Lastly, he began also to confide that he loved no woman on earth more ardently than the very Daphne whom, when only a pretty little child, she had carried in her arms, yet that he could not seek the wealthy heiress because manly pride forbade this to the blind beggar.
Here the anguish of renunciation seized him with great violence, and when he wished to appeal again to his mother his exhausted imagination refused its service, and the vision would not appear.
Then he groped his way back to the bed, and, as he let his head sink upon the pillows, he fancied that he would soon be again enwrapped in the sweet slumber of childhood, which had long shunned his couch.
It was years since he had felt so full of peace and hope, and he told himself, with grateful joy, that every childlike emotion had not yet died within him, that the stern conflicts and struggles of the last years had not yet steeled every gentle emotion.
The sun of the following day had long passed its meridian when Hermon at last woke. The steward Gras, who had grown gray in the service of Archias, was standing beside the couch.
There was nothing in the round, beardless face of this well-fed yet active man that could have attracted the artist, yet the quiet tones of his deep voice recalled to memory the clear, steadfast gaze of his gray eyes, from which so often, in former days, inviolable fidelity, sound sense, caution, and prudence had looked forth at him.
What the blind man heard from Gras surprised him—nay, at first seemed impossible. To sleep until the afternoon was something unprecedented for his wakeful temperament; but what was he to say to the tidings that the commandant of Pelusium had arrived in his state galley early in the morning and taken his wife, Daphne, and Chrysilla away with him to Alexandria?
Yet it sounded credible enough when the Bithynian further informed him that the ladies had left messages of remembrance for him, and said that Archias’s ship, upon which he was, would be at his disposal for any length of time he might desire. Gras was commissioned to attend him. The Lady Thyone especially desired him to heed her counsel.
While the steward was communicating this startling news as calmly as if everything was a matter of course, the events of the preceding night came back to Hermon’s memory with perfect distinctness, and again the fear assailed him that the rescued Demeter was the work of Myrtilus, and not his own.
So the first question he addressed to Gras concerned the Tennis goldsmith, and it was a keen disappointment to Hermon when he learned that the earliest time he could expect to see him would be the following day. The skilful artisan had been engaged for weeks upon the gold ornaments on the new doors of the holy of holies in the Temple of Amon at Tanis. Urgent business had called him home from the neighbouring city just before the night of the attack; but yesterday evening he had returned to Tanis, where his wife said he would have only two days’ work to do.