to conduct the leeches to the house of Pinem.”

The grave high-priest smiled and said. “Paaker! to attend the daughter
of a paraschites.”

Pentaur half beseechingly and half in fun raised his eyes which he had
kept cast down. “And Pentaur,” he murmured, “the gardener’s son! who is
to refuse absolution to the king’s daughter!”

“Pentaur, the minister of the Gods--Pentaur, the priest--has not to do
with the daughter of the king, but with the transgressor of the sacred
institutions,” replied Ameni gravely. “Let Paaker know I wish to speak
with him.”

The poet bowed low and quitted the room, the high priest muttered to
himself: “He is not yet what he should be, and speech is of no effect
with him.”

For a while he was silent, walking to and fro in meditation; then he
said half aloud, “And the boy is destined to great things. What gifts of
the Gods doth he lack? He has the faculty of learning--of thinking--of
feeling--of winning all hearts, even mine. He keeps himself undefiled
and separate--” suddenly the prelate paused and struck his hand on the
back of a chair that stood by him. “I have it; he has not yet felt the
fire of ambition. We will light it for his profit and our own.”


Pentauer hastened to execute the commands of the high-priest. He sent
a servant to escort Paaker, who was waiting in the forecourt, into the
presence of Ameni while he himself repaired to the physicians to impress
on them the most watchful care of the unfortunate girl.

Many proficients in the healing arts were brought up in the house of
Seti, but few used to remain after passing the examination for the
degree of Scribe.

   [What is here stated with regard to the medical schools is
   principally derived from the medical writings of the Egyptians
   themselves, among which the “Ebers Papyrus” holds the first place,
   “Medical Papyrus I.” of Berlin the second, and a hieratic MS. in
   London which, like the first mentioned, has come down to us from the
   18th dynasty, takes the third. Also see Herodotus II. 84. Diodorus
   I. 82.]

The most gifted were sent to Heliopolis, where flourished, in the great
“Hall of the Ancients,” the most celebrated medical faculty of the whole
country, whence they returned to Thebes, endowed with the highest
honors in surgery, in ocular treatment, or in any other branch of
their profession, and became physicians to the king or made a living by
imparting their learning and by being called in to consult on serious

Naturally most of the doctors lived on the east bank of the Nile, in
Thebes proper, and even in private houses with their families; but each
was attached to a priestly college.

Whoever required a physician sent for him, not to his own house, but to
a temple. There a statement was required of the complaint from which the
sick was suffering, and it was left to the principal medical staff of
the sanctuary to select that of the healing art whose special knowledge
appeared to him to be suited for the treatment of the case.

Like all priests, the physicians lived on the income which came to
them from their landed property, from the gifts of the king, the
contributions of the laity, and the share which was given them of the
state-revenues; they expected no honorarium from their patients, but the
restored sick seldom neglected making a present to the sanctuary whence
a physician had come to them, and it was not unusual for the priestly
leech to make the recovery of the sufferer conditional on certain gifts
to be offered to the temple.

The medical knowledge of the Egyptians was, according to every
indication, very considerable; but it was natural that physicians, who
stood by the bed of sickness as “ordained servants of the Divinity,”
 should not be satisfied with a rational treatment of the sufferer,
and should rather think that they could not dispense with the mystical
effects of prayers and vows.

Among the professors of medicine in the House of Seti there were men
of the most different gifts and bent of mind; but Pentaur was not for
a moment in doubt as to which should be entrusted with the treatment
of the girl who had been run over, and for whom he felt the greatest

The one he chose was the grandson of a celebrated leech, long
since dead, whose name of Nebsecht he had inherited, and a beloved
school-friend and old comrade of Pentaur.

This young man had from his earliest years shown high and hereditary
talent for the profession to which he had devoted himself; he had
selected surgery

   [Among the six hermetic books of medicine mentioned by Clement of
   Alexandria, was one devoted to surgical instruments: otherwise the
   very badly-set fractures found in some of the mummies do little
   honor to the Egyptian surgeons.]

for his special province at Heliopolis, and would certainly have
attained the dignity of teacher there if an impediment in his speech had
not debarred him from the viva voce recitation of formulas and prayers.

This circumstance, which was deeply lamented by his parents and tutors,
was in fact, in the best opinions, an advantage to him; for it often
happens that apparent superiority does us damage, and that from apparent
defect springs the saving of our life.

Thus, while the companions of Nebsecht were employed in declaiming or in
singing, he, thanks to his fettered tongue, could give himself up to his
inherited and almost passionate love of observing organic life; and
his teachers indulged up to a certain point his innate spirit of
investigation, and derived benefit from his knowledge of the human and
animal structures, and from the dexterity of his handling.

His deep aversion for the magical part of his profession would have
brought him heavy punishment, nay very likely would have cost him
expulsion from the craft, if he had ever given it expression in any
form. But Nebsecht’s was the silent and reserved nature of the learned
man, who free from all desire of external recognition, finds a rich
satisfaction in the delights of investigation; and he regarded every
demand on him to give proof of his capacity, as a vexatious but
unavoidable intrusion on his unassuming but laborious and fruitful

Nebsecht was dearer and nearer to Pentaur than any other of his

He admired his learning and skill; and when the slightly-built surgeon,
who was indefatigable in his wanderings, roved through the thickets
by the Nile, the desert, or the mountain range, the young poet-priest
accompanied him with pleasure and with great benefit to himself, for his
companion observed a thousand things to which without him he would have
remained for ever blind; and the objects around him, which were known to
him only by their shapes, derived connection and significance from the
explanations of the naturalist, whose intractable tongue moved freely
when it was required to expound to his friend the peculiarities of
organic beings whose development he had been the first to detect.

The poet was dear in the sight of Nebsecht, and he loved Pentaur, who
possessed all the gifts he lacked; manly beauty, childlike lightness of
heart, the frankest openness, artistic power, and the gift of expressing
in word and song every emotion that stirred his soul. The poet was as a
novice in the order in which Nebsecht was master, but quite capable of
understanding its most difficult points; so it happened that Nebsecht
attached greater value to his judgment than to that of his own
colleagues, who showed themselves fettered by prejudice, while Pentaur’s
decision always was free and unbiassed.

The naturalist’s room lay on the ground floor, and had no living-rooms
above it, being under one of the granaries attached to the temple. It
was as large as a public hall, and yet Pentaur, making his way towards
the silent owner of the room, found it everywhere strewed with thick
bundles of every variety of plant, with cages of palm-twigs piled
four or five high, and a number of jars, large and small, covered
with perforated paper. Within these prisons moved all sorts of living
creatures, from the jerboa, the lizard of the Nile, and a light-colored
species of owl, to numerous specimens of frogs, snakes, scorpions and

On the solitary table in the middle of the room, near to a
writing-stand, lay bones of animals, with various sharp flints and
bronze knives.

In a corner of this room lay a mat, on which stood a wooden head-prop,
indicating that the naturalist was in the habit of sleeping on it.

When Pentaur’s step was heard on the threshold of this strange abode,
its owner pushed a rather large object under the table, threw a cover
over it, and hid a sharp flint scalpel

   [The Egyptians seem to have preferred to use flint instruments for
   surgical purposes, at any rate for the opening of bodies and for
   circumcision. Many flint instruments have been found and preserved
   in museums.]

fixed into a wooden handle, which he had just been using, in the folds
of his robe-as a school-boy might hide some forbidden game from his
master. Then he crossed his arms, to give himself the aspect of a man
who is dreaming in harmless idleness.

The solitary lamp, which was fixed on a high stand near his chair, shed
a scanty light, which, however, sufficed to show him his trusted friend
Pentaur, who had disturbed Nebsecht in his prohibited occupations.
Nebsecht nodded to him as he entered, and, when he had seen who it was,

“You need not have frightened me so!” Then he drew out from under the
table the object he had hidden--a living rabbit fastened down to a
board-and continued his interrupted observations on the body, which he
had opened and fastened back with wooden pins while the heart continued
to beat.

He took no further notice of Pentaur, who for some time silently watched
the investigator; then he laid his hand on his shoulder and said:

“Lock your door more carefully, when you are busy with forbidden

“They took--they took away the bar of the door lately,” stammered the
naturalist, “when they caught me dissecting the hand of the forger
Ptahmes.”--[The law sentenced forgers to lose a hand.]

“The mummy of the poor man will find its right hand wanting,” answered
the poet.

“He will not want it out there.”

“Did you bury the least bit of an image in his grave?”

   [Small statuettes, placed in graves to help the dead in the work
   performed in the under-world. They have axes and ploughs in their
   hands, and seed-bags on their backs. The sixth chapter of the Book
   of the Dead is inscribed on nearly all.]


“You go very far, Nebsecht, and are not foreseeing, ‘He who needlessly
hurts an innocent animal shall be served in the same way by the spirits
of the netherworld,’ says the law; but I see what you will say. You hold
it lawful to put a beast to pain, when you can thereby increase that
knowledge by which you alleviate the sufferings of man, and enrich--”

“And do not you?”

A gentle smile passed over Pentaur’s face; leaned over the animal and

“How curious! the little beast still lives and breathes; a man would
have long been dead under such treatment. His organism is perhaps of a
more precious, subtle, and so more fragile nature?”

Nebsecht shrugged his shoulders.

“Perhaps!” he said.

“I thought you must know.”

“I--how should I?” asked the leech. “I have told you--they would not
even let me try to find out how the hand of a forger moves.”

“Consider, the scripture tells us the passage of the soul depends on the
preservation of the body.”

Nebsecht looked up with his cunning little eyes and shrugging his
shoulders, said:

“Then no doubt it is so: however these things do not concern me. Do
what you like with the souls of men; I seek to know something of their
bodies, and patch them when they are damaged as well as may be.”

“Nay-Toth be praised, at least you need not deny that you are master in
that art.”

   [Toth is the god of the learned and of physicians. The Ibis was
   sacred to him, and he was usually represented as Ibis-headed. Ra
   created him “a beautiful light to show the name of his evil enemy.”
    Originally the Dfoon-god, he became the lord of time and measure.
   He is the weigher, the philosopher among the gods, the lord of
   writing, of art and of learning. The Greeks called him Hermes
   Trismegistus, i.e. threefold or “very great” which was, in fact, in
   imitation of the Egyptians, whose name Toth or Techud signified
   twofold, in the same way “very great”]

“Who is master,” asked Nebsecht, “excepting God? I can do nothing,
nothing at all, and guide my instruments with hardly more certainty than
a sculptor condemned to work in the dark.”

“Something like the blind Resu then,” said Pentaur smiling, “who
understood painting better than all the painters who could see.”

“In my operations there is a ‘better’ and a ‘worse;’” said Nebsecht,
“but there is nothing ‘good.’”

“Then we must be satisfied with the ‘better,’ and I have come to claim
it,” said Pentaur.

“Are you ill?”

“Isis be praised, I feel so well that I could uproot a palm-tree, but I
would ask you to visit a sick girl. The princess Bent-Anat--”

“The royal family has its own physicians.”

“Let me speak! the princess Bent-Anat has run over a young girl, and the
poor child is seriously hurt.”

“Indeed,” said the student reflectively. “Is she over there in the city,
or here in the Necropolis?”

“Here. She is in fact the daughter of a paraschites.”

“Of a paraschites?” exclaimed Nebsecht, once more slipping the rabbit
under the table, “then I will go.”

“You curious fellow. I believe you expect to find something strange
among the unclean folk.”

“That is my affair; but I will go. What is the man’s name?”


“There will be nothing to be done with him,” muttered the student,
“however--who knows?”

With these words he rose, and opening a tightly closed flask he dropped
some strychnine on the nose and in the mouth of the rabbit, which
immediately ceased to breathe. Then he laid it in a box and said, “I am

“But you cannot go out of doors in this stained dress.”

The physician nodded assent, and took from a chest a clean robe, which
he was about to throw on over the other! but Pentaur hindered him.
“First take off your working dress,” he said laughing. “I will help you.
But, by Besa, you have as many coats as an onion.”

   [Besa, the god of the toilet of the Egyptians. He was represented
   as a deformed pigmy. He led the women to conquest in love, and the
   men in war. He was probably of Arab origin.]

Pentaur was known as a mighty laugher among his companions, and his loud
voice rung in the quiet room, when he discovered that his friend was
about to put a third clean robe over two dirty ones, and wear no less
than three dresses at once.

Nebsecht laughed too, and said, “Now I know why my clothes were so
heavy, and felt so intolerably hot at noon. While I get rid of my
superfluous clothing, will you go and ask the high-priest if I have
leave to quit the temple.”

“He commissioned me to send a leech to the paraschites, and added that
the girl was to be treated like a queen.”

“Ameni? and did he know that we have to do with a paraschites?”


“Then I shall begin to believe that broken limbs may be set with
vows-aye, vows! You know I cannot go alone to the sick, because my
leather tongue is unable to recite the sentences or to wring rich
offerings for the temple from the dying. Go, while I undress, to the
prophet Gagabu and beg him to send the pastophorus Teta, who usually
accompanies me.”

“I would seek a young assistant rather than that blind old man.”

“Not at all. I should be glad if he would stay at home, and only let his
tongue creep after me like an eel or a slug. Head and heart have nothing
to do with his wordy operations, and they go on like an ox treading out

   [In Egypt, as in Palestine, beasts trod out the corn, as we learn
   from many pictures in the catacombs, even in the remotest ages;
   often with the addition of a weighted sledge, to the runners of
   which rollers are attached. It is now called noreg.]

“It is true,” said Pentaur; “just lately I saw the old man singing out
his litanies by a sick-bed, and all the time quietly counting the dates,
of which they had given him a whole sack-full.”

“He will be unwilling to go to the paraschites, who is poor, and he
would sooner seize the whole brood of scorpions yonder than take a piece
of bread from the hand of the unclean. Tell him to come and fetch me,
and drink some wine. There stands three days’ allowance; in this hot
weather it dims my sight.

“Does the paraschites live to the north or south of the Necropolis?”

“I think to the north. Paaker, the king’s pioneer, will show you the

“He!” exclaimed the student, laughing. “What day in the calendar is
this, then?

   [Calendars have been preserved, the completest is the papyrus
   Sallier IV., which has been admirably treated by F. Chabas. Many
   days are noted as lucky, unlucky, etc. In the temples many
   Calendars of feasts have been found, the most perfect at Medinet
   Abu, deciphered by Dumich.]

The child of a paraschites is to be tended like a princess, and a leech
have a noble to guide him, like the Pharaoh himself! I ought to have
kept on my three robes!”

“The night is warm,” said Pentaur.

“But Paaker has strange ways with him. Only the day before yesterday I
was called to a poor boy whose collar bone he had simply smashed with
his stick. If I had been the princess’s horse I would rather have
trodden him down than a poor little girl.”

“So would I,” said Pentaur laughing, and left the room to request The
second prophet Gagabu, who was also the head of the medical staff of the
House of Seti, to send the blind pastophorus

   [The Pastophori were an order of priests to which the physicians

Teta, with his friend as singer of the litany.


Pentaur knew where to seek Gagabu, for he himself had been invited to
the banquet which the prophet had prepared in honor of two sages who had
lately come to the House of Seti from the university of Chennu.

   [Chennu was situated on a bend of the Nile, not far from the Nubian
   frontier; it is now called Gebel Silsilch; it was in very ancient
   times the seat of a celebrated seminary.]

In an open court, surrounded by gaily-painted wooden pillars, and
lighted by many lamps, sat the feasting priests in two long rows on
comfortable armchairs. Before each stood a little table, and servants
were occupied in supplying them with the dishes and drinks, which were
laid out on a splendid table in the middle of the court. Joints of

   [Gazelles were tamed for domestic animals: we find them in the
   representations of the herds of the wealthy Egyptians and as
   slaughtered for food. The banquet is described from the pictures of
   feasts which have been found in the tombs.]

roast geese and ducks, meat pasties, artichokes, asparagus and other
vegetables, and various cakes and sweetmeats were carried to the guests,
and their beakers well-filled with the choice wines of which there was
never any lack in the lofts of the House of Seti.

   [Cellars maintain the mean temperature of the climate, and in Egypt
   are hot Wine was best preserved in shady and airy lofts.]

In the spaces between the guests stood servants with metal bowls, in
which they might wash their hands, and towels of fine linen.

When their hunger was appeased, the wine flowed more freely, and each
guest was decked with sweetly-smelling flowers, whose odor was supposed
to add to the vivacity of the conversation.

Many of the sharers in this feast wore long, snowwhite garments, and
were of the class of the Initiated into the mysteries of the faith, as
well as chiefs of the different orders of priests of the House of Seti.

The second prophet, Gagabu, who was to-day charged with the conduct of
the feast by Ameni--who on such occasions only showed himself for a few
minutes--was a short, stout man with a bald and almost spherical head.
His features were those of a man of advancing years, but well-formed,
and his smoothly-shaven, plump cheeks were well-rounded. His grey eyes
looked out cheerfully and observantly, but had a vivid sparkle when he
was excited and began to twitch his thick, sensual mouth.

Close by him stood the vacant, highly-ornamented chair of the
high-priest, and next to him sat the priests arrived from Chennu, two
tall, dark-colored old men. The remainder of the company was arranged in
the order of precedency, which they held in the priests’ colleges, and
which bore no relation to their respective ages.

But strictly as the guests were divided with reference to their rank,
they mixed without distinction in the conversation.

“We know how to value our call to Thebes,” said the elder of the
strangers from Chennu, Tuauf, whose essays were frequently used in the
schools,--[Some of them are still in existence]--“for while, on one
hand, it brings us into the neighborhood of the Pharaoh, where life,
happiness, and safety flourish, on the other it procures us the honor
of counting ourselves among your number; for, though the university of
Chennu in former times was so happy as to bring up many great men, whom
she could call her own, she can no longer compare with the House of
Seti. Even Heliopolis and Memphis are behind you; and if I, my humble
self, nevertheless venture boldly among you, it is because I ascribe
your success as much to the active influence of the Divinity in your
temple, which may promote my acquirements and achievements, as to your
great gifts and your industry, in which I will not be behind you. I have
already seen your high-priest Ameni--what a man! And who does not know
thy name, Gagabu, or thine, Meriapu?”

“And which of you,” asked the other new-comer, “may we greet as the
author of the most beautiful hymn to Amon, which was ever sung in the
land of the Sycamore? Which of you is Pentaur?”

“The empty chair yonder,” answered Gagabu, pointing to a seat at the
lower end of the table, “is his. He is the youngest of us all, but a
great future awaits him.”

“And his songs,” added the elder of the strangers. “Without doubt,”
 replied the chief of the haruspices,--[One of the orders of priests in
the Egyptian hierarchy]--an old man with a large grey curly head, that
seemed too heavy for his thin neck, which stretched forward--perhaps
from the habit of constantly watching for signs--while his prominent
eyes glowed with a fanatical gleam. “Without doubt the Gods have granted
great gifts to our young friend, but it remains to be proved how he will
use them. I perceive a certain freedom of thought in the youth, which
pains me deeply. Although in his poems his flexible style certainly
follows the prescribed forms, his ideas transcend all tradition; and
even in the hymns intended for the ears of the people I find turns of
thought, which might well be called treason to the mysteries which only
a few months ago he swore to keep secret. For instance he says--and we
sing--and the laity hear--

       “One only art Thou, Thou Creator of beings;
        And Thou only makest all that is created.

And again--

        He is one only, Alone, without equal;
        Dwelling alone in the holiest of holies.”

   [Hymn to Amon preserved in a papyrus roll at Bulaq, and deciphered
   by Grehaut and L. Stern.]

Such passages as these ought not to be sung in public, at least in times
like ours, when new ideas come in upon us from abroad, like the swarms
of locusts from the East.”

“Spoken to my very soul!” cried the treasurer of the temple, “Ameni
initiated this boy too early into the mysteries.”

“In my opinion, and I am his teacher,” said Gagabu, “our brotherhood may
be proud of a member who adds so brilliantly to the fame of our temple.
The people hear the hymns without looking closely at the meaning of the
words. I never saw the congregation more devout, than when the beautiful
and deeply-felt song of praise was sung at the feast of the stairs.”

   [A particularly solemn festival in honor of Amon-Chem, held in the
   temple of Medinet-Abu.]

“Pentaur was always thy favorite,” said the former speaker. “Thou
wouldst not permit in any one else many things that are allowed to
him. His hymns are nevertheless to me and to many others a dangerous
performance; and canst thou dispute the fact that we have grounds for
grave anxiety, and that things happen and circumstances grow up around
us which hinder us, and at last may perhaps crush us, if we do not,
while there is yet time, inflexibly oppose them?”

“Thou bringest sand to the desert, and sugar to sprinkle over honey,”
 exclaimed Gagabu, and his lips began to twitch. “Nothing is now as it
ought to be, and there will be a hard battle to fight; not with the
sword, but with this--and this.” And the impatient man touched his
forehead and his lips. “And who is there more competent than my
disciple? There is the champion of our cause, a second cap of Hor, that
overthrew the evil one with winged sunbeams, and you come and would
clip his wings and blunt his claws! Alas, alas, my lords! will you
never understand that a lion roars louder than a cat, and the sun shines
brighter than an oil-lamp? Let Pentuar alone, I say; or you will do as
the man did, who, for fear of the toothache, had his sound teeth drawn.
Alas, alas, in the years to come we shall have to bite deep into
the flesh, till the blood flows, if we wish to escape being eaten up

“The enemy is not unknown to us also,” said the elder priest from
Chennu, “although we, on the remote southern frontier of the kingdom,
have escaped many evils that in the north have eaten into our body like
a cancer. Here foreigners are now hardly looked upon at all as
unclean and devilish.”--[“Typhonisch,” belonging to Typhon or

“Hardly?” exclaimed the chief of the haruspices; “they are invited,
caressed, and honored. Like dust, when the simoon blows through the
chinks of a wooden house, they crowd into the houses and temples, taint
our manners and language;

   [At no period Egyptian writers use more Semitic words than during
   the reigns of Rameses II. and his son Mernephtah.]

nay, on the throne of the successors of Ra sits a descendant--”

“Presumptuous man!” cried the voice of the high-priest, who at this
instant entered the hall, “Hold your tongue, and be not so bold as
to wag it against him who is our king, and wields the sceptre in this
kingdom as the Vicar of Ra.”

The speaker bowed and was silent, then he and all the company rose to
greet Ameni, who bowed to them all with polite dignity, took his seat,
and turning to Gagabu asked him carelessly:

“I find you all in most unpriestly excitement; what has disturbed your

“We were discussing the overwhelming influx of foreigners into Egypt,
and the necessity of opposing some resistance to them.”

“You will find me one of the foremost in the attempt,” replied Ameni.
“We have endured much already, and news has arrived from the north,
which grieves me deeply.”

“Have our troops sustained a defeat?”

“They continue to be victorious, but thousands of our countrymen have
fallen victims in the fight or on the march. Rameses demands fresh
reinforcements. The pioneer, Paaker, has brought me a letter from our
brethren who accompany the king, and delivered a document from him
to the Regent, which contains the order to send to him fifty thousand
fighting men: and as the whole of the soldier-caste and all the
auxiliaries are already under arms, the bondmen of the temple, who till
our acres, are to be levied, and sent into Asia.”

A murmur of disapproval arose at these words. The chief of the
haruspices stamped his foot, and Gagabu asked:

“What do you mean to do?”

“To prepare to obey the commands of the king,” answered Ameni, “and to
call the heads of the temples of the city of Anion here without delay to
hold a council. Each must first in his holy of holies seek good counsel
of the Celestials. When we have come to a conclusion, we must next win
the Viceroy over to our side. Who yesterday assisted at his prayers?”

“It was my turn,” said the chief of the haruspices.

“Follow me to my abode, when the meal is over.” commanded Ameni. “But
why is our poet missing from our circle?”

At this moment Pentaur came into the hall, and while he bowed easily and
with dignity to the company and low before Ameni, he prayed him to grant
that the pastophorus Teta should accompany the leech Nebsecht to visit
the daughter of the paraschites.

Ameni nodded consent and exclaimed: “They must make haste. Paaker waits
for them at the great gate, and will accompany them in my chariot.”

As soon as Pentaur had left the party of feasters, the old priest from
Chennu exclaimed, as he turned to Ameni:

“Indeed, holy father, just such a one and no other had I pictured your
poet. He is like the Sun-god, and his demeanor is that of a prince. He
is no doubt of noble birth.”

“His father is a homely gardener,” said the highpriest, “who indeed
tills the land apportioned to him with industry and prudence, but is
of humble birth and rough exterior. He sent Pentaur to the school at an
early age, and we have brought up the wonderfully gifted boy to be what
he now is.”

“What office does he fill here in the temple?”

“He instructs the elder pupils of the high-school in grammar and
eloquence; he is also an excellent observer of the starry heavens, and
a most skilled interpreter of dreams,” replied Gagabu. “But here he is
again. To whom is Paaker conducting our stammering physician and his

“To the daughter of the paraschites, who has been run over,” answered
Pentaur. “But what a rough fellow this pioneer is. His voice hurts my
ears, and he spoke to our leeches as if they had been his slaves.”

“He was vexed with the commission the princess had devolved on him,”
 said the high-priest benevolently, “and his unamiable disposition is
hardly mitigated by his real piety.”

“And yet,” said an old priest, “his brother, who left us some years
ago, and who had chosen me for his guide and teacher, was a particularly
loveable and docile youth.”

“And his father,” said Ameni, “was one of the most superior energetic,
and withal subtle-minded of men.”

“Then he has derived his bad peculiarities from his mother?”

“By no means. She is a timid, amiable, soft-hearted woman.”

“But must the child always resemble its parents?” asked Pentaur. “Among
the sons of the sacred bull, sometimes not one bears the distinguishing
mark of his father.”

“And if Paaker’s father were indeed an Apis,” Gagabu laughing,
“according to your view the pioneer himself belongs, alas! to the
peasant’s stable.”

Pentaur did not contradict him, but said with a smile:

“Since he left the school bench, where his school-fellows called him the
wild ass on account of his unruliness, he has remained always the same.
He was stronger than most of them, and yet they knew no greater pleasure
than putting him in a rage.”

“Children are so cruel!” said Ameni. “They judge only by appearances,
and never enquire into the causes of them. The deficient are as guilty
in their eyes as the idle, and Paaker could put forward small claims
to their indulgence. I encourage freedom and merriment,” he continued
turning to the priests from Cheraw, “among our disciples, for in
fettering the fresh enjoyment of youth we lame our best assistant. The
excrescences on the natural growth of boys cannot be more surely or
painlessly extirpated than in their wild games. The school-boy is the
school-boy’s best tutor.”

“But Paaker,” said the priest Meriapu, “was not improved by the
provocations of his companions. Constant contests with them increased
that roughness which now makes him the terror of his subordinates and
alienates all affection.”

“He is the most unhappy of all the many youths, who were intrusted to my
care,” said Ameni, “and I believe I know why,--he never had a childlike
disposition, even when in years he was still a child, and the Gods had
denied him the heavenly gift of good humor. Youth should be modest, and
he was assertive from his childhood. He took the sport of his companions
for earnest, and his father, who was unwise only as a tutor, encouraged
him to resistance instead of to forbearance, in the idea that he thus
would be steeled to the hard life of a Mohar.”

   [The severe duties of the Mohar are well known from the papyrus of
   Anastasi I. in the Brit. Mus., which has been ably treated by F.
   Chabas, Voyage d’un Egyptien.]

“I have often heard the deeds of the Mohar spoken of,” said the old
priest from Chennu, “yet I do not exactly know what his office requires
of him.”

“He has to wander among the ignorant and insolent people of hostile
provinces, and to inform himself of the kind and number of the
population, to investigate the direction of the mountains, valleys, and
rivers, to set forth his observations, and to deliver them to the house
of war,

   [Corresponding to our minister of war. A person of the highest
   importance even in the earliest times.]

so that the march of the troops may be guided by them.”

“The Mohar then must be equally skilled as a warrior and as a Scribe.”

“As thou sayest; and Paaker’s father was not a hero only, but at the
same time a writer, whose close and clear information depicted the
country through which he had travelled as plainly as if it were seen
from a mountain height. He was the first who took the title of Mohar.
The king held him in such high esteem, that he was inferior to no one
but the king himself, and the minister of the house of war.”

“Was he of noble race?”

“Of one of the oldest and noblest in the country. His father was the
noble warrior Assa,” answered the haruspex, “and he therefore, after he
himself had attained the highest consideration and vast wealth, escorted
home the niece of the King Hor-em-lieb, who would have had a claim to
the throne, as well as the Regent, if the grandfather of the present
Rameses had not seized it from the old family by violence.”

“Be careful of your words,” said Ameni, interrupting the rash old man.
“Rameses I. was and is the grandfather of our sovereign, and in the
king’s veins, from his mother’s side, flows the blood of the legitimate
descendants of the Sun-god.”

“But fuller and purer in those of the Regent the haruspex ventured to

“But Rameses wears the crown,” cried Ameni, “and will continue to wear
it so long as it pleases the Gods. Reflect--your hairs are grey, and
seditious words are like sparks, which are borne by the wind, but which,
if they fall, may set our home in a blaze. Continue your feasting, my
lords; but I would request you to speak no more this evening of the king
and his new decree. You, Pentaur, fulfil my orders to-morrow morning
with energy and prudence.”

The high-priest bowed and left the feast.

As soon as the door was shut behind him, the old priest from Chennu

“What we have learned concerning the pioneer of the king, a man who
holds so high an office, surprises me. Does he distinguish himself by a
special acuteness?”

“He was a steady learner, but of moderate ability.”

“Is the rank of Mohar then as high as that of a prince of the empire?”

“By no means.”

“How then is it--?”

“It is, as it is,” interrupted Gagabu. “The son of the vine-dresser has
his mouth full of grapes, and the child of the door-keeper opens the
lock with words.”

“Never mind,” said an old priest who had hitherto kept silence. “Paaker
earned for himself the post of Mohar, and possesses many praiseworthy
qualities. He is indefatigable and faithful, quails before no danger,
and has always been earnestly devout from his boyhood. When the
other scholars carried their pocket-money to the fruit-sellers and
confectioners at the temple-gates, he would buy geese, and, when his
mother sent him a handsome sum, young gazelles, to offer to the Gods on
the altars. No noble in the land owns a greater treasure of charms and
images of the Gods than he. To the present time he is the most pious of
men, and the offerings for the dead, which he brings in the name of his
late father, may be said to be positively kingly.”

“We owe him gratitude for these gifts,” said the treasurer, “and the
high honor he pays his father, even after his death, is exceptional and

“He emulates him in every respect,” sneered Gagabu; “and though he
does not resemble him in any feature, grows more and more like him.
But unfortunately, it is as the goose resembles the swan, or the owl
resembles the eagle. For his father’s noble pride he has overbearing
haughtiness; for kindly severity, rude harshness; for dignity, conceit;
for perseverance, obstinacy. Devout he is, and we profit by his gifts.
The treasurer may rejoice over them, and the dates off a crooked tree
taste as well as those off a straight one. But if I were the Divinity I
should prize them no higher than a hoopoe’s crest; for He, who sees into
the heart of the giver-alas! what does he see! Storms and darkness
are of the dominion of Seth, and in there--in there--” and the old man
struck his broad breast “all is wrath and tumult, and there is not a
gleam of the calm blue heaven of Ra, that shines soft and pure in the
soul of the pious; no, not a spot as large as this wheaten-cake.”

“Hast thou then sounded to the depths of his soul?” asked the haruspex.

“As this beaker!” exclaimed Gagabu, and he touched the rim of an empty
drinking-vessel. “For fifteen years without ceasing. The man has been of
service to us, is so still, and will continue to be. Our leeches extract
salves from bitter gall and deadly poisons; and folks like these--”

“Hatred speaks in thee,” said the haruspex, interrupting the indignant
old man.

“Hatred!” he retorted, and his lips quivered. “Hatred?” and he struck
his breast with his clenched hand. “It is true, it is no stranger to
this old heart. But open thine ears, O haruspex, and all you others too
shall hear. I recognize two sorts of hatred. The one is between man
and man; that I have gagged, smothered, killed, annihilated--with
what efforts, the Gods know. In past years I have certainly tasted its
bitterness, and served it like a wasp, which, though it knows that in
stinging it must die, yet uses its sting. But now I am old in years,
that is in knowledge, and I know that of all the powerful impulses
which stir our hearts, one only comes solely from Seth, one only
belongs wholly to the Evil one and that is hatred between man and man.
Covetousness may lead to industry, sensual appetites may beget noble
fruit, but hatred is a devastator, and in the soul that it occupies all
that is noble grows not upwards and towards the light, but downwards to
the earth and to darkness. Everything may be forgiven by the Gods, save
only hatred between man and man. But there is another sort of hatred
that is pleasing to the Gods, and which you must cherish if you would
not miss their presence in your souls; that is, hatred for all that
hinders the growth of light and goodness and purity--the hatred of Horus
for Seth. The Gods would punish me if I hated Paaker whose father was
dear to me; but the spirits of darkness would possess the old heart
in my breast if it were devoid of horror for the covetous and sordid
devotee, who would fain buy earthly joys of the Gods with gifts of
beasts and wine, as men exchange an ass for a robe, in whose soul
seethe dark promptings. Paaker’s gifts can no more be pleasing to the
Celestials than a cask of attar of roses would please thee, haruspex, in
which scorpions, centipedes, and venomous snakes were swimming. I have
long led this man’s prayers, and never have I heard him crave for noble
gifts, but a thousand times for the injury of the men he hates.”

“In the holiest prayers that come down to us from the past,” said the
haruspex, “the Gods are entreated to throw our enemies under our feet;
and, besides, I have often heard Paaker pray fervently for the bliss of
his parents.”

“You are a priest and one of the initiated,” cried Gagabu, “and you know
not--or will not seem to know--that by the enemies for whose overthrow
we pray, are meant only the demons of darkness and the outlandish
peoples by whom Egypt is endangered! Paaker prayed for his parents? Ay,
and so will he for his children, for they will be his future as his fore
fathers are his past. If he had a wife, his offerings would be for her
too, for she would be the half of his own present.”

“In spite of all this,” said the haruspex Septah, “you are too hard in
your judgment of Paaker, for although he was born under a lucky sign,
the Hathors denied him all that makes youth happy. The enemy for whose
destruction he prays is Mena, the king’s charioteer, and, indeed, he
must have been of superhuman magnanimity or of unmanly feebleness, if he
could have wished well to the man who robbed him of the beautiful wife
who was destined for him.”

“How could that happen?” asked the priest from Chennu. “A betrothal is

   [In the demotic papyrus preserved at Bulaq (novel by Setnau) first
   treated by H. Brugsch, the following words occur: “Is it not the
   law, which unites one to another?” Betrothed brides are mentioned,
   for instance on the sarcophagus of Unnefer at Bulaq.]

“Paaker,” replied Septah, “was attached with all the strength of his
ungoverned but passionate and faithful heart to his cousin Nefert, the
sweetest maid in Thebes, the daughter of Katuti, his mother’s
sister; and she was promised to him to wife. Then his father, whom he
accompanied on his marches, was mortally wounded in Syria. The king
stood by his death-bed, and granting his last request, invested his son
with his rank and office: Paaker brought the mummy of his father home
to Thebes, gave him princely interment, and then before the time
of mourning was over, hastened back to Syria, where, while the king
returned to Egypt, it was his duty to reconnoitre the new possessions.
At last he could quit the scene of war with the hope of marrying Nefert.
He rode his horse to death the sooner to reach the goal of his desires;
but when he reached Tanis, the city of Rameses, the news met him that
his affianced cousin had been given to another, the handsomest and
bravest man in Thebes--the noble Mena. The more precious a thing is that
we hope to possess, the more we are justified in complaining of him who
contests our claim, and can win it from us. Paaker’s blood must have
been as cold as a frog’s if he could have forgiven Mena instead of
hating him, and the cattle he has offered to the Gods to bring down
their wrath on the head of the traitor may be counted by hundreds.”

“And if you accept them, knowing why they are offered, you do unwisely
and wrongly,” exclaimed Gagabu. “If I were a layman, I would take good
care not to worship a Divinity who condescends to serve the foulest
human fiends for a reward. But the omniscient Spirit, that rules
the world in accordance with eternal laws, knows nothing of these
sacrifices, which only tickle the nostrils of the evil one. The
treasurer rejoices when a beautiful spotless heifer is driven in among
our herds. But Seth rubs his red hands

   [Red was the color of Seth and Typhon. The evil one is named the
   Red, as for instance in the papyrus of fibers. Red-haired men were

with delight that he accepts it. My friends, I have heard the vows which
Paaker has poured out over our pure altars, like hogwash that men set
before swine. Pestilence and boils has he called down on Mena, and
barrenness and heartache on the poor sweet woman; and I really cannot
blame her for preferring a battle-horse to a hippopotamus--a Mena to a

“Yet the Immortals must have thought his remonstrances less
unjustifiable, and have stricter views as to the inviolable nature of a
betrothal than you,” said the treasurer, “for Nefert, during four years
of married life, has passed only a few weeks with her wandering husband,
and remains childless. It is hard to me to understand how you, Gagabu,
who so often absolve where we condemn, can so relentlessly judge so
great a benefactor to our temple.”

“And I fail to comprehend,” exclaimed the old man, “how you--you who so
willingly condemn, can so weakly excuse this--this--call him what you

“He is indispensable to us at this time,” said the haruspex.

“Granted,” said Gagabu, lowering his tone. “And I think still to make
use of him, as the high-priest has done in past years with the best
effect when dangers have threatened us; and a dirty road serves when it
makes for the goal. The Gods themselves often permit safety to come from
what is evil, but shall we therefore call evil good--or say the hideous
is beautiful? Make use of the king’s pioneer as you will, but do
not, because you are indebted to him for gifts, neglect to judge him
according to his imaginings and deeds if you would deserve your title
of the Initiated and the Enlightened. Let him bring his cattle into our
temple and pour his gold into our treasury, but do not defile your souls
with the thought that the offerings of such a heart and such a hand are
pleasing to the Divinity. Above all,” and the voice of the old man had
a heart-felt impressiveness, “Above all, do not flatter the erring
man--and this is what you do, with the idea that he is walking in
the right way; for your, for our first duty, O my friends, is always
this--to guide the souls of those who trust in us to goodness and

“Oh, my master!” cried Pentaur, “how tender is thy severity.”

“I have shown the hideous sores of this man’s soul,” said the old man,
as he rose to quit the hall. “Your praise will aggravate them, your
blame will tend to heal them. Nay, if you are not content to do your
duty, old Gagabu will come some day with his knife, and will throw the
sick man down and cut out the canker.”

During this speech the haruspex had frequently shrugged his shoulders.
Now he said, turning to the priests from Chennu--

“Gagabu is a foolish, hot-headed old man, and you have heard from his
lips just such a sermon as the young scribes keep by them when they
enter on the duties of the care of souls. His sentiments are excellent,
but he easily overlooks small things for the sake of great ones. Ameni
would tell you that ten souls, no, nor a hundred, do not matter when the
safety of the whole is in question.”


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

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

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

   [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

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

“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

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

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

“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

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

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

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 he 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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

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

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.


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

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

“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

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

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

“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

“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

“What is thy name?”


“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.”


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

“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

“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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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

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

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

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

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

“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!”


“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

“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

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

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


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

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

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

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

“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

“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

“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?”


“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

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

“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

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

“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

“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

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

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

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

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.


It was noon: the rays of the sun found no way into the narrow shady
streets of the city of Thebes, but they blazed with scorching heat on
the broad dyke-road which led to the king’s castle, and which at this
hour was usually almost deserted.

To-day it was thronged with foot-passengers and chariots, with riders
and litter-bearers.

Here and there negroes poured water on the road out of skins, but the
dust was so deep, that, in spite of this, it shrouded the streets and
the passengers in a dry cloud, which extended not only over the city,
but down to the harbor where the boats of the inhabitants of the
Necropolis landed their freight.

The city of the Pharaohs was in unwonted agitation, for the storm-swift
breath of rumor had spread some news which excited both alarm and hope
in the huts of the poor as well as in the palaces of the great.

In the early morning three mounted messengers had arrived from the
king’s camp with heavy letter-bags, and had dismounted at the Regent’s

   [The Egyptians were great letter-writers, and many of their letters
   have come down to us, they also had established postmen, and had a
   word for them in their language “fai chat.”]

As after a long drought the inhabitants of a village gaze up at the
black thunder-cloud that gathers above their heads promising the
refreshing rain--but that may also send the kindling lightning-flash or
the destroying hail-storm--so the hopes and the fears of the citizens
were centred on the news which came but rarely and at irregular
intervals from the scene of war; for there was scarcely a house in
the huge city which had not sent a father, a son, or a relative to the
fighting hosts of the king in the distant northeast.

And though the couriers from the camp were much oftener the heralds of
tears than of joy; though the written rolls which they brought told more
often of death and wounds than of promotion, royal favors, and conquered
spoil, yet they were expected with soul-felt longing and received with
shouts of joy.

Great and small hurried after their arrival to the Regent’s palace, and
the scribes--who distributed the letters and read the news which was
intended for public communication, and the lists of those who had fallen
or perished--were closely besieged with enquirers.

Man has nothing harder to endure than uncertainty, and generally, when
in suspense, looks forward to bad rather than to good news. And the
bearers of ill ride faster than the messengers of weal.

The Regent Ani resided in a building adjoining the king’s palace. His
business-quarters surrounded an immensely wide court, and consisted of
a great number of rooms opening on to this court, in which numerous
scribes worked with their chief. On the farther side was a large,
veranda-like hall open at the front, with a roof supported by pillars.

Here Ani was accustomed to hold courts of justice, and to receive
officers, messengers, and petitioners. To-day he sat, visible to all
comers, on a costly throne in this hall, surrounded by his numerous
followers, and overlooking the crowd of people whom the guardians of the
peace guided with long staves, admitting them in troops into the court
of the “High Gate,” and then again conducting them out.

What he saw and heard was nothing joyful, for from each group
surrounding a scribe arose a cry of woe. Few and far between were those
who had to tell of the rich booty that had fallen to their friends.

An invisible web woven of wailing and tears seemed to envelope the

Here men were lamenting and casting dust upon their heads, there women
were rending their clothes, shrieking loudly, and crying as they waved
their veils “oh, my husband! oh, my father! oh, my brother!”

Parents who had received the news of the death of their son fell on each
other’s neck weeping; old men plucked out their grey hair and beard;
young women beat their forehead and breast, or implored the scribes
who read out the lists to let them see for themselves the name of the
beloved one who was for ever torn from them.

The passionate stirring of a soul, whether it be the result of joy or of
sorrow, among us moderns covers its features with a veil, which it had
no need of among the ancients.

Where the loudest laments sounded, a restless little being might be seen
hurrying from group to group; it was Nemu, Katuti’s dwarf, whom we know.

Now he stood near a woman of the better class, dissolved in tears
because her husband had fallen in the last battle.

“Can you read?” he asked her; “up there on the architrave is the name
of Rameses, with all his titles. Dispenser of life,’ he is called. Aye
indeed; he can create--widows; for he has all the husbands killed.”

Before the astonished woman could reply, he stood by a man sunk in woe,
and pulling his robe, said “Finer fellows than your son have never been
seen in Thebes. Let your youngest starve, or beat him to a cripple,
else he also will be dragged off to Syria; for Rameses needs much good
Egyptian meat for the Syrian vultures.”

The old man, who had hitherto stood there in silent despair, clenched
his fist. The dwarf pointed to the Regent, and said: “If he there
wielded the sceptre, there would be fewer orphans and beggars by the
Nile. To-day its sacred waters are still sweet, but soon it will taste
as salt as the north sea with all the tears that have been shed on its

It almost seemed as if the Regent had heard these words, for he rose
from his seat and lifted his hands like a man who is lamenting.

Many of the bystanders observed this action; and loud cries of anguish
filled the wide courtyard, which was soon cleared by soldiers to make
room for other troops of people who were thronging in.

While these gathered round the scribes, the Regent Ani sat with quiet
dignity on the throne, surrounded by his suite and his secretaries, and
held audiences.

He was a man at the close of his fortieth year and the favorite cousin
of the king.

Rameses I., the grandfather of the reigning monarch, had deposed the
legitimate royal family, and usurped the sceptre of the Pharaohs. He
descended from a Semitic race who had remained in Egypt at the time of
the expulsion of the Hyksos,

   [These were an eastern race who migrated from Asia into Egypt,
   conquered the lower Nile-valley, and ruled over it for nearly 500
   years, till they were driven out by the successors of the old
   legitimate Pharaohs, whose dominion had been confined to upper

and had distinguished itself by warlike talents under Thotmes and
Amenophis. After his death he was succeeded by his son Seti, who
sought to earn a legitimate claim to the throne by marrying Tuaa, the
grand-daughter of Amenophis III. She presented him with an only son,
whom he named after his father Rameses. This prince might lay claim to
perfect legitimacy through his mother, who descended directly from the
old house of sovereigns; for in Egypt a noble family--even that of the
Pharaohs--might be perpetuated through women.

Seti proclaimed Rameses partner of his throne, so as to remove all doubt
as to the validity of his position. The young nephew of his wife Tuaa,
the Regent Ani, who was a few years younger than Rameses, he caused to
be brought up in the House of Seti, and treated him like his own son,
while the other members of the dethroned royal family were robbed of
their possessions or removed altogether.

Ani proved himself a faithful servant to Seti, and to his son, and was
trusted as a brother by the warlike and magnanimous Rameses, who however
never disguised from himself the fact that the blood in his own veins
was less purely royal than that which flowed in his cousin’s.

It was required of the race of the Pharaohs of Egypt that it should be
descended from the Sun-god Ra, and the Pharaoh could boast of this high
descent only through his mother--Ani through both parents.

But Rameses sat on the throne, held the sceptre with a strong hand, and
thirteen young sons promised to his house the lordship over Egypt to all

When, after the death of his warlike father, he went to fresh conquests
in the north, he appointed Ani, who had proved himself worthy as
governor of the province of Kush, to the regency of the kingdom.

A vehement character often over estimates the man who is endowed with
a quieter temperament, into whose nature he cannot throw himself, and
whose excellences he is unable to imitate; so it happened that the
deliberate and passionless nature of his cousin impressed the fiery and
warlike Rameses.

Ani appeared to be devoid of ambition, or the spirit of enterprise; he
accepted the dignity that was laid upon him with apparent reluctance,
and seemed a particularly safe person, because he had lost both wife and
child, and could boast of no heir.

He was a man of more than middle height; his features were remarkably
regular--even beautifully, cut, but smooth and with little expression.
His clear blue eyes and thin lips gave no evidence of the emotions that
filled his heart; on the contrary, his countenance wore a soft smile
that could adapt itself to haughtiness, to humility, and to a variety of
shades of feeling, but which could never be entirely banished from his

He had listened with affable condescension to the complaint of a landed
proprietor, whose cattle had been driven off for the king’s army, and
had promised that his case should be enquired into. The plundered man
was leaving full of hope; but when the scribe who sat at the feet of the
Regent enquired to whom the investigation of this encroachment of the
troops should be entrusted, Ani said: “Each one must bring a victim to
the war; it must remain among the things that are done, and cannot be

The Nomarch--[Chief of a Nome or district.]--of Suan, in the southern
part of the country, asked for funds for a necessary, new embankment.
The Regent listened to his eager representation with benevolence, nay
with expressions of sympathy; but assured him that the war absorbed
all the funds of the state, that the chests were empty; still he felt
inclined--even if they had not failed--to sacrifice a part of his own
income to preserve the endangered arable land of his faithful province
of Suan, to which he desired greeting.

As soon as the Nomarch had left him, he commanded that a considerable
sum should be taken out of the Treasury, and sent after the petitioner.

From time to time in the middle of conversation, he arose, and made a
gesture of lamentation, to show to the assembled mourners in the court
that he sympathized in the losses which had fallen on them.

The sun had already passed the meridian, when a disturbance, accompanied
by loud cries, took possession of the masses of people, who stood round
the scribes in the palace court.

Many men and women were streaming together towards one spot, and even
the most impassive of the Thebans present turned their attention to an
incident so unusual in this place.

A detachment of constabulary made a way through the crushing and yelling
mob, and another division of Lybian police led a prisoner towards a side
gate of the court. Before they could reach it, a messenger came up with
them, from the Regent, who desired to be informed as to what happened.

The head of the officers of public safety followed him, and with eager
excitement informed Ani, who was waiting for him, that a tiny man, the
dwarf of the Lady Katuti, had for several hours been going about in
the court, and endeavoring to poison the minds of the citizens with
seditious speeches.

Ani ordered that the misguided man should be thrown into the dungeon;
but so soon as the chief officer had left him, he commanded his
secretary to have the dwarf brought into his presence before sundown.

While he was giving this order an excitement of another kind seized the
assembled multitude.

As the sea parted and stood on the right hand and on the left of the
Hebrews, so that no wave wetted the foot of the pursued fugitives,
so the crowd of people of their own free will, but as if in reverent
submission to some high command, parted and formed a broad way, through
which walked the high-priest of the House of Seti, as, full robed and
accompanied by some of the “holy fathers,” he now entered the court.

The Regent went to meet him, bowed before him, and then withdrew to the
back of the hall with him alone. “It is nevertheless incredible,” said
Ameni, “that our serfs are to follow the militia!”

“Rameses requires soldiers--to conquer,” replied the Regent.

“And we bread--to live,” exclaimed the priest.

“Nevertheless I am commanded, at once, before the seed-time, to levy
the temple-serfs. I regret the order, but the king is the will, and I am
only the hand.”

“The hand, which he makes use of to sequester ancient rights, and to
open a way to the desert over the fruitful land.”

   [“With good management,” said the first Napoleon, “the Nile
   encroaches upon the desert, with bad management the desert
   encroaches upon the Nile.”]

“Your acres will not long remain unprovided for. Rameses will win new
victories with the increased army, and the help of the Gods.”

“The Gods! whom he insults!”

“After the conclusion of peace he will reconcile the Gods by doubly rich
gifts. He hopes confidently for an early end to the war, and writes to
me that after the next battle he wins he intends to offer terms to the
Cheta. A plan of the king’s is also spoken of--to marry again, and,
indeed, the daughter of the Cheta King Chetasar.”

Up to this moment the Regent had kept his eyes cast down. Now he raised
them, smiling, as if he would fain enjoy Ameni’s satisfaction, and

“What dost thou say to this project?”

“I say,” returned Ameni, and his voice, usually so stern, took a tone
of amusement, “I say that Rameses seems to think that the blood of thy
cousin and of his mother, which gives him his right to the throne, is
incapable of pollution.”

“It is the blood of the Sun-god!”

“Which runs but half pure in his veins, but wholly pure in thine.”

The Regent made a deprecatory gesture, and said softly, with a smile
which resembled that of a dead man:

“We are not alone.”

“No one is here,” said Ameni, “who can hear us; and what I say is known
to every child.”

“But if it came to the king’s ears--” whispered Ani, “he--”

“He would perceive how unwise it is to derogate from the ancient rights
of those on whom it is incumbent to prove the purity of blood of the
sovereign of this land. However, Rameses sits on the throne; may life
bloom for him, with health and strength!”--[A formula which even in
private letters constantly follows the name of the Pharaoh.]

The Regent bowed, and then asked:

“Do you propose to obey the demand of the Pharaoh without delay?”

“He is the king. Our council, which will meet in a few days, can only
determine how, and not whether we shall fulfil his command.”

“You will retard the departure of the serfs, and Rameses requires them
at once. The bloody labor of the war demands new tools.”

“And the peace will perhaps demand a new master, who understands how to
employ the sons of the land to its greatest advantage--a genuine son of

The Regent stood opposite the high-priest, motionless as an image cast
in bronze, and remained silent; but Ameni lowered his staff before him
as before a god, and then went into the fore part of the hall.

When Ani followed him, a soft smile played as usual upon his
countenance, and full of dignity he took his seat on the throne.

“Art thou at an end of thy communications?” he asked the high-priest.

“It remains for me to inform you all,” replied Ameni with a louder
voice, to be heard by all the assembled dignitaries, “that the princess
Bent-Anat yesterday morning committed a heavy sin, and that in all the
temples in the land the Gods shall be entreated with offerings to take
her uncleanness from her.”

Again a shadow passed over the smile on the Regent’s countenance. He
looked meditatively on the ground, and then said:

“To-morrow I will visit the House of Seti; till then I beg that this
affair may be left to rest.”

Ameni bowed, and the Regent left the hall to withdraw to a wing of the
king’s palace, in which he dwelt.

On his writing-table lay sealed papers. He knew that they contained
important news for him; but he loved to do violence to his curiosity, to
test his resolution, and like an epicure to reserve the best dish till
the last.

He now glanced first at some unimportant letters. A dumb negro, who
squatted at his feet, burned the papyrus rolls which his master gave him
in a brazier. A secretary made notes of the short facts which Ani called
out to him, and the ground work was laid of the answers to the different

At a sign from his master this functionary quitted the room, and Ani
then slowly opened a letter from the king, whose address: “To my brother
Ani,” showed that it contained, not public, but private information.

On these lines, as he well knew, hung his future life, and the road it
should follow.

With a smile, that was meant to conceal even from himself his deep
inward agitation, he broke the wax which sealed the short manuscript in
the royal hand.

“What relates to Egypt, and my concern for my country, and the happy
issue of the war,” wrote the Pharaoh, “I have written to you by the hand
of my secretary; but these words are for the brother, who desires to be
my son, and I write to him myself. The lordly essence of the Divinity
which dwells in me, readily brings a quick ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to my lips, and
it decides for the best. Now you demand my daughter Bent-Anat to wife,
and I should not be Rameses if I did not freely confess that before I
had read the last words of your letter, a vehement ‘No’ rushed to
my lips. I caused the stars to be consulted, and the entrails of the
victims to be examined, and they were adverse to your request; and yet I
could not refuse you, for you are dear to me, and your blood is royal as
my own. Even more royal, an old friend said, and warned me against your
ambition and your exaltation. Then my heart changed, for I were
not Seti’s son if I allow myself to injure a friend through idle
apprehensions; and he who stands so high that men fear that he may try
to rise above Rameses, seems to me to be worthy of Bent-Anat. Woo her,
and, should she consent freely, the marriage may be celebrated on the
day when I return home. You are young enough to make a wife happy, and
your mature wisdom will guard my child from misfortune. Bent-Anat shall
know that her father, and king, encourages your suit; but pray too to
the Hathors, that they may influence Bent-Anat’s heart in your favor,
for to her decision we must both submit.”

The Regent had changed color several times while reading this letter.
Now he laid it on the table with a shrug of his shoulders, stood up,
clasped his hand behind him, and, with his eyes cast meditatively on the
floor, leaned against one of the pillars which supported the beams of
the roof.

The longer he thought, the less amiable his expression became. “A pill
sweetened with honey,

   [Two recipes for pills are found in the papyri, one with honey for
   women, and one without for men.]

such as they give to women,” he muttered to himself. Then he went back
to the table, read the king’s letter through once more, and said: “One
may learn from it how to deny by granting, and at the same time not to
forget to give it a brilliant show of magnanimity. Rameses knows his
daughter. She is a girl like any other, and will take good care not
to choose a man twice as old as herself, and who might be her father.
Rameses will ‘submit’--I am to I submit!’ And to what? to the judgment
and the choice of a wilful child!”

With these words he threw the letter so vehemently on to the table, that
it slipped off on to the floor.

The mute slave picked it up, and laid it carefully on the table again,
while his master threw a ball into a silver bason.

Several attendants rushed into the room, and Ani ordered them to
bring to him the captive dwarf of the Lady Katuti. His soul rose in
indignation against the king, who in his remote camp-tent could fancy he
had made him happy by a proof of his highest favor. When we are plotting
against a man we are inclined to regard him as an enemy, and if he
offers us a rose we believe it to be for the sake, not of the perfume,
but of the thorns.

The dwarf Nemu was brought before the Regent and threw himself on the
ground at his feet.

Ani ordered the attendants to leave him, and said to the little man

“You compelled me to put you in prison. Stand up!” The dwarf rose and
said, “Be thanked--for my arrest too.”

The Regent looked at him in astonishment; but Nemu went on half humbly,
half in fun, “I feared for my life, but thou hast not only not shortened
it, but hast prolonged it; for in the solitude of the dungeon time
seemed long, and the minutes grown to hours.”

“Keep your wit for the ladies,” replied the Regent. “Did I not know that
you meant well, and acted in accordance with the Lady Katuti’s fancy, I
would send you to the quarries.”

“My hands,” mumbled the dwarf, “could only break stones for a game of
draughts; but my tongue is like the water, which makes one peasant rich,
and carries away the fields of another.”

“We shall know how to dam it up.”

“For my lady and for thee it will always flow the right way,” said the
dwarf. “I showed the complaining citizens who it is that slaughters
their flesh and blood, and from whom to look for peace and content. I
poured caustic into their wounds, and praised the physician.”

“But unasked and recklessly,” interrupted Ani; “otherwise you have shown
yourself capable, and I am willing to spare you for a future time. But
overbusy friends are more damaging than intelligent enemies. When I need
your services I will call for you. Till then avoid speech. Now go to
your mistress, and carry to Katuti this letter which has arrived for

“Hail to Ani, the son of the Sun!” cried the dwarf kissing the Regent’s
foot. “Have I no letter to carry to my mistress Nefert?”

“Greet her from me,” replied the Regent. “Tell Katuti I will visit her
after the next meal. The king’s charioteer has not written, yet I hear
that he is well. Go now, and be silent and discreet.”

The dwarf quitted the room, and Ani went into an airy hall, in which
his luxurious meal was laid out, consisting of many dishes prepared with
special care. His appetite was gone, but he tasted of every dish, and
gave the steward, who attended on him, his opinion of each.

Meanwhile he thought of the king’s letter, of Bent-Anat, and whether it
would be advisable to expose himself to a rejection on her part.

After the meal he gave himself up to his body-servant, who carefully
shaved, painted, dressed, and decorated him, and then held the mirror
before him.

He considered the reflection with anxious observation, and when he
seated himself in his litter to be borne to the house of his friend
Katuti, he said to himself that he still might claim to be called a
handsome man.

If he paid his court to Bent-Anat--if she listened to his suit--what

He would refer it to Katuti, who always knew how to say a decisive word
when he, entangled in a hundred pros and cons, feared to venture on a
final step.

By her advice he had sought to wed the princess, as a fresh mark of
honor--as an addition to his revenues--as a pledge for his personal
safety. His heart had never been more or less attached to her than to
any other beautiful woman in Egypt. Now her proud and noble personality
stood before his inward eye, and he felt as if he must look up to it
as to a vision high out of his reach. It vexed him that he had followed
Katuti’s advice, and he began to wish his suit had been repulsed.
Marriage with Bent-Anat seemed to him beset with difficulties. His mood
was that of a man who craves some brilliant position, though he knows
that its requirements are beyond his powers--that of an ambitious soul
to whom kingly honors are offered on condition that he will never remove
a heavy crown from his head. If indeed another plan should succeed,
if--and his eyes flashed eagerly--if fate set him on the seat of
Rameses, then the alliance with Bent-Anat would lose its terrors; there
would he be her absolute King and Lord and Master, and no one could
require him to account for what he might be to her, or vouchsafe to her.


During the events we have described the house of the charioteer Mena had
not remained free from visitors.

It resembled the neighboring estate of Paaker, though the buildings
were less new, the gay paint on the pillars and walls was faded, and
the large garden lacked careful attention. In the vicinity of the house
only, a few well-kept beds blazed with splendid flowers, and the open
colonnade, which was occupied by Katuti and her daughter, was furnished
with royal magnificence.

The elegantly carved seats were made of ivory, the tables of ebony, and
they, as well as the couches, had gilt feet. The artistically worked
Syrian drinking vessels on the sideboard, tables, and consoles were
of many forms; beautiful vases full of flowers stood everywhere; rare
perfumes rose from alabaster cups, and the foot sank in the thick pile
of the carpets which covered the floor.

And over the apparently careless arrangement of these various objects
there reigned a peculiar charm, an indescribably fascinating something.

Stretched at full-length on a couch, and playing with a
silky-haired white cat, lay the fair Nefert--fanned to coolness by a
negro-girl--while her mother Katuti nodded a last farewell to her sister
Setchem and to Paaker.

Both had crossed this threshold for the first time for four years, that
is since the marriage of Mena with Nefert, and the old enmity seemed now
to have given way to heartfelt reconciliation and mutual understanding.

After the pioneer and his mother had disappeared behind the pomegranate
shrubs at the entrance of the garden, Katuti turned to her daughter and

“Who would have thought it yesterday? I believe Paaker loves you still.”

Nefert colored, and exclaimed softly, while she hit the kitten gently
with her fan--


Katuti smiled.

She was a tall woman of noble demeanor, whose sharp but delicately-cut
features and sparkling eyes could still assert some pretensions to
feminine beauty. She wore a long robe, which reached below her
ankles; it was of costly material, but dark in color, and of a studied
simplicity. Instead of the ornaments in bracelets, anklets, ear and
finger-rings, in necklaces and clasps, which most of the Egyptian
ladies--and indeed her own sister and daughter--were accustomed to wear,
she had only fresh flowers, which were never wanting in the garden
of her son-in-law. Only a plain gold diadem, the badge of her royal
descent, always rested, from early morning till late at night, on her
high brow--for a woman too high, though nobly formed--and confined the
long blue-black hair, which fell unbraided down her back, as if its
owner contemned the vain labor of arranging it artistically. But nothing
in her exterior was unpremeditated, and the unbejewelled wearer of the
diadem, in her plain dress, and with her royal figure, was everywhere
sure of being observed, and of finding imitators of her dress, and
indeed of her demeanor.

And yet Katuti had long lived in need; aye at the very hour when we
first make her acquaintance, she had little of her own, but lived on the
estate of her son-in-law as his guest, and as the administrator of his
possessions; and before the marriage of her daughter she had lived with
her children in a house belonging to her sister Setchem.

She had been the wife of her own brother,

   [Marriages between brothers and sisters were allowed in ancient
   Egypt. The Ptolemaic princes adopted this, which was contrary to
   the Macedonian customs. When Ptolemy II. Philadelphus married his
   sister Arsinoe, it seems to have been thought necessary to excuse it
   by the relative positions of Venus and Saturn at that period, and
   the constraining influences of these planets.]

who had died young, and who had squandered the greatest part of the
possessions which had been left to him by the new royal family, in an
extravagant love of display.

When she became a widow, she was received as a sister with her children
by her brother-in-law, Paaker’s father. She lived in a house of her own,
enjoyed the income of an estate assigned to her by the old Mohar, and
left to her son-in-law the care of educating her son, a handsome and
overbearing lad, with all the claims and pretensions of a youth of

Such great benefits would have oppressed and disgraced the proud Katuti,
if she had been content with them and in every way agreed with the
giver. But this was by no means the case; rather, she believed that she
might pretend to a more brilliant outward position, felt herself hurt
when her heedless son, while he attended school, was warned to work more
seriously, as he would by and by have to rely on his own skill and
his own strength. And it had wounded her when occasionally her
brother-in-law had suggested economy, and had reminded her, in his
straightforward way, of her narrow means, and the uncertain future of
her children.

At this she was deeply offended, for she ventured to say that her
relatives could never, with all their gifts, compensate for the insults
they heaped upon her; and thus taught them by experience that we quarrel
with no one more readily than with the benefactor whom we can never
repay for all the good he bestows on us.

Nevertheless, when her brother-in-law asked the hand of her daughter for
his son, she willingly gave her consent.

Nefert and Paaker had grown up together, and by this union she foresaw
that she could secure her own future and that of her children.

Shortly after the death of the Mohar, the charioteer Mena had proposed
for Nefert’s hand, but would have been refused if the king himself had
not supported the suit of his favorite officer. After the wedding, she
retired with Nefert to Mena’s house, and undertook, while he was at
the war, to manage his great estates, which however had been greatly
burthened with debt by his father.

Fate put the means into her hands of indemnifying herself and her
children for many past privations, and she availed herself of them
to gratify her innate desire to be esteemed and admired; to obtain
admission for her son, splendidly equipped, into a company of
chariot-warriors of the highest class; and to surround her daughter with
princely magnificence.

When the Regent, who had been a friend of her late husband, removed into
the palace of the Pharaohs, he made her advances, and the clever and
decided woman knew how to make herself at first agreeable, and finally
indispensable, to the vacillating man.

She availed herself of the circumstance that she, as well as he, was
descended from the old royal house to pique his ambition, and to open to
him a view, which even to think of, he would have considered forbidden
as a crime, before he became intimate with her.

Ani’s suit for the hand of the princess Bent-Anat was Katuti’s work. She
hoped that the Pharoah would refuse, and personally offend the Regent,
and so make him more inclined to tread the dangerous road which she was
endeavoring to smooth for him. The dwarf Nemu was her pliant tool.

She had not initiated him into her projects by any words; he however
gave utterance to every impulse of her mind in free language, which was
punished only with blows from a fan, and, only the day before, had been
so audacious as to say that if the Pharoah were called Ani instead of
Rameses, Katuti would be not a queen but a goddess for she would then
have not to obey, but rather to guide, the Pharaoh, who indeed himself
was related to the Immortals.

Katuti did not observe her daughter’s blush, for she was looking
anxiously out at the garden gate, and said:

“Where can Nemu be! There must be some news arrived for us from the

“Mena has not written for so long,” Nefert said softly. “Ah! here is the

Katuti turned to the officer, who had entered the veranda through a side

“What do you bring,” she asked.

“The dealer Abscha,” was the answer, “presses for payment. The new
Syrian chariot and the purple cloth--”

“Sell some corn,” ordered Katuti.

“Impossible, for the tribute to the temples is not yet paid, and already
so much has been delivered to the dealers that scarcely enough remains
over for the maintenance of the household and for sowing.”

“Then pay with beasts.”

“But, madam,” said the steward sorrowfully, “only yesterday, we again
sold a herd to the Mohar; and the water-wheels must be turned, and
the corn must be thrashed, and we need beasts for sacrifice, and milk,
butter, and cheese, for the use of the house, and dung for firing.”

   [In Egypt, where there is so little wood, to this day the dried dung
   of beasts is the commonest kind of fuel.]

Katuti looked thoughtfully at the ground.

“It must be,” she said presently. “Ride to Hermonthis, and say to the
keeper of the stud that he must have ten of Mena’s golden bays driven
over here.”

“I have already spoken to him,” said the steward, “but he maintains that
Mena strictly forbade him to part with even one of the horses, for he is
proud of the stock. Only for the chariot of the lady Nefert.”

“I require obedience,” said Katuti decidedly and cutting short the
steward’s words, “and I expect the horses to-morrow.”

“But the stud-master is a daring man, whom Mena looks upon as
indispensable, and he--”

“I command here, and not the absent,” cried Katuti enraged, “and I
require the horses in spite of the former orders of my son-in-law.”

Nefert, during this conversation, pulled herself up from her indolent
attitude. On hearing the last words she rose from her couch, and said,
with a decision which surprised even her mother--

“The orders of my husband must be obeyed. The horses that Mena loves
shall stay in their stalls. Take this armlet that the king gave me; it
is worth more than twenty horses.”

The steward examined the trinket, richly set with precious stones,
and looked enquiringly at Katuti. She shrugged her shoulders, nodded
consent, and said--

“Abscha shall hold it as a pledge till Mena’s booty arrives. For a year
your husband has sent nothing of importance.”

When the steward was gone, Nefert stretched herself again on her couch
and said wearily:

“I thought we were rich.”

“We might be,” said Katuti bitterly; but as she perceived that Nefert’s
cheeks again were glowing, she said amiably, “Our high rank imposes
great duties on us. Princely blood flows in our veins, and the eyes
of the people are turned on the wife of the most brilliant hero in the
king’s army. They shall not say that she is neglected by her husband.
How long Mena remains away!”

“I hear a noise in the court,” said Nefert. “The Regent is coming.”

Katuti turned again towards the garden.

A breathless slave rushed in, and announced that Bent-Anat, the daughter
of the king, had dismounted at the gate, and was approaching the garden
with the prince Rameri.

Nefert left her couch, and went with her mother to meet the exalted

As the mother and daughter bowed to kiss the robe of the princess,
Bent-Anat signed them back from her. “Keep farther from me,” she said;
“the priests have not yet entirely absolved me from my uncleanness.”

“And in spite of them thou art clean in the sight of Ra!” exclaimed the
boy who accompanied her, her brother of seventeen, who was brought up at
the House of Seti, which however he was to leave in a few weeks--and he
kissed her.

“I shall complain to Ameni of this wild boy,” said Bent-Anat smiling.
“He would positively accompany me. Your husband, Nefert, is his model,
and I had no peace in the house, for we came to bring you good news.”

“From Mena?” asked the young wife, pressing her hand to her heart.

“As you say,” returned Bent-Anat. “My father praises his ability, and
writes that he, before all others, will have his choice at the dividing
of the spoil.”

Nefert threw a triumphant glance at her mother, and Katuti drew a deep

Bent-Anat stroked Nefert’s cheeks like those of a child. Then she turned
to Katuti, led her into the garden, and begged her to aid her, who had
so early lost her mother, with her advice in a weighty matter.

“My father,” she continued, after a few introductory words, “informs me
that the Regent Ani desires me for his wife, and advises me to reward
the fidelity of the worthy man with my hand. He advises it, you
understand-he does not command.”

“And thou?” asked Katuti.

“And I,” replied Bent-Anat decidedly, “must refuse him.”

“Thou must!”

Bent-Anat made a sign of assent and went on:

“It is quite clear to me. I can do nothing else.”

“Then thou dost not need my counsel, since even thy father, I well know,
will not be able to alter thy decision.”

“Not God even,” said Anat firmly. “But you are Ani’s friend, and as I
esteem him, I would save him from this humiliation. Endeavor to persuade
him to give up his suit. I will meet him as though I knew nothing of his
letter to my father.”

Katuti looked down reflectively. Then she said--“The Regent certainly
likes very well to pass his hours of leisure with me gossiping or
playing draughts, but I do not know that I should dare to speak to him
of so grave a matter.”

“Marriage-projects are women’s affairs,” said Bent-Anat, smiling.

“But the marriage of a princess is a state event,” replied the widow.
“In this case it is true the uncle

   [Among the Orientals--and even the Spaniards--it was and is common
   to give the name of uncle to a parent’s cousin.]

only courts his niece, who is dear to him, and who he hopes will make
the second half of his life the brightest. Ani is kind and without
severity. Thou would’st win in him a husband, who would wait on thy
looks, and bow willingly to thy strong will.”

Bent-Anat’s eyes flashed, and she hastily exclaimed: “That is exactly
what forces the decisive irrevocable ‘No’ to my lips. Do you think that
because I am as proud as my mother, and resolute like my father, that I
wish for a husband whom I could govern and lead as I would? How little
you know me! I will be obeyed by my dogs, my servants, my officers, if
the Gods so will it, by my children. Abject beings, who will kiss my
feet, I meet on every road, and can buy by the hundred, if I wish it,
in the slave market. I may be courted twenty times, and reject twenty
suitors, but not because I fear that they might bend my pride and my
will; on the contrary, because I feel them increased. The man to whom I
could wish to offer my hand must be of a loftier stamp, must be
greater, firmer, and better than I, and I will flutter after the mighty
wing-strokes of his spirit, and smile at my own weakness, and glory in
admiring his superiority.”

Katuti listened to the maiden with the smile by which the experienced
love to signify their superiority over the visionary.

“Ancient times may have produced such men,” she said. “But if in these
days thou thinkest to find one, thou wilt wear the lock of youth,

   [The lock of youth was a curl of hair which all the younger members
   of princely families wore at the side of the head. The young Horus
   is represented with it.]

till thou art grey. Our thinkers are no heroes, and our heroes are no
sages. Here come thy brother and Nefert.”

“Will you persuade Ani to give up his suit!” said the princess urgently.

“I will endeavor to do so, for thy sake,” replied Katuti. Then, turning
half to the young Rameri and half to his sister, she said:

“The chief of the House of Seti, Ameni, was in his youth such a man as
thou paintest, Bent-Anat. Tell us, thou son of Rameses, that art growing
up under the young sycamores, which shall some day over-shadow the
land-whom dost thou esteem the highest among thy companions? Is there
one among them, who is conspicuous above them all for a lofty spirit and
strength of intellect?”

The young Rameri looked gaily at the speaker, and said laughing: “We are
all much alike, and do more or less willingly what we are compelled, and
by preference every thing that we ought not.”

“A mighty soul--a youth, who promises to be a second Snefru, a Thotmes,
or even an Amem? Dost thou know none such in the House of Seti?” asked
the widow. “Oh yes!” cried Rameri with eager certainty.

“And he is--?” asked Katuti.

“Pentaur, the poet,” exclaimed the youth. Bent-Anat’s face glowed with
scarlet color, while her, brother went on to explain.

“He is noble and of a lofty soul, and all the Gods dwell in him when
he speaks. Formerly we used to go to sleep in the lecture-hall; but his
words carry us away, and if we do not take in the full meaning of his
thoughts, yet we feel that they are genuine and noble.”

Bent-Anat breathed quicker at these words, and her eyes hung on the
boy’s lips.

“You know him, Bent-Anat,” continued Rameri. “He was with you at the
paraschites’ house, and in the temple-court when Ameni pronounced you
unclean. He is as tall and handsome as the God Mentli, and I feel that
he is one of those whom we can never forget when once we have seen them.
Yesterday, after you had left the temple, he spoke as he never spoke
before; he poured fire into our souls. Do not laugh, Katuti, I feel it
burning still. This morning we were informed that he had been sent from
the temple, who knows where--and had left us a message of farewell. It
was not thought at all necessary to communicate the reason to us; but
we know more than the masters think. He did not reprove you strongly
enough, Bent-Anat, and therefore he is driven out of the House of
Seti. We have agreed to combine to ask for him to be recalled; Anana is
drawing up a letter to the chief priest, which we shall all subscribe.
It would turn out badly for one alone, but they cannot be at all of us
at once. Very likely they will have the sense to recall him. If not, we
shall all complain to our fathers, and they are not the meanest in the

“It is a complete rebellion,” cried Katuti. “Take care, you lordlings;
Ameni and the other prophets are not to be trifled with.”

“Nor we either,” said Rameri laughing, “If Pentaur is kept in
banishment, I shall appeal to my father to place me at the school at
Heliopolis or Chennu, and the others will follow me. Come, Bent-Anat,
I must be back in the trap before sunset. Excuse me, Katuti, so we call
the school. Here comes your little Nemu.”

The brother and sister left the garden.

As soon as the ladies, who accompanied them, had turned their backs,
Bent-Anat grasped her brother’s hand with unaccustomed warmth, and said:

“Avoid all imprudence; but your demand is just, and I will help you with
all my heart.”


As soon as Bent-Anat had quitted Mena’s domain, the dwarf Nemu entered
the garden with a letter, and briefly related his adventures; but in
such a comical fashion that both the ladies laughed, and Katuti, with a
lively gaiety, which was usually foreign to her, while she warned him,
at the same time praised his acuteness. She looked at the seal of the
letter and said:

“This is a lucky day; it has brought us great things, and the promise
of greater things in the future.” Nefert came close up to her and said
imploringly: “Open the letter, and see if there is nothing in it from

Katuti unfastened the wax, looked through the letter with a hasty
glance, stroked the cheek of her child, and said:

“Perhaps your brother has written for him; I see no line in his

Nefert on her side glanced at the letter, but not to read it, only to
seek some trace of the well-known handwriting of her husband.

Like all the Egyptian women of good family she could read, and during
the first two years of her married life she had often--very often--had
the opportunity of puzzling, and yet rejoicing, over the feeble signs
which the iron hand of the charioteer had scrawled on the papyrus for
her whose slender fingers could guide the reed pen with firmness and

She examined the letter, and at last said, with tears in her eyes:

“Nothing! I will go to my room, mother.”

Katuti kissed her and said, “Hear first what your brother writes.”

But Nefert shook her head, turned away in silence, and disappeared into
the house.

Katuti was not very friendly to her son-in-law, but her heart clung
to her handsome, reckless son, the very image of her lost husband,
the favorite of women, and the gayest youth among the young nobles who
composed the chariot-guard of the king.

How fully he had written to-day--he who weilded the reed-pen so

This really was a letter; while, usually, he only asked in the fewest
words for fresh funds for the gratification of his extravagant tastes.

This time she might look for thanks, for not long since he must have
received a considerable supply, which she had abstracted from the income
of the possessions entrusted to her by her son-in-law.

She began to read.

The cheerfulness, with which she had met the dwarf, was insincere, and
had resembled the brilliant colors of the rainbow, which gleam over
the stagnant waters of a bog. A stone falls into the pool, the colors
vanish, dim mists rise up, and it becomes foul and clouded.

The news which her son’s letter contained fell, indeed, like a block of
stone on Katuti’s soul.

Our deepest sorrows always flow from the same source as might have
filled us with joy, and those wounds burn the fiercest which are
inflicted by a hand we love.

The farther Katuti went in the lamentably incorrect epistle--which she
could only decipher with difficulty--which her darling had written to
her, the paler grew her face, which she several times covered with her
trembling hands, from which the letter dropped.

Nemu squatted on the earth near her, and followed all her movements.

When she sprang forward with a heart-piercing scream, and pressed her
forehead to a rough palmtrunk, he crept up to her, kissed her feet, and
exclaimed with a depth of feeling that overcame even Katuti, who was
accustomed to hear only gay or bitter speeches from the lips of her

“Mistress! lady! what has happened?”

Katuti collected herself, turned to him, and tried to speak; but her
pale lips remained closed, and her eyes gazed dimly into vacancy as
though a catalepsy had seized her.

“Mistress! Mistress!” cried the dwarf again, with growing agitation.
“What is the matter? shall I call thy daughter?”

Katuti made a sign with her hand, and cried feebly: “The wretches! the

Her breath began to come quickly, the blood mounted to her cheeks
and her flashing eyes; she trod upon the letter, and wept so loud and
passionately, that the dwarf, who had never before seen tears in her
eyes, raised himself timidly, and said in mild reproach: “Katuti!”

She laughed bitterly, and said with a trembling voice:

“Why do you call my name so loud! it is disgraced and degraded. How
the nobles and the ladies will rejoice! Now envy can point at us with
spiteful joy--and a minute ago I was praising this day! They say one
should exhibit one’s happiness in the streets, and conceal one’s misery;
on the contrary, on the contrary! Even the Gods should not know of one’s
hopes and joys, for they too are envious and spiteful!”

Again she leaned her head against the palm-tree. “Thou speakest of
shame, and not of death,” said Nemu, “and I learned from thee that one
should give nothing up for lost excepting the dead.”

These words had a powerful effect on the agitated woman. Quickly and
vehemently she turned upon the dwarf saying.

“You are clever, and faithful too, so listen! but if you were Amon
himself there is nothing to be done--”

“We must try,” said Nemu, and his sharp eyes met those of his mistress.

“Speak,” he said, “and trust me. Perhaps I can be of no use; but that I
can be silent thou knowest.”

“Before long the children in the streets will talk of what this tells
me,” said Katuti, laughing with bitterness, “only Nefert must know
nothing of what has happened--nothing, mind; what is that? the Regent
coming! quick, fly; tell him I am suddenly taken ill, very ill; I cannot
see him, not now! No one is to be admitted--no one, do you hear?”

The dwarf went.

When he came back after he had fulfilled his errand, he found his
mistress still in a fever of excitement.

“Listen,” she said; “first the smaller matter, then the frightful, the
unspeakable. Rameses loads Mena with marks of his favor. It came to a
division of the spoils of war for the year; a great heap of treasure lay
ready for each of his followers, and the charioteer had to choose before
all the others.”

“Well?” said the dwarf.

“Well!” echoed Katuti. “Well! how did the worthy householder care for
his belongings at home, how did he seek to relieve his indebted estate?
It is disgraceful, hideous! He passed by the silver, the gold, the
jewels, with a laugh; and took the captive daughter of the Danaid
princes, and led her into his tent.”

“Shameful!” muttered the dwarf.

“Poor, poor Nefert!” cried Katuti, covering her face with her hands.

“And what more?” asked Nemu hastily.

“That,” said Katuti, “that is--but I will keep calm--quite calm and
quiet. You know my son. He is heedless, but he loves me and his sister
more than anything in the world. I, fool as I was, to persuade him
to economy, had vividly described our evil plight, and after that
disgraceful conduct of Mena he thought of us and of our anxieties. His
share of the booty was small, and could not help us. His comrades threw
dice for the shares they had obtained--he staked his to win more for us.
He lost--all--all--and at last against an enormous sum, still thinking
of us, and only of us, he staked the mummy of his dead father.

   [It was a king of the fourth dynasty, named Asychis by Herodotus,
   who it is admitted was the first to pledge the mummies of his
   ancestors. “He who stakes this pledge and fails to redeem the debt
   shall, after his death, rest neither in his father’s tomb nor in any
   other, and sepulture shall be denied to his descendants.” Herod.
   11. 136.]

He lost. If he does not redeem the pledge before the expiration of the
third month, he will fall into infamy, the mummy will belong to the
winner, and disgrace and ignominy will be my lot and his.”

Katuti pressed her hands on her face, the dwarf muttered to himself,
“The gambler and hypocrite!” When his mistress had grown calmer, he

“It is horrible, yet all is not lost. How much is the debt?”

It sounded like a heavy curse, when Katuti replied, “Thirty Babylonian
talents.”--[L7000 sterling in 1881.]

The dwarf cried out, as if an asp had stung him. “Who dared to bid
against such a mad stake?”

“The Lady Hathor’s son, Antef,” answered Katuti, “who has already
gambled away the inheritance of his fathers, in Thebes.”

“He will not remit one grain of wheat of his claim,” cried the dwarf.
“And Mena?”

“How could my son turn to him after what had happened? The poor child
implores me to ask the assistance of the Regent.”

“Of the Regent?” said the dwarf, shaking his big head. “Impossible!”

“I know, as matters now stand; but his place, his name.”

“Mistress,” said the dwarf, and deep purpose rang in the words, “do not
spoil the future for the sake of the present. If thy son loses his honor
under King Rameses, the future King, Ani, may restore it to him. If the
Regent now renders you all an important service, he will regard you as
amply paid when our efforts have succeeded, and he sits on the throne.
He lets himself be led by thee now because thou hast no need of his
help, and dost seem to work only for his sake, and for his elevation.
As soon as thou hast appealed to him, and he has assisted thee, all thy
confidence and freedom will be gone, and the more difficult he finds
it to raise so large a sum of money at once, the angrier he will be to
think that thou art making use of him. Thou knowest his circumstances.”

“He is in debt,” said Katuti. “I know that.”

“Thou should’st know it,” cried the dwarf, “for thou thyself hast forced
him to enormous expenses. He has won the people of Thebes with dazzling
festive displays; as guardian of Apis

   [When Apis (the sacred bull) died under Ptolemy I. Soter, his
   keepers spent not only the money which they had received for his
   maintenance, in his obsequies but borrowed 50 talents of silver from
   the king. In the time of Diodurus 100 talents were spent for the
   same purpose.]

he gave a large donation to Memphis; he bestowed thousands on the
leaders of the troops sent into Ethiopia, which were equipped by him;
what his spies cost him at, the camp of the king, thou knowest. He has
borrowed sums of money from most of the rich men in the country, and
that is well, for so many creditors are so many allies. The Regent is a
bad debtor; but the king Ani, they reckon, will be a grateful payer.”

Katuti looked at the dwarf in astonishment. “You know men!” she said.

“To my sorrow!” replied Nemu. “Do not apply to the Regent, and before
thou dost sacrifice the labor of years, and thy future greatness, and
that of those near to thee, sacrifice thy son’s honor.”

“And my husband’s, and my own?” exclaimed Katuti. “How can you know what
that is! Honor is a word that the slave may utter, but whose meaning he
can never comprehend; you rub the weals that are raised on you by blows;
to me every finger pointed at me in scorn makes a wound like an ashwood
lance with a poisoned tip of brass. Oh ye holy Gods! who can help us?”

The miserable woman pressed her hands over her eyes, as if to shut out
the sight of her own disgrace. The dwarf looked at her compassionately,
and said in a changed tone:

“Dost thou remember the diamond which fell out of Nefert’s handsomest
ring? We hunted for it, and could not find it. Next day, as I was going
through the room, I trod on something hard; I stooped down and found the
stone. What the noble organ of sight, the eye, overlooked, the callous
despised sole of the foot found; and perhaps the small slave, Nemu, who
knows nothing of honor, may succeed in finding a mode of escape which is
not revealed to the lofty soul of his mistress!”

“What are you thinking of?” asked Katuti.

“Escape,” answered the dwarf. “Is it true that thy sister Setchem has
visited thee, and that you are reconciled?”

“She offered me her hand, and I took it?”

“Then go to her. Men are never more helpful than after a reconciliation.
The enmity they have driven out, seems to leave as it were a
freshly-healed wound which must be touched with caution; and Setchem is
of thy own blood, and kind-hearted.”

“She is not rich,” replied Katuti. “Every palm in her garden comes from
her husband, and belongs to her children.”

“Paaker, too, was with you?”

“Certainly only by the entreaty of his mother--he hates my son-in-law.”

“I know it,” muttered the dwarf, “but if Nefert would ask him?”

The widow drew herself up indignantly. She felt that she had allowed the
dwarf too much freedom, and ordered him to leave her alone.

Nemu kissed her robe and asked timidly:

“Shall I forget that thou hast trusted me, or am I permitted to consider
further as to thy son’s safety?” Katuti stood for a moment undecided,
then she said:

“You were clever enough to find what I carelessly dropped; perhaps some
God may show you what I ought to do. Now leave me.”

“Wilt thou want me early to-morrow?”


“Then I will go to the Necropolis, and offer a sacrifice.”

“Go!” said Katuti, and went towards the house with the fatal letter in
her hand.

Nemu stayed behind alone; he looked thoughtfully at the ground,
murmuring to himself.

“She must not lose her honor; not at present, or indeed all will be
lost. What is this honor? We all come into the world without it, and
most of us go to the grave without knowing it, and very good folks
notwithstanding. Only a few who are rich and idle weave it in with the
homely stuff of their souls, as the Kuschites do their hair with grease
and oils, till it forms a cap of which, though it disfigures them, they
are so proud that they would rather have their ears cut off than the
monstrous thing. I see, I see--but before I open my mouth I will go to
my mother. She knows more than twenty prophets.”


Before the sun had risen the next morning, Nemu got himself ferried
over the Nile, with the small white ass which Mena’s deceased father had
given him many years before. He availed himself of the cool hour which
precedes the rising of the sun for his ride through the Necropolis.

Well acquainted as he was with every stock and stone, he avoided the
high roads which led to the goal of his expedition, and trotted towards
the hill which divides the valley of the royal tombs from the plain of
the Nile.

Before him opened a noble amphitheatre of lofty lime-stone peaks, the
background of the stately terrace-temple which the proud ancestress of
two kings of the fallen family, the great Hatasu, had erected to their
memory, and to the Goddess Hathor.

Nemu left the sanctuary to his left, and rode up the steep hill-path
which was the nearest way from the plain to the valley of the tombs.

Below him lay a bird’s eye view of the terrace-building of Hatasu, and
before him, still slumbering in cool dawn, was the Necropolis with its
houses and temples and colossal statues, the broad Nile glistening with
white sails under the morning mist; and, in the distant east, rosy with
the coming sun, stood Thebes and her gigantic temples.

But the dwarf saw nothing of the glorious panorama that lay at his feet;
absorbed in thought, and stooping over the neck of his ass, he let the
panting beast climb and rest at its pleasure.

When he had reached half the height of the hill, he perceived the sound
of footsteps coming nearer and nearer to him.

The vigorous walker had soon reached him, and bid him good morning,
which he civilly returned.

The hill-path was narrow, and when Nemu observed that the man who
followed him was a priest, he drew up his donkey on a level spot, and
said reverently:

“Pass on, holy father; for thy two feet carry thee quicker than my

“A sufferer needs my help,” replied the leech Nebsecht, Pentaur’s
friend, whom we have already seen in the House of Seti, and by the bed
of the paraschites’ daughter; and he hastened on so as to gain on the
slow pace of the rider.

Then rose the glowing disk of the sun above the eastern horizon, and
from the sanctuaries below the travellers rose up the pious many-voiced
chant of praise.

Nemu slipped off his ass, and assumed an attitude of prayer; the priest
did the same; but while the dwarf devoutly fixed his eyes on the new
birth of the Sun-God from the eastern range, the priest’s eyes wandered
to the earth, and his raised hand fell to pick up a rare fossil shell
which lay on the path.

In a few minutes Nebsecht rose, and Nemu followed him.

“It is a fine morning,” said the dwarf; “the holy fathers down there
seem more cheerful to-day than usual.”

The surgeon laughed assent. “Do you belong to the Necropolis?” he said.
“Who here keeps dwarfs?”

“No one,” answered the little man. “But I will ask thee a question. Who
that lives here behind the hill is of so much importance, that a leech
from the House of Seti sacrifices his night’s rest for him?”

“The one I visit is mean, but the suffering is great,” answered

Nemu looked at him with admiration, and muttered, “That is noble,
that is----” but he did not finish his speech; he struck his brow and
exclaimed, “You are going, by the desire of the Princess Bent-Anat, to
the child of the paraschites that was run over. I guessed as much. The
food must have an excellent after-taste, if a gentleman rises so early
to eat it. How is the poor child doing?”

There was so much warmth in these last words that Nebsecht, who had
thought the dwarf’s reproach uncalled for, answered in a friendly tone:

“Not so badly; she may be saved.”

“The Gods be praised!” exclaimed Nemu, while the priest passed on.

Nebsecht went up and down the hillside at a redoubled pace, and had long
taken his place by the couch of the wounded Uarda in the hovel of the
paraschites, when Nemu drew near to the abode of his Mother Hekt, from
whom Paaker had received the philter.

The old woman sat before the door of her cave. Near her lay a board,
fitted with cross pieces, between which a little boy was stretched in
such a way that they touched his head and his feet.

Hekt understood the art of making dwarfs; playthings in human form were
well paid for, and the child on the rack, with his pretty little face,
promised to be a valuable article.

As soon as the sorceress saw some one approaching, she stooped over the
child, took him up board and all in her arms, and carried him into the
cave. Then she said sternly:

“If you move, little one, I will flog you. Now let me tie you.”

“Don’t tie me,” said the child, “I will be good and lie still.”

“Stretch yourself out,” ordered the old woman, and tied the child with
a rope to the board. “If you are quiet, I’ll give you a honey-cake
by-and-bye, and let you play with the young chickens.”

The child was quiet, and a soft smile of delight and hope sparkled in
his pretty eyes. His little hand caught the dress of the old woman, and
with the sweetest coaxing tone, which God bestows on the innocent voices
of children, he said:

“I will be as still as a mouse, and no one shall know that I am here;
but if you give me the honeycake you will untie me for a little, and let
me go to Uarda.”

“She is ill!--what do you want there?”

“I would take her the cake,” said the child, and his eyes glistened with

The old woman touched the child’s chin with her finger, and some
mysterious power prompted her to bend over him to kiss him. But before
her lips had touched his face she turned away, and said, in a hard tone:

“Lie still! by and bye we will see.” Then she stooped, and threw a brown
sack over the child. She went back into the open air, greeted Nemu,
entertained him with milk, bread and honey, gave him news of the girl
who had been run over, for he seemed to take her misfortune very much to
heart, and finally asked:

“What brings you here? The Nile was still narrow when you last found
your way to me, and now it has been falling some time.

   [This is the beginning of November. The Nile begins slowly to rise
   early in June; between the 15th and 20th of July it suddenly swells
   rapidly, and in the first half of October, not, as was formerly
   supposed, at the end of September, the inundation reaches its
   highest level. Heinrich Barth established these data beyond
   dispute. After the water has begun to sink it rises once more in
   October and to a higher level than before. Then it soon falls, at
   first slowly, but by degrees quicker and quicker.]

Are you sent by your mistress, or do you want my help? All the world is
alike. No one goes to see any one else unless he wants to make use of
him. What shall I give you?”

“I want nothing,” said the dwarf, “but--”

“You are commissioned by a third person,” said the witch, laughing. “It
is the same thing. Whoever wants a thing for some one else only thinks
of his own interest.”

“May be,” said Nemu. “At any rate your words show that you have not
grown less wise since I saw you last--and I am glad of it, for I want
your advice.”

“Advice is cheap. What is going on out there?” Nemu related to his
mother shortly, clearly, and without reserve, what was plotting in
his mistress’s house, and the frightful disgrace with which she was
threatened through her son.

The old woman shook her grey head thoughtfully several times: but she
let the little man go on to the end of his story without interrupting
him. Then she asked, and her eyes flashed as she spoke:

“And you really believe that you will succeed in putting the sparrow on
the eagle’s perch--Ani on the throne of Rameses?”

“The troops fighting in Ethiopia are for us,” cried Nemu. “The priests
declare themselves against the king, and recognize in Ani the genuine
blood of Ra.”

“That is much,” said the old woman.

“And many dogs are the death of the gazelle,” said Nemu laughing.

“But Rameses is not a gazelle to run, but a lion,” said the old woman
gravely. “You are playing a high game.”

“We know it,” answered Nemu. “But it is for high stakes--there is much
to win.”

“And all to lose,” muttered the old woman, passing her fingers round her
scraggy neck. “Well, do as you please--it is all the same to me who it
is sends the young to be killed, and drives the old folks’ cattle from
the field. What do they want with me?”

“No one has sent me,” answered the dwarf. “I come of my own free fancy
to ask you what Katuti must do to save her son and her house from

“Hm!” hummed the witch, looking at Nemu while she raised herself on
her stick. “What has come to you that you take the fate of these great
people to heart as if it were your own?”

The dwarf reddened, and answered hesitatingly, “Katuti is a good
mistress, and, if things go well with her, there may be windfalls for
you and me.”

Hekt shook her head doubtfully.

“A loaf for you perhaps, and a crumb for me!” she said. “There is more
than that in your mind, and I can read your heart as if you were a
ripped up raven. You are one of those who can never keep their fingers
at rest, and must knead everybody’s dough; must push, and drive and stir
something. Every jacket is too tight for you. If you were three feet
taller, and the son of a priest, you might have gone far. High you will
go, and high you will end; as the friend of a king--or on the gallows.”

The old woman laughed; but Nemu bit his lips, and said:

“If you had sent me to school, and if I were not the son of a witch,
and a dwarf, I would play with men as they have played with me; for I am
cleverer than all of them, and none of their plans are hidden from me.
A hundred roads lie before me, when they don’t know whether to go out
or in; and where they rush heedlessly forwards I see the abyss that they
are running to.”

“And nevertheless you come to me?” said the old woman sarcastically.

“I want your advice,” said Nemu seriously. “Four eyes see more than one,
and the impartial looker-on sees clearer than the player; besides you
are bound to help me.”

The old woman laughed loud in astonishment. “Bound!” she said, “I? and
to what if you please?”

“To help me,” replied the dwarf, half in entreaty, and half in reproach.
“You deprived me of my growth, and reduced me to a cripple.”

“Because no one is better off than you dwarfs,” interrupted the witch.

Nemu shook his head, and answered sadly--

“You have often said so--and perhaps for many others, who are born in
misery like me--perhaps-you are right; but for me--you have spoilt my
life; you have crippled not my body only but my soul, and have condemned
me to sufferings that are nameless and unutterable.”

The dwarf’s big head sank on his breast, and with his left hand he
pressed his heart.

The old woman went up to him kindly.

“What ails you?” she asked, “I thought it was well with you in Mena’s

“You thought so?” cried the dwarf. “You who show me as in a mirror what
I am, and how mysterious powers throng and stir in me? You made me what
I am by your arts; you sold me to the treasurer of Rameses, and he gave
me to the father of Mena, his brother-in-law. Fifteen years ago! I was
a young man then, a youth like any other, only more passionate, more
restless, and fiery than they. I was given as a plaything to the young
Mena, and he harnessed me to his little chariot, and dressed me out with
ribbons and feathers, and flogged me when I did not go fast enough. How
the girl--for whom I would have given my life--the porter’s daughter,
laughed when I, dressed up in motley, hopped panting in front of the
chariot and the young lord’s whip whistled in my ears wringing the sweat
from my brow, and the blood from my broken heart. Then Mena’s father
died, the boy, went to school, and I waited on the wife of his steward,
whom Katuti banished to Hermonthis. That was a time! The little daughter
of the house made a doll of me,

   [Dolls belonging to the time of the Pharaohs are preserved in the
   museums, for instance, the jointed ones at Leyden.]

laid me in the cradle, and made me shut my eyes and pretend to sleep,
while love and hatred, and great projects were strong within me. If
I tried to resist they beat me with rods; and when once, in a rage, I
forgot myself, and hit little Mertitefs hard, Mena, who came in, hung me
up in the store-room to a nail by my girdle, and left me to swing there;
he said he had forgotten to take me down again. The rats fell upon me;
here are the scars, these little white spots here--look! They perhaps
will some day wear out, but the wounds that my spirit received in those
hours have not yet ceased to bleed. Then Mena married Nefert, and, with
her, his mother-in-law, Katuti, came into the house. She took me from
the steward, I became indispensable to her; she treats me like a man,
she values my intelligence and listens to my advice,--therefore I will
make her great, and with her, and through her, I will wax mighty. If Ani
mounts the throne, we wilt guide him--you, and I, and she! Rameses must
fall, and with him Mena, the boy who degraded my body and poisoned my

During this speech the old woman had stood in silence opposite the
dwarf. Now she sat down on her rough wooden seat, and said, while she
proceeded to pluck a lapwing:

“Now I understand you; you wish to be revenged. You hope to rise high,
and I am to whet your knife, and hold the ladder for you. Poor little
man! there, sit down-drink a gulp of milk to cool you, and listen to my
advice. Katuti wants a great deal of money to escape dishonor. She need
only pick it up--it lies at her door.” The dwarf looked at the witch in

“The Mohar Paaker is her sister Setchem’s son. Is he not?”

“As you say.”

“Katuti’s daughter Nefert is the wife of your master Mena, and another
would like to tempt the neglected little hen into his yard.”

“You mean Paaker, to whom Nefert was promised before she went after

“Paaker was with me the day before yesterday.”

“With you?”

“Yes, with me, with old Hekt--to buy a love philter. I gave him one, and
as I was curious I went after him, saw him give the water to the little
lady, and found out her name.”

“And Nefert drank the magic drink?” asked the dwarf horrified. “Vinegar
and turnip juice,” laughed the old witch. “A lord who comes to me to win
a wife is ripe for any thing. Let Nefert ask Paaker for the money, and
the young scapegrace’s debts are paid.”

“Katuti is proud, and repulsed me severely when I proposed this.”

“Then she must sue to Paaker herself for the money. Go back to him, make
him hope that Nefert is inclined to him, tell him what distresses the
ladies, and if he refuses, but only if he refuses, let him see that you
know something of the little dose.”

The dwarf looked meditatively on the ground, and then said, looking
admiringly at the old woman: “That is the right thing.”

“You will find out the lie without my telling you,” mumbled the witch;
“your business is not perhaps such a bad one as it seemed to me at
first. Katuti may thank the ne’er-do-well who staked his father’s
corpse. You don’t understand me? Well, if you are really the sharpest of
them all over there, what must the others be?”

“You mean that people will speak well of my mistress for sacrificing so
large a sum for the sake--?”

“Whose sake? why speak well of her?” cried the old woman impatiently.
“Here we deal with other things, with actual facts. There stands
Paaker--there the wife of Mena. If the Mohar sacrifices a fortune for
Nefert, he will be her master, and Katuti will not stand in his way; she
knows well enough why her nephew pays for her. But some one else stops
the way, and that is Mena. It is worth while to get him out of the way.
The charioteer stands close to the Pharaoh, and the noose that is flung
at one may easily fall round the neck of the other too. Make the Mohar
your ally, and it may easily happen that your rat-bites may be paid for
with mortal wounds, and Rameses who, if you marched against him openly,
might blow you to the ground, may be hit by a lance thrown from an
ambush. When the throne is clear, the weak legs of the Regent may
succeed in clambering up to it with the help of the priests. Here you
sit-open-mouthed; and I have told you nothing that you might not have
found out for yourself.”

“You are a perfect cask of wisdom!” exclaimed the dwarf.

“And now you will go away,” said Hekt, “and reveal your schemes to your
mistress and the Regent, and they will be astonished at your cleverness.
To-day you still know that I have shown you what you have to do;
to-morrow you will have forgotten it; and the day after to-morrow you
will believe yourself possessed by the inspiration of the nine great
Gods. I know that; but I cannot give anything for nothing. You live by
your smallness, another makes his living with his hard hands, I earn my
scanty bread by the thoughts of my brain. Listen! when you have half won
Paaker, and Ani shows himself inclined to make use of him, then say to
him that I may know a secret--and I do know one, I alone--which may make
the Mohar the sport of his wishes, and that I may be disposed to sell

“That shall be done! certainly, mother,” cried the dwarf. “What do you
wish for?”

“Very little,” said the old woman. “Only a permit that makes me free to
do and to practise whatever I please, unmolested even by the priests,
and to receive an honorable burial after my death.”

“The Regent will hardly agree to that; for he must avoid everything that
may offend the servants of the Gods.”

“And do everything,” retorted the old woman, “that can degrade Rameses
in their sight. Ani, do you hear, need not write me a new license,
but only renew the old one granted to me by Rameses when I cured his
favorite horse. They burnt it with my other possessions, when they
plundered my house, and denounced me and my belongings for sorcery. The
permit of Rameses is what I want, nothing more.”

“You shall have it,” said the dwarf. “Good-by; I am charged to look into
the tomb of our house, and see whether the offerings for the dead are
regularly set out; to pour out fresh essences and have various things
renewed. When Sechet has ceased to rage, and it is cooler, I shall come
by here again, for I should like to call on the paraschites, and see how
the poor child is.”


During this conversation two men had been busily occupied, in front of
the paraschites’ hut, in driving piles into the earth, and stretching a
torn linen cloth upon them.

One of them, old Pinem, whom we have seen tending his grandchild,
requested the other from time to time to consider the sick girl and to
work less noisily.

After they had finished their simple task, and spread a couch of fresh
straw under the awning, they too sat down on the earth, and looked at
the hut before which the surgeon Nebsecht was sitting waiting till the
sleeping girl should wake.

“Who is that?” asked the leech of the old man, pointing to his young
companion, a tall sunburnt soldier with a bushy red beard.

“My son,” replied the paraschites, “who is just returned from Syria.”

“Uarda’s father?” asked Nebsecht.

The soldier nodded assent, and said with a rough voice, but not without

“No one could guess it by looking at us--she is so white and rosy. Her
mother was a foreigner, and she has turned out as delicate as she was. I
am afraid to touch her with my little finger--and there comes a chariot
over the brittle doll, and does not quite crush her, for she is still

“Without the help of this holy father,” said the paraschites,
approaching the surgeon, and kissing his robe, “you would never have
seen her alive again. May the Gods reward thee for what thou hast done
for its poor folks!”

“And we can pay too,” cried the soldier, slapping a full purse that hung
at his gridle. “We have taken plunder in Syria, and I will buy a calf,
and give it to thy temple.”

“Offer a beast of dough, rather.”

   [Hogs were sacrificed at the feasts of Selene (the Egyptian
   Nechebt). The poor offer pigs made of dough. Herodotus II., 47.
   Various kinds of cakes baked in the form of animals are represented
   on the monuments.]

replied Nebsecht, “and if you wish to show yourself grateful to me, give
the money to your father, so that he may feed and nurse your child in
accordance with my instructions.”

“Hm,” murmured the soldier; he took the purse from his girdle,
flourished it in his hand, and said, as he handed it to the paraschites:

“I should have liked to drink it! but take it, father, for the child and
my mother.”

While the old man hesitatingly put out his hand for the rich gift, the
soldier recollected himself and said, opening the purse:

“Let me take out a few rings, for to-day I cannot go dry. I have two or
three comrades lodging in the red Tavern. That is right. There,--take
the rest of the rubbish.”

Nebsecht nodded approvingly at the soldier, and he, as his father
gratefully kissed the surgeon’s hand, exclaimed:

“Make the little one sound, holy father! It, is all over with gifts and
offerings, for I have nothing left; but there are two iron fists and a
breast like the wall of a fortress. If at any time thou dost want help,
call me, and I will protect thee against twenty enemies. Thou hast saved
my child--good! Life for life. I sign myself thy blood-ally--there.”

With these words he drew his poniard out of his girdle. He scratched his
arm, and let a few drops of his blood run down on a stone at the feet of
Nebsecht--“Look,” he said. “There is my bond, Kaschta has signed himself
thine, and thou canst dispose of my life as of thine own. What I have
said, I have said.”

“I am a man of peace,” Nebsecht stammered, “And my white robe protects
me. But I believe our patient is awake.”

The physician rose, and entered the hut.

Uarda’s pretty head lay on her grandmother’s lap, and her large blue
eyes turned contentedly on the priest.

“She might get up and go out into the air,” said the old woman. “She has
slept long and soundly.” The surgeon examined her pulse, and her wound,
on which green leaves were laid.

“Excellent,” he said; “who gave you this healing herb?”

The old woman shuddered, and hesitated; but Uarda said fearlessly; “Old
Hekt, who lives over there in the black cave.”

“The witch!” muttered Nebsecht. “But we will let the leaves remain; if
they do good, it is no matter where they came from.”

“Hekt tasted the drops thou didst give her,” said the old woman, “and
agreed that they were good.”

“Then we are satisfied with each other,” answered Nebsecht, with a smile
of amusement. “We will carry you now into the open air, little maid;
for the air in here is as heavy as lead, and your damaged lung requires
lighter nourishment.”

“Yes, let me go out,” said the girl. “It is well that thou hast not
brought back the other with thee, who tormented me with his vows.”

“You mean blind Teta,” said Nebsecht, “he will not come again; but the
young priest who soothed your father, when he repulsed the princess,
will visit you. He is kindly disposed, and you should--you should--”

“Pentaur will come?” said the girl eagerly.

“Before midday. But how do you know his name?”

“I know him,” said Uarda decidedly.

The surgeon looked at her surprised.

“You must not talk any more,” he said, “for your cheeks are glowing, and
the fever may return. We have arranged a tent for you, and now we will
carry you into the open air.”

“Not yet,” said the girl. “Grandmother, do my hair for me, it is so

With these words she endeavored to part her mass of long reddish-brown
hair with her slender hands, and to free it from the straws that had got
entangled in it.

“Lie still,” said the surgeon, in a warning voice.

“But it is so heavy,” said the sick girl, smiling and showing Nebsecht
her abundant wealth of golden hair as if it were a fatiguing burden.
“Come, grandmother, and help me.”

The old woman leaned over the child, and combed her long locks carefully
with a coarse comb made of grey horn, gently disengaged the straws
from the golden tangle, and at last laid two thick long plaits on her
granddaughter’s shoulders.

Nebsecht knew that every movement of the wounded girl might do mischief,
and his impulse was to stop the old woman’s proceedings, but his tongue
seemed spell-bound. Surprised, motionless, and with crimson cheeks, he
stood opposite the girl, and his eyes followed every movement of her
hands with anxious observation.

She did not notice him.

When the old woman laid down the comb Uarda drew a long breath.

“Grandmother,” she said, “give me the mirror.” The old woman brought
a shard of dimly glazed, baked clay. The girl turned to the light,
contemplated the undefined reflection for a moment, and said:

“I have not seen a flower for so long, grandmother.”

“Wait, child,” she replied; she took from a jug the rose, which the
princess had laid on the bosom of her grandchild, and offered it to her.
Before Uarda could take it, the withered petals fell, and dropped
upon her. The surgeon stooped, gathered them up, and put them into the
child’s hand.

“How good you are!” she said; “I am called Uarda--like this flower--and
I love roses and the fresh air. Will you carry me out now?”

Nebsecht called the paraschites, who came into the hut with his son, and
they carried the girl out into the air, and laid her under the humble
tent they had contrived for her. The soldier’s knees trembled while he
held the light burden of his daughter’s weight in his strong hands, and
he sighed when he laid her down on the mat.

“How blue the sky is!” cried Uarda. “Ah! grandfather has watered my
pomegranate, I thought so! and there come my doves! give me some corn in
my hand, grandmother. How pleased they are.”

The graceful birds, with black rings round their reddish-grey necks,
flew confidingly to her, and took the corn that she playfully laid
between her lips.

Nebsecht looked on with astonishment at this pretty play. He felt as if
a new world had opened to him, and some new sense, hitherto unknown to
him, had been revealed to him within his breast. He silently sat down
in front of the but, and drew the picture of a rose on the sand with a
reed-stem that he picked up.

Perfect stillness was around him; the doves even had flown up, and
settled on the roof. Presently the dog barked, steps approached; Uarda
lifted herself up and said:

“Grandmother, it is the priest Pentaur.”

“Who told you?” asked the old woman.

“I know it,” answered the girl decidedly, and in a few moments a
sonorous voice cried: “Good day to you. How is your invalid?”

Pentaur was soon standing by Uarda; pleased to hear Nebsecht’s good
report, and with the sweet face of the girl. He had some flowers in his
hand, that a happy maiden had laid on the altar of the Goddess Hathor,
which he had served since the previous day, and he gave them to the
sick girl, who took them with a blush, and held them between her clasped

“The great Goddess whom I serve sends you these,” said Pentaur, “and
they will bring you healing. Continue to resemble them. You are pure and
fair like them, and your course henceforth may be like theirs. As the
sun gives life to the grey horizon, so you bring joy to this dark but.
Preserve your innocence, and wherever you go you will bring love, as
flowers spring in every spot that is trodden by the golden foot of

   [Hathor is frequently called “the golden,” particularly at Dendera
   She has much in common with the “golden Aphrodite.”]

May her blessing rest upon you!”

He had spoken the last words half to the old couple and half to Uarda,
and was already turning to depart when, behind a heap of dried reeds
that lay close to the awning over the girl, the bitter cry of a child
was heard, and a little boy came forward who held, as high as he could
reach, a little cake, of which the dog, who seemed to know him well, had
snatched half.

“How do you come here, Scherau?” the paraschites asked the weeping boy;
the unfortunate child that Hekt was bringing up as a dwarf.

“I wanted,” sobbed the little one, “to bring the cake to Uarda. She is
ill--I had so much--”

“Poor child,” said the paraschites, stroking the boy’s hair; “there-give
it to Uarda.”

Scherau went up to the sick girl, knelt down by her, and whispered with
streaming eyes:

“Take it! It is good, and very sweet, and if I get another cake, and
Hekt will let me out, I will bring it to you.

“Thank you, good little Scherau,” said Uarda, kissing the child. Then
she turned to Pentaur and said:

“For weeks he has had nothing but papyrus-pith, and lotus-bread, and now
he brings me the cake which grandmother gave old Hekt yesterday.”

The child blushed all over, and stammered:

“It is only half--but I did not touch it. Your dog bit out this piece,
and this.”

He touched the honey with the tip of his finger, and put it to his lips.
“I was a long time behind the reeds there, for I did not like to come
out because of the strangers there.” He pointed to Nebsecht and Pentaur.
“But now I must go home,” he cried.

The child was going, but Pentaur stopped him, seized him, lifted him up
in his arms and kissed him; saying, as he turned to Nebsecht:

“They were wise, who represented Horus--the symbol of the triumph of
good over evil and of purity over the impure--in the form of a child.
Bless you, my little friend; be good, and always give away what you have
to make others happy. It will not make your house rich--but it will your

Scherau clung to the priest, and involuntarily raised his little hand
to stroke Pentaur’s cheek. An unknown tenderness had filled his little
heart, and he felt as if he must throw his arms round the poet’s neck
and cry upon his breast.

But Pentaur set him down on the ground, and he trotted down into the
valley. There he paused. The sun was high in the heavens, and he must
return to the witch’s cave and his board, but he would so much like to
go a little farther--only as far as to the king’s tomb, which was quite

Close by the door of this tomb was a thatch of palm-branches, and under
this the sculptor Batau, a very aged man, was accustomed to rest. The
old man was deaf, but he passed for the best artist of his time, and
with justice; he had designed the beautiful pictures and hieroglyphic
inscriptions in Seti’s splendid buildings at Abydos and Thebes, as well
as in the tomb of that prince, and he was now working at the decoration
of the walls in the grave of Rameses.

Scherau had often crept close up to him, and thoughtfully watched him at
work, and then tried himself to make animal and human figures out of a
bit of clay.

One day the old man had observed him.

The sculptor had silently taken his humble attempt out of his hand, and
had returned it to him with a smile of encouragement.

From that time a peculiar tie had sprung up between the two. Scherau
would venture to sit down by the sculptor, and try to imitate his
finished images. Not a word was exchanged between them, but often
the deaf old man would destroy the boy’s works, often on the contrary
improve them with a touch of his own hand, and not seldom nod at him to
encourage him.

When he staid away the old man missed his pupil, and Scherau’s happiest
hours were those which he passed at his side.

He was not forbidden to take some clay home with him. There, when the
old woman’s back was turned, he moulded a variety of images which he
destroyed as soon as they were finished.

While he lay on his rack his hands were left free, and he tried to
reproduce the various forms which lived in his imagination, he forgot
the present in his artistic attempts, and his bitter lot acquired a
flavor of the sweetest enjoyment.

But to-day it was too late; he must give up his visit to the tomb of

Once more he looked back at the hut, and then hurried into the dark


Pentauer also soon quitted the but of the paraschites.

Lost in meditation, he went along the hill-path which led to the temple
which Ameni had put under his direction.

   [This temple is well proportioned, and remains in good preservation.
   Copies of the interesting pictures discovered in it are to be found
   in the “Fleet of an Egyptian queen” by Dutnichen. Other details may
   be found in Lepsius’ Monuments of Egypt, and a plan of the place has
   recently been published by Mariette.]

He foresaw many disturbed and anxious hours in the immediate future.

The sanctuary of which he was the superior, had been dedicated to her
own memory, and to the goddess Hathor, by Hatasu,

   [The daughter of Thotmes I., wife of her brother Thotmes II., and
   predecessor of her second brother Thotmes III. An energetic woman
   who executed great works, and caused herself to be represented with
   the helmet and beard-case of a man.]

a great queen of the dethroned dynasty.

The priests who served it were endowed with peculiar chartered
privileges, which hitherto had been strictly respected. Their dignity
was hereditary, going down from father to son, and they had the right of
choosing their director from among themselves.

Now their chief priest Rui was ill and dying, and Ameni, under whose
jurisdiction they came, had, without consulting them, sent the young
poet Pentaur to fill his place.

They had received the intruder most unwillingly, and combined strongly
against him when it became evident that he was disposed to establish
a severe rule and to abolish many abuses which had become established

They had devolved the greeting of the rising sun on the temple-servants;
Pentaur required that the younger ones at least should take part
in chanting the morning hymn, and himself led the choir. They had
trafficked with the offerings laid on the altar of the Goddess; the new
master repressed this abuse, as well as the extortions of which they
were guilty towards women in sorrow, who visited the temple of Hathor in
greater number than any other sanctuary.

The poet-brought up in the temple of Seti to self-control, order,
exactitude, and decent customs, deeply penetrated with a sense of the
dignity of his position, and accustomed to struggle with special zeal
against indolence of body and spirit--was disgusted with the slothful
life and fraudulent dealings of his subordinates; and the deeper insight
which yesterday’s experience had given him into the poverty and sorrow
of human existence, made him resolve with increased warmth that he would
awake them to a new life.

The conviction that the lazy herd whom he commanded was called upon to
pour consolation into a thousand sorrowing hearts, to dry innumerable
tears, and to clothe the dry sticks of despair with the fresh verdure of
hope, urged him to strong measures.

Yesterday he had seen how, with calm indifference, they had listened to
the deserted wife, the betrayed maiden, to the woman, who implored
the withheld blessing of children, to the anxious mother, the forlorn
widow,--and sought only to take advantage of sorrow, to extort gifts for
the Goddess, or better still for their own pockets or belly.

Now he was nearing the scene of his new labors.

There stood the reverend building, rising stately from the valley on
four terraces handsomely and singularly divided, and resting on the
western side against the high amphitheatre of yellow cliffs.

On the closely-joined foundation stones gigantic hawks were carved in
relief, each with the emblem of life, and symbolized Horus, the son of
the Goddess, who brings all that fades to fresh bloom, and all that dies
to resurrection.

On each terrace stood a hall open to the east, and supported on two and
twenty archaic pillars.

   [Polygonal pillars, which were used first in tomb-building under the
   12th dynasty, and after the expulsion of the Hyksos under the kings
   of the 17th and 18th, in public buildings; but under the subsequent
   races of kings they ceased to be employed.]

On their inner walls elegant pictures and inscriptions in the finest
sculptured work recorded, for the benefit of posterity, the great things
that Hatasu had done with the help of the Gods of Thebes.

There were the ships which she had to send to Punt

   [Arabia; apparently also the coast of east Africa south of Egypt as
   far as Somali. The latest of the lists published by Mariette, of
   the southern nations conquered by Thotmes III., mentions it. This
   list was found on the pylon of the temple of Karnak.]

to enrich Egypt with the treasures of the east; there the wonders
brought to Thebes from Arabia might be seen; there were delineated
the houses of the inhabitants of the land of frankincense, and all the
fishes of the Red Sea, in distinct and characteristic outline.

On the third and fourth terraces were the small adjoining rooms of
Hatasu and her brothers Thotmes II. and III., which were built against
the rock, and entered by granite doorways. In them purifications
were accomplished, the images of the Goddess worshipped, and the more
distinguished worshippers admitted to confess. The sacred cows of the
Goddess were kept in a side-building.

As Pentaur approached the great gate of the terrace-temple, he became
the witness of a scene which filled him with resentment.

A woman implored to be admitted into the forecourt, to pray at the
altar of the Goddess for her husband, who was very ill, but the sleek
gate-keeper drove her back with rough words.

“It is written up,” said he, pointing to the inscription over the gate,
“only the purified may set their foot across this threshold, and you
cannot be purified but by the smoke of incense.”

“Then swing the censer for me,” said the woman, and take this silver
ring--it is all I have.”

“A silver ring!” cried the porter, indignantly. “Shall the goddess be
impoverished for your sake! The grains of Anta, that would be used in
purifying you, would cost ten times as much.”

“But I have no more,” replied the woman, “my husband, for whom I come to
pray, is ill; he cannot work, and my children--”

“You fatten them up and deprive the goddess of her due,” cried the
gate-keeper. “Three rings down, or I shut the gate.”

“Be merciful,” said the woman, weeping. “What will become of us if
Hathor does not help my husband?”

“Will our goddess fetch the doctor?” asked the porter. “She has
something to do besides curing sick starvelings. Besides, that is not
her office. Go to Imhotep or to Chunsu the counsellor, or to the great
Techuti herself, who helps the sick. There is no quack medicine to be
got here.”

“I only want comfort in my trouble,” said the woman.

“Comfort!” laughed the gate-keeper, measuring the comely young woman
with his eye. “That you may have cheaper.”

The woman turned pale, and drew back from the hand the man stretched out
towards her.

At this moment Pentaur, full of wrath, stepped between them.

He raised his hand in blessing over the woman, who bent low before him,
and said, “Whoever calls fervently on the Divinity is near to him. You
are pure. Enter.”

As soon as she had disappeared within the temple, the priest turned to
the gate-keeper and exclaimed: “Is this how you serve the goddess, is
this how you take advantage of a heart-wrung woman? Give me the keys of
this gate. Your office is taken from you, and early to-morrow you go out
in the fields, and keep the geese of Hathor.”

The porter threw himself on his knees with loud outcries; but Pentaur
turned his back upon him, entered the sanctuary, and mounted the steps
which led to his dwelling on the third terrace.

A few priests whom he passed turned their backs upon him, others looked
down at their dinners, eating noisily, and making as if they did not
see him. They had combined strongly, and were determined to expel the
inconvenient intruder at any price.

Having reached his room, which had been splendidly decorated for his
predecessor, Pentaur laid aside his new insignia, comparing sorrowfully
the past and the present.

To what an exchange Ameni had condemned him! Here, wherever he looked,
he met with sulkiness and aversion; while, when he walked through the
courts of the House of Seti, a hundred boys would hurry towards him, and
cling affectionately to his robe. Honored there by great and small, his
every word had had its value; and when each day he gave utterance to his
thoughts, what he bestowed came back to him refined by earnest discourse
with his associates and superiors, and he gained new treasures for his
inner life.

“What is rare,” thought he, “is full of charm; and yet how hard it is
to do without what is habitual!” The occurrences of the last few days
passed before his mental sight. Bent-Anat’s image appeared before him,
and took a more and more distinct and captivating form. His heart began
to beat wildly, the blood rushed faster through his veins; he hid his
face in his hands, and recalled every glance, every word from her lips.

“I follow thee willingly,” she had said to him before the hut of the
paraschites. Now he asked himself whether he were worthy of such a

He had indeed broken through the old bonds, but not to disgrace the
house that was dear to him, only to let new light into its dim chambers.

“To do what we have earnestly felt to be right,” said he to himself,
“may seem worthy of punishment to men, but cannot before God.”

He sighed and walked out into the terrace in a mood of lofty excitement,
and fully resolved to do here nothing but what was right, to lay the
foundation of all that was good.

“We men,” thought he, “prepare sorrow when we come into the world, and
lamentation when we leave it; and so it is our duty in the intermediate
time to fight with suffering, and to sow the seeds of joy. There are
many tears here to be wiped away. To work then!” The poet found none of
his subordinates on the upper terrace. They had all met in the forecourt
of the temple, and were listening to the gate-keeper’s tale, and seemed
to sympathize with his angry complaint--against whom Pentaur well knew.

With a firm step he went towards them and said:

“I have expelled this man from among us, for he is a disgrace to us.
To-morrow he quits the temple.”

“I will go at once,” replied the gate-keeper defiantly, “and in behalf
of the holy fathers (here he cast a significant glance at the priests),
ask the high-priest Ameni if the unclean are henceforth to be permitted
to enter this sanctuary.”

He was already approaching the gate, but Pentaur stepped before him,
saying resolutely:

“You will remain here and keep the geese to-morrow, day after to-morrow,
and until I choose to pardon you.” The gate-keeper looked enquiringly at
the priests. Not one moved.

“Go back into your house,” said Pentaur, going closer to him.

The porter obeyed.

Pentaur locked the door of the little room, gave the key to one of the
temple-servants, and said: “Perform his duty, watch the man, and if he
escapes you will go after the geese to-morrow too. See, my friends,
how many worshippers kneel there before our altars--go and fulfil your
office. I will wait in the confessional to receive complaints, and to
administer comfort.”

The priests separated and went to the votaries. Pentaur once more
mounted the steps, and sat down in the narrow confessional which was
closed by a curtain; on its wall the picture of Hatasu was to be seen,
drawing the milk of eternal life from the udders of the cow Hathor.

He had hardly taken his place when a temple-servant announced the
arrival of a veiled lady. The bearers of her litter were thickly veiled,
and she had requested to be conducted to the confession chamber. The
servant handed Pentaur a token by which the high-priest of the great
temple of Anion, on the other bank of the Nile, granted her the
privilege of entering the inner rooms of the temple with the Rechiu, and
to communicate with all priests, even with the highest of the initiated.

The poet withdrew behind a curtain, and awaited the stranger with a
disquiet that seemed to him all the more singular that he had frequently
found himself in a similar position. Even the noblest dignitaries had
often been transferred to him by Ameni when they had come to the temple
to have their visions interpreted.

A tall female figure entered the still, sultry stone room, sank on
her knees, and put up a long and absorbed prayer before the figure of
Hathor. Pentaur also, seen by no one, lifted his hands, and fervently
addressed himself to the omnipresent spirit with a prayer for strength
and purity.

Just as his arms fell the lady raised her head. It was as though the
prayers of the two souls had united to mount upwards together.

The veiled lady rose and dropped her veil.

It was Bent-Anat.

In the agitation of her soul she had sought the goddess Hathor, who
guides the beating heart of woman and spins the threads which bind man
and wife.

“High mistress of heaven! many-named and beautiful!” she began to pray
aloud, “golden Hathor! who knowest grief and ecstasy--the present and
the future--draw near to thy child, and guide the spirit of thy servant,
that he may advise me well. I am the daughter of a father who is great
and noble and truthful as one of the Gods. He advises me--he will never
compel me--to yield to a man whom I can never love. Nay, another has met
me, humble in birth but noble in spirit and in gifts--”

Thus far, Pentaur, incapable of speech, had overheard the princess.

Ought he to remain concealed and hear all her secret, or should he step
forth and show himself to her? His pride called loudly to him: “Now
she will speak your name; you are the chosen one of the fairest and
noblest.” But another voice to which he had accustomed himself to listen
in severe self-discipline made itself heard, and said--“Let her say
nothing in ignorance, that she need be ashamed of if she knew.”

He blushed for her;--he opened the curtain and went forward into the
presence of Bent-Anat.

The Princess drew back startled.

“Art thou Pentaur,” she asked, “or one of the Immortals?”

“I am Pentaur,” he answered firmly, “a man with all the weakness of his
race, but with a desire for what is good. Linger here and pour out thy
soul to our Goddess; my whole life shall be a prayer for thee.”

The poet looked full at her; then he turned quickly, as if to avoid a
danger, towards the door of the confessional.

Bent-Anat called his name, and he stayed his steps:

“The daughter of Rameses,” she said, “need offer no justification of
her appearance here, but the maiden Bent-Anat,” and she colored as she
spoke, “expected to find, not thee, but the old priest Rui, and she
desired his advice. Now leave me to pray.”

Bent-Anat sank on her knees, and Pentaur went out into the open air.

When the princess too had left the confessional, loud voices were heard
on the south side of the terrace on which they stood.

She hastened towards the parapet.

“Hail to Pentaur!” was shouted up from below. The poet rushed forward,
and placed himself near the princess. Both looked down into the valley,
and could be seen by all.

“Hail, hail! Pentaur,” was called doubly loud, “Hail to our teacher!
come back to the House of Seti. Down with the persecutors of
Pentaur--down with our oppressors!”

At the head of the youths, who, so soon as they had found out whither
the poet had been exiled, had escaped to tell him that they were
faithful to him, stood the prince Rameri, who nodded triumphantly to
his sister, and Anana stepped forward to inform the honored teacher in a
solemn and well-studied speech, that, in the event of Ameni refusing to
recall him, they had decided requesting their fathers to place them at
another school.

The young sage spoke well, and Bent-Anat followed his words, not without
approbation; but Pentaur’s face grew darker, and before his favorite
disciple had ended his speech he interrupted him sternly.

His voice was at first reproachful, and then complaining, and loud as he
spoke, only sorrow rang in his tones, and not anger.

“In truth,” he concluded, “every word that I have spoken to you I could
but find it in me to regret, if it has contributed to encourage you to
this mad act. You were born in palaces; learn to obey, that later you
may know how to command. Back to your school! You hesitate? Then I will
come out against you with the watchman, and drive you back, for you do
me and yourselves small honor by such a proof of affection. Go back to
the school you belong to.”

The school-boys dared make no answer, but surprised and disenchanted
turned to go home.

Bent-Anat cast down her eyes as she met those of her brother,
who shrugged his shoulders, and then she looked half shyly, half
respectfully, at the poet; but soon again her eyes turned to the plain
below, for thick dust-clouds whirled across it, the sound of hoofs and
the rattle of wheels became audible, and at the same moment the chariot
of Septah, the chief haruspex, and a vehicle with the heavily-armed
guard of the House of Seti, stopped near the terrace.

The angry old man sprang quickly to the ground, called the host of
escaped pupils to him in a stern voice, ordered the guard to drive them
back to the school, and hurried up to the temple gates like a vigorous
youth. The priests received him with the deepest reverence, and at once
laid their complaints before him.

He heard them willingly, but did not let them discuss the matter; then,
though with some difficulty, he quickly mounted the steps, down which
Bent-Anat came towards him.

The princess felt that she would divert all the blame and
misunderstanding to herself, if Septah recognized her; her hand
involuntarily reached for her veil, but she drew it back quickly, looked
with quiet dignity into the old man’s eyes, which flashed with anger,
and proudly passed by him. The haruspex bowed, but without giving her
his blessing, and when he met Pentaur on the second terrace, ordered
that the temple should be cleared of worshippers.

This was done in a few minutes, and the priests were witnesses of
the most painful, scene which had occurred for years in their quiet

The head of the haruspices of the House of Seti was the most determined
adversary of the poet who had so early been initiated into the
mysteries, and whose keen intellect often shook those very ramparts
which the zealous old man had, from conviction, labored to strengthen
from his youth up. The vexatious occurrences, of which he had been a
witness at the House of Seti, and here also but a few minutes since, he
regarded as the consequence of the unbridled license of an ill-regulated
imagination, and in stern language he called Pentaur to account for the
“revolt” of the school-boys.

“And besides our boys,” he exclaimed, “you have led the daughter of
Rameses astray. She was not yet purged of her uncleanness, and yet you
tempt her to an assignation, not even in the stranger’s quarters--but in
the holy house of this pure Divinity.” Undeserved praise is dangerous
to the weak; unjust blame may turn even the strong from the right way.
Pentaur indignantly repelled the accusations of the old man, called them
unworthy of his age, his position, and his name, and for fear that
his anger might carry him too far, turned his back upon him; but the
haruspex ordered him to remain, and in his presence questioned the
priests, who unanimously accused the poet of having admitted to the
temple another unpurified woman besides Bent-Anat, and of having
expelled the gate-keeper and thrown him into prison for opposing the

The haruspex ordered that the “ill-used man” should be set at liberty.

Pentaur resisted this command, asserted his right to govern in this
temple, and with a trembling voice requested Septah to quit the place.

The haruspex showed him Ameni’s ring, by which, during his residence
in Thebes, he made him his plenipotentiary, degraded Pentaur from his
dignity, but ordered him not to quit the sanctuary till further notice,
and then finally departed from the temple of Hatasu.

Pentaur had yielded in silence to the signet of his chief, and returned
to the confessional in which he had met Bent-Anat. He felt his soul
shaken to its very foundations, his thoughts were confused, his feelings
struggling with each other; he shivered, and when he heard the laughter
of the priests and the gatekeeper, who were triumphing in their easy
victory, he started and shuddered like a man who in passing a mirror
should see a brand of disgrace on his brow.

But by degrees he recovered himself, his spirit grew clearer, and when
he left the little room to look towards the east--where, on the farther
shore, rose the palace where Bent-Anat must be--a deep contempt for his
enemies filled his soul, and a proud feeling of renewed manly energy.
He did not conceal from himself that he had enemies; that a time of
struggle was beginning for him; but he looked forward to it like a young
hero to the morning of his first battle.


The afternoon shadows were already growing long, when a splendid chariot
drew up to the gates of the terrace-temple. Paaker, the chief pioneer,
stood up in it, driving his handsome and fiery Syrian horses. Behind him
stood an Ethiopian slave, and his big dog followed the swift team with
his tongue out.

As he approached the temple he heard himself called, and checked the
pace of his horses. A tiny man hurried up to him, and, as soon as he had
recognized in him the dwarf Nemu, he cried angrily:

“Is it for you, you rascal, that I stop my drive? What do you want?”

“To crave,” said the little man, bowing humbly, “that, when thy business
in the city of the dead is finished, thou wilt carry me back to Thebes.”

“You are Mena’s dwarf?” asked the pioneer.

“By no means,” replied Nemu. “I belong to his neglected wife, the lady
Nefert. I can only cover the road very slowly with my little legs, while
the hoofs of your horses devour the way-as a crocodile does his prey.”

“Get up!” said Paaker. “Did you come here on foot?”

“No, my lord,” replied Nemu, “on an ass; but a demon entered into the
beast, and has struck it with sickness. I had to leave it on the road.
The beasts of Anubis will have a better supper than we to-night.”

“Things are not done handsomely then at your mistress’s house?” asked

“We still have bread,” replied Nemu, “and the Nile is full of water.
Much meat is not necessary for women and dwarfs, but our last cattle
take a form which is too hard for human teeth.”

The pioneer did not understand the joke, and looked enquiringly at the

“The form of money,” said the little man, “and that cannot be chewed;
soon that will be gone too, and then the point will be to find a recipe
for making nutritious cakes out of earth, water, and palm-leaves. It
makes very little difference to me, a dwarf does not need much--but the
poor tender lady!”

Paaker touched his horses with such a violent stroke of his whip that
they reared high, and it took all his strength to control their spirit.

“The horses’ jaws will be broken,” muttered the slave behind. “What a
shame with such fine beasts!”

“Have you to pay for them?” growled Paaker. Then he turned again to the
dwarf, and asked:

“Why does Mena let the ladies want?”

“He no longer cares for his wife,” replied the dwarf, casting his eyes
down sadly. “At the last division of the spoil he passed by the gold and
silver; and took a foreign woman into his tent. Evil demons have blinded
him, for where is there a woman fairer than Nefert?”

“You love your mistress.”

“As my very eyes!”

During this conversation they had arrived at the terrace-temple. Paaker
threw the reins to the slave, ordered him to wait with Nemu, and turned
to the gate-keeper to explain to him, with the help of a handful of
gold, his desire of being conducted to Pentaur, the chief of the temple.

The gate-keeper, swinging a censer before him with a hasty action,
admitted him into the sanctuary. “You will find him on the third
terrace,” he said, “but he is no longer our superior.”

“They said so in the temple of Seti, whence I have just come,” replied

The porter shrugged his shoulders with a sneer, and said: “The palm-tree
that is quickly set up falls down more quickly still.” Then he desired a
servant to conduct the stranger to Pentaur.

The poet recognized the Mohar at once, asked his will, and learned that
he was come to have a wonderful vision interpreted by him.

Paaker explained before relating his dream, that he did not ask this
service for nothing; and when the priest’s countenance darkened he

“I will send a fine beast for sacrifice to the Goddess if the
interpretation is favorable.”

“And in the opposite case?” asked Pentaur, who, in the House of Seti,
never would have anything whatever to do with the payments of the
worshippers or the offerings of the devout.

“I will offer a sheep,” replied Paaker, who did not perceive the subtle
irony that lurked in Pentaur’s words, and who was accustomed to pay for
the gifts of the Divinity in proportion to their value to himself.

Pentaur thought of the verdict which Gagabu, only two evenings since,
had passed on the Mohar, and it occurred to him that he would test
how far the man’s superstition would lead him. So he asked, while he
suppressed a smile:

“And if I can foretell nothing bad, but also nothing actually good?”--

“An antelope, and four geese,” answered Paaker promptly.

“But if I were altogether disinclined to put myself at your service?”
 asked Pentaur. “If I thought it unworthy of a priest to let the Gods
be paid in proportion to their favors towards a particular person, like
corrupt officials; if I now showed you--you--and I have known you from
a school-boy, that there are things that cannot be bought with inherited

The pioneer drew back astonished and angry, but Pentaur continued

“I stand here as the minister of the Divinity; and nevertheless, I see
by your countenance, that you were on the point of lowering yourself by
showing to me your violent and extortionate spirit.

“The Immortals send us dreams, not to give us a foretaste of joy or
caution us against danger, but to remind us so to prepare our souls
that we may submit quietly to suffer evil, and with heartfelt gratitude
accept the good; and so gain from each profit for the inner life. I will
not interpret your dream! Come without gifts, but with a humble heart,
and with longing for inward purification, and I will pray to the Gods
that they may enlighten me, and give you such interpretation of even
evil dreams that they may be fruitful in blessing.

“Leave me, and quit the temple!”

Paaker ground his teeth with rage; but he controlled himself, and only
said as he slowly withdrew:

“If your office had not already been taken from you, the insolence with
which you have dismissed me might have cost you your place. We shall
meet again, and then you shall learn that inherited wealth in the right
hand is worth more than you will like.”

“Another enemy!” thought the poet, when he found himself alone and stood
erect in the glad consciousness of having done right.

During Paaker’s interview with the poet, the dwarf Nemu had chatted to
the porter, and had learned from him all that had previously occurred.

Paaker mounted his chariot pale with rage, and whipped on his horses
before the dwarf had clambered up the step; but the slave seized the
little man, and set him carefully on his feet behind his master.

“The villian, the scoundrel! he shall repent it--Pentaur is he called!
the hound!” muttered the pioneer to himself.

The dwarf lost none of his words, and when he caught the name of Pentaur
he called to the pioneer, and said--

“They have appointed a scoundrel to be the superior of this temple;
his name is Pentaur. He was expelled from the temple of Seti for his
immorality, and now he has stirred up the younger scholars to rebellion,
and invited unclean women into the temple. My lips hardly dare repeat
it, but the gate-keeper swore it was true--that the chief haruspex from
the House of Seti found him in conference with Bent-Anat, the king’s
daughter, and at once deprived him of his office.”

“With Bent-Anat?” replied the pioneer, and muttered, before the dwarf
could find time to answer, “Indeed, with Bent-Anat!” and he recalled the
day before yesterday, when the princess had remained so long with the
priest in the hovel of the paraschites, while he had talked to Nefert
and visited the old witch.

“I should not care to be in the priest’s skin,” observed Nemu, “for
though Rameses is far away, the Regent Ani is near enough. He is a
gentleman who seldom pounces, but even the dove won’t allow itself to be
attacked in is own nest.”

Paaker looked enquiringly at Nemu.

“I know,” said the dwarf “Ani has asked Rameses’ consent to marry his

“He has already asked it,” continued the dwarf as Paaker smiled
incredulously, “and the king is not disinclined to give it. He likes
making marriages--as thou must know pretty well.”

“I?” said Paaker, surprised.

“He forced Katuti to give her daughter as wife to the charioteer. That I
know from herself. She can prove it to thee.”

Paaker shook his head in denial, but the dwarf continued eagerly, “Yes,
yes! Katuti would have had thee for her son-in-law, and it was the king,
not she, who broke off the betrothal. Thou must at the same time have
been inscribed in the black books of the high gate, for Rameses used
many hard names for thee. One of us is like a mouse behind the curtain,
which knows a good deal.”

Paaker suddenly brought his horses to a stand-still, threw the reins to
the slave, sprang from the chariot, called the dwarf to his side, and

“We will walk from here to the river, and you shall tell me all you
know; but if an untrue word passes your lips I will have you eaten by my

“I know thou canst keep thy word,” gasped the little man. “But go a
little slower if thou wilt, for I am quite out of breath. Let Katuti
herself tell thee how it all came about. Rameses compelled her to give
her daughter to the charioteer. I do not know what he said of thee, but
it was not complimentary. My poor mistress! she let herself be caught
by the dandy, the ladies’ man-and now she may weep and wail. When I pass
the great gates of thy house with Katuti, she often sighs and complains
bitterly. And with good reason, for it soon will be all over with our
noble estate, and we must seek an asylum far away among the Amu in the
low lands; for the nobles will soon avoid us as outcasts. Thou mayst be
glad that thou hast not linked thy fate to ours; but I have a faithful
heart, and will share my mistress’s trouble.”

“You speak riddles,” said Paaker, “what have they to fear?”

The dwarf now related how Nefert’s brother had gambled away the mummy of
his father, how enormous was the sum he had lost, and that degradation
must overtake Katuti, and her daughter with her.

“Who can save them,” he whimpered. “Her shameless husband squanders his
inheritance and his prize-money. Katuti is poor, and the little words
‘Give me!’ scare away friends as the cry of a hawk scares the chickens.
My poor mistress!”

“It is a large sum,” muttered Paaker to himself. “It is enormous!”
 sighed the dwarf, “and where is it to be found in these hard times? It
would have been different with us, if--ah if--. And it would be a form
of madness which I do not believe in, that Nefert should still care for
her braggart husband. She thinks as much of thee as of him.”

Paaker looked at the dwarf half incredulous and half threatening.

“Ay--of thee,” repeated Nemu. “Since our excursion to the Necropolis
the day before yesterday it was--she speaks only of thee, praising thy
ability, and thy strong manly spirit. It is as if some charm obliged her
to think of thee.”

The pioneer began to walk so fast that his small companion once more had
to ask him to moderate his steps.

They gained the shore in silence, where Paaker’s boat was waiting, which
also conveyed his chariot. He lay down in the little cabin, called the
dwarf to him, and said:

“I am Katuti’s nearest relative; we are now reconciled; why does she not
turn to me in her difficulty?”

“Because she is proud, and thy blood flows in her veins. Sooner would
she die with her child--she said so--than ask thee, against whom she
sinned, for an ‘alms’.”

“She did think of me then?”

“At once; nor did she doubt thy generosity. She esteems thee highly--I
repeat it; and if an arrow from a Cheta’s bow or a visitation of the
Gods attained Mena, she would joyfully place her child in thine arms,
and Nefert believe me has not forgotten her playfellow. The day before
yesterday, when she came home from the Necropolis, and before the letter
had come from the camp, she was full of thee--

   [“To be full (meh) of any one” is used in the Egyptian language for
   “to be in love with any one.”]

nay called to thee in her dreams; I know it from Kandake, her black
maid.” The pioneer looked down and said:

“How extraordinary! and the same night I had a vision in which your
mistress appeared to me; the insolent priest in the temple of Hathor
should have interpreted it to me.”

“And he refused? the fool! but other folks understand dreams, and I
am not the worst of them--Ask thy servant. Ninety-nine times out of a
hundred my interpretations come true. How was the vision?”

“I stood by the Nile,” said Paaker, casting down his eyes and drawing
lines with his whip through the wool of the cabin rug. “The water was
still, and I saw Nefert standing on the farther bank, and beckoning to
me. I called to her, and she stepped on the water, which bore her up as
if it were this carpet. She went over the water dry-foot as if it were
the stony wilderness. A wonderful sight! She came nearer to me, and
nearer, and already I had tried to take her hand, when she ducked under
like a swan. I went into the water to seize her, and when she came
up again I clasped her in my arms; but then the strangest thing
happened--she flowed away, she dissolved like the snow on the Syrian
hills, when you take it in your hand, and yet it was not the same, for
her hair turned to water-lilies, and her eyes to blue fishes that swam
away merrily, and her lips to twigs of coral that sank at once, and
from her body grew a crocodile, with a head like Mena, that laughed
and gnashed its teeth at me. Then I was seized with blind fury; I threw
myself upon him with a drawn sword, he fastened his teeth in my flesh, I
pierced his throat with my weapon; the Nile was dark with our streaming
blood, and so we fought and fought--it lasted an eternity--till I

Paaker drew a deep breath as he ceased speaking; as if his wild dream
tormented him again.

The dwarf had listened with eager attention, but several minutes passed
before he spoke.

“A strange dream,” he said, “but the interpretation as to the future
is not hard to find. Nefert is striving to reach thee, she longs to be
thine, but if thou dost fancy that she is already in thy grasp she will
elude thee; thy hopes will melt like ice, slip away like sand, if thou
dost not know how to put the crocodile out of the way.”

At this moment the boat struck the landing-place. The pioneer started
up, and cried, “We have reached the end!”

“We have reached the end,” echoed the little man with meaning. “There is
only a narrow bridge to step over.”

When they both stood on the shore, the dwarf said,

“I have to thank thee for thy hospitality, and when I can serve thee
command me.”

“Come here,” cried the pioneer, and drew Nemu away with him under the
shade of a sycamore veiled in the half light of the departing sun.

“What do you mean by a bridge which we must step over? I do not
understand the flowers of speech, and desire plain language.”

The dwarf reflected for a moment; and then asked, “Shall I say nakedly
and openly what I mean, and will you not be angry?”


“Mena is the crocodile. Put him out of the world, and you will have
passed the bridge; then Nefert will be thine--if thou wilt listen to

“What shall I do?”

“Put the charioteer out of the world.”

Paaker’s gesture seemed to convey that that was a thing that had long
been decided on, and he turned his face, for a good omen, so that the
rising moon should be on his right hand.

The dwarf went on.

“Secure Nefert, so that she may not vanish like her image in the dream,
before you reach the goal; that is to say, ransom the honor of your
future mother and wife, for how could you take an outcast into your

Paaker looked thoughtfully at the ground.

“May I inform my mistress that thou wilt save her?” asked Nemu. “I
may?--Then all will be well, for he who will devote a fortune to love
will not hesitate to devote a reed lance with a brass point to it to his
love and his hatred together.”


The sun had set, and darkness covered the City of the Dead, but the moon
shone above the valley of the kings’ tombs, and the projecting masses
of the rocky walls of the chasm threw sharply-defined shadows. A weird
silence lay upon the desert, where yet far more life was stirring than
in the noonday hour, for now bats darted like black silken threads
through the night air, owls hovered aloft on wide-spread wings, small
troops of jackals slipped by, one following the other up the mountain
slopes. From time to time their hideous yell, or the whining laugh of
the hyena, broke the stillness of the night.

Nor was human life yet at rest in the valley of tombs. A faint light
glimmered in the cave of the sorceress Hekt, and in front of the
paraschites’ but a fire was burning, which the grandmother of the sick
Uarda now and then fed with pieces of dry manure. Two men were seated in
front of the hut, and gazed in silence on the thin flame, whose impure
light was almost quenched by the clearer glow of the moon; whilst the
third, Uarda’s father, disembowelled a large ram, whose head he had
already cut off.

“How the jackals howl!” said the old paraschites, drawing as he spoke
the torn brown cotton cloth, which he had put on as a protection against
the night air and the dew, closer round his bare shoulders.

“They scent the fresh meat,” answered the physician, Nebsecht. “Throw
them the entrails, when you have done; the legs and back you can roast.
Be careful how you cut out the heart--the heart, soldier. There it is!
What a great beast.”

Nebsecht took the ram’s heart in his hand, and gazed at it with the
deepest attention, whilst the old paraschites watched him anxiously. At

“I promised,” he said, “to do for you what you wish, if you restore the
little one to health; but you ask for what is impossible.”

“Impossible?” said the physician, “why, impossible? You open the
corpses, you go in and out of the house of the embalmer. Get possession
of one of the canopi,

   [Vases of clay, limestone, or alabaster, which were used for the
   preservation of the intestines of the embalmed Egyptians, and
   represented the four genii of death, Amset, Hapi, Tuamutef, and
   Khebsennuf. Instead of the cover, the head of the genius to which
   it was dedicated, was placed on each kanopus. Amset (tinder the
   protection of Isis) has a human head, Hapi (protected by Nephthys)
   an ape’s head, Tuamutef (protected by Neith) a jackal’s head, and
   Khebsennuf (protected by Selk) a sparrow-hawk’s head. In one of the
   Christian Coptic Manuscripts, the four archangels are invoked in the
   place of these genii.]

lay this heart in it, and take out in its stead the heart of a human
being. No one--no one will notice it. Nor need you do it to-morrow, or
the day after tomorrow even. Your son can buy a ram to kill every day
with my money till the right moment comes. Your granddaughter will soon
grow strong on a good meat-diet. Take courage!”

“I am not afraid of the danger,” said the old man, “but how can I
venture to steal from a dead man his life in the other world? And
then--in shame and misery have I lived, and for many a year--no man
has numbered them for me--have I obeyed the commandments, that I may be
found righteous in that world to come, and in the fields of Aalu, and
in the Sun-bark find compensation for all that I have suffered here. You
are good and friendly. Why, for the sake of a whim, should you sacrifice
the future bliss of a man, who in all his long life has never known
happiness, and who has never done you any harm?”

“What I want with the heart,” replied the physician, “you cannot
understand, but in procuring it for me, you will be furthering a great
and useful purpose. I have no whims, for I am no idler. And as to what
concerns your salvation, have no anxiety. I am a priest, and take your
deed and its consequences upon myself; upon myself, do you understand?
I tell you, as a priest, that what I demand of you is right, and if the
judge of the dead shall enquire, ‘Why didst thou take the heart of a
human being out of the Kanopus?’ then reply--reply to him thus, ‘Because
Nebsecht, the priest, commanded me, and promised himself to answer for
the deed.’”

The old man gazed thoughtfully on the ground, and the physician
continued still more urgently:

“If you fulfil my wish, then--then I swear to you that, when you die, I
will take care that your mummy is provided with all the amulets, and I
myself will write you a book of the Entrance into Day, and have it wound
within your mummy-cloth, as is done with the great.

   [The Books of the Dead are often found amongst the cloths, (by the
   leg or under the arm), or else in the coffin trader, or near, the

That will give you power over all demons, and you will be admitted to
the hall of the twofold justice, which punishes and rewards, and your
award will be bliss.”

“But the theft of a heart will make the weight of my sins heavy, when my
own heart is weighed,” sighed the old man.

Nebsecht considered for a moment, and then said: “I will give you a
written paper, in which I will certify that it was I who commanded the
theft. You will sew it up in a little bag, carry it on your breast, and
have it laid with you in the grave. Then when Techuti, the agent of the
soul, receives your justification before Osiris and the judges of the
dead, give him the writing. He will read it aloud, and you will be
accounted just.”

   [The vignettes of Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead represent the
   Last Judgment of the Egyptians. Under a canopy Osiris sits
   enthroned as Chief Judge, 42 assessors assist him. In the hall
   stand the scales; the dog headed ape, the animal sacred to Toth,
   guides the balance. In one scale lies the heart of the dead man, in
   the other the image of the goddess of Truth, who introduces the soul
   into the hall of justice Toth writs the record. The soul affirms
   that it has not committed 42 deadly sins, and if it obtains credit,
   it is named “maa cheru,” i.e. “the truth-speaker,” and is therewith
   declared blessed. It now receives its heart back, and grows into a
   new and divine life.]

“I am not learned in writing,” muttered the paraschites with a slight
mistrust that made itself felt in his voice.

“But I swear to you by the nine great Gods, that I will write nothing
on the paper but what I have promised you. I will confess that I, the
priest Nebsecht, commanded you to take the heart, and that your guilt is

“Let me have the writing then,” murmured the old man.

The physician wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and gave the
paraschites his hand. “To-morrow you shall have it,” he said, “and I
will not leave your granddaughter till she is well again.”

The soldier engaged in cutting up the ram, had heard nothing of this
conversation. Now he ran a wooden spit through the legs, and held them
over the fire to roast them. The jackals howled louder as the smell of
the melting fat filled the air, and the old man, as he looked on, forgot
the terrible task he had undertaken. For a year past, no meat had been
tasted in his house.

The physician Nebsecht, himself eating nothing but a piece of bread,
looked on at the feasters. They tore the meat from the bones, and the
soldier, especially, devoured the costly and unwonted meal like some
ravenous animal. He could be heard chewing like a horse in the manger,
and a feeling of disgust filled the physician’s soul.

“Sensual beings,” he murmured to himself, “animals with consciousness!
And yet human beings. Strange! They languish bound in the fetters of the
world of sense, and yet how much more ardently they desire that which
transcends sense than we--how much more real it is to them than to us!”

“Will you have some meat?” cried the soldier, who had remarked that
Nebsecht’s lips moved, and tearing a piece of meat from the bone of the
joint he was devouring, he held it out to the physician. Nebsecht shrank
back; the greedy look, the glistening teeth, the dark, rough features of
the man terrified him. And he thought of the white and fragile form of
the sick girl lying within on the mat, and a question escaped his lips.

“Is the maiden, is Uarda, your own child?” he said.

The soldier struck himself on the breast. “So sure as the king Rameses
is the son of Seti,” he answered. The men had finished their meal, and
the flat cakes of bread which the wife of the paraschites gave them, and
on which they had wiped their hands from the fat, were consumed,
when the soldier, in whose slow brain the physician’s question still
lingered, said, sighing deeply:

“Her mother was a stranger; she laid the white dove in the raven’s

“Of what country was your wife a native?” asked the physician.

“That I do not know,” replied the soldier.

“Did you never enquire about the family of your own wife?”

“Certainly I did: but how could she have answered me? But it is a long
and strange story.”

“Relate it to me,” said Nebsecht, “the night is long, and I like
listening better than talking. But first I will see after our patient.”

When the physician had satisfied himself that Uarda was sleeping quietly
and breathing regularly, he seated himself again by the paraschites and
his son, and the soldier began:

“It all happened long ago. King Seti still lived, but Rameses already
reigned in his stead, when I came home from the north. They had sent me
to the workmen, who were building the fortifications in Zoan, the town
of Rameses.--[The Rameses of the Bible. Exodus i. ii.]--I was set over
six men, Amus,--[Semites]--of the Hebrew race, over whom Rameses kept
such a tight hand.

   [For an account of the traces of the Jews in Egypt, see Chabas,
   Melanges, and Ebers, AEgypten und die Bucher Moses]

Amongst the workmen there were sons of rich cattle-holders, for in
levying the people it was never: ‘What have you?’ but ‘Of what race are
you?’ The fortifications and the canal which was to join the Nile and
the Red Sea had to be completed, and the king, to whom be long life,
health, and prosperity, took the youth of Egypt with him to the wars,
and left the work to the Amus, who are connected by race with his
enemies in the east. One lives well in Goshen, for it is a fine country,
with more than enough of corn and grass and vegetables and fish and
fowls, and I always had of the best, for amongst my six people were two
mother’s darlings, whose parents sent me many a piece of silver. Every
one loves his children, but the Hebrews love them more tenderly than
other people. We had daily our appointed tale of bricks to deliver, and
when the sun burnt hot, I used to help the lads, and I did more in an
hour than they did in three, for I am strong and was still stronger then
than I am now.

“Then came the time when I was relieved. I was ordered to return to
Thebes, to the prisoners of war who were building the great temple of
Amon over yonder, and as I had brought home some money, and it would
take a good while to finish the great dwelling of the king of the Gods,
I thought of taking a wife; but no Egyptian. Of daughters of paraschites
there were plenty; but I wanted to get away out of my father’s
accursed caste, and the other girls here, as I knew, were afraid of our
uncleanness. In the low country I had done better, and many an Amu and
Schasu woman had gladly come to my tent. From the beginning I had set my
mind on an Asiatic.

“Many a time maidens taken prisoners in war were brought to be sold, but
either they did not please me, or they were too dear. Meantime my money
melted away, for we enjoyed life in the time of rest which followed the
working hours. There were dancers too in plenty, in the foreign quarter.

“Well, it was just at the time of the holy feast of Amon-Chem, that a
new transport of prisoners of war arrived, and amongst them many women,
who were sold publicly to the highest bidder. The young and beautiful
ones were paid for high, but even the older ones were too dear for me.

“Quite at the last a blind woman was led forward, and a withered-looking
woman who was dumb, as the auctioneer, who generally praised up the
merits of the prisoners, informed the buyers. The blind woman had
strong hands, and was bought by a tavern-keeper, for whom she turns the
handmill to this day; the dumb woman held a child in her arms, and no
one could tell whether she was young or old. She looked as though she
already lay in her coffin, and the little one as though he would go
under the grass before her. And her hair was red, burning red, the very
color of Typhon. Her white pale face looked neither bad nor good, only
weary, weary to death. On her withered white arms blue veins ran like
dark cords, her hands hung feebly down, and in them hung the child. If a
wind were to rise, I thought to myself, it would blow her away, and the
little one with her.

“The auctioneer asked for a bid. All were silent, for the dumb shadow
was of no use for work; she was half-dead, and a burial costs money.

“So passed several minutes. Then the auctioneer stepped up to her, and
gave her a blow with his whip, that she might rouse herself up, and
appear less miserable to the buyers. She shivered like a person in a
fever, pressed the child closer to her, and looked round at every one as
though seeking for help--and me full in the face. What happened now was
a real wonder, for her eyes were bigger than any that I ever saw, and a
demon dwelt in them that had power over me and ruled me to the end, and
that day it bewitched me for the first time.

“It was not hot and I had drunk nothing, and yet I acted against my own
will and better judgment when, as her eyes fell upon me, I bid all
that I possessed in order to buy her. I might have had her cheaper! My
companions laughed at me, the auctioneer shrugged his shoulders as he
took my money, but I took the child on my arm, helped the woman up,
carried her in a boat over the Nile, loaded a stone-cart with my
miserable property, and drove her like a block of lime home to the old

“My mother shook her head, and my father looked as if he thought me mad;
but neither of them said a word. They made up a bed for her, and on my
spare nights I built that ruined thing hard by--it was a tidy hut once.
Soon my mother grew fond of the child. It was quite small, and we called
it Pennu--[Pennu is the name for the mouse in old Egyptian]--because
it was so pretty, like a little mouse. I kept away from the foreign
quarter, and saved my wages, and bought a goat, which lived in front of
our door when I took the woman to her own hut.

“She was dumb, but not deaf, only she did not understand our language;
but the demon in her eyes spoke for her and understood what I said. She
comprehended everything, and could say everything with her eyes; but
best of all she knew how to thank one. No high-priest who at the great
hill festival praises the Gods in long hymns for their gifts can return
thanks so earnestly with his lips as she with her dumb eyes. And when
she wished to pray, then it seemed as though the demon in her look was
mightier than ever.

“At first I used to be impatient enough when she leaned so feebly
against the wall, or when the child cried and disturbed my sleep; but
she had only to look up, and the demon pressed my heart together and
persuaded me that the crying was really a song. Pennu cried more sweetly
too than other children, and he had such soft, white, pretty little

“One day he had been crying for a long time, At last I bent down over
him, and was going to scold him, but he seized me by the beard. It was
pretty to see! Afterwards he was for ever wanting to pull me about,
and his mother noticed that that pleased me, for when I brought home
anything good, an egg or a flower or a cake, she used to hold him up and
place his little hands on my beard.

“Yes, in a few months the woman had learnt to hold him up high in her
arms, for with care and quiet she had grown stronger. White she always
remained and delicate, but she grew younger and more beautiful from day
to day; she can hardly have numbered twenty years when I bought her.
What she was called I never heard; nor did we give her any name. She was
‘the woman,’ and so we called her.

“Eight moons passed by, and then the little Mouse died. I wept as she
did, and as I bent over the little corpse and let my tears have free
course, and thought--now he can never lift up his pretty little finger
to you again; then I felt for the first time the woman’s soft hand on my
cheek. She stroked my rough beard as a child might, and with that looked
at me so gratefully that I felt as though king Pharaoh had all at once
made me a present of both Upper and Lower Egypt.

“When the Mouse was buried she got weaker again, but my mother took good
care of her. I lived with her, like a father with his child. She was
always friendly, but if I approached her, and tried to show her any
fondness, she would look at me, and the demon in her eyes drove me back,
and I let her alone.

“She grew healthier and stronger and more and more beautiful, so
beautiful that I kept her hidden, and was consumed by the longing to
make her my wife. A good housewife she never became, to be sure; her
hands were so tender, and she did not even know how to milk the goat. My
mother did that and everything else for her.

“In the daytime she stayed in her hut and worked, for she was very
skillful at woman’s work, and wove lace as fine as cobwebs, which my
mother sold that she might bring home perfumes with the proceeds. She
was very fond of them, and of flowers too; and Uarda in there takes
after her.

“In the evening, when the folk from the other side had left the City
of the Dead, she would often walk down the valley here, thoughtful and
often looking up at the moon, which she was especially fond of.

“One evening in the winter-time I came home. It was already dark, and I
expected to find her in front of the door. All at once, about a hundred
steps behind old Hekt’s cave, I heard a troop of jackals barking so
furiously that I said to myself directly they had attacked a human
being, and I knew too who it was, though no one had told me, and the
woman could not call or cry out. Frantic with terror, I tore a firebrand
from the hearth and the stake to which the goat was fastened out of the
ground, rushed to her help, drove away the beasts, and carried her back
senseless to the hut. My mother helped me, and we called her back to
life. When we were alone, I wept like a child for joy at her escape, and
she let me kiss her, and then she became my wife, three years after I
had bought her.

“She bore me a little maid, that she herself named Uarda; for she showed
us a rose, and then pointed to the child, and we understood her without

“Soon afterwards she died.

“You are a priest, but I tell you that when I am summoned before Osiris,
if I am admitted amongst the blessed, I will ask whether I shall meet my
wife, and if the doorkeeper says no, he may thrust me back, and I will
go down cheerfully to the damned, if I find her again there.”

“And did no sign ever betray her origin?” asked the physician.

The soldier had hidden his face in his hand; he was weeping aloud, and
did not hear the question. But, the paraschites answered:

“She was the child of some great personage, for in her clothes we found
a golden jewel with a precious stone inscribed with strange characters.
It is very costly, and my wife is keeping it for the little one.”


In the earliest glimmer of dawn the following clay, the physician
Nebsecht having satisfied himself as to the state of the sick girl, left
the paraschites’ hut and made his way in deepest thought to the ‘Terrace
Temple of Hatasu, to find his friend Pentaur and compose the writing
which he had promised to the old man.

As the sun arose in radiance he reached the sanctuary. He expected to
hear the morning song of the priests, but all was silent. He knocked and
the porter, still half-asleep, opened the door.

Nebsecht enquired for the chief of the Temple. “He died in the night,”
 said the man yawning.

“What do you say?” cried the physician in sudden terror, “who is dead?”

“Our good old chief, Rui.”

Nebsecht breathed again, and asked for Pentaur.

“You belong to the House of Seti,” said the doorkeeper, “and you do not
know that he is deposed from his office? The holy fathers have refused
to celebrate the birth of Ra with him. He sings for himself now, alone
up on the watch-tower. There you will find him.”

Nebsecht strode quickly up the stairs. Several of the priests placed
themselves together in groups as soon as they saw him, and began
singing. He paid no heed to them, however, but hastened on to the
uppermost terrace, where he found his friend occupied in writing.

Soon he learnt all that had happened, and wrathfully he cried: “You are
too honest for those wise gentlemen in the House of Seti, and too pure
and zealous for the rabble here. I knew it, I knew what would come of it
if they introduced you to the mysteries. For us initiated there remains
only the choice between lying and silence.”

“The old error!” said Pentaur, “we know that the Godhead is One, we name
it, ‘The All,’ ‘The Veil of the All,’ or simply ‘Ra.’ But under the name
Ra we understand something different than is known to the common herd;
for to us, the Universe is God, and in each of its parts we recognize
a manifestation of that highest being without whom nothing is, in the
heights above or in the depths below.”

“To me you can say everything, for I also am initiated,” interrupted

“But neither from the laity do I withhold it,” cried Pentaur, “only
to those who are incapable of understanding the whole, do I show the
different parts. Am I a liar if I do not say, ‘I speak,’ but ‘my mouth
speaks,’ if I affirm, ‘Your eye sees,’ when it is you yourself who
are the seer. When the light of the only One manifests itself, then I
fervently render thanks to him in hymns, and the most luminous of his
forms I name Ra. When I look upon yonder green fields, I call upon the
faithful to give thanks to Rennut, that is, that active manifestation
of the One, through which the corn attains to its ripe maturity. Am I
filled with wonder at the bounteous gifts with which that divine stream
whose origin is hidden, blesses our land, then I adore the One as the
God Hapi, the secret one. Whether we view the sun, the harvest, or the
Nile, whether we contemplate with admiration the unity and harmony of
the visible or invisible world, still it is always with the Only, the
All-embracing One we have to do, to whom we also ourselves belong as
those of his manifestations in which lie places his self-consciousness.
The imagination of the multitude is limited.... ”

“And so we lions,

   [“The priests,” says Clement of Alexandria, “allow none to be
   participators in their mysteries, except kings or such amongst
   themselves as are distinguished for virtue or wisdom.” The same
   thing is shown by the monuments in many places]

give them the morsel that we can devour at one gulp, finely chopped up,
and diluted with broth as if for the weak stomach of a sick man.”

“Not so; we only feel it our duty to temper and sweeten the sharp
potion, which for men even is almost too strong, before we offer it to
the children, the babes in spirit. The sages of old veiled indeed
the highest truths in allegorical forms, in symbols, and finally in a
beautiful and richly-colored mythos, but they brought them near to the
multitude shrouded it is true but still discernible.”

“Discernible?” said the physician, “discernible? Why then the veil?”

“And do you imagine that the multitude could look the naked truth in the

   [In Sais the statue of Athene (Neith) has the following,
   inscription: “I am the All, the Past, the Present, and the Future,
   my veil has no mortal yet lifted.” Plutarch, Isis and Osiris 9, a
   similar quotation by Proclus, in Plato’s Timaeus.]

and not despair?”

“Can I, can any one who looks straight forward, and strives to see the
truth and nothing but the truth?” cried the physician. “We both of us
know that things only are, to us, such as they picture themselves in the
prepared mirror of our souls. I see grey, grey, and white, white, and
have accustomed myself in my yearning after knowledge, not to attribute
the smallest part to my own idiosyncrasy, if such indeed there be
existing in my empty breast. You look straight onwards as I do, but in
you each idea is transfigured, for in your soul invisible shaping powers
are at work, which set the crooked straight, clothe the commonplace with
charm, the repulsive with beauty. You are a poet, an artist; I only seek
for truth.”

“Only?” said Pentaur, “it is just on account of that effort that I
esteem you so highly, and, as you already know, I also desire nothing
but the truth.”

“I know, I know,” said the physician nodding, “but our ways run side
by side without ever touching, and our final goal is the reading of a
riddle, of which there are many solutions. You believe yourself to have
found the right one, and perhaps none exists.”

“Then let us content ourselves with the nearest and the most beautiful,”
 said Pentaur.

“The most beautiful?” cried Nebsecht indignantly. “Is that monster, whom
you call God, beautiful--the giant who for ever regenerates himself that
he may devour himself again? God is the All, you say, who suffices to
himself. Eternal he is and shall be, because all that goes forth from
him is absorbed by him again, and the great niggard bestows no grain of
sand, no ray of light, no breath of wind, without reclaiming it for his
household, which is ruled by no design, no reason, no goodness, but by a
tyrannical necessity, whose slave he himself is. The coward hides behind
the cloud of incomprehensibility, and can be revealed only by himself--I
would I could strip him of the veil! Thus I see the thing that you call

“A ghastly picture,” said Pentaur, “because you forget that we recognize
reason to be the essence of the All, the penetrating and moving power of
the universe which is manifested in the harmonious working together
of its parts, and in ourselves also, since we are formed out of its
substance, and inspired with its soul.”

“Is the warfare of life in any way reasonable?” asked Nebsecht. “Is this
eternal destruction in order to build up again especially well-designed
and wise? And with this introduction of reason into the All, you provide
yourself with a self-devised ruler, who terribly resembles the gracious
masters and mistresses that you exhibit to the people.”

“Only apparently,” answered Pentaur, “only because that which transcends
sense is communicable through the medium of the senses alone. When God
manifests himself as the wisdom of the world, we call him ‘the Word,’
‘He, who covers his limbs with names,’ as the sacred Text expresses
itself, is the power which gives to things their distinctive forms; the
scarabaeus, ‘which enters life as its own son’ reminds us of the ever
self-renewing creative power which causes you to call our merciful and
benevolent God a monster, but which you can deny as little as you can
the happy choice of the type; for, as you know, there are only male
scarabei, and this animal reproduces itself.”

Nebsecht smiled. “If all the doctrines of the mysteries,” he said, “have
no more truth than this happily chosen image, they are in a bad way.
These beetles have for years been my friends and companions. I know
their family life, and I can assure you that there are males and females
amongst them as amongst cats, apes, and human beings. Your ‘good God’ I
do not know, and what I least comprehend in thinking it over quietly is
the circumstance that you distinguish a good and evil principle in the
world. If the All is indeed God, if God as the scriptures teach, is
goodness, and if besides him is nothing at all, where is a place to be
found for evil?”

“You talk like a school-boy,” said Pentaur indignantly. “All that is, is
good and reasonable in itself, but the infinite One, who prescribes his
own laws and his own paths, grants to the finite its continuance through
continual renewal, and in the changing forms of the finite progresses
for evermore. What we call evil, darkness, wickedness, is in itself
divine, good, reasonable, and clear; but it appears in another light to
our clouded minds, because we perceive the way only and not the goal,
the details only, and not the whole. Even so, superficial listeners
blame the music, in which a discord is heard, which the harper has only
evoked from the strings that his hearers may more deeply feel the purity
of the succeeding harmony; even so, a fool blames the painter who has
colored his board with black, and does not wait for the completion
of the picture which shall be thrown into clearer relief by the dark
background; even so, a child chides the noble tree, whose fruit rots,
that a new life may spring up from its kernel. Apparent evil is but an
antechamber to higher bliss, as every sunset is but veiled by night, and
will soon show itself again as the red dawn of a new day.”

“How convincing all that sounds!” answered the physician, “all, even
the terrible, wins charm from your lips; but I could invert your
proposition, and declare that it is evil that rules the world, and
sometimes gives us one drop of sweet content, in order that we may more
keenly feel the bitterness of life. You see harmony and goodness
in everything. I have observed that passion awakens life, that all
existence is a conflict, that one being devours another.”

“And do you not feel the beauty of visible creation, and does not the
immutable law in everything fill you with admiration and humility?”

“For beauty,” replied Nebsecht, “I have never sought; the organ is
somehow wanting in me to understand it of myself, though I willingly
allow you to mediate between us. But of law in nature I fully appreciate
the worth, for that is the veritable soul of the universe. You call the
One ‘Temt,’ that is to say the total--the unity which is reached by the
addition of many units; and that pleases me, for the elements of the
universe and the powers which prescribe the paths of life are
strictly defined by measure and number--but irrespective of beauty or

“Such views,” cried Pentaur troubled, “are the result of your strange
studies. You kill and destroy, in order, as you yourself say, to come
upon the track of the secrets of life. Look out upon nature, develop
the faculty which you declare to be wanting, in you, and the beauty of
creation will teach you without my assistance that you are praying to a
false god.”

“I do not pray,” said Nebsecht, “for the law which moves the world is
as little affected by prayers as the current of the sands in your
hour-glass. Who tells you that I do not seek to come upon the track of
the first beginning of things? I proved to you just now that I know more
about the origin of Scarabei than you do. I have killed many an animal,
not only to study its organism, but also to investigate how it has built
up its form. But precisely in this work my organ for beauty has become
blunt rather than keen. I tell you that the beginning of things is not
more attractive to contemplate than their death and decomposition.”

Pentaur looked at the physician enquiringly.

“I also for once,” continued Nebsecht, “will speak in figures. Look at
this wine, how pure it is, how fragrant; and yet it was trodden from the
grape by the brawny feet of the vintagers. And those full ears of corn!
They gleam golden yellow, and will yield us snow-white meal when they
are ground, and yet they grew from a rotting seed. Lately you were
praising to me the beauty of the great Hall of Columns nearly completed
in the Temple of Amon over yonder in Thebes.

   [Begun by Rameses I. continued by Seti I., completed by Rameses II.
   The remains of this immense hall, with its 134 columns, have not
   their equal in the world.]

How posterity will admire it! I saw that Hall arise. There lay masses of
freestone in wild confusion, dust in heaps that took away my breath,
and three months since I was sent over there, because above a hundred
workmen engaged in stone-polishing under the burning sun had been beaten
to death. Were I a poet like you, I would show you a hundred similar
pictures, in which you would not find much beauty. In the meantime,
we have enough to do in observing the existing order of things, and
investigating the laws by which it is governed.”

“I have never clearly understood your efforts, and have difficulty in
comprehending why you did not turn to the science of the haruspices,”
 said Pentaur. “Do you then believe that the changing, and--owing to the
conditions by which they are surrounded--the dependent life of plants
and animals is governed by law, rule, and numbers like the movement of
the stars?”

“What a question! Is the strong and mighty hand, which compels yonder
heavenly bodies to roll onward in their carefully-appointed orbits, not
delicate enough to prescribe the conditions of the flight of the bird,
and the beating of the human heart?”

“There we are again with the heart,” said the poet smiling, “are you any
nearer your aim?”

The physician became very grave. “Perhaps tomorrow even,” he said, “I
may have what I need. You have your palette there with red and black
color, and a writing reed. May I use this sheet of papyrus?”

“Of course; but first tell me.... ”

“Do not ask; you would not approve of my scheme, and there would only be
a fresh dispute.”

“I think,” said the poet, laying his hand on his friend’s shoulder,
“that we have no reason to fear disputes. So far they have been the
cement, the refreshing dew of our friendship.”

“So long as they treated of ideas only, and not of deeds.”

“You intend to get possession of a human heart!” cried the poet. “Think
of what you are doing! The heart is the vessel of that effluence of the
universal soul, which lives in us.”

“Are you so sure of that?” cried the physician with some irritation,
“then give me the proof. Have you ever examined a heart, has any one
member of my profession done so? The hearts of criminals and prisoners
of war even are declared sacred from touch, and when we stand helpless
by a patient, and see our medicines work harm as often as good, why is
it? Only because we physicians are expected to work as blindly as an
astronomer, if he were required to look at the stars through a board. At
Heliopolis I entreated the great Urma Rahotep, the truly learned chief
of our craft, and who held me in esteem, to allow me to examine the
heart of a dead Amu; but he refused me, because the great Sechet leads
virtuous Semites also into the fields of the blessed.

   [According to the inscription accompanying the famous
   representations of the four nations (Egyptians, Semites, Libyans,
   and Ethiopians) in the tomb of Seti I.]

And then followed all the old scruples: that to cut up the heart of a
beast even is sinful, because it also is the vehicle of a soul, perhaps
a condemned and miserable human soul, which before it can return to the
One, must undergo purification by passing through the bodies of animals.
I was not satisfied, and declared to him that my great-grandfather
Nebsecht, before he wrote his treatise on the heart, must certainly
have examined such an organ. Then he answered me that the divinity had
revealed to him what he had written, and therefore his work had been
accepted amongst the sacred writings of Toth,

   [Called by the Greeks “Hermetic Books.” The Papyrus Ebers is the
   work called by Clemens of Alexandria “the Book of Remedies.”]

which stood fast and unassailable as the laws of the world; he wished
to give me peace for quiet work, and I also, he said, might be a chosen
spirit, the divinity might perhaps vouchsafe revelations to me too. I
was young at that time, and spent my nights in prayer, but I only wasted
away, and my spirit grew darker instead of clearer. Then I killed in
secret--first a fowl, then rats, then a rabbit, and cut up their hearts,
and followed the vessels that lead out of them, and know little more now
than I did at first; but I must get to the bottom of the truth, and I
must have a human heart.”

“What will that do for you?” asked Pentaur; “you cannot hope to perceive
the invisible and the infinite with your human eyes?”

“Do you know my great-grandfather’s treatise?”

“A little,” answered the poet; “he said that wherever he laid his
finger, whether on the head, the hands, or the stomach, he everywhere
met with the heart, because its vessels go into all the members, and the
heart is the meeting point of all these vessels. Then Nebsecht proceeds
to state how these are distributed in the different members, and
shows--is it not so?--that the various mental states, such as anger,
grief, aversion, and also the ordinary use of the word heart, declare
entirely for his view.”

“That is it. We have already discussed it, and I believe that he is
right, so far as the blood is concerned, and the animal sensations. But
the pure and luminous intelligence in us--that has another seat,” and
the physician struck his broad but low forehead with his hand. “I have
observed heads by the hundred down at the place of execution, and I have
also removed the top of the skulls of living animals. But now let me
write, before we are disturbed.”

   [Human brains are prescribed for a malady of the eyes in the Ebers
   papyrus. Herophilus, one of the first scholars of the Alexandrine
   Museum, studied not only the bodies of executed criminals, but made
   his experiments also on living malefactors. He maintained that the
   four cavities of the human brain are the seat of the soul.]

The physician took the reed, moistened it with black color prepared from
burnt papyrus, and in elegant hieratic characters

   [At the time of our narrative the Egyptians had two kinds of
   writing-the hieroglyphic, which was generally used for monumental
   inscriptions, and in which the letters consisted of conventional
   representations of various objects, mathematical and arbitrary
   symbols, and the hieratic, used for writing on papyrus, and in
   which, with the view of saving time, the written pictures underwent
   so many alterations and abbreviations that the originals could
   hardly be recognized. In the 8th century there was a further
   abridgment of the hieratic writing, which was called the demotic, or
   people’s writing, and was used in commerce. Whilst the hieroglyphic
   and hieratic writings laid the foundations of the old sacred
   dialect, the demotic letters were only used to write the spoken
   language of the people. E. de Rouge’s Chrestomathie Egyptienne.
   H. Brugsch’s Hieroglyphische Grammatik. Le Page Renouf’s shorter
   hieroglyphical grammar. Ebers’ Ueber das Hieroglyphische
   Schriftsystem, 2nd edition, 1875, in the lectures of Virchow

wrote the paper for the paraschites, in which he confessed to having
impelled him to the theft of a heart, and in the most binding manner
declared himself willing to take the old man’s guilt upon himself before
Osiris and the judges of the dead.

When he had finished, Pentaur held out his hand for the paper, but
Nebsecht folded it together, placed it in a little bag in which lay
an amulet that his dying mother had hung round his neck, and said,
breathing deeply:

“That is done. Farewell, Pentaur.”

But the poet held the physician back; he spoke to him with the warmest
words, and conjured him to abandon his enterprise. His prayers, however,
had no power to touch Nebsecht, who only strove forcibly to disengage
his finger from Pentaur’s strong hand, which held him as in a clasp of
iron. The excited poet did not remark that he was hurting his friend,
until after a new and vain attempt at freeing himself, Nebsecht cried
out in pain, “You are crushing my finger!”

A smile passed over the poet’s face, he loosened his hold on the
physician, and stroked the reddened hand like a mother who strives to
divert her child from pain.

“Don’t be angry with me, Nebsecht,” he said, “you know my unlucky fists,
and to-day they really ought to hold you fast, for you have too mad a
purpose on hand.”

“Mad?” said the physician, whilst he smiled in his turn. “It may be so;
but do you not know that we Egyptians all have a peculiar tenderness for
our follies, and are ready to sacrifice house and land to them?”

“Our own house and our own land,” cried the poet: and then added
seriously, “but not the existence, not the happiness of another.”

“Have I not told you that I do not look upon the heart as the seat of
our intelligence? So far as I am concerned, I would as soon be buried
with a ram’s heart as with my own.”

“I do not speak of the plundered dead, but of the living,” said the
poet. “If the deed of the paraschites is discovered, he is undone, and
you would only have saved that sweet child in the hut behind there, to
fling her into deeper misery.”

Nebsecht looked at the other with as much astonishment and dismay, as if
he had been awakened from sleep by bad tidings. Then he cried: “All that
I have, I would share with the old man and Uarda.”

“And who would protect her?”

“Her father.”

“That rough drunkard who to-morrow or the day after may be sent no one
knows where.”

“He is a good fellow,” said the physician interrupting his friend, and
stammering violently. “But who ‘would do anything to the child? She is
so so.... She is so charming, so perfectly--sweet and lovely.”

With these last words he cast down his eyes and reddened like a girl.

“You understand that,” he said, “better than I do; yes, and you also
think her beautiful! Strange! you must not laugh if I confess--I am
but a man like every one else--when I confess, that I believe I have at
length discovered in myself the missing organ for beauty of form--not
believe merely, but truly have discovered it, for it has not only
spoken, but cried, raged, till I felt a rushing in my ears, and for the
first time was attracted more by the sufferer than by suffering. I have
sat in the hut as though spell-bound, and gazed at her hair, at her
eyes, at how she breathed. They must long since have missed me at the
House of Seti, perhaps discovered all my preparations, when seeking me
in my room! For two days and nights I have allowed myself to be drawn
away from my work, for the sake of this child. Were I one of the laity,
whom you would approach, I should say that demons had bewitched me.
But it is not that,”--and with these words the physician’s eyes flamed
up--“it is not that! The animal in me, the low instincts of which the
heart is the organ, and which swelled my breast at her bedside, they
have mastered the pure and fine emotions here--here in this brain; and
in the very moment when I hoped to know as the God knows whom you call
the Prince of knowledge, in that moment I must learn that the animal in
me is stronger than that which I call my God.”

The physician, agitated and excited, had fixed his eyes on the ground
during these last words, and hardly noticed the poet, who listened to
him wondering and full of sympathy. For a time both were silent; then
Pentaur laid his hand on his friend’s hand, and said cordially:

“My soul is no stranger to what you feel, and heart and head, if I may
use your own words, have known a like emotion. But I know that what we
feel, although it may be foreign to our usual sensations, is loftier
and more precious than these, not lower. Not the animal, Nebsecht, is
it that you feel in yourself, but God. Goodness is the most beautiful
attribute of the divine, and you have always been well-disposed
towards great and small; but I ask you, have you ever before felt so
irresistibly impelled to pour out an ocean of goodness on another being,
whether for Uarda you would not more joyfully and more self-forgetfully
sacrifice all that you have, and all that you are, than to father and
mother and your oldest friend?”

Nebsecht nodded assentingly.

“Well then,” cried Pentaur, “follow your new and godlike emotion, be
good to Uarda and do not sacrifice her to your vain wishes. My poor
friend! With your--enquiries into the secrets of life, you have never
looked round upon itself, which spreads open and inviting before our
eyes. Do you imagine that the maiden who can thus inflame the calmest
thinker in Thebes, will not be coveted by a hundred of the common herd
when her protector fails her? Need I tell you that amongst the dancers
in the foreign quarter nine out of ten are the daughters of outlawed
parents? Can you endure the thought that by your hand innocence may be
consigned to vice, the rose trodden under foot in the mud? Is the human
heart that you desire, worth an Uarda? Now go, and to-morrow come again
to me your friend who understands how to sympathize with all you feel,
and to whom you have approached so much the nearer to-day that you have
learned to share his purest happiness.”

Pentaur held out his hand to the physician, who held it some time, then
went thoughtfully and lingeringly, unmindful of the burning glow of
the mid-day sun, over the mountain into the valley of the king’s graves
towards the hut of the paraschites.

Here he found the soldier with his daughter. “Where is the old man?” he
asked anxiously.

“He has gone to his work in the house of the embalmer,” was the answer.
“If anything should happen to him he bade me tell you not to forget the
writing and the book. He was as though out of his mind when he left us,
and put the ram’s heart in his bag and took it with him. Do you remain
with the little one; my mother is at work, and I must go with the
prisoners of war to Harmontis.”


While the two friends from the House of Seti were engaged in
conversation, Katuti restlessly paced the large open hall of her
son-in-law’s house, in which we have already seen her. A snow-white cat
followed her steps, now playing with the hem of her long plain dress,
and now turning to a large stand on which the dwarf Nemu sat in a heap;
where formerly a silver statue had stood, which a few months previously
had been sold.

He liked this place, for it put him in a position to look into the eyes
of his mistress and other frill-grown people. “If you have betrayed me!
If you have deceived me!” said Katuti with a threatening gesture as she
passed his perch.

“Put me on a hook to angle for a crocodile if I have. But I am curious
to know how he will offer you the money.”

“You swore to me,” interrupted his mistress with feverish agitation,
“that you had not used my name in asking Paaker to save us?”

“A thousand times I swear it,” said the little man.

“Shall I repeat all our conversation? I tell thee he will sacrifice his
land, and his house-great gate and all, for one friendly glance from
Nefert’s eyes.”

“If only Mena loved her as he does!” sighed the widow, and then again
she walked up and down the hall in silence, while the dwarf looked out
at the garden entrance. Suddenly she paused in front of Nemu, and said
so hoarsely that Nemu shuddered:

“I wish she were a widow.” “The little man made a gesture as if to
protect himself from the evil eye, but at the same instant he slipped
down from his pedestal, and exclaimed:

“There is a chariot, and I hear his big dog barking. It is he. Shall I
call Nefert?”

“No!” said Katuti in a low voice, and she clutched at the back of a
chair as if for support.

The dwarf shrugged his shoulders, and slunk behind a clump of ornamental
plants, and a few minutes later Paaker stood in the presence of Katuti,
who greeted him, with quiet dignity and self-possession.

Not a feature of her finely-cut face betrayed her inward agitation,
and after the Mohar had greeted her she said with rather patronizing

“I thought that you would come. Take a seat. Your heart is like your
father’s; now that you are friends with us again it is not by halves.”

Paaker had come to offer his aunt the sum which was necessary for
the redemption of her husband’s mummy. He had doubted for a long time
whether he should not leave this to his mother, but reserve partly
and partly vanity had kept him from doing so. He liked to display his
wealth, and Katuti should learn what he could do, what a son-in-law she
had rejected.

He would have preferred to send the gold, which he had resolved to give
away, by the hand of one of his slaves, like a tributary prince.
But that could not be done so he put on his finger a ring set with a
valuable stone, which king Seti I., had given to his father, and added
various clasps and bracelets to his dress.

When, before leaving the house, he looked at himself in a mirror, he
said to himself with some satisfaction, that he, as he stood, was worth
as much as the whole of Mena’s estates.

Since his conversation with Nemu, and the dwarf’s interpretation of
his dream, the path which he must tread to reach his aim had been plain
before him. Nefert’s mother must be won with the gold which would save
her from disgrace, and Mena must be sent to the other world. He relied
chiefly on his own reckless obstinacy--which he liked to call firm
determination--Nemu’s cunning, and the love-philter.

He now approached Katuti with the certainty of success, like a merchant
who means to acquire some costly object, and feels that he is rich
enough to pay for it. But his aunt’s proud and dignified manner
confounded him.

He had pictured her quite otherwise, spirit-broken, and suppliant;
and he had expected, and hoped to earn, Nefert’s thanks as well as her
mother’s by his generosity. Mena’s pretty wife was however absent, and
Katuti did not send for her even after he had enquired after her health.

The widow made no advances, and some time passed in indifferent
conversation, till Paaker abruptly informed her that he had heard of her
son’s reckless conduct, and had decided, as being his mother’s nearest
relation, to preserve her from the degradation that threatened her. For
the sake of his bluntness, which she took for honesty, Katuti forgave
the magnificence of his dress, which under the circumstances certainly
seemed ill-chosen; she thanked him with dignity, but warmly, more for
the sake of her children than for her own; for life she said was opening
before them, while for her it was drawing to its close.

“You are still at a good time of life,” said Paaker.

“Perhaps at the best,” replied the widow, “at any rate from my point of
view; regarding life as I do as a charge, a heavy responsibility.”

“The administration of this involved estate must give you many, anxious
hours--that I understand.” Katuti nodded, and then said sadly:

“I could bear it all, if I were not condemned to see my poor child being
brought to misery without being able to help her or advise her. You once
would willingly have married her, and I ask you, was there a maiden in
Thebes--nay in all Egypt--to compare with her for beauty? Was she not
worthy to be loved, and is she not so still? Does she deserve that her
husband should leave her to starve, neglect her, and take a strange
woman into his tent as if he had repudiated her? I see what you feel
about it! You throw all the blame on me. Your heart says: ‘Why did she
break off our betrothal,’ and your right feeling tells you that you
would have given her a happier lot.”

With these words Katuti took her nephew’s hand, and went on with
increasing warmth.

“We know you to-day for the most magnanimous man in Thebes, for you have
requited injustice with an immense benefaction; but even as a boy you
were kind and noble. Your father’s wish has always been dear and
sacred to me, for during his lifetime he always behaved to us as an
affectionate brother, and I would sooner have sown the seeds of sorrow
for myself than for your mother, my beloved sister. I brought up my
child--I guarded her jealously--for the young hero who was absent,
proving his valor in Syria--for you and for you only. Then your father
died, my sole stay and protector.”

“I know it all!” interrupted Paaker looking gloomily at the floor.

“Who should have told you?” said the widow. “For your mother, when that
had happened which seemed incredible, forbid us her house, and shut her
ears. The king himself urged Mena’s suit, for he loves him as his own
son, and when I represented your prior claim he commanded;--and who may
resist the commands of the sovereign of two worlds, the Son of Ra? Kings
have short memories; how often did your father hazard his life for him,
how many wounds had he received in his service. For your father’s sake
he might have spared you such an affront, and such pain.”

“And have I myself served him, or not?” asked the pioneer flushing

“He knows you less,” returned Katuti apologetically. Then she changed
her tone to one of sympathy, and went on:

“How was it that you, young as you were, aroused his dissatisfaction,
his dislike, nay his--”

“His what?” asked the pioneer, trembling with excitement.

“Let that pass!” said the widow soothingly. “The favor and disfavor of
kings are as those of the Gods. Men rejoice in the one or bow to the

“What feeling have I aroused in Rameses besides dissatisfaction, and
dislike? I insist on knowing!” said Paaker with increasing vehemence.

“You alarm me,” the widow declared. “And in speaking ill of you, his
only motive was to raise his favorite in Nefert’s estimation.”

“Tell me what he said!” cried the pioneer; cold drops stood on his brown
forehead, and his glaring eyes showed the white eye-balls.

Katuti quailed before him, and drew back, but he followed her, seized
her arm, and said huskily:

“What did he say?”

“Paaker!” cried the widow in pain and indignation. “Let me go. It is
better for you that I should not repeat the words with which Rameses
sought to turn Nefert’s heart from you. Let me go, and remember to whom
you are speaking.”

But Paaker gripped her elbow the tighter, and urgently repeated his

“Shame upon you!” cried Katuti, “you are hurting me; let me go! You will
not till you have heard what he said? Have your own way then, but the
words are forced from me! He said that if he did not know your mother
Setchem for an honest woman, he never would have believed you were your
father’s son--for you were no more like him than an owl to an eagle.”

Paaker took his hand from Katuti’s arm. “And so--and so--” he muttered
with pale lips.

“Nefert took your part, and I too, but in vain. Do not take the words
too hardly. Your father was a man without an equal, and Rameses cannot
forget that we are related to the old royal house. His grandfather, his
father, and himself are usurpers, and there is one now living who has a
better right to the throne than he has.”

“The Regent Ani!” exclaimed Paaker decisively. Katuti nodded, she went
up to the pioneer and said in a whisper:

“I put myself in your hands, though I know they may be raised against
me. But you are my natural ally, for that same act of Rameses that
disgraced and injured you, made me a partner in the designs of Ani. The
king robbed you of your bride, me of my daughter. He filled your soul
with hatred for your arrogant rival, and mine with passionate regret for
the lost happiness of my child. I feel the blood of Hatasu in my veins,
and my spirit is high enough to govern men. It was I who roused the
sleeping ambition of the Regent--I who directed his gaze to the throne
to which he was destined by the Gods. The ministers of the Gods, the
priests, are favorably disposed to us; we have--”

At this moment there was a commotion in the garden, and a breathless
slave rushed in exclaiming “The Regent is at the gate!”

Paaker stood in stupid perplexity, but he collected himself with an
effort and would have gone, but Katuti detained him.

“I will go forward to meet Ani,” she said. “He will be rejoiced to see
you, for he esteems you highly and was a friend of your father’s.”

As soon as Katuti had left the hall, the dwarf Nemu crept out of his
hiding-place, placed himself in front of Paaker, and asked boldly:

“Well? Did I give thee good advice yesterday, or no?”

Put Paaker did not answer him, he pushed him aside with his foot, and
walked up and down in deep thought.

Katuti met the Regent half way down the garden. He held a manuscript
roll in his hand, and greeted her from afar with a friendly wave of his

The widow looked at him with astonishment.

It seemed to her that he had grown taller and younger since the last
time she had seen him.

“Hail to your highness!” she cried, half in joke half reverently, and
she raised her hands in supplication, as if he already wore the double
crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. “Have the nine Gods met you? have the
Hathors kissed you in your slumbers? This is a white day--a lucky day--I
read it in your face!” “That is reading a cipher!” said Ani gaily, but
with dignity. “Read this despatch.”

Katuti took the roll from his hand, read it through, and then returned

“The troops you equipped have conquered the allied armies of the
Ethiopians,” she said gravely, “and are bringing their prince in fetters
to Thebes, with endless treasure, and ten thousand prisoners! The Gods
be praised!”

“And above all things I thank the Gods that my general Scheschenk--my
foster-brother and friend--is returning well and unwounded from the
war. I think, Katuti, that the figures in our dreams are this day taking
forms of flesh and blood!”

“They are growing to the stature of heroes!” cried the widow. “And you
yourself, my lord, have been stirred by the breath of the Divinity. You
walk like the worthy son of Ra, the Courage of Menth beams in your eyes,
and you smile like the victorious Horus.”

“Patience, patience my friend,” said Ani, moderating the eagerness
of the widow; “now, more than ever, we must cling to my principle of
over-estimating the strength of our opponents, and underrating our own.
Nothing has succeeded on which I had counted, and on the contrary many
things have justified my fears that they would fail. The beginning of
the end is hardly dawning on us.”

“But successes, like misfortunes, never come singly,” replied Katuti.

“I agree with you,” said Ani. “The events of life seem to me to fall in
groups. Every misfortune brings its fellow with it--like every piece of
luck. Can you tell me of a second success?”

“Women win no battles,” said the widow smiling. “But they win allies,
and I have gained a powerful one.”

“A God or an army?” asked Ani.

“Something between the two,” she replied. “Paaker, the king’s chief
pioneer, has joined us;” and she briefly related to Ani the history of
her nephew’s love and hatred.

Ani listened in silence; then he said with an expression of much
disquiet and anxiety:

“This man is a follower of Rameses, and must shortly return to him. Many
may guess at our projects, but every additional person who knows them
may be come a traitor. You are urging me, forcing me, forward too
soon. A thousand well-prepared enemies are less dangerous than one
untrustworthy ally--”

“Paaker is secured to us,” replied Katuti positively. “Who will answer
for him?” asked Ani.

“His life shall be in your hand,” replied Katuti gravely. “My shrewd
little dwarf Nemu knows that he has committed some secret crime, which
the law punishes by death.”

The Regent’s countenance cleared.

“That alters the matter,” he said with satisfaction. “Has he committed a

“No,” said Katuti, “but Nemu has sworn to reveal to you alone all that
he knows. He is wholly devoted to us.”

“Well and good,” said Ani thoughtfully, “but he too is imprudent--much
too imprudent. You are like a rider, who to win a wager urges his horse
to leap over spears. If he falls on the points, it is he that suffers;
you let him lie there, and go on your way.”

“Or are impaled at the same time as the noble horse,” said Katuti
gravely. “You have more to win, and at the same time more to lose than
we; but the meanest clings to life; and I must tell you, Ani, that I
work for you, not to win any thing through your success, but because you
are as dear to me as a brother, and because I see in you the embodiment
of my father’s claims which have been trampled on.”

Ani gave her his hand and asked:

“Did you also as my friend speak to Bent-Anat? Do I interpret your
silence rightly?”

Katuti sadly shook her head; but Ani went on: “Yesterday that would have
decided me to give her up; but to-day my courage has risen, and if the
Hathors be my friends I may yet win her.”

With these words he went in advance of the widow into the hall, where
Paaker was still walking uneasily up and down.

The pioneer bowed low before the Regent, who returned the greeting with
a half-haughty, half-familiar wave of the hand, and when he had seated
himself in an arm-chair politely addressed Paaker as the son of a
friend, and a relation of his family.

“All the world,” he said, “speaks of your reckless courage. Men like you
are rare; I have none such attached to me. I wish you stood nearer to
me; but Rameses will not part with you, although--although--In point of
fact your office has two aspects; it requires the daring of a soldier,
and the dexterity of a scribe. No one denies that you have the first,
but the second--the sword and the reed-pen are very different weapons,
one requires supple fingers, the other a sturdy fist. The king used to
complain of your reports--is he better satisfied with them now?”

“I hope so,” replied the Mohar; “my brother Horus is a practised writer,
and accompanies me in my journeys.”

“That is well,” said Ani. “If I had the management of affairs I should
treble your staff, and give you four--five--six scribes under you,
who should be entirely at your command, and to whom you could give the
materials for the reports to be sent out. Your office demands that you
should be both brave and circumspect; these characteristics are rarely
united; but there are scriveners by hundreds in the temples.”

“So it seems to me,” said Paaker.

Ani looked down meditatively, and continued--“Rameses is fond of
comparing you with your father. That is unfair, for he--who is now with
the justified--was without an equal; at once the bravest of heroes and
the most skilful of scribes. You are judged unjustly; and it grieves me
all the more that you belong, through your mother, to my poor but royal
house. We will see whether I cannot succeed in putting you in the right
place. For the present you are required in Syria almost as soon as
you have got home. You have shown that you are a man who does not fear
death, and who can render good service, and you might now enjoy your
wealth in peace with your wife.”

“I am alone,” said Paaker.

“Then, if you come home again, let Katuti seek you out the prettiest
wife in Egypt,” said the Regent smiling. “She sees herself every day in
her mirror, and must be a connoisseur in the charms of women.”

Ani rose with these words, bowed to Paaker with studied friendliness,
gave his hand to Katuti, and said as he left the hall:

“Send me to-day the--the handkerchief--by the dwarf Nemu.”

When he was already in the garden, he turned once more and said to

“Some friends are supping with me to-day; pray let me see you too.”

The pioneer bowed; he dimly perceived that he was entangled in invisible
toils. Up to the present moment he had been proud of his devotion to
his calling, of his duties as Mohar; and now he had discovered that the
king, whose chain of honor hung round his neck, undervalued him, and
perhaps only suffered him to fill his arduous and dangerous post for the
sake of his father, while he, notwithstanding the temptations
offered him in Thebes by his wealth, had accepted it willingly and
disinterestedly. He knew that his skill with the pen was small, but that
was no reason why he should be despised; often had he wished that he
could reconstitute his office exactly as Ani had suggested, but his
petition to be allowed a secretary had been rejected by Rameses. What
he spied out, he was told was to be kept secret, and no one could be
responsible for the secrecy of another.

As his brother Horus grew up, he had followed him as his obedient
assistant, even after he had married a wife, who, with her child,
remained in Thebes under the care of Setchem.

He was now filling Paaker’s place in Syria during his absence; badly
enough, as the pioneer thought, and yet not without credit; for the
fellow knew how to write smooth words with a graceful pen.

Paaker, accustomed to solitude, became absorbed in thought, forgetting
everything that surrounded him; even the widow herself, who had sunk on
to a couch, and was observing him in silence.

He gazed into vacancy, while a crowd of sensations rushed confusedly
through his brain. He thought himself cruelly ill-used, and he felt too
that it was incumbent on him to become the instrument of a terrible fate
to some other person. All was dim ‘and chaotic in his mind, his love
merged in his hatred; only one thing was clear and unclouded by doubt,
and that was his strong conviction that Nefert would be his.

The Gods indeed were in deep disgrace with him. How much he had expended
upon them--and with what a grudging hand they had rewarded him; he knew
of but one indemnification for his wasted life, and in that he believed
so firmly that he counted on it as if it were capital which he had
invested in sound securities. But at this moment his resentful feelings
embittered the sweet dream of hope, and he strove in vain for calmness
and clear-sightedness; when such cross-roads as these met, no amulet, no
divining rod could guide him; here he must think for himself, and beat
his own road before he could walk in it; and yet he could think out no
plan, and arrive at no decision.

He grasped his burning forehead in his hands, and started from his
brooding reverie, to remember where he was, to recall his conversation
with the mother of the woman he loved, and her saying that she was
capable of guiding men.

“She perhaps may be able to think for me,” he muttered to himself.
“Action suits me better.”

He slowly went up to her and said:

“So it is settled then--we are confederates.”

“Against Rameses, and for Ani,” she replied, giving him her slender

“In a few days I start for Syria, meanwhile you can make up your mind
what commissions you have to give me. The money for your son shall
be conveyed to you to-day before sunset. May I not pay my respects to

“Not now, she is praying in the temple.”

“But to-morrow?”

“Willingly, my dear friend. She will be delighted to see you, and to
thank you.”

“Farewell, Katuti.”

“Call me mother,” said the widow, and she waved her veil to him as a
last farewell.


As soon as Paaker had disappeared behind the shrubs, Katuti struck a
little sheet of metal, a slave appeared, and Katuti asked her whether
Nefert had returned from the temple.

“Her litter is just now at the side gate,” was the answer.

“I await her here,” said the widow. The slave went away, and a few
minutes later Nefert entered the hall.

“You want me?” she said; and after kissing her mother she sank upon her
couch. “I am tired,” she exclaimed, “Nemu, take a fan and keep the flies
off me.”

The dwarf sat down on a cushion by her couch, and began to wave the
semi-circular fan of ostrich-feathers; but Katuti put him aside and

“You can leave us for the present; we want to speak to each other in

The dwarf shrugged his shoulders and got up, but Nefert looked at her
mother with an irresistible appeal.

“Let him stay,” she said, as pathetically as if her whole happiness
depended upon it. “The flies torment me so, and Nemu always holds his

She patted the dwarf’s big head as if he were a lap-dog, and called
the white cat, which with a graceful leap sprang on to her shoulder and
stood there with its back arched, to be stroked by her slender fingers.

Nemu looked enquiringly at his mistress, but Katuti turned to her
daughter, and said in a warning voice:

“I have very serious things to discuss with you.”

“Indeed?” said her daughter, “but I cannot be stung by the flies all the
same. Of course, if you wish it--”

“Nemu may stay then,” said Katuti, and her voice had the tone of that of
a nurse who gives way to a naughty child. “Besides, he knows what I have
to talk about.”

“There now!” said Nefert, kissing the head of the white cat, and she
gave the fan back to the dwarf.

The widow looked at her daughter with sincere compassion, she went up to
her and looked for the thousandth time in admiration at her pretty face.

“Poor child,” she sighed, “how willingly I would spare you the frightful
news which sooner or later you must hear--must bear. Leave off your
foolish play with the cat, I have things of the most hideous gravity to
tell you.”

“Speak on,” replied Nefert. “To-day I cannot fear the worst. Mena’s
star, the haruspex told me, stands under the sign of happiness, and I
enquired of the oracle in the temple of Besa, and heard that my husband
is prospering. I have prayed in the temple till I am quite content. Only
speak!--I know my brother’s letter from the camp had no good news in it;
the evening before last I saw you had been crying, and yesterday you did
not look well; even the pomegranate flowers in your hair did not suit

“Your brother,” sighed Katuti, “has occasioned me great trouble, and we
might through him have suffered deep dishonor--”

“We-dishonor?” exclaimed Nefert, and she nervously clutched at the cat.

“Your brother lost enormous sums at play; to recover them he pledged the
mummy of your father--”

“Horrible!” cried Nefert. “We must appeal at once to the king;--I will
write to him myself; for Mena’s sake he will hear me. Rameses is great
and noble, and will not let a house that is faithfully devoted to him
fall into disgrace through the reckless folly of a boy. Certainly I will
write to him.”

She said this in a voice of most childlike confidence, and desired Nemu
to wave the fan more gently, as if this concern were settled.

In Katuti’s heart surprise and indignation at the unnatural indifference
of her daughter were struggling together; but she withheld all blame,
and said carelessly:

“We are already released, for my nephew Paaker, as soon as he heard what
threatened us, offered me his help; freely and unprompted, from pure
goodness of heart and attachment.”

“How good of Paaker!” cried Nefert. “He was so fond of me, and you know,
mother, I always stood up for him. No doubt it was for my sake that he
behaved so generously!”

The young wife laughed, and pulling the cat’s face close to her own,
held her nose to its cool little nose, stared into its green eyes, and
said, imitating childish talk:

“There now, pussy--how kind people are to your little mistress.”

Katuti was vexed daughter’s childish impulses.

“It seems to me,” she said, “that you might leave off playing and
trifling when I am talking of such serious matters. I have long since
observed that the fate of the house to which your father and mother
belong is a matter of perfect indifference to you; and yet you would
have to seek shelter and protection under its roof if your husband--”

“Well, mother?” asked Nefert breathing more quickly.

As soon as Katuti perceived her daughter’s agitation she regretted that
she had not more gently led up to the news she had to break to her; for
she loved her daughter, and knew that it would give her keen pain.

So she went on more sympathetically:

“You boasted in joke that people are good to you, and it is true; you
win hearts by your mere being--by only being what you are. And Mena too
loved you tenderly; but ‘absence,’ says the proverb, ‘is the one real
enemy,’ and Mena--”

“What has Mena done?” Once more Nefert interrupted her mother, and her
nostrils quivered.

“Mena,” said Katuti, decidedly, “has violated the truth and esteem which
he owes you--he has trodden them under foot, and--”

“Mena?” exclaimed the young wife with flashing eyes; she flung the cat
on the floor, and sprang from her couch.

“Yes--Mena,” said Katuti firmly. “Your brother writes that he would have
neither silver nor gold for his spoil, but took the fair daughter of the
prince of the Danaids into his tent. The ignoble wretch!”

“Ignoble wretch!” cried Nefert, and two or three times she repeated her
mother’s last words. Katuti drew back in horror, for her gentle, docile,
childlike daughter stood before her absolutely transfigured beyond all

She looked like a beautiful demon of revenge; her eyes sparkled, her
breath came quickly, her limbs quivered, and with extraordinary strength
and rapidity she seized the dwarf by the hand, led him to the door of
one of the rooms which opened out of the hall, threw it open, pushed the
little man over the threshold, and closed it sharply upon him; then with
white lips she came up to her mother.

“An ignoble wretch did you call him?” she cried out with a hoarse husky
voice, “an ignoble wretch! Take back your words, mother, take back your
words, or--”

Katuti turned paler and paler, and said soothingly:

“The words may sound hard, but he has broken faith with you, and openly
dishonored you.”

“And shall I believe it?” said Nefert with a scornful laugh. “Shall
I believe it, because a scoundrel has written it, who has pawned his
father’s body and the honor of big family; because it is told you by
that noble and brave gentleman! why a box on the ears from Mena would
be the death of him. Look at me, mother, here are my eyes, and if
that table there were Mena’s tent, and you were Mena, and you took the
fairest woman living by the hand and led her into it, and these eyes saw
it--aye, over and over again--I would laugh at it--as I laugh at it now;
and I should say, ‘Who knows what he may have to give her, or to say to
her,’ and not for one instant would I doubt his truth; for your son is
false and Mena is true. Osiris broke faith with Isis--but Mena may be
favored by a hundred women--he will take none to his tent but me!”

“Keep your belief,” said Katuti bitterly, “but leave me mine.”

“Yours?” said Nefert, and her flushed cheeks turned pale again. “What do
you believe? You listen to the worst and basest things that can be said
of a man who has overloaded you with benefits! A wretch, bah! an ignoble
wretch? Is that what you call a man who lets you dispose of his estate
as you please!”

“Nefert,” cried Katuti angrily, “I will--”

“Do what you will,” interrupted her indignant daughter, “but do not
vilify the generous man who has never hindered you from throwing away
his property on your son’s debts and your own ambition. Since the
day before yesterday I have learned that we are not rich; and I have
reflected, and I have asked myself what has become of our corn and our
cattle, of our sheep and the rents from the farmers. The wretch’s estate
was not so contemptible; but I tell you plainly I should be unworthy to
be the wife of the noble Mena if I allowed any one to vilify his name
under his own roof. Hold to your belief, by all means, but one of us
must quit this house--you or I.”

At these words Nefert broke into passionate sobs, threw herself on her
knees by her couch, hid her face in the cushions, and wept convulsively
and without intermission.

Katuti stood behind her, startled, trembling, and not knowing what to
say. Was this her gentle, dreamy daughter? Had ever a daughter dared to
speak thus to her mother? But was she right or was Nefert? This question
was the pressing one; she knelt down by the side of the young wife,
put her arm round her, drew her head against her bosom, and whispered

“You cruel, hard-hearted child; forgive your poor, miserable mother, and
do not make the measure of her wretchedness overflow.”

Then Nefert rose, kissed her mother’s hand, and went silently into her
own room.

Katuti remained alone; she felt as if a dead hand held her heart in its
icy grasp, and she muttered to herself:

“Ani is right--nothing turns to good excepting that from which we expect
the worst.”

She held her hand to her head, as if she had heard something too strange
to be believed. Her heart went after her daughter, but instead of
sympathizing with her she collected all her courage, and deliberately
recalled all the reproaches that Nefert had heaped upon her. She did not
spare herself a single word, and finally she murmured to herself: “She
can spoil every thing. For Mena’s sake she will sacrifice me and the
whole world; Mena and Rameses are one, and if she discovers what we are
plotting she will betray us without a moment’s hesitation. Hitherto
all has gone on without her seeing it, but to-day something has been
unsealed in her--an eye, a tongue, an ear, which have hitherto been
closed. She is like a deaf and dumb person, who by a sudden fright is
restored to speech and hearing. My favorite child will become the spy of
my actions, and my judge.”

She gave no utterance to the last words, but she seemed to hear them
with her inmost ear; the voice that could speak to her thus, startled
and frightened her, and solitude was in itself a torture; she called
the dwarf, and desired him to have her litter prepared, as she intended
going to the temple, and visiting the wounded who had been sent home
from Syria.

“And the handkerchief for the Regent?” asked the little man.

“It was a pretext,” said Katuti. “He wishes to speak to you about the
matter which you know of with regard to Paaker. What is it?”

“Do not ask,” replied Nemu, “I ought not to betray it. By Besa, who
protects us dwarfs, it is better that thou shouldst never know it.”

“For to-day I have learned enough that is new to me,” retorted Katuti.
“Now go to Ani, and if you are able to throw Paaker entirely into
his power--good--I will give--but what have I to give away? I will be
grateful to you; and when we have gained our end I will set you free and
make you rich.”

Nemu kissed her robe, and said in a low voice: “What is the end?”

“You know what Ani is striving for,” answered the widow. “And I have but
one wish!”

“And that is?”

“To see Paaker in Mena’s place.”

“Then our wishes are the same,” said the dwarf and he left the Hall.

Katuti looked after him and muttered:

“It must be so. For if every thing remains as it was and Mena comes home
and demands a reckoning--it is not to be thought of! It must not be!”


As Nemu, on his way back from his visit to Ani, approached his
mistress’s house, he was detained by a boy, who desired him to follow
him to the stranger’s quarter. Seeing him hesitate, the messenger showed
him the ring of his mother Hekt, who had come into the town on business,
and wanted to speak with him.

Nemu was tired, for he was not accustomed to walking; his ass was dead,
and Katuti could not afford to give him another. Half of Mena’s beasts
had been sold, and the remainder barely sufficed for the field-labor.

At the corners of the busiest streets, and on the market-places, stood
boys with asses which they hired out for a small sum;

   [In the streets of modern Egyptian towns asses stand saddled for
   hire. On the monuments only foreigners are represented as riding on
   asses, but these beasts are mentioned in almost every list of the
   possessions of the nobles, even in very early times, and the number
   is often considerable. There is a picture extant of a rich old man
   who rides on a seat supported on the backs of two donkeys. Lepsius,
   Denkmaler, part ii. 126.]

but Nemu had parted with his last money for a garment and a new wig, so
that he might appear worthily attired before the Regent. In former times
his pocket had never been empty, for Mena had thrown him many a ring of
silver, or even of gold, but his restless and ambitious spirit wasted no
regrets on lost luxuries. He remembered those years of superfluity with
contempt, and as he puffed and panted on his way through the dust, he
felt himself swell with satisfaction.

The Regent had admitted him to a private interview, and the little man
had soon succeeded in riveting his attention; Ani had laughed till the
tears rolled down his cheeks at Nemu’s description of Paaker’s wild
passion, and he had proved himself in earnest over the dwarf’s further
communications, and had met his demands half-way. Nemu felt like a duck
hatched on dry land, and put for the first time into water; like a bird
hatched in a cage, and that for the first time is allowed to spread its
wings and fly. He would have swum or have flown willingly to death if
circumstances had not set a limit to his zeal and energy.

Bathed in sweat and coated with dust, he at last reached the gay tent
in the stranger’s quarter, where the sorceress Hekt was accustomed to
alight when she came over to Thebes.

He was considering far-reaching projects, dreaming of possibilities,
devising subtle plans--rejecting them as too subtle, and supplying
their place with others more feasible and less dangerous; altogether
the little diplomatist had no mind for the motley tribes which here
surrounded him. He had passed the temple in which the people of Kaft
adored their goddess Astarte, and the sanctuary of Seth, where they
sacrificed to Baal, without letting himself be disturbed by the dancing
devotees or the noise of cymbals and music which issued from their
enclosures. The tents and slightly-built wooden houses of the dancing
girls did not tempt him. Besides their inhabitants, who in the evening
tricked themselves out in tinsel finery to lure the youth of Thebes into
extravagance and folly, and spent their days in sleeping till sun-down,
only the gambling booths drove a brisk business; and the guard of police
had much trouble to restrain the soldier, who had staked and lost all
his prize money, or the sailor, who thought himself cheated, from such
outbreaks of rage and despair as must end in bloodshed. Drunken men
lay in front of the taverns, and others were doing their utmost, by
repeatedly draining their beakers, to follow their example.

Nothing was yet to be seen of the various musicians, jugglers,
fire-eaters, serpent-charmers, and conjurers, who in the evening
displayed their skill in this part of the town, which at all times had
the aspect of a never ceasing fair. But these delights, which Nemu had
passed a thousand times, had never had any temptation for him. Women and
gambling were not to his taste; that which could be had simply for the
taking, without trouble or exertion, offered no charms to his fancy,
he had no fear of the ridicule of the dancing-women, and their
associates--indeed, he occasionally sought them, for he enjoyed a war
of words, and he was of opinion that no one in Thebes could beat him at
having the last word. Other people, indeed, shared this opinion, and not
long before Paaker’s steward had said of Nemu:

“Our tongues are cudgels, but the little one’s is a dagger.”

The destination of the dwarf was a very large and gaudy tent, not in any
way distinguished from a dozen others in its neighborhood. The opening
which led into it was wide, but at present closed by a hanging of coarse

Nemu squeezed himself in between the edge of the tent and the yielding
door, and found himself in an almost circular tent with many angles, and
with its cone-shaped roof supported on a pole by way of a pillar.

Pieces of shabby carpet lay on the dusty soil that was the floor of the
tent, and on these squatted some gaily-clad girls, whom an old woman was
busily engaged in dressing. She painted the finger and toenails of
the fair ones with orange-colored Hennah, blackened their brows and
eye-lashes with Mestem--[Antimony.]--to give brilliancy to their glance,
painted their cheeks with white and red, and anointed their hair with
scented oil.

It was very hot in the tent, and not one of the girls spoke a word; they
sat perfectly still before the old woman, and did not stir a finger,
excepting now and then to take up one of the porous clay pitchers, which
stood on the ground, for a draught of water, or to put a pill of Kyphi
between their painted lips.

Various musical instruments leaned against the walls of the tent,
hand-drums, pipes and lutes and four tambourines lay on the ground; on
the vellum of one slept a cat, whose graceful kittens played with the
bells in the hoop of another.

An old negro-woman went in and out of the little back-door of the tent,
pursued by flies and gnats, while she cleared away a variety of earthen
dishes with the remains of food--pomegranate-peelings, breadcrumbs, and
garlic-tops--which had been lying on one of the carpets for some hours
since the girls had finished their dinner.

Old Hekt sat apart from the girls on a painted trunk, and she was
saying, as she took a parcel from her wallet:

“Here, take this incense, and burn six seeds of it, and the vermin will
all disappear--” she pointed to the flies that swarmed round the platter
in her hand. “If you like I will drive away the mice too and draw the
snakes out of their holes better than the priests.”

   [Recipes for exterminating noxious creatures are found in the
   papyrus in my possession.]

“Keep your magic to yourself,” said a girl in a husky voice. “Since
you muttered your words over me, and gave me that drink to make me grow
slight and lissom again, I have been shaken to pieces with a cough at
night, and turn faint when I am dancing.”

“But look how slender you have grown,” answered Hekt, “and your cough
will soon be well.”

“When I am dead,” whispered the girl to the old woman. “I know that most
of us end so.”

The witch shrugged her shoulders, and perceiving the dwarf she rose from
her seat.

The girls too noticed the little man, and set up the indescribable cry,
something like the cackle of hens, which is peculiar to Eastern women
when something tickles their fancy. Nemu was well known to them, for his
mother always stayed in their tent whenever she came to Thebes, and the
gayest of them cried out:

“You are grown, little man, since the last time you were here.”

“So are you,” said the dwarf sharply; “but only as far as big words are

“And you are as wicked as you are small,” retorted the girl.

“Then my wickedness is small too,” said the dwarf laughing, “for I am
little enough! Good morning, girls--may Besa help your beauty. Good day,
mother--you sent for me?”

The old woman nodded; the dwarf perched himself on the chest beside her,
and they began to whisper together.

“How dusty and tired you are,” said Hekt. I do believe you have come on
foot in the burning sun.”

“My ass is dead,” replied Nemu, “and I have no money to hire a steed.”

“A foretaste of future splendor,” said the old woman with a sneer. “What
have you succeeded in doing?”

“Paaker has saved us,” replied Nemu, “and I have just come from a long
interview with the Regent.”


“He will renew your letter of freedom, if you will put Paaker into his

“Good-good. I wish he would make up his mind to come and seek me--in
disguise, of course--I would--”

“He is very timid, and it would not suggest to him anything so

“Hm--” said Hekt, “perhaps you are right, for when we have to demand a
good deal it is best only to ask for what is feasible. One rash request
often altogether spoils the patron’s inclination for granting favors.”

“What else has occurred?”

“The Regent’s army has conquered the Ethiopians, and is coming home with
rich spoils.”

“People may be bought with treasure,” muttered the old woman, “I

“Paaker’s sword is sharpened; I would give no more for my master’s life,
than I have in my pocket--and you know why I came on foot through the

“Well, you can ride home again,” replied his mother, giving the little
man a small silver ring. “Has the pioneer seen Nefert again?”

“Strange things have happened,” said the dwarf, and he told his
mother what had taken place between Katuti and Nefert. Nemu was a good
listener, and had not forgotten a word of what he had heard.

The old woman listened to his story with the most eager attention.

“Well, well,” she muttered, “here is another extraordinary thing. What
is common to all men is generally disgustingly similar in the palace
and in the hovel. Mothers are everywhere she-apes, who with pleasure let
themselves be tormented to death by their children, who repay them badly
enough, and the wives generally open their ears wide if any one can tell
them of some misbehavior of their husbands! But that is not the way with
your mistress.”

The old woman looked thoughtful, and then she continued:

“In point of fact this can be easily explained, and is not at all more
extraordinary than it is that those tired girls should sit yawning. You
told me once that it was a pretty sight to see the mother and daughter
side by side in their chariot when they go to a festival or the
Panegyrai; Katuti, you said, took care that the colors of their dresses
and the flowers in their hair should harmonize. For which of them is the
dress first chosen on such occasions?”

“Always for the lady Katuti, who never wears any but certain colors,”
 replied Nemu quickly.

“You see,” said the witch laughing, “Indeed it must be so. That mother
always thinks of herself first, and of the objects she wishes to gain;
but they hang high, and she treads down everything that is in her
way--even her own child--to reach them. She will contrive that Paaker
shall be the ruin of Mena, as sure as I have ears to hear with, for
that woman is capable of playing any tricks with her daughter, and would
marry her to that lame dog yonder if it would advance her ambitious

“But Nefert!” said Nemu. “You should have seen her. The dove became a

“Because she loves Mena as much as her mother loves herself,” answered
Hekt. “As the poets say, ‘she is full of him.’ It is really true of her,
there is no room for any thing else. She cares for one only, and woe to
those who come between him and her!”

“I have seen other women in love,” said Nemu, “but--”

“But,” exclaimed the old witch with such a sharp laugh that the girls
all looked up, “they behaved differently to Nefert--I believe you, for
there is not one in a thousand that loves as she does. It is a sickness
that gives raging pain--like a poisoned arrow in an open wound, and
devours all that is near it like a fire-brand, and is harder to cure
than the disease which is killing that coughing wench. To be possessed
by that demon of anguish is to suffer the torture of the damned--or
else,” and her voice sank to softness, “to be more blest than the Gods,
happy as they are. I know--I know it all; for I was once one of the
possessed, one of a thousand, and even now--”

“Well?” asked the dwarf.

“Folly!” muttered the witch, stretching herself as if awaking from
sleep. “Madness! He--is long since dead, and if he were not it would be
all the same to me. All men are alike, and Mena will be like the rest.”

“But Paaker surely is governed by the demon you describe?” asked the

“May be,” replied his mother; “but he is self-willed to madness. He
would simply give his life for the thing because it is denied him. If
your mistress Nefert were his, perhaps he might be easier; but what is
the use of chattering? I must go over to the gold tent, where everyone
goes now who has any money in their purse, to speak to the mistress--”

“What do you want with her?” interrupted Nemu. “Little Uarda over
there,” said the old woman, “will soon be quite well again. You have
seen her lately; is she not grown beautiful, wonderfully beautiful? Now
I shall see what the good woman will offer me if I take Uarda to her?
the girl is as light-footed as a gazelle, and with good training would
learn to dance in a very few weeks.”

Nemu turned perfectly white.

“That you shall not do,” said he positively.

“And why not?” asked the old woman, “if it pays well.”

“Because I forbid it,” said the dwarf in a choked voice.

“Bless me,” laughed the woman; “you want to play my lady Nefert, and
expect me to take the part of her mother Katuti. But, seriously, having
seen the child again, have you any fancy for her?”

“Yes,” replied Nemu. “If we gain our end, Katuti will make me free, and
make me rich. Then I will buy Pinem’s grandchild, and take her for
my wife. I will build a house near the hall of justice, and give the
complainants and defendants private advice, like the hunch-back Sent,
who now drives through the streets in his own chariot.”

“Hm--” said his mother, “that might have done very well, but perhaps it
is too late. When the child had fever she talked about the young priest
who was sent from the House of Seti by Ameni. He is a fine tall
fellow, and took a great interest in her; he is a gardener’s son, named

“Pentaur?” said the dwarf. “Pentaur? He has the haughty air and the
expression of the old Mohar, and would be sure to rise; but they are
going to break his proud neck for him.”

“So much the better,” said the old woman. “Uarda would be just the wife
for you, she is good and steady, and no one knows--”

“What?” said Nemu.

“Who her mother was--for she was not one of us. She came here from
foreign parts, and when she died she left a trinket with strange letters
on it. We must show it to one of the prisoners of war, after you have
got her safe; perhaps they could make out the queer inscription. She
comes of a good stock, that I am certain; for Uarda is the very living
image of her mother, and as soon as she was born, she looked like the
child of a great man. You smile, you idiot! Why thousands of infants
have been in my hands, and if one was brought to me wrapped in rags I
could tell if its parents were noble or base-born. The shape of the foot
shows it--and other marks. Uarda may stay where she is, and I will help
you. If anything new occurs let me know.”


When Nemu, riding on an ass this time, reached home, he found neither
his mistress nor Nefert within.

The former was gone, first to the temple, and then into the town;
Nefert, obeying an irresistible impulse, had gone to her royal friend

The king’s palace was more like a little town than a house. The wing in
which the Regent resided, and which we have already visited, lay away
from the river; while the part of the building which was used by the
royal family commanded the Nile.

It offered a splendid, and at the same time a pleasing prospect to the
ships which sailed by at its foot, for it stood, not a huge and solitary
mass in the midst of the surrounding gardens, but in picturesque groups
of various outline. On each side of a large structure, which contained
the state rooms and banqueting hall, three rows of pavilions of
different sizes extended in symmetrical order. They were connected
with each other by colonnades, or by little bridges, under which flowed
canals, that watered the gardens and gave the palace-grounds the aspect
of a town built on islands.

The principal part of the castle of the Pharaohs was constructed of
light Nile-mud bricks and elegantly carved woodwork, but the extensive
walls which surrounded it were ornamented and fortified with towers, in
front of which heavily armed soldiers stood on guard.

The walls and pillars, the galleries and colonnades, even the roofs,
blazed in many colored paints, and at every gate stood tall masts, from
which red and blue flags fluttered when the king was residing there.
Now they stood up with only their brass spikes, which were intended
to intercept and conduct the lightning.--[ According to an inscription
first interpreted by Dumichen.]

To the right of the principal building, and entirely surrounded with
thick plantations of trees, stood the houses of the royal ladies,
some mirrored in the lake which they surrounded at a greater or less
distance. In this part of the grounds were the king’s storehouses in
endless rows, while behind the centre building, in which the Pharaoh
resided, stood the barracks for his body guard and the treasuries. The
left wing was occupied by the officers of the household, the innumerable
servants and the horses and chariots of the sovereign.

In spite of the absence of the king himself, brisk activity reigned in
the palace of Rameses, for a hundred gardeners watered the turf, the
flower-borders, the shrubs and trees; companies of guards passed hither
and thither; horses were being trained and broken; and the princess’s
wing was as full as a beehive of servants and maids, officers and

Nefert was well known in this part of the palace. The gate-keepers let
her litter pass unchallenged, with low bows; once in the garden, a lord
in waiting received her, and conducted her to the chamberlain, who,
after a short delay, introduced her into the sitting-room of the king’s
favorite daughter.

Bent-Anat’s apartment was on the first floor of the pavilion, next
to the king’s residence. Her dead mother had inhabited these pleasant
rooms, and when the princess was grown up it made the king happy to feel
that she was near him; so the beautiful house of the wife who had too
early departed, was given up to her, and at the same time, as she
was his eldest daughter, many privileges were conceded to her, which
hitherto none but queens had enjoyed.

The large room, in which Nefert found the princess, commanded the river.
A doorway, closed with light curtains, opened on to a long balcony with
a finely-worked balustrade of copper-gilt, to which clung a climbing
rose with pink flowers.

When Nefert entered the room, Bent-Anat was just having the rustling
curtain drawn aside by her waiting-women; for the sun was setting, and
at that hour she loved to sit on the balcony, as it grew cooler,
and watch with devout meditation the departure of Ra, who, as the
grey-haired Turn, vanished behind the western horizon of the Necropolis
in the evening to bestow the blessing of light on the under-world.

Nefert’s apartment was far more elegantly appointed than the princess’s;
her mother and Mena had surrounded her with a thousand pretty trifles.
Her carpets were made of sky-blue and silver brocade from Damascus, the
seats and couches were covered with stuff embroidered in feathers by the
Ethiopian women, which looked like the breasts of birds. The images of
the Goddess Hathor, which stood on the house-altar, were of an imitation
of emerald, which was called Mafkat, and the other little figures, which
were placed near their patroness, were of lapis-lazuli, malachite, agate
and bronze, overlaid with gold. On her toilet-table stood a collection
of salve-boxes, and cups of ebony and ivory finely carved, and
everything was arranged with the utmost taste, and exactly suited Nefert

Bent-Anat’s room also suited the owner.

It was high and airy, and its furniture consisted in costly but simple
necessaries; the lower part of the wall was lined with cool tiles of
white and violet earthen ware, on each of which was pictured a star, and
which, all together, formed a tasteful pattern. Above these the walls
were covered with a beautiful dark green material brought from Sais, and
the same stuff was used to cover the long divans by the wall. Chairs and
stools, made of cane, stood round a very large table in the middle
of this room, out of which several others opened; all handsome,
comfortable, and harmonious in aspect, but all betraying that their
mistress took small pleasure in trifling decorations. But her chief
delight was in finely-grown plants, of which rare and magnificent
specimens, artistically arranged on stands, stood in the corners of many
of the rooms. In others there were tall obelisks of ebony, which bore
saucers for incense, which all the Egyptians loved, and which was
prescribed by their physicians to purify and perfume their dwellings.
Her simple bedroom would have suited a prince who loved floriculture,
quite as well as a princess.

Before all things Bent-Anat loved air and light. The curtains of
her windows and doors were only closed when the position of the sun
absolutely required it; while in Nefert’s rooms, from morning till
evening, a dim twilight was maintained.

The princess went affectionately towards the charioteer’s wife, who
bowed low before her at the threshold; she took her chin with her right
hand, kissed her delicate narrow forehead, and said:

“Sweet creature! At last you have come uninvited to see lonely me! It is
the first time since our men went away to the war. If Rameses’ daughter
commands there is no escape; and you come; but of your own free will--”

Nefert raised her large eyes, moist with tears, with an imploring look,
and her glance was so pathetic that Bent-Anat interrupted herself, and
taking both her hands, exclaimed:

“Do you know who must have eyes exactly like yours? I mean the Goddess
from whose tears, when they fall on the earth, flowers spring.”

Nefert’s eyes fell and she blushed deeply.

“I wish,” she murmured, “that my eyes might close for ever, for I am
very unhappy.” And two large tears rolled down her cheeks.

“What has happened to you, my darling?” asked the princess
sympathetically, and she drew her towards her, putting her arm round her
like a sick child.

Nefert glanced anxiously at the chamberlain, and the ladies in waiting
who had entered the room with her, and Bent-Anat understood the look;
she requested her attendants to withdraw, and when she was alone with
her sad little friend--“Speak now,” she said. “What saddens your heart?
how comes this melancholy expression on your dear baby face? Tell me,
and I will comfort you, and you shall be my bright thoughtless plaything
once more.”

“Thy plaything!” answered Nefert, and a flash of displeasure sparkled in
her eyes. “Thou art right to call me so, for I deserve no better name. I
have submitted all my life to be nothing but the plaything of others.”

“But, Nefert, I do not know you again,” cried Bent-Anat. “Is this my
gentle amiable dreamer?”

“That is the word I wanted,” said Nefert in a low tone. “I slept, and
dreamed, and dreamed on--till Mena awoke me; and when he left me I went
to sleep again, and for two whole years I have lain dreaming; but to-day
I have been torn from my dreams so suddenly and roughly, that I shall
never find any rest again.”

While she spoke, heavy tears fell slowly one after another over her

Bent-Anat felt what she saw and heard as deeply as if Nefert were her
own suffering child. She lovingly drew the young wife down by her
side on the divan, and insisted on Nefert’s letting her know all that
troubled her spirit.

Katuti’s daughter had in the last few hours felt like one born blind,
and who suddenly receives his sight. He looks at the brightness of the
sun, and the manifold forms of the creation around him, but the beams of
the day-star blind its eyes, and the new forms, which he has sought to
guess at in his mind, and which throng round him in their rude reality,
shock him and pain him. To-day, for the first time, she had asked
herself wherefore her mother, and not she herself, was called upon to
control the house of which she nevertheless was called the mistress, and
the answer had rung in her ears: “Because Mena thinks you incapable of
thought and action.” He had often called her his little rose, and she
felt now that she was neither more nor less than a flower that blossoms
and fades, and only charms the eye by its color and beauty.

“My mother,” she said to Bent-Anat, “no doubt loves me, but she has
managed badly for Mena, very badly; and I, miserable idiot, slept and
dreamed of Mena, and saw and heard nothing of what was happening to
his--to our--inheritance. Now my mother is afraid of my husband, and
those whom we fear, says my uncle, we cannot love, and we are always
ready to believe evil of those we do not love. So she lends an ear to
those people who blame Mena, and say of him that he has driven me out
of his heart, and has taken a strange woman to his tent. But it is false
and a lie; and I cannot and will not countenance my own mother even, if
she embitters and mars what is left to me--what supports me--the breath
and blood of my life--my love, my fervent love for my husband.”

Bent-Anat had listened to her without interrupting her; she sat by her
for a time in silence. Then she said:

“Come out into the gallery; then I will tell you what I think, and
perhaps Toth may pour some helpful counsel into my mind. I love you,
and I know you well, and though I am not wise, I have my eyes open and a
strong hand. Take it, come with me on to the balcony.”

A refreshing breeze met the two women as they stepped out into the air.
It was evening, and a reviving coolness had succeeded the heat of the
day. The buildings and houses already cast long shadows, and numberless
boats, with the visitors returning from the Necropolis, crowded the
stream that rolled its swollen flood majestically northwards.

Close below lay the verdant garden, which sent odors from the rose-beds
up to the princess’s balcony. A famous artist had laid it out in the
time of Hatasu, and the picture which he had in his mind, when he sowed
the seeds and planted the young shoots, was now realized, many decades
after his death. He had thought of planning a carpet, on which the
palace should seem to stand. Tiny streams, in bends and curves, formed
the outline of the design, and the shapes they enclosed were filled with
plants of every size, form, and color; beautiful plats of fresh
green turf everywhere represented the groundwork of the pattern, and
flower-beds and clumps of shrubs stood out from them in harmonious
mixtures of colors, while the tall and rare trees, of which Hatasu’s
ships had brought several from Arabia, gave dignity and impressiveness
to the whole.

Clear drops sparkled on leaf and flower and blade, for, only a short
time before, the garden by Bent-Anat’s house had been freshly watered.
The Nile beyond surrounded an island, where flourished the well-kept
sacred grove of Anion.

The Necropolis on the farther side of the river was also well seen
from Bent-Anat’s balcony. There stood in long perspective the rows of
sphinxes, which led from the landing-place of the festal barges to the
gigantic buildings of Amenophis III. with its colossi--the hugest in
Thebes--to the House of Seti, and to the temple of Hatasu. There lay
the long workshops of the embalmers and closely-packed homes of the
inhabitants of the City of the Dead. In the farthest west rose the
Libyan mountains with their innumerable graves, and the valley of the
kings’ tombs took a wide curve behind, concealed by a spur of the hills.

The two women looked in silence towards the west. The sun was near the
horizon--now it touched it, now it sank behind the hills; and as the
heavens flushed with hues like living gold, blazing rubies, and liquid
garnet and amethyst, the evening chant rang out from all the temples,
and the friends sank on their knees, hid their faces in the bower-rose
garlands that clung to the trellis, and prayed with full hearts.

When they rose night was spreading over the landscape, for the twilight
is short in Thebes. Here and there a rosy cloud fluttered across the
darkening sky, and faded gradually as the evening star appeared.

“I am content,” said Bent-Anat. “And you? have you recovered your peace
of mind?”

Nefert shook her head. The princess drew her on to a seat, and sank down
beside her. Then she began again “Your heart is sore, poor child; they
have spoilt the past for you, and you dread the future. Let me be frank
with you, even if it gives you pain. You are sick, and I must cure you.
Will you listen to me?”

“Speak on,” said Nefert.

“Speech does not suit me so well as action,” replied the princess; “but
I believe I know what you need, and can help you. You love your husband;
duty calls him from you, and you feel lonely and neglected; that is
quite natural. But those whom I love, my father and my brothers, are
also gone to the war; my mother is long since dead; the noble woman,
whom the king left to be my companion, was laid low a few weeks since
by sickness. Look what a half-abandoned spot my house is! Which is the
lonelier do you think, you or I?”

“I,” said Nefert. “For no one is so lonely as a wife parted from the
husband her heart longs after.”

“But you trust Mena’s love for you?” asked Bent-Anat.

Nefert pressed her hand to her heart and nodded assent:

“And he will return, and with him your happiness.”

“I hope so,” said Nefert softly.

“And he who hopes,” said Bent Anat, “possesses already the joys of the
future. Tell me, would you have changed places with the Gods so long
as Mena was with you? No! Then you are most fortunate, for blissful
memories--the joys of the past--are yours at any rate. What is the
present? I speak of it, and it is no more. Now, I ask you, what joys can
I look forward to, and what certain happiness am I justified in hoping

“Thou dost not love any one,” replied Nefert. “Thou dost follow thy own
course, calm and undeviating as the moon above us. The highest joys
are unknown to thee, but for the same reason thou dost not know the
bitterest pain.”

“What pain?” asked the princess.

“The torment of a heart consumed by the fires of Sechet,” replied

The princess looked thoughtfully at the ground, then she turned her eyes
eagerly on her friend.

“You are mistaken,” she said; “I know what love and longing are. But
you need only wait till a feast day to wear the jewel that is your own,
while my treasure is no more mine than a pearl that I see gleaming at
the bottom of the sea.”

“Thou canst love!” exclaimed Nefert with joyful excitement. “Oh! I thank
Hathor that at last she has touched thy heart. The daughter of Rameses
need not even send for the diver to fetch the jewel out of the sea; at a
sign from her the pearl will rise of itself, and lie on the sand at her
slender feet.”

Bent-Anat smiled and kissed Nefert’s brow.

“How it excites you,” she said, “and stirs your heart and tongue! If two
strings are tuned in harmony, and one is struck, the other sounds, my
music master tells me. I believe you would listen to me till morning if
I only talked to you about my love. But it was not for that that we
came out on the balcony. Now listen! I am as lonely as you, I love less
happily than you, the House of Seti threatens me with evil times--and
yet I can preserve my full confidence in life and my joy in existence.
How can you explain this?”

“We are so very different,” said Nefert.

“True,” replied Bent-Anat, “but we are both young, both women, and both
wish to do right. My mother died, and I have had no one to guide me, for
I who for the most part need some one to lead me can already command,
and be obeyed. You had a mother to bring you up, who, when you were
still a child, was proud of her pretty little daughter, and let her--as
it became her so well-dream and play, without warning her against the
dangerous propensity. Then Mena courted you. You love him truly, and
in four long years he has been with you but a month or two; your mother
remained with you, and you hardly observed that she was managing your
own house for you, and took all the trouble of the household. You had
a great pastime of your own--your thoughts of Mena, and scope for a
thousand dreams in your distant love. I know it, Nefert; all that you
have seen and heard and felt in these twenty months has centred in him
and him alone. Nor is it wrong in itself. The rose tree here, which
clings to my balcony, delights us both; but if the gardener did not
frequently prune it and tie it with palm-bast, in this soil, which
forces everything to rapid growth, it would soon shoot up so high that
it would cover door and window, and I should sit in darkness. Throw this
handkerchief over your shoulders, for the dew falls as it grows cooler,
and listen to me a little longer!--The beautiful passion of love and
fidelity has grown unchecked in your dreamy nature to such a height,
that it darkens your spirit and your judgment. Love, a true love, it
seems to me, should be a noble fruit-tree, and not a rank weed. I do not
blame you, for she who should have been the gardener did not heed--and
would not heed--what was happening. Look, Nefert, so long as I wore the
lock of youth, I too did what I fancied--I never found any pleasure in
dreaming, but in wild games with my brothers, in horses and in falconry;
they often said I had the spirit of a boy, and indeed I would willingly
have been a boy.”

“Not I--never!” said Nefert.

“You are just a rose--my dearest,” said Bent-Anat. “Well! when I was
fifteen I was so discontented, so insubordinate and full of all sorts
of wild behavior, so dissatisfied in spite of all the kindness and love
that surrounded me--but I will tell you what happened. It is four years
ago, shortly before your wedding with Mena; my father called me to play

   [At Medinet Habu a picture represents Rameses the Third, not Rameses
   the Second, playing at draughts with his daughter.]

You know how certainly he could beat the most skilful antagonist;
but that day his thoughts were wandering, and I won the game twice
following. Full of insolent delight, I jumped up and kissed his great
handsome forehead, and cried ‘The sublime God, the hero, under whose
feet the strange nations writhe, to whom the priests and the people
pray--is beaten by a girl!’ He smiled gently, and answered ‘The Lords of
Heaven are often outdone by the Ladies, and Necheb, the lady of victory,
is a woman. Then he grew graver, and said: ‘You call me a God, my child,
but in this only do I feel truly godlike, that at every moment I strive
to the utmost to prove myself useful by my labors; here restraining,
there promoting, as is needful. Godlike I can never be but by doing or
producing something great! These words, Nefert, fell like seeds in my
soul. At last I knew what it was that was wanting to me; and when, a few
weeks later, my father and your husband took the field with a hundred
thousand fighting men, I resolved to be worthy of my godlike father, and
in my little circle to be of use too! You do not know all that is done
in the houses behind there, under my direction. Three hundred girls
spin pure flax, and weave it into bands of linen for the wounds of
the soldiers; numbers of children, and old women, gather plants on
the mountains, and others sort them according to the instructions of
a physician; in the kitchens no banquets are prepared, but fruits are
preserved in sugar for the loved ones, and the sick in the camp. Joints
of meat are salted, dried, and smoked for the army on its march through
the desert. The butler no longer thinks of drinking-bouts, but brings
me wine in great stone jars; we pour it into well-closed skins for the
soldiers, and the best sorts we put into strong flasks, carefully sealed
with pitch, that they may perform the journey uninjured, and warm and
rejoice the hearts of our heroes. All that, and much more, I manage
and arrange, and my days pass in hard work. The Gods send me no bright
visions in the night, for after utter fatigue--I sleep soundly. But
I know that I am of use. I can hold my head proudly, because in some
degree I resemble my great father; and if the king thinks of me at all
I know he can rejoice in the doings of his child. That is the end of it,
Nefert--and I only say, Come and join me, work with me, prove yourself
of use, and compel Mena to think of his wife, not with affection only,
but with pride.” Nefert let her head sink slowly on Bent-Anat’s bosom,
threw her arms round her neck, and wept like a child. At last she
composed herself and said humbly:

“Take me to school, and teach me to be useful.” “I knew,” said the
princess smiling, “that you only needed a guiding hand. Believe me, you
will soon learn to couple content and longing. But now hear this! At
present go home to your mother, for it is late; and meet her lovingly,
for that is the will of the Gods. To-morrow morning I will go to see
you, and beg Katuti to let you come to me as companion in the place
of my lost friend. The day after to-morrow you will come to me in the
palace. You can live in the rooms of my departed friend and begin, as
she had done, to help me in my work. May these hours be blest to you!”


At the time of this conversation the leech Nebsecht still lingered
in front of the hovel of the paraschites, and waited with growing
impatience for the old man’s return.

At first he trembled for him; then he entirely forgot the danger into
which he had thrown him, and only hoped for the fulfilment of his
desires, and for wonderful revelations through his investigations of the
human heart.

For some minutes he gave himself up to scientific considerations; but he
became more and more agitated by anxiety for the paraschites, and by the
exciting vicinity of Uarda.

For hours he had been alone with her, for her father and grandmother
could no longer stop away from their occupations. The former must go
to escort prisoners of war to Hermonthis, and the old woman, since her
granddaughter had been old enough to undertake the small duties of
the household, had been one of the wailing-women, who, with hair all
dishevelled, accompanied the corpse on its way to the grave, weeping,
and lamenting, and casting Nile-mud on their forehead and breast. Uarda
still lay, when the sun was sinking, in front of the hut.

She looked weary and pale. Her long hair had come undone, and once more
got entangled with the straw of her humble couch. If Nebsecht went near
her to feel her pulse or to speak to her she carefully turned her face
from him.

Nevertheless when the sun disappeared behind the rocks he bent over her
once more, and said:

“It is growing cool; shall I carry you indoors?”

“Let me alone,” she said crossly. “I am hot, keep farther away. I am no
longer ill, and could go indoors by myself if I wished; but grandmother
will be here directly.”

Nebsecht rose, and sat down on a hen-coop that was some paces from
Uarda, and asked stammering, “Shall I go farther off?”

“Do as you please,” she answered. “You are not kind,” he said sadly.

“You sit looking at me,” said Uarda, “I cannot bear it; and I am
uneasy--for grandfather was quite different this morning from his usual
self, and talked strangely about dying, and about the great price that
was asked of him for curing me. Then he begged me never to forget him,
and was so excited and so strange. He is so long away; I wish he were
here, with me.”

And with these words Uarda began to cry silently. A nameless anxiety for
the paraschites seized Nebsecht, and it struck him to the heart that he
had demanded a human life in return for the mere fulfilment of a
duty. He knew the law well enough, and knew that the old man would be
compelled without respite or delay to empty the cup of poison if he were
found guilty of the theft of a human heart.

It was dark: Uarda ceased weeping and said to the surgeon:

“Can it be possible that he has gone into the city to borrow the great
sum of money that thou--or thy temple--demanded for thy medicine? But
there is the princess’s golden bracelet, and half of father’s prize, and
in the chest two years’ wages that grandmother had earned by wailing he
untouched. Is all that not enough?”

The girl’s last question was full of resentment and reproach, and
Nebsecht, whose perfect sincerity was part of his very being, was
silent, as he would not venture to say yes. He had asked more in return
for his help than gold or silver. Now he remembered Pentaur’s warning,
and when the jackals began to bark he took up the fire-stick,

   [The hieroglyphic sign Sam seems to me to represent the wooden stick
   used to produce fire (as among some savage tribes) by rapid friction
   in a hollow piece of wood.]

and lighted some fuel that was lying ready. Then he asked himself what
Uarda’s fate would be without her grandparents, and a strange plan
which had floated vaguely before him for some hours, began now to take a
distinct outline and intelligible form. He determined if the old man
did not return to ask the kolchytes or embalmers to admit him into their
guild--and for the sake of his adroitness they were not likely to refuse
him--then he would make Uarda his wife, and live apart from the world,
for her, for his studies, and for his new calling, in which he hoped to
learn a great deal. What did he care for comfort and proprieties, for
recognition from his fellow-men, and a superior position!

He could hope to advance more quickly along the new stony path than on
the old beaten track. The impulse to communicate his acquired knowledge
to others he did not feel. Knowledge in itself amply satisfied him, and
he thought no more of his ties to the House of Seti. For three whole
days he had not changed his garments, no razor had touched his chin or
his scalp, not a drop of water had wetted his hands or his feet. He felt
half bewildered and almost as if he had already become an embalmer,
nay even a paraschites, one of the most despised of human beings. This
self-degradation had an infinite charm, for it brought him down to the
level of Uarda, and she, lying near him, sick and anxious, with her
dishevelled hair, exactly suited the future which he painted to himself.

“Do you hear nothing?” Uarda asked suddenly. He listened. In the valley
there was a barking of dogs, and soon the paraschites and his wife
appeared, and, at the door of their hut, took leave of old Hekt, who had
met them on her return from Thebes.

“You have been gone a long time,” cried Uarda, when her grandmother once
more stood before her. “I have been so frightened.”

“The doctor was with you,” said the old woman going into the house
to prepare their simple meal, while the paraschites knelt down by his
granddaughter, and caressed her tenderly, but yet with respect, as if he
were her faithful servant rather than her blood-relation.

Then he rose, and gave to Nebsecht, who was trembling with excitement,
the bag of coarse linen which he was in the habit of carrying tied to
him by a narrow belt.

“The heart is in that,” he whispered to the leech; “take it out, and
give me back the bag, for my knife is in it, and I want it.”

Nebsecht took the heart out of the covering with trembling hands and
laid it carefully down. Then he felt in the breast of his dress, and
going up to the paraschites he whispered:

“Here, take the writing, hang it round your neck, and when you die I
will have the book of scripture wrapped up in your mummy cloths like a
great man. But that is not enough. The property that I inherited is in
the hands of my brother, who is a good man of business, and I have not
touched the interest for ten years. I will send it to you, and you and
your wife shall enjoy an old age free from care.”

The paraschites had taken the little bag with the strip of papyrus, and
heard the leech to the end. Then he turned from him saying: “Keep thy
money; we are quits. That is if the child gets well,” he added humbly.

“She is already half cured,” stammered Nebsecht. “But why will you--why
won’t you accept--”

“Because till to day I have never begged nor borrowed,” said the
paraschites, “and I will not begin in my old age. Life for life. But
what I have done this day not Rameses with all his treasure could

Nebsecht looked down, and knew not how to answer the old man.

His wife now came out; she set a bowl of lentils that she had hastily
warmed before the two men, with radishes and onions,

   [Radishes, onions, and garlic were the hors-d’oeuvre of an Egyptian
   dinner. 1600 talents worth were consumed, according to Herodotus.
   during the building of the pyramid of Cheops--L360,000 (in 1881.)]

then she helped Uarda, who did not need to be carried, into the house,
and invited Nebsecht to share their meal. He accepted her invitation,
for he had eaten nothing since the previous evening.

When the old woman had once more disappeared indoors, he asked the

“Whose heart is it that you have brought me, and how did it come into
your hands?”

“Tell me first,” said the other, “why thou hast laid such a heavy sin
upon my soul?”

“Because I want to investigate the structure of the human heart,” said
Nebsecht, “so that, when I meet with diseased hearts, I may be able to
cure them.”

The paraschites looked for a long time at the ground in silence; then he

“Art thou speaking the truth?”

“Yes,” replied the leech with convincing emphasis. “I am glad,” said the
old man, “for thou givest help to the poor.”

“As willingly as to the rich!” exclaimed Nebsecht. “But tell me now
where you got the heart.”

“I went into the house of the embalmer,” said the old man, after he had
selected a few large flints, to which, with crafty blows, he gave the
shape of knives, “and there I found three bodies in which I had to make
the eight prescribed incisions with my flint-knife. When the dead lie
there undressed on the wooden bench they all look alike, and the begger
lies as still as the favorite son of a king. But I knew very well who
lay before me. The strong old body in the middle of the table was the
corpse of the Superior of the temple of Hatasu, and beyond, close by
each other, were laid a stone-mason of the Necropolis, and a poor girl
from the strangers’ quarter, who had died of consumption--two miserable
wasted figures. I had known the Prophet well, for I had met him a
hundred times in his gilt litter, and we always called him Rui, the
rich. I did my duty by all three, I was driven away with the usual
stoning, and then I arranged the inward parts of the bodies with my
mates. Those of the Prophet are to be preserved later in an alabaster

   [This vase was called canopus at a later date. There were four of
   them for each mummy.]

those of the mason and the girl were put back in their bodies.

“Then I went up to the three bodies, and I asked myself, to which I
should do such a wrong as to rob him of his heart. I turned to the two
poor ones, and I hastily went up to the sinning girl. Then I heard the
voice of the demon that cried out in my heart ‘The girl was poor and
despised like you while she walked on Seb,

   [Seb is the earth; Plutarch calls Seb Chronos. He is often spoken
   of as the “father of the gods” on the monuments. He is the god of
   time, and as the Egyptians regarded matter as eternal, it is not by
   accident that the sign which represented the earth was also used for

perhaps she may find compensation and peace in the other world if you
do not mutilate her; and when I turned to the mason’s lean corpse, and
looked at his hands, which were harder and rougher than my own, the
demon whispered the same. Then I stood before the strong, stout corpse
of the prophet Rui, who died of apoplexy, and I remembered the honor and
the riches that he had enjoyed on earth, and that he at least for a time
had known happiness and ease. And as soon as I was alone, I slipped my
hand into the bag, and changed the sheep’s heart for his.

“Perhaps I am doubly guilty for playing such an accursed trick with the
heart of a high-priest; but Rui’s body will be hung round with a hundred
amulets, Scarabaei

   [Imitations of the sacred beetle Scarabaeus made of various
   materials were frequently put into the mummies in the place of the
   heart. Large specimens have often the 26th, 30th, and 64th chapters
   of the Book of the Dead engraved on them, as they treat of the

will be placed over his heart, and holy oil and sacred sentences
will preserve him from all the fiends on his road to
Amenti,--[Underworld]--while no one will devote helping talismans to the
poor. And then! thou hast sworn, in that world, in the hall of judgment,
to take my guilt on thyself.”

Nebsecht gave the old man his hand.

“That I will,” said he, “and I should have chosen as you did. Now take
this draught, divide it in four parts, and give it to Uarda for four
evenings following. Begin this evening, and by the day after to-morrow I
think she will be quite well. I will come again and look after her. Now
go to rest, and let me stay a while out here; before the star of Isis is
extinguished I will be gone, for they have long been expecting me at the

When the paraschites came out of his but the next morning, Nebsecht had
vanished; but a blood-stained cloth that lay by the remains of the fire
showed the old man that the impatient investigator had examined the
heart of the high-priest during the night, and perhaps cut it up.

Terror fell upon him, and in agony of mind he threw himself on his knees
as the golden bark of the Sun-God appeared on the horizon, and he prayed
fervently, first for Uarda, and then for the salvation of his imperilled

He rose encouraged, convinced himself that his granddaughter was
progressing towards recovery, bid farewell to his wife, took his flint
knife and his bronze hook,

   [The brains of corpses were drawn out of the nose with a hook.
   Herodotus II. 87.]

and went to the house of the embalmer to follow his dismal calling.

The group of buildings in which the greater number of the corpses
from Thebes went through the processes of mummifying, lay on the bare
desert-land at some distance from his hovel, southwards from the House
of Seti at the foot of the mountain. They occupied by themselves a
fairly large space, enclosed by a rough wall of dried mud-bricks.

The bodies were brought in through the great gate towards the Nile, and
delivered to the kolchytes,--[The whole guild of embalmers]--while the
priests, paraschites, and tariclleutes,--[Salter of the bodies]--bearers
and assistants, who here did their daily work, as well as innumerable
water-carriers who came up from the Nile, loaded with skins, found their
way into the establishment by a side gate.

At the farthest northern building of wood, with a separate gate, in
which the orders of the bereaved were taken, and often indeed those
of men still in active life, who thought to provide betimes for their
suitable interment.

The crowd in this house was considerable. About fifty men and women were
moving in it at the present moment, all of different ranks, and not
only from Thebes but from many smaller towns of Upper Egypt, to make
purchases or to give commissions to the functionaries who were busy

This bazaar of the dead was well supplied, for coffins of every form
stood up against the walls, from the simplest chest to the richly gilt
and painted coffer, in form resembling a mummy. On wooden shelves
lay endless rolls of coarse and fine linen, in which the limbs of the
mummies were enveloped, and which were manufactured by the people of the
embalming establishment under the protection of the tutelar goddesses
of weavers, Neith, Isis and Nephthys, though some were ordered from a
distance, particularly from Sais.

There was free choice for the visitors of this pattern-room in the
matter of mummy-cases and cloths, as well as of necklets, scarabaei,
statuettes, Uza-eyes, girdles, head-rests, triangles, split-rings,
staves, and other symbolic objects, which were attached to the dead as
sacred amulets, or bound up in the wrappings.

There were innumerable stamps of baked clay, which were buried in the
earth to show any one who might dispute the limits, how far each grave
extended, images of the gods, which were laid in the sand to purify and
sanctify it--for by nature it belonged to Seth-Typhon--as well as the
figures called Schebti, which were either enclosed several together in
little boxes, or laid separately in the grave; it was supposed that they
would help the dead to till the fields of the blessed with the pick-axe,
plough, and seed-bag which they carried on their shoulders.

The widow and the steward of the wealthy Superior of the temple of
Hatasu, and with them a priest of high rank, were in eager discussion
with the officials of the embalming-House, and were selecting the
most costly of the patterns of mummy-cases which were offered to
their inspection, the finest linen, and amulets of malachite, and
lapis-lazuli, of blood-stone, carnelian and green felspar, as well as
the most elegant alabaster canopi for the deceased; his body was to be
enclosed first in a sort of case of papier-mache, and then in a wooden
and a stone coffin. They wrote his name on a wax tablet which was ready
for the purpose, with those of his parents, his wife and children,
and all his titles; they ordered what verses should be written on his
coffin, what on the papyrus-rolls to be enclosed in it, and what should
be set out above his name. With regard to the inscription on the walls
of the tomb, the pedestal of the statue to be placed there and the face
of the stele--[Stone tablet with round pediment.]--to be erected in it,
yet further particulars would be given; a priest of the temple of
Seti was charged to write them, and to draw up a catalogue of the rich
offerings of the survivors. The last could be done later, when, after
the division of the property, the amount of the fortune he had left
could be ascertained. The mere mummifying of the body with the finest
oils and essences, cloths, amulets, and cases, would cost a talent of
silver, without the stone sarcophagus.

The widow wore a long mourning robe, her forehead was lightly daubed
with Nile-mud, and in the midst of her chaffering with the functionaries
of the embalming-house, whose prices she complained of as enormous and
rapacious, from time to time she broke out into a loud wail of grief--as
the occasion demanded.

More modest citizens finished their commissions sooner, though it was
not unusual for the income of a whole year to be sacrificed for the
embalming of the head of a household--the father or the mother of a
family. The mummifying of the poor was cheap, and that of the poorest
had to be provided by the kolchytes as a tribute to the king, to whom
also they were obliged to pay a tax in linen from their looms.

This place of business was carefully separated from the rest of the
establishment, which none but those who were engaged in the processes
carried on there were on any account permitted to enter. The kolchytes
formed a closely-limited guild at the head of which stood a certain
number of priests, and from among them the masters of the many
thousand members were chosen. This guild was highly respected, even the
taricheutes, who were entrusted with the actual work of embalming, could
venture to mix with the other citizens, although in Thebes itself people
always avoided them with a certain horror; only the paraschites, whose
duty it was to open the body, bore the whole curse of uncleanness.
Certainly the place where these people fulfilled their office was dismal

The stone chamber in which the bodies were opened, and the halls in
which they were prepared with salt, had adjoining them a variety of
laboratories and depositaries for drugs and preparations of every

In a court-yard, protected from the rays of the sun only by an awning,
was a large walled bason, containing a solution of natron, in which
the bodies were salted, and they were then dried in a stone vault,
artificially supplied with hot air.

The little wooden houses of the weavers, as well as the work-shops
of the case-joiners and decorators, stood in numbers round the
pattern-room; but the farthest off, and much the largest of the
buildings of the establishment, was a very long low structure, solidly
built of stone and well roofed in, where the prepared bodies were
enveloped in their cerements, tricked out in amulets, and made ready for
their journey to the next world. What took place in this building--into
which the laity were admitted, but never for more than a few
minutes--was to the last degree mysterious, for here the gods themselves
appeared to be engaged with the mortal bodies.

Out of the windows which opened on the street, recitations, hymns, and
lamentations sounded night and day. The priests who fulfilled their
office here wore masks like the divinities of the under-world. Many were
the representatives of Anubis, with the jackal-head, assisted by boys
with masks of the so-called child-Horus. At the head of each mummy stood
or squatted a wailing-woman with the emblems of Nephthys, and one at its
feet with those of Isis.

Every separate limb of the deceased was dedicated to a particular
divinity by the aid of holy oils, charms, and sentences; a specially
prepared cloth was wrapped round each muscle, every drug and every
bandage owed its origin to some divinity, and the confusion of sounds,
of disguised figures, and of various perfumes, had a stupefying effect
on those who visited this chamber. It need not be said that the whole
embalming establishment and its neighborhood was enveloped in a cloud
of powerful resinous fumes, of sweet attar, of lasting musk, and pungent

When the wind blew from the west it was wafted across the Nile to
Thebes, and this was regarded as an evil omen, for from the south-west
comes the wind that enfeebles the energy of men--the fatal simoon.

In the court of the pattern-house stood several groups of citizens
from Thebes, gathered round different individuals, to whom they were
expressing their sympathy. A new-comer, the superintendent of the
victims of the temple of Anion, who seemed to be known to many and was
greeted with respect, announced, even before he went to condole with
Rui’s widow, in a tone full of horror at what had happened, that an
omen, significant of the greatest misfortune, had occurred in Thebes, in
a spot no less sacred than the very temple of Anion himself.

Many inquisitive listeners stood round him while he related that the
Regent Ani, in his joy at the victory of his troops in Ethiopia, had
distributed wine with a lavish hand to the garrison of Thebes, and also
to the watchmen of the temple of Anion, and that, while the people were
carousing, wolves

   [Wolves have now disappeared from Egypt; they were sacred animals,
   and were worshipped and buried at Lykopolis, the present Siut, where
   mummies of wolves have been found. Herodotus says that if a wolf
   was found dead he was buried, and Aelian states that the herb
   Lykoktonon, which was poisonous to wolves, might on no account be
   brought into the city, where they were held sacred. The wolf
   numbered among the sacral animals is the canis lupaster, which
   exists in Egypt at the present day. Besides this species there are
   three varieties of wild dogs, the jackal, fox, and fenek, canis

had broken into the stable of the sacred rams. Some were killed, but the
noblest ram, which Rameses himself had sent as a gift from Mendes when
he set out for the war--the magnificent beast which Amon had chosen as
the tenement of his spirit, was found, torn in pieces, by the soldiers,
who immediately terrified the whole city with the news. At the same hour
news had come from Memphis that the sacred bull Apis was dead.

All the people who had collected round the priest, broke out into a
far-sounding cry of woe, in which he himself and Rui’s widow vehemently

The buyers and functionaries rushed out of the pattern-room, and from
the mummy-house the taricheutes, paraschites and assistants; the
weavers left their looms, and all, as soon as they had learned what had
happened, took part in the lamentations, howling and wailing, tearing
their hair and covering their faces with dust.

The noise was loud and distracting, and when its violence diminished,
and the work-people went back to their business, the east wind brought
the echo of the cries of the dwellers in the Necropolis, perhaps too,
those of the citizens of Thebes itself.

“Bad news,” said the inspector of the victims, “cannot fail to reach
us soon from the king and the army; he will regret the death of the ram
which we called by his name more than that of Apis. It is a bad--a very
bad omen.”

“My lost husband Rui, who rests in Osiris, foresaw it all,” said the
widow. “If only I dared to speak I could tell a good deal that many
might find unpleasant.”

The inspector of sacrifices smiled, for he knew that the late superior
of the temple of Hatasu had been an adherent of the old royal family,
and he replied:

“The Sun of Rameses may be for a time covered with clouds, but neither
those who fear it nor those who desire it will live to see its setting.”

The priest coldly saluted the lady, and went into the house of a weaver
in which he had business, and the widow got into her litter which was
waiting at the gate.

The old paraschites Pinem had joined with his fellows in the lamentation
for the sacred beasts, and was now sitting on the hard pavement of the
dissecting room to eat his morsel of food--for it was noon.

The stone room in which he was eating his meal was badly lighted; the
daylight came through a small opening in the roof, over which the sun
stood perpendicularly, and a shaft of bright rays, in which danced the
whirling motes, shot down through the twilight on to the stone pavement.
Mummy-cases leaned against all the walls, and on smooth polished slabs
lay bodies covered with coarse cloths. A rat scudded now and then
across the floor, and from the wide cracks between the stones sluggish
scorpions crawled out.

The old paraschites was long since blunted to the horror which pervaded
this locality. He had spread a coarse napkin, and carefully laid on it
the provisions which his wife had put into his satchel; first half a
cake of bread, then a little salt, and finally a radish.

But the bag was not yet empty.

He put his hand in and found a piece of meat wrapped up in two
cabbage-leaves. Old Hekt had brought a leg of a gazelle from Thebes
for Uarda, and he now saw that the women had put a piece of it into his
little sack for his refreshment. He looked at the gift with emotion, but
he did not venture to touch it, for he felt as if in doing so he should
be robbing the sick girl. While eating the bread and the radish he
contemplated the piece of meat as if it were some costly jewel, and when
a fly dared to settle on it he drove it off indignantly.

At last he tasted the meat, and thought of many former noon-day meals,
and how he had often found a flower in the satchel, that Uarda had
placed there to please him, with the bread. His kind old eyes filled
with tears, and his whole heart swelled with gratitude and love. He
looked up, and his glance fell on the table, and he asked himself how he
would have felt if instead of the old priest, robbed of his heart, the
sunshine of his old age, his granddaughter, were lying there motionless.
A cold shiver ran over him, and he felt that his own heart would not
have been too great a price to pay for her recovery. And yet! In the
course of his long life he had experienced so much suffering and wrong,
that he could not imagine any hope of a better lot in the other world.
Then he drew out the bond Nebsecht had given him, held it up with both
hands, as if to show it to the Immortals, and particularly to the judges
in the hall of truth and judgment, that they might not reckon with him
for the crime he had committed--not for himself but for another--and
that they might not refuse to justify Rui, whom he had robbed of his

While he thus lifted his soul in devotion, matters were getting warm
outside the dissecting room. He thought he heard his name spoken, and
scarcely had he raised his head to listen when a taricheut came in and
desired him to follow him.

In front of the rooms, filled with resinous odors and incense, in which
the actual process of embalming was carried on, a number of taricheutes
were standing and looking at an object in an alabaster bowl. The knees
of the old man knocked together as he recognized the heart of the beast
which he had substituted for that of the Prophet.

The chief of the taricheutes asked him whether he had opened the body of
the dead priest.

Pinem stammered out “Yes.” Whether this was his heart? The old man
nodded affirmatively.

The taricheutes looked at each other, whispered together; then one of
them went away, and returned soon with the inspector of victims from the
temple of Anion, whom he had found in the house of the weaver, and the
chief of the kolchytes.

“Show me the heart,” said the superintendent of the sacrifices as he
approached the vase. “I can decide in the dark if you have seen rightly.
I examine a hundred animals every day. Give it here!--By all the Gods of
Heaven and Hell that is the heart of a ram!”

“It was found in the breast of Rui,” said one of the taricheutes
decisively. “It was opened yesterday in the presence of us all by this
old paraschites.”

“It is extraordinary,” said the priest of Anion. “And incredible. But
perhaps an exchange was effected.--Did you slaughter any victims here
yesterday or--?”

“We are purifying ourselves,” the chief of the kolchytes interrupted,
“for the great festival of the valley, and for ten days no beast can
have been killed here for food; besides, the stables and slaughterhouses
are a long way from this, on the other side of the linen-factories.”

“It is strange!” replied the priest. “Preserve this heart carefully,
kolchytes: or, better still, let it be enclosed in a case. We will take
it over to the chief prophet of Anion. It would seem that some miracle
has happened.”

“The heart belongs to the Necropolis,” answered the chief kolchytes,
“and it would therefore be more fitting if we took it to the chief
priest of the temple of Seti, Ameni.”

“You command here!” said the other. “Let us go.” In a few minutes
the priest of Anion and the chief of the kolchytes were being carried
towards the valley in their litters. A taricheut followed them, who sat
on a seat between two asses, and carefully carried a casket of ivory, in
which reposed the ram’s heart.

The old paraschites watched the priests disappear behind the tamarisk
bushes. He longed to run after them, and tell them everything.

His conscience quaked with self reproach, and if his sluggish
intelligence did not enable him to take in at a glance all the results
that his deed might entail, he still could guess that he had sown a
seed whence deceit of every kind must grow. He felt as if he had fallen
altogether into sin and falsehood, and that the goddess of truth, whom
he had all his life honestly served, had reproachfully turned her back
on him. After what had happened never could he hope to be pronounced a
“truth-speaker” by the judges of the dead. Lost, thrown away, was the
aim and end of a long life, rich in self-denial and prayer! His soul
shed tears of blood, a wild sighing sounded in his ears, which saddened
his spirit, and when he went back to his work again, and wanted to
remove the soles of the feet

   [One of the mummies of Prague which were dissected by Czermak, had
   the soles of the feet removed and laid on the breast. We learn from
   Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead that this was done that the
   sacred floor of the hall of judgment might not be defiled when the
   dead were summoned before Osiris.]

from a body, his hand trembled so that he could not hold the knife.


The news of the end of the sacred ram of Anion, and of the death of the
bull Apis of Memphis, had reached the House of Seti, and was received
there with loud lamentation, in which all its inhabitants joined, from
the chief haruspex down to the smallest boy in the school-courts.

The superior of the institution, Ameni, had been for three days in
Thebes, and was expected to return to-day. His arrival was looked for
with anxiety and excitement by many. The chief of the haruspices was
eager for it that he might hand over the imprisoned scholars to condign
punishment, and complain to him of Pentaur and Bent-Anat; the initiated
knew that important transactions must have been concluded on the farther
side of the Nile; and the rebellious disciples knew that now stern
justice would be dealt to them.

The insurrectionary troop were locked into an open court upon bread and
water, and as the usual room of detention of the establishment was too
small for them all, for two nights they had had to sleep in a loft on
thin straw mats. The young spirits were excited to the highest pitch,
but each expressed his feelings in quite a different manner.

Bent-Anat’s brother, Rameses’ son, Rameri, had experienced the same
treatment as his fellows, whom yesterday he had led into every sort of
mischief, with even more audacity than usual, but to-day he hung his

In a corner of the court sat Anana, Pentaur’s favorite scholar, hiding
his face in his hands which rested on his knees. Rameri went up to him,
touched his shoulders and said:

“We have played the game, and now must bear the consequences for good
and for evil. Are you not ashamed of yourself, old boy? Your eyes are
wet, and the drops here on your hands have not fallen from the clouds.
You who are seventeen, and in a few months will be a scribe and a grown

Anana looked at the prince, dried his eyes quickly; and said:

“I was the ring-leader. Ameni will turn me out of the place, and I must
return disgraced to my poor mother, who has no one in the world but me.”

“Poor fellow!” said Rameri kindly. “It was striking at random! If only
our attempt had done Pentaur any good!”

“We have done him harm, on the contrary,” said Anana vehemently,
“and have behaved like fools!” Rameri nodded in full assent, looked
thoughtful for a moment, and then said:

“Do you know, Anana, that you were not the ringleader? The trick was
planned in this crazy brain; I take the whole blame on my own shoulders.
I am the son of Rameses, and Ameni will be less hard on me than on you.”

“He will examine us all,” replied Anana, “and I will be punished sooner
than tell a lie.”

Rameri colored.

“Have you ever known my tongue sin against the lovely daughter of Ra?”
 he exclaimed. “But look here! did I stir up Antef, Hapi, Sent and all
the others or no? Who but I advised you to find out Pentaur? Did I
threaten to beg my father to take me from the school of Seti or not? I
was the instigator of the mischief, I pulled the wires, and if we are
questioned let me speak first. Not one of you is to mention Anana’s
name; do you hear? not one of you, and if they flog us or deprive us of
our food we all stick to this, that I was guilty of all the mischief.”

“You are a brave fellow!” said the son of the chief priest of Anion,
shaking his right hand, while Anana held his left.

The prince freed himself laughing from their grasp.

“Now the old man may come home,” he exclaimed, “we are ready for him.
But all the same I will ask my father to send me to Chennu, as sure as
my name is Rameri, if they do not recall Pentaur.”

“He treated us like school-boys!” said the eldest of the young

“And with reason,” replied Rameri, “I respect him all the more for it.
You all think I am a careless dog--but I have my own ideas, and I will
speak the words of wisdom.”

With these words he looked round on his companions with comical gravity,
and continued--imitating Ameni’s manner:

“Great men are distinguished from little men by this--they scorn and
contemn all which flatters their vanity, or seems to them for the moment
desirable, or even useful, if it is not compatible with the laws which
they recognize, or conducive to some great end which they have set
before them; even though that end may not be reached till after their

“I have learned this, partly from my father, but partly I have thought
it out for myself; and now I ask you, could Pentaur as ‘a great man’
have dealt with us better?”

“You have put into words exactly what I myself have thought ever since
yesterday,” cried Anana. “We have behaved like babies, and instead of
carrying our point we have brought ourselves and Pentaur into disgrace.”

The rattle of an approaching chariot was now audible, and Rameri
exclaimed, interrupting Anana, “It is he. Courage, boys! I am the guilty
one. He will not dare to have me thrashed--but he will stab me with

Ameni descended quickly from his chariot. The gate-keeper informed him
that the chief of the kolchytes, and the inspector of victims from the
temple of Anion, desired to speak with him.

“They must wait,” said the Prophet shortly. “Show them meanwhile into
the garden pavilion. Where is the chief haruspex?”

He had hardly spoken when the vigorous old man for whom he was enquiring
hurried to meet him, to make him acquainted with all that had occurred
in his absence. But the high-priest had already heard in Thebes all that
his colleague was anxious to tell him.

When Ameni was absent from the House of Seti, he caused accurate
information to be brought to him every morning of what had taken place

Now when the old man began his story he interrupted him.

“I know everything,” he said. “The disciples cling to Pentaur, and have
committed a folly for his sake, and you met the princess Bent-Anat with
him in the temple of Hatasu, to which he had admitted a woman of low
rank before she had been purified. These are grave matters, and must be
seriously considered, but not to-day. Make yourself easy; Pentaur will
not escape punishment; but for to-day we must recall him to this temple,
for we have need of him to-morrow for the solemnity of the feast of the
valley. No one shall meet him as an enemy till he is condemned; I desire
this of you, and charge you to repeat it to the others.”

The haruspex endeavored to represent to his superior what a scandal
would arise from this untimely clemency; but Ameni did not allow him to
talk, he demanded his ring back, called a young priest, delivered the
precious signet into his charge, and desired him to get into his chariot
that was waiting at the door, and carry to Pentaur the command, in his
name, to return to the temple of Seti.

The haruspex submitted, though deeply vexed, and asked whether the
guilty boys were also to go unpunished.

“No more than Pentaur,” answered Ameni. “But can you call this
school-boy’s trick guilt? Leave the children to their fun, and their
imprudence. The educator is the destroyer, if he always and only keeps
his eyes open, and cannot close them at the right moment. Before
life demands of us the exercise of serious duties we have a mighty
over-abundance of vigor at our disposal; the child exhausts it in play,
and the boy in building wonder-castles with the hammer and chisel of
his fancy, in inventing follies. You shake your head, Septah! but I tell
you, the audacious tricks of the boy are the fore-runners of the deeds
of the man. I shall let one only of the boys suffer for what is past,
and I should let him even go unpunished if I had not other pressing
reasons for keeping him away from our festival.”

The haruspex did not contradict his chief; for he knew that when Ameni’s
eyes flashed so suddenly, and his demeanor, usually so measured, was as
restless as at present, something serious was brewing.

The high-priest understood what was passing in Septah’s mind.

“You do not understand me now,” said he. “But this evening, at the
meeting of the initiated, you shall know all. Great events are stirring.
The brethren in the temple of Anion, on the other shore, have fallen off
from what must always be the Holiest to us white-robed priests, and will
stand in our way when the time for action is arrived. At the feast of
the valley we shall stand in competition with the brethren from Thebes.
All Thebes will be present at the solemn service, and it must be proved
which knows how to serve the Divinity most worthily, they or we. We must
avail ourselves of all our resources, and Pentaur we certainly cannot do
without. He must fill the function of Cherheb

   [Cherheb was the title of the speaker or reciter at a festival. We
   cannot agree with those who confuse this personage with the chief of
   the Kolchytes.]

for to-morrow only; the day after he must be brought to judgment. Among
the rebellious boys are our best singers, and particularly young Anana,
who leads the voices of the choir-boys.

“I will examine the silly fellows at once. Rameri--Rameses’ son--was
among the young miscreants?”

“He seems to have been the ring-leader,” answered Septah.

Ameni looked at the old man with a significant smile, and said:

“The royal family are covering themselves with honor! His eldest
daughter must be kept far from the temple and the gathering of the
pious, as being unclean and refractory, and we shall be obliged to expel
his son too from our college. You look horrified, but I say to you
that the time for action is come. More of this, this evening. Now, one
question: Has the news of the death of the ram of Anion reached you?
Yes? Rameses himself presented him to the God, and they gave it his
name. A bad omen.”

“And Apis too is dead!” The haruspex threw up his arms in lamentation.

“His Divine spirit has returned to God,” replied Ameni. “Now we have
much to do. Before all things we must prove ourselves equal to those in
Thebes over there, and win the people over to our side. The panegyric
prepared by us for to-morrow must offer some great novelty. The Regent
Ani grants us a rich contribution, and--”

“And,” interrupted Septah, “our thaumaturgists understand things
very differently from those of the house of Anion, who feast while we

Ameni nodded assent, and said with a smile: “Also we are more
indispensable than they to the people. They show them the path of life,
but we smooth the way of death. It is easier to find the way without a
guide in the day-light than in the dark. We are more than a match for
the priests of Anion.”

“So long as you are our leader, certainly,” cried the haruspex.

“And so long as the temple has no lack of men of your temper!” added
Ameni, half to Septah, and half to the second prophet of the temple,
sturdy old Gagabu, who had come into the room.

Both accompanied him into the garden, where the two priests were
awaiting him with the miraculous heart.

Ameni greeted the priest from the temple of Anion with dignified
friendliness, the head kolchytes with distant reserve, listened to their
story, looked at the heart which lay in the box, with Septah and Gagabu,
touched it delicately with the tips of his fingers, carefully examining
the object, which diffused a strong perfume of spices; then he said

“If this, in your opinion, kolchytes, is not a human heart, and if in
yours, my brother of the temple of Anion, it is a ram’s heart, and if
it was found in the body of Rui, who is gone to Osiris, we here have a
mystery which only the Gods can solve. Follow me into the great court.
Let the gong be sounded, Gagabu, four times, for I wish to call all the
brethren together.”

The gong rang in loud waves of sound to the farthest limits of the group
of buildings. The initiated, the fathers, the temple-servants, and the
scholars streamed in, and in a few minutes were all collected. Not a man
was wanting, for at the four strokes of the rarely-sounded alarum every
dweller in the House of Seti was expected to appear in the court of the
temple. Even the leech Nebsecht came; for he feared that the unusual
summons announced the outbreak of a fire.

Ameni ordered the assembly to arrange itself in a procession, informed
his astonished hearers that in the breast of the deceased prophet Rui, a
ram’s heart, instead of a man’s, had been found, and desired them all to
follow his instructions. Each one, he said, was to fall on his knees
and pray, while he would carry the heart into the holiest of holies, and
enquire of the Gods what this wonder might portend to the faithful.

Ameni, with the heart in his hand, placed himself at the head of the
procession, and disappeared behind the veil of the sanctuary, the
initiated prayed in the vestibule, in front of it; the priests and
scholars in the vast court, which was closed on the west by the stately
colonnade and the main gateway to the temple.

For fully an hour Ameni remained in the silent holy of holies, from
which thick clouds of incense rolled out, and then he reappeared with
a golden vase set with precious stones. His tall figure was now
resplendent with rich ornaments, and a priest, who walked before him,
held the vessel high above his head.

Ameni’s eyes seemed spell-bound to the vase, and he followed it,
supporting himself by his crozier, with humble inflections.

The initiated bowed their heads till they touched the pavement, and
the priests and scholars bent their faces down to the earth, when they
beheld their haughty master so filled with humility and devotion. The
worshippers did not raise themselves till Ameni had reached the middle
of the court and ascended the steps of the altar, on which the vase
with the heart was now placed, and they listened to the slow and solemn
accents of the high-priest which sounded clearly through the whole

“Fall down again and worship! wonder, pray, and adore! The noble
inspector of sacrifices of the temple of Anion has not been deceived
in his judgment; a ram’s heart was in fact found in the pious breast of
Rui. I heard distinctly the voice of the Divinity in the sanctuary, and
strange indeed was the speech that met my ear. Wolves tore the sacred
ram of Anion in his sanctuary on the other bank of the river, but the
heart of the divine beast found its way into the bosom of the saintly
Rui. A great miracle has been worked, and the Gods have shown a
wonderful sign. The spirit of the Highest liked not to dwell in the body
of this not perfectly holy ram, and seeking a purer abiding-place found
it in the breast of our Rui; and now in this consecrated vase. In this
the heart shall be preserved till a new ram offered by a worthy hand
enters the herd of Anion. This heart shall be preserved with the most
sacred relics, it has the property of healing many diseases, and the
significant words seem favorable which stood written in the midst of the
vapor of incense, and which I will repeat to you word for word, ‘That
which is high shall rise higher, and that which exalts itself, shall
soon fall down.’ Rise, pastophori! hasten to fetch the holy images,
bring them out, place the sacred heart at the head of the procession,
and let us march round the walls of the temple with hymns of praise. Ye
temple-servants, seize your staves, and spread in every part of the city
the news of the miracle which the Divinity has vouchsafed to us.”

After the procession had marched round the temple and dispersed, the
priest of Anion took leave of Ameni; he bowed deeply and formally before
him, and with a coolness that was almost malicious said:

“We, in the temple of Anion, shall know how to appreciate what you heard
in the holy of holies. The miracle has occurred, and the king shall
learn how it came to pass, and in what words it was announced.”

“In the words of the Most High,” said the high priest with dignity;
he bowed to the other, and turned to a group of priests, who were
discussing the great event of the day.

Ameni enquired of them as to the preparations for the festival of the
morrow, and then desired the chief haruspex to call the refractory
pupils together in the school-court. The old man informed him that
Pentaur had returned, and he followed his superior to the released
prisoners, who, prepared for the worst, and expecting severe punishment,
nevertheless shook with laughter when Rameri suggested that, if by
chance they were condemned to kneel upon peas, they should get them
cooked first.

“It will be long asparagus

   [Asparagus was known to the Egyptians. Pliny says they held in
   their mouths, as a remedy for toothache, wine in which asparagus had
   been cooked.]
--not peas,” said another looking over his shoulder, and pretending to
be flogging. They all shouted again with laughter, but it was hushed as
soon as they heard Ameni’s well-known footstep.

Each feared the worst, and when the high-priest stood before them even
Rameri’s mirth was quite quelled, for though Ameni looked neither
angry nor threatening, his appearance commanded respect, and each one
recognized in him a judge against whose verdict no remonstrance was to
be thought of.

To their infinite astonishment Ameni spoke kindly to the thoughtless
boys, praised the motive of their action--their attachment to a
highly-endowed teacher--but then clearly and deliberately laid before
them the folly of the means they had employed to attain their end, and
at what a cost. “Only think,” he continued, turning to the prince,
“if your father sent a general, who he thought would be better in a
different place, from Syria to Kusch, and his troops therefore all went
over to the enemy! How would you like that?”

So for some minutes he continued to blame and warn them, and he ended
his speech by promising, in consideration of the great miracle that gave
that day a special sanctity, to exercise unwonted clemency. For the sake
of example, he said, he could not let them pass altogether unpunished,
and he now asked them which of them had been the instigator of the deed;
he and he only should suffer punishment.

He had hardly clone speaking, when prince Rameri stepped forward, and
said modestly:

“We acknowledge, holy father, that we have played a foolish trick; and I
lament it doubly because I devised it, and made the others follow me.
I love Pentaur, and next to thee there is no one like him in the

Ameni’s countenance grew dark, and he answered with displeasure:

“No judgment is allowed to pupils as to their teachers--nor to you. If
you were not the son of the king, who rules Egypt as Ra, I would punish
your temerity with stripes. My hands are tied with regard to you, and
yet they must be everywhere and always at work if the hundreds committed
to my care are to be kept from harm.”

“Nay, punish me!” cried Rameri. “If I commit a folly I am ready to bear
the consequences.”

Ameni looked pleased at the vehement boy, and would willingly have
shaken him by the hand and stroked his curly head, but the penance he
proposed for Rameri was to serve a great end, and Ameni would not
allow any overflow of emotion to hinder him in the execution of a well
considered design. So he answered the prince with grave determination:

“I must and will punish you--and I do so by requesting you to leave the
House of Seti this very day.”

The prince turned pale. But Ameni went on more kindly:

“I do not expel you with ignominy from among us--I only bid you a
friendly farewell. In a few weeks you would in any case have left the
college, and by the king’s command have transferred your blooming life,
health, and strength to the exercising ground of the chariot-brigade. No
punishment for you but this lies in my power. Now give me your hand; you
will make a fine man, and perhaps a great warrior.”

The prince stood in astonishment before Ameni, and did not take his
offered hand. Then the priest went up to him, and said:

“You said you were ready to take the consequences of your folly, and
a prince’s word must be kept. Before sunset we will conduct you to the
gate of the temple.”

Ameni turned his back on the boys, and left the school-court.

Rameri looked after him. Utter whiteness had overspread his blooming
face, and the blood had left even his lips. None of his companions
approached him, for each felt that what was passing in his soul at this
moment would brook no careless intrusion. No one spoke a word; they all
looked at him.

He soon observed this, and tried to collect himself, and then he said in
a low tone while he held out his hands to Anana and another friend:

“Am I then so bad that I must be driven out from among you all like
this--that such a blow must be inflicted on my father?”

“You refused Ameni your hand!” answered Anana. “Go to him, offer him
your hand, beg him to be less severe, and perhaps he will let you

Rameri answered only “No.” But that “No” was so decided that all who
knew him understood that it was final.

Before the sun set he had left the school. Ameni gave him his blessing;
he told him that if he himself ever had to command he would understand
his severity, and allowed the other scholars to accompany him as far as
the Nile. Pentaur parted from him tenderly at the gate.

When Rameri was alone in the cabin of his gilt bark with his tutor, he
felt his eyes swimming in tears.

“Your highness is surely not weeping?” asked the official.

“Why?” asked the prince sharply.

“I thought I saw tears on your highness’ cheeks.”

“Tears of joy that I am out of the trap,” cried Rameri; he sprang on
shore, and in a few minutes he was with his sister in the palace.


This eventful day had brought much that was unexpected to our friends in
Thebes, as well as to those who lived in the Necropolis.

The Lady Katuti had risen early after a sleepless night. Nefert had come
in late, had excused her delay by shortly explaining to her mother that
she had been detained by Bent-Anat, and had then affectionately offered
her brow for a kiss of “good-night.”

When the widow was about to withdraw to her sleeping-room, and Nemu had
lighted her lamp, she remembered the secret which was to deliver Paaker
into Ani’s hands. She ordered the dwarf to impart to her what he
knew, and the little man told her at last, after sincere efforts at
resistance--for he feared for his mother’s safety--that Paaker had
administered half of a love-philter to Nefert, and that the remainder
was still in his hands.

A few hours since this information would have filled Katuti with
indignation and disgust; now, though she blamed the Mohar, she asked
eagerly whether such a drink could be proved to have any actual effect.

“Not a doubt of it,” said the dwarf, “if the whole were taken, but
Nefert only had half of it.”

At a late hour Katuti was still pacing her bedroom, thinking of Paaker’s
insane devotion, of Mena’s faithlessness, and of Nefert’s altered
demeanor; and when she went to bed, a thousand conjectures, fears, and
anxieties tormented her, while she was distressed at the change which
had come over Nefert’s love to her mother, a sentiment which of all
others should be the most sacred, and the most secure against all shock.

Soon after sunrise she went into the little temple attached to the
house, and made an offering to the statue, which, under the form of
Osiris, represented her lost husband; then she went to the temple of
Anion, where she also prayed a while, and nevertheless, on her return
home, found that her daughter had not yet made her appearance in the
hall where they usually breakfasted together.

Katuti preferred to be undisturbed during the early morning hours, and
therefore did not interfere with her daughter’s disposition to sleep far
into the day in her carefully-darkened room.

When the widow went to the temple Nefert was accustomed to take a cup of
milk in bed, then she would let herself be dressed, and when her mother
returned, she would find her in the veranda or hall, which is so well
known to the reader.

To-day however Katuti had to breakfast alone; but when she had eaten a
few mouthfuls she prepared Nefert’s breakfast--a white cake and a little
wine in a small silver beaker, carefully guarded from dust and insects
by a napkin thrown over it--and went into her daughter’s room.

She was startled at finding it empty, but she was informed that Nefert
had gone earlier than was her wont to the temple, in her litter.

With a heavy sigh she returned to the veranda, and there received
her nephew Paaker, who had come to enquire after the health of his
relatives, followed by a slave, who carried two magnificent bunches of
flowers, and by the great dog which had formerly belonged to his father.
One bouquet he said had been cut for Nefert, and the other for her

   [Pictures on the monuments show that in ancient Egypt, as at the
   present time, bouquets of flowers were bestowed as tokens of
   friendly feeling.]

Katuti had taken quite a new interest in Paaker since she had heard of
his procuring the philter.

No other young man of the rank to which they belonged, would have
allowed himself to be so mastered by his passion for a woman as this
Paaker was, who went straight to his aim with stubborn determination,
and shunned no means that might lead to it. The pioneer, who had
grown up under her eyes, whose weaknesses she knew, and whom she was
accustomed to look down upon, suddenly appeared to her as a different
man--almost a stranger--as the deliverer of his friends, and the
merciless antagonist of his enemies.

These reflections had passed rapidly through her mind. Now her eyes
rested on the sturdy, strongly-knit figure of her nephew, and it struck
her that he bore no resemblance to his tall, handsome father. Often had
she admired her brother-in-law’s slender hand, that nevertheless could
so effectually wield a sword, but that of his son was broad and ignoble
in form.

While Paaker was telling her that he must shortly leave for Syria,
she involuntarily observed the action of this hand, which often went
cautiously to his girdle as if he had something concealed there; this
was the oval phial with the rest of the philter. Katuti observed it, and
her cheeks flushed when it occurred to her to guess what he had there.

The pioneer could not but observe Katuti’s agitation, and he said in a
tone of sympathy:

“I perceive that you are in pain, or in trouble. The master of Mena’s
stud at Hermonthis has no doubt been with you--No? He came to me
yesterday, and asked me to allow him to join my troops. He is very angry
with you, because he has been obliged to sell some of Mena’s gold-bays.
I have bought the finest of them. They are splendid creatures! Now he
wants to go to his master ‘to open his eyes,’ as he says. Lie down a
little while, aunt, you are very pale.”

Katuti did not follow this prescription; on the contrary she smiled, and
said in a voice half of anger and half of pity:

“The old fool firmly believes that the weal or woe of the family depends
on the gold-bays. He would like to go with you? To open Mena’s eyes? No
one has yet tried to bind them!”

Katuti spoke the last words in a low tone, and her glance fell. Paaker
also looked down, and was silent; but he soon recovered his presence of
mind, and said:

“If Nefert is to be long absent, I will go.”

“No--no, stay,” cried the widow. “She wished to see you, and must soon
come in. There are her cake and her wine waiting for her.”

With these words she took the napkin off the breakfast-table, held up
the beaker in her hand, and then said, with the cloth still in her hand:

“I will leave you a moment, and see if Nefert is not yet come home.”

Hardly had she left the veranda when Paaker, having convinced himself
that no one could see him, snatched the flask from his girdle, and, with
a short invocation to his father in Osiris, poured its whole contents
into the beaker, which thus was filled to the very brim. A few minutes
later Nefert and her mother entered the hall.

Paaker took up the nosegay, which his slave had laid down on a seat, and
timidly approached the young woman, who walked in with such an aspect
of decision and self-confidence, that her mother looked at her in
astonishment, while Paaker felt as if she had never before appeared
so beautiful and brilliant. Was it possible that she should love her
husband, when his breach of faith troubled her so little? Did her heart
still belong to another? Or had the love-philter set him in the place of
Mena? Yes! yes! for how warmly she greeted him. She put out her hand to
him while he was still quite far off, let it rest in his, thanked him
with feeling, and praised his fidelity and generosity.

Then she went up to the table, begged Paaker to sit down with her, broke
her cake, and enquired for her aunt Setchern, Paaker’s mother.

Katuti and Paaker watched all her movements with beating hearts.

Now she took up the beaker, and lifted it to her lips, but set it down
again to answer Paaker’s remark that she was breakfasting late.

“I have hitherto been a real lazy-bones,” she said with a blush. “But
this morning I got up early, to go and pray in the temple in the fresh
dawn. You know what has happened to the sacred ram of Amion. It is a
frightful occurrence. The priests were all in the greatest agitation,
but the venerable Bek el Chunsu received me himself, and interpreted my
dream, and now my spirit is light and contented.”

“And you did all this without me?” said Katuti in gentle reproof.

“I would not disturb you,” replied Nefert. “Besides,” she added
coloring, “you never take me to the city and the temple in the morning.”

Again she took up the wine-cup and looked into it, but without drinking
any, went on:

“Would you like to hear what I dreamed, Paaker? It was a strange

The pioneer could hardly breathe for expectation, still he begged her to
tell her dream.

“Only think,” said Nefert, pushing the beaker on the smooth table,
which was wet with a few drops which she had spilt, “I dreamed of the
Neha-tree, down there in the great tub, which your father brought me
from Punt, when I was a little child, and which since then has grown
quite a tall tree. There is no tree in the garden I love so much, for it
always reminds me of your father, who was so kind to me, and whom I can
never forget!”

Paaker bowed assent.

Nefert looked at him, and interrupted her story when she observed his
crimson cheeks.

“It is very hot! Would you like some wine to drink---or some water?”

With these words she raised the wine-cup, and drank about half of the
contents; then she shuddered, and while her pretty face took a comical
expression, she turned to her mother, who was seated behind her and held
the beaker towards her.

“The wine is quite sour to-day!” she said. “Taste it, mother.”

Katuti took the little silver-cup in her hand, and gravely put it to her
lips, but without wetting them. A smile passed over her face, and her
eyes met those of the pioneer, who stared at her in horror. The picture
flashed before her mind of herself languishing for the pioneer, and of
his terror at her affection for him! Her selfish and intriguing spirit
was free from coarseness, and yet she could have laughed with all her
heart even while engaged in the most shameful deed of her whole life.
She gave the wine back to her daughter, saying good-humoredly:

“I have tasted sweeter, but acid is refreshing in this heat.”

“That is true,” said the wife of Mena; she emptied the cup to the
bottom, and then went on, as if refreshed, “But I will tell you the
rest of my dream. I saw the Neha-tree, which your father gave me, quite
plainly; nay I could have declared that I smelt its perfume, but the
interpreter assured me that we never smell in our dreams. I went up to
the beautiful tree in admiration. Then suddenly a hundred axes appeared
in the air, wielded by unseen hands, and struck the poor tree with such
violence that the branches one by one fell to the ground, and at
last the trunk itself was felled. If you think it grieved me you are
mistaken. On the contrary, I was delighted with the flashing hatchets
and the flying splinters. When at last nothing was left but the roots
in the tub of earth, I perceived that the tree was rising to new life.
Suddenly my arms became strong, my feet active, and I fetched quantities
of water from the tank, poured it over the roots, and when, at last, I
could exert myself no longer, a tender green shoot showed itself on the
wounded root, a bud appeared, a green leaf unfolded itself, a juicy stem
sprouted quickly, it became a firm trunk, sent out branches and twigs,
and these became covered with leaves and flowers, white, red and blue;
then various birds came and settled on the top of the tree, and sang.
Ah! my heart sang louder than the birds at that moment, and I said to
myself that without me the tree would have been dead, and that it owed
its life to me.”

“A beautiful dream,” said Katuti; “that reminds me of your girlhood,
when you would be awake half the night inventing all sorts of tales.
What interpretation did the priest give you?”

“He promised me many things,” said Nefert, “and he gave me the assurance
that the happiness to which I am predestined shall revive in fresh
beauty after many interruptions.”

“And Paaker’s father gave you the Neha-tree?” asked Katuti, leaving the
veranda as she spoke and walking out into the garden.

“My father brought it to Thebes from the far cast,” said Paaker, in
confirmation of the widow’s parting words.

“And that is exactly what makes me so happy,” said Nefert. “For your
father was as kind, and as dear to me as if he had been my own. Do you
remember when we were sailing round the pond, and the boat upset, and
you pulled me senseless out of the water? Never shall I forget the
expression with which the great man looked at me when I woke up in its
arms; such wise true eyes no one ever had but he.”

“He was good, and he loved you very much,” said Paaker, recalling, for
his part, the moment when he had dared to press a kiss on the lips of
the sweet unconscious child.

“And I am so glad,” Nefert went on, “that the day has come at last when
we can talk of him together again, and when the old grudge that lay
so heavy in my heart is all forgotten. How good you are to us, I have
already learned; my heart overflows with gratitude to you, when I
remember my childhood, and I can never forget that I was indebted to you
for all that was bright and happy in it. Only look at the big dog--poor
Descher!--how he rubs against me, and shows that he has not forgotten
me! Whatever comes from your house fills my mind with pleasant

“We all love you dearly,” said Paaker looking at her tenderly.

“And how sweet it was in your garden!” cried Nefert. “The nosegay here
that you have brought me shall be placed in water, and preserved a long
time, as greeting from the place in which once I could play carelessly,
and dream so happily.”

With these words she pressed the flowers to her lips; Paaker sprang
forward, seized her hand, and covered it with burning kisses.

Nefert started and drew away her hand, but he put out his arm to clasp
her to him. He had touched her with his trembling hand, when loud voices
were heard in the garden, and Nemu hurried in to announce he arrival of
the princess Bent-Anat.

At the same moment Katuti appeared, and in a few minutes the princess

Paaker retreated, and quitted the room before Nefert had time to express
her indignation. He staggered to his chariot like a drunken man. He
supposed himself beloved by Mena’s wife, his heart was full of triumph,
he proposed rewarding Hekt with gold, and went to the palace without
delay to crave of Ani a mission to Syria. There it should be brought to
the test--he or Mena.


While Nefert, frozen with horror, could not find a word of greeting for
her royal friend, Bent-Anat with native dignity laid before the widow
her choice of Nefert to fill the place of her lost companion, and
desired that Mena’s wife should go to the palace that very day.

She had never before spoken thus to Katuti, and Katuti could not
overlook the fact that Bent-Anat had intentionally given up her old
confidential tone.

“Nefert has complained of me to her,” thought she to herself, “and she
considers me no longer worthy of her former friendly kindness.”

She was vexed and hurt, and though she understood the danger which
threatened her, now her daughter’s eyes were opened, still the thought
of losing her child inflicted a painful wound. It was this which filled
her eyes with tears, and sincere sorrow trembled in her voice as she

“Thou hast required the better half of my life at my hand; but thou hast
but to command, and I to obey.” Bent-Anat waved her hand proudly, as
if to confirm the widow’s statement; but Nefert went up to her mother,
threw her arms round her neck, and wept upon her shoulder.

Tears glistened even in the princess’s eyes when Katuti at last led her
daughter towards her, and pressed yet one more kiss on her forehead.

Bent-Anat took Nefert’s hand, and did not release it, while she
requested the widow to give her daughter’s dresses and ornaments into
the charge of the slaves and waiting-women whom she would send for them.

“And do not forget the case with the dried flowers, and my amulets, and
the images of the Gods,” said Nefert. “And I should like to have the
Neha tree which my uncle gave me.”

Her white cat was playing at her feet with Paaker’s flowers, which
she had dropped on the floor, and when she saw her she took her up and
kissed her.

“Bring the little creature with you,” said Bent-Anat. “It was your
favorite plaything.”

“No,” replied Nefert coloring.

The princess understood her, pressed her hand, and said while she
pointed to Nemu:

“The dwarf is your own too: shall he come with you?”

“I will give him to my mother,” said Nefert. She let the little man kiss
her robe and her feet, once more embraced Katuti, and quitted the garden
with her royal friend.

As soon as Katuti was alone, she hastened into the little chapel in
which the figures of her ancestors stood, apart from those of Mena. She
threw herself down before the statue of her husband, half weeping, half

This parting had indeed fallen heavily on her soul, but at the same
time it released her from a mountain of anxiety that had oppressed her
breast. Since yesterday she had felt like one who walks along the edge
of a precipice, and whose enemy is close at his heels; and the sense of
freedom from the ever threatening danger, soon got the upperhand of her
maternal grief. The abyss in front of her had suddenly closed; the road
to the goal of her efforts lay before her smooth and firm beneath her

The widow, usually so dignified, hastily and eagerly walked down the
garden path, and for the first time since that luckless letter from the
camp had reached her, she could look calmly and clearly at the position
of affairs, and reflect on the measures which Ani must take in the
immediate future. She told herself that all was well, and that the time
for prompt and rapid action was now come.

When the messengers came from the princess she superintended the
packing of the various objects which Nefert wished to have, with calm
deliberation, and then sent her dwarf to Ani, to beg that he would visit
her. But before Nemu had left Mena’s grounds he saw the out-runners of
the Regent, his chariot, and the troop of guards following him.

Very soon Katuti and her noble friend were walking up and down in the
garden, while she related to him how Bent-Anat had taken Nefert from
her, and repeated to him all that she had planned and considered during
the last hour.

“You have the genius of a man,” said Ani; “and this time you do not
urge me in vain. Ameni is ready to act, Paaker is to-day collecting his
troops, to-morrow he will assist at the feast of the Valley, and the
next day he goes to Syria.”

“He has been with you?” Katuti asked.

“He came to the palace on leaving your house,” replied Ani, “with
glowing cheeks, and resolved to the utmost; though he does not dream
that I hold him in my hand.”

Thus speaking they entered the veranda, in which Nemu had remained, and
he now hid himself as usual behind the ornamental shrubs to overhear
them. They sat down near each other, by Nefert’s breakfast table, and
Ani asked Katuti whether the dwarf had told her his mother’s secret.
Katuti feigned ignorance, listened to the story of the love-philter, and
played the part of the alarmed mother very cleverly. The Regent was
of opinion, while he tried to soothe her, that there was no real
love-potion in the case; but the widow exclaimed:

“Now I understand, now for the first time I comprehend my daughter.
Paaker must have poured the drink into her wine, for she had no sooner
drunk it this morning than she was quite altered her words to Paaker had
quite a tender ring in them; and if he placed himself so cheerfully at
your disposal it is because he believes himself certainly to be beloved
by my daughter. The old witch’s potion was effectual.”

“There certainly are such drinks--” said Ani thoughtfully. “But will
they only win hearts to young men! If that is the case, the old woman’s
trade is a bad one, for youth is in itself a charm to attract love. If
I were only as young as Paaker! You laugh at the sighs of a man--say
at once of an old man! Well, yes, I am old, for the prime of life lies
behind me. And yet Katuti, my friend, wisest of women--explain to me one
thing. When I was young I was loved by many and admired many women, but
not one of them--not even my wife, who died young, was more to me than
a toy, a plaything; and now when I stretch out my hand for a girl, whose
father I might very well be--not for her own sake, but simply to serve
my purpose--and she refuses me, I feel as much disturbed, as much a fool
as-as that dealer in love-philters, Paaker.”

“Have you spoken to Bent-Anat?” asked Katuti.

“And heard again from her own lips the refusal she had sent me through
you. You see my spirit has suffered!”

“And on what pretext did she reject your suit?” asked the widow.

“Pretext!” cried Ani. “Bent-Anat and pretext! It must be owned that she
has kingly pride, and not Ma--[The Goddess of Truth]--herself is more
truthful than she. That I should have to confess it! When I think of
her, our plots seem to me unutterably pitiful. My veins contain, indeed,
many drops of the blood of Thotmes, and though the experience of life
has taught me to stoop low, still the stooping hurts me. I have never
known the happy feeling of satisfaction with my lot and my work; for
I have always had a greater position than I could fill, and constantly
done less than I ought to have done. In order not to look always
resentful, I always wear a smile. I have nothing left of the face I was
born with but the mere skin, and always wear a mask. I serve him whose
master I believe I ought to be by birth; I hate Rameses, who, sincerely
or no, calls me his brother; and while I stand as if I were the bulwark
of his authority I am diligently undermining it. My whole existence is a

“But it will be truth,” cried Katuti, “as soon as the Gods allow you to
be--as you are--the real king of this country.”

“Strange!” said Ani smiling, Ameni, “this very day, used almost exactly
the same words. The wisdom of priests, and that of women, have much in
common, and they fight with the same weapons. You use words instead of
swords, traps instead of lances, and you cast not our bodies, but our
souls, into irons.”

“Do you blame or praise us for it?” said the widow. “We are in any case
not impotent allies, and therefore, it seems to me, desirable ones.”

“Indeed you are,” said Ani smiling. “Not a tear is shed in the land,
whether it is shed for joy or for sorrow, for which in the first
instance a priest or a woman is not responsible. Seriously, Katuti--in
nine great events out of ten you women have a hand in the game. You gave
the first impulse to all that is plotting here, and I will confess to
you that, regardless of all consequences, I should in a few hours have
given up my pretensions to the throne, if that woman Bent-Anat had said
‘yes’ instead of ‘no.’”

“You make me believe,” said Katuti, “that the weaker sex are gifted
with stronger wills than the nobler. In marrying us you style us, ‘the
mistress of the house,’ and if the elders of the citizens grow infirm,
in this country it is not the sons but the daughters that must be
their mainstay. But we women have our weaknesses, and chief of these is
curiosity.--May I ask on what ground Bent-Anat dismissed you?”

“You know so much that you may know all,” replied Ani. “She admitted
me to speak to her alone. It was yet early, and she had come from the
temple, where the weak old prophet had absolved her from uncleanness;
she met me, bright, beautiful and proud, strong and radiant as a
Goddess, and a princess. My heart throbbed as if I were a boy, and while
she was showing me her flowers I said to myself: ‘You are come to obtain
through her another claim to the throne.’ And yet I felt that, if she
consented to be mine, I would remain the true brother, the faithful
Regent of Rameses, and enjoy happiness and peace by her side before it
was too late. If she refused me then I resolved that fate must take
its way, and, instead of peace and love, it must be war for the crown
snatched from my fathers. I tried to woo her, but she cut my words
short, said I was a noble man, and a worthy suitor but--”

“There came the but.”

“Yes--in the form of a very frank ‘no.’ I asked her reasons. She begged
me to be content with the ‘no;’ then I pressed her harder, till she
interrupted me, and owned with proud decision that she preferred some
one else. I wished to learn the name of the happy man--that she refused.
Then my blood began to boil, and my desire to win her increased; but I
had to leave her, rejected, and with a fresh, burning, poisoned wound in
my heart.”

“You are jealous!” said Katuti, “and do you know of whom?”

“No,” replied Ani. “But I hope to find out through you. What I feel it
is impossible for me to express. But one thing I know, and that is
this, that I entered the palace a vacillating man--that I left it firmly
resolved. I now rush straight onwards, never again to turn back. From
this time forward you will no longer have to drive me onward, but rather
to hold me back; and, as if the Gods had meant to show that they would
stand by me, I found the high-priest Ameni, and the chief pioneer Paaker
waiting for me in my house. Ameni will act for me in Egypt, Paaker in
Syria. My victorious troops from Ethiopia will enter Thebes to-morrow
morning, on their return home in triumph, as if the king were at their
head, and will then take part in the Feast of the Valley. Later we will
send them into the north, and post them in the fortresses which protect
Egypt against enemies coming from the east Tanis, Daphne, Pelusium,
Migdol. Rameses, as you know, requires that we should drill the serfs of
the temples, and send them to him as auxiliaries. I will send him half
of the body-guard, the other half shall serve my own purposes. The
garrison of Memphis, which is devoted to Rameses, shall be sent to
Nubia, and shall be relieved by troops that are faithful to me. The
people of Thebes are led by the priests, and tomorrow Ameni will point
out to them who is their legitimate king, who will put an end to the war
and release them from taxes. The children of Rameses will be excluded
from the solemnities, for Ameni, in spite of the chief-priest of Anion,
still pronounces Bent-Anat unclean. Young Rameri has been doing wrong
and Ameni, who has some other great scheme in his mind, has forbidden
him the temple of Seti; that will work on the crowd! You know how things
are going on in Syria: Rameses has suffered much at the hands of the
Cheta and their allies; whole legions are weary of eternally lying
in the field, and if things came to extremities would join us; but,
perhaps, especially if Paaker acquits himself well, we may be victorious
without fighting. Above all things now we must act rapidly.”

“I no longer recognize the timid, cautious lover of delay!” exclaimed

“Because now prudent hesitation would be want of prudence,” said Ani.

“And if the king should get timely information as to what is happening
here?” said Katuti.

“I said so!” exclaimed Ani; “we are exchanging parts.”

“You are mistaken,” said Katuti. “I also am for pressing forwards; but
I would remind you of a necessary precaution. No letters but yours must
reach the camp for the next few weeks.”

“Once more you and the priests are of one mind,” said Ani laughing; “for
Ameni gave me the same counsel. Whatever letters are sent across the
frontier between Pelusium and the Red Sea will be detained. Only my
letters--in which I complain of the piratical sons of the desert who
fall upon the messengers--will reach the king.”

“That is wise,” said the widow; “let the seaports of the Red Sea
be watched too, and the public writers. When you are king, you can
distinguish those who are affected for or against you.”

Ani shook his head and replied:

“That would put me in a difficult position; for it I were to punish
those who are now faithful to their king, and exalt the others, I should
have to govern with unfaithful servants, and turn away the faithful
ones. You need not color, my kind friend, for we are kin, and my
concerns are yours.”

Katuti took the hand he offered her and said:

“It is so. And I ask no further reward than to see my father’s house
once more in the enjoyment of its rights.”

“Perhaps we shall achieve it,” said Ani; “but in a short time
if--if--Reflect, Katuti; try to find out, ask your daughter to help you
to the utmost. Who is it that she--you know whom I mean--Who is it that
Bent-Anat loves?”

The widow started, for Ani had spoken the last words with a vehemence
very foreign to his usual courtliness, but soon she smiled and repeated
to the Regent the names of the few young nobles who had not followed the
king, and remained in Thebes. “Can it be Chamus?” at last she said, “he
is at the camp, it is true, but nevertheless--”

At this instant Nemu, who had not lost a word of the conversation, came
in as if straight from the garden and said:

“Pardon me, my lady; but I have heard a strange thing.”

“Speak,” said Katuti.

“The high and mighty princess Bent-Anat, the daughter of Rameses, is
said to have an open love-affair with a young priest of the House of

“You barefaced scoundrel!” exclaimed Ani, and his eyes sparkled with
rage. “Prove what you say, or you lose your tongue.”

“I am willing to lose it as a slanderer and traitor according to the
law,” said the little man abjectly, and yet with a malicious laugh; “but
this time I shall keep it, for I can vouch for what I say. You both know
that Bent-Anat was pronounced unclean because she stayed for an hour and
more in the house of a paraschites. She had an assignation there with
the priest. At a second, in the temple of Hatasu, they were surprised by
Septah, the chief of the haruspices of the House of Seti.”

“Who is the priest?” asked Ani with apparent calmness.

“A low-born man,” replied Nemu, “to whom a free education was given
at the House of Seti, and who is well known as a verse-maker and
interpreter of dreams. His name is Pentaur, and it certainly must be
admitted that he is handsome and dignified. He is line for line the
image of the pioneer Paaker’s late father. Didst thou ever see him, my

The Regent looked gloomily at the floor and nodded that he had. But
Katuti cried out; “Fool that I am! the dwarf is right! I saw how she
blushed when her brother told her how the boys had rebelled on his
account against Ameni. It is Pentaur and none other!”

“Good!” said Ani, “we will see.”

With these words he took leave of Katuti, who, as he disappeared in
the garden, muttered to herself: “He was wonderfully clear and decided
to-day; but jealousy is already blinding him and will soon make him feel
that he cannot get on without my sharp eyes.”

Nemu had slipped out after the Regent.

He called to him from behind a fig-tree, and hastily whispered, while he
bowed with deep respect:

“My mother knows a great deal, most noble highness! The sacred Ibis

   [Ibis religiosa. It has disappeared from Egypt There were two
   varieties of this bird, which was sacred to Toth, and mummies of
   both have been found in various places. Elian states that an
   immortal Ibis was shown at Hermopolis. Plutarch says, the ibis
   destroys poisonous reptiles, and that priests draw the water for
   their purifications where the Ibis has drunk, as it will never touch
   unwholesome water.]

wades through the fen when it goes in search of prey, and why shouldst
thou not stoop to pick up gold out of the dust? I know how thou couldst
speak with the old woman without being seen.”

“Speak,” said Ani.

“Throw her into prison for a day, hear what she has to say, and then
release her--with gifts if she is of service to you--if not, with blows.
But thou wilt learn something important from her that she obstinately
refused to tell me even.”

“We will see!” replied the Regent. He threw a ring of gold to the dwarf
and got into his chariot.

So large a crowd had collected in the vicinity of the palace, that Ani
apprehended mischief, and ordered his charioteer to check the pace
of the horses, and sent a few police-soldiers to the support of the
out-runners; but good news seemed to await him, for at the gate of the
castle he heard the unmistakable acclamations of the crowd, and in the
palace court he found a messenger from the temple of Seti, commissioned
by Ameni to communicate to him and to the people, the occurrence of a
great miracle, in that the heart of the ram of Anion, that had been torn
by wolves, had been found again within the breast of the dead prophet

Ani at once descended from his chariot, knelt down before all the
people, who followed his example, lifted his arms to heaven, and praised
the Gods in a loud voice. When, after some minutes, he rose and entered
the palace, slaves came out and distributed bread to the crowd in
Ameni’s name.

“The Regent has an open hand,” said a joiner to his neighbor; “only look
how white the bread is. I will put it in my pocket and take it to the

“Give me a bit!” cried a naked little scamp, snatching the cake of bread
from the joiner’s hand and running away, slipping between the legs of
the people as lithe as a snake.

“You crocodile’s brat!” cried his victim. “The insolence of boys gets
worse and worse every day.”

“They are hungry,” said the woman apologetically. “Their fathers are
gone to the war, and the mothers have nothing for their children but
papyrus-pith and lotus-seeds.”

“I hope they enjoy it,” laughed the joiner. “Let us push to the left;
there is a man with some more bread.”

“The Regent must rejoice greatly over the miracle,” said a shoemaker.
“It is costing him something.”

“Nothing like it has happened for a long time,” said a basket-maker.
“And he is particularly glad it should be precisely Rui’s body, which
the sacred heart should have blessed. You ask why?--Hatasu is Ani’s
ancestress, blockhead!”

“And Rui was prophet of the temple of Hatasu,” added the joiner.

“The priests over there are all hangers-on of the old royal house, that
I know,” asserted a baker.

“That’s no secret!” cried the cobbler. “The old times were better than
these too. The war upsets everything, and quite respectable people go
barefoot because they cannot pay for shoe-leather. Rameses is a great
warrior, and the son of Ra, but what can he do without the Gods; and
they don’t seem to like to stay in Thebes any longer; else why should
the heart of the sacred ram seek a new dwelling in the Necropolis, and
in the breast of an adherent of the old--”

“Hold your tongue,” warned the basket-maker. “Here comes one of the

“I must go back to work,” said the baker. “I have my hands quite full
for the feast to-morrow.”

“And I too,” said the shoemaker with a sigh, “for who would follow the
king of the Gods through the Necropolis barefoot.”

“You must earn a good deal,” cried the basket-maker. “We should do
better if we had better workmen,” replied the shoemaker, “but all
the good hands are gone to the war. One has to put up with stupid
youngsters. And as for the women! My wife must needs have a new gown for
the procession, and bought necklets for the children. Of course we must
honor the dead, and they repay it often by standing by us when we want
it--but what I pay for sacrifices no one can tell. More than half of
what I earn goes in them--”

“In the first grief of losing my poor wife,” said the baker, “I promised
a small offering every new moon, and a greater one every year. The
priests will not release us from our vows, and times get harder and
harder. And my dead wife owes me a grudge, and is as thankless as she
was is her lifetime; for when she appears to me in a dream she does not
give me a good word, and often torments me.”

“She is now a glorified all-seeing spirit,” said the basket-maker’s
wife, “and no doubt you were faithless to her. The glorified souls know
all that happens, and that has happened on earth.”

The baker cleared his throat, having no answer ready; but the shoemaker

“By Anubis, the lord of the under-world, I hope I may die before my old
woman! for if she finds out down there all I have done in this world,
and if she may be changed into any shape she pleases, she will come to
me every night, and nip me like a crab, and sit on me like a mountain.”

“And if you die first,” said the woman, “she will follow you afterwards
to the under-world, and see through you there.”

“That will be less dangerous,” said the shoemaker laughing, “for then
I shall be glorified too, and shall know all about her past life. That
will not all be white paper either, and if she throws a shoe at me I
will fling the last at her.”

“Come home,” said the basket-maker’s wife, pulling her husband away.
“You are getting no good by hearing this talk.”

The bystanders laughed, and the baker exclaimed:

“It is high time I should be in the Necropolis before it gets dark, and
see to the tables being laid for to-morrow’s festival. My trucks are
close to the narrow entrance to the valley. Send your little ones to me,
and I will give them something nice. Are you coming over with me?”

“My younger brother is gone over with the goods,” replied the shoemaker.
“We have plenty to do still for the customers in Thebes, and here am
I standing gossiping. Will the wonderful heart of the sacred ram be
exhibited to-morrow do you know?”

“Of course--no doubt,” said the baker, “good-bye, there go my cases!”


Notwithstanding the advanced hour, hundreds of people were crossing over
to the Necropolis at the same time as the baker. They were permitted
to linger late on into the evening, under the inspection of the watch,
because it was the eve of the great feast, and they had to set out their
counters and awnings, to pitch their tents, and to spread out their
wares; for as soon as the sun rose next day all business traffic would
be stopped, none but festal barges might cross from Thebes, or such
boats as ferried over pilgrims--men, women, and children whether natives
or foreigners, who were to take part in the great procession.

In the halls and work-rooms of the House of Seti there was unusual stir.
The great miracle of the wonderful heart had left but a short time for
the preparations for the festival. Here a chorus was being practised,
there on the sacred lake a scenic representation was being rehearsed;
here the statues of the Gods were being cleaned and dressed,

   [The dressing and undressing of the holy images was conducted in
   strict accordance with a prescribed ritual. The inscriptions in the
   seven sanctuaries of Abydos, published by Alariette, are full of
   instruction as to these ordinances, which were significant in every

and the colors of the sacred emblems were being revived, there the
panther-skins and other parts of the ceremonial vestments of the
priests were being aired and set out; here sceptres, censers and other
metal-vessels were being cleaned, and there the sacred bark which was to
be carried in the procession was being decorated. In the sacred groves
of the temple the school-boys, under the direction of the gardeners,
wove garlands and wreaths to decorate the landing-places, the sphinxes,
the temple, and the statues of the Gods. Flags were hoisted on the
brass-tipped masts in front of the pylon, and purple sails were spread
to give shadow to the court.

The inspector of sacrifices was already receiving at a side-door the
cattle, corn and fruit, offerings which were brought as tribute to
the House of Seti, by citizens from all parts of the country, on the
occasion of the festival of the Valley, and he was assisted by scribes,
who kept an account of all that was brought in by the able-bodied
temple-servants and laboring serfs.

Ameni was everywhere: now with the singers, now with the magicians,
who were to effect wonderful transformations before the astonished
multitude; now with the workmen, who were erecting thrones for the
Regent, the emissaries from other collegiate foundations--even from so
far as the Delta--and the prophets from Thebes; now with the priests,
who were preparing the incense, now with the servants, who were trimming
the thousand lamps for the illumination at night--in short everywhere;
here inciting, there praising. When he had convinced himself that all
was going on well he desired one of the priests to call Pentaur.

After the departure of the exiled prince Rameri, the young priest had
gone to the work-room of his friend Nebsecht.

The leech went uneasily from his phials to his cages, and from his cages
back to his flasks. While he told Pentaur of the state he had found his
room in on his return home, he wandered about in feverish excitement,
unable to keep still, now kicking over a bundle of plants, now thumping
down his fist on the table; his favorite birds were starved to death,
his snakes had escaped, and his ape had followed their example,
apparently in his fear of them.

“The brute, the monster!” cried Nebsecht in a rage. “He has thrown over
the jars with the beetles in them, opened the chest of meal that I feed
the birds and insects upon, and rolled about in it; he has thrown my
knives, prickers, and forceps, my pins, compasses, and reed pens all out
of window; and when I came in he was sitting on the cupboard up there,
looking just like a black slave that works night and day in a corn-mill;
he had got hold of the roll which contained all my observations on the
structure of animals--the result of years of study-and was looking at it
gravely with his head on one side. I wanted to take the book from him,
but he fled with the roll, sprang out of window, let himself down to
the edge of the well, and tore and rubbed the manuscript to pieces in a
rage. I leaped out after him, but he jumped into the bucket, took hold
of the chain, and let himself down, grinning at me in mockery, and when
I drew him up again he jumped into the water with the remains of the

“And the poor wretch is drowned?” asked Pentaur.

“I fished him up with the bucket, and laid him to dry in the sun; but
he had been tasting all sorts of medicines, and he died at noon. My
observations are gone! Some of them certainly are still left; however,
I must begin again at the beginning. You see apes object as much to my
labors as sages; there lies the beast on the shelf.”

Pentaur had laughed at his friend’s story, and then lamented his loss;
but now he said anxiously:

“He is lying there on the shelf? But you forget that he ought to have
been kept in the little oratory of Toth near the library. He belongs to
the sacred dogfaced apes,

   [The dog faced baboon, Kynokephalos, was sacred to Toth as the
   Moongod. Mummies of these apes have been found at Thebes and
   Hermopolis, and they are often represented as reading with much
   gravity. Statues of them have been found to great quantities, and
   there is a particularly life-like picture of a Kynokephalos in
   relief on the left wall of the library of the temple of Isis at

and all the sacred marks were found upon him. The librarian gave him
into your charge to have his bad eye cured.”

“That was quite well,” answered Nebsecht carelessly.

“But they will require the uninjured corpse of you, to embalm it,” said

“Will they?” muttered Nebsecht; and he looked at his friend like a boy
who is asked for an apple that has long been eaten.

“And you have already been doing something with it,” said Pentaur, in a
tone of friendly vexation.

The leech nodded. “I have opened him, and examined his heart.’

“You are as much set on hearts as a coquette!” said Pentaur. “What is
become of the human heart that the old paraschites was to get for you?”

Nebsecht related without reserve what the old man had done for him, and
said that he had investigated the human heart, and had found nothing in
it different from what he had discovered in the heart of beasts.

“But I must see it in connection with the other organs of the human
body,” cried he; “and my decision is made. I shall leave the House
of Seti, and ask the kolchytes to take me into their guild. If it is
necessary I will first perform the duties of the lowest paraschites.”

Pentaur pointed out to the leech what a bad exchange he would be making,
and at last exclaimed, when Nebsecht eagerly contradicted him, “This
dissecting of the heart does not please me. You say yourself that you
learned nothing by it. Do you still think it a right thing, a fine
thing--or even useful?”

“I do not trouble myself about it,” replied Nebsecht. “Whether my
observations seem good or evil, right or heinous, useful or useless, I
want to know how things are, nothing more.”

“And so for mere curiosity,” cried Pentaur, “you would endanger the
blissful future of thousands of your fellow-men, take upon yourself the
most abject duties, and leave this noble scene of your labors, where we
all strive for enlightenment, for inward knowledge and truth.”

The naturalist laughed scornfully; the veins swelled angrily in
Pentaur’s forehead, and his voice took a threatening tone as he asked:

“And do you believe that your finger and your eyes have lighted on the
truth, when the noblest souls have striven in vain for thousands
of years to find it out? You descend beneath the level of human
understanding by madly wallowing in the mire; and the more clearly you
are convinced that you have seized the truth, the more utterly you are
involved in the toils of a miserable delusion.”

“If I believed I knew the truth should I so eagerly seek it?” asked
Nebsecht. “The more I observe and learn, the more deeply I feel my want
of knowledge and power.”

“That sounds modest enough,” said the poet, “but I know the arrogance to
which your labors are leading you. Everything that you see with your own
eyes and touch with your own hand, you think infallible, and everything
that escapes your observation you secretly regard as untrue, and pass
by with a smile of superiority. But you cannot carry your experiments
beyond the external world, and you forget that there are things which
lie in a different realm.”

“I know nothing of those things,” answered Nebsecht quietly.

“But we--the Initiated,” cried Pentaur, “turn our attention to them
also. Thoughts--traditions--as to their conditions and agency have
existed among us for a thousand years; hundreds of generations of men
have examined these traditions, have approved them, and have handed
them down to us. All our knowledge, it is true, is defective, and yet
prophets have been favored with the gift of looking into the future,
magic powers have been vouchsafed to mortals. All this is contrary to
the laws of the external world, which are all that you recognize, and
yet it can easily be explained if we accept the idea of a higher order
of things. The spirit of the Divinity dwells in each of us, as in
nature. The natural man can only attain to such knowledge as is common
to all; but it is the divine capacity for serene discernment--which
is omniscience--that works in the seer; it is the divine and unlimited
power--which is omnipotence--that from time to time enables the magician
to produce supernatural effects!”

“Away with prophets and marvels!” cried Nebsecht.

“I should have thought,” said Pentaur, “that even the laws of nature
which you recognize presented the greatest marvels daily to your eyes;
nay the Supreme One does not disdain sometimes to break through the
common order of things, in order to reveal to that portion of
Himself which we call our soul, the sublime Whole of which we form
part--Himself. Only today you have seen how the heart of the sacred

“Man, man!” Nebsecht interrupted, “the sacred heart is the heart of a
hapless sheep that a sot of a soldier sold for a trifle to a haggling
grazier, and that was slaughtered in a common herd. A proscribed
paraschites put it into the body of Rui, and--and--” he opened the
cupboard, threw the carcase of the ape and some clothes on to the floor,
and took out an alabaster bowl which he held before the poet--“the
muscles you see here in brine, this machine, once beat in the breast
of the prophet Rui. My sheep’s heart wilt be carried to-morrow in the
procession! I would have told you all about it if I had not promised the
old man to hold my tongue, and then--But what ails you, man?” Pentaur
had turned away from his friend, and covered his face with his hands,
and he groaned as if he were suffering some frightful physical pain.
Nebsecht divined what was passing in the mind of his friend. Like a
child that has to ask forgiveness of its mother for some misdeed, he
went close up to Pentaur, but stood trembling behind him not daring to
speak to him.

Several minutes passed. Suddenly Pentaur raised his head, lifted his
hands to heaven, and cried:

“O Thou! the One!--though stars may fall from the heavens in summer
nights, still Thy eternal and immutable laws guide the never-resting
planets in their paths. Thou pure and all-prevading Spirit, that
dwellest in me, as I know by my horror of a lie, manifest Thyself in
me--as light when I think, as mercy when I act, and when I speak, as
truth--always as truth!”

The poet spoke these words with absorbed fervor, and Nebsecht heard them
as if they were speech from some distant and beautiful world. He went
affectionately up to his friend, and eagerly held out his hand. Pentaur
grasped it, pressed it warmly, and said:

“That was a fearful moment! You do not know what Ameni has been to me,
and now, now!”

He hardly had ceased speaking when steps were heard approaching the
physician’s room, and a young priest requested the friends to appear at
once in the meeting-room of the Initiated. In a few moments they both
entered the great hall, which was brilliantly lighted.

Not one of the chiefs of the House of Seti was absent.

Ameni sat on a raised seat at a long table; on his right hand was old
Gagabu, on his left the third Prophet of the temple. The principals of
the different orders of priests had also found places at the table, and
among them the chief of the haruspices, while the rest of the priests,
all in snow-white linen robes, sat, with much dignity, in a large
semicircle, two rows deep. In the midst stood a statue of the Goddess of
truth and justice.

Behind Ameni’s throne was the many-colored image of the ibis-headed
Toth, who presided over the measure and method of things, who counselled
the Gods as well as men, and presided over learning and the arts. In a
niche at the farther end of the hall were painted the divine Triad
of Thebes, with Rameses I. and his son Seti, who approached them with
offerings. The priests were placed with strict regard to their rank, and
the order of initiation. Pentaur’s was the lowest place of all.

No discussion of any importance had as yet taken place, for Ameni
was making enquiries, receiving information, and giving orders with
reference to the next day’s festival. All seemed to be well arranged,
and promised a magnificent solemnity; although the scribes complained of
the scarce influx of beasts from the peasants, who were so heavily
taxed for the war, and although that feature would be wanting in the
procession which was wont to give it the greatest splendor--the presence
of the king and the royal family.

This circumstance aroused the disapprobation of some of the priests, who
were of opinion that it would be hazardous to exclude the two children
of Rameses, who remained in Thebes, from any share in the solemnities of
the feast.

Ameni then rose.

“We have sent the boy Rameri,” he said, “away from this house. Bent-Anat
must be purged of her uncleanness, and if the weak superior of the
temple of Anion absolves her, she may pass for purified over there,
where they live for this world only, but not here, where it is our duty
to prepare the soul for death. The Regent, a descendant of the great
deposed race of kings, will appear in the procession with all the
splendor of his rank. I see you are surprised, my friends. Only he! Aye!
Great things are stirring, and it may happen that soon the mild sun of
peace may rise upon our war-ridden people.”

“Miracles are happening,” he continued, “and in a dream I saw a gentle
and pious man on the throne of the earthly vicar of Ra. He listened to
our counsel, he gave us our due, and led back to our fields our serfs
that had been sent to the war; he overthrew the altars of the strange
gods, and drove the unclean stranger out from this holy land.”

“The Regent Ani!” exclaimed Septah.

An eager movement stirred the assembly, but Ameni went on:

“Perhaps it was not unlike him, but he certainly was the One; he had the
features of the true and legitimate descendants of Ra, to whom Rui was
faithful, in whose breast the heart of the sacred ram found a refuge.
To-morrow this pledge of the divine grace shall be shown to the people,
and another mercy will also be announced to them. Hear and praise the
dispensations of the Most High! An hour ago I received the news that
a new Apis, with all the sacred marks upon him, has been found in the
herds of Ani at Hermonthis.”

Fresh excitement was shown by the listening conclave. Ameni let their
astonishment express itself freely, but at last he exclaimed:

“And now to settle the last question. The priest Pentaur, who is now
present, has been appointed speaker at the festival to-morrow. He has
erred greatly, yet I think we need not judge him till after the holy
day, and, in consideration of his former innocence, need not deprive him
of the honorable office. Do you share my wishes? Is there no dissentient
voice? Then come forward, you, the youngest of us all, who are so highly
trusted by this holy assembly.”

Pentaur rose and placed himself opposite to Ameni, in order to give,
as he was required to do, a broad outline of the speech he proposed to
deliver next day to the nobles and the people.

The whole assembly, even his opponents, listened to him with
approbation. Ameni, too, praised him, but added:

“I miss only one thing on which you must dwell at greater length, and
treat with warmer feeling--I mean the miracle which has stirred our
souls to-day. We must show that the Gods brought the sacred heart--”

“Allow me,” said Pentaur, interrupting the high-priest, and looking
earnestly into those eyes which long since he had sung of--“Allow me to
entreat you not to select me to declare this new marvel to the people.”

Astonishment was stamped on the face of every member of the assembly.
Each looked at his neighbor, then at Pentaur, and at last enquiringly at
Ameni. The superior knew Pentaur, and saw that no mere whimsical fancy,
but some serious motive had given rise to this refusal. Horror, almost
aversion, had rung in his tone as he said the words ‘new marvel.’ He
doubted the genuineness of this divine manifestation!

Ameni gazed long and enquiringly into Pentaur’s eyes, and then said:
“You are right, my friend. Before judgment has been passed on you,
before you are reinstated in your old position, your lips are not worthy
to announce this divine wonder to the multitude. Look into your own
soul, and teach the devout a horror of sin, and show them the way, which
you must now tread, of purification of the heart. I myself will announce
the miracle.”

The white-robed audience hailed this decision of their master with
satisfaction. Ameni enjoined this thing on one, on another, that; and on
all, perfect silence as to the dream which he had related to them, and
then he dissolved the meeting. He begged only Gagabu and Pentaur to

As soon as they were alone Ameni asked the poet “Why did you refuse to
announce to the people the miracle, which has filled all the priests of
the Necropolis with joy?”

“Because thou hast taught me,” replied Pentaur, “that truth is the
highest aim we can have, and that there is nothing higher.”

“I tell you so again now,” said Ameni. “And as you recognize this
doctrine, I ask you, in the name of the fair daughter of Ra. Do you
doubt the genuineness of the miracle that took place under our very

“I doubt it,” replied Pentaur.

“Remain on the high stand-point of veracity,” continued Ameni, “and
tell us further, that we may learn, what are the scruples that shake thy

“I know,” replied the poet with a dark expression, “that the heart which
the crowd will approach and bow to, before which even the Initiated
prostrate themselves as if it had been the incarnation of Ra, was torn
from the bleeding carcass of a common sheep, and smuggled into the
kanopus which contained the entrails of Rui.”

Ameni drew back a step, and Gagabu cried out “Who says so? Who can prove
it? As I grow older I hear more and more frightful things!”

“I know it,” said Pentaur decidedly. “But I can, not reveal the name of
him from whom I learned it.”

“Then we may believe that you are mistaken, and that some impostor is
fooling you. We will enquire who has devised such a trick, and he shall
be punished! To scorn the voice of the Divinity is a sin, and he who
lends his ear to a lie is far from the truth. Sacred and thrice sacred
is the heart, blind fool, that I purpose to-morrow to show to the
people, and before which you yourself--if not with good will, then by
compulsion--shall fall, prostrate in the dust.

“Go now, and reflect on the words with which you will stir the souls of
the people to-morrow morning; but know one thing--Truth has many forms,
and her aspects are as manifold as those of the Godhead. As the sun does
not travel over a level plain or by a straight path--as the stars follow
a circuitous course, which we compare with the windings of the snake
Mehen,--so the elect, who look out over time and space, and on whom the
conduct of human life devolves, are not only permitted, but commanded,
to follow indirect ways in order to reach the highest aims, ways that
you do not understand, and which you may fancy deviate widely from the
path of truth. You look only at to-day, we look forward to the morrow,
and what we announce as truth you must needs believe. And mark my words:
A lie stains the soul, but doubt eats into it.”

Ameni had spoken with strong excitement; when Pentaur had left the room,
and he was alone with Gagabu, he exclaimed:

“What things are these? Who is ruining the innocent child-like spirit of
this highly favored youth?”

“He is ruining it himself,” replied Gagabu. “He is putting aside the old
law, for he feels a new one growing up in his own breast.”

“But the laws,” exclaimed Ameni, “grow and spread like shadowy woods;
they are made by no one. I loved the poet, yet I must restrain him, else
he will break down all barriers, like the Nile when it swells too high.
And what he says of the miracle--”

“Did you devise it?”

“By the Holy One--no!” cried Ameni.

“And yet Pentaur is sincere, and inclined to faith,” said the old man

“I know it,” returned Ameni. “It happened as he said. But who did it,
and who told him of the shameful deed?”

Both the priests stood thoughtfully gazing at the floor.

Ameni first broke the silence.

“Pentaur came in with Nebsecht,” he exclaimed, “and they are intimate
friends. Where was the leech while I was staying in Thebes?”

“He was taking care of the child hurt by Bent-Anat--the child of the
paraschites Pinem, and he stayed there three days,” replied Gagabu.

“And it was Pinem,” said Ameni, “that opened the body of Rui! Now I know
who has dimmed Pentaur’s faith. It was that inquisitive stutterer,
and he shall be made to repent of it. For the present let us think of
to-morrow’s feast, but the day after I will examine that nice couple,
and will act with iron severity.”

“First let us examine the naturalist in private,” said Gagabu. “He is
an ornament to the temple, for he has investigated many matters, and his
dexterity is wonderful.”

“All that may be considered Ameni said, interrupting the old enough to
think of at present.”

“And even more to consider later,” retorted Gagabu. “We have entered on
a dangerous path. You know very well I am still hot-headed, though I am
old in years, and alas! timidity was never my weakness; but Rameses is a
powerful man, and duty compels me to ask you: Is it mere hatred for the
king that has led you to take these hasty and imprudent steps?”

“I have no hatred for Rameses,” answered Ameni gravely. “If he did not
wear the crown I could love him; I know him too, as well as if I were
his brother, and value all that is great in him; nay I will admit that
he is disfigured by no littleness. If I did not know how strong the
enemy is, we might try to overthrow him with smaller means. You know as
well as I do that he is our enemy. Not yours, nor mine, nor the enemy of
the Gods; but the enemy of the old and reverend ordinances by which this
people and this country must be governed, and above all of those who
are required to protect the wisdom of the fathers, and to point out the
right way to the sovereign--I mean the priesthood, whom it is my duty to
lead, and for whose rights I will fight with every weapon of the spirit.
In this contest, as you know, all that otherwise would be falsehood,
treachery, and cunning, puts on the bright aspect of light and truth.
As the physician needs the knife and fire to heal the sick, we must do
fearful things to save the community when it is in danger. Now you will
see me fight with every weapon, for if we remain idle, we shall soon
cease to be the leaders of the state, and become the slaves of the

Gagabu nodded assent, but Ameni went on with increasing warmth, and in
that rhythmical accent in which, when he came out of the holy of holies,
he was accustomed to declare the will of the Divinity, “You were my
teacher, and I value you, and so you now shall be told everything that
stirred my soul, and made me first resolve upon this fearful struggle.
I was, as you know, brought up in this temple with Rameses--and it was
very wise of Seti to let his son grow up here with other boys. At work
and at play the heir to the throne and I won every prize. He was quite
my superior in swift apprehension--in keen perception--but I had greater
caution, and deeper purpose. Often he laughed at my laborious efforts,
but his brilliant powers appeared to me a vain delusion. I became one of
the initiated, he ruled the state in partnership with his father, and,
when Seti died, by himself. We both grew older, but the foundation
of our characters remained the same. He rushed to splendid victories,
overthrew nations, and raised the glory of the Egyptian name to a giddy
height, though stained with the blood of his people; I passed my life
in industry and labor, in teaching the young, and in guarding the
laws which regulate the intercourse of men and bind the people to the
Divinity. I compared the present with the past: What were the priests?
How had they come to be what they are? What would Egypt be without them?
There is not an art, not a science, not a faculty that is not thought
out, constructed, and practised by us. We crown the kings, we named the
Gods, and taught the people to honor them as divine--for the crowd needs
a hand to lead it, and under which it shall tremble as under the mighty
hand of Fate. We are the willing ministers of the divine representative
of Ra on the throne, so long as he rules in accordance with our
institutions--as the One God reigns, subject to eternal laws. He used to
choose his counsellors from among us; we told him what would benefit the
country, he heard us willingly, and executed our plans. The old kings
were the hands, but we, the priests, were the head. And now, my father,
what has become of us? We are made use of to keep the people in the
faith, for if they cease to honor the Gods how will they submit to
kings? Seti ventured much, his son risks still more, and therefore
both have required much succor from the Immortals. Rameses is pious,
he sacrifices frequently, and loves prayer: we are necessary to him, to
waft incense, to slaughter hecatombs, to offer prayers, and to interpret
dreams--but we are no longer his advisers. My father, now in Osiris, a
worthier high-priest than I, was charged by the Prophets to entreat his
father to give up the guilty project of connecting the north sea by a
navigable channel with the unclean waters of the Red Sea.

   [The harbors of the Red Sea were in the hands of the Phoenicians,
   who sailed from thence southwards to enrich themselves with the
   produce of Arabia and Ophir. Pharaoh Necho also projected a Suez
   canal, but does not appear to have carried it out, as the oracle
   declared that the utility of the undertaking would be greatest to

“Such things can only benefit the Asiatics. But Seti would not listen
to our counsel. We desired to preserve the old division of the land, but
Rameses introduced the new to the disadvantage of the priests; we warned
him against fresh wars, and the king again and again has taken the
field; we had the ancient sacred documents which exempted our peasantry
from military service, and, as you know, he outrageously defies them.
From the most ancient times no one has been permitted to raise temples
in this land to strange Gods, and Rameses favors the son of the
stranger, and, not only in the north country, but in the reverend city
of Memphis and here in Thebes, he has raised altars and magnificent
sanctuaries, in the strangers’ quarter, to the sanguinary false Gods of
the East.”

   [Human sacrifices, which had been introduced into Egypt by the
   Phoenicians, were very early abolished.]

“You speak like a Seer,” cried old Gagabu, “and what you say is
perfectly true. We are still called priests, but alas! our counsel is
little asked. ‘You have to prepare men for a happy lot in the other
world,’ Rameses once said; ‘I alone can guide their destinies in this.’”

“He did say so,” answered Ameni, “and if he had said no more than that
he would have been doomed. He and his house are the enemies of our
rights and of our noble country. Need I tell you from whom the race of
the Pharaoh is descended? Formerly the hosts who came from the east, and
fell on our land like swarms of locusts, robbing and destroying it, were
spoken of as ‘a curse’ and a ‘pest.’ Rameses’ father was of that race.
When Ani’s ancestors expelled the Hyksos, the bold chief, whose children
now govern Egypt, obtained the favor of being allowed to remain on
the banks of the Nile; they served in the armies, they distinguished
themselves, and, at last, the first Rameses succeeded in gaining the
troops over to himself, and in pushing the old race of the legitimate
sons of Ra, weakened as they were by heresy, from the throne. I must
confess, however unwillingly, that some priests of the true faith--among
them your grandfather, and mine--supported the daring usurper who clung
faithfully to the old traditions. Not less than a hundred generations
of my ancestors, and of yours, and of many other priestly families, have
lived and died here by the banks of the Nile--of Rameses race we have
seen ten, and only know of them that they descend from strangers, from
the caste of Amu! He is like all the Semitic race; they love to
wander, they call us ploughmen,--[The word Fellah (pl. Fellahin) means
ploughman]--and laugh to scorn the sober regularity with which we,
tilling the dark soil, live through our lives to a tardy death, in
honest labor both of mind and body. They sweep round on foraying
excursions, ride the salt waves in ships, and know no loved and fixed
home; they settle down wherever they are tempted by rapine, and when
there is nothing more to be got they build a house in another spot. Such
was Seti, such is Rameses! For a year he will stop in Thebes, then he
must set out for wars in strange lands. He does not know how to yield
piously, or to take advice of wise counsellors, and he will not learn.
And such as the father is, so are the children! Think of the criminal
behavior of Bent-Anat!”

“I said the kings liked foreigners. Have you duly considered the
importance of that to us? We strive for high and noble aims, and have
wrenched off the shackles of the flesh in order to guard our souls. The
poorest man lives secure under the shelter of the law, and through us
participates in the gifts of the spirit; to the rich are offered the
priceless treasures of art and learning. Now look abroad: east and west
wandering tribes roam over the desert with wretched tents; in the south
a debased populace prays to feathers, and to abject idols, who are
beaten if the worshipper is not satisfied. In the north certainly there
are well regulated states, but the best part of the arts and sciences
which they possess they owe to us, and their altars still reek with the
loathsome sacrifice of human blood. Only backsliding from the right is
possible under the stranger, and therefore it is prudent to withdraw
from him; therefore he is hateful to our Gods. And Rameses, the king,
is a stranger, by blood and by nature, in his affections, and in his
appearance; his thoughts are always abroad--this country is too small
for him--and he will never perceive what is really best for him, clear
as his intellect is. He will listen to no guidance, he does mischief to
Egypt, and therefore I say: Down with him from the throne!”

“Down with him!”--Gagabu eagerly echoed the words. Ameni gave the old
man his hand, which trembled with excitement, and went on more calmly.

“The Regent Ani is a legitimate child of the soil, by his father and
mother both. I know him well, and I am sure that though he is cunning
indeed, he is full of true veneration, and will righteously establish
us in the rights which we have inherited. The choice is easy: I have
chosen, and I always carry through what I have once begun! Now you know
all, and you will second me.”

“With body and soul!” cried Gagabu.

“Strengthen the hearts of the brethren,” said Ameni, preparing to go.
“The initiated may all guess what is going on, but it must never be
spoken of.”


The sun was up on the twenty-ninth morning of the second month of the
over-flow of the Nile,

   [The 29th Phaophi. The Egyptians divided the year into three
   seasons of four months each. Flood-time, seed-time and Harvest.
   (Scha, per and schemu.) The 29th Phaophi corresponds to the 8th

and citizens and their wives, old men and children, freemen and slaves,
led by priests, did homage to the rising day-star before the door of the
temple to which the quarter of the town belonged where each one dwelt.

The Thebans stood together like Huge families before the pylons, waiting
for the processions of priests, which they intended to join in order to
march in their train round the great temple of the city, and thence to
cross with the festal barks to the Necropolis.

To-day was the Feast of the Valley, and Anion, the great God of Thebes,
was carried over in solemn pomp to the City of the Dead, in order that
he--as the priests said--might sacrifice to his fathers in the other
world. The train marched westward; for there, where the earthly remains
of man also found rest, the millions of suns had disappeared, each of
which was succeeded daily by a new one, born of the night. The
young luminary, the priests said, did not forget those that had been
extinguished, and from whom he was descended; and Anion paid them this
mark of respect to warn the devout not to forget those who were passed
away, and to whom they owed their existence.

“Bring offerings,” says a pious text, “to thy father and thy mother
who rest in the valley of the tombs; for such gifts are pleasing to the
Gods, who will receive them as if brought to themselves. Often visit thy
dead, so that what thou dost for them, thy son may do for thee.”

The Feast of the Valley was a feast of the dead; but it was not a
melancholy solemnity, observed with lamentation and wailing; on the
contrary, it was a cheerful festival, devoted to pious and sentimental
memories of those whom we cease not to love after death, whom we esteem
happy and blest, and of whom we think with affection; to whom too the
throng from Thebes brought offerings, forming groups in the chapel-like
tombs, or in front of the graves, to eat and drink.

Father, mother and children clung together; the house-slaves followed
with provisions, and with torches, which would light up the darkness of
the tomb and show the way home at night.

Even the poorest had taken care to secure beforehand a place in one of
the large boats which conveyed the people across the stream; the barges
of the rich, dressed in the gayest colors, awaited their owners with
their households, and the children had dreamed all night of the sacred
bark of Anion, whose splendor, as their mothers told them, was
hardly less than that of the golden boat in which the Sun-God and his
companions make their daily voyage across the ocean of heaven. The broad
landing place of the temple of Anion was already crowded with priests,
the shore with citizens, and the river with boats; already loud music
drowned the din of the crowds, who thronged and pushed, enveloped in
clouds of dust, to reach the boats; the houses and hovels of Thebes
were all empty, and the advent of the God through the temple-gates was
eagerly expected; but still the members of the royal family had not
appeared, who were wont on this solemn day to go on foot to the great
temple of Anion; and, in the crowd, many a one asked his neighbor why
Bent-Anat, the fair daughter of Rameses, lingered so long, and delayed
the starting of the procession.

The priests had begun their chant within the walls, which debarred the
outer world from any glimpse into the bright precincts of the temple;
the Regent with his brilliant train had entered the sanctuary; the gates
were thrown open; the youths in their short-aprons, who threw flowers
in the path of the God, had come out; clouds of incense announced the
approach of Anion--and still the daughter of Rameses appeared not.

Many rumors were afloat, most of them contradictory; but one was
accurate, and confirmed by the temple servants, to the great regret of
the crowd--Bent-Anat was excluded from the Feast of the Valley.

She stood on her balcony with her brother Rameri and her friend Nefert,
and looked down on the river, and on the approaching God.

Early in the previous morning Bek-en-Chunsu, the old high-priest of the
temple of Anion had pronounced her clean, but in the evening he had
come to communicate to her the intelligence that Ameni prohibited her
entering the Necropolis before she had obtained the forgiveness of the
Gods of the West for her offence.

While still under the ban of uncleanness she had visited the temple of
Hathor, and had defiled it by her presence; and the stern Superior
of the City of the Dead was in the right--that Bek-en-Chunsu himself
admitted--in closing the western shore against her. Bent-Anat then had
recourse to Ani; but, though he promised to mediate for her, he came
late in the evening to tell her that Ameni was inexorable. The Regent at
the same time, with every appearance of regret, advised her to avoid
an open quarrel, and not to defy Ameni’s lofty severity, but to remain
absent from the festival.

Katuti at the same time sent the dwarf to Nefert, to desire her to join
her mother, in taking part in the procession, and in sacrificing in her
father’s tomb; but Nefert replied that she neither could nor would leave
her royal friend and mistress.

Bent-Anat had given leave of absence to the highest members of
her household, and had prayed them to think of her at the splendid

When, from her balcony, she saw the mob of people and the crowd of
boats, she went back into her room, called Rameri, who was angrily
declaiming at what he called Ameni’s insolence, took his hands in hers,
and said:

“We have both done wrong, brother; let us patiently submit to the
consequences of our faults, and conduct ourselves as if our father were
with us.”

“He would tear the panther-skin from the haughty priest’s shoulders,”
 cried Rameri, “if he dared to humiliate you so in his presence;” and
tears of rage ran down his smooth cheeks as he spoke.

“Put anger aside,” said Bent-Anat. “You were still quite little the last
time my father took part in this festival.”

“Oh! I remember that morning well,” exclaimed Rameri, “and shall never
forget it.”

“So I should think,” said the princess. “Do not leave us, Nefert--you
are now my sister. It was a glorious morning; we children were collected
in the great hall of the King, all in festival dresses; he had us called
into this room, which had been inhabited by my mother, who then had
been dead only a few months. He took each of us by the hand, and said he
forgave us everything we might have done wrong if only we were sincerely
penitent, and gave us each a kiss on our forehead. Then he beckoned us
all to him, and said, as humbly as if he were one of us instead of the
great king, ‘Perhaps I may have done one of you some injustice, or have
kept you out of some right; I am not conscious of such a thing, but if
it has occurred I am very sorry’--we all rushed upon him, and wanted
to kiss him, but he put us aside smiling, and said, ‘Each of you has
enjoyed an equal share of one thing, that you may be sure--I mean your
father’s love; and I see now that you return what I have given you.’
Then he spoke of our mother, and said that even the tenderest father
could not fill the place of a mother. He drew a lovely picture of the
unselfish devotion of the dead mother, and desired us to pray and to
sacrifice with him at her resting-place, and to resolve to be worthy of
her; not only in great things but in trifles too, for they make up
the sum of life, as hours make the days, and the years. We elder ones
clasped each other’s hands, and I never felt happier than in that
moment, and afterwards by my mother’s grave.” Nefert raised her eyes
that were wet with tears.

“With such a father it must be easy to be good,” she said.

“Did your mother never speak good words that went to your heart on the
morning of this festival?” asked Bent-Anat.

Nefert colored, and answered: “We were always late in dressing, and then
had to hurry to be at the temple in time.”

“Then let me be your mother to-day,” cried the princess, “and yours too,
Rameri. Do you not remember how my father offered forgiveness to the
officers of the court, and to all the servants, and how he enjoined us
to root out every grudge from our hearts on this day? ‘Only stainless
garments,’ he said, ‘befit this feast; only hearts without spot.’ So,
brother, I will not hear an evil word about Ameni, who is most likely
forced to be severe by the law; my father will enquire into it all and
decide. My heart is so full, it must overflow. Come, Nefert, give me a
kiss, and you too, Rameri. Now I will go into my little temple, in
which the images of our ancestors stand, and think of my mother and the
blessed spirits of those loved ones to whom I may not sacrifice to-day.”

“I will go with you,” said Rameri.

“You, Nefert--stay here,” said Bent-Anat, “and cut as many flowers as
you like; take the best and finest, and make a wreath, and when it is
ready we will send a messenger across to lay it, with other gifts, on
the grave of your Mena’s mother.”

When, half-an-hour later, the brother and sister returned to the young
wife, two graceful garlands hung in Nefert’s bands, one for the grave of
the dead queen, and one for Mena’s mother.

“I will carry over the wreaths, and lay them in the tombs,” cried the

“Ani thought it would be better that we should not show ourselves to the
people,” said his sister. “They will scarcely notice that you are not
among the school-boys, but--”

“But I will not go over as the king’s son, but as a gardener’s boy--”
 interrupted the prince. “Listen to the flourish of trumpets! the God has
now passed through the gates.”

Rameri stepped out into the balcony, and the two women followed him, and
looked down on the scene of the embarkation which they could easily see
with their sharp young eyes.

“It will be a thinner and poorer procession without either my father or
us, that is one comfort,” said Rameri. “The chorus is magnificent; here
come the plume-bearers and singers; there is the chief prophet at the
great temple, old Bek-en-Chunsu. How dignified he looks, but he will not
like going. Now the God is coming, for I, smell the incense.”

With these words the prince fell on his knees, and the women followed
his example--when they saw first a noble bull in whose shining skin the
sun was reflected, and who bore between his horns a golden disk, above
which stood white ostrich-feathers; and then, divided from the bull only
by a few fan-bearers, the God himself, sometimes visible, but more often
hidden from sight by great semi-circular screens of black and white
ostrich-feathers, which were fixed on long poles, and with which the
priests shaded the God.

His mode of progress was as mysterious as his name, for he seemed to
float slowly on his gorgeous throne from the temple-gates towards the
stream. His seat was placed on a platform, magnificently decorated with
bunches and garlands of flowers, and covered with hangings of purple and
gold brocade, which concealed the priests who bore it along with a slow
and even pace.

As soon as the God had been placed on board his barge, Bent-Anat and her
companions rose from their knees.

Then came some priests, who carried a box with the sacred evergreen tree
of Amon; and when a fresh outburst of music fell on her ear, and a cloud
of incense was wafted up to her, Bent-Anat said: “Now my father should
be coming.”

“And you,” cried Rameri, “and close behind, Nefert’s husband, Mena,
with the guards. Uncle Ani comes on foot. How strangely he has dressed
himself like a sphinx hind-part before!”

“How so?” asked Nefert.

“A sphinx,” said Rameri laughing, it has the body of a lion, and the
head of a man,

   [There were no female sphinxes in Egypt. The sphinx was called Neb,
   i. e., the lord. The lion-couchant had either a man’s or a rams

and my uncle has a peaceful priest’s robe, and on his head the helmet of
a warrior.”

“If the king were here, the distributor of life,” said Nefert, “you
would not be missing from among his supporters.”

“No indeed!” replied the prince, “and the whole thing is altogether
different when my father is here. His heroic form is splendid on his
golden throne; the statues of Truth and justice spread their wings
behind him as if to protect him; his mighty representative in fight, the
lion, lies peacefully before him, and over him spreads the canopy with
the Urmus snake at the top. There is hardly any end to the haruspices,
the pastophori with the standards, the images of the Gods, and the
flocks and herds for sacrifice. Only think, even the North has sent
representatives to the feast, as if my father were here. I know all the
different signs on the standards. Do you recognize the images of the
king’s ancestors, Nefert? No? no more do I; but it seemed to me that
Ahmes I., who expelled the Hyksos--from whom our grandmother was
descended--headed the procession, and not my grandfather Seti, as he
should have done. Here come the soldiers; they are the legions which Ani
equipped, and who returned victorious from Ethiopia only last night.
How the people cheer them! and indeed they have behaved valiantly. Only
think, Bent-Anat and Nefert, what it will be when my father comes home,
with a hundred captive princes, who will humbly follow his chariot,
which your Mena will drive, with our brothers and all the nobles of the
land, and the guards in their splendid chariots.”

“They do not think of returning yet!” sighed Nefert. While more and more
troops of the Regent’s soldiers, more companies of musicians, and rare
animals, followed in procession, the festal bark of Amon started from
the shore.

It was a large and gorgeous barge of wood, polished all over and
overlaid with gold, and its edge was decorated with glittering
glass-beads, which imitated rubies and emeralds; the masts and yards
were gilt, and purple sails floated from them. The seats for the priests
were of ivory, and garlands of lilies and roses hung round the vessel,
from its masts and ropes.

The Regent’s Nile-boat was not less splendid; the wood-work shone
with gilding, the cabin was furnished with gay Babylonian carpets; a
lion’s-head formed the prow, as formerly in Hatasu’s sea-going vessels,
and two large rubies shone in it, for eyes. After the priests had
embarked, and the sacred barge had reached the opposite shore, the
people pressed into the boats, which, filled almost to sinking, soon
so covered the whole breadth of the river that there was hardly a spot
where the sun was mirrored in the yellow waters.

“Now I will put on the dress of a gardener,” cried Rameri, “and cross
over with the wreaths.”

“You will leave us alone?” asked Bent-Anat.

“Do not make me anxious,” said Rameri.

“Go then,” said the princess. “If my father were here how willingly I
would go too.”

“Come with me,” cried the boy. “We can easily find a disguise for you

“Folly!” said Bent-Anat; but she looked enquiringly at Nefert, who
shrugged her shoulders, as much as to say: “Your will is my law.”

Rameri was too sharp for the glances of the friends to have escaped him,
and he exclaimed eagerly:

“You will come with me, I see you will! Every beggar to-day flings his
flower into the common grave, which contains the black mummy of his
father--and shall the daughter of Rameses, and the wife of the chief
charioteer, be excluded from bringing garlands to their dead?”

“I shall defile the tomb by my presence,” said Bent-Anat coloring.

“You--you!” exclaimed Rameri, throwing his arms round his sister’s neck,
and kissing her. “You, a noble generous creature, who live only to
ease sorrow and to wipe away tears; you, the very image of my
father--unclean! sooner would I believe that the swans down there are
as black as crows, and the rose-wreaths on the balcony rank hemlock
branches. Bek-en-Chunsu pronounced you clean, and if Ameni--”

“Ameni only exercises his rights,” said Bent-Anat gently, “and you know
what we have resolved. I will not hear one hard word about him to-day.”

“Very well! he has graciously and mercifully kept us from the feast,”
 said Rameri ironically, and he bowed low in the direction of the
Necropolis, “and you are unclean. Do not enter the tombs and the temples
on my account; let us stay outside among the people. The roads over
there are not so very sensitive; paraschites and other unclean folks
pass over them every day. Be sensible, Bent-Anat, and come. We will
disguise ourselves; I will conduct you; I will lay the garlands in the
tombs, we will pray together outside, we will see the sacred procession
and the feats of the magicians, and hear the festive discourse. Only
think! Pentaur, in spite of all they have said against him, is to
deliver it. The temple of Seti wants to do its best to-day, and Ameni
knows very well that Pentaur, when he opens his mouth, stirs the hearts
of the people more than all the sages together if they were to sing in
chorus! Come with me, sister.”

“So be it then,” said Bent-Anat with sudden decision.

Rameri was surprised at this quick resolve, at which however he was
delighted; but Nefert looked anxiously at her friend. In a moment
her eyes fell; she knew now who it was that her friend loved, and the
fearful thought--“How will it end?” flashed through her mind.


An hour later a tall, plainly dressed woman crossed the Nile, with a
dark-skinned boy and a slender youth by her side. The wrinkles on her
brow and cheeks agreed little with her youthful features; but it would
have been difficult to recognize in these three the proud princess, the
fair young prince, and the graceful Nefert, who looked as charming as
ever in the long white robe of a temple-student.

They were followed by two faithful and sturdy head-servants from among
the litter-bearers of the princess, who were however commanded to appear
as though they were not in any way connected with their mistress and her

The passage across the Nile had been accomplished but slowly, and thus
the royal personages had experienced for the first time some of the many
difficulties and delays which ordinary mortals must conquer to attain
objects which almost fly to meet their rulers. No one preceded them to
clear the river, no other vessel made way for them; on the contrary,
all tried to take place ahead of them, and to reach the opposite shore
before them.

When at last they reached the landing-place, the procession had already
passed on to the temple of Seti; Ameni had met it with his chorus of
singers, and had received the God on the shore of the Nile; the prophets
of the Necropolis had with their own hands placed him in the sacred
Sam-bark of the House of Seti, which was artistically constructed of
cedar wood and electrum set with jewels; thirty pastophori took the
precious burden on their shoulders, and bore it up the avenue of
Sphinxes--which led from the river to the temple--into the sanctuary
of Seti, where Amon remained while the emissaries from the different
provinces deposited their offerings in the forecourt. On his road from
the shore kolchytes had run before him, in accordance with ancient
custom, strewing sand in his path.

In the course of an hour the procession once more emerged into the open
air, and turning to the south, rested first in the enormous temple
of Anienophis III., in front of which the two giant statues stood as
sentinels--they still remain, the colossi of the Nile valley. Farther
to the south it reached the temple of Thotmes the Great, then, turning
round, it clung to the eastern face of the Libyan hills--pierced with
tombs and catacombs; it mounted the terraces of the temple of Hatasu,
and paused by the tombs of the oldest kings which are in the immediate
neighborhood; thus by sunset it had reached the scene of the festival
itself, at the entrance of the valley in which the tomb of Setitt had
been made, and in whose westernmost recesses were some of the graves of
the Pharaohs of the deposed race.

This part of the Necropolis was usually visited by lamp-light, and under
the flare of torches, before the return of the God to his own temple and
the mystery-play on the sacred lake, which did not begin till midnight.

Behind the God, in a vase of transparent crystal, and borne high on a
pole that all the multitude might see it, was the heart of the sacred

Our friends, after they had laid their wreaths on the magnificent altars
of their royal ancestors without being recognized, late in the afternoon
joined the throng who followed the procession. They mounted the eastern
cliff of the hills close by the tomb of Mena’s forefathers, which
a prophet of Amon, named Neferhotep--Mena’s great-grandfather--had
constructed. Its narrow doorway was besieged by a crowd, for within the
first of the rock-chambers of which it consisted, a harper was singing
a dirge for the long-since buried prophet, his wife and his sister. The
song had been composed by the poet attached to his house; it was graven
in the stone of the second rock-room of the tomb, and Neferhotep had
left a plot of ground in trust to the Necropolis, with the charge of
administering its revenues for the payment of a minstrel, who every-year
at the feast of the dead should sing the monody to the accompaniment of
his lute.

   [The tomb of Neferhotep is well preserved, and in it the inscription
   from which the monody is translated.]

The charioteer well knew this dirge for his ancestor, and had often sung
it to Nefert, who had accompanied him on her lute; for in their hours
of joy also--nay especially--the Egyptians were wont to remember their

Now the three companions listened to the minstrel as he sang:

       “Now the great man is at rest,
        Gone to practise sweeter duties.
        Those that die are the elect
        Since the Gods have left the earth.
        Old men pass and young men come;
        Yea, a new Sun rises daily
        When the old sun has found rest
        In the bosom of the night.

       “Hail, O Prophet! on this feast day
        Odorous balsams, fragrant resins
        Here we bring--and offer garlands,
        Throwing flowers down before thee,
        And before thy much-loved sister,
        Who has found her rest beside thee.

       “Songs we sing, and strike the lyre
        To thy memory, and thine honor.
        All our cares are now forgotten,
        Joy and hope our breasts are filling;
        For the day of our departure
        Now draws near, and in the silence
        Of the farther shore is rest.”

When the song ceased, several people pressed into the little oratory to
express their gratitude to the deceased prophet by laying a few flowers
on his altar. Nefert and Rameri also went in, and when Nefert had
offered a long and silent prayer to the glorified spirits of her dead,
that they might watch over Mena, she laid her garland beside the grave
in which her husband’s mother rested.

Many members of the court circle passed close to the royal party without
recognizing them; they made every effort to reach the scene of the
festival, but the crowd was so great that the ladies had several times
to get into a tomb to avoid it. In each they found the altar loaded with
offerings, and, in most, family-parties, who here remembered their
dead, with meat and fruits, beer and wine, as though they were departed
travellers who had found some far off rest, and whom they hoped sooner
or later to see again.

The sun was near setting when at last the princess and her companions
reached the spot where the feast was being held. Here stood numbers of
stalls and booths, with eatables of every sort, particularly sweet cakes
for the children, dates, figs, pomegranates, and other fruits. Under
light awnings, which kept off the sun, were sold sandals and kerchiefs
of every material and hue, ornaments, amulets, fans, and sun-shades,
sweet essences of every kind, and other gifts for offerings or for
the toilet. The baskets of the gardeners and flower-girls were already
empty, but the money-changers were full of business, and the tavern and
gambling booths were driving a brisk trade.

Friends and acquaintances greeted each other kindly, while the children
showed each other their new sandals, the cakes they had won at the
games, or the little copper rings they had had given to them, and
which must now be laid out. The largest crowd was gathered to see the
magicians from the House of Seti, round which the mob squatted on the
ground in a compact circle, and the children were good-naturedly placed
in the front row.

When Bent-Anat reached the place all the religious solemnity was ended.

There stood the canopy under which the king and his family were used
to listen to the festal discourse, and under its shade sat to-day
the Regent Ani. They could see too the seats of the grandees, and
the barriers which kept the people at a distance from the Regent, the
priests, and the nobles.

Here Ameni himself had announced to the multitude the miracle of the
sacred heart, and had proclaimed that a new Apis had been found among
the herds of the Regent Ani.

His announcement of these divine tokens had been repeated from mouth to
mouth; they were omens of peace and happiness for the country through
the means of a favorite of the Gods; and though no one said it, the
dullest could not fail to see that this favorite was none other than
Ani, the descendant of the great Hatasu, whose prophet had been graced
by the transfer to him of the heart of the sacred rain. All eyes were
fixed on Ani, who had sacrificed before all the people to the sacred
heart, and received the high-priest’s blessing.

Pentaur, too, had ended his discourse when Bent-Anat reached the scene
of the festival. She heard an old man say to his son:

“Life is hard. It often seems to me like a heavy burden laid on our
poor backs by the cruel Gods; but when I heard the young priest from the
House of Seti, I felt that, after all, the Immortals are good, and we
have much to thank them for.”

In another place a priest’s wife said to her son:

“Could you see Pentaur well, Hor-Uza? He is of humble birth, but he
stands above the greatest in genius and gifts, and will rise to high

Two girls were speaking together, and one said to the other:

“The speaker is the handsomest man I ever saw, and his voice sounds like
soft music.”

“And how his eyes shone when he spoke of truth as the highest of all
virtues!” replied the other. “All the Gods, I believe, must dwell in

Bent-Anat colored as these words fell on her ear. It was growing dark,
and she wished to return home but Rameri wished to follow the procession
as it marched through the western valley by torch-light, so that the
grave of his grandfather Seti should also be visited. The princess
unwillingly yielded, but it would in any case have been difficult to
reach the river while every one was rushing in the opposite direction;
so the two ladies, and Rameri, let themselves be carried along by the
crowd, and by the time the daylight was gone, they found themselves
in the western valley, where to-night no beasts of prey dared show
themselves; jackals and hyenas had fled before the glare of the torches,
and the lanterns made of colored papyrus.

The smoke of the torches mingled with the dust stirred by a thousand
feet, and the procession moved along, as it were, in a cloud, which also
shrouded the multitude that followed.

The three companions had labored on as far as the hovel of the
paraschites Pinem, but here they were forced to pause, for guards
drove back the crowd to the right and left with long staves, to clear a
passage for the procession as it approached.

“See, Rameri,” said Bent-Anat, pointing out the little yard of the hut
which stood only a few paces from them. “That is where the fair, white
girl lives, whom I ran over. But she is much better. Turn round; there,
behind the thorn-hedge, by the little fire which shines full in your
(her? D.W.) face--there she sits, with her grandfather.”

The prince stood on tip-toe, looked into the humble plot of ground, and
then said in a subdued voice “What a lovely creature! But what is she
doing with the old man? He seems to be praying, and she first holds
a handkerchief before his mouth, and then rubs his temples. And how
unhappy she looks!”

“The paraschites must be ill,” replied Bent-Anat. “He must have had too
much wine down at the feast,” said Rameri laughing. “No doubt of it!
Only look how his lips tremble, and his eyes roll. It is hideous--he
looks like one possessed.”

   [It was thought that the insane were possessed by demons. A stele
   admirably treated by F. de Rouge exists at Paris, which relates
   that the sister-in law of Rameses III., who was possessed by devils,
   had them driven out by the statue of Chunsu, which was sent to her
   in Asia.]

“He is unclean too!” said Nefert.

“But he is a good, kind man, with a tender heart,” exclaimed the
princess eagerly. “I have enquired about him. He is honest and sober,
and I am sure he is ill and not drunk.”

“Now she is standing up,” said Rameri, and he dropped the paper-lantern
which he had bought at a booth. “Step back, Bent-Anat, she must be
expecting some one. Did you ever see any one so very fair, and with such
a pretty little head. Even her red hair becomes her wonderfully; but
she staggers as she stands--she must be very weak. Now she has sat down
again by the old man, and is rubbing his forehead. Poor souls! look how
she is sobbing. I will throw my purse over to them.”

“No, no!” exclaimed Bent-Anat. “I gave them plenty of money, and the
tears which are shed there cannot be staunched with gold. I will send
old Asnath over to-morrow to ask how we can help them. Look, here comes
the procession, Nefert. How rudely the people press! As soon as the God
is gone by we will go home.”

“Pray do,” said Nefert. “I am so frightened!” and she pressed trembling
to the side of the princess.

“I wish we were at home, too,” replied Bent-Anat.

“Only look!” said Rameri. “There they are. Is it not splendid? And how
the heart shines, as if it were a star!”

All the crowd, and with them our three friends, fell on their knees.

The procession paused opposite to them, as it did at every thousand
paces; a herald came forward, and glorified, in a loud voice, the great
miracle, to which now another was added--the sacred heart since the
night had come on had begun to give out light.

Since his return home from the embalming house, the paraschites had
taken no nourishment, and had not answered a word to the anxious
questions of the two frightened women. He stared blindly, muttered a few
unintelligible words, and often clasped his forehead in his hand. A few
hours before he had laughed loud and suddenly, and his wife, greatly
alarmed, had gone at once to fetch the physician Nebsecht.

During her absence Uarda was to rub her grandfather’s temples with the
leaves which the witch Hekt had laid on her bruises, for as they had
once proved efficacious they might perhaps a second time scare away the
demon of sickness.

When the procession, with its thousand lamps and torches, paused before
the hovel, which was almost invisible in the dusk, and one citizen said
to another: “Here comes the sacred heart!” the old man started, and
stood up. His eyes stared fixedly at the gleaming relic in its crystal
case; slowly, trembling in every limb, and with outstretched neck he
stood up.

The herald began his eulogy of the miracle.

Then, while all the people were prostrate in adoration, listening
motionless to the loud voice of the speaker, the paraschites rushed
out of his gate, striking his forehead with his fists, and opposite the
sacred heart, he broke out into a mad, loud fit of scornful laughter,
which re-echoed from the bare cliffs that closed in the valley.

Horror full on the crowd, who rose timidly from their knees.

Ameni, who too, was close behind the heart, started too and looked round
on the author of this hideous laugh. He had never seen the paraschites,
but he perceived the glimmer of his little fire through the dust and
gloom, and he knew that he lived in this place. The whole case struck
him at once; he whispered a few significant words to one of the officers
who marched with the troops on each side of the procession; then he gave
the signal, and the procession moved on as if nothing had happened.

The old man tried with still more loud and crazy laughter to reach and
seize the heart, but the crowd kept him back; and while the last groups
passed on after the priests, he contrived to slip back as far as the
door of his hovel, though much damaged and hurt.

There he fell, and Uarda rushed out and threw herself over the old man,
who lay on the earth, scarcely recognizable in the dust and darkness.

“Crush the scoffer!”

“Tear him in pieces!”

“Burn down the foul den!”

“Throw him and the wench into the fire!” shouted the people who had been
disturbed in their devotions, with wild fury.

Two old women snatched the lanterns froth the posts, and flung them at
the unfortunate creatures, while an Ethiopian soldier seized Uarda by
the hair, and tore her away from her grandfather.

At this moment Pinem’s wife appeared, and with her Pentaur. She had
found not Nebsecht, but Pentaur, who had returned to the temple after
his speech. She had told him of the demon who had fallen upon her
husband, and implored him to come with her. Pentaur immediately followed
her in his working dress, just as he was, without putting on the white
priest’s robe, which he did not wish to wear on this expedition.

When they drew near to the paraschites’ hovel, he perceived the tumult
among the people, and, loud above all the noise, heard Uarda’s shrill
cry of terror. He hurried forward, and in the dull light of the
scattered fire-brands and colored lanterns, he saw the black hand of the
soldier clutching the hair of the helpless child; quick as thought he
gripped the soldier’s throat with his iron fingers, seized him round the
body, swung him in the air, and flung him like a block of stone right
into the little yard of the hut.

The people threw themselves on the champion in a frenzy of rage, but he
felt a sudden warlike impulse surging up in him, which he had never
felt before. With one wrench he pulled out the heavy wooden pole, which
supported the awning which the old paraschites had put up for his sick
grandchild; he swung it round his head, as if it were a reed, driving
back the crowd, while he called to Uarda to keep close to him.

“He who touches the child is a dead man!” he cried. “Shame on
you!--falling on a feeble old man and a helpless child in the middle of
a holy festival!”

For a moment the crowd was silent, but immediately after rushed forward
with fresh impetus, and wilder than ever rose the shouts of:

“Tear him to pieces! burn his house down!”

A few artisans from Thebes closed round the poet, who was not
recognizable as a priest. He, however, wielding his tent-pole, felled
them before they could reach him with their fists or cudgels, and down
went every man on whom it fell. But the struggle could not last long,
for some of his assailants sprang over the fence, and attacked him in
the rear. And now Pentaur was distinctly visible against a background of
flaring light, for some fire-brands had fallen on the dry palm-thatch of
the hovel behind him, and roaring flames rose up to the dark heavens.

The poet heard the threatening blaze behind him. He put his left hand
round the head of the trembling girl, who crouched beside him, and
feeling that now they both were lost, but that to his latest breath he
must protect the innocence and life of this frail creature, with his
right hand he once more desperately swung the heavy stake.

But it was for the last time; for two men succeeded in clutching the
weapon, others came to their support, and wrenched it from his hand,
while the mob closed upon him, furious but unarmed, and not without
great fear of the enormous strength of their opponent.

Uarda clung to her protector with shortened breath, and trembling like
a hunted antelope. Pentaur groaned when he felt himself disarmed, but
at that instant a youth stood by his side, as if he had sprung from the
earth, who put into his hand the sword of the fallen soldier--who lay
near his feet--and who then, leaning his back against Pentaur’s, faced
the foe on the other side. Pentaur pulled himself together, sent out a
battle-cry like some fighting hero who is defending his last stronghold,
and brandished his new weapon. He stood with flaming eyes, like a lion
at bay, and for a moment the enemy gave way, for his young ally Rameri,
had taken a hatchet, and held it up in a threatening manner.

“The cowardly murderers are flinging fire-brands,” cried the prince.
“Come here, girl, and I will put out the pitch on your dress.”

He seized Uarda’s hand, drew her to him, and hastily put out the flame,
while Pentaur protected them with his sword.

The prince and the poet stood thus back to back for a few moments, when
a stone struck Pentaur’s head; he staggered, and the crowd were rushing
upon him, when the little fence was torn away by a determined hand,
a tall womanly form appeared on the scene of combat, and cried to the
astonished mob:

“Have done with this! I command you! I am Bent-Anat, the daughter of

The angry crowd gave way in sheer astonishment. Pentaur had recovered
from the stunning blow, but he thought he must be under some illusion.
He felt as if he must throw himself on his knees before Bent-Anat, but
his mind had been trained under Ameni to rapid reflection; he realized,
in a flash of thought, the princess’s position, and instead of bowing
before her he exclaimed:

“Whoever this woman may be, good folks, she is not Bent-Anat the
princess, but I, though I have no white robe on, am a priest of Seti,
named Pentaur, and the Cherheb of to-day’s festival. Leave this spot,
woman, I command you, in right of my sacred office.”

And Bent-Anat obeyed.

Pentaur was saved; for just as the people began to recover from their
astonishment just as those whom he had hurt were once more inciting the
mob to fight just as a boy, whose hand he had crushed, was crying out:
“He is not a priest, he is a sword’s-man. Down with the liar!”

A voice from the crowd exclaimed:

“Make way for my white robe, and leave the preacher Pentaur alone, he is
my friend. You most of you know me.”

“You are Nebsecht the leech, who set my broken leg,” cried a sailor.

“And cured my bad eye,” said a weaver.

“That tall handsome man is Pentaur, I know him well,” cried the girl,
whose opinion had been overheard by Bent-Anat.

“Preacher this, preacher that!” shouted the boy, and he would have
rushed forward, but the people held him back, and divided respectfully
at Nebsecht’s command to make way for him to get at those who had been

First he stooped over the old paraschites.

“Shame upon you!” he exclaimed.--“You have killed the old man.”

“And I,” said Pentaur, “Have dipped my peaceful hand in blood to save
his innocent and suffering grandchild from a like fate.”

“Scorpions, vipers, venomous reptiles, scum of men!” shrieked Nebsecht,
and he sprang wildly forward, seeking Uarda. When he saw her sitting
safe at the feet of old Hekt, who had made her way into the courtyard,
he drew a deep breath of relief, and turned his attention to the

“Did you knock down all that are lying here?” he whispered to his

Pentaur nodded assent and smiled; but not in triumph, rather in shame;
like a boy, who has unintentionally squeezed to death in his hand a bird
he has caught.

Nebsecht looked round astonished and anxious. “Why did you not say who
you were?” he asked. “Because the spirit of the God Menth possessed me,”
 answered Pentaur. “When I saw that accursed villain there with his hand
in the girl’s hair, I heard and saw nothing, I--”

“You did right,” interrupted Nebsecht. “But where will all this end?”

At this moment a flourish of trumpets rang through the little valley.
The officer sent by Ameni to apprehend the paraschites came up with his

Before he entered the court-yard he ordered the crowd to disperse; the
refractory were driven away by force, and in a few minutes the valley
was cleared of the howling and shouting mob, and the burning house was
surrounded by soldiers. Bent-Anat, Rameri, and Nefert were obliged to
quit their places by the fence; Rameri, so soon as he saw that Uarda was
safe, had rejoined his sister.

Nefert was almost fainting with fear and excitement. The two servants,
who had kept near them, knit their hands together, and thus carried
her in advance of the princess. Not one of them spoke a word, not even
Rameri, who could not forget Uarda, and the look of gratitude she bid
sent after him. Once only Bent-Anat said:

“The hovel is burnt down. Where will the poor souls sleep to-night?”

When the valley was clear, the officer entered the yard, and found
there, besides Uarda and the witch Hekt, the poet, and Nebsecht, who was
engaged in tending the wounded.

Pentaur shortly narrated the affair to the captain, and named himself to

The soldier offered him his hand.

“If there were many men in Rameses’ army,” said he, “who could strike
such a blow as you, the war with the Cheta would soon be at an end. But
you have struck down, not Asiatics, but citizens of Thebes, and, much as
I regret it, I must take you as a prisoner to Ameni.”

“You only do your duty,” replied Pentaur, bowing to the captain, who
ordered his men to take up the body of the paraschites, and to bear it
to the temple of Seti.

“I ought to take the girl in charge too,” he added, turning to Pentaur.

“She is ill,” replied the poet.

“And if she does not get some rest,” added Nebsecht, “she will be dead.
Leave her alone; she is under the particular protection of the princess
Bent-Anat, who ran over her not long ago.”

“I will take her into my house,” said Hekt, “and will take care of her.
Her grandmother is lying there; she was half choked by the flames, but
she will soon come to herself--and I have room for both.”

“Till to-morrow,” replied the surgeon. “Then I will provide another
shelter for her.”

The old woman laughed and muttered: “There are plenty of folks to take
care of her, it seems.”

The soldiers obeyed the command of their leader, took up the wounded,
and went away with Pentaur, and the body of Pinem.

Meanwhile, Bent-Anat and her party had with much difficulty reached
the river-bank. One of the bearers was sent to find the boat which was
waiting for them, and he was enjoined to make haste, for already they
could see the approach of the procession, which escorted the God on his
return journey. If they could not succeed in finding their boat without
delay, they must wait at least an hour, for, at night, not a boat
that did not belong to the train of Amon--not even the barge of a
noble--might venture from shore till the whole procession was safe

They awaited the messenger’s signal in the greatest anxiety, for Nefert
was perfectly exhausted, and Bent-Anat, on whom she leaned, felt her
trembling in every limb.

At last the bearer gave the signal; the swift, almost invisible bark,
which was generally used for wild fowl shooting, shot by--Rameri seized
one end of an oar that the rower held out to him, and drew the little
boat up to the landing-place.

The captain of the watch passed at the same moment, and shouting out,
“This is the last boat that can put off before the passage of the God!”

Bent-Anat descended the steps as quickly as Nefert’s exhausted state
permitted. The landing-place was now only dimly lighted by dull
lanterns, though, when the God embarked, it would be as light as day
with cressets and torches. Before she could reach the bottom step, with
Nefert still clinging heavily to her arm, a hard hand was laid on her
shoulder, and the rough voice of Paaker exclaimed:

“Stand back, you rabble! We are going first.” The captain of the watch
did not stop him, for he knew the chief pioneer and his overbearing
ways. Paaker put his finger to his lips, and gave a shrill whistle that
sounded like a yell in the silence.

The stroke of oars responded to the call, and Paaker called out to his

“Bring the boat up here! these people can wait!” The pioneer’s boat was
larger and better manned than that of the princess.

“Jump into the boat!” cried Rameri.

Bent-Anat went forward without speaking, for she did not wish to make
herself known again for the sake of the people, and for Nefert’s; but
Paaker put himself in her way.

“Did I not tell you that you common people must wait till we are gone.
Push these people’s boat out into the stream, you men.”

Bent-Anat felt her blood chill, for a loud squabble at once began on the

Rameri’s voice sounded louder than all the rest; but the pioneer

“The low brutes dare to resist? I will teach them manners! Here,
Descher, look after the woman and these boys!”

At his call his great red hound barked and sprang forward, which, as it
had belonged to his father, always accompanied him when he went with his
mother to visit the ancestral tomb. Nefert shrieked with fright, but
the dog at once knew her, and crouched against her with whines of

Paaker, who had gone down to his boat, turned round in astonishment,
and saw his dog fawning at the feet of a boy whom he could not possibly
recognize as Nefert; he sprang back, and cried out:

“I will teach you, you young scoundrel, to spoil my dog with spells--or

He raised his whip, and struck it across the shoulders of Nefert, who,
with one scream of terror and anguish, fell to the ground.

The lash of the whip only whistled close by the cheek of the poor
fainting woman, for Bent-Anat had seized Paaker’s arm with all her

Rage, disgust, and scorn stopped her utterance; but Rameri had heard
Nefert’s shriek, and in two steps stood by the women.

“Cowardly scoundrel!” he cried, and lifted the oar in his hand. Paaker
evaded the blow, and called to the dog with a peculiar hiss:

“Pull him down, Descher.”

The hound flew at the prince; but Rameri, who from his childhood, had
been his father’s companion in many hunts and field sports, gave the
furious brute such a mighty blow on the muzzle that he rolled over with
a snort.

Paaker believed that he possessed in the whole world no more faithful
friend than this dog, his companion on all his marches across desert
tracts or through the enemy’s country, and when he saw him writhing on
the ground his rage knew no bounds, and he flew at the youngster with
his whip; but Rameri--madly excited by all the events of the night, full
of the warlike spirit of his fathers, worked up to the highest pitch
by the insults to the two ladies, and seeing that he was their only
protector--suddenly felt himself endowed with the strength of a man; he
dealt the pioneer such a heavy blow on the left hand, that he dropped
his whip, and now seized the dagger in his girdle with his right.

Bent-Anat threw herself between the man and the stripling, who was
hardly more than a boy, once more declared her name, and this time her
brother’s also, and commanded Paaker to make peace among the boatmen.
Then she led Nefert, who remained unrecognized, into the boat, entered
it herself with her companions, and shortly after landed at the palace,
while Paaker’s mother, for whom he had called his boat, had yet a long
time to wait before it could start. Setchem had seen the struggle from
her litter at the top of the landing steps, but without understanding
its origin, and without recognizing the chief actors.

The dog was dead. Paaker’s hand was very painful, and fresh rage was
seething in his soul.

“That brood of Rameses!” he muttered. “Adventurers! They shall learn to
know me. Mena and Rameses are closely connected--I will sacrifice them


At last the pioneer’s boat got off with his mother and the body of the
dog, which he intended to send to be embalmed at Kynopolis, the city in
which the dog was held sacred above all animals;

   [Kynopolis, or in old Egyptian Saka, is now Samalut; Anubis was the
   chief divinity worshipped there. Plutarch relates a quarrel between
   the inhabitants of this city, and the neighboring one of Oxyrynchos,
   where the fish called Oxyrynchos was worshipped. It began because
   the Kynopolitans eat the fish, and in revenge the Oxyrynchites
   caught and killed dogs, and consumed them in sacrifices. Juvenal
   relates a similar story of the Ombites--perhaps Koptites--and
   Pentyrites in the 15th Satire.]

Paaker himself returned to the House of Seti, where, in the night which
closed the feast day, there was always a grand banquet for the superior
priests of the Necropolis and of the temples of eastern Thebes, for the
representatives of other foundations, and for select dignitaries of the

His father had never failed to attend this entertainment when he was
in Thebes, but he himself had to-day for the first time received the
much-coveted honor of an invitation, which--Ameni told him when he gave
it--he entirely owed to the Regent.

His mother had tied up his hand, which Rameri had severely hurt; it was
extremely painful, but he would not have missed the banquet at any cost,
although he felt some alarm of the solemn ceremony. His family was as
old as any in Egypt, his blood purer than the king’s, and nevertheless
he never felt thoroughly at home in the company of superior people. He
was no priest, although a scribe; he was a warrior, and yet he did not
rank with royal heroes.

He had been brought up to a strict fulfilment of his duty, and he
devoted himself zealously to his calling; but his habits of life were
widely different from those of the society in which he had been brought
up--a society of which his handsome, brave, and magnanimous father had
been a chief ornament. He did not cling covetously to his inherited
wealth, and the noble attribute of liberality was not strange to him,
but the coarseness of his nature showed itself most when he was most
lavish, for he was never tired of exacting gratitude from those whom he
had attached to him by his gifts, and he thought he had earned the right
by his liberality to meet the recipient with roughness or arrogance,
according to his humor. Thus it happened that his best actions procured
him not friends but enemies.

Paaker’s was, in fact, an ignoble, that is to say, a selfish nature; to
shorten his road he trod down flowers as readily as he marched over the
sand of the desert. This characteristic marked him in all things,
even in his outward demeanor; in the sound of his voice, in his broad
features, in the swaggering gait of his stumpy figure.

In camp he could conduct himself as he pleased; but this was not
permissible in the society of his equals in rank; for this reason,
and because those faculties of quick remark and repartee, which
distinguished them, had been denied to him, he felt uneasy and out of
his element when he mixed with them, and he would hardly have accepted
Ameni’s invitation, if it had not so greatly flattered his vanity.

It was already late; but the banquet did not begin till midnight, for
the guests, before it began, assisted at the play which was performed by
lamp and torch-light on the sacred lake in the south of the Necropolis,
and which represented the history of Isis and Osiris.

When he entered the decorated hall in which the tables were prepared, he
found all the guests assembled. The Regent Ani was present, and sat
on Ameni’s right at the top of the centre high-table at which several
places were unoccupied; for the prophets and the initiated of the temple
of Amon had excused themselves from being present. They were faithful to
Rameses and his house; their grey-haired Superior disapproved of Ameni’s
severity towards the prince and princess, and they regarded the miracle
of the sacred heart as a malicious trick of the chiefs of the Necropolis
against the great temple of the capital for which Rameses had always
shown a preference.

The pioneer went up to the table, where sat the general of the troops
that had just returned victorious from Ethiopia, and several other
officers of high rank, There was a place vacant next to the general.
Paaker fixed his eyes upon this, but when he observed that the officer
signed to the one next to him to come a little nearer, the pioneer
imagined that each would endeavor to avoid having him for his neighbor,
and with an angry glance he turned his back on the table where the
warriors sat.

The Mohar was not, in fact, a welcome boon-companion. “The wine turns
sour when that churl looks at it,” said the general.

The eyes of all the guests turned on Paaker, who looked round for a
seat, and when no one beckoned him to one he felt his blood begin to
boil. He would have liked to leave the banqueting hall at once with a
swingeing curse. He had indeed turned towards the door, when the Regent,
who had exchanged a few whispered words with Ameni, called to him,
requested him to take the place that had been reserved for him, and
pointed to the seat by his side, which had in fact been intended for the
high-priest of the temple of Amon.

Paaker bowed low, and took the place of honor, hardly daring to look
round the table, lest he should encounter looks of surprise or of
mockery. And yet he had pictured to himself his grandfather Assa, and
his father, as somewhere near this place of honor, which had actually
often enough been given up to them. And was he not their descendant and
heir? Was not his mother Setchem of royal race? Was not the temple of
Seti more indebted to him than to any one?

A servant laid a garland of flowers round his shoulders, and another
handed him wine and food. Then he raised his eyes, and met the bright
and sparkling glance of Gagabu; he looked quickly down again at the

Then the Regent spoke to him, and turning to the other guests mentioned
that Paaker was on the point of starting next day for Syria, and
resuming his arduous labors as Mohar. It seemed to Paaker that the
Regent was excusing himself for having given him so high a place of

Presently Ani raised his wine-cup, and drank to the happy issue of his
reconnoitring-expedition, and a victorious conclusion to every struggle
in which the Mohar might engage. The high-priest then pledged him, and
thanked him emphatically in the name of the brethren of the temple, for
the noble tract of arable land which he had that morning given them as
a votive offering. A murmur of approbation ran round the tables, and
Paaker’s timidity began to diminish.

He had kept the wrappings that his mother had applied round his still
aching hand.

“Are you wounded?” asked the Regent.

“Nothing of importance,” answered the pioneer. “I was helping my mother
into the boat, and it happened--”

“It happened,” interrupted an old school-fellow of the Mohar’s,
who himself held a high appointment as officer of the city-watch of
Thebes--“It happened that an oar or a stake fell on his fingers.”

“Is it possible!” cried the Regent.

“And quite a youngster laid hands on him,” continued the officer. “My
people told me every detail. First the boy killed his dog--”

“That noble Descher?” asked the master of the hunt in a tone of regret.
“Your father was often by my side with that dog at a boar-hunt.”

Paaker bowed his head; but the officer of the watch, secure in his
position and dignity, and taking no notice of the glow of anger which
flushed Paaker’s face, began again:

“When the hound lay on the ground, the foolhardy boy struck your dagger
out of your hand.”

“And did this squabble lead to any disturbance?” asked Ameni earnestly.

“No,” replied the officer. “The feast has passed off to-day with unusual
quiet. If the unlucky interruption to the procession by that crazy
paraschites had not occurred, we should have nothing but praise for the
populace. Besides the fighting priest, whom we have handed over to you,
only a few thieves have been apprehended, and they belong exclusively to
the caste,

   [According to Diodorous (I. 80) there was a cast of thieves in
   Thebes. All citizens were obliged to enter their names in a
   register, and state where they lived, and the thieves did the same.
   The names were enrolled by the “chief of the thieves,” and all
   stolen goods had to be given up to him. The person robbed had to
   give a written description of the object he had lost, and a
   declaration as to when and where he had lost it. The stolen
   property was then easily recovered, and restored to the owner on
   the payment of one fourth of its value, which was given to the
   thief. A similar state of things existed at Cairo within a
   comparatively short time.]

so we simply take their booty from them, and let them go. But say,
Paaker, what devil of amiability took possession of you down by the
river, that you let the rascal escape unpunished.”

“Did you do that?” exclaimed Gagabu. “Revenge is usually your--”

Ameni threw so warning a glance at the old man, that he suddenly broke
off, and then asked the pioneer: “How did the struggle begin, and who
was the fellow?”

“Some insolent people,” said Paaker, “wanted to push in front of the
boat that was waiting for my mother, and I asserted my rights. The
rascal fell upon me, and killed my dog and--by my Osirian father!--the
crocodiles would long since have eaten him if a woman had not come
between us, and made herself known to me as Bent-Anat, the daughter of
Rameses. It was she herself, and the rascal was the young prince Rameri,
who was yesterday forbidden this temple.”

“Oho!” cried the old master of the hunt. “Oho! my lord! Is this the way
to speak of the children of the king?”

Others of the company who were attached to Pharaoh’s family expressed
their indignation; but Ameni whispered to Paaker--“Say no more!” then he
continued aloud:

“You never were careful in weighing your words, my friend, and now,
as it seems to me, you are speaking in the heat of fever. Come here,
Gagabu, and examine Paaker’s wound, which is no disgrace to him--for it
was inflicted by a prince.”

The old man loosened the bandage from the pioneer’s swollen hand.

“That was a bad blow,” he exclaimed; “three fingers are broken, and--do
you see?--the emerald too in your signet ring.”

Paaker looked down at his aching fingers, and uttered a sigh of rehef,
for it was not the oracular ring with the name of Thotmes III., but
the valuable one given to his father by the reigning king that had been
crushed. Only a few solitary fragments of the splintered stone remained
in the setting; the king’s name had fallen to pieces, and disappeared.
Paaker’s bloodless lips moved silently, and an inner voice cried out to
him: “The Gods point out the way! The name is gone, the bearer of the
name must follow.”

“It is a pity about the ring,” said Gagabu. “And if the hand is not
to follow it--luckily it is your left hand--leave off drinking, let
yourself be taken to Nebsecht the surgeon, and get him to set the joints
neatly, and bind them up.”

Paaker rose, and went away after Ameni had appointed to meet him on the
following day at the Temple of Seti, and the Regent at the palace.

When the door had closed behind him, the treasurer of the temple said:

“This has been a bad day for the Mohar, and perhaps it will teach him
that here in Thebes he cannot swagger as he does in the field. Another
adventure occurred to him to-day; would you like to hear it?”

“Yes; tell it!” cried the guests.

“You all knew old Seni,” began the treasurer. “He was a rich man, but he
gave away all his goods to the poor, after his seven blooming sons, one
after another, had died in the war, or of illness. He only kept a small
house with a little garden, and said that as the Gods had taken his
children to themselves in the other world he would take pity on the
forlorn in this. ‘Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the
naked’ says the law; and now that Seni has nothing more to give away,
he goes through the city, as you know, hungry and thirsty himself, and
scarcely clothed, and begging for his adopted children, the poor. We
have all given to him, for we all know for whom he humbles himself,
and holds out his hand. To-day he went round with his little bag, and
begged, with his kind good eyes, for alms. Paaker has given us a good
piece of arable land, and thinks, perhaps with reason, that he has done
his part. When Seni addressed him, he told him to go; but the old man
did not give up asking him, he followed him persistently to the grave
of his father, and a great many people with him. Then the pioneer pushed
him angrily back, and when at last the beggar clutched his garment,
he raised his whip, and struck him two or three times, crying out:
‘There-that is your portion!’ The good old man bore it quite patiently,
while he untied the bag, and said with tears in his eyes: ‘My
portion--yes--but not the portion of the poor!’

“I was standing near, and I saw how Paaker hastily withdrew into the
tomb, and how his mother Setchem threw her full purse to Seni. Others
followed her example, and the old man never had a richer harvest. The
poor may thank the Mohar! A crowd of people collected in front of the
tomb, and he would have fared badly if it had not been for the police
guard who drove them away.”

During this narrative, which was heard with much approval--for no one is
more secure of his result than he who can tell of the downfall of a man
who is disliked for his arrogance--the Regent and the high-priest had
been eagerly whispering to each other.

“There can be no doubt,” said Ameni, “that Bent-Anat did actually come
to the festival.”

“And had also dealings with the priest whom you so warmly defend,”
 whispered the other.

“Pentaur shall be questioned this very night,” returned the high-priest.
“The dishes will soon be taken away, and the drinking will begin. Let us
go and hear what the poet says.”

“But there are now no witnesses,” replied Ani.

“We do not need them,” said Ameni. “He is incapable of a lie.”

“Let us go then,” said the Regent smiling, “for I am really curious
about this white negro, and how he will come to terms with the truth.
You have forgotten that there is a woman in the case.”

“That there always is!” answered Ameni; he called Gagabu to him, gave
him his seat, begged him to keep up the flow of cheerful conversation,
to encourage the guests to drink, and to interrupt all talk of the king,
the state, or the war.

“You know,” he concluded, “that we are not by ourselves this evening.
Wine has, before this, betrayed everything! Remember this--the mother of
foresight looks backwards!”

Ani clapped his hand on the old man’s shoulder. “There will be a space
cleared to-night in your winelofts. It is said of you that you cannot
bear to see either a full glass or an empty one; to-night give your
aversion to both free play. And when you think it is the right moment,
give a sign to my steward, who is sitting there in the corner. He has a
few jars of the best liquor from Byblos, that he brought over with
him, and he will bring it to you. I will come in again and bid you
good-night.” Ameni was accustomed to leave the hall at the beginning of
the drinking.

When the door was closed behind him and his companion, when fresh
rose-garlands had been brought for the necks of the company, when lotus
blossoms decorated their heads, and the beakers were refilled, a choir
of musicians came in, who played on harps, lutes, flutes, and small
drums. The conductor beat the time by clapping his hands, and when the
music had raised the spirits of the drinkers, they seconded his efforts
by rhythmical clippings. The jolly old Gagabu kept up his character as a
stout drinker, and leader of the feast.

The most priestly countenances soon beamed with cheerfulness, and the
officers and courtiers outdid each other in audacious jokes. Then the
old man signed to a young temple-servant, who wore a costly wreath; he
came forward with a small gilt image of a mummy, carried it round the
circle and cried:

“Look at this, be merry and drink so long as you are on earth, for soon
you must be like this.”

   [A custom mentioned by Herodotus. Lucian saw such an image brought
   in at a feast. The Greeks adopted the idea, but beautified it,
   using a winged Genius of death instead of a mummy. The Romans also
   had their “larva.”]

Gagabu gave another signal, and the Regent’s steward brought in the wine
from Byblos. Ani was much lauded for the wonderful choiceness of the

“Such wine,” exclaimed the usually grave chief of the pastophori, “is
like soap.”

   [This comparison is genuinely Eastern. Kisra called wine “the soap
   of sorrow.” The Mohammedans, to whom wine is forbidden, have
   praised it like the guests of the House of Seti. Thus Abdelmalik
   ibn Salih Haschimi says: “The best thing the world enjoys is wine.”
    Gahiz says: “When wine enters thy bones and flows through thy limbs
   it bestows truth of feeling, and perfects the soul; it removes
   sorrow, elevates the mood, etc., etc.” When Ibn ‘Aischah was told
   that some one drank no wine, he said: “He has thrice disowned the
   world.” Ibn el Mu’tazz sang:

   “Heed not time, how it may linger, or how swiftly take its flight,
   Wail thy sorrows only to the wine before thee gleaming bright.
   But when thrice thou st drained the beaker watch and ward
     keep o’er thy heart.
   Lest the foam of joy should vanish, and thy soul with anguish smart,
   This for every earthly trouble is a sovereign remedy,
   Therefore listen to my counsel, knowing what will profit thee,
   Heed not time, for ah, how many a man has longed in pain
   Tale of evil days to lighten--and found all his longing vain.”
              --Translated by Mary J. Safford.]

“What a simile!” cried Gagabu. “You must explain it.”

“It cleanses the soul of sorrow,” answered the other. “Good, friend!”
 they all exclaimed. “Now every one in turn shall praise the noble juice
in some worthy saying.”

“You begin--the chief prophet of the temple of Atnenophis.”

“Sorrow is a poison,” said the priest, “and wine is the antidote.”

“Well said!--go on; it is your turn, my lord privy councillor.”

“Every thing has its secret spring,” said the official, “and wine is the
secret of joy.”

“Now you, my lord keeper of the seal.”

“Wine seals the door on discontent, and locks the gates on sorrow.”

“That it does, that it certainly does!--Now the governor of Hermothis,
the oldest of all the company.”

“Wine ripens especially for us old folks, and not for you young people.”

“That you must explain,” cried a voice from the table of the military

“It makes young men of the old,” laughed the octogenarian, “and children
of the young.”

“He has you there, you youngsters,” cried Gagabu. “What have you to say,

“Wine is a poison,” said the morose haruspex, “for it makes fools of
wise men.”

“Then you have little to fear from it, alas!” said Gagabu laughing.
“Proceed, my lord of the chase.”

“The rim of the beaker,” was the answer, “is like the lip of the woman
you love. Touch it, and taste it, and it is as good as the kiss of a

“General--the turn is yours.”

“I wish the Nile ran with such wine instead of with water,” cried the
soldier, “and that I were as big as the colossus of Atnenophis, and that
the biggest obelisk of Hatasu were my drinking vessel, and that I might
drink as much as I would! But now--what have you to say of this noble
liquor, excellent Gagabu?”

The second prophet raised his beaker, and gazed lovingly at the golden
fluid; he tasted it slowly, and then said with his eyes turned to

“I only fear that I am unworthy to thank the Gods for such a divine

“Well said!” exclaimed the Regent Ani, who had re-entered the room
unobserved. “If my wine could speak, it would thank you for such a

“Hail to the Regent Ani!” shouted the guests, and they all rose with
their cups filled with his noble present.

He pledged them and then rose.

“Those,” said he, “who have appreciated this wine, I now invite to dine
with me to-morrow. You will then meet with it again, and if you still
find it to your liking, you will be heartily welcome any evening. Now,
good night, friends.”

A thunder of applause followed him, as he quitted the room.

The morning was already grey, when the carousing-party broke up; few of
the guests could find their way unassisted through the courtyard; most
of them had already been carried away by the slaves, who had waited for
them--and who took them on their heads, like bales of goods--and had
been borne home in their litters; but for those who remained to the end,
couches were prepared in the House of Seti, for a terrific storm was now

While the company were filling and refilling the beakers, which raised
their spirits to so wild a pitch, the prisoner Pentaur had been examined
in the presence of the Regent. Ameni’s messenger had found the poet
on his knees, so absorbed in meditation that he did not perceive his
approach. All his peace of mind had deserted him, his soul was in a
tumult, and he could not succeed in obtaining any calm and clear control
over the new life-pulses which were throbbing in his heart.

He had hitherto never gone to rest at night without requiring of himself
an account of the past day, and he had always been able to detect the
most subtle line that divided right from wrong in his actions. But
to-night he looked back on a perplexing confusion of ideas and events,
and when he endeavored to sort them and arrange them, he could see
nothing clearly but the image of Bent-Anat, which enthralled his heart
and intellect.

He had raised his hand against his fellow-men, and dipped it in blood,
he desired to convince himself of his sin, and to repent but he could
not; for each time he recalled it, to blame and condemn himself, he
saw the soldier’s hand twisted in Uarda’s hair, and the princess’s eyes
beaming with approbation, nay with admiration, and he said to himself
that he had acted rightly, and in the same position would do the same
again to-morrow. Still he felt that he had broken through all the
conditions with which fate had surrounded his existence, and it seemed
to him that he could never succeed in recovering the still, narrow, but
peaceful life of the past.

His soul went up in prayer to the Almighty One, and to the spirit of the
sweet humble woman whom he had called his mother, imploring for peace
of mind and modest content; but in vain--for the longer he remained
prostrate, flinging up his arms in passionate entreaty, the keener grew
his longings, the less he felt able to repent or to recognize his guilt.
Ameni’s order to appear before him came almost as a deliverance, and
he followed the messenger prepared for a severe punishment; but not
afraid--almost joyful.

In obedience to the command of the grave high-priest, Pentaur related
the whole occurrence--how, as there was no leech in the house, he
had gone with the old wife of the paraschites to visit her possessed
husband; how, to save the unhappy girl from ill-usage by the mob, he had
raised his hand in fight, and dealt indeed some heavy blows.

“You have killed four men,” said Ameni, “and severely wounded twice as
many. Why did you not reveal yourself as a priest, as the speaker of
the morning’s discourse? Why did you not endeavor to persuade the people
with words of warning, rather than with brute force?”

“I had no priest’s garment,” replied Pentaur. “There again you did
wrong,” said Ameni, “for you know that the law requires of each of
us never to leave this house without our white robes. But you cannot
pretend not to know your own powers of speech, nor to contradict me when
I assert that, even in the plainest working-dress, you were perfectly
able to produce as much effect with words as by deadly blows!” “I might
very likely have succeeded,” answered Pentaur, “but the most savage
temper ruled the crowd; there was no time for reflection, and when I
struck down the villain, like some reptile, who had seized the innocent
girl, the lust of fighting took possession of me. I cared no more for my
own life, and to save the child I would have slain thousands.”

“Your eyes sparkle,” said Ameni, “as if you had performed some heroic
feat; and yet the men you killed were only unarmed and pious citizens,
who were roused to indignation by a gross and shameless outrage. I
cannot conceive whence the warrior-spirit should have fallen on a
gardener’s son--and a minister of the Gods.”

“It is true,” answered Pentaur, “when the crowd rushed upon me, and I
drove them back, putting out all my strength, I felt something of the
warlike rage of the soldier, who repulses the pressing foe from the
standard committed to his charge. It was sinful in a priest, no doubt,
and I will repent of it--but I felt it.”

“You felt it--and you will repent of it, well and good,” replied Ameni.
“But you have not given a true account of all that happened. Why have
you concealed that Bent-Anat--Rameses’ daughter--was mixed up in the
fray, and that she saved you by announcing her name to the people, and
commanding them to leave you alone? When you gave her the lie before all
the people, was it because you did not believe that it was Bent-Anat?
Now, you who stand so firmly on so high a platform--now you
standard-bearer of the truth answer me.”

Pentaur had turned pale at his master’s words, and said, as he looked at
the Regent:

“We are not alone.”

“Truth is one!” said Ameni coolly. “What you can reveal to me, can also
be heard by this noble lord, the Regent of the king himself. Did you
recognize Bent-Anat, or not?”

“The lady who rescued me was like her, and yet unlike,” answered the
poet, whose blood was roused by the subtle irony of his Superior’s
words. “And if I had been as sure that she was the princess, as I am
that you are the man who once held me in honor, and who are now trying
to humiliate me, I would all the more have acted as I did to spare
a lady who is more like a goddess than a woman, and who, to save an
unworthy wretch like me, stooped from a throne to the dust.”

“Still the poet--the preacher!” said Ameni. Then he added severely. “I
beg for a short and clear answer. We know for certain that the princess
took part in the festival in the disguise of a woman of low rank, for
she again declared herself to Paaker; and we know that it was she who
saved you. But did you know that she meant to come across the Nile?”

“How should I?” asked Pentaur.

“Well, did you believe that it was Bent-Anat whom you saw before you
when she ventured on to the scene of conflict?”

“I did believe it,” replied Pentaur; he shuddered and cast down his

“Then it was most audacious to drive away the king’s daughter as an

“It was,” said Pentaur. “But for my sake she had risked the honor of her
name, and that of her royal father, and I--I should not have risked my
life and freedom for--”

“We have heard enough,” interrupted Ameni.

“Not so,” the Regent interposed. “What became of the girl you had

“An old witch, Hekt by name, a neighbor of Pinem’s, took her and her
grandmother into her cave,” answered the poet; who was then, by the
high-priest’s order, taken back to the temple-prison.

Scarcely had he disappeared when the Regent exclaimed:

“A dangerous man! an enthusiast! an ardent worshipper of Rameses!”

“And of his daughter,” laughed Ameni, “but only a worshipper. Thou hast
nothing to fear from him--I will answer for the purity of his motives.”

“But he is handsome and of powerful speech,” replied Ani. “I claim him
as my prisoner, for he has killed one of my soldiers.”

Ameni’s countenance darkened, and he answered very sternly:

“It is the exclusive right of our conclave, as established by our
charter, to judge any member of this fraternity. You, the future king,
have freely promised to secure our privileges to us, the champions of
your own ancient and sacred rights.”

“And you shall have them,” answered the Regent with a persuasive smile.
“But this man is dangerous, and you would not have him go unpunished.”

“He shall be severely judged,” said Ameni, “but by us and in this

“He has committed murder!” cried Ani. “More than one murder. He is
worthy of death.”

“He acted under pressure of necessity,” replied Ameni. “And a man so
favored by the Gods as he, is not to be lightly given up because an
untimely impulse of generosity prompted him to rash conduct. I know--I
can see that you wish him ill. Promise me, as you value me as an ally,
that you will not attempt his life.”

“Oh, willingly!” smiled the Regent, giving the high-priest his hand.

“Accept my sincere thanks,” said Ameni. “Pentaur was the most promising
of my disciples, and in spite of many aberrations I still esteem him
highly. When he was telling us of what had occurred to-day, did he not
remind you of the great Assa, or of his gallant son, the Osirian father
of the pioneer Paaker?”

“The likeness is extraordinary,” answered Ani, “and yet he is of quite
humble birth. Who was his mother?”

“Our gate-keeper’s daughter, a plain, pious, simple creature.”

“Now I will return to the banqueting hall,” said Ani, after a fete
moments of reflection. “But I must ask you one thing more. I spoke to
you of a secret that will put Paaker into our power. The old sorceress
Hekt, who has taken charge of the paraschites’ wife and grandchild,
knows all about it. Send some policeguards over there, and let her be
brought over here as a prisoner; I will examine her myself, and so can
question her without exciting observation.”

Ameni at once sent off a party of soldiers, and then quietly ordered a
faithful attendant to light up the so-called audience-chamber, and to
put a seat for him in an adjoining room.


While the banquet was going forward at the temple, and Ameni’s
messengers were on their way to the valley of the kings’ tombs, to waken
up old Hekt, a furious storm of hot wind came up from the southwest,
sweeping black clouds across the sky, and brown clouds of dust across
the earth. It bowed the slender palm-trees as an archer bends his bow,
tore the tentpegs up on the scene of the festival, whirled the light
tent-cloths up in the air, drove them like white witches through the
dark night, and thrashed the still surface of the Nile till its yellow
waters swirled and tossed in waves like a restless sea.

Paaker had compelled his trembling slaves to row him across the stream;
several times the boat was near being swamped, but he had seized the
helm himself with his uninjured hand, and guided it firmly and surely,
though the rocking of the boat kept his broken hand in great and
constant pain. After a few ineffectual attempts he succeeded in landing.
The storm had blown out the lanterns at the masts--the signal lights for
which his people looked--and he found neither servants nor torch-bearers
on the bank, so he struggled through the scorching wind as far as the
gate of his house. His big dog had always been wont to announce his
return home to the door-keeper with joyful barking; but to-night the
boatmen long knocked in vain at the heavy doer. When at last he entered
the court-yard, he found all dark, for the wind had extinguished the
lanterns and torches, and there were no lights but in the windows of his
mother’s rooms.

The dogs in their open kennels now began to make themselves heard, but
their tones were plaintive and whining, for the storm had frightened the
beasts; their howling cut the pioneer to the heart, for it reminded him
of the poor slain Descher, whose deep voice he sadly missed; and when he
went into his own room he was met by a wild cry of lamentation from the
Ethiopian slave, for the dog which he had trained for Paaker’s father,
and which he had loved.

The pioneer threw himself on a seat, and ordered some water to be
brought, that he might cool his aching hand in it, according to the
prescription of Nebsecht.

As soon as the old man saw the broken fingers, he gave another yell of
woe, and when Paaker ordered him to cease he asked:

“And is the man still alive who did that, and who killed Descher?”

Paaker nodded, and while he held his hand in the cooling water he looked
sullenly at the ground. He felt miserable, and he asked himself why
the storm had not swamped the boat, and the Nile had not swallowed him.
Bitterness and rage filled his breast, and he wished he were a child,
and might cry. But his mood soon changed, his breath came quickly,
his breast heaved, and an ominous light glowed in his eyes. He was not
thinking of his love, but of the revenge that was even dearer to him.

“That brood of Rameses!” he muttered. “I will sweep them all away
together--the king, and Mena, and those haughty princes, and many
more--I know how. Only wait, only wait!” and he flung up his right fist
with a threatening gesture.

The door opened at this instant, and his mother entered the room; the
raging of the storm had drowned the sound of her steps, and as she
approached her revengeful son, she called his name in horror at the mad
wrath which was depicted in his countenance. Paaker started, and then
said with apparent composure:

“Is it you, mother? It is near morning, and it is better to be asleep
than awake in such an hour.”

“I could not rest in my rooms,” answered Setchem. “The storm howled so
wildly, and I am so anxious, so frightfully unhappy--as I was before
your father died.”

“Then stay with me,” said Paaker affectionately, “and lie down on my

“I did not come here to sleep,” replied Setchem. “I am too unhappy at
all that happened to you on the larding-steps, it is frightful! No, no,
my son, it is not about your smashed hand, though it grieves me to see
you in pain; it is about the king, and his anger when he hears of the
quarrel. He favors you less than he did your lost father, I know it
well. But how wildly you smile, how wild you looked when I came in! It
went through my bones and marrow.”

Both were silent for a time, and listened to the furious raging of
the storm. At last Setchem spoke. “There is something else,” she said,
“which disturbs my mind. I cannot forget the poet who spoke at the
festival to-day, young Pentaur. His figure, his face, his movements, nay
his very voice, are exactly like those of your father at the time when
he was young, and courted me. It is as if the Gods were fain to see the
best man that they ever took to themselves, walk before them a second
time upon earth.”

“Yes, my lady,” said the black slave; “no mortal eye ever saw such a
likeness. I saw him fighting in front of the paraschites’ cottage, and
he was more like my dead master than ever. He swung the tent-post over
his head, as my lord used to swing his battle-axe.”

“Be silent,” cried Paaker, “and get out-idiot! The priest is like my
father; I grant it, mother; but he is an insolent fellow, who offended
me grossly, and with whom I have to reckon--as with many others.”

“How violent you are!” interrupted his mother, “and how full of
bitterness and hatred. Your father was so sweet-tempered, and kind to

“Perhaps they are kind to me?” retorted Paaker with a short laugh. “Even
the Immortals spite me, and throw thorns in my path. But I will push
them aside with my own hand, and will attain what I desire without the
help of the Gods and overthrow all that oppose me.”

“We cannot blow away a feather without the help of the Immortals,”
 answered Setchem. “So your father used to say, who was a very different
man both in body and mind from you! I tremble before you this evening,
and at the curses you have uttered against the children of your lord and
sovereign, your father’s best friend.”

“But my enemy,” shouted Paaker. “You will get nothing from me but
curses. And the brood of Rameses shall learn whether your husband’s son
will let himself be ill-used and scorned without revenging him self. I
will fling them into an abyss, and I will laugh when I see them writhing
in the sand at my feet!”

“Fool!” cried Setchem, beside herself. “I am but a woman, and have often
blamed myself for being soft and weak; but as sure as I am faithful
to your dead father--who you are no more like than a bramble is like
a palm-tree--so surely will I tear my love for you out of my heart if
you--if you--Now I see! now I know! Answer me-murderer! Where are the
seven arrows with the wicked words which used to hang here? Where are
the arrows on which you had scrawled ‘Death to Mena?’”

With these words Setchem breathlessly started forward, but the pioneer
drew back as she confronted him, as in his youthful days when she
threatened to punish him for some misdemeanor. She followed him up,
caught him by the girdle, and in a hoarse voice repeated her question.
He stood still, snatched her hand angrily from his belt, and said

“I have put them in my quiver--and not for mere play. Now you know.”

Incapable of words, the maddened woman once more raised her hand against
her degenerate son, but he put back her arm.

“I am no longer a child,” he said, “and I am master of this house. I
will do what I will, if a hundred women hindered me!” and with these
words he pointed to the door. Setchem broke into loud sobs, and turned
her back upon him; but at the door once more she turned to look at him.
He had seated himself, and was resting his forehead on the table on
which the bowl of cold water stood.

Setchem fought a hard battle. At last once more through her choking
tears she called his name, opened her arms wide and exclaimed:

“Here I am--here I am! Come to my heart, only give up these hideous
thoughts of revenge.”

But Paaker did not move, he did not look up at her, he did not speak,
he only shook his head in negation. Setchem’s hands fell, and she said

“What did your father teach you out of the scriptures? ‘Your highest
praise consists in this, to reward your mother for what she has done for
you, in bringing you up, so that she may not raise her hands to God, nor
He hear her lamentation.’”

At these words, Paaker sobbed aloud, but he did not look at his mother.
She called him tenderly by his name; then her eyes fell on his quiver,
which lay on a bench with other arms. Her heart shrunk within her, and
with a trembling voice she exclaimed:

“I forbid this mad vengeance--do you hear? Will you give it up? You do
not move? No! you will not! Ye Gods, what can I do?”

She wrung her hands in despair; then she hastily crossed the room,
snatched out one of the arrows, and strove to break it. Paaker sprang
from his seat, and wrenched the weapon from her hand; the sharp point
slightly scratched the skin, and dark drops of blood flowed from it, and
dropped upon the floor.

The Mohar would have taken the wounded hand, for Setchem, who had the
weakness of never being able to see blood flow--neither her own nor
anybody’s else--had turned as pale as death; but she pushed him from
her, and as she spoke her gentle voice had a dull estranged tone.

“This hand,” she said--“a mother’s hand wounded by her son--shall never
again grasp yours till you have sworn a solemn oath to put away from you
all thoughts of revenge and murder, and not to disgrace your father’s
name. I have said it, and may his glorified spirit be my witness, and
give me strength to keep my word!”

Paaker had fallen on his knees, and was engaged in a terrible mental
struggle, while his mother slowly went towards the door. There again she
stood still for a moment; she did not speak, but her eyes appealed to
him once more.

In vain. At last she left the room, and the wind slammed the door
violently behind her. Paaker groaned, and pressed his hand over his

“Mother, mother!” he cried. “I cannot go back--I cannot.”

A fearful gust of wind howled round the house, and drowned his voice,
and then he heard two tremendous claps, as if rocks had been hurled from
heaven. He started up and went to the window, where the melancholy grey
dawn was showing, in order to call the slaves. Soon they came trooping
out, and the steward called out as soon as he saw him:

“The storm has blown down the masts at the great gate!”

“Impossible!” cried Paaker.

“Yes, indeed!” answered the servant. “They have been sawn through close
to the ground. The matmaker no doubt did it, whose collar-bone was
broken. He has escaped in this fearful night.”

“Let out the dogs,” cried the Mohar. “All who have legs run after the
blackguard! Freedom, and five handfuls of gold for the man who brings
him back.”

The guests at the House of Seti had already gone to rest, when Ameni was
informed of the arrival of the sorceress, and he at once went into the
hall, where Ani was waiting to see her; the Regent roused himself from a
deep reverie when he heard the high-priest’s steps.

“Is she come?” he asked hastily; when Ameni answered in the affirmative
Ani went on meanwhile carefully disentangling the disordered curls of
his wig, and arranging his broad, collar-shaped necklace:

“The witch may exercise some influence over me; will you not give me
your blessing to preserve me from her spells? It is true, I have on me
this Houss’-eye, and this Isis-charm, but one never knows.”

“My presence will be your safe-guard,” said Ameni. “But-no, of course
you wish to speak with her alone. You shall be conducted to a room,
which is protected against all witchcraft by sacred texts. My brother,”
 he continued to one of the serving-priests, “let the witch be taken
into one of the consecrated rooms, and then, when you have sprinkled the
threshold, lead my lord Ani thither.”

The high-priest went away, and into a small room which adjoined the hall
where the interview between the Regent and the old woman was about to
take place, and where the softest whisper spoken in the larger room
could be heard by means of an ingeniously contrived and invisible tube.

When Ani saw the old woman, he started back is horror; her appearance at
this moment was, in fact, frightful. The storm had tossed and torn her
garment and tumbled all her thick, white hair, so that locks of it fell
over her face. She leaned on a staff, and bending far forward looked
steadily at the Regent; and her eyes, red and smarting from the sand
which the wind had flung in her face, seemed to glow as she fixed them
on his. She looked as a hyaena might when creeping to seize its prey,
and Ani felt a cold shiver and he heard her hoarse voice addressing
him to greet him and to represent that he had chosen a strange hour for
requiring her to speak with him.

When she had thanked him for his promise of renewing her letter
of freedom, and had confirmed the statement that Paaker had had a
love-philter from her, she parted her hair from off her face--it
occurred to her that she was a woman.

The Regent sat in an arm-chair, she stood before him; but the struggle
with the storm had tired her old limbs, and she begged Ani to permit her
to be seated, as she had a long story to tell, which would put Paaker
into his power, so that he would find him as yielding as wax. The
Regent signed her to a corner of the room, and she squatted down on the

When he desired her to proceed with her story, she looked at the floor
for some time in silence, and then began, as if half to herself:

“I will tell thee, that I may find peace--I do not want, when I die, to
be buried unembalmed. Who knows but perhaps strange things may happen
in the other world, and I would not wish to miss them. I want to see him
again down there, even if it were in the seventh limbo of the damned.
Listen to me! But, before I speak, promise me that whatever I tell thee,
thou wilt leave me in peace, and will see that I am embalmed when I am
dead. Else I will not speak.”

Ani bowed consent.

“No-no,” she said. “I will tell thee what to swear ‘If I do not keep my
word to Hekt--who gives the Mohar into my power--may the Spirits whom
she rules, annihilate me before I mount the throne.’ Do not be vexed,
my lord--and say only ‘Yes.’ What I can tell, is worth more than a mere

“Well then--yes!” cried the Regent, eager for the mighty revelation.

The old woman muttered a few unintelligible words; then she collected
herself, stretched out her lean neck, and asked, as she fixed her
sparkling eyes on the man before her:

“Did’st thou ever, when thou wert young, hear of the singer Beki? Well,
look at me, I am she.”

She laughed loud and hoarsely, and drew her tattered robe across her
bosom, as if half ashamed of her unpleasing person.

“Ay!” she continued. “Men find pleasure in grapes by treading them
down, and when the must is drunk the skins are thrown on the dung-hill.
Grape-skins, that is what I am--but you need not look at me so
pitifully; I was grapes once, and poor and despised as I am now, no one
can take from me what I have had and have been. Mine has been a life
out of a thousand, a complete life, full to overflowing of joy and
suffering, of love and hate, of delight, despair, and revenge. Only to
talk of it raises me to a seat by thy throne there. No, let me be, I am
used now to squatting on the ground; but I knew thou wouldst hear me to
the end, for once I too was one of you. Extremes meet in all things--I
know it by experience. The greatest men will hold out a hand to a
beautiful woman, and time was when I could lead you all as with a rope.
Shall I begin at the beginning? Well--I seldom am in the mood for it
now-a-days. Fifty years ago I sang a song with this voice of mine; an
old crow like me? sing! But so it was. My father was a man of rank, the
governor of Abydos; when the first Rameses took possession of the throne
my father was faithful to the house of thy fathers, so the new king sent
us all to the gold mines, and there they all died--my parents, brothers,
and sisters. I only survived by some miracle. As I was handsome and sang
well, a music master took me into his band, brought me to Thebes,
and wherever there was a feast given in any great house, Beki was
in request. Of flowers and money and tender looks I had a plentiful
harvest; but I was proud and cold, and the misery of my people had made
me bitter at an age when usually even bad liquor tastes of honey. Not
one of all the gay young fellows, princes’ sons, and nobles, dared to
touch my hand. But my hour was to come; the handsomest and noblest man
of them all, and grave and dignified too--was Assa, the old Mohar’s
father, and grandfather of Pentaur--no, I should say of Paaker, the
pioneer; thou hast known him. Well, wherever I sang, he sat opposite me,
and gazed at me, and I could not take my eyes off him, and--thou canst
tell the rest! no! Well, no woman before or after me can ever love a man
as I loved Assa. Why dost thou not laugh? It must seem odd, too, to hear
such a thing from the toothless mouth of an old witch. He is dead, long
since dead. I hate him! and yet--wild as it sounds--I believe I love him
yet. And he loved me--for two years; then he went to the war with Seti,
and remained a long time away, and when I saw him again he had courted
the daughter of some rich and noble house. I was handsome enough still,
but he never looked at me at the banquets. I came across him at least
twenty times, but he avoided me as if I were tainted with leprosy, and I
began to fret, and fell ill of a fever. The doctors said it was all over
with me, so I sent him a letter in which there was nothing but these
words: ‘Beki is dying, and would like to see Assa once more,’ and in the
papyrus I put his first present--a plain ring. And what was the answer?
a handful of gold! Gold--gold! Thou may’st believe me, when I say that
the sight of it was more torturing to my eyes than the iron with which
they put out the eyes of criminals. Even now, when I think of it--But
what do you men, you lords of rank and wealth, know of a breaking heart?
When two or three of you happen to meet, and if thou should’st tell the
story, the most respectable will say in a pompous voice: ‘The man acted
nobly indeed; he was married, and his wife would have complained with
justice if he had gone to see the singer.’ Am I right or wrong? I know;
not one will remember that the other was a woman, a feeling human being;
it will occur to no one that his deed on the one hand saved an hour of
discomfort, and on the other wrought half a century of despair. Assa
escaped his wife’s scolding, but a thousand curses have fallen on him
and on his house. How virtuous he felt himself when he had crushed and
poisoned a passionate heart that had never ceased to love him! Ay, and
he would have come if he had not still felt some love for me, if he had
not misdoubted himself, and feared that the dying woman might once more
light up the fire he had so carefully smothered and crushed out. I would
have grieved for him--but that he should send me money, money!--that I
have never forgiven; that he shall atone for in his grandchild.” The
old woman spoke the last words as if in a dream, and without seeming to
remember her hearer. Ani shuddered, as if he were in the presence of a
mad woman, and he involuntarily drew his chair back a little way.

The witch observed this; she took breath and went on: “You lords, who
walk in high places, do not know how things go on in the depths beneath
you; you do not choose to know.

“But I will shorten my story. I got well, but I got out of my bed
thin and voiceless. I had plenty of money, and I spent it in buying of
everyone who professed magic in Thebes, potions to recover Assa’s love
for me, or in paying for spells to be cast on him, or for magic drinks
to destroy him. I tried too to recover my voice, but the medicines I
took for it made it rougher not sweeter. Then an excommunicated priest,
who was famous among the magicians, took me into his house, and there I
learned many things; his old companions afterwards turned upon him, he
came over here into the Necropolis, and I came with him. When at last
he was taken and hanged, I remained in his cave, and myself took to
witchcraft. Children point their fingers at me, honest men and women
avoid me, I am an abomination to all men, nay to myself. And one only
is guilty of all this ruin--the noblest gentleman in Thebes--the pious

“I had practised magic for several years, and had become learned in many
arts, when one day the gardener Sent, from whom I was accustomed to buy
plants for my mixtures--he rents a plot of ground from the temple of
Seti--Sent brought me a new-born child that had been born with six toes;
I was to remove the supernumerary toe by my art. The pious mother of the
child was lying ill of fever, or she never would have allowed it; I took
the screaming little wretch--for such things are sometimes curable. The
next morning, a few hours after sunrise, there was a bustle in front of
my cave; a maid, evidently belonging to a noble house, was calling
me. Her mistress, she said, had come with her to visit the tomb of her
fathers, and there had been taken ill, and had given birth to a child.
Her mistress was lying senseless--I must go at once, and help her. I
took the little six-toed brat in my cloak, told my slavegirl to follow
me with water, and soon found myself--as thou canst guess--at the tomb
of Assa’s ancestors. The poor woman, who lay there in convulsions, was
his daughter-in-law Setchem. The baby, a boy, was as sound as a nut,
but she was evidently in great danger. I sent the maid with the litter,
which was waiting outside, to the temple here for help; the girl said
that her master, the father of the child, was at the war, but that the
grandfather, the noble Assa, had promised to meet the lady Setchem at
the tomb, and would shortly be coming; then she disappeared with the
litter. I washed the child, and kissed it as if it were my own. Then I
heard distant steps in the valley, and the recollection of the moment
when I, lying at the point of death, had received that gift of money
from Assa came over me, and then I do not know myself how it happened--I
gave the new-born grandchild of Assa to my slave-girl, and told her to
carry it quickly to the cave, and I wrapped the little six-toed baby
in my rags and held it in my lap. There I sat--and the minutes seemed
hours, till Assa came up; and when he stood before me, grown grey, it
is true, but still handsome and upright--I put the gardener’s boy, the
six-toed brat, into his very arms, and a thousand demons seemed to laugh
hoarsely within me. He thanked me, he did not know me, and once more he
offered me a handful of gold. I took it, and I listened as the priest,
who had come from the temple, prophesied all sorts of fine things for
the little one, who was born in so fortunate an hour; and then I went
back into my cave, and there I laughed till I cried, though I do not
know that the tears sprang from the laughter.

“A few days after I gave Assa’s grandchild to the gardener, and told
him the sixth toe had come off; I had made a little wound on his foot to
take in the bumpkin. So Assa’s grandchild, the son of the Mohar, grew
up as the gardener’s child, and received the name of Pentaur, and he
was brought up in the temple here, and is wonderfully like Assa; but
the gardener’s monstrous brat is the pioneer Paaker. That is the whole

Ani had listened in silence to the terrible old woman.

We are involuntarily committed to any one who can inform us of some
absorbing fact, and who knows how to make the information valuable.
It did not occur to the Regent to punish the witch for her crimes; he
thought rather of his older friends’ rapture when they talked of the
singer Beki’s songs and beauty. He looked at the woman, and a cold
shiver ran through all his limbs.

“You may live in peace,” he said at last; “and when you die I will see
to your being embalmed; but give up your black arts. You must be rich,
and, if you are not, say what you need. Indeed, I scarcely dare offer
you gold--it excites your hatred, as I understand.”

“I could take thine--but now let me go!”

She got up, and went towards the door, but the Regent called to her to
stop, and asked:

“Is Assa the father of your son, the little Nemu, the dwarf of the lady

The witch laughed loudly. “Is the little wretch like Assa or like Beki?
I picked him up like many other children.”

“But he is clever!” said Ani.

“Ay-that he is. He has planned many a shrewd stroke, and is devoted to
his mistress. He will help thee to thy purpose, for he himself has one

“And that is--?”

“Katuti will rise to greatness with thee, and to riches through Paaker,
who sets out to-morrow to make the woman he loves a widow.”

“You know a great deal,” said Ani meditatively, “and I would ask you
one thing more; though indeed your story has supplied the answer--but
perhaps you know more now than you did in your youth. Is there in truth
any effectual love-philter?”

“I will not deceive thee, for I desire that thou should’st keep thy word
to me,” replied Hekt. “A love potion rarely has any effect, and never
but on women who have never before loved. If it is given to a woman
whose heart is filled with the image of another man her passion for him
only will grow the stronger.”

“Yet another,” said Ani. “Is there any way of destroying an enemy at a

“Certainly,” said the witch. “Little people may do mean things, and
great people can let others do things that they cannot do themselves. My
story has stirred thy gall, and it seems to me that thou dost not love
the poet Pentaur. A smile! Well then--I have not lost sight of him,
and I know he is grown up as proud and as handsome as Assa. He is
wonderfully like him, and I could have loved him--have loved as this
foolish heart had better never have loved. It is strange! In many women,
who come to me, I see how their hearts cling to the children of men who
have abandoned them, and we women are all alike, in most things. But I
will not let myself love Assa’s grandchild--I must not. I will injure
him, and help everyone that persecutes him; for though Assa is dead, the
wrongs he did me live in me so long as I live myself. Pentaur’s destiny
must go on its course. If thou wilt have his life, consult with Nemu,
for he hates him too, and he will serve thee more effectually than I can
with my vain spells and silly harmless brews. Now let me go home!”

A few hours later Ameni sent to invite the Regent to breakfast.

“Do you know who the witch Hekt is?” asked Ani.

“Certainly--how should I not know? She is the singer Beki--the former
enchantress of Thebes. May I ask what her communications were?”

Ani thought it best not to confide the secret of Pentaur’s birth to the
high-priest, and answered evasively. Then Ameni begged to be allowed
to give him some information about the old woman, and how she had had a
hand in the game; and he related to his hearer, with some omissions and
variations--as if it were a fact he had long known--the very story which
a few hours since he had overheard, and learned for the first time. Ani
feigned great astonishment, and agreed with the high-priest that Paaker
should not for the present be informed of his true origin.

“He is a strangely constituted man,” said Ameni, “and he is not
incapable of playing us some unforeseen trick before he has done his
part, if he is told who he is.”

The storm had exhausted itself, and the sky, though covered still with
torn and flying clouds, cleared by degrees, as the morning went on; a
sharp coolness succeeded the hot blast, but the sun as it mounted higher
and higher soon heated the air. On the roads and in the gardens lay
uprooted trees and many slightly-built houses which had been blown
down, while the tents in the strangers’ quarter, and hundreds of light
palm-thatched roofs, had been swept away.

The Regent was returning to Thebes, and with him went Ameni, who desired
to ascertain by his own eyes what mischief the whirlwind had done to his
garden in the city. On the Nile they met Paaker’s boat, and Ani caused
it and his own to be stopped, while he requested Paaker to visit him
shortly at the palace.

The high-priest’s garden was in no respect inferior in beauty and extent
to that of the Mohar. The ground had belonged to his family from the
remotest generations, and his house was large and magnificent. He seated
himself in a shady arbor, to take a repast with his still handsome wife
and his young and pretty daughters.

He consoled his wife for the various damage done by the hurricane,
promised the girls to build a new and handsomer clove-cot in the place
of the one which had been blown down, and laughed and joked with them
all; for here the severe head of the House of Seti, the grave Superior
of the Necropolis, became a simple man, an affectionate husband, a
tender father, a judicious friend, among his children, his flowers, and
his birds. His youngest daughter clung to his right arm, and an
older one to his left, when he rose from table to go with them to the

On the way thither a servant announced to him that the Lady Setchem
wished to see him.

“Take her to your mistress,” he said.

But the slave--who held in his hand a handsome gift in money--explained
that the widow wished to speak with him alone.

“Can I never enjoy an hour’s peace like other men?” exclaimed Ameni
annoyed. “Your mistress can receive her, and she can wait with her till
I come. It is true, girls--is it not?--that I belong to you just now,
and to the fowls, and ducks, and pigeons?”

His youngest daughter kissed him, the second patted him affectionately,
and they all three went gaily forward. An hour later he requested the
Lady Setchem to accompany him into the garden.

The poor, anxious, and frightened woman had resolved on this step with
much difficulty; tears filled her kind eyes, as she communicated her
troubles to the high-priest.

“Thou art a wise counsellor,” she said, “and thou knowest well how my
son honors the Gods of the temple of Seti with gifts and offerings.
He will not listen to his mother, but thou hast influence with him. He
meditates frightful things, and if he cannot be terrified by threats of
punishment from the Immortals, he will raise his hand against Mena, and

“Against the king,” interrupted Ameni gravely. “I know it, and I will
speak to him.”

“Thanks, oh a thousand thanks!” cried the widow, and she seized the
high-priests robe to kiss it. “It was thou who soon after his birth
didst tell my husband that he was born under a lucky star, and would
grow to be an honor and an ornament to his house and to his country. And
now--now he will ruin himself in this world, and the next.”

“What I foretold of your son,” said Ameni, “shall assuredly be
fulfilled, for the ways of the Gods are not as the ways of men.”

“Thy words do me good!” cried Setchem. “None can tell what fearful
terror weighed upon my heart, when I made up my mind to come here. But
thou dost not yet know all. The great masts of cedar, which Paaker sent
from Lebanon to Thebes to bear our banners, and ornament our gateway,
were thrown to the ground at sunrise by the frightful wind.”

“Thus shall your son’s defiant spirit be broken,” said Ameni; “But for
you, if you have patience, new joys shall arise.”

“I thank thee again,” said Setchem. “But something yet remains to be
said. I know that I am wasting the time that thou dost devote to thy
family, and I remember thy saying once that here in Thebes thou wert
like a pack-Horse with his load taken off, and free to wander over a
green meadow. I will not disturb thee much longer--but the Gods sent me
such a wonderful vision. Paaker would not listen to me, and I went back
into my room full of sorrow; and when at last, after the sun had risen,
I fell asleep for a few minutes, I dreamed I saw before me the poet
Pentaur, who is wonderfully like my dead husband in appearance and in
voice. Paaker went up to him, and abused him violently, and threatened
him with his fist; the priest raised his arms in prayer, just as I saw
him yesterday at the festival--but not in devotion, but to seize Paaker,
and wrestle with him. The struggle did not last long, for Paaker seemed
to shrink up, and lost his human form, and fell at the poet’s feet--not
my son, but a shapeless lump of clay such as the potter uses to make
jars of.”

“A strange dream!” exclaimed Ameni, not without agitation. “A very
strange dream, but it bodes you good. Clay, Setchem, is yielding, and
clearly indicates that which the Gods prepare for you. The Immortals
will give you a new and a better son instead of the old one, but it is
not revealed to me by what means. Go now, and sacrifice to the Gods, and
trust to the wisdom of those who guide the life of the universe, and of
all mortal creatures. Yet--I would give you one more word of advice. If
Paaker comes to you repentant, receive him kindly, and let me know; but
if he will not yield, close your rooms against him, and let him depart
without taking leave of you.”

When Setchem, much encouraged, was gone away, Ameni said to himself:

“She will find splendid compensation for this coarse scoundrel, and
she shall not spoil the tool we need to strike our blow. I have often
doubted how far dreams do, indeed, foretell the future, but to-day my
faith in them is increased. Certainly a mother’s heart sees farther than
that of any other human being.”

At the door of her house Setchem came up with her son’s chariot.
They saw each other, but both looked away, for they could not meet
affectionately, and would not meet coldly. As the horses outran the
litter-bearers, the mother and son looked round at each other, their
eyes met, and each felt a stab in the heart.

In the evening the pioneer, after he had had an interview with the
Regent, went to the temple of Seti to receive Ameni’s blessing on all
his undertakings. Then, after sacrificing in the tomb of his ancestors,
he set out for Syria.

Just as he was getting into his chariot, news was brought him that the
mat-maker, who had sawn through the masts at the gate, had been caught.

“Put out his eyes!” he cried; and these were the last words he spoke as
he quitted his home.

Setchem looked after him for a long time; she had refused to bid him
farewell, and now she implored the Gods to turn his heart, and to
preserve him from malice and crime.


Three days had passed since the pioneer’s departure, and although it was
still early, busy occupation was astir in Bent-Anat’s work-rooms.

The ladies had passed the stormy night, which had succeeded the exciting
evening of the festival, without sleep.

Nefert felt tired and sleepy the next morning, and begged the princess
to introduce her to her new duties for the first time next day; but the
princess spoke to her encouragingly, told her that no man should put
off doing right till the morrow, and urged her to follow her into her

“We must both come to different minds,” said she. “I often shudder
involuntarily, and feel as if I bore a brand--as if I had a stain here
on my shoulder where it was touched by Paaker’s rough hand.”

The first day of labor gave Nefert a good many difficulties to overcome;
on the second day the work she had begun already had a charm for her,
and by the third she rejoiced in the little results of her care.

Bent-Anat had put her in the right place, for she had the direction of a
large number of young girls and women, the daughters, wives, and widows
of those Thebans who were at the war, or who had fallen in the field,
who sorted and arranged the healing herbs. Her helpers sat in little
circles on the ground; in the midst of each lay a great heap of fresh
and dry plants, and in front of each work-woman a number of parcels of
the selected roots, leaves, and flowers.

An old physician presided over the whole, and had shown Nefert the first
day the particular plants which he needed.

The wife of Mena, who was fond of flowers, had soon learnt them all, and
she taught willingly, for she loved children.

She soon had favorites among the children, and knew some as being
industrious and careful, others as idle and heedless:

“Ay! ay!” she exclaimed, bending over a little half-naked maiden with
great almond-shaped eyes. “You are mixing them all together. Your
father, as you tell me, is at the war. Suppose, now, an arrow were
to strike him, and this plant, which would hurt him, were laid on the
burning wound instead of this other, which would do him good--that would
be very sad.”

The child nodded her head, and looked her work through again. Nefert
turned to a little idler, and said: “You are chattering again, and doing
nothing, and yet your father is in the field. If he were ill now, and
has no medicine, and if at night when he is asleep he dreams of you, and
sees you sitting idle, he may say to himself: ‘Now I might get well, but
my little girl at home does not love me, for she would rather sit with
her hands in her lap than sort herbs for her sick father.’”

Then Nefert turned to a large group of the girls, who were sorting
plants, and said: “Do you, children, know the origin of all these
wholesome, healing herbs? The good Horus went out to fight against Seth,
the murderer of his father, and the horrible enemy wounded Horus in the
eye in the struggle; but the son of Osiris conquered, for good always
conquers evil. But when Isis saw the bad wound, she pressed her son’s
head to her bosom, and her heart was as sad as that of any poor human
mother that holds her suffering child in her arms. And she thought: ‘How
easy it is to give wounds, and how hard it is to heal them!’ and so she
wept; one tear after another fell on the earth, and wherever they wetted
the ground there sprang up a kindly healing plant.”

“Isis is good!” cried a little girl opposite to her. “Mother says Isis
loves children when they are good.”

“Your mother is right,” replied Nefert. “Isis herself has her dear
little son Horus; and every human being that dies, and that was good,
becomes a child again, and the Goddess makes it her own, and takes it to
her breast, and nurses it with her sister Nephthys till he grows up and
can fight for his father.”

Nefert observed that while she spoke one of the women was crying. She
went up to her, and learned that her husband and her son were both dead,
the former in Syria, and the latter after his return to Egypt. “Poor
soul!” said Nefert. “Now you will be very careful, that the wounds of
others may be healed. I will tell you something more about Isis. She
loved her husband Osiris dearly, as you did your dead husband, and I my
husband Mena, but he fell a victim to the cunning of Seth, and she could
not tell where to find the body that had been carried away, while you
can visit your husband in his grave. Then Isis went through the land
lamenting, and ah! what was to become of Egypt, which received all its
fruitfulness from Osiris. The sacred Nile was dried up, and not a blade
of verdure was green on its banks. The Goddess grieved over this
beyond words, and one of her tears fell in the bed of the river, and
immediately it began to rise. You know, of course, that each inundation
arises from a tear of Isis. Thus a widow’s sorrow may bring blessing to
millions of human beings.”

The woman had listened to her attentively, and when Nefert ceased
speaking she said:

“But I have still three little brats of my son’s to feed, for his wife,
who was a washerwoman, was eaten by a crocodile while she was at work.
Poor folks must work for themselves, and not for others. If the princess
did not pay us, I could not think of the wounds of the soldiers, who do
not belong to me. I am no longer strong, and four mouths to fill--”

Nefert was shocked--as she often was in the course of her new
duties--and begged Bent-Gnat to raise the wages of the woman.

“Willingly,” said the princess. “How could I beat down such an
assistant. Come now with me into the kitchen. I am having some fruit
packed for my father and brothers; there must be a box for Mena too.”
 Nefert followed her royal friend, found them packing in one case the
golden dates of the oasis of Amon, and in another the dark dates of
Nubia, the king’s favorite sort. “Let me pack them!” cried Nefert;
she made the servants empty the box again, and re-arranged the
various-colored dates in graceful patterns, with other fruits preserved
in sugar.

Bent-Anat looked on, and when she had finished she took her hand.
“Whatever your fingers have touched,” she exclaimed, “takes some pretty
aspect. Give me that scrap of papyrus; I shall put it in the case, and
write upon it:

“‘These were packed for king Rameses by his daughter’s clever helpmate,
the wife of Mena.’”

After the mid-day rest the princess was called away, and Nefert remained
for some hours alone with the work-women.

When the sun went down, and the busy crowd were about to leave, Nefert
detained them, and said: “The Sun-bark is sinking behind the western
hills; come, let us pray together for the king and for those we love in
the field. Each of you think of her own: you children of your fathers,
you women of your sons, and we wives of our distant husbands, and let us
entreat Amon that they may return to us as certainly as the sun, which
now leaves us, will rise again to-morrow morning.”

Nefert knelt down, and with her the women and the children.

When they rose, a little girl went up to Nefert, and said, pulling her
dress: “Thou madest us kneel here yesterday, and already my mother is
better, because I prayed for her.”

“No doubt,” said Nefert, stroking the child’s black hair.

She found Bent-Anat on the terrace meditatively gazing across to the
Necropolis, which was fading into darkness before her eyes. She started
when she heard the light footsteps of her friend.

“I am disturbing thee,” said Nefert, about to retire.

“No, stay,” said Bent-Anat. “I thank the Gods that I have you, for my
heart is sad--pitifully sad.”

“I know where your thoughts were,” said Nefert softly. “Well?” asked the

“With Pentaur.”

“I think of him--always of him,” replied the princess, “and nothing else
occupies my heart. I am no longer myself. What I think I ought not to
think, what I feel I ought not to feel, and yet, I cannot command it,
and I think my heart would bleed to death if I tried to cut out those
thoughts and feelings. I have behaved strangely, nay unbecomingly,
and now that which is hard to endure is hanging over me, something
strange-which will perhaps drive you from me back to your mother.”

“I will share everything with you,” cried Nefert. “What is going to
happen? Are you then no longer the daughter of Rameses?”

“I showed myself to the people as a woman of the people,” answered
Bent-Anat, “and I must take the consequences. Bek en Chunsu,
the high-priest of Amon, has been with me, and I have had a long
conversation with him. The worthy man is good to me, I know, and my
father ordered me to follow his advice before any one’s. He showed me
that I have erred deeply. In a state of uncleanness I went into one
of the temples of the Necropolis, and after I had once been into the
paraschites’ house and incurred Ameni’s displeasure, I did it a second
time. They know over there all that took place at the festival. Now I
must undergo purification, either with great solemnity at the hands of
Ameni himself, before all the priests and nobles in the House of
Seti, or by performing a pilgrimage to the Emerald-Hathor, under whose
influence the precious stones are hewn from the rocks, metals dug out,
and purified by fire. The Goddess shall purge me from my uncleanness
as metal is purged from the dross. At a day’s journey and more from the
mines, an abundant stream flows from ‘the holy mountain-Sinai,’ as it is
called by the Mentut--and near it stands the sanctuary of the Goddess,
in which priests grant purification. The journey is a long one, through
the desert, and over the sea; But Bek en Chunsu advises me to venture
it. Ameni, he says, is not amiably disposed towards me, because I
infringed the ordinance which he values above all others. I must submit
to double severity, he says, because the people look first to those of
the highest rank; and if I went unpunished for contempt of the sacred
institutions there might be imitators among the crowd. He speaks in the
name of the Gods, and they measure hearts with an equal measure. The
ell-measure is the symbol of the Goddess of Truth. I feel that it is all
not unjust; and yet I find it hard to submit to the priest’s decree, for
I am the daughter of Rameses!”

“Aye, indeed!” exclaimed Nefert, “and he is himself a God!”

“But he taught me to respect the laws!” interrupted the princess. “I
discussed another thing with Bek en Chunsu. You know I rejected the suit
of the Regent. He must secretly be much vexed with me. That indeed would
not alarm me, but he is the guardian and protector appointed over me
by my father, and yet can I turn to him in confidence for counsel,
and help? No! I am still a woman, and Rameses’ daughter! Sooner will I
travel through a thousand deserts than humiliate my father through his
child. By to-morrow I shall have decided; but, indeed, I have already
decided to make the journey, hard as it is to leave much that is here.
Do not fear, dear! but you are too tender for such a journey, and to
such a distance; I might--”

“No, no,” cried Nefert. “I am going, too, if you were going to the four
pillars of heaven, at the limits of the earth. You have given me a new
life, and the little sprout that is green within me would wither again
if I had to return to my mother. Only she or I can be in our house, and
I will re-enter it only with Mena.”

“It is settled--I must go,” said the princess. “Oh! if only my father
were not so far off, and that I could consult him!”

“Yes! the war, and always the war!” sighed Nefert. “Why do not men rest
content with what they have, and prefer the quiet peace, which makes
life lovely, to idle fame?”

“Would they be men? should we love them?” cried Bent-Anat eagerly. “Is
not the mind of the Gods, too, bent on war? Did you ever see a more
sublime sight than Pentaur, on that evening when he brandished the stake
he had pulled up, and exposed his life to protect an innocent girl who
was in danger?”

“I dared not once look down into the court,” said Nefert. “I was in such
an agony of mind. But his loud cry still rings in my ears.”

“So rings the war cry of heroes before whom the enemy quails!” exclaimed

“Aye, truly so rings the war cry!” said prince Rameri, who had entered
his sister’s half-dark room unperceived by the two women.

The princess turned to the boy. “How you frightened me!” she said.

“You!” said Rameri astonished.

“Yes, me. I used to have a stout heart, but since that evening I
frequently tremble, and an agony of terror comes over me, I do not know
why. I believe some demon commands me.”

“You command, wherever you go; and no one commands you,” cried Rameri.
“The excitement and tumult in the valley, and on the quay, still agitate
you. I grind my teeth myself when I remember how they turned me out
of the school, and how Paaker set the dog at us. I have gone through a
great deal today too.”

“Where were you so long?” asked Bent-Anat. “My uncle Ani commanded that
you should not leave the palace.”

“I shall be eighteen years old next month,” said the prince, “and need
no tutor.”

“But your father--” said Bent-Anat.

“My father”--interrupted the boy, “he little knows the Regent. But I
shall write to him what I have today heard said by different people.
They were to have sworn allegiance to Ani at that very feast in the
valley, and it is quite openly said that Ani is aiming at the throne,
and intends to depose the king. You are right, it is madness--but there
must be something behind it all.”

Nefert turned pale, and Bent-Anat asked for particulars. The prince
repeated all he had gathered, and added laughing: “Ani depose my father!
It is as if I tried to snatch the star of Isis from the sky to light the
lamps--which are much wanted here.”

“It is more comfortable in the dark,” said Nefert. “No, let us have
lights,” said Bent-Anat. “It is better to talk when we can see each
other face to face. I have no belief in the foolish talk of the people;
but you are right--we must bring it to my fathers knowledge.”

“I heard the wildest gossip in the City of the Dead,” said Rameri.

“You ventured over there? How very wrong!”

“I disguised myself a little, and I have good news for you. Pretty Uarda
is much better. She received your present, and they have a house of
their own again. Close to the one that was burnt down, there was a
tumbled-down hovel, which her father soon put together again; he is a
bearded soldier, who is as much like her as a hedgehog is like a white
dove. I offered her to work in the palace for you with the other girls,
for good wages, but she would not; for she has to wait on her sick
grandmother, and she is proud, and will not serve any one.”

“It seems you were a long time with the paraschites’ people,” said
Bent-Anat reprovingly. “I should have thought that what has happened to
me might have served you as a warning.”

“I will not be better than you!” cried the boy. “Besides, the
paraschites is dead, and Uarda’s father is a respectable soldier, who
can defile no one. I kept a long way from the old woman. To-morrow I am
going again. I promised her.”

“Promised who?” asked his sister.

“Who but Uarda? She loves flowers, and since the rose which you gave
her she has not seen one. I have ordered the gardener to cut me a basket
full of roses to-morrow morning, and shall take them to her myself.”

“That you will not!” cried Bent-Anat. “You are still but half a
child--and, for the girl’s sake too, you must give it up.”

“We only gossip together,” said the prince coloring, “and no one shall
recognize me. But certainly, if you mean that, I will leave the basket
of roses, and go to her alone. No--sister, I will not be forbidden this;
she is so charming, so white, so gentle, and her voice is so soft and
sweet! And she has little feet, as small as--what shall I say?--as small
and graceful as Nefert’s hand. We talked most about Pentaur. She knows
his father, who is a gardener, and knows a great deal about him. Only
think! she says the poet cannot be the son of his parents, but a good
spirit that has come down on earth--perhaps a God. At first she was very
timid, but when I spoke of Pentaur she grew eager; her reverence for him
is almost idolatry--and that vexed me.”

“You would rather she should reverence you so,” said Nefert smiling.

“Not at all,” cried Rameri. “But I helped to save her, and I am so happy
when I am sitting with her, that to-morrow, I am resolved, I will put
a flower in her hair. It is red certainly, but as thick as yours,
Bent-Anat, and it must be delightful to unfasten it and stroke it.”

The ladies exchanged a glance of intelligence, and the princess said

“You will not go to the City of the Dead to-morrow, my little son!”

“That we will see, my little mother!” He answered laughing; then he
turned grave.

“I saw my school-friend Anana too,” he said. “Injustice reigns in the
House of Seti! Pentaur is in prison, and yesterday evening they sat in
judgment upon him. My uncle was present, and would have pounced upon the
poet, but Ameni took him under his protection. What was finally decided,
the pupils could not learn, but it must have been something bad, for
the son of the Treasurer heard Ameni saying, after the sitting, to old
Gagabu: ‘Punishment he deserves, but I will not let him be overwhelmed;’
and he can have meant no one but Pentaur. To-morrow I will go over,
and learn more; something frightful, I am afraid--several years of
imprisonment is the least that will happen to him.”

Bent-Anat had turned very pale.

“And whatever they do to him,” she cried, “he will suffer for my sake!
Oh, ye omnipotent Gods, help him--help me, be merciful to us both!”

She covered her face with her hands, and left the room. Rameri asked

“What can have come to my sister? she seems quite strange to me; and you
too are not the same as you used to be.”

“We both have to find our way in new circumstances.”

“What are they?”

“That I cannot explain to you!--but it appears to me that you soon may
experience something of the same kind. Rumeri, do not go again to the


Early on the following clay the dwarf Nemu went past the restored hut of
Uarda’s father--in which he had formerly lived with his wife--with a
man in a long coarse robe, the steward of some noble family. They went
towards old Hekt’s cave-dwelling.

“I would beg thee to wait down here a moment, noble lord,” said the
dwarf, “while I announce thee to my mother.”

“That sounds very grand,” said the other. “However, so be it. But stay!
The old woman is not to call me by my name or by my title. She is to
call me ‘steward’--that no one may know. But, indeed, no one would
recognize me in this dress.”

Nemu hastened to the cave, but before he reached his mother she called
out: “Do not keep my lord waiting--I know him well.”

Nemu laid his finger to his lips.

“You are to call him steward,” said he.

“Good,” muttered the old woman. “The ostrich puts his head under his
feathers when he does not want to be seen.”

“Was the young prince long with Uarda yesterday?”

“No, you fool,” laughed the witch, “the children play together. Rameri
is a kid without horns, but who fancies he knows where they ought to
grow. Pentaur is a more dangerous rival with the red-headed girl. Make
haste, now; these stewards must not be kept waiting!”

The old woman gave the dwarf a push, and he hurried back to Ani, while
she carried the child, tied to his board, into the cave, and threw the
sack over him.

A few minutes later the Regent stood before her. She bowed before him
with a demeanor that was more like the singer Beki than the sorceress
Hekt, and begged him to take the only seat she possessed.

When, with a wave of his hand, he declined to sit down, she said:

“Yes--yes--be seated! then thou wilt not be seen from the valley, but be
screened by the rocks close by. Why hast thou chosen this hour for thy

“Because the matter presses of which I wish to speak,” answered Ani;
“and in the evening I might easily be challenged by the watch. My
disguise is good. Under this robe I wear my usual dress. From this I
shall go to the tomb of my father, where I shall take off this coarse
thing, and these other disfigurements, and shall wait for my chariot,
which is already ordered. I shall tell people I had made a vow to visit
the grave humbly, and on foot, which I have now fulfilled.”

“Well planned,” muttered the old woman.

Ani pointed to the dwarf, and said politely: “Your pupil.”

Since her narrative the sorceress was no longer a mere witch in his
eyes. The old woman understood this, and saluted him with a curtsey of
such courtly formality, that a tame raven at her feet opened his black
beak wide, and uttered a loud scream. She threw a bit of cheese within
the cave, and the bird hopped after it, flapping his clipped wings, and
was silent.

“I have to speak to you about Pentaur,” said Ani. The old woman’s eyes
flashed, and she eagerly asked, “What of him?”

“I have reasons,” answered the Regent, “for regarding him as dangerous
to me. He stands in my way. He has committed many crimes, even murder;
but he is in favor at the House of Seti, and they would willingly let
him go unpunished. They have the right of sitting in judgment on each
other, and I cannot interfere with their decisions; the day before
yesterday they pronounced their sentence. They would send him to the
quarries of Chennu.

   [Chennu is now Gebel Silsileh; the quarries there are of enormous
   extent, and almost all the sandstone used for building the temples
   of Upper Egypt was brought from thence. The Nile is narrower there
   than above, and large stela, were erected there by Rameses II. his
   successor Mernephtah, on which were inscribed beautiful hymns to the
   Nile, and lists of the sacrifices to be offered at the Nile-
   festivals. These inscriptions can be restored by comparison, and my
   friend Stern and I had the satisfaction of doing this on the spot
   (Zeitschrift fur Agyptishe Sprache, 1873, p. 129.)]

“All my objections were disregarded, and now Nemu, go over to the grave
of Anienophis, and wait there for me--I wish to speak to your mother

Nemu bowed, and then went down the slope, disappointed, it is true, but
sure of learning later what the two had discussed together.

When the little man had disappeared, Ani asked:

“Have you still a heart true to the old royal house, to which your
parents were so faithfully attached?” The old woman nodded.

“Then you will not refuse your help towards its restoration. You
understand how necessary the priesthood is to me, and I have sworn not
to make any attempt on Pentaur’s life; but, I repeat it, he stands in my
way. I have my spies in the House of Seti, and I know through them what
the sending of the poet to Chennu really means. For a time they will let
him hew sandstone, and that will only improve his health, for he is as
sturdy as a tree. In Chennu, as you know, besides the quarries there is
the great college of priests, which is in close alliance with the
temple of Seti. When the flood begins to rise, and they hold the great
Nile-festival in Chennu, the priests there have the right of taking
three of the criminals who are working in the quarries into their house
as servants. Naturally they will, next year, choose Pentaur, set him at
liberty--and I shall be laughed at.”

“Well considered!” said aid Hekt.

“I have taken counsel with myself, with Katuti, and even with Nemu,”
 continued Ani, “but all that they have suggested, though certainly
practicable, was unadvisable, and at any rate must have led to
conjectures which I must now avoid. What is your opinion?”

“Assa’s race must be exterminated!” muttered the old woman hoarsely.

She gazed at the ground, reflecting.

“Let the boat be scuttled,” she said at last, “and sink with the chained
prisoners before it reaches Chennu.”

“No-no; I thought of that myself, and Nemu too advised it,” cried Ani.
“That has been done a hundred times, and Ameni will regard me as a
perjurer, for I have sworn not to attempt Pentaur’s life.”

“To be sure, thou hast sworn that, and men keep their word--to each
other. Wait a moment, how would this do? Let the ship reach Chennu with
the prisoners, but, by a secret order to the captain, pass the quarries
in the night, and hasten on as fast as possible as far as Ethiopia. From
Suan,--[The modern Assuan at the first cataract.]--the prisoners may be
conducted through the desert to the gold workings. Four weeks or even
eight may pass before it is known here what has happened. If Ameni
attacks thee about it, thou wilt be very angry at this oversight, and
canst swear by all the Gods of the heavens and of the abyss, that thou
hast not attempted Pentaur’s life. More weeks will pass in enquiries.
Meanwhile do thy best, and Paaker do his, and thou art king. An oath is
easily broken by a sceptre, and if thou wilt positively keep thy word
leave Pentaur at the gold mines. None have yet returned from thence. My
father’s and my brother’s bones have bleached there.”

“But Ameni will never believe in the mistake,” cried Ani, anxiously
interrupting the witch.

“Then admit that thou gavest the order,” exclaimed Hekt. “Explain that
thou hadst learned what they proposed doing with Pentaur at Chennu, and
that thy word indeed was kept, but that a criminal could not be left
unpunished. They will make further enquiries, and if Assa’s grandson
is found still living thou wilt be justified. Follow my advice, if
thou wilt prove thyself a good steward of thy house, and master of its

“It will not do,” said the Regent. “I need Ameni’s support--not for
to-day and to-morrow only. I will not become his blind tool; but he must
believe that I am.”

The old woman shrugged her shoulders, rose, went into her cave, and
brought out a phial.

“Take this,” she said. “Four drops of it in his wine infallibly destroys
the drinker’s senses; try the drink on a slave, and thou wilt see how
effectual it is.”

“What shall I do with it?” asked Ani.

“Justify thyself to Ameni,” said the witch laughing. “Order the ship’s
captain to come to thee as soon as he returns; entertain him with
wine--and when Ameni sees the distracted wretch, why should he not
believe that in a fit of craziness he sailed past Chennu?”

“That is clever! that is splendid!” exclaimed Ani. “What is once
remarkable never becomes common. You were the greatest of singers--you
are now the wisest of women--my lady Beki.”

“I am no longer Beki, I am Hekt,” said the old woman shortly.

“As you will! In truth, if I had ever heard Beki’s singing, I should be
bound to still greater gratitude to her than I now am to Hekt,” said Ani
smiling. “Still, I cannot quit the wisest woman in Thebes without asking
her one serious question. Is it given to you to read the future?
Have you means at your command whereby you can see whether the great
stake--you know which I mean--shall be won or lost?”

Hekt looked at the ground, and said after reflecting a short time:

“I cannot decide with certainty, but thy affair stands well. Look at
these two hawks with the chain on their feet. They take their food from
no one but me. The one that is moulting, with closed, grey eyelids, is
Rameses; the smart, smooth one, with shining eyes, is thyself. It
comes to this--which of you lives the longest. So far, thou hast the

Ani cast an evil glance at the king’s sick hawk; but Hekt said: “Both
must be treated exactly alike. Fate will not be done violence to.”

“Feed them well,” exclaimed the Regent; he threw a purse into Hekt’s
lap, and added, as he prepared to leave her: “If anything happens to
either of the birds let me know at once by Nemu.”

Ani went down the hill, and walked towards the neighboring tomb of
his father; but Hekt laughed as she looked after him, and muttered to

“Now the fool will take care of me for the sake of his bird! That
smiling, spiritless, indolent-minded man would rule Egypt! Am I then so
much wiser than other folks, or do none but fools come to consult Hekt?
But Rameses chose Ani to represent him! perhaps because he thinks that
those who are not particularly clever are not particularly dangerous.
If that is what he thought, he was not wise, for no one usually is so
self-confident and insolent as just such an idiot.”


An hour later, Ani, in rich attire, left his father’s tomb, and drove
his brilliant chariot past the witch’s cave, and the little cottage of
Uarda’s father.

Nemu squatted on the step, the dwarf’s usual place. The little man
looked down at the lately rebuilt hut, and ground his teeth, when,
through an opening in the hedge, he saw the white robe of a man, who was
sitting by Uarda.

The pretty child’s visitor was prince Rameri, who had crossed the Nile
in the early morning, dressed as a young scribe of the treasury, to
obtain news of Pentaur--and to stick a rose into Uarda’s hair.

This purpose was, indeed, the more important of the two, for the other
must, in point of time at any rate, be the second.

He found it necessary to excuse himself to his own conscience with
a variety of cogent reasons. In the first place the rose, which lay
carefully secured in a fold of his robe, ran great danger of fading
if he first waited for his companions near the temple of Seti; next, a
hasty return from thence to Thebes might prove necessary; and finally,
it seemed to him not impossible that Bent-Anat might send a master of
the ceremonies after him, and if that happened any delay might frustrate
his purpose.

His heart beat loud and violently, not for love of the maiden, but
because he felt he was doing wrong. The spot that he must tread was
unclean, and he had, for the first time, told a lie. He had given
himself out to Uarda to be a noble youth of Bent-Anat’s train, and, as
one falsehood usually entails another, in answer to her questions he had
given her false information as to his parents and his life.

Had evil more power over him in this unclean spot than in the House of
Seti, and at his father’s? It might very well be so, for all disturbance
in nature and men was the work of Seth, and how wild was the storm in
his breast! And yet! He wished nothing but good to come of it to Uarda.
She was so fair and sweet--like some child of the Gods: and certainly
the white maiden must have been stolen from some one, and could not
possibly belong to the unclean people.

When the prince entered the court of the hut, Uarda was not to be seen,
but he soon heard her voice singing out through the open door. She came
out into the air, for the dog barked furiously at Rameri. When she saw
the prince, she started, and said:

“You are here already again, and yet I warned you. My grandmother in
there is the wife of a paraschites.”

“I am not come to visit her,” retorted the prince, “but you only; and
you do not belong to them, of that I am convinced. No roses grow in the

“And yet: am my father’s child,” said Uarda decidedly, “and my poor dead
grandfather’s grandchild. Certainly I belong to them, and those that do
not think me good enough for them may keep away.”

With these words she turned to re-enter the house; but Rameri seized her
hand, and held her back, saying:

“How cruel you are! I tried to save you, and came to see you before I
thought that you might--and, indeed, you are quite unlike the people
whom you call your relations. You must not misunderstand me; but it
would be horrible to me to believe that you, who are so beautiful, and
as white as a lily, have any part in the hideous curse. You charm every
one, even my mistress, Bent-Anat, and it seems to me impossible--”

“That I should belong to the unclean!--say it out,” said Uarda softly,
and casting down her eyes.

Then she continued more excitedly: “But I tell you, the curse is unjust,
for a better man never lived than my grandfather was.”

Tears sprang from her eyes, and Rameri said: “I fully believe it; and
it must be very difficult to continue good when every one despises and
scorns one; I at least can be brought to no good by blame, though I
can by praise. Certainly people are obliged to meet me and mine with

“And us with contempt!” exclaimed Uarda. “But I will tell you something.
If a man is sure that he is good, it is all the same to him whether he
be despised or honored by other people. Nay--we may be prouder than you;
for you great folks must often say to yourselves that you are worth less
than men value you at, and we know that we are worth more.”

“I have often thought that of you,” exclaimed Rameri, “and there is one
who recognizes your worth; and that is I. Even if it were otherwise, I
must always--always think of you.”

“I have thought of you too,” said Uarda. “Just now, when I was sitting
with my sick grandmother, it passed through my mind how nice it would
be if I had a brother just like you. Do you know what I should do if you
were my brother?”


“I should buy you a chariot and horse, and you should go away to the
king’s war.”

“Are you so rich?” asked Rameri smiling.

“Oh yes!” answered Uarda. “To be sure, I have not been rich for more
than an hour. Can you read?”


“Only think, when I was ill they sent a doctor to me from the House of
Seti. He was very clever, but a strange man. He often looked into my
eyes like a drunken man, and he stammered when he spoke.”

“Is his name Nebsecht?” asked the prince.

“Yes, Nebsecht. He planned strange things with grandfather, and
after Pentaur and you had saved us in the frightful attack upon us he
interceded for us. Since then he has not come again, for I was already
much better. Now to-day, about two hours ago, the dog barked, and an old
man, a stranger, came up to me, and said he was Nebsecht’s brother, and
had a great deal of money in his charge for me. He gave me a ring too,
and said that he would pay the money to him, who took the ring to him
from me. Then he read this letter to me.”

Rameri took the letter and read. “Nebsecht to the fair Uarda.”

“Nebsecht greets Uarda, and informs her that he owed her grandfather
in Osiris, Pinem--whose body the kolchytes are embalming like that of
a noble--a sum of a thousand gold rings. These he has entrusted to his
brother Teta to hold ready for her at any moment. She may trust Teta
entirely, for he is honest, and ask him for money whenever she needs it.
It would be best that she should ask Teta to take care of the money for
her, and to buy her a house and field; then she could remove into it,
and live in it free from care with her grandmother. She may wait a year,
and then she may choose a husband. Nebsecht loves Uarda much. If at the
end of thirteen months he has not been to see her, she had better marry
whom she will; but not before she has shown the jewel left her by her
mother to the king’s interpreter.”

“How strange!” exclaimed Rameri. “Who would have given the singular
physician, who always wore such dirty clothes, credit for such
generosity? But what is this jewel that you have?”

Uarda opened her shirt, and showed the prince the sparkling ornament.

“Those are diamonds---it is very valuable!” cried the prince; “and there
in the middle on the onyx there are sharply engraved signs. I cannot
read them, but I will show them to the interpreter. Did your mother wear

“My father found it on her when she died,” said Uarda. “She came to
Egypt as a prisoner of war, and was as white as I am, but dumb, so she
could not tell us the name of her home.”

“She belonged to some great house among the foreigners, and the
children inherit from the mother,” cried the prince joyfully. “You are a
princess, Uarda! Oh! how glad I am, and how much I love you!”

The girl smiled and said, “Now you will not be afraid to touch the
daughter of the unclean.”

“You are cruel,” replied the prince. “Shall I tell you what I determined
on yesterday,--what would not let me sleep last night,--and for what I
came here today?”


Rameri took a most beautiful white rose out of his robe and said:

“It is very childish, but I thought how it would be if I might put this
flower with my own hands into your shining hair. May I?”

“It is a splendid rose! I never saw such a fine one.”

“It is for my haughty princess. Do pray let me dress your hair! It
is like silk from Tyre, like a swan’s breast, like golden
star-beams--there, it is fixed safely! Nay, leave it so. If the seven
Hathors could see you, they would be jealous, for you are fairer than
all of them.”

“How you flatter!” said Uarda, shyly blushing, and looking into his
sparkling eyes.

“Uarda,” said the prince, pressing her hand to his heart. “I have now
but one wish. Feel how my heart hammers and beats. I believe it will
never rest again till you--yes, Uarda--till you let me give you one,
only one, kiss.”

The girl drew back.

“Now,” she said seriously. “Now I see what you want. Old Hekt knows men,
and she warned me.”

“Who is Hekt, and what can she know of me?”

“She told me that the time would come when a man would try to make
friends with me. He would look into my eyes, and if mine met his, then
he would ask to kiss me. But I must refuse him, because if I liked
him to kiss me he would seize my soul, and take it from me, and I must
wander, like the restless ghosts, which the abyss rejects, and the
storm whirls before it, and the sea will not cover, and the sky will not
receive, soulless to the end of my days. Go away--for I cannot refuse
you the kiss, and yet I would not wander restless, and without a soul!”

“Is the old woman who told you that a good woman?” asked Rameri.

Uarda shook her head.

“She cannot be good,” cried the prince. “For she has spoken a falsehood.
I will not seize your soul; I will give you mine to be yours, and
you shall give me yours to be mine, and so we shall neither of us be
poorer--but both richer!”

“I should like to believe it,” said Uarda thoughtfully, “and I have
thought the same kind of thing. When I was strong, I often had to go
late in the evening to fetch water from the landing-place where the
great water-wheel stands. Thousands of drops fall from the earthenware
pails as it turns, and in each you can see the reflection of a moon, yet
there is only one in the sky. Then I thought to myself, so it must be
with the love in our hearts. We have but one heart, and yet we pour it
out into other hearts without its losing in strength or in warmth. I
thought of my grandmother, of my father, of little Scherau, of the Gods,
and of Pentaur. Now I should like to give you a part of it too.”

“Only a part?” asked Rameri.

“Well, the whole will be reflected in you, you know,” said Uarda, “as
the whole moon is reflected in each drop.”

“It shall!” cried the prince, clasping the trembling girl in his arms,
and the two young souls were united in their first kiss.

“Now do go!” Uarda entreated.

“Let me stay a little while,” said Rameri. “Sit down here by me on the
bench in front of the house. The hedge shelters us, and besides this
valley is now deserted, and there are no passers by.”

“We are doing what is not right,” said Uarda. “If it were right we
should not want to hide ourselves.”

“Do you call that wrong which the priests perform in the Holy of
Holies?” asked the prince. “And yet it is concealed from all eyes.”

“How you can argue!” laughed Uarda. “That shows you can write, and are
one of his disciples.”

“His, his!” exclaimed Rameri. “You mean Pentaur. He was always the
dearest to me of all my teachers, but it vexes me when you speak of him
as if he were more to you than I and every one else. The poet, you
said, was one of the drops in which the moon of your soul finds a
reflection--and I will not divide it with many.”

“How you are talking!” said Uarda. “Do you not honor your father, and
the Gods? I love no one else as I do you--and what I felt when you
kissed me--that was not like moon-light, but like this hot mid-day sun.
When I thought of you I had no peace. I will confess to you now,
that twenty times I looked out of the door, and asked whether my
preserver--the kind, curly-headed boy--would really come again, or
whether he despised a poor girl like me? You came, and I am so happy,
and I could enjoy myself with you to my heart’s content. Be kind
again--or I will pull your hair!”

“You!” cried Rameri. “You cannot hurt with your little hands, though you
can with your tongue. Pentaur is much wiser and better than I, you owe
much to him, and nevertheless I--”

“Let that rest,” interrupted the girl, growing grave. “He is not a man
like other men. If he asked to kiss me, I should crumble into dust, as
ashes dried in the sun crumble if you touch them with a finger, and
I should be as much afraid of his lips as of a lion’s. Though you may
laugh at it, I shall always believe that he is one of the Immortals.
His own father told me that a great wonder was shown to him the very
day after his birth. Old Hekt has often sent me to the gardener with
a message to enquire after his son, and though the man is rough he is
kind. At first he was not friendly, but when he saw how much I liked
his flowers he grew fond of me, and set me to work to tie wreaths and
bunches, and to carry them to his customers. As we sat together, laying
the flowers side by side, he constantly told me something about his son,
and his beauty and goodness and wisdom. When he was quite a little boy
he could write poems, and he learned to read before any one had shown
him how. The high-priest Ameni heard of it and took him to the House of
Seti, and there he improved, to the astonishment of the gardener;
not long ago I went through the garden with the old man. He talked of
Pentaur as usual, and then stood still before a noble shrub with broad
leaves, and said, My son is like this plant, which has grown up close to
me, and I know not how. I laid the seed in the soil, with others that I
bought over there in Thebes; no one knows where it came from, and yet it
is my own. It certainly is not a native of Egypt; and is not Pentaur as
high above me and his mother and his brothers, as this shrub is above
the other flowers? We are all small and bony, and he is tall and slim;
our skin is dark and his is rosy; our speech is hoarse, his as sweet as
a song. I believe he is a child of the Gods that the Immortals have
laid in my homely house. Who knows their decrees?’ And then I often saw
Pentaur at the festivals, and asked myself which of the other priests
of the temple came near him in height and dignity? I took him for a
God, and when I saw him who saved my life overcome a whole mob with
superhuman strength must I not regard him as a superior Being? I look up
to him as to one of them; but I could never look in his eyes as I do in
yours. It would not make my blood flow faster, it would freeze it in
my veins. How can I say what I mean! my soul looks straight out, and
it finds you; but to find him it must look up to the heavens. You are a
fresh rose-garland with which I crown myself--he is a sacred persea-tree
before which I bow.”

Rameri listened to her in silence, and then said, “I am still young, and
have done nothing yet, but the time shall come in which you shall
look up to me too as to a tree, not perhaps a sacred tree, but as to a
sycamore under whose shade we love to rest. I am no longer gay; I will
leave you for I have a serious duty to fulfil. Pentaur is a complete
man, and I will be one too. But you shall be the rose-garland to grace
me. Men who can be compared to flowers disgust me!”

The prince rose, and offered Uarda his hand.

“You have a strong hand,” said the girl. “You will be a noble man, and
work for good and great ends; only look, my fingers are quite red with
being held so tightly. But they too are not quite useless. They have
never done anything very hard certainly, but what they tend flourishes,
and grandmother says they are ‘lucky.’ Look at the lovely lilies and the
pomegrenate bush in that corner. Grandfather brought the earth here from
the Nile, Pentaur’s father gave me the seeds, and each little plant that
ventured to show a green shoot through the soil I sheltered and nursed
and watered, though I had to fetch the water in my little pitcher, till
it was vigorous, and thanked me with flowers. Take this pomegranate
flower. It is the first my tree has borne; and it is very strange, when
the bud first began to lengthen and swell my grandmother said, ‘Now your
heart will soon begin to bud and love.’ I know now what she meant, and
both the first flowers belong to you--the red one here off the tree,
and the other, which you cannot see, but which glows as brightly as this

Rameri pressed the scarlet blossom to his lips, and stretched out his
hand toward Uarda; but she shrank back, for a little figure slipped
through an opening in the hedge.

It was Scherau.

His pretty little face glowed with his quick run, and his breath was
gone. For a few minutes he tried in vain for words, and looked anxiously
at the prince.

Uarda saw that something unusual agitated him; she spoke to him kindly,
saying that if he wished to speak to her alone he need not be afraid of
Rameri, for he was her best friend.

“But it does not concern you and me,” replied the child, “but the good,
holy father Pentaur, who was so kind to me, and who saved your life.”

“I am a great friend of Pentaur,” said the prince. “Is it not true,
Uarda? He may speak with confidence before me.”

“I may?” said Scherau, “that is well. I have slipped away; Hekt may come
back at any moment, and if she sees that I have taken myself off I shall
get a beating and nothing to eat.”

“Who is this horrible Hekt?” asked Rameri indignantly.

“That Uarda can tell you by and by,” said the little one hurriedly. “Now
only listen. She laid me on my board in the cave, and threw a sack over
me, and first came Nemu, and then another man, whom she spoke to as
Steward. She talked to him a long time. At first I did not listen, but
then I caught the name of Pentaur, and I got my head out, and now
I understand it all. The steward declared that the good Pentaur was
wicked, and stood in his way, and he said that Ameni was going to
send him to the quarries at Chennu, but that that was much too small
a punishment. Then Hekt advised him to give a secret commission to
the captain of the ship to go beyond Chennu, to the frightful
mountain-mines, of which she has often told me, for her father and her
brother were tormented to death there.”

“None ever return from thence,” said the prince. “But go on.”

“What came next, I only half understood, but they spoke of some drink
that makes people mad. Oh! what I see and hear!--I would he contentedly
on my board all my life long, but all else is too horrible--I wish that
I were dead.”

And the child began to cry bitterly.

Uarda, whose cheeks had turned pale, patted him affectionately; but
Rameri exclaimed:

“It is frightful! unheard of! But who was the steward? did you not hear
his name? Collect yourself, little man, and stop crying. It is a case
of life and death. Who was the scoundrel? Did she not name him? Try to

Scherau bit his red lips, and tried for composure. His tears ceased, and
suddenly he exclaimed, as he put his hand into the breast of his ragged
little garment: “Stay, perhaps you will know him again--I made him!”

“You did what?” asked the prince.

“I made him,” repeated the little artist, and he carefully brought out
an object wrapped up in a scrap of rag, “I could just see his head quite
clearly from one side all the time he was speaking, and my clay lay by
me. I always must model something when my mind is excited, and this
time I quickly made his face, and as the image was successful, I kept it
about me to show to the master when Hekt was out.”

While he spoke he had carefully unwrapped the figure with trembling
fingers, and had given it to Uarda.

“Ani!” cried the prince. “He, and no other! Who could have thought it!
What spite has he against Pentaur? What is the priest to him?”

For a moment he reflected, then he struck his hand against his forehead.

“Fool that I am!” he exclaimed vehemently. “Child that I am! of course,
of course; I see it all. Ani asked for Bent-Anat’s hand, and she--now
that I love you, Uarda, I understand what ails her. Away with deceit! I
will tell you no more lies, Uarda. I am no page of honor to Bent-Anat;
I am her brother, and king Rameses’ own son. Do not cover your face with
your hands, Uarda, for if I had not seen your mother’s jewel, and if I
were not only a prince, but Horus himself, the son of Isis, I must have
loved you, and would not have given you up. But now other things have to
be done besides lingering with you; now I will show you that I am a man,
now that Pentaur is to be saved. Farewell, Uarda, and think of me!”

He would have hurried off, but Scherau held him by the robe, and said
timidly: “Thou sayst thou art Rameses’ son. Hekt spoke of him too. She
compared him to our moulting hawk.”

“She shall soon feel the talons of the royal eagle,” cried Rameri. “Once
more, farewell!”

He gave Uarda his hand, she pressed it passionately to her lips, but he
drew it away, kissed her forehead, and was gone.

The maiden looked after him pale and speechless. She saw another man
hastening towards her, and recognizing him as her father, she went
quickly to meet him. The soldier had come to take leave of her, he had
to escort some prisoners.

“To Chennu?” asked Uarda.

“No, to the north,” replied the man.

His daughter now related what she had heard, and asked whether he could
help the priest, who had saved her.

“If I had money, if I had money!” muttered the soldier to himself.

“We have some,” cried Uarda; she told him of Nebsecht’s gift, and said:
“Take me over the Nile, and in two hours you will have enough to make a
man rich.

   [It may be observed that among the Egyptian women were qualified to
   own and dispose of property. For example a papyrus (vii) in the
   Louvre contains an agreement between Asklepias (called Semmuthis),
   the daughter or maid-servant of a corpse-dresser of Thebes, who is
   the debtor, and Arsiesis, the creditor, the son of a kolchytes; both
   therefore are of the same rank as Uarda.]

But no; I cannot leave my sick grandmother. You yourself take the ring,
and remember that Pentaur is being punished for having dared to protect

“I remember it,” said the soldier. “I have but one life, but I will
willingly give it to save his. I cannot devise schemes, but I know
something, and if it succeeds he need not go to the gold-mines. I will
put the wine-flask aside--give me a drink of water, for the next few
hours I must keep a sober head.”

“There is the water, and I will pour in a mouthful of wine. Will you
come back and bring me news?”

“That will not do, for we set sail at midnight, but if some one returns
to you with the ring you will know that what I propose has succeeded.”

Uarda went into the hut, her father followed her; he took leave of his
sick mother and of his daughter. When they went out of doors again, he
said: “You have to live on the princess’s gift till I return, and I do
not want half of the physician’s present. But where is your pomegranate

“I have picked it and preserved it in a safe place.”

“Strange things are women!” muttered the bearded man; he tenderly kissed
his child’s forehead, and returned to the Nile down the road by which he
had come.

The prince meanwhile had hurried on, and enquired in the harbor of the
Necropolis where the vessel destined for Chennu was lying--for the ships
loaded with prisoners were accustomed to sail from this side of the
river, starting at night. Then he was ferried over the river, and
hastened to Bent-Anat. He found her and Nefert in unusual excitement,
for the faithful chamberlain had learned--through some friends of the
king in Ani’s suite--that the Regent had kept back all the letters
intended for Syria, and among them those of the royal family.

A lord in waiting, who was devoted to the king, had been encouraged by
the chamberlain to communicate to Bent-Anat other things, which hardly
allowed any doubts as to the ambitious projects of her uncle; she was
also exhorted to be on her guard with Nefert, whose mother was the
confidential adviser of the Regent.

Bent-Anat smiled at this warning, and sent at once a message to Ani
to inform him that she was ready to undertake the pilgrimage to the
“Emerald-Hathor,” and to be purified in the sanctuary of that Goddess.

She purposed sending a message to her father from thence, and if he
permitted it, joining him at the camp.

She imparted this plan to her friend, and Nefert thought any road best
that would take her to her husband.

Rameri was soon initiated into all this, and in return he told them all
he had learned, and let Bent-Anat guess that he had read her secret.

So dignified, so grave, were the conduct and the speech of the boy who
had so lately been an overhearing mad-cap, that Bent-Anat thought to
herself that the danger of their house had suddenly ripened a boy into a

She had in fact no objection to raise to his arrangements. He proposed
to travel after sunset, with a few faithful servants on swift horses as
far as Keft, and from thence ride fast across the desert to the Red Sea,
where they could take a Phoenician ship, and sail to Aila. From thence
they would cross the peninsula of Sinai, and strive to reach the
Egyptian army by forced marches, and make the king acquainted with Ani’s
criminal attempts.

To Bent-Anat was given the task of rescuing Pentaur, with the help of
the faithful chamberlain.

Money was fortunately not wanting, as the high treasurer was on their
side. All depended on their inducing the captain to stop at Chennu; the
poet’s fate would there, at the worst, be endurable. At the same time,
a trustworthy messenger was to be sent to the governor of Chennu,
commanding him in the name of the king to detain every ship that might
pass the narrows of Chennu by night, and to prevent any of the prisoners
that had been condemned to the quarries from being smuggled on to

Rameri took leave of the two women, and he succeeded in leaving Thebes

Bent-Anat knelt in prayer before the images of her mother in Osiris,
of Hathor, and of the guardian Gods of her house, till the chamberlain
returned, and told her that he had persuaded the captain of the ship to
stop at Chennu, and to conceal from Ani that he had betrayed his charge.

The princess breathed more freely, for she had come to a resolution that
if the chamberlain had failed in his mission, she would cross over
to the Necropolis forbid the departure of the vessel, and in the last
extremity rouse the people, who were devoted to her, against Ani.

The following morning the Lady Katuti craved permission of the princess
to see her daughter. Bent-Anat did not show herself to the widow, whose
efforts failed to keep her daughter from accompanying the princess on
her journey, or to induce her to return home. Angry and uneasy, the
indignant mother hastened to Ani, and implored him to keep Nefert at
home by force; but the Regent wished to avoid attracting attention, and
to let Bent-Anat set out with a feeling of complete security.

“Do not be uneasy,” he said. “I will give the ladies a trustworthy
escort, who will keep them at the Sanctuary of the ‘Emerald-Hathor’ till
all is settled. There you can deliver Nefert to Paaker, if you still
like to have him for a son-in-law after hearing several things that I
have learned. As for me, in the end I may induce my haughty niece to
look up instead of down; I may be her second love, though for that
matter she certainly is not my first.”

On the following day the princess set out.

Ani took leave of her with kindly formality, which she returned with
coolness. The priesthood of the temple of Amon, with old Bek en Chunsu
at their head, escorted her to the harbor. The people on the banks
shouted Bent-Anat’s name with a thousand blessings, but many insulting
words were to be heard also.

The pilgrim’s Nile-boat was followed by two others, full of soldiers,
who accompanied the ladies “to protect them.”

The south-wind filled the sails, and carried the little procession
swiftly down the stream. The princess looked now towards the palace of
her fathers, now towards the tombs and temples of the Necropolis. At
last even the colossus of Anienophis disappeared, and the last houses
of Thebes. The brave maiden sighed deeply, and tears rolled down her
checks. She felt as if she were flying after a lost battle, and yet not
wholly discouraged, but hoping for future victory. As she turned to go
to the cabin, a veiled girl stepped up to her, took the veil from her
face, and said: “Pardon me, princess; I am Uarda, whom thou didst run
over, and to whom thou hast since been so good. My grandmother is dead,
and I am quite alone. I slipped in among thy maid-servants, for I wish
to follow thee, and to obey all thy commands. Only do not send me away.”

“Stay, dear child,” said the princess, laying her hand on her hair.

Then, struck by its wonderful beauty, she remembered her brother, and
his wish to place a rose in Uarda’s shining tresses.


Two months had past since Bent-Anat’s departure from Thebes, and the
imprisonment of Pentaur. Ant-Baba is the name of the valley, in the
western half of the peninsula of Sinai,

   [I have described in detail the peninsula of Sinai, its history, and
   the sacred places on it, in my book “Durch Gosen zum Sinai,”
    published in 1872. In depicting this scenery in the present
   romance, I have endeavored to reproduce the reality as closely as
   possible. He who has wandered through this wonderful mountain
   wilderness can never forget it. The valley now called “Laba,” bore
   the same name in the time of the Pharaohs.]

through which a long procession of human beings, and of beasts of
burden, wended their way.

It was winter, and yet the mid-day sun sent down glowing rays, which
were reflected from the naked rocks. In front of the caravan marched a
company of Libyan soldiers, and another brought up the rear. Each man
was armed with a dagger and battle-axe, a shield and a lance, and
was ready to use his weapons; for those whom they were escorting were
prisoners from the emerald-mines, who had been convoyed to the shores of
the Red Sea to carry thither the produce of the mines, and had received,
as a return-load, provisions which had arrived from Egypt, and which
were to be carried to the storehouses of the mountain mines. Bent and
panting, they made their way along. Each prisoner had a copper chain
riveted round his ankles, and torn rags hanging round their loins, were
the only clothing of these unhappy beings, who, gasping under the weight
of the sacks they had to carry, kept their staring eyes fixed on the
ground. If one of them threatened to sink altogether under his burden,
he was refreshed by the whip of one of the horsemen, who accompanied the
caravan. Many a one found it hard to choose whether he could best endure
the suffering of mere endurance, or the torture of the lash.

No one spoke a word, neither the prisoners nor their guards; and even
those who were flogged did not cry out, for their powers were exhausted,
and in the souls of their drivers there was no more impulse of pity
than there was a green herb on the rocks by the way. This melancholy
procession moved silently onwards, like a procession of phantoms, and
the ear was only made aware of it when now and then a low groan broke
from one of the victims.

The sandy path, trodden by their naked feet, gave no sound, the
mountains seemed to withhold their shade, the light of clay was a
torment--every thing far and near seemed inimical to the living. Not a
plant, not a creeping thing, showed itself against the weird forms
of the barren grey and brown rocks, and no soaring bird tempted the
oppressed wretches to raise their eyes to heaven.

In the noontide heat of the previous day they had started with their
loads from the harbor-creek. For two hours they had followed the shore
of the glistening, blue-green sea,

   [The Red Sea--in Hebrew and Coptic the reedy sea--is of a lovely
   blue green color. According to the Ancients it was named red either
   from its red banks or from the Erythraeans, who were called the red
   people. On an early inscription it is called “the water of the Red
   country.” See “Durch Gosen zum Sinai.”]

then they had climbed a rocky shoulder and crossed a small plateau. They
had paused for their night’s rest in the gorge which led to the mines;
the guides and soldiers lighted fires, grouped themselves round them,
and lay down to sleep under the shelter of a cleft in the rocks; the
prisoners stretched themselves on the earth in the middle of the
valley without any shelter, and shivering with the cold which suddenly
succeeded the glowing heat of the day. The benumbed wretches now looked
forward to the crushing misery of the morning’s labor as eagerly as, a
few hours since, they had longed for the night, and for rest.

Lentil-broth and hard bread in abundance, but a very small quantity of
water was given to them before they started; then they set out through
the gorge, which grew hotter and hotter, and through ravines where they
could pass only one by one. Every now and then it seemed as if the
path came to an end, but each time it found an outlet, and went on--as
endless as the torment of the wayfarers.

Mighty walls of rock composed the view, looking as if they were formed
of angular masses of hewn stone piled up in rows; and of all the
miners one, and one only, had eyes for these curious structures of the
ever-various hand of Nature.

This one had broader shoulders than his companions, and his burden
Weighed on him comparatively lightly. “In this solitude,” thought he,
“which repels man, and forbids his passing his life here, the Chnemu,
the laborers who form the world, have spared themselves the trouble of
filling up the seams, and rounding off the corners. How is it that Man
should have dedicated this hideous land--in which even the human heart
seems to be hardened against all pity--to the merciful Hathor? Perhaps
because it so sorely stands in need of the joy and peace which the
loving goddess alone can bestow.”

“Keep the line, Huni!” shouted a driver.

The man thus addressed, closed up to the next man, the panting leech
Nebsecht. We know the other stronger prisoner. It is Pentaur, who had
been entered as Huni on the lists of mine-laborers, and was called by
that name. The file moved on; at every step the ascent grew more rugged.
Red and black fragments of stone, broken as small as if by the hand of
man, lay in great heaps, or strewed the path which led up the almost
perpendicular cliff by imperceptible degrees. Here another gorge opened
before them, and this time there seemed to be no outlet.

“Load the asses less!” cried the captain of the escort to the prisoners.
Then he turned to the soldiers, and ordered them, when the beasts were
eased, to put the extra burthens on the men. Putting forth their
utmost strength, the overloaded men labored up the steep and hardly
distinguishable mountain path.

The man in front of Pentaur, a lean old man, when half way up the
hill-side, fell in a heap under his load, and a driver, who in a narrow
defile could not reach the bearers, threw a stone at him to urge him to
a renewed effort.

The old man cried out at the blow, and at the cry--the paraschites
stricken down with stones--his own struggle with the mob--and the
appearance of Bent Anat flashed into Pentaur’s memory. Pity and a sense
of his own healthy vigor prompted him to energy; he hastily snatched the
sack from the shoulders of the old man, threw it over his own, helped up
the fallen wretch, and finally men and beasts succeeded in mounting the
rocky wall.

The pulses throbbed in Pentaur’s temples, and he shuddered with horror,
as he looked down from the height of the pass into the abyss below, and
round upon the countless pinnacles and peaks, cliffs and precipices,
in many-colored rocks-white and grey, sulphurous yellow, blood-red and
ominous black. He recalled the sacred lake of Muth in Thebes, round
which sat a hundred statues of the lion-headed Goddess in black basalt,
each on a pedestal; and the rocky peaks, which surrounded the valley
at his feet, seemed to put on a semblance of life and to move and
open their yawning jaws; through the wild rush of blood in his ears he
fancied he heard them roar, and the load beyond his strength which he
carried gave him a sensation as though their clutch was on his breast.

Nevertheless he reached the goal.

The other prisoners flung their loads from their shoulders, and threw
themselves down to rest. Mechanically he did the same: his pulses beat
more calmly, by degrees the visions faded from his senses, he saw and
heard once more, and his brain recovered its balance. The old man and
Nebsecht were lying beside him.

His grey-haired companion rubbed the swollen veins in his neck, and
called down all the blessings of the Gods upon his head; but the captain
of the caravan cut him short, exclaiming:

“You have strength for three, Huni; farther on, we will load you more

“How much the kindly Gods care for our prayers for the blessing of
others!” exclaimed Nebsecht. “How well they know how to reward a good

“I am rewarded enough,” said Pentaur, looking kindly at the old man.
“But you, you everlasting scoffer--you look pale. How do you feel?”

“As if I were one of those donkeys there,” replied the naturalist. “My
knees shake like theirs, and I think and I wish neither more nor less
than they do; that is to say--I would we were in our stalls.”

“If you can think,” said Pentaur smiling, “you are not so very bad.”

“I had a good thought just now, when you were staring up into the sky.
The intellect, say the priestly sages, is a vivifying breath of the
eternal spirit, and our soul is the mould or core for the mass of matter
which we call a human being. I sought the spirit at first in the heart,
then in the brain; but now I know that it resides in the arms and legs,
for when I have strained them I find thought is impossible. I am too
tired to enter on further evidence, but for the future I shall treat my
legs with the utmost consideration.”

“Quarrelling again you two? On again, men!” cried the driver.

The weary wretches rose slowly, the beasts were loaded, and on went the
pitiable procession, so as to reach the mines before sunset.

The destination of the travellers was a wide valley, closed in by two
high and rocky mountain-slopes; it was called Ta Mafka by the Egyptians,
Dophka by the Hebrews. The southern cliff-wall consisted of dark
granite, the northern of red sandstone; in a distant branch of the
valley lay the mines in which copper was found. In the midst of the
valley rose a hill, surrounded by a wall, and crowned with small stone
houses, for the guard, the officers, and the overseers. According to the
old regulations, they were without roofs, but as many deaths and much
sickness had occurred among the workmen in consequence of the cold
nights, they had been slightly sheltered with palm-branches brought from
the oasis of the Alnalckites, at no great distance.

On the uttermost peak of the hill, where it was most exposed to the
wind, were the smelting furnaces, and a manufactory where a peculiar
green glass was prepared, which was brought into the market under the
name of Mafkat, that is to say, emerald. The genuine precious stone was
found farther to the south, on the western shore of the Red Sea, and was
highly prized in Egypt.

Our friends had already for more than a month belonged to the
mining-community of the Mafkat valley, and Pentaur had never learned
how it was that he had been brought hither with his companion Nebsecht,
instead of going to the sandstone quarries of Chennu.

That Uarda’s father had effected this change was beyond a doubt, and the
poet trusted the rough but honest soldier who still kept near him, and
gave him credit for the best intentions, although he had only spoken to
him once since their departure from Thebes.

That was the first night, when he had come up to Pentaur, and whispered:
“I am looking after you. You will find the physician Nebsecht here; but
treat each other as enemies rather than as friends, if you do not wish
to be parted.”

Pentaur had communicated the soldier’s advice to Nebsecht, and he had
followed it in his own way.

It afforded him a secret pleasure to see how Pentaur’s life contradicted
the belief in a just and beneficent ordering of the destinies of men;
and the more he and the poet were oppressed, the more bitter was the
irony, often amounting to extravagance, with which the mocking sceptic
attacked him.

He loved Pentaur, for the poet had in his keeping the key which alone
could give admission to the beautiful world which lay locked up in his
own soul; but yet it was easy to him, if he thought they were observed,
to play his part, and to overwhelm Pentaur with words which, to the
drivers, were devoid of meaning, and which made them laugh by the
strange blundering fashion in which he stammered them out.

“A belabored husk of the divine self-consciousness.” “An advocate of
righteousness hit on the mouth.” “A juggler who makes as much of this
worst of all possible worlds as if it were the best.” “An admirer of the
lovely color of his blue bruises.” These and other terms of invective,
intelligible only to himself and his butt, he could always pour out in
new combinations, exciting Pentaur to sharp and often witty rejoinders,
equally unintelligible to the uninitiated.

Frequently their sparring took the form of a serious discussion, which
served a double purpose; first their minds, accustomed to serious
thought, found exercise in spite of the murderous pressure of the burden
of forced labor, and secondly, they were supposed really to be enemies.
They slept in the same court-yard, and contrived, now and then, to
exchange a few words in secret; but by day Nebsecht worked in the
turquoise-diggings, and Pentaur in the mines, for the careful chipping
out of the precious stones from their stony matrix was the work best
suited to the slight physician, while Pentaur’s giant-strength was
fitted for hewing the ore out of the hard rock. The drivers often looked
in surprise at his powerful strokes, as he flung his pick against the

The stupendous images that in such moments of wild energy rose before
the poet’s soul, the fearful or enchanting tones that rang in his
spirit’s ear-none could guess at.

Usually his excited fancy showed him the form of Bent-Anat, surrounded
by a host of men--and these he seemed to fell to the earth, one-by-one,
as-he hewed the rock. Often in the middle of his work he would stop,
throw down his pick-axe, and spread out his arms--but only to drop them
with a deep groan, and wipe the sweat from his brow.

The overseers did not know what to think of this powerful youth, who
often was as gentle as a child, and then seemed possessed of that demon
to which so many of the convicts fell victims. He had indeed become a
riddle to himself; for how was it that he--the gardener’s son, brought
up in the peaceful temple of Seti--ever since that night by the house
of the paraschites had had such a perpetual craving for conflict and

The weary gangs were gone to rest; a bright fire still blazed in front
of the house of the superintendent of the mines, and round it squatted
in a circle the overseers and the subalterns of the troops.

“Put the wine-jar round again,” said the captain, “for we must hold
grave council. Yesterday I had orders from the Regent to send half the
guard to Pelusium. He requires soldiers, but we are so few in number
that if the convicts knew it they might make short work of us, even
without arms. There are stones enough hereabouts, and by day they have
their hammer and chisel. Things are worst among the Hebrews in the
copper-mines; they are a refractory crew that must be held tight. You
know me well, fear is unknown to me--but I feel great anxiety. The last
fuel is now burning in this fire, and the smelting furnaces and the
glass-foundry must not stand idle. Tomorrow we must send men to Raphidim

   [The oasis at the foot of Horeb, where the Jews under Joshua’s
   command conquered the Amalekites, while Aaron and Hur held up Moses’
   arms. Exodus 17, 8.]

to obtain charcoal from the Amalekites. They owe us a hundred loads
still. Load the prisoners with some copper, to make them tired and the
natives civil. What can we do to procure what we want, and yet not to
weaken the forces here too much?”

Various opinions were given, and at last it was settled that a small
division, guarded by a few soldiers, should be sent out every day to
supply only the daily need for charcoal.

It was suggested that the most dangerous of the convicts should be
fettered together in pairs to perform their duties.

The superintendent was of opinion that two strong men fettered together
would be more to be feared if only they acted in concert.

“Then chain a strong one to a weak one,” said the chief accountant of
the mines, whom the Egyptians called the ‘scribe of the metals.’ “And
fetter those together who are enemies.”

“The colossal Huni, for instance, to that puny spat row, the stuttering
Nebsecht,” said a subaltern.

“I was thinking of that very couple,” said the accountant laughing.

Three other couples were selected, at first with some laughter, but
finally with serious consideration, and Uarda’s father was sent with the
drivers as an escort.

On the following morning Pentaur and Nebsecht were fettered together
with a copper chain, and when the sun was at its height four pairs of
prisoners, heavily loaded with copper, set out for the Oasis of the
Amalekites, accompanied by six soldiers and the son of the paraschites,
to fetch fuel for the smelting furnaces.

They rested near the town of Alus, and then went forward again between
bare walls of greyish-green and red porphyry. These cliffs rose higher
and higher, but from time to time, above the lower range, they could see
the rugged summit of some giant of the range, though, bowed under their
heavy loads, they paid small heed to it.

The sun was near setting when they reached the little sanctuary of the

A few grey and black birds here flew towards them, and Pentaur gazed at
them with delight.

How long he had missed the sight of a bird, and the sound of their chirp
and song! Nebsecht said: “There are some birds--we must be near water.”

And there stood the first palm-tree!

Now the murmur of the brook was perceptible, and its tiny sound touched
the thirsty souls of the travellers as rain falls on dry grass.

On the left bank of the stream an encampment of Egyptian soldiers formed
a large semicircle, enclosing three large tents made of costly material
striped with blue and white, and woven with gold thread. Nothing was to
be seen of the inhabitants of these tents, but when the prisoners
had passed them, and the drivers were exchanging greetings with the
out-posts, a girl, in the long robe of an Egyptian, came towards them,
and looked at them.

Pentaur started as if he had seen a ghost; but Nebsecht gave expression
to his astonishment in a loud cry.

At the same instant a driver laid his whip across their shoulders, and
cried laughing:

“You may hit each other as hard as you like with words, but not with
your hands.”

Then he turned to his companions, and said: “Did you see the pretty girl
there, in front of the tent?”

“It is nothing to us!” answered the man he addressed. “She belongs to
the princess’s train. She has been three weeks here on a visit to the
holy shrine of Hathor.”

“She must have committed some heavy sin,” replied the other. “If she
were one of us, she would have been set to sift sand in the diggings,
or grind colors, and not be living here in a gilt tent. Where is our

Uarda’s father had lingered a little behind the party, for the girl had
signed to him, and exchanged a few words with him.

“Have you still an eye for the fair ones?” asked the youngest of the
drivers when he rejoined the gang.

“She is a waiting maid of the princess,” replied the soldier not without
embarrassment. “To-morrow morning we are to carry a letter from her to
the scribe of the mines, and if we encamp in the neighborhood she will
send us some wine for carrying it.”

“The old red-beard scents wine as a fox scents a goose. Let us encamp
here; one never knows what may be picked up among the Mentu, and the
superintendent said we were to encamp outside the oasis. Put down your
sacks, men! Here there is fresh water, and perhaps a few dates and sweet
Manna for you to eat with it.

   [“Man” is the name still given by the Bedouins of Sinai to the sweet
   gum which exudes from the Tamarix mannifera. It is the result of
   the puncture of an insect, and occurs chiefly in May. By many it is
   supposed to be the Manna of the Bible.]

But keep the peace, you two quarrelsome fellows--Huni and Nebsecht.”

Bent-Anat’s journey to the Emerald-Hathor was long since ended. As far
as Keft she had sailed down the Nile with her escort, from thence she
had crossed the desert by easy marches, and she had been obliged to wait
a full week in the port on the Red Sea, which was chiefly inhabited
by Phoenicians, for a ship which had finally brought her to the little
seaport of Pharan. From Pharan she had crossed the mountains to the
oasis, where the sanctuary she was to visit stood on the northern side.

The old priests, who conducted the service of the Goddess, had received
the daughter of Rameses with respect, and undertook to restore her to
cleanness by degrees with the help of the water from the mountain-stream
which watered the palm-grove of the Amalekites, of incense-burning, of
pious sentences, and of a hundred other ceremonies. At last the Goddess
declared herself satisfied, and Bent-Anat wished to start for the north
and join her father, but the commander of the escort, a grey-headed
Ethiopian field officer--who had been promoted to a high grade by
Ani--explained to the Chamberlain that he had orders to detain the
princess in the oasis until her departure was authorized by the Regent

Bent-Anat now hoped for the support of her father, for her brother
Rameri, if no accident had occurred to him, might arrive any day. But in

The position of the ladies was particularly unpleasant, for they felt
that they had been caught in a trap, and were in fact prisoners. In
addition to this their Ethiopian escort had quarrelled with the
natives of the oasis, and every day skirmishes took place under their
eyes--indeed lately one of these fights had ended in bloodshed.

Bent-Anat was sick at heart. The two strong pinions of her soul, which
had always borne her so high above other women--her princely pride and
her bright frankness--seemed quite broken; she felt that she had loved
once, never to love again, and that she, who had sought none of her
happiness in dreams, but all in work, had bestowed the best half of her
identity on a vision. Pentaur’s image took a more and more vivid, and at
the same time nobler and loftier, aspect in her mind; but he himself had
died for her, for only once had a letter reached them from Egypt, and
that was from Katuti to Nefert. After telling her that late intelligence
established the statement that her husband had taken a prince’s
daughter, who had been made prisoner, to his tent as his share of the
booty, she added the information that the poet Pentaur, who had been
condemned to forced labor, had not reached the mountain mines, but, as
was supposed, had perished on the road.

Nefert still held to her immovable belief that her husband was faithful
to his love for her, and the magic charm of a nature made beautiful by
its perfect mastery over a deep and pure passion made itself felt in
these sad and heavy days.

It seemed as though she had changed parts with Bent-Anat. Always
hopeful, every day she foretold help from the king for the next; in
truth she was ready to believe that, when Mena learned from Rameri that
she was with the princess, he himself would come to fetch them if his
duties allowed it. In her hours of most lively expectation she could go
so far as to picture how the party in the tents would be divided, and
who would bear Bent-Anat company if Mena took her with him to his camp,
on what spot of the oasis it would be best to pitch it, and much more in
the same vein.

Uarda could very well take her place with Bent-Anat, for the child
had developed and improved on the journey. The rich clothes which the
princess had given her became her as if she had never worn any others;
she could obey discreetly, disappear at the right moment, and, when she
was invited, chatter delightfully. Her laugh was silvery, and nothing
consoled Bent-Anat so much as to hear it.

Her songs too pleased the two friends, though the few that she knew were
grave and sorrowful. She had learned them by listening to old Hekt, who
often used to play on a lute in the dusk, and who, when she perceived
that Uarda caught the melodies, had pointed out her faults, and given
her advice.

“She may some day come into my hands,” thought the witch, “and the
better she sings, the better she will be paid.”

Bent-Anat too tried to teach Uarda, but learning to read was not easy to
the girl, however much pains she might take. Nevertheless, the princess
would not give up the spelling, for here, at the foot of the immense
sacred mountain at whose summit she gazed with mixed horror and longing,
she was condemned to inactivity, which weighed the more heavily on her
in proportion as those feelings had to be kept to herself which she
longed to escape from in work. Uarda knew the origin of her mistress’s
deep grief, and revered her for it, as if it were something sacred.
Often she would speak of Pentaur and of his father, and always in such a
manner that the princess could not guess that she knew of their love.

When the prisoners were passing Bent-Anat’s tent, she was sitting within
with Nefert, and talking, as had become habitual in the hours of dusk,
of her father, of Mena, Rameri, and Pentaur.

“He is still alive,” asserted Nefert. “My mother, you see, says that no
one knows with certainty what became of him. If he escaped, he beyond
a doubt tried to reach the king’s camp, and when we get there you will
find him with your father.”

The princess looked sadly at the ground. Nefert looked affectionately at
her, and asked:

“Are you thinking of the difference in rank which parts you from the man
you have chosen?”

“The man to whom I offer my hand, I put in the rank of a prince,” said
Bent-Anat. “But if I could set Pentaur on a throne, as master of the
world, he would still be greater and better than I.”

“But your father?” asked Nefert doubtfully.

“He is my friend, he will listen to me and understand me. He shall know
everything when I see him; I know his noble and loving heart.”

Both were silent for some time; then Bent-Anat spoke:

“Pray have lights brought, I want to finish my weaving.”

Nefert rose, went to the door of the tent, and there met Uarda; she
seized Nefert’s hand, and silently drew her out into the air.

“What is the matter, child? you are trembling,” Nefert exclaimed.

“My father is here,” answered Uarda hastily. “He is escorting some
prisoners from the mines of Mafkat. Among them there are two chained
together, and one of them--do not be startled--one of them is the poet
Pentaur. Stop, for God’s sake, stop, and hear me. Twice before I have
seen my father when he has been here with convicts. To-day we must
rescue Pentaur; but the princess must know nothing of it, for if my plan

“Child! girl!” interrupted Nefert eagerly. “How can I help you?”

“Order the steward to give the drivers of the gang a skin of wine in the
name of the princess, and out of Bent-Anat’s case of medicines take the
phial which contains the sleeping draught, which, in spite of your wish,
she will not take. I will wait here, and I know how to use it.”

Nefert immediately found the steward, and ordered him to follow Uarda
with a skin of wine. Then she went back to the princess’s tent, and
opened the medicine case.

   [A medicine case, belonging to a more ancient period than the reign
   of Rameses, is preserved in the Berlin Museum.]

“What do you want?” asked Bent-Anat.

“A remedy for palpitation,” replied Nefert; she quietly took the flask
she needed, and in a few minutes put it into Uarda’s hand.

The girl asked the steward to open the wine-skin, and let her taste the
liquor. While she pretended to drink it, she poured the whole contents
of the phial into the wine, and then let Bent-Anat’s bountiful present
be carried to the thirsty drivers.

She herself went towards the kitchen tent, and found a young Amalekite
sitting on the ground with the princess’s servants. He sprang up as soon
as he saw the damsel.

“I have brought four fine partridges,”

   [A brook springs on the peak called by the Sinaitic monks Mr. St.
   Katherine, which is called the partridge’s spring, and of which many
   legends are told. For instance, God created it for the partridges
   which accompanied the angels who carried St. Katharine of Alexandria
   to her tomb on Sinai.]

he said, “which I snared myself, and I have brought this turquoise for
you--my brother found it in a rock. This stone brings good luck, and is
good for the eyes; it gives victory over our enemies, and keeps away bad

“Thank you!” said Uarda, and taking the boy’s hand, as he gave her the
sky-blue stone, she led him forward into the dusk.

“Listen, Salich” she said softly, as soon as she thought they were far
enough from the others. “You are a good boy, and the maids told me that
you said I was a star that had come down from the sky to become a woman.
No one says such a thing as that of any one they do not like very
much; and I know you like me, for you show me that you do every day by
bringing me flowers, when you carry the game that your father gets to
the steward. Tell me, will you do me and the princess too a very great
service? Yes?--and willingly? Yes? I knew you would! Now listen. A
friend of the great lady Bent-Anat, who will come here to-night, must
be hidden for a day, perhaps several days, from his pursuers. Can he,
or rather can they, for there will probably be two, find shelter and
protection in your father’s house, which lies high up there on the
sacred mountain?”

“Whoever I take to my father,” said the boy, “will be made welcome;
and we defend our guests first, and then ourselves. Where are the

“They will arrive in a few hours. Will you wait here till the moon is
well up?”

“Till the last of all the thousand moons that vanish behind the hills is

“Well then, wait on the other side of the stream, and conduct the man to
your house, who repeats my name three times. You know my name?”

“I call you Silver-star, but the others call you Uarda.”

“Lead the strangers to your hut, and, if they are received there by your
father, come back and tell me. I will watch for you here at the door of
the tent. I am poor, alas! and cannot reward you, but the princess will
thank your father as a princess should. Be watchful, Salich!”

The girl vanished, and went to the drivers of the gang of prisoners,
wished them a merry and pleasant evening, and then hastened back to
Bent-Anat, who anxiously stroked her abundant hair, and asked her why
she was so pale.

“Lie down,” said the princess kindly, “you are feverish. Only look,
Nefert, I can see the blood coursing through the blue veins in her

Meanwhile the drivers drank, praised the royal wine, and the lucky
day on which they drank it; and when Uarda’s father suggested that the
prisoners too should have a mouthful one of his fellow soldiers cried:
“Aye, let the poor beasts be jolly too for once.”

The red-beard filled a large beaker, and offered it first to a forger
and his fettered companion, then he approached Pentaur, and whispered:

“Do not drink any-keep awake!”

As he was going to warn the physician too, one of his companions came
between them, and offering his tankard to Nebsecht said:

“Here mumbler, drink; see him pull! His stuttering mouth is spry enough
for drinking!”


The hours passed gaily with the drinkers, then they grew more and more

Ere the moon was high in the heavens, while they were all sleeping,
with the exception of Kaschta and Pentaur, the soldier rose softly.
He listened to the breathing of his companions, then he approached the
poet, unfastened the ring which fettered his ankle to that of Nebsecht,
and endeavored to wake the physician, but in vain.

“Follow me!” cried he to the poet; he took Nebsecht on his shoulders,
and went towards the spot near the stream which Uarda had indicated.
Three times he called his daughter’s name, the young Amalekite appeared,
and the soldier said decidedly: “Follow this man, I will take care of

“I will not leave him,” said Pentaur. “Perhaps water will wake him.”
 They plunged him in the brook, which half woke him, and by the help of
his companions, who now pushed and now dragged him, he staggered and
stumbled up the rugged mountain path, and before midnight they reached
their destination, the hut of the Amalekite.

The old hunter was asleep, but his son aroused him, and told him what
Uarda had ordered and promised.

But no promises were needed to incite the worthy mountaineer to
hospitality. He received the poet with genuine friendliness, laid the
sleeping leech on a mat, prepared a couch for Pentaur of leaves and
skins, called his daughter to wash his feet, and offered him his own
holiday garment in the place of the rags that covered his body.

Pentaur stretched himself out on the humble couch, which to him seemed
softer than the silken bed of a queen, but on which nevertheless he
could not sleep, for the thoughts and fancies that filled his heart were
too overpowering and bewildering.

The stars still sparkled in the heavens when he sprang from his bed of
skins, lifted Nebsecht on to it, and rushed out into the open air. A
fresh mountain spring flowed close to the hunter’s hut. He went to it,
and bathed his face in the ice-cold water, and let it flow over his body
and limbs. He felt as if he must cleanse himself to his very soul,
not only from the dust of many weeks, but from the rebellion and
despondency, the ignominy and bitterness, and the contact with vice and
degradation. When at last he left the spring, and returned to the little
house, he felt clean and fresh as on the morning of a feast-day at
the temple of Seti, when he had bathed and dressed himself in robes of
snow-white linen. He took the hunter’s holiday dress, put it on, and
went out of doors again.

The enormous masses of rock lay dimly before him, like storm-clouds, and
over his head spread the blue heavens with their thousand stars.

The soothing sense of freedom and purity raised his soul, and the air
that he breathed was so fresh and light, that he sprang up the path
to the summit of the peak as if he were borne on wings or carried by
invisible hands.

A mountain goat which met him, turned from him, and fled bleating, with
his mate, to a steep peak of rock, but Pentaur said to the frightened

“I shall do nothing to you--not I!”

He paused on a little plateau at the foot of the jagged granite peak
of the mountain. Here again he heard the murmur of a spring, the grass
under his feet was damp, and covered with a film of ice, in which were
mirrored the stars, now gradually fading. He looked up at the lights in
the sky, those never-tarrying, and yet motionless wanderers-away, to
the mountain heights around him-down, into the gorge below--and far off,
into the distance.

The dusk slowly grew into light, the mysterious forms of the
mountain-chain took shape and stood up with their shining points, the
light clouds were swept away like smoke. Thin vapors rose from the oasis
and the other valleys at his feet, at first in heavy masses, then they
parted and were wafted, as if in sport, above and beyond him to the
sky. Far below him soared a large eagle, the only living creature far or

A solemn and utter silence surrounded him, and when the eagle swooped
down and vanished from his sight, and the mist rolled lower into the
valley, he felt that here, alone, he was high above all other living
beings, and standing nearer to the Divinity.

He drew his breath fully and deeply, he felt as he had felt in the first
hours after his initiation, when for the first time he was admitted to
the holy of holies--and yet quite different.

Instead of the atmosphere loaded with incense, he breathed a light pure
air; and the deep stillness of the mountain solitude possessed his soul
more strongly than the chant of the priests.

Here, it seemed to him, that the Divine being would hear the lightest
murmur of his lips, though indeed his heart was so full of gratitude and
devotion that his impulse was to give expression to his mighty flow of
feelings in jubilant song. But his tongue seemed tied; he knelt down in
silence, to pray and to praise.

Then he looked at the panorama round him. Where was the east which in
Egypt was clearly defined by the long Nile range? Down there where it
was beginning to be light over the oasis. To his right hand lay the
south, the sacred birth-place of the Nile, the home of the Gods of
the Cataracts; but here flowed no mighty stream, and where was there a
shrine for the visible manifestation of Osiris and Isis; of Horns, born
of a lotus flower in a thicket of papyrus; of Rennut, the Goddess of
blessings, and of Zeta? To which of them could he here lift his hands in

A faint breeze swept by, the mist vanished like a restless shade at the
word of the exorcist, the many-pointed crown of Sinai stood out in
sharp relief, and below them the winding valleys, and the dark colored
rippling surface of the lake, became distinctly visible.

All was silent, all untouched by the hand of man yet harmonized to
one great and glorious whole, subject to all the laws of the universe,
pervaded and filled by the Divinity.

He would fain have raised his hand in thanksgiving to Apheru, “the Guide
on the way;” but he dared not; and how infinitely small did the Gods
now seem to him, the Gods he had so often glorified to the multitude
in inspired words, the Gods that had no meaning, no dwelling-place, no
dominion but by the Nile.

“To ye,” he murmured, “I cannot pray! Here where my eye can pierce the
distance, as if I myself were a god-here I feel the presence of the One,
here He is near me and with me--I will call upon Him and praise him!”

And throwing up his arms he cried aloud: “Thou only One! Thou only One!
Thou only One!” He said no more; but a tide of song welled up in his
breast as he spoke--a flood of thankfulness and praise.

When he rose from his knees, a man was standing by him; his eyes were
piercing and his tall figure had the dignity of a king, in spite of his
herdsman’s dress.

“It is well for you!” said the stranger in deep slow accents. “You seek
the true God.”

Pentaur looked steadily into the face of the bearded man before him.

“I know you now,” he said. “You are Mesu.--[Moses]--I was but a boy when
you left the temple of Seti, but your features are stamped on my soul.
Ameni initiated me, as well as you, into the knowledge of the One God.”

“He knows Him not,” answered the other, looking thoughtfully to the
eastern horizon, which every moment grew brighter.

The heavens glowed with purple, and the granite peaks, each sheathed
in a film of ice, sparkled and shone like dark diamonds that had been
dipped in light.

The day-star rose, and Pentaur turned to it, and prostrated himself as
his custom was. When he rose, Mesu also was kneeling on the earth, but
his back was turned to the sun.

When he had ended his prayer, Pentaur said, “Why do you turn your back
on the manifestation of the Sun-god? We were taught to look towards him
when he approaches.”

“Because I,” said his grave companion, “pray to another God than
yours. The sun and stars are but as toys in his hand, the earth is his
foot-stool, the storm is his breath, and the sea is in his sight as the
drops on the grass.”

“Teach me to know the Mighty One whom you worship!” exclaimed Pentaur.

“Seek him,” said Mesu, “and you will find him; for you have passed
through misery and suffering, and on this spot on such a morning as this
was He revealed to me.”

The stranger turned away, and disappeared behind a rock from the
enquiring gaze of Pentaur, who fixed his eyes on the distance.

Then he thoughtfully descended the valley, and went towards the hut
of the hunter. He stayed his steps when he heard men’s voices, but the
rocks hid the speakers from his sight.

Presently he saw the party approaching; the son of his host, a man
in Egyptian dress, a lady of tall stature, near whom a girl tripped
lightly, and another carried in a litter by slaves.

Pentaur’s heart beat wildly, for he recognized Bent-Anat and her
companions. They disappeared by the hunter’s cottage, but he stood
still, breathing painfully, spell-bound to the cliff by which he
stood--a long, long time--and did not stir.

He did not hear a light step, that came near to him, and died away
again, he did not feel that the sun began to cast fierce beams on him,
and on the porphyry cliff behind him, he did not see a woman now coming
quickly towards him; but, like a deaf man who has suddenly acquired the
sense of hearing, he started when he heard his name spoken--by whose

“Pentaur!” she said again; the poet opened his arms, and Bent-Anat fell
upon his breast; and he held her to him, clasped, as though he must hold
her there and never part from her all his life long.

Meanwhile the princess’s companions were resting by the hunter’s little

“She flew into his arms--I saw it,” said Uarda. “Never shall I forget
it. It was as if the bright lake there had risen up to embrace the

“Where do you find such fancies, child?” cried Nefert.

“In my heart, deep in my heart!” cried Uarda. “I am so unspeakably

“You saved him and rewarded him for his goodness; you may well be

“It is not only that,” said Uarda. “I was in despair, and now I see that
the Gods are righteous and loving.”

Mena’s wife nodded to her, and said with a sigh:

“They are both happy!”

“And they deserve to be!” exclaimed Uarda. “I fancy the Goddess of Truth
is like Bent-Anat, and there is not another man in Egypt like Pentaur.”

Nefert was silent for awhile; then she asked softly: “Did you ever see

“How should I?” replied the girl. “Wait a little while, and your
turn will come. I believe that to-day I can read the future like a
prophetess. But let us see if Nebsecht lies there, and is still asleep.
The draught I put into the wine must have been strong.”

“It was,” answered Nefert, following her into the hut.

The physician was still lying on the bed, and sleeping with his mouth
wide open. Uarda knelt down by his side, looked in his face, and said:

“He is clever and knows everything, but how silly he looks now! I will
wake him.”

She pulled a blade of grass out of the heap on which he was lying, and
saucily tickled his nose.

Nebsecht raised himself, sneezed, but fell back asleep again; Uarda
laughed out with her clear silvery tones. Then she blushed--“That is not
right,” she said, “for he is good and generous.”

She took the sleeper’s hand, pressed it to her lips, and wiped the drops
from his brow. Then he awoke, opened his eyes, and muttered half in a
dream still:

“Uarda--sweet Uarda.”

The girl started up and fled, and Nefert followed her.

When Nebsecht at last got upon his feet and looked round him, he found
himself alone in a strange house. He went out of doors, where he found
Bent-Anat’s little train anxiously discussing things past and to come.


The inhabitants of the oasis had for centuries been subject to the
Pharaohs, and paid them tribute; and among the rights granted to them
in return, no Egyptian soldier might cross their border and territory
without their permission.

The Ethiopians had therefore pitched Bent-Anat’s tents and their own
camp outside these limits; but various transactions soon took place
between the idle warriors and the Amalekites, which now and then led to
quarrels, and which one evening threatened serious consequences, when
some drunken soldiers had annoyed the Amalekite women while they were
drawing water.

This morning early one of the drivers on awaking had missed Pentaur and
Nebsecht, and he roused his comrades, who had been rejoined by Uarda’s
father. The enraged guard of the gang of prisoners hastened to the
commandant of the Ethiopians, and informed him that two of his prisoners
had escaped, and were no doubt being kept in concealment by the

The Amalekites met the requisition to surrender the fugitives, of whom
they knew nothing, with words of mockery, which so enraged the officer
that he determined to search the oasis throughout by force, and when he
found his emissaries treated with scorn he advanced with the larger part
of his troops on to the free territory of the Amalekites.

The sons of the desert flew to arms; they retired before the close order
of the Egyptian troops, who followed them, confident of victory, to a
point where the valley widens and divides on each side of a rocky
hill. Behind this the larger part of the Amalekite forces were lying in
ambush, and as soon as the unsuspicious Ethiopians had marched past
the hill, they threw themselves on the rear of the astonished invaders,
while those in front turned upon them, and flung lances and arrows at
the soldiers, of whom very few escaped.

Among them, however, was the commanding officer, who, foaming with rage
and only slightly wounded, put himself at the head of the remainder
of Bent-Anat’s body-guard, ordered the escort of the prisoners also to
follow him, and once more advanced into the oasis.

That the princess might escape him had never for an instant occurred to
him, but as soon as the last of her keepers had disappeared, Bent-Anat
explained to her chamberlain and her companions that now or never was
the moment to fly.

All her people were devoted to her; they loaded themselves with the most
necessary things for daily use, took the litters and beasts of burden
with them, and while the battle was raging in the valley, Salich guided
them up the heights of Sinai to his father’s house.

It was on the way thither that Uarda had prepared the princess for the
meeting she might expect at the hunter’s cottage, and we have seen how
and where the princess found the poet.

Hand in hand they wandered together along the mountain path till they
came to a spot shaded by a projection of the rock, Pentaur pulled some
moss to make a seat, they reclined on it side by side, and there opened
their hearts, and told each other of their love and of their sufferings,
their wanderings and escapes.

At noonday the hunter’s daughter came to offer them a pitcher full of
goat’s milk, and Bent-Anat filled the gourd again and again for the man
she loved; and waiting upon him thus, her heart overflowed with pride,
and his with the humble desire to be permitted to sacrifice his blood
and life for her.

Hitherto they had been so absorbed in the present and the past, that
they had not given a thought to the future, and while they repeated a
hundred times what each had long since known, and yet could never tire
of hearing, they forgot the immediate changes which was hanging over

After their humble meal, the surging flood of feeling which, ever since
his morning devotions, had overwhelmed the poet’s soul, grew calmer; he
had felt as if borne through the air, but now he set foot, so to speak,
on the earth again, and seriously considered with Bent-Anat what steps
they must take in the immediate future.

The light of joy, which beamed in their eyes, was little in accordance
with the grave consultation they held, as, hand in hand, they descended
to the hut of their humble host.

The hunter, guided by his daughter, met them half way, and with him a
tall and dignified man in the full armor of a chief of the Amalekites.

Both bowed and kissed the earth before Bent-Anat and Pentaur. They
had heard that the princess was detained in the oasis by force by the
Ethiopian troops, and the desert-prince, Abocharabos, now informed them,
not without pride, that the Ethiopian soldiers, all but a few who were
his prisoners, had been exterminated by his people; at the same time
he assured Pentaur, whom he supposed to be a son of the king, and
Bent-Anat, that he and his were entirely devoted to the Pharaoh Rameses,
who had always respected their rights.

“They are accustomed,” he added, “to fight against the cowardly dogs of
Kush; but we are men, and we can fight like the lions of our wilds. If
we are outnumbered we hide like the goats in clefts of the rocks.”

Bent-Anat, who was pleased with the daring man, his flashing eyes,
his aquiline nose, and his brown face which bore the mark of a bloody
sword-cut, promised him to commend him and his people to her father’s
favor, and told him of her desire to proceed as soon as possible to the
king’s camp under the protection of Pentaur, her future husband.

The mountain chief had gazed attentively at Pentaur and at Bent-Anat
while she spoke; then he said: “Thou, princess, art like the moon, and
thy companion is like the Sun-god Dusare. Besides Abocharabos,” and he
struck his breast, “and his wife, I know no pair that are like you two.
I myself will conduct you to Hebron with some of my best men of war. But
haste will be necessary, for I must be back before the traitor who now
rules over Mizraim,--[The Semitic name of Egypt]--and who persecutes
you, can send fresh forces against us. Now you can go down again to the
tents, not a hen is missing. To-morrow before daybreak we will be off.”

At the door of the hut Pentaur was greeted by the princess’s companions.

The chamberlain looked at him not without anxious misgiving.

The king, when he departed, had, it is true, given him orders to obey
Bent-Anat in every particular, as if she were the queen herself; but her
choice of such a husband was a thing unheard of, and how would the king
take it?

Nefert rejoiced in the splendid person of the poet, and frequently
repeated that he was as like her dead uncle--the father of Paaker, the
chief-pioneer--as if he were his younger brother.

Uarda never wearied of contemplating him and her beloved princess.
She no longer looked upon him as a being of a higher order; but the
happiness of the noble pair seemed to her an embodied omen of happiness
for Nefert’s love--perhaps too for her own.

Nebsecht kept modestly in the background. The headache, from which he
had long been suffering, had disappeared in the fresh mountain air. When
Pentaur offered him his hand he exclaimed:

“Here is an end to all my jokes and abuse! A strange thing is this fate
of men. Henceforth I shall always have the worst of it in any dispute
with you, for all the discords of your life have been very prettily
resolved by the great master of harmony, to whom you pray.”

“You speak almost as if you were sorry; but every thing will turn out
happily for you too.”

“Hardly!” replied the surgeon, “for now I see it clearly. Every man is
a separate instrument, formed even before his birth, in an occult
workshop, of good or bad wood, skilfully or unskilfully made, of this
shape or the other; every thing in his life, no matter what we call it,
plays upon him, and the instrument sounds for good or evil, as it is
well or ill made. You are an AEolian harp--the sound is delightful,
whatever breath of fate may touch it; I am a weather-cock--I turn
whichever way the wind blows, and try to point right, but at the same
time I creak, so that it hurts my own ears and those of other people. I
am content if now and then a steersman may set his sails rightly by
my indication; though after all, it is all the same to me. I will turn
round and round, whether others look at me or no--What does it signify?”

When Pentaur and the princess took leave of the hunter with many gifts,
the sun was sinking, and the toothed peaks of Sinai glowed like rubies,
through which shone the glow of half a world on fire.

The journey to the royal camp was begun the next morning. Abocharabos,
the Amalekite chief, accompanied the caravan, to which Uarda’s father
also attached himself; he had been taken prisoner in the struggle with
the natives, but at Bent-Anat’s request was set at liberty.

At their first halting place he was commanded to explain how he had
succeeded in having Pentaur taken to the mines, instead of to the
quarries of Chennu.

“I knew,” said the soldier in his homely way, “from Uarda where this
man, who had risked his life for us poor folks, was to be taken, and
I said to myself--I must save him. But thinking is not my trade, and
I never can lay a plot. It would very likely have come to some violent
act, that would have ended badly, if I had not had a hint from another
person, even before Uarda told me of what threatened Pentaur. This is
how it was.

“I was to convoy the prisoners, who were condemned to work in the Mafkat
mines, across the river to the place they start from. In the harbor of
Thebes, on the other side, the poor wretches were to take leave of their
friends; I have seen it a hundred times, and I never can get used to it,
and yet one can get hardened to most things! Their loud cries, and wild
howls are not the worst--those that scream the most I have always found
are the first to get used to their fate; but the pale ones, whose lips
turn white, and whose teeth chatter as if they were freezing, and whose
eyes stare out into vacancy without any tears--those go to my heart.
There was all the usual misery, both noisy and silent. But the man I was
most sorry for was one I had known for a long time; his name was Huni,
and he belonged to the temple of Amon, where he held the place of
overseer of the attendants on the sacred goat. I had often met him
when I was on duty to watch the laborers who were completing the great
pillared hall, and he was respected by every one, and never failed in
his duty. Once, however, he had neglected it; it was that very night
which you all will remember when the wolves broke into the temple,
and tore the rams, and the sacred heart was laid in the breast of the
prophet Rui. Some one, of course, must be punished, and it fell on poor
Huni, who for his carelessness was condemned to forced labor in the
mines of Mafkat. His successor will keep a sharp look out! No one came
to see him off, though I know he had a wife and several children. He
was as pale as this cloth, and was one of the sort whose grief eats into
their heart. I went up to him, and asked him why no one came with him.
He had taken leave of them at home, he answered, that his children might
not see him mixed up with forgers and murderers. Eight poor little brats
were left unprovided for with their mother, and a little while before a
fire had destroyed everything they possessed. There was not a crumb to
stop their little squalling mouths. He did not tell me all this straight
out; a word fell from him now and then, like dates from a torn sack. I
picked it up bit by bit, and when he saw I felt for him he grew fierce
and said: ‘They may send me to the gold mines or cut me to pieces,
as far as I am concerned, but that the little ones should starve
that--that,’ and he struck his forehead. Then I left him to say good bye
to Uarda, and on the way I kept repeating to myself ‘that-that,’ and saw
before me the man and his eight brats. If I were rich, thought I, there
is a man I would help. When I got to the little one there, she told me
how much money the leech Nebsecht had given her, and offered to give it
me to save Pentaur; then it passed through my mind--that may go to Hum’s
children, and in return he will let himself be shipped off to Ethiopia.
I ran to the harbor, spoke to the man, found him ready and willing, gave
the money to his wife, and at night when the prisoners were shipped I
contrived the exchange Pentaur came with me on my boat under the name of
the other, and Huni went to the south, and was called Pentaur. I had not
deceived the man into thinking he would stop at Chennu. I told him he
would be taken on to Ethiopia, for it is always impossible to play a man
false when you know it is quite easy to do it. It is very strange! It is
a real pleasure to cheat a cunning fellow or a sturdy man, but who would
take in a child or a sick person? Huni certainly would have gone
into the fire-pots of hell without complaining, and he left me quite
cheerfully. The rest, and how we got here, you yourselves know. In Syria
at this time of year you will suffer a good deal from rain. I know the
country, for I have escorted many prisoners of war into Egypt, and I was
there five years with the troops of the great Mohar, father of the chief
pioneer Paaker.”

Bent-Anat thanked the brave fellow, and Pentaur and Nebsecht continued
the narrative.

“During the voyage,” said Nebsecht, “I was uneasy about Pentaur, for I
saw how he was pining, but in the desert he seemed to rouse himself,
and often whispered sweet little songs that he had composed while we

“That is strange,” said Bent-Anat, “for I also got better in the

“Repeat the verses on the Beytharan plant,” said Nebsecht.

“Do you know the plant?” asked the poet. “It grows here in many places;
here it is. Only smell how sweet it is if you bruise the fleshy stem and
leaves. My little verse is simple enough; it occurred to me like many
other songs of which you know all the best.”

“They all praise the same Goddess,” said Nebsecht laughing.

“But let us have the verses,” said Bent-Anat. The poet repeated in a low

        “How often in the desert I have seen
        The small herb, Beytharan, in modest green!
        In every tiny leaf and gland and hair
        Sweet perfume is distilled, and scents the air.
        How is it that in barren sandy ground
        This little plant so sweet a gift has found?
        And that in me, in this vast desert plain,
        The sleeping gift of song awakes again?”

“Do you not ascribe to the desert what is due to love?” said Nefert.

“I owe it to both; but I must acknowledge that the desert is a wonderful
physician for a sick soul. We take refuge from the monotony that
surrounds us in our own reflections; the senses are at rest; and here,
undisturbed and uninfluenced from without, it is given to the mind to
think out every train of thought to the end, to examine and exhaust
every feeling to its finest shades. In the city, one is always a mere
particle in a great whole, on which one is dependent, to which one
must contribute, and from which one must accept something. The solitary
wanderer in the desert stands quite alone; he is in a manner freed from
the ties which bind him to any great human community; he must fill up
the void by his own identity, and seek in it that which may give his
existence significance and consistency. Here, where the present retires
into the background, the thoughtful spirit finds no limits however

“Yes; one can think well in the desert,” said Nebsecht. “Much has become
clear to me here that in Egypt I only guessed at.”

“What may that be?” asked Pentaur.

“In the first place,” replied Nebsecht, “that we none of us really know
anything rightly; secondly that the ass may love the rose, but the
rose will not love the ass; and the third thing I will keep to myself,
because it is my secret, and though it concerns all the world no one
would trouble himself about it. My lord chamberlain, how is this? You
know exactly how low people must bow before the princess in proportion
to their rank, and have no idea how a back-bone is made.”

“Why should I?” asked the chamberlain. “I have to attend to outward
things, while you are contemplating inward things; else your hair might
be smoother, and your dress less stained.”

The travellers reached the old Cheta city of Hebron without accident;
there they took leave of Abocharabos, and under the safe escort of
Egyptian troops started again for the north. At Hebron Pentaur parted
from the princess, and Bent-Anat bid him farewell without complaining.

Uarda’s father, who had learned every path and bridge in Syria,
accompanied the poet, while the physician Nebsecht remained with the
ladies, whose good star seemed to have deserted them with Pentaur’s
departure, for the violent winter rains which fell in the mountains of
Samaria destroyed the roads, soaked through the tents, and condemned
them frequently to undesirable delays. At Megiddo they were received
with high honors by the commandant of the Egyptian garrison, and they
were compelled to linger here some days, for Nefert, who had been
particularly eager to hurry forward, was taken ill, and Nebsecht was
obliged to forbid her proceeding at this season.

Uarda grew pale and thoughtful, and Bent-Anat saw with anxiety that the
tender roses were fading from the cheeks of her pretty favorite; but
when she questioned her as to what ailed her she gave an evasive answer.
She had never either mentioned Rameri’s name before the princess, nor
shown her her mother’s jewel, for she felt as if all that had passed
between her and the prince was a secret which did not belong to her
alone. Yet another reason sealed her lips. She was passionately devoted
to Bent-Anat, and she told herself that if the princess heard it all,
she would either blame her brother or laugh at his affection as at
a child’s play, and she felt as if in that case she could not love
Rameri’s sister any more.

A messenger had been sent on from the first frontier station to the
king’s camp to enquire by which road the princess, and her party should
leave Megiddo. But the emissary returned with a short and decided though
affectionate letter written by the king’s own hand, to his daughter,
desiring her not to quit Megiddo, which was a safe magazine and arsenal
for the army, strongly fortified and garrisoned, as it commanded
the roads from the sea into North and Central Palestine. Decisive
encounters, he said, were impending, and she knew that the Egyptians
always excluded their wives and daughters from their war train, and
regarded them as the best reward of victory when peace was obtained.

While the ladies were waiting in Megiddo, Pentaur and his red-bearded
guide proceeded northwards with a small mounted escort, with which they
were supplied by the commandant of Hebron.

He himself rode with dignity, though this journey was the first occasion
on which he had sat on horseback. He seemed to have come into the world
with the art of riding born with him. As soon as he had learned from his
companions how to grasp the bridle, and had made himself familiar with
the nature of the horse, it gave him the greatest delight to tame and
subdue a fiery steed.

He had left his priest’s robes in Egypt. Here he wore a coat of mail,
a sword, and battle-axe like a warrior, and his long beard, which had
grown during his captivity, now flowed down over his breast. Uarda’s
father often looked at him with admiration, and said:

“One might think the Mohar, with whom I often travelled these roads, had
risen from the dead. He looked like you, he spoke like you, he called
the men as you do, nay he sat as you do when the road was too bad for
his chariot,

   [The Mohars used chariots in their journeys. This is positively
   known from the papyrus Anastasi I. which vividly describes the
   hardships experienced by a Mohar while travelling through Syria.]

and he got on horseback, and held the reins.”

None of Pentaur’s men, except his red-bearded friend, was more to him
than a mere hired servant, and he usually preferred to ride alone, apart
from the little troop, musing on the past--seldom on the future--and
generally observing all that lay on his way with a keen eye. They soon
reached Lebanon; between it and and Lebanon a road led through the great
Syrian valley. It rejoiced him to see with his own eyes the distant
shimmer of the white snow-capped peaks, of which he had often heard
warriors talk.

The country between the two mountain ranges was rich and fruitful, and
from the heights waterfalls and torrents rushed into the valley. Many
villages and towns lay on his road, but most of them had been damaged
in the war. The peasants had been robbed of their teams of cattle, the
flocks had been driven off from the shepherds, and when a vine-dresser,
who was training his vine saw the little troop approaching, he fled to
the ravines and forests.

The traces of the plough and the spade were everywhere visible, but the
fields were for the most part not sown; the young peasants were under
arms, the gardens and meadows were trodden down by soldiers, the houses
and cottages plundered and destroyed, or burnt. Everything bore the
trace of the devastation of the war, only the oak and cedar forests
lorded it proudly over the mountain-slopes, planes and locust-trees
grew in groves, and the gorges and rifts of the thinly-wooded limestone
hills, which bordered the fertile low-land, were filled with evergreen

At this time of year everything was moist and well-watered, and Pentaur
compared the country with Egypt, and observed how the same results were
attained here as there, but by different agencies. He remembered that
morning on Sinai, and said to himself again: “Another God than ours
rules here, and the old masters were not wrong who reviled godless
strangers, and warned the uninitiated, to whom the secret of the One
must remain unrevealed, to quit their home.”

The nearer he approached the king’s camp, the more vividly he thought
of Bent-Anat, and the faster his heart beat from time to time when
he thought of his meeting with the king. On the whole he was full of
cheerful confidence, which he felt to be folly, and which nevertheless
he could not repress.

Ameni had often blamed him for his too great diffidence and his want of
ambition, when he had willingly let others pass him by. He remembered
this now, and smiled and understood himself less than ever, for
though he resolutely repeated to himself a hundred times that he was
a low-born, poor, and excommunicated priest, the feeling would not be
smothered that he had a right to claim Bent-Anat for his own.

And if the king refused him his daughter--if he made him pay for his
audacity with his life?

Not an eyelash, he well knew, would tremble under the blow of the axe,
and he would die content; for that which she had granted him was his,
and no God could take it from him!


Once or twice Pentaur and his companions had had to defend themselves
against hostile mountaineers, who rushed suddenly upon them out of the
woods. When they were about two days’ journey still from the end of
their march, they had a bloody skirmish with a roving band of men that
seemed to belong to a larger detachment of troops.

The nearer they got to Kadesh, the more familiar Kaschta showed himself
with every stock and stone, and he went forward to obtain information;
he returned somewhat anxious, for he had perceived the main body of the
Cheta army on the road which they must cross. How came the enemy here in
the rear of the Egyptian army? Could Rameses have sustained a defeat?

Only the day before they had met some Egyptian soldiers, who had told
them that the king was staying in the camp, and a great battle was
impending. This however could not have by this time been decided, and
they had met no flying Egyptians.

“If we can only get two miles farther without having to fight,” said
Uarda’s father. “I know what to do. Down below, there is a ravine, and
from it a path leads over hill and vale to the plain of Kadesh. No one
ever knew it but the Mohar and his most confidential servants. About
half-way there is a hidden cave, in which we have often stayed the
whole day long. The Cheta used to believe that the Mohar possessed magic
powers, and could make himself invisible, for when they lay in wait for
us on the way we used suddenly to vanish; but certainly not into the
clouds, only into the cave, which the Mohar used to call his Tuat. If
you are not afraid of a climb, and will lead your horse behind you for a
mile or two, I can show you the way, and to-morrow evening we will be at
the camp.”

Pentaur let his guide lead the way; they came, without having occasion
to fight, as far as the gorge between the hills, through which a full
and foaming mountain torrent rushed to the valley. Kaschta dropped from
his horse, and the others did the same. After the horses had passed
through the water, he carefully effaced their tracks as far as the road,
then for about half a mile he ascended the valley against the stream.
At last he stopped in front of a thick oleander-bush, looked carefully
about, and lightly pushed it aside; when he had found an entrance,
his companions and their weary scrambling beasts followed him without
difficulty, and they presently found themselves in a grove of lofty
cedars. Now they had to squeeze themselves between masses of rock, now
they labored up and down over smooth pebbles, which offered scarcely
any footing to the horses’ hoofs; now they had to push their way
through thick brushwood, and now to cross little brooks swelled by the

The road became more difficult at every step, then it began to grow
dark, and heavy drops of rain fell from the clouded sky.

“Make haste, and keep close to me,” cried Kaschta. “Half an hour more,
and we shall be under shelter, if I do not lose my way.”

Then a horse broke down, and with great difficulty was got up again;
the rain fell with increased violence, the night grew darker, and the
soldier often found himself brought to a stand-still, feeling for the
path with his hands; twice he thought he had lost it, but he would not
give in till he had recovered the track. At last he stood still, and
called Pentaur to come to him.

“Hereabouts,” said he, “the cave must be; keep close to me--it is
possible that we may come upon some of the pioneer’s people. Provisions
and fuel were always kept here in his father’s time. Can you see me?
Hold on to my girdle, and bend your head low till I tell you you may
stand upright again. Keep your axe ready, we may find some of the Cheta
or bandits roosting there. You people must wait, we will soon call you
to come under shelter.”

Pentaur closely followed his guide, pushing his way through the dripping
brushwood, crawling through a low passage in the rock, and at last
emerging on a small rocky plateau.

“Take care where you are going!” cried Kaschta. “Keep to the left, to
the right there is a deep abyss. I smell smoke! Keep your hand on your
axe, there must be some one in the cave. Wait! I will fetch the men as
far as this.”

The soldier went back, and Pentaur listened for any sounds that might
come from the same direction as the smoke. He fancied he could perceive
a small gleam of light, and he certainly heard quite plainly, first
a tone of complaint, then an angry voice; he went towards the light,
feeling his way by the wall on his left; the light shone broader and
brighter, and seemed to issue from a crack in a door.

By this time the soldier had rejoined Pentaur, and both listened for a
few minutes; then the poet whispered to his guide:

“They are speaking Egyptian, I caught a few words.”

“All the better,” said Kaschta. “Paaker or some of his people are in
there; the door is there still, and shut. If we give four hard and
three gentle knocks, it will be opened. Can you understand what they are

“Some one is begging to be set free,” replied Pentaur, “and speaks of
some traitor. The other has a rough voice, and says he must follow his
master’s orders. Now the one who spoke before is crying; do you hear? He
is entreating him by the soul of his father to take his fetters off. How
despairing his voice is! Knock, Kaschta--it strikes me we are come at
the right moment--knock, I say.”

The soldier knocked first four times, then three times. A shriek rang
through the cave, and they could hear a heavy, rusty bolt drawn back,
the roughly hewn door was opened, and a hoarse voice asked:

“Is that Paaker?”

“No,” answered the soldier, “I am Kaschta. Do not you know me again,

The man thus addressed, who was Paaker’s Ethiopian slave, drew back in

“Are you still alive?” he exclaimed. “What brings you here?”

“My lord here will tell you,” answered Kaschta as he made way for
Pentaur to enter the cave. The poet went up to the black man, and the
light of the fire which burned in the cave fell full on his face.

The old slave stared at him, and drew back in astonishment and terror.
He threw himself on the earth, howled like a dog that fawns at the feet
of his angry master, and cried out:

“He ordered it--Spirit of my master! he ordered it.” Pentaur stood
still, astounded and incapable of speech, till he perceived a young man,
who crept up to him on his hands and feet, which were bound with thongs,
and who cried to him in a tone, in which terror was mingled with a
tenderness which touched Pentaur’s very soul.

“Save me--Spirit of the Mohar! save me, father!” Then the poet spoke.

“I am no spirit of the dead,” said he. “I am the priest Pentaur; and I
know you, boy; you are Horus, Paaker’s brother, who was brought up with
me in the temple of Seti.”

The prisoner approached him trembling, looked at him enquiringly and

“Be you who you may, you are exactly like my father in person and
in voice. Loosen my bonds, and listen to me, for the most hideous,
atrocious, and accursed treachery threatens us the king and all.”

Pentaur drew his sword, and cut the leather thongs which bound the young
man’s hands and feet. He stretched his released limbs, uttering thanks
to the Gods, then he cried:

“If you love Egypt and the king follow me; perhaps there is yet time to
hinder the hideous deed, and to frustrate this treachery.”

“The night is dark,” said Kaschita, “and the road to the valley is

“You must follow me if it is to your death!” cried the youth, and,
seizing Pentaur’s hand, he dragged him with him out of the cave.

As soon as the black slave had satisfied himself that Pentaur was the
priest whom he had seen fighting in front of the paraschites’ hovel, and
not the ghost of his dead master, he endeavored to slip past Paaker’s
brother, but Horus observed the manoeuvre, and seized him by his woolly
hair. The slave cried out loudly, and whimpered out:

“If thou dost escape, Paaker will kill me; he swore he would.”

“Wait!” said the youth. He dragged the slave back, flung him into the
cave, and blocked up the door with a huge log which lay near it for that

When the three men had crept back through the low passage in the rocks,
and found themselves once more in the open air, they found a high wind
was blowing.

“The storm will soon be over,” said Horus. “See how the clouds are
driving! Let us have horses, Pentaur, for there is not a minute to be

The poet ordered Kaschta to summon the people to start but the soldier
advised differently.

“Men and horses are exhausted,” he said, “and we shall get on very
slowly in the dark. Let the beasts feed for an hour, and the men get
rested and warm; by that time the moon will be up, and we shall make up
for the delay by having fresh horses, and light enough to see the road.”

“The man is right,” said Horus; and he led Kaschta to a cave in the
rocks, where barley and dates for the horses, and a few jars of wine,
had been preserved. They soon had lighted a fire, and while some of the
men took care of the horses, and others cooked a warm mess of victuals,
Horus and Pentaur walked up and down impatiently.

“Had you been long bound in those thongs when we came?” asked Pentaur.

“Yesterday my brother fell upon me,” replied Horus. “He is by this time
a long way ahead of us, and if he joins the Cheta, and we do not reach
the Egyptian camp before daybreak, all is lost.”

“Paaker, then, is plotting treason?”

“Treason, the foulest, blackest treason!” exclaimed the young man. “Oh,
my lost father!--”

“Confide in me,” said Pentaur going up to the unhappy youth who had
hidden his face in his hands. “What is Paaker plotting? How is it that
your brother is your enemy?”

“He is the elder of us two,” said Horus with a trembling voice. “When my
father died I had only a short time before left the school of Seti, and
with his last words my father enjoined me to respect Paaker as the head
of our family. He is domineering and violent, and will allow no one’s
will to cross his; but I bore everything, and always obeyed him, often
against my better judgment. I remained with him two years, then I went
to Thebes, and there I married, and my wife and child are now living
there with my mother. About sixteen months afterwards I came back to
Syria, and we travelled through the country together; but by this time I
did not choose to be the mere tool of my brother’s will, for I had grown
prouder, and it seemed to me that the father of my child ought not to be
subservient, even to his own brother. We often quarrelled, and had a
bad time together, and life became quite unendurable, when--about eight
weeks since--Paaker came back from Thebes, and the king gave him to
understand that he approved more of my reports than of his. From my
childhood I have always been softhearted and patient; every one says I
am like my mother; but what Paaker made me suffer by words and deeds,
that is--I could not--” His voice broke, and Pentaur felt how cruelly he
had suffered; then he went on again:

“What happened to my brother in Egypt, I do not know, for he is very
reserved, and asks for no sympathy, either in joy or in sorrow; but from
words he has dropped now and then I gather that he not only bitterly
hates Mena, the charioteer--who certainly did him an injury--but has
some grudge against the king too. I spoke to him of it at once, but only
once, for his rage is unbounded when he is provoked, and after all he is
my elder brother.

“For some days they have been preparing in the camp for a decisive
battle, and it was our duty to ascertain the position and strength of
the enemy; the king gave me, and not Paaker, the commission to prepare
the report. Early yesterday morning I drew it out and wrote it; then my
brother said he would carry it to the camp, and I was to wait here. I
positively refused, as Rameses had required the report at my hands,
and not at his. Well, he raved like a madman, declared that I had taken
advantage of his absence to insinuate myself into the king’s favor, and
commanded me to obey him as the head of the house, in the name of my

“I was sitting irresolute, when he went out of the cavern to call his
horses; then my eyes fell on the things which the old black slave
was tying together to load on a pack-horse--among them was a roll
of writing. I fancied it was my own, and took it up to look at it,
when--what should I find? At the risk of my life I had gone among the
Cheta, and had found that the main body of their army is collected in
a cross-valley of the Orontes, quite hidden in the mountains to the
north-east of Kadesh; and in the roll it was stated, in Paaker’s own
hand-writing, that that valley is clear, and the way through it open,
and well suited for the passage of the Egyptian war-chariots; various
other false details were given, and when I looked further among his
things, I found between the arrows in his quiver, on which he had
written ‘death to Mena,’ another little roll of writing. I tore it open,
and my blood ran cold when I saw to whom it was addressed.”

“To the king of the Cheta?” cried Pentaur in excitement.

“To his chief officer, Titure,” continued Horus. “I was holding both
the rolls in my hand, when Paaker came back into the cave. ‘Traitor!’
I cried out to him; but he flung the lasso, with which he had been
catching the stray horses, threw it round my neck, and as I fell choking
on the ground, he and the black man, who obeys him like a dog, bound
me hand and foot; he left the old negro to keep guard over me, took the
rolls and rode away. Look, there are the stars, and the moon will soon
be up.”

“Make haste, men!” cried Pentaur. “The three best horses for me, Horus,
and Kaschta; the rest remain here.”

As the red-bearded soldier led the horses forward, the moon shone forth,
and within an hour the travellers had reached the plain; they sprang on
to the beasts and rode madly on towards the lake, which, when the sun
rose, gleamed before them in silvery green. As they drew near to it they
could discern, on its treeless western shore, black masses moving hither
and thither; clouds of dust rose up from the plain, pierced by flashes
of light, like the rays of the sun reflected from a moving mirror.

“The battle is begun!” cried Horus; and he fell sobbing on his horse’s

“But all is not lost yet!” exclaimed the poet, spurring his horse to
a final effort of strength. His companions did the same, but first
Kaschta’s horse fell under him, then Horus’s broke down.

“Help may be given by the left wing!” cried Horus. “I will run as fast
as I can on foot, I know where to find them. You will easily find the
king if you follow the stream to the stone bridge. In the cross-valley
about a thousand paces farther north--to the northwest of our
stronghold--the surprise is to be effected. Try to get through, and warn
Rameses; the Egyptian pass-word is ‘Bent-Anat,’ the name of the king’s
favorite daughter. But even if you had wings, and could fly straight to
him, they would overpower him if I cannot succeed in turning the left
wing on the rear of the enemy.”

Pentaur galloped onwards; but it was not long before his horse too gave
way, and he ran forward like a man who runs a race, and shouted the
pass-word “Bent-Anat”--for the ring of her name seemed to give him
vigor. Presently he came upon a mounted messenger of the enemy; he
struck him down from his horse, flung himself into the saddle, and
rushed on towards the camp; as if he were riding to his wedding.


During the night which had proved so eventful to our friends, much
had occurred in the king’s camp, for the troops were to advance to the
long-anticipated battle before sunrise.

Paaker had given his false report of the enemy’s movements to the
Pharaoh with his own hand; a council of war had been held, and each
division had received instructions as to where it was to take up its
position. The corps, which bore the name of the Sungod Ra, advanced from
the south towards Schabatun,

   [Kadesh was the chief city of the Cheta, i. e. Aramaans, round
   which the united forces of all the peoples of western Asia had
   collected. There were several cities called Kadesh. That which
   frequently checked the forces of Thotmes III. may have been
   situated farther to the south; but the Cheta city of Kadesh, where
   Rameses II. fought so hard a battle, was undoubtedly on the
   Orontes, for the river which is depicted on the pylon of the
   Ramesseum as parting into two streams which wash the walls of the
   fortress, is called Aruntha, and in the Epos of Pentaur it is stated
   that this battle took place at Kadesh by the Orontes. The name of
   the city survives, at a spot just three miles north of the lake of
   Riblah. The battle itself I have described from the Epos of
   Pentaur, the national epic of Egypt. It ends with these words:
   “This was written and made by the scribe Pentaur.” It was so highly
   esteemed that it is engraved in stone twice at Luqsor, and once at
   Karnak. Copies of it on papyrus are frequent; for instance, papyrus
   Sallier III. and papyrus Raifet--unfortunately much injured--in the
   Louvre. The principal incident, the rescue of the king from the
   enemy, is repeated at the Ramessetun at Thebes, and at Abu Simbel.
   It was translated into French by Vicomte E. de Rouge. The camp of
   Rameses is depicted on the pylons of Luqsor and the Ramesseum.]

so as to surround the lake on the east, and fall on the enemy’s flank;
the corps of Seth, composed of men from lower Egypt, was sent on to
Arnam to form the centre; the king himself, with the flower of the
chariot-guard, proposed to follow the road through the valley, which
Paaker’s report represented as a safe and open passage to the plain
of the Orontes. Thus, while the other divisions occupied the enemy, he
could cross the Orontes by a ford, and fall on the rear of the fortress
of Kadesh from the north-west. The corps of Amon, with the Ethiopian
mercenaries, were to support him, joining him by another route, which
the pioneer’s false indications represented as connecting the line of
operations. The corps of Ptah remained as a reserve behind the left

The soldiers had not gone to rest as usual; heavily, armed troops, who
bore in one hand a shield of half a man’s height, and in the other a
scimitar, or a short, pointed sword, guarded the camp,

   [Representations of Rameses’ camp are preserved on the pylons of the
   temple of Luxor and the Ramesseum.]

where numerous fires burned, round which crowded the resting warriors.
Here a wine-skin was passed from hand to hand, there a joint was
roasting on a wooden spit; farther on a party were throwing dice for the
booty they had won, or playing at morra. All was in eager activity,
and many a scuffle occurred amoung the excited soldiers, and had to be
settled by the camp-watch.

Near the enclosed plots, where the horses were tethered, the smiths were
busily engaged in shoeing the beasts which needed it, and in sharpening
the points of the lances; the servants of the chariot-guard were also
fully occupied, as the chariots had for the most part been brought over
the mountains in detached pieces on the backs of pack-horses and asses,
and now had to be put together again, and to have their wheels greased.
On the eastern side of the camp stood a canopy, under which the
standards were kept, and there numbers of priests were occupied in their
office of blessing the warriors, offering sacrifices, and singing hymns
and litanies. But these pious sounds were frequently overpowered by the
loud voices of the gamblers and revellers, by the blows of the hammers,
the hoarse braying of the asses, and the neighing of the horses. From
time to time also the deep roar of the king’s war-lions

   [See Diodorus, 1. 47. Also the pictures of the king rushing to the

might be heard; these beasts followed him into the fight, and were now
howling for food, as they had been kept fasting to excite their fury.

In the midst of the camp stood the king’s tent, surrounded by foot
and chariot-guards. The auxiliary troops were encamped in divisions
according to their nationality, and between them the Egyptian legions of
heavy-armed soldiers and archers. Here might be seen the black Ethiopian
with wooly matted hair, in which a few feathers were stuck--the
handsome, well proportioned “Son of the desert” from the sandy Arabian
shore of the Red Sea, who performed his wild war-dance flourishing his
lance, with a peculiar wriggle of his--hips pale Sardinians, with metal
helmets and heavy swords--light colored Libyans, with tattooed arms and
ostrich-feathers on their heads-brown, bearded Arabs, worshippers of the
stars, inseparable from their horses, and armed, some with lances, and
some with bows and arrows. And not less various than their aspect were
the tongues of the allied troops--but all obedient to the king’s word of

In the midst of the royal tents was a lightly constructed temple with
the statues of the Gods of Thebes, and of the king’s forefathers; clouds
of incense rose in front of it, for the priests were engaged from the
eve of the battle until it was over, in prayers, and offerings to Amon,
the king of the Gods, to Necheb, the Goddess of victory, and to Menth,
the God of war.

The keeper of the lions stood by the Pharaoh’s sleeping-tent, and
the tent, which served as a council chamber, was distinguished by the
standards in front of it; but the council-tent was empty and still,
while in the kitchen-tent, as well as in the wine-store close by, all
was in a bustle. The large pavilion, in which Rameses and his suite were
taking their evening meal, was more brilliantly lighted than all the
others; it was a covered tent, a long square in shape, and all round
it were colored lamps, which made it as light as day; a body-guard of
Sardinians, Libyans, and Egyptians guarded it with drawn swords, and
seemed too wholly absorbed with the importance of their office even to
notice the dishes and wine-jars, which the king’s pages--the sons of
the highest families in Egypt--took at the tent-door from the cooks and

The walls and slanting roof of this quickly-built and movable
banqueting-hall, consisted of a strong, impenetrable carpet-stuff,
woven at Thebes, and afterwards dyed purple at Tanis by the Phoenicians.
Saitic artists had embroidered the vulture, one of the forms in which
Necheb appears, a hundred times on the costly material with threads of
silver. The cedar-wood pillars of the tent were covered with gold,
and the ropes, which secured the light erection to the tent-pegs, were
twisted of silk, and thin threads of silver. Seated round four tables,
more than a hundred men were taking their evening meal; at three of them
the generals of the army, the chief priests, and councillors, sat on
light stools; at the fourth, and at some distance from the others,
were the princes of the blood; and the king himself sat apart at a high
table, on a throne supported by gilt figures of Asiatic prisoners
in chains. His table and throne stood on a low dais covered with
panther-skin; but even without that Rameses would have towered above his
companions. His form was powerful, and there was a commanding aspect
in his bearded face, and in the high brow, crowned with a golden diadem
adorned with the heads of two Uraeus-snakes, wearing the crowns of Upper
and Lower Egypt. A broad collar of precious stones covered half his
breast, the lower half was concealed by a scarf or belt, and his bare
arms were adorned with bracelets. His finely-proportioned limbs looked
as if moulded in bronze, so smoothly were the powerful muscles covered
with the shining copper-colored skin. Sitting here among those who were
devoted to him, he looked with kind and fatherly pride at his blooming

The lion was at rest--but nevertheless he was a lion, and terrible
things might be looked for when he should rouse himself, and when the
mighty hand, which now dispensed bread, should be clenched for the
fight. There was nothing mean in this man, and yet nothing alarming;
for, if his eye had a commanding sparkle, the expression of his mouth
was particularly gentle; and the deep voice which could make itself
heard above the clash of fighting men, could also assume the sweetest
and most winning tones. His education had not only made him well aware
of his greatness and power, but had left him also a genuine man, a
stranger to none of the emotions of the human soul.

Behind Pharaoh stood a man, younger than himself, who gave him his
wine-cup after first touching it with his own lips; this was Mena, the
king’s charioteer and favorite companion. His figure was slight and yet
vigorous, supple and yet dignified, and his finely-formed features and
frank bright eyes were full at once of self-respect and of benevolence.
Such a man might fail in reflection and counsel, but would be admirable
as an honorable, staunch, and faithful friend.

Among the princes, Chamus sat nearest to the king;

   [He is named Cha-em-Us on the monuments, i. e., ‘splendor in
   Thebes.’ He became the Sam, or high-priest of Memphis. His mummy
   was discovered by Mariette in the tomb of Apis at Saqqarah during ha
   excavations of the Serapeum at Memphis.]

he was the eldest of his sons, and while still young had been invested
with the dignity of high-priest of Memphis. The curly-haired Rameri,
who had been rescued from imprisonment--into which he had fallen on his
journey from Egypt--had been assigned a place with the younger princes
at the lowest end of the table.

“It all sounds very threatening!” said the king. “But though each of you
croakers speaks the truth, your love for me dims your sight. In
fact, all that Rameri has told me, that Bent-Anat writes, that Mena’s
stud-keeper says of Ani, and that comes through other channels--amounts
to nothing that need disturb us. I know your uncle--I know that he will
make his borrowed throne as wide as he possibly can; but when we return
home he will be quite content to sit on a narrow seat again. Great
enterprises and daring deeds are not what he excels in; but he is very
apt at carrying out a ready-made system, and therefore I choose him to
be my Regent.”

“But Ameni,” said Chamus, bowing respectfully to his father, “seems to
have stirred up his ambition, and to support him with his advice. The
chief of the House of Seti is a man of great ability, and at least half
of the priesthood are his adherents.”

“I know it,” replied the king. “Their lordships owe me a grudge because
I have called their serfs to arms, and they want them to till their
acres. A pretty sort of people they have sent me! their courage flies
with the first arrow. They shall guard the camp tomorrow; they will be
equal to that when it is made clear to their understanding that, if they
let the tents be taken, the bread, meat and wines-skins will also fall
into the hands of the enemy. If Kadesh is taken by storm, the temples of
the Nile shall have the greater part of the spoil, and you yourself, my
young high-priest of Memphis, shall show your colleagues that Rameses
repays in bushels that which he has taken in handfuls from the ministers
of the Gods.”

“Ameni’s disaffection,” replied Chamus, “has a deeper root; thy mighty
spirit seeks and finds its own way--”

“But their lordships,” interrupted Rameses, “are accustomed to govern
the king too, and I--I do not do them credit. I rule as vicar of the
Lord of the Gods, but--I myself am no God, though they attribute to me
the honors of a divinity; and in all humility of heart I willingly
leave it to them to be the mediators between the Immortals and me or my
people. Human affairs certainly I choose to manage in my own way. And
now no more of them. I cannot bear to doubt my friends, and trustfulness
is so dear, so essential to me, that I must indulge in it even if my
confidence results in my being deceived.”

The king glanced at Mena, who handed him a golden cup--which he emptied.
He looked at the glittering beaker, and then, with a flash of his grave,
bright eyes, he added:

“And if I am betrayed--if ten such as Ameni and Ani entice my people
into a snare--I shall return home, and will tread the reptiles into

His deep voice rang out the words, as if he were a herald proclaiming a
victorious deed of arms. Not a word was spoken, not a hand moved, when
he ceased speaking. Then he raised his cup, and said:

“It is well before the battle to uplift our hearts! We have done great
deeds; distant nations have felt our hand; we have planted our pillars
of conquest by their rivers, and graven the record of our deeds on their

   [Herodotus speaks of the pictures graven on the rocks in the
   provinces conquered by Rameses II., in memory of his achievements.
   He saw two, one of which remains on a rock near Beyrut.]

Your king is great above all kings, and it is through the might of the
Gods, and your valor my brave comrades. May to-morrow’s fight bring us
new glory! May the Immortals soon bring this war to a close! Empty your
wine cups with me--To victory and a speedy return home in peace!”

“Victory! Victory! Long life to the Pharaoh! Strength and health!” cried
the guests of the king, who, as he descended from his throne, cried to
the drinkers:

“Now, rest till the star of Isis sets. Then follow me to prayer at the
altar of Amon, and then-to battle.”

Fresh cries of triumph sounded through the room, while Rameses gave his
hand with a few words of encouragement to each of his sons in turn.
He desired the two youngest, Mernephtah and Rameri to follow him, and
quitting the banquet with them and Mena, he proceeded, under the escort
of his officers and guards, who bore staves before him with golden
lilies and ostrich-feathers, to his sleeping-tent, which was surrounded
by a corps d’elite under the command of his sons. Before entering the
tent he asked for some pieces of meat, and gave them with his own hand
to his lions, who let him stroke them like tame cats.

Then he glanced round the stable, patted the sleek necks and shoulders
of his favorite horses, and decided that ‘Nura’ and ‘Victory to Thebes’
should bear him into the battle on the morrow.

   [The horses driven by Rameses at the battle of Kadesh were in fact
   thus named.]

When he had gone into the sleeping-tent, he desired his attendants to
leave him; he signed Mena to divest him of his ornaments and his arms,
and called to him his youngest sons, who were waiting respectfully at
the door of the tent.

“Why did I desire you to accompany me?” he asked them gravely. Both were
silent, and he repeated his question.

“Because,” said Rameri at length, “you observed that all was not quite
right between us two.”

“And because,” continued the king, “I desire that unity should exist
between my children. You will have enemies enough to fight with
to-morrow, but friends are not often to be found, and are too often
taken from us by the fortune of war. We ought to feel no anger towards
the friend we may lose, but expect to meet him lovingly in the other
world. Speak, Rameri, what has caused a division between you?”

“I bear him no ill-will,” answered Rameri. “You lately gave me the sword
which Mernephtah has there stuck in his belt, because I did my duty well
in the last skirmish with the enemy. You know we both sleep in the same
tent, and yesterday, when I drew my sword out of its sheath to admire
the fine work of the blade, I found that another, not so sharp, had been
put in its place.”

“I had only exchanged my sword for his in fun,” interrupted Mernephtah.
“But he can never take a joke, and declared I want to wear a prize that
I had not earned; he would try, he said, to win another and then--”

“I have heard enough; you have both done wrong,” said the King. “Even in
fun, Mernephtah, you should never cheat or deceive. I did so once, and I
will tell you what happened, as a warning.

“My noble mother, Tuaa, desired me, the first time I went into
Fenchu--[Phoenicia: on monuments of the 18th dynasty.]--to bring her a
pebble from the shore near Byblos, where the body of Osiris was washed.
As we returned to Thebes, my mother’s request returned to my mind; I was
young and thoughtless--I picked up a stone by the way-side, took it with
me, and when she asked me for the remembrance from Byblos I silently
gave her the pebble from Thebes. She was delighted, she showed it to her
brothers and sisters, and laid it by the statues of her ancestors; but I
was miserable with shame and penitence, and at last I secretly took away
the stone, and threw it into the water. All the servants were called
together, and strict enquiry was made as to the theft of the stone; then
I could hold out no longer, and confessed everything. No one punished
me, and yet I never suffered more severely; from that time I have never
deviated from the exact truth even in jest. Take the lesson to heart,
Mernephtah--you, Rameri, take back your sword, and, believe me, life
brings us so many real causes of vexation, that it is well to learn
early to pass lightly over little things if you do not wish to become
a surly fellow like the pioneer Paaker; and that seems far from likely
with a gay, reckless temper like yours. Now shake hands with each

The young princes went up to each other, and Rameri fell on his
brother’s neck and kissed him. The king stroked their heads. “Now go
in peace,” he said, “and to-morrow you shall both strive to win a fresh
mark of honor.”

When his sons had left the tent, Rameses turned to his charioteer and
said: “I have to speak to you too before the battle. I can read your
soul through your eyes, and it seems to me that things have gone wrong
with you since the keeper of your stud arrived here. What has happened
in Thebes?” Mena looked frankly, but sadly at the king:

“My mother-in-law Katuti,” he said, “is managing my estate very badly,
pledging the land, and selling the cattle.”

“That can be remedied,” said Rameses kindly. “You know I promised to
grant you the fulfilment of a wish, if Nefert trusted you as perfectly
as you believe. But it appears to me as if something more nearly
concerning you than this were wrong, for I never knew you anxious about
money and lands. Speak openly! you know I am your father, and the heart
and the eye of the man who guides my horses in battle, must be open
without reserve to my gaze.”

Mena kissed the king’s robe; then he said:

“Nefert has left Katuti’s house, and as thou knowest has followed thy
daughter, Bent-Anat, to the sacred mountain, and to Megiddo.”

“I thought the change was a good one,” replied Rameses. “I leave
Bent-Anat in the care of Bent-Anat, for she needs no other guardianship,
and your wife can have no better protector than Bent-Anat.”

“Certainly not!” exclaimed Mena with sincere emphasis. “But before they
started, miserable things occurred. Thou knowest that before she married
me she was betrothed to her cousin, the pioneer Paaker, and he, during
his stay in Thebes, has gone in and out of my house, has helped Katuti
with an enormous sum to pay the debts of my wild brother-in-law, and-as
my stud-keeper saw with his own eyes-has made presents of flowers to

The king smiled, laid his hand on Mena’s shoulder, and said, as he
looked in his face: “Your wife will trust you, although you take a
strange woman into your tent, and you allow yourself to doubt her
because her cousin gives her some flowers! Is that wise or just? I
believe you are jealous of the broad-shouldered ruffian that some
spiteful Wight laid in the nest of the noble Mohar, his father.”

“No, that I am not,” replied Mena, “nor does any doubt of Nefert disturb
my soul; but it torments me, it nettles me, it disgusts me, that Paaker
of all men, whom I loathe as a venomous spider, should look at her and
make her presents under my very roof.”

“He who looks for faith must give faith,” said the king. “And must not
I myself submit to accept songs of praise from the most contemptible
wretches? Come--smooth your brow; think of the approaching victory, of
our return home, and remember that you have less to forgive Paaker than
he to forgive you. Now, pray go and see to the horses, and to-morrow
morning let me see you on my chariot full of cheerful courage--as I love
to see you.”

Mena left the tent, and went to the stables; there he met Rameri, who
was waiting to speak to him. The eager boy said that he had always
looked up to him and loved him as a brilliant example, but that lately
he had been perplexed as to his virtuous fidelity, for he had been
informed that Mena had taken a strange woman into his tent--he who was
married to the fairest and sweetest woman in Thebes.

“I have known her,” he concluded, “as well as if I were her brother;
and I know that she would die if she heard that you had insulted and
disgraced her. Yes, insulted her; for such a public breach of faith is
an insult to the wife of an Egyptian. Forgive my freedom of speech, but
who knows what to-morrow may bring forth--and I would not for worlds go
out to battle, thinking evil of you.”

Mena let Rameri speak without interruption, and then answered:

“You are as frank as your father, and have learned from him to hear the
defendant before you condemn him. A strange maiden, the daughter of the
king of the Danaids,

   [A people of the Greeks at the time of the Trojan war. They are
   mentioned among the nations of the Mediterranean allied against
   Rameses III. The Dardaneans were inhabitants of the Trojan
   provinces of Dardanin, and whose name was used for the Trojans

lives in my tent, but I for months have slept at the door of your
father’s, and I have not once entered my own since she has been there.
Now sit down by me, and let me tell you how it all happened. We had
pitched the camp before Kadesh, and there was very little for me to do,
as Rameses was still laid up with his wound, so I often passed my time
in hunting on the shores of the lake. One day I went as usual, armed
only with my bow and arrow, and, accompanied by my grey-hounds,
heedlessly followed a hare; a troop of Danaids fell upon me, bound me
with cords, and led me into their camp.

   [Grey-hounds, trained to hunt hares, are represented in the most
   ancient tombs, for instance, the Mastaba at Meydum, belonging to the
   time of Snefru (four centuries B. C.).]

There I was led before the judges as a spy, and they had actually
condemned me, and the rope was round my neck, when their king came up,
saw me, and subjected me to a fresh examination. I told him the facts
at full length--how I had fallen into the hands of his people while
following up my game, and not as an enemy, and he heard me favorably,
and granted me not only life but freedom. He knew me for a noble, and
treated me as one, inviting me to feed at his own table, and I swore in
my heart, when he let me go, that I would make him some return for his
generous conduct.

“About a month after, we succeeded in surprising the Cheta position, and
the Libyan soldiers, among other spoil, brought away the Danaid king’s
only daughter. I had behaved valiantly, and when we came to the division
of the spoils Rameses allowed me to choose first. I laid my hand on the
maid, the daughter of my deliverer and host, I led her to my tent, and
left her there with her waiting-women till peace is concluded, and I can
restore her to her father.”

“Forgive my doubts!” cried Rameri holding out his hand. “Now I
understand why the king so particularly enquired whether Nefert believed
in your constancy to her.”

“And what was your answer?” asked Mena.

“That she thinks of you day and night, and never for an instant doubted
you. My father seemed delighted too, and he said to Chamus: ‘He has won

“He will grant me some great favor,” said Mena in explanation, “if, when
she hears I have taken a strange maiden to my tent her confidence in me
is not shaken, Rameses considers it simply impossible, but I know that I
shall win. Why! she must trust me.”


Before the battle,

   [The battle about to be described is taken entirely from the epos of

prayers were offered and victims sacrificed for each division of the
army. Images of the Gods were borne through the ranks in their festal
barks, and miraculous relics were exhibited to the soldiers; heralds
announced that the high-priest had found favorable omens in the victims
offered by the king, and that the haruspices foretold a glorious
victory. Each Egyptian legion turned with particular faith to the
standard which bore the image of the sacred animal or symbol of the
province where it had been levied, but each soldier was also provided
with charms and amulets of various kinds; one had tied to his neck or
arm a magical text in a little bag, another the mystic preservative
eye, and most of them wore a scarabaeus in a finger ring. Many believed
themselves protected by having a few hairs or feathers of some sacred
animal, and not a few put themselves under the protection of a living
snake or beetle carefully concealed in a pocket of their apron or in
their little provision-sack.

When the king, before whom were carried the images of the divine Triad
of Thebes, of Menth, the God of War and of Necheb, the Goddess of
Victory, reviewed the ranks, he was borne in a litter on the shoulders
of twenty-four noble youths; at his approach the whole host fell
on their knees, and did not rise till Rameses, descending from his
position, had, in the presence of them all, burned incense, and made a
libation to the Gods, and his son Chamus had delivered to him, in the
name of the Immortals, the symbols of life and power. Finally, the
priests sang a choral hymn to the Sun-god Ra, and to his son and vicar
on earth, the king.

Just as the troops were put in motion, the paling stars appeared in
the sky, which had hitherto been covered with thick clouds; and this
occurrence was regarded as a favorable omen, the priests declaring to
the army that, as the coming Ra had dispersed the clouds, so the Pharaoh
would scatter his enemies.

With no sound of trumpet or drum, so as not to arouse the enemy, the
foot-soldiers went forward in close order, the chariot-warriors, each in
his light two-wheeled chariot drawn by two horses, formed their ranks,
and the king placed himself at their head. On each side of the gilt
chariot in which he stood, a case was fixed, glittering with precious
stones, in which were his bows and arrows. His noble horses were richly
caparisoned; purple housings, embroidered with turquoise beads, covered
their backs and necks, and a crown-shaped ornament was fixed on their
heads, from which fluttered a bunch of white ostrich-feathers. At the
end of the ebony pole of the chariot, were two small padded yokes, which
rested on the necks of the horses, who pranced in front as if playing
with the light vehicle, pawed the earth with their small hoofs, and
tossed and curved their slender necks.

The king wore a shirt of mail,

   [The remains of a shirt of mail, dating from the time of Scheschenk
   I. (Sesonchis), who belonged to the 22d dynasty, is in the British
   Museum. It is made of leather, on which bronze scales are

over which lay the broad purple girdle of his apron, and on his head was
the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt; behind him stood Mena, who, with his
left hand, tightly held the reins, and with his right the shield which
was to protect his sovereign in the fight.

The king stood like a storm-proof oak, and Mena by his side like a
sapling ash.

The eastern horizon was rosy with the approaching sun-rise when they
quitted the precincts of the camp; at this moment the pioneer Paaker
advanced to meet the king, threw himself on the ground before him,
kissed the earth, and, in answer to the king’s question as to why he had
come without his brother, told him that Horus was taken suddenly ill.
The shades of dawn concealed from the king the guilty color, which
changed to sallow paleness, on the face of the pioneer--unaccustomed
hitherto to lying and treason.

“How is it with the enemy?” asked Rameses.

“He is aware,” replied Paaker, “that a fight is impending, and is
collecting numberless hosts in the camps to the south and east of the
city. If thou could’st succeed in falling on the rear from the north of
Kadesh, while the foot soldiers seize the camp of the Asiatics from the
south, the fortress will be thine before night. The mountain path that
thou must follow, so as not to be discovered, is not a bad one.”

“Are you ill as well as your brother, man?” asked the king. “Your voice

“I was never better,” answered the Mohar.

“Lead the way,” commanded the king, and Paaker obeyed. They went on in
silence, followed by the vast troop of chariots through the dewy morning
air, first across the plain, and then into the mountain range. The corps
of Ra, armed with bows and arrows, preceeded them to clear the way; they
crossed the narrow bed of a dry torrent, and then a broad valley opened
before them, extending to the right and left and enclosed by ranges of

“The road is good,” said Rameses, turning to Mena. “The Mohar has
learned his duties from his father, and his horses are capital. Now he
leads the way, and points it out to the guards, and then in a moment he
is close to us again.”

“They are the golden-bays of my breed,” said Mena, and the veins started
angrily in his forehead. “My stud-master tells me that Katuti sent them
to him before his departure. They were intended for Nefert’s chariot,
and he drives them to-day to defy and spite me.”

“You have the wife--let the horses go,” said Rameses soothingly.

Suddenly a blast of trumpets rang through the morning air; whence it
came could not be seen, and yet it sounded close at hand.

Rameses started up and took his battle-axe from his girdle, the horses
pricked their ears, and Mena exclaimed:

“Those are the trumpets of the Cheta! I know the sound.”

A closed wagon with four wheels in which the king’s lions were conveyed,
followed the royal chariot. “Let loose the lions!” cried the king, who
heard an echoing war cry, and soon after saw the vanguard which had
preceded him, and which was broken up by the chariots of the enemy,
flying towards him down the valley again.

The wild beasts shook their manes and sprang in front of their master’s
chariot with loud roars. Mena lashed his whip, the horses started
forward and rushed with frantic plunges towards the fugitives, who
however could not be brought to a standstill, or rallied by the king’s
voice--the enemy were close upon them, cutting them down.

“Where is Paaker?” asked the king. But the pioneer had vanished as
completely as if the earth had swallowed him and his chariot.

The flying Egyptians and the death-dealing chariots of the enemy came
nearer and nearer, the ground trembled, the tramp of hoofs and the
roar of wheels sounded louder and louder, like the roll of a rapidly
approaching storm.

Then Rameses gave out a war cry, that rang back from the cliffs on
the right hand and on the left like the blast of a trumpet; his
chariot-guard joined in the shout--for an instant the flying Egyptians
paused, but only to rush on again with double haste, in hope of escape
and safety: suddenly the war-cry of the enemy was heard behind the
king, mingling with the trumpet-call of the Cheta, and out from a cross
valley, which the king had passed unheeded by--and into which Paaker had
disappeared--came an innumerable host of chariots which, before the king
could retreat, had broken through the Egyptian ranks, and cut him off
from the body of his army. Behind him he could hear the roar and shock
of the battle, in front of him he saw the fugitives, the fallen, and the
enemy growing each instant in numbers and fury. He saw the whole danger,
and drew up his powerful form as if to prove whether it were an equal
match for such a foe. Then, raising his voice to such a pitch, that it
sounded above the cries and groans of the fighting men, the words of
command, the neighing of the horses, the crash of overthrown chariots,
the dull whirr of lances and swords, their heavy blows on shields and
helmets, and the whole bewildering tumult of the battle--with a loud
shout he drew his bow, and his first arrow pierced a Cheta chief.

His lions sprang forward, and carried confusion into the hosts that were
crowding down upon him, for many of their horses became unmanageable at
the roar of the furious brutes, overthrew the chariots, and so hemmed
the advance of the troops in the rear. Rameses sent arrow after arrow,
while Mena covered him with the shield from the shots of the enemy. His
horses meanwhile had carried him forward, and he could fell the foremost
of the Asiatics with his battle-axe; close by his side fought Rameri and
three other princes; in front of him were the lions.

The press was fearful, and the raging of the battle wild and deafening,
like the roar of the surging ocean when it is hurled by a hurricane
against a rocky coast.

Mena seemed to be in two places at once, for, while he guided the horses
forwards, backwards, or to either hand, as the exigences of the position
demanded, not one of the arrows shot at the king touched him. His eye
was everywhere, the shield always ready, and not an eyelash of the young
hero trembled, while Rameses, each moment more infuriated, incited his
lions with wild war-cries, and with flashing eyes advanced farther and
farther into the enemy’s ranks.

Three arrows aimed, not at the king but at Mena himself, were sticking
in the charioteer’s shield, and by chance he saw written on the shaft of
one of them the words “Death to Mena.”

A fourth arrow whizzed past him. His eye followed its flight, and as he
marked the spot whence it had come, a fifth wounded his shoulder, and he
cried out to the king:

“We are betrayed! Look over there! Paaker is fighting with the Cheta.”

Once more the Mohar had bent his bow, and came so near to the king’s
chariot that he could be heard exclaiming in a hoarse voice, as he let
the bowstring snap, “Now I will reckon with you--thief! robber! My bride
is your wife, but with this arrow I will win Mena’s widow.”

The arrow cut through the air, and fell with fearful force on the
charioteer’s helmet; the shield fell from his grasp, and he put his hand
to his head, feeling stunned; he heard Paaker’s laugh of triumph, he
felt another of his enemy’s arrows cut his wrist, and, beside himself
with rage, he flung away the reins, brandished his battle-axe, and
forgetting himself and his duty, sprang from the chariot and rushed upon
Paaker. The Mohar awaited him with uplifted sword; his lips were
white, his eyes bloodshot, his wide nostrils trembled like those of an
over-driven horse, and foaming and hissing he flew at his mortal foe.
The king saw the two engaged in a struggle, but he could not interfere,
for the reins which Mena had dropped were dragging on the ground, and
his ungoverned horses, following the lions, carried him madly onwards.

Most of his comrades had fallen, the battle raged all round him, but
Rameses stood as firm as a rock, held the shield in front of him, and
swung the deadly battle-axe; he saw Rameri hastening towards him with
his horses, the youth was fighting like a hero, and Rameses called out
to encourage him: “Well done! a worthy grandson of Seti!”

“I will win a new sword!” cried the boy, and he cleft the skull of one
of his antagonists. But he was soon surrounded by the chariots of the
enemy; the king saw the enemy pull down the young prince’s horses, and
all his comrades--among whom were many of the best warriors--turn their
horses in flight.

Then one of the lions was pierced by a lance, and sank with a dying roar
of rage and pain that was heard above all the tumult. The king himself
had been grazed by an arrow, a sword stroke had shivered his shield, and
his last arrow had been shot away.

Still spreading death around him, he saw death closing in upon him,
and, without giving up the struggle, he lifted up his voice in fervent
prayer, calling on Amon for support and rescue.

While thus in the sorest need he was addressing himself to the Lords of
Heaven, a tall Egyptian suddenly appeared in the midst of the struggle
and turmoil of the battle, seized the reins, and sprang into the chariot
behind the king, to whom he bowed respectfully. For the first time
Rameses felt a thrill of fear. Was this a miracle? Had Amon heard his

He looked half fearfully round at his new charioteer, and when he
fancied he recognized the features of the deceased Mohar, the father of
the traitor Paaker, he believed that Amon had assumed this aspect, and
had come himself to save him.

“Help is at hand!” cried his new companion. “If we hold our own for only
a short time longer, thou art saved, and victory is ours.”

Then once more Rameses raised his war-cry, felled a Cheta, who was
standing close to him to the ground, with a blow on his skull, while the
mysterious supporter by his side, who covered him with the shield, on
his part also dealt many terrible strokes.

Thus some long minutes passed in renewed strife; then a trumpet sounded
above the roar of the battle, and this time Rameses recognized the
call of the Egyptians; from behind a low ridge on his right rushed some
thousands of men of the foot-legion of Ptah who, under the command of
Horus, fell upon the enemy’s flank. They saw their king, and the danger
he was in. They flung themselves with fury on the foes that surrounded
him, dealing death as they advanced, and putting the Cheta to flight,
and soon Rameses saw himself safe, and protected by his followers.

But his mysterious friend in need had vanished. He had been hit by an
arrow, and had fallen to the earth--a quite mortal catastrophe; but
Rameses still believed that one of the Immortals had come to his rescue.

But the king granted no long respite to his horses and his fighting-men;
he turned to go back by the way by which he had come, fell upon the
forces which divided him from the main army, took them in the rear while
they were still occupied with his chariot-brigade which was already
giving way, and took most of the Asiatics prisoners who escaped the
arrows and swords of the Egyptians. Having rejoined the main body of the
troops, he pushed forwards across the plain where the Asiatic horse and
chariot-legions were engaged with the Egyptian swordsmen, and forced the
enemy back upon the river Orontes and the lake of Kadesh. Night-fall
put an end to the battle, though early next morning the struggle was

Utter discouragement had fallen upon the Asiatic allies, who had gone
into battle in full security of victory; for the pioneer Paaker had
betrayed his king into their hands.

When the Pharaoh had set out, the best chariot-warriors of the Cheta
were drawn up in a spot concealed by the city, and sent forward against
Rameses through the northern opening of the valley by which he was to
pass, while other troops of approved valor, in all two thousand five
hundred chariots, were to fall upon him from a cross valley where they
took up their position during the night.

These tactics had been successfully carried out, and notwithstanding
the Asiatics had suffered a severe defeat--besides losing some of their
noblest heroes, among them Titure their Chancellor, and Chiropasar, the
chronicler of the Cheta king, who could wield the sword as effectively
as the pen, and who, it was intended, should celebrate the victory of
the allies, and perpetuate its glory to succeeding generations. Rameses
had killed one of these with his own hands, and his unknown companion
the other, and besides these many other brave captains of the enemy’s
troops. The king was greeted as a god, when he returned to the camp,
with shouts of triumph and hymns of praise.

Even the temple-servants, and the miserable troops from Upper
Egypt-ground down by the long war, and bought over by Ani--were carried
away by the universal enthusiasm, and joyfully hailed the hero and king
who had successfully broken the stiff necks of his enemies.

The next duty was to seek out the dead and wounded; among the latter was
Mena; Rameri also was missing, but news was brought next day that he had
fallen into the hands of the enemy, and he was immediately exchanged for
the princess who had been sheltered in Mena’s tent.

Paaker had disappeared; but the bays which he had driven into the battle
were found unhurt in front of his ruined and blood-sprinkled chariot.

The Egyptians were masters of Kadesh, and Chetasar, the king of the
Cheta, sued to be allowed to treat for peace, in his own name and in
that of his allies; but Rameses refused to grant any terms till he had
returned to the frontier of Egypt. The conquered peoples had no choice,
and the representative of the Cheta king--who himself was wounded--and
twelve princes of the principal nations who had fought against Rameses,
were forced to follow his victorious train. Every respect was shown
them, and they were treated as the king himself, but they were none
the less his prisoners. The king was anxious to lose no time, for sad
suspicion filled his heart; a shadow hitherto unknown to his bright and
genial nature had fallen upon his spirit.

This was the first occasion on which one of his own people had betrayed
him to the enemy. Paaker’s deed had shaken his friendly confidence, and
in his petition for peace the Cheta prince had intimated that Rameses
might find much in his household to be set to rights--perhaps with a
strong hand.

The king felt himself more than equal to cope with Ani, the priests, and
all whom he had left in Egypt; but it grieved him to be obliged to
feel any loss of confidence, and it was harder to him to bear than any
reverse of fortune. It urged him to hasten his return to Egypt.

There was another thing which embittered his victory. Mena, whom he
loved as his own son, who understood his lightest sign, who, as soon
as he mounted his chariot, was there by his side like a part of
himself--had been dismissed from his office by the judgment of the
commander-in-chief, and no longer drove his horses. He himself had been
obliged to confirm this decision as just and even mild, for that man was
worthy of death who exposed his king to danger for the gratification of
his own revenge.

Rameses had not seen Mena since his struggle with Paaker, but he
listened anxiously to the news which was brought him of the progress of
his sorely wounded officer.

The cheerful, decided, and practical nature of Rameses was averse to
every kind of dreaminess or self-absorption, and no one had ever seen
him, even in hours of extreme weariness, give himself up to vague and
melancholy brooding; but now he would often sit gazing at the ground in
wrapt meditation, and start like an awakened sleeper when his reverie
was disturbed by the requirements of the outer world around him. A
hundred times before he had looked death in the face, and defied it as
he would any other enemy, but now it seemed as though he felt the cold
hand of the mighty adversary on his heart. He could not forget the
oppressive sense of helplessness which had seized him when he had felt
himself at the mercy of the unrestrained horses, like a leaf driven by
the wind, and then suddenly saved by a miracle.

A miracle? Was it really Amon who had appeared in human form at his
call? Was he indeed a son of the Gods, and did their blood flow in his

The Immortals had shown him peculiar favor, but still he was but a man;
that he realized from the pain in his wound, and the treason to which
he had been a victim. He felt as if he had been respited on the very
scaffold. Yes; he was a man like all other men, and so he would still
be. He rejoiced in the obscurity that veiled his future, in the many
weaknesses which he had in common with those whom he loved, and even
in the feeling that he, under the same conditions of life as his
contemporaries, had more responsibilities than they.

Shortly after his victory, after all the important passes and
strongholds had been conquered by his troops, he set out for Egypt
with his train and the vanquished princes. He sent two of his sons to
Bent-Anat at Megiddo, to escort her by sea to Pelusium; he knew that the
commandant of the harbor of that frontier fortress, at the easternmost
limit of his kingdom, was faithful to him, and he ordered that his
daughter should not quit the ship till he arrived, to secure her against
any attempt on the part of the Regent. A large part of the material of
war, and most of the wounded, were also sent to Egypt by sea.


Nearly three months had passed since the battle of Kadesh, and to-day
the king was expected, on his way home with his victorious army, at
Pelusium, the strong hold and key of Egyptian dominion in the east.
Splendid preparations had been made for his reception, and the man who
took the lead in the festive arrangements with a zeal that was doubly
effective from his composed demeanor was no less a person than the
Regent Ani.

His chariot was to be seen everywhere: now he was with the workmen,
who were to decorate triumphal arches with fresh flowers; now with the
slaves, who were hanging garlands on the wooden lions erected on the
road for this great occasion; now--and this detained him longest--he
watched the progress of the immense palace which was being rapidly
constructed of wood on the site where formerly the camp of the Hyksos
had stood, in which the actual ceremony of receiving the king was to
take place, and where the Pharaoh and his immediate followers were
to reside. It had been found possible, by employing several thousand
laborers, to erect this magnificent structure, in a few weeks, and
nothing was lacking to it that could be desired, even by a king so
accustomed as Rameses to luxury and splendor. A high exterior flight of
steps led from the garden--which had been created out of a waste--to the
vestibule, out of which the banqueting hall opened.

This was of unusual height, and had a vaulted wooden ceiling, which was
painted blue and sprinkled with stars, to represent the night heavens,
and which was supported on pillars carved, some in the form of
date-palms, and some like cedars of Lebanon; the leaves and twigs
consisted of artfully fastened and colored tissue; elegant festoons of
bluish gauze were stretched from pillar to pillar across the hall,
and in the centre of the eastern wall they were attached to a large
shell-shaped canopy extending over the throne of the king, which was
decorated with pieces of green and blue glass, of mother of pearl, of
shining plates of mica, and other sparkling objects.

The throne itself had the shape of a buckler, guarded by two lions,
which rested on each side of it and formed the arms, and supported on
the backs of four Asiatic captives who crouched beneath its weight.
Thick carpets, which seemed to have transported the sea-shore on to the
dry land-for their pale blue ground was strewn with a variety of shells,
fishes, and water plants-covered the floor of the banqueting hall, in
which three hundred seats were placed by the tables, for the nobles of
the kingdom and the officers of the troops.

Above all this splendor hung a thousand lamps, shaped like lilies and
tulips, and in the entrance hall stood a huge basket of roses to be
strewn before the king when he should arrive.

Even the bed-rooms for the king and his suite were splendidly decorated;
finely embroidered purple stuffs covered the walls, a light cloud of
pale blue gauze hung across the ceiling, and giraffe skins were laid
instead of carpets on the floors.

The barracks intended for the soldiers and bodyguard stood nearer to
the city, as well as the stable buildings, which were divided from the
palace by the garden which surrounded it. A separate pavilion, gilt
and wreathed with flowers, was erected to receive the horses which had
carried the king through the battle, and which he had dedicated to the

The Regent Ani, accompanied by Katuti, was going through the whole of
these slightly built structures.

“It seems to me all quite complete,” said the widow.

“Only one thing I cannot make up my mind about,” replied Ani, “whether
most to admire your inventive genius or your exquisite taste.”

“Oh! let that pass,” said Katuti smiling. “If any thing deserves
your praise it is my anxiety to serve you. How many things had to be
considered before this structure at last stood complete on this marshy
spot where the air seemed alive with disgusting insects and now it is
finished how long will it last?”

Ani looked down. “How long?” he repeated. Then he continued: “There is
great risk already of the plot miscarrying. Ameni has grown cool, and
will stir no further in the matter; the troops on which I counted are
perhaps still faithful to me, but much too weak; the Hebrews, who tend
their flocks here, and whom I gained over by liberating them from forced
labor, have never borne arms. And you know the people. They will kiss
the feet of the conqueror if they have to wade up to there through the
blood of their children. Besides--as it happens--the hawk which old Hekt
keeps as representing me is to-day pining and sick--”

“It will be all the prouder and brighter to-morrow if you are a man!”
 exclaimed Katuti, and her eyes sparkled with scorn. “You cannot now
retreat. Here in Pelusium you welcome Rameses as if he were a God,
and he accepts the honor. I know the king, he is too proud to be
distrustful, and so conceited that he can never believe himself deceived
in any man, either friend or foe. The man whom he appointed to be his
Regent, whom he designated as the worthiest in the land, he will most
unwillingly condemn. Today you still have the car of the king; to-morrow
he will listen to your enemies, and too much has occurred in Thebes to
be blotted out. You are in the position of a lion who has his keeper on
one side, and the bars of his cage on the other. If you let the moment
pass without striking you will remain in the cage; but if you act and
show yourself a lion your keepers are done for!”

“You urge me on and on,” said Ani. “But supposing your plan were to
fail, as Paaker’s well considered plot failed?”

“Then you are no worse off than you are now,” answered Katuti. “The
Gods rule the elements, not men. Is it likely that you should finish so
beautiful a structure with such care only to destroy it? And we have no
accomplices, and need none.”

“But who shall set the brand to the room which Nemu and the slave have
filled with straw and pitch?” asked Ani.

“I,” said Katuti decidedly. “And one who has nothing to look for from

“Who is that?”


“Is the Mohar here?” asked the Regent surprised.

“You yourself have seen him.”

“You are mistaken,” said Ani. “I should--”

“Do you recollect the one-eyed, grey-haired, blackman, who yesterday
brought me a letter? That was my sister’s son.”

The Regent struck his forehead--“Poor wretch” he muttered.

“He is frightfully altered,” said Katuti. “He need not have blackened
his face, for his own mother would not know him again: He lost an eye in
his fight with Mena, who also wounded him in the lungs with a thrust
of his sword, so that he breathes and speaks with difficulty, his broad
shoulders have lost their flesh, and the fine legs he swaggered about on
have shrunk as thin as a negro’s. I let him pass as my servant without
any hesitation or misgiving. He does not yet know of my purpose, but I
am sure that he would help us if a thousand deaths threatened him. For
God’s sake put aside all doubts and fears! We will shake the tree for
you, if you will only hold out your hand to-morrow to pick up the fruit.
Only one thing I must beg. Command the head butler not to stint the
wine, so that the guards may give us no trouble. I know that you gave
the order that only three of the five ships which brought the contents
of your winelofts should be unloaded. I should have thought that the
future king of Egypt might have been less anxious to save!”

Katuti’s lips curled with contempt as she spoke the last words. Ani
observed this and said:

“You think I am timid! Well, I confess I would far rather that much
which I have done at your instigation could be undone. I would willingly
renounce this new plot, though we so carefully planned it when we built
and decorated this palace. I will sacrifice the wine; there are jars of
wine there that were old in my father’s time--but it must be so! You are
right! Many things have occurred which the king will not forgive! You
are right, you are right--do what seems good to you. I will retire after
the feast to the Ethiopian camp.”

“They will hail you as king as soon as the usurpers have fallen in the
flames,” cried Katuti. “If only a few set the example, the others will
take up the cry, and even though you have offended Ameni he will attach
himself to you rather than to Rameses. Here he comes, and I already see
the standards in the distance.”

“They are coming!” said the Regent. “One thing more! Pray see yourself
that the princess Bent-Anat goes to the rooms intended for her; she must
not be injured.”

“Still Bent-Anat?” said Katuti with a smile full of meaning but without
bitterness. “Be easy, her rooms are on the ground floor, and she shall
be warned in time.”

Ani turned to leave her; he glanced once more at the great hall, and
said with a sigh. “My heart is heavy--I wish this day and this night
were over!”

“You are like this grand hall,” said Katuti smiling, “which is now
empty, almost dismal; but this evening, when it is crowded with guests,
it will look very different. You were born to be a king, and yet are not
a king; you will not be quite yourself till the crown and sceptre are
your own.”

Ani smiled too, thanked her, and left her; but Katuti said to herself:

“Bent-Anat may burn with the rest: I have no intention of sharing my
power with her!”

Crowds of men and women from all parts had thronged to Pelusium, to
welcome the conqueror and his victorious army on the frontier. Every
great temple-college had sent a deputation to meet Rameses, that from
the Necropolis consisting of five members, with Ameni and old Gagabu
at their head. The white-robed ministers of the Gods marched in solemn
procession towards the bridge which lay across the eastern-Pelusiac-arm
of the Nile, and led to Egypt proper--the land fertilized by the waters
of the sacred stream.

The deputation from the temple of Memphis led the procession; this
temple had been founded by Mena, the first king who wore the united
crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt, and Chamus, the king’s son, was the
high-priest. The deputation from the not less important temple of
Heliopolis came next, and was followed by the representatives of the
Necropolis of Thebes.

A few only of the members of these deputations wore the modest
white robe of the simple priest; most of them were invested with the
panther-skin which was worn by the prophets. Each bore a staff decorated
with roses, lilies, and green branches, and many carried censers in the
form of a golden arm with incense in the hollow of the hand, to be burnt
before the king. Among the deputies from the priesthood at Thebes were
several women of high rank, who served in the worship of this God, and
among them was Katuti, who by the particular desire of the Regent had
lately been admitted to this noble sisterhood.

Ameni walked thoughtfully by the side of the prophet Gagabu.

“How differently everything has happened from what we hoped and
intended!” said Gagabu in a low voice. “We are like ambassadors with
sealed credentials--who can tell their contents?”

“I welcome Rameses heartily and joyfully,” said Ameni. “After that which
happened to him at Kadesh he will come home a very different man to what
he was when he set out. He knows now what he owes to Amon. His favorite
son was already at the head of the ministers of the temple at Memphis,
and he has vowed to build magnificent temples and to bring splendid
offerings to the Immortals. And Rameses keeps his word better than that
smiling simpleton in the chariot yonder.”

“Still I am sorry for Ani,” said Gagabu.

“The Pharaoh will not punish him--certainly not,” replied the
high-priest. “And he will have nothing to fear from Ani; he is a feeble
reed, the powerless sport of every wind.”

“And yet you hoped for great things from him!”

“Not from him, but through him--with us for his guides,” replied Ameni
in a low voice but with emphasis. “It is his own fault that I have
abandoned his cause. Our first wish--to spare the poet Pentaur--he would
not respect, and he did not hesitate to break his oath, to betray us,
and to sacrifice one of the noblest of God’s creatures, as the poet
was, to gratify a petty grudge. It is harder to fight against cunning
weakness than against honest enmity. Shall we reward the man who has
deprived the world of Pentaur by giving him a crown? It is hard to quit
the trodden way, and seek a better--to give up a half-executed plan and
take a more promising one; it is hard, I say, for the individual man,
and makes him seem fickle in the eyes of others; but we cannot see to
the right hand and the left, and if we pursue a great end we cannot
remain within the narrow limits which are set by law and custom to the
actions of private individuals. We draw back just as we seem to have
reached the goal, we let him fall whom we had raised, and lift him,
whom we had stricken to the earth, to the pinnacle of glory, in short
we profess--and for thousands of years have professed--the doctrine that
every path is a right one that leads to the great end of securing to the
priesthood the supreme power in the land. Rameses, saved by a miracle,
vowing temples to the Gods, will for the future exhaust his restless
spirit not in battle as a warrior, but in building as an architect. He
will make use of us, and we can always lead the man who needs us. So I
now hail the son of Seti with sincere joy.”

Ameni was still speaking when the flags were hoisted on the standards by
the triumphal arches, clouds of dust rolled up on the farther shore of
the Nile, and the blare of trumpets was heard.

First came the horses which had carried Rameses through the fight, with
the king himself, who drove them. His eyes sparkled with joyful triumph
as the people on the farther side of the bridge received him with shouts
of joy, and the vast multitude hailed him with wild enthusiasm and tears
of emotion, strewing in his path the spoils of their gardens-flowers,
garlands, and palm-branches.

Ani marched at the head of the procession that went forth to meet
him; he humbly threw himself in the dust before the horses, kissed
the ground, and then presented to the king the sceptre that had
been entrusted to him, lying on a silk cushion. The king received it
graciously, and when Ani took his robe to kiss it, the king bent down
towards him, and touching the Regent’s forehead with his lips, desired
him to take the place by his side in the chariot, and fill the office of

The king’s eyes were moist with grateful emotion. He had not been
deceived, and he could re-enter the country for whose greatness and
welfare alone he lived, as a father, loving and beloved, and not as
a master to judge and punish. He was deeply moved as he accepted the
greetings of the priests, and with them offered up a public prayer. Then
he was conducted to the splendid structure which had been prepared for
him gaily mounted the outside steps, and from the top-most stair
bowed to his innumerable crowd of subjects; and while he awaited the
procession from the harbor which escorted Bent-Anat in her litter, he
inspected the thousand decorated bulls and antelopes which were to
be slaughtered as a thank-offering to the Gods, the tame lions and
leopards, the rare trees in whose branches perched gaily-colored birds,
the giraffes, and chariots to which ostriches were harnessed, which all
marched past him in a long array.

   [The splendor of the festivities I make Ani prepare seems pitiful
   compared with those Ptolemy Philadelphus, according to the report of
   an eye witness, Callexenus, displayed to the Alexandrians on a
   festal occasion.]

Rameses embraced his daughter before all the people; he felt as if he
must admit his subjects to the fullest sympathy in the happiness and
deep thankfulness which filled his soul. His favorite child had never
seemed to him so beautiful as this day, and he realized with deep
emotion her strong resemblance to his lost wife.--[Her name was Isis

Nefert had accompanied her royal friend as fanbearer, and she knelt
before the king while he gave himself up to the delight of meeting his
daughter. Then he observed her, and kindly desired her to rise. “How
much,” he said, “I am feeling to-day for the first time! I have already
learned that what I formerly thought of as the highest happiness
is capable of a yet higher pitch, and I now perceive that the most
beautiful is capable of growing to greater beauty! A sun has grown from
Mena’s star.”

Rameses, as he spoke, remembered his charioteer; for a moment his brow
was clouded, and he cast down his eyes, and bent his head in thought.

Bent-Anat well knew this gesture of her father’s; it was the omen of
some kindly, often sportive suggestion, such as he loved to surprise his
friends with.

He reflected longer than usual; at last he looked up, and his full eyes
rested lovingly on his daughter as he asked her:

“What did your friend say when she heard that her husband had taken a
pretty stranger into his tent, and harbored her there for months? Tell
me the whole truth of it, Bent-Anat.”

“I am indebted to this deed of Mena’s, which must certainly be quite
excusable if you can smile when you speak of it,” said the princess,
“for it was the cause of his wife’s coming to me. Her mother blamed her
husband with bitter severity, but she would not cease to believe in him,
and left her house because it was impossible for her to endure to hear
him blamed.”

“Is this the fact?” asked Rameses.

Nefert bowed her pretty head, and two tears ran down her blushing

“How good a man must be,” cried the king, “on whom the Gods bestow such
happiness! My lord Chamberlain, inform Mena that I require his services
at dinner to-day--as before the battle at Kadesh. He flung away the
reins in the fight when he saw his enemy, and we shall see if he can
keep from flinging down the beaker when, with his own eyes, he sees
his beloved wife sitting at the table.--You ladies will join me at the

Nefert sank on her knees before the king; but he turned from her to
speak to the nobles and officers who had come to meet him, and then
proceeded to the temple to assist at the slaughter of the victims, and
to solemnly renew his vow in the presence of the priests and the people,
to erect a magnificent temple in Thebes as a thank-offering for his
preservation from death. He was received with rapturous enthusiasm; his
road led to the harbor, past the tents in which lay the wounded, who had
been brought home to Egypt by ship, and he greeted them graciously from
his chariot.

Ani again acted as his charioteer; they drove slowly through the long
ranks of invalids and convalescents, but suddenly Ani gave the reins an
involuntary pull, the horses reared, and it was with difficulty that he
soothed them to a steady pace again.

Rameses looked round in anxious surprise, for at the moment when the
horses had started, he too had felt an agitating thrill--he thought he
had caught sight of his preserver at Kadesh.

Had the sight of a God struck terror into the horses? Was he the victim
of a delusion? or was his preserver a man of flesh and blood, who had
come home from the battle-field among the wounded!

The man who stood by his side, and held the reins, could have informed
him, for Ani had recognized Pentaur, and in his horror had given the
reins a perilous jerk.


The king did not return to the great pavilion till after sun-down; the
banqueting hall, illuminated with a thousand lamps, was now filled with
the gay crowd of guests who awaited the arrival of the king. All bowed
before him, as he entered, more or less low, each according to his rank;
he immediately seated himself on his throne, surrounded by his children
in a wide semicircle, and his officers and retainers all passed before
him; for each he had a kindly word or glance, winning respect from all,
and filling every one with joy and hope.

“The only really divine attribute of my royal condition,” said he
to himself, “is that it is so easy to a king to make men happy.
My predecessors chose the poisonous Uraeus as the emblem of their
authority, for we can cause death as quickly and certainly as the
venomous snake; but the power of giving happiness dwells on our own
lips, and in our own eyes, and we need some instrument when we decree

“Take the Uraeus crown from my head,” he continued aloud, as he seated
himself at the feast. “Today I will wear a wreath of flowers.”

During the ceremony of bowing to the king, two men had quitted the
hall--the Regent Ani, and the high-priest Ameni.

Ani ordered a small party of the watch to go and seek out the priest
Pentaur in the tents of the wounded by the harbor, to bring the poet
quietly to his tent, and to guard him there till his return. He still
had in his possession the maddening potion, which he was to have given
to the captain of the transport-boat, and it was open to him still to
receive Pentaur either as a guest or as a prisoner. Pentaur might injure
him, whether Katuti’s project failed or succeeded.

Ameni left the pavilion to go to see old Gagabu, who had stood so long
in the heat of the sun during the ceremony of receiving the conqueror,
that he had been at last carried fainting to the tent which he shared
with the high-priest, and which was not far from that of the Regent. He
found the old man much revived, and was preparing to mount his chariot
to go to the banquet, when the Regent’s myrmidons led Pentaur past in
front of him. Ameni looked doubtfully at the tall and noble figure of
the prisoner, but Pentaur recognized him, called him by his name, and
in a moment they stood together, hand clasped in hand. The guards showed
some uneasiness, but Ameni explained who he was.

The high-priest was sincerely rejoiced at the preservation and
restoration of his favorite disciple, whom for many months he had
mourned as dead; he looked at his manly figure with fatherly tenderness,
and desired the guards, who bowed to his superior dignity, to conduct
his friend, on his responsibility; to his tent instead of to Ani’s.

There Pentaur found his old friend Gagabu, who wept with delight at his
safety. All that his master had accused him of seemed to be forgotten.
Ameni had him clothed in a fresh white robe, he was never tired of
looking at him, and over and over again clapped his hand upon his
shoulder, as if he were his own son that had been lost and found again.

Pentaur was at once required to relate all that had happened to him, and
the poet told the story of his captivity and liberation at Mount Sinai,
his meeting with Bent-Anat, and how he had fought in the battle of
Kadesh, had been wounded by an arrow, and found and rescued by the
faithful Kaschta. He concealed only his passion for Bent-Anat, and the
fact that he had preserved the king’s life.

“About an hour ago,” he added, “I was sitting alone in my tent, watching
the lights in the palace yonder, when the watch who are outside brought
me an order from the Regent to accompany them to his tent. What can he
want with me? I always thought he owed me a grudge.”

Gagabu and Ameni glanced meaningly at each other, and the high-priest
then hastened away, as already he had remained too long away from the
banquet. Before he got into his chariot he commanded the guard to return
to their posts, and took it upon himself to inform the Regent that his
guest would remain in his tent till the festival was over; the soldiers
unhesitatingly obeyed him.

Ameni arrived at the palace before them, and entered the banqueting-hall
just as Ani was assigning a place to each of his guests. The high-priest
went straight up to him, and said, as he bowed before him:

“Pardon my long delay, but I was detained by a great surprise. The poet
Pentaur is living--as you know. I have invited him to remain in my tent
as my guest, and to tend the prophet Gagabu.”

The Regent turned pale, he remained speechless and looked at Ameni with
a cold ghastly smile; but he soon recovered himself.

“You see,” he said, “how you have injured me by your unworthy
suspicions; I meant to have restored your favorite to you myself

“Forgive me, then, for having anticipated your plan,” said Ameni, taking
his seat near the king. Hundreds of slaves hurried to and fro loaded
with costly dishes. Large vessels of richly wrought gold and silver were
brought into the hall on wheels, and set on the side-boards. Children
were perched in the shells and lotus-flowers that hung from the painted
rafters; and from between the pillars, that were hung with cloudy
transparent tissues, they threw roses and violets down on the company.
The sounds of harps and songs issued from concealed rooms, and from an
altar, six ells high, in the middle of the hall, clouds of incense were
wafted into space.

The king-one of whose titles was “Son of the Sun,”--was as radiant as
the sun himself. His children were once more around him, Mena was his
cupbearer as in former times, and all that was best and noblest in the
land was gathered round him to rejoice with him in his triumph and his
return. Opposite to him sat the ladies, and exactly in front of him,
a delight to his eyes, Bent-Anat and Nefert. His injunction to Mena to
hold the wine cup steadily seemed by no means superfluous, for his looks
constantly wandered from the king’s goblet to his fair wife, from whose
lips he as yet had heard no word of welcome, whose hand he had not yet
been so happy as to touch.

All the guests were in the most joyful excitement. Rameses related the
tale of his fight at Kadesh, and the high-priest of Heliopolis observed,
“In later times the poets will sing of thy deeds.”

“Their songs will not be of my achievements,” exclaimed the king,
“but of the grace of the Divinity, who so miraculously rescued your
sovereign, and gave the victory to the Egyptians over an innumerable

“Did you see the God with your own eyes? and in what form did he appear
to you?” asked Bent-Anat. “It is most extraordinary,” said the king,
“but he exactly resembled the dead father of the traitor Paaker. My
preserver was of tall stature, and had a beautiful countenance; his
voice was deep and thrilling, and he swung his battle-axe as if it were
a mere plaything.”

Ameni had listened eagerly to the king’s words, now he bowed low before
him and said humbly: “If I were younger I myself would endeavor, as was
the custom with our fathers, to celebrate this glorious deed of a God
and of his sublime son in a song worthy of this festival; but melting
tones are no longer mine, they vanish with years, and the car of the
listener lends itself only to the young. Nothing is wanting to thy
feast, most lordly Ani, but a poet, who might sing the glorious deeds
of our monarch to the sound of his lute, and yet--we have at hand the
gifted Pentaur, the noblest disciple of the House of Seti.”

Bent-Anat turned perfectly white, and the priests who were present
expressed the utmost joy and astonishment, for they had long thought the
young poet, who was highly esteemed throughout Egypt, to be dead.

The king had often heard of the fame of Pentaur from his sons and
especially from Rameri, and he willingly consented that Ameni should
send for the poet, who had himself borne arms at Kadesh, in order that
he should sing a song of triumph. The Regent gazed blankly and uneasily
into his wine cup, and the high-priest rose to fetch Pentaur himself
into the presence of the king.

During the high-priest’s absence, more and more dishes were served to
the company; behind each guest stood a silver bowl with rose water, in
which from time to time he could dip his fingers to cool and clean them;
the slaves in waiting were constantly at hand with embroidered napkins
to wipe them, and others frequently changed the faded wreaths, round the
heads and shoulders of the feasters, for fresh ones.

“How pale you are, my child!” said Rameses turning to Bent-Anat. “If you
are tired, your uncle will no doubt allow you to leave the hall; though
I think you should stay to hear the performance of this much-lauded
poet. After having been so highly praised he will find it difficult to
satisfy his hearers. But indeed I am uneasy about you, my child--would
you rather go?” The Regent had risen and said earnestly, “Your presence
has done me honor, but if you are fatigued I beg you to allow me to
conduct you and your ladies to the apartments intended for you.”

“I will stay,” said Bent-Anat in a low but decided tone, and she kept
her eyes on the floor, while her heart beat violently, for the murmur
of voices told her that Pentaur was entering the hall. He wore the long
white robe of a priest of the temple of Seti, and on his forehead the
ostrich-feather which marked him as one of the initiated. He did not
raise his eyes till he stood close before the king; then he prostrated
himself before him, and awaited a sign from the Pharaoh before he rose

But Rameses hesitated a long time, for the youthful figure before him,
and the glance that met his own, moved him strangely. Was not this the
divinity of the fight? Was not this his preserver? Was he again deluded
by a resemblance, or was he in a dream?

The guests gazed in silence at the spellbound king, and at the poet; at
last Rameses bowed his head,

Pentaur rose to his feet, and the bright color flew to his face as close
to him he perceived Bent-Anat.

“You fought at Kadesh?” asked the king. “As thou sayest,” replied

“You are well spoken of as a poet,” said Rameses, “and we desire to hear
the wonderful tale of my preservation celebrated in song. If you will
attempt it, let a lute be brought and sing.”

The poet bowed. “My gifts are modest,” he said, “but I will endeavor to
sing of the glorious deed, in the presence of the hero who achieved it,
with the aid of the Gods.”

Rameses gave a signal, and Ameni caused a large golden harp to be
brought in for his disciple. Pentaur lightly touched the strings, leaned
his head against the top of the tall bow of the harp, for some time lest
in meditation; then he drew himself up boldly, and struck the chords,
bringing out a strong and warlike music in broad heroic rhythm.

Then he began the narrative: how Rameses had pitched his camp before
Kadesh, how he ordered his troops, and how he had taken the field
against the Cheta, and their Asiatic allies. Louder and stronger rose
his tones when he reached the turning-point of the battle, and began to
celebrate the rescue of the king; and the Pharaoh listened with eager
attention as Pentaur sang:--[A literal translation of the ancient
Egyptian poem called “The Epos of Pentaur”]

     “Then the king stood forth, and, radiant with courage,
     He looked like the Sun-god armed and eager for battle.
     The noble steeds that bore him into the struggle
     ‘Victory to Thebes’ was the name of one, and the other
     Was called ‘contented Nura’--were foaled in the stables
     Of him we call ‘the elect,’ ‘the beloved of Amon,’
     ‘Lord of truth,’ the chosen vicar of Ra.

     Up sprang the king and threw himself on the foe,
     The swaying ranks of the contemptible Cheta.
     He stood alone-alone, and no man with him.
     As thus the king stood forth all eyes were upon him,
     And soon he was enmeshed by men and horses,
     And by the enemy’s chariots: two thousand five hundred.
     The foe behind hemmed him in and enclosed him.
     Dense the array of the contemptible Cheta,
     Dense the swarm of warriors out of Arad,
     Dense the Mysian host, the Pisidian legions.
     Every chariot carried three bold warriors,
     All his foes, and all allied like brothers.

     “Not a prince is with me, not a captain,
     Not an archer, none to guide my horses!
     Fled the riders! fled my troops and horse
     By my side not one is now left standing.”
      Thus the king, and raised his voice in prayer.
     “Great father Amon, I have known Thee well.
     And can the father thus forget his son?
     Have I in any deed forgotten Thee?
     Have I done aught without Thy high behest
     Or moved or staid against Thy sovereign will?
     Great am I--mighty are Egyptian kings
     But in the sight of Thy commanding might,
     Small as the chieftain of a wandering tribe.
     Immortal Lord, crush Thou this unclean people;
     Break Thou their necks, annihilate the heathen.

     And I--have I not brought Thee many victims,
     And filled Thy temple with the captive folk?
     And for thy presence built a dwelling place
     That shall endure for countless years to come?
     Thy garners overflow with gifts from me.
     I offered Thee the world to swell Thy glory,
     And thirty thousand mighty steers have shed
     Their smoking blood on fragrant cedar piles.
     Tall gateways, flag-decked masts, I raised to Thee,
     And obelisks from Abu I have brought,
     And built Thee temples of eternal stone.
     For Thee my ships have brought across the sea
     The tribute of the nations. This I did--
     When were such things done in the former time?

     For dark the fate of him who would rebel
     Against Thee: though Thy sway is just and mild.
     My father, Amon--as an earthly son
     His earthly father--so I call on Thee.
     Look down from heaven on me, beset by foes,
     By heathen foes--the folk that know Thee not.
     The nations have combined against Thy son;
     I stand alone--alone, and no man with me.
     My foot and horse are fled, I called aloud
     And no one heard--in vain I called to them.
     And yet I say: the sheltering care of Amon
     Is better succor than a million men,
     Or than ten thousand knights, or than a thousand
     Brothers and sons though gathered into one.
     And yet I say: the bulwarks raised by men
     However strong, compared to Thy great works
     Are but vain shadows, and no human aid
     Avails against the foe--but Thy strong hand.
     The counsel of Thy lips shall guide my way;
     I have obeyed whenever Thou hast ruled;
     I call on Thee--and, with my fame, Thy glory
     Shall fill the world, from farthest east to west.”

     Yea, his cry rang forth even far as Hermonthis,
     And Amon himself appeared at his call; and gave him
     His hand and shouted in triumph, saying to the Pharaoh:
     “Help is at hand, O Rameses. I will uphold thee--
     I thy father am he who now is thy succor,
     Bearing thee in my hands. For stronger and readier
     I than a hundred thousand mortal retainers;
     I am the Lord of victory loving valor?
     I rejoice in the brave and give them good counsel,
     And he whom I counsel certainly shall not miscarry.”

     Then like Menth, with his right he scattered the arrows,
     And with his left he swung his deadly weapon,
     Felling the foe--as his foes are felled by Baal.
     The chariots were broken and the drivers scattered,
     Then was the foe overthrown before his horses.
     None found a hand to fight: they could not shoot
     Nor dared they hurl the spear but fled at his coming
     Headlong into the river.”

   [I have availed myself of the help of Prof. Lushington’s translation
   in “Records of the past,” edited by Dr. S. Birch. Translator.]

A silence as of the grave reigned in the vast hall, Rameses fixed his
eyes on the poet, as though he would engrave his features on his very
soul, and compare them with those of another which had dwelt there
unforgotten since the day of Kadesh. Beyond a doubt his preserver stood
before him.

Seized by a sudden impulse, he interrupted the poet in the midst of his
stirring song, and cried out to the assembled guests:

“Pay honor to this man! for the Divinity chose to appear under his form
to save your king when he ‘alone, and no man with him,’ struggled with a

“Hail to Pentaur!” rang through the hall from the vast assembly, and
Nefert rose and gave the poet the bunch of flowers she had been wearing
on her bosom.

The king nodded approval, and looked enquiringly at his daughter;
Bent-Anat’s eyes met his with a glance of intelligence, and with all the
simplicity of an impulsive child, she took from her head the wreath that
had decorated her beautiful hair, went up to Pentaur, and crowned him
with it, as it was customary for a bride to crown her lover before the

Rameses observed his daughter’s action with some surprise, and the
guests responded to it with loud cheering.

The king looked gravely at Bent-Anat and the young priest; the eyes of
all the company were eagerly fixed on the princess and the poet. The
king seemed to have forgotten the presence of strangers, and to be
wholly absorbed in thought, but by degrees a change came over his face,
it cleared, as a landscape is cleared from the morning mists under the
influence of the spring sunshine. When he looked up again his glance
was bright and satisfied, and Bent-Anat knew what it promised when it
lingered lovingly first on her, and then on her friend, whose head was
still graced by the wreath that had crowned hers.

At last Rameses turned from the lovers, and said to the guests:

“It is past midnight, and I will now leave you. To-morrow evening I bid
you all--and you especially, Pentaur--to be my guests in this banqueting
hall. Once more fill your cups, and let us empty them--to a long time of
peace after the victory which, by the help of the Gods, we have won.
And at the same time let us express our thanks to my friend Ani, who has
entertained us so magnificently, and who has so faithfully and zealously
administered the affairs of the kingdom during my absence.”

The company pledged the king, who warmly shook hands with the Regent,
and then, escorted by his wandbearers and lords in waiting, quitted the
hall, after he had signed to Mena, Ameni, and the ladies to follow him.

Nefert greeted her husband, but she immediately parted from the royal
party, as she had yielded to the urgent entreaty of Katuti that she
should for this night go to her mother, to whom she had so much to tell,
instead of remaining with the princess. Her mother’s chariot soon took
her to her tent.

Rameses dismissed his attendants in the ante-room of his apartments;
when they were alone he turned to Bent-Anat and said affectionately.

“What was in your mind when you laid your wreath on the poet’s brow?”

“What is in every maiden’s mind when she does the like,” replied
Bent-Anat with trustful frankness.

“And your father?” asked the king.

“My father knows that I will obey him even if he demands of me the
hardest thing--the sacrifice of all my--happiness; but I believe that
he--that you love me fondly, and I do not forget the hour in which you
said to me that now my mother was dead you would be father and mother
both to me, and you would try to understand me as she certainly would
have understood me. But what need between us of so many words. I love
Pentaur--with a love that is not of yesterday--with the first perfect
love of my heart and he has proved himself worthy of that high honor.
But were he ever so humble, the hand of your daughter has the power to
raise him above every prince in the land.”

“It has such power, and you shall exercise it,” cried the king. “You
have been true and faithful to yourself, while your father and protector
left you to yourself. In you I love the image of your mother, and I
learned from her that a true woman’s heart can find the right path
better than a man’s wisdom. Now go to rest, and to-morrow morning put on
a fresh wreath, for you will have need of it, my noble daughter.”


The cloudless vault of heaven spread over the plain of Pelusium, the
stars were bright, the moon threw her calm light over the thousands of
tents which shone as white as little hillocks of snow. All was silent,
the soldiers and the Egyptians, who had assembled to welcome the king,
were now all gone to rest.

There had been great rejoicing and jollity in the camp; three enormous
vats, garlanded with flowers and overflowing with wine, which spilt with
every movement of the trucks on which they were drawn by thirty oxen,
were sent up and down the little streets of tents, and as the evening
closed in tavern-booths were erected in many spots in the camp, at which
the Regent’s servants supplied the soldiers with red and white wine. The
tents of the populace were only divided from the pavilion of the Pharaoh
by the hastily-constructed garden in the midst of which it stood, and
the hedge which enclosed it.

The tent of the Regent himself was distinguished from all the others by
its size and magnificence; to the right of it was the encampment of the
different priestly deputations, to the left that of his suite; among the
latter were the tents of his friend Katuti, a large one for her own use,
and some smaller ones for her servants. Behind Ani’s pavilion stood a
tent, enclosed in a wall or screen of canvas, within which old Hekt was
lodged; Ani had secretly conveyed her hither on board his own boat. Only
Katuti and his confidential servants knew who it was that lay concealed
in the mysteriously shrouded abode.

While the banquet was proceeding in the great pavilion, the witch was
sitting in a heap on the sandy earth of her conical canvas dwelling; she
breathed with difficulty, for a weakness of the heart, against which she
had long struggled, now oppressed her more frequently and severely; a
little lamp of clay burned before her, and on her lap crouched a sick
and ruffled hawk; the creature shivered from time to time, closing the
filmy lids of his keen eyes, which glowed with a dull fire when Hekt
took him up in her withered hand, and tried to blow some air into his
hooked beak, still ever ready to peck and tear her.

At her feet little Scherau lay asleep. Presently she pushed the child
with her foot. “Wake up,” she said, as he raised himself still half
asleep. “You have young ears--it seemed to me that I heard a woman
scream in Ani’s tent. Do you hear any thing?”

“Yes, indeed,” exclaimed the little one. “There is a noise like crying,
and that--that was a scream! It came from out there, from Nemu’s tent.”

“Creep through there,” said the witch, “and see what is happening!”

The child obeyed: Hekt turned her attention again to the bird, which no
longer perched in her lap, but lay on one side, though it still tried to
use its talons, when she took him up in her hand.

“It is all over with him,” muttered the old woman, “and the one I called
Rameses is sleeker than ever. It is all folly and yet--and yet! the
Regent’s game is over, and he has lost it. The creature is stretching
itself--its head drops--it draws itself up--one more clutch at my
dress--now it is dead!”

She contemplated the dead hawk in her lap for some minutes, then she
took it up, flung it into a corner of the tent, and exclaimed:

“Good-bye, King Ani. The crown is not for you!” Then she went on: “What
project has he in hand now, I wonder? Twenty times he has asked me
whether the great enterprise will succeed; as if I knew any more than
he! And Nemu too has hinted all kinds of things, though he would not
speak out. Something is going on, and I--and I? There it comes again.”

The old woman pressed her hand to her heart and closed her eyes, her
features were distorted with pain; she did not perceive Scherau’s
return, she did not hear him call her name, or see that, when she did
not answer him, he left her again. For an hour or more she remained
unconscious, then her senses returned, but she felt as if some ice-cold
fluid slowly ran through her veins instead of the warm blood.

“If I had kept a hawk for myself too,” she muttered, “it would soon
follow the other one in the corner! If only Ani keeps his word, and has
me embalmed!

“But how can he when he too is so near his end. They will let me rot and
disappear, and there will be no future for me, no meeting with Assa.”

The old woman remained silent for a long time; at last she murmured
hoarsely with her eyes fixed on the ground:

“Death brings release, if only from the torment of remembrance. But
there is a life beyond the grave. I do not, I will not cease to hope.
The dead shall all be equally judged, and subject to the inscrutable
decrees.--Where shall I find him? Among the blest, or among the damned?
And I? It matters not! The deeper the abyss into which they fling me
the better. Can Assa, if he is among the blest, remain in bliss, when he
sees to what he has brought me? Oh! they must embalm me--I cannot bear
to vanish, and rot and evaporate into nothingness!”

While she was still speaking, the dwarf Nemu had come into the tent;
Scherau, seeing the old woman senseless, had run to tell him that his
mother was lying on the earth with her eyes shut, and was dying. The
witch perceived the little man.

“It is well,” she said, “that you have come; I shall be dead before

“Mother!” cried the dwarf horrified, “you shall live, and live better
than you have done till now! Great things are happening, and for us!”

“I know, I know,” said Hekt. “Go away, Scherau--now, Nemu, whisper in
my ear what is doing?” The dwarf felt as if he could not avoid the
influence of her eye, he went up to her, and said softly--“The pavilion,
in which the king and his people are sleeping, is constructed of wood;
straw and pitch are built into the walls, and laid under the boards. As
soon as they are gone to rest we shall set the tinder thing on fire. The
guards are drunk and sleeping.”

“Well thought of,” said Hekt. “Did you plan it?” “I and my mistress,”
 said the dwarf not without pride. “You can devise a plot,” said the old
woman, “but you are feeble in the working out. Is your plan a secret?
Have you clever assistants?”

“No one knows of it,” replied the dwarf, “but Katuti, Paaker, and I; we
three shall lay the brands to the spots we have fixed upon. I am going
to the rooms of Bent-Anat; Katuti, who can go in and out as she pleases,
will set fire to the stairs, which lead to the upper story, and which
fall by touching a spring; and Paaker to the king’s apartments.”

“Good-good, it may succeed,” gasped the old woman. “But what was the
scream in your tent?” The dwarf seemed doubtful about answering; but
Hekt went on:

“Speak without fear--the dead are sure to be silent.” The dwarf,
trembling with agitation, shook off his hesitation, and said:

“I have found Uarda, the grandchild of Pinem, who had disappeared, and I
decoyed her here, for she and no other shall be my wife, if Ani is
king, and if Katuti makes me rich and free. She is in the service of
the Princess Bent-Anat, and sleeps in her anteroom, and she must not be
burnt with her mistress. She insisted on going back to the palace, so,
as she would fly to the fire like a gnat, and I would not have her risk
being burnt, I tied her up fast.”

“Did she not struggle?” said Hekt.

“Like a mad thing,” said the dwarf. “But the Regent’s dumb slave, who
was ordered by his master to obey me in everything to-day, helped me. We
tied up her mouth that she might not be heard screaming!”

“Will you leave her alone when you go to do your errand?”

“Her father is with her!”

“Kaschta, the red-beard?” asked the old woman in surprise. “And did he
not break you in pieces like an earthenware pot?”

“He will not stir,” said Nemu laughing. “For when I found him, I made
him so drunk with Ani’s old wine that he lies there like a mummy. It was
from him that I learned where Uarda was, and I went to her, and got her
to come with me by telling her that her father was very ill, and begged
her to go to see him once more. She flew after me like a gazelle, and
when she saw the soldier lying there senseless she threw herself upon
him, and called for water to cool his head, for he was raving in his
dreams of rats and mice that had fallen upon him. As it grew late she
wanted to return to her mistress, and we were obliged to prevent her.
How handsome she has grown, mother; you cannot imagine how pretty she

“Aye, aye!” said Hekt. “You will have to keep an eye upon her when she
is your wife.”

“I will treat her like the wife of a noble,” said Nemu. “And pay a
real lady to guard her. But by this time Katuti has brought home her
daughter, Mena’s wife; the stars are sinking and--there--that was the
first signal. When Katuti whistles the third time we are to go to work.
Lend me your fire-box, mother.”

“Take it,” said Hekt. “I shall never need it again. It is all over with
me! How your hand shakes! Hold the wood firmly, or you will drop it
before you have brought the fire.”

The dwarf bid the old woman farewell, and she let him kiss her without
moving. When he was gone, she listened eagerly for any sound that might
pierce the silence of the night, her eyes shone with a keen light, and
a thousand thoughts flew through her restless brain. When she heard the
second signal on Katuti’s silver whistle, she sat upright and muttered:

“That gallows-bird Paaker, his vain aunt and that villain Ani, are no
match for Rameses, even when he is asleep. Ani’s hawk is dead; he has
nothing to hope for from Fortune, and I nothing to hope for from him.
But if Rameses--if the real king would promise me--then my poor old
body--Yes, that is the thing, that is what I will do.”

She painfully raised herself on her feet with the help of her stick, she
found a knife and a small flask which she slipped into her dress, and
then, bent and trembling, with a last effort of her remaining strength
she dragged herself as far as Nemu’s tent. Here she found Uarda bound
hand and foot, and Kaschta lying on the ground in a heavy drunken

The girl shrank together in alarm when she saw the old woman, and
Scherau, who crouched at her side, raised his hands imploringly to the

“Take this knife, boy,” she said to the little one. “Cut the ropes the
poor thing is tied with. The papyrus cords are strong, saw them with the

   [Papyrus was used not only for writing on, but also for ropes. The
   bridge of boats on which Xerxes crossed the Hellespont was fastened
   with cables of papyrus.]

While the boy eagerly followed her instructions with all his little
might, she rubbed the soldier’s temples with an essence which she had in
the bottle, and poured a few drops of it between his lips. Kaschta came
to himself, stretched his limbs, and stared in astonishment at the place
in which he found himself. She gave him some water, and desired him to
drink it, saying, as Uarda shook herself free from the bonds:

“The Gods have predestined you to great things, you white maiden. Listen
to what I, old Hekt, am telling you. The king’s life is threatened,
his and his children’s; I purpose to save them, and I ask no reward but
this-that he should have my body embalmed and interred at Thebes. Swear
to me that you will require this of him when you have saved him.”

“In God’s name what is happening?” cried Uarda. “Swear that you will
provide for my burial,” said the old woman.

“I swear it!” cried the girl. “But for God’s sake--”

“Katuti, Paaker, and Nemu are gone to set fire to the palace when
Rameses is sleeping, in three places. Do you hear, Kaschta! Now hasten,
fly after the incendiaries, rouse the servants, and try to rescue the

“Oh fly, father,” cried the girl, and they both rushed away in the

“She is honest and will keep her word,” muttered Hekt, and she tried to
drag herself back to her own tent; but her strength failed her half-way.
Little Scherau tried to support her, but he was too weak; she sank down
on the sand, and looked out into the distance. There she saw the dark
mass of the palace, from which rose a light that grew broader and
broader, then clouds of black smoke, then up flew the soaring flame, and
a swarm of glowing sparks.

“Run into the camp, child,” she cried, “cry fire, and wake the

Scherau ran off shouting as loud as he could.

The old woman pressed her hand to her side, she muttered: “There it is

“In the other world--Assa--Assa,” and her trembling lips were silent for


Katuti had kept her unfortunate nephew Paaker concealed in one of her
servants’ tents. He had escaped wounded from the battle at Kadesh, and
in terrible pain he had succeeded, by the help of an ass which he had
purchased from a peasant, in reaching by paths known to hardly any one
but himself, the cave where he had previously left his brother. Here he
found his faithful Ethiopian slave, who nursed him till he was strong
enough to set out on his journey to Egypt. He reached Pelusium, after
many privations, disguised as an Ismaelite camel-driver; he left his
servant, who might have betrayed him, behind in the cave.

Before he was permitted to pass the fortifications, which lay across the
isthmus which parts the Mediterranean from the Red Sea, and which were
intended to protect Egypt from the incursions of the nomad tribes of
the Chasu, he was subjected to a strict interrogatory, and among other
questions was asked whether he had nowhere met with the traitor Paaker,
who was minutely described to him. No one recognized in the shrunken,
grey-haired, one-eyed camel-driver, the broad-shouldered, muscular
and thick-legged pioneer. To disguise himself the more effectually,
he procured some hair-dye--a cosmetic known in all ages--and blackened

   [In my papyrus there are several recipes for the preparation of
   hair-dye; one is ascribed to the Lady Schesch, the mother of Teta,
   wife of the first king of Egypt. The earliest of all the recipes
   preserved to us is a prescription for dyeing the hair.]

Katuti had arrived at Pelusium with Ani some time before, to superintend
the construction of the royal pavilion. He ventured to approach her
disguised as a negro beggar, with a palm-branch in his hand. She gave
him some money and questioned him concerning his native country, for she
made it her business to secure the favor even of the meanest; but though
she appeared to take an interest in his answers, she did not recognize
him; now for the first time he felt secure, and the next day he went up
to her again, and told her who he was.

The widow was not unmoved by the frightful alteration in her nephew, and
although she knew that even Ani had decreed that any intercourse with
the traitor was to be punished by death, she took him at once into
her service, for she had never had greater need than now to employ the
desperate enemy of the king and of her son-in-law.

The mutilated, despised, and hunted man kept himself far from the other
servants, regarding the meaner folk with undiminished scorn. He thought
seldom, and only vaguely of Katuti’s daughter, for love had quite given
place to hatred, and only one thing now seemed to him worth living
for--the hope of working with others to cause his enemies’ downfall,
and of being the instrument of their death; so he offered himself to the
widow a willing and welcome tool, and the dull flash in his uninjured
eye when she set him the task of setting fire to the king’s apartments,
showed her that in the Mohar she had found an ally she might depend on
to the uttermost.

Paaker had carefully examined the scene of his exploit before the king’s
arrival. Under the windows of the king’s rooms, at least forty feet from
the ground, was a narrow parapet resting on the ends of the beams which
supported the rafters on which lay the floor of the upper story in which
the king slept. These rafters had been smeared with pitch, and straw had
been laid between them, and the pioneer would have known how to find the
opening where he was to put in the brand even if he had been blind of
both eyes.

When Katuti first sounded her whistle he slunk to his post; he was
challenged by no watchman, for the few guards who had been placed in
the immediate vicinity of the pavilion, had all gone to sleep under the
influence of the Regent’s wine. Paaker climbed up to about the height
of two men from the ground by the help of the ornamental carving on
the outside wall of the palace; there a rope ladder was attached, he
clambered up this, and soon stood on the parapet, above which were the
windows of the king’s rooms, and below which the fire was to be laid.

Rameses’ room was brightly illuminated. Paaker could see into it without
being seen, and could bear every word that was spoken within. The king
was sitting in an arm-chair, and looked thoughtfully at the ground;
before him stood the Regent, and Mena stood by his couch, holding in his
hand the king’s sleeping-robe.

Presently Rameses raised his head, and said, as he offered his hand with
frank affection to Ani:

“Let me bring this glorious day to a worthy end, cousin. I have found
you my true and faithful friend, and I had been in danger of believing
those over-anxious counsellors who spoke evil of you. I am never prone
to distrust, but a number of things occurred together that clouded my
judgment, and I did you injustice. I am sorry, sincerely sorry; nor am I
ashamed to apologize to you for having for an instant doubted your good
intentions. You are my good friend--and I will prove to you that I am
yours. There is my hand-take it; and all Egypt shall know that Rameses
trusts no man more implicitly than his Regent Ani. I will ask you to
undertake to be my guard of honor to-night--we will share this room.
I sleep here; when I lie down on my couch take your place on the divan
yonder.” Ani had taken Rameses’ offered hand, but now he turned pale as
he looked down. Paaker could see straight into his face, and it was not
without difficulty that he suppressed a scornful laugh.

Rameses did not observe the Regent’s dismay, for he had signed to Mena
to come closer to him.

“Before I sleep,” said the king, “I will bring matters to an end with
you too. You have put your wife’s constancy to a severe test, and she
has trusted you with a childlike simplicity that is often wiser than
the arguments of sages, because she loved you honestly, and is herself
incapable of guile. I promised you that I would grant you a wish if your
faith in her was justified. Now tell me what is your will?”

Mena fell on his knees, and covered the king’s robe with kisses.

“Pardon!” he exclaimed. “Nothing but pardon. My crime was a heavy one,
I know; but I was driven to it by scorn and fury--it was as if I saw the
dishonoring hand of Paaker stretched out to seize my innocent wife, who,
as I now know, loathes him as a toad--”

“What was that?” exclaimed the king. “I thought I heard a groan

He went up to the window and looked out, but he did not see the pioneer,
who watched every motion of the king, and who, as soon as he perceived
that his involuntary sigh of anguish had been heard, stretched himself
close under the balustrade. Mena had not risen from his knees when the
king once more turned to him.

“Pardon me,” he said again. “Let me be near thee again as before,
and drive thy chariot. I live only through thee, I am of no worth but
through thee, and by thy favor, my king, my lord, my father!”

Rameses signed to his favorite to rise. “Your request was granted,” said
he, “before you made it. I am still in your debt on your fair wife’s
account. Thank Nefert--not me, and let us give thanks to the Immortals
this day with especial fervor. What has it not brought forth for us! It
has restored to me you two friends, whom I regarded as lost to me, and
has given me in Pentaur another son.”

A low whistle sounded through the night air; it was Katuti’s last

Paaker blew up the tinder, laid it in the bole under the parapet, and
then, unmindful of his own danger, raised himself to listen for any
further words.

“I entreat thee,” said the Regent, approaching Rameses, “to excuse me.
I fully appreciate thy favors, but the labors of the last few days have
been too much for me; I can hardly stand on my feet, and the guard of

“Mena will watch,” said the king. “Sleep in all security, cousin. I will
have it known to all men that I have put away from me all distrust of
you. Give the my night-robe, Mena. Nay-one thing more I must tell you.
Youth smiles on the young, Ani. Bent-Anat has chosen a worthy husband,
my preserver, the poet Pentaur. He was said to be a man of humble
origin, the son of a gardener of the House of Seti; and now what do I
learn through Ameni? He is the true son of the dead Mohar, and the foul
traitor Paaker is the gardener’s son. A witch in the Necropolis changed
the children. That is the best news of all that has reached me on this
propitious day, for the Mohar’s widow, the noble Setchem, has been
brought here, and I should have been obliged to choose between two
sentences on her as the mother of the villain who has escaped us. Either
I must have sent her to the quarries, or have had her beheaded before
all the people--In the name of the Gods, what is that?”

They heard a loud cry in a man’s voice, and at the same instant a noise
as if some heavy mass had fallen to the ground from a great height.
Rameses and Mena hastened to the window, but started back, for they were
met by a cloud of smoke.

“Call the watch!” cried the king.

“Go, you,” exclaimed Mena to Ani. “I will not leave the king again in

Ani fled away like an escaped prisoner, but he could not get far, for,
before he could descend the stairs to the lower story, they fell in
before his very eyes; Katuti, after she had set fire to the interior of
the palace, had made them fall by one blow of a hammer. Ani saw her robe
as she herself fled, clenched his fist with rage as he shouted her name,
and then, not knowing what he did, rushed headlong through the corridor
into which the different royal apartments opened.

The fearful crash of the falling stairs brought the King and Mena also
out of the sleeping-room.

“There lie the stairs! that is serious!” said the king cooly; then he
went back into his room, and looked out of a window to estimate the
danger. Bright flames were already bursting from the northern end of the
palace, and gave the grey dawn the brightness of day; the southern wing
or the pavilion was not yet on fire. Mena observed the parapet from
which Paaker had fallen to the ground, tested its strength, and found
it firm enough to bear several persons. He looked round, particularly at
the wing not yet gained by the flames, and exclaimed in a loud voice:

“The fire is intentional! it is done on purpose. See there! a man is
squatting down and pushing a brand into the woodwork.”

He leaped back into the room, which was now filling with smoke, snatched
the king’s bow and quiver, which he himself had hung up at the bed-head,
took careful aim, and with one cry the incendiary fell dead.

A few hours later the dwarf Nemu was found with the charioteer’s arrow
through his heart. After setting fire to Bent-Anat’s rooms, he had
determined to lay a brand to the wing of the palace where, with the
other princes, Uarda’s friend Rameri was sleeping.

Mena had again leaped out of window, and was estimating the height of
the leap to the ground; the Pharaoh’s room was getting more and more
filled with smoke, and flames began to break through the seams of the
boards. Outside the palace as well as within every one was waking up to
terror and excitement.

“Fire! fire! an incendiary! Help! Save the king!” cried Kaschta, who
rushed on, followed by a crowd of guards whom he had roused; Uarda had
flown to call Bent-Anat, as she knew the way to her room. The king had
got on to the parapet outside the window with Mena, and was calling to
the soldiers.

“Half of you get into the house, and first save the princess; the other
half keep the fire from catching the south wing. I will try to get

But Nemu’s brand had been effectual, the flames flared up, and the
soldiers strained every nerve to conquer them. Their cries mingled with
the crackling and snapping of the dry wood, and the roar of the flames,
with the trumpet calls of the awakening troops, and the beating of
drums. The young princes appeared at a window; they had tied their
clothes together to form a rope, and one by one escaped down it.

Rameses called to them with words of encouragement, but he himself was
unable to take any means of escape, for though the parapet on which he
stood was tolerably wide, and ran round the whole of the building, at
about every six feet it was broken by spaces of about ten paces. The
fire was spreading and growing, and glowing sparks flew round him and
his companion like chaff from the winnowing fan.

“Bring some straw and make a heap below!” shouted Rameses, above the
roar of the conflagration. “There is no escape but by a leap down.”

The flames rushed out of the windows of the king’s room; it was
impossible to return to it, but neither the king nor Mena lost his
self-possession. When Mena saw the twelve princes descending to the
ground, he shouted through his hands, using them as a speaking trumpet,
and called to Rameri, who was about to slip down the rope they had
contrived, the last of them all.

“Pull up the rope, and keep it from injury till I come.”

Rameri obeyed the order, and before Rameses could interfere, Mena had
sprung across the space which divided one piece of the balustrade from
another. The king’s blood ran cold as Mena, a second time, ventured the
frightful leap; one false step, and he must meet with the same fearful
death as his enemy Paaker.

While the bystanders watched him in breathless silence--while the
crackling of the wood, the roar of the flames, and the dull thump of
falling timber mingled with the distant chant of a procession of priests
who were now approaching the burning pile, Nefert roused by little
Scherau knelt on the bare ground in fervent and passionate prayer to the
saving Gods. She watched every movement of her husband, and she bit her
lips till they bled not to cry out. She felt that he was acting bravely
and nobly, and that he was lost if even for an instant his attention
were distracted from his perilous footing. Now he had reached Rameri,
and bound one end of the rope made out of cloaks and handkerchiefs,
round his body; then he gave the other end to Rameri, who held fast to
the window-sill, and prepared once more to spring. Nefert saw him ready
to leap, she pressed her hands upon her lips to repress a scream, she
shut her eyes, and when she opened them again he had accomplished the
first leap, and at the second the Gods preserved him from falling; at
the third the king held out his hand to him, and saved him from a fall.
Then Rameses helped him to unfasten the rope from round his waist to
fasten it to the end of a beam.

Rameri now loosened the other end, and followed Mena’s example; he too,
practised in athletic exercises in the school of the House of Seti,
succeeded in accomplishing the three tremendous leaps, and soon the king
stood in safety on the ground. Rameri followed him, and then Mena, whose
faithful wife went to meet him, and wiped the sweat from his throbbing

Rameses hurried to the north wing, where Bent-Anat had her apartments;
he found her safe indeed, but wringing her hands, for her young favorite
Uarda had disappeared in the flames after she had roused her and saved
her with her father’s assistance. Kaschta ran up and down in front of
the burning pavilion, tearing his hair; now calling his child in tones
of anguish, now holding his breath to listen for an answer. To rush at
random into the immense-burning building would have been madness. The
king observed the unhappy man, and set him to lead the soldiers, whom he
had commanded to hew down the wall of Bent-Anat’s rooms, so as to rescue
the girl who might be within. Kaschta seized an axe, and raised it to

But he thought that he heard blows from within against one of the
shutters of the ground-floor, which by Katuti’s orders had been securely
closed; he followed the sound--he was not mistaken, the knocking could
be distinctly heard.

With all his might he struck the edge of the axe between the shutter and
the wall, and a stream of smoke poured out of the new outlet, and before
him, enveloped in its black clouds, stood a staggering man who held
Uarda in his arms. Kaschta sprang forward into the midst of the smoke
and sparks, and snatched his daughter from the arms of her preserver,
who fell half smothered on his knees. He rushed out into the air with
his light and precious burden, and as he pressed his lips to her closed
eyelids his eyes were wet, and there rose up before him the image of
the woman who bore her, the wife that had stood as the solitary
green palm-tree in the desert waste of his life. But only for a few
seconds-Bent-Anat herself took Uarda into her care, and he hastened back
to the burning house.

He had recognized his daughter’s preserver; it was the physician
Nebsecht, who had not quitted the princess since their meeting on Sinai,
and had found a place among her suite as her personal physician.

The fresh air had rushed into the room through the opening of the
shutter, the broad flames streamed out of the window, but still Nebsecht
was alive, for his groans could be heard through the smoke. Once more
Kaschta rushed towards the window, the bystanders could see that the
ceiling of the room was about to fail, and called out to warn him, but
he was already astride the sill.

“I signed myself his slave with my blood,” he cried, “Twice he has
saved my child, and now I will pay my debt,” and he disappeared into the
burning room.

He soon reappeared with Nebsecht in his arms, whose robe was already
scorched by the flames. He could be seen approaching the window with his
heavy burden; a hundred soldiers, and with them Pentaur, pressed
forward to help him, and took the senseless leech out of the arms of the
soldier, who lifted him over the window sill.

Kaschta was on the point of following him, but before he could swing
himself over, the beams above gave way and fell, burying the brave son
of the paraschites.

Pentaur had his insensible friend carried to his tent, and helped the
physicians to bind up his burns. When the cry of fire had been
first raised, Pentaur was sitting in earnest conversation with the
high-priest; he had learned that he was not the son of a gardener, but
a descendant of one of the noblest families in the land. The foundations
of life seemed to be subverted under his feet, Ameni’s revelation lifted
him out of the dust and set him on the marble floor of a palace; and yet
Pentaur was neither excessively surprised nor inordinately rejoiced;
he was so well used to find his joys and sufferings depend on the man
within him, and not on the circumstances without.

As soon as he heard the cry of fire, he hastened to the burning
pavilion, and when he saw the king’s danger, he set himself at the head
of a number of soldiers who had hurried up from the camp, intending to
venture an attempt to save Rameses from the inside of the house. Among
those who followed him in this hopeless effort was Katuti’s reckless
son, who had distinguished himself by his valor before Kadesh, and who
hailed this opportunity of again proving his courage. Falling walls
choked up the way in front of these brave adventurers; but it was not
till several had fallen choked or struck down by burning logs, that
they made up their minds to retire--one of the first that was killed was
Katuti’s son, Nefert’s brother.

Uarda had been carried into the nearest tent. Her pretty head lay in
Bent-Anat’s lap, and Nefert tried to restore her to animation by rubbing
her temples with strong essences. Presently the girl’s lips moved: with
returning consciousness all she had seen and suffered during the last
hour or two recurred to her mind; she felt herself rushing through the
camp with her father, hurrying through the corridor to the princess’s
rooms, while he broke in the doors closed by Katuti’s orders; she saw
Bent-Anat as she roused her, and conducted her to safety; she remembered
her horror when, just as she reached the door, she discovered that she
had left in her chest her jewel, the only relic of her lost mother, and
her rapid return which was observed by no one but by the leech Nebsecht.

Again she seemed to live through the anguish she had felt till she once
more had the trinket safe in her bosom, the horror that fell upon her
when she found her escape impeded by smoke and flames, and the weakness
which overcame her; and she felt as if the strange white-robed priest
once more raised her in his arms. She remembered the tenderness of his
eyes as he looked into hers, and she smiled half gratefully but half
displeased at the tender kiss which had been pressed on her lips before
she found herself in her father’s strong arms.

“How sweet she is!” said Bent-Anat. “I believe poor Nebsecht is right
in saying that her mother was the daughter of some great man among the
foreign people. Look what pretty little hands and feet, and her skin is
as clear as Phoenician glass.”


While the friends were occupied in restoring Uarda to animation, and in
taking affectionate care of her, Katuti was walking restlessly backwards
and forwards in her tent.

Soon after she had slipped out for the purpose of setting fire to
the palace, Scherau’s cry had waked up Nefert, and Katuti found her
daughter’s bed empty when, with blackened hands and limbs trembling with
agitation, she came back from her criminal task.

Now she waited in vain for Nemu and Paaker.

Her steward, whom she sent on repeated messages of enquiry whether the
Regent had returned, constantly brought back a negative answer, and
added the information that he had found the body of old Hekt lying on
the open ground. The widow’s heart sank with fear; she was full of dark
forebodings while she listened to the shouts of the people engaged
in putting out the fire, the roll of drums, and the trumpets of the
soldiers calling each other to the help of the king.

To these sounds now was added the dull crash of falling timbers and

A faint smile played upon her thin lips, and she thought to herself:
“There--that perhaps fell on the king, and my precious son-in-law, who
does not deserve such a fate--if we had not fallen into disgrace, and
if since the occurrences before Kadesh he did not cling to his indulgent
lord as a calf follows a cow.”

She gathered fresh courage, and fancied she could hear the voice of
Ethiopian troops hailing the Regent as king--could see Ani decorated
with the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, seated on Rameses’ throne, and
herself by his side in rich though unpretending splendor. She pictured
herself with her son and daughter as enjoying Mena’s estate, freed from
debt and increased by Ani’s generosity, and then a new, intoxicating
hope came into her mind. Perhaps already at this moment her daughter
was a widow, and why should she not be so fortunate as to induce Ani to
select her child, the prettiest woman in Thebes, for his wife? Then
she, the mother of the queen, would be indeed unimpeachable, and
all-powerful. She had long since come to regard the pioneer as a tool
to be cast aside, nay soon to be utterly destroyed; his wealth
might probably at some future time be bestowed upon her son, who had
distinguished himself at Kadesh, and whom Ani must before long promote
to be his charioteer or the commander of the chariot warriors.

Flattered by these fancies, she forgot every care as she walked faster
and faster to and fro in her tent. Suddenly the steward, whom she had
this time sent to the very scene of the fire, rushed into the tent, and
with every token of terror broke to her the news that the king and his
charioteer were hanging in mid air on a narrow wooden parapet, and that
unless some miracle happened they must inevitably be killed. It was
said that incendiaries had occasioned the fire, and he, the steward, had
hastened forward to prepare her for evil news as the mangled body of the
pioneer, which had been identified by the ring on his finger, and
the poor little corpse of Nemu, pierced through by an arrow, had been
carried past him.

Katuti was silent for a moment.

“And the king’s sons?” she asked with an anxious sigh.

“The Gods be praised,” replied the steward, “they succeeded in letting
themselves down to the ground by a rope made of their garments knotted
together, and some were already safe when I came away.”

Katuti’s face clouded darkly; once more she sent forth her messenger.
The minutes of his absence seemed like days; her bosom heaved in stormy
agitation, then for a moment she controlled herself, and again her
heart seemed to cease beating--she closed her eyes as if her anguish of
anxiety was too much for her strength. At last, long after sunrise, the
steward reappeared.

Pale, trembling, hardly able to control his voice, he threw himself on
the ground at her feet crying out:

“Alas! this night! prepare for the worst, mistress! May Isis comfort
thee, who saw thy son fall in the service of his king and father! May
Amon, the great God of Thebes, give thee strength! Our pride, our hope,
thy son is slain, killed by a falling beam.”

Pale and still as if frozen, Katuti shed not a tear; for a minute she
did not speak, then she asked in a dull tone:

“And Rameses?”

“The Gods be praised!” answered the servant, “he is safe-rescued by

“And Ani?”

“Burnt!--they found his body disfigured out of all recognition; they
knew him again by the jewels he wore at the banquet.”

Katuti gazed into vacancy, and the steward started back as from a mad
woman when, instead of bursting into tears, she clenched her small
jewelled hands, shook her fists in the air, and broke into loud, wild
laughter; then, startled at the sound of her own voice, she suddenly
became silent and fixed her eyes vacantly on the ground. She neither saw
nor heard that the captain of the watch, who was called “the eyes and
ears of the king,” had come in through the door of her tent followed by
several officers and a scribe; he came up to her, and called her by
her name. Not till the steward timidly touched her did she collect her
senses like one suddenly roused from deep sleep.

“What are you doing in my tent?” she asked the officer, drawing herself
up haughtily.

“In the name of the chief judge of Thebes,” said the captain of the
watch solemnly. “I arrest you, and hail you before the high court of
justice, to defend yourself against the grave and capital charges of
high treason, attempted regicide, and incendiarism.”

“I am ready,” said the widow, and a scornful smile curled her lips. Then
with her usual dignity she pointed to a seat and said:

“Be seated while I dress.”

The officer bowed, but remained standing at the door of the tent while
she arranged her black hair, set her diadem on her brow, opened her
little ointment chest, and took from it a small phial of the rapid
poison strychnine, which some months before she had procured through
Nemu from the old witch Hekt.

“My mirror!” she called to a maid servant, who squatted in a corner of
the tent. She held the metal mirror so as to conceal her face from the
captain of the watch, put the little flask to her lips and emptied it
at one mouthful. The mirror fell from her hand, she staggered, a deadly
convulsion seized her--the officer rushed forward, and while she fixed
her dying look upon him she said:

“My game is lost, but Ameni--tell Ameni that he will not win either.”

She fell forward, murmured Nefert’s name, struggled convulsively and was

When the draught of happiness which the Gods prepare for some few men,
seems to flow clearest and purest, Fate rarely fails to infuse into it
some drop of bitterness. And yet we should not therefore disdain it, for
it is that very drop of bitterness which warns us to drink of the joys
of life thankfully, and in moderation.

The perfect happiness of Mena and Nefert was troubled by the fearful
death of Katuti, but both felt as if they now for the first time knew
the full strength of their love for each other. Mena had to make up to
his wife for the loss of mother and brother, and Nefert to restore to
her husband much that he had been robbed of by her relatives, and they
felt that they had met again not merely for pleasure but to be to each
other a support and a consolation.

Rameses quitted the scene of the fire full of gratitude to the Gods who
had shown such grace to him and his. He ordered numberless steers to be
sacrificed, and thanksgiving festivals to be held throughout the land;
but he was cut to the heart by the betrayal to which he had fallen a
victim. He longed--as he always did in moments when the balance of his
mind had been disturbed--for an hour of solitude, and retired to the
tent which had been hastily erected for him. He could not bear to enter
the splendid pavilion which had been Ani’s; it seemed to him infested
with the leprosy of falsehood and treason.

For an hour he remained alone, and weighed the worst he had suffered at
the hands of men against that which was good and cheering, and he found
that the good far outweighed the evil. He vividly realized the magnitude
of his debt of gratitude, not to the Immortals only, but also to
his earthly friends, as he recalled every moment of this morning’s

“Gratitude,” he said to himself, “was impressed on you by your mother;
you yourself have taught your children to be grateful. Piety is
gratitude to the Gods, and he only is really generous who does not
forget the gratitude he owes to men.”

He had thrown off all bitterness of feeling when he sent for Bent-Anat
and Pentaur to be brought to his tent. He made his daughter relate at
full length how the poet had won her love, and though he frequently
interrupted her with blame as well as praise, his heart was full of
fatherly joy when he laid his darling’s hand in that of the poet.

Bent-Anat laid her head in full content on the breast of the noble
Assa’s grandson, but she would have clung not less fondly to Pentaur the
gardener’s son.

“Now you are one of my own children,” said Rameses; and he desired the
poet to remain with him while he commanded the heralds, ambassadors, and
interpreters to bring to him the Asiatic princes, who were detained in
their own tents on the farther side of the Nile, that he might conclude
with them such a treaty of peace as might continue valid for generations
to come. Before they arrived, the young princes came to their father’s
tent, and learned from his own lips the noble birth of Pentaur, and that
they owed it to their sister that in him they saw another brother; they
welcomed him with sincere affection, and all, especially Rameri, warmly
congratulated the handsome and worthy couple.

The king then called Rameri forward from among his brothers, and thanked
him before them all for his brave conduct during the fire. He had
already been invested with the robe of manhood after the battle
of Kadesh; he was now appointed to the command of a legion of
chariot-warriors, and the order of the lion to wear round his neck
was bestowed on him for his bravery. The prince knelt, and thanked his
father; but Rameses took the curly head in his hands and said:

“You have won praise and reward by your splendid deeds from the father
whom you have saved and filled with pride. But the king watches over the
laws, and guides the destiny cf this land, the king must blame you, nay
perhaps punish you. You could not yield to the discipline of school,
where we all must learn to obey if we would afterwards exercise our
authority with moderation, and without any orders you left Egypt and
joined the army. You showed the courage and strength of a man, but the
folly of a boy in all that regards prudence and foresight--things harder
to learn for the son of a race of heroes than mere hitting and slashing
at random; you, without experience, measured yourself against masters of
the art of war, and what was the consequence? Twice you fell a prisoner
into the hands of the enemy, and I had to ransom you.

“The king of the Danaids gave you up in exchange for his daughter,
and he rejoices long since in the restoration of his child; but we,
in losing her, lost the most powerful means of coercing the seafaring
nations of the islands and northern coasts of the great sea who are
constantly increasing in might and daring, and so diminished our chances
of securing a solid and abiding peace.

“Thus--through the careless wilfulness of a boy, the great work
is endangered which I had hoped to have achieved. It grieves me
particularly to humiliate your spirit to-day, when I have had so much
reason to encourage you with praise. Nor will I punish you, only warn
you and teach you. The mechanism of the state is like the working of the
cogged wheels which move the water-works on the shore of the Nile-if
one tooth is missing the whole comes to a stand-still however strong
the beasts that labor to turn it. Each of you--bear this in mind--is a
main-wheel in the great machine of the state, and can serve an end only
by acting unresistingly in obedience to the motive power. Now rise! we
may perhaps succeed in obtaining good security from the Asiatic king,
though we have lost our hostage.”

Heralds at this moment marched into the tent, and announced that
the representative of the Cheta king and the allied princes were in
attendance in the council tent; Rameses put on the crown of Upper and
Lower Egypt and all his royal adornments; the chamberlain who carried
the insignia of his power, and his head scribe with his decoration of
plumes marched before him, while his sons, the commanders in chief, and
the interpreters followed him. Rameses took his seat on his throne with
great dignity, and the sternest gravity marked his demeanor while he
received the homage of the conquered and fettered kings.

The Asiatics kissed the earth at his feet, only the king of the Danaids
did no more than bow before him. Rameses looked wrathfully at him,
and ordered the interpreter to ask him whether he considered himself
conquered or no, and the answer was given that he had not come before
the Pharaoh as a prisoner, and that the obeisance which Rameses required
of him was regarded as a degradation according to the customs of his
free-born people, who prostrated them selves only before the Gods. He
hoped to become an ally of the king of Egypt, and he asked would he
desire to call a degraded man his friend?

Rameses measured the proud and noble figure before him with a glance,
and said severely:

“I am prepared to treat for peace only with such of my enemies as are
willing to bow to the double crown that I wear. If you persist in
your refusal, you and your people will have no part in the favorable
conditions that I am prepared to grant to these, your allies.”

The captive prince preserved his dignified demeanor, which was
nevertheless free from insolence, when these words of the king were
interpreted to him, and replied that he had come intending to procure
peace at any cost, but that he never could nor would grovel in the dust
at any man’s feet nor before any crown. He would depart on the following
day; one favor, however, he requested in his daughter’s name and his
own--and he had heard that the Egyptians respected women. The king knew,
of course, that his charioteer Mena had treated his daughter, not as a
prisoner but as a sister, and Praxilla now felt a wish, which he himself
shared, to bid farewell to the noble Mena, and his wife, and to thank
him for his magnanimous generosity. Would Rameses permit him once more
to cross the Nile before his departure, and with his daughter to visit
Mena in his tent.

Rameses granted his prayer: the prince left the tent, and the
negotiations began.

In a few hours they were brought to a close, for the Asiatic and
Egyptian scribes had agreed, in the course of the long march southwards,
on the stipulations to be signed; the treaty itself was to be drawn up
after the articles had been carefully considered, and to be signed in
the city of Rameses called Tanis--or, by the numerous settlers in its
neighborhood, Zoan. The Asiatic princes were to dine as guests with the
king; but they sat at a separate table, as the Egyptians would have been
defiled by sitting at the same table with strangers.

Rameses was not perfectly satisfied. If the Danaids went away without
concluding a treaty with him, it was to be expected that the peace which
he was so earnestly striving for would before long be again disturbed;
and he nevertheless felt that, out of regard for the other conquered
princes, he could not forego any jot of the humiliation which he
had required of their king, and which he believed to be due to
himself--though he had been greatly impressed by his dignified manliness
and by the bravery of the troops that had followed him into the field.

The sun was sinking when Mena, who that day had leave of absence from
the king, came in great excitement up to the table where the princes
were sitting and craved the king’s permission to make an important
communication. Rameses signed consent; the charioteer went close up to
him, and they held a short but eager conversation in a low voice.

Presently the king stood up and said, speaking to his daughter:

“This day which began so horribly will end joyfully. The fair child who
saved you to-day, but who so nearly fell a victim to the flames, is of
noble origin.”

“She cones of a royal house,” said Rameri, disrespectfully interrupting
his father. Rameses looked at him reprovingly. “My sons are silent,” he
said, “till I ask them to speak.”

The prince colored and looked down; the king signed to Bent-Anat and
Pentaur, begged his guests to excuse him for a short time, and was about
to leave the tent; but Bent-Anat went up to him, and whispered a few
words to him with reference to her brother. Not in vain: the king
paused, and reflected for a few moments; then he looked at Rameri, who
stood abashed, and as if rooted to the spot where he stood. The king
called his name, and beckoned him to follow him.


Rameri had rushed off to summon the physicians, while Bent-Anat was
endeavoring to restore the rescued Uarda to consciousness, and he
followed them into his sister’s tent. He gazed with tender anxiety
into the face of the half suffocated girl, who, though uninjured, still
remained unconscious, and took her hand to press his lips to her slender
fingers, but Bent-Anat pushed him gently away; then in low tones that
trembled with emotion he implored her not to send him away, and told her
how dear the girl whose life he had saved in the fight in the Necropolis
had become to him--how, since his departure for Syria, he had never
ceased to think of her night and day, and that he desired to make her
his wife.

Bent-Anat was startled; she reminded her brother of the stain that
lay on the child of the paraschites and through which she herself had
suffered so much; but Rameri answered eagerly:

“In Egypt rank and birth are derived through the mother and Kaschta’s
dead wife--”

“I know,” interrupted Bent-Anat. “Nebsecht has already told us that she
was a dumb woman, a prisoner of war, and I myself believe that she was
of no mean house, for Uarda is nobly formed in face and figure.”

“And her skin is as fine as the petal of a flower,” cried Rameri. “Her
voice is like the ring of pure gold, and--Oh! look, she is moving.
Uarda, open your eyes, Uarda! When the sun rises we praise the Gods.
Open your eyes! how thankful, how joyful I shall be if those two suns
only rise again.”

Bent-Anat smiled, and drew her brother away from the heavily-breathing
girl, for a leech came into the tent to say that a warm medicated bath
had been prepared and was ready for Uarda. The princess ordered her
waiting-women to help lift the senseless girl, and was preparing to
follow her when a message from her father required her presence in his
tent. She could guess at the significance of this command, and desired
Rameri to leave her that she might dress in festal garments; she could
entrust Uarda to the care of Nefert during her absence.

“She is kind and gentle, and she knows Uarda so well,” said the
princess, “and the necessity of caring for this dear little creature
will do her good. Her heart is torn between sorrow for her lost
relations, and joy at being united again to her love. My father has
given Mena leave of absence from his office for several days, and I have
excused her from her attendance on me, for the time during which we
were so necessary to each other really came to an end yesterday. I feel,
Rameri, as if we, after our escape, were like the sacred phoenix which
comes to Heliopolis and burns itself to death only to soar again from
its ashes young and radiant--blessed and blessing!”

When her brother had left her, she threw herself before the image of her
mother and prayed long and earnestly; she poured an offering of
sweet perfume on the little altar of the Goddess Hathor, which always
accompanied her, had herself dressed in happy preparation for meeting
her father, and--she did not conceal it from herself--Pentaur, then
she went for a moment to Nefert’s tent to beg her to take good care
of Uarda, and finally obeyed the summons of the king, who, as we know,
fulfilled her utmost hopes.

As Rameri quitted his sister’s tent he saw the watch seize and lead
away a little boy; the child cried bitterly, and the prince in a moment
recognized the little sculptor Scherau, who had betrayed the Regent’s
plot to him and to Uarda, and whom he had already fancied he had seen
about the place. The guards had driven him away several times from the
princess’s tent, but he had persisted in returning, and this obstinate
waiting in the neighborhood had aroused the suspicions of an officer;
for since the fire a thousand rumors of conspiracies and plots against
the king had been flying about the camp. Rameri at once freed the little
prisoner, and heard from him that it was old Hekt who, before her death,
had sent Kaschta and his daughter to the rescue of the king, that he
himself had helped to rouse the troops, that now he had no home and
wished to go to Uarda.

The prince himself led the child to Nefert, and begged her to allow
him to see Uarda, and to let him stay with her servants till he himself
returned from his father’s tent.

The leeches had treated Uarda with judgment, for under the influence of
the bath she recovered her senses; when she had been dressed again in
fresh garments and refreshed by the essences and medicines which they
gave her to inhale and to drink, she was led back into Nefert’s tent,
where Mena, who had never before seen her, was astonished at her
peculiar and touching beauty.

“She is very like my Danaid princess,” he said to his wife; “only she is
younger and much prettier than she.”

Little Scherau came in to pay his respects to her, and she was delighted
to see the boy; still she was sad, and however kindly Nefert spoke to
her she remained in silent reverie, while from time to time a large tear
rolled down her cheek.

“You have lost your father!” said Nefert, trying to comfort her. “And I,
my mother and brother both in one day.”

“Kaschta was rough but, oh! so kind,” replied Uarda. “He was always so
fond of me; he was like the fruit of the doom palm; its husk is hard and
rough, but he who knows how to open it finds the sweet pulp within. Now
he is dead, and my grandfather and grandmother are gone before him, and
I am like the green leaf that I saw floating on the waters when we were
crossing the sea; anything so forlorn I never saw, abandoned by all it
belonged to or had ever loved, the sport of a strange element in which
nothing resembling itself ever grew or ever can grow.”

Nefert kissed her forehead. “You have friends,” she said, “who will
never abandon you.”

“I know, I know!” said Uarda thoughtfully, “and yet I am alone--for the
first time really alone. In Thebes I have often looked after the wild
swans as they passed across the sky; one flies in front, then comes
the body of the wandering party, and very often, far behind, a solitary
straggler; and even this last one I do not call lonely, for he can still
see his brethren in front of him. But when the hunters have shot down
all the low-flying loiterers, and the last one has lost sight of the
flock, and knows that he never again can find them or follow them he is
indeed to be pitied. I am as unhappy as the abandoned bird, for I have
lost sight to-day of all that I belong to, and I am alone, and can never
find them again.”

“You will be welcomed into some more noble house than that to which you
belong by birth,” said Nefert, to comfort her.

Uarda’s eyes flashed, and she said proudly, almost defiantly:

“My race is that of my mother, who was a daughter of no mean house; the
reason I turned back this morning and went into the smoke and fire
again after I had escaped once into the open air--what I went back for,
because I felt it was worth dying for, was my mother’s legacy, which I
had put away with my holiday dress when I followed the wretched Nemu to
his tent. I threw myself into the jaws of death to save the jewel, but
certainly not because it is made of gold and precious stones--for I do
not care to be rich, and I want no better fare than a bit of bread and a
few dates and a cup of water--but because it has a name on it in strange
characters, and because I believe it will serve to discover the people
from whom my mother was carried off; and now I have lost the jewel, and
with it my identity and my hopes and happiness.”

Uarda wept aloud; Nefert put her arm around her affectionately.

“Poor child!” she said, “was your treasure destroyed in the flames?”

“No, no,” cried Uarda eagerly. “I snatched it out of my chest and held
it in my hand when Nebsecht took me in his arms, and I still had it in
my hand when I was lying safe on the ground outside the burning house,
and Bent-Anat was close to me, and Rameri came up. I remember seeing him
as if I were in a dream, and I revived a little, and I felt the jewel in
my fingers then.”

“Then it was dropped on the way to the tent?” said Nefert.

Uarda nodded; little Scherau, who had been crouching on the floor beside
her, gave Uarda a loving glance, dimmed with tears, and quietly slipped
out of the tent.

Time went by in silence; Uarda sat looking at the ground, Nefert and
Mena held each other’s hands, but the thoughts of all three were with
the dead. A perfect stillness reigned, and the happiness of the reunited
couple was darkly overshadowed by their sorrow. From time to time the
silence was broken by a trumpet-blast from the royal tent; first when
the Asiatic princes were introduced into the Council-tent, then when the
Danaid king departed, and lastly when the Pharaoh preceded the conquered
princes to the banquet.

The charioteer remembered how his master had restored him to dignity
and honor, for the sake of his faithful wife; and gratefully pressed her

Suddenly there was a noise in front of the tent, and an officer entered
to announce to Mena that the Danaid king and his daughter, accompanied
by body-guard, requested to see and speak with him and Nefert.

The entrance to the tent was thrown wide open. Uarda retired modestly
into the back-ground, and Mena and Nefert went forward hand in hand to
meet their unexpected guests.

The Greek prince was an old man, his beard and thick hair were grey, but
his movements were youthful and light, though dignified and deliberate.
His even, well-formed features were deeply furrowed, he had large,
bright, clear blue eyes, but round his fine lips were lines of care.
Close to him walked his daughter; her long white robe striped with
purple was held round her hips by a golden girdle, and her sunny yellow
hair fell in waving locks over her neck and shoulders, while it was
confined by a diadem which encircled her head; she was of middle height,
and her motions were measured and calm like her father’s. Her brow was
narrow, and in one line with her straight nose, her rosy mouth was sweet
and kind, and beyond everything beautiful were the lines of her oval
face and the turn of her snow-white throat. By their side stood the
interpreter who translated every word of the conversation on both sides.
Behind them came two men and two women, who carried gifts for Mena and
his wife.

The prince praised Mena’s magnanimity in the warmest terms.

“You have proved to me,” he said, “that the virtues of gratitude, of
constancy, and of faith are practised by the Egyptians; although your
merit certainly appears less to me now that I see your wife, for he who
owns the fairest may easily forego any taste for the fair.”

Nefert blushed.

“Your generosity,” she answered, “does me more than justice at your
daughter’s expense, and love moved my husband to the same injustice, but
your beautiful daughter must forgive you and me also.”

Praxilla went towards her and expressed her thanks; then she offered her
the costly coronet, the golden clasps and strings of rare pearls which
her women carried; her father begged Mena to accept a coat of mail and
a shield of fine silver work. The strangers were then led into the tent,
and were there welcomed and entertained with all honor, and offered
bread and wine. While Mena pledged her father, Praxilla related to
Nefert, with the help of the interpreter, what hours of terror she had
lived through after she had been taken prisoner by the Egyptians, and
was brought into the camp with the other spoils of war; how an older
commander had asserted his claim to her, how Mena had given her
his hand, had led her to his tent, and had treated her like his own
daughter. Her voice shook with emotion, and even the interpreter was
moved as she concluded her story with these words: “How grateful I am to
him, you will fully understand when I tell you that the man who was to
have been my husband fell wounded before my eyes while defending our
camp; but he has recovered, and now only awaits my return for our

“May the Gods only grant it!” cried the king, “for Praxilla is the last
child of my house. The murderous war robbed me of my four fair sons
before they had taken wives, my son-in-law was slain by the Egyptians
at the taking of our camp, and his wife and new-born son fell into their
hands, and Praxilla is my youngest child, the only one left to me by the
envious Gods.”

While he was still speaking, they heard the guards call out and a
child’s loud cry, and at the same instant little Scherau rushed into the
tent holding up his hand exclaiming.

“I have it! I have found it!”

Uarda, who had remained behind the curtain which screened the sleeping
room of the tent--but who had listened with breathless attention to
every word of the foreigners, and who had never taken her eyes off the
fair Praxilla--now came forward, emboldened by her agitation, into the
midst of the tent, and took the jewel from the child’s hand to show it
to the Greek king; for while she stood gazing at Praxilla it seemed
to her that she was looking at herself in a mirror, and the idea had
rapidly grown to conviction that her mother had been a daughter of the
Danaids. Her heart beat violently as she went up to the king with a
modest demeanor, her head bent down, but holding her jewel up for him to

The bystanders all gazed in astonishment at the veteran chief, for he
staggered as she came up to him, stretched out his hands as if in terror
towards the girl, and drew back crying out:

“Xanthe, Xanthe! Is your spirit freed from Hades? Are you come to summon

Praxilla looked at her father in alarm, but suddenly she, too, gave a
piercing cry, snatched a chain from her neck, hurried towards Uarda, and
seizing the jewel she held, exclaimed:

“Here is the other half of the ornament, it belonged to my poor sister

The old Greek was a pathetic sight, he struggled hard to collect
himself, looking with tender delight at Uarda, his sinewy hands
trembled as he compared the two pieces of the necklet; they matched
precisely--each represented the wing of an eagle which was attached to
half an oval covered with an inscription; when they were laid together
they formed the complete figure of a bird with out-spread wings, on
whose breast the lines exactly matched of the following oracular verse:

  “Alone each is a trifling thing, a woman’s useless toy
   But with its counterpart behold! the favorite bird of Zeus.”

A glance at the inscription convinced the king that he held in his hand
the very jewel which he had put with his own hands round the neck of
his daughter Xanthe on her marriage-day, and of which the other half had
been preserved by her mother, from whom it had descended to Praxilla. It
had originally been made for his wife and her twin sister who had died
young. Before he made any enquiries, or asked for any explanations, he
took Uarda’s head between his hands, and turning her face close to
his he gazed at her features, as if he were reading a book in which he
expected to find a memorial of all the blissful hours of his youth, and
the girl felt no fear; nor did she shrink when he pressed his lips to
her forehead, for she felt that this man’s blood ran in her own veins.
At last the king signed to the interpreter; Uarda was asked to tell all
she knew of her mother, and when she said that she had come a captive
to Thebes with an infant that had soon after died, that her father had
bought her and had loved her in spite of her being dumb, the prince’s
conviction became certainty; he acknowledged Uarda as his grandchild,
and Praxilla clasped her in her arms.

Then he told Mena that it was now twenty years since his son-in-law had
been killed, and his daughter Xanthe, whom Uarda exactly resembled, had
been carried into captivity. Praxilla was then only just born, and his
wife died of the shock of such terrible news. All his enquiries for
Xanthe and her child had been fruitless, but he now remembered that
once, when he had offered a large ransom for his daughter if she could
be found, the Egyptians had enquired whether she were dumb, and that he
had answered “no.” No doubt Xanthe had lost the power of speech through
grief, terror, and suffering.

The joy of the king was unspeakable, and Uarda was never tired of gazing
at his daughter and holding her hand.

Then she turned to the interpreter.

“Tell me,” she said. “How do I say ‘I am so very happy?’”

He told her, and she smilingly repeated his words. “Now ‘Uarda will love
you with all her heart?’” and she said it after him in broken accents
that sounded so sweet and so heart-felt, that the old man clasped her to
his breast.

Tears of emotion stood in Nefert’s eyes, and when Uarda flung herself
into her arms she said:

“The forlorn swan has found its kindred, the floating leaf has reached
the shore, and must be happy now!” Thus passed an hour of the purest
happiness; at last the Greek king prepared to leave, and the wished to
take Uarda with him; but Mena begged his permission to communicate all
that had occurred to the Pharaoh and Bent-Anat, for Uarda was attached
to the princess’s train, and had been left in his charge, and he dared
not trust her in any other hands without Bent-Anat’s permission.
Without waiting for the king’s reply he left the tent, hastened to the
banqueting tent, and, as we know, Rameses and the princess had at once
attended to his summons.

On the way Mena gave them a vivid description of the exciting events
that had taken place, and Rameses, with a side glance at Bent-Anat,
asked Rameri:

“Would you be prepared to repair your errors, and to win the friendship
of the Greek king by being betrothed to his granddaughter?”

The prince could not answer a word, but he clasped his father’s hand,
and kissed it so warmly that Rameses, as he drew it away, said:

“I really believe that you have stolen a march on me, and have been
studying diplomacy behind my back!”

Rameses met his noble opponent outside Mena’s tent, and was about to
offer him his hand, but the Danaid chief had sunk on his knees before
him as the other princes had done.

“Regard me not as a king and a warrior,” he exclaimed, “only as a
suppliant father; let us conclude a peace, and permit me to take this
maiden, my grandchild, home with me to my own country.”

Rameses raised the old man from the ground, gave him his hand, and said

“I can only grant the half of what you ask. I, as king of Egypt, am most
willing to grant you a faithful compact for a sound and lasting peace;
as regards this maiden, you must treat with my children, first with
my daughter Bent-Anat, one of whose ladies she is, and then with your
released prisoner there, who wishes to make Uarda his wife.”

“I will resign my share in the matter to my brother,” said Bent-Anat,
“and I only ask you, maiden, whether you are inclined to acknowledge him
as your lord and master?”

Uarda bowed assent, and looked at her grandfather with an expression
which he understood without any interpreter.

“I know you well,” he said, turning to Rameri. “We stood face to face in
the fight, and I took you prisoner as you fell stunned by a blow from my
sword. You are still too rash, but that is a fault which time will amend
in a youth of your heroic temper. Listen to me now, and you too, noble
Pharaoh, permit me these few words; let us betroth these two, and may
their union be the bond of ours, but first grant me for a year to take
my long-lost child home with me that she may rejoice my old heart, and
that I may hear from her lips the accents of her mother, whom you took
from me. They are both young; according to the usages of our country,
where both men and women ripen later than in your country, they are
almost too young for the solemn tie of marriage. But one thing above all
will determine you to favor my wishes; this daughter of a royal house
has grown up amid the humblest surroundings; here she has no home, no
family-ties. The prince has wooed her, so to speak, on the highway, but
if she now comes with me he can enter the palace of kings as suitor to
a princess, and the marriage feast I will provide shall be a right royal

“What you demand is just and wise,” replied Rameses. “Take your
grand-child with you as my son’s betrothed bride--my future daughter.
Give me your hands, my children. The delay will teach you patience, for
Rameri must remain a full year from to-day in Egypt, and it will be to
your profit, sweet child, for the obedience which he will learn through
his training in the army will temper the nature of your future husband.
You, Rameri, shall in a year from to-day--and I think you will not
forget the date--find at your service a ship in the harbor of Pelusium,
fitted and manned with Phoenicians, to convey you to your wedding.”

“So be it!” exclaimed the old man. “And by Zeus who hears me swear--I
will not withhold Xanthe’s daughter from your son when he comes to claim

When Rameri returned to the princes’ tent he threw himself on their
necks in turn, and when he found himself alone with their surly old
house-steward, he snatched his wig from his head, flung it in the air,
and then coaxingly stroked the worthy officer’s cheeks as he set it on
his head again.


Uarda accompanied her grandfather and Praxilla to their tent on the
farther side of the Nile, but she was to return next morning to the
Egyptian camp to take leave of all her friends, and to provide for her
father’s internment. Nor did she delay attending to the last wishes of
old Hekt, and Bent-Anat easily persuaded her father, when he learnt how
greatly he had been indebted to her, to have her embalmed like a lady of

Before Uarda left the Egyptian camp, Pentaur came to entreat her to
afford her dying preserver Nebsecht the last happiness of seeing her
once more; Uarda acceded with a blush, and the poet, who had watched all
night by his friend, went forward to prepare him for her visit.

Nebsecht’s burns and a severe wound on his head caused him great
suffering; his cheeks glowed with fever, and the physicians told Pentaur
that he probably could not live more than a few hours.

The poet laid his cool hand on his friend’s brow, and spoke to him
encouragingly; but Nebsecht smiled at his words with the peculiar
expression of a man who knows that his end is near, and said in a low
voice and with a visible effort:

“A few breaths more and here, and here, will be peace.” He laid his hand
on his head and on his heart.

“We all attain to peace,” said Pentaur. “But perhaps only to labor more
earnestly and unweariedly in the land beyond the grave. If the Gods
reward any thing it is the honest struggle, the earnest seeking after
truth; if any spirit can be made one with the great Soul of the world it
will be yours, and if any eye may see the Godhead through the veil which
here shrouds the mystery of His existence yours will have earned the

“I have pushed and pulled,” sighed Nebsecht, “with all my might, and
now when I thought I had caught a glimpse of the truth the heavy fist of
death comes down upon me and shuts my eyes. What good will it do me to
see with the eye of the Divinity or to share in his omniscience? It is
not seeing, it is seeking that is delightful--so delightful that I would
willingly set my life there against another life here for the sake of
it.” He was silent, for his strength failed, and Pentaur begged him to
keep quiet, and to occupy his mind in recalling all the hours of joy
which life had given him.

“They have been few,” said the leech. “When my mother kissed me and gave
me dates, when I could work and observe in peace, when you opened my
eyes to the beautiful world of poetry--that was good!”

And you have soothed the sufferings of many men, added Pentaur, “and
never caused pain to any one.”

Nebsecht shook his head.

“I drove the old paraschites,” he muttered, “to madness and to death.”

He was silent for a long time, then he looked up eagerly and said: “But
not intentionally--and not in vain! In Syria, at Megiddo I could work
undisturbed; now I know what the organ is that thinks. The heart! What
is the heart? A ram’s heart or a man’s heart, they serve the same end;
they turn the wheel of animal life, they both beat quicker in terror or
in joy, for we feel fear or pleasure just as animals do. But Thought,
the divine power that flies to the infinite, and enables us to form and
prove our opinions, has its seat here--Here in the brain, behind the

He paused exhausted and overcome with pain. Pentaur thought he was
wandering in his fever, and offered him a cooling drink while two
physicians walked round his bed singing litanies; then, as Nebsecht
raised himself in bed with renewed energy, the poet said to him:

“The fairest memory of your life must surely be that of the sweet child
whose face, as you once confessed to me, first opened your soul to the
sense of beauty, and whom with your own hands you snatched from death
at the cost of your own life. You know Uarda has found her own relatives
and is happy, and she is very grateful to her preserver, and would like
to see him once more before she goes far away with her grandfather.”

The sick man hesitated before he answered softly:

“Let her come--but I will look at her from a distance.”

Pentaur went out and soon returned with Uarda, who remained standing
with glowing cheeks and tears in her eyes at the door of the tent. The
leech looked at her a long time with an imploring and tender expression,
then he said:

“Accept my thanks--and be happy.”

The girl would have gone up to him to take his hand, but he waved her
off with his right hand enveloped in wrappings.

“Come no nearer,” he said, “but stay a moment longer. You have tears in
your eyes; are they for me or only for my pain?”

“For you, good noble man! my friend and my preserver!” said Uarda. “For
you dear, poor Nebsecht!” The leech closed his eyes as she spoke these
words with earnest feeling, but he looked up once more as she ceased
speaking, and gazed at her with tender admiration; then he said softly:

“It is enough--now I can die.”

Uarda left the tent, Pentaur remained with him listening to his hoarse
and difficult breathing; suddenly:

Nebsecht raised himself, and said: “Farewell, my friend,--my journey is
beginning, who knows whither?”

“Only not into vacancy, not to end in nothingness!” cried Pentaur

The leech shook his head. “I have been something,” he said, “and being
something I cannot become nothing. Nature is a good economist, and
utilizes the smallest trifle; she will use me too according to her need.
She brings everything to its end and p