Pharaoh by Wilbur Smith

Pharaoh by Wilbur Smith

Author:Wilbur Smith [Wilbur Smith]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: 2016-07-22T04:00:00+00:00

Listening to the inane and ridiculous assertions of the chorus I felt my rage and my hatred flaring afresh for the monster who now ruled Egypt. His madness was enhanced by the cunning and shrewdness with which he leavened it. I glanced at Serrena where she sat beside me. She was instantly aware of my eyes upon her. She replied to my unspoken comment without taking her eyes from the golden figure.

‘You are right, Taita. Utteric is mad but clever. He is slaughtering his own aristocracy, the great body of men whom his father, Pharaoh Tamose, trained to perfection, the army which defeated the Hyksos and drove them from this land of Egypt, because they are his father’s men. It is because their loyalty lies with his father in his tomb. In the view of Utteric they are all yesterday’s men. Men like you and Rameses. He knows all of you despise him, so he wants you destroyed, and replaced with men like Panmasi who worship him.’

Now she turned her head and looked at me for the first time, and she smiled. ‘Of course, you know that Panmasi who captured me is now a general in Utteric’s new army? In fact he commands the Royal Guards: the regiment that you see out there.’ She pointed with her chin; she was much too canny to use her forefinger and so draw attention to herself. ‘That is Panmasi standing behind Pharaoh on the reviewing podium.’

I had not recognized him until now that Serrena drew my attention to him. His helmet had obscured his features and he was partially hidden by those others who surrounded him.

‘And you?’ I asked her. ‘Don’t you feel anger when you see those two together, Utteric and Panmasi: the ones that humiliated and tortured you?’

She thought about my question for a few seconds and then she replied softly, ‘No, not anger; that is too mild a term for it. What I feel is a boiling sense of fury.’

I was unable to see her expression behind the dangling strands of the wig that she wore, but her tone was completely convincing. At that moment the marching guards came to a halt with one last stamp of their feet and held the bare blades of their weapons aloft in salute to Utteric in his golden armour. The abrupt silence that gripped all of us, both spectators and participants, was so profound that it was almost palpable.

Then the gold-clad figure of Pharaoh stepped to the front of the podium. Slowly and deliberately he stripped the glove from his right hand, and held his bare hand aloft. I felt Serrena stiffen beside me, but I could see no reason for this reaction of hers. It was not unusual for even Pharaoh to bare his right hand in this manner when saluting his troops.

However, the next thing that happened was totally unexpected.

On the far end of the parade ground facing the podium was a hillock which was a favourite vantage point from which privileged spectators were allowed to view the martial display.


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