He believed he should find the signet.
Thereafter he could turn a deaf ear to any renegade ideas such an event might suggest.
It was an unlucky chance that befell the theological institutions of Egypt as far as this devotee was concerned, that Kenkenes had landed at the capital of the hated Pharaoh.
But he shook himself and tried to fix his attention on the night. The stars were few—the multitude obliterated by the moon, the luminaries abashed thereby. The light fell through a high haze of dust and was therefore wondrously refracted and diffused. The hills made high lifted horizons, undulating toward the east, serrated toward the west. In the sag between there was no human companionship abroad.
Throughout great lengths of shore-line the tuneless stridulation of frogs, the guttural cries of water-birds and the general movement in the sedge indicated a serene content among small life. But sometimes he would find silence on one bank for a goodly stretch where there was neither marsh-chorus nor cadences of insects. The hush would be profound and an affrighted air of suspense was apparent. And there at the river-brink the author of this breathless dismay, some lithe flesh-eater, would stride, shadow-like, through the high reeds to drink. Now and then the woman-like scream of the wildcat, or the harsh staccato laugh of the hyena would startle the marshes into silence. Sometimes retiring shapes would halt and gaze with emberous eyes at the boat moving in midstream.
Kenkenes admitted with a grim smile that the great powers of the world and the wild were against him. But Rachel’s face came to him as comfort—the memory of it when it was tender and yielding—and with a lover’s buoyancy he forgot his sorrows in remembering that she loved him. He dropped the anchor and, lying down in the bottom of his boat, dreamed happily into the dawn.
During the day he landed for supplies at a miserable town of pottery-makers, leaving his boat at the crazy wharves.
When he returned the bari was gone. A negro, the only one near the river who was awake, told him that a dhow, laden with clay, in making a landing had struck the bari, staved in its side, upset it and sent it adrift.
The mischance did not trouble Kenkenes.
After some effort he aroused a crew of oarsmen, procured a boat, and continued at once to Thebes.
THE FAN-BEARER’S QUEST
At sunset on the day after the festivities at the Lady Senci’s, Hotep deserted his palace duties and came to the house of Mentu. He had in mind to try again to persuade his friend from his folly, for the scribe was certain that Kenkenes was once more returning to his sacrilege and the Israelite.
The old housekeeper informed him that the young master was not at home, though he was expected even now.