“And would you have had me wed Abi the hog, the murderer of my father, and of your lord? Again, was it I who but now showed this barbarian chief a shadow in the water, or was it Asti the witch, Asti the prophetess of Amen? Lastly, will the man die, if die he must, because he loves me, which, being a woman I can forgive him, or because he laid the hands of violence upon me to force me to be his queen or mistress, which I forgive him not? Oh! Asti, you know well I am not as other women are. Perchance it is true that some blood that is not human runs in me; at least I fulfil a doom laid on me before my birth, and working woe or working weal, I go as my feet are led by ghosts and gods. Why, then, do you upbraid me?” and she ceased and wept outright.
“Nay, nay, be comforted, I upbraid you not,” answered Asti, drawing her to her breast. “Who am I that I should cast reproaches at Amen’s Star and daughter and my Queen? I know well that the house of your fate is built, that sail you up stream or sail you down stream, you must pass its gate at last. It was fear for Rames that made me speak so bitterly, Rames my only child, if, indeed, he is left to me, for I who have so much wisdom cannot learn from man or spirit whether he lives here or with Osiris, since some black veil hangs between our souls. I fear lest the gods, grown jealous of that high love of yours, should wreak their wrath upon him who has dared to win it, and bring Rames to the grave before his time, and the thought of it rends my heart.”
Now it was Tua’s turn to play the comforter.
“Surely,” she said, “surely, my Foster-mother, you forget the promise of Amen, King of the Gods, which he made ere I was born, to Ahura who bore me, that I should find a royal lover, and that from his love and mine should spring many kings and princes, and that this being so, Rames must live.”
“Why must he live, Lady, seeing that even if he can be called royal, there are others?”
“Nay, Asti,” murmured Tua, laying her head upon her breast, “for me there are no others, nor shall any child of mine be born that does not name Rames father. Whatever else is doubtful, this is sure. Therefore Rames lives, and will live, or the King of the gods has lied.”
“You reason well,” said Asti, and kissed her. Then she thought for a moment, and added: “Now to our work, it is the hour. Take the harp, go to the window-place, and call as the beggar-man bade you do in your need.”
So Tua went to the window-place and looked down on the great courtyard beneath that was lit with the light of the moon. Then she struck on the harp, and thrice she cried aloud:
“Kepher! Kepher! Kepher!”
And each time the echo of her cry came back louder and still more loud, till it seemed as though earth and heaven were filled with the sound of the name of Kepher.