Philotas gave his arm to Daphne. Hermon had ceased to notice her; he had just gone to his gray-haired host with the entreaty that he would give him a ship for the voyage to Tennis, where Myrtilus would need his assistance.
“It is impossible in such weather,” was the reply.
“Then I will ride!” cried Hermon resolutely, and Philippus scanned the son of his old friend and companion in arms with an expression of quiet satisfaction in his eyes, still sparkling brightly, and answered quickly, “You shall have two horses, my boy, and a guide who knows the road besides.”
Then, turning swiftly to one of the officers who accompanied him, he ordered him to provide what was necessary.
When, soon after, in the impluvium, the tempest tore the velarium that covered the open space from its rings, and the ladies endeavoured to detain Hermon, Philippus silenced them with the remark:
“A disagreeable ride is before him, but what urges him on is pleasing to the gods. I have just ventured to send out a carrier dove,” he added, turning to the artist, “to inform Myrtilus that he may expect you before sunset. The storm comes from the cast, otherwise it would hardly reach the goal. Put even if it should be lost, what does it matter?”
Thyone nodded to her old husband with a look of pleasure, and her eyes shone through tears at Hermon as she clasped his hand and, remembering her friend, his mother, exclaimed: “Go, then, you true son of your father, and tell your friend that we will offer sacrifices for his welfare.”
“A lean chicken to Aesculapius,” whispered the grammateus to Althea. “She holds on to the oboli.”
“Which, at any rate, would be hard enough to dispose of in this wretched place unless one were a dealer in weapons or a thirsty sailor,” sighed the Thracian. “As soon as the sky and sea are blue again, chains could not keep me here. And the cooing around this insipid rich beauty into the bargain!”
This remark referred to Philotas, who was just offering Daphne a magnificent bunch of roses, which a mounted messenger had brought to him from Alexandria.
The girl received it with a grateful glance, but she instantly separated one of the most beautiful blossoms from its companions and handed it to Hermon, saying, “For our suffering friend, with my affectionate remembrances.”
The artist pressed her dear hand with a tender look of love, intended to express how difficult it was for him to leave her, and when, just at that moment, a slave announced that the horses were waiting, Thyone whispered: “Have no anxiety, my son! Your ride away from her through the tempest will bring you a better reward than his slave’s swift horse will bear the giver of the roses.”
Hermon, with the rose for his friend fastened in the breast folds of his chiton, mounted his horse gratefully, and his companion, a sinewy, bronzed Midianite, who was also to attend to the opening of the fortress gates, did the same.