Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt

Page: 96

"Do you, then, drive your asses through my corn?" said Tehuti-nekht, more wrathfully than ever.

"There is no other way," said the harassed peasant. "You have blocked the path with your shawl, and I must leave the path."

While the two argued upon the matter one of the asses helped itself to a mouthful of corn, whereupon Tehuti-nekht's plaints broke out afresh.

"Behold!" he cried, "your ass is eating my corn. I will take your ass, and he shall pay for the theft."

"Shall I be robbed," cried the sekhti, "in the lands of the Lord Steward Meruitensa, who treateth robbers so hardly? Behold, I will go to him. He will not suffer this misdeed of thine."

"Thinkest thou he will hearken to thy plaint?" sneered Tehuti-nekht. "Poor as thou art, who will concern himself with thy woes? Lo, I am the Lord[Pg 222] Steward Meruitensa," and so saying he beat the sekhti sorely, stole all his asses and drove them into pasture.

In vain the sekhti wept and implored him to restore his property. Tehuti-nekht bade him hold his peace, threatening to send him to the Demon of Silence if he continued to complain. Nevertheless, the sekhti petitioned him for a whole day. At length, finding that he was wasting his breath, the peasant betook himself to Henen-ni-sut, there to lay his case before the Lord Steward Meruitensa. On his arrival he found the latter preparing to embark in his boat, which was to carry him to the judgment-hall. The sekhti bowed himself to the ground, and told the Lord Steward that he had a grievance to lay before him, praying him to send one of his followers to hear the tale. The Lord Steward granted the suppliant's request, and sent to him one from among his train. To the messenger the sekhti revealed all that had befallen him on his journey, the manner in which Tehuti-nekht had closed the path so as to force him to trespass on the corn, and the cruelty with which he had beaten him and stolen his property. In due time these matters were told to the Lord Steward, who laid the case before the nobles who were with him in the judgment-hall.

"Let this sekhti bring a witness," they said, "and if he establish his case, it may be necessary to beat Tehuti-nekht, or perchance he will be made to pay a trifle for the salt and natron he has stolen."

The Lord Steward said nothing, and the sekhti himself came unto him and hailed him as the greatest of the great, the orphan's father, the widow's husband, the guide of the needy, and so on.

Very eloquent was the sekhti, and in his florid speech he skilfully combined eulogy with his plea for[Pg 223] justice, so that the Lord Steward was interested and flattered in spite of himself.

Now at that time there sat upon the throne of Egypt the King Neb-ka-n-ra, and to him came the Lord Steward Meruitensa, saying:

"Behold, my lord, I have been sought by a sekhti whose goods were stolen. Most eloquent of mortals is he. What would my lord that I do unto him?"