The king was at prayers in the temple of his father, close to the palace, and the dusk of twilight was settling on the valley of the Nile, before Loi was summoned to the council chamber.
The hall he entered was vast and full of deep shadows. The two windows set in one wall, many feet above the floor, showed two spaces of darkening sky. A single torch of aromatics flared and hissed beside the throne dais. Tremendous wainscoting covered the base of the walls, more than a foot above a man’s height. It was massively carved with colossal sheaves of lotus-blooms and sword-like palm-leaves. Columns of great girth, bouquets of conventional stamens, ending in foliated capitals, supported by the lofty ceiling. The few men gathered in council were surrounded, over-shadowed, and dwarfed by monumental strength and solemnity.
Behind a solid panel of carved cedar, which hedged the royal dais, stood Meneptah. Above his head were the intricate drapings of a canopy of gold tissue. On a level with his eyes, at his side, was the single torch. His vision, like his father’s, was defective. He was forty years old, but appeared to be younger. His person was plump, and in stature he was shorter than the average Egyptian. His coloring was high and of uniform tint. The arch of the brow, and the conspicuous distance between it and the eye below, the disdainful tension of the nostril and the drooping corners of the mouth, gave his face the injured expression of a spoiled child. The lips were of similar fullness and the chin retreated. There was refinement in his face, but no force nor modicum of perception.
Below, with the light of the torch wavering up and down his robust figure, was Har-hat, Meneptah’s greatest general and now the new fan-bearer. In repose his face was expressive of great good-humor. Merriment lighted his eyes and the cut of his mouth was for laughter. But the smile seemed to be set and, furthermore, indicated that the fan-bearer found much mirth in the discomfiture of others. Aside from this undefined atmosphere of heartlessness, it can not be said that there was any craft or wickedness patent on his face, for his features were good and indicative of unusual intelligence. To the unobservant, he seemed to be a lovable, useful, able man. However, we have seen what Mentu thought of him, and Mentu’s estimation might have represented that of all profound thinkers. But to the latter class, most assuredly, Meneptah did not belong.
Har-hat, taking the place of the king during the Rebu war, had displayed such generalship that the Pharaoh had rewarded him at the first opportunity with the highest office, except the regency, at his command.