“What you demand is just and wise,” replied Rameses. “Take your grand-child with you as my son’s betrothed bride—my future daughter. Give me your hands, my children. The delay will teach you patience, for Rameri must remain a full year from to-day in Egypt, and it will be to your profit, sweet child, for the obedience which he will learn through his training in the army will temper the nature of your future husband. You, Rameri, shall in a year from to-day—and I think you will not forget the date—find at your service a ship in the harbor of Pelusium, fitted and manned with Phoenicians, to convey you to your wedding.”
“So be it!” exclaimed the old man. “And by Zeus who hears me swear—I will not withhold Xanthe’s daughter from your son when he comes to claim her!”
When Rameri returned to the princes’ tent he threw himself on their necks in turn, and when he found himself alone with their surly old house-steward, he snatched his wig from his head, flung it in the air, and then coaxingly stroked the worthy officer’s cheeks as he set it on his head again.
Uarda accompanied her grandfather and Praxilla to their tent on the farther side of the Nile, but she was to return next morning to the Egyptian camp to take leave of all her friends, and to provide for her father’s internment. Nor did she delay attending to the last wishes of old Hekt, and Bent-Anat easily persuaded her father, when he learnt how greatly he had been indebted to her, to have her embalmed like a lady of rank.
Before Uarda left the Egyptian camp, Pentaur came to entreat her to afford her dying preserver Nebsecht the last happiness of seeing her once more; Uarda acceded with a blush, and the poet, who had watched all night by his friend, went forward to prepare him for her visit.
Nebsecht’s burns and a severe wound on his head caused him great suffering; his cheeks glowed with fever, and the physicians told Pentaur that he probably could not live more than a few hours.
The poet laid his cool hand on his friend’s brow, and spoke to him encouragingly; but Nebsecht smiled at his words with the peculiar expression of a man who knows that his end is near, and said in a low voice and with a visible effort:
“A few breaths more and here, and here, will be peace.” He laid his hand on his head and on his heart.