A stranger in a dark, broad hat rose from the corner of the temple steps, holding his hat in the wind. He was dark-faced, with a black pointed beard. “Oh, madam, whose shelter may I implore?” he said to the woman, who stood in her yellow mantle on a step above him, beside a pink-and-white painted pillar. Her face was rather long and pale, her dusky blonde hair was held under a thin gold net. She looked down on the vagabond with indifference. It was the same she had seen watching the slaves.
“Why come you down from the road?” she asked.
“I saw the temple like a pale flower on the coast, and would rest among the trees of the precincts, if the lady of the goddess permits.”
“It is Isis in Search,” she said, answering his first question. “The goddess is great,” he replied.
She looked at him still with mistrust. There was a faint, remote smile in the dark eyes lifted to her, though the face was hollow with suffering. The vagabond divined her hesitation, and was mocking her.
“Stay here upon the steps,” she said. “A slave will show you the shelter.”
“The lady of Egypt is gracious.”
She went down the rocky path of the humped peninsula in her gilded sandals. Beautiful were her ivory feet, beneath the white tunic, and above the saffron mantle her dusky-blonde head bent as with endless musings. A woman entangled in her own dream. The man smiled a little, half bitterly, and sat again on the step to wait, drawing his mantle round him, in the cold twilight.
At length a slave appeared, also in hodden grey.
“Seek ye the shelter of our lady?” he said insolently. “Even so.”
With the brusque insolence of a slave waiting on a vagabond, the young fellow led through the trees and down into a little gully in the rock, where, almost in darkness, was a small cave, with a litter of the tall heaths that grew on the waste places of the coast, under the stone-pines. The place was dark, but absolutely silent from the wind. There was still a faint odour of goats.