Ma—The goddess of truth.
Mentu returned from the session at the palace, uncommunicative and moody. When, after the evening meal, Kenkenes crossed the court to talk with him, he found the elder sculptor feeding a greedy flame in a brazier with the careful plans for the new temple to Set. Kenkenes retired noiselessly and saw his father no more that night.
The next day Mentu was bending over fresh sheets of papyrus, and when his son entered and stood beside him he raised his head defiantly.
“I have another royal obelisk to decorate,” he said, fixing the young man with a steady eye, “of a surety,—without doubt,—inevitably,—for the thing is all but ready to be set up at On.”
“I am glad of that,” Kenkenes replied gravely. “Let me make clean copies of these which are complete.”
He gathered up the sheets and took his place at the opposite table. Then ensued a long silence, broken only by the loud and restless investigations of the omnipresent and unabashed ape.
At last the elder sculptor spoke.
“The eye of heaven must be unblinkingly upon the divine Meneptah,” he observed, as though he had but thought aloud.
Kenkenes gazed at his father with the inquiry on his face that he did not voice. The sculptor had risen from his bench and was searching a chest of rolled plans near him. He caught his son’s look and closed his mouth on an all but spoken expression. Kenkenes continued to gaze at him in some astonishment, and the elder man muttered to himself:
“I like him not, though if Osiris should ask me why, I could not tell. But he hath a too-ready smile, and by that I know he will twirl Meneptah like a string about his finger.”
The eyes of the young man widened. “The new adviser?” he asked.
“Even so,” was the emphatic reply.
Before Kenkenes could ask for further enlightenment a female slave bowed in the doorway.
“The Lady Senci sends thee greeting and would speak with thee. She is at the outer portal in her curricle,” she said, addressing Mentu.
The great man sprang to his feet, glanced hurriedly at his ink-stained fingers, at his robe, and then fled across the court into the door he had entered to change his dress the day before.
Kenkenes smiled, for Mentu had been a widower these ten Nile floods.
The slave still lingered.
“Also is there a messenger for thee, master,” she said, bowing again.
“So? Let him enter.”
The man whom the slave ushered in a few minutes later was old, spare and bent, but he was alert and restless. His eyes were brilliant and over them arched eyebrows that were almost white. He made a jerky obeisance.
“Greeting, son of Mentu. Dost thou remember me?”
The young man looked at his visitor for a moment.