Uarda : a Romance of Ancient Egypt — Volume 04

This eBook was produced by David Widger <widger@cecomet.net>

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author’s ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]

UARDA

Volume 4.

By Georg Ebers

CHAPTER XV.

The afternoon shadows were already growing long, when a splendid chariot
drew up to the gates of the terrace-temple. Paaker, the chief pioneer,
stood up in it, driving his handsome and fiery Syrian horses. Behind him
stood an Ethiopian slave, and his big dog followed the swift team with
his tongue out.

As he approached the temple he heard himself called, and checked the pace
of his horses. A tiny man hurried up to him, and, as soon as he had
recognized in him the dwarf Nemu, he cried angrily:

“Is it for you, you rascal, that I stop my drive? What do you want?”

“To crave,” said the little man, bowing humbly, “that, when thy business
in the city of the dead is finished, thou wilt carry me back to Thebes.”

“You are Mena’s dwarf?” asked the pioneer.

“By no means,” replied Nemu. “I belong to his neglected wife, the lady
Nefert. I can only cover the road very slowly with my little legs, while
the hoofs of your horses devour the way-as a crocodile does his prey.”

“Get up!” said Paaker. “Did you come here on foot?”

“No, my lord,” replied Nemu, “on an ass; but a demon entered into the
beast, and has struck it with sickness. I had to leave it on the road.
The beasts of Anubis will have a better supper than we to-night.”

“Things are not done handsomely then at your mistress’s house?” asked

Paaker.

“We still have bread,” replied Nemu, “and the Nile is full of water.
Much meat is not necessary for women and dwarfs, but our last cattle take
a form which is too hard for human teeth.”

The pioneer did not understand the joke, and looked enquiringly at the
dwarf.

“The form of money,” said the little man, “and that cannot be chewed;
soon that will be gone too, and then the point will be to find a recipe
for making nutritious cakes out of earth, water, and palm-leaves. It
makes very little difference to me, a dwarf does not need much—but the
poor tender lady!”

Paaker touched his horses with such a violent stroke of his whip that
they reared high, and it took all his strength to control their spirit.

“The horses’ jaws will be broken,” muttered the slave behind. “What a
shame with such fine beasts!”

“Have you to pay for them?” growled Paaker. Then he turned again to the
dwarf, and asked:

“Why does Mena let the ladies want?”

“He no longer cares for his wife,” replied the dwarf, casting his eyes
down sadly. “At the last division of the spoil he passed by the gold and
silver; and took a foreign woman into his tent. Evil demons have blinded
him, for where is there a woman fairer than Nefert?”

“You love your mistress.”

“As my very eyes!”

During this conversation they had arrived at the terrace-temple. Paaker
threw the reins to the slave, ordered him to wait with Nemu, and turned
to the gate-keeper to explain to him, with the help of a handful of gold,
his desire of being conducted to Pentaur, the chief of the temple.

The gate-keeper, swinging a censer before him with a hasty action,
admitted him into the sanctuary. You will find him on the third
terrace,” he said, “but he is no longer our superior.”

“They said so in the temple of Seti, whence I have just come,” replied

Paaker.

The porter shrugged his shoulders with a sneer, and said: “The palm-tree
that is quickly set up falls down more quickly still.” Then he desired a
servant to conduct the stranger to Pentaur.

The poet recognized the Mohar at once, asked his will, and learned that
he was come to have a wonderful vision interpreted by him.

Paaker explained before relating his dream, that he did not ask this

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