TUA COMES TO MEMPHIS
So that day Rames departed for Takensit with what ships and men could be got together in such haste. There, at the frontier post, he waited till the rest of the soldiers should join him, bringing with them the hastily embalmed body of Prince Amathel whom he had slain, and the royal gifts to the King of Kesh. Then, without a moment’s delay, he sailed southwards with his little army on the long journey, fearing lest if he tarried, orders might come to him to return to Thebes. Also he desired to reach Napata before the heavy news of the death of the King’s son, and without warning of the approach of Egypt’s embassy.
With Tua he had no more speech, although as his galley was rowed under the walls of the palace, at a window of the royal apartments he saw a white draped figure that watched them go by. It was standing in the shadow so that he could not recognise the face, but his heart told him that this was none other than the Queen herself, who appeared there to bid him farewell.
So Rames rose from the chair in which he was seated on account of the hurt to his leg and saluted with his sword, and ordered the crew to do likewise by lifting up their oars. Then the slender figure bowed in answer, and he went on to fulfil his destiny, leaving Neter-Tua, Morning Star of Amen, to fulfil hers.
Before he sailed, however, Mermes his father and Asti his mother visited him in a place apart.
“You were born under a strange star, my son,” said Mermes, “and I know not whither it will lead you, who pray that it may not be a meteor which blazes suddenly in the heavens and disappears to return no more. All the people talk of the favour the Queen has shown you who, instead of ordering you to be executed for the deed you did which robbed her of a royal husband, has set you in command of an army, you, a mere youth, and received you in secret audience, an honour granted to very few. Fate that has passed me by gives the dice to your young hand, but how the cast will fall I know not, nor shall I live to see, or so I believe.”
“Speak no such evil-omened words, my father,” answered Rames tenderly, for these two loved each other. “To me it seems more likely that it is I who shall not live, for this is a strange and desperate venture upon which I go, to tell to a great king the news of the death of his only son at my own hand. Mother, you are versed in the books of wisdom and can see that which is hidden to our eyes. Have you no word of comfort for us?”
“My son,” answered Asti, “I have searched the future, but with all my skill it will open little of its secrets to my sight. Yet I have learned something. Great fortunes lie before you, and I believe that you and I shall meet again. But to your beloved father bid farewell.”
At these words Rames turned his head aside to hide his tears, but Mermes bade him not to grieve, saying: