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Georg Ebers
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 668 pages of information about The Bride of the Nile Complete.

In the evening after Paula’s arrival Philippus had consulted with his friends as to the reception of these new guests, and the old man had interrupted him, as soon as he raised the question of pecuniary indemnification, exclaiming: 

“They are all very welcome.  If they have wounds, we will make them heal; if their heads are turned, we will screw them the right way round; if their souls are dark, we will light up a flame in them.  If the fair Paula takes a fancy to us, she and her old woman may stay as long as it suits her and us.  We made her welcome with all our hearts; but, on the other hand, you must understand that we must be free to bid her farewell—­as free as she is to depart.  It is impossible ever to know exactly how such grand folks will get on with humble ones, and as sure as I long to be quit of this piece of lumber I might one day take it into my head to leave it to the owls and jackals and fare forth, staff in hand.—­You know me.  As to indemnification—­we understand each other.  A full purse hangs behind the sick, and the sound one has ten times more than she needs, so they may pay.  You must decide how much; only—­for the women’s sake, and I mean it seriously—­be liberal.  You know what I need Mammon for; and it would be well for Joanna if she had less need to turn over every silver piece before she spends it in the housekeeping.  Besides, the lady herself will be more comfortable if she contributes to pay for the food and drink.  It would ill beseem the daughter of Thomas to be down every evening under the roof of such birds of passage as we are with thanks for favors received.  When each one pays his share we stand on a footing of give and take; and if either one feels any particular affection to another it is not strangled by ‘thanks’ or ‘take it;’ it is love for love’s sake and a joy to both parties.”

“Amen,” said the leech; and Paula had been quite satisfied by her friend’s arrangements.

By the next day she felt herself one of the household, though she every hour found something that could not fail to strike her as strange.

CHAPTER XIX.

When Paula had eaten with Rufinus and his family after the funeral ceremonies, she went into the garden with Pul and the old man—­it had been impossible to induce Perpetua to sit at the same table with her mistress.  The sun was now low, and its level beams gave added lustre to the colors of the flowers and to the sheen of the thick, metallic foliage of the south, which the drought and scorching heat had still spared.  A bright-hued humped ox and an ass were turning the wheel which raised cooling waters from the Nile and poured them into a large tank from which they flowed through narrow rivulets to irrigate the beds.  This toil was now very laborious, for the river had fallen to so low a level as to give cause for anxiety, even at this season of extreme ebb.  Numbers of birds with ruffled feathers, with little

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