But as she lay there, her dark hair streaming over the yellow silk of her pillows, her mind strayed from her lover to the life before her, and the picture rose quickly in her imagination. She even took up the silver mirror that lay beside her and looked at herself by the dim light of the little lamp, and said to herself that she was beautiful, and that many in Shushan would do her homage. She was glad that Atossa was so fair—it would be a better contrast for her own dark southern beauty.
Towards morning she slept, and dreamed of the grand figure of the prophet, as she had seen him stretched upon his death-bed in the upper chamber of the tower; she thought the dead man stirred and opened his glazed eyes and pointed at her with his bony fingers, and spoke words of anger and reproach. Then she woke with a short cry in her terror, and the light of the dawn shone gray and clear through the doorway of the corridor at the end of her room, where two of her handmaids slept across the threshold, their white cloaks drawn over their heads against the chill air of the night.
Then the trumpets rang out in long-drawn clanging rhythm through the morning air, and Nehushta heard the trampling of the beasts that were being got ready for the journey, in the court without, and the cries of the drivers and of the serving-men. She rose quickly from her bed—a lithe white-clad figure in the dawn light—and pushed the heavy curtains aside and looked out through the lattice; and she forgot her evil dream, for her heart leaped again at the thought that she should no more be shut up in Ecbatana, and that before another month was over she would be in Shushan, in the palace, where she longed to be.
The sun was almost setting, and his light was already turning to a golden glow upon the vast plain of Shushan, as the caravan of travellers halted for the last time. A few stades away the two mounds rose above the royal city like two tables out of the flat country; the lower one surmounted by the marble columns, the towers and turrets and gleaming architraves of the palace; and in front, upon the right, the higher elevation crowned