[Pictures on the monuments
show that in ancient Egypt, as at the
present time, bouquets of flowers were bestowed as tokens of
Katuti had taken quite a new interest in Paaker since she had heard of his procuring the philter.
No other young man of the rank to which they belonged, would have allowed himself to be so mastered by his passion for a woman as this Paaker was, who went straight to his aim with stubborn determination, and shunned no means that might lead to it. The pioneer, who had grown up under her eyes, whose weaknesses she knew, and whom she was accustomed to look down upon, suddenly appeared to her as a different man—almost a stranger—as the deliverer of his friends, and the merciless antagonist of his enemies.
These reflections had passed rapidly through her mind. Now her eyes rested on the sturdy, strongly-knit figure of her nephew, and it struck her that he bore no resemblance to his tall, handsome father. Often had she admired her brother-in-law’s slender hand, that nevertheless could so effectually wield a sword, but that of his son was broad and ignoble in form.
While Paaker was telling her that he must shortly leave for Syria, she involuntarily observed the action of this hand, which often went cautiously to his girdle as if he had something concealed there; this was the oval phial with the rest of the philter. Katuti observed it, and her cheeks flushed when it occurred to her to guess what he had there.
The pioneer could not but observe Katuti’s agitation, and he said in a tone of sympathy:
“I perceive that you are in pain, or in trouble. The master of Mena’s stud at Hermonthis has no doubt been with you—No? He came to me yesterday, and asked me to allow him to join my troops. He is very angry with you, because he has been obliged to sell some of Mena’s gold-bays. I have bought the finest of them. They are splendid creatures! Now he wants to go to his master ‘to open his eyes,’ as he says. Lie down a little while, aunt, you are very pale.”
Katuti did not follow this prescription; on the contrary she smiled, and said in a voice half of anger and half of pity:
“The old fool firmly believes that the weal or woe of the family depends on the gold-bays. He would like to go with you? To open Mena’s eyes? No one has yet tried to bind them!”
Katuti spoke the last words in a low tone, and her glance fell. Paaker also looked down, and was silent; but he soon recovered his presence of mind, and said:
“If Nefert is to be long absent, I will go.”
“No—no, stay,” cried the widow. “She wished to see you, and must soon come in. There are her cake and her wine waiting for her.”
With these words she took the napkin off the breakfast-table, held up the beaker in her hand, and then said, with the cloth still in her hand: