This eventful day had brought much that was unexpected to our friends in Thebes, as well as to those who lived in the Necropolis.
The Lady Katuti had risen early after a sleepless night. Nefert had come in late, had excused her delay by shortly explaining to her mother that she had been detained by Bent-Anat, and had then affectionately offered her brow for a kiss of “good-night.”
When the widow was about to withdraw to her sleeping-room, and Nemu had lighted her lamp, she remembered the secret which was to deliver Paaker into Ani’s hands. She ordered the dwarf to impart to her what he knew, and the little man told her at last, after sincere efforts at resistance —for he feared for his mother’s safety—that Paaker had administered half of a love-philter to Nefert, and that the remainder was still in his hands.
A few hours since this information would have filled Katuti with indignation and disgust; now, though she blamed the Mohar, she asked eagerly whether such a drink could be proved to have any actual effect.
“Not a doubt of it,” said the dwarf, “if the whole were taken, but Nefert only had half of it.”
At a late hour Katuti was still pacing her bedroom, thinking of Paaker’s insane devotion, of Mena’s faithlessness, and of Nefert’s altered demeanor; and when she went to bed, a thousand conjectures, fears, and anxieties tormented her, while she was distressed at the change which had come over Nefert’s love to her mother, a sentiment which of all others should be the most sacred, and the most secure against all shock.
Soon after sunrise she went into the little temple attached to the house, and made an offering to the statue, which, under the form of Osiris, represented her lost husband; then she went to the temple of Anion, where she also prayed a while, and nevertheless, on her return home, found that her daughter had not yet made her appearance in the hall where they usually breakfasted together.
Katuti preferred to be undisturbed during the early morning hours, and therefore did not interfere with her daughter’s disposition to sleep far into the day in her carefully-darkened room.
When the widow went to the temple Nefert was accustomed to take a cup of milk in bed, then she would let herself be dressed, and when her mother returned, she would find her in the veranda or hall, which is so well known to the reader.
To-day however Katuti had to breakfast alone; but when she had eaten a few mouthfuls she prepared Nefert’s breakfast—a white cake and a little wine in a small silver beaker, carefully guarded from dust and insects by a napkin thrown over it—and went into her daughter’s room.
She was startled at finding it empty, but she was informed that Nefert had gone earlier than was her wont to the temple, in her litter.
With a heavy sigh she returned to the veranda, and there received her nephew Paaker, who had come to enquire after the health of his relatives, followed by a slave, who carried two magnificent bunches of flowers, and by the great dog which had formerly belonged to his father. One bouquet he said had been cut for Nefert, and the other for her mother.