ANKHESENPAATEN COULDN’T SLEEP. The mere thought of what was happening in Tut’s bedroom filled her with jealousy and more than a little sadness. From the time they were children, she had always loved Tut. And the men in the palace had always gotten in the way.
She stood and slipped on a robe, then walked quietly outside into the gardens. The air was cold, and she shivered from the chill. There was much on her mind. She thought of Tut again and that girl and then quickly banished the image from her mind.
He’s not enjoying it, she assured herself.
Oh, yes he is, shot back an inner voice.
That night at dinner she’d overheard the servants laughing at her, scornful that a queen was incapable of bringing children into the world.
Yes, I can! she’d wanted to scream. I have brought two wonderful children into this world. The gods have seen fit to send them to the afterworld, but I will bear more.
Why does no one point the finger at Tut?
Why does he not endure the pain of childbirth, only to have the infant perish? Why is he allowed to take a woman to his bed to produce an heir, while I am left here alone? What if I felt like taking a man to my bed? What then? Maybe I do feel like it sometimes.
She stood and paced. The queen was barefoot, and the path had many small pebbles that dug into the soles of her feet, causing her to step gingerly. One sharp stone made her stop completely. Yet she reveled in the petty annoyance. This is nothing like childbirth, Tut! That was pain!
She considered racing to the other side of the palace and confronting the lovers, all tangled and sweaty in his bed.
You told him to do it, she reminded herself.
Yes, but I didn’t mean it.
She would march in and claw the girl’s face until her beauty was gone forever. And then she would strike out at Tut.
No, I can’t do that. I do love him. He is my king, the king of all of Egypt.
But he abandoned you. He is in another woman’s arms this very minute. They are speaking intimate words—whispering and laughing and touching one another. That’s treason, in its own way. Why shouldn’t he die?
He is a pharaoh, and pharaohs have harems. This is just one girl.
But we promised each other. We promised to be true.
He would kill me if I broke that promise.
No, he wouldn’t. He may never touch you again. But he wouldn’t kill you.
It doesn’t matter. I could do it. A simple thrust with a knife is all it would take.
Be smart about this. Take a breath and think.
I am the queen. I am the woman of full noble birth. It was through marriage to me that Tut gained his throne.
I can do the same with another man. Just watch me.