“Not so!” Masanath declared. “He is the soul of honor, and there is a mystery in this that the gods may explain in time. Comfort thee, Rachel, for there stirreth a hope in me.” Then with the utmost tact she told the story of the finding of Kenkenes’ boat and the theory accepted in Memphis.
“I can offer thee hope,” she concluded, “but I can not even guess what should keep him so long. Of this be assured, however, he did not desert thee, Rachel.”
Enigmatical as it was, the incident was comforting to Rachel.
So the Nile rose and subsided, the winter came and went, and now it was near the middle of March, Masanath forgot Kenkenes and remembered her own sorrow now that its consummation was surely approaching. During the hours that darkened gradually Rachel was to her an ever-responsive comforter. Even in the dead of night, if the weight of her care burdened her dreams so that she stirred or murmured, she was instantly soothed till she slept again. Usually the day did not harass her with oppression, but if she grew suddenly afraid, Rachel was at her side to comfort her—never urging, either to rebellion or submission, but ever offering hope.
So the little Egyptian came to love the Israelite with the love that demands rather than gives—the love of a child for the mother, of the benefited for the benefactor. Gradually Rachel lost sight of her own trouble in her devotion to Masanath. She had no time for her own thoughts. Each passing day brought the Egyptian’s martyrdom nearer, and Rachel’s uses hourly increased.
This day Masanath, who had been ill, was unusually downcast.
“It may be,” she said with more cheer in her tones than had been in her previous remarks, “that I shall die before they can wed me to Rameses.”
“Nay, why not say that the Lord God will interfere before that time?”
“Evil and power have joined hands against me, and even the gods are helpless against such collusion,” Masanath answered drearily.
“The sorrows of Egypt are not yet at an end; mayhap the hand of the God of Israel will overtake the prince.”
“Thy God is afflicting, not helping; He will not spare me.”
“The hand of the Lord is lifted against Egypt. Will He bless the land, then, with such a queen as thou wouldst be?”
“Nay, but thine is a strange God! Mark thou, I doubt Him not! But ai! I should face Him for ever in sackcloth and ashes lest He smite me for smiling and living my life without care.”
“Hath an ill befallen Israel?”
“If thou art Israel, nay! Thou hast flourished in this dread time like a palm by a deep well.”
“So he prospereth all his chosen.”
Masanath shook her head and looked away. From the stairway Nan approached.
“Unas hath come from Tanis, my Lady,” she said with suppressed excitement. Masanath sat up, trembling.
“Isis grant he hath not come to take thee to marriage,” the waiting woman breathed. Rachel laid an inquiring hand on the little Egyptian’s arm.