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

“O, do not go.  You have but this moment come,” she said.

“Already have I stayed too long,” he replied.  “But thy hospitality makes one forget the debt one owes to a prior guest.”

She looked at him from under silken lashes.

“Nechutes has misconducted himself,” she objected, “and I would not be left alone with him.”

“Wouldst thou have me stay and see him restored to favor under my very eyes?  Ah, Ta-meri, where is thy womanly compassion?”

She smiled and extended her hand.  Kenkenes took it and felt it relax and lie willingly in his palm.

“Nay, do not go,” she pleaded softly.

“Give me leave to come again instead.”

“To-morrow,” she said, half questioning, half commanding.  He did not promise, but as he bent over to kiss her hand, he said in a low tone: 

“Hast thou forgotten that Nechutes leaves Memphis with the going of the king?”

The lady started and flung a conscience-stricken glance at the scowling cup-bearer.  And while her face was turned, Kenkenes departed like a shadow.  But the portals of the nomarch’s house had hardly closed behind him before he demanded of himself, impatiently, why he had made Nechutes’ peace, why he kept the cup-bearer for ever between himself and Ta-meri.  And as if to evade this catechism something arose in him and asked him why he should not.

And to this he could give no answer.

[1] Mohar—­The king’s pioneer, an office that might be defined as minister of war.

CHAPTER X

THE DEBT OF ISRAEL

For an instant after the sculptor had put the collar about her throat, Rachel stood motionless, her face flushing and whitening with conflicting emotions.

But her indecision was only momentary.  Rebellion was in the ascendant.

She thrust her fingers under the band and essayed to wrench off the offending necklace, but the stout fastening held and the flexible braid printed its woof on the back of the soft neck.  Almost in tears she undid the clasp and flung the collar away.

It struck the earth with a musical ring, and the green of the wheat hid all but a faint ray of the red metal.

The rout of children descended on her, each clamoring a story of the accident.  But without a word she marshaled them and turned once again toward the river to refill the hides.  At the water’s edge she kept her eyes resolutely from the broad dimpling breast of the Nile toward the south.  She feared that she might see the light bari that was driving back to Memphis against that slow but mighty current as easily as if wind and water went with it.

But even before she turned again toward Masaarah, her better nature began to chide her.  She remembered her impetuous act with a flush of shame.

“His peace-offering—­a proof of his good will, and thou didst mistreat it, as if he had meant it for a purchase or a fee.  The indignity thou hast petulantly fancied, Rachel.”

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