“My father brought it to Thebes from the far cast,” said Paaker, in confirmation of the widow’s parting words.
“And that is exactly what makes me so happy,” said Nefert. “For your father was as kind, and as dear to me as if he had been my own. Do you remember when we were sailing round the pond, and the boat upset, and you pulled me senseless out of the water? Never shall I forget the expression with which the great man looked at me when I woke up in its arms; such wise true eyes no one ever had but he.”
“He was good, and he loved you very much,” said Paaker, recalling, for his part, the moment when he had dared to press a kiss on the lips of the sweet unconscious child.
“And I am so glad,” Nefert went on, “that the day has come at last when we can talk of him together again, and when the old grudge that lay so heavy in my heart is all forgotten. How good you are to us, I have already learned; my heart overflows with gratitude to you, when I remember my childhood, and I can never forget that I was indebted to you for all that was bright and happy in it. Only look at the big dog—poor Descher!—how he rubs against me, and shows that he has not forgotten me! Whatever comes from your house fills my mind with pleasant memories.”
“We all love you dearly,” said Paaker looking at her tenderly.
“And how sweet it was in your garden!” cried Nefert. “The nosegay here that you have brought me shall be placed in water, and preserved a long time, as greeting from the place in which once I could play carelessly, and dream so happily.”
With these words she pressed the flowers to her lips; Paaker sprang forward, seized her hand, and covered it with burning kisses.
Nefert started and drew away her hand, but he put out his arm to clasp her to him. He had touched her with his trembling hand, when loud voices were heard in the garden, and Nemu hurried in to announce he arrival of the princess Bent-Anat.
At the same moment Katuti appeared, and in a few minutes the princess herself.
Paaker retreated, and quitted the room before Nefert had time to express her indignation. He staggered to his chariot like a drunken man. He supposed himself beloved by Mena’s wife, his heart was full of triumph, he proposed rewarding Hekt with gold, and went to the palace without delay to crave of Ani a mission to Syria. There it should be brought to the test—he or Mena.
While Nefert, frozen with horror, could not find a word of greeting for her royal friend, Bent-Anat with native dignity laid before the widow her choice of Nefert to fill the place of her lost companion, and desired that Mena’s wife should go to the palace that very day.
She had never before spoken thus to Katuti, and Katuti could not overlook the fact that Bent-Anat had intentionally given up her old confidential tone.