A sunny expression flitted across his handsome, worn features, and when the queen also rose and saw his smile of satisfaction it was reflected on her face. Pharaoh uttered a sigh of relief as he crossed the threshold of the audience chamber and, accosting his wife, said:
“If Hosea wins his cause, we shall cross the bridge safely.”
“And need not swim through the whirlpool,” the queen answered in the same tone.
“And if the chief succeeds in soothing Mesu, and induces the Hebrews to stay in the land,” Pharaoh added:
“Then you will enrol this Hosea—he looks noble and upright—among the kindred of the king,” Isisnefert interrupted.
But upon this Pharaoh drew up his languid, drooping figure, exclaiming eagerly:
“How can I? A Hebrew! Were we to admit him among the ‘friends’ or ‘fan-bearers’ it would be the highest favor we could bestow! It is no easy matter in such a case to choose between too great or too small a recompense.”
The farther the royal pair advanced toward the interior of the palace, the louder rose the wailing voices of the mourning women. Tears once more filled the eyes of the queen; but Pharaoh continued to ponder over what office at court he could bestow on Hosea, should his mission prove successful.
Hosea was forced to hurry in order to overtake the tribes in time; for the farther they proceeded, the harder it would be to induce Moses and the leaders of the people to return and accept the treaty.
The events which had befallen him that morning seemed so strange that he regarded them as a dispensation of the God whom he had found again; he recollected, too, that the name “Joshua,” “he who helps Jehovah,” had been received through Miriam’s message. He would gladly bear it; for though it was no easy matter to resign the name for which he had won renown, still many of his comrades had done likewise. His new one was attesting its truth grandly; never had God’s help been more manifest to him than this morning. He had entered Pharaoh’s palace expecting to be imprisoned or delivered over to the executioner, as soon as he insisted upon following his people, and how speedily the bonds that held him in the Egyptian army had been sundered. And he had been appointed to discharge a task which seemed in his eyes so grand, so lofty, that he was on the point of believing that the God of his fathers had summoned him to perform it.
He loved Egypt. It was a fair country. Where could his people find a more delightful home? It was only the circumstances under which they had lived there which had been intolerable. Happier times were now in store. The tribes were given the choice between returning to Goshen, or settling on the lake land west of the Nile, with whose fertility and ample supply of water he was well acquainted. No one would have a right to reduce them to bondage, and whoever gave his labor to the service of the state was to have for overseer no stern and cruel foreigner, but a man of his own blood.