“And the goddess’s figure?” asked Ledscha eagerly.
“For that he first used as a model the fair-haired Heliodora, whom he summoned from Alexandria, and as the wild cat could endure the loneliness only a fortnight, the sisters Nico and Pagis came together. But Tennis was too quiet for them too. The rabble can only be contented among those of their own sort in the capital. But the great preliminary work was already finished before we left Alexandria.”
“And Gula—my sister?”
“They were not used for the Demeter,” said the slave, smiling. “Just think, that slender scarcely grown creature, Taus, and the matronly patroness of marriage. And Gula? True, her little round face is fresh and not ill-looking—but the model of a goddess requires something more. That can only be obtained in Alexandria. What do not the women there do for the care of the body! They learn it in the Aphrodision, as the boys study reading and writing. But you! What do you here know even about colouring the eyelids and the lips, curling the hair, and treating the nails on the hands and feet? And the clothes! You let them hang just as you put them on, and my master’s work is full of folds and little lines in the robe and the peplos—But I have staid too long already. Do you really insist upon meeting Hermon again?
“I will and must see him,” she eagerly declared.
“Well, then,” he answered harshly. “But if you cast my warning to the winds, pity will also fly away with it.”
“I do not need it,” the girl retorted in a contemptuous tone.
“Then let Fate take its course,” said the slave, shrugging his shoulders regretfully. “My master shall learn what you wish. I shall remain at home until the market is empty. There are plenty of servants at your farm. Your messenger shall bring you Hermon’s answer.”
“I will come myself and wait for it under the acacia,” she cried hastily, and went toward the house, but this time it was Bias who called her back.
Ledscha reluctantly fulfilled his wish, but she soon regretted it, for though what he had to say was doubtless kindly meant, it contained a fresh and severe offence: the slave represented to her the possibility that, so long as the daughter of Archias remained his guest, Hermon might rebuff her like a troublesome beggar.
Then, as if sure of her cause, she indignantly cut short his words: “You measure him according to your own standard, and do not know what depends upon it for us. Remind him of the full moon on the coming night and, though ten Alexandrians detained him, he would escape from them to hear what I bring him.”
With these words Ledscha again turned her back upon him, but Bias, with a low imprecation, pushed the boat from the shore and rowed toward the city.
When Ledscha heard the strokes of the oars she stopped again and, with glowing cheeks, gazed after the boat and the glimmering silver furrow which it left upon the calm surface of the moonlit water.