The dogs in their open kennels now began to make themselves heard, but their tones were plaintive and whining, for the storm had frightened the beasts; their howling cut the pioneer to the heart, for it reminded him of the poor slain Descher, whose deep voice he sadly missed; and when he went into his own room he was met by a wild cry of lamentation from the Ethiopian slave, for the dog which he had trained for Paaker’s father, and which he had loved.
The pioneer threw himself on a seat, and ordered some water to be brought, that he might cool his aching hand in it, according to the prescription of Nebsecht.
As soon as the old man saw the broken fingers, he gave another yell of woe, and when Paaker ordered him to cease he asked:
“And is the man still alive who did that, and who killed Descher?”
Paaker nodded, and while he held his hand in the cooling water he looked sullenly at the ground. He felt miserable, and he asked himself why the storm had not swamped the boat, and the Nile had not swallowed him. Bitterness and rage filled his breast, and he wished he were a child, and might cry. But his mood soon changed, his breath came quickly, his breast heaved, and an ominous light glowed in his eyes. He was not thinking of his love, but of the revenge that was even dearer to him.
“That brood of Rameses!” he muttered. “I will sweep them all away together—the king, and Mena, and those haughty princes, and many more—I know how. Only wait, only wait!” and he flung up his right fist with a threatening gesture.
The door opened at this instant, and his mother entered the room; the raging of the storm had drowned the sound of her steps, and as she approached her revengeful son, she called his name in horror at the mad wrath which was depicted in his countenance. Paaker started, and then said with apparent composure:
“Is it you, mother? It is near morning, and it is better to be asleep than awake in such an hour.”
“I could not rest in my rooms,” answered Setchem. “The storm howled so wildly, and I am so anxious, so frightfully unhappy—as I was before your father died.”
Then stay with me,” said Paaker affectionately, and lie down on my couch.”
“I did not come here to sleep,” replied Setchem. “I am too unhappy at all that happened to you on the larding-steps, it is frightful! No, no, my son, it is not about your smashed hand, though it grieves me to see you in pain; it is about the king, and his anger when he hears of the quarrel. He favors you less than he did your lost father, I know it well. But how wildly you smile, how wild you looked when I came in! It went through my bones and marrow.”
Both were silent for a time, and listened to the furious raging of the storm. At last Setchem spoke. “There is something else,” she said, “which disturbs my mind. I cannot forget the poet who spoke at the festival to-day, young Pentaur. His figure, his face, his movements, nay his very voice, are exactly like those of your father at the time when he was young, and courted me. It is as if the Gods were fain to see the best man that they ever took to themselves, walk before them a second time upon earth.”