He controlled his impatience to learn the particulars concerning his friend’s fate until Bias had partially satisfied his hunger.
A short time ago Hermon would have declared it impossible that he could ever become so happy during this period of conflict and separation from the object of his love.
The thought of his lost inheritance doubtless flitted through his mind, but it seemed merely like worthless dust, and the certainty that Myrtilus still walked among the living filled him with unclouded happiness. Even though he could no longer see him, he might expect to hear his beloved voice again. Oh, what delight that he was permitted to have his friend once more, as well as Daphne, that he could meet him so freely and joyously and keep the laurel, which had rested with such leaden weight upon his head, for Myrtilus, and for him alone!
But where was he?
What was the name of the miracle which had saved him, and yet kept him away from his embrace so long?
How had Myrtilus and Bias escaped the flames and death on that night of horror?
A flood of questions assailed the slave before he could begin a connected account, and Hermon constantly interrupted it to ask for details concerning his friend and his health at each period and on every occasion.
Much surprised by his discreet manner, the artist listened to the bondman’s narrative; for though Bias had formerly allowed himself to indulge in various little familiarities toward his master, he refrained from them entirely in this story, and the blind man’s misfortune invested him in his eyes with a peculiar sacredness.
He had arrived wounded on the pirate ship with his master’s friend, the returned bondman began. When he had regained consciousness, he met Ledscha on board the Hydra, as the wife of the pirate Hanno. She had nursed Myrtilus with tireless solicitude, and also often cared for his, Bias’s, wounds. After the recovery of the prisoners, she became their protectress, and placed Bias in the service of the Greek artist.
They, the Gaul Lutarius, and one of the sculptor’s slaves, were the only ones who had been brought on board the Hydra alive from the attack in Tennis, but the latter soon succumbed to his wounds.
Hermon owed it solely to the bridge-builder that he had escaped from the vengeance of his Biamite foe, for the tall Gaul, whose thick beard resembled Hermon’s in length and blackness, was mistaken by Hanno for the person whom Ledscha had directed him to deliver alive into her power.
The pirate had surrendered the wrong captive to the woman he loved and, as Bias declared, to his serious disadvantage; for, though Hanno and the Biamite girl were husband and wife, no one could help perceiving the cold dislike with which Ledscha rebuffed the giant who read her every wish in her eyes. Finally, the captain of the pirate ship, a silent man by nature, often did not open his lips for days except to give orders to the crew. Frequently he even refused to be relieved from duty, and remained all night at the helm.