“I am not come to visit her,” retorted the prince, “but you only; and you do not belong to them, of that I am convinced. No roses grow in the desert.”
“And yet: am my father’s child,” said Uarda decidedly, “and my poor dead grandfather’s grandchild. Certainly I belong to them, and those that do not think me good enough for them may keep away.”
With these words she turned to re-enter the house; but Rameri seized her hand, and held her back, saying:
“How cruel you are! I tried to save you, and came to see you before I thought that you might—and, indeed, you are quite unlike the people whom you call your relations. You must not misunderstand me; but it would be horrible to me to believe that you, who are so beautiful, and as white as a lily, have any part in the hideous curse. You charm every one, even my mistress, Bent-Anat, and it seems to me impossible—”
“That I should belong to the unclean!—say it out,” said Uarda softly, and casting down her eyes.
Then she continued more excitedly: “But I tell you, the curse is unjust, for a better man never lived than my grandfather was.”
Tears sprang from her eyes, and Rameri said: “I fully believe it; and it must be very difficult to continue good when every one despises and scorns one; I at least can be brought to no good by blame, though I can by praise. Certainly people are obliged to meet me and mine with respect.”
“And us with contempt!” exclaimed Uarda. “But I will tell you something. If a man is sure that he is good, it is all the same to him whether he be despised or honored by other people. Nay—we may be prouder than you; for you great folks must often say to yourselves that you are worth less than men value you at, and we know that we are worth more.”
“I have often thought that of you,” exclaimed Rameri, “and there is one who recognizes your worth; and that is I. Even if it were otherwise, I must always—always think of you.”
“I have thought of you too,” said Uarda. “Just now, when I was sitting with my sick grandmother, it passed through my mind how nice it would be if I had a brother just like you. Do you know what I should do if you were my brother?”
“I should buy you a chariot and horse, and you should go away to the king’s war.”
“Are you so rich?” asked Rameri smiling.
“Oh yes!” answered Uarda. “To be sure, I have not been rich for more than an hour. Can you read?”
“Only think, when I was ill they sent a doctor to me from the House of Seti. He was very clever, but a strange man. He often looked into my eyes like a drunken man, and he stammered when he spoke.”
“Is his name Nebsecht?” asked the prince.
“Yes, Nebsecht. He planned strange things with grandfather, and after Pentaur and you had saved us in the frightful attack upon us he interceded for us. Since then he has not come again, for I was already much better. Now to-day, about two hours ago, the dog barked, and an old man, a stranger, came up to me, and said he was Nebsecht’s brother, and had a great deal of money in his charge for me. He gave me a ring too, and said that he would pay the money to him, who took the ring to him from me. Then he read this letter to me.”