Under the combined weight of her griefs, she dropped on the carpeted pavement and wept without control. All of Rachel’s fear and horror were swept away in a wave of compunction and pity. She lifted the little Egyptian back upon her cushions again and, kneeling beside her, took the bowed head against her heart. Her hair fell forward and framed the two sorrowing faces in a shower of gold.
“Lo! I have been a guest under thy roof and at thy board, a pensioner upon thy cheer, and now, even while my heart was full of gratitude, have I encroached upon thy happiness and broken thine overburdened heart. Forgive me, Masanath. Let me not come between thee and thy father, sister! Let me return to my people, for Israel shortly goeth forth. Doubt it not. Then shall I be out of his reach, and the Lord will not lay up the sin against him. Furthermore, dost thou not remember Deborah’s words while the spirit of prophecy was upon her? Promised she not peace for us, and happiness and long tranquillity to follow these days of sorrow? Do thou have faith, Masanath. Cease not to hope, for the forces of evil have never yet triumphed wholly.”
“Nay, but how shall that restore my pride in my father?” Masanath sobbed. “How shall I ever think of him without the bitterness of shame? What must the world think of him—of me? Now I know what the murket meant. He knew, and Kenkenes knew and all— Alas! alas!” she broke forth in fresh grief, “and Hotep knows!”
Rachel could say no more, for in this sorrow no comfort could avail.
She stroked the little Egyptian’s hair and let the wounded heart soothe itself.
Presently Masanath’s mind wandered from the new villainy of her father to the memory of the older offense and she wept afresh.
“If thou goest, Rachel, there is none left to comfort me,” she mourned. “I am alone—desolate, and the powers of Egypt are arrayed against me!” Rachel was hearing her own plight given expression. She put aside any thought of herself and applied herself to Masanath’s need.
“Nay, there is Hotep,” she whispered. “He loves thee, and if there is aught in prophecy, he will comfort thee when I am gone.”
“But thou shalt not go,” Masanath cried. “Stay with me, Rachel.”
“Thy father’s servant returneth in twenty days. As I have said, if I go now, I can reach my people and be hidden safely.”
The Egyptian held fast to the Israelite and wept.
“Nay, Rachel. Stay with me. Thou art all I have!”
Rachel turned her head and gazed toward the south. Across the housetops, the far-off sickle of the Nile curved into a crevice between the hills and disappeared. Somewhere beyond that blue and broken sky-line her last claim to Egypt had been lost. Why should she stay when Kenkenes was gone? Meanwhile Masanath went on pleading.
If she departed, the next day’s sun might dawn upon him in Memphis, searching and sorrowing because he found her not. The hour of separation might be delayed for twenty days—in that time he might come.