At sunrise, Kenkenes drew up his horse and took counsel with himself. By steady riding he could reach Tanis shortly, but once within the capital of the Pharaoh, he was near to Har-hat and within reach of the fan-bearer’s potent hand. When he entered the city he must be mentally and physically alert. He had not slept since the last daybreak, and he was weary and heavy-headed.
Ahead of him was a squat hamlet, set on the very border of Goshen. It was the same village that Seti had designated in his appointment with Moses. Here he might have found a hospitable roof and a pallet of matting, but the accompanying gratuity of curiosity and comment would have outweighed the small advantage of a bed indoors over a bed in the meadows.
He dismounted and, leading his horse some distance from the road, into the fringe of water-sprouts which lined the canal, picketed him within shade, out of view from the highway. Usually the meadow growth within reach of the seepage from the canals was most luxuriant, and here the flocks of the Israelites had come for sweet grass. They had kept the underbrush down, and the herbage closely cropped. But for two months Israel had been near Pa-Ramesu with its cattle, and the canal-borders were again riotous with growth. The place Kenkenes came upon was most tempting, odorous and cool. He rolled his mantle for a pillow and flung himself into the grass, where he lay, half-buried in green, and slept.
The April sun, hot as a torrid July noon in northern lands, discovered the sleeper and stared into his upturned face. He flung his arm across his eyes and slept on. Shadows fell and lengthened; the afternoon passed, and still he slept.
Mounted couriers riding at a dead gallop, passed over the road, toward Tanis. Following them, war-chariots thundered by with a castanet accompaniment of jingling harness and jarring armor. Kenkenes stirred during the tumult, but when it had receded he lay still again. Three mounted soldiers leading a score of horses passed. The Arab in the copse whinnied softly. A second trio of soldiers, following with a smaller drove, heard the call from the bushes and drew up. The foremost man spoke to another, tossed the knotted bridles to him and, dismounting, came through the copse to the Arab. There he found the young nobleman, sleeping.
For a moment he hesitated, but no longer. Silently he untied the horse, led him forth, attached him with the others and speedily took the road toward Tanis.
After these had passed the road was deserted and no more came that way. In a little time the sun set. The wind from the north freshened and swayed the close-standing bushes so that their branches chafed one against another. At the sound Kenkenes, ready to wake, stirred and opened his eyes. After a moment he sat up and looked for the Arab. The horse was gone.
Kenkenes arose and searched industriously. The trampled space in the road convinced him that the horse had departed with a number of others. Hoping that he might find some trace of the lost animal among the inhabitants, he went to the hamlet.