These tactics had been successfully carried out, and notwithstanding the Asiatics had suffered a severe defeat—besides losing some of their noblest heroes, among them Titure their Chancellor, and Chiropasar, the chronicler of the Cheta king, who could wield the sword as effectively as the pen, and who, it was intended, should celebrate the victory of the allies, and perpetuate its glory to succeeding generations. Rameses had killed one of these with his own hands, and his unknown companion the other, and besides these many other brave captains of the enemy’s troops. The king was greeted as a god, when he returned to the camp, with shouts of triumph and hymns of praise.
Even the temple-servants, and the miserable troops from Upper Egypt-ground down by the long war, and bought over by Ani—were carried away by the universal enthusiasm, and joyfully hailed the hero and king who had successfully broken the stiff necks of his enemies.
The next duty was to seek out the dead and wounded; among the latter was Mena; Rameri also was missing, but news was brought next day that he had fallen into the hands of the enemy, and he was immediately exchanged for the princess who had been sheltered in Mena’s tent.
Paaker had disappeared; but the bays which he had driven into the battle were found unhurt in front of his ruined and blood-sprinkled chariot.
The Egyptians were masters of Kadesh, and Chetasar, the king of the Cheta, sued to be allowed to treat for peace, in his own name and in that of his allies; but Rameses refused to grant any terms till he had returned to the frontier of Egypt. The conquered peoples had no choice, and the representative of the Cheta king—who himself was wounded—and twelve princes of the principal nations who had fought against Rameses, were forced to follow his victorious train. Every respect was shown them, and they were treated as the king himself, but they were none the less his prisoners. The king was anxious to lose no time, for sad suspicion filled his heart; a shadow hitherto unknown to his bright and genial nature had fallen upon his spirit.
This was the first occasion on which one of his own people had betrayed him to the enemy. Paaker’s deed had shaken his friendly confidence, and in his petition for peace the Cheta prince had intimated that Rameses might find much in his household to be set to rights—perhaps with a strong hand.
The king felt himself more than equal to cope with Ani, the priests, and all whom he had left in Egypt; but it grieved him to be obliged to feel any loss of confidence, and it was harder to him to bear than any reverse of fortune. It urged him to hasten his return to Egypt.
There was another thing which embittered his victory. Mena, whom he loved as his own son, who understood his lightest sign, who, as soon as he mounted his chariot, was there by his side like a part of himself—had been dismissed from his office by the judgment of the commander-in-chief, and no longer drove his horses. He himself had been obliged to confirm this decision as just and even mild, for that man was worthy of death who exposed his king to danger for the gratification of his own revenge.