Many of the companions of the royal pair, among them Erasistratus, accompanied them. Hermon bade him farewell with a troubled heart, and the leech, too, parted with regret from the artist to whom, a year before, he had refused his aid.
Hermon went, with Philippus and Thyone, on board the ship which was to convey them through the new canal to Pelusium, where the old commandant had to plan all sorts of measures. In the border fortress the artist was again obliged to exercise patience, for no ship bound to Pergamus or Lesbos could be found in the harbour. Philippus had as much work as he could do, but all his arrangements were made when carrier doves announced that the surprise intended by the Gauls had been completely thwarted, and his son Eumedes was empowered to punish them.
The admiral would take his fleet to the Sebennytic mouth of the Nile.
Another dove came from King Ptolemy, and summoned the old general at once to the capital. Philippus resolved to set off without delay and, as the way led past that mouth of the Nile, met his son on the voyage.
Hermon must accompany him and his wife to Alexandria, whence, without entering the city, he could sail for Pergamus; ships bound to all the ports in the Mediterranean were always in one of the harbours of the capital. A galley ready to weigh anchor was constantly at the disposal of the commandant of the fortress, and the next noon the noble pair, with Hermon and his faithful Bias, went on board the Galatea.
The weather was dull, and gray clouds were sweeping across the sky over the swift vessel, which hugged the coast, and, unless the wind shifted, would reach the narrow tongue of land pierced by the Sebennytic mouth of the Nile before sunrise.
Though the general and his wife went to rest early, Hermon could not endure the close air of the cabin. Wrapped in his cloak he went on deck. The moon, almost full, was sailing in the sky, sometimes covered by dark clouds, sometimes leaving them behind. Like a swan emerging from the shadow of the thickets along the shore upon the pure bosom of the lake, it finally floated into the deep azure of the radiant firmament. Hermon’s heart swelled.
How he rejoiced that he was again permitted to behold the starry sky, and satiate his soul with the beauty of creation! What delight it gave him that the eternal wanderers above were no longer soulless forms, that he again saw in the pure silver disk above friendly Selene, in the rolling salt waves the kingdom of Poseidon! To-morrow, when the deep blue water was calm, he would greet the sea-god Glaucus, and when snowy foam crowned the crests of the waves, white-armed Thetis. The wind was no longer an empty sound to him; no, it, too, came from a deity. All Nature had regained a new, divine life. Doubtless he felt much nearer to his childhood than before, but he was infinitely less distant from the eternal divinity. And all the forms, so full of meaning, which appeared to him from Nature, and from every powerful emotion of his own soul, were waiting to be represented by his art in the noblest of forms, those of human beings. There were few with whose nature he had not become familiar in the darkness and solitude that once surrounded him.