[Besa, the god of the toilet of
the Egyptians. He was represented
as a deformed pigmy. He led the women to conquest in love, and the
men in war. He was probably of Arab origin.]
Pentaur was known as a mighty laugher among his companions, and his loud voice rung in the quiet room, when he discovered that his friend was about to put a third clean robe over two dirty ones, and wear no less than three dresses at once.
Nebsecht laughed too, and said, “Now I know why my clothes were so heavy, and felt so intolerably hot at noon. While I get rid of my superfluous clothing, will you go and ask the high-priest if I have leave to quit the temple.”
“He commissioned me to send a leech to the paraschites, and added that the girl was to be treated like a queen.”
“Ameni? and did he know that we have to do with a paraschites?”
“Then I shall begin to believe that broken limbs may be set with vows-aye, vows! You know I cannot go alone to the sick, because my leather tongue is unable to recite the sentences or to wring rich offerings for the temple from the dying. Go, while I undress, to the prophet Gagabu and beg him to send the pastophorus Teta, who usually accompanies me.”
“I would seek a young assistant rather than that blind old man.”
“Not at all. I should be glad if he would stay at home, and only let his tongue creep after me like an eel or a slug. Head and heart have nothing to do with his wordy operations, and they go on like an ox treading out corn.”
[In Egypt, as in Palestine, beasts trod out the corn, as we learn from many pictures in the catacombs, even in the remotest ages; often with the addition of a weighted sledge, to the runners of which rollers are attached. It is now called noreg.]
“It is true,” said Pentaur; “just lately I saw the old man singing out his litanies by a sick-bed, and all the time quietly counting the dates, of which they had given him a whole sack-full.”
“He will be unwilling to go to the paraschites, who is poor, and he would sooner seize the whole brood of scorpions yonder than take a piece of bread from the hand of the unclean. Tell him to come and fetch me, and drink some wine. There stands three days’ allowance; in this hot weather it dims my sight.
“Does the paraschites live to the north or south of the Necropolis?”
“I think to the north. Paaker, the king’s pioneer, will show you the way.”
“He!” exclaimed the student, laughing. “What day in the calendar is this, then?
[Calendars have been preserved, the completest is the papyrus Sallier IV., which has been admirably treated by F. Chabas. Many days are noted as lucky, unlucky, etc. In the temples many Calendars of feasts have been found, the most perfect at Medinet Abu, deciphered by Dumich.]
The child of a paraschites is to be tended like a princess, and a leech have a noble to guide him, like the Pharaoh himself! I ought to have kept on my three robes!”