“Pray stand still.”
The pioneer obeyed instantly, and looked, as he stood with his back to her, towards the hovel of the paraschites.
After a short time Nefert said, “Say something to me!”
The Mohar turned his full face towards her, and she was frightened at the wild fire that glowed in the glance with which he gazed at her.
Nefert’s eyes fell, and Paaker, saying:
“I would rather remain silent,” recommenced his walk, till Nefert called to him again and said,
“I know you are angry with me; but I was but a child when I was betrothed to you. I liked you too, and when in our games your mother called me your little wife, I was really glad, and used to think how fine it would be when I might call all your possessions mine, the house you would have so splendidly restored for me after your father’s death, the noble gardens, the fine horses in their stables, and all the male and female slaves!”
Paaker laughed, but the laugh sounded so forced and scornful that it cut Nefert to the heart, and she went on, as if begging for indulgence:
“It was said that you were angry with us; and now you will take my words as if I had cared only for your wealth; but I said, I liked you. Do you no longer remember how I cried with you over your tales of the bad boys in the school; and over your father’s severity? Then my uncle died;—then you went to Asia.”
And you,” interrupted Paaker, hardly and drily, “you broke your bethrothal vows, and became the wife of the charioteer Mena. I know it all; of what use is talking?”
“Because it grieves me that you should be angry, and your good mother avoid our house. If only you could know what it is when love seizes one, and one can no longer even think alone, but only near, and with, and in the very arms of another; when one’s beating heart throbs in one’s very temples, and even in one’s dreams one sees nothing—but one only.”
“And do I not know it?” cried Paaker, placing himself close before her with his arms crossed. “Do I not know it? and you it was who taught me to know it. When I thought of you, not blood, but burning fire, coursed in my veins, and now you have filled them with poison; and here in this breast, in which your image dwelt, as lovely as that of Hathor in her holy of holies, all is like that sea in Syria which is called the Dead Sea, in which every thing that tries to live presently dies and perishes.”
Paaker’s eyes rolled as he spoke, and his voice sounded hoarsely as he went on.
“But Mena was near to the king—nearer than I, and your mother—”