Hotep supported Meneptah out of the death chamber, for the court paraschites were already hiding in the shadows of the great halls without. The bed-chamber slowly emptied. Har-hat lifted Masanath and followed the last out-going courtier.
Another tumult had arisen in the great corridor, an uproar of another nature that advanced from the entrance hall of the palace. There were cries of supplication, persuasion, urging, that were frantic in their earnestness. The whole palace seemed to be on its knees.
Hotep, with the king, had paused, and several courtiers went before him and looked down the cross corridor. Instantly they fell on their knees, crying out:
“Ye have the leave of the powers of Egypt! Go! Make haste! Take your flocks, all that is yours! Aye, strip us even, if ye will! But let not the sun rise upon you in Egypt! For we be all dead men!”
A murmur ran through the ministers. “The Hebrews!”
They came slowly, side by side, the two brothers. Egyptians in all attitudes of entreaty cumbered their path—Egyptians, born to the purple, rich, proud, powerful, on their faces to enslaved Israel!
Meneptah wrenched himself from Hotep’s sustaining arms and, staggering forward, all but on his knees, met them.
“Rise up and get you forth from among my people,” he besought them, “both ye and the children of Israel, and go and serve the Lord as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also!”
Great was the fall for a Pharaoh to pray a blessing from the hands of a slave; great was his humility to kneel to them. But there was no triumph, no exultation on the faces of the Hebrews. Aaron, with his bearded chin on his breast, looked down on the head of the shuddering, pleading monarch; but Moses, after sad contemplation of the humbled king, raised his splendid head and gazed with kindling eyes at Har-hat.
Then with the words, “It is well,” spoken without animation, he turned and, with his brother, disappeared into the dusk of the long corridor. The expression, the act, the mode of departure seemed to indicate that the Israelites doubted the stability of the king’s intent. In a moment, therefore, the courtiers were pursuing the departing brothers, urging and praying with all their former wild insistence.
Har-hat put Masanath on her feet and started to leave her, but she flung her arms about his neck.
“Forgive me, my father,” she sobbed. “For my rebellion the gods may absolve me, but I have been unfilial and for that there is no justification. If aught should befall thee in these awful days, how I should reproach myself! Sawest thou not the Hebrew’s gaze upon thee? Say thou dost forgive me!”
“Nay, nay,” he said hastily; “thou hast not done me to death by thine undutifulness. And the Hebrew fears me. Get back to thy chamber and rest.” He kissed her and undid her clinging arms. Going to the king, he put aside Hotep, who was striving to raise the monarch, and lifted Meneptah in his arms.