THE CROWNING OF AMENMESES
Now, notwithstanding all the woes that fell on Egypt and a certain secret sorrow of my own, began the happiest of the days which the gods have given me. We went to Mennefer or Memphis, the white-walled city where I was born, the city that I loved. Now no longer did I dwell in a little house near to the enclosure of the temple of Ptah, which is vaster and more splendid than all those of Thebes or Tanis. My home was in the beautiful palace of Seti, which he had inherited from his mother, the Great Royal Wife. It stood, and indeed still stands, on a piled-up mound without the walls near to the temple of the goddess Neit, who always has her habitation to the north of the wall, why I do not know, because even her priests cannot tell me. In front of this palace, facing to the north, is a great portico, whereof the roof is borne upon palm-headed, painted columns whence may be seen the most lovely prospect in Egypt. First the gardens, then the palm-groves, then the cultivated land, then the broad and gentle Nile and, far away, the desert.
Here, then, we dwelt, keeping small state and almost unguarded, but in wealth and comfort, spending our time in the library of the palace, or in those of the temples, and when we wearied of work, in the lovely gardens or, perchance, sailing upon the bosom of the Nile. The lady Merapi dwelt there also, but in a separate wing of the palace, with certain slaves and servants whom Seti had given to her. Sometimes we met her in the gardens, where it pleased her to walk at the same hours that we did, namely before the sun grew hot, or in the cool of the evening, and now and again when the moon shone at night. Then the three of us would talk together, for Seti never sought her company alone or within walls.
Those talks were very pleasant. Moreover they grew more frequent as time went on, since Merapi had a thirst for learning, and the Prince would bring her rolls to read in a little summer-house there was. Here we would sit, or if the heat was great, outside beneath the shadow of two spreading trees that stretched above the roof of the little pleasure-house, while Seti discoursed of the contents of the rolls and instructed her in the secrets of our writing. Sometimes, too, I read them stories of my making, to which it pleased them both to listen, or so they said, and I, in my vanity, believed. Also we would talk of the mystery and the wonder of the world and of the Hebrews and their fate, or of what passed in Egypt and the neighbouring lands.
Nor was Merapi altogether lonesome, seeing that there dwelt in Memphis certain ladies who had Hebrew blood in their veins, or were born of the Israelites and had married Egyptians against their law. Among these she made friends, and together they worshipped in their own fashion with none to say them nay, since here no priests were allowed to trouble them.