The king’s eyes were moist with grateful emotion. He had not been deceived, and he could re-enter the country for whose greatness and welfare alone he lived, as a father, loving and beloved, and not as a master to judge and punish. He was deeply moved as he accepted the greetings of the priests, and with them offered up a public prayer. Then he was conducted to the splendid structure which had been prepared for him gaily mounted the outside steps, and from the top-most stair bowed to his innumerable crowd of subjects; and while he awaited the procession from the harbor which escorted Bent-Anat in her litter, he inspected the thousand decorated bulls and antelopes which were to be slaughtered as a thank-offering to the Gods, the tame lions and leopards, the rare trees in whose branches perched gaily-colored birds, the giraffes, and chariots to which ostriches were harnessed, which all marched past him in a long array.
[The splendor of the festivities I make Ani prepare seems pitiful compared with those Ptolemy Philadelphus, according to the report of an eye witness, Callexenus, displayed to the Alexandrians on a festal occasion.]
Rameses embraced his daughter before all the people; he felt as if he must admit his subjects to the fullest sympathy in the happiness and deep thankfulness which filled his soul. His favorite child had never seemed to him so beautiful as this day, and he realized with deep emotion her strong resemblance to his lost wife.—[Her name was Isis Nefert.]
Nefert had accompanied her royal friend as fanbearer, and she knelt before the king while he gave himself up to the delight of meeting his daughter. Then he observed her, and kindly desired her to rise. “How much,” he said, “I am feeling to-day for the first time! I have already learned that what I formerly thought of as the highest happiness is capable of a yet higher pitch, and I now perceive that the most beautiful is capable of growing to greater beauty! A sun has grown from Mena’s star.”
Rameses, as he spoke, remembered his charioteer; for a moment his brow was clouded, and he cast down his eyes, and bent his head in thought.
Bent-Anat well knew this gesture of her father’s; it was the omen of some kindly, often sportive suggestion, such as he loved to surprise his friends with.
He reflected longer than usual; at last he looked up, and his full eyes rested lovingly on his daughter as he asked her:
“What did your friend say when she heard that her husband had taken a pretty stranger into his tent, and harbored her there for months? Tell me the whole truth of it, Bent-Anat.”
“I am indebted to this deed of Mena’s, which must certainly be quite excusable if you can smile when you speak of it,” said the princess, “for it was the cause of his wife’s coming to me. Her mother blamed her husband with bitter severity, but she would not cease to believe in him, and left her house because it was impossible for her to endure to hear him blamed.”