With a curt “Come,” he took her hand, whispering, “Hermon is joyously expecting your visit.”
Ledscha’s veil concealed her mouth, but the expression of her eyes made him think that it curled scornfully.
Yet she silently followed him.
At first he led her by the hand, but on the way he saw at the edge of her upper veil the thick, dark eyebrows which met each other, and her fingers seemed to him so strangely cold and tapering that a shudder ran through his frame and he released them.
Ledscha scarcely seemed to notice it, and, with bowed head, walked beside him through the side entrance to the door of Hermon’s studio.
It was a disappointment to her to find it locked, but Bias did not heed her angry complaint, and led her into the artist’s sitting room, requesting her to wait for his master there.
Then he hurried to the steps, and by a significant sign informed the sculptor that something important required his attention.
Hermon understood him, and Bias soon had an opportunity to tell the artist who it was that desired to speak to him and where he had taken Ledscha. He also made him aware that he feared some evil from her, and that, in an alarming vision, she had appeared to him as a hideous spider.
Hermon laughed softly. “As a spider? The omen is appropriate. We will make her a woman spider—an Arachne that is worth looking at. But this strange beauty is one of the most obstinate of her sex, and if I let her carry out her bold visit in broad daylight she will get the better of me completely. The blood must first be washed from my hands here. The wounded sea eagle tore the skin with its claw, and I concealed the scratch from Daphne. A strip of linen to bandage it! Meanwhile, let the impatient intruder learn that her sign is not enough to open every door.”
Then he entered his sitting room, greeted Ledscha curtly, invited her to go into the studio, unlocked it, and left her there alone while he went to his chamber with the slave and had the slight wound bandaged comfortably.
While Bias was helping his master he repeated with sincere anxiety his warning against the dangerous beauty whose eyebrows, which had grown together, proved that she was possessed by the demons of the nether world.
“Yet they increase the austere beauty of her face,” assented the artist. “I should not want to omit them in modelling Arachne while the goddess is transforming her into a spider! What a subject! A bolder one was scarcely ever attempted and, like you, I already see before me the coming spider.”
Then, without the slightest haste, he exchanged the huntsman’s chiton for the white chlamys, which was extremely becoming to his long, waving beard, and at last, exclaiming gaily, “If I stay any longer, she will transform herself into empty air instead of the spider,” he went to her.