The Yoke eBook

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

The chagrin died on the Pharaoh’s face and he wore an expectant look.  The prince continued in even tones.

“By use, they have fitted themselves to the limits laid upon them by the great Rameses.  The feeble have died and the frames of the sturdy have become like brass.  They have bred like beetles in the Nile mud for numbers.  Ignorant of their value, thou hast been indifferent to their existence.  Forgetting them was pampering them.  They have lived on the bounty of Egypt for four hundred years and, save for the wise inflictions of a year or two by the older Pharaohs, they have flourished unmolested.  How they repay thee, thou seest by this writing.  Now, by the gods, turn the face of a master upon them.  Remove the soft driver, Atsu, and put one in his stead who is worthy the office.  Tickle them to alacrity and obedience with the lash—­yoke them—­load them—­fill thy canals, thy quarries, thy mines with them—­” He broke off and moved forward a step squarely facing the Pharaoh.

“Thou hast thine artist—­that demi-god Mentu, in whom there is supernatural genius for architecture as well as sculpture.  Make him thy murket[2] as well, and with him dost thou know what thou canst do with these slaves?  Thou canst rear Karnak in every herdsman’s village; thou canst carve the twin of Ipsambul in every rock-front that faces the Nile; thou canst erect a pyramid tomb for thee that shall make an infant of Khufu; thou canst build a highway from Syene to Tanis and line it with sisters of the Sphinx; thou canst write the name of Meneptah above every other name on the world’s monuments and it shall endure as long as stone and bronze shall last and tradition go on from lip to lip!”

The prince paused abruptly.  Meneptah was on his feet, almost in tears at the contemplation of his pictured greatness.

“Mark ye!” the prince began again.  His arm shot out and fell and the flash of its jewels made it look like a bolt of lightning.  “I would not fall heir to Israel—­and if these things are done in thy lifetime I must build my monuments with prisoners of war!”

The old hierarch, who had been nervously rubbing the arm of his chair during the last of the prince’s speech, broke the dead silence with an awed whisper.

“Ah, then spake the Incomparable Pharaoh!”

Meneptah put out his hand, smiling.

“No more.  The way is shown, I follow, O my Rameses!”

[1] Osiris—­the great god of Egypt, was overcome by Set, his body divided and scattered over the valley of the Nile.  Isis, wife of Osiris, gathered up the remains and buried them at This or Abydos.

[2] Murket—­the royal architect, an exalted office usually held by princes of the realm.

CHAPTER VI

THE LADY MIRIAM

Meanwhile the scribe of the “double house of life,” and the son of the royal sculptor were taking comfort on the palace-top beneath the subdued light of a hooded lamp.

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Project Gutenberg
The Yoke from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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