This remark referred to Philotas, who was just offering Daphne a magnificent bunch of roses, which a mounted messenger had brought to him from Alexandria.
The girl received it with a grateful glance, but she instantly separated one of the most beautiful blossoms from its companions and handed it to Hermon, saying, “For our suffering friend, with my affectionate remembrances.”
The artist pressed her dear hand with a tender look of love, intended to express how difficult it was for him to leave her, and when, just at that moment, a slave announced that the horses were waiting, Thyone whispered: “Have no anxiety, my son! Your ride away from her through the tempest will bring you a better reward than his slave’s swift horse will bear the giver of the roses.”
Hermon, with the rose for his friend fastened in the breast folds of his chiton, mounted his horse gratefully, and his companion, a sinewy, bronzed Midianite, who was also to attend to the opening of the fortress gates, did the same.
Before reaching the open country the sculptor had to ride through the whole city, with which he was entirely unfamiliar. Fiercely as the storm was sweeping down the streets and squares, and often as the horseman was forced to hold on to his travelling hat and draw his chlamys closer around him, he felt the anxieties which had made his night sleepless and saddened his day suddenly leave him as if by a miracle. Was it the consciousness of having acted rightly? was it the friendly farewell which Daphne had given him, and the hope Thyone had aroused, or the expectation of seeing Ledscha once more, and at least regaining her good will, that had restored his lost light-heartedness? He did not know himself, nor did he desire to know.
While formerly he had merely glanced carelessly about him in Pelusium, and only half listened to the explanations given by the veteran’s deep voice, now whatever he saw appeared in clear outlines and awakened his interest, in spite of the annoyances caused by the storm.
Had he not known that he was in Pelusium, it would have been difficult for him to determine whether the city he was crossing was an Egyptian, a Hellenic, or a Syrian one; for here rose an ancient temple of the time of the Pharaohs, with obelisks and colossal statues before the lofty pylons, yonder the sanctuary of Poseidon, surrounded by stately rows of Doric columns, and farther on the smaller temple dedicated to the Dioscuri, and the circular Grecian building that belonged to Aphrodite.
In another spot, still close to the harbour, he saw the large buildings consecrated to the worship of the Syrian Baal and Astarte.
Here he was obliged to wait awhile, for the tempest had excited the war elephants which were returning from their exercising ground, and their black keepers only succeeded with the utmost difficulty in restraining them. Shrieking with fear, the few persons who were in the street besides the soldiers, that were everywhere present, scattered before the huge, terrified animals.