— Om and Mehy discuss the politics of the City and marriage in the Palace of Zawty. —
Today was the start of Renpet, or New Year, the festival that marked the flooding of its banks by the Iteru in high summer. Too hot for work, Om had long since decreed that the next twenty-seven days of each year should be set aside for celebration, all feasting and entertainment paid for by him. But he had a problem.
Mehy waited for him in one of the side-chambers of the Palace, breathless.
“What did you find out?” Om said, oiling his hair and adjusting his tunic.
“You have egg and breadcrumbs all over your face!” Mehy said, laughing.
The two had become close friends since Mehy introduced Om to Chen and thwarted the attempts by Pamiu to monopolise the frankincense trade. This had not pleased Pamiu, however, and he was the father of Om’s wife.
“They’re up to something,” the handsome young man replied.
“I know that! But what?”
“I saw Menkhaf go to Pamiu’s house late last night.”
“Hm. Walk with me. I need some fresh air. This frankincense is great for getting rid of the foul smells from the canal, but it’s bad for hangovers.”
Om led Mehy into the Palace garden while he thought things over
“They have both told me they can’t lend me the gold I need,” Om began thinking out loud. “This means I can only pay for the first ten days of the festival. I don’t believe them of course. They want something. And then they meet last night. Menkhaf has always fancied himself as King. Do you know, the other day, he asked me why I hadn’t taken more than one wife!”
“And what did you tell him?”