So constantly had his sorrows attended him that he had come to dread the night, when there was neither event nor labor to interrupt their dominance over his mind. He caught eagerly at any less troublous problem that might suggest itself, for he felt that he had been conquered by his plight.
As he lay by night, apart from the rest of the prisoners, he gazed at one glittering star that stood in the north. About it were scintillating clusters, single stars and faint streaks of never-dissipated mists. Night after night that one brilliant point had remained unmoved in its steady gaze from the uppermost, but the clusters rotated about it; the single stars were westward moving; the mists shifted. And a question began to trouble him: What hand had marshaled the stars? Seb, whom Toth had supplanted? Osiris, whom Set destroyed? The young man put them aside. They were feeble. Nothing so weak had created the mighty hosts of heaven. So he began to weigh the question.
What hand had marshaled the stars? An accident? Since man must worship something supernal, what more tremendous than the cataclysm, if such it were, that evolved the stars. Had the same or a series of such events brought forth the earth and man? Was the accident continuously attendant? Did it spread the Nile over Egypt and call it again within its banks every year? Did it clothe the fields and bring them to harvest every revolution of the sun? Did it hang the moon like a sickle in the west or lift it over the Arabian hills like a bubble of silver every eight and twenty days?
If it were omnipotent, infinite and omnipresent, could it be an accident? If it were, why not worship it and call it God?
The reasoning led him again in the direction of the gods, but he saw no reason for a multiplicity of deities. Each member of the Egyptian Pantheon presided over some special field of human interest or human environment. To him, who had lived next to nature till her study had become a worship, there were no flaws in her chronology, no shortcomings or plethora. The earth responded to the skies; the waters were in harmony with the earth, the harvests with all. There was unity in the control over the universe and the hand that was powerful enough to swing the moon was mighty enough to flood the Nile, was tender enough to nourish the harvests, was wise enough to govern men. Where, then, was any need of a superfluity of powers?
But behold, something had thrust a dread hand between the tender ministrations of this other Thing and the benefits to men. By this time it had reached the remotenesses of Egypt that it was the God of the Hebrews. The young man arrived at this alternative in his reasoning: There was a minister of good and another of evil—two powers presiding over the earth,—or,—the sole minister was offended and had deserted its charge, or had loosed upon Egypt the evil at its command. Here Kenkenes paused. He could not arrive at any conclusion on the matter or convince himself that he had not reasoned well.