Kenkenes was familiar with the screams of wild beasts, and he knew the irreconcilable differences between them and the human voice. Instantly he sent back across the hollow a strong reply that the startled echoes repeated again and again. Almost immediately the first cry was repeated, but a desperate power had entered into it. Kenkenes dropped from his point of vantage.
“Some one calleth, of a surety,” he said, “and by the voice, it is a woman.”
“It is Deborah come up from the camp to seek for me!” Rachel exclaimed.
“I doubt not. But the gods are surely with her, to fend the beasts from her in this savage place. It is well we came this way.”
With all the haste possible on the rough slope, they descended. The ground was familiar to Kenkenes, for the niche was near the foot of the declivity.
Half-way down he called again, and the answer came up from the hiding-place of Athor. In another moment they were within and beside the prostrate form of the old Israelite. Rachel dropped on her knees, crying out in her solicitude. Her words were in the soft language of her own people and unintelligible to Kenkenes, but her voice trembled with concern. The old woman answered soothingly and at some length. The narrative was frequently broken by low exclamations from Rachel, and at its end the girl turned to Kenkenes with a sob of anger.
“The Lord God break them in pieces and His fury be upon them!” she cried. “They set upon her and beat her and left her to the jackals!”
“Set consume them!” Kenkenes responded wrathfully. “How came they upon you? Did you not return to camp?”
“Nay, the mother heart in me would not suffer me to desert Rachel. I stayed without this place, and ye outstripped me when ye fled. After a time the fat servitor, rousing out of his swoon, came forth from here, and another, who had been lurking in the rocks, joined him, and the pair, in searching for you, discovered me and beat me with maces, leaving me for dead.”
After a grim silence, broken only by the low weeping of Rachel, Kenkenes bade her continue.
“The search they made for you was not thorough, for one was ill and both were afraid. But they came upon the statue again, and the sight of it mocked them, so they overthrew it and broke it.”
Kenkenes drew a sharp breath and glanced at the place where Athor should have been. Except for themselves, the niche was evidently vacant. The old woman continued:
“Then they descended into the camp of Israel. After a time I heard the sound of voices as if there were many men in the hills, and the heart of me was afraid. With much pain and travail I crept into this place, and here sounds come but faintly. But I heard sufficient to know that there were many who sought diligently, but whether they were our own people or the minions of thine enemy, Rachel, I could not with safety discover.”