“She is a woman,” replied Eumedes, “and the King’s mandate only commands me to punish men. Besides, I promised her indulgence if she would make a confession.”
“And she?” asked Hermon.
“Neither by threats nor promises,” answered the admiral, “can this sinister, beautiful creature be induced to speak.”
“Certainly not,” said the artist, and a smile of satisfaction flitted over his face.
A short row took Hermon and Eumedes the admiral’s galley. Ledscha had already been carried ashore. There she was to be confronted with the men who were suspected of having showed the mutineers the way to the city.
Absorbed in his own thoughts, Hermon waited for the admiral, who at first was claimed by one official duty after another. The artist’s thoughts lingered with Daphne. To her father the loss of his house, nay, perhaps of his wealth, would seem almost unendurable, yet even were he beggared, provision was made for him and his daughter. He, Hermon, could again create, as in former days, and what happiness it would be if he were permitted to repay the man to whom he owed so much for the kindness bestowed upon him!
He longed to give to the woman he loved again and again, and it would have seemed to him a favour of fortune if the flames had consumed even the last drachm of her wealthy father.
Completely engrossed by these reflections, he forgot the horrors before him, but when he raised his eyes and saw the archers continuing their terrible work he shuddered.
The admiral’s galley lay so near the shore that he distinguished the figures of the Gauls separately. Some, obeying the instinct of self preservation, fled from the places which could be reached by the arrows of the archers on the ships, but others pressed toward the shafts. A frightful, heart-rending spectacle, yet how rich in food for the long-darkened eyes of the artist! Two brothers of unusual height, who, nude like all their comrades in death, offered their broad, beautifully arched chests to the arrows, would not leave his memory. It was a terrible sight, yet grand and worthy of being wrested from oblivion by art, and it impressed itself firmly on his mind.
After noon Eumedes could at last devote himself to his young friend. Although the wind drove showers of fine rain before it, the admiral remained on deck with the sculptor. What cared they for the inclement weather, while one was recalling to mind and telling his friend how the hate of an offended woman had unchained the gloomy spirits of revenge upon him, the other, who had defied death on land water, listened to his story, sometimes in surprise, sometimes with silent horror?
After the examination to which she had been subjected, Eumedes had believed Ledscha to be as Hermon described her. He found nothing petty in this beautiful, passionate creature who avenged the injustice inflicted upon her as Fate took vengeance, who, with unsparing energy, anticipated the Nemesis to whom she appealed, compelled men’s obedience, and instead of enriching herself cast away the talents extorted to bring down fresh ruin upon the man who had transformed her love to hate.