While the friends were occupied in restoring Uarda to animation, and in taking affectionate care of her, Katuti was walking restlessly backwards and forwards in her tent.
Soon after she had slipped out for the purpose of setting fire to the palace, Scherau’s cry had waked up Nefert, and Katuti found her daughter’s bed empty when, with blackened hands and limbs trembling with agitation, she came back from her criminal task.
Now she waited in vain for Nemu and Paaker.
Her steward, whom she sent on repeated messages of enquiry whether the Regent had returned, constantly brought back a negative answer, and added the information that he had found the body of old Hekt lying on the open ground. The widow’s heart sank with fear; she was full of dark forebodings while she listened to the shouts of the people engaged in putting out the fire, the roll of drums, and the trumpets of the soldiers calling each other to the help of the king.
To these sounds now was added the dull crash of falling timbers and walls.
A faint smile played upon her thin lips, and she thought to herself: “There—that perhaps fell on the king, and my precious son-in-law, who does not deserve such a fate—if we had not fallen into disgrace, and if since the occurrences before Kadesh he did not cling to his indulgent lord as a calf follows a cow.”
She gathered fresh courage, and fancied she could hear the voice of Ethiopian troops hailing the Regent as king—could see Ani decorated with the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, seated on Rameses’ throne, and herself by his side in rich though unpretending splendor. She pictured herself with her son and daughter as enjoying Mena’s estate, freed from debt and increased by Ani’s generosity, and then a new, intoxicating hope came into her mind. Perhaps already at this moment her daughter was a widow, and why should she not be so fortunate as to induce Ani to select her child, the prettiest woman in Thebes, for his wife? Then she, the mother of the queen, would be indeed unimpeachable, and all-powerful. She had long since come to regard the pioneer as a tool to be cast aside, nay soon to be utterly destroyed; his wealth might probably at some future time be bestowed upon her son, who had distinguished himself at Kadesh, and whom Ani must before long promote to be his charioteer or the commander of the chariot warriors.
Flattered by these fancies, she forgot every care as she walked faster and faster to and fro in her tent. Suddenly the steward, whom she had this time sent to the very scene of the fire, rushed into the tent, and with every token of terror broke to her the news that the king and his charioteer were hanging in mid air on a narrow wooden parapet, and that unless some miracle happened they must inevitably be killed. It was said that incendiaries had occasioned the fire, and he, the steward, had hastened forward to prepare her for evil news as the mangled body of the pioneer, which had been identified by the ring on his finger, and the poor little corpse of Nemu, pierced through by an arrow, had been carried past him.