But she frowned at their praises and, holding up her sceptre, sternly commanded silence.
“Such is your decree, O my Council,” she cried, “and the decree of all you here present, who are the noblest of my people, and I, as I am bound by my oath of crowning, proclaim and ratify it, I, Neter-Tua, who am named Star and Daughter of Amen, who am named Glorious in Ra, who am named Hathor, Strong in Beauty, who am crowned Queen of the Upper and the Lower Land. I proclaim—write it down, O Scribes, and let it be registered this night that the decree may stand while the world endures—that two thousand of the choicest troops of Egypt shall sail up Nile, forthwith, for Kesh, and that in command of them, so that all may know his crime, shall go the young Count Rames, and with him those others who also did the deed of blood.”
Now at this announcement, which sounded more like promotion than disgrace, some started and Rames looked up, quivering in all his limbs.
“I proclaim,” went on Tua quickly, “that when they are come to Napata they shall kneel before its king and submit themselves to the judgment of his Majesty, and having been judged, shall return and report to us the judgment of his Majesty, that it may be carried out as his Majesty of Kesh shall appoint. Let the troops and the ships be made ready this very night, and meanwhile, save when he appears before us to take his orders as general, in token of our wrath, we banish the Count Rames from our Court and Presence, and place his companions under guard.”
So spoke Tua, and the royal decree having been written down swiftly and read aloud, she sealed and signed with her sign-manual as Queen, that it might not be changed or altered, and commanded that copies of it should be sent to all the Governors of the Nomes of Egypt, and a duplicate prepared and despatched with this royal embassy, for so she named it, to be delivered to the King of Kesh with the letters of condolence, and the presents of ceremony, and the body of Amathel, the Prince of Kesh, now divine in Osiris.
Then, at length, the doors were thrown open and the company dispersed, Rames and the guard being led away by the Council and placed in safe keeping. Also Pharaoh, still senseless but breathing quietly, was carried to his bed, and the dead were taken to the embalmers, whilst Tua, so weary that she could scarcely walk, departed to her chambers leaning on the shoulder of the royal Nurse, Asti, the mother of Rames.
THE OATH OF RAMES AND OF TUA
Still robed Tua lay upon a couch, for she would not seek her bed, while Asti stood near to her, a dark commanding figure.
“Your Majesty has done strange things to-night,” said Asti in her quiet voice.
Tua turned her head and looked at her, then answered:
“Very strange, Nurse. You see, the gods and that troublesome son of yours and Pharaoh’s sudden sickness threw the strings of Fate into my hand, and—I pulled them. I always had a fancy for the pulling of strings, but the chance never came my way before.”