This information kindled a light of hope on the old servant’s face.
“Thou givest me life again,” he exclaimed. “The blessings of Ra be upon thee!”
Without further words he ran back to the boat, and the last Kenkenes saw of him, he was frantically urging his boatmen to greater speed, back to On.
Kenkenes had come to the Nile that morning, rejoicing in the propitiousness of his opportunity. Mentu was at that moment in On, seeing to the decoration of the second obelisk reared by Meneptah to the sun. The great artist had prepared to be absent a month, and had left no work for his son to do. But the coming of Ranas with the news of his mission’s failure had filled Kenkenes with angry discomfiture.
He dismissed his slave and rowed down-stream toward Masaarah.
As he approached the abandoned wharf, a glance showed him that some effort toward restoring it had been made. The overgrowth of vines had been cut away and the level of the top had been raised by several fragments of rough stone.
The tracks of heavy sledges had crushed the young grain across the field toward the cliffs.
Kenkenes stood up and looked toward the terraced front of the hills, in which were the quarries.
There were dust, smoke, stir and moving figures.
The stone-pits were active again after the lapse of half a century.
“By the grace of the mutable Hathors,” the young man muttered as he dropped back into his seat, “my father may yet decorate a temple to Set, but by the same favor, it seems that I shall be snatched from the brink of a sacrilege.”
He permitted his boat to drift while he contemplated his predicament. Suddenly he smote his hands together.
“Grant me pardon, ye Seven Sisters!” he exclaimed.
“I misread your decree. Ye have but covered my tracks toward transgression.”
After a little thought he resumed his felicitations.
“Who of Memphis will think I come to Masaarah, save to look after the taking out of stone? Is it not part of my craft? Nay, but I shall make offering in the temple for this. And need any of these unhappy creatures in Masaarah see me except as it pleases me to show myself?”
He seized his oars and rowed down the river another furlong. Leaving the craft fixed in the tangle of herbage at the water’s edge, he shouldered his cargo and crossed the narrow plain to the cliffs below Masaarah. There he made a difficult ascent of the fronts facing the Nile and reached his block of stone without approaching the hamlet of laborers.