At the end of the first watch the flotilla drifted into Memphis. Bonfires so vast as to suggest conflagrations made the long water-front as brilliant as day. Far up the slope toward the city the red light discovered a great multitude, densely packed and cheering tumultuously. Amid the uproar one by one the barges approached and discharged their occupants along the wharves. Soldiery in companies drove a roadway through the mass from time to time, by which the arrivals might enter Memphis, though few of these departed at once. When the Lady Senci’s barge drew up, Mentu forced his way through the increasing crowd to meet and assist its occupants to alight. Kenkenes, still on deck, was handing his charges down the stairway one by one, when he saw Io, who stood at the very end of the line, lean over the side, her face aglow with joy. Kenkenes guessed the cause of her delight and, deserting his post, went to her side. Below stood Seti, on tiptoe, his hands upstretched against the tall hull.
“O, I can not reach thee,” he was crying. Kenkenes caught up the trembling, blushing, repentant girl and lowered her plump into the prince’s eager arms.
When Kenkenes saw her an hour later, he lifted her out of her curricle before the portals of Senci’s house.
“What did I tell thee?” he said softly.
But the little girl clung to his arms and leaned against him with a sob.
“O Kenkenes,” she whispered, “he came but to drag me away to look upon her!”
“Didst go?” he asked.
“Nay,” she answered fiercely.
After a silence Kenkenes spoke again:
“He does not love her, Io. Believe me. I doubt not the sorceress hath bewitched him, but he would not rush after a whilom sweetheart to have her look upon a new one. Rather would he strive to cover up his faithlessness. But he hath been untrue to thee in this—that he shares a thought with the witch when his whole mind should be full of thee. Bide thy time till he emerges from the spell, then make him writhe. Meantime, save thy tears. Never was a man worth one of them.”
He kissed her again and set her inside Senci’s house.
But one remained now of the procession he had escorted from the river. This was the Lady Ta-meri’s litter, and his own chariot stood ahead of it. She had lifted the curtains and was piling the opposite seat with cushions in a manner unmistakably inviting. He hesitated a moment. Should he dismiss his charioteer and journey to the nomarch’s mansion in the companionable luxury of the litter? But even while he debated with himself, he passed her with a soft word and stepped into his chariot.
 The inundation, more properly Nilus—the river-god.
THE MARGIN OF THE NILE