“This petitions the Pharaoh,” he said at last. “I can not pass upon it.”
“Send me to my cell, then, and do thou follow,” Kenkenes said. “I have somewhat to tell thee.”
“Take him to his cell,” the official said to the men as he returned the signet to the prisoner. “I shall attend him.”
Kenkenes was led into a corridor, wide enough for three walking side by side. There was no light therein, but the foremost of the four stooped before what seemed a section of solid wall and after a little fumbling, a massive door swung inward.
The chamber into which it led was wide enough for a pallet of straw laid lengthwise, with passage room between it and the opposite wall. The foot of the bed was within two feet of the door. Between the stones, in the opposite end near the ceiling, was a crevice, little wider than two palms. This noted, the interior of the cell has been described.
The jailer entered after him, and let the door fall shut.
“I have but to crave a messenger of thee—a swift and a sure one—one who can hold his peace and hath pride in his calling. I can offer all he demands. And this, further. Keep his going a secret, for I am beset and I would not have my rescue by the Pharaoh thwarted.”
“I can send thee a messenger,” the jailer answered.
“Ere midday,” Kenkenes added.
“I hear,” the passive official assented.
The solid section of wall swung shut behind him and the great bolts shot into place.
Some time later the bar rattled down again, and the jailer stood without, a scribe at his side. At a sign from the jailer, the latter made as though to enter, but Kenkenes stopped him.
“I have need of your materials only,” he said, “but the fee shall be yours nevertheless.” The man set his case on the floor and Kenkenes put a ring of silver in the outstretched palm.
“Fail me not in a faithful messenger,” the prisoner repeated to the jailer. The official nodded, and the door was closed again.
Kenkenes sat on the floor beside the case, laid the cover back and taking out materials, wrote thus:
“To my friend, the noble Hotep, greeting:
“This from Kenkenes, whom ill-fortune can not wholly possess, while he may call thee his friend.
“I speak to thee out of the prison at Tape, where I am held for stealing a bondmaiden and for executing a statue against the canons of the sculptor’s ritual. The accumulated penalty for these offenses is great—my plight is most serious.
“The pitying gods have left me one chance for escape. If I fail I shall molder here, for my counsel is mine and the demons of Amenti shall not rend it from me.
“The tale is short and miserable. But for the necessity I would not repeat it, for it publishes the humiliation of sweet innocence.