The light litter passed on.
The regular tread of the men grew fainter and fainter and silence settled again about the well.
The soldier stood erect, gray-faced and immovable, his eyes fixed, his teeth set, his hand gripping the pike, till the insects, reassured, began to chirr close about him. Then his lids quivered; the pike leaned in his grasp; his jaw relaxed, weakly. He shifted his position and frowned, flung up his head and resumed his vigil. The moments went on and yet he retained his tense posture. The hour passed and with it his physical endurance.
Then his emotion gathered all its forces, all the compelling sensations of disappointment, rebuff, heart-hurt, jealousy, hopelessness, and stormed his soul. He turned about and, stretching his arms across the top of the stela, hid his face and surrendered.
Around him was the unbroken circle of the earth and above the blue desert of sky, solitary, soundless. And the union of earth and heaven, like a mundane and spiritual collusion, lay between him and the little litter.
The beat of a horse’s hoofs in the distance roused him after a long time, and hastily turning his back toward the new-comer, he resumed at once his soldierly attitude.
The traveler bore down on him from the west and reined his horse at the intersection of the two roads. He looked up the straight highway toward Pa-Ramesu, then turned in the saddle and gazed toward Tanis. His indecision was not a wayfarer’s casual hesitancy in the choice of roads. By the anxiety written on his face, life, fortune or love might be at stake upon the correct selection of route. Once or twice he looked at the soldier, but showed no inclination to ask advice, even had the man-at-arms turned his way.
It was one of fate’s opportunities to be gracious. Here was Kenkenes seeking for the maiden whom he and the soldier loved, and it lay in the power of the unelect to direct the fortunate. But Kenkenes did not know the warrior, and Atsu had no desire to turn his unhappy face to the new-comer. The young man grew more and more troubled, his indecision more marked. Suddenly he dropped the reins, and without guiding the horse, urged the animal forward.
Kenkenes was relying on chance for direction.
Confused and unready the horse awaited the intelligent touch on the bridle. It did not come. He flung up his head and smelt the wind. Nervously he stamped and trod in one place, breathing loudly in protest.
The low voice of his rider continued to urge him. Perhaps the wind from Goshen brought the smell of unblighted pastures. Whatever the reason, the horse turned, with uncertainty in his step and took the road eastward to Pa-Ramesu.
Having chosen, he went confidently, and as he was not halted and was young and swift, he increased his pace to a long run.
Meanwhile far to the north the little litter was borne toward Tanis. And Atsu, the warrior, did not move his eyes from the distant point where it had disappeared over the horizon.