Death Comes as the End
‘Yes, yes, I know what I am talking about. Listen, Hori, when I came up to you here and said that everything was the same even to Satipy and Kait quarrelling—that was true. But those quarrels, Hori, were not real quarrels. I mean Satipy and Kait enjoyed them—they made the time pass—neither of the women felt any real anger against each other! But now it is different. Now they do not just say things that are rude and unpleasant—they say things that they mean shall hurt—and when they have seen that a thing hurts then they are glad! It is horrid, Hori—horrid! Yesterday Satipy was so angry that she ran a long gold pin into Kait’s arm—and a day or two ago Kait dropped a heavy copper pan full of boiling fat over Satipy’s foot. And it is the same everywhere—Satipy rails at Yahmose far into the night—we can all hear her. Yahmose looks sick and tired and hunted. And Sobek goes off to the village and stays there with women and comes back drunk and shouts and boasts and says how clever he is!’
‘Some of these things are true, I know,’ said Hori, slowly. ‘But why should you blame Nofret?’
‘Because it is her doing! It is always the things she says—little things—clever things—that start it all. She is like the goad with which you prick oxen. She is clever, too, in knowing just what to say. Sometimes I think it is Henet who tells her …’
‘Yes,’ said Hori thoughtfully. ‘That might well be.’
‘I don’t like Henet. I hate the way she creeps about. She is so devoted to us all, and yet none of us want her devotion. How could my mother have brought her here and been so fond of her?’
‘We have only Henet’s word for that,’ said Hori drily.
‘Why should Henet be so fond of Nofret and follow her round and whisper and fawn upon her? Oh, Hori, I tell you I am afraid! I hate Nofret! I wish she would go away. She is beautiful and cruel and bad!’
‘What a child you are, Renisenb.’
Then Hori added quietly:
‘Nofret is coming up here now.’
Renisenb turned her head. Together they watched Nofret come slowly up the steep path that led up the cliff face. She was smiling to herself and humming a little tune under her breath.
When she reached the place where they were, she looked round her and smiled. It was a smile of amused curiosity. ‘So this is where you slip away to every day, Renisenb.’
Renisenb did not answer. She had the angry, defeated feeling of a child whose refuge has been discovered.
Nofret looked about her again.
‘And this is the famous Tomb?’