The Yoke eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 582 pages of information about The Yoke.

“Holy Amen!” one of the awed bystanders exclaimed in a whisper to his neighbor.  “Who is this?”

“A princess from Punt,” [2] the neighbor surmised.

“A priestess from Babylon,” another hazarded.

“Nay, ye are all wrong,” quavered an old man who had been looking at the new-comers under the elbows of the crowd.  “She is an Israelite.”

“Thou hast a cataract, old man,” was the scornful reply from some one near by.  “She is no slave.”

“Aye,” went on the unsteady voice, “I know her.  She was the favorite woman of Queen Neferari Thermuthis.  She has not been out of the Delta where her people live since the good queen died forty years ago.  She must be well-nigh a hundred years old.  Aye, I should know her by her stature.  It is of a truth the Lady Miriam.”

At the sound of his mistress’ name one of the bearers turned and shot a sharp glance at the speaker.  Instantly the old man fell back, saying, as a sneer of contempt ran through the rabble at the intelligence his words conveyed:  “Anger them not.  They have the evil eye.”

Kenkenes had guessed the nationality of the strangers immediately, but had doubted the correctness of his surmise, because of their noble mien.  If he suffered any disappointment in hearing proof of their identity, it was immediately nullified by the joy his artist-soul took in the stately Hebrew woman.  He forgot the mission that urged him to the temple and, permitting the shifting, restless crowd to surround him, he lingered, thinking.  This proud disdain must mark his goddess of stone in the Arabian hills, this majesty and power; but there must be youth and fire in the place of this ancient calm.

A porter that stood beside him, emboldened by barley beer and the growing disapproval among the on-lookers, cried: 

“Ha! by the rags of my fathers, she outshines her masters, the brickmaking hag!”

Kenkenes, who towered over the ruffian, became possessed of a sudden and uncontrollable indignation.  He pecked the man on the head with the knuckle of his forefinger, saying in colloquial Egyptian: 

“Hold thy tongue, brawler, nor presume to flout thy betters!”

The stately Israelite, who had taken no notice of any word against her, now turned her head toward Kenkenes and slowly inspected him.  He had no opportunity to guess whether her gaze was approving, for the crowd about him, grown weary of waiting, had become quarrelsome and was loudly resenting his defense of the Hebrews.  The porter, supported by several of his brethren, was already menacing the young sculptor when some one shouted that the procession was in sight.

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The Yoke from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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