He again bid her be calm, and went on to tell her: in his soft, composed manner, that two days since a Nabathaean had come to him and had asked him, as the chief administrator of justice in Egypt, whether an old foe of the Moslems, a general who had fought in the service of the emperor and the cross against the Khaliff and the crescent, and who was now sick, weary, and broken, might venture on Egyptian soil without fear of being seized by the Arab authorities; and when he, Othman, had learnt that this man was no other than Thomas, the hero of Damascus, he had promised him his life and freedom, promised them gladly, as he felt assured his sovereign the Khaliff would desire.
So this very day her father had reached Fostat, and the Kadi had received him as a guest into his house. Thomas, indeed, stood on the brink of the grave; but he was inspirited and sustained by the hope of seeing his daughter. It had been falsely reported to him that she had perished in the massacre at Abyla and he had already mourned her fate.
It was now his duty to fulfil the wish of a dying man, and he had ordered the prison servants to prepare the room adjoining Paula’s cell with furniture which was on the way from his house. The door between the two would be opened for her.
“And I shall see him again, have him again to live with—to close his eyes, perhaps to die with him!” cried Paula; and, seizing the good man’s hand, she kissed it gratefully.
The Moslem’s eyes filled with tears as he bid her not to thank him, but God the All-merciful; and before the sun went down the head of the doomed daughter was resting on the breast of the weary hero who was so near his end, though his unimpaired mind and tender heart rejoiced in their reunion as fully and deeply as did his beloved and only child. A new and unutterable joy came to Paula in the gloom of her prison; and that same day the warder carried a letter from her to Orion, conveying her father’s greetings; and, as he read the fervent blessing, he felt as though an invisible hand had released him for ever from the curse his own father had laid upon him. A wonderful glad sense of peace came over him with power and pleasure in work, and he gave his brains and pen no rest till morning was growing grey.
Horapollo made his way home to his new quarters from the court of justice with knit and gloomy brows. As he passed Susannah’s garden hedge he saw a knot of people gathered together and pointing out furtively to the handsome residence beyond.
They, like a hundred other groups he had passed, hailed him with words of welcome, thanks, and encouragement and, as he bowed to them slightly, his eyes followed the direction of their terrified gaze and he started; above the great garden gates hung the black tablet; a warning that looked like a mark of disgrace, crying out to the passer-by: “Avoid this threshold! Here rages the destroying pestilence!”