Kenkenes tightened his sandal straps and continued toward the south. Ahead of him, the horizon began to glow and then an edge,—a half,—all of a perfect moon lifted a vast orange disk above the world. At its first appearance it was sharply cut by a tower of the city of Pithom.
“Now, the God of Israel be thanked,” he said to himself, “for another mile I can not cover.”
The gates were tightly closed and a sentry from the wall challenged him.
“I bring a message to the Pharaoh,” he answered.
“The Son of Ptah is not within the walls.”
“Hath he departed,” Kenkenes wearily asked, “or came he not hither?”
“He came not to Pithom.”
“Come thou down, then, and let me in, friend, for I am spent.”
In a little time, he entered the inn of the treasure city, was given a bed, upon which he flung himself without so much as loosening the kerchief on his head, and slept.
“The pharaoh drew nigh”
In mid-afternoon of the following day, Kenkenes awoke and made ready to take up his search again. He was weary, listless and sore, but his mission urged him as if death threatened him.
The young man’s athletic training had taught him how to recuperate. Most of the process was denied him now, because of his haste and the little time at his command, but the smallest part would be beneficial. He stepped into the streets of the treasure city, and paused again, till the recollection of the sorrow upon Egypt returned to him to explain the gloom over Pithom. The great melancholy of the land, attending him hauntingly, oppressed him with a sense of culpability. And he dared not ask himself wherein he deserved his good fortune above his countrymen, lest he seem to question the justice of the God of his adoption.
At a bazaar he purchased two pairs of horse-hide sandals, for the many miles on the roads had worn out the old and he needed foot-wear in reserve. From the booth he went straight to the baths, now wholly deserted; for when Egypt mourned, like all the East, she neglected her person.
When he came forth he was refreshed and stronger. Of the citizens, haggard and solemn as they had been in Tanis, he asked concerning the Pharaoh. None had seen him, nor had he entered the city. The last one he questioned was a countryman from Goshen, and from him he learned that the army was assembling in a great pasture on the southern limits of the Israelitish country.
At sunset he was again upon the way, taking the level highway of the Wady Toomilat for a mile toward the west, and turning south, after that distance, as the rustic had directed him.
The road was good and he ran with old-time ease. At midnight he came upon the spot where the army had camped, but the Pharaoh had already moved against Israel. He had left his track. The great belt of disturbed earth wheeled to the south, and as far as Kenkenes could see there was the same luminous veil of dust overhanging it, that he had noted over the path of Israel.