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- Uarda, Volume 3. - 10/13 -
they carried the girl out into the air, and laid her under the humble tent they had contrived for her. The soldier's knees trembled while he held the light burden of his daughter's weight in his strong hands, and he sighed when he laid her down on the mat.
"How blue the sky is!" cried Uarda. "Ah! grandfather has watered my pomegranate, I thought so! and there come my doves! give me some corn in my hand, grandmother. How pleased they are."
The graceful birds, with black rings round their reddish-grey necks, flew confidingly to her, and took the corn that she playfully laid between her lips.
Nebsecht looked on with astonishment at this pretty play. He felt as if a new world had opened to him, and some new sense, hitherto unknown to him, had been revealed to him within his breast. He silently sat down in front of the but, and drew the picture of a rose on the sand with a reed- stem that he picked up.
Perfect stillness was around him; the doves even had flown up, and settled on the roof. Presently the dog barked, steps approached; Uarda lifted herself up and said:
"Grandmother, it is the priest Pentaur."
"Who told you?" asked the old woman.
"I know it," answered the girl decidedly, and in a few moments a sonorous voice cried: "Good day to you. How is your invalid?"
Pentaur was soon standing by Uarda; pleased to hear Nebsecht's good report, and with the sweet face of the girl. He had some flowers in his hand, that a happy maiden had laid on the altar of the Goddess Hathor, which he had served since the previous day, and he gave them to the sick girl, who took them with a blush, and held them between her clasped hands.
"The great Goddess whom I serve sends you these," said Pentaur, "and they will bring you healing. Continue to resemble them. You are pure and fair like them, and your course henceforth may be like theirs. As the sun gives life to the grey horizon, so you bring joy to this dark but. Preserve your innocence, and wherever you go you will bring love, as flowers spring in every spot that is trodden by the golden foot of Hathor.
[Hathor is frequently called "the golden," particularly at Dendera She has much in common with the "golden Aphrodite."]
May her blessing rest upon you!"
He had spoken the last words half to the old couple and half to Uarda, and was already turning to depart when, behind a heap of dried reeds that lay close to the awning over the girl, the bitter cry of a child was heard, and a little boy came forward who held, as high as he could reach, a little cake, of which the dog, who seemed to know him well, had snatched half.
"How do you come here, Scherau?" the paraschites asked the weeping boy; the unfortunate child that Hekt was bringing up as a dwarf.
"I wanted," sobbed the little one, "to bring the cake to Uarda. She is ill--I had so much--"
"Poor child," said the paraschites, stroking the boy's hair; "there-give it to Uarda."
Scherau went up to the sick girl, knelt down by her, and whispered with streaming eyes:
"Take it! It is good, and very sweet, and if I get another cake, and Hekt will let me out, I will bring it to you.
"Thank you, good little Scherau," said Uarda, kissing the child. Then she turned to Pentaur and said:
"For weeks he has had nothing but papyrus-pith, and lotus-bread, and now he brings me the cake which grandmother gave old Hekt yesterday."
The child blushed all over, and stammered:
"It is only half--but I did not touch it. Your dog bit out this piece, and this."
He touched the honey with the tip of his finger, and put it to his lips. "I was a long time behind the reeds there, for I did not like to come out because of the strangers there." He pointed to Nebsecht and Pentaur. "But now I must go home," he cried.
The child was going, but Pentaur stopped him, seized him, lifted him up in his arms and kissed him; saying, as he turned to Nebsecht:
"They were wise, who represented Horus--the symbol of the triumph of good over evil and of purity over the impure--in the form of a child. Bless you, my little friend; be good, and always give away what you have to make others happy. It will not make your house rich--but it will your heart!"
Scherau clung to the priest, and involuntarily raised his little hand to stroke Pentaur's cheek. An unknown tenderness had filled his little heart, and he felt as if he must throw his arms round the poet's neck and cry upon his breast.
But Pentaur set him down on the ground, and he trotted down into the valley. There he paused. The sun was high in the heavens, and he must return to the witch's cave and his board, but he would so much like to go a little farther--only as far as to the king's tomb, which was quite near.
Close by the door of this tomb was a thatch of palm-branches, and under this the sculptor Batau, a very aged man, was accustomed to rest. The old man was deaf, but he passed for the best artist of his time, and with justice; he had designed the beautiful pictures and hieroglyphic inscriptions in Seti's splendid buildings at Abydos and Thebes, as well as in the tomb of that prince, and he was now working at the decoration of the walls in the grave of Rameses.
Scherau had often crept close up to him, and thoughtfully watched him at work, and then tried himself to make animal and human figures out of a bit of clay.
One day the old man had observed him.
The sculptor had silently taken his humble attempt out of his hand, and had returned it to him with a smile of encouragement.
From that time a peculiar tie had sprung up between the two. Scherau would venture to sit down by the sculptor, and try to imitate his finished images. Not a word was exchanged between them, but often the deaf old man would destroy the boy's works, often on the contrary improve them with a touch of his own hand, and not seldom nod at him to encourage him.
When he staid away the old man missed his pupil, and Scherau's happiest hours were those which he passed at his side.
He was not forbidden to take some clay home with him. There, when the old woman's back was turned, he moulded a variety of images which he destroyed as soon as they were finished.
While he lay on his rack his hands were left free, and he tried to reproduce the various forms which lived in his imagination, he forgot the present in his artistic attempts, and his bitter lot acquired a flavor of the sweetest enjoyment.
But to-day it was too late; he must give up his visit to the tomb of Rameses.
Once more he looked back at the hut, and then hurried into the dark cave.
Pentauer also soon quitted the but of the paraschites.
Lost in meditation, he went along the hill-path which led to the temple which Ameni had put under his direction.
[This temple is well proportioned, and remains in good preservation. Copies of the interesting pictures discovered in it are to be found in the "Fleet of an Egyptian queen" by Dutnichen. Other details may be found in Lepsius' Monuments of Egypt, and a plan of the place has recently been published by Mariette.]
He foresaw many disturbed and anxious hours in the immediate future.
The sanctuary of which he was the superior, had been dedicated to her own memory, and to the goddess Hathor, by Hatasu,
[The daughter of Thotmes I., wife of her brother Thotmes II., and predecessor of her second brother Thotmes III. An energetic woman who executed great works, and caused herself to be represented with the helmet and beard-case of a man.]
a great queen of the dethroned dynasty.
The priests who served it were endowed with peculiar chartered privileges, which hitherto had been strictly respected. Their dignity was hereditary, going down from father to son, and they had the right of choosing their director from among themselves.
Now their chief priest Rui was ill and dying, and Ameni, under whose jurisdiction they came, had, without consulting them, sent the young poet Pentaur to fill his place.
They had received the intruder most unwillingly, and combined strongly against him when it became evident that he was disposed to establish a severe rule and to abolish many abuses which had become established customs.
They had devolved the greeting of the rising sun on the temple-servants; Pentaur required that the younger ones at least should take part in chanting the morning hymn, and himself led the choir. They had trafficked with the offerings laid on the altar of the Goddess; the new master repressed this abuse, as well as the extortions of which they were guilty towards women in sorrow, who visited the temple of Hathor in greater number than any other sanctuary.
The poet-brought up in the temple of Seti to self-control, order,
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