“You know me, Pharaoh,” he said in his deep, solemn voice. “I am Tanofir, the King’s son; Tanofir the hermit, Tanofir the seer. I have heard all that passes, it matters not how and I come to you with a message, I who read men’s hearts. Of vows and goddesses and women I say nothing. But this I say to you, that if you break the spirit of your bond and suffer yonder Shabaka to go hence with a bitter heart, trouble shall come on you. All the Great King’s armies did not die yonder by the banks of Nile, and mayhap one day he will journey to bury the bones of those who fell, and with them yours, O Pharaoh. I do not think that you will listen to me to-night, and I am sure that yonder lady, full of the new-fanned flame of the jealous goddess, will not listen. Still let her take counsel and remember my words: In the hour of desperate danger let her send to Shabaka and demand his help, promising in return what he has asked and remembering that if Isis loves her, that goddess was born upon the Nile and loves Egypt more.”
“Too late, too late, too late!” wailed Amada
Then she burst into tears and turning fled away with the high priest. Pharaoh went also leaving me and Bes alone. I looked for the holy Tanofir to speak with him, but he too was gone.
“It is time to sleep, Master,” said Bes, “for all this talk is more wearisome than any battle. Why! what is this that has your name upon it?” and he picked a silk-wrapped package from the floor and opened it.
Within were the priceless rose-hued pearls!
SHABAKA FIGHTS THE CROCODILE
“Where to?” I said to Bes when we were outside the palace, for I was so broken with grief that I scarcely knew what I did.
“To the house of the lady Tiu, I think, Master, since there you must make preparations for your start on the morrow, also bid her farewell. Oh!” he went on in a kind of rapture which afterwards I knew was feigned though at the time I did not think about it, “Oh! how happy should you be who now are free from all this woman-coil, with life new and fresh before you. Reflect, Master, on the hunting we will have yonder in Ethiopia. No more cares, no more plannings for the welfare of Egypt, no more persuading of the doubtful to take up arms, no more desperate battle-ventures with your country’s honour on your sword-point. And if you must see women—well, there are plenty in Ethiopia who come and go lightly as an evening breeze laden with the odour of flowers, and never trouble in the morning.”
“At any rate you are not free from such coils, Bes,” I said and in the moonlight I saw his great face fall in.