But Seti would not hear him. “I care not what they do with me,” he said. “The gods grant they lay upon me the extreme weight of the law. I go back to Tanis as one returneth to his beloved.”
He shook off the Israelite’s hands and ran into the open. There, he ordered the black to give the treasure over to the Hebrew, and flinging himself upon his horse, galloped furiously toward Tanis.
Of the remainder of the day Seti had little memory. Once or twice as he proceeded headlong through hamlets, he caught from the lips of natives a denunciation of Siptah, a vicious epithet applied to Ta-user, or, like a fresh thrust in an old wound, a pitying groan for himself. His shame had preceded him on fleet wings. He hoped he might as swiftly run his sentence down.
None knew him in the roadways and the towns did not expect him. The pickets on the outer wall of Tanis halted him, but when they beheld his face, their pikes fell and with hands on knees, they bade him pass. The palace sentries started and gave him room.
He was running, sobbing, through the dark and capacious corridors of the palace and no man had stayed him yet. Were they to make his shame more poignant by pitying him and punishing him not at all? He flung himself through the doors of the council chamber and halted.
The great hall was crowded and full of excitement. Meneptah had summoned the court to the royal presence.
In his loft above the throng stood the king, purple with rage. The queen, in her place at his side, was staying his outstretched hand. Below at his right stood Rameses, the kingliest presence that ever graced a royal sitting. At the left of Meneptah, was Har-hat, complacent and serene.
Out in the center of a generous space stood Moses. The great Hebrew was alone and isolated, but his personality was such that a throng could not have obscured him.
In his massive physique was an insistent suggestion of immovability and superhuman strength; in the shape of his imperial head, there was illimitable capacity; in his face, the image of a nature commanding the entire range of feeling, from the finest to the fiercest. There was nothing of the occult in his atmosphere. His intense human force would have commanded, though Egypt had not known him as the emissary of God.
As it was, when he moved the assembly swayed back as if blown by a wind. A motion of his hand sent a nervous start over the hall. The nearest courtiers seemed prepared to crouch. Meneptah did not win a glance from his court. Every eye, wide and expectant, was fixed upon the Israelite.
The pale and troubled queen strove in vain. Meneptah thrust her aside and shaking his clenched hand at the solitary figure before him, ended the audience in a voice violent with fury.
“Get thee from me! Take heed to thyself; see my face no more. For in that day thou seest my face, thou shalt die!”