The dwarf went on.
“Secure Nefert, so that she may not vanish like her image in the dream, before you reach the goal; that is to say, ransom the honor of your future mother and wife, for how could you take an outcast into your house?”
Paaker looked thoughtfully at the ground.
“May I inform my mistress that thou wilt save her?” asked Nemu. “I may?—Then all will be well, for he who will devote a fortune to love will not hesitate to devote a reed lance with a brass point to it to his love and his hatred together.”
The sun had set, and darkness covered the City of the Dead, but the moon shone above the valley of the kings’ tombs, and the projecting masses of the rocky walls of the chasm threw sharply-defined shadows. A weird silence lay upon the desert, where yet far more life was stirring than in the noonday hour, for now bats darted like black silken threads through the night air, owls hovered aloft on wide-spread wings, small troops of jackals slipped by, one following the other up the mountain slopes. From time to time their hideous yell, or the whining laugh of the hyena, broke the stillness of the night.
Nor was human life yet at rest in the valley of tombs. A faint light glimmered in the cave of the sorceress Hekt, and in front of the paraschites’ but a fire was burning, which the grandmother of the sick Uarda now and then fed with pieces of dry manure. Two men were seated in front of the hut, and gazed in silence on the thin flame, whose impure light was almost quenched by the clearer glow of the moon; whilst the third, Uarda’s father, disembowelled a large ram, whose head he had already cut off.
“How the jackals howl!” said the old paraschites, drawing as he spoke the torn brown cotton cloth, which he had put on as a protection against the night air and the dew, closer round his bare shoulders.
“They scent the fresh meat,” answered the physician, Nebsecht. “Throw them the entrails, when you have done; the legs and back you can roast. Be careful how you cut out the heart—the heart, soldier. There it is! What a great beast.”
Nebsecht took the ram’s heart in his hand, and gazed at it with the deepest attention, whilst the old paraschites watched him anxiously. At length:
“I promised,” he said, “to do for you what you wish, if you restore the little one to health; but you ask for what is impossible.”
“Impossible?” said the physician, “why, impossible? You open the corpses, you go in and out of the house of the embalmer. Get possession of one of the canopi,