The divinity on the throne of the world accepted, with a grateful bend of the head, this concession from a man whose wishes had so often opposed his own, and after the “repeater” or herald had read aloud all the separate conditions of the agreement, Hosea was forced to make a solemn vow to return in any case to Tanis, and report to the Sublime Porte how his people had received the king’s proposals.
But the wary chief, versed in the wiles and tricks with which the government was but too well supplied, uttered the vow with great reluctance, and only after he had received a written assurance that, whatever might be the result of the negotiations, his liberty should not be restricted in any respect, after he had proved that he had used his utmost efforts to induce the leader of the Hebrews to accept the compact.
At last Pharaoh extended his hand for the warrior to kiss, and when the latter had also pressed his lips to the edge of the queen’s garments, Rui signed to the head-chamberlain, who made obeisance to Pharaoh, and the sovereign knew that the hour had come when he might retire. He did so gladly and with a lighter heart; for he believed that he had done his best to secure his own welfare and that of his people.
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.