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- Uarda, Volume 2. - 4/13 -
a voice, that it seemed as though she were ashamed of her proud name.
The eyes of the old man flashed. Then he said softly but decisively:
"Leave my hut then, it will defile thee."
"Not till you have forgiven me for that which I did unintentionally."
"Unintentionally! I believe thee," replied the paraschites. "The hoofs of thy horse became unclean when they trod on this white breast. Look here--" and he lifted the cloth from the girl's bosom, and showed her the deep red wound, "Look here--here is the first rose you laid on my grandchild's bosom, and the second--there it goes."
The paraschites raised his arm to fling the flower through the door of his hut. But Pentaur had approached him, and with a grasp of iron held the old man's hand.
"Stay," he cried in an eager tone, moderated however for the sake of the sick girl. "The third rose, which this noble hand has offered you, your sick heart and silly head have not even perceived. And yet you must know it if only from your need, your longing for it. The fair blossom of pure benevolence is laid on your child's heart, and at your very feet, by this proud princess. Not with gold, but with humility. And whoever the daughter of Rameses approaches as her equal, bows before her, even if he were the first prince in the Land of Egypt. Indeed, the Gods shall not forget this deed of Bent-Anat. And you--forgive, if you desire to be forgiven that guilt, which you bear as an inheritance from your fathers, and for your own sins."
The paraschites bowed his head at these words, and when he raised it the anger had vanished from his well-cut features. He rubbed his wrist, which had been squeezed by Pentaur's iron fingers, and said in a tone which betrayed all the bitterness of his feelings:
"Thy hand is hard, Priest, and thy words hit like the strokes of a hammer. This fair lady is good and loving, and I know; that she did not drive her horse intentionally over this poor girl, who is my grandchild and not my daughter. If she were thy wife or the wife of the leech there, or the child of the poor woman yonder, who supports life by collecting the feet and feathers of the fowls that are slaughtered for sacrifice, I would not only forgive her, but console her for having made herself like to me; fate would have made her a murderess without any fault of her own, just as it stamped me as unclean while I was still at my mother's breast. Aye--I would comfort her; and yet I am not very sensitive. Ye holy three of Thebes!--[The triad of Thebes: Anion, Muth and Chunsu.]--how should I be? Great and small get out of my way that I may not touch them, and every day when I have done what it is my business to do they throw stones at me.
[The paraschites, with an Ethiopian knife, cuts the flesh of the corpse as deeply as the law requires: but instantly takes to flight, while the relatives of the deceased pursue him with stones, and curses, as if they wished to throw the blame on him.]
"The fulfilment of duty--which brings a living to other men, which makes their happiness, and at the same time earns them honor, brings me every day fresh disgrace and painful sores. But I complain to no man, and must forgive--forgive--forgive, till at last all that men do to me seems quite natural and unavoidable, and I take it all like the scorching of the sun in summer, and the dust that the west wind blows into my face. It does not make me happy, but what can I do? I forgive all--"
The voice of the paraschites had softened, and Bent-Anat, who looked down on him with emotion, interrupted him, exclaiming with deep feeling:
"And so you will forgive me?--poor man!"
The old man looked steadily, not at her, but at Pentaur, while he replied: "Poor man! aye, truly, poor man. You have driven me out of the world in which you live, and so I made a world for myself in this hut. I do not belong to you, and if I forget it, you drive me out as an intruder--nay as a wolf, who breaks into your fold; but you belong just as little to me, only when you play the wolf and fall upon me, I must bear it!"
"The princess came to your hut as a suppliant, and with the wish of doing you some good," said Pentaur.
"May the avenging Gods reckon it to her, when they visit on her the crimes of her father against me! Perhaps it may bring me to prison, but it must come out. Seven sons were mine, and Rameses took them all from me and sent them to death; the child of the youngest, this girl, the light of my eyes, his daughter has brought to her death. Three of my boys the king left to die of thirst by the Tenat,
[Literally the "cutting" which, under Seti I., the father of Rameses, was the first Suez Canal; a representation of it is found on the northern outer wall of the temple of Karnak. It followed nearly the same direction as the Fresh-water canal of Lesseps, and fertilized the land of Goshen.]
which is to join the Nile to the Red Sea, three were killed by the Ethiopians, and the last, the star of my hopes, by this time is eaten by the hyaenas of the north."
At these words the old woman, in whose lap the head of the girl rested, broke out into a loud cry, in which she was joined by all the other women.
The sufferer started up frightened, and opened her eyes.
"For whom are you wailing?" she asked feebly. "For your poor father," said the old woman.
The girl smiled like a child who detects some well-meant deceit, and said:
"Was not my father here, with you? He is here, in Thebes, and looked at me, and kissed me, and said that he is bringing home plunder, and that a good time is coming for you. The gold ring that he gave me I was fastening into my dress, when the chariot passed over me. I was just pulling the knots, when all grew black before my eyes, and I saw and heard nothing more. Undo it, grandmother, the ring is for you; I meant to bring it to you. You must buy a beast for sacrifice with it, and wine for grandfather, and eye salve
[The Egyptian mestem, that is stibium or antimony, which was introduced into Egypt by the Asiatics at a very early period and universally used.]
for yourself, and sticks of mastic,
[At the present day the Egyptian women are fond of chewing them, on account of their pleasant taste. The ancient Egyptians used various pills. Receipts for such things are found in the Ebers Papyrus.]
which you have so long lead to do without."
The paraschites seemed to drink these words from the mouth of his grandchild. Again he lifted his hand in prayer, again Pentaur observed that his glance met that of his wife, and a large, warm tear fell from his old eyes on to his callous hand. Then he sank down, for he thought the sick child was deluded by a dream. But there were the knots in her dress.
With a trembling hand he untied them, and a gold ring rolled out on the floor.
Bent-Anat picked it up, and gave it to the paraschites. "I came here in a lucky hour," she said, "for you have recovered your son and your child will live."
"She will live," repeated the surgeon, who had remained a silent witness of all that had occurred.
"She will stay with us," murmured the old man, and then said, as he approached the princess on his knees, and looked up at her beseechingly with tearful eyes:
"Pardon me as I pardon thee; and if a pious wish may not turn to a curse from the lips of the unclean, let me bless thee."
"I thank you," said Bent-Anat, towards whom the old man raised his hand in blessing.
Then she turned to Nebsecht, and ordered him to take anxious care of the sick girl; she bent over her, kissed her forehead, laid her gold bracelet by her side, and signing to Pentaur left the hut with him.
During the occurrence we have described, the king's pioneer and the young wife of Mena were obliged to wait for the princess.
The sun stood in the meridian, when Bent-Anat had gone into the hovel of the paraschites.
The bare limestone rocks on each side of the valley and the sandy soil between, shone with a vivid whiteness that hurt the eyes; not a hand's breadth of shade was anywhere to be seen, and the fan-beaters of the two, who were waiting there, had, by command of the princess, staid behind with the chariot and litters.
For a time they stood silently near each other, then the fair Nefert said, wearily closing her almond-shaped eyes:
"How long Bent-Anat stays in the but of the unclean! I am perishing here. What shall we do?"
"Stay!" said Paaker, turning his back on the lady; and mounting a block of stone by the side of the gorge, he cast a practised glance all round, and returned to Nefert: "I have found a shady spot," he said, "out there."
Mena's wife followed with her eyes the indication of his hand, and shook her head. The gold ornaments on her head-dress rattled gently as she did so, and a cold shiver passed over her slim body in spite of the midday heat.
"Sechet is raging in the sky," said Paaker.
[A goddess with the head of a lioness or a cat, over which the Sun- disk is usually found. She was the daughter of Ra, and in the form of the Uraeus on her father's crown personified the murderous heat of the star of day. She incites man to the hot and wild passion of love, and as a cat or lioness tears burning wounds in the limbs of
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