The Yoke eBook

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

In one wall was the entrance leading to another chamber.  It was screened by a slowly swaying curtain of broidered linen, which was tied at its upper corners to brass rings sunk in the stone frame of the door.  This frame attracted the attention of the young sculptor.  It consisted of two caryatides standing out from the square shaft from which they were carved, their erect heads barely touching the ceiling.  The figures were of heroic size and wore the repose and dignity of countenance characteristic of Egyptian statues.  The sculptor had been so successful in bringing out this expression that Kenkenes stood before them and groaned because he had not followed nature to the exquisite achievement he might have attained.

He was deeply interested in his critical examination of the figures when the old priest darted into the apartment, his withered face working with excitement.

“Go!  Go!” he cried.  “Eat and prepare to return to Memphis with all speed.  Thine answer will await thee here to-night at the end of the first watch,—­and Set be upon thee if thou delayest!”

Kenkenes, startled out of speech, did obeisance and hastened from the temple.

The outside air was thick with dust and intensely hot under the reddening glare of the sun.  It was late afternoon.  The city was still crowded, the river front lined with a dense jam of people awaiting transportation to the opposite shore.  Kenkenes knew that many would still be there on the morrow, since the number of boats was inadequate to carry the multitude of passengers.

He began to think with concern upon the security of his own bari, left in the marsh-growth by the Nile side, north of Karnak.  He left the shifting crowd behind and struck across the sandy flat toward the arm of quiet water.  Straggling groups preceded and followed him and at the Nile-side he came upon a number contending for the possession of his boat.  They were image-makers and curriers, equally matched against one another, and a Nubian servitor in a striped tunic, who remained neutral that he might with safety join the winning party.  The appearance of the nobleman checked hostilities and the contestants, recognizing the paternalism of rank after the manner of the lowly, called upon him to arbitrate.

“The boat is mine, children,” [3] was his quiet answer.  He pushed it off, stepped into it, and turned it broadside to them.

“See here, the scarab of Ptah,” he said, tapping the bow with a paddle, “and the name of Memphis?” With that he drew away to the sandbar before the astonished men had realized the turn of events.  Then they looked at one another in silence or muttered their disgust; but the Nubian went into transports of rage, making such violent demonstrations that the image-makers and curriers turned on him and bade him cease.

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The Yoke from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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