The Gates of Kamt/Chapter 31



Beside the Rock of Anubis, Ur-tasen parted from us. He had not spoken one word since we started, but here he asked if Hugh was satisfied.

"Quite satisfied," he replied.

"Then farewell, oh, son of Ra!" said the high priest, solemnly. He knelt down and kissed the sand of the desert, then quietly he rose and started to walk back towards the gates of Kamt. We watched his gaunt figure across the desert until a boulder hid it from our view; it looked bent with age and disappointment. I think he felt that the youthful ruler of Kamt would not place much power in his hands, and that the stranger, though absent, had conquered after all.

The journey across the desert was terribly wearisome at first, but gradually Hugh's taciturnity fled and we spent many happy hours in remembering our golden visions and looking over the many treasures which lay at the bottom of our carts. The oxen, however, stood the journey very badly; one by one they dropped upon the road, and the last six days of our voyage we did on foot, carrying as little water as we dared, and we were very close on starvation point when, late one evening, we reached the grave of the Greek priest, which faced the setting sun. We rested here that night, and weak, tired out as we were, we spent half the night in watching … watching an imaginary point on the horizon, which is more fair, more gorgeous and grand than aught which Western civilisation has ever dreamed of.

And now we are back at The Chestnuts, and Hugh and I are not as young as we were. Dear old Janet welcomed us, much shocked at our terrible appearance; but the day after our arrival there was no trace outwardly on either of us of the strange adventures we had just gone through. We resumed our quiet, English, bachelor life, as if the last few months had been all a dream; and at times now, when I sit beside the great log fire and watch the dying embers on the hearth, I wonder whether the vision of the ancient hordes of Egypt, the glories of Men-ne-fer and Tanis, are not all a product of my excited fancy, and, above all, I wonder whether the vision of a tall, girlish figure, whose hair is like the rays of Osiris when he sinks to rest, and whose very name breathes romance and mystery, is not one of those dreams with which the remembrance of dear old Mr. Tankerville was always wont to lull me to sleep.

Then I look up lazily from the fire in which my aching eyes had seen vast temples and mammoth carvings, and I see close to me Sawnie Girlie sitting at his desk.

He is writing one of those learned books which have spread his fame from one corner of Europe to the other, and before him there is a tiny gold casket with a glass lid, within which lies a faded and dried sprig of rosemary.

"White rosemary for remembrance!"