Uarda : a Romance of Ancient Egypt — Volume 08

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 8.

By Georg Ebers

CHAPTER XXXIII.

An hour later, Ani, in rich attire, left his father’s tomb, and drove his
brilliant chariot past the witch’s cave, and the little cottage of
Uarda’s father.

Nemu squatted on the step, the dwarf’s usual place. The little man
looked down at the lately rebuilt hut, and ground his teeth, when,
through an opening in the hedge, he saw the white robe of a man,
who was sitting by Uarda.

The pretty child’s visitor was prince Rameri, who had crossed the Nile in
the early morning, dressed as a young scribe of the treasury, to obtain
news of Pentaur—and to stick a rose into Uarda’s hair.

This purpose was, indeed, the more important of the two, for the other
must, in point of time at any rate, be the second.

He found it necessary to excuse himself to his own conscience with a
variety of cogent reasons. In the first place the rose, which lay
carefully secured in a fold of his robe, ran great danger of fading if he
first waited for his companions near the temple of Seti; next, a hasty
return from thence to Thebes might prove necessary; and finally, it
seemed to him not impossible that Bent-Anat might send a master of the
ceremonies after him, and if that happened any delay might frustrate his
purpose.

His heart beat loud and violently, not for love of the maiden, but
because he felt he was doing wrong. The spot that he must tread was
unclean, and he had, for the first time, told a lie. He had given
himself out to Uarda to be a noble youth of Bent-Anat’s train, and, as
one falsehood usually entails another, in answer to her questions he had
given her false information as to his parents and his life.

Had evil more power over him in this unclean spot than in the House of
Seti, and at his father’s? It might very well be so, for all disturbance
in nature and men was the work of Seth, and how wild was the storm in his
breast! And yet! He wished nothing but good to come of it to Uarda.
She was so fair and sweet—like some child of the Gods: and certainly the
white maiden must have been stolen from some one, and could not possibly
belong to the unclean people.

When the prince entered the court of the hut, Uarda was not to be seen,
but he soon heard her voice singing out through the open door. She came
out into the air, for the dog barked furiously at Rameri. When she saw
the prince, she started, and said:

“You are here already again, and yet I warned you. My grandmother in
there is the wife of a paraschites.”

“I am not come to visit her,” retorted the prince, “but you only; and you
do not belong to them, of that I am convinced. No roses grow in the
desert.”

“And yet: am my father’s child,” said Uarda decidedly, “and my poor dead
grandfather’s grandchild. Certainly I belong to them, and those that do
not think me good enough for them may keep away.”

With these words she turned to re-enter the house; but Rameri seized her
hand, and held her back, saying:

“How cruel you are! I tried to save you, and came to see you before I
thought that you might—and, indeed, you are quite unlike the people whom
you call your relations. You must not misunderstand me; but it would be
horrible to me to believe that you, who are so beautiful, and as white as
a lily, have any part in the hideous curse. You charm every one, even my
mistress, Bent-Anat, and it seems to me impossible—”

“That I should belong to the unclean!—say it out,” said Uarda softly,
and casting down her eyes.

Then she continued more excitedly: “But I tell you, the curse is unjust,
for a better man never lived than my grandfather was.”

Tears sprang from her eyes, and Rameri said: “I fully believe it; and
it must be very difficult to continue good when every one despises and
scorns one; I at least can be brought to no good by blame, though I can
by praise. Certainly people are obliged to meet me and mine with
respect.”

“And us with contempt!” exclaimed Uarda. “But I will tell you
something. If a man is sure that he is good, it is all the same to
him whether he be despised or honored by other people. Nay—we may be
prouder than you; for you great folks must often say to yourselves that
you are worth less than men value you at, and we know that we are worth
more.”

“I have often thought that of you,” exclaimed Rameri, “and there is one
who recognizes your worth; and that is I. Even if it were otherwise, I
must always—always think of you.”

“I have thought of you too,” said Uarda. “Just now, when I was sitting
with my sick grandmother, it passed through my mind how nice it would be
if I had a brother just like you. Do you know what I should do if you
were my brother?”

“Well?”

“I should buy you a chariot and horse, and you should go away to the
king’s war.”

“Are you so rich?” asked Rameri smiling.

“Oh yes!” answered Uarda. “To be sure, I have not been rich for more
than an hour. Can you read?”

“Yes.”

“Only think, when I was ill they sent a doctor to me from the House of
Seti. He was very clever, but a strange man. He often looked into my
eyes like a drunken man, and he stammered when he spoke.”

“Is his name Nebsecht?” asked the prince.

“Yes, Nebsecht. He planned strange things with grandfather, and after

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