“I saw my school-friend Anana too,” he said. “Injustice reigns in the House of Seti! Pentaur is in prison, and yesterday evening they sat in judgment upon him. My uncle was present, and would have pounced upon the poet, but Ameni took him under his protection. What was finally decided, the pupils could not learn, but it must have been something bad, for the son of the Treasurer heard Ameni saying, after the sitting, to old Gagabu: ‘Punishment he deserves, but I will not let him be overwhelmed;’ and he can have meant no one but Pentaur. To-morrow I will go over, and learn more; something frightful, I am afraid—several years of imprisonment is the least that will happen to him.”
Bent-Anat had turned very pale.
“And whatever they do to him,” she cried, “he will suffer for my sake! Oh, ye omnipotent Gods, help him—help me, be merciful to us both!”
She covered her face with her hands, and left the room. Rameri asked Nefert:
What can have come to my sister? she seems quite strange to me; and you too are not the same as you used to be.”
“We both have to find our way in new circumstances.”
“What are they?”
“That I cannot explain to you!—but it appears to me that you soon may experience something of the same kind. Rumeri, do not go again to the paraschites.”
Early on the following clay the dwarf Nemu went past the restored hut of Uarda’s father—in which he had formerly lived with his wife—with a man in a long coarse robe, the steward of some noble family. They went towards old Hekt’s cave-dwelling.
“I would beg thee to wait down here a moment, noble lord,” said the dwarf, “while I announce thee to my mother.”
“That sounds very grand,” said the other. “However, so be it. But stay! The old woman is not to call me by my name or by my title. She is to call me ’steward’—that no one may know. But, indeed, no one would recognize me in this dress.”
Nemu hastened to the cave, but before he reached his mother she called out: “Do not keep my lord waiting—I know him well.”
Nemu laid his finger to his lips.
“You are to call him steward,” said he.
“Good,” muttered the old woman. “The ostrich puts his head under his feathers when he does not want to be seen.”
“Was the young prince long with Uarda yesterday?”
“No, you fool,” laughed the witch, “the children play together. Rameri is a kid without horns, but who fancies he knows where they ought to grow. Pentaur is a more dangerous rival with the red-headed girl. Make haste, now; these stewards must not be kept waiting!”
The old woman gave the dwarf a push, and he hurried back to Ani, while she carried the child, tied to his board, into the cave, and threw the sack over him.
A few minutes later the Regent stood before her. She bowed before him with a demeanor that was more like the singer Beki than the sorceress Hekt, and begged him to take the only seat she possessed.