At the same moment Katuti appeared, and in a few minutes the princess herself.
Paaker retreated, and quitted the room before Nefert had time to express her indignation. He staggered to his chariot like a drunken man. He supposed himself beloved by Mena’s wife, his heart was full of triumph, he proposed rewarding Hekt with gold, and went to the palace without delay to crave of Ani a mission to Syria. There it should be brought to the test—he or Mena.
While Nefert, frozen with horror, could not find a word of greeting for her royal friend, Bent-Anat with native dignity laid before the widow her choice of Nefert to fill the place of her lost companion, and desired that Mena’s wife should go to the palace that very day.
She had never before spoken thus to Katuti, and Katuti could not overlook the fact that Bent-Anat had intentionally given up her old confidential tone.
“Nefert has complained of me to her,” thought she to herself, “and she considers me no longer worthy of her former friendly kindness.”
She was vexed and hurt, and though she understood the danger which threatened her, now her daughter’s eyes were opened, still the thought of losing her child inflicted a painful wound. It was this which filled her eyes with tears, and sincere sorrow trembled in her voice as she replied:
“Thou hast required the better half of my life at my hand; but thou hast but to command, and I to obey.” Bent-Anat waved her hand proudly, as if to confirm the widow’s statement; but Nefert went up to her mother, threw her arms round her neck, and wept upon her shoulder.
Tears glistened even in the princess’s eyes when Katuti at last led her daughter towards her, and pressed yet one more kiss on her forehead.
Bent-Anat took Nefert’s hand, and did not release it, while she requested the widow to give her daughter’s dresses and ornaments into the charge of the slaves and waiting-women whom she would send for them.
“And do not forget the case with the dried flowers, and my amulets, and the images of the Gods,” said Nefert. “And I should like to have the Neha tree which my uncle gave me.”
Her white cat was playing at her feet with Paaker’s flowers, which she had dropped on the floor, and when she saw her she took her up and kissed her.
“Bring the little creature with you,” said Bent-Anat. “It was your favorite plaything.”
“No,” replied Nefert coloring.
The princess understood her, pressed her hand, and said while she pointed to Nemu:
“The dwarf is your own too: shall he come with you?”
“I will give him to my mother,” said Nefert. She let the little man kiss her robe and her feet, once more embraced Katuti, and quitted the garden with her royal friend.
As soon as Katuti was alone, she hastened into the little chapel in which the figures of her ancestors stood, apart from those of Mena. She threw herself down before the statue of her husband, half weeping, half thankful.