“Masanath is better now, good Hotep, and I would take my place beside my king.”
Without summoning further aid, he half carried the limp monarch up the hall and into the royal bed-chamber.
Weak, shaking, sated with horror and numb with fear, Masanath attempted to return to her apartments, but at the second step she reeled. Hotep saw her. The fan-bearer was not in sight. In an instant the scribe was beside the fainting girl, supporting her, nor did he release her until she was safe in the ministering arms of Nari.
As he was leaving her he commended her most solemnly to the gods.
“Death hath wrenched a scepter from the gods and ruled the world this night,” he said. “We may not delude ourselves that we have escaped, my Lady. As sure as there is a first-born in thy father’s house and in mine, that one is dead. And think of those others whom we love, the eldest born of other houses! Do thou pray for us, thou perfect spirit. I can not, for there is little reverence for my gods in me this night.”
He turned away and disappeared down the corridor.
Within her chamber Masanath knelt and dutifully strove to pray, but her petition resolved itself into a repeated cry for help. In that hour she did not think of the relief to her and to many that the death of Rameses had brought about, for in her heart she counted it sin to be glad of benefit wrought by the death of any man.
Through the fingers across her face she knew that dawn was breaking, but quiet had not settled on the city. Surging murmurs of unanimous sorrow rose and fell as if blown by the chill wind to and fro over Egypt. The nation crouched with her face in the dust. There was no perfunctory sorrow in her abasement. She was bowed down with her own woe, not Meneptah’s. Never before had a prince’s going-out been attended by such wild grief. There was no comfort in Egypt, and the air was tremulous with mourning from the first cataract to the sea.
THE ANGEL OF DEATH
Kenkenes had spent two weeks in Goshen in systematic search for Rachel.
The labor had been time-consuming and fruitless.
More than two million Israelites were encamped about Pa-Ramesu, and among this host Kenkenes had searched thoroughly and fearlessly. He was an Egyptian and a noble, and Israel did not make his way easy. But all Judah knew Rachel and loved her, and the first the young man came upon was a quarryman who had known of Rachel’s flight from Har-hat and of her protection at the hands of an Egyptian. Therefore when Kenkenes bore witness, by his stature, that he was the protecting Egyptian, and by his testimony concerning the God of Israel, that he was worthy, this friendly son of Judah began to suspect that Rachel would be glad to see the young noble, and he joined Kenkenes in his search. Furthermore, he softened the hearts of the tribe toward the Egyptian and they tolerated him with some assumption of grace.