The gate-keeper, swinging a censer before him with a hasty action, admitted him into the sanctuary. You will find him on the third terrace,” he said, “but he is no longer our superior.”
“They said so in the temple of Seti, whence I have just come,” replied Paaker.
The porter shrugged his shoulders with a sneer, and said: “The palm-tree that is quickly set up falls down more quickly still.” Then he desired a servant to conduct the stranger to Pentaur.
The poet recognized the Mohar at once, asked his will, and learned that he was come to have a wonderful vision interpreted by him.
Paaker explained before relating his dream, that he did not ask this service for nothing; and when the priest’s countenance darkened he added:
“I will send a fine beast for sacrifice to the Goddess if the interpretation is favorable.”
“And in the opposite case?” asked Pentaur, who, in the House of Seti, never would have anything whatever to do with the payments of the worshippers or the offerings of the devout.
“I will offer a sheep,” replied Paaker, who did not perceive the subtle irony that lurked in Pentaur’s words, and who was accustomed to pay for the gifts of the Divinity in proportion to their value to himself.
Pentaur thought of the verdict which Gagabu, only two evenings since, had passed on the Mohar, and it occurred to him that he would test how far the man’s superstition would lead him. So he asked, while he suppressed a smile:
“And if I can foretell nothing bad, but also nothing actually good?”—
“An antelope, and four geese,” answered Paaker promptly.
“But if I were altogether disinclined to put myself at your service?” asked Pentaur. “If I thought it unworthy of a priest to let the Gods be paid in proportion to their favors towards a particular person, like corrupt officials; if I now showed you—you—and I have known you from a school-boy, that there are things that cannot be bought with inherited wealth?”
The pioneer drew back astonished and angry, but Pentaur continued calmly—
“I stand here as the minister of the Divinity; and nevertheless, I see by your countenance, that you were on the point of lowering yourself by showing to me your violent and extortionate spirit.
“The Immortals send us dreams, not to give us a foretaste of joy or caution us against danger, but to remind us so to prepare our souls that we may submit quietly to suffer evil, and with heartfelt gratitude accept the good; and so gain from each profit for the inner life. I will not interpret your dream! Come without gifts, but with a humble heart, and with longing for inward purification, and I will pray to the Gods that they may enlighten me, and give you such interpretation of even evil dreams that they may be fruitful in blessing.
“Leave me, and quit the temple!”
Paaker ground his teeth with rage; but he controlled himself, and only said as he slowly withdrew: