This time Proclus also perceived what was passing in the poor artist’s mind, and when he took leave of him it was with the resolve to do his utmost to brighten with the stars of recognition and renown the dark night of suffering which enshrouded this highly gifted sculptor, whose unexpectedly great modesty had prepossessed him still more in his favour.
After the grammateus had retired, Daphne insisted upon leaving Tennis the next day.
The desire to see Hermon’s masterpiece drew her back to Alexandria even more strongly than the knowledge of being missed by her father.
Only the separation from Thyone rendered the departure difficult, for the motherless girl had found in her something for which she had long yearned, and most sorely missed in her companion Chrysilla, who from expediency approved of everything she did or said.
The matron, too, had become warmly attached to Daphne, and would gladly have done all that lay in her power to lighten Hermon’s sad fate, yet she persisted in her determination to return speedily to her old husband in Pelusium.
But she did not fully realize how difficult this departure would be for her until the blind man, after a long silence, asked whether it was night, if the stars were in the sky, and if she really intended to leave him.
Then burning sympathy filled her compassionate soul, and she could no longer restrain her tears. Daphne, too, covered her face, and imposed the strongest restraint upon herself that she might not sob aloud.
So it seemed a boon to both when Hermon expressed the desire to spend part of the night on deck.
This desire contained a summons to action, and to be able to bestir themselves in useful service appeared like a favour to Thyone and Daphne.
Without calling upon a slave, a female servant, or even Chrysilla for the smallest office, the two prepared a couch on deck for the blind man, and, leaning on the girl’s stronger arm, he went up into the open air.
There he stretched both arms heavenward, inhaled deep breaths of the cool night breeze, and thirstily emptied the goblet of wine which Daphne mixed and gave him with her own hand.
Then, with a sigh of relief, he said: “Everything has not grown black yet. A delightful feeling of pleasure takes possession even of the blind man when the open air refreshes him and the wine warms his blood in the sunshine of your kindness.”
“And much better things are still in prospect,” Daphne assured him. “Just think what rapture it will be when you are permitted to see the light again after so long a period of darkness!”
“When—” repeated Hermon, his head drooping as he spoke.
“It must, it must be so!” rang with confident assurance from Thyone’s lips.