After a time another thought came to her.
“The act was not womanly. Wherein hast thou rebuked him, in casting away the trinket? Thou hast the dignity of Israel to uphold in thy dealings with this young man.”
When she reached the spot where the collar had fallen, she sought for it furtively, and having found it, thrust it into the bosom of her dress.
“I shall not keep it,” she said, quieting the protests of her pride. “I shall make him take it back to-morrow.”
Entering her low shelter in the camp some time later, she found Deborah absent. Impelled by an unreasoning desire to keep secret this event, she hastily hid the collar in the sand of the tent floor and laid the straw matting of her bed smoothly over its burial place. Again she struggled with her pride and demanded of herself why she had become secretive.
“Fie!” she replied. “How couldst thou tell this story to Deborah? Why, it is well-nigh unbecoming.”
The dusk settled down over the valley. Deborah came in like a phantom from the camp-fires with the evening meal, and the pair sat down together to eat, Rachel silent, Deborah thoughtful.
“Another Egyptian comes to govern Masaarah,” the old woman observed. “Agistas departed but now, leaving the camp in charge of the under-drivers.”
“It makes little odds with us—this change of taskmasters, Deborah—be he Agistas or any other Egyptian. They are masters and we continue to be slaves,” Rachel answered after a little silence.
“Nay, art thou losing spirit?” Deborah asked with animation. “How shall the elders keep of good heart if the young surrender?”
“I despair not,” the girl protested. “I did but remark this thing; and I have spoken truly, have I not?”
“Even so. But this evening there must be more recognition in thee of thy lot since it overflows in words. I, too, have spoken truly, have I not?”
Rachel smiled. “It may be,” she said.
When they had supped, they went out before the tent to get the cooling air. It was Deborah again that first broke the silence.
“Elias is smitten with blindness from the stone-dust,” she said absently.
“For all time?” Rachel asked anxiously.
“Nay, if he could but rest them and bathe them in the proper simples.”
“Alas—” Rachel began, but she checked herself hurriedly. “He was my father’s servant,” she said instead—“the last living one. Jehovah spare him. One by one they fall, until I shall be utterly without tie to prove I once had kindred.”
Deborah looked at the girl fixedly for a moment. Then she put up her hand and leaned on the soft young shoulder.
“Am I not left?” she asked.
Rachel passed her arm about the bowed figure, with some compunction for her complaint.
“My mother’s friend!” she exclaimed lovingly. “I know she died in peace, remembering that I was left to thy care.”