“In the evening, when the folk from the other side had left the City of the Dead, she would often walk down the valley here, thoughtful and often looking up at the moon, which she was especially fond of.
“One evening in the winter-time I came home. It was already dark, and I expected to find her in front of the door. All at once, about a hundred steps behind old Hekt’s cave, I heard a troop of jackals barking so furiously that I said to myself directly they had attacked a human being, and I knew too who it was, though no one had told me, and the woman could not call or cry out. Frantic with terror, I tore a firebrand from the hearth and the stake to which the goat was fastened out of the ground, rushed to her help, drove away the beasts, and carried her back senseless to the hut. My mother helped me, and we called her back to life. When we were alone, I wept like a child for joy at her escape, and she let me kiss her, and then she became my wife, three years after I had bought her.
“She bore me a little maid, that she herself named Uarda; for she showed us a rose, and then pointed to the child, and we understood her without words.
“Soon afterwards she died.
“You are a priest, but I tell you that when I am summoned before Osiris, if I am admitted amongst the blessed, I will ask whether I shall meet my wife, and if the doorkeeper says no, he may thrust me back, and I will go down cheerfully to the damned, if I find her again there.”
“And did no sign ever betray her origin?” asked the physician.
The soldier had hidden his face in his hand; he was weeping aloud, and did not hear the question. But, the paraschites answered:
“She was the child of some great personage, for in her clothes we found a golden jewel with a precious stone inscribed with strange characters. It is very costly, and my wife is keeping it for the little one.”
In the earliest glimmer of dawn the following clay, the physician Nebsecht having satisfied himself as to the state of the sick girl, left the paraschites’ hut and made his way in deepest thought to the ’Terrace Temple of Hatasu, to find his friend Pentaur and compose the writing which he had promised to the old man.
As the sun arose in radiance he reached the sanctuary. He expected to hear the morning song of the priests, but all was silent. He knocked and the porter, still half-asleep, opened the door.
Nebsecht enquired for the chief of the Temple. “He died in the night,” said the man yawning.
“What do you say?” cried the physician in sudden terror, “who is dead?”
“Our good old chief, Rui.”
Nebsecht breathed again, and asked for Pentaur.
“You belong to the House of Seti,” said the doorkeeper, “and you do not know that he is deposed from his office? The holy fathers have refused to celebrate the birth of Ra with him. He sings for himself now, alone up on the watch-tower. There you will find him.”