The flutes of the musicians, marking time for the rowers, echoed gaily up from the hold, and, obedient to quick words of command, the seamen were spreading the sails.
The voyage began with a favourable wind. As Hermon looked back for the last time, the flat, desolate tongue of land appeared like a line of gray mist in the southeastern horizon; but over it hovered, like a gloomy thundercloud, the flocks of vultures and ravens, whose numbers were constantly increasing. Their greedy screaming could still be heard, though but faintly, yet the eye could no longer distinguish anything in the fast-vanishing abode of horror, save the hovering whirl of dark spots—ravens and vultures, vultures and ravens.
Whatever human life had moved there yesterday, now rested from bloody greed for booty, after victory and defeat, mortal terror, fury, and despair.
Eumedes pointed out the quiet grave by the sea to his parents, saying: “The King’s command is fulfilled. Not even the one man who is usually spared to carry the news remains out of the four thousand.”
“I thank you,” exclaimed Alexander’s gray-haired comrade, shaking his son’s right hand, but Thyone laid her hand on Hermon’s arm, saving: “Where the birds are darkening the air behind us lies buried what incensed Nemesis against you. You must leave the soil of Egypt. True, it is said that to live in foreign lands, far from the beloved home, darkens the existence; yet Pergamus, too, is Grecian soil, and there I see the two noblest of stars illumine your path with their pure light-art and love.”
And his old friend’s premonition was fulfilled.
The story of Arachne is ended. It closed on the Nile. Hermon’s new life began in Pergamus.
As Daphne’s husband, under the same roof with the wonderfully invigorated Myrtilus, his Uncle Archias, and faithful Bias, Hermon found in the new home what had hovered before the blind man as the fairest goal of existence in art, love, and friendship.
He did not long miss the gay varied life of Alexandria, because he found a rich compensation for it, and because Pergamus, too, was a rapidly growing city, whose artistic decoration was inferior to no other in Greece.
Of the numerous works which Hermon completed in the service of the first three art-loving rulers of the new Pergamenian kingdom, Philetaerus, Eumenes, and Attalus, nothing was preserved except the head of a Gaul. This noble masterpiece proves how faithful Hermon remained to truth, which he had early chosen for the guiding star of his art. It is the modest remnant of the group in which Hermon perpetuated in marble the two Gallic brothers whom he saw before his last meeting with Ledscha, as they offered their breasts to the fatal shafts.
One had gazed defiantly at the arrows of the conquerors; the other, whose head has been preserved, feeling the inevitable approach of death, anticipates, with sorrowful emotion, the end so close at hand. Philetaerus had sent this touching work to King Ptolemy to thank him for the severity with which he had chastised the daring of the barbarians, who had not spared his kingdom also. The Gaul’s head was again found on Egyptian soil.