Hermon asked to have this commission repeated, and received the directions Myrtilus had given to the slave. The blind man’s hope that they must also include greetings and news from his friend’s hand was destroyed by Bias, whom Myrtilus, in the leisure hours on the Hydra, had taught to read. This was not so difficult a task for the slave, who longed for knowledge, and had already tried it before. But with writing, on the other hand, he could make no headway. He was too old, and his hand had become too clumsy to acquire this difficult art.
In reply to Hermon’s anxious question whether his friend needed anything in his present abode, the slave reported that he was at liberty to move about at will, and was not even obliged to share Ledscha’s lodgings. He lacked nothing, for the Biamite, besides some gold, had left with him also gems and pearls of such great value that they would suffice to support him several years. As for himself, she had supplied him more than abundantly with money for travelling expenses.
Myrtilus was awaiting his return in a city prospering under a rich and wise regent, and sent whole cargoes of affectionate remembrances. The sculptor, too, was firmly resolved to keep the oath imposed upon him.
As soon as he, Bias, had performed the commission intrusted to him, he and Myrtilus would be released from their vow, and Hermon would learn his friend’s residence.
No morning brightened Hermon’s night of darkness.
When the returned slave had finished his report, the sun was already shining into his master’s room.
Without lying down again, the latter went at once to the Tennis notary, who had moved to Alexandria two months before, and with his assistance raised the money which his friend needed.
Worthy Melampus had received the news that Myrtilus was still alive in a very singular manner. Even now he could grasp only one thing at a time, and he loved Hermon with sincere devotion. Therefore the lawyer who had so zealously striven to expedite the blind man’s entering into possession of his friend’s inheritance would very willingly have permitted Myrtilus—doubtless an invalid—to continue to rest quietly among the dead. Yet his kind heart rejoiced at the deliverance of the famous young artist, and so during Hermon’s story he had passed from sincere regret to loud expressions of joyous sympathy.
Lastly, he had placed his whole property at the disposal of Hermon, who had paid him liberally for his work, to provide for the blind sculptor’s future. This generous offer had been declined; but he now assisted Hermon to prepare the emancipation papers for his faithful Bias, and found a ship that was bound to Tanis. Toward evening he accompanied Hermon to the harbour and, after a cordial farewell from his helpful friend, the artist, with the new “freedman” Bias and the slave clerk Patran, went on board the vessel, now ready to sail.