THE GOLDEN HOPE A STORY OF THE TIME OF KING ALEXANDER THE GREATby ROBERT FULLER
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Athens was rousing herself from sleep. The beams of the morning sun bathed the rugged sides of Mount Hymettus and lightened the dark foliage that clothed the nearer wooded slopes of Lycabettus. The low, flat-roofed houses of the city were still nothing more than blurred masses of gray in the shadow; but presently a ray touched the point of Athene's spear, and the flood of orange light flowed over the Acropolis. Its temples and statues were enveloped in a radiance which fused the rich, harmonious colors of column and cornice and melted the massive outlines into a resplendent whole, rising immortal from the gloom at its base.
Thin curls of smoke mounted here and there above the housetops, straight up toward the limitless turquoise vault of the sky. The vivifying freshness of the new-born day was in the air.
There was a clatter of hoofs in the Street of Pericles, and two young men, followed by three mounted servants, swung into view.
"By Zeus, Leonidas!" cried the foremost of the riders, drawing rein and pointing to the Acropolis, "that is worth riding all night to see!"
"You mean the sunrise?" the other asked, also coming to a halt. "Pshaw! You may see that any day without sitting up for it."
"Not I!" said his companion, laughing. "I love the lamps too well."
Leonidas shrugged his square shoulders. "It's not the lamps you love, Chares," he returned dryly. "But why are we idling here? Unless we make haste, Clearchus will be out of bed before we can surprise him."
"Come on, then!" Chares cried, urging his tired horse. "By Heracles! what's that?"
The three servants had ridden forward in advance of their masters. From the direction they had taken, the young men heard a confusion of angry voices, mingled with oaths. In another moment they saw that the street was blocked by a gorgeous litter borne on the shoulders of four sturdy slaves and surrounded by a dozen more, some of whom carried torches which burned pale in the morning light. The litter-bearers had refused to draw aside, and the guard was attempting to turn the horsemen back. Evidently some youth had been overtaken at his revelry by the dawn and was now being carried home by slaves who had followed his example at the wine-cup.
A bustling little man, with close-cropped hair and the sharp-nosed face of a fox, was shaking his sword in the faces of the riders.
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