“Not I—never!” said Nefert.
“You are just a rose—my dearest,” said Bent-Anat. “Well! when I was fifteen I was so discontented, so insubordinate and full of all sorts of wild behavior, so dissatisfied in spite of all the kindness and love that surrounded me—but I will tell you what happened. It is four years ago, shortly before your wedding with Mena; my father called me to play draughts.
[At Medinet Habu a picture represents
Rameses the Third, not Rameses
the Second, playing at draughts with his daughter.]
You know how certainly he could beat the most skilful antagonist; but that day his thoughts were wandering, and I won the game twice following. Full of insolent delight, I jumped up and kissed his great handsome forehead, and cried ’The sublime God, the hero, under whose feet the strange nations writhe, to whom the priests and the people pray—is beaten by a girl!’ He smiled gently, and answered ’The Lords of Heaven are often outdone by the Ladies, and Necheb, the lady of victory, is a woman. Then he grew graver, and said: ’You call me a God, my child, but in this only do I feel truly godlike, that at every moment I strive to the utmost to prove myself useful by my labors; here restraining, there promoting, as is needful. Godlike I can never be but by doing or producing something great! These words, Nefert, fell like seeds in my soul. At last I knew what it was that was wanting to me; and when, a few weeks later, my father and your husband took the field with a hundred thousand fighting men, I resolved to be worthy of my godlike father, and in my little circle to be of use too! You do not know all that is done in the houses behind there, under my direction. Three hundred girls spin pure flax, and weave it into bands of linen for the wounds of the soldiers; numbers of children, and old women, gather plants on the mountains, and others sort them according to the instructions of a physician; in the kitchens no banquets are prepared, but fruits are preserved in sugar for the loved ones, and the sick in the camp. Joints of meat are salted, dried, and smoked for the army on its march through the desert. The butler no longer thinks of drinking-bouts, but brings me wine in great stone jars; we pour it