The Yoke eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 464 pages of information about The Yoke.

“I crave thy pardon, Ta-meri.  What right had I to weight thee with my cares!  It was selfish, and yet—­thou art so inviting a confidante, that it is not wholly my fault if I come to seek of thee, my oldest and sweetest friend, the woman comfort that was bereft me with my rightful comforter.”

“Neither mother nor sister nor lady-love,” she mused.  He nodded, but the slight interrogative emphasis caught him, and he looked up at her.  He nodded again.

“Nay, nor lady-love, thanks to the luck of Nechutes.”

“Nechutes is no longer lucky,” she said deliberately.

“No matter,” Kenkenes insisted.  “I shall be gone eighteen days, and his luck will have changed before I can return.”

“Thine auguries seem to please thee,” she pouted.

He put the back of her jeweled hand against his cheek.

“Nay, I but comfort thee at the sacrifice of mine own peace.”

“A futile sacrifice.”

“What!”

“A futile sacrifice!”

“Ah, Ta-meri, beseech the Goddess Ma to forget thy words!” he cried in mock horror.  She tossed her head, and instantly he got upon his feet, catching up his coif as he did so.

“Come, bid me farewell,” he said putting out his hand, “and one of double sweetness, for I doubt me much if Nechutes will permit a welcome when I return.”

“Nechutes will not interfere in mine affairs,” she said, as she rose.

“Nay, I shall know if that be true when I return,” he declared.

She stamped her foot.

“Fie!” he laughed.  “Already do I begin to doubt it.”

She turned from him and kept her face away.  Kenkenes went to her and, taking both her hands in his, drew her close to him.  She did not resist, but her face reproached him—­not for what he was doing, but for what he had done.  With his head bent, he looked down into her eyes for a moment.  Her red mouth with its sulky pathos was almost irresistible.  But he only pressed one hand to his lips.

“I must wait until I return,” he said from the doorway, and was gone.

On the broad bosom of the Nile at sunset, four strong oarsmen were speeding him swiftly up to Thebes.  Off the long wharves at the southernmost limits of the city, the rapid boat overtook and passed low-riding, slowly moving stone-barges laden with quarry slaves.  The unwieldy craft progressed heavily, nearer and within the darkening shadow of the Arabian hills.  Kenkenes watched them as long as they were in sight, an unwonted pity making itself felt in his heart.  For even in the dusk he distinguished many women and the immature figures of children; and none knew the quarry life better than he, who was a worker in stone.

[1] In ancient Egypt burglary was reduced to a system and governed by law.  The chief of robbers received all the spoil and to him the victimized citizen repaired and, upon payment of a certain per cent. of the value of the object stolen, received his property again.  The original burglar and the chief of robbers divided the profits.  This traffic was countenanced in Egypt until the country passed into British hands.

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The Yoke from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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