“Suffice it to say that the offended is she of whom we talked one day on the hill back of Masaarah; the offender is Har-hat who hath buried me here in Tape.
“One morning he saw her at the quarries and, taken with her beauty, asked her at the hands of the Pharaoh, for the hatefullest bondage pure maidenhood ever knew.
“She fled from the minions he sent to take her, and came to me in that spot on the hillside where thou and I did talk.
“There the minions found us, and by the evidence they looked upon, I am further charged with sacrilege.
“Thou dost remember the all-powerful signet, which my father had from the Incomparable Pharaoh. He lost it in the tomb of the king, three years ago, abandoning the search for it before I was assured that it was not to be found.
“So strong was my faith that the signet was in the tomb, that when this disaster overtook her, I came to Tape at once to look again for the treasure. I found it.
“But by some unknowable mischance mine enemy discovered my whereabouts and a third minion, who escaped my wrath before the statue that morning, appeared in the city and caused me to be delivered up to the authorities on the charges already named.
“She is hidden, and I have provided for her protection, as well as I may, against the wishes of the strongest man in the land. For her immediate welfare I am not greatly troubled. But, alas! I would be with her—thou knowest, O my Hotep, the hunger and heartache of such separation.
“If the Pharaoh honor not the signet herein inclosed, tell my father of my plight, let me know the decision of the king, and then I shall trust to the Hathors for liberty.
“Of this contingency, I would not speak at length. It may be tempting the caprice of the Seven Sisters to presuppose such misfortune.
“Let not my father intervene for me. He shall not endanger himself further than I have already asked of him.
“But remember thou this injunction, most surely. That it shall be last and therefore freshest in thy memory, I put this at the end of the letter.
“Put the petition herein inclosed into the Pharaoh’s hands! For my life’s sake let it not come into the possession of any other.
“I shall write no more. My scant eloquence must be saved for the king.
“Gods! but it is good to have faith in a friend. I salute thee.
The letter to Hotep complete, Kenkenes took up another roll and wrote thus to Meneptah:
“To Meneptah, Beloved of Ptah, Ambassador of Amen, Vicar of Ra, Lord over Upper and Lower Egypt, greeting:”
At this point he paused. His power of expression, aghast at the magnitude of the stake laid on its successful use, became panic-stricken and fled from him. He feared that words could not be chosen which would justify his sacrilege or prove his claims to Rachel greater than Har-hat’s. Meneptah would be hedged about with prejudice against his first cause, and deterred by the prior right of Har-hat, in the second. The last man that talked with the king molded him. Flattery alone might prevail against coercion. It was the one hope.