Though no one had suspected the “water-wagtail” of such forethought, it was no matter of surprise that the young heiress, shut up in the plague-stricken house, should dispose of her estates, and before night-fall the physician brought Alexander, the chief of the Senate, to the garden gate by her desire, and there they spoke to each other without opening it. He was an old friend of her father’s, and since the death of the Mukaukas, had been her guardian; he now agreed to stand as her Kyrios, and as such he ratified her will and the signature, though she would not allow him to read the document.
Finally she went to the slaves quarters, from whence a few more sufferers had been removed to the Necropolis, and desired her boatman to get the holiday barge in readiness early in the morning, as she purposed seeing the ceremonial from the river. She gave particular orders to the gardener as to how it was to be decorated, and what flowers he was to cut for her personal adornment.
She went to bed far less excited than she had been the night before, and before she had ended her evening prayer, slumber overtook her weary brain.
When she awoke at sunrise, the large and splendid boat, which her father had had built at great cost in Alexandria, was manned and ready to put out. No one interfered to prevent her embarking with Anubis and a few female servants, for all the guards who had surrounded the house till yesterday had been withdrawn to do duty at the great ceremonial of the marriage and sacrifice, since a popular tumult was not unlikely to arise.
A great number of persons had collected during the night on the quay near Nesptah’s inn. The crowd was increasing every minute, and in spite of the intense heat, not a Memphite could bear to stop within doors, Men, women and children were flocking to the scene of the festival; they came in thousands from the neighboring towns, hamlets and villages, to witness the unprecedented sacrifice which was to put an end to the misery of the land. Who had ever heard of such a marriage? What a privilege, what a happiness, to be so fortunate as to see it!
The senate had not been idle and had done all in their power to surround it with magnificence and to enable as many as possible to enjoy the pageant, which had been planned with a lavish hand and liberal munificence.
Round the cove by Nesptah’s inn a semi-circular wooden stand had been constructed, on which thousands found seats or standing-room. Stalls furnished with hangings were erected in the middle of the tribune for the authorities and their families as well as for the leading Arab officials, and arm-chairs were placed in them for the Vekeel, for the Kadi, for the head of the senate, for old Horapollo and also for the Christian priesthood, though it was well known that they would not be present at the ceremony.