From The Shadow Women:
Tanut-amon and a trio of guards left for the Hebrew settlement shortly after sunrise the next morning. My stomach churned as I watched them go.
“Come, lady,” Nema said, reading the troubled state of my heart. “Let us leave the ship and go down to the water. While I wash your hair, the cleansing river will carry your troubles away.”
And by the time we returned to the boat, I would have either an answer from Tanut-amon . . . or a child to offer Pharaoh.
Agreeing with Nema’s wisdom, I slipped into my cloak, then stepped over the springy gangplank and joined my maids on the shore. Together we walked with bare feet over cool sand not yet warmed by the sun. Tiny turtles in striped gowns of bright green and yellow lifted their heads at our approach, and a school of silvery minnows darted away as our shadows fell upon the shimmering river.
“Mistress, look!” After dropping her gown, one of my maids took a running leap at the water, landing on her belly and sending up a great splash. She meant to lighten my mood, and she did, for soon I was laughing with Nema as she removed my cloak and poured a jar of sweet-scented unguents into my hair. Several of the other girls splashed by us, relaxing in play, and as I waded into the shallows I breathed a prayer of gratitude to Hapi for providing a diversion to occupy my thoughts.
My words died away when my eyes beheld a most unusual sight. A tiny boat floated upon the river a short distance away. The covered vessel had lodged among the reeds and now it bobbed there, each splash of our merrymaking jostling it in its resting place.
I froze as memories flooded over me—stories of Horus, hidden by Isis in the river reeds to protect him from the wrath of his evil uncle Seth. Had someone else hidden a child among the flags at the river’s edge?
I lifted a dripping arm from the water and pointed to the object. “Girls! Do you see that? Bring it to me!”
Nema gaped open mouthed as two of the maids sprinted through the shallows. One of them parted the bulrushes while the other bent to pick up the floating basket.
I stepped out of the water, a shiver of apprehension shriveling my skin as the servants approached. Nema hurried after me, holding my cloak. I slid into it as the girls knelt before me.
One of them reached out to lift the basket’s woven lid.
“Don’t.” I stepped forward. “I’ll do it.”
“But mistress, it could contain anything!”
She was right, of course. A Hebrew with malicious intent could have planted a cobra, an asp, or a nest of scorpions in the basket. But my heart knew what the little ark contained.
My fingers trembled as I reached for the lid. A soft mewling sound broke the tense stillness, and as I lifted the covering the creature inside began to wail in earnest.
“Mother Isis, help us!” Nema’s hand went to her throat. “Is it Horus?”
“It’s a baby . . . of the Hebrews.” A perfectly formed, strong and handsome boy, as naked as the day he came from his mother’s womb, but undoubtedly a great deal plumper. And already circumcised, which left no doubt as to his origin.