With the exception of the two artists, only Myrtilus’s servant, the old doorkeeper, and Bias, Hermon’s slave, remained during the night in the house which was to be attacked, and Hanno would undertake the assault with twenty-five sturdy fellows whom he commanded on the Hydra if his brother Labaja consented to share in the assault, this force could be considerably increased.
To take the old corsair into their confidence now would not be advisable, for, on account of his mother’s near presence, he would scarcely consent to enter into the peril. Should the venture fail, everything would be over; but if it succeeded, the old man could only praise the courage and skill with which it had been executed.
Nothing was to be feared from the coast guard, for since Abus’s death the authorities believed that piracy had vanished from these waters, and the ships commanded by Satabus and his sons had been admitted from Pontus into the Tanite arm of the Nile as trading vessels.
While Hanno was discussing these considerations, he rowed the boat past the landing place from which the “garden” with the Alexandrian’s tent could be seen.
The third hour after midnight had begun. Smoking flames were still rising from the pitch pans and blazing torches, and long rows of lanterns also illumined the broad space.
It was as light as day in the vicinity of the tent, and Biamite huntsmen and traders were moving to and fro among the slaves and attendants as though it was market time.
“Your father, too,” Hanno remarked in his awkward fashion, “will scarcely make life hard for us. We shall probably find him in Pontus. He is getting a cargo of wood for Egypt there. We have had dealings with him a long time. He thought highly of Abus, and I, too, have already been useful to him. There were handsome young fellows on the Pontine coast, and we captured them. At the peril of our lives we took them to the mart. He may even risk it in Alexandria. So the old man makes over to him a large number of these youths, and often a girl into the bargain, and he does it far too cheaply. One might envy him the profit—if it were not your father! When you are once my wife, I’ll make a special contract with him about the slaves. And, besides, since the last great capture, in which the old man allowed me a share of my own, I, too, need not complain of poverty. I shall be ready for the dowry. Do you want to know what you are worth to me?”
But Ledscha’s attention was attracted by other things, and even after Hanno, with proud conceit, repeated his momentous question, he waited in vain for a reply.
Then he perceived that the girl was gazing at the brilliantly lighted square as if spellbound, and now he himself saw before the tent a shed with a canopied roof, and beneath it cushioned couches, on which several Greeks—men and women—were half sitting, half lying, watching with eager attention the spectacle which a slender young Hellenic woman was presenting to them.