“Have you ever known my tongue sin against the lovely daughter of Ra?” he exclaimed. “But look here! did I stir up Antef, Hapi, Sent and all the others or no? Who but I advised you to find out Pentaur? Did I threaten to beg my father to take me from the school of Seti or not? I was the instigator of the mischief, I pulled the wires, and if we are questioned let me speak first. Not one of you is to mention Anana’s name; do you hear? not one of you, and if they flog us or deprive us of our food we all stick to this, that I was guilty of all the mischief.”
“You are a brave fellow!” said the son of the chief priest of Anion, shaking his right hand, while Anana held his left.
The prince freed himself laughing from their grasp.
“Now the old man may come home,” he exclaimed, “we are ready for him. But all the same I will ask my father to send me to Chennu, as sure as my name is Rameri, if they do not recall Pentaur.”
“He treated us like school-boys!” said the eldest of the young malefactors.
“And with reason,” replied Rameri, “I respect him all the more for it. You all think I am a careless dog—but I have my own ideas, and I will speak the words of wisdom.”
With these words he looked round on his companions with comical gravity, and continued—imitating Ameni’s manner:
“Great men are distinguished from little men by this—they scorn and contemn all which flatters their vanity, or seems to them for the moment desirable, or even useful, if it is not compatible with the laws which they recognize, or conducive to some great end which they have set before them; even though that end may not be reached till after their death.
“I have learned this, partly from my father, but partly I have thought it out for myself; and now I ask you, could Pentaur as ‘a great man’ have dealt with us better?”
“You have put into words exactly what I myself have thought ever since yesterday,” cried Anana. “We have behaved like babies, and instead of carrying our point we have brought ourselves and Pentaur into disgrace.”
The rattle of an approaching chariot was now audible, and Rameri exclaimed, interrupting Anana, “It is he. Courage, boys! I am the guilty one. He will not dare to have me thrashed—but he will stab me with looks!”
Ameni descended quickly from his chariot. The gate-keeper informed him that the chief of the kolchytes, and the inspector of victims from the temple of Anion, desired to speak with him.
“They must wait,” said the Prophet shortly. “Show them meanwhile into the garden pavilion. Where is the chief haruspex?”
He had hardly spoken when the vigorous old man for whom he was enquiring hurried to meet him, to make him acquainted with all that had occurred in his absence. But the high-priest had already heard in Thebes all that his colleague was anxious to tell him.
When Ameni was absent from the House of Seti, he caused accurate information to be brought to him every morning of what had taken place there.