“Thus shall your son’s defiant spirit be broken,” said Ameni; “But for you, if you have patience, new joys shall arise.”
“I thank thee again,” said Setchem. But something yet remains to be said. I know that I am wasting the time that thou dost devote to thy family, and I remember thy saying once that here in Thebes thou wert like a pack-Horse with his load taken off, and free to wander over a green meadow. I will not disturb thee much longer—but the Gods sent me such a wonderful vision. Paaker would not listen to me, and I went back into my room full of sorrow; and when at last, after the sun had risen, I fell asleep for a few minutes, I dreamed I saw before me the poet Pentaur, who is wonderfully like my dead husband in appearance and in voice. Paaker went up to him, and abused him violently, and threatened him with his fist; the priest raised his arms in prayer, just as I saw him yesterday at the festival—but not in devotion, but to seize Paaker, and wrestle with him. The struggle did not last long, for Paaker seemed to shrink up, and lost his human form, and fell at the poet’s feet—not my son, but a shapeless lump of clay such as the potter uses to make jars of.”
“A strange dream!” exclaimed Ameni, not without agitation. “A very strange dream, but it bodes you good. Clay, Setchem, is yielding, and clearly indicates that which the Gods prepare for you. The Immortals will give you a new and a better son instead of the old one, but it is not revealed to me by what means. Go now, and sacrifice to the Gods, and trust to the wisdom of those who guide the life of the universe, and of all mortal creatures. Yet—I would give you one more word of advice. If Paaker comes to you repentant, receive him kindly, and let me know; but if he will not yield, close your rooms against him, and let him depart without taking leave of you.”
When Setchem, much encouraged, was gone away, Ameni said to himself:
“She will find splendid compensation for this coarse scoundrel, and she shall not spoil the tool we need to strike our blow. I have often doubted how far dreams do, indeed, foretell the future, but to-day my faith in them is increased. Certainly a mother’s heart sees farther than that of any other human being.”
At the door of her house Setchem came up with her son’s chariot. They saw each other, but both looked away, for they could not meet affectionately, and would not meet coldly. As the horses outran the litter-bearers, the mother and son looked round at each other, their eyes met, and each felt a stab in the heart.
In the evening the pioneer, after he had had an interview with the Regent, went to the temple of Seti to receive Ameni’s blessing on all his undertakings. Then, after sacrificing in the tomb of his ancestors, he set out for Syria.
Just as he was getting into his chariot, news was brought him that the mat-maker, who had sawn through the masts at the gate, had been caught.