only courts his niece, who is dear to him, and who he hopes will make the second half of his life the brightest. Ani is kind and without severity. Thou would’st win in him a husband, who would wait on thy looks, and bow willingly to thy strong will.”
Bent-Anat’s eyes flashed, and she hastily exclaimed: “That is exactly what forces the decisive irrevocable ‘No’ to my lips. Do you think that because I am as proud as my mother, and resolute like my father, that I wish for a husband whom I could govern and lead as I would? How little you know me! I will be obeyed by my dogs, my servants, my officers, if the Gods so will it, by my children. Abject beings, who will kiss my feet, I meet on every road, and can buy by the hundred, if I wish it, in the slave market. I may be courted twenty times, and reject twenty suitors, but not because I fear that they might bend my pride and my will; on the contrary, because I feel them increased. The man to whom I could wish to offer my hand must be of a loftier stamp, must be greater, firmer, and better than I, and I will flutter after the mighty wing-strokes of his spirit, and smile at my own weakness, and glory in admiring his superiority.”
Katuti listened to the maiden with the smile by which the experienced love to signify their superiority over the visionary.
“Ancient times may have produced such men,” she said. “But if in these days thou thinkest to find one, thou wilt wear the lock of youth,
[The lock of youth was
a curl of hair which all the younger members
of princely families wore at the side of the head. The young Horus
is represented with it.]
till thou art grey. Our thinkers are no heroes, and our heroes are no sages. Here come thy brother and Nefert.”
“Will you persuade Ani to give up his suit!” said the princess urgently.
“I will endeavor to do so, for thy sake,” replied Katuti. Then, turning half to the young Rameri and half to his sister, she said:
“The chief of the House of Seti, Ameni, was in his youth such a man as thou paintest, Bent-Anat. Tell us, thou son of Rameses, that art growing up under the young sycamores, which shall some day over-shadow the land-whom dost thou esteem the highest among thy companions? Is there one among them, who is conspicuous above them all for a lofty spirit and strength of intellect?”
The young Rameri looked gaily at the speaker, and said laughing: “We are all much alike, and do more or less willingly what we are compelled, and by preference every thing that we ought not.”
“A mighty soul—a youth, who promises to be a second Snefru, a Thotmes, or even an Amem? Dost thou know none such in the House of Seti?” asked the widow. “Oh yes!” cried Rameri with eager certainty.
“And he is—?” asked Katuti.
“Pentaur, the poet,” exclaimed the youth. Bent-Anat’s face glowed with scarlet color, while her, brother went on to explain.