“At this hour?” Hotep said in some surprise as he arose. “I shall return immediately,” he told Kenkenes.
“Nay,” the sculptor observed, “my time is nearly gone. Let me depart now.”
“Not so. I would go with thee. This will be no more than a note. If it be more I shall put mine underlings to the task.”
He disappeared in the dark. Kenkenes lay back on the divan and thought on the many things that the scribe had told him. But chiefly he pondered on Har-hat and the Israelite.
When Hotep returned he carried his cowl and mantle, and a scroll. “I too, am become a messenger,” he said, “but I am self-appointed. This note was to go by a palace courier, but I relieved him of the task.”
The pair made ready and departed through the still populous streets of Thebes to the Nile. There they were ferried over to the wharves of Luxor.
At the temple the porter conducted them into the chamber in which the ancient prelate spent his shortening hours of labor. He was there now, at his table, and greeted the young men with a nod. But taking a second look at Hotep, he beckoned him with a shaking finger.
“Didst bring me aught, my son?” he asked as the scribe bent over him.
“Aye, holy Father; this message to the taskmaster over Pa-Ramesu.”
“Ah,” the old man said. “Is that not yet gone?”
“Nay, the Pharaoh asks that thou insert the name of him whom thou didst recommend for Atsu’s place. The Son of Ptah had forgotten him.”
The old man pushed several scrolls aside and prepared to make the addition..
“But thou art weary, holy Father; let me do it,” Hotep protested gently.
“Nay, nay, I can do it,” the old man insisted. “See!” drawing forth a scroll unaddressed, “I have written all this in an hour. O aye, I can write with the young men yet.” He made the interlineation, rolled the scroll and sealed it. “I am sturdy, still.” At that moment, he dropped his pen on the floor and bent to pick it up, but was forestalled by Hotep. Then he addressed the scrolls, carefully dried the ink with a sprinkling of sand and delivered one to Hotep, the other to Kenkenes. “This to the king, and that to Snofru. The gods give thee safe journey,” he continued to Kenkenes. “Who art thou, my son?”
“I am the son of Mentu, holy Father. My name is Kenkenes,” the young man answered.
“Mentu, the royal sculptor?”
“Nay, but I am glad. I knew thy father, and since thou art of his blood, thou art faithful. Let neither death nor fear overtake thee, for thou hast the peace of Egypt in thy very hands. Fail not, I charge thee!”
After a reverent farewell, the two young men went forth.
A slender Egyptian youth went with them to the wharves and awakened the sleeping crew of a bari.
Hotep they carried across and set ashore on the western side.