THE FORGIVING ELM WHEELS of the chassis provided the only shock absorption, but the terrain was smooth and so was the ride.
A lone man could be seen in the distance, but otherwise Tut had the desert to himself, as he liked it.
Within a few minutes, his forehead was sweating, and the dust from the horse’s hooves covered his chest. This was what he loved, but today even a fast chariot ride didn’t help.
Tut was so caught up in thoughts of Aye’s insolence and his own inability to produce an heir that he didn’t notice that the desert had become more rugged in the few miles since his journey began.
And he didn’t see the deep cleft that had probably been created by a flash flood.
That is, not until it was too late to avoid it.
Hitting the rut, Tut was thrown headfirst from the chariot. He landed hard on the ground and was knocked unconscious for a time.
He came to slowly, moaning, and found himself staring up at the face of the man he had seen in the distance.
The man was kneeling over Tut, checking for signs of injury, clearly unaware that the man before him was Egypt’s pharaoh.
Instead, the robber—and that’s what he was, Tut now realized—relieved the pharaoh of the expensive floral collar, then frisked the royal body for money.
Tut would have told the man who he was, except that—-strangely—he seemed unable to utter a word.
Only when the man was sure that Tut wasn’t carrying a purse did he leave, but not before stealing Tut’s sandals and kilt.
Night was falling as Tut faded back into unconsciousness.