“After the death of Rameses,” the narrator went on, “we went to Tape, my father and I, to inscribe the hatchments and carve the scene of the Judgment of the Dead in the tomb of the great king. Now, I am my father’s only child and have been taught his craft. I have been an apt pupil, and he had no fear in trusting me with the execution of the fresco. I had long been in rebellion, practising in secret my lawless ideas, and I was seized with an uncontrollable aversion to marring those holy walls with the conventional ugliness commanded by the ritual. I assembled my ideas and dared. I worked rapidly and well. The work was done before my father discovered it.” Kenkenes paused and laughed a little.
“Suffice it to say the fresco was erased. And the solemnity of the crypt was hardly restored before my father found that his sacred signet, which he always wore, was gone. Nay, nay, I might not search for it more than the fruitless once, for he declared, and of a truth believed firmly, that the great king had reclaimed his gift. I did not and never have I believed it. Now I need the signet and I shall go after it on the strength of that belief.
“Having found it, I shall appeal to Meneptah for thy liberty and safety and whatever boon thou wouldst have and for myself. What thinkest thou? Shall I go on?”
Rachel smiled and looked up at him gratefully.
“I will go with thee, Kenkenes,” she said.
Her ready confidence and the easiness of his name on her lips filled him with joy. “Ah! ye ungentle Hathors!” he mourned to himself, “why may I not tell her how much I love her?”
But the white hand which he pressed against his breast asked its release with gentle reluctance, and he set it free.
Once again the silence fell and was not frequently broken thereafter.
There was no invitation in her manner, and he could not speak what he would.
The sun dropped behind the Libyan hills and the heights filled with shadow. At length he said:
“It is time.”
Lifting her to her feet, the ape attending them, he went toward the Nile, hand in hand with Rachel, his love all untold.
THE TREASURE CAVE
The sudden night had just fallen, and there was an incomplete moon in the west. But already the desert was full of feeble shadows and silver interspaces, and all that tense silence of evening upon unpeopled localities.
Kenkenes stood upon the top of a huge monolith, listening. Below, with only her face in the faint moonlight, was Rachel, looking up to him. Anubis, oppressed by the voiceless expectancy of the two young people, crouched at his master’s feet. For a while there was only the ringing turmoil of his own quickened blood in the young man’s ears. But presently, up from the southern slope, rose the sound he had heard some minutes before—a long, quavering note, ending in a high eery wail.