“I am Pentaur,” he answered firmly, “a man with all the weakness of his race, but with a desire for what is good. Linger here and pour out thy soul to our Goddess; my whole life shall be a prayer for thee.”
The poet looked full at her; then he turned quickly, as if to avoid a danger, towards the door of the confessional.
Bent-Anat called his name, and he stayed his steps:
“The daughter of Rameses,” she said, “need offer no justification of her appearance here, but the maiden Bent-Anat,” and she colored as she spoke, “expected to find, not thee, but the old priest Rui, and she desired his advice. Now leave me to pray.”
Bent-Anat sank on her knees, and Pentaur went out into the open air.
When the princess too had left the confessional, loud voices were heard on the south side of the terrace on which they stood.
She hastened towards the parapet.
“Hail to Pentaur!” was shouted up from below. The poet rushed forward, and placed himself near the princess. Both looked down into the valley, and could be seen by all.
“Hail, hail! Pentaur,” was called doubly loud, “Hail to our teacher! come back to the House of Seti. Down with the persecutors of Pentaur— down with our oppressors !”
At the head of the youths, who, so soon as they had found out whither the poet had been exiled, had escaped to tell him that they were faithful to him, stood the prince Rameri, who nodded triumphantly to his sister, and Anana stepped forward to inform the honored teacher in a solemn and well-studied speech, that, in the event of Ameni refusing to recall him, they had decided requesting their fathers to place them at another school.
The young sage spoke well, and Bent-Anat followed his words, not without approbation; but Pentaur’s face grew darker, and before his favorite disciple had ended his speech he interrupted him sternly.
His voice was at first reproachful, and then complaining, and loud as he spoke, only sorrow rang in his tones, and not anger.
“In truth,” he concluded, “every word that I have spoken to you I could but find it in me to regret, if it has contributed to encourage you to this mad act. You were born in palaces; learn to obey, that later you may know how to command. Back to your school! You hesitate? Then I will come out against you with the watchman, and drive you back, for you do me and yourselves small honor by such a proof of affection. Go back to the school you belong to.”
The school-boys dared make no answer, but surprised and disenchanted turned to go home.
Bent-Anat cast down her eyes as she met those of her brother, who shrugged his shoulders, and then she looked half shyly, half respectfully, at the poet; but soon again her eyes turned to the plain below, for thick dust-clouds whirled across it, the sound of hoofs and the rattle of wheels became audible, and at the same moment the chariot of Septah, the chief haruspex, and a vehicle with the heavily-armed guard of the House of Seti, stopped near the terrace.