Then the curtain fell behind him.
Crushed and stunned with despair and horror, she made her way to her apartments in a mist of tears.
There was no help for the beloved Rachel or for the young lover. All whom she might ask to approach the king in their favor were helpless or prejudiced. Seti was disgraced; the queen, useless; Hotep, already too imminently imperiled; Rameses, Har-hat, against the lovers; and the king—the poor, feeble king, hopelessly beyond any appeal that she might direct to him.
A sorry resolve shaped itself in her mind. To-morrow at dawn she also would put forth searchers, and finding Rachel, send her out of Egypt, and Kenkenes after her.
At the door of her apartments Masanath was met by the faithful Nari, who drew her within and showed her triumphantly that the usurping ladies-in-waiting had departed. The unhappy girl was grateful for the change. The relief for her sorrow was its expression, and she dreaded the restraint put upon her by the presence of discerning and unfamiliar eyes.
All desire for sleep had left her. Nari, weary and heavy-headed, begged her to retire, but she would not. So at last the waiting woman, at her mistress’ command, lay down and slept.
The apartment consisted of two chambers running the width of the palace. The outer chamber had a window opening on the streets of Tanis, the inner looked into the palace courtyard.
Masanath wrapped a woolen mantle about her and sat at the window overlooking the park.
Without was the wide hollow, walled by the many-galleried stories of the king’s house. Below a fountain of running water, issuing from an ibis-bill of bronze, and falling into a pool, purled and splashed and talked on and on to itself.
Above, the mighty constellations were dropping slowly down the west. The wild north wind from the sea strove against her cheek. The gods were too absorbed in great things, the shifting of the heavens, the flight of the wind and the rocking of the waters, to care for her great burden of trouble. Or, indeed, were they not prejudiced against her as all the world was? They had heard every prayer but hers. They had harkened to Rameses when he asked for her at their hands; they had harkened to her father and yielded him power at her sacrifice; they had even pitied Rachel; they had returned her love from Amenti, and yet had not Rachel reviled them? Nay, there was conspiracy laid against her by the Pantheon, and what had she done to deserve it?
In some one of the many windows that looked into the court another dragged at his chestnut locks and execrated gods and men because of their hardness of heart.
So the night wore on to its noon.
Masanath was becoming drowsy in spite of her determination to keep a sleepless vigil until dawn, when she was aroused by a commotion in the vicinity of the palace. There were indoor cries and shouts for help.