They walked on again, and Katharina, who had not been able to gather the whole of this explanation, could plainly hear Paula’s reply in warm, glad accents:
“Yes, that is the truth, I feel. And henceforth that horrible day is blotted out, erased from your life and mine; and whatever you tell me in the future I shall believe.”
And the listener heard the young man answer in a tremulous voice:
“And you shall never be deceived in me. Now I must leave you; and I go, in spite of my griefs, a happy man, entitled to rejoice anew. O Paula, what do I not owe to you! And when we next meet you will receive me, will you not, as you did that evening on the river after my return?”
“Yes, indeed; and with even more glad confidence,” replied Paula, holding out her hand with a lovely graciousness that came from her heart; he pressed it a moment to his lips, and then sprang on to his horse and rode off at a round trot, his slave following him.
“Katharina, child, Katharina!” was shouted from Susannah’s house in a woman’s high-pitched voice. The water-wagtail started up, hastily smoothing her hair and casting an evil glance at her rival, “the other,” the supplanter who had basely betrayed her under the sycamores; she clenched her little fist as she saw Paula watching Orion’s retreating form with beaming eyes. Paula went back into the house, happy and walking on air, while the other poor, deeply-wounded child burst into violent weeping at the first hasty words from her mother, who was not at all satisfied with the disorder of her dress; and she ended by declaring with defiant audacity that she would not present the flowers to the patriarch, and would remain in her own room, for she was dying of headache.—And so she did.
In the course of the afternoon Orion paid his visit to the Arab governor. He crossed the bridge of boats on his finest horse.
Only two years since, the land where the new town of Fostat was now growing up under the old citadel of Babylon had been fields and gardens; but at Amru’s word it had started into being as by a miracle; house after house already lined the streets, the docks were full of ships and barges, the market was alive with dealers, and on a spot where, during the siege of the fortress, a sutler’s booth had stood, a long colonnade marked out the site of a new mosque.
There was little to be seen here now of native Egyptian life; it looked as though some magician had transported a part of Medina itself to the shores of the Nile. Men and beasts, dwellings and shops, though they had adopted much of what they had found in this ancient land of culture, still bore the stamp of their origin; and wherever Orion’s eye fell on one of his fellow-countrymen, he was a laborer or a scribe in the service of the conquerors who had so quickly made themselves at home.