The other tribes gave him no heed except to glower at him in the camp-ways or to mutter after him when he had passed. Seeing that Judah suffered him, they did not fall on him. Thus the young man was safe. As for the notice Kenkenes took of Israel, it began and ended with his inquiry after Rachel, the daughter of Maai the Compassionate, a son of Judah. His earnestness absorbed him. Otherwise he was but partly conscious of great preparations making in camp, of tremendous excitement, heightening of zeal and vast meetings after nightfall, when he had withdrawn to a far-off meadow to sleep in the grass.
When he had searched throughout the length and breadth of Israel and found Rachel not, he led his horse from the distant meadow, where he had been pastured, and turned his head toward Tanis.
While he was binding the saddle of sheep’s wool about the Arab’s narrow girth he was surprised to find that the friendly son of Judah had followed him to the pasture. The man approached, as though one spirit urged him and another held him back, and offered Kenkenes the shelter of his tent for the night.
Somewhat gratified and astonished, Kenkenes, thanked him and declined. Still the Hebrew lingered and urged him with strange persistence. Kenkenes expressed his gratitude, but would not stay.
Having taken the road toward Tanis where Rachel might be in the hands of Har-hat, his heart seemed to turn to iron in his breast. All the energies and aims of his youth seemed to resolve into one grim and inexorable purpose.
It was far into the second watch when he left Pa-Ramesu. But the great city of tents was not yet sleeping.
The horse was anxious for a journey after a fortnight of idleness and he bade fair to keep pace with his rider’s impatience. The Arabian hills had sunk below the sky-line and the Libyan desert was not marked by any eminence. With Pa-Ramesu behind him, a wide unbroken horizon belted the dusky landscape. The lights winked out over Goshen and the hamlets were not visible except as Kenkenes came upon them. The shepherd dogs barked afar off, or now and then a wakened bird cheeped drowsily, or the waters in the canals rippled over a pebbly space.
But these sounds ceased unaccountably, at last, and a silence settled down till the atmosphere was tense with stillness. A deadening hand seemed to cover the night.
The silence roused Kenkenes and he realized the solemnity of the earth, the vastness of the sky and the majesty of the solitude. Mysteriously affected, he withdrew within himself and humbly acknowledged the One God.
At midnight a chill struck the breeze and he drew his mantle about him while he rode. The wind freshened and a heated counter-current from the desert met it and they whirled away, rustling through the grassy country.
The Arab reduced his gallop so suddenly that Kenkenes was jolted. The small peaked ears of the horse went up and he showed a disposition to move sidewise into the meadow growth beside the way.