Hermon had intended to add a few more touches to his Demeter, but he could not do it. Ledscha, her demand, and the resentment with which she had left him, were not to be driven from his mind.
There was no doubt that he must seek her if he was not to lose her, yet he reproached himself for having acted like a thoughtless fool when he proposed to divide the night between her and Daphne.
There was something offensive in the proposal to so proud a creature. He ought to have promised positively to come, and then left the banquet somewhat earlier. It would have been easy to apologize for his late arrival, and Ledscha would have had no cause to be angry with him.
Now she had, and her resentment awakened in him—though he certainly did not lack manly courage—an uncomfortable feeling closely allied to anxiety.
Angered by his own conduct, he asked himself whether he loved the barbarian, and could find no satisfactory answer.
At their first meeting he had felt that she was far superior to the other Biamite maidens, not only in beauty but in everything else. The very acerbity of her nature had seemed charming. To win this wonderful, pliant creature, slender as a cypress, whose independence merged into fierce obstinacy, had appeared to him worth any sacrifice; and having perceived in her an admirable model for his Arachne, he had also determined to brave the dangers which might easily arise for the Greek from a love affair with a Biamite girl, whose family was free and distinguished.
It had been easier for him to win her heart than he expected; yet at none of the meetings which she granted him had he rejoiced in the secret bond between them.
Hitherto her austere reserve had been invincible, and during the greater part of their interviews he had been compelled to exert all his influence to soothe, appease her, and atone for imprudent acts which he had committed.
True, she, too, had often allowed herself to display passionate tenderness, but always only to torture him with reproaches and demands inspired by her jealousy, suspicion, and wounded pride.
Yet her beauty, and the strong power of resistance which she offered to his wooing, exerted so bewitching a thrall over him that he had been led into conceding far too much, and making vows which he could not and did not desire to fulfil.
Love had usually been to him a richly flowing well-spring of gay delight, but this bond had plunged him from one vexation into another, one anxiety to another, and now that he had almost reached the goal of his wishes, he could not help fearing that he had transformed Ledscha’s love to hate.
Daphne was dear to him. He esteemed her highly, and owed her a great debt of gratitude. Yet in this hour he anathematized her unexpected journey to Tennis; for without it he would have obtained from Ledscha that very day what he desired, and could have returned to Alexandria with the certainty of finding her ready later to pose as the model for his Arachne.