Chapter 9

Tjaty Jarha (or TJ) was pharaoh’s right-hand man, when he was in the job at the palace. He was now the chief decision maker in pharaoh’s absence.

A wise old man in his fifty-ninth year, TJ had worked his way up from mere palace scribe, soaking up all the shrewdness and political intrigue he had learned from his father own father. It was all now starting to pay off.

TJ had known that a visit from pharaoh to the village carrying out his pet project must mean radical changes for the villagers and a massive re-evaluation of their practices. Because of an invasion by The Hyksos in the North of the country this didn’t take place.

Pharaoh and his armies had been called away to resist the invaders. TJ was now in charge and could engineer an end to this waste of money.

TJ had spies everywhere, and one in the village. He knew the status of every project the village had ever undertaken, and he knew they were extremely far behind schedule.

It was with some amount of pride that TJ could say he had a hand in engineering the war in the North, to a large extent. Now pharaoh was away TJ knew the village was at last as good as finished.

Staying in Thebes wasn’t a difficult decision for TJ. He had been pharaoh’s faithful servant for nearly fifteen loyal years, in his present capacity. Now that his lord and master was otherwise engaged, he would show everybody how a country should be run, to maximum effect.

Power was the only thing that was of any importance, according to the caretaker ruler. The Grand Palace was to be closed down except from one wing in which the TJ would operate, until pharaoh’s return that is.

He, Tjaty Jarha, the second most revered man in all Egypt, would be rewarded handsomely for his management. There would be many subtle improvements made to the smooth running of pharaoh’s empire in his absence.

For this the TJ’s power and influence would become nearly as potent as pharaoh’s own.

The first of TJ’s priorities lay in raising more capital for pharaoh’s campaign in the North. It is true Egypt is a rich country, but war costs. The closure of the village and its enormous funds diverted back to the treasury would solve a lot of his problems.

When he had first seen the expenditure scrolls for the village, he had nearly choked on his sweet-cake. If he could recover funds from this waste of money, he would have enough to pay for a hundred armies and still have enough left over to purchase a small country.

“I knew it! I knew it!” shouted Zem to nobody in particular, as the door to his workshop closed behind the messenger.

Zem mostly found himself alone these days with his more-or-less permanent headache. Zem had just been handed a very nicely worded summons. He and a delegation of his choosing had just been politely invited to attend a meeting at the palace.

TJ, in Pharaoh’s place, had requested a ‘clear the air’ meeting in order that the village had sufficient chance to justify their existence. In the light of the recent determinations regarding the expenditure absorbed by the running of the village, and the need to be able to pay for pharaoh’s new-found expedition, corners would need to be cut.

What was clearly meant was that the village was going to be closed down and the resources that paid for its running costs be diverted elsewhere. Pharaoh wasn’t available for comment at present. By the time he was it would be too late. The deed would already have been done.

Even when work had to be resumed in the future, the vast sums that had already been poured down this particular black hole would not become available again.

The party was to consist of six. Zem as head of the village was naturally the leader of the delegation. Tej because he was moral support for his best friend, and he fancied a day out. Aby, his eldest daughter because she was fearless, and sometimes had her uses. Im because, it must be admitted, did have a certain eloquence. And Ky because he was always ready for adventure, and he might just get lucky.

The administrator who was sent to inform them of the need for their presence, also would accompany them back to the palace.

The journey from the village to where TJ administered to the needs of the country, was just across The Nile. A cart would take them to the river to be ferried to the other side. The cart would then make its way to the palace.

Nobody realized at the time the significance the messenger was to have on the village.

The messenger’s name was Ameny. He had been a scribe to the palace as had his father before him. His organizational skills had brought him to the attention of those that matter. Ameny himself had been biding his time and looking for a suitable niche for his particular talents, when his master had ordered him to the village that was wasting all this money.

At thirty years of age, Ameny was still searching for where he could make his mark. As long as it didn’t involve people skills or motivational ability, Ameny was your man.

Talented though he was, tact was unfortunately not one of his major attributes. Like everybody who lacks certain social skills, and the give and take of face to face negotiation, Ameny thought he excelled.

To Ameny, his diplomatic qualities were second to none. He numbered among his many positive attributes the ability to get the best from those he led. Self-delusion is said to be part of the make-up of those whose brilliance tends to outshine one aspect of their character to the detriment of all others.

This was certainly true in the case of Ameny. Giving Ameny free rein over the villagers would certainly turn out to be a big mistake.

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