“A wild beast hath taken the road,” Kenkenes thought.
The horse brought up, with a start, his prominent muscles twitching, and sniffed the air strongly.
A high oscillation in the atmosphere descended on Kenkenes.
The Arab reared, snorting, and then crouched, quivering with wild terror in every limb.
Unconscious, even of the movement, Kenkenes threw up his arm as if to ward off the blow and bent upon his horse’s neck.
Gust after gust of icy air swept down on his head, as if winnowed by frozen wings. Then with a backward waft, colder than any wind he had ever known, the hovering Presence passed.
Instantly the horse plunged and took the road toward Tanis as if stung by a lash. Kenkenes, shaken and full of solemn dread, did well to keep his saddle. He grasped the stout leather bridle with strong hands, but he might have curbed the hurricane as easily. The Arab stretched his gaunt length, running low, and the haunted night reechoed with the sound of his hoofs. The land of Goshen lay east and west, with a slight divergence toward the north. The road to Tanis ran due north. It was not long until Kenkenes’ flying steed brought him in sight of the un-Israelite Goshen. Illuminated windows starred the plain and the wind shrilling in Kenkenes’ ears bore uncanny sounds. A turf-thatched hovel at the roadside showed a light as they swept by and a long scream clove the air, but the Arab was not to be halted.
The murmurous wind did not soothe him, and the wakeful night had a terror for him that he could not outrun. He veered sharply and galloped through the pastures to avoid a roadside hamlet that shrieked and moaned. He leaped irrigation canals and brush hedges, swept through fields and gardens, until, at last, by dint of persuasion, coupled with the animal’s growing fatigue, Kenkenes succeeded in drawing the horse down into a milder pace.
The young man made no effort to fathom the mysterious visitation. Instead, he bowed his head and rode on, awed and humbled.
The night wore away and the gray of the morning showed him, strange-featured, the misty levels, meadows, fields and gardens of northern Goshen. The wind faltered and died; the stars, strewn down the east, paled and went out, one by one. Fragmentary clouds toward the sunrise became apparent, tinted, silvered and at last, like flakes of gold, scattered down to a point of intensest brilliance on the horizon. A lark sprang out of the wet, wind-mown grass of a meadow and shot up, up till it was lost in radiance and only a few of its exquisite notes filtered down to earth again.
A brazen rim showed redly on the horizon and the next instant the sun bounded above the sky-line.
It was the morning after the Passover, and Kenkenes, the son of Mentu, was the only Egyptian first-born that lived to see it break.