The necropolis was not astir and the streets were wind-haunted. The tread of the six men set dogs to barking, and only now and then was a face shown at the doorways. For this Kenkenes thanked his gods, for he was proud, and the eye of the humblest slave upon him in his humiliating plight would have hurt him more keenly than blows.
The prison was a square building of rough stone, flat-roofed, three stories in height. The red walls were broken at regular intervals by crevices, barred with bronze. There was but one entrance.
Herein were confined all the malefactors of the great city of the gods, and since the population of Thebes might have comprised something over half a million inhabitants, the dwellers of that grim and impregnable prison were not few in number.
Kenkenes was led through the doors, down a low-roofed, narrow, stone-walled corridor to the room of the governor of police.
This was a hall, with a lofty ceiling, highly colored and supported by loteform pillars of brilliant stone. Toth, the ibis-headed, and the Goddess Ma, crowned with plumes, her wings forward drooping, were painted on the walls. A long table, massive, plain and solid like a sarcophagus, stood in the center of the room. A confused litter of curled sheets of papyrus, and long strips of unrolled linen scrolls were distributed carelessly over the polished surface. At one side were eight plates of stone—the tables of law, codified and blessed by Toth.
The governor of police was absent, but his vice, who was jailer and scribe in one, sat in a chair behind the great table.
When the party entered, he sat up, undid a new scroll, wetted the reed pen in the pigment, and was ready.
“Name?” he began, preparing to write.
“That, thou knowest,” Kenkenes retorted. The Nubian bowed respectfully and approaching, whispered to the scribe. The official ran over some of the scrolls and having found the one he sought, proceeded to make his entries from the information contained therein.
When the man had finished Kenkenes nodded toward the eight volumes of the law.
“If thou art as acquainted with the laws of Egypt as thine office requires, thou knowest that no free-born Egyptian may be kept ignorant of the charge that accomplished his arrest. Wherefore am I taken?”
“For sacrilege and slave-stealing,” the scribe replied calmly.
“At the complaint of Har-hat, bearer of the king’s fan,” Kenkenes added.
“Until such time as stronger proof of thy misdeeds may be brought against thee,” the scribe continued.
“Even so. In plainer words, I shall be held till I confess what he would have me tell, or until I decay in this tomb. Let me give thee my word, I shall do neither. Unhand me. I shall not attempt to escape.”
At a sign from the scribe the four men released him and took up a position at the doors. Kenkenes opened his wallet and displayed the signet. The scribe took it and read the inscription. There was no doubting the young man’s right to the jewel for here was the name of Mentu, even as the chief adviser had given it in identifying the prisoner. The official frowned and stroked his chin.