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´╗┐Title: Hatsu: A Story of Egypt
Author: Fessenden, Laura Dayton
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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HATSU

A Story of Egypt

by

LAURA DAYTON FESSENDEN

Author of "A Colonial Dame," "Bonnie
MacKirby," "The Moon Children," Etc.



Christmas
1904

Copyright, 1904
By Laura Dayton Fessenden

The Canterbury Press, Highland Park (Chicago), Illinois



                I dedicate
                   this
              Story of Egypt
                    to
        My Dearest and Best Friend

                My Husband

          LAURA DAYTON FESSENDEN

          Highland Park, Illinois

  "Happiegoluckie"
  _Christmas, 1904_



CONTENTS.


  PART I             PAGE
    CHAPTER I           1
    CHAPTER II          6
    CHAPTER III        17
    CHAPTER IV         26
    CHAPTER V          38
    CHAPTER VI         45
    CHAPTER VII        52
    CHAPTER VIII       56

  PART II
    CHAPTER I          61
    CHAPTER II         63
    CHAPTER III        71
    CHAPTER IV         77
    CHAPTER V          84
    CHAPTER VI         90
    CHAPTER VII        91
    CHAPTER VIII       95
    CHAPTER IX         98



PART I.



CHAPTER I.


The fifth day of the first month of summer had come, and in a sunset
of gold and purple hues, the Nile was glorified; birds had ceased
their songs, the air was heavy with the perfume of flowers, and away
to the westward the evening star was setting.

Here, and there, along the shore, lithe, tawney-skinned girls filled
earthern jars with water, then lifted them to their shoulders, and
walked across the greenness, into the deepening night.

On this delta--or plain--of lower Egypt, there stood, three thousand
years ago, the city of Abydos; it measured ten square miles in
circumference, and was shut in on three sides, by walls of reddish
sand-stone and the unwalled side--fronting the Nile--was a pleasure
ground, belonging to a Royal residence and named, the "Palace of
Tears," so called because it was occupied by the King or his family
only during seasons of personal, or national distress. Entrance into
Abydos, was obtainable through three gateways, and over each there
were towers, in which night and day, year in, and year out, the
priests of Osirus, kept watch and ward with much fasting and many
prayers.

The word "SILENCE" was cut into the stone arch above each gate, and
within the city, conversation was carried on in whispers; no sound of
instruments of music, no peal of bells, was ever heard, only the
lowing of cattle in the Royal meadows, and the bellowing of sacred
bulls, in the temple grounds, only the singing of birds among the
trees, and the never ceasing chant of the priests broke the stillness.

The reason the city of Abydos was so sanctified a spot was because it
was believed to be the resting place of all that had once been mortal
of the Man-GOD, Osirus.

On this summer night three thousand years ago, in the Palace of Tears,
Tothmes the First, of Egypt, lay dying.

He had been a wise ruler, an able statesman, a brave and successful
soldier. Under his guidance and supervision, architecture in Egypt had
progressed, many new temples had been built, many ancient ruins
restored.

At Memphis he had erected a grand palace, and in the same city had
beautified the temple of Ammon; but the greatest act of his reign, was
the taking down, of the barriers, that had isolated Egypt from the
world, beyond its borders, for ten centuries of time; the only blot on
this King's life page was the enslavement of the Israelites, in a
bitter and cruel bondage.

Now, this great ruler lay upon his golden couch in an upper room in
the Palace of Tears, waiting, in perfect consciousness, for the end.

It was his wish that in his last hour, all should leave him, save his
daughter, the Princess Hatsu, an olive-skinned, dark-eyed girl, who
lay sobbing upon his breast.

All sense of pain had left the once tortured body of the King, and a
peace, like that of the twilight without, had fallen upon him.

One hand cold with the damps of departing life was slowly and tenderly
caressing the long braids of the girl's dark hair.

"Hatsu," said the King, "do not cry any more, all the tears of Egypt,
all the prayers of her priests avail not to stay this life of mine.
Child, it matters not whether that which we call _breath_, is lodged
under a King's robe, or a beggar's rags, at the bidding of some
almighty power, it comes forth and goes its way into the _unknown_.
Hatsu, the call has come to me, and I would fain be gone. I only
linger to gain the promise that you will wed Tothmes the Second, for,
full well I know, that, when your brother sits upon the throne, his
mother,--standing behind the chair of state,--will speak her wish,
through his poor faltering lips; full well I know that she will so
guide and counsel her son that worse than sorrow may come to be your
portion, because you will not become wife to the Prince--your
brother. Child, how can I meet in some beyond the young mother who
gave her life for yours, and to her question, 'Is it well with my
babe?' make answer 'nay.'"

The girl raised herself with a slowness that showed how weak and spent
she was; she unknit her fingers from those of the King, and rose and
stood before him.

"Father," she said, "the promise you ask holds more of torture for my
woman's soul than you with your man's nature can know, yet I defy your
will no longer. I give you promise to wed Tothmes the Second."

The King, with a mighty effort, raised himself to a sitting posture,
his face was pinched and ghastly pale, his eyes gleamed with an
unnatural light as he gasped, "Down upon your knees, girl, and repeat
slowly and distinctly, that I may miss no word, the '_oath prayer_.'
Quick! girl, quick!"

She knelt at his bidding and slowly and quietly said these words:

"O Thou Beneficent One!

"Protector of life!

"Thou to whom we flee for succor, when earth's tempests lower, or when
death draws near.

"To Thee, Great Principal, our Sun, our Moon, our Star.

"To Thee, the guide of all who pass into the realms of shade, I call.
Elder brother, Thou who having once been man and endured like us
life's temptations. Thou knowest our infirmities, and can therefore
with divine compassion forgive our proneness to err.

"O, Osirus, Thou that shall judge us at the last day, and with
infinite tenderness, shield us from Seth and his geni, when they
strive to prove before the great tribunal, the unfitness of a world
soul, for the realms of bliss.

"O, Osirus, I swear to Thee, to obey the will of my father the King."

Like a falcon, that needs but the loosing of the silken thread, that
it may lift its wings and mount into the blue, the soul of Tothmes the
First, upon the promise of his child, soared upward, and was not; and
her cry of anguish told to those who stood without that the time had
come in which to proclaim the reign of Tothmes the Second.



CHAPTER II.


The seventy-two days of mourning for the dead had been accomplished,
the oblations and purifications of the living had been performed.

Again it was night in the Palace of Tears.

The ladies-in-waiting upon the Princess Hatsu were weary of the
funeral pomp and circumstance by which they had been for so many weeks
environed, and one and all hailed with delight the prospect of
beginning on the morrow, the journey back to Thebes, where their royal
mistress was to wed the now reigning King of Egypt.

So they had happy thoughts, as they silently regarded Her Highness,
who, with her favorite serving maid, standing behind her chair, sat by
one of the narrow windows, her arm upon the sill, her hand forming a
rest for her face, as she looked out on the river and the palace
garden, bathed in the splendor of a full moon's light.

The maid behind the Princess' chair was a girl whose appearance was in
marked contrast, through its race characteristics, to the other women
present. Her skin, unlike the Egyptian ladies', was devoid of yellow
tinting, and its whiteness was the more marked because of the faint
rose bloom on cheek and lip. Her hair, rippling on either side of her
broad brow, was brown in color, and its two heavy braids fell to the
hem of her gown.

Her large blue eyes were shaded by long golden brown lashes; her
eyebrows, strongly arched, were black.

When she smiled, a little dimple played at hide-and-seek in one of the
rounded cheeks and there was a shimmer of pearls between the rosy
lips.

The ladies-in-waiting upon the Princess Hatsu were all daughters of
high priests, for the priesthood of Egypt represented, with the
military officials, the gentry of Mizram. The function of priesthood
was not confined exclusively to ecclesiastic thought; it embraced
beside theology the professions of law, medicine, science, philosophy,
poetry, and history, so it is easily seen that an intellectual, rather
than a so-called spiritual condition was the priestly requirement.

There was no such thing in Egypt as succession from father to son.
Outside the office of kingship itself, _knowledge_ was the power,
through which one and all must mount to distinction; education was a
free gift to the people, irrespective of caste, and the child of the
humblest pilot or artisan of to-day, might, through the force of his
mentality, be the priestly or military influence behind a to-morrow's
throne.

Each _Nome_--or _State_--in Egypt had its High Priest or Governor; to
him was entrusted the control of the industries of his province--the
granaries, the garden produce, and all manufactured articles and to
him came the rentals of public lands and houses that had been
dedicated by the kingdom or given by private individuals for the
service of some particular god or goddess.

Celebacy in the priesthood was discouraged in Egypt. The number of
children gathered about the hearthstone was a matter for pride and
thanksgiving, the lack of such treasures always a cause for sorrow and
shame.

Now these ladies-in-waiting (or if you will, maids-of-honor) to the
Princess Hatsu, came from the forty-nine states of the kingdom, their
homes were scattered from one end of Egypt to the other and their
fathers were devoted to one of the various intellectual callings that
have been mentioned. These girls represented many distinctive mental
types, and as for religious belief, what one thought spiritually in
Egypt was a matter of individual choice, and it is not at all
improbable that the forty-nine high priests (represented in the
Princess' household by their daughters) served forty-nine distinctive
ideals of Deity and were in their theological views as diametrically
opposed as are the various sects and schisms of our day.

Then as regarded the manner and speech of these girls one could tell
by their pronunciation whether they came from Mazor--lower Egypt--or
Pathos--upper Egypt; but there was a sameness about their appearance;
they all had round voluptuous figures, small, well-shaped noses, long
gray eyes, full red lips, and smooth hair, which--to meet a prevailing
fashion--was dyed a dark blue.

It had been the pleasure of Tothmes the First to give to his daughter
only that which should charm her eye, and please her senses, so the
maidens that the king had selected to bear the Princess company were
endowed with beauty, wit, and all womanly graces and accomplishments;
yet for them one and all Hatsu felt but a kindly friendship; her
heart's love she gave to Miriam, her maid--Miriam, daughter of Abram,
the Israelite, Abram the skilled architect, into whose hands the late
King had given the planning and construction of the third pyramid.

Had Miriam been a free woman, this fondness of the Princess for her
might have caused a feeling of envy in the breasts of the
ladies-in-waiting; but what did it signify--how Hatsu treated the girl
who plaited her hair? Miriam was a slave! * * * It was a long and a
silent service, that the ladies-in-waiting had kept this night, but at
last the Princess lifted her face from her hands and turned toward her
attendants.

"I fear," she said, "that I am but a poor companion, and I will not
weary you with longer waiting. The night is young, the gardens below
are beautiful in the moonlight, go and enjoy them for the last time."

Then the girls arose, and stepping backwards, curtseyed themselves out
of the apartment, the last one closing the door softly behind her.
When the sound of their footsteps had died away the Princess spoke.

"Come, my Miriam," she said, "and take this seat beside me, wind your
arm about my waist, and I will lay my head against your breast, and we
will talk to one another. I have been looking at the Sphinx down
yonder. For untold generations she has been asking her unsolvable
riddle, 'Whence are we? whither do we go?' Night after night I have
sat here and made inarticulate cry to the beautiful raised head,
gazing with expectant eyes toward the west, until at last she seemed
to say to my soul, 'Sister woman, there is no _god_, but fate, and
_time_--the present _time_--is ALWAYS his prophet.'

"If this be so, what need of losing breath in prayer? what need of
so-called conscience, tell me, Miriam, may I not without fear of the
wrath of an avenging God, break the vow I made to my father the King?
and with your aid (and another's) escape from out the city to-night
and so save myself from the living death that awaits me in Thebes?"

"Hatsu, beloved," said Miriam gently (for so it was the will of the
Princess that she should be addressed by Miriam when alone) "the great
stone image on the plain is naught but the work of man! It has no
life, save in the superstitious fancy of a priest-ridden nation!
Hatsu, there is above, about, and around us, an eternal force, and it
created that which we call humanity. We of Israel call this force
'_God_'--the '_All Father_'--and '_Jehovah_,' and though our bondage
under Egypt's yoke seems to human understanding intolerable, we feel
spiritually that we are the children of this King of Kings and Lord of
Lords. We understand that when His wise purpose is fulfilled, we shall
bless this providence, of chains, and scourgings, and burdens, as a
lesson of love, and mercy, making us the more worthy of our
inheritance in the promised land."

The Princess raised her head and listened in silence until Miriam had
ceased to speak. "Your words are pretty," she said with a sigh, "they
soothe one like the crooning of a lullabye, and believing it, as you
do, must be to you a great consolation, but to me, dear Miriam, it is
all delusion, and emptiness! I have read much of theology, and have
longed to cultivate faith, but to me all forms of religion seem
phantom things, elusive, and delusive; they are assertions of Deity,
founded upon legends, and then reared, by unreasoning superstition,
through countless generations of men! do not shake your pretty head,
Miriam, for I know whereof I speak, and I this day have cast my
praying beads aside as worthless toys! while all my thoughts, hopes,
and fears, are gathered about the awful fact of that near-at-hand
wedding day. The time has come when, if I am to keep the pledge made
to my dying father, I must lay aside these garments of sorrow, and don
the bridal robe and crown. To-morrow we leave the blessed quiet of
this place to journey back to Thebes, and there I shall wed that
grewsome creature that reigns in my father's place! Small comfort do I
take in the knowledge that my witless brother has been new calendared
among Egypt's saints! So do they make gods of many noxious beasts and
vipers! Tell me, Miriam, could any merciful force, anything with even
finest human intelligence doom a maiden to link herself with yonder
living, breathing mass of nothingness? My husband, that is to be,
clings to the toys of his earliest childhood, merrily jingles his
rattle and bells, and is soothed to sleep by the crooning of nursery
rhyme! Tothmes the Second a saint! Tothmes the Second a King! There is
no God! There is no unseen power! We are creatures of the dust, ruled
by _creed_ and _greed_! See, Miriam, no fire from the Heaven you
prate of consumes me for this uttered sacrilege! My heart beats on! My
breath comes and goes, as I look up to the star-spangled sky and speak
my mind! But, O Miriam, Miriam, is there nothing that can save me?"
The Princess had arisen, in her agony, and she now flung herself upon
the ground, burying her face in Miriam's lap.

For a moment there was silence, and then Miriam spoke.

"Hatsu, beloved," she said, "the path marked out for you to tread
seems a dark and thorny one. I would that I could scatter rose leaves
upon it or lift its gloom, but I can only read from one life guide,
and in all its pages I see the word "obedience." Our God hath said,
'Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the
land,' therefore, dear and honored mistress, cease to struggle against
that which you have vowed beside your father's dying bed to perform,
and, in the midst of your present despair let this thought comfort
you, our sojourn on this planet, that men call the Earth, is but for a
moment of time; this will lead you to believe that in some better
sphere, you will look back to see that _yesterday's sorrows_ were but
mists and nothing more. Think not of yourself, dear lady, but of your
land, of Egypt. _She_ has need of you upon her throne. Your people
love and trust you. Can you then subject them to a rule so terrible
as would surely befall should the mother of Tothmes the Second have
power to guide the State? Live for your people, Hatsu, and leave your
present and your future in the hands of the One God; call Him if you
will Osirus, for any name we call (if we call with reverent spirit)
the Supreme Ruler will answer to."

The Princess raised her head and looked into Miriam's eyes.

"Dear Miriam," she said, "I have no faith to offer to Deity; have I
not prayed and fasted through these days of mourning? and has help
come? No, but rather with each new hour I have felt the meshes of the
net more tightly drawn about me! And always night and day I see this
picture. A girl stands before me. She wears upon her head a heavy
golden crown. Its frontlet is an Eagle--the emblem of power, strength,
and freedom; the Eagle's wings are wide spread; the bird glitters with
gems--oh, how they shine!--but they are above eyes that fain would
weep, yet dare not; they are above a heart that _must_ not break! The
girl's garment is of cloth of gold, and her long braids are entwined
with pearls; her sandalled feet glimmer like frost in the sunshine; on
her arms, about her throat, and in her ears, diamonds glisten, and as
she stands upon a carpet of freshly gathered flowers, she is a
_priceless gift_ to the _King_, _her husband_ that is to be; but under
this mask of silk, and gold, and gem, I see a degraded womanhood! the
girl is spiritually bound by something stronger than captive chains;
oh, Miriam," she cried, springing to her feet, "there are no _Gods_!
there is no _one_ God! Nay! do not speak, but listen! I have from
babyhood served the Gods of my people! I have with my own hands fed
the sacred beasts and birds in the Temple. I have dedicated every
heliotrope in all the palace gardens to Osirus, and what is my reward?
I am to be mated to deformity of mind and body! A deformity that so
disgraces the name of man that his coming shadow makes the bravest
shudder! His touch is like leprosy! His caresses will be Hell. Oh,
that the God you worship would hear my cry for escape! Pray to Him,
Miriam, and may-hap, through your faith, in this eleventh hour, there
_will_ be found a city of refuge for me."

Even as the Princess spoke these words, there came a strong tap upon
the door, and in an instant she had resumed her seat, and Miriam her
place, behind her mistress' chair.

Then, at the bidding of Hatsu, the door swung back, and two by two,
there entered a company of youths, each bearing golden lamps.

Following the youths came a man, holding a golden salver, on which lay
a small parchment scroll. Bowing low (not kneeling), he presented it
to the Princess, who received it and read aloud the contents, in a
clear, quiet voice.

"Hatsu, Daughter of our Departed Lord, and King. All Hail! It is the
will of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, Osirus, King of Kings and
Lord of Lords, that thou (accompanied by thine Israelitish handmaiden,
Miriam) follow Alric, the bearer of this scroll, without question,
through the Palace of Tears, even down into the subterranean grotto,
known to the faithful of Mizram as the labyrinth of Death. At a
certain place by the way, at Alric's bidding, leave the handmaiden,
and the captain of the King's guards, and take thy way alone, even
unto the doorway that opens into the Temple of Osirus in the city of
Abydos. Come thither, oh daughter of a great King, wife to be of our
sainted Monarch, and on thy lonely way give thy soul into Osirus' care
and keeping. This, O Princess, is the will of Zelas the High Priest."

When the last word had been read the Princess raised the scroll to her
lips, then tying it with the red silken cord, she put it into the
bosom of her gown. Raising her gray eyes and looking for the first
time at the captain of the King's guard, she said, slowly and
distinctly:

"Lead the way, and Miriam and Hatsu will follow thee."



CHAPTER III.


Miriam stood watching in silence the form of her mistress the Princess
Hatsu until she had disappeared from sight in a curve of the avenue,
or path, then she sat herself down upon a stone bench, and with closed
eyes and folded hands sent prayers--like white-winged angels--to keep
the Princess company.

So earnest was her thought that she had quite forgotten the
companionship of the captain of the King's guard, until the sound of
his voice called her back to her immediate surroundings.

"She is _indeed_ brave of heart is the Princess," said the captain, a
ring of enthusiasm sounding through his words. "There are not many
women, old or young, that would start on this journey with no
consciousness of fear, for, setting all thought of superstition aside,
it _is_ a _grewsome place_. There is not, I assure you, a foot of the
entire way from here to the Temple, that does not afford sepulchre to
some lifeless object, once an animated '_I am_,' now a hideous
semblance, an ugly jest upon being."

Miriam lifted her great blue eyes to the speaker's face as she said:

"Whatever else you may be, my lord, you are not a worshipper of
Osirus, for all his faithful ones know that nothing is so sacred in
his sight as are these embalmed birds, beasts and reptiles."

The man smiled and shrugged his shoulders; he did not seem to consider
that any explanation of his recent sacrilege was necessary to an
Israelitish slave. This captain of the King's guard was probably well
past his thirtieth year, and unlike the majority of Egyptian manhood,
he was of athletic proportions; he wore upon his feet and legs,
sandals and leggins of scarlet leather. The leggins were cut into
numberless thongs or strips, and each one was fastened in place by a
gold and jeweled buckle. His tunic, or loosely flowing frock, was of
white linen exquisitely embroidered with colored flosses, to represent
leaves and blossoms: at his shoulders the tunic was gathered up with
broad clasps of diamonds. About his throat was a collar of diamonds,
with pendant strings, that fell, like threads of shimmering light, to
his broad breast. His arms were bare, save for the jeweled bracelets
or coils that serpent-like twined from wrist to armpit and looked like
part of a coat of mail. His hair was worn in short curly waves about
his forehead and the sides of his fair smoothly shaven face, then, its
curly brown profusion, fell from the back, far below his waist. Full
well Miriam knew this handsome gallant captain of the King's guards,
and heretofore (for reasons best known to herself) she had held him in
honor as one who was her mistress' trusted and loyal servant; but
to-day, in her loving anxiety for the Princess, the thought came to
her that it would be best to guard her speech, for how (she reasoned)
could she tell but that the Queen Regent, the mother of King Tothmes
the Second, might not have sent the Captain to spy upon her mistress?
Miriam was a wise maiden, she had been taught life's lessons in the
school of adversity and she had come to know, through bitter
experience, that he who listens has less to fear than he who talks. So
she said gently:

"My lord, it is not courteous to be mirthful or scornful over that
which the King you serve holds so sacred," and she pointed to the
niched wall where, in gaudily painted wooden cases, the faces of cats,
birds, and other creatures of the animal kingdom, grinning of jaw and
glassy of eye, looked down upon them.

"Perhaps," replied the captain, "if you, my pretty Miriam, had been
selected to go from one end of the kingdom to the other to act as
escort to dead cats, and dogs, oxen, and birds, and so bring them to
this their final resting place, perhaps, I say, if you had been
selected and then detailed to instruct the natives as to the salting
and other disgusting mortuary preparations, you would have come in
time to regard these things as I do, as only powerful through their
offensiveness to one's nostrils! as only capable of working harm,
when as decaying animal matter they are allowed to pollute the
otherwise pure atmosphere."

"I do not understand how you dare to say all this to me, my lord,"
said Miriam, "for unbelievers though we be, you, a Syrian, I an
Israelite, we are now in the most sacred sepulchre of Osirus. We both
know what the speaking ill of a living sacred animal may cost. We know
what the wilful killing of any of these forms of life means for him
who does the deed. How often have you and I, suddenly coming by the
way upon some dead thing, fallen upon our knees and plucked from out
our heads a few hairs to propitiate the anger of Deity?"

"My charming Israelite," said the captain drawing a trifle nearer, "as
you know full well, I have been reared from youth up in the household
of Zelas the High Priest of Osirus. Let me confide to you that I,
Alric, look into this great man's face as fearlessly as does the babe
upon its mother! Aye, oftentimes I sit smiling in my content, while
close at hand the awful voice of Zelas is heard, hurling anathemas
upon the unfaithful as generously as a rose tree sheds its leaves when
a breeze woos too roughly. This being so, do you fancy that these
dried, glassy-eyed puppets mean anything to me but what they are?
Then, as to my speaking openly to you, pray, who is there to hear my
words? The folk in yonder palace would far rather accept an
invitation to _Troth's_ kingdom than set so much as one foot upon this
subterranean path. As for the priests, they hold the place in such
superstitious horror that when they are forced to come thither they
appear in great companies, singing at the top of their voices (which,
of course, would give one an intimation of their proximity long before
they themselves could appear). And now let me tell you a bit of
pleasant news. The Princess Hatsu, through, and by this pilgrimage of
hers, is going to inspire in her people an awesome reverence that
shall exalt her to a goddesship far beyond that bestowed upon the
idiot, her husband (that is to be), aye, even as I speak, by the
command of Zelas, the news of this journey of the Princess (our future
Queen) is being shouted through the land by mounted heralds, and
everywhere prayers are offered for the preservation of the body and
soul of this brave girl, that she may come through the awful,
supernatural test, unconsumed; for you must know that it is usually
believed that this cool and sequestered labyrinth is torrid in its
temperature and holds many, if not all, the terrors and tortures, that
meet and greet the human soul when a life on earth is past."

"But, my lord, what will all this avail? The mother of our new King
holds the controlling power in the councils of state, and well you
know, she has for our late King's daughter a bitter and relentless
hate."

My lord Alric studied the smoothly worn stone path under foot, pushing
with the toe of his sandal some imaginary straw aside, ere he made
answer.

"Our Sainted King's most noble and gracious mother hath become (so
saith the all-wise High Priest Zelas) too sacred a thing to be put in
daily and hourly contact with the naughty world. Be it known to you, O
Miriam, that the mother of Tothmes the Second will hereafter be
powerless to do aught but pray, since she has this day been received
into the cloistered nunnery of the Sisterhood of Perpetual Silence."

"To our One God, Jehovah, I offer my thanks," said Miriam fervently,
"but, my lord, do you not fear to speak thus openly to me, for it must
surely be known to you that from my mistress I will keep no word?"

"For that matter," answered Alric lightly, "you and I have but one
life purpose. I, _too_, keep nothing concealed from the Princess
Hatsu. Listen, I will unfold to you now more serious matters. I,
Alric, hold the peace, the happiness, the life of the Princess Hatsu
in my power, and for my service the price I ask shall be one gift--I
want Miriam, the daughter of Abram to wife."

With a cry, Miriam rose to her feet and stood before Alric, moved
(she did not question why) by an anger quite unknown to her in any
hour of her past life.

"Spy! Coward!!" she said, her pink cheeks flamed to a deep red, her
eyes blazed with scorn, and her splendid figure seemed as fixed as a
graven image. "You shall find that for all your cunning there will
open for you _no vulnerable place_ in the armor of my loyalty to my
mistress! Aye, all your brutal showing of your freeman's power over my
bondage and my woman's weakness cannot reach my SOUL! I, Miriam,
_defy_ you to gain from me in the future one word I do not choose to
speak. Let the Princess make a free gift of her bondwoman! _to you!_
and I must submit to the inevitable, but mark me, no word that the
Princess ever has _said_, or will _say_, shall come _to you_ through
me! and every word that _you_ have _said_ or _will say_ shall be
whispered into her ear. My Lord Alric, in my young childhood the late
King took me from among mine own people to be the companion of his
daughter. He gave to my father a place of honor and trust among the
builders, and the Princess has cherished me with sisterly tenderness.
If you will that I die for it here at your feet, still I _swear_ not
to become your _tool_, even though I be your _slave_, aye, to my God I
swear it!"

The Captain had moved a pace or two back from Miriam as she spoke,
and as he listened to her every word he put one of his hands into the
folds of his toga and drew from thence a small disk of glass. He never
took his eyes from Miriam's eyes; his gaze was fixed, and intense, and
as she had gone on with her speech, it was perceptible that all
unconsciously a subtle power was weaving itself about her. A sense,
not of faintness, but rather of pleasant numbness stole slowly and
softly over Miriam, mind and nerves, and a sweet peace that stayed the
angry torrent of her blood, and brought a smile to her lips came, when
she heard (as in a dream) these words.

"By my shield and buckler, by my good sword, I swear to you, that I am
loyal to the Princess Hatsu."

A change was passing over the girl's face. She still stood before him,
erect, and calm, but expression was fading out. The look that the dead
wear was with her. Her color had fled, giving place to ashen wanness,
and the light in her beautiful eyes was dimmed. Her mouth grew set,
her nostrils pinched, and her breathing came in great waves of effort.
Alric now raised his other hand and moved it to and fro above the
girl's head, to a sort of measured time, repeating slowly, crooningly,
and softly:

    "Go to sleep!
    G-o t-o s-l-e-e-p.
    G--o t--o s--l--e--e--p."

Then he lowered the hand above her, gently pushed her back onto the
stone bench from which she had risen, and rested her rigid head
against the wall.

Then it was that her sob-like breathing ceased and, save that her eyes
were widely open and staring, one would have said that Miriam had
found her way into slumberland.

Keeping the disk of glass before her eyes, Alric spoke:

"Spirit," he said softly, "spirit, what dost thou here?"

And from the white lips came the answer:

"I wait to do thy bidding, my Lord."



CHAPTER IV.


"Spirit," he said, "give me the name of thy master."

"My earthly master," she made answer, "is one Alric, the grandson of
Emil, who was called the wise man of Damascus."

"It is well, oh spirit. And although now, thou dost abide in a clay
tenement, that the humanity of this generation, name Miriam, the
Israelitish maiden, I know full well that thou, the soul, the life
principal, can in memory go so far back, through eons of time, that
its mention would be meaningless to the world of to-day; yet, because
thou hast responded to my power, I know, oh spirit, that we have met
before, that we came close in love, or hate, and that in the evolution
of law, and order, we have met again. Tell me of that time. Speak of
our past, oh spirit, it is my will."

"My name was Gweneth," answered a voice (that was not Miriam's voice
at all). "In that fleshly captivity I abode far to the westward. My
land was over many leagues of immeasureable water. The nation,
powerful then, is forgotten; its people are dust; its cities buried in
the bowels of the earth.

"You were my father's favorite knight--and his two daughters loved
you; you were bold, and wooed them both in secret, and apart; but one
that watched, made speed to tell the King! And it was so grave a crime
that naught but life, could be its expiation, and yet, you had said no
word; had only looked into her eyes and mine.

"The day of doom came, and all were gathered to see the archer twang
his bow, and mark how surely the sharp arrow should find your heart;
but they who watched, saw a stranger sight. Behold! one arrow did set
free three souls.

"The winds of destiny parted us asunder; and through a dreary, dreary
length of time, have I wandered. A myriad times have I been born, and
lived, and died, and never in this infinite migration once beheld the
soul I sought, until in Egypt's land, a slave, a bondmaid, I serve my
sister now the Princess Hatsu. I kneel, to do the bidding of my
father's knight who is called Alric now."

"It is well, sweet Gweneth, we are met again. Now tell me all thou
dost know concerning the life of Hatsu the Egyptian Princess?"

"Alas, beloved, thou canst gain no secret knowledge concerning the
Princess Hatsu from me, for the God to whom Miriam, the Israelitish
maiden, prays is mightier than all the gods of Egypt. All thought,
beloved, is of the soul, and I, Gweneth, dare not approach to read
what is written in the mind of this Heaven-guarded maid, Miriam."

An exclamation of irritation escaped from Alric's lips; and in that
moment Miriam stirred, as one does who is about to awake; but he
hastily made some passes above her head with his hand, and once more
acknowledging his hypnotic power, she grew still.

"Come, sweet Gweneth," he said gently, "time flies and thou must
follow Hatsu on her way. Tell me what thou seest?"

Miriam raised her head, and lifted her arm, placing her hand above her
eyes, as one does who peers into the distance.

"She is wending her way along a road," she said, "a narrow road,
walled in and lighted by lamps, enclosed in globes of dull red glass,
thus giving, if it were possible, a more grewsome effect to the
creatures sepulchered there; but Hatsu has no dread, she has been used
to count these things when living, as her friends, so she does not
fear them dead! Neither does Hatsu's heart tremble, at the thought of
meeting the great High Priest, although she knows that no woman has
ever before beheld his face. Although she knows that when he ministers
to the people, it is always behind the Temple's silken veil."

"It is truth that thou speaketh, fair spirit, so lead on."

"She is pausing," said Miriam, "for there has come to her ears the
sound of voices. They the voices of a great company of priests, and
they are repeating in low, even tones the prayers for the dead. She
has prostrated herself upon the earth, and the priests forming in two
lines, walk past her, swinging their golden censers right and left,
and I can hear the voice of the Princess, joining in the petition, for
the soul of her father--still on its journey to the kingdom that lies
beyond the tomb. Now the sound of the singing grows fainter, the
silence comes again, and Hatsu rises and goes on her way. She has
reached a flight of broad stone steps. She is weary and the steps are
many, but she presses on. She has reached the great door. She timidly
touches it with her finger tips, but it swings noiselessly open, and
she enters and finds herself within the temple."

"Tell me of this temple."

"It is a great hall, lofty and spacious, and it shines from floor to
dome, with gold and silver and jewels. Panels of delicate yellow
amber, give a satin-like touch of softness to the cold stone. The
recesses that hold the cages of the sacred birds and beasts, are
veiled by curtains of heavily embroidered silken stuffs, and all this
splendor is added to by the brilliant lights that are set into the
walls. Through the centre of the temple, and at intervals along its
sides, are massive pillars of yellow and rose colored sand-stone.
Beyond is the great altar, brilliant with lights, heavy with the
fragrance of burning incense and of the sacred blossoms.

"No human thing is in sight. The tame beasts and birds are wandering
about the temple. They have noted the Princess's entrance, and are
hastening to surround her.

"Thus accompanied she is nearing the altar.

"The heavy silken curtains are parting, and from between them there
comes, not a man! but a god! the Sun God! in man's stature! He is
exceeding tall and lithe and sinewy. He is in the zenith of manhood,
neither young nor old.

"His flesh is firm and white and colorless. His eyes are large and
bright, and deeply blue, and his hair is as yellow as the sunbeam, and
it falls in waves of glory about his shoulders.

"His robe of blue and gold, is sprinkled with jewels as the dew
sprinkles the green sward in the early morning time. He speaks, and
his voice is like the tenderest note of music.

"'Hatsu,' he says; 'Hatsu.' And the birds at the sound of his voice
fly to him, and nestle against him, as children nestle close to a
mother.

"'Hatsu,' he says, 'daughter of Tothmes the First, draw near without
fear, and mount the steps of the altar, and pass under the folds of
the divine wings, into the sanctuary--the Holy of the Holies--and be
thou not consumed.' With a cry Miriam rose and stretched out her arms.

"God of my fathers," she wailed. "Save her! save Hatsu! Let no
vengeance from any heathen god fall upon her, because in the madness
of her grief, she has said defiant words! Stay their power, oh God, to
turn Egypt's hope into the semblance of some defiled beast or bird.

"She will not ask mercy from them, my strong, proud Princess! She
knows not what fear may mean! Her eyes are calm, her lips are parted
in a quiet smile; no fate can daunt her!

"As I speak, lo! following the Sun God, she has passed through the
folds! she stands on the other side of the curtain. It is a bare,
plain room. In the centre of the apartment is set a rude table and a
few chairs. The man with the golden hair speaks.

"'Princess,' he says, 'I have bidden that you come thither, that I may
speak in your ear, concerning that, which can no longer be cherished
by me alone. I am, Princess, Zelas, the High Priest of Osirus.

"'I am, at your father's behest, left to guide, and to guard you, I
am left with the power to place you on the throne of Egypt, a virgin
queen.

"'Full well our late King knew, that his people could not be ruled
over by his eldest son (his sister's child) who has not so much wisdom
as yonder gibbering ape, and Ashel, Tothmes the Second's mother, the
King had discovered to be a creature of mean cunning, and low
covetuousness, and he saw in your second brother, an artful and
ambitious plotter. Listen, oh Princess, while I rehearse to you the
earth story of Tothmes the first. He was a born King, a statesman, and
a diplomat, from the earliest day of his reign, Egypt was his constant
and absorbing thought, Her power, Her glory, Her advancement, his
waking theme.

"'He revolutionized the army, added ships to the depleted squadrons on
the sea, enlarged and beautified the temple of Ammon, and built the
pyramid of Cheops--thus enabling the Scientists of his day, to bring
to a completion, much that had never before been deemed possible of
demonstration, in electricity, astronomy, and mathematics.

"'It was at his bidding, that Egypt, after ten centuries of isolation,
flung wide her gates, and welcomed to the marts of trade, the commerce
of the outer world.

"'He encouraged his people to export all their various manufactured
and agricultural products, urging upon them the wisdom of learning
from other nations, all that was best and most progressive in the arts
and sciences.

"'Thus it came to pass, that the King took small heed to his personal
surroundings.

"'Forced to marry--for state reasons--his own sister, a woman of
repulsive appearance, and unlovable character, the domestic ties
weighed lightly upon him.

"'Being a scientist, he felt no surprise at the issue of this
marriage.

"'He knew that if the mating of near kin, is not thought wise for the
horse, and hound, it must perforce prove disastrous, in humankind.

"'The other son--a concubine's child--was brought into the world in
accordance with the wishes of his ministers of state, who trembled at
the thought of the idiot prince being sole heir to the kingdom.

"'Thus matters stood, until one day when weary of the affairs of camp,
and court, the King disguised his royalty, and wandered incognito
through the city of Thebes, and he came at last to the quarter of the
market place, set aside for the slave traders and their human
merchandise.

"'It was a scene that stirred the great heart with pity!

"'The long, low building formed a square of considerable size, and
after mounting a pair of steps, the King found himself in a hall,
around which ran a platform of wood, encompassing every side of the
apartment.

"'This platform was divided into pens, shut in by wooden railings, and
in these pens were confined human beings who were exposed for sale.

"'These men and women represented life from earliest infancy to infirm
age.

"'In color they were from the blackest ebony to the whitest snowdrift.

"'Walking about were merchants, and buyers, loudly commenting upon the
occupants of the cages.

"'The black folk for sale, either stared out upon these buyers, and
sellers, with a stolid indifference, or with closed eyes, seemed wrapt
in total oblivion of their surroundings.

"'The white men, either paced nervously up and down their limited
enclosure, or sat looking out, with inquiring eyes, that spoke of a
questioning mind.

"'The white women huddled together in groups, with their arms entwined
and their faces full of silent sadness.

"'One of the traders approached a cage within which the most highly
priced group of the market were confined.

"'He was followed by a portly, unctuous Egyptian, whose best years
were behind him, and on whose bestial face was written the story of
sensual indulgence.

"'The merchant unlocked the door of this cage, and entering, selected
from among the now pale and trembling group the particular slave that
the fat Egyptian had indicated with his forefinger.

"'Roughly seizing her by the arm, the merchant forced her to stand up;
then pushing her before him (with no gentle hand) he brought her out
of the cage--which he carefully re-locked--and bade her "go to the
purchaser."

"'The fat Egyptian, surveyed the girl, from head to foot, to the
accompaniment, of the merchant's monotonous chanting, of her especial
physical charms and at just the right time, in his oration, he placed
one of his hands, on the back of the girl's neck, and with the other
he jerked her head to his shoulder, and pried open the beautiful
mouth, calling upon the purchaser, to examine the whiteness, and the
soundness of her teeth.

"'He next pinched her neck, and her arms, to show the firm quality of
the flesh.

"'As the trader drew aside the loose toga of linen, and displayed the
small beautiful breast, the Egyptian who had before haggled and
hesitated, began to draw out his purse and the girl looking up and
seeing the other man--a man in whose eyes dwelt compassion for her
helplessness--said softly the one word "Mercy."

"'Then a courage born of his sheltering presence, came to her, and she
removed the pin that held her golden hair and it fell like a mantle of
light, all about her.

"'The disguised monarch, impelled, by some strange force spoke:

"'"Stay thy hand oh buyer," he said. "Thy bargain, is not sealed. _I_
bid for this _slave_ a thousand more pieces of gold, and I will pay as
much _more_ for the little lad, from whose arms she was untwined."

"'Whether or not, the Egyptian saw through the king's disguise none
can tell; but with many profound saalams, he expressed his
willingness, to yield all _claim_, and making another appointment with
the dealer, withdrew, leaving the king alone with the merchant.

"'"Tell me," said the King, "of this maiden's past? Surely so fair a
woman was not born for captivity!"

"'"No my lord," answered the slave merchant, "none of these of the
white skin are born slaves. Our vessels with well-armed crews thread
the distant seas and visit remote lands in search of human gems. Our
men seek some sequestered spot along the coast, wherein they may hide
the ship, then they divide themselves, into companies, and steal to
the main land, and watch about the villages, and towns until the
husbands and fathers go off to the chase, or to do battle; then they
enter the unprotected settlements, and securing such among the women
and the children as seem salable, make off with them. It is a pleasant
trade, my lord, and profitable."'"



CHAPTER V.


"'That night the white slave slept upon the King of Egypt's breast and
the boy (her brother) the king in his pleasure, made such provision
for that he was safe and happy evermore.'"

As Miriam repeated these last words, Alric bent close, and his eyes
seemed to be striving, to find in her expression some thing that her
words did not reveal to him. "It was a spring song, this last love of
Tothmes the first," went on Miriam, "for the blossom he had gathered,
could not bear the transplanting, even though the garden was the home
of a king, and so it came to pass that when her child was born,
Grunheld, in a delirium of fever, that followed the hours of pain,
talked in the language of a strange people, and one, who stood
near--the great physician of the realm, a man versed in many tongues
told the King,--that she spoke of an island home, over a great waste
of waters, of breeze swept, rain washed hills, and then laying upon
the altar, of some unknown God, chaplets of prayer,--the King's love,
passed out of Mizram, and was not.--That she should not, in her
journey of three thousand years, be forced to abide in the bodies of
bird, beast, or reptile, the King, had her fair form, made ready, for
sacred embalmment, and while the work progressed, there was no pause
for breath, so thick and fast came the prayers, that the long sleep
might not be broken.

"And when the body was wrapped, and the priestly office for the dead
accomplished, they laid the young stranger, in a rock chamber, and for
her comfort, filled the room with all things needful, for a soul's
journey should she by chance (in spite of prayer and charm) awake.

"Then all that human love could do, being accomplished, the King
turned him to his motherless child, Hatsu.

"Now from her earliest childhood, the Princess Hatsu was beloved by
the people, for in her outward form, she bore no trace of her alien
mother's race; her skin was Egypt's clear transparent olive, her eyes
dark, and langourous, her hair long, smooth, and easily dyed to the
royal color.

"But the soul of Hatsu, was the soul of her mother, not proud, and
distant, was she, like Egypt's royal women, but gentle, and kind to
all men, reverent to the Gods, and obedient to those in authority.

"So it was not strange that she was beloved save by one, and that one
the mother of her half brother the Idiot prince, now, King Tothmes the
Second of Egypt.

"The Idiot prince was her devoted slave, following her about like a
faithful dog, and only showing glimmerings of intelligence, when his
sister addressed him.

"The other brother,--the concubine's son,--honored her too--and though
selfish and crafty by nature he seemed--and seems to this day--her
true and faithful friend.

"This Princess is the story of thy life, until this hour as it is
written in the sacred chronicle of our most holy order."

As Zelas has thus spoken our Princess has drawn nearer, and nearer to
his side.

His quiet unmoved voice, has fallen like a benediction of peace upon
her troubled heart. Hope is springing anew within her breast, and now
that he has ceased, they are looking into each other's eyes, she
kneels at his feet.

"Holy father," she says. "I come to thee, in this my hour of need for
council and guidance. Listen my lord! Standing beside the form of my
departing father, I took solemn oath to Osirus to wed Tothmes the
Second, to be Egypt's Queen.

"My Lord, it is said, that the great Osirus, has given to you, the
power to read the innermost thoughts of men. If this be true--small
need, to tell you that the girl kneeling at your feet would joyfully
lay down her young life, and enter the body of the most degraded thing
that walks or crawls. Aye that she would rather abide in any evil
form, through every hour of the next three thousand years! than
endure one fleeting day, of such life as the coming Queenship implies.

"My lord, I will speak to you, that which I dare scarce breathe to my
own soul. I _know_ what it is to love. He, who is dearer to me than
aught else in time, or endless eternity hath not a dream, that this is
so; but, love like mine, is satisfied with the giving, it asks no
more, than just to _love silently_ on, to live a _lonely_ empty _life_
made fragrant by purity, and sanctified by prayer. Let me, I pray
thee, my Lord, be committed to some sisterhood. With thy mighty power
save me from the awful doom that Queenship with my brother Tothmes
means."

Miriam stops, she leans forward, and sways as though about to fall. "I
can see no more," she says slowly, "a mist has arisen, my eyes, can
not pierce it. I pray thee, let me rest."

Alric, white to the lips, made with precision, a series of passes,
before the fixed glassy eyes. His strong breast heaved, the muscles of
his brawny arms stood out, and drops of sweat beaded his brow. With a
deep sigh, the lips of the girl began to move, and she said: "I see
the lips of the high priest quiver, there are tears in his God-like
eyes, and he has laid two trembling hands upon Hatsu's head.

"'My sister's child,' he is saying, 'gather my words and garner them
deep in your heart, for you alone I live, for you--if need be--I die.'

"'To the Idiot you must plight a solemn troth; but listen, Tothmes the
Second, has been taken from his mother's side. Never will she speak
word to him more, for ere this, by my command she has entered one of
the nunneries, set apart for holy women, who night and day, for the
enduring glory of Osirus, keep the lamps, filled with sacred oil, and
tend the temple fires. Princess, thou shall make marriage vow to
Tothmes; but he shall be safe kept, by one to whom I would trust _my
life, my all_, a man who is honor's self! Whose every thought is known
to me, as mine to him, in the hands and under the guidance of Alric,
captain of the King's guards, I place the so-called _King_.'"

A great sob broke from Alric's throat, and he made a movement, as
though to break the trance, but the action was so rapid as to almost
be lost sight of in the look of intense resolve the look of
indomitable will that took its place.

"'If,' went on Miriam, 'Tothmes the Second die, and Tothmes the Third
ascend the throne, thou shalt still, be queen, for over Tothmes the
Third, does Alric hold an influence that is plastic as meal, and as
strong as death. Aye, Hatsu, while I live, and while Alric lives thou
shalt reign in Egypt. Aye, I swear it!'"

At the echo of his words, which are uttered in a voice loud and
clear, there comes a clash of brazen instruments of music, and the ear
catches the cries, and the moans, and the twitter, and the coos of the
sacred beasts and birds in the great temple beyond.

Now the temple door creaks on its hinges! and there comes, the slow
muffled droning notes, of a myriad voices, men's, and women's, and the
voices of youths and maidens.

Hatsu has again risen to her feet, her eyes are bright, a red rose
glows in each cheek, and the great Zelas has bent and kissed her upon
her brow.

He is calling the doves that have been fluttering about the apartment.
They come at his bidding, and he places them upon Hatsu's shoulders;
and upon her outstretched arms.

Into her hand he has put a great bunch of heliotrope, and now he
sprinkles a strong elixir of catnip over the hem of the Princess'
gown, and upon her sandalled feet.

"Go," he says, "and stand before the people." And opening the curtains
a little way, he thrusts her forth! and as the silken folds fall back,
behind her, the people hear the voice! that makes all men, high or
low, rich, or poor, simple, or wise, tremble! the voice of the awful
invisible High Priest Zelas, calling to them:

"Behold your Queen! Hatsu, beloved of Osirus, dear to all the Gods,
Hatsu, the Queen!"

And there she stands, so young, so fair, so dove encircled! and all
about her are fawning the sacred cats licking her sandalled feet, and
the hem of her garment, and the people are crying out as with one
voice:

"ALL HAIL TO OUR GODDESS, QUEEN HATSU!! ALL HAIL!! AMEN AND AMEN!!"



CHAPTER VI.


As Miriam uttered the last words, Alric replaced the glass disk that
he had been holding, in the bosom of his toga, he dropped his raised
hands, and the Israelite closed her eyes, and her head fell upon her
breast and she slept.

Then Alric folded his arms and looked at the girl.

"I would," he said softly, as to himself, "that you could know, sweet
Miriam, that there is a something within me, crying '_Shame_, upon
this power I wield;' but the necessity is great, and fate has made you
the medium by which I may gain my end. I have sought Egypt for a
subject upon whom I might yield perfect illusory impression, an
impression conveyed by hypnotic suggestion to make me master of the
actions, and spoken words of another, who is the next link in the
human chain to this, my subject.

"Oh, that this occult science, were less feebly understood in my day!
Oh, that I may be re-born into that to come in the world's history,
when this power shall be truly a subjective phenomena! a servant of
man! when it shall, in its three stages of lethargy, somnambulism, and
catelepsy, be used for the good of mankind in the arts of medicine
and surgery, to a time when the priest physician, who believes in
cure through faith, the priest physician who believes in cure through
the cast-off garments of saints, or the charms of philtre and prayer
wheel, shall be swept away, with the chaff and the dross! A time when
the priest physician shall be the scientist, who can understand the
harmony of the unseen, and apply it to the daily and hourly life
conditions, and needs.

"How far,--now having found my medium--shall I be able to use her?

"I must take this woman into my own life. If she were any other than
the property of the Princess, my gold and influence could buy her, as
it is I must ask her from Hatsu. Not in the marriage of a master to a
concubine, but through all the sacred Egyptian rights of vow and ring.
Yes, I shall wed you, Miriam, and you will love me, and in the
fullness of time you will bear me a son. Aye, carry it under your
heart, and bring it forth unconscious of your motherhood. For I will
keep you in entrancement through those days and safe hid from all eyes
save Hatsu's and my own, and when the time has been accomplished Hatsu
shall take the child, and holding it before the people, proclaim it
her son and heir!

"That Zelas is true to me, I now know, beyond all doubt. Zelas,
Hatsu's uncle! Of what sad comminglings are we made! my soul and heart
are crying out in pity, and yet my mortal mind, my scholar's
questioning, urges me on----"

But--he pauses--his quick ear detects a footstep--and looking up he
sees coming slowly toward him the Princess.

She walks with her lithe young body held erect, as though the
generations of poising the urn upon the shoulder, had made a graceful
carriage of the body, an Egyptian woman's distinguishing
characteristic.

As she draws still nearer, Alric kneels, and with bowed head awaits
her command, "to rise."

"Faithful Friend," said the sweet low voice "rejoice with me, my
mission has prospered, on the morrow I go out of this city of sorrow,
to meet, and to greet my sovereign lord, the King; my husband, that is
to be."

Alric took the hem of the Princess' robe, and touched it to his lips.

"All hail sovereign Queen!" he said softly. "Egypt's sun by day, her
moon by night."

It was merciful, that he could not see the look of hungry, wistful
woman's love, that she bent upon him, kneeling there; but he _could_
hear, the quick fluttering breaths. He _could see_ the jewelled hands,
held tight against her beating heart.

"My queen," he said, "here among your sacred dead, I give my life, to
your service."

He had risen and they were looking into each other's faces; then, as
if recalling Miriam for the first time, the princess with anxious eyes
sought her maid, and seeming in one glance, to realize what Alric had
done, her pale face flushed, and her gray eyes showed angry light.

"How dare you trifle, with that which is most precious to me!" she
said.

"Quick undo the spell that binds her! Miriam! sister! Hatsu calls!
Awake!"

But Miriam slept on, and something in the unbroken silence of the man
beside her, made Hatsu turn imploringly to him.

"Surely my lord," she said. "You who know how dear Miriam is to me,
can not hurt or wrong me through her! surely you know, that should
this wanton act of yours, ever come to her, with the added knowledge,
that I did not reprove you most severely, Miriam would turn from me,
in scorn preferring _torture_ and _death_, to serving so false and
thankless a mistress."

"My Princess listen! No idle impulse has led to this unnatural
slumber, in which you find Miriam, it has been induced, that I might
gain the one chance, the only chance perhaps in our present life, to
speak with you alone."

"You are bold my lord!"

"Aye but not so bold, as to do aught but prove to you my loyalty. 'Tis
true it is but seldom, oh gracious bride of Tothmes the Second, that
a subject forces upon the ear of his sovereign queen, his personal
confidence and seeks the aid of the throne itself, to further his
selfish aims, and ambitions! yet I Alric, venture into this untrodden
path, and ask your interest, and may hap (since you have a gentle
heart) your sympathy. Know then future queen, that at the court of
Tothmes the Second--and very close to his throne--_my soul lives_, for
it is there, the only woman I have ever loved, shall abide.

"She is by birth and station, so far above me, that to love her, is
like loving a star in heaven! but oh queen (that is to be) such love
as mine knows no repining, because the object of its worship is beyond
mortal possession! love such as mine, finds only joy in the thought
that eons of what we call time, may stretch out, before I can take
unto myself this other self but while I wait I can serve.

"Listen! In and about the court of Tothmes the Second, lurk unnumbered
dangers, for my _love_. All that I crave at the _queen's_ hands, is
the power, to stand her sentinel, to guard her night, and day, day,
and night, so long as my time on the earth continues."

He ceased to speak, and stood in respectful attitude, awaiting her
reply.

"Love, that is faithful, pure, and true, is a gift from the Gods, my
lord," she said. "And the woman that calls forth this affection (who
e'er she be) should feel that nothing earth or heaven could give,
could crown her with more _honor_ or more _glory_, aye, for love like
this she should gladly renounce all else; speak on my lord."

"My princess, there is but one way, _through_, and by _which_, I may
serve my love, there is but one way in which I can guard her, and it
comes through a gift from you to me. On the day in which you wed
yonder _great_, and sainted _King_, give me as _wife_ not as _slave_,
but as free woman _Miriam_."

With a cry the Princess, all unmindful of past, and future, with no
thought of Queenship, or of station, flung her arms about the neck of
the man, and nestled close to him so that her warm lips touched his
brown throat.

"Not that!" she moaned, "not that! Ask from me any other woman high,
or low, rich, or poor, bound, or free! and she is yours but not
_Miriam_!

"I have loved her, and she has loved me, and she _knows_ my soul, she
has read my most sacred thoughts. If," (she cried looking up into his
face) "if I thought, that _she_ had been false to me, if I thought,
that she had _dared_ to love _you_! if I thought that you loved her, I
would kill her as she sleeps, and then thrust the wet blade, into my
own heart."

He took the girl's arms from about his neck, and laid her head upon
his breast. He drew her close to him, and bent down and kissed her
lips--he said words to her that only complete possession justifies,
and she answered with the silence of acceptance, the silence of
unspoken gladness. How long they stood thus, locked in each others'
arms, they never knew, for time and place are not spiritual
attributes, and they had been lifted above the finite. It was Miriam
stirring in her sleep, that came to be the Angel with the Sword, to
drive them out, of their Eden! and the woman, wrapped her naked heart,
in a mantle of crimson blushes, and the man rudely thrust away the
light frail form, and fled to Miriam's side, and by a few passes kept
back _still_--_a little longer_--her returning consciousness.

Hatsu was the first to speak.

"My lord," she said quietly, "ask your gift at my hands, and she shall
be thine."



CHAPTER VII.


Miriam had begun to stir, she raised her head, opened her eyes, and
rubbed them sleepily as a child does in the early morning; then, she
looked up, and saw Alric standing beside her.

"You were saying to me, my lord, 'I vow to be loyal to Hatsu;' but, we
were both standing!" she looked perplexed, then troubled; "did I
swoon, my lord?"

Alric laid one of his hands, with the freedom of a free man on the
beautiful shoulder of the slave, with his other arm he drew her to
him. With a mighty effort, she loosed herself from his hold, her face
deadly pale, her nostrils distended.

"My lord," she said slowly, "do not lay so much as the tip of your
finger upon me!"

"As you will," he said, shrugging his shoulders; "but in answer to
your question, Miriam, you did not swoon, but fell asleep here, alone
with me! it will not be the last time my pretty one, that this shall
befall you, for I am to receive you as wife, from our princess on the
day in which she weds her brother the king."

Miriam said no word, she only looked at him as though she strove to
read his soul.

"My lord," she said at last, "the Princess will _never_ grant this
request, she knows full well that in all this land, none is so
faithful as her Miriam; she knows that I have almost ceased to mourn
the captivity of my people, because she is so dear to my heart. My
lord, I shall be no wife to you, I am a slave, and it ill becomes me
to say _nay_ to one so high in authority, but my lord it can not be
because I----"

Alric had stepped close to her. "I do not care for your _why's_, and
_wherefores_," he said haughtily, "it is because you _are_ so loyal,
to the Princess, it is because I am bound body and soul to her
service, that you _must come to me_. Thus only can the queen be sure
to keep you beside her, enemies might, spirit away an Israelitish
bondwoman; but who is _there_ that would _touch_ the _free wife_ of
Alric, the beloved and adopted son of Zelas, the great high priest. So
there is nothing but your death, that can prevent this union of ours,
and I scarcely think your aversion to me, can be so great, as for you
to take that road to balk my wishes." A ring of command sounded in his
voice as he added, "Girl, I come of a race who, when they woo a maid,
win her! a few days hence, with ring bell and pomgranate, will I wed
_you_ and in my city house, and on my estates amid the lake country
you will reign a free woman, when your duties upon the Princess permit
of your absence from service upon Her Highness."

"I _am a_ slave," answered Miriam, "and it ill becomes me to say
aught, to the man, that has power to take me out of bondage, and make
me free. I do not lack in gratitude to you my lord, and for the
Princess, I would gladly lay down my _life_, only I _fancied_ I----"

"Again I bid you pause," interrupted Alric; "telling one's thoughts,
is not often wise. Accept thou that which the _Gods provide_, Miriam;
not troubling much. You are to be mine! and knowing this, be content;
but, for your enduring comfort let me repeat, that this marriage of
ours only cements your nearness to the woman that you adore,--and who
adores you--I am to be the constant companion of the King; you of the
Queen."

"The King!" again Miriam's eyes searched his face "then after all, it
is to be, this dreadful _wedding_! that shall mate beauty to the
beast!"

For answer Alric pointed to the Princess, who now appeared at the
turning of the road close at hand, and smiling hastened toward them.

There were tears glittering in the soft dark eyes of Hatsu, as she
drew Miriam to her breast and kissed her brow.

"My sister," she said, "those that rule the destinies of Egypt, have
taken knowledge of Miriam the Israelite, and knowing that she is
without spot or blemish, pure as the whitest flower, guileless as the
newborn child, they bid Miriam _live_ in unquestioning submission, the
life that is pointed out to her by Hatsu, and Alric; and in some
future state where love and ambition mean the highest, and the best,
then may Hatsu and Alric open wide their souls and lay the _secret_
burden of motive and purpose at Miriam's feet, and may she find it in
her heart to forgive them, and love them still.

"I go dear Miriam, from hence, on the morrow, to meet and to wed my
lord; and now the hour being late let us hasten back to the palace,
that we may be ready for our journey."



CHAPTER VIII.


"Some force, that is resistless, doth command me to on this night,
take pen and papyrus page, and write upon it, much that fills my mind.
I seem impelled to speak words concerning the lives of those among
whom destiny has placed me. Keen as my memory is to-day, time will
dull it, and thereby cause me to lose my hold upon some of the
threads, that are useful to me, in solving the enigma of men, and the
motives that govern them.

"I am possessed of a series of hieroglyphics, whose meaning is known
but to a few wise men in the civilized world; so I may safely speak
upon this page, and first I choose to describe myself.

"I was born--a posthumous child--in the house of my paternal
grandsire, he was one of the most learned of Syria's priesthood; a man
who had lived so much, and so long in an atmosphere of spiritual
conditions, that he scarcely seemed of earth.

"His food consisted of a few herbs, and roots, he drank naught save
water, which he bent down to receive with his lips from the spring
itself.

"Of my father I know little; my mother was a gentle inoffensive soul;
one of those negative creations, that pass through a state of being,
making it neither better nor worse for the impress.

"I was born in the spring time, and at the evening hour--when twilight
goes to meet the night.

"A strange phenomenon was taking place! Upon our land of mildest and
balmiest clime had come a bitter cold, and a white frozen rain poured
from the sky and covered the ground.

"Scarce had I uttered my first wail, than the midwife heard close
beside me, the warbling of an unseen bird, and all about me (while it
continued to sing) there was a nimbus of light, bright and star like.

"This condition, or occurrence, was repeated for several days at the
same hour, and for the same space of time, and my grandsire who was
present, after the first demonstration, prophesied that I should be
able to control to my will, the destinies of all with whom I came in
contact, so long as mind, governed my decisions, and not sentiment; he
said that my danger would lay in the power that two women should
possess over me.

"When I had arrived at an age to permit of instruction, my grandsire
carried me away from the city and we abode many days in the desert.

"So keen was my sense of the occult, that it took but little space of
time, for me to grasp, all that he had to teach, and when I questioned
why it was, that what had taken him seventy years to acquire, came to
me in as many days, he made answer in these words:

"'Know oh Alric--beloved of my soul--that thy form alone is mortal,
all thy senses are quickened by the spirit. Love and hate, joy, and
sorrow, shall not touch thee. All this, did I knew before I saw thy
face, while still thy mother cherished thee beneath her heart.'

"Then my grandsire told me he had been warned in a dream, that he was
soon to be called to lay aside the garment of the flesh, for a robe of
light--that he was to proceed to a higher circle of doing, and being,
and, it had been given him to prophesy to me, that Tothmes the First
the great King of Egypt, would shortly arrive in Syria, that he should
be drawn to me by chords of love, and fatherly affection, that he
should ask me, of the King, and of my grandsire, promising I should be
reared as his own son, and even taking his kingly oath, that upon my
arrival at manhood's time, I should, under the order of the great high
Priest Zelas, be invested with power as an officer in the King of
Egypt's army.

"And even so it came to be. _I_ Alric lived beside the good King, and
sat at the feet of Zelas, the high Priest, and learned of him.
He,--Zelas--taught me priestly law, and I in return taught him to love
me as a son.

"The two princes, the Idiot (who is King to-day) and the scholar (who
shall be King in some to-morrow) I hold in my thrall! and Hatsu what
shall I say of the Princess? Is she one of the women, of whom my
grandsire spoke? and what of Miriam?

"Only time shall tell."


_End of Part First._



PART II.



CHAPTER I.


Eighteen times has the year been born, grown old, and died, since in
the vaulted sarcophagus, in the city of Abydos Hatsu, Miriam, and
Alric, stood and spoke with one another.

In the great scrolls that chronicled the history of Egypt's national
life, one can read how after leaving the city of Abydos, with her
retinue, the princess journeyed to the royal city, where to meet her,
reposing in a golden chariot, came King Tothmes the Second.

You will read how the Princess alighting from her chariot, went on
foot, to the King, then, kneeling upon the earth kissed with her red
lips, his sandalled feet and the hem of his robe.

That, when she then arose, she was so wan, that those who beheld her
feared lest death would snatch her from her bridegroom's arms!

You will read, how the mighty sovereign Tothmes the Second,
recognizing in Hatsu, his long absent sister, clapped his hands, and
laughed for joy, and then of how the trumpets pealed! and the bells
rang out!

You will read that the wedding day dawned, and that great was the
splendor of the raiment wherewith all the court were decked, of how
the High Priest Zelas stood for the first time before the people and
because of the exceeding glory, and brightness of his presence how
some were stricken _blind_ and some fell _dead_.

You will read how peace and prosperity filled the land, how all
industries flourished. How the sainted king, and his sister, the
queen, lived in perfect happiness. Their only sorrow being, that no
child came to them.

And how at last, after many years, the prayers of the faithful and
holy ones, were answered. For Queen Hatsu walked upon the upper court
of her palace holding out to the people her hour old son.

You will read of the joy with which Egypt welcomed this child and then
it will be seen that the little Prince grew and throve and was his
father's constant playmate and companion.

You will read how all that pertained to the dealings with foreign
nations was entrusted to Alric, Mizram's great general. And how in the
campaigns into Punt, and the far regions beyond, the Queen, Hatsu, led
the Army, fighting like a man in the field, and sharing the brunt of
war with her soldiers. Thus was it, until the time of which we now
shall speak.



CHAPTER II.


The city residence of Alric, general in command of Their Majesties'
forces, was within the palace enclosure.

The house was two stories in height, the ground being used for the
servants' quarters, offices, store-rooms, and the like, while the
upper floor, was divided into commodious apartments and the flat top
roof covered with linen awnings, forming a luxurious roof garden,
where the master, his family and friends, were wont to spend their
waking hours after sunset, for in Egypt the storms are so infrequent,
that only once or twice in a hundred years is there any down pouring.

The structure of the house, was of burnt brick, and built in the form
of a quadrangle. In the center was a court, laid out in walks that
were bright with beds of flowers, and foliage plants, all glistening
with the spray, thrown upon them by innumerable fountains. There too,
were tanks full of brilliant colored, swiftly darting fish, and pools
where the Lotus blossoms, (flower and leaf,) grew and throve casting a
penetrating sweetness upon the air.

The stairway (as in all Egyptian mansions) was upon the outer side of
the building, the floors were of some composite material and formed
into squares of red and blue checker work, over which were laid rugs
of white fur and large mats of colored camel's hair. About the rooms
were scattered chairs, and divans, and tables of exquisite
workmanship, the woods wonderfully polished and inlaid with gold and
precious stones. And the chairs and lounges were cushioned and
upholstered in rich silken stuffs.

In the dining hall stood a huge sandal wood side-board not at all
unlike in its fashioning, those used in houses a century ago and on
this side-board were ranged golden flagons holding choice wines and
cordials, golden filigree baskets, filled with fruits and flowers,
golden goblets, and loving cups, golden ewers (or finger bowls) and
delicate pottery; and there too, were to be found knives, and forks,
and spoons.

In this room were many little round tables covered with dainty linen
cloths of purest white, beautifully embroidered about their edges in
representation of roses, ferns, fruits, or berries.

The walls were hung with trophies of the chase (for the Egyptian
gentlemen were great hunters--and fishermen too) and in this dining
room in the city house of Alric some famous artist had painted on the
ceiling allegorical figures representing Pleasure, Plenty, and
Hospitality; in this room as in all the others there was a charcoal
stove because during the year there are chilly days in Egypt.

Then there was the Library where on shelf after shelf, lay the papyrus
and parchment scrolls holding a wealth of literature the science,
history, poetry and fiction of many centuries.

Beyond the Library after passing through a stone court one came to the
bath. This was a high ceilinged apartment sweet and cool and fragrant
and in its centre was set a deep pool of ever running water. All along
the walls of this room were closets in which every article necessary
for the bath was to be found. Brushes soft and hard, rough, and
smooth, towels, ungents, oils, powders, perfumes and bags of brans and
spices. This was not simply a luxury as in Egypt the preservation of
health made it necessary to bathe at least five times daily.

Seated at a table in his Library was the General in Chief of the
Egyptian army and about him were gathered his staff.

Time had dealt kindly with Alric; his clear skin showed no wrinkling,
his mouth was still firm, his lips red, his hair (worn in the fashion
of his youthful days) was thick and lustrous although it showed the
touch of frost here and there, but there was in the stern firm face of
the general no reminder of the merry captain of the guards.

"Have you heard my lord," said one of the officers leaning forward,
"that our King's new ships are exciting the admiration of all foreign
nations?"

"Why should they not?" cries another. "Who ever before had ships
propelled at the same time by both oars and sails! each ship requiring
thirty rowers and seventy sailors to man her?"

"Is it true," asks another, "that an expedition is soon to be sent out
to Punt to procure spice trees for our Botanical gardens?"

"Let us hope," adds a handsome fellow, "that the ugly old Queen will
not make this an opportunity to pay us another visit! never did I
behold such a human monstrosity!"

"But I have later news still," says another, taking as he speaks his
cigarette from his lips and watching the smoke curl lazily up.

"Our chancellor of state has by the King's command, ordered that the
supply of straw shall no longer be brought to the brick yards
hereafter, the Israelites must gather their own straw when the day's
stint is over."

A man with a cynical face broke in upon his neighbor's talk. "This is
done," he said, "to give these strangers less time for rest, and if
possible weaken their bodily force."

"It is true," said another, "that they breed like lice and that the
providing of grain and other produce for the consumption of the
Israelites, depletes the granaries of Mizram at least one half." "As
for their appetites," said Alric smiling, "I will not gainsay that
they are a hearty people, and why should they not be hungry? Surely
the bread of the laboring man should be sweet, but my dear Belthazur,
I can not agree to the Lord Chancellor's dictum as regards
prolificness, for my wife Miriam is an Israelite, and no child has
blessed our bed lo! these many years."

"I did not know, my lord," said the young officer blushing hotly,
"that my Lady Miriam was an Israelite. I am from a distant Nome, and
but a few years in the King's service, and so I beg you, pardon me."

"Tut, tut," said the General, smiling kindly upon the young soldier,
"the Lady Miriam is an individual Israelite, and we speak of the
people, so I pray you go on." "To me," said another, "it is
exasperating to see how humbly, how uncomplainingly these foreigners
take every new infliction; if they even murmured, there might be
something interesting in it, but by the gods! they say no word and bow
lower and lower in quiet humility under each burden."

"And," added another, "go on increasing more rapidly than ever."

"But," said one who had not yet spoken, "none can call them coward or
weakling who ever knew an Israelite to forsake his faith, he may be
bound and forced into a bodily submission, but his soul, he keeps
loyal and steadfast to the service of his one God, Jehovah."

"Yes," said the cynical man, "had they been less obstinate in their
religious beliefs doubtless through their women, Israel could long
since have gained freedom and have been allowed to depart, for where
can one find such beautiful women or such prudes? Isis should by
rights turn them into cats! It would be an easy matter as their claws
are already made."

A general laugh followed, and many were the mirthful questions put to
the rather confused officer.

"What you say respecting the loyalty of the Israelites for their
religion is true," said the General. "The Lady Miriam was a slave to
the Princess Hatsu, and by her presented to me as free wife upon the
royal wedding day. She hath been in all things loyal and obedient,
faithful and true, but she has reared no altar in my home save to the
one God, and that altar is within her heart."

"Was the Queen's mother an Israelite?" asks one. "I have heard it so
said, because of the young Prince's likeness to that race."

"Nay, nay," answered Alric. "The Queen's mother came from far to the
northward, where she told her husband (the King) there fell through
many moons of the year a rain, that was white, and lay like a carpet
of purity over the brown earth."

"There were those," says the cynical man, "when the Queen Hatsu
appeared upon her balcony, an hour after the birth of her son, with
the child in her arms, that did question the truth of her having given
Egypt an heir, but they were foreign born and from afar, and did not
know that Egyptian women resent with scorn the plaint of child-bed
weakness and such dalliance, and so rise at once the pang is spent, to
fulfill their housewifely ministrations."

"And, by the way," quoth another, "what ever did become of the boy,
the child that the King Tothmes the first bought at the same time as
he did Queen Hatsu's mother?"

"That will never be known," said Alric quietly. "It is a secret that
the King buried with his own body. There is a tale (I cannot vouch for
its truth) that once upon a time, in answer to this same question, one
(who was doubtless demented, or addled with wine) did say that the
child became in time our great High Priest Zelas, but on the morrow
this man was found lying dead and no one doubts that the wrath of
Osirus overtook him! but let us leave these unsolvable speculations,
and return to the Israelites. I doubt the wisdom of their retention."

"Let me speak to your question most noble General." It was a new
voice--the voice of the youngest son of Tothmes the first, brother to
the reigning King.

"We should miss the skilled labor of the Israelites. In a thousand
industrial ways they pay amply for their keep."



CHAPTER III.


Even as he speaks there is a shuffling of feet heard, and into the
room led by a beautiful child--a boy of eight years old--comes a
something that makes even the strong men present involuntarily shrink,
as they all rise and bow low before it.

The creature is robed in white and scarlet, and on his brow there is
fitted a crown of gold, glittering with diamonds, and rubies, emeralds
and pearls.

His protruding, wandering eyes have a blank stare, his full, wide
open, drooling lips are mumbling something, but he has a firm grasp on
the child's hand, and the child leads him.

"It is the King," cries a sweet treble voice. "The King, my father,
and we have run away from our good Miriam, for we are tired of our
clay dolls, are we not, my father?"

"Are we not, my father; are we not, my father?" mumbles the idiot, and
then looking into the child's face, he falls into a fit of immoderate
laughter and in the midst of it a woman enters. Although long past
youth she is as slight as a girl, typically Egyptian in feature and
coloring. She has about her something individual and distinctive and
she is clad in a costume that is masculine in most of its make-up.

Her upper garment is a tightly-fitting waist, with a full skirt that
reaches just to below the knee and made of bright scarlet stuff. Over
this she wears a corslet of finely wrought, flexible gold that clings
to her slight, beautiful figure like a glove. In lieu of sleeves she
is literally covered by bands of diamonds from forearm to wrist. A
broad collar of diamonds encircles her throat. Upon her head is a cap,
sewn thick with jewels, and her feet and legs are encased in sandals
and leggins like those worn by the officers of the Egyptian army.

As she enters the men salute her as their superior officer. She in
return lifts one of her small hands to her jeweled cap in token of
recognition.

Thus she passes on until she reaches the side of the King, when,
laying her hand firmly upon his shoulder, she says some gentle words
to him that stay his mirth, that transform him, for his leering grin
gives place to a solemn closing of the thick lips over the great
wolfish teeth, and, seating himself in a chair he says slowly and
distinctly: "Hatsu, the Goddess Queen, will speak my wishes"; but his
eyes look longingly at the boy, beside his chair, the sunny-haired
boy, whose hand is still clasped within his own--the little Prince,
his son, who nestles his golden head against his mother's gown.

"The King," says Queen Hatsu gravely, "the great King Tothmes the
Second, my saintly husband, bids me speak lest the effort of words
too much weary his great mind.

"He wishes that among ourselves (as among trusted and bosom friends)
we speak fully concerning the Israelites, and that this might be the
better accomplished he has called to private audience the two learned
men who have of late come out of Midian to plead Israel's cause with
Egypt. One of these men has strong claim to the throne's affection,
for our late lamented father and King had a twin sister, whom he
fondly loved. This sister did take from the Nile's bosom an infant,
and yearning toward it as a mother yearns for her child, the Princess
made the waif her own and reared him as a prince of the land; great of
mind was this adopted son; his play was study, his friends the sages;
gentle and good was he, slow to anger and of much compassion, but
silent was he because of a faltering in his speech. So grew he into
early manhood, then on a sudden he vanished. Egypt knew him no more.
'Tis said the Princess sped his going and being an Israelite he
returned to his own. Now he has come again into Egypt and with him is
his brother, Aaron, to make plea for the loosing of his people. We
would have this matter speedily settled, that we may turn our thoughts
upon more important matters, for you will recall that we have sent an
embassy to her most gracious highness the Queen of Punt, asking her
to be again our guest, and we must bring her thither in all pomp and
honor, and it ill becomes us to make her a witness to the wailings of
the Israelites."

She has never let her eyes wander from the face of the King, as she
has spoken, nor does she lift them when Alric says: "Gracious Queen
and sovereign lady, who is there in Egypt that shall dispute the
wisdom of our sainted sovereign, and surely we all know that people
everywhere in the land are saying that the man Moses, and his brother,
Aaron, come to Mizram vested with more than human power, that shall
make Egypt suffer if she refuse to let Israel go."

A voice interrupts Alric. It is the calm, clear voice of the King's
brother. "The King," he says haughtily, "is all powerful! His will
prevails. He rules Egypt's night as well as Egypt's day. He need not
fear harm through the threats of Moses and Aaron. Superstition and
ignorant fear have no place with Egypt's King and Egypt's councillors!
Let us bid Gethro's son go back to his sheep! let him seek among the
Midian hills a weakly race that listens trembling to old housewives'
prophecies! Nay, nay, we should be mad to rid ourselves of such
skilled workmen. My lord King, speak thou to these foolish ones and
say Israel shall abide."

It was Hatsu who replied: "It is well," she said slowly, "that we have
one among us so keen for the welfare and interest of his brother the
King and for the little Prince, the King that is to be, and while all
the words that thou hast spoken are wise, the King shall, in his own
good time, say HIS royal will." It was at this juncture that the child
spoke.

"My mother," he said, "how can the Israelites do good work for Egypt
when they are being famished and beaten? and why do you, my good
uncle, wish to bring suffering upon our dear Miriam, for Miriam is an
Israelite? She does not worship the many gods of Egypt! I am the
Prince Royal, the great King's only son, and I would make my father
say that Israel shall go!"

As the child began his speech the idiot had leaned forward in his
chair and a light came into his dull eyes, a something of
intelligence, as he replied: "Let Israel go! Let Israel go!"

But what had come to the Queen? Was she for all her soldierly bearing
a wilful woman? Surely no other motive could have so changed the
current of her purpose! surely it was that which made her happening by
chance to look into the General's eyes to say:

"Child, child, hold thy peace! It is the great King's will that Israel
shall not go, but go on to bitterer bondage, to a more intense
servitude." "But, my mother, listen!" cried the child, "he said go,
and not go on." It was then Miriam entered and Hatsu turned wearily
to her saying: "Take him hence. His ceaseless prattle disturbs the
Monarch's great thought."

It was some power, mightier than man, that made the silent, gentle
Miriam answer: "My Queen, fail not to remember, that out of the mouths
of babes comes perfect wisdom, God's own truth! Thy son is a prophet!
Listen to his plea ere it be too late! for the wrath of Jehovah, when
it is kindled, does not quench till His will is done! The wrath of the
God of Israel shall ere long darken this land! Hark, ye! has all your
years of binding broken our strength? Our children wax strong! our
cattle multiply! Listen to wisdom ere it be too late! listen to the
great King's counsel! and let Israel go!" Then in the profound
stillness, she stretched out her hand to the child, who, disentangling
his other hand with much effort from his father (who was only stayed
from following in obedience to some whispered words of the Queen), the
two departed.



CHAPTER IV.


Then it was that Hatsu spoke. "Bring in the prophets of Israel," she
said, "that they may hear the King's decree and so waste no more time
in idle hoping."

And into the apartment were ushered two men.

Both were far past middle life. One was small and thin, with pinched
features and bright, gray eyes; the other was tall and grandly formed,
and both were in the garb of shepherds.

They stood two mute figures before the chair of Tothmes the Second,
and although it was the custom of the age to bend low the knee before
sovereignty, neither man did aught save to wait his bidding.

It was the Princess Hatsu who addressed them.

"We have bidden you to come hither," she said, "that you might, oh
great Poet and Lawgiver of Israel, speak with the freedom of a friend
to us, of that, which has brought you back after many years into
Egypt."

It was Aaron who spoke. Yet while his sweet, strong voice told the
story, the eyes of all were fixed upon the silent lips of Moses.

"Great Queen of Egypt," began Aaron (and all remembered that to the
poor idiot he addressed never a word). "There stands before you on
this day, an instrument of the Almighty. One who by the will of the
All Powerful, shall in time, rear out of ruins and ashes, out of
ignorant, broken-spirited slaves, a great and enduring nation; a
people that shall live with the riches of this globe when Egypt is but
a faded memory. Of this glory that is to be, Moses is promised no
portion, and no place, and being meekest of all men that are upon the
face of the earth, he is satisfied to be the humblest servant of his
Lord. There is for him no glory but the glory of God. Moses has dwelt
always, in spirit, in Egypt. He has never day or night ceased to think
upon the bondage of his people. And who knows the purposes of Mizram
better than this son of Israel that stands before you. He is the
adopted son of Pharaoh's great daughter. Aye it is from out of the
tenderness of his heart for his adopted mother, and his adopted
kinsmen, that he has pleaded with the God of Israel to stay His hand,
that he might warn Egypt of the woes that shall before long befall her
if she still holds Israel in thrall. Therefore he asks, oh gracious
Queen, that thou loosen the cords, and open the gates, and bid thy
bondsmen depart in peace."

"Spare thy prayer." It was the King's brother that spoke. "We fear not
thy one God, so hurl thy threats quickly that we may laugh them to
scorn."

There was no look of anger in the gentle face, and no tone of
bitterness in the strong, sweet voice that said:

"Our God hath thus spoken to Moses, His Prophet: 'Oh thou, who feedest
thy flocks beside the green pastures, and the still waters, arise and
get thee down into Egypt, and take with thee Aaron, thy brother, that
he may speak for thee, and say thou, unto her, who holds the hearts of
her people in the hollow of her woman's hand: "Hear, oh Egypt, harken
unto the voice of the God of Israel. Lo! behold! the cry of Israel has
reached the Mercy Seat and the wailing must cease." Thus saith the
Lord. "Or most surely Egypt shall learn the power of the Most High."'

"Hark, ye, oh Queen, an army shall fall upon Egypt and devour her
substance; its ranks shall be unseen; its warriors shall be called
famine, fever, pestilence and death. Take thou our challenge, oh
stubborn of heart, for we two standing unarmed, save for our
shepherd's staffs, shall alone abide unharmed in your midst when the
will of our God shall be accomplished to the uttermost. Aye, not one
hair of our heads shall ye touch for we are the anointed of Heaven.
Listen, oh Queen, the princes of this world come to naught! Kingdoms
fall and are forgotten, but the glory of the God of Israel remaineth
forever. Once, yet again, for the love he bears the home of his
youth, for the land that heard his first cry, does Moses plead: Oh
Mizram, loose thy vain pride and let Israel go."

"And who is thy God?" (It was Alric who spoke.) "Show us some sign by
which we may be convinced of his power."

Then the silent Moses lifted a small, lithe rod, which he held in one
of his hands, and, lo! it was a rod no longer; but a serpent, the
enemy of man! And it gazed with hungry eyes and spake with a hissing
tongue! Then Alric drew from out his tunic a similar rod and it, too,
changed into a scorpion, larger and fiercer than that, which the man
Moses had created, and these two accursed objects, viewing each other,
forgot man, and engaged in mortal combat the one with the other, and,
lo! the serpent of Moses swallowed the serpent of Alric, and so doing,
vanished.

With a laugh Alric threw down his wand.

"Thy skill, oh free Israelite," he said, "exceedeth mine. What say you
of this power as a test of the God of Israel's might to perform upon
Egypt, that which He threatens?"

The Prince had watched with keenest interest and he now replied,
rather than the Princess: "No test of foolish magic will move our King
from his purpose, believe me. I speak both the will of the King and
his sainted Queen, when I say Israel will abide in Egypt," and as
though hushed by a power that she could not baffle, while her heart
and soul were filled with protest, Hatsu held her peace.

Then Aaron spoke: "But Israel shall go and Egypt shall open her gates
and cry, 'Depart, depart, ere the remnant of us be lost forever.'
Listen! In some near at hand day, Nature shall break no law, when she
makes this fair land a chaos of misery! Your rivers and lakes shall be
like unto blood, and the fish that is in them shall die and the people
shall turn away with loathing, though their throats be parched and
their thirst be intolerable. Then shall the waters breed frogs, and
they shall be tame in their boldness, and go up into the houses, and
consume all that there is therein, from the fair hangings on the
palace walls, to the dough in the humblest dwellers' kneading troughs,
and then if my people be not free, the dust of the land shall become
fleas, and lice, and these shall fall upon man and beast and devour
their bodies while they yet live, and then if wisdom comes not to
thee, oh Egypt, there shall rise swarms of flies that shall buzz and
sting without ceasing and a murrain shall come on thy beasts, the
cattle and the horses and the camels, the oxen and the sheep, and a
boil shall follow, breaking forth with blains upon man and beast! Then
upon Egypt a tempest shall fall, whose like was never known--a tempest
of hail that shall cut like a sword of fire that shall kill--of wind
that howls, and tears, and destroys; and the hail shall smite the
field, and the fire from heaven shall consume the cattle, and every
green thing shall die! The trees shall perish! The flax shall be
useless for the loom! The barley shall give no yield! Then shall come
the locusts, singing a mournful song! They shall cover all things that
be left, and then, be ye warned, if thou still vaunt thyself, there
shall come a midnight wherein all the first born of the land shall
die! The first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon the throne and the
first born of the lowliest in the realm! No hearth shall be spared!
Listen, oh Queen! give heed to my word, oh councillors! for what the
Lord saith that will He surely perform."

It was with the same relentlessness that the Queen made answer:

"Go back, Shepherd Prophets, to your flocks and herds! Your
threatenings we do not heed! In the name of King Tothmes the Second of
Egypt, I bid you depart, and wish you peace." The great Lawgiver felt,
as the queen spoke, a hand upon his robe, and looking down beheld it
in the grasp of the fingers of the idiot King. And he heard softly,
but distinctly, these words: "Let Israel go! Let Israel go!" And it
stirred in his grand soul a tender pity.

"Israel shall go," he said gently, "and thy will (which thy people
feign to misinterpret) is remembered in love, by the God of all the
earth. Egypt shall harden her heart, and the sorrows of her sin shall
fall upon her; but when Israel goes out thy soul shall go, too, and,
leaving its poor tenement of clay, will inherit a better kingdom,
wherein our God shall give thee light."



CHAPTER V.


In one of the summer houses--or arbors--of the King's garden, Miriam
sat that day as the sun went down, her eyes fixed upon the forms of
the King, and the little Prince, his son, who were busily at play with
a mimic squadron in one of the smaller tanks or pools. So intent was
her watching that she was startled to find the King's brother standing
beside her and mindful of her duty to royalty she arose.

"Nay, nay, my lady," said the prince, "do not rise to do me reverence!
It is more meet that I should bend to thee." Miriam paid little heed
to these words. She had been reared amid the meaningless flattery of
the court, but she nevertheless resumed her seat, and was not
surprised to have the Prince take the vacant place beside her. "It is
to be regretted, my lady," he said, "that you did not linger in the
council chamber to-day and hear the great prophet speak Egypt's doom!
Your Moses (through the lips of Aaron his brother) bids us prepare for
many calamities, and at Nature's door he lays them all! wind, rain,
hail, a devouring insect horde, and then, if we hold Israel still, the
grim spectre called Death will make a gleaning of Mizram's first
born."

"All this have I heard from the Queen, my lord," replied Miriam
quietly. "And it will surely befall, as he has said, and, when it is
accomplished, and Israel goes out, you will be the King." The Prince
drew nearer to Miriam. "And where wilt thou be in that day?" he said
slowly, and his eyes looked into hers with something that had a
mingled motive (for Miriam was too pure of soul to inspire only carnal
love, and for Miriam the Prince had felt an absorbing passion lo,
these many years). "Nay," she answered. "It matters not to me, save
that I wish thee well, and pray that thy reign may be one of peace,
and prosperity, to Egypt." "And where wilt thou be, when Tothmes is
dead and I am King?" he said. "Sire," she made answer, "I am an
Israelite. When my people go hence I shall not be left in Egypt." "But
the child," he said, and as he uttered the word it seemed as though he
sought through the word to read her inmost soul. "The child, can you
bear to part from him?" She laid her hand upon her heart and paled as
though his words had the hurt of a blow; but she lifted her sweet,
untroubled eyes to his face and said: "I, too, have thought of this
parting from the child, but did Aaron not tell you, that when you sit
upon the throne, the little Prince shall be no more. Nay," she said,
as though speaking to herself, "I will not leave him in Egypt, I will
not leave him, until God takes him."

A madness seemed to sweep over the Prince. He drew closer to Miriam's
side and whispered: "You shall not go hence, life of my life, soul of
my soul. I have prayed to all the gods that the famine, and the fever,
the pestilence, and the thirst may come! That yonder gibbering idiot,
yonder fatherless child, may give up the ghost; that Hatsu may fall
dead, and you alone be spared. Then may Israel go, if you, beloved,
remain, my queen, sharing my throne. You who since my earliest boyhood
have reigned supreme in my soul. I will be so tender to you, so much
your slave, that ere I die you will love me, and in your love my
highest desire will be fulfilled. Listen, what I tell you is true.
Yonder Prince is but a Prince in name! He has no claim of heirship to
the throne! He is a nameless waif, his parentage unknown; but for your
sake, for your love, I would set him before the people, and call him
King. And so, sweet one, go not out with Israel, but abide in Mizram,
for the child's sake." As he still speaks she puts her hand upon her
heart, then she lays her head back against the wall of the summer
house, and to his horror, life seems departing from her! She grows
ghastly to look upon. Terror stricken, conscience smitten (for he
loves her better than himself) he turns and flees.

Scarcely have his feet gained a safe retreat, when Alric enters the
arbor. "It is well," he mutters as he catches sight of Miriam. "I came
none too soon! I felt some poisonous thing was hovering too near my
white rose." He came to her side and made mystic signs, and called her
by the name of "Gweneth." She opened her eyes. "What wouldst thou,
master," she said. "Where art thou?" he asked.

"Here beside thee, master, but oh, so longing for rest. This journey
through the flesh has been a bitter one. I have come e'en close to my
beloved, and yet another has gained his love. It is hard to serve
without reward. I pray you, my master, let me begone!"

With a tenderness drawn from him, against judgment, the man Alric
knelt beside her, and kissed her white hand. "Sweet one," he said,
"the journey is nearly over. Would that I might tell thee what thou
art become to me. I dare not, lest I lose my power over the thoughts
and actions of the many, through the knowledge that you alone can
impart. Yes, sweet soul, thy mission is all but ended in Egypt, as is
also that of thy brave sister soul. So go forth again Gweneth, and
come not as twain to me in any eon of rolling time, but wait, until as
one soul, I can meet and claim you, forever and forever. But speak,
oh Gweneth, who went from thee?"

"It was the Prince, the King's brother. Long has he loved Miriam, the
Israelite; long has he worshipped her from afar; and to-day he did
speak to her of his hopes, when Egypt held out its crown to him."

"And," said Alric slowly, "Egypt will soon call him King. But haste to
speak to me of other things, dear spirit, for it is thy last service.
Reveal to me the close at hand story of Egypt."

A sigh escaped the white lips ere she said softly: "There will be an
exodus of many besides the Israelites. The idiot King, the fair young
Prince, Zelas the High Priest, Hatsu and Miriam shall go on, and Alric
alone shall be left to abide in the land of his father, lo, these many
years. Zelas and Hatsu shall be caught up in a chariot of fire, and
the King and the Prince shall die, to ransom Israel, and in that same
hour a merciful shaft from heaven shall set Miriam free." She
stretched out her arms and cried: "I pray thee, good master, let me
go! for I am weary."

With a sigh Alric arose. "It will be as thou sayest, sweet one," he
said, "our day is over, and another night of short oblivion draws
near, for the many." Then he made some passes above her, calling:
"Wake, Miriam, awake!" The color came stealing back into her cheeks
and lips, and she looked up to Alric with a perplexed smile. "I am
such a sleepy one," she said, "and such a dreamer of dreams! Listen,
my lord, as I sat me here watching the King and the little Prince at
their play, I fell asleep and had such a strange vision. I thought
that the King's brother came to this arbor, and talked to me as would
a lover. It was an idle, idle dream." And then she rose and (as a
mother might) drew the head of Alric down to her breast and kissed
him.



CHAPTER VI.


And now the prophecy had been fulfilled. The once fair land lay a
barren waste. Egypt so long in thralldom to her myriad gods, was
helpless, speechless, and prayerless, before the might of the ONE
Jehovah. Hope was dead, courage had fled, and naught seemed left but a
remnant of stubborn will in which to still cry out: "Israel shall not
go."

The hour had come in which the last curse was to fall. Scarce had the
sun gone down when the idiot King gave up the ghost, and through all
the realm there arose a wailing cry: "Oh, my first born; oh, my son,
my son!"



CHAPTER VII.


In an upper room in the palace lay the little Prince. Through the open
casement the moon looked in. Kneeling beside him was Miriam, her face
buried in her hands, her body shaken by sobs. The child was speaking.
"Dear Miriam," he said, "do not bid me linger in this parched land. I
fain would go to the better country; one I love waits for me there.
Didn't thou not tell me, that when Israel's great prophet stood to
warn Egypt, that he did bless my father, the King, and promise to him
a place in the heaven of heavens? Dear Miriam, the King has gone out
of Egypt. Hark! how the heralds cry it through the streets! 'The King
is dead,' they say. 'Long live the King.' I cannot linger here, I must
go to him. He will lose his way; he could not find the golden gates;
he does not know the angels; I led him here, and I must lead him
there. Nay, sweet nurse, do not weep! I fain would go! Hark! he calls
me. My father have but patience for a little while! I come." And then
the child fell, panting, back among his pillows.

Rising from her knees Miriam stood for one moment looking down upon
him, then, all unnoticed, in the wild confusion of grief that was
sweeping like a flood through every home in the city, she made her
way out of the palace, and the gates, to the plain beyond, where in a
rude hut dwelt the prophet Moses and his brother, Aaron, waiting until
the time should come for them to guide Israel out of Egypt. With no
asking for admittance, Miriam entered the hut, and seeing Aaron
within, she hastened to throw herself at his feet. "Oh, my lord," she
cried, "I come to beg of thee, in the name of Jehovah, take all Egypt,
but spare the life of Hatsu's son, the little Prince! No dearer could
he be to me, my lord, had I carried him for nine long moons under my
heart, no dearer had I known the pangs that bring the joyous gift to
motherhood. My lord, take me, an unworthy daughter of Israel, aye,
blot out my soul for all eternity, but spare the child!"

Upon her bowed head the prophet laid a gentle hand.

"Miriam, daughter of Abram," he said, "no more faithful child hath God
of Israel than thou. Thy human form has been used, as a shield, by
those to whom thou hast given thy pure love; but they have had no
power to touch thy white soul. It is not the will of the 'All-Wise'
that thine eyes should see, on this earth, that which has been hidden
from thee. But be comforted, for thy God is a God of Mercy, and so let
the child go in peace. The little one that thou hast reared, to say
thy prayers, and call upon the Blessed One of Israel, shall see no
evil days, aye, ere thy returning feet shall cross the threshold of
the city gates the child shall die, and thou shalt quickly follow
him."

With a moan of hopeless agony, Miriam arose. She said no word of
parting. She turned and made her way back across the barren moonlit
plain. A cloud now covered the moon, and a strange low-voiced wind
arose that was like unto a warning cry; but Miriam heeded naught; she
hurried on repeating through her white lips: "God is greater than
Moses! God is greater than Aaron! God notes the fall of the bird from
its nest, and He will hear my prayer! He will hear! Oh, my Father in
Heaven, spare the child, spare the child!"

There comes to some, in every age of time, the actual power of
reaching the source of light. It is to the mother that this awful
privilege is oftenest granted. When in her supreme agony of love she
spans all space and reaches the eternal to beg the life of her child.

Suddenly Miriam stood still, her cry ceased and in a quiet voice she
spake to the great silence:

"What is it that Thou sayest to my soul? Aye, I know the words, 'Be
strong and of good courage; fear not, for it is the Lord that doth go
with thee; He will not fail thee or forsake thee.' Yea, they are sweet
and comforting words! What is Thy name, Thou that art clothed in
light?" Then she stretched forth her hands, a smile came to her lips.
"Thou art an angel of the Lord," she cried. "Aye, spirit, I will lean
upon thy breast and thou shalt lead me through the gates."

And the prophet Aaron, watching Miriam from his doorway (for the moon
had come out of hiding and again the parched plain was as bright as at
midday) lifted up his voice and said: "Keep Thy strong arm about her,
oh Merciful One; rest her weary head upon thy loving, tender breast,
for Thou, too, in Thy time of earthly sojourn, knew the yearning of
the Mother heart. Oh, thou shining one, thou, too, wert once like her,
a sorrowing woman, and thy God, and Miriam's God, hath sent thee to
lead her through the gate."



CHAPTER VIII.


The low muttering had grown to louder tone, the wind came in mad
gusts. There were vivid ribbons of fire, and great reverberating
crashes of thunder.

Beside the little bed on which lay the dead child knelt Miriam, and at
the foot of the couch stood the Queen and Alric. It would have been
hard to tell which of the two faces (the man's or the woman's) showed
the less of fear or sorrow. The ravages of pestilence, famine and
fever had left them unmoved and the present visitation of death they
were meeting in quiet and silence. The great General had no tears to
shed for the dead King, or the dead King's little son, and the woman
warrior stood dry eyed, gazing upon the fast stiffening body of the
child.

To Miriam this calmness meant a pent up agony. So, forgetting her own
sorrow, she strove to form words of comfort for the Queen; and as she
spoke the darkness grew deeper, and the very air became, as it were
shut out, so that not in breaths, but in gasps, did the stifling
Egyptians strive to fill their lungs. A silence fell, a great hush
came, and in its midst a man crawled into the room and stopped at the
Queen's feet, then he gasped out: "Zelas, the great High Priest, bids
thee, oh Queen, and thee, my Lord Alric, to hasten to him. He waits,
in the secret grotto, under the Sphinx." As he uttered the last word,
he fell dead. It was at this instant that an awful flood of light
filled the room. In its glory one saw that Miriam, with an ecstatic
smile, arose for an instant, stretched her arms upward, and fell
lifeless across the body of the little Prince.

Then the storm burst, and the blessed rain fell, and the curse had
been lifted. * * *

When the storm was over, Israel went out of Egypt, and Tothmes the
Third (a wiser and a better man for this awful visitation) began with
speed to renew, rebuild, and re-create Egypt, to a higher place among
the nations of the earth.

For centuries it was believed, by the most learned, that on that
fateful night, Hatsu, Alric and Zelas were carried by Osirus, into his
own _kingdom_, for no mortal eye ever beheld them more, living or
dead; neither did any see them depart. * * *

In Syria there dwelt, for many years, a wise man. He came from none
knew whither, and as he was _great_ in _sorcery_, none dared provoke
his wrath by questionings. He left naught upon his death, but a scroll
on which were written characters so strange that none could find their
_meaning_. So the baffled scholars of each generation bequeathed it
to the next and thus the scroll was treasured through much time, until
at last, one was born, who said: "I can read what is written therein,"
and when he read the wise men of his day laughed him to scorn, and
cried out that he was mad. "To think," they said, "that the world has
been treasuring this scroll for centuries, only to be rewarded with
what is at best an unfinished and impossible love tale."

Here is what the scholar found written upon the parchment:



CHAPTER IX.


"The shadows of life are gathering thick and fast, and my long day on
earth is drawing to its close, and I fain would write, ere it be too
late, that which the world should know from me, when the time is ripe
for its revealing.

"On the night of the fulfillment of the last curse, as the Queen and I
stood by the bed whereon lay my dead child, and while the all
unconscious mother, Miriam, strove to comfort the Queen, Hatsu and I
were summoned to attend upon Zelas the High Priest. The place to which
he called us was a subterranean grotto, under the great Sphinx, a
secret retreat known to but a few in all the kingdom, and where had
been long established that which was called, by the initiated, 'the
chamber of perfect peace.' This place was so hidden away by a
labyrinth of stairs and passages that, without the key to its winding
ways, he who entered would be hopelessly lost. This 'chamber of rest'
was hewn out of solid rock, and held two cradles, in which through
many generations a chosen number of the greatest and the best had been
rocked to a final sleep. It was a mad night. Egypt in all her history
had known no such warring of the elements, but the Queen and I,
heedless of all else, but the bidding of Zelas, made our way out of
the palace, and through the plague-ridden city. None marked us, as we
hurried on. Like two children, hand in hand, we walked, a speechless
pair, but true companions in adversity, until we came at length, to
the appointed place. Then it was that the Princess spoke to me. 'The
storm is fast spending itself,' she said slowly. 'On the morrow the
sky will be blue again, and the sun will shine. Israel will depart,
and Egypt will lift up her bowed head, and Tothmes, my brother, will
reign. It is my will that thou, follow me to the end, that, as I close
my eyes, in a last sleep, I may see thy face; for, in spite of warrior
fame, in spite of prowess in the chase, I carry a woman's heart, and
thou alone have had an altar there! Nay, let me tell thee more, I had
rather have lived my lonely empty life, with just the _dream_ of what
it could have been, as thine honored wife, than to have been given,
any other portion, however _blessed_.'

"My soul was stirred by this tenderness. 'Great Queen,' I made answer,
'why must we enter here? the night is dark, and in its gloom, we will
leave the city; then in some safe retreat, and under names unknown, we
will begin a life of happiness that shall be but the foretaste of
innumerable re-unitings in the progression from world to world.' She
shook her head sadly, 'Nay,' she said, 'not now, not now, my plane is
higher than thine, and I can not stoop to thee, much and fondly though
I love thee; when we can meet as soul equals, we shall _not_ part,
_believe me_, and so good-bye, and know in some beyond of time, _we
shall_ meet and _understand_, now _come_.'

"Guided by the Princess, we wended our way to one of the claws of the
great sphinx. There, she knelt down, and said some mystic words. A
stone slid noiselessly aside, and we entered the opening and found
ourselves in a long corridor. The air was pure and sweet, aye, even
fragrant, as though perfumed with growing flowers, lights glimmered
along the walls, lights created by a subtle power in nature known only
to the most learned. With the ease of one who treads a frequented way,
the Queen led me, until we came to a door, that opened as the other
had done at her bidding, and we stood inside a brilliantly lighted
hall, at whose farther end (and built out into the room,) was that
which seemed to be a white tomb, with a grated entrance gate. No one
was in sight, and the Queen, bidding me be seated and await her
further orders, turned into one of the arched door-ways, and
disappeared.

"How long I sat thus in solitude, none can tell; at last through the
same portal she came back, and with her my master Zelas; both were in
the robes of their office; jewels glittered upon them like hoar frost,
and there was that in the set faces, that spoke of the to come. The
Queen, said no word; but I felt that her eyes dwelt upon me with a
tenderness unspeakable. It was Zelas my master that broke the silence.

"'Alric, beloved,' he said, 'the hour is come, in which we twain must
depart. Keep thou a silent tryst, until yon clock shall toll ten times
the hour. Then rise, open the wicket gate, and enter without fear to
gather that which thou shalt find into the urn I hold; then, with this
scroll in thy hand, learn the way to return again, to the world. Day
shall scarce have dawned, and the tired nation will be wrapped in a
deep sleep; go thou up, and out of Egypt, and with thee, bear the urn
and when thou art upon the edge of _Mizram's_ skirt, scatter the
ashes, thou hast by thee, to the four winds of heaven. Alric, beloved,
adieu; somewhere, souls meet again, _somewhere_.'

"He lifted his grand face upward, and his lips moved as if in
prayer;--then the twain turned, and entered through the gate. All was
silent, and the unseen bell told the hours, until full ten had come
and gone; then I rose, and betook me to the iron gate, opened it, and
found myself in a low room that held two white cradles. The cradles
were empty, but in the hollow stone basin under each, lay small heaps
of white ashes. No trace of fire, no melted gold, no dulled gem was
there, no sign by which to tell, which had been Queen and which High
Priest. I stooped and gathered the dust into the urn, took my scroll,
and so departed, and in the early dawn (as Zelas had bade me) I went
out of Egypt.

"Years have come and gone since then, so many, that the past of which
I write seems like a dream and in my heart, there has come to be a
longing, to see once more, the faces of Miriam, and Hatsu, but most of
all to hear _again_, the voice of the little child--Miriam's child and
mine."



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Archaic and variant spelling is preserved as printed, but variations
on spelling within the book have been made consistent. The author's
punctuation is preserved as printed, unless there appeared to be a
definite error.

The Table of Contents has been added by the transcriber for the
convenience of the reader.

Page 21 refers to "Troth's kingdom." This may be an error for "Thoth's
kingdom," but as there is no way to be sure, it is preserved as
printed.

Page 101 has an omitted word following 'the'--"... and there was that
in the set faces, that spoke of the to come." As there is no way to
determine what the missing word may have been, it is preserved as
printed.

Errors in quotation marks have been corrected, including omitted
commas in speech.

The following amendments have been made:

    Page 5--Osiris amended to Osirus--"O, Osirus, I swear to Thee,
    ..."

    Page 8--graneries amended to granaries--... the granaries, the
    garden produce, ...

    Page 14--sandaled amended to sandalled--... her sandalled feet
    glimmer like frost ...

    Page 15--There amended to there--"... oh, Miriam," she cried,
    springing to her feet, "there are no _Gods_! ..."

    Page 16--Alrick's amended to Alric's--At a certain place by the
    way, at Alric's bidding, ...

    Page 17--sents amended to sent--... and with closed eyes and
    folded hands sent prayers ...

    Page 21--Troths amended to Troth's--... would far rather accept
    an invitation to _Troth's_ kingdom ...

    Page 24--Alrick amended to Alric--Alric now raised his other
    hand ...

    Page 38--alter amended to altar--... and then laying upon the
    altar, ...

    Page 48--superfluous comma deleted following 'recalling'--...
    then, as if recalling Miriam for the first time, ...

    Page 53--bond-woman amended to bondwoman--... spirit away an
    Israelitish bondwoman; ...

    Page 62--superfluous comma deleted following 'old'--... holding
    out to the people her hour old son.

    Page 63--Majesties amended to Majesties'--... general in command
    of Their Majesties' forces, ...

    Page 75--women amended to woman--Was she for all her soldierly
    bearing a wilful woman?

    Page 82--Pharoah amended to Pharaoh--The first born of Pharaoh
    that sitteth upon the throne ...

    Page 96--comma amended to period--"... He waits, in the secret
    grotto, under the Sphinx."

    Page 98--labarinth amended to labyrinth--... hidden away by a
    labyrinth of stairs and passages ...





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