Volume 1.
Chapter III.
 

Hermas had hastened onwards without delay. He had already reached the last bend of the path he had followed down the ravine, and he saw at his feet the long narrow valley and the gleaming waters of the stream, which here fertilized the soil of the desert. He looked down on lofty palms and tamarisk shrubs innumerable, among which rose the houses of the inhabitants, surrounded by their little gardens and small carefully-irrigated fields; already he could hear the crowing of a cock and the hospitable barking of a dog, sounds which came to him like a welcome from the midst of that life for which he yearned, accustomed as he was to be surrounded day and night by the deep and lonely stillness of the rocky heights.

He stayed his steps, and his eyes followed the thin columns of smoke, which floated tremulously up in the clear light of the ever mounting sun from the numerous hearths that lay below him.

"They are cooking breakfast now," thought he, "the wives for their husbands, the mothers for their children, and there, where that dark smoke rises, very likely a splendid feast is being prepared for guests; but I am nowhere at home, and no one will invite me in." The contest with Paulus had excited and cheered him, but the sight of the city filled his young heart with renewed bitterness, and his lips trembled as he looked down on his sheepskin and his unwashed limbs. With hasty resolve he turned his back on the oasis and hurried up the mountain. By the side of the brooklet that he knew of he threw off his coarse garment, let the cool water flow over his body, washed himself carefully and with much enjoyment, stroked clown his thick hair with his fingers, and then hurried down again into the valley.

The gorge through which he had descended debouched by a hillock that rose from the valley-plain; a small newly-built church leaned against its eastern declivity, and it was fortified on all sides by walls and dikes, behind which the citizens found shelter when they were threatened by the Saracen robbers of the oasis. This hill passed for a particularly sacred spot. Moses was supposed to have prayed on its summit during the battle with the Amalekites while his arms were held up by Aaron and Hur.

But there were other notable spots in the neighborhood of the oasis. There farther to the north was the rock whence Moses had struck the water; there higher up, and more to the south-east, was the hill, where the Lord had spoken to the law-giver face to face, and where he had seen the burning bush; there again was the spring where he had met the daughters of Jethro, Zippora and Ledja, so called in the legend. Pious pilgrims came to these holy places in great numbers, and among them many natives of the peninsula, particularly Nabateans, who had previously visited the holy mountain in order to sacrifice on its summit to their gods, the sun, moon, and planets. At the outlet, towards the north, stood a castle, which ever since the Syrian Prefect, Cornelius Palma, had subdued Arabia Petraea in the time of Trajan, had been held by a Roman garrison for the protection of the blooming city of the desert against the incursions of the marauding Saracens and Blemmyes.

But the citizens of Pharan themselves had taken measures for the security of their property. On the topmost cliffs of the jagged crown of the giant mountain--the most favorable spots for a look-out far and wide--they placed sentinels, who day and night scanned the distance, so as to give a warning-signal in case of approaching clanger. Each house resembled a citadel, for it was built of strong masonry, and the younger men were all well exercised bowmen. The more distinguished families dwelt near the church-hill, and there too stood the houses of the Bishop Agapitus, and of the city councillors of Pharan.

Among these the Senator Petrus enjoyed the greatest respect, partly by reason of his solid abilities, and of his possessions in quarries, garden-ground, date palms, and cattle; partly in consequence of the rare qualities of his wife, the deaconess Dorothea, the granddaughter of the long-deceased and venerable Bishop Chaeremon, who had fled hither with his wife during the persecution of the Christians under Decius, and who had converted many of the Pharanites to the knowledge of the Redeemer.

The house of Petrus was of strong and well-joined stone, and the palm garden adjoining was carefully tended. Twenty slaves, many camels, and even two horses belonged to him, and the centurion in command of the Imperial garrison, the Gaul Phoebicius, and his wife Sirona, lived as lodgers under his roof; not quite to the satisfaction of the councillor, for the centurion was no Christian, but a worshipper of Mithras, in whose mysteries the wild Gaul had risen to the grade of a 'Lion,' whence his people, and with them the Pharanites in general, were wont to speak of him as "the Lion."

His predecessor had been an officer of much lower rank but a believing Christian, whom Petrus had himself requested to live in his house, and when, about a year since, the Lion Phoebicius had taken the place of the pious Pankratius, the senator could not refuse him the quarters, which had become a right.

Hermas went shyly and timidly towards the court of Petrus' house, and his embarrassment increased when he found himself in the hall of the stately stone-house, which he had entered without let or hindrance, and did not know which way to turn. There was no one there to direct him, and he dared not go up the stairs which led to the upper story, although it seemed that Petrus must be there. Yes, there was no doubt, for he heard talking overhead and clearly distinguished the senator's deep voice. Hermas advanced, and set his foot on the first step of the stairs; but he had scarcely begun to go up with some decision, and feeling ashamed of his bashfulness, when he heard a door fly open just above him, and from it there poured a flood of fresh laughing children's voices, like a pent up stream when the miller opens the sluice gate.

He glanced upwards in surprise, but there was no time for consideration, for the shouting troop of released little ones had already reached the stairs. In front of all hastened a beautiful young woman with golden hair; she was laughing gaily, and held a gaudily-dressed doll high above her head. She came backwards towards the steps, turning her fair face beaming with fun and delight towards the children, who, full of their longing, half demanding, half begging, half laughing, half crying, shouted in confusion, "Let us be, Sirona," "Do not take it away again, Sirona," "Do stay here, Sirona," again and again, "Sirona--Sirona."

A lovely six year old maiden stretched up as far as she could to reach the round white arm that held the play-thing; with her left hand, which was free, she gaily pushed away three smaller children, who tried to cling to her knees and exclaimed, still stepping backwards, "No, no; you shall not have it till it has a new gown; it shall be as long and as gay as the Emperors's robe. Let me go, Caecilia, or you will fall down as naughty Nikon did the other day."

By this time she had reached the steps; she turned suddenly, and with outstretched arms she stopped the way of the narrow stair on which Hermas was standing, gazing open-mouthed at the merry scene above his head. Just as Sirona was preparing to run down, she perceived him and started; but when she saw that the anchorite from pure embarrassment could find no words in which to answer her question as to what he wanted, she laughed heartily again and called out: "Come up, we shall not hurt you--shall we children?"

Meanwhile Hermas had found courage enough to give utterance to his wish to speak with the senator, and the young woman, who looked with complacency on his strong and youthful frame, offered to conduct him to him.

Petrus had been talking to his grown up elder sons; they were tall men, but their father was even taller than they, and of unusual breadth of shoulder.

While the young men were speaking, he stroked his short grey beard and looked down at the ground in sombre gravity, as it might have seemed to the careless observer; but any one who looked closer might quickly perceive that not seldom a pleased smile, though not less often a somewhat bitter one, played upon the lips of the prudent and judicious man. He was one of those who can play with their children like a young mother, take the sorrows of another as much to heart as if they were their own, and yet who look so gloomy, and allow themselves to make such sharp speeches, that only those who are on terms of perfect confidence with them, cease to misunderstand them and fear them. There was something fretting the soul of this man, who nevertheless possessed all that could contribute to human happiness. His was a thankful nature, and yet he was conscious that he might have been destined to something greater than fate had permitted him to achieve or to be. He had remained a stone-cutter, but his sons had both completed their education in good schools in Alexandria. The elder, Antonius, who already had a house of his own and a wife and children, was an architect and artist-mechanic; the younger, Polykarp, was a gifted young sculptor. The noble church of the oasis-city had been built under the direction of the elder; Polykarp, who had only come home a month since, was preparing to establish and carry on works of great extent in his father's quarries, for he had received a commission to decorate the new court of the Sebasteion or Caesareum, as it was called--a grand pile in Alexandria--with twenty granite lions. More than thirty artists had competed with him for this work, but the prize was unanimously adjudged to his models by qualified judges. The architect whose function it was to construct the colonnades and pavement of the court was his friend, and had agreed to procure the blocks of granite, the flags and the columns which he required from Petrus' quarries, and not, as had formerly been the custom, from those of Syene by the first Cataract.

Antonius and Polykarp were now standing with their father before a large table, explaining to him a plan which they had worked out together and traced on the thin wax surface of a wooden tablet. The young architect's proposal was to bridge over a deep but narrow gorge, which the beasts of burden were obliged to avoid by making a wide circuit, and so to make a new way from the quarries to the sea, which should be shorter by a third than the old one. The cost of this structure would soon be recouped by the saving in labor, and with perfect certainty, if only the transport-ships were laden at Clysma with a profitable return freight of Alexandrian manufactures, instead of returning empty as they had hitherto done. Petrus, who could shine as a speaker in the council-meetings, in private life spoke but little. At each of his son's new projects he raised his eyes to the speaker's face, as if to see whether the young man had not lost his wits, while his mouth, only half hidden by his grey beard, smiled approvingly.

When Antonius began to unfold his plan for remedying the inconvenience of the ravine that impeded the way, the senator muttered, "Only get feathers to grow on the slaves, and turn the black ones into ravens and the white ones into gulls, and then they might fly across. What do not people learn in the metropolis!"

When he heard the word 'bridge' he stared at the young artist. "The only question," said he, "is whether Heaven will lend us a rainbow." But when Polykarp proposed to get some cedar trunks from Syria through his friend in Alexandria, and when his elder son explained his drawings of the arch with which he promised to span the gorge and make it strong and safe, he followed their words with attention; at the same time he knit his eyebrows as gloomily and looked as stern as if he were listening to some narrative of crime. Still, he let them speak on to the end, and though at first he only muttered that it was mere "fancy-work" or "Aye, indeed, if I were the emperor;" he afterwards asked clear and precise questions, to which he received positive and well considered answers. Antonius proved by figures that the profit on the delivery of material for the Caesareum only would cover more than three quarters of the outlay. Then Polykarp began to speak and declared that the granite of the Holy Mountain was finer in color and in larger blocks than that from Syene.

"We work cheaper here than at the Cataract," interrupted Antonius. "And the transport of the blocks will not come too dear when we have the bridge and command the road to the sea, and avail ourselves of the canal of Trajan, which joins the Nile to the Red Sea, and which in a few months will again be navigable."

"And if my lions are a success," added Polykarp, "and if Zenodotus is satisfied with our stone and our work, it may easily happen that we outstrip Syene in competition, and that some of the enormous orders that now flow from Constantine's new residence to the quarries at Syene, may find their way to us."

"Polykarp is not over sanguine," continued Antonius, "for the emperor is beautifying and adding to Byzantium with eager haste. Whoever erects a new house has a yearly allowance of corn, and in order to attract folks of our stamp--of whom he cannot get enough--he promises entire exemption from taxation to all sculptors, architects, and even to skilled laborers. If we finish the blocks and pillars here exactly to the designs, they will take up no superfluous room in the ships, and no one will be able to deliver them so cheaply as we."

"No, nor so good," cried Polykarp, "for you yourself are an artist, father, and understand stone-work as well as any man. I never saw a finer or more equally colored granite than the block you picked out for my first lion. I am finishing it here on the spot, and I fancy it will make a show. Certainly it will be difficult to take a foremost place among the noble works of the most splendid period of art, which already fill the Caesareum, but I will do my best."

"The Lions will be admirable," cried Antonius with a glance of pride at his brother. "Nothing like them has been done by any one these ten years, and I know the Alexandrians. If the master's work is praised that is made out of granite from the Holy Mountain, all the world will have granite from thence and from no where else. It all depends on whether the transport of the stone to the sea can be made less difficult and costly."

"Let us try it then," said Petrus, who during his son's talk had walked up and down before them in silence. "Let us try the building of the bridge in the name of the Lord. We will work out the road if the municipality will declare themselves ready to bear half the cost; not otherwise, and I tell you frankly, you have both grown most able men."

The younger son grasped his father's hand and pressed it with warm affection to his lips. Petrus hastily stroked his brown locks, then he offered his strong right hand to his eldest-born and said: "We must increase the number of our slaves. Call your mother, Polykarp." The youth obeyed with cheerful alacrity, and when Dame Dorothea--who was sitting at the loom with her daughter Marthana and some of her female slaves--saw him rush into the women's room with a glowing face, she rose with youthful briskness in spite of her stout and dignified figure, and called out to her son:

"He has approved of your plans?"

"Bridge and all, mother, everything," cried the young man. "Finer granite for my lions, than my father has picked out for me is nowhere to be found, and how glad I am for Antonius! only we must have patience about the roadway. He wants to speak to you at once."

Dorothea signed to her son to moderate his ecstasy, for he had seized her hand, and was pulling her away with him, but the tears that stood in her kind eyes testified how deeply she sympathized in her favorite's excitement.

"Patience, patience, I am coming directly," cried she, drawing away her hand in order to arrange her dress and her grey hair, which was abundant and carefully dressed, and formed a meet setting for her still pleasing and unwrinkled face.

"I knew it would be so; when you have a reasonable thing to propose to your father, he will always listen to you and agree with you without my intervention; women should not mix themselves up with men's work. Youth draws a strong bow and often shoots beyond the mark. It would be a pretty thing if out of foolish affection for you I were to try to play the siren that should ensnare the steersman of the house--your father--with flattering words. You laugh at the grey-haired siren? But love overlooks the ravages of years and has a good memory for all that was once pleasing. Besides, men have not always wax in their ears when they should have. Come now to your father."

Dorothea went out past Polykarp and her daughter. The former held his sister back by the hand and asked--"Was not Sirona with you?"

The sculptor tried to appear quite indifferent, but he blushed as he spoke; Marthana observed this and replied not without a roguish glance: "She did show us her pretty face; but important business called her away."

"Sirona?" asked Polykarp incredulously.

"Certainly, why not!" answered Marthana laughing. "She had to sew a new gown for the children's doll."

"Why do you mock at her kindness?" said Polykarp reproachfully.

"How sensitive you are!" said Marthana softly. "Sirona is as kind and sweet as an angel; but you had better look at her rather less, for she is not one of us, and repulsive as the choleric centurion is to me--"

She said no more, for Dame Dorothea, having reached the door of the sitting-room, looked around for her children.

Petrus received his wife with no less gravity than was usual with him, but there was an arch sparkle in his half closed eyes as he asked: "You scarcely know what is going on, I suppose?"

"You are madmen, who would fain take Heaven by storm," she answered gaily.

"If the undertaking fails," said Petrus, pointing to his sons, "those young ones will feel the loss longer than we shall."

"But it will succeed," cried Dorothea. "An old commander and young soldiers can win any battle." She held out her small plump hand with frank briskness to her husband, he clasped it cheerily and said: "I think I can carry the project for the road through the Senate. To build our bridge we must also procure helping hands, and for that we need your aid, Dorothea. Our slaves will not suffice."

"Wait," cried the lady eagerly; she went to the window and called, "Jethro, Jethro!"

The person thus addressed, the old house-steward, appeared, and Dorothea began to discuss with him as to which of the inhabitants of the oasis might be disposed to let them have some able-bodied men, and whether it might not be possible to employ one or another of the house-slaves at the building.

All that she said was judicious and precise, and showed that she herself superintended her household in every detail, and was accustomed to command with complete freedom.

"That tall Anubis then is really indispensable in the stable?" she asked in conclusion. The steward, who up to this moment had spoken shortly and intelligently, hesitated to answer; at the same time he looked up at Petrus, who, sunk in the contemplation of the plan, had his back to him; his glance, and a deprecating movement, expressed very clearly that he had something to tell, but feared to speak in the presence of his master. Dame Dorothea was quick of comprehension, and she quite understood Jethro's meaning; it was for that very reason that she said with more of surprise than displeasure: "What does the man mean with his winks? What I may hear, Petrus may hear too."

The senator turned, and looked at the steward from head to foot with so dark a glance, that he drew back, and began to speak quickly. But he was interrupted by the children's clamors on the stairs and by Sirona, who brought Hermas to the senator, and said laughing: "I found this great fellow on the stairs, he was seeking you."

Petrus looked at the youth, not very kindly, and asked: "Who are you? what is your business?" Hermas struggled in vain for speech; the presence of so many human beings, of whom three were women, filled him with the utmost confusion. His fingers twisted the woolly curls on his sheep-skin, and his lips moved but gave no sound; at last he succeeded in stammering out, "I am the son of old Stephanus, who was wounded in the last raid of the Saracens. My father has hardly slept these five nights, and now Paulus has sent me to you--the pious Paulus of Alexandria--but you know--and so I--"

"I see, I see," said Petrus with encouraging kindness. "You want some medicine for the old man. See Dorothea, what a fine young fellow he is grown, this is the little man that the Antiochian took with him up the mountain."

Hermas colored, and drew himself up; then he observed with great satisfaction that he was taller than the senator's sons, who were of about the same age as he, and for whom he had a stronger feeling, allied to aversion and fear, than even for their stern father. Polykarp measured him with a glance, and said aloud to Sirona, with whom he had exchanged a greeting, are off whom he had never once taken his eyes since she had come in: If we could get twenty slaves with such shoulders as those, we should get on well. There is work to be done here, you big fellow--"

"My name is not 'fellow,' but Hermas," said the anchorite, and the veins of his forehead began to swell Polykarp felt that his father's visitor was something more than his poor clothing would seem to indicate and that he had hurt his feelings. He had certainly seen some old anchorites, who led a contemplative and penitential life up on the sacred mountain, but it had never occurred to him that a strong youth could be long to the brotherhood of hermits. So he said to him kindly: "Hermas--is that your name? We all use our hands here and labor is no disgrace; what is your handicraft?"

This question roused the young anchorite to the highest excitement, and Dame Dorothea, who perceives what was passing in his mind, said with quick decision: "He nurses his sick father. That is what you do, my son is it not? Petrus will not refuse you his help."

"Certainly not," the senator added, "I will accompany you by-and-bye to see him. You must know my children, that this youth's father was a great Lord, who gave up rich possessions in order to forget the world, where he had gone through bitter experiences, and to serve God in his own way, which we ought to respect though it is not our own. Sit down there, my son. First we must finish some important business, and then I will go with you."

"We live high up on the mountain," stammered Hermas.

"Then the air will be all the purer," replied the senator. "But stay--perhaps the old man is alone no? The good Paulus, you say, is with him? Then he is in good hands, and you may wait."

For a moment Petrus stood considering, then he beckoned to his sons, and said, "Antonius, go at once and see about some slaves--you, Polykarp, find some strong beasts of burden. You are generally rather easy with your money, and in this case it is worth while to buy the dearest. The sooner you return well supplied the better. Action must not halt behind decision, but follow it quickly and sharply, as the sound follows the blow. You, Marthana, mix some of the brown fever-potion, and prepare some bandages; you have the key."

"I will help her," cried Sirona, who was glad to prove herself useful, and who was sincerely sorry for the sick old hermit; besides, Hermas seemed to her like a discovery of her own, for whom she involuntarily felt more consideration since she had learned that he was the son of a man of rank.

While the young women were busy at the medicine-cupboard, Antonius and Polykarp left the room.

The latter had already crossed the threshold, when he turned once more, and cast a long look at Sirona. Then, with a hasty movement, he went on, closed the door, and with a heavy sigh descended the stairs.

As soon as his sons were gone, Petrus turned to the steward again.

"What is wrong with the slave Anubis?" he asked.

"He is--wounded, hurt," answered Jethro, "and for the next few days will be useless. The goat-girl Miriam--the wild cat--cut his forehead with her reaping hook."

"Why did I not hear of this sooner?" cried Dorothea reprovingly. "What have you done to the girl?"

"We have shut her up in the hay loft," answered Jethro, "and there she is raging and storming."

The mistress shook her head disapprovingly. "The girl will not be improved by that treatment," she said. "Go and bring her to me."

As soon as the intendant had left the room, she exclaimed, turning to her husband, "One may well be perplexed about these poor creatures, when one sees how they behave to each other. I have seen it a thousand times! No judgment is so hard as that dealt by a slave to slaves!"

Jethro and a woman now led Miriam into the room. The girl's hands were bound with thick cords, and dry grass clung to her dress and rough black hair. A dark fire glowed in her eyes, and the muscles of her face moved incessantly, as if she had St. Vitus' dance. When Dorothea looked at her she drew herself up defiantly, and looked around the room, as if to estimate the strength of her enemies.

She then perceived Hermas; the blood left her lips, with a violent effort she tore her slender hands out of the loops that confined them, covering her face with them, and fled to the door. But Jethro put himself in her way, and seized her shoulder with a strong grasp. Miriam shrieked aloud, and the senator's daughter, who had set down the medicines she had had in her hand, and had watched the girl's movements with much sympathy, hastened towards her. She pushed away the old man's hand, and said, "Do not be frightened, Miriam. Whatever you may have done, my father can forgive you."

Her voice had a tone of sisterly affection, and the shepherdess followed Marthana unresistingly to the table, on which the plans for the bridge were lying, and stood there by her side.

For a minute all were silent; at last Dame Dorothea went up to Miriam, and asked, "What did they do to you, my poor child, that you could so forget yourself?"

Miriam could not understand what was happening to her; she had been prepared for scoldings and blows, nay for bonds and imprisonment, and now these gentle words and kind looks! Her defiant spirit was quelled, her eyes met the friendly eyes of her mistress, and she said in a low voice: "he had followed me for such a long time, and wanted to ask you for me as his wife; but I cannot bear him--I hate him as I do all your slaves." At these words her eyes sparkled wildly again, and with her old fire she went on, "I wish I had only hit him with a stick instead of a sickle; but I took what first came to hand to defend myself. When a man touches me--I cannot bear it, it is horrible, dreadful! Yesterday I came home later than usual with the beasts, and by the time I had milked the goats, and was going to bed, every one in the house was asleep. Then Anubis met me, and began chattering about love; I repelled him, but he seized me, and held me with his hand here on my head and wanted to kiss me; then my blood rose, I caught hold of my reaping hook, that hung by my side, and it was not till I saw him roaring on the ground, that I saw I had done wrong. How it happened I really cannot tell--something seemed to rise up in me--something--I don't know what to call it. It drives me on as the wind drives the leaves that lie on the road, and I cannot help it. The best thing you can do is to let me die, for then you would be safe once for all from my wickedness, and all would be over and done with."

"How can you speak so?" interrupted Marthana. "You are wild and ungovernable, but not wicked."

"Only ask him!" cried the girl, pointing with flashing eyes to Hermas, who, on his part, looked down a the floor in confusion. The senator exchanged a hasty glance with his wife, they were accustomed to under stand each other without speech, and Dorothea said: "He who feels that he is not what he ought to be is already on the high-road to amendment. We let you keep the goats because you were always running after the flocks, and never can rest in the house. You are up on the mountain before morning-prayer, and never come home till after supper is over, and no one takes any thought for the better part of you. Half of your guilt recoils upon us, and we have no right to punish you. You need not be so astonished; every one some times does wrong. Petrus and I are human beings like you, neither more nor less; but we are Christians, and it is our duty to look after the souls which God has entrusted to our care, be they our children or our slaves. You must go no more up the mountain, but shall stay with us in the house. I shall willingly forgive your hasty deed if Petrus does not think it necessary to punish you."

The senator gravely shook his head in sign of agreement, and Dorothea turned to enquire of Jethro: "Is Anubis badly wounded and does he need any care?'

"He is lying in a fever and wanders in his talk," was the answer. "Old Praxinoa is cooling his wound with water."

"Then Miriam can take her place and try to remedy the mischief which she was the cause of," said Dorothea. "Half of your guilt will be atoned for, girl, if Anubis recovers under your care. I will come presently with Marthana, and show you how to make a bandage." The shepherdess cast down her eyes, and passively allowed herself to be conducted to the wounded man.

Meanwhile Marthana had prepared the brown mixture. Petrus had his staff and felt-hat brought to him, gave Hermas the medicine and desired him to follow him.

Sirona looked after the couple as they went. "What a pity for such a fine lad!" she exclaimed. "A purple coat would suit him better than that wretched sheepskin."

The mistress shrugged her shoulders, and signing to her daughter said: "Come to work, Marthana, the sun is already high. How the days fly! the older one grows the quicker the hours hurry away."

"I must be very young then," said the centurion's wife, "for in this wilderness time seems to me to creep along frightfully slow. One day is the same as another, and I often feel as if life were standing perfectly still, and my heart pulses with it. What should I be without your house and the children?--always the same mountain, the same palm-trees, the same faces!--"

"But the mountain is glorious, the trees are beautiful!" answered Dorothea. "And if we love the people with whom we are in daily intercourse, even here we may be contented and happy. At least we ourselves are, so far as the difficulties of life allow. I have often told you, what you want is work."

"Work! but for whom?" asked Sirona. "If indeed I had children like you! Even in Rome I was not happy, far from it; and yet there was plenty to do and to think about. Here a procession, there a theatre; but here! And for whom should I dress even? My jewels grow dull in my chest, and the moths eat my best clothes. I am making doll's clothes now of my colored cloak for your little ones. If some demon were to transform me into a hedge-hog or a grey owl, it would be all the same to me."

"Do not be so sinful," said Dorothea gravely, but looking with kindly admiration at the golden hair and lovely sweet face of the young woman. "It ought to be a pleasure to you to dress yourself for your husband."

"For him?" said Sirona. "He never looks at me, or if he does it is only to abuse me. The only wonder to me is that I can still be merry at all; nor am I, except in your house, and not there even but when I forget him altogether."

"I will not hear such things said--not another word," interrupted Dorothea severely. "Take the linen and cooling lotion, Marthana, we will go and bind up Anubis' wound."