“Uarda’s father?” asked Nebsecht.
The soldier nodded assent, and said with a rough voice, but not without cordiality.
“No one could guess it by looking at us—she is so white and rosy. Her mother was a foreigner, and she has turned out as delicate as she was. I am afraid to touch her with my little finger—and there comes a chariot over the brittle doll, and does not quite crush her, for she is still alive.”
“Without the help of this holy father,” said the paraschites, approaching the surgeon, and kissing his robe, “you would never have seen her alive again. May the Gods reward thee for what thou hast done for its poor folks!”
“And we can pay too,” cried the soldier, slapping a full purse that hung at his gridle. “We have taken plunder in Syria, and I will buy a calf, and give it to thy temple.”
“Offer a beast of dough, rather.”
[Hogs were sacrificed at the feasts of Selene (the Egyptian Nechebt). The poor offer pigs made of dough. Herodotus II., 47. Various kinds of cakes baked in the form of animals are represented on the monuments.]
replied Nebsecht, “and if you wish to show yourself grateful to me, give the money to your father, so that he may feed and nurse your child in accordance with my instructions.”
“Hm,” murmured the soldier; he took the purse from his girdle, flourished it in his hand, and said, as he handed it to the paraschites:
“I should have liked to drink it! but take it, father, for the child and my mother.”
While the old man hesitatingly put out his hand for the rich gift, the soldier recollected himself and said, opening the purse:
“Let me take out a few rings, for to-day I cannot go dry. I have two or three comrades lodging in the red Tavern. That is right. There,—take the rest of the rubbish.”
Nebsecht nodded approvingly at the soldier, and he, as his father gratefully kissed the surgeon’s hand, exclaimed:
“Make the little one sound, holy father! It, is all over with gifts and offerings, for I have nothing left; but there are two iron fists and a breast like the wall of a fortress. If at any time thou dost want help, call me, and I will protect thee against twenty enemies. Thou hast saved my child—good! Life for life. I sign myself thy blood-ally—there.”
With these words he drew his poniard out of his girdle. He scratched his arm, and let a few drops of his blood run down on a stone at the feet of Nebsecht—“Look,” he said. “There is my bond, Kaschta has signed himself thine, and thou canst dispose of my life as of thine own. What I have said, I have said.”
“I am a man of peace,” Nebsecht stammered, “And my white robe protects me. But I believe our patient is awake.”
The physician rose, and entered the hut.
Uarda’s pretty head lay on her grandmother’s lap, and her large blue eyes turned contentedly on the priest.