“I will resign my share in the matter to my brother,” said Bent-Anat, “and I only ask you, maiden, whether you are inclined to acknowledge him as your lord and master?”
Uarda bowed assent, and looked at her grandfather with an expression which he understood without any interpreter.
“I know you well,” he said, turning to Rameri. “We stood face to face in the fight, and I took you prisoner as you fell stunned by a blow from my sword. You are still too rash, but that is a fault which time will amend in a youth of your heroic temper. Listen to me now, and you too, noble Pharaoh, permit me these few words; let us betroth these two, and may their union be the bond of ours, but first grant me for a year to take my long-lost child home with me that she may rejoice my old heart, and that I may hear from her lips the accents of her mother, whom you took from me. They are both young; according to the usages of our country, where both men and women ripen later than in your country, they are almost too young for the solemn tie of marriage. But one thing above all will determine you to favor my wishes; this daughter of a royal house has grown up amid the humblest surroundings; here she has no home, no family-ties. The prince has wooed her, so to speak, on the highway, but if she now comes with me he can enter the palace of kings as suitor to a princess, and the marriage feast I will provide shall be a right royal one.”
“What you demand is just and wise,” replied Rameses. “Take your grand-child with you as my son’s betrothed bride—my future daughter. Give me your hands, my children. The delay will teach you patience, for Rameri must remain a full year from to-day in Egypt, and it will be to your profit, sweet child, for the obedience which he will learn through his training in the army will temper the nature of your future husband. You, Rameri, shall in a year from to-day—and I think you will not forget the date—find at your service a ship in the harbor of Pelusium, fitted and manned with Phoenicians, to convey you to your wedding.”
“So be it!” exclaimed the old man. “And by Zeus who hears me swear—I will not withhold Xanthe’s daughter from your son when he comes to claim her!”
When Rameri returned to the princes’ tent he threw himself on their necks in turn, and when he found himself alone with their surly old house-steward, he snatched his wig from his head, flung it in the air, and then coaxingly stroked the worthy officer’s cheeks as he set it on his head again.
Uarda accompanied her grandfather and Praxilla to their tent on the farther side of the Nile, but she was to return next morning to the Egyptian camp to take leave of all her friends, and to provide for her father’s internment. Nor did she delay attending to the last wishes of old Hekt, and Bent-Anat easily persuaded her father, when he learnt how greatly he had been indebted to her, to have her embalmed like a lady of rank.