Now, her days had ceased to be the dreamy lapses of time in which she lived and walked. The glamour that had made the quarries sufferable had passed; all the realization of her enslavement, with the accompanying shame, came to her, and her hope for Israel was lost in the destruction of her personal happiness.
Still, the longing to look on Kenkenes once again made the dawns more welcome, the days longer and the sunsets more disheartening. Vainly she summoned pride to her aid; vainly she exhorted herself to consistency.
“How long,” she would say, “since thou didst reject the good Atsu because he is an idolater and an Egyptian? How long since thou wast full of wrath against the chosen people who wedded Egyptians and became of them? And now, who is it that is full of sighs and strange conduct? Who is it that hath forgotten the idols and the abominations and the bondage of her people and mourneth after one of the oppressors? And how will it be with thee when the chosen people go forth, or the carving is complete and the Egyptian cometh no more; or how will it be when he taketh one of the long-eyed maidens of his kind to wife?”
In the face of all this, her intuition rose up and bore witness that the Egyptian loved her, and was no less unhappy than she.
So time came and went and weeks passed and he came not again. Late, one sunset, while there yet was daylight, she left the camp merely that she might wander down the valley to the same spot where, at the same hour, she had met Kenkenes on that last occasion of talk between them.
Moving slowly down the shadows, she saw a figure approaching. The stature of the new-comer identified him. The head was up, the step slow, the bearing expectant. In the one scant lapse between two throbs of her heart, Rachel knew her lover, remembered all the power of his attraction, and realized that her joy and love could carry her beyond her fortitude and resolution.
Just ahead of her, not farther than three paces, a long fragment of rock had fallen from above and leaned against the wall. There was an ample space formed by its slant against the cliff and almost before she knew it, she had crept into this crevice. Cowering in the dusk, she clutched at her loud-beating heart and listened intently.
There was no sound of his steps on the rough roadway of the valley and though she watched eagerly from her hiding-place, she did not see him pass. After a long time she emerged. He was gone.
When she looked in the dust she found that his footprints turned not far from her hiding-place and led toward the Nile.
She knew then that he had seen her when she had caught sight of him, and failing to meet her as he had expected, had guessed she had hidden from him.
This was the sunset of the night of the revel at Senci’s house. It was this incident that had made Kenkenes late at the festivities, and cynical when he came.