One signal was to notify Hanno to hold himself in readiness, another to inform him that every one in the white house had gone to rest, and that Hermon was there too. The pirates were to enter the black-bearded Greek’s studio. While some were shattering his statues to carry away in sacks the gold and ivory which they contained, others were to force their way into Myrtilus’s workroom, which was on the opposite side of the house. There they would find the second statue; but this they must spare, because, on account of the great fame of its creator, it was more valuable than the other. The fair-haired artist was ill, and it would be no difficult matter to take him alive, even if he should put himself on the defensive. Hermon, on the contrary, was a strong fellow, and to bind him without injuring him severely would require both strength and skill. Yet it must be done, for only in case Hanno succeeded in delivering both sculptors to her alive would she consider herself—she could not repeat it often enough—bound to fulfil what she had promised him.
With the exception of the two artists, only Myrtilus’s servant, the old doorkeeper, and Bias, Hermon’s slave, remained during the night in the house which was to be attacked, and Hanno would undertake the assault with twenty-five sturdy fellows whom he commanded on the Hydra if his brother Labaja consented to share in the assault, this force could be considerably increased.
To take the old corsair into their confidence now would not be advisable, for, on account of his mother’s near presence, he would scarcely consent to enter into the peril. Should the venture fail, everything would be over; but if it succeeded, the old man could only praise the courage and skill with which it had been executed.
Nothing was to be feared from the coast guard, for since Abus’s death the authorities believed that piracy had vanished from these waters, and the ships commanded by Satabus and his sons had been admitted from Pontus into the Tanite arm of the Nile as trading vessels.
While Hanno was discussing these considerations, he rowed the boat past the landing place from which the “garden” with the Alexandrian’s tent could be seen.
The third hour after midnight had begun. Smoking flames were still rising from the pitch pans and blazing torches, and long rows of lanterns also illumined the broad space.
It was as light as day in the vicinity of the tent, and Biamite huntsmen and traders were moving to and fro among the slaves and attendants as though it was market time.