“I will, and I shall succeed,” he said earnestly, holding out his hand across the rope. She clasped it, looked up to the full moon again, and whispered: “This time—I will believe it—you will keep your promise better than when you were in Tennis. And I—I will cease to wish you evil, and I will tell you why. Bend your ear nearer, that I may confess it openly.” Hermon willingly obeyed the request, but she leaned her head against his, and he felt her laboured breathing and the warm tears that coursed silently down her cheeks as she said, in a low whisper: “Because the moon is full, and will yet bring me what the demons promised, and because, though strong, I am still a woman. Happiness! How long ago I ceased to expect it!—but now-yes, it is what I now feel! I am happy, and yet can not tell why. My love—oh, yes! It was more ardent than the burning hate. Now you know it, too, Hermon. And I—I shall be free, you say? And Tabus, how she lauded rest—eternal rest! Oh dearest—this sorely tortured heart, too—you can not even imagine how weary I am!”
Here she was silent, but the man into whose face she was gazing with loving devotion felt a sudden movement at his side as she uttered the exclamation.
He did not notice it, for the sweet tone of her voice was penetrating the inmost depths of his heart. It sounded as though she was speaking from the happiest of dreams.
“Ledscha!” he exclaimed warmly, extending his arm toward her—but she had already stepped back from his side, and he now perceived the terrible object—she had snatched his sword from its sheath, and as, seized by sudden terror, he gazed at her, he saw the shining blade glitter in the moonlight and suddenly vanish.
In an instant he swung his agile body over the rope and rushed to her. But she had already sunk to her knees, and while he clasped her in is arms to support her, he heard her call his own name tenderly, then murmur it in a lower tone, and the words “Full moon” and “Happiness” escape her lips.
Then she was silent, and her beautiful head dropped on her breast like a flower broken by a tempest.
“It was best so for her and for us,” said Eumedes, after gazing long at Ledscha’s touchingly beautiful, still, dead face.
Then he ordered her to be buried at once and shouted to the guards: “Everything must be over on this strip of land early to-morrow morning! Let all who bear arms begin at once. Selene will light the men brightly enough for the work.”
The terrible order given in mercy was fulfilled, and hunger and thirst were robbed of their numerous prey. When the new day dawned the friends were still on deck, engaged in grave conversation. The cloudless sky now arched in radiant light above the azure sea. White seagulls came flying from the right across the ship, and sportive dolphins gambolled around her keel.