He was going the way of all the weak in faith. He had pleaded with his deities, and they had not heard him. He asked himself what he had done to deserve their disfavor. The sacrilege of Athor was too slight an offense—if offense it were—and here again he paused, set his teeth and swore that he had done no wrong and the god or man that accused him was impotent, unjust and ignorant. Once again he asked himself what he had done to deserve ill-use at the hands of the Pantheon. They had turned a deaf ear to him, and why should he render them further homage? The doctrine of divine Love, displayed through chastisement, was not in the Osirian creed.
His eyes grew bold through rebellion and he attacked the wild inconsistencies of the faith with the destructive instrument of reason. Each deduction led him on, fascinated, in his apostasy. Each crumbling tenet started another toward ruin. Finding no sound obstacle to stay him, he fell with avidity to rending the Pantheon.
But he found no cheer nor any hope that day when he told himself bitterly, “There is no God.”
The court was gone and Masanath was making the most of each day of her freedom. Memphis was in a state of apathy, worn out by revel and emptied of her luminaries, Ta-meri, intoxicated with the importance of her position as lady-in-waiting to the queen, had departed with her husband, the cup-bearer. Io had returned to her home in On, with an ache in her brave little heart that outweighed even Masanath’s for heaviness. The last of Seti’s lover-like behavior toward her dated back to a time before the court had gone to Thebes—long, long ago.
Ta-user, also, had gone, but the fan-bearer’s daughter did not regret her. The other ladies who remained in Memphis, frightened at the loftiness of Masanath’s future, were uneasy in her presence and seemed more inclined to bend the knee before her than to continue the girlish companionship that had once been between them.
So she must entertain herself, if she were entertained at all.
For a time after the departure of Meneptah, Masanath had given herself up to tears and gloom. When she had worn out her grief, the elastic spirit of youth reasserted itself and once again she was as cheerful as she felt it becoming to be under the circumstances.
The fan-bearer had taken a house for his daughter’s use, during her year of solitary residence, and her own servants, a lady-in-waiting, the devoted Nari, Pepi, a courier and upper servant, lean, brown and taciturn, and several slaves, both black and white, had been left with her. The older daughter of the fan-bearer lived with her husband in Pelusium. Her home could have been an asylum for the younger, but Masanath was determined to know one year of absolute independence before she entered the long bondage of queenship.