“To-morrow,” she answered in a tone of resolute denial. Then, reminding him once more of the meaning of the signals she had promised to give, she waved her hand to him, sprang swiftly past him to the prow of the boat, caught an overhanging bough of the willow on the shore, and, as she had learned during the games of her childhood, swung herself as lightly as a bird into the thicket at the water’s edge, which concealed her from every eye.
Without even vouchsafing Hanno another glance, Ledscha glided forward in the shadow of the bushes to the great sycamore, whose thick, broad top on the side toward the tents was striped with light from the flood of radiance streaming from them. On the opposite side the leafage vanished in the darkness of the night, but Myrtilus had had a bench placed there, that he might rest in the shade, and from this spot the girl could obtain the best view of what she desired to see.
How gay and animated it was under the awning!
A throng of companions had arrived with the Pelusinians, and some also had probably been on the ship which—she knew it from Bias—had come to Tennis directly from Alexandria that afternoon. The galley was said to belong to Philotas, an aristocratic relative of King Ptolemy. If she was not mistaken, he was the stately young Greek who was just picking up the ostrich-feather fan that had slipped from Daphne’s lap.
The performance was over.
Young slaves in gay garments, and nimble female servants with glittering gold circlets round their upper arms and on their ankles, were passing from couch to couch, and from one guest to another, offering refreshments. Hermon had risen from his knees, and the wreath of bright flowers again adorned his black curls. He held himself as proudly erect as if the goddess of Victory herself had crowned him, while Althea was reaping applause and thanks. Ledscha gazed past her and the others to watch every movement of the sculptor.
It was scarcely the daughter of Archias who had detained Hermon, for he made only a brief answer—Ledscha could not hear what it was—when she accosted him pleasantly, to devote himself to Althea, and—this could be perceived even at a distance—thank her with ardent devotion.
And now—now he even raised the hem of her peplos to his lips.
A scornful smile hovered around Ledscha’s mouth; but Daphne’s guests also noticed this mark of homage—an unusual one in their circle—and young Philotas, who had followed Daphne from Alexandria, cast a significant glance at a man with a smooth, thin, birdlike face, whose hair was already turning gray. His name was Proclus, and, as grammateus of the Dionysian games and high priest of Apollo, he was one of the most influential men in Alexandria, especially as he was one of the favoured courtiers of Queen Arsinoe.
He had gone by her command to the Syrian court, had enjoyed on his return, at Pelusium, with his travelling companion Althea, the hospitality of Philippus, and accompanied the venerable officer to Tennis in order to win him over to certain plans. In spite of his advanced age, he still strove to gain the favour of fair women, and the sculptor’s excessive ardour had displeased him.