“I disguised myself a little, and I have good news for you. Pretty Uarda is much better. She received your present, and they have a house of their own again. Close to the one that was burnt down, there was a tumbled-down hovel, which her father soon put together again; he is a bearded soldier, who is as much like her as a hedgehog is like a white dove. I offered her to work in the palace for you with the other girls, for good wages, but she would not; for she has to wait on her sick grandmother, and she is proud, and will not serve any one.”
“It seems you were a long time with the paraschites’ people,” said Bent-Anat reprovingly. “I should have thought that what has happened to me might have served you as a warning.”
“I will not be better than you!” cried the boy. “Besides, the paraschites is dead, and Uarda’s father is a respectable soldier, who can defile no one. I kept a long way from the old woman. To-morrow I am going again. I promised her.”
“Promised who?” asked his sister.
“Who but Uarda? She loves flowers, and since the rose which you gave her she has not seen one. I have ordered the gardener to cut me a basket full of roses to-morrow morning, and shall take them to her myself.”
“That you will not!” cried Bent-Anat. “You are still but half a child—and, for the girl’s sake too, you must give it up.”
“We only gossip together,” said the prince coloring, “and no one shall recognize me. But certainly, if you mean that, I will leave the basket of roses, and go to her alone. No—sister, I will not be forbidden this; she is so charming, so white, so gentle, and her voice is so soft and sweet! And she has little feet, as small as—what shall I say?—as small and graceful as Nefert’s hand. We talked most about Pentaur. She knows his father, who is a gardener, and knows a great deal about him. Only think! she says the poet cannot be the son of his parents, but a good spirit that has come down on earth—perhaps a God. At first she was very timid, but when I spoke of Pentaur she grew eager; her reverence for him is almost idolatry—and that vexed me.”
“You would rather she should reverence you so,” said Nefert smiling.
“Not at all,” cried Rameri. “But I helped to save her, and I am so happy when I am sitting with her, that to-morrow, I am resolved, I will put a flower in her hair. It is red certainly, but as thick as yours, Bent-Anat, and it must be delightful to unfasten it and stroke it.”
The ladies exchanged a glance of intelligence, and the princess said decidedly:
“You will not go to the City of the Dead to-morrow, my little son!”
“That we will see, my little mother!” He answered laughing; then he turned grave.