His blood seethed in his veins, and he was tempted to go nearer and force her to hear him; but before he had ascended the first of the flight of steps leading to the pronaos, he heard the footsteps of the men who were bearing the wounded warrior after him.
They must not see him here with one of their countrywomen at this hour, and manly pride forbade him to address her again as a supplicant.
So he went back to the road, mounted his horse, and rode on without vouchsafing a word of farewell to the woman who was invoking destruction upon his head. As he did so his eyes again rested on the stern face of Nemesis, and the wheel whose turning determined the destiny of men at her feet.
Assailed by horrible fears, and overpowered by presentiments of evil, he pursued his way through the darkness.
Perhaps Myrtilus had succumbed to the terrible attack which must have visited him in such a storm, and life without his friend would be bereft of half its charm. Orphaned, poor, a struggler who had gained no complete victory, it had been rich only in disappointments to him, in spite of his conviction that he was a genuine artist, and was fighting for a good cause. Now he knew that he had also lost the woman by whose assistance he was certain of a great success in his own much-disputed course, and Ledscha, if any one, was right in expecting a favourable hearing from the goddess who punished injustice.
He did not think of Daphne again until he was approaching the place where her tents had stood, and the remembrance of her fell like a ray of light into his darkened soul.
Yet on that spot had also been erected the wooden platform from which Althea had showed him the transformation into the spider, and the recollection of the foolish error into which the Thracian had drawn him disagreeably clouded the pleasant thought of Daphne.
Complete darkness enfolded the white house. Hermon saw only two windows lighted, the ones in his friend’s studio, which looked out into the open square, while his own faced the water.
What did this mean?
It must be nearly midnight, and he could no longer expect Myrtilus to be still at work. He had supposed that he should find him in his chamber, supported by his slaves, struggling for breath. What was the meaning of the light in the workrooms now?
Where was his usually efficient Bias? He never went to rest when his master was to return home, yet the carrier dove must have announced his coming!
But Hermon had also enjoined the care of Myrtilus upon the slave, and he was undoubtedly beside the sufferer’s couch, supporting him in the same way that he had often seen his master.
He was now riding across the open space, and he heard the men who carried the Gaul talking close behind him.
Was the wounded barbarian the sole acquisition of this journey?