The girl vanished, and went to the drivers of the gang of prisoners, wished them a merry and pleasant evening, and then hastened back to Bent-Anat, who anxiously stroked her abundant hair, and asked her why she was so pale.
“Lie down,” said the princess kindly, “you are feverish. Only look, Nefert, I can see the blood coursing through the blue veins in her forehead.”
Meanwhile the drivers drank, praised the royal wine, and the lucky day on which they drank it; and when Uarda’s father suggested that the prisoners too should have a mouthful one of his fellow soldiers cried: “Aye, let the poor beasts be jolly too for once.”
The red-beard filled a large beaker, and offered it first to a forger and his fettered companion, then he approached Pentaur, and whispered:
“Do not drink any-keep awake!”
As he was going to warn the physician too, one of his companions came between them, and offering his tankard to Nebsecht said:
“Here mumbler, drink; see him pull! His stuttering mouth is spry enough for drinking!”
The hours passed gaily with the drinkers, then they grew more and more sleepy.
Ere the moon was high in the heavens, while they were all sleeping, with the exception of Kaschta and Pentaur, the soldier rose softly. He listened to the breathing of his companions, then he approached the poet, unfastened the ring which fettered his ankle to that of Nebsecht, and endeavored to wake the physician, but in vain.
“Follow me!” cried he to the poet; he took Nebsecht on his shoulders, and went towards the spot near the stream which Uarda had indicated. Three times he called his daughter’s name, the young Amalekite appeared, and the soldier said decidedly: “Follow this man, I will take care of Nebsecht.”
“I will not leave him,” said Pentaur. “Perhaps water will wake him.” They plunged him in the brook, which half woke him, and by the help of his companions, who now pushed and now dragged him, he staggered and stumbled up the rugged mountain path, and before midnight they reached their destination, the hut of the Amalekite.
The old hunter was asleep, but his son aroused him, and told him what Uarda had ordered and promised.
But no promises were needed to incite the worthy mountaineer to hospitality. He received the poet with genuine friendliness, laid the sleeping leech on a mat, prepared a couch for Pentaur of leaves and skins, called his daughter to wash his feet, and offered him his own holiday garment in the place of the rags that covered his body.
Pentaur stretched himself out on the humble couch, which to him seemed softer than the silken bed of a queen, but on which nevertheless he could not sleep, for the thoughts and fancies that filled his heart were too overpowering and bewildering.