“Is that all you seek?” asked the Double, when she had finished.
“Nay,” broke in Tua hurriedly, “I would not shine alone, I seek another Star to share my sky with me.”
“Have you faith and will you obey?” asked the Double again. “For without faith I can do nothing.”
Now Asti looked at Tua who bowed her head in assent to an unspoken question, then she answered:
“We have faith, we will obey.”
“So be it,” said the Shadow. “Presently Abi will come to ask whether the Queen consents to be his wife, or whether she will bide here until she dies. I who wear the fashion of the Queen will go forth and be his wife, oh! such a wife as man never had before,” and as she spoke the words an awful look swept across her face, and her deep eyes flamed. “Ill goes it with the mortal man who weds a wraith that hates him and is commanded to work his woe,” she added.
Now Asti and Tua understood and smiled, then the Queen said:
“So you will sit in my seat, O Shadow, and as your lord, Abi will sit on Pharaoh’s throne and find it hard. But what of Egypt and my people?”
“Fear not for Egypt and your people, O Morning Star. With these it shall go well enough until you come back to claim them.”
“And what of my companion and myself?” asked Tua.
The Double raised her sceptre, and pointed to the open window-space between them, beneath which, hundreds of feet beneath, ran the milky waters of the river.
“You shall trust yourselves to the bosom of Father Nile,” she answered solemnly.
Now the Queen and Asti stared at each other.
“That means,” said Tua, “that we must trust ourselves to Osiris, for none can fall so far and live.”
“Think you so, O Star? Where, then, is that faith you promised, without which I can do nothing? Nay, I tell no more. Do my bidding, or let me go, and deal with Abi as it pleases you. Choose now, he draws near,” and as she spoke the words they heard the bronze gates of the temple clash upon their hinges.
Tua shivered at the sound, then sprang from the couch, and drew herself to her full height, exclaiming:
“For my part I have chosen. Never shall it be said that Pharaoh’s daughter was a coward. Better the breast of Osiris than the arms of Abi, or slow death in a dungeon. In Amen and in thee, O Double, I put my trust.”
The Shadow looked from her to Asti, who answered briefly:
“Where my Lady goes there I follow, knowing that Mermes always waits. What shall we do?”
The Ka motioned to them to stand together in the narrow winding-place, and this they did, their arms about each other. Next she lifted her sceptre and spoke some word.
Then fire flashed before their eyes, a rush of wind beat upon their brows, and they knew no more.
THE DREAM OF ABI