“Go to, thou bald-faced idolater! Israel will cease to do thy bidding one near day.”
The driver forced his way into the front ranks and began to lay about him with his knout. Instantly he was cast forth by a dozen brawny arms.
“Mutiny!” he bawled.
A group of drivers reinforced him at once.
“By Bast,” the foremost cried, as he came running. “The sedition of the renegade, Mesu, bears early fruit!”
But the spirit of rebellion became contagious and the men of Israel began to throw themselves out of line. At this moment, Atsu seemed to become conscious of the riot and drove his horses between the combatants.
“Into ranks with you!” he commanded, pressing forward upon the Hebrews. The men obeyed sullenly.
“I have said there was to be no use of the knouts,” he said sharply, turning upon the drivers. “Forward with them!”
The first driver muttered.
“What sayest thou?” Atsu demanded.
The man’s mouth opened and closed, and his eyes drew up, evilly, but he made no answer.
“Forward with them,” Atsu repeated, without removing his gaze from the driver.
Slowly, and now silently, the hereditary slaves of the Pharaoh moved out of Pa-Ramesu. And of all the departing numbers and of all that remained behind, none was more stricken in heart than Atsu, the stern taskmaster over Israel.
UNDER BAN OF THE RITUAL
Holy Memphis, city of Apis, habitat of Ptah!
Not idly was she called Menefer, the Good Place. Not anywhere in Egypt were the winds more gentle, the heavens more benign, the environs more august.
To the south and west of her, the Libyan hills notched the horizon. To the east the bald summits of the Arabian desert cut off the traveling sand in its march on the capital. To the north was a shimmering level that stretched unbroken to the sea. Set upon this at mid-distance, the pyramids uplifted their stupendous forms. In the afternoon they assumed the blue of the atmosphere and appeared indistinct, but in the morning the polished sides that faced the east reflected the sun’s rays in dazzling sheets across the valley.
Out of a crevice between the heights to the south the broad blue Nile rolled, sweeping past one hundred and twenty stadia or sixteen miles of urban magnificence, and lost itself in the shimmering sky-line to the north.
The city was walled on the north, west, and south, and its river-front was protected by a mighty dike, built by Menes, the first king of the first dynasty in the hour of chronological daybreak. Within were orderly squares, cross-cut by avenues and relieved from monotony by scattered mosaics of groves. Out of these shady demesnes rose the great white temples of Ptah and Apis, and the palaces of the various Memphian Pharaohs.