By Georg Ebers
Hermon, filled with longing, went down toward evening to the shore.
The sun was setting, and the riot of colours in the western horizon seemed like a mockery of the torturing anxiety which had mastered his soul.
He did not notice the boat that was approaching the land; many travellers who intended to go through Arabia Petrea landed here, and for several days—he knew why—there had been more stir in these quiet waters.
Suddenly he was surprised by the ringing shout with which he had formerly announced his approach to Myrtilus.
Unconsciously agitated by joy, as if the sunset glow before him had suddenly been transformed into the dawn of a happy day, he answered by a loud cry glad with hope. Although his dim eyes did not yet permit him to distinguish who was standing erect in the boat, waving greetings to him, he thought he knew whom this exquisite evening was bringing.
Soon his own name reached him. It was his “wise Bias” who shouted, and soon, with a throbbing heart, he held out both hands to him.
The freedman had performed his commission in the best possible manner, and was now no longer bound to silence by oath.
Ledscha had left him and Myrtilus to themselves and, as Bias thought he had heard, had sailed with the Gaul Lutarius for Paraetonium, the frontier city between the kingdom of Egypt and that of Cyrene.
Myrtilus felt stronger than he had done for a long time, and had sent him back to the blind friend who would need him more than he did.
But worthy Bias also brought messages from Archias and Daphne. They were well, and his uncle now had scarcely any cause to fear pursuers.
Before the landing of the boat, the shade had covered Hermon’s eyes; but when, after the freedman’s first timid question about his sight, he raised it again, at the same time reporting and showing what progress he had already made toward recovery, the excess of joy overpowered the freedman, and sometimes laughing, sometimes weeping, he kissed the convalescent’s hands and simple robe. It was some time before he calmed himself again, then laying his forefinger on the side of his nose, he said: “Therein the immortals differ from human beings. We sculptors can only create good work with good tools, but the immortals often use the very poorest of all to accomplish the best things. You owe your sight to the hate of this old witch and mother of pirates, so may she find peace in the grave. She is dead. I heard it from a fellow-countryman whom I met in Herocipolis. Her end came soon after our visit.”
Then Bias related what he knew of Hermon’s uncle, of Daphne, and Myrtilus.
Two letters were to give him further particulars.
They came from the woman he loved and from his friend, and as soon as Bias had lighted the lamp in the tent, at the same time telling his master in advance many items of news they contained, he set about the difficult task of reading.