Only specimens of the gold and ivory, spices and rare woods, juniper trees and skins of animals which the ships brought home could be borne past their Majesties, and the black and brown men who carried them moved at a breathless rate.
The sun was still far from the meridian when the royal couple and their train withdrew from the scene of the reception ceremonial, and drove, in a magnificent chariot drawn by four horses, to the neighbouring city of Pithoin, where new entertainments and a long period of rest awaited them. Hermon had seen, as if through a veil of white mists, the objects that aroused the enthusiasm of the throng, and so, he said to himself, it had been during the whole course of his life. Only the surface of the phenomena on which he fixed his eyes had been visible to him; he had not learned to penetrate further into their nature, fathom them to their depths, until he became blind.
If the gods fulfilled his hope, if he regained his vision entirely, and even the last mists had vanished, he would hold firmly to the capacity he had gained, and use it in life as well as in art.
The messenger from Philippus appeared in the afternoon. It was the young hipparch who had studied in Athens and accompanied the commandant of Pelusium to Tennis the year before. He came charged with the commission to convey the artist, in the carriage of the gray-haired comrade of Alexander, to the neighbouring city of Pithom, where Philippus, by the King’s command, was now residing.
On the way the hipparch told the sculptor that the Lady Thyone had recently done things unprecedented for a woman of her age.
She had been present at the founding of the city of Arsinoe, as well as at the laying of the corner stone of the temple which was to be consecrated to the new god Serapis in the neighbourhood. The day before she had welcomed her returning son before the entry of the fleet into the canal, and to-day had remained from the beginning to the end of his reception by the King, without being unduly wearied.
Her first thought, after the close of the ceremony, had concerned her convalescing young friend. New entertainments, in which the Queen commanded her to participate, awaited her in Pithom, but pleasure at the return of her famous son appeared to double her power of endurance.
Pithom was the sacred name of the temple precincts of the desert city of Thekut—[The biblical Suchot]—near Heroopolis, where the citizens lived and pursued their business.
The travellers reached the place very speedily. Garlands of flowers and hangings adorned the houses. The sacred precinct Pithom, above which towered the magnificently restored temple of the god Turn, was also still adorned with many superb ones, as well as lofty masts, banners, and triumphal arches.
Before they reached it the equipage passed the sumptuous tents which had been erected for the royal pair and their attendants. If Hermon had not known how long the monarch intended to remain here, their size and number would have surprised him.