But she did not seem to hear him, and the other woman also retained the same attitude, as if hewn from stone.
Then he called the supplicant’s name loud tone, and the next instant still more loudly; and now she turned, and, in the faint light of the little lamp, showed the marvellously noble outlines of her profile. He called again, and this time Ledscha heard anguished yearning in his deep tones; but they seemed to have lost their influence over her, for her large dark eyes gazed at him so repellently and sternly that a cold tremor ran down his spine.
Swinging himself from his horse, he ascended the steps of the temple, and in the most tender tones at his command exclaimed: “Ledscha! Severely as I have offended you, Ledscha—oh, do not say no! Will you hear me?”
“No!” she answered firmly, and, before he could speak, continued: “This place is ill chosen for another meeting! Your presence is hateful to me! Do not disturb me a moment longer!”
“As you command,” he began hesitatingly; but she swiftly interrupted with the question, “Do you come from Pelusium, and are you going directly home?”
“I did not heed the storm on account of Myrtilus’s illness,” he answered quietly, “and if you demand it, I will return home at once; but first let me make one more entreaty, which will be pleasing also to the gods.”
“Get your response from yonder deity!” she impatiently interrupted, pointing with a grand, queenly gesture, which at any other time would have delighted his artist eye, to the statue of Nemesis in the cella.
Meanwhile Gula had also turned her face toward Hermon, and he now addressed her, saying with a faint tone of reproach: “And did hatred lead you also, Gula, to this sanctuary at midnight to implore the goddess to destroy me in her wrath?”
The young mother rose and pointed to Ledscha, exclaiming, “She desires it.”
“And I?” he asked gently. “Have I really done you so much evil?”
She raised her hand to her brow as if bewildered; her glance fell on the artist’s troubled face, and lingered there for a short time. Then her eyes wandered to Ledscha, and from her to the goddess, and finally back again to the sculptor. Meanwhile Hermon saw how her young figure was trembling, and, before he had time to address a soothing-word to her, she sobbed aloud, crying out to Ledscha: “You are not a mother! My child, he rescued it from the flames. I will not, and I can not—I will no longer pray for his misfortune!”
She drew her veil over her pretty, tear-stained face as she spoke, and darted lightly down the temple steps close beside him to seek shelter in her parents’ house, which had been unwillingly opened to the cast-off wife, but now afforded her a home rich in affection.
Immeasurably bitter scorn was depicted in Ledscha’s features as she gazed after Gula. She did not appear to notice Hermon, and when at last he appealed to her and briefly urged her to ask the old enchantress on the Owl’s Nest for a remedy for the wounded Gaul, she again leaned against the post of the cella door, extended both arms with passionate fervour toward the goddess, and remained standing there motionless, deaf to his petition.