Read an Excerpt
"Pluck out his eyes! See how grand a thief he'll make with no eyes!"
"I'm no thief!"
"How old are you, boy?"
"You are bright for a boy of merely nine. Pity we have to kill you."
"Kill me? But, why?" The young boy struggled with the tight binds that securely held his wrists.
"Because this is war. No one lives in war, not even the wee ones. And, to be honest, my men could use the amusement of it." The captain looked at his soldiers and shouted, "Do as you will with him!"
"Please, no!" The child winced and screamed from the sharp blows and kicks that seemed to fly from every direction. He prayed for death to come swiftly and end the pain that poured from his tormentors.
"Wait!" one of the men yelled. "Leave the boy! Someone's coming!"
"You are a fortunate boy," another tormentor spouted, dropping the boy's limp body in a heap on the hard, dry ground.
"That's Pharaoh's caravan! We must go quickly, or he'll run us down like dogs before we reach the Delta!"
"Pharaoh," the young boy mumbled, tasting the blood that trickled from the corner of his mouth before his eyes fell shut and blackness surrounded him.
The boy opened one eye with a squint. He wasn't sure if it was the bright sun or the sharp pain in his head that made it impossible to open the other. He felt arms about him, but this time they weren't beating him, they were carrying him.
"Sire," an Egyptian soldier announced, "we found a child. The Libyans tortured him. He's injured and weak."
"Bring him to me at once."
The soldier lifted the boy like a rag doll for Pharaoh to look at him.
"Boy," Pharaoh asked,"are you awake? Can you speak?"
The boy struggled to open both eyes. Maybe he was dead. No, he couldn't be dead. If he were dead, the pain wouldn't still burn his muscles.
"Boy, wake up and speak to me."
He forced his eyes open and stared at the mighty king standing before him. "I'm awake, Your Majesty."
"What is your name?"
"I am Hamet, son of Quartus."
"Where's your family, boy?"
"Dead. The same men who did this to me killed my father ... and my mother."
A soldier leaned in to Pharaoh, whispering something. Pharaoh lifted an eyebrow in response to the information, then stared hard at Hamet.
"Are you the son of the thieves, Quartus and Lenni?"
Hamet never faltered or turned his face from the truth. "I am."
"That is why the Libyans were beating you? Because you stole from them?"
"No, Your Majesty. They were hurting me for sport. I stole nothing from them. I admit to being the son of thieves, but I am no thief."
The pharaoh's expression softened. "Well, no boy should be ripped from his mother's knee at such a tender age."
"I disagree, Your Majesty. That would depend on what the boy learned at his mother's knee."
A smile cracked Pharaoh's lips. Who was this boy, and how was he so well versed at such a young age?
"Kind Pharaoh, I know it is bold to ask, but, the men who hurt me and murdered my parents, did you defeat them?"
"Yes," Pharaoh replied, "they are indeed defeated."
"I'm glad," Hamet said.
"Boy," Pharaoh asked, "are you in great pain?"
"Yes, but the pain is greatest in my stomach."
"Yes. It aches because I'm hungry and have no food." Hamet knew his hunger could make him a slave, but the life of a slave in Pharaoh's palace would be better than life as an orphan in the streets of Thebes.
Pharaoh laughed heartily. This child was more than bold. Beaten like a dog, and yet, still brave enough to ask a king for something to eat.
"Then, you will have food, and your wounds will be tended as well. Let it be said that on this day the great Pharaoh Seti has rescued from the grip of death Hamet, son of Quartus. You will live with the servants in my palace and perform the duties of wash boy ... of my wash boy. You will serve only your Pharaoh from this day forth, understand?"
"Only my Pharaoh. Yes, Your Majesty, I understand."