The Last Days of Pompeii
by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
Hypertext Meanings and Commentaries
from the Encyclopedia of the Self
by Mark Zimmerman

THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII
by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

BOOK THE FIRST

Chapter I

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF POMPEII.

'HO, Diomed, well met! Do you sup with Glaucus to-night?' said a young man
of small stature, who wore his tunic in those loose and effeminate folds
which proved him to be a gentleman and a coxcomb.

'Alas, no! dear Clodius; he has not invited me,' replied Diomed, a man of
portly frame and of middle age. 'By Pollux, a scurvy trick! for they say
his suppers are the best in Pompeii'.

'Pretty well--though there is never enough of wine for me. It is not the
old Greek blood that flows in his veins, for he pretends that wine makes him
dull the next morning.'

'There may be another reason for that thrift,' said Diomed, raising his
brows. 'With all his conceit and extravagance he is not so rich, I fancy,
as he affects to be, and perhaps loves to save his amphorae better than his
wit.'

'An additional reason for supping with him while the sesterces last. Next
year, Diomed, we must find another Glaucus.'

'He is fond of the dice, too, I hear.'

'He is fond of every pleasure; and while he likes the pleasure of giving
suppers, we are all fond of him.'

'Ha, ha, Clodius, that is well said! Have you ever seen my wine-cellars,
by-the-by?'

'I think not, my good Diomed.'

'Well, you must sup with me some evening; I have tolerable muraenae in my
reservoir, and I ask Pansa the aedile to meet you.'

'O, no state with me!--Persicos odi apparatus, I am easily contented. Well,
the day wanes; I am for the baths--and you...'

'To the quaestor--business of state--afterwards to the temple of Isis.
Vale!'

'An ostentatious, bustling, ill-bred fellow,' muttered Clodius to himself,
as he sauntered slowly away. 'He thinks with his feasts and his
wine-cellars to make us forget that he is the son of a freedman--and so we
will, when we do him the honour of winning his money; these rich plebeians
are a harvest for us spendthrift nobles.'

Thus soliloquising, Clodius arrived in the Via Domitiana, which was crowded
with passengers and chariots, and exhibited all that gay and animated
exuberance of life and motion which we find at this day in the streets of
Naples.

The bells of the cars as they rapidly glided by each other jingled merrily
on the ear, and Clodius with smiles or nods claimed familiar acquaintance
with whatever equipage was most elegant or fantastic: in fact, no idler was
better known in Pompeii.

'What, Clodius! and how have you slept on your good fortune?' cried, in a
pleasant and musical voice, a young man, in a chariot of the most fastidious
and graceful fashion. Upon its surface of bronze were elaborately wrought,
in the still exquisite workmanship of Greece, reliefs of the Olympian games;
the two horses that drew the car were of the rarest breed of Parthia; their
slender limbs seemed to disdain the ground and court the air, and yet at the
slightest touch of the charioteer, who stood behind the young owner of the
equipage, they paused motionless, as if suddenly transformed into
stone--lifeless, but lifelike, as one of the breathing wonders of
Praxiteles. The owner himself was of that slender and beautiful symmetry
from which the sculptors of Athens drew their models; his Grecian origin
betrayed itself in his light but clustering locks, and the perfect harmony
of his features. He wore no toga, which in the time of the emperors had
indeed ceased to be the general distinction of the Romans, and was
especially ridiculed by the pretenders to fashion; but his tunic glowed in
the richest hues of the Tyrian dye, and the fibulae, or buckles, by which it
was fastened, sparkled with emeralds: around his neck was a chain of gold,
which in the middle of his breast twisted itself into the form of a
serpent's head, from the mouth of which hung pendent a large signet ring of
elaborate and most exquisite workmanship; the sleeves of the tunic were
loose, and fringed at the hand with gold: and across the waist a girdle
wrought in arabesque designs, and of the same material as the fringe, served
in lieu of pockets for the receptacle of the handkerchief and the purse, the
stilus and the tablets.

'My dear Glaucus!' said Clodius, 'I rejoice to see that your losses have so
little affected your mien. Why, you seem as if you had been inspired by
Apollo, and your face shines with happiness like a glory; any one might take
you for the winner, and me for the loser.'

'And what is there in the loss or gain of those dull pieces of metal that
should change our spirit, my Clodius? By Venus, while yet young, we can
cover our full locks with chaplets--while yet the cithara sounds on unsated
ears--while yet the smile of Lydia or of Chloe flashes over our veins in
which the blood runs so swiftly, so long shall we find delight in the sunny
air, and make bald time itself but the treasurer of our joys. You sup with
me to-night, you know.'

'Who ever forgets the invitation of Glaucus!'

'But which way go you now?'

'Why, I thought of visiting the baths: but it wants yet an hour to the usual
time.'

'Well, I will dismiss my chariot, and go with you. So, so, my Phylias,'
stroking the horse nearest to him, which by a low neigh and with backward
ears playfully acknowledged the courtesy: 'a holiday for you to-day. Is he
not handsome, Clodius?'

'Worthy of Phoebus,' returned the noble parasite--'or of Glaucus.'

Chapter II

THE BLIND FLOWER-GIRL, AND THE BEAUTY OF FASHION. THE ATHENIAN'S
CONFESSION. THE READER'S INTRODUCTION TO ARBACES OF EGYPT.

TALKING lightly on a thousand matters, the two young men sauntered through
the streets; they were now in that quarter which was filled with the gayest
shops, their open interiors all and each radiant with the gaudy yet
harmonious colors of frescoes, inconceivably varied in fancy and design.
The sparkling fountains, that at every vista threw upwards their grateful
spray in the summer air; the crowd of passengers, or rather loiterers,
mostly clad in robes of the Tyrian dye; the gay groups collected round each
more attractive shop; the slaves passing to and fro with buckets of bronze,
cast in the most graceful shapes, and borne upon their heads; the country
girls stationed at frequent intervals with baskets of blushing fruit, and
flowers more alluring to the ancient Italians than to their descendants
(with whom, indeed, "latet anguis in herba," a disease seems lurking in
every violet and rose); the numerous haunts which fulfilled with that idle
people the office of cafes and clubs at this day; the shops, where on
shelves of marble were ranged the vases of wine and oil, and before whose
thresholds, seats, protected from the sun by a purple awning, invited the
weary to rest and the indolent to lounge--made a scene of such glowing and
vivacious excitement, as might well give the Athenian spirit of Glaucus an
excuse for its susceptibility to joy.

'Talk to me no more of Rome,' said he to Clodius. 'Pleasure is too stately
and ponderous in those mighty walls: even in the precincts of the
court--even in the Golden House of Nero, and the incipient glories of the
palace of Titus, there is a certain dulness of magnificence--the eye
aches--the spirit is wearied; besides, my Clodius, we are discontented when
we compare the enormous luxury and wealth of others with the mediocrity of
our own state. But here we surrender ourselves easily to pleasure, and we
have the brilliancy of luxury without the lassitude of its pomp.'

'It was from that feeling that you chose your summer retreat at Pompeii?'

'It was. I prefer it to Baiae: I grant the charms of the latter, but I love
not the pedants who resort there, and who seem to weigh out their pleasures
by the drachm.'

'Yet you are fond of the learned, too; and as for poetry, why, your house is
literally eloquent with AEschylus and Homer, the epic and the drama.'

'Yes, but those Romans who mimic my Athenian ancestors do everything so
heavily. Even in the chase they make their slaves carry Plato with them;
and whenever the boar is lost, out they take their books and their papyrus,
in order not to lose their time too. When the dancing-girls swim before them
in all the blandishment of Persian manners, some drone of a freedman, with a
face of stone, reads them a section of Cicero "De Officiis". Unskilful
pharmacists! pleasure and study are not elements to be thus mixed together,
they must be enjoyed separately: the Romans lose both by this pragmatical
affectation of refinement, and prove that they have no souls for either.
Oh, my Clodius, how little your countrymen know of the true versatility of a
Pericles, of the true witcheries of an Aspasia! It was but the other day
that I paid a visit to Pliny: he was sitting in his summer-house writing,
while an unfortunate slave played on the tibia. His nephew (oh! whip me
such philosophical coxcombs!) was reading Thucydides' description of the
plague, and nodding his conceited little head in time to the music, while
his lips were repeating all the loathsome details of that terrible
delineation. The puppy saw nothing incongruous in learning at the same time
a ditty of love and a description of the plague.'

'Why, they are much the same thing,' said Clodius.

'So I told him, in excuse for his coxcombry--but my youth stared me
rebukingly in the face, without taking the jest, and answered, that it was
only the insensate ear that the music pleased, whereas the book (the
description of the plague, mind you!) elevated the heart. "Ah!" quoth the
fat uncle, wheezing, "my boy is quite an Athenian, always mixing the utile
with the dulce." O Minerva, how I laughed in my sleeve! While I was there,
they came to tell the boy-sophist that his favorite freedman was just dead
of a fever. "Inexorable death!" cried he; "get me my Horace. How
beautifully the sweet poet consoles us for these misfortunes!"  Oh, can
these men love, my Clodius? Scarcely even with the senses. How rarely a
Roman has a heart! He is but the mechanism of genius--he wants its bones
and flesh.'

Though Clodius was secretly a little sore at these remarks on his
countrymen, he affected to sympathize with his friend, partly because he was
by nature a parasite, and partly because it was the fashion among the
dissolute young Romans to affect a little contempt for the very birth which,
in reality, made them so arrogant; it was the mode to imitate the Greeks,
and yet to laugh at their own clumsy imitation.

Thus conversing, their steps were arrested by a crowd gathered round an open
space where three streets met; and, just where the porticoes of a light and
graceful temple threw their shade, there stood a young girl, with a
flower-basket on her right arm, and a small three-stringed instrument of
music in the left hand, to whose low and soft tones she was modulating a
wild and half-barbaric air. At every pause in the music she gracefully
waved her flower-basket round, inviting the loiterers to buy; and many a
sesterce was showered into the basket, either in compliment to the music or
in compassion to the songstress--for she was blind.

'It is my poor Thessalian,' said Glaucus, stopping; 'I have not seen her
since my return to Pompeii. Hush! her voice is sweet; let us listen.'

          THE BLIND FLOWER-GIRL'S SONG

                    I.

         Buy my flowers--O buy--I pray!
           The blind girl comes from afar;
         If the earth be as fair as I hear them say,
           These flowers her children are!
         Do they her beauty keep?
           They are fresh from her lap, I know;
         For I caught them fast asleep
           In her arms an hour ago.
           With the air which is her breath--
          Her soft and delicate breath--
          Over them murmuring low!

        On their lips her sweet kiss lingers yet,
        And their cheeks with her tender tears are wet.
        For she weeps--that gentle mother weeps--
       (As morn and night her watch she keeps,
        With a yearning heart and a passionate care)
        To see the young things grow so fair;
           She weeps--for love she weeps;
           And the dews are the tears she weeps
           From the well of a mother's love!

                    II.

         Ye have a world of light,
           Where love in the loved rejoices;
         But the blind girl's home is the House of Night,
           And its beings are empty voices.

           As one in the realm below,
           I stand by the streams of woe!
           I hear the vain shadows glide,
           I feel their soft breath at my side.
             And I thirst the loved forms to see,
           And I stretch my fond arms around,
           And I catch but a shapeless sound,
           For the living are ghosts to me.

            Come buy--come buy?--
          Hark! how the sweet things sigh
           For they have a voice like ours),
           `The breath of the blind girl closes
           The leaves of the saddening roses--
          We are tender, we sons of light,
           We shrink from this child of night;
           From the grasp of the blind girl free us--
          We yearn for the eyes that see us--
         We are for night too gay,
           In your eyes we behold the day--
             O buy--O buy the flowers!'

'I must have yon bunch of violets, sweet Nydia,' said Glaucus, pressing
through the crowd, and dropping a handful of small coins into the basket;
'your voice is more charming than ever.'

The blind girl started forward as she heard the Athenian's voice; then as
suddenly paused, while the blood rushed violently over neck, cheek, and
temples.

'So you are returned!' said she, in a low voice; and then repeated half to
herself, 'Glaucus is returned!'

'Yes, child, I have not been at Pompeii above a few days. My garden wants
your care, as before; you will visit it, I trust, to-morrow. And mind, no
garlands at my house shall be woven by any hands but those of the pretty
Nydia.'

Nydia smiled joyously, but did not answer; and Glaucus, placing in his
breast the violets he had selected, turned gaily and carelessly from the
crowd.

'So she is a sort of client of yours, this child?' said Clodius.

'Ay--does she not sing prettily? She interests me, the poor slave! Besides,
she is from the land of the Gods' hill--Olympus frowned upon her cradle--she
is of Thessaly.'

'The witches' country.'

'True: but for my part I find every woman a witch; and at Pompeii, by Venus!
the very air seems to have taken a love-philtre, so handsome does every face
without a beard seem in my eyes.'

'And lo! one of the handsomest in Pompeii, old Diomed's daughter, the rich
Julia!' said Clodius, as a young lady, her face covered by her veil, and
attended by two female slaves, approached them, in her way to the baths.

'Fair Julia, we salute thee!' said Clodius.

Julia partly raised her veil, so as with some coquetry to display a bold
Roman profile, a full dark bright eye, and a cheek over whose natural olive
art shed a fairer and softer rose.

'And Glaucus, too, is returned!' said she, glancing meaningly at the
Athenian. 'Has he forgotten,' she added, in a half-whisper, 'his friends of
the last year?'

'Beautiful Julia! even Lethe itself, if it disappear in one part of the
earth, rises again in another. Jupiter does not allow us ever to forget for
more than a moment: but Venus, more harsh still, vouchsafes not even a
moment's oblivion.'

'Glaucus is never at a loss for fair words.'

'Who is, when the object of them is so fair?'

'We shall see you both at my father's villa soon,' said Julia, turning to
Clodius.

'We will mark the day in which we visit you with a white stone,' answered
the gamester.

Julia dropped her veil, but slowly, so that her last glance rested on the
Athenian with affected timidity and real boldness; the glance bespoke
tenderness and reproach.

The friends passed on.

'Julia is certainly handsome,' said Glaucus.

'And last year you would have made that confession in a warmer tone.'

'True; I was dazzled at the first sight, and mistook for a gem that which
was but an artful imitation.'

'Nay,' returned Clodius, 'all women are the same at heart. Happy he who
weds a handsome face and a large dower. What more can he desire?'

Glaucus sighed.

They were now in a street less crowded than the rest, at the end of which
they beheld that broad and most lovely sea, which upon those delicious
coasts seems to have renounced its prerogative of terror--so soft are the
crisping winds that hover around its bosom, so glowing and so various are
the hues which it takes from the rosy clouds, so fragrant are the perfumes
which the breezes from the land scatter over its depths. From such a sea
might you well believe that Aphrodite rose to take the empire of the earth.

'It is still early for the bath,' said the Greek, who was the creature of
every poetical impulse; 'let us wander from the crowded city, and look upon
the sea while the noon yet laughs along its billows.'

'With all my heart,' said Clodius; 'and the bay, too, is always the most
animated part of the city.'

Pompeii was the miniature of the civilization of that age. Within the narrow
compass of its walls was contained, as it were, a specimen of every gift
which luxury offered to power. In its minute but glittering shops, its tiny
palaces, its baths, its forum, its theatre, its circus--in the energy yet
corruption, in the refinement yet the vice, of its people, you beheld a
model of the whole empire. It was a toy, a plaything, a showbox, in which
the gods seemed pleased to keep the representation of the great monarchy of
earth, and which they afterwards hid from time, to give to the wonder of
posterity--the moral of the maxim, that under the sun there is nothing new.

Crowded in the glassy bay were the vessels of commerce and the gilded
galleys for the pleasures of the rich citizens. The boats of the fishermen
glided rapidly to and fro; and afar off you saw the tall masts of the fleet
under the command of Pliny. Upon the shore sat a Sicilian who, with
vehement gestures and flexile features, was narrating to a group of
fishermen and peasants a strange tale of shipwrecked mariners and friendly
dolphins--just as at this day, in the modern neighborhood, you may hear upon
the Mole of Naples.

Drawing his comrade from the crowd, the Greek bent his steps towards a
solitary part of the beach, and the two friends, seated on a small crag
which rose amidst the smooth pebbles, inhaled the voluptuous and cooling
breeze, which dancing over the waters, kept music with its invisible feet.
There was, perhaps, something in the scene that invited them to silence and
reverie. Clodius, shading his eyes from the burning sky, was calculating
the gains of the last week; and the Greek, leaning upon his hand, and
shrinking not from that sun--his nation's tutelary deity--with whose fluent
light of poesy, and joy, and love, his own veins were filled, gazed upon the
broad expanse, and envied, perhaps, every wind that bent its pinions towards
the shores of Greece.

'Tell me, Clodius,' said the Greek at last, 'hast thou ever been in love?'

'Yes, very often.'

'He who has loved often,' answered Glaucus, 'has loved never. There is but
one Eros, though there are many counterfeits of him.'

'The counterfeits are not bad little gods, upon the whole,' answered
Clodius.

'I agree with you,' returned the Greek. 'I adore even the shadow of Love;
but I adore himself yet more.'

'Art thou, then, soberly and honestly in love? Hast thou that feeling which
the poets describe--a feeling that makes us neglect our suppers, forswear
the theatre, and write elegies? I should never have thought it. You
dissemble well.'

'I am not far gone enough for that,' returned Glaucus, smiling, 'or rather I
say with Tibullus--

He whom love rules, where'er his path may be,
Walks safe and sacred.

In fact, I am not in love; but I could be if there were but occasion to see
the object. Eros would light his torch, but the priests have given him no
oil.'

'Shall I guess the object?--Is it not Diomed's daughter? She adores you,
and does not affect to conceal it; and, by Hercules, I say again and again,
she is both handsome and rich. She will bind the door-posts of her husband
with golden fillets.'

'No, I do not desire to sell myself. Diomed's daughter is handsome, I
grant: and at one time, had she not been the grandchild of a freedman, I
might have... Yet no--she carries all her beauty in her face; her manners
are not maiden-like, and her mind knows no culture save that of pleasure.'

'You are ungrateful. Tell me, then, who is the fortunate virgin?'

'You shall hear, my Clodius. Several months ago I was sojourning at
Neapolis, a city utterly to my own heart, for it still retains the manners
and stamp of its Grecian origin--and it yet merits the name of Parthenope,
from its delicious air and its beautiful shores. One day I entered the
temple of Minerva, to offer up my prayers, not for myself more than for the
city on which Pallas smiles no longer. The temple was empty and deserted.
The recollections of Athens crowded fast and meltingly upon me: imagining
myself still alone in the temple, and absorbed in the earnestness of my
devotion, my prayer gushed from my heart to my lips, and I wept as I prayed.
I was startled in the midst of my devotions, however, by a deep sigh; I
turned suddenly round, and just behind me was a female. She had raised her
veil also in prayer: and when our eyes met, methought a celestial ray shot
from those dark and smiling orbs at once into my soul. Never, my Clodius,
have I seen mortal face more exquisitely molded: a certain melancholy
softened and yet elevated its expression: that unutterable something, which
springs from the soul, and which our sculptors have imparted to the aspect
of Psyche, gave her beauty I know not what of divine and noble; tears were
rolling down her eyes. I guessed at once that she was also of Athenian
lineage; and that in my prayer for Athens her heart had responded to mine.
I spoke to her, though with a faltering voice--"Art thou not, too,
Athenian?" said I, "O beautiful virgin!" At the sound of my voice she
blushed, and half drew her veil across her face.--"My forefathers' ashes,"
said she, "repose by the waters of Ilissus: my birth is of Neapolis; but my
heart, as my lineage, is Athenian."--"Let us, then," said I, "make our
offerings together": and, as the priest now appeared, we stood side by side,
while we followed the priest in his ceremonial prayer; together we touched
the knees of the goddess--together we laid our olive garlands on the altar.
I felt a strange emotion of almost sacred tenderness at this companionship.
We, strangers from a far and fallen land, stood together and alone in that
temple of our country's deity: was it not natural that my heart should yearn
to my countrywoman, for so I might surely call her? I felt as if I had
known her for years; and that simple rite seemed, as by a miracle, to
operate on the sympathies and ties of time. Silently we left the temple,
and I was about to ask her where she dwelt, and if I might be permitted to
visit her, when a youth, in whose features there was some kindred
resemblance to her own, and who stood upon the steps of the fane, took her
by the hand. She turned round and bade me farewell. The crowd separated
us: I saw her no more. On reaching my home I found letters, which obliged
me to set out for Athens, for my relations threatened me with litigation
concerning my inheritance. When that suit was happily over, I repaired once
more to Neapolis; I instituted inquiries throughout the whole city, I could
discover no clue of my lost countrywoman, and, hoping to lose in gaiety all
remembrance of that beautiful apparition, I hastened to plunge myself amidst
the luxuries of Pompeii. This is all my history. I do not love; but I
remember and regret.'

As Clodius was about to reply, a slow and stately step approached them, and
at the sound it made amongst the pebbles, each turned, and each recognized
the new-comer.

It was a man who had scarcely reached his fortieth year, of tall stature,
and of a thin but nervous and sinewy frame. His skin, dark and bronzed,
betrayed his Eastern origin; and his features had something Greek in their
outline (especially in the chin, the lip, and the brow), save that the nose
was somewhat raised and aquiline; and the bones, hard and visible, forbade
that fleshy and waving contour which on the Grecian physiognomy preserved
even in manhood the round and beautiful curves of youth. His eyes, large
and black as the deepest night, shone with no varying and uncertain lustre.
A deep, thoughtful, and half-melancholy calm seemed unalterably fixed in
their majestic and commanding gaze. His step and mien were peculiarly
sedate and lofty, and something foreign in the fashion and the sober hues of
his sweeping garments added to the impressive effect of his quiet
countenance and stately form. Each of the young men, in saluting the
new-comer, made mechanically, and with care to conceal it from him, a slight
gesture or sign with their fingers; for Arbaces, the Egyptian, was supposed
to possess the fatal gift of the evil eye.

'The scene must, indeed, be beautiful,' said Arbaces, with a cold though
courteous smile, 'which draws the gay Clodius, and Glaucus the all admired,
from the crowded thoroughfares of the city.'

'Is Nature ordinarily so unattractive?' asked the Greek.

'To the dissipated--yes.'

'An austere reply, but scarcely a wise one. Pleasure delights in contrasts;
it is from dissipation that we learn to enjoy solitude, and from solitude
dissipation.'

'So think the young philosophers of the Garden,' replied the Egyptian; 'they
mistake lassitude for meditation, and imagine that, because they are sated
with others, they know the delight of loneliness. But not in such jaded
bosoms can Nature awaken that enthusiasm which alone draws from her chaste
reserve all her unspeakable beauty: she demands from you, not the exhaustion
of passion, but all that fervor, from which you only seek, in adoring her, a
release. When, young Athenian, the moon revealed herself in visions of
light to Endymion, it was after a day passed, not amongst the feverish
haunts of men, but on the still mountains and in the solitary valleys of the
hunter.'

'Beautiful simile!' cried Glaucus; 'most unjust application! Exhaustion!
that word is for age, not youth. By me, at least, one moment of satiety has
never been known!'

Again the Egyptian smiled, but his smile was cold and blighting, and even
the unimaginative Clodius froze beneath its light. He did not, however,
reply to the passionate exclamation of Glaucus; but, after a pause, he said,
in a soft and melancholy voice:

'After all, you do right to enjoy the hour while it smiles for you; the rose
soon withers, the perfume soon exhales. And we, O Glaucus! strangers in the
land and far from our fathers' ashes, what is there left for us but pleasure
or regret!--for you the first, perhaps for me the last.'

The bright eyes of the Greek were suddenly suffused with tears. 'Ah, speak
not, Arbaces,' he cried--'speak not of our ancestors. Let us forget that
there were ever other liberties than those of Rome! And Glory!--oh, vainly
would we call her ghost from the fields of Marathon and Thermopylae!'

'Thy heart rebukes thee while thou speakest,' said the Egyptian; 'and in thy
gaieties this night, thou wilt be more mindful of Leoena than of Lais.
Vale!'

Thus saying, he gathered his robe around him, and slowly swept away.

'I breathe more freely,' said Clodius. 'Imitating the Egyptians, we
sometimes introduce a skeleton at our feasts. In truth, the presence of
such an Egyptian as yon gliding shadow were spectre enough to sour the
richest grape of the Falernian.'

'Strange man! said Glaucus, musingly; 'yet dead though he seem to pleasure,
and cold to the objects of the world, scandal belies him, or his house and
his heart could tell a different tale.'

'Ah! there are whispers of other orgies than those of Osiris in his gloomy
mansion. He is rich, too, they say. Can we not get him amongst us, and
teach him the charms of dice? Pleasure of pleasures! hot fever of hope and
fear! inexpressible unjaded passion! how fiercely beautiful thou art, O
Gaming!'

'Inspired--inspired!' cried Glaucus, laughing; 'the oracle speaks poetry in
Clodius. What miracle next!'

Chapter III

PARENTAGE OF GLAUCUS. DESCRIPTION OF THE HOUSES OF POMPEII. CLASSIC REVEL.

HEAVEN had given to Glaucus every blessing but one: it had given him beauty,
health, fortune, genius, illustrious descent, a heart of fire, a mind of
poetry; but it had denied him the heritage of freedom. He was born in
Athens, the subject of Rome. Succeeding early to an ample inheritance, he
had indulged that inclination for travel so natural to the young, and had
drunk deep of the intoxicating draught of pleasure amidst the gorgeous
luxuries of the imperial court.

He was an Alcibiades without ambition. He was what a man of imagination,
youth, fortune, and talents, readily becomes when you deprive him of the
inspiration of glory. His house at Rome was the theme of the debauchees,
but also of the lovers of art; and the sculptors of Greece delighted to task
their skill in adorning the porticoes and exedrae of an Athenian. His
retreat in Pompeii--alas! the colors are faded now, the walls stripped of
their paintings!--its main beauty, its elaborate finish of grace and
ornament, is gone; yet when first given once more to the day, what eulogies,
what wonder, did its minute and glowing decorations create--its
paintings--its mosaics! Passionately enamoured of poetry and the drama,
which recalled to Glaucus the wit and the heroism of his race, that fairy
mansion was adorned with representations of AEschylus and Homer. And
antiquaries, who resolve taste to a trade, have turned the patron to the
professor, and still (though the error is now acknowledged) they style in
custom, as they first named in mistake, the disburied house of the Athenian
Glaucus 'THE HOUSE OF THE DRAMATIC POET'.

Previous to our description of this house, it may be as well to convey to
the reader a general notion of the houses of Pompeii, which he will find to
resemble strongly the plans of Vitruvius; but with all those differences in
detail, of caprice and taste, which being natural to mankind, have always
puzzled antiquaries. We shall endeavor to make this description as clear
and unpedantic as possible.

You enter then, usually, by a small entrance-passage (called cestibulum),
into a hall, sometimes with (but more frequently without) the ornament of
columns; around three sides of this hall are doors communicating with
several bedchambers (among which is the porter's), the best of these being
usually appropriated to country visitors. At the extremity of the hall, on
either side to the right and left, if the house is large, there are two
small recesses, rather than chambers, generally devoted to the ladies of the
mansion; and in the centre of the tessellated pavement of the hall is
invariably a square, shallow reservoir for rain water (classically termed
impluvium), which was admitted by an aperture in the roof above; the said
aperture being covered at will by an awning. Near this impluvium, which had
a peculiar sanctity in the eyes of the ancients, were sometimes (but at
Pompeii more rarely than at Rome) placed images of the household gods--the
hospitable hearth, often mentioned by the Roman poets, and consecrated to
the Lares, was at Pompeii almost invariably formed by a movable brazier;
while in some corner, often the most ostentatious place, was deposited a
huge wooden chest, ornamented and strengthened by bands of bronze or iron,
and secured by strong hooks upon a stone pedestal so firmly as to defy the
attempts of any robber to detach it from its position. It is supposed that
this chest was the money-box, or coffer, of the master of the house; though
as no money has been found in any of the chests discovered at Pompeii, it is
probable that it was sometimes rather designed for ornament than use.

In this hall (or atrium, to speak classically) the clients and visitors of
inferior rank were usually received. In the houses of the more
'respectable', an atriensis, or slave peculiarly devoted to the service of
the hall, was invariably retained, and his rank among his fellow-slaves was
high and important. The reservoir in the centre must have been rather a
dangerous ornament, but the centre of the hall was like the grass-plot of a
college, and interdicted to the passers to and fro, who found ample space in
the margin. Right opposite the entrance, at the other end of the hall, was
an apartment (tablinum), in which the pavement was usually adorned with rich
mosaics, and the walls covered with elaborate paintings. Here were usually
kept the records of the family, or those of any public office that had been
filled by the owner: on one side of this saloon, if we may so call it, was
often a dining-room, or triclinium; on the other side, perhaps, what we
should now term a cabinet of gems, containing whatever curiosities were
deemed most rare and costly; and invariably a small passage for the slaves
to cross to the further parts of the house, without passing the apartments
thus mentioned. These rooms all opened on a square or oblong colonnade,
technically termed peristyle. If the house was small, its boundary ceased
with this colonnade; and in that case its centre, however diminutive, was
ordinarily appropriated to the purpose of a garden, and adorned with vases
of flowers, placed upon pedestals: while, under the colonnade, to the right
and left, were doors admitting to bedrooms, to a second triclinium, or
eating-room (for the ancients generally appropriated two rooms at least to
that purpose, one for summer, and one for winter--or, perhaps, one for
ordinary, the other for festive, occasions); and if the owner affected
letters, a cabinet, dignified by the name of library--for a very small room
was sufficient to contain the few rolls of papyrus which the ancients deemed
a notable collection of books.

At the end of the peristyle was generally the kitchen. Supposing the house
was large, it did not end with the peristyle, and the centre thereof was not
in that case a garden, but might be, perhaps, adorned with a fountain, or
basin for fish; and at its end, exactly opposite to the tablinum, was
generally another eating-room, on either side of which were bedrooms, and,
perhaps, a picture-saloon, or pinacotheca. These apartments communicated
again with a square or oblong space, usually adorned on three sides with a
colonnade like the peristyle, and very much resembling the peristyle, only
usually longer. This was the proper viridarium, or garden, being commonly
adorned with a fountain, or statues, and a profusion of gay flowers: at its
extreme end was the gardener's house; on either side, beneath the colonnade,
were sometimes, if the size of the family required it, additional rooms.

At Pompeii, a second or third story was rarely of importance, being built
only above a small part of the house, and containing rooms for the slaves;
differing in this respect from the more magnificent edifices of Rome, which
generally contained the principal eating-room (or caenaculum) on the second
floor. The apartments themselves were ordinarily of small size; for in
those delightful climes they received any extraordinary number of visitors
in the peristyle (or portico), the hall, or the garden; and even their
banquet-rooms, however elaborately adorned and carefully selected in point
of aspect, were of diminutive proportions; for the intellectual ancients,
being fond of society, not of crowds, rarely feasted more than nine at a
time, so that large dinner-rooms were not so necessary with them as with us.
But the suite of rooms seen at once from the entrance, must have had a very
imposing effect: you beheld at once the hall richly paved and painted--the
tablinum--the graceful peristyle, and (if the house extended farther) the
opposite banquet-room and the garden, which closed the view with some
gushing fount or marble statue.

The reader will now have a tolerable notion of the Pompeian houses, which
resembled in some respects the Grecian, but mostly the Roman fashion of
domestic architecture. In almost every house there is some difference in
detail from the rest, but the principal outline is the same in all. In all
you find the hall, the tablinum, and the peristyle, communicating with each
other; in all you find the walls richly painted; and all the evidence of a
people fond of the refining elegancies of life. The purity of the taste of
the Pompeians in decoration is, however, questionable: they were fond of the
gaudiest colors, of fantastic designs; they often painted the lower half of
their columns a bright red, leaving the rest uncolored; and where the garden
was small, its wall was frequently tinted to deceive the eye as to its
extent, imitating trees, birds, temples, etc., in perspective--a
meretricious delusion which the graceful pedantry of Pliny himself adopted,
with a complacent pride in its ingenuity.

But the house of Glaucus was at once one of the smallest, and yet one of the
most adorned and finished of all the private mansions of Pompeii: it would
be a model at this day for the house of 'a single man in Mayfair'--the envy
and despair of the coelibian purchasers of buhl and marquetry.

You enter by a long and narrow vestibule, on the floor of which is the image
of a dog in mosaic, with the well-known 'Cave canem'--or 'Beware the dog'.
On either side is a chamber of some size; for the interior part of the house
not being large enough to contain the two great divisions of private and
public apartments, these two rooms were set apart for the reception of
visitors who neither by rank nor familiarity were entitled to admission in
the penetralia of the mansion.

Advancing up the vestibule you enter an atrium, that when first discovered
was rich in paintings, which in point of expression would scarcely disgrace
a Rafaele. You may see them now transplanted to the Neapolitan Museum: they
are still the admiration of connoisseurs--they depict the parting of
Achilles and Briseis. Who does not acknowledge the force, the vigour, the
beauty, employed in delineating the forms and faces of Achilles and the
immortal slave!

On one side the atrium, a small staircase admitted to the apartments for the
slaves on the second floor; there also were two or three small bedrooms, the
walls of which portrayed the rape of Europa, the battle of the Amazons, etc.

You now enter the tablinum, across which, at either end, hung rich draperies
of Tyrian purple, half withdrawn. On the walls was depicted a poet reading
his verses to his friends; and in the pavement was inserted a small and most
exquisite mosaic, typical of the instructions given by the director of the
stage to his comedians.

You passed through this saloon and entered the peristyle; and here (as I
have said before was usually the case with the smaller houses of Pompeii)
the mansion ended. From each of the seven columns that adorned this court
hung festoons of garlands: the centre, supplying the place of a garden,
bloomed with the rarest flowers placed in vases of white marble, that were
supported on pedestals. At the left hand of this small garden was a
diminutive fane, resembling one of those small chapels placed at the side of
roads in Catholic countries, and dedicated to the Penates; before it stood a
bronzed tripod: to the left of the colonnade were two small cubicula, or
bedrooms; to the right was the triclinium, in which the guests were now
assembled.

This room is usually termed by the antiquaries of Naples 'The Chamber of
Leda'; and in the beautiful work of Sir William Gell, the reader will find
an engraving from that most delicate and graceful painting of Leda
presenting her newborn to her husband, from which the room derives its name.
This charming apartment opened upon the fragrant garden. Round the table of
citrean wood, highly polished and delicately wrought with silver arabesques,
were placed the three couches, which were yet more common at Pompeii than
the semicircular seat that had grown lately into fashion at Rome: and on
these couches of bronze, studded with richer metals, were laid thick
quiltings covered with elaborate broidery, and yielding luxuriously to the
pressure.

'Well, I must own,' said the aedile Pansa, 'that your house, though scarcely
larger than a case for one's fibulae, is a gem of its kind. How beautifully
painted is that parting of Achilles and Briseis!--what a style!--what
heads!--what a-hem!'

'Praise from Pansa is indeed valuable on such subjects,' said Clodius,
gravely. 'Why, the paintings on his walls!--Ah! there is, indeed, the hand
of a Zeuxis!'

'You flatter me, my Clodius; indeed you do,' quoth the aedile, who was
celebrated through Pompeii for having the worst paintings in the world; for
he was patriotic, and patronized none but Pompeians. 'You flatter me; but
there is something pretty--AEdepol, yes--in the colors, to say nothing of
the design--and then for the kitchen, my friends--ah! that was all my
fancy.'

'What is the design?' said Glaucus. 'I have not yet seen your kitchen,
though I have often witnessed the excellence of its cheer.'

'A cook, my Athenian--a cook sacrificing the trophies of his skill on the
altar of Vesta, with a beautiful muraena (taken from the life) on a spit at
a distance--there is some invention there!'

At that instant the slaves appeared, bearing a tray covered with the first
preparative initia of the feast. Amidst delicious figs, fresh herbs strewed
with snow, anchovies, and eggs, were ranged small cups of diluted wine
sparingly mixed with honey. As these were placed on the table, young slaves
bore round to each of the five guests (for there were no more) the silver
basin of perfumed water, and napkins edged with a purple fringe. But the
aedile ostentatiously drew forth his own napkin, which was not, indeed, of
so fine a linen, but in which the fringe was twice as broad, and wiped his
hands with the parade of a man who felt he was calling for admiration.

'A splendid nappa that of yours,' said Clodius; 'why, the fringe is as broad
as a girdle!'

'A trifle, my Clodius: a trifle! They tell me this stripe is the latest
fashion at Rome; but Glaucus attends to these things more than I.'

'Be propitious, O Bacchus!' said Glaucus, inclining reverentially to a
beautiful image of the god placed in the centre of the table, at the corners
of which stood the Lares and the salt-holders. The guests followed the
prayer, and then, sprinkling the wine on the table, they performed the
wonted libation.

This over, the convivialists reclined themselves on the couches, and the
business of the hour commenced.

'May this cup be my last!' said the young Sallust, as the table, cleared of
its first stimulants, was now loaded with the substantial part of the
entertainment, and the ministering slave poured forth to him a brimming
cyathus--'May this cup be my last, but it is the best wine I have drunk at
Pompeii!'

'Bring hither the amphora,' said Glaucus, 'and read its date and its
character.'

The slave hastened to inform the party that the scroll fastened to the cork
betokened its birth from Chios, and its age a ripe fifty years.

'How deliciously the snow has cooled it!' said Pansa. 'It is just enough.'

'It is like the experience of a man who has cooled his pleasures
sufficiently to give them a double zest,' exclaimed Sallust.

'It is like a woman's "No",' added Glaucus: 'it cools, but to inflame the
more.'

'When is our next wild-beast fight?' said Clodius to Pansa.

'It stands fixed for the ninth ide of August,' answered Pansa: 'on the day
after the Vulcanalia--we have a most lovely young lion for the occasion.'

'Whom shall we get for him to eat?' asked Clodius. 'Alas! there is a great
scarcity of criminals. You must positively find some innocent or other to
condemn to the lion, Pansa!'

'Indeed I have thought very seriously about it of late,' replied the aedile,
gravely. 'It was a most infamous law that which forbade us to send our own
slaves to the wild beasts. Not to let us do what we like with our own,
that's what I call an infringement on property itself.'

'Not so in the good old days of the Republic,' sighed Sallust.

'And then this pretended mercy to the slaves is such a disappointment to the
poor people. How they do love to see a good tough battle between a man and
a lion; and all this innocent pleasure they may lose (if the gods don't send
us a good criminal soon) from this cursed law!'

'What can be worse policy,' said Clodius, sententiously, 'than to interfere
with the manly amusements of the people?'

'Well thank Jupiter and the Fates! we have no Nero at present,' said
Sallust.

'He was, indeed, a tyrant; he shut up our amphitheatre for ten years.'

'I wonder it did not create a rebellion,' said Sallust.

'It very nearly did,' returned Pansa, with his mouth full of wild boar.

Here the conversation was interrupted for a moment by a flourish of flutes,
and two slaves entered with a single dish.

'Ah, what delicacy hast thou in store for us now, my Glaucus?' cried the
young Sallust, with sparkling eyes.

Sallust was only twenty-four, but he had no pleasure in life like
eating--perhaps he had exhausted all the others: yet had he some talent, and
an excellent heart--as far as it went.

'I know its face, by Pollux!' cried Pansa. 'It is an Ambracian Kid. Ho
(snapping his fingers, a usual signal to the slaves) we must prepare a new
libation in honour to the new-comer.'

'I had hoped said Glaucus, in a melancholy tone, 'to have procured you some
oysters from Britain; but the winds that were so cruel to Caesar have forbid
us the oysters.'

'Are they in truth so delicious?' asked Lepidus, loosening to a yet more
luxurious ease his ungirdled tunic.

'Why, in truth, I suspect it is the distance that gives the flavor; they
want the richness of the Brundusium oyster. But, at Rome, no supper is
complete without them.'

'The poor Britons! There is some good in them after all,' said Sallust.
'They produce an oyster.'

'I wish they would produce us a gladiator,' said the aedile, whose provident
mind was musing over the wants of the amphitheatre.

'By Pallas!' cried Glaucus, as his favorite slave crowned his streaming
locks with a new chaplet, 'I love these wild spectacles well enough when
beast fights beast; but when a man, one with bones and blood like ours, is
coldly put on the arena, and torn limb from limb, the interest is too
horrid: I sicken--I gasp for breath--I long to rush and defend him. The
yells of the populace seem to me more dire than the voices of the Furies
chasing Orestes. I rejoice that there is so little chance of that bloody
exhibition for our next show!'

The aedile shrugged his shoulders. The young Sallust, who was thought the
best-natured man in Pompeii, stared in surprise. The graceful Lepidus, who
rarely spoke for fear of disturbing his features, ejaculated 'Hercle!' The
parasite Clodius muttered 'AEdepol!' and the sixth banqueter, who was the
umbra of Clodius, and whose duty it was to echo his richer friend, when he
could not praise him--the parasite of a parasite--muttered also 'AEdepol!'

'Well, you Italians are used to these spectacles; we Greeks are more
merciful. Ah, shade of Pindar!--the rapture of a true Grecian game--the
emulation of man against man--the generous strife--the half-mournful
triumph--so proud to contend with a noble foe, so sad to see him overcome!
But ye understand me not.'

'The kid is excellent,' said Sallust. The slave, whose duty it was to
carve, and who valued himself on his science, had just performed that office
on the kid to the sound of music, his knife keeping time, beginning with a
low tenor and accomplishing the arduous feat amidst a magnificent diapason.

'Your cook is, of course, from Sicily?' said Pansa.

'Yes, of Syracuse.'

'I will play you for him,' said Clodius. 'We will have a game between the
courses.'

'Better that sort of game, certainly, than a beast fight; but I cannot stake
my Sicilian--you have nothing so precious to stake me in return.'

'My Phillida--my beautiful dancing-girl!'

'I never buy women,' said the Greek, carelessly rearranging his chaplet.

The musicians, who were stationed in the portico without, had commenced
their office with the kid; they now directed the melody into a more soft, a
more gay, yet it may be a more intellectual strain; and they chanted that
song of Horace beginning 'Persicos odi', etc., so impossible to translate,
and which they imagined applicable to a feast that, effeminate as it seems
to us, was simple enough for the gorgeous revelry of the time. We are
witnessing the domestic, and not the princely feast--the entertainment of a
gentleman, not an emperor or a senator.

'Ah, good old Horace!' said Sallust, compassionately; 'he sang well of
feasts and girls, but not like our modern poets.'

'The immortal Fulvius, for instance,' said Clodius.

'Ah, Fulvius, the immortal!' said the umbra.

'And Spuraena; and Caius Mutius, who wrote three epics in a year--could
Horace do that, or Virgil either said Lepidus. 'Those old poets all fell
into the mistake of copying sculpture instead of painting. Simplicity and
repose--that was their notion; but we moderns have fire, and passion, and
energy--we never sleep, we imitate the colors of painting, its life, and its
action. Immortal Fulvius!'

'By the way,' said Sallust, 'have you seen the new ode by Spuraena, in
honour of our Egyptian Isis? It is magnificent--the true religious fervor.'

'Isis seems a favorite divinity at Pompeii,' said Glaucus.

'Yes!' said Pansa, 'she is exceedingly in repute just at this moment; her
statue has been uttering the most remarkable oracles. I am not
superstitious, but I must confess that she has more than once assisted me
materially in my magistracy with her advice. Her priests are so pious, too!
none of your gay, none of your proud, ministers of Jupiter and Fortune: they
walk barefoot, eat no meat, and pass the greater part of the night in
solitary devotion!'

'An example to our other priesthoods, indeed!--Jupiter's temple wants
reforming sadly,' said Lepidus, who was a great reformer for all but
himself.

'They say that Arbaces the Egyptian has imparted some most solemn mysteries
to the priests of Isis,' observed Sallust. 'He boasts his descent from the
race of Rameses, and declares that in his family the secrets of remotest
antiquity are treasured.'

'He certainly possesses the gift of the evil eye,' said Clodius. 'If I ever
come upon that Medusa front without the previous charm, I am sure to lose a
favorite horse, or throw the canes nine times running.'

'The last would be indeed a miracle!' said Sallust, gravely.

'How mean you, Sallust?' returned the gamester, with a flushed brow.

'I mean, what you would leave me if I played often with you; and that
is--nothing.'

Clodius answered only by a smile of disdain.

'If Arbaces were not so rich,' said Pansa, with a stately air, 'I should
stretch my authority a little, and inquire into the truth of the report
which calls him an astrologer and a sorcerer. Agrippa, when aedile of Rome,
banished all such terrible citizens. But a rich man--it is the duty of an
aedile to protect the rich!'

'What think you of this new sect, which I am told has even a few proselytes
in Pompeii, these followers of the Hebrew God--Christus?'

'Oh, mere speculative visionaries,' said Clodius; 'they have not a single
gentleman amongst them; their proselytes are poor, insignificant, ignorant
people!'

'Who ought, however, to be crucified for their blasphemy,' said Pansa, with
vehemence; 'they deny Venus and Jove! Nazarene is but another name for
atheist. Let me catch them--that's all.'

The second course was gone--the feasters fell back on their couches--there
was a pause while they listened to the soft voices of the South, and the
music of the Arcadian reed. Glaucus was the most rapt and the least
inclined to break the silence, but Clodius began already to think that they
wasted time.

'Bene vobis! (Your health!) my Glaucus,' said he, quaffing a cup to each
letter of the Greek's name, with the ease of the practised drinker. 'Will
you not be avenged on your ill-fortune of yesterday? See, the dice court
us.'

'As you will,' said Glaucus.

'The dice in summer, and I an aedile!' said Pansa, magisterially; 'it is
against all law.'

'Not in your presence, grave Pansa,' returned Clodius, rattling the dice in
a long box; 'your presence restrains all license: it is not the thing, but
the excess of the thing, that hurts.'

'What wisdom!' muttered the umbra.

'Well, I will look another way,' said the aedile.

'Not yet, good Pansa; let us wait till we have supped,' said Glaucus.

Clodius reluctantly yielded, concealing his vexation with a yawn.

'He gapes to devour the gold,' whispered Lepidus to Sallust, in a quotation
from the Aulularia of Plautus.

'Ah! how well I know these polypi, who hold all they touch,' answered
Sallust, in the same tone, and out of the same play.

The third course, consisting of a variety of fruits, pistachio nuts,
sweetmeats, tarts, and confectionery tortured into a thousand fantastic and
airy shapes, was now placed upon the table; and the ministri, or attendants,
also set there the wine (which had hitherto been handed round to the guests)
in large jugs of glass, each bearing upon it the schedule of its age and
quality.

'Taste this Lesbian, my Pansa,' said Sallust; 'it is excellent.'

'It is not very old,' said Glaucus, 'but it has been made precocious, like
ourselves, by being put to the fire:--the wine to the flames of Vulcan--we
to those of his wife--to whose honour I pour this cup.'

'It is delicate,' said Pansa, 'but there is perhaps the least particle too
much of rosin in its flavor.'

'What a beautiful cup!' cried Clodius, taking up one of transparent crystal,
the handles of which were wrought with gems, and twisted in the shape of
serpents, the favorite fashion at Pompeii.

'This ring,' said Glaucus, taking a costly jewel from the first joint of his
finger and hanging it on the handle, 'gives it a richer show, and renders it
less unworthy of thy acceptance, my Clodius, on whom may the gods bestow
health and fortune, long and oft to crown it to the brim!'

'You are too generous, Glaucus,' said the gamester, handing the cup to his
slave; 'but your love gives it a double value.'

'This cup to the Graces!' said Pansa, and he thrice emptied his calix. The
guests followed his example.

'We have appointed no director to the feast,' cried Sallust.

'Let us throw for him, then,' said Clodius, rattling the dice-box.

'Nay,' cried Glaucus, 'no cold and trite director for us: no dictator of the
banquet; no rex convivii. Have not the Romans sworn never to obey a king?
Shall we be less free than your ancestors? Ho! musicians, let us have the
song I composed the other night: it has a verse on this subject, "The
Bacchic hymn of the Hours".'

The musicians struck their instruments to a wild Ionic air, while the
youngest voice in the band chanted forth, in Greek words, as numbers, the
following strain:-

           THE EVENING HYMN OF THE HOURS

                     I

     "Through the summer day, through the weary day,
          We have glided long;
      Ere we speed to the Night through her portals grey,
          Hail us with song!--
         With song, with song,
        With a bright and joyous song;
       Such as the Cretan maid,
        While the twilight made her bolder,
       Woke, high through the ivy shade,
        When the wine-god first consoled her.
       From the hush'd, low-breathing skies,
       Half-shut look'd their starry eyes,
          And all around,
          With a loving sound,
        The AEgean waves were creeping:
       On her lap lay the lynx's head;
       Wild thyme was her bridal bed;
       And aye through each tiny space,
       In the green vine's green embrace
       The Fauns were slily peeping--
       The Fauns, the prying Fauns--
      The arch, the laughing Fauns--
      The Fauns were slily peeping!

                     II

      Flagging and faint are we
        With our ceaseless flight,
       And dull shall our journey be
        Through the realm of night,
       Bathe us, O bathe our weary wings
       In the purple wave, as it freshly springs
        To your cups from the fount of light--
    From the fount of light--from the fount of light,

     For there, when the sun has gone down in night,
         There in the bowl we find him.
       The grape is the well of that summer sun,
       Or rather the stream that he gazed upon,
       Till he left in truth, like the Thespian youth,
           His soul, as he gazed, behind him.

                    III

      A cup to Jove, and a cup to Love,
        And a cup to the son of Maia;
       And honour with three, the band zone-free,
        The band of the bright Aglaia.
       But since every bud in the wreath of pleasure
        Ye owe to the sister Hours,
       No stinted cups, in a formal measure,
        The Bromian law makes ours.
       He honors us most who gives us most,
       And boasts, with a Bacchanal's honest boast,
        He never will count the treasure.
     Fastly we fleet, then seize our wings,
     And plunge us deep in the sparkling springs;
     And aye, as we rise with a dripping plume,
     We'll scatter the spray round the garland's bloom;
           We glow--we glow,
     Behold, as the girls of the Eastern wave
     Bore once with a shout to the crystal cave
       The prize of the Mysian Hylas,
           Even so--even so,
     We have caught the young god in our warm embrace
     We hurry him on in our laughing race;
     We hurry him on, with a whoop and song,
     The cloudy rivers of night along--
      Ho, ho!--we have caught thee, Psilas!

The guests applauded loudly. When the poet is your host, his verses are
sure to charm.

'Thoroughly Greek,' said Lepidus: 'the wildness, force, and energy of that
tongue, it is impossible to imitate in the Roman poetry.'

'It is, indeed, a great contrast,' said Clodius, ironically at heart, though
not in appearance, 'to the old-fashioned and tame simplicity of that ode of
Horace which we heard before. The air is beautifully Ionic: the word puts
me in mind of a toast--Companions, I give you the beautiful Ione.'

'Ione!--the name is Greek,' said Glaucus, in a soft voice. 'I drink the
health with delight. But who is Ione?'

'Ah! you have but just come to Pompeii, or you would deserve ostracism for
your ignorance,' said Lepidus, conceitedly; 'not to know Ione, is not to
know the chief charm of our city.'

'She is of the most rare beauty,' said Pansa; 'and what a voice!'

'She can feed only on nightingales' tongues,' said Clodius.

'Nightingales' tongues!--beautiful thought!' sighed the umbra.

'Enlighten me, I beseech you,' said Glaucus.

'Know then...' began Lepidus.

'Let me speak,' cried Clodius; 'you drawl out your words as if you spoke
tortoises.'

'And you speak stones,' muttered the coxcomb to himself, as he fell back
disdainfully on his couch.

'Know then, my Glaucus,' said Clodius, 'that Ione is a stranger who has but
lately come to Pompeii. She sings like Sappho, and her songs are her own
composing; and as for the tibia, and the cithara, and the lyre, I know not
in which she most outdoes the Muses. Her beauty is most dazzling. Her
house is perfect; such taste--such gems--such bronzes! She is rich, and
generous as she is rich.'

'Her lovers, of course,' said Glaucus, 'take care that she does not starve;
and money lightly won is always lavishly spent.'

'Her lovers--ah, there is the enigma!--Ione has but one vice--she is chaste.
She has all Pompeii at her feet, and she has no lovers: she will not even
marry.'

'No lovers!' echoed Glaucus.

'No; she has the soul of Vestal with the girdle of Venus.'

'What refined expressions!' said the umbra.

'A miracle!' cried Glaucus. 'Can we not see her?'

'I will take you there this evening, said Clodius; 'meanwhile...' added he,
once more rattling the dice.

'I am yours!' said the complaisant Glaucus. 'Pansa, turn your face!'

Lepidus and Sallust played at odd and even, and the umbra looked on, while
Glaucus and Clodius became gradually absorbed in the chances of the dice.

'By Pollux!' cried Glaucus, 'this is the second time I have thrown the
caniculae' (the lowest throw).

'Now Venus befriend me!' said Clodius, rattling the box for several moments.
'O Alma Venus--it is Venus herself!' as he threw the highest cast, named
from that goddess--whom he who wins money, indeed, usually propitiates!

'Venus is ungrateful to me,' said Glaucus, gaily; 'I have always sacrificed
on her altar.'

'He who plays with Clodius,' whispered Lepidus, 'will soon, like Plautus's
Curculio, put his pallium for the stakes.'

'Poor Glaucus!--he is as blind as Fortune herself,' replied Sallust, in the
same tone.

'I will play no more,' said Glaucus; 'I have lost thirty sestertia.'

'I am sorry...' began Clodius.

'Amiable man!' groaned the umbra.

'Not at all!' exclaimed Glaucus; 'the pleasure I take in your gain
compensates the pain of my loss.'

The conversation now grew general and animated; the wine circulated more
freely; and Ione once more became the subject of eulogy to the guests of
Glaucus.

'Instead of outwatching the stars, let us visit one at whose beauty the
stars grow pale,' said Lepidus.

Clodius, who saw no chance of renewing the dice, seconded the proposal; and
Glaucus, though he civilly pressed his guests to continue the banquet, could
not but let them see that his curiosity had been excited by the praises of
Ione: they therefore resolved to adjourn (all, at least, but Pansa and the
umbra) to the house of the fair Greek. They drank, therefore, to the health
of Glaucus and of Titus--they performed their last libation--they resumed
their slippers--they descended the stairs--passed the illumined atrium--and
walking unbitten over the fierce dog painted on the threshold, found
themselves beneath the light of the moon just risen, in the lively and still
crowded streets of Pompeii.

They passed the jewellers' quarter, sparkling with lights, caught and
reflected by the gems displayed in the shops, and arrived at last at the
door of Ione. The vestibule blazed with rows of lamps; curtains of
embroidered purple hung on either aperture of the tablinum, whose walls and
mosaic pavement glowed with the richest colors of the artist; and under the
portico which surrounded the odorous viridarium they found Ione, already
surrounded by adoring and applauding guests!

'Did you say she was Athenian?' whispered Glaucus, ere he passed into the
peristyle.

'No, she is from Neapolis.'

'Neapolis!' echoed Glaucus; and at that moment the group, dividing on either
side of Ione, gave to his view that bright, that nymph-like beauty, which
for months had shone down upon the waters of his memory.

Chapter IV

THE TEMPLE OF ISIS. ITS PRIEST. THE CHARACTER OF ARBACES DEVELOPS ITSELF.

THE story returns to the Egyptian. We left Arbaces upon the shores of the
noonday sea, after he had parted from Glaucus and his companion. As he
approached to the more crowded part of the bay, he paused and gazed upon
that animated scene with folded arms, and a bitter smile upon his dark
features.

'Gulls, dupes, fools, that ye are!' muttered he to himself; 'whether
business or pleasure, trade or religion, be your pursuit, you are equally
cheated by the passions that ye should rule! How I could loathe you, if I
did not hate--yes, hate! Greek or Roman, it is from us, from the dark lore
of Egypt, that ye have stolen the fire that gives you souls. Your
knowledge--your poesy--your laws--your arts--your barbarous mastery of war
(all how tame and mutilated, when compared with the vast original!)--ye have
filched, as a slave filches the fragments of the feast, from us! And now,
ye mimics of a mimic!--Romans, forsooth! the mushroom herd of robbers! ye
are our masters! the pyramids look down no more on the race of Rameses--the
eagle cowers over the serpent of the Nile. Our masters--no, not mine. My
soul, by the power of its wisdom, controls and chains you, though the
fetters are unseen. So long as craft can master force, so long as religion
has a cave from which oracles can dupe mankind, the wise hold an empire over
earth. Even from your vices Arbaces distills his pleasures--pleasures
unprofaned by vulgar eyes--pleasures vast, wealthy, inexhaustible, of which
your enervate minds, in their unimaginative sensuality, cannot conceive or
dream! Plod on, plod on, fools of ambition and of avarice! your petty
thirst for fasces and quaestorships, and all the mummery of servile power,
provokes my laughter and my scorn. My power can extend wherever man
believes. I ride over the souls that the purple veils. Thebes may fall,
Egypt be a name; the world itself furnishes the subjects of Arbaces.'

Thus saying, the Egyptian moved slowly on; and, entering the town, his tall
figure towered above the crowded throng of the forum, and swept towards the
small but graceful temple consecrated to Isis.

That edifice was then but of recent erection; the ancient temple had been
thrown down in the earthquake sixteen years before, and the new building had
become as much in vogue with the versatile Pompeians as a new church or a
new preacher may be with us. The oracles of the goddess at Pompeii were
indeed remarkable, not more for the mysterious language in which they were
clothed, than for the credit which was attached to their mandates and
predictions. If they were not dictated by a divinity, they were framed at
least by a profound knowledge of mankind; they applied themselves exactly to
the circumstances of individuals, and made a notable contrast to the vague
and loose generalities of their rival temples. As Arbaces now arrived at
the rails which separated the profane from the sacred place, a crowd,
composed of all classes, but especially of the commercial, collected,
breathless and reverential, before the many altars which rose in the open
court. In the walls of the cella, elevated on seven steps of Parian marble,
various statues stood in niches, and those walls were ornamented with the
pomegranate consecrated to Isis. An oblong pedestal occupied the interior
building, on which stood two statues, one of Isis, and its companion
represented the silent and mystic Orus. But the building contained many
other deities to grace the court of the Egyptian deity: her kindred and
many-titled Bacchus, and the Cyprian Venus, a Grecian disguise for herself,
rising from her bath, and the dog-headed Anubis, and the ox Apis, and
various Egyptian idols of uncouth form and unknown appellations.

But we must not suppose that among the cities of Magna Graecia, Isis was
worshipped with those forms and ceremonies which were of right her own. The
mongrel and modern nations of the South, with a mingled arrogance and
ignorance, confounded the worships of all climes and ages. And the profound
mysteries of the Nile were degraded by a hundred meretricious and frivolous
admixtures from the creeds of Cephisus and of Tibur. The temple of Isis in
Pompeii was served by Roman and Greek priests, ignorant alike of the
language and the customs of her ancient votaries; and the descendant of the
dread Egyptian kings, beneath the appearance of reverential awe, secretly
laughed to scorn the puny mummeries which imitated the solemn and typical
worship of his burning clime.

Ranged now on either side the steps was the sacrificial crowd, arrayed in
white garments, while at the summit stood two of the inferior priests, the
one holding a palm branch, the other a slender sheaf of corn. In the narrow
passage in front thronged the bystanders.

'And what,' whispered Arbaces to one of the bystanders, who was a merchant
engaged in the Alexandrian trade, which trade had probably first introduced
in Pompeii the worship of the Egyptian goddess--'what occasion now assembles
you before the altars of the venerable Isis? It seems, by the white robes
of the group before me, that a sacrifice is to be rendered; and by the
assembly of the priests, that ye are prepared for some oracle. To what
question is it to vouchsafe a reply?'

'We are merchants,' replied the bystander (who was no other than Diomed) in
the same voice, 'who seek to know the fate of our vessels, which sail for
Alexandria to-morrow. We are about to offer up a sacrifice and implore an
answer from the goddess. I am not one of those who have petitioned the
priest to sacrifice, as you may see by my dress, but I have some interest in
the success of the fleet--by Jupiter! yes. I have a pretty trade, else how
could I live in these hard times?

The Egyptian replied gravely--'That though Isis was properly the goddess of
agriculture, she was no less the patron of commerce.' Then turning his head
towards the east, Arbaces seemed absorbed in silent prayer.

And now in the centre of the steps appeared a priest robed in white from
head to foot, the veil parting over the crown; two new priests relieved
those hitherto stationed at either corner, being naked half-way down to the
breast, and covered, for the rest, in white and loose robes. At the same
time, seated at the bottom of the steps, a priest commenced a solemn air
upon a long wind-instrument of music. Half-way down the steps stood another
flamen, holding in one hand the votive wreath, in the other a white wand;
while, adding to the picturesque scene of that eastern ceremony, the stately
ibis (bird sacred to the Egyptian worship) looked mutely down from the wall
upon the rite, or stalked beside the altar at the base of the steps.

At that altar now stood the sacrificial flamen.

The countenance of Arbaces seemed to lose all its rigid calm while the
aruspices inspected the entrails, and to be intent in pious anxiety--to
rejoice and brighten as the signs were declared favorable, and the fire
began bright and clearly to consume the sacred portion of the victim amidst
odorous of myrrh and frankincense. It was then that a dead silence fell
over the whispering crowd, and the priests gathering round the cella,
another priest, naked save by a cincture round the middle, rushed forward,
and dancing with wild gestures, implored an answer from the goddess. He
ceased at last in exhaustion, and a low murmuring noise was heard within the
body of the statue: thrice the head moved, and the lips parted, and then a
hollow voice uttered these mystic words:

  There are waves like chargers that meet and glow,
  There are graves ready wrought in the rocks below,
  On the brow of the future the dangers lour,
  But blest are your barks in the fearful hour.

The voice ceased--the crowd breathed more freely--the merchants looked at
each other. 'Nothing can be more plain,' murmured Diomed; 'there is to be a
storm at sea, as there very often is at the beginning of autumn, but our
vessels are to be saved. O beneficent Isis!'

'Lauded eternally be the goddess!' said the merchants: 'what can be less
equivocal than her prediction?'

Raising one hand in sign of silence to the people, for the rites of Isis
enjoined what to the lively Pompeians was an impossible suspense from the
use of the vocal organs, the chief priest poured his libation on the altar,
and after a short concluding prayer the ceremony was over, and the
congregation dismissed. Still, however, as the crowd dispersed themselves
here and there, the Egyptian lingered by the railing, and when the space
became tolerably cleared, one of the priests, approaching it, saluted him
with great appearance of friendly familiarity.

The countenance of the priest was remarkably unprepossessing--his shaven
skull was so low and narrow in the front as nearly to approach to the
conformation of that of an African savage, save only towards the temples,
where, in that organ styled acquisitiveness by the pupils of a science
modern in name, but best practically known (as their sculpture teaches us)
amongst the ancients, two huge and almost preternatural protuberances yet
more distorted the unshapely head--around the brows the skin was puckered
into a web of deep and intricate wrinkles--the eyes, dark and small, rolled
in a muddy and yellow orbit--the nose, short yet coarse, was distended at
the nostrils like a satyr's--and the thick but pallid lips, the high
cheek-bones, the livid and motley hues that struggled through the parchment
skin, completed a countenance which none could behold without repugnance,
and few without terror and distrust: whatever the wishes of the mind, the
animal frame was well fitted to execute them; the wiry muscles of the
throat, the broad chest, the nervous hands and lean gaunt arms, which were
bared above the elbow, betokened a form capable alike of great active
exertion and passive endurance.

'Calenus,' said the Egyptian to this fascinating flamen, 'you have improved
the voice of the statue much by attending to my suggestion; and your verses
are excellent. Always prophesy good fortune, unless there is an absolute
impossibility of its fulfilment.'

'Besides,' added Calenus, 'if the storm does come, and if it does overwhelm
the accursed ships, have we not prophesied it? and are the barks not blest
to be at rest?--for rest prays the mariner in the AEgean sea, or at least so
says Horace--can the mariner be more at rest in the sea than when he is at
the bottom of it?'

'Right, my Calenus; I wish Apaecides would take a lesson from your wisdom.
But I desire to confer with you relative to him and to other matters: you
can admit me into one of your less sacred apartments?'

'Assuredly,' replied the priest, leading the way to one of the small
chambers which surrounded the open gate. Here they seated themselves before
a small table spread with dishes containing fruit and eggs, and various cold
meats, with vases of excellent wine, of which while the companions partook,
a curtain, drawn across the entrance opening to the court, concealed them
from view, but admonished them by the thinness of the partition to speak
low, or to speak no secrets: they chose the former alternative.

'Thou knowest,' said Arbaces, in a voice that scarcely stirred the air, so
soft and inward was its sound, 'that it has ever been my maxim to attach
myself to the young. From their flexile and unformed minds I can carve out
my fittest tools. I weave--I warp--I mould them at my will. Of the men I
make merely followers or servants; of the women...'

'Mistresses,' said Calenus, as a livid grin distorted his ungainly features.

'Yes, I do not disguise it: woman is the main object, the great appetite, of
my soul. As you feed the victim for the slaughter, I love to rear the
votaries of my pleasure. I love to train, to ripen their minds--to unfold
the sweet blossom of their hidden passions, in order to prepare the fruit to
my taste. I loathe your ready-made and ripened courtesans; it is in the
soft and unconscious progress of innocence to desire that I find the true
charm of love; it is thus that I defy satiety; and by contemplating the
freshness of others, I sustain the freshness of my own sensations. From the
young hearts of my victims I draw the ingredients of the caldron in which I
re-youth myself. But enough of this: to the subject before us. You know,
then, that in Neapolis some time since I encountered Ione and Apaecides,
brother and sister, the children of Athenians who had settled at Neapolis.
The death of their parents, who knew and esteemed me, constituted me their
guardian. I was not unmindful of the trust. The youth, docile and mild,
yielded readily to the impression I sought to stamp upon him. Next to
woman, I love the old recollections of my ancestral land; I love to keep
alive--to propagate on distant shores (which her colonies perchance yet
people) her dark and mystic creeds. It may be, that it pleases me to delude
mankind, while I thus serve the deities. To Apaecides I taught the solemn
faith of Isis. I unfolded to him something of those sublime allegories
which are couched beneath her worship. I excited in a soul peculiarly alive
to religious fervor that enthusiasm which imagination begets on faith. I
have placed him amongst you: he is one of you.'

'He is so,' said Calenus: 'but in thus stimulating his faith, you have
robbed him of wisdom. He is horror-struck that he is no longer duped: our
sage delusions, our speaking statues and secret staircases dismay and revolt
him; he pines; he wastes away; he mutters to himself; he refuses to share
our ceremonies. He has been known to frequent the company of men suspected
of adherence to that new and atheistical creed which denies all our gods,
and terms our oracles the inspirations of that malevolent spirit of which
eastern tradition speaks. Our oracles--alas! we know well whose
inspirations they are!'

'This is what I feared,' said Arbaces, musingly, 'from various reproaches he
made me when I last saw him. Of late he hath shunned my steps. I must find
him: I must continue my lessons: I must lead him into the adytum of Wisdom.
I must teach him that there are two stages of sanctity--the first,
FAITH--the next, DELUSION; the one for the vulgar, the second for the sage.'

'I never passed through the first, I said Calenus; 'nor you either, I think,
my Arbaces.'

'You err,' replied the Egyptian, gravely. 'I believe at this day (not
indeed that which I teach, but that which I teach not). Nature has a
sanctity against which I cannot (nor would I) steel conviction. I believe
in mine own knowledge, and that has revealed to me--but no matter. Now to
earthlier and more inviting themes. If I thus fulfilled my object with
Apaecides, what was my design for Ione? Thou knowest already I intend her
for my queen--my bride--my heart's Isis. Never till I saw her knew I all
the love of which my nature is capable.'

'I hear from a thousand lips that she is a second Helen,' said Calenus; and
he smacked his own lips, but whether at the wine or at the notion it is not
easy to decide.

'Yes, she has a beauty that Greece itself never excelled,' resumed Arbaces.
'But that is not all: she has a soul worthy to match with mine. She has a
genius beyond that of woman--keen--dazzling--bold. Poetry flows spontaneous
to her lips: utter but a truth, and, however intricate and profound, her
mind seizes and commands it. Her imagination and her reason are not at war
with each other; they harmonize and direct her course as the winds and the
waves direct some lofty bark. With this she unites a daring independence of
thought; she can stand alone in the world; she can be brave as she is
gentle; this is the nature I have sought all my life in woman, and never
found till now. Ione must be mine! In her I have a double passion; I wish
to enjoy a beauty of spirit as of form.'

'She is not yours yet, then?' said the priest.

'No; she loves me--but as a friend--she loves me with her mind only. She
fancies in me the paltry virtues which I have only the profounder virtue to
disdain. But you must pursue with me her history. The brother and sister
were young and rich: Ione is proud and ambitious--proud of her genius--the
magic of her poetry--the charm of her conversation. When her brother left
me, and entered your temple, in order to be near him she removed also to
Pompeii. She has suffered her talents to be known. She summons crowds to
her feasts; her voice enchants them; her poetry subdues. She delights in
being thought the successor of Erinna.'

'Or of Sappho?'

'But Sappho without love! I encouraged her in this boldness of career--in
this indulgence of vanity and of pleasure. I loved to steep her amidst the
dissipations and luxury of this abandoned city. Mark me, Calenus! I
desired to enervate her mind!--it has been too pure to receive yet the
breath which I wish not to pass, but burningly to eat into, the mirror. I
wished her to be surrounded by lovers, hollow, vain, and frivolous (lovers
that her nature must despise), in order to feel the want of love. Then, in
those soft intervals of lassitude that succeed to excitement--I can weave my
spells--excite her interest--attract her passions--possess myself of her
heart. For it is not the young, nor the beautiful, nor the gay, that should
fascinate Ione; her imagination must be won, and the life of Arbaces has
been one scene of triumph over the imaginations of his kind.'

'And hast thou no fear, then, of thy rivals? The gallants of Italy are
skilled in the art to please.'

'None! Her Greek soul despises the barbarian Romans, and would scorn itself
if it admitted a thought of love for one of that upstart race.'

'But thou art an Egyptian, not a Greek!'

'Egypt,' replied Arbaces, 'is the mother of Athens. Her tutelary Minerva is
our deity; and her founder, Cecrops, was the fugitive of Egyptian Sais.
This have I already taught to her; and in my blood she venerates the eldest
dynasties of earth. But yet I will own that of late some uneasy suspicions
have crossed my mind. She is more silent than she used to be; she loves
melancholy and subduing music; she sighs without an outward cause. This may
be the beginning of love--it may be the want of love. In either case it is
time for me to begin my operations on her fancies and her heart: in the one
case, to divert the source of love to me; in the other, in me to awaken it.
It is for this that I have sought you.'

'And how can I assist you?'

'I am about to invite her to a feast in my house: I wish to dazzle--to
bewilder--to inflame her senses. Our arts--the arts by which Egypt trained
her young novitiates--must be employed; and, under veil of the mysteries of
religion, I will open to her the secrets of love.'

'Ah! now I understand:--one of those voluptuous banquets that, despite our
dull vows of mortified coldness, we, the priests of Isis, have shared at thy
house.'

'No, no! Thinkest thou her chaste eyes are ripe for such scenes? No; but
first we must ensnare the brother--an easier task. Listen to me, while I
give you my instructions.'

Chapter V

MORE OF THE FLOWER-GIRL. THE PROGRESS OF LOVE.

THE sun shone gaily into that beautiful chamber in the house of Glaucus,
which I have before said is now called the 'Room of Leda'. The morning rays
entered through rows of small casements at the higher part of the room, and
through the door which opened on the garden, that answered to the
inhabitants of the southern cities the same purpose that a greenhouse or
conservatory does to us. The size of the garden did not adapt it for
exercise, but the various and fragrant plants with which it was filled gave
a luxury to that indolence so dear to the dwellers in a sunny clime. And
now the odorous, fanned by a gentle wind creeping from the adjacent sea,
scattered themselves over that chamber, whose walls vied with the richest
colors of the most glowing flowers. Besides the gem of the room--the
painting of Leda and Tyndarus--in the centre of each compartment of the
walls were set other pictures of exquisite beauty. In one you saw Cupid
leaning on the knees of Venus; in another Ariadne sleeping on the beach,
unconscious of the perfidy of Theseus. Merrily the sunbeams played to and
fro on the tessellated floor and the brilliant walls--far more happily came
the rays of joy to the heart of the young Glaucus.

'I have seen her, then,' said he, as he paced that narrow chamber--'I have
heard her--nay, I have spoken to her again--I have listened to the music of
her song, and she sung of glory and of Greece. I have discovered the
long-sought idol of my dreams; and like the Cyprian sculptor, I have
breathed life into my own imaginings.'

Longer, perhaps, had been the enamoured soliloquy of Glaucus, but at that
moment a shadow darkened the threshold of the chamber, and a young female,
still half a child in years, broke upon his solitude. She was dressed
simply in a white tunic, which reached from the neck to the ankles; under
her arm she bore a basket of flowers, and in the other hand she held a
bronze water-vase; her features were more formed than exactly became her
years, yet they were soft and feminine in their outline, and without being
beautiful in themselves, they were almost made so by their beauty of
expression; there was something ineffably gentle, and you would say patient,
in her aspect. A look of resigned sorrow, of tranquil endurance, had
banished the smile, but not the sweetness, from her lips; something timid
and cautious in her step--something wandering in her eyes, led you to
suspect the affliction which she had suffered from her birth--she was blind;
but in the orbs themselves there was no visible defect--their melancholy and
subdued light was clear, cloudless, and serene. 'They tell me that Glaucus
is here,' said she; 'may I come in?'

'Ah, my Nydia,' said the Greek, 'is that you I knew you would not neglect my
invitation.'

'Glaucus did but justice to himself,' answered Nydia, with a blush; 'for he
has always been kind to the poor blind girl.'

'Who could be otherwise?' said Glaucus, tenderly, and in the voice of a
compassionate brother.

Nydia sighed and paused before she resumed, without replying to his remark.
'You have but lately returned?'

'This is the sixth sun that hath shone upon me at Pompeii.'

'And you are well? Ah, I need not ask--for who that sees the earth, which
they tell me is so beautiful, can be ill?'

'I am well. And you, Nydia--how you have grown! Next year you will be
thinking what answer to make your lovers.'

A second blush passed over the cheek of Nydia, but this time she frowned as
she blushed. 'I have brought you some flowers,' said she, without replying
to a remark that she seemed to resent; and feeling about the room till she
found the table that stood by Glaucus, she laid the basket upon it: 'they
are poor, but they are fresh-gathered.'

'They might come from Flora herself,' said he, kindly; 'and I renew again my
vow to the Graces, that I will wear no other garlands while thy hands can
weave me such as these.'

'And how find you the flowers in your viridarium?--are they thriving?'

'Wonderfully so--the Lares themselves must have tended them.'

'Ah, now you give me pleasure; for I came, as often as I could steal the
leisure, to water and tend them in your absence.'

'How shall I thank thee, fair Nydia?' said the Greek. 'Glaucus little
dreamed that he left one memory so watchful over his favorites at Pompeii.'

The hand of the child trembled, and her breast heaved beneath her tunic.
She turned round in embarrassment. 'The sun is hot for the poor flowers,'
said she, 'to-day and they will miss me; for I have been ill lately, and it
is nine days since I visited them.'

'Ill, Nydia!--yet your cheek has more color than it had last year.'

'I am often ailing,' said the blind girl, touchingly; 'and as I grow up I
grieve more that I am blind. But now to the flowers!' So saying, she made a
slight reverence with her head, and passing into the viridarium, busied
herself with watering the flowers.

'Poor Nydia,' thought Glaucus, gazing on her; 'thine is a hard doom! Thou
seest not the earth--nor the sun--nor the ocean--nor the stars--above all,
thou canst not behold Ione.'

At that last thought his mind flew back to the past evening, and was a
second time disturbed in its reveries by the entrance of Clodius. It was a
proof how much a single evening had sufficed to increase and to refine the
love of the Athenian for Ione, that whereas he had confided to Clodius the
secret of his first interview with her, and the effect it had produced on
him, he now felt an invincible aversion even to mention to him her name. He
had seen Ione, bright, pure, unsullied, in the midst of the gayest and most
profligate gallants of Pompeii, charming rather than awing the boldest into
respect, and changing the very nature of the most sensual and the least
ideal--as by her intellectual and refining spells she reversed the fable of
Circe, and converted the animals into men. They who could not understand
her soul were made spiritual, as it were, by the magic of her beauty--they
who had no heart for poetry had ears, at least, for the melody of her voice.
Seeing her thus surrounded, purifying and brightening all things with her
presence, Glaucus almost for the first time felt the nobleness of his own
nature--he felt how unworthy of the goddess of his dreams had been his
companions and his pursuits. A veil seemed lifted from his eyes; he saw
that immeasurable distance between himself and his associates which the
deceiving mists of pleasure had hitherto concealed; he was refined by a
sense of his courage in aspiring to Ione. He felt that henceforth it was
his destiny to look upward and to soar. He could no longer breathe that
name, which sounded to the sense of his ardent fancy as something sacred and
divine, to lewd and vulgar ears. She was no longer the beautiful girl once
seen and passionately remembered--she was already the mistress, the divinity
of his soul. This feeling who has not experienced?--If thou hast not, then
thou hast never loved.

When Clodius therefore spoke to him in affected transport of the beauty of
Ione, Glaucus felt only resentment and disgust that such lips should dare to
praise her; he answered coldly, and the Roman imagined that his passion was
cured instead of heightened. Clodius scarcely regretted it, for he was
anxious that Glaucus should marry an heiress yet more richly endowed--Julia,
the daughter of the wealthy Diomed, whose gold the gamester imagined he
could readily divert into his own coffers. Their conversation did not flow
with its usual ease; and no sooner had Clodius left him than Glaucus bent
his way to the house of Ione. In passing by the threshold he again
encountered Nydia, who had finished her graceful task. She knew his step on
the instant.

'You are early abroad?' said she.

'Yes; for the skies of Campania rebuke the sluggard who neglects them.'

'Ah, would I could see them!' murmured the blind girl, but so low that
Glaucus did not overhear the complaint.

The Thessalian lingered on the threshold a few moments, and then guiding her
steps by a long staff, which she used with great dexterity, she took her way
homeward. She soon turned from the more gaudy streets, and entered a
quarter of the town but little loved by the decorous and the sober. But
from the low and rude evidences of vice around her she was saved by her
misfortune. And at that hour the streets were quiet and silent, nor was her
youthful ear shocked by the sounds which too often broke along the obscene
and obscure haunts she patiently and sadly traversed.

She knocked at the back-door of a sort of tavern; it opened, and a rude
voice bade her give an account of the sesterces. Ere she could reply,
another voice, less vulgarly accented, said:

'Never mind those petty profits, my Burbo. The girl's voice will be wanted
again soon at our rich friend's revels; and he pays, as thou knowest, pretty
high for his nightingales' tongues.

'Oh, I hope not--I trust not,' cried Nydia, trembling. 'I will beg from
sunrise to sunset, but send me not there.'

'And why?' asked the same voice.

'Because--because I am young, and delicately born, and the female companions
I meet there are not fit associates for one who--who...'

'Is a slave in the house of Burbo,' returned the voice ironically, and with
a coarse laugh.

The Thessalian put down the flowers, and, leaning her face on her hands,
wept silently.

Meanwhile, Glaucus sought the house of the beautiful Neapolitan. He found
Ione sitting amidst her attendants, who were at work around her. Her harp
stood at her side, for Ione herself was unusually idle, perhaps unusually
thoughtful, that day. He thought her even more beautiful by the morning
light and in her simple robe, than amidst the blazing lamps, and decorated
with the costly jewels of the previous night: not the less so from a certain
paleness that overspread her transparent hues--not the less so from the
blush that mounted over them when he approached. Accustomed to flatter,
flattery died upon his lips when he addressed Ione. He felt it beneath her
to utter the homage which every look conveyed. They spoke of Greece; this
was a theme on which Ione loved rather to listen than to converse: it was a
theme on which the Greek could have been eloquent for ever. He described to
her the silver olive groves that yet clad the banks of Ilyssus, and the
temples, already despoiled of half their glories--but how beautiful in
decay! He looked back on the melancholy city of Harmodius the free, and
Pericles the magnificent, from the height of that distant memory, which
mellowed into one hazy light all the ruder and darker shades. He had seen
the land of poetry chiefly in the poetical age of early youth; and the
associations of patriotism were blended with those of the flush and spring
of life. And Ione listened to him, absorbed and mute; dearer were those
accents, and those descriptions, than all the prodigal adulation of her
numberless adorers. Was it a sin to love her countryman? she loved Athens
in him--the gods of her race, the land of her dreams, spoke to her in his
voice! From that time they daily saw each other. At the cool of the
evening they made excursions on the placid sea. By night they met again in
Ione's porticoes and halls. Their love was sudden, but it was strong; it
filled all the sources of their life. Heart--brain--sense--imagination, all
were its ministers and priests. As you take some obstacle from two objects
that have a mutual attraction, they met, and united at once; their wonder
was, that they had lived separate so long. And it was natural that they
should so love. Young, beautiful, and gifted--of the same birth, and the
same soul--there was poetry in their very union. They imagined the heavens
smiled upon their affection. As the persecuted seek refuge at the shrine,
so they recognized in the altar of their love an asylum from the sorrows of
earth; they covered it with flowers--they knew not of the serpents that lay
coiled behind.

One evening, the fifth after their first meeting at Pompeii, Glaucus and
Ione, with a small party of chosen friends, were returning from an excursion
round the bay; their vessel skimmed lightly over the twilight waters, whose
lucid mirror was only broken by the dripping oars. As the rest of the party
conversed gaily with each other, Glaucus lay at the feet of Ione, and he
would have looked up in her face, but he did not dare. Ione broke the pause
between them.

'My poor brother,' said she, sighing, 'how once he would have enjoyed this
hour!'

'Your brother!' said Glaucus; 'I have not seen him. Occupied with you, I
have thought of nothing else, or I should have asked if that was not your
brother for whose companionship you left me at the Temple of Minerva, in
Neapolis?'

'It was.'

'And is he here?'

'He is.

'At Pompeii! and not constantly with you? Impossible!'

'He has other duties,' answered Ione, sadly; 'he is a priest of Isis.'

'So young, too; and that priesthood, in its laws at least, so severe!' said
the warm and bright-hearted Greek, in surprise and pity. 'What could have
been his inducement?'

'He was always enthusiastic and fervent in religious devotion: and the
eloquence of an Egyptian--our friend and guardian--kindled in him the pious
desire to consecrate his life to the most mystic of our deities. Perhaps in
the intenseness of his zeal, he found in the severity of that peculiar
priesthood its peculiar attraction.'

'And he does not repent his choice?--I trust he is happy.'

Ione sighed deeply, and lowered her veil over her eyes.

'I wish,' said she, after a pause, 'that he had not been so hasty. Perhaps,
like all who expect too much, he is revolted too easily!'

'Then he is not happy in his new condition. And this Egyptian, was he a
priest himself? was he interested in recruits to the sacred band?

'No. His main interest was in our happiness. He thought he promoted that
of my brother. We were left orphans.'

'Like myself,' said Glaucus, with a deep meaning in his voice.

Ione cast down her eyes as she resumed:

'And Arbaces sought to supply the place of our parent. You must know him.
He loves genius.'

'Arbaces! I know him already; at least, we speak when we meet. But for your
praise I would not seek to know more of him. My heart inclines readily to
most of my kind. But that dark Egyptian, with his gloomy brow and icy
smiles, seems to me to sadden the very sun. One would think that, like
Epimenides, the Cretan, he had spent forty years in a cave, and had found
something unnatural in the daylight ever afterwards.'

'Yet, like Epimenides, he is kind, and wise, and gentle,' answered Ione.

'Oh, happy that he has thy praise! He needs no other virtues to make him
dear to me.'

'His calm, his coldness,' said Ione, evasively pursuing the subject, 'are
perhaps but the exhaustion of past sufferings; as yonder mountain (and she
pointed to Vesuvius), which we see dark and tranquil in the distance, once
nursed the fires for ever quenched.'

They both gazed on the mountain as Ione said these words; the rest of the
sky was bathed in rosy and tender hues, but over that grey summit, rising
amidst the woods and vineyards that then clomb half-way up the ascent, there
hung a black and ominous cloud, the single frown of the landscape. A sudden
and unaccountable gloom came over each as they thus gazed; and in that
sympathy which love had already taught them, and which bade them, in the
slightest shadows of emotion, the faintest presentiment of evil, turn for
refuge to each other, their gaze at the same moment left the mountain, and
full of unimaginable tenderness, met. What need had they of words to say
they loved?

Chapter VI

THE FOWLER SNARES AGAIN THE BIRD THAT HAD JUST ESCAPED, AND SETS HIS NETS
FOR A NEW VICTIM.

IN the history I relate, the events are crowded and rapid as those of the
drama. I write of an epoch in which days sufficed to ripen the ordinary
fruits of years.

Meanwhile, Arbaces had not of late much frequented the house of Ione; and
when he had visited her he had not encountered Glaucus, nor knew he, as yet,
of that love which had so suddenly sprung up between himself and his
designs. In his interest for the brother of Ione, he had been forced, too,
a little while, to suspend his interest in Ione herself. His pride and his
selfishness were aroused and alarmed at the sudden change which had come
over the spirit of the youth. He trembled lest he himself should lose a
docile pupil, and Isis an enthusiastic servant. Apaecides had ceased to
seek or to consult him. He was rarely to be found; he turned sullenly from
the Egyptian--nay, he fled when he perceived him in the distance. Arbaces
was one of those haughty and powerful spirits accustomed to master others;
he chafed at the notion that one once his own should ever elude his grasp.
He swore inly that Apaecides should not escape him.

It was with this resolution that he passed through a thick grove in the
city, which lay between his house and that of Ione, in his way to the
latter; and there, leaning against a tree, and gazing on the ground, he came
unawares on the young priest of Isis.

'Apaecides!' said he--and he laid his hand affectionately on the young man's
shoulder.

The priest started; and his first instinct seemed to be that of flight. 'My
son,' said the Egyptian, 'what has chanced that you desire to shun me?'

Apaecides remained silent and sullen, looking down on the earth, as his lips
quivered, and his breast heaved with emotion.

'Speak to me, my friend,' continued the Egyptian. 'Speak. Something burdens
thy spirit. What hast thou to reveal?'

'To thee--nothing.'

'And why is it to me thou art thus unconfidential?'

'Because thou hast been my enemy.'

'Let us confer,' said Arbaces, in a low voice; and drawing the reluctant arm
of the priest in his own, he led him to one of the seats which were
scattered within the grove. They sat down--and in those gloomy forms there
was something congenial to the shade and solitude of the place.

Apaecides was in the spring of his years, yet he seemed to have exhausted
even more of life than the Egyptian; his delicate and regular features were
worn and colorless; his eyes were hollow, and shone with a brilliant and
feverish glare: his frame bowed prematurely, and in his hands, which were
small to effeminacy, the blue and swollen veins indicated the lassitude and
weakness of the relaxed fibres. You saw in his face a strong resemblance to
Ione, but the expression was altogether different from that majestic and
spiritual calm which breathed so divine and classical a repose over his
sister's beauty. In her, enthusiasm was visible, but it seemed always
suppressed and restrained; this made the charm and sentiment of her
countenance; you longed to awaken a spirit which reposed, but evidently did
not sleep. In Apaecides the whole aspect betokened the fervor and passion
of his temperament, and the intellectual portion of his nature seemed, by
the wild fire of the eyes, the great breadth of the temples when compared
with the height of the brow, the trembling restlessness of the lips, to be
swayed and tyrannized over by the imaginative and ideal. Fancy, with the
sister, had stopped short at the golden goal of poetry; with the brother,
less happy and less restrained, it had wandered into visions more intangible
and unembodied; and the faculties which gave genius to the one threatened
madness to the other.

'You say I have been your enemy,' said Arbaces, 'I know the cause of that
unjust accusation: I have placed you amidst the priests of Isis--you are
revolted at their trickeries and imposture--you think that I too have
deceived you--the purity of your mind is offended--you imagine that I am one
of the deceitful...'

'You knew the jugglings of that impious craft,' answered Apaecides; 'why did
you disguise them from me?--When you excited my desire to devote myself to
the office whose garb I bear, you spoke to me of the holy life of men
resigning themselves to knowledge--you have given me for companions an
ignorant and sensual herd, who have no knowledge but that of the grossest
frauds; you spoke to me of men sacrificing the earthlier pleasures to the
sublime cultivation of virtue--you place me amongst men reeking with all the
filthiness of vice; you spoke to me of the friends, the enlighteners of our
common kind--I see but their cheats and deluders! Oh! it was basely
done!--you have robbed me of the glory of youth, of the convictions of
virtue, of the sanctifying thirst after wisdom. Young as I was, rich,
fervent, the sunny pleasures of earth before me, I resigned all without a
sign, nay, with happiness and exultation, in the thought that I resigned
them for the abstruse mysteries of diviner wisdom, for the companionship of
gods--for the revelations of Heaven--and now--now...'

Convulsive sobs checked the priest's voice; he covered his face with his
hands, and large tears forced themselves through the wasted fingers, and ran
profusely down his vest.

'What I promised to thee, that will I give, my friend, my pupil: these have
been but trials to thy virtue--it comes forth the brighter for thy
novitiate--think no more of those dull cheats--assort no more with those
menials of the goddess, the atrienses of her hall--you are worthy to enter
into the penetralia. I henceforth will be your priest, your guide, and you
who now curse my friendship shall live to bless it.'

The young man lifted up his head, and gazed with a vacant and wondering
stare upon the Egyptian.

'Listen to me,' continued Arbaces, in an earnest and solemn voice, casting
first his searching eyes around to see that they were still alone. 'From
Egypt came all the knowledge of the world; from Egypt came the lore of
Athens, and the profound policy of Crete; from Egypt came those early and
mysterious tribes which (long before the hordes of Romulus swept over the
plains of Italy, and in the eternal cycle of events drove back civilization
into barbarism and darkness) possessed all the arts of wisdom and the graces
of intellectual life. From Egypt came the rites and the grandeur of that
solemn Caere, whose inhabitants taught their iron vanquishers of Rome all
that they yet know of elevated in religion and sublime in worship. And how
deemest thou, young man, that that Egypt, the mother of countless nations,
achieved her greatness, and soared to her cloud-capt eminence of wisdom?--It
was the result of a profound and holy policy. Your modern nations owe their
greatness to Egypt--Egypt her greatness to her priests. Rapt in themselves,
coveting a sway over the nobler part of man, his soul and his belief, those
ancient ministers of God were inspired with the grandest thought that ever
exalted mortals. From the revolutions of the stars, from the seasons of the
earth, from the round and unvarying circle of human destinies, they devised
an august allegory; they made it gross and palpable to the vulgar by the
signs of gods and goddesses, and that which in reality was Government they
named Religion. Isis is a fable--start not!--that for which Isis is a type
is a reality, an immortal being; Isis is nothing. Nature, which she
represents, is the mother of all things--dark, ancient, inscrutable, save to
the gifted few. "None among mortals hath ever lifted up my veil," so saith
the Isis that you adore; but to the wise that veil hath been removed, and we
have stood face to face with the solemn loveliness of Nature. The priests
then were the benefactors, the civilizers of mankind; true, they were also
cheats, impostors if you will. But think you, young man, that if they had
not deceived their kind they could have served them? The ignorant and
servile vulgar must be blinded to attain to their proper good; they would
not believe a maxim--they revere an oracle. The Emperor of Rome sways the
vast and various tribes of earth, and harmonizes the conflicting and
disunited elements; thence come peace, order, law, the blessings of life.
Think you it is the man, the emperor, that thus sways?--no, it is the pomp,
the awe, the majesty that surround him--these are his impostures, his
delusions; our oracles and our divinations, our rites and our ceremonies,
are the means of our sovereignty and the engines of our power. They are the
same means to the same end, the welfare and harmony of mankind. You listen
to me rapt and intent--the light begins to dawn upon you.'

Apaecides remained silent, but the changes rapidly passing over his speaking
countenance betrayed the effect produced upon him by the words of the
Egyptian--words made tenfold more eloquent by the voice, the aspect, and the
manner of the man.

'While, then,' resumed Arbaces, 'our fathers of the Nile thus achieved the
first elements by whose life chaos is destroyed, namely, the obedience and
reverence of the multitude for the few, they drew from their majestic and
starred meditations that wisdom which was no delusion: they invented the
codes and regularities of law--the arts and glories of existence. They
asked belief; they returned the gift by civilization. Were not their very
cheats a virtue! Trust me, whosoever in yon far heavens of a diviner and
more beneficent nature look down upon our world, smile approvingly on the
wisdom which has worked such ends. But you wish me to apply these
generalities to yourself; I hasten to obey the wish. The altars of the
goddess of our ancient faith must be served, and served too by others than
the stolid and soulless things that are but as pegs and hooks whereon to
hang the fillet and the robe. Remember two sayings of Sextus the
Pythagorean, sayings borrowed from the lore of Egypt. The first is, "Speak
not of God to the multitude"; the second is, "The man worthy of God is a god
among men." As Genius gave to the ministers of Egypt worship, that empire in
late ages so fearfully decayed, thus by Genius only can the dominion be
restored. I saw in you, Apaecides, a pupil worthy of my lessons--a minister
worthy of the great ends which may yet be wrought; your energy, your
talents, your purity of faith, your earnestness of enthusiasm, all fitted
you for that calling which demands so imperiously high and ardent qualities:
I fanned, therefore, your sacred desires; I stimulated you to the step you
have taken. But you blame me that I did not reveal to you the little souls
and the juggling tricks of your companions. Had I done so, Apaecides, I had
defeated my own object; your noble nature would have at once revolted, and
Isis would have lost her priest.'

Apaecides groaned aloud. The Egyptian continued, without heeding the
interruption.

'I placed you, therefore, without preparation, in the temple; I left you
suddenly to discover and to be sickened by all those mummeries which dazzle
the herd. I desired that you should perceive how those engines are moved by
which the fountain that refreshes the world casts its waters in the air. It
was the trial ordained of old to all our priests. They who accustom
themselves to the impostures of the vulgar, are left to practise them--for
those like you, whose higher natures demand higher pursuit, religion opens
more god-like secrets. I am pleased to find in you the character I had
expected. You have taken the vows; you cannot recede. Advance--I will be
your guide.'

'And what wilt thou teach me, O singular and fearful man? New
cheats--new...'

'No--I have thrown thee into the abyss of disbelief; I will lead thee now to
the eminence of faith. Thou hast seen the false types: thou shalt learn now
the realities they represent. There is no shadow, Apaecides, without its
substance. Come to me this night. Your hand.'

Impressed, excited, bewildered by the language of the Egyptian, Apaecides
gave him his hand, and master and pupil parted.

It was true that for Apaecides there was no retreat. He had taken the vows
of celibacy: he had devoted himself to a life that at present seemed to
possess all the austerities of fanaticism, without any of the consolations
of belief It was natural that he should yet cling to a yearning desire to
reconcile himself to an irrevocable career. The powerful and profound mind
of the Egyptian yet claimed an empire over his young imagination; excited
him with vague conjecture, and kept him alternately vibrating between hope
and fear.

Meanwhile Arbaces pursued his slow and stately way to the house of Ione. As
he entered the tablinum, he heard a voice from the porticoes of the
peristyle beyond, which, musical as it was, sounded displeasingly on his
ear--it was the voice of the young and beautiful Glaucus, and for the first
time an involuntary thrill of jealousy shot through the breast of the
Egyptian. On entering the peristyle, he found Glaucus seated by the side of
Ione. The fountain in the odorous garden cast up its silver spray in the
air, and kept a delicious coolness in the midst of the sultry noon. The
handmaids, almost invariably attendant on Ione, who with her freedom of life
preserved the most delicate modesty, sat at a little distance; by the feet
of Glaucus lay the lyre on which he had been playing to Ione one of the
Lesbian airs. The scene--the group before Arbaces, was stamped by that
peculiar and refined ideality of poesy which we yet, not erroneously,
imagine to be the distinction of the ancients--the marble columns, the vases
of flowers, the statue, white and tranquil, closing every vista; and, above
all, the two living forms, from which a sculptor might have caught either
inspiration or despair!

Arbaces, pausing for a moment, gazed on the pair with a brow from which all
the usual stern serenity had fled; he recovered himself by an effort, and
slowly approached them, but with a step so soft and echoless, that even the
attendants heard him not; much less Ione and her lover.

'And yet,' said Glaucus, 'it is only before we love that we imagine that our
poets have truly described the passion; the instant the sun rises, all the
stars that had shone in his absence vanish into air. The poets exist only
in the night of the heart; they are nothing to us when we feel the full
glory of the god.'

'A gentle and most glowing image, noble Glaucus.'

Both started, and recognized behind the seat of Ione the cold and sarcastic
face of the Egyptian.

'You are a sudden guest,' said Glaucus, rising, and with a forced smile.

'So ought all to be who know they are welcome,' returned Arbaces, seating
himself, and motioning to Glaucus to do the same.

'I am glad,' said Ione, 'to see you at length together; for you are suited
to each other, and you are formed to be friends.'

'Give me back some fifteen years of life,' replied the Egyptian, 'before you
can place me on an equality with Glaucus. Happy should I be to receive his
friendship; but what can I give him in return? Can I make to him the same
confidences that he would repose in me--of banquets and garlands--of
Parthian steeds, and the chances of the dice? these pleasures suit his age,
his nature, his career: they are not for mine.'

So saying, the artful Egyptian looked down and sighed; but from the corner
of his eye he stole a glance towards Ione, to see how she received these
insinuations of the pursuits of her visitor. Her countenance did not
satisfy him. Glaucus, slightly coloring, hastened gaily to reply. Nor was
he, perhaps, without the wish in his turn to disconcert and abash the
Egyptian.

'You are right, wise Arbaces,' said he; 'we can esteem each other, but we
cannot be friends. My banquets lack the secret salt which, according to
rumor, gives such zest to your own. And, by Hercules! when I have reached
your age, if I, like you, may think it wise to pursue the pleasures of
manhood, like you, I shall be doubtless sarcastic on the gallantries of
youth.'

The Egyptian raised his eyes to Glaucus with a sudden and piercing glance.

'I do not understand you,' said he, coldly; 'but it is the custom to
consider that wit lies in obscurity.' He turned from Glaucus as he spoke,
with a scarcely perceptible sneer of contempt, and after a moment's pause
addressed himself to Ione.

'I have not, beautiful Ione,' said he, 'been fortunate enough to find you
within doors the last two or three times that I have visited your
vestibule.'

'The smoothness of the sea has tempted me much from home,' replied Ione,
with a little embarrassment.

The embarrassment did not escape Arbaces; but without seeming to heed it, he
replied with a smile: 'You know the old poet says, that "Women should keep
within doors, and there converse."'

'The poet was a cynic,' said Glaucus, 'and hated women.'

'He spoke according to the customs of his country, and that country is your
boasted Greece.'

'To different periods different customs. Had our forefathers known Ione,
they had made a different law.'

'Did you learn these pretty gallantries at Rome?' said Arbaces, with
ill-suppressed emotion.

'One certainly would not go for gallantries to Egypt,' retorted Glaucus,
playing carelessly with his chain.

'Come, come,' said Ione, hastening to interrupt a conversation which she
saw, to her great distress, was so little likely to cement the intimacy she
had desired to effect between Glaucus and her friend, 'Arbaces must not be
so hard upon his poor pupil. An orphan, and without a mother's care, I may
be to blame for the independent and almost masculine liberty of life that I
have chosen: yet it is not greater than the Roman women are accustomed
to--it is not greater than the Grecian ought to be. Alas! is it only to be
among men that freedom and virtue are to be deemed united? Why should the
slavery that destroys you be considered the only method to preserve us? Ah!
believe me, it has been the great error of men--and one that has worked
bitterly on their destinies--to imagine that the nature of women is (I will
not say inferior, that may be so, but) so different from their own, in
making laws unfavorable to the intellectual advancement of women. Have they
not, in so doing, made laws against their children, whom women are to
rear?--against the husbands, of whom women are to be the friends, nay,
sometimes the advisers?' Ione stopped short suddenly, and her face was
suffused with the most enchanting blushes. She feared lest her enthusiasm
had led her too far; yet she feared the austere Arbaces less than the
courteous Glaucus, for she loved the last, and it was not the custom of the
Greeks to allow their women (at least such of their women as they most
honored) the same liberty and the same station as those of Italy enjoyed.
She felt, therefore, a thrill of delight as Glaucus earnestly replied:

'Ever mayst thou think thus, Ione--ever be your pure heart your unerring
guide! Happy it had been for Greece if she had given to the chaste the same
intellectual charms that are so celebrated amongst the less worthy of her
women. No state falls from freedom--from knowledge, while your sex smile
only on the free, and by appreciating, encourage the wise.'

Arbaces was silent, for it was neither his part to sanction the sentiment of
Glaucus, nor to condemn that of Ione, and, after a short and embarrassed
conversation, Glaucus took his leave of Ione.

When he was gone, Arbaces, drawing his seat nearer to the fair Neapolitan's,
said in those bland and subdued tones, in which he knew so well how to veil
the mingled art and fierceness of his character:

'Think not, my sweet pupil, if so I may call you, that I wish to shackle
that liberty you adorn while you assume: but which, if not greater, as you
rightly observe, than that possessed by the Roman women, must at least be
accompanied by great circumspection, when arrogated by one unmarried.
Continue to draw crowds of the gay, the brilliant, the wise themselves, to
your feet--continue to charm them with the conversation of an Aspasia, the
music of an Erinna--but reflect, at least, on those censorious tongues which
can so easily blight the tender reputation of a maiden; and while you
provoke admiration, give, I beseech you, no victory to envy.'

'What mean you, Arbaces?' said Ione, in an alarmed and trembling voice: 'I
know you are my friend, that you desire only my honour and my welfare. What
is it you would say?'

'Your friend--ah, how sincerely! May I speak then as a friend, without
reserve and without offence?'

'I beseech you do so.'

'This young profligate, this Glaucus, how didst thou know him? Hast thou
seen him often?' And as Arbaces spoke, he fixed his gaze steadfastly upon
Ione, as if he sought to penetrate into her soul.

Recoiling before that gaze, with a strange fear which she could not explain,
the Neapolitan answered with confusion and hesitation: 'He was brought to my
house as a countryman of my father's, and I may say of mine. I have known
him only within this last week or so: but why these questions?'

'Forgive me,' said Arbaces; 'I thought you might have known him longer.
Base insinuator that he is!'

'How! what mean you? Why that term?'

'It matters not: let me not rouse your indignation against one who does not
deserve so grave an honour.'

'I implore you speak. What has Glaucus insinuated? or rather, in what do
you suppose he has offended?'

Smothering his resentment at the last part of Ione's question, Arbaces
continued: 'You know his pursuits, his companions his habits; the comissatio
and the alea (the revel and the dice) make his occupation; and amongst the
associates of vice how can he dream of virtue?'

'Still you speak riddles. By the gods! I entreat you, say the worst at
once.'

'Well, then, it must be so. Know, my Ione, that it was but yesterday that
Glaucus boasted openly--yes, in the public baths--of your love to him. He
said it amused him to take advantage of it. Nay, I will do him justice, he
praised your beauty. Who could deny it? But he laughed scornfully when his
Clodius, or his Lepidus, asked him if he loved you enough for marriage, and
when he purposed to adorn his door-posts with flowers?'

'Impossible! How heard you this base slander?'

'Nay, would you have me relate to you all the comments of the insolent
coxcombs with which the story has circled through the town? Be assured that
I myself disbelieved at first, and that I have now painfully been convinced
by several ear-witnesses of the truth of what I have reluctantly told thee.'

Ione sank back, and her face was whiter than the pillar against which she
leaned for support.

'I own it vexed--it irritated me, to hear your name thus lightly pitched
from lip to lip, like some mere dancing-girl's fame. I hastened this
morning to seek and to warn you. I found Glaucus here. I was stung from my
self-possession. I could not conceal my feelings; nay, I was uncourteous in
thy presence. Canst thou forgive thy friend, Ione?'

Ione placed her hand in his, but replied not.

'Think no more of this,' said he; 'but let it be a warning voice, to tell
thee how much prudence thy lot requires. It cannot hurt thee, Ione, for a
moment; for a gay thing like this could never have been honored by even a
serious thought from Ione. These insults only wound when they come from one
we love; far different indeed is he whom the lofty Ione shall stoop to
love.'

'Love!' muttered Ione, with an hysterical laugh. 'Ay, indeed.'

It is not without interest to observe in those remote times, and under a
social system so widely different from the modern, the same small causes
that ruffle and interrupt the 'course of love', which operate so commonly at
this day--the same inventive jealousy, the same cunning slander, the same
crafty and fabricated retailings of petty gossip, which so often now suffice
to break the ties of the truest love, and counteract the tenor of
circumstances most apparently propitious. When the bark sails on over the
smoothest wave, the fable tells us of the diminutive fish that can cling to
the keel and arrest its progress: so is it ever with the great passions of
mankind; and we should paint life but ill if, even in times the most
prodigal of romance, and of the romance of which we most largely avail
ourselves, we did not also describe the mechanism of those trivial and
household springs of mischief which we see every day at work in our chambers
and at our hearths. It is in these, the lesser intrigues of life, that we
mostly find ourselves at home with the past.

Most cunningly had the Egyptian appealed to Ione's ruling foible--most
dexterously had he applied the poisoned dart to her pride. He fancied he
had arrested what he hoped, from the shortness of the time she had known
Glaucus, was, at most, but an incipient fancy; and hastening to change the
subject, he now led her to talk of her brother. Their conversation did not
last long. He left her, resolved not again to trust so much to absence, but
to visit--to watch her--every day.

No sooner had his shadow glided from her presence, than woman's pride--her
sex's dissimulation--deserted his intended victim, and the haughty Ione
burst into passionate tears.

Chapter VII

THE GAY LIFE OF THE POMPEIAN LOUNGER. A MINIATURE LIKENESS OF THE ROMAN
BATHS.

WHEN Glaucus left Ione, he felt as if he trod upon air. In the interview
with which he had just been blessed, he had for the first time gathered from
her distinctly that his love was not unwelcome to, and would not be
unrewarded by, her. This hope filled him with a rapture for which earth and
heaven seemed too narrow to afford a vent. Unconscious of the sudden enemy
he had left behind, and forgetting not only his taunts but his very
existence, Glaucus passed through the gay streets, repeating to himself, in
the wantonness of joy, the music of the soft air to which Ione had listened
with such intentness; and now he entered the Street of Fortune, with its
raised footpath--its houses painted without, and the open doors admitting
the view of the glowing frescoes within. Each end of the street was adorned
with a triumphal arch: and as Glaucus now came before the Temple of Fortune,
the jutting portico of that beautiful fane (which is supposed to have been
built by one of the family of Cicero, perhaps by the orator himself)
imparted a dignified and venerable feature to a scene otherwise more
brilliant than lofty in its character. That temple was one of the most
graceful specimens of Roman architecture. It was raised on a somewhat lofty
podium; and between two flights of steps ascending to a platform stood the
altar of the goddess. From this platform another flight of broad stairs led
to the portico, from the height of whose fluted columns hung festoons of the
richest flowers. On either side the extremities of the temple were placed
statues of Grecian workmanship; and at a little distance from the temple
rose the triumphal arch crowned with an equestrian statue of Caligula, which
was flanked by trophies of bronze. In the space before the temple a lively
throng were assembled--some seated on benches and discussing the politics of
the empire, some conversing on the approaching spectacle of the
amphitheatre. One knot of young men were lauding a new beauty, another
discussing the merits of the last play; a third group, more stricken in age,
were speculating on the chance of the trade with Alexandria, and amidst
these were many merchants in the Eastern costume, whose loose and peculiar
robes, painted and gemmed slippers, and composed and serious countenances,
formed a striking contrast to the tunicked forms and animated gestures of
the Italians. For that impatient and lively people had, as now, a language
distinct from speech--a language of signs and motions, inexpressibly
significant and vivacious: their descendants retain it, and the learned
Jorio hath written a most entertaining work upon that species of
hieroglyphical gesticulation.

Sauntering through the crowd, Glaucus soon found himself amidst a group of
his merry and dissipated friends.

'Ah!' said Sallust, 'it is a lustrum since I saw you.'

'And how have you spent the lustrum? What new dishes have you discovered?'

'I have been scientific,' returned Sallust, 'and have made some experiments
in the feeding of lampreys: I confess I despair of bringing them to the
perfection which our Roman ancestors attained.'

'Miserable man! and why?'

'Because,' returned Sallust, with a sigh, 'it is no longer lawful to give
them a slave to eat. I am very often tempted to make away with a very fat
carptor (butler) whom I possess, and pop him slily into the reservoir. He
would give the fish a most oleaginous flavor! But slaves are not slaves
nowadays, and have no sympathy with their masters' interest--or Davus would
destroy himself to oblige me!'

'What news from Rome?' said Lepidus, as he languidly joined the group.

'The emperor has been giving a splendid supper to the senators,' answered
Sallust.

'He is a good creature,' quoth Lepidus; 'they say he never sends a man away
without granting his request.'

'Perhaps he would let me kill a slave for my reservoir?' returned Sallust,
eagerly.

'Not unlikely,' said Glaucus; 'for he who grants a favor to one Roman, must
always do it at the expense of another. Be sure, that for every smile Titus
has caused, a hundred eyes have wept.'

'Long live Titus!' cried Pansa, overhearing the emperor's name, as he swept
patronizingly through the crowd; 'he has promised my brother a quaestorship,
because he had run through his fortune.'

'And wishes now to enrich himself among the people, my Pansa,' said Glaucus.

'Exactly so,' said Pansa.

'That is putting the people to some use,' said Glaucus.

'To be sure, returned Pansa. 'Well, I must go and look after the
aerarium--it is a little out of repair'; and followed by a long train of
clients, distinguished from the rest of the throng by the togas they wore
(for togas, once the sign of freedom in a citizen, were now the badge of
servility to a patron), the aedile fidgeted fussily away.

'Poor Pansa!' said Lepidus: 'he never has time for pleasure. Thank Heaven I
am not an aedile!'

'Ah, Glaucus! how are you? gay as ever?' said Clodius, joining the group.

'Are you come to sacrifice to Fortune?' said Sallust.

'I sacrifice to her every night,' returned the gamester.

'I do not doubt it. No man has made more victims!'

'By Hercules, a biting speech!' cried Glaucus, laughing.

'The dog's letter is never out of your mouth, Sallust,' said Clodius,
angrily: 'you are always snarling.'

'I may well have the dog's letter in my mouth, since, whenever I play with
you, I have the dog's throw in my hand,' returned Sallust.

'Hist!' said Glaucus, taking a rose from a flower-girl, who stood beside.

'The rose is the token of silence,' replied Sallust, 'but I love only to see
it at the supper-table.'

'Talking of that, Diomed gives a grand feast next week,' said Sallust: 'are
you invited, Glaucus?'

'Yes, I received an invitation this morning.'

'And I, too,' said Sallust, drawing a square piece of papyrus from his
girdle: 'I see that he asks us an hour earlier than usual: an earnest of
something sumptuous.'

'Oh! he is rich as Croesus,' said Clodius; 'and his bill of fare is as long
as an epic.'

'Well, let us to the baths,' said Glaucus: 'this is the time when all the
world is there; and Fulvius, whom you admire so much, is going to read us
his last ode.'

The young men assented readily to the proposal, and they strolled to the
baths.

Although the public thermae, or baths, were instituted rather for the poorer
citizens than the wealthy (for the last had baths in their own houses), yet,
to the crowds of all ranks who resorted to them, it was a favorite place for
conversation, and for that indolent lounging so dear to a gay and
thoughtless people. The baths at Pompeii differed, of course, in plan and
construction from the vast and complicated thermae of Rome; and, indeed, it
seems that in each city of the empire there was always some slight
modification of arrangement in the general architecture of the public baths.
This mightily puzzles the learned--as if architects and fashion were not
capricious before the nineteenth century! Our party entered by the
principal porch in the Street of Fortune. At the wing of the portico sat
the keeper of the baths, with his two boxes before him, one for the money he
received, one for the tickets he dispensed. Round the walls of the portico
were seats crowded with persons of all ranks; while others, as the regimen
of the physicians prescribed, were walking briskly to and fro the portico,
stopping every now and then to gaze on the innumerable notices of shows,
games, sales, exhibitions, which were painted or inscribed upon the walls.
The general subject of conversation was, however, the spectacle announced in
the amphitheatre; and each new-comer was fastened upon by a group eager to
know if Pompeii had been so fortunate as to produce some monstrous criminal,
some happy case of sacrilege or of murder, which would allow the aediles to
provide a man for the jaws of the lion: all other more common exhibitions
seemed dull and tame, when compared with the possibility of this fortunate
occurrence.

'For my part,' said one jolly-looking man, who was a goldsmith, 'I think the
emperor, if he is as good as they say, might have sent us a Jew.'

'Why not take one of the new sect of Nazarenes?' said a philosopher. 'I am
not cruel: but an atheist, one who denies Jupiter himself, deserves no
mercy.'

'I care not how many gods a man likes to believe in,' said the goldsmith;
'but to deny all gods is something monstrous.'

'Yet I fancy,' said Glaucus, 'that these people are not absolutely atheists.
I am told that they believe in a God--nay, in a future state.'

'Quite a mistake, my dear Glaucus,' said the philosopher. 'I have conferred
with them--they laughed in my face when I talked of Pluto and Hades.'

'O ye gods!' exclaimed the goldsmith, in horror; 'are there any of these
wretches in Pompeii?'

'I know there are a few: but they meet so privately that it is impossible to
discover who they are.'

As Glaucus turned away, a sculptor, who was a great enthusiast in his art,
looked after him admiringly.

'Ah!' said he, 'if we could get him on the arena--there would be a model for
you! What limbs! what a head! he ought to have been a gladiator! A
subject--a subject--worthy of our art! Why don't they give him to the
lion?'

Meanwhile Fulvius, the Roman poet, whom his contemporaries declared
immortal, and who, but for this history, would never have been heard of in
our neglectful age, came eagerly up to Glaucus. 'Oh, my Athenian, my
Glaucus, you have come to hear my ode! That is indeed an honour; you, a
Greek--to whom the very language of common life is poetry. How I thank you.
It is but a trifle; but if I secure your approbation, perhaps I may get an
introduction to Titus. Oh, Glaucus! a poet without a patron is an amphora
without a label; the wine may be good, but nobody will laud it! And what
says Pythagoras?--"Frankincense to the gods, but praise to man." A patron,
then, is the poet's priest: he procures him the incense, and obtains him his
believers.'

'But all Pompeii is your patron, and every portico an altar in your praise.'

'Ah! the poor Pompeians are very civil--they love to honour merit. But they
are only the inhabitants of a petty town--spero meliora! Shall we within?'

'Certainly; we lose time till we hear your poem.'

At this instant there was a rush of some twenty persons from the baths into
the portico; and a slave stationed at the door of a small corridor now
admitted the poet, Glaucus, Clodius, and a troop of the bard's other
friends, into the passage.

'A poor place this, compared with the Roman thermae!' said Lepidus,
disdainfully.

'Yet is there some taste in the ceiling,' said Glaucus, who was in a mood to
be pleased with everything; pointing to the stars which studded the roof.

Lepidus shrugged his shoulders, but was too languid to reply.

They now entered a somewhat spacious chamber, which served for the purposes
of the apodyterium (that is, a place where the bathers prepared themselves
for their luxurious ablutions). The vaulted ceiling was raised from a
cornice, glowingly colored with motley and grotesque paintings; the ceiling
itself was paneled in white compartments bordered with rich crimson; the
unsullied and shining floor was paved with white mosaics, and along the
walls were ranged benches for the accommodation of the loiterers. This
chamber did not possess the numerous and spacious windows which Vitruvius
attributes to his more magnificent frigidarium. The Pompeians, as all the
southern Italians, were fond of banishing the light of their sultry skies,
and combined in their voluptuous associations the idea of luxury with
darkness. Two windows of glass alone admitted the soft and shaded ray; and
the compartment in which one of these casements was placed was adorned with
a large relief of the destruction of the Titans.

In this apartment Fulvius seated himself with a magisterial air, and his
audience gathering round him, encouraged him to commence his recital.

The poet did not require much pressing. He drew forth from his vest a roll
of papyrus, and after hemming three times, as much to command silence as to
clear his voice, he began that wonderful ode, of which, to the great
mortification of the author of this history, no single verse can be
discovered.

By the plaudits he received, it was doubtless worthy of his fame; and
Glaucus was the only listener who did not find it excel the best odes of
Horace.

The poem concluded, those who took only the cold bath began to undress; they
suspended their garments on hooks fastened in the wall, and receiving,
according to their condition, either from their own slaves or those of the
thermae, loose robes in exchange, withdrew into that graceful circular
building which yet exists, to shame the unlaving posterity of the south.

The more luxurious departed by another door to the tepidarium, a place which
was heated to a voluptuous warmth, partly by a movable fireplace,
principally by a suspended pavement, beneath which was conducted the caloric
of the laconicum.

Here this portion of the intended bathers, after unrobing themselves,
remained for some time enjoying the artificial warmth of the luxurious air.
And this room, as befitted its important rank in the long process of
ablution, was more richly and elaborately decorated than the rest; the
arched roof was beautifully carved and painted; the windows above, of ground
glass, admitted but wandering and uncertain rays; below the massive cornices
were rows of figures in massive and bold relief; the walls glowed with
crimson, the pavement was skillfully tessellated in white mosaics. Here the
habituated bathers, men who bathed seven times a day, would remain in a
state of enervate and speechless lassitude, either before or (mostly) after
the water-bath; and many of these victims of the pursuit of health turned
their listless eyes on the newcomers, recognizing their friends with a nod,
but dreading the fatigue of conversation.

>From this place the party again diverged, according to their several
fancies, some to the sudatorium, which answered the purpose of our
vapor-baths, and thence to the warm-bath itself; those more accustomed to
exercise, and capable of dispensing with so cheap a purchase of fatigue,
resorted at once to the calidarium, or water-bath.

In order to complete this sketch, and give to the reader an adequate notion
of this, the main luxury of the ancients, we will accompany Lepidus, who
regularly underwent the whole process, save only the cold bath, which had
gone lately out of fashion. Being then gradually warmed in the tepidarium,
which has just been described, the delicate steps of the Pompeian elegant
were conducted to the sudatorium. Here let the reader depict to himself the
gradual process of the vapor-bath, accompanied by an exhalation of spicy
perfumes. After our bather had undergone this operation, he was seized by
his slaves, who always awaited him at the baths, and the dews of heat were
removed by a kind of scraper, which (by the way) a modern traveler has
gravely declared to be used only to remove the dirt, not one particle of
which could ever settle on the polished skin of the practised bather.
Thence, somewhat cooled, he passed into the water-bath, over which fresh
perfumes were profusely scattered, and on emerging from the opposite part of
the room, a cooling shower played over his head and form. Then wrapping
himself in a light robe, he returned once more to the tepidarium, where he
found Glaucus, who had not encountered the sudatorium; and now, the main
delight and extravagance of the bath commenced. Their slaves anointed the
bathers from vials of gold, of alabaster, or of crystal, studded with
profusest gems, and containing the rarest unguents gathered from all
quarters of the world. The number of these smegmata used by the wealthy
would fill a modern volume--especially if the volume were printed by a
fashionable publisher; Amaracinum, Megalium, Nardum--omne quod exit in
um--while soft music played in an adjacent chamber, and such as used the
bath in moderation, refreshed and restored by the grateful ceremony,
conversed with all the zest and freshness of rejuvenated life.

'Blessed be he who invented baths!' said Glaucus, stretching himself along
one of those bronze seats (then covered with soft cushions) which the
visitor to Pompeii sees at this day in that same tepidarium. 'Whether he
were Hercules or Bacchus, he deserved deification.'

'But tell me,' said a corpulent citizen, who was groaning and wheezing under
the operation of being rubbed down, 'tell me, O Glaucus!--evil chance to thy
hands, O slave! why so rough?--tell me--ugh--ugh!--are the baths at Rome
really so magnificent?' Glaucus turned, and recognized Diomed, though not
without some difficulty, so red and so inflamed were the good man's cheeks
by the sudatory and the scraping he had so lately undergone. 'I fancy they
must be a great deal finer than these. Eh?' Suppressing a smile, Glaucus
replied:

'Imagine all Pompeii converted into baths, and you will then form a notion
of the size of the imperial thermae of Rome. But a notion of the size only.
Imagine every entertainment for mind and body--enumerate all the gymnastic
games our fathers invented--repeat all the books Italy and Greece have
produced--suppose places for all these games, admirers for all these
works--add to this, baths of the vastest size, the most complicated
construction--intersperse the whole with gardens, with theatres, with
porticoes, with schools--suppose, in one word, a city of the gods, composed
but of palaces and public edifices, and you may form some faint idea of the
glories of the great baths of Rome.'

'By Hercules!' said Diomed, opening his eyes, 'why, it would take a man's
whole life to bathe!'

'At Rome, it often does so,' replied Glaucus, gravely. 'There are many who
live only at the baths. They repair there the first hour in which the doors
are opened, and remain till that in which the doors are closed. They seem
as if they knew nothing of the rest of Rome, as if they despised all other
existence.'

'By Pollux! you amaze me.'

'Even those who bathe only thrice a day contrive to consume their lives in
this occupation. They take their exercise in the tennis-court or the
porticoes, to prepare them for the first bath; they lounge into the theatre,
to refresh themselves after it. They take their prandium under the trees,
and think over their second bath. By the time it is prepared, the prandium
is digested. From the second bath they stroll into one of the peristyles,
to hear some new poet recite: or into the library, to sleep over an old one.
Then comes the supper, which they still consider but a part of the bath: and
then a third time they bathe again, as the best place to converse with their
friends.'

'Per Hercle! but we have their imitators at Pompeii.'

'Yes, and without their excuse. The magnificent voluptuaries of the Roman
baths are happy: they see nothing but gorgeousness and splendor; they visit
not the squalid parts of the city; they know not that there is poverty in
the world. All Nature smiles for them, and her only frown is the last one
which sends them to bathe in Cocytus. Believe me, they are your only true
philosophers.'

While Glaucus was thus conversing, Lepidus, with closed eyes and scarce
perceptible breath, was undergoing all the mystic operations, not one of
which he ever suffered his attendants to omit. After the perfumes and the
unguents, they scattered over him the luxurious powder which prevented any
further accession of heat: and this being rubbed away by the smooth surface
of the pumice, he began to indue, not the garments he had put off, but those
more festive ones termed 'the synthesis', with which the Romans marked their
respect for the coming ceremony of supper, if rather, from its hour (three
o'clock in our measurement of time), it might not be more fitly denominated
dinner. This done, he at length opened his eyes and gave signs of returning
life.

At the same time, too, Sallust betokened by a long yawn the evidence of
existence.

'It is supper time,' said the epicure; 'you, Glaucus and Lepidus, come and
sup with me.'

'Recollect you are all three engaged to my house next week,' cried Diomed,
who was mightily proud of the acquaintance of men of fashion.

'Ah, ah! we recollect,' said Sallust; 'the seat of memory, my Diomed, is
certainly in the stomach.'

Passing now once again into the cooler air, and so into the street, our
gallants of that day concluded the ceremony of a Pompeian bath.

Chapter VIII

ARBACES COGS HIS DICE WITH PLEASURE AND WINS THE GAME.

THE evening darkened over the restless city as Apaecides took his way to the
house of the Egyptian. He avoided the more lighted and populous streets;
and as he strode onward with his head buried in his bosom, and his arms
folded within his robe, there was something startling in the contrast, which
his solemn mien and wasted form presented to the thoughtless brows and
animated air of those who occasionally crossed his path.

At length, however, a man of a more sober and staid demeanor, and who had
twice passed him with a curious but doubting look, touched him on the
shoulder.

'Apaecides!' said he, and he made a rapid sign with his hands: it was the
sign of the cross.

'Well, Nazarene,' replied the priest, and his face grew paler; 'what wouldst
thou?'

'Nay,' returned the stranger, 'I would not interrupt thy meditations; but
the last time we met, I seemed not to be so unwelcome.'

'You are not unwelcome, Olinthus; but I am sad and weary: nor am I able this
evening to discuss with you those themes which are most acceptable to you.'

'O backward of heart!' said Olinthus, with bitter fervor; and art thou sad
and weary, and wilt thou turn from the very springs that refresh and heal?'

'O earth!' cried the young priest, striking his breast passionately, 'from
what regions shall my eyes open to the true Olympus, where thy gods really
dwell? Am I to believe with this man, that none whom for so many centuries
my fathers worshipped have a being or a name? Am I to break down, as
something blasphemous and profane, the very altars which I have deemed most
sacred? or am I to think with Arbaces--what?' He paused, and strode rapidly
away in the impatience of a man who strives to get rid of himself. But the
Nazarene was one of those hardy, vigorous, and enthusiastic men, by whom God
in all times has worked the revolutions of earth, and those, above all, in
the establishment and in the reformation of His own religion--men who were
formed to convert, because formed to endure. It is men of this mould whom
nothing discourages, nothing dismays; in the fervor of belief they are
inspired and they inspire. Their reason first kindles their passion, but
the passion is the instrument they use; they force themselves into men's
hearts, while they appear only to appeal to their judgment. Nothing is so
contagious as enthusiasm; it is the real allegory of the tale of Orpheus--it
moves stones, it charms brutes. Enthusiasm is the genius of sincerity, and
truth accomplishes no victories without it.

Olinthus did not then suffer Apaecides thus easily to escape him. He
overtook and addressed him thus:

'I do not wonder, Apaecides, that I distress you; that I shake all the
elements of your mind: that you are lost in doubt; that you drift here and
there in the vast ocean of uncertain and benighted thought. I wonder not at
this, but bear with me a little; watch and pray--the darkness shall vanish,
the storm sleep, and God Himself, as He came of yore on the seas of Samaria,
shall walk over the lulled billows, to the delivery of your soul. Ours is a
religion jealous in its demands, but how infinitely prodigal in its gifts!
It troubles you for an hour, it repays you by immortality.'

'Such promises,' said Apaecides, sullenly, 'are the tricks by which man is
ever gulled. Oh, glorious were the promises which led me to the shrine of
Isis!'

'But,' answered the Nazarene, 'ask thy reason, can that religion be sound
which outrages all morality? You are told to worship your gods. What are
those gods, even according to yourselves? What their actions, what their
attributes? Are they not all represented to you as the blackest of
criminals? yet you are asked to serve them as the holiest of divinities.
Jupiter himself is a parricide and an adulterer. What are the meaner
deities but imitators of his vices? You are told not to murder, but you
worship murderers; you are told not to commit adultery, and you make your
prayers to an adulterer! Oh! what is this but a mockery of the holiest
part of man's nature, which is faith? Turn now to the God, the one, the
true God, to whose shrine I would lead you. If He seem to you too sublime,
two shadowy, for those human associations, those touching connections
between Creator and creature, to which the weak heart clings--contemplate
Him in His Son, who put on mortality like ourselves. His mortality is not
indeed declared, like that of your fabled gods, by the vices of our nature,
but by the practice of all its virtues. In Him are united the austerest
morals with the tenderest affections. If He were but a mere man, He had
been worthy to become a god. You honour Socrates--he has his sect, his
disciples, his schools. But what are the doubtful virtues of the Athenian,
to the bright, the undisputed, the active, the unceasing, the devoted
holiness of Christ? I speak to you now only of His human character. He
came in that as the pattern of future ages, to show us the form of virtue
which Plato thirsted to see embodied. This was the true sacrifice that He
made for man; but the halo that encircled His dying hour not only brightened
earth, but opened to us the sight of heaven! You are touched--you are
moved. God works in your heart. His Spirit is with you. Come, resist not
the holy impulse; come at once--unhesitatingly. A few of us are now
assembled to expound the word of God. Come, let me guide you to them. You
are sad, you are weary. Listen, then, to the words of God: "Come to me",
saith He, "all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!"'

'I cannot now,' said Apaecides; 'another time.'

'Now--now!' exclaimed Olinthus, earnestly, and clasping him by the arm.

But Apaecides, yet unprepared for the renunciation of that faith--that life,
for which he had sacrificed so much, and still haunted by the promises of
the Egyptian, extricated himself forcibly from the grasp; and feeling an
effort necessary to conquer the irresolution which the eloquence of the
Christian had begun to effect in his heated and feverish mind, he gathered
up his robes and fled away with a speed that defied pursuit.

Breathless and exhausted, he arrived at last in a remote and sequestered
part of the city, and the lone house of the Egyptian stood before him. As
he paused to recover himself, the moon emerged from a silver cloud, and
shone full upon the walls of that mysterious habitation.

No other house was near--the darksome vines clustered far and wide in front
of the building and behind it rose a copse of lofty forest trees, sleeping
in the melancholy moonlight; beyond stretched the dim outline of the distant
hills, and amongst them the quiet crest of Vesuvius, not then so lofty as
the traveler beholds it now.

Apaecides passed through the arching vines, and arrived at the broad and
spacious portico. Before it, on either side of the steps, reposed the image
of the Egyptian sphinx, and the moonlight gave an additional and yet more
solemn calm to those large, and harmonious, and passionless features, in
which the sculptors of that type of wisdom united so much of loveliness with
awe; half way up the extremities of the steps darkened the green and massive
foliage of the aloe, and the shadow of the eastern palm cast its long and
unwaving boughs partially over the marble surface of the stairs.

Something there was in the stillness of the place, and the strange aspect of
the sculptured sphinxes, which thrilled the blood of the priest with a
nameless and ghostly fear, and he longed even for an echo to his noiseless
steps as he ascended to the threshold.

He knocked at the door, over which was wrought an inscription in characters
unfamiliar to his eyes; it opened without a sound, and a tall Ethiopian
slave, without question or salutation, motioned to him to proceed.

The wide hall was lighted by lofty candelabra of elaborate bronze, and round
the walls were wrought vast hieroglyphics, in dark and solemn colors, which
contrasted strangely with the bright hues and graceful shapes with which the
inhabitants of Italy decorated their abodes. At the extremity of the hall,
a slave, whose countenance, though not African, was darker by many shades
than the usual color of the south, advanced to meet him.

'I seek Arbaces,' said the priest; but his voice trembled even in his own
ear. The slave bowed his head in silence, and leading Apaecides to a wing
without the hall, conducted him up a narrow staircase, and then traversing
several rooms, in which the stern and thoughtful beauty of the sphinx still
made the chief and most impressive object of the priest's notice, Apaecides
found himself in a dim and half-lighted chamber, in the presence of the
Egyptian.

Arbaces was seated before a small table, on which lay unfolded several
scrolls of papyrus, impressed with the same character as that on the
threshold of the mansion. A small tripod stood at a little distance, from
the incense in which the smoke slowly rose. Near this was a vast globe,
depicting the signs of heaven; and upon another table lay several
instruments, of curious and quaint shape, whose uses were unknown to
Apaecides. The farther extremity of the room was concealed by a curtain,
and the oblong window in the roof admitted the rays of the moon, mingling
sadly with the single lamp which burned in the apartment.

'Seat yourself, Apaecides,' said the Egyptian, without rising.

The young man obeyed.

'You ask me,' resumed Arbaces, after a short pause, in which he seemed
absorbed in thought--'You ask me, or would do so, the mightiest secrets
which the soul of man is fitted to receive; it is the enigma of life itself
that you desire me to solve. Placed like children in the dark, and but for
a little while, in this dim and confined existence, we shape our spectres in
the obscurity; our thoughts now sink back into ourselves in terror, now
wildly plunge themselves into the guideless gloom, guessing what it may
contain; stretching our helpless hands here and there, lest, blindly, we
stumble upon some hidden danger; not knowing the limits of our boundary, now
feeling them suffocate us with compression, now seeing them extend far away
till they vanish into eternity. In this state all wisdom consists
necessarily in the solution of two questions: "What are we to believe? and
What are we to reject?" These questions you desire me to decide.'

Apaecides bowed his head in assent.

'Man must have some belief,' continued the Egyptian, in a tone of sadness.
'He must fasten his hope to something: is our common nature that you inherit
when, aghast and terrified to see that in which you have been taught to
place your faith swept away, you float over a dreary and shoreless sea of
incertitude, you cry for help, you ask for some plank to cling to, some
land, however dim and distant, to attain. Well, then, have not forgotten
our conversation of to-day?'

'Forgotten!'

'I confessed to you that those deities for whom smoke so many altars were
but inventions. I confessed to you that our rites and ceremonies were but
mummeries, to delude and lure the herd to their proper good. I explained to
you that from those delusions came the bonds of society, the harmony of the
world, the power of the wise; that power is in the obedience of the vulgar.
Continue we then these salutary delusions--if man must have some belief,
continue to him that which his fathers have made dear to him, and which
custom sanctifies and strengthens. In seeking a subtler faith for us, whose
senses are too spiritual for the gross one, let us leave others that support
which crumbles from ourselves. This is wise--it is benevolent.'

'Proceed.'

'This being settled,' resumed the Egyptian, 'the old landmarks being left
uninjured for those whom we are about to desert, we gird up our loins and
depart to new climes of faith. Dismiss at once from your recollection, from
your thought, all that you have believed before. Suppose the mind a blank,
an unwritten scroll, fit to receive impressions for the first time. Look
round the world--observe its order--its regularity--its design. Something
must have created it--the design speaks a designer: in that certainty we
first touch land. But what is that something?--A god, you cry. Stay--no
confused and confusing names. Of that which created the world, we know, we
can know, nothing, save these attributes--power and unvarying
regularity--stern, crushing, relentless regularity--heeding no individual
cases--rolling--sweeping--burning on; no matter what scattered hearts,
severed from the general mass, fall ground and scorched beneath its wheels.
The mixture of evil with good--the existence of suffering and of crime--in
all times have perplexed the wise. They created a god--they supposed him
benevolent. How then came this evil? why did he permit it--nay, why invent,
why perpetuate it? To account for this, the Persian creates a second
spirit, whose nature is evil, and supposes a continual war between that and
the god of good. In our own shadowy and tremendous Typhon, the Egyptians
image a similar demon. Perplexing blunder that yet more bewilders
us!--folly that arose from the vain delusion that makes a palpable, a
corporeal, a human being, of this unknown power--that clothes the Invisible
with attributes and a nature similar to the Seen. No: to this designer let
us give a name that does not command our bewildering associations, and the
mystery becomes more clear--that name is NECESSITY. Necessity, say the
Greeks, compels the gods. Then why the gods?--their agency becomes
unnecessary--dismiss them at once. Necessity is the ruler of all we
see--power, regularity--these two qualities make its nature. Would you ask
more?--you can learn nothing: whether it be eternal--whether it compel us,
its creatures, to new careers after that darkness which we call death--we
cannot tell. There leave we this ancient, unseen, unfathomable power, and
come to that which, to our eyes, is the great minister of its functions.
This we can task more, from this we can learn more: its evidence is around
us--its name is NATURE. The error of the sages has been to direct their
researches to the attributes of necessity, where all is gloom and blindness.
Had they confined their researches to Nature--what of knowledge might we not
already have achieved? Here patience, examination, are never directed in
vain. We see what we explore; our minds ascend a palpable ladder of causes
and effects. Nature is the great agent of the external universe, and
Necessity imposes upon it the laws by which it acts, and imparts to us the
powers by which we examine; those powers are curiosity and memory--their
union is reason, their perfection is wisdom. Well, then, I examine by the
help of these powers this inexhaustible Nature. I examine the earth, the
air, the ocean, the heaven: I find that all have a mystic sympathy with each
other--that the moon sways the tides--that the air maintains the earth, and
is the medium of the life and sense of things--that by the knowledge of the
stars we measure the limits of the earth--that we portion out the epochs of
time--that by their pale light we are guided into the abyss of the
past--that in their solemn lore we discern the destinies of the future. And
thus, while we know not that which Necessity is, we learn, at least, her
decrees. And now, what morality do we glean from this religion?--for
religion it is. I believe in two deities--Nature and Necessity; I worship
the last by reverence, the first by investigation. What is the morality my
religion teaches? This--all things are subject but to general rules; the
sun shines for the joy of the many--it may bring sorrow to the few; the
night sheds sleep on the multitude--but it harbors murder as well as rest;
the forests adorn the earth--but shelter the serpent and the lion; the ocean
supports a thousand barks--but it engulfs the one. It is only thus for the
general, and not for the universal benefit, that Nature acts, and Necessity
speeds on her awful course. This is the morality of the dread agents of the
world--it is mine, who am their creature. I would preserve the delusions of
priestcraft, for they are serviceable to the multitude; I would impart to
man the arts I discover, the sciences I perfect; I would speed the vast
career of civilizing lore: in this I serve the mass, I fulfill the general
law, I execute the great moral that Nature preaches. For myself I claim the
individual exception; I claim it for the wise--satisfied that my individual
actions are nothing in the great balance of good and evil; satisfied that
the product of my knowledge can give greater blessings to the mass than my
desires can operate evil on the few (for the first can extend to remotest
regions and humanize nations yet unborn), I give to the world wisdom, to
myself freedom. I enlighten the lives of others, and I enjoy my own. Yes;
our wisdom is eternal, but our life is short: make the most of it while it
lasts. Surrender thy youth to pleasure, and thy senses to delight. Soon
comes the hour when the wine-cup is shattered, and the garlands shall cease
to bloom. Enjoy while you may. Be still, O Apaecides, my pupil and my
follower! I will teach thee the mechanism of Nature, her darkest and her
wildest secrets--the lore which fools call magic--and the mighty mysteries
of the stars. By this shalt thou discharge thy duty to the mass; by this
shalt thou enlighten thy race. But I will lead thee also to pleasures of
which the vulgar do not dream; and the day which thou givest to men shall be
followed by the sweet night which thou surrenderest to thyself.'

As the Egyptian ceased there rose about, around, beneath, the softest music
that Lydia ever taught, or Iona ever perfected. It came like a stream of
sound, bathing the senses unawares; enervating, subduing with delight. It
seemed the melodies of invisible spirits, such as the shepherd might have
heard in the golden age, floating through the vales of Thessaly, or in the
noontide glades of Paphos. The words which had rushed to the lip of
Apaecides, in answer to the sophistries of the Egyptian, died tremblingly
away. He felt it as a profanation to break upon that enchanted strain--the
susceptibility of his excited nature, the Greek softness and ardour of his
secret soul, were swayed and captured by surprise. He sank on the seat with
parted lips and thirsting ear; while in a chorus of voices, bland and
melting as those which waked Psyche in the halls of love, rose the following
song:

                THE HYMN OF EROS

       By the cool banks where soft Cephisus flows,
         A voice sail'd trembling down the waves of air;
        The leaves blushed brighter in the Teian's rose,
         The doves couch'd breathless in their summer lair;

       While from their hands the purple flowerets fell,
         The laughing Hours stood listening in the sky;--
       From Pan's green cave to AEgle's haunted cell,
         Heaved the charm'd earth in one delicious sigh.

       Love, sons of earth! I am the Power of Love!
         Eldest of all the gods, with Chaos born;
        My smile sheds light along the courts above,
         My kisses wake the eyelids of the Morn.

       Mine are the stars--there, ever as ye gaze,
         Ye meet the deep spell of my haunting eyes;
        Mine is the moon--and, mournful if her rays,
         'Tis that she lingers where her Carian lies.

       The flowers are mine--the blushes of the rose,
         The violet--charming Zephyr to the shade;
        Mine the quick light that in the Maybeam glows,
         And mine the day-dream in the lonely glade.

       Love, sons of earth--for love is earth's soft lore,
         Look where ye will--earth overflows with ME;
        Learn from the waves that ever kiss the shore,
         And the winds nestling on the heaving sea.

       'All teaches love!'--The sweet voice, like a dream,
         Melted in light; yet still the airs above,
        The waving sedges, and the whispering stream,
         And the green forest rustling, murmur'd 'LOVE!'

As the voices died away, the Egyptian seized the hand of Apaecides, and led
him, wandering, intoxicated, yet half-reluctant, across the chamber towards
the curtain at the far end; and now, from behind that curtain, there seemed
to burst a thousand sparkling stars; the veil itself, hitherto dark, was now
lighted by these fires behind into the tenderest blue of heaven. It
represented heaven itself--such a heaven, as in the nights of June might
have shone down over the streams of Castaly. Here and there were painted
rosy and aerial clouds, from which smiled, by the limner's art, faces of
divinest beauty, and on which reposed the shapes of which Phidias and
Apelles dreamed. And the stars which studded the transparent azure rolled
rapidly as they shone, while the music, that again woke with a livelier and
lighter sound, seemed to imitate the melody of the joyous spheres.

'Oh! what miracle is this, Arbaces,' said Apaecides in faltering accents.
'After having denied the gods, art thou about to reveal to me...'

'Their pleasures!' interrupted Arbaces, in a tone so different from its
usual cold and tranquil harmony that Apaecides started, and thought the
Egyptian himself transformed; and now, as they neared the curtain, a wild--a
loud--an exulting melody burst from behind its concealment. With that sound
the veil was rent in twain--it parted--it seemed to vanish into air: and a
scene, which no Sybarite ever more than rivalled, broke upon the dazzled
gaze of the youthful priest. A vast banquet-room stretched beyond, blazing
with countless lights, which filled the warm air with the scents of
frankincense, of jasmine, of violets, of myrrh; all that the most odorous
flowers, all that the most costly spices could distil, seemed gathered into
one ineffable and ambrosial essence: from the light columns that sprang
upwards to the airy roof, hung draperies of white, studded with golden
stars. At the extremities of the room two fountains cast up a spray, which,
catching the rays of the roseate light, glittered like countless diamonds.
In the centre of the room as they entered there rose slowly from the floor,
to the sound of unseen minstrelsy, a table spread with all the viands which
sense ever devoted to fancy, and vases of that lost Myrrhine fabric, so
glowing in its colors, so transparent in its material, were crowned with the
exotics of the East. The couches, to which this table was the centre, were
covered with tapestries of azure and gold; and from invisible tubes the
vaulted roof descended showers of fragrant waters, that cooled the delicious
air, and contended with the lamps, as if the spirits of wave and fire
disputed which element could furnish forth the most delicious odorous. And
now, from behind the snowy draperies, trooped such forms as Adonis beheld
when he lay on the lap of Venus. They came, some with garlands, others with
lyres; they surrounded the youth, they led his steps to the banquet. They
flung the chaplets round him in rosy chains. The earth--the thought of
earth, vanished from his soul. He imagined himself in a dream, and
suppressed his breath lest he should wake too soon; the senses, to which he
had never yielded as yet, beat in his burning pulse, and confused his dizzy
and reeling sight. And while thus amazed and lost, once again, but in brisk
and Bacchic measures, rose the magic strain:

                ANACREONTIC

       In the veins of the calix foams and glows
          The blood of the mantling vine,
        But oh! in the bowl of Youth there glows
          A Lesbian, more divine!
              Bright, bright,
             As the liquid light,
         Its waves through thine eyelids shine!

       Fill up, fill up, to the sparkling brim,
          The juice of the young Lyaeus;
        The grape is the key that we owe to him
          From the gaol of the world to free us.
              Drink, drink!
             What need to shrink,
         When the lambs alone can see us?

       Drink, drink, as I quaff from thine eyes
          The wine of a softer tree;
        Give the smiles to the god of the grape--thy sighs,
          Beloved one, give to me.
              Turn, turn,
             My glances burn,
         And thirst for a look from thee!

As the song ended, a group of three maidens, entwined with a chain of
starred flowers, and who, while they imitated, might have shamed the Graces,
advanced towards him in the gliding measures of the Ionian dance: such as
the Nereids wreathed in moonlight on the yellow sands of the AEgean
wave--such as Cytherea taught her handmaids in the marriage-feast of Psyche
and her son.

Now approaching, they wreathed their chaplet round his head; now kneeling,
the youngest of the three proffered him the bowl, from which the wine of
Lesbos foamed and sparkled. The youth resisted no more, he grasped the
intoxicating cup, the blood mantled fiercely through his veins. He sank
upon the breast of the nymph who sat beside him, and turning with swimming
eyes to seek for Arbaces, whom he had lost in the whirl of his emotions, he
beheld him seated beneath a canopy at the upper end of the table, and gazing
upon him with a smile that encouraged him to pleasure. He beheld him, but
not as he had hitherto seen, with dark and sable garments, with a brooding
and solemn brow: a robe that dazzled the sight, so studded was its whitest
surface with gold and gems, blazed upon his majestic form; white roses,
alternated with the emerald and the ruby, and shaped tiara-like, crowned his
raven locks. He appeared, like Ulysses, to have gained the glory of a
second youth--his features seemed to have exchanged thought for beauty, and
he towered amidst the loveliness that surrounded him, in all the beaming and
relaxing benignity of the Olympian god.

'Drink, feast, love, my pupil!' said he, 'blush not that thou art passionate
and young. That which thou art, thou feelest in thy veins: that which thou
shalt be, survey!'

With this he pointed to a recess, and the eyes of Apaecides, following the
gesture, beheld on a pedestal, placed between the statues of Bacchus and
Idalia, the form of a skeleton.

'Start not,' resumed the Egyptian; 'that friendly guest admonishes us but of
the shortness of life. From its jaws I hear a voice that summons us to
ENJOY.'

As he spoke, a group of nymphs surrounded the statue; they laid chaplets on
its pedestal, and, while the cups were emptied and refilled at that glowing
board, they sang the following strain:

         BACCHIC HYMNS TO THE IMAGE OF DEATH

                    I

        Thou art in the land of the shadowy Host,
           Thou that didst drink and love:
         By the Solemn River, a gliding ghost,
           But thy thought is ours above!
                If memory yet can fly,
                Back to the golden sky,
           And mourn the pleasures lost!
         By the ruin'd hall these flowers we lay,
           Where thy soul once held its palace;
         When the rose to thy scent and sight was gay,
           And the smile was in the chalice,
                And the cithara's voice
                Could bid thy heart rejoice
           When night eclipsed the day.

Here a new group advancing, turned the tide of the music into a quicker and
more joyous strain.

                    II

        Death, death is the gloomy shore
           Where we all sail--
        Soft, soft, thou gliding oar;
           Blow soft, sweet gale!
         Chain with bright wreaths the Hours;
           Victims if all
         Ever, 'mid song and flowers,
           Victims should fall!

Pausing for a moment, yet quicker and quicker danced the silver-footed
music:

        Since Life's so short, we'll live to laugh,
           Ah! wherefore waste a minute!
         If youth's the cup we yet can quaff,
           Be love the pearl within it!

A third band now approached with brimming cups, which they poured in
libation upon that strange altar; and once more, slow and solemn, rose the
changeful melody:

                  III

        Thou art welcome, Guest of gloom,
           From the far and fearful sea!
         When the last rose sheds its bloom,
           Our board shall be spread with thee!
              All hail, dark Guest!
           Who hath so fair a plea
           Our welcome Guest to be,
           As thou, whose solemn hall
           At last shall feast us all
           In the dim and dismal coast?
           Long yet be we the Host!
           And thou, Dead Shadow, thou,
           All joyless though thy brow,
               Thou--but our passing GUEST!

At this moment, she who sat beside Apaecides suddenly took up the song:

                    IV

        Happy is yet our doom,
           The earth and the sun are ours!
         And far from the dreary tomb
           Speed the wings of the rosy Hours--
          Sweet is for thee the bowl,
              Sweet are thy looks, my love;
           I fly to thy tender soul,
              As bird to its mated dove!
                Take me, ah, take!
           Clasp'd to thy guardian breast,
           Soft let me sink to rest:
                But wake me--ah, wake!
           And tell me with words and sighs,
           But more with thy melting eyes,
                That my sun is not set--
         That the Torch is not quench'd at the Urn
           That we love, and we breathe, and burn,
                Tell me--thou lov'st me yet!

BOOK THE SECOND

Chapter I

A FLASH HOUSE IN POMPEII, AND THE GENTLEMEN OF THE CLASSIC RING.

TO one of those parts of Pompeii, which were tenanted not by the lords of
pleasure, but by its minions and its victims; the haunt of gladiators and
prize-fighters; of the vicious and the penniless; of the savage and the
obscene; the Alsatia of an ancient city--we are now transported.

It was a large room, that opened at once on the confined and crowded lane.
Before the threshold was a group of men, whose iron and well-strung muscles,
whose short and Herculean necks, whose hardy and reckless countenances,
indicated the champions of the arena. On a shelf, without the shop, were
ranged jars of wine and oil; and right over this was inserted in the wall a
coarse painting, which exhibited gladiators drinking--so ancient and so
venerable is the custom of signs! Within the room were placed several small
tables, arranged somewhat in the modern fashion of 'boxes', and round these
were seated several knots of men, some drinking, some playing at dice, some
at that more skilful game called 'duodecim scriptae', which certain of the
blundering learned have mistaken for chess, though it rather, perhaps,
resembled backgammon of the two, and was usually, though not always, played
by the assistance of dice. The hour was in the early forenoon, and nothing
better, perhaps, than that unseasonable time itself denoted the habitual
indolence of these tavern loungers.

Yet, despite the situation of the house and the character of its inmates, it
indicated none of that sordid squalor which would have characterized a
similar haunt in a modern city. The gay disposition of all the Pompeians,
who sought, at least, to gratify the sense even where they neglected the
mind, was typified by the gaudy colors which decorated the walls, and the
shapes, fantastic but not inelegant, in which the lamps, the drinking-cups,
the commonest household utensils, were wrought.

'By Pollux!' said one of the gladiators, as he leaned against the wall of
the threshold, 'the wine thou sellest us, old Silenus'--and as he spoke he
slapped a portly personage on the back--'is enough to thin the best blood in
one's veins.'

The man thus caressingly saluted, and whose bared arms, white apron, and
keys and napkin tucked carelessly within his girdle, indicated him to be the
host of the tavern, was already passed into the autumn of his years; but his
form was still so robust and athletic, that he might have shamed even the
sinewy shapes beside him, save that the muscles had seeded, as it were, into
flesh, that the cheeks were swelled and bloated, and the increasing stomach
threw into shade the vast and massive chest which rose above it.

'None of thy scurrilous blusterings with me,' growled the gigantic landlord,
in the gentle semi-roar of an insulted tiger; 'my wine is good enough for a
carcass which shall so soon soak the dust of the spoliarium.'

'Croakest thou thus, old raven!' returned the gladiator, laughing
scornfully; 'thou shalt live to hang thyself with despite when thou seest me
win the palm crown; and when I get the purse at the amphitheatre, as I
certainly shall, my first vow to Hercules shall be to forswear thee and thy
vile potations evermore.'

'Hear to him--hear to this modest Pyrgopolinices! He has certainly served
under Bombochides Cluninstaridysarchides,' cried the host. 'Sporus, Niger,
Tetraides, he declares he shall win the purse from you. Why, by the gods!
each of your muscles is strong enough to stifle all his body, or I know
nothing of the arena!'

'Ha!' said the gladiator, coloring with rising fury, 'our lanista would tell
a different story.'

'What story could he tell against me, vain Lydon?' said Tetraides, frowning.

'Or me, who have conquered in fifteen fights?' said the gigantic Niger,
stalking up to the gladiator.

'Or me?' grunted Sporus, with eyes of fire.

'Tush!' said Lydon, folding his arms, and regarding his rivals with a
reckless air of defiance. 'The time of trial will soon come; keep your
valor till then.'

'Ay, do,' said the surly host; 'and if I press down my thumb to save you,
may the Fates cut my thread!'

'Your rope, you mean,' said Lydon, sneeringly: 'here is a sesterce to buy
one.'

The Titan wine-vender seized the hand extended to him, and griped it in so
stern a vice that the blood spirted from the fingers' ends over the garments
of the bystanders.

They set up a savage laugh.

'I will teach thee, young braggart, to play the Macedonian with me! I am no
puny Persian, I warrant thee! What, man! have I not fought twenty years in
the ring, and never lowered my arms once? And have I not received the rod
from the editor's own hand as a sign of victory, and as a grace to
retirement on my laurels? And am I now to be lectured by a boy?' So saying,
he flung the hand from him in scorn.

Without changing a muscle, but with the same smiling face with which he had
previously taunted mine host, did the gladiator brave the painful grasp he
had undergone. But no sooner was his hand released, than, crouching for one
moment as a wild cat crouches, you might see his hair bristle on his head
and beard, and with a fierce and shrill yell he sprang on the throat of the
giant, with an impetus that threw him, vast and sturdy as he was, from his
balance--and down, with the crash of a falling rock, he fell--while over him
fell also his ferocious foe.

Our host, perhaps, had had no need of the rope so kindly recommended to him
by Lydon, had he remained three minutes longer in that position. But,
summoned to his assistance by the noise of his fall, a woman, who had
hitherto kept in an inner apartment, rushed to the scene of battle. This
new ally was in herself a match for the gladiator; she was tall, lean, and
with arms that could give other than soft embraces. In fact, the gentle
helpmate of Burbo the wine-seller had, like himself, fought in the
lists--nay under the emperor's eye. And Burbo himself--Burbo, the
unconquered in the field, according to report, now and then yielded the palm
to his soft Stratonice. This sweet creature no sooner saw the imminent
peril that awaited her worse half, than without other weapons than those
with which Nature had provided her, she darted upon the incumbent gladiator,
and, clasping him round the waist with her long and snakelike arms, lifted
him by a sudden wrench from the body of her husband, leaving only his hands
still clinging to the throat of his foe. So have we seen a dog snatched by
the hind legs from the strife with a fallen rival in the arms of some
envious groom; so have we seen one half of him high in air--passive and
offenceless--while the other half, head, teeth, eyes, claws, seemed buried
and engulfed in the mangled and prostrate enemy. Meanwhile, the gladiators,
lapped, and pampered, and glutted upon blood, crowded delightedly round the
combatants--their nostrils distended--their lips grinning--their eyes
gloatingly fixed on the bloody throat of the one and the indented talons of
the other.

'Habet! (he has got it!) habet!' cried they, with a sort of yell, rubbing
their nervous hands.

'Non habeo, ye liars; I have not got it!' shouted the host, as with a mighty
effort he wrenched himself from those deadly hands, and rose to his feet,
breathless, panting, lacerated, bloody; and fronting, with reeling eyes, the
glaring look and grinning teeth of his baffled foe, now struggling (but
struggling with disdain) in the gripe of the sturdy amazon.

'Fair play!' cried the gladiators: 'one to one'; and, crowding round Lydon
and the woman, they separated our pleasing host from his courteous guest.

But Lydon, feeling ashamed at his present position, and endeavoring in vain
to shake off the grasp of the virago, slipped his hand into his girdle, and
drew forth a short knife. So menacing was his look, so brightly gleamed the
blade, that Stratonice, who was used only to that fashion of battle which we
moderns call the pugilistic, started back in alarm.

'O gods!' cried she, 'the ruffian!--he has concealed weapons! Is that fair?
Is that like a gentleman and a gladiator? No, indeed, I scorn such
fellows.' With that she contemptuously turned her back on the gladiator, and
hastened to examine the condition of her husband.

But he, as much inured to the constitutional exercises as an English
bull-dog is to a contest with a more gentle antagonist, had already
recovered himself. The purple hues receded from the crimson surface of his
cheek, the veins of the forehead retired into their wonted size. He shook
himself with a complacent grunt, satisfied that he was still alive, and then
looking at his foe from head to foot with an air of more approbation than he
had ever bestowed upon him before:

'By Castor!' said he, 'thou art a stronger fellow than I took thee for! I
see thou art a man of merit and virtue; give me thy hand, my hero!'

'Jolly old Burbo!' cried the gladiators, applauding, 'staunch to the
backbone. Give him thy hand, Lydon.'

'Oh, to be sure,' said the gladiator: 'but now I have tasted his blood, I
long to lap the whole.'

'By Hercules!' returned the host, quite unmoved, 'that is the true gladiator
feeling. Pollux! to think what good training may make a man; why, a beast
could not be fiercer!'

'A beast! O dullard! we beat the beasts hollow!' cried Tetraides.

'Well, well said Stratonice, who was now employed in smoothing her hair and
adjusting her dress, 'if ye are all good friends again, I recommend you to
be quiet and orderly; for some young noblemen, your patrons and backers,
have sent to say they will come here to pay you a visit: they wish to see
you more at their ease than at the schools, before they make up their bets
on the great fight at the amphitheatre. So they always come to my house for
that purpose: they know we only receive the best gladiators in Pompeii--our
society is very select--praised be the gods!'

'Yes,' continued Burbo, drinking off a bowl, or rather a pail of wine, 'a
man who has won my laurels can only encourage the brave. Lydon, drink, my
boy; may you have an honorable old age like mine!'

'Come here,' said Stratonice, drawing her husband to her affectionately by
the ears, in that caress which Tibullus has so prettily described--'Come
here!'

'Not so hard, she-wolf! thou art worse than the gladiator,' murmured the
huge jaws of Burbo.

'Hist!' said she, whispering him; 'Calenus has just stole in, disguised, by
the back way. I hope he has brought the sesterces.'

'Ho! ho! I will join him, said Burbo; 'meanwhile, I say, keep a sharp eye on
the cups--attend to the score. Let them not cheat thee, wife; they are
heroes, to be sure, but then they are arrant rogues: Cacus was nothing to
them.'

'Never fear me, fool!' was the conjugal reply; and Burbo, satisfied with the
dear assurance, strode through the apartment, and sought the penetralia of
his house.

'So those soft patrons are coming to look at our muscles,' said Niger. 'Who
sent to previse thee of it, my mistress?'

'Lepidus. He brings with him Clodius, the surest better in Pompeii, and the
young Greek, Glaucus.'

'A wager on a wager,' cried Tetraides; 'Clodius bets on me, for twenty
sesterces! What say you, Lydon?'

'He bets on me!' said Lydon.

'No, on me!' grunted Sporus.

'Dolts! do you think he would prefer any of you to Niger?' said the
athletic, thus modestly naming himself.

'Well, well,' said Stratonice, as she pierced a huge amphora for her guests,
who had now seated themselves before one of the tables, 'great men and
brave, as ye all think yourselves, which of you will fight the Numidian lion
in case no malefactor should be found to deprive you of the option?'

'I who have escaped your arms, stout Stratonice,' said Lydon, 'might safely,
I think, encounter the lion.'

'But tell me,' said Tetraides, 'where is that pretty young slave of
yours--the blind girl, with bright eyes? I have not seen her a long time.'

'Oh! she is too delicate for you, my son of Neptune,' said the hostess, 'and
too nice even for us, I think. We send her into the town to sell flowers
and sing to the ladies: she makes us more money so than she would by waiting
on you. Besides, she has often other employments which lie under the rose.'

'Other employments!' said Niger; 'why, she is too young for them.'

'Silence, beast!' said Stratonice; 'you think there is no play but the
Corinthian. If Nydia were twice the age she is at present, she would be
equally fit for Vesta--poor girl!'

'But, hark ye, Stratonice,' said Lydon; 'how didst thou come by so gentle
and delicate a slave? She were more meet for the handmaid of some rich
matron of Rome than for thee.'

'That is true,' returned Stratonice; 'and some day or other I shall make my
fortune by selling her. How came I by Nydia, thou askest.'

'Ay!'

'Why, thou seest, my slave Staphyla--thou rememberest Staphyla, Niger?'

'Ay, a large-handed wench, with a face like a comic mask. How should I
forget her, by Pluto, whose handmaid she doubtless is at this moment!'

'Tush, brute!--Well, Staphyla died one day, and a great loss she was to me,
and I went into the market to buy me another slave. But, by the gods! they
were all grown so dear since I had bought poor Staphyla, and money was so
scarce, that I was about to leave the place in despair, when a merchant
plucked me by the robe. "Mistress," said he, "dost thou want a slave cheap
I have a child to sell--a bargain. She is but little, and almost an infant,
it is true; but she is quick and quiet, docile and clever, sings well, and
is of good blood, I assure you." "Of what country?" said I. "Thessalian."
Now I knew the Thessalians were acute and gentle; so I said I would see the
girl. I found her just as you see her now, scarcely smaller and scarcely
younger in appearance. She looked patient and resigned enough, with her
hands crossed on her bosom, and her eyes downcast. I asked the merchant his
price: it was moderate, and I bought her at once. The merchant brought her
to my house, and disappeared in an instant. Well, my friends, guess my
astonishment when I found she was blind! Ha! ha! a clever fellow that
merchant! I ran at once to the magistrates, but the rogue was already gone
from Pompeii. So I was forced to go home in a very ill humor, I assure you;
and the poor girl felt the effects of it too. But it was not her fault that
she was blind, for she had been so from her birth. By degrees, we got
reconciled to our purchase. True, she had not the strength of Staphyla, and
was of very little use in the house, but she could soon find her way about
the town, as well as if she had the eyes of Argus; and when one morning she
brought us home a handful of sesterces, which she said she had got from
selling some flowers she had gathered in our poor little garden, we thought
the gods had sent her to us. So from that time we let her go out as she
likes, filling her basket with flowers, which she wreathes into garlands
after the Thessalian fashion, which pleases the gallants; and the great
people seem to take a fancy to her, for they always pay her more than they
do any other flower-girl, and she brings all of it home to us, which is more
than any other slave would do. So I work for myself, but I shall soon
afford from her earnings to buy me a second Staphyla; doubtless, the
Thessalian kidnapper had stolen the blind girl from gentle parents. Besides
her skill in the garlands, she sings and plays on the cithara, which also
brings money, and lately--but that is a secret.'

'That is a secret! What!' cried Lydon, 'art thou turned sphinx?'

'Sphinx, no!--why sphinx?'

'Cease thy gabble, good mistress, and bring us our meat--I am hungry,' said
Sporus, impatiently.

'And I, too,' echoed the grim Niger, whetting his knife on the palm of his
hand.

The amazon stalked away to the kitchen, and soon returned with a tray laden
with large pieces of meat half-raw: for so, as now, did the heroes of the
prize-fight imagine they best sustained their hardihood and ferocity: they
drew round the table with the eyes of famished wolves--the meat vanished,
the wine flowed. So leave we those important personages of classic life to
follow the steps of Burbo.

Chapter II

TWO WORTHIES.

IN the earlier times of Rome the priesthood was a profession, not of lucre
but of honour. It was embraced by the noblest citizens--it was forbidden to
the plebeians. Afterwards, and long previous to the present date, it was
equally open to all ranks; at least, that part of the profession which
embraced the flamens, or priests--not of religion generally but of peculiar
gods. Even the priest of Jupiter (the Flamen Dialis) preceded by a lictor,
and entitled by his office to the entrance of the senate, at first the
especial dignitary of the patricians, was subsequently the choice of the
people. The less national and less honored deities were usually served by
plebeian ministers; and many embraced the profession, as now the Roman
Catholic Christians enter the monastic fraternity, less from the impulse of
devotion than the suggestions of a calculating poverty. Thus Calenus, the
priest of Isis, was of the lowest origin. His relations, though not his
parents, were freedmen. He had received from them a liberal education, and
from his father a small patrimony, which he had soon exhausted. He embraced
the priesthood as a last resource from distress. Whatever the state
emoluments of the sacred profession, which at that time were probably small,
the officers of a popular temple could never complain of the profits of
their calling. There is no profession so lucrative as that which practises
on the superstition of the multitude.

Calenus had but one surviving relative at Pompeii, and that was Burbo.
Various dark and disreputable ties, stronger than those of blood, united
together their hearts and interests; and often the minister of Isis stole
disguised and furtively from the supposed austerity of his devotions; and
gliding through the back door of the retired gladiator, a man infamous alike
by vices and by profession, rejoiced to throw off the last rag of an
hypocrisy which, but for the dictates of avarice, his ruling passion, would
at all time have sat clumsily upon a nature too brutal for even the mimicry
of virtue.

Wrapped in one of those large mantles which came in use among the Romans in
proportion as they dismissed the toga, whose ample folds well concealed the
form, and in which a sort of hood (attached to it) afforded no less a
security to the features, Calenus now sat in the small and private chamber
of the wine-cellar, whence a small passage ran at once to that back
entrance, with which nearly all the houses of Pompeii were furnished.

Opposite to him sat the sturdy Burbo, carefully counting on a table between
them a little pile of coins which the priest had just poured from his
purse--for purses were as common then as now, with this difference--they
were usually better furnished!

'You see,' said Calenus, that we pay you handsomely, and you ought to thank
me for recommending you to so advantageous a market.'

'I do, my cousin, I do,' replied Burbo, affectionately, as he swept the
coins into a leathern receptacle, which he then deposited in his girdle,
drawing the buckle round his capacious waist more closely than he was wont
to do in the lax hours of his domestic avocations. 'And by Isis, Pisis, and
Nisis, or whatever other gods there may be in Egypt, my little Nydia is a
very Hesperides--a garden of gold to me.'

'She sings well, and plays like a muse,' returned Calenus; 'those are
virtues that he who employs me always pays liberally.'

'He is a god,' cried Burbo, enthusiastically; 'every rich man who is
generous deserves to be worshipped. But come, a cup of wine, old friend:
tell me more about it. What does she do? she is frightened, talks of her
oath, and reveals nothing.'

'Nor will I, by my right hand! I, too, have taken that terrible oath of
secrecy.'

'Oath! what are oaths to men like us?'

'True oaths of a common fashion; but this!'--and the stalwart priest
shuddered as he spoke. 'Yet,' he continued, in emptying a huge cup of
unmixed wine, 'I own to thee, that it is not so much the oath that I dread
as the vengeance of him who proposed it. By the gods! he is a mighty
sorcerer, and could draw my confession from the moon, did I dare to make it
to her. Talk no more of this. By Pollux! wild as those banquets are which
I enjoy with him, I am never quite at my ease there. I love, my boy, one
jolly hour with thee, and one of the plain, unsophisticated, laughing girls
that I meet in this chamber, all smoke-dried though it be, better than whole
nights of those magnificent debauches.'

'Ho! sayest thou so! To-morrow night, please the gods, we will have then a
snug carousal.'

'With all my heart,' said the priest, rubbing his hands, and drawing himself
nearer to the table.

At this moment they heard a slight noise at the door, as of one feeling the
handle. The priest lowered the hood over his head.

'Tush!' whispered the host, 'it is but the blind girl,' as Nydia opened the
door, and entered the apartment.

'Ho! girl, and how durst thou? thou lookest pale--thou hast kept late
revels? No matter, the young must be always the young,' said Burbo,
encouragingly.

The girl made no answer, but she dropped on one of the seats with an air of
lassitude. Her color went and came rapidly: she beat the floor impatiently
with her small feet, then she suddenly raised her face, and said with a
determined voice:

'Master, you may starve me if you will--you may beat me--you may threaten me
with death--but I will go no more to that unholy place!'

'How, fool!' said Burbo, in a savage voice, and his heavy brows met darkly
over his fierce and bloodshot eyes; 'how, rebellious! Take care.'

'I have said it,' said the poor girl, crossing her hands on her breast.

'What! my modest one, sweet vestal, thou wilt go no more! Very well, thou
shalt be carried.'

'I will raise the city with my cries,' said she, passionately; and the color
mounted to her brow.

'We will take care of that too; thou shalt go gagged.'

'Then may the gods help me!' said Nydia, rising; 'I will appeal to the
magistrates.'

'Thine oath remember!' said a hollow voice, as for the first time Calenus
joined in the dialogue.

At these words a trembling shook the frame of the unfortunate girl; she
clasped her hands imploringly. 'Wretch that I am!' she cried, and burst
violently into sobs.

Whether or not it was the sound of that vehement sorrow which brought the
gentle Stratonice to the spot, her grisly form at this moment appeared in
the chamber.

'How now? what hast thou been doing with my slave, brute?' said she,
angrily, to Burbo.

'Be quiet, wife,' said he, in a tone half-sullen, half-timid; 'you want new
girdles and fine clothes, do you? Well then, take care of your slave, or
you may want them long. Voe capiti tuo--vengeance on thy head, wretched
one!'

'What is this?' said the hag, looking from one to the other.

Nydia started as by a sudden impulse from the wall against which she had
leaned: she threw herself at the feet of Stratonice; she embraced her knees,
and looking up at her with those sightless but touching eyes:

'O my mistress!' sobbed she, 'you are a woman--you have had sisters--you
have been young like me, feel for me--save me! I will go to those horrible
feasts no more!'

'Stuff!' said the hag, dragging her up rudely by one of those delicate
hands, fit for no harsher labor than that of weaving the flowers which made
her pleasure or her trade; 'stuff! these fine scruples are not for slaves.'

'Hark ye,' said Burbo, drawing forth his purse, and chinking its contents:
'you hear this music, wife; by Pollux! if you do not break in yon colt with
a tight rein, you will hear it no more.'

'The girl is tired,' said Stratonice, nodding to Calenus; 'she will be more
docile when you next want her.'

'You! you! who is here?' cried Nydia, casting her eyes round the apartment
with so fearful and straining a survey, that Calenus rose in alarm from his
seat.

'She must see with those eyes!' muttered he.

'Who is here! Speak, in heaven's name! Ah, if you were blind like me, you
would be less cruel,' said she; and she again burst into tears.

'Take her away,' said Burbo, impatiently; 'I hate these whimperings.'

'Come!' said Stratonice, pushing the poor child by the shoulders. Nydia
drew herself aside, with an air to which resolution gave dignity.

'Hear me,' she said; 'I have served you faithfully--I who was brought
up--Ah! my mother, my poor mother! didst thou dream I should come to this?'
She dashed the tear from her eyes, and proceeded: 'Command me in aught else,
and I will obey; but I tell you now, hard, stern, inexorable as you are--I
tell you that I will go there no more; or, if I am forced there, that I will
implore the mercy of the praetor himself--I have said it. Hear me, ye gods,
I swear!'

The hag's eyes glowed with fire; she seized the child by the hair with one
hand, and raised on high the other--that formidable right hand, the least
blow of which seemed capable to crush the frail and delicate form that
trembled in her grasp. That thought itself appeared to strike her, for she
suspended the blow, changed her purpose, and dragging Nydia to the wall,
seized from a hook a rope, often, alas! applied to a similar purpose, and
the next moment the shrill, the agonized shrieks of the blind girl, rang
piercingly through the house.

Chapter III

GLAUCUS MAKES A PURCHASE THAT AFTERWARDS COSTS HIM DEAR.

'HOLLA, my brave fellows!' said Lepidus, stooping his head as he entered the
low doorway of the house of Burbo. 'We have come to see which of you most
honors your lanista.' The gladiators rose from the table in respect to three
gallants known to be among the gayest and richest youths of Pompeii, and
whose voices were therefore the dispensers of amphitheatrical reputation.

'What fine animals!' said Clodius to Glaucus: 'worthy to be gladiators!'

'It is a pity they are not warriors,' returned Glaucus.

A singular thing it was to see the dainty and fastidious Lepidus, whom in a
banquet a ray of daylight seemed to blind--whom in the bath a breeze of air
seemed to blast--in whom Nature seemed twisted and perverted from every
natural impulse, and curdled into one dubious thing of effeminacy and art--a
singular thing was it to see this Lepidus, now all eagerness, and energy,
and life, patting the vast shoulders of the gladiators with a blanched and
girlish hand, feeling with a mincing gripe their great brawn and iron
muscles, all lost in calculating admiration at that manhood which he had
spent his life in carefully banishing from himself.

So have we seen at this day the beardless flutterers of the saloons of
London thronging round the heroes of the Fives-court--so have we seen them
admire, and gaze, and calculate a bet--so have we seen them meet together,
in ludicrous yet in melancholy assemblage, the two extremes of civilized
society--the patrons of pleasure and its slaves--vilest of all slaves--at
once ferocious and mercenary; male prostitutes, who sell their strength as
women their beauty; beasts in act, but baser than beasts in motive, for the
last, at least, do not mangle themselves for money!

'Ha! Niger, how will you fight?' said Lepidus: 'and with whom?'

'Sporus challenges me,' said the grim giant; 'we shall fight to the death, I
hope.'

'Ah! to be sure,' grunted Sporus, with a twinkle of his small eye.

'He takes the sword, I the net and the trident: it will be rare sport. I
hope the survivor will have enough to keep up the dignity of the crown.'

'Never fear, we'll fill the purse, my Hector,' said Clodius:

'let me see--you fight against Niger? Glaucus, a bet--I back Niger.'

'I told you so,' cried Niger exultingly. 'The noble Clodius knows me; count
yourself dead already, my Sporus.'

Clodius took out his tablet. 'A bet--ten sestertia. What say you?'

'So be it,' said Glaucus. 'But whom have we here? I never saw this hero
before'; and he glanced at Lydon, whose limbs were slighter than those of
his companions, and who had something of grace, and something even of
nobleness, in his face, which his profession had not yet wholly destroyed.

'It is Lydon, a youngster, practised only with the wooden sword as yet,'
answered Niger, condescendingly. 'But he has the true blood in him, and has
challenged Tetraides.'

'He challenged me,' said Lydon: 'I accept the offer.'

'And how do you fight?' asked Lepidus. 'Chut, my boy, wait a while before
you contend with Tetraides.' Lydon smiled disdainfully.

'Is he a citizen or a slave?' said Clodius.

'A citizen--we are all citizens here,' quoth Niger.

'Stretch out your arm, my Lydon,' said Lepidus, with the air of a
connoisseur.

The gladiator, with a significant glance at his companions, extended an arm
which, if not so huge in its girth as those of his comrades, was so firm in
its muscles, so beautifully symmetrical in its proportions, that the three
visitors uttered simultaneously an admiring exclamation.

'Well, man, what is your weapon?' said Clodius, tablet in hand.

'We are to fight first with the cestus; afterwards, if both survive, with
swords,' returned Tetraides, sharply, and with an envious scowl.

'With the cestus!' cried Glaucus; 'there you are wrong, Lydon; the cestus is
the Greek fashion: I know it well. You should have encouraged flesh for
that contest: you are far too thin for it--avoid the cestus.'

'I cannot,' said Lydon.

'And why?'

'I have said--because he has challenged me.'

'But he will not hold you to the precise weapon.'

'My honour holds me!' returned Lydon, proudly.

'I bet on Tetraides, two to one, at the cestus,' said Clodius; shall it be,
Lepidus?--even betting, with swords.'

'If you give me three to one, I will not take the odds, said Lepidus: 'Lydon
will never come to the swords. You are mighty courteous.'

'What say you, Glaucus?' said Clodius.

'I will take the odds three to one.'

'Ten sestertia to thirty.'

'Yes.'

Clodius wrote the bet in his book.

'Pardon me, noble sponsor mine,' said Lydon, in a low voice to Glaucus: 'but
how much think you the victor will gain?'

'How much? why, perhaps seven sestertia.'

'You are sure it will be as much?'

'At least. But out on you!--a Greek would have thought of the honour, and
not the money. O Italians! everywhere ye are Italians!'

A blush mantled over the bronzed cheek of the gladiator.

'Do not wrong me, noble Glaucus; I think of both, but I should never have
been a gladiator but for the money.'

'Base! mayest thou fall! A miser never was a hero.'

'I am not a miser,' said Lydon, haughtily, and he withdrew to the other end
of the room.

'But I don't see Burbo; where is Burbo? I must talk with Burbo,' cried
Clodius.

'He is within,' said Niger, pointing to the door at the extremity of the
room.

'And Stratonice, the brave old lass, where is she?' quoth Lepidus.

'Why, she was here just before you entered; but she heard something that
displeased her yonder, and vanished. Pollux! old Burbo had perhaps caught
hold of some girl in the back room. I heard a female's voice crying out;
the old dame is as jealous as Juno.'

'Ho! excellent!' cried Lepidus, laughing. 'Come, Clodius, let us go shares
with Jupiter; perhaps he has caught a Leda.'

At this moment a loud cry of pain and terror startled the group.

'Oh, spare me! spare me! I am but a child, I am blind--is not that
punishment enough?'

'O Pallas! I know that voice, it is my poor flower-girl!' exclaimed
Glaucus, and he darted at once into the quarter whence the cry rose.

He burst the door; he beheld Nydia writhing in the grasp of the infuriate
hag; the cord, already dabbled with blood, was raised in the air--it was
suddenly arrested.

'Fury!' said Glaucus, and with his left hand he caught Nydia from her grasp;
'how dare you use thus a girl--one of your own sex, a child! My Nydia, my
poor infant!'

'Oh? is that you--is that Glaucus?' exclaimed the flower-girl, in a tone
almost of transport; the tears stood arrested on her cheek; she smiled, she
clung to his breast, she kissed his robe as she clung.

'And how dare you, pert stranger! interfere between a free woman and her
slave. By the gods! despite your fine tunic and your filthy perfumes, I
doubt whether you are even a Roman citizen, my mannikin.'

'Fair words, mistress--fair words!' said Clodius, now entering with Lepidus.
'This is my friend and sworn brother; he must be put under shelter of your
tongue, sweet one; it rains stones!'

'Give me my slave!' shrieked the virago, placing her mighty grasp on the
breast of the Greek.

'Not if all your sister Furies could help you,' answered Glaucus. 'Fear
not, sweet Nydia; an Athenian never forsook distress!'

'Holla!' said Burbo, rising reluctantly, 'What turmoil is all this about a
slave? Let go the young gentleman, wife--let him go: for his sake the pert
thing shall be spared this once.' So saying, he drew, or rather dragged off,
his ferocious help-mate.

'Methought when we entered,' said Clodius, 'there was another man present?'

'He is gone.'

For the priest of Isis had indeed thought it high time to vanish.

'Oh, a friend of mine! a brother cupman, a quiet dog, who does not love
these snarlings,' said Burbo, carelessly. 'But go, child, you will tear the
gentleman's tunic if you cling to him so tight; go, you are pardoned.'

'Oh, do not--do not forsake me!' cried Nydia, clinging yet closer to the
Athenian.

Moved by her forlorn situation, her appeal to him, her own innumerable and
touching graces, the Greek seated himself on one of the rude chairs. He
held her on his knees--he wiped the blood from her shoulders with his long
hair--he kissed the tears from her cheeks--he whispered to her a thousand of
those soothing words with which we calm the grief of a child--and so
beautiful did he seem in his gentle and consoling task, that even the fierce
heart of Stratonice was touched. His presence seemed to shed light over
that base and obscene haunt--young, beautiful, glorious, he was the emblem
of all that earth made most happy, comforting one that earth had abandoned!

'Well, who could have thought our blind Nydia had been so honored!' said the
virago, wiping her heated brow.

Glaucus looked up at Burbo.

'My good man,' said he, 'this is your slave; she sings well, she is
accustomed to the care of flowers--I wish to make a present of such a slave
to a lady. Will you sell her to me?' As he spoke he felt the whole frame of
the poor girl tremble with delight; she started up, she put her disheveled
hair from her eyes, she looked around, as if, alas, she had the power to
see!

'Sell our Nydia! no, indeed,' said Stratonice, gruffly.

Nydia sank back with a long sigh, and again clasped the robe of her
protector.

'Nonsense!' said Clodius, imperiously: 'you must oblige me. What, man! what,
old dame! offend me, and your trade is ruined. Is not Burbo my kinsman
Pansa's client? Am I not the oracle of the amphitheatre and its heroes? If
I say the word, break up your wine-jars--you sell no more. Glaucus, the
slave is yours.'

Burbo scratched his huge head, in evident embarrassment.

'The girl is worth her weight in gold to me.'

'Name your price, I am rich,' said Glaucus.

The ancient Italians were like the modern, there was nothing they would not
sell, much less a poor blind girl.

'I paid six sestertia for her, she is worth twelve now,' muttered
Stratonice.

'You shall have twenty; come to the magistrates at once, and then to my
house for your money.'

'I would not have sold the dear girl for a hundred but to oblige noble
Clodius,' said Burbo, whiningly. 'And you will speak to Pansa about the
place of designator at the amphitheatre, noble Clodius? it would just suit
me.'

'Thou shalt have it,' said Clodius; adding in a whisper to Burbo, 'Yon Greek
can make your fortune; money runs through him like a sieve: mark to-day with
white chalk, my Priam.'

'An dabis?' said Glaucus, in the formal question of sale and barter.

'Dabitur,' answered Burbo.

'Then, then, I am to go with you--with you? O happiness!' murmured Nydia.

'Pretty one, yes; and thy hardest task henceforth shall be to sing thy
Grecian hymns to the loveliest lady in Pompeii.'

The girl sprang from his clasp; a change came over her whole face, bright
the instant before; she sighed heavily, and then once more taking his hand,
she said:

'I thought I was to go to your house?'

'And so thou shalt for the present; come, we lose time.'

Chapter IV

THE RIVAL OF GLAUCUS PRESSES ONWARD IN THE RACE.

IONE was one of those brilliant characters which, but once or twice, flash
across our career. She united in the highest perfection the rarest of
earthly gifts--Genius and Beauty. No one ever possessed superior
intellectual qualities without knowing them--the alliteration of modesty and
merit is pretty enough, but where merit is great, the veil of that modesty
you admire never disguises its extent from its possessor. It is the proud
consciousness of certain qualities that it cannot reveal to the everyday
world, that gives to genius that shy, and reserved, and troubled air, which
puzzles and flatters you when you encounter it.

Ione, then, knew her genius; but, with that charming versatility that
belongs of right to women, she had the faculty so few of a kindred genius in
the less malleable sex can claim--the faculty to bend and model her graceful
intellect to all whom it encountered. The sparkling fountain threw its
waters alike upon the strand, the cavern, and the flowers; it refreshed, it
smiled, it dazzled everywhere. That pride, which is the necessary result of
superiority, she wore easily--in her breast it concentred itself in
independence. She pursued thus her own bright and solitary path. She asked
no aged matron to direct and guide her--she walked alone by the torch of her
own unflickering purity. She obeyed no tyrannical and absolute custom. She
moulded custom to her own will, but this so delicately and with so feminine
a grace, so perfect an exemption from error, that you could not say she
outraged custom but commanded it. The wealth of her graces was
inexhaustible--she beautified the commonest action; a word, a look from her,
seemed magic. Love her, and you entered into a new world, you passed from
this trite and commonplace earth. You were in a land in which your eyes saw
everything through an enchanted medium. In her presence you felt as if
listening to exquisite music; you were steeped in that sentiment which has
so little of earth in it, and which music so well inspires--that
intoxication which refines and exalts, which seizes, it is true, the senses,
but gives them the character of the soul.

She was peculiarly formed, then, to command and fascinate the less ordinary
and the bolder natures of men; to love her was to unite two passions, that
of love and of ambition--you aspired when you adored her. It was no wonder
that she had completely chained and subdued the mysterious but burning soul
of the Egyptian, a man in whom dwelt the fiercest passions. Her beauty and
her soul alike enthralled him.

Set apart himself from the common world, he loved that daringness of
character which also made itself, among common things, aloof and alone. He
did not, or he would not see, that that very isolation put her yet more from
him than from the vulgar. Far as the poles--far as the night from day, his
solitude was divided from hers. He was solitary from his dark and solemn
vices--she from her beautiful fancies and her purity of virtue.

If it was not strange that Ione thus enthralled the Egyptian, far less
strange was it that she had captured, as suddenly as irrevocably,  the
bright and sunny heart of the Athenian. The gladness of a temperament which
seemed woven from the beams of light had led Glaucus into pleasure. He
obeyed no more vicious dictates when he wandered into the dissipations of
his time, than the exhilarating voices of youth and health. He threw the
brightness of his nature over every abyss and cavern through which he
strayed. His imagination dazzled him, but his heart never was corrupted.
Of far more penetration than his companions deemed, he saw that they sought
to prey upon his riches and his youth: but he despised wealth save as the
means of enjoyment, and youth was the great sympathy that united him to
them. He felt, it is true, the impulse of nobler thoughts and higher aims
than in pleasure could be indulged: but the world was one vast prison, to
which the Sovereign of Rome was the Imperial gaoler; and the very virtues,
which in the free days of Athens would have made him ambitious, in the
slavery of earth made him inactive and supine. For in that unnatural and
bloated civilization, all that was noble in emulation was forbidden.
Ambition in the regions of a despotic and luxurious court was but the
contest of flattery and craft. Avarice had become the sole ambition--men
desired praetorships and provinces only as the license to pillage, and
government was but the excuse of rapine. It is in small states that glory
is most active and pure--the more confined the limits of the circle, the
more ardent the patriotism. In small states, opinion is concentrated and
strong--every eye reads your actions--your public motives are blended with
your private ties--every spot in your narrow sphere is crowded with forms
familiar since your childhood--the applause of your citizens is like the
caresses of your friends. But in large states, the city is but the court:
the provinces--unknown to you, unfamiliar in customs, perhaps in
language--have no claim on your patriotism, the ancestry of their
inhabitants is not yours. In the court you desire favor instead of glory;
at a distance from the court, public opinion has vanished from you, and
self-interest has no counterpoise.

Italy, Italy, while I write, your skies are over me--your seas flow beneath
my feet, listen not to the blind policy which would unite all your crested
cities, mourning for their republics, into one empire; false, pernicious
delusion! your only hope of regeneration is in division. Florence, Milan,
Venice, Genoa, may be free once more, if each is free. But dream not of
freedom for the whole while you enslave the parts; the heart must be the
centre of the system, the blood must circulate freely everywhere; and in
vast communities you behold but a bloated and feeble giant, whose brain is
imbecile, whose limbs are dead, and who pays in disease and weakness the
penalty of transcending the natural proportions of health and vigour.

Thus thrown back upon themselves, the more ardent qualities of Glaucus found
no vent, save in that overflowing imagination which gave grace to pleasure,
and poetry to thought. Ease was less despicable than contention with
parasites and slaves, and luxury could yet be refined though ambition could
not be ennobled. But all that was best and brightest in his soul woke at
once when he knew Ione. Here was an empire, worthy of demigods to attain;
here was a glory, which the reeking smoke of a foul society could not soil
or dim. Love, in every time, in every state, can thus find space for its
golden altars. And tell me if there ever, even in the ages most favorable to
glory, could be a triumph more exalted and elating than the conquest of one
noble heart?

And whether it was that this sentiment inspired him, his ideas glowed more
brightly, his soul seemed more awake and more visible, in Ione's presence.
If natural to love her, it was natural that she should return the passion.
Young, brilliant, eloquent, enamoured, and Athenian, he was to her as the
incarnation of the poetry of her father's land. They were not like
creatures of a world in which strife and sorrow are the elements; they were
like things to be seen only in the holiday of nature, so glorious and so
fresh were their youth, their beauty, and their love. They seemed out of
place in the harsh and every-day earth; they belonged of right to the
Saturnian age, and the dreams of demigod and nymph. It was as if the poetry
of life gathered and fed itself in them, and in their hearts were
concentrated the last rays of the sun of Delos and of Greece.

But if Ione was independent in her choice of life, so was her modest pride
proportionably vigilant and easily alarmed. The falsehood of the Egyptian
was invented by a deep knowledge of her nature. The story of coarseness, of
indelicacy, in Glaucus, stung her to the quick. She felt it a reproach upon
her character and her career, a punishment above all to her love; she felt,
for the first time, how suddenly she had yielded to that love; she blushed
with shame at a weakness, the extent of which she was startled to perceive:
she imagined it was that weakness which had incurred the contempt of
Glaucus; she endured the bitterest curse of noble natures--humiliation! Yet
her love, perhaps, was no less alarmed than her pride. If one moment she
murmured reproaches upon Glaucus--if one moment she renounced, she almost
hated him--at the next she burst into passionate tears, her heart yielded to
its softness, and she said in the bitterness of anguish, 'He despises me--he
does not love me.'

From the hour the Egyptian had left her she had retired to her most secluded
chamber, she had shut out her handmaids, she had denied herself to the
crowds that besieged her door. Glaucus was excluded with the rest; he
wondered, but he guessed not why! He never attributed to his Ione--his
queen--his goddess--that woman--like caprice of which the love-poets of
Italy so unceasingly complain. He imagined her, in the majesty of her
candour, above all the arts that torture. He was troubled, but his hopes
were not dimmed, for he knew already that he loved and was beloved; what
more could he desire as an amulet against fear?

At deepest night, then, when the streets were hushed, and the high moon only
beheld his devotions, he stole to that temple of his heart--her home; and
wooed her after the beautiful fashion of his country. He covered her
threshold with the richest garlands, in which every flower was a volume of
sweet passion; and he charmed the long summer night with the sound of the
Lydian lute: and verses, which the inspiration of the moment sufficed to
weave.

But the window above opened not; no smile made yet more holy the shining air
of night. All was still and dark. He knew not if his verse was welcome and
his suit was heard.

Yet Ione slept not, nor disdained to hear. Those soft strains ascended to
her chamber; they soothed, they subdued her. While she listened, she
believed nothing against her lover; but when they were stilled at last, and
his step departed, the spell ceased; and, in the bitterness of her soul, she
almost conceived in that delicate flattery a new affront.

I said she was denied to all; but there was one exception, there was one
person who would not be denied, assuming over her actions and her house
something like the authority of a parent; Arbaces, for himself, claimed an
exemption from all the ceremonies observed by others. He entered the
threshold with the license of one who feels that he is privileged and at
home. He made his way to her solitude and with that sort of quiet and
unapologetic air which seemed to consider the right as a thing of course.
With all the independence of Ione's character, his heart had enabled him to
obtain a secret and powerful control over her mind. She could not shake it
off; sometimes she desired to do so; but she never actively struggled
against it. She was fascinated by his serpent eye. He arrested, he
commanded her, by the magic of a mind long accustomed to awe and to subdue.
Utterly unaware of his real character or his hidden love, she felt for him
the reverence which genius feels for wisdom, and virtue for sanctity. She
regarded him as one of those mighty sages of old, who attained to the
mysteries of knowledge by an exemption from the passions of their kind. She
scarcely considered him as a being, like herself, of the earth, but as an
oracle at once dark and sacred. She did not love him, but she feared. His
presence was unwelcome to her; it dimmed her spirit even in its brightest
mood; he seemed, with his chilling and lofty aspect, like some eminence
which casts a shadow over the sun. But she never thought of forbidding his
visits. She was passive under the influence which created in her breast,
not the repugnance, but something of the stillness of terror.

Arbaces himself now resolved to exert all his arts to possess himself of
that treasure he so burningly coveted. He was cheered and elated by his
conquests over her brother. From the hour in which Apaecides fell beneath
the voluptuous sorcery of that fete which we have described, he felt his
empire over the young priest triumphant and insured. He knew that there is
no victim so thoroughly subdued as a young and fervent man for the first
time delivered to the thraldom of the senses.

When Apaecides recovered, with the morning light, from the profound sleep
which succeeded to the delirium of wonder and of pleasure, he was, it is
true, ashamed--terrified--appalled. His vows of austerity and celibacy
echoed in his ear; his thirst after holiness--had it been quenched at so
unhallowed a stream? But Arbaces knew well the means by which to confirm
his conquest. From the arts of pleasure he led the young priest at once to
those of his mysterious wisdom. He bared to his amazed eyes the initiatory
secrets of the sombre philosophy of the Nile--those secrets plucked from the
stars, and the wild chemistry, which, in those days, when Reason herself was
but the creature of Imagination, might well pass for the lore of a diviner
magic. He seemed to the young eyes of the priest as a being above
mortality, and endowed with supernatural gifts. That yearning and intense
desire for the knowledge which is not of earth--which had burned from his
boyhood in the heart of the priest--was dazzled, until it confused and
mastered his clearer sense. He gave himself to the art which thus addressed
at once the two strongest of human passions, that of pleasure and that of
knowledge. He was loth to believe that one so wise could err, that one so
lofty could stoop to deceive. Entangled in the dark web of metaphysical
moralities, he caught at the excuse by which the Egyptian converted vice
into a virtue. His pride was insensibly flattered that Arbaces had deigned
to rank him with himself, to set him apart from the laws which bound the
vulgar, to make him an august participator, both in the mystic studies and
the magic fascinations of the Egyptian's solitude. The pure and stern
lessons of that creed to which Olinthus had sought to make him convert, were
swept away from his memory by the deluge of new passions. And the Egyptian,
who was versed in the articles of that true faith, and who soon learned from
his pupil the effect which had been produced upon him by its believers,
sought, not unskilfully, to undo that effect, by a tone of reasoning,
half-sarcastic and half-earnest.

'This faith,' said he, 'is but a borrowed plagiarism from one of the many
allegories invented by our priests of old. Observe,' he added, pointing to
a hieroglyphical scroll--'observe in these ancient figures the origin of the
Christian's Trinity. Here are also three gods--the Deity, the Spirit, and
the Son. Observe, that the epithet of the Son is "Saviour"--observe, that
the sign by which his human qualities are denoted is the cross.' Note here,
too, the mystic history of Osiris, how he put on death; how he lay in the
grave; and how, thus fulfilling a solemn atonement, he rose again from the
dead! In these stories we but design to paint an allegory from the
operations of nature and the evolutions of the eternal heavens. But the
allegory unknown, the types themselves have furnished to credulous nations
the materials of many creeds. They have travelled to the vast plains of
India; they have mixed themselves up in the visionary speculations of the
Greek; becoming more and more gross and embodied, as they emerge farther
from the shadows of their antique origin, they have assumed a human and
palpable form in this novel faith; and the believers of Galilee are but the
unconscious repeaters of one of the superstitions of the Nile!'

This was the last argument which completely subdued the priest. It was
necessary to him, as to all, to believe in something; and undivided and, at
last, unreluctant, he surrendered himself to that belief which Arbaces
inculcated, and which all that was human in passion--all that was flattering
in vanity--all that was alluring in pleasure, served to invite to, and
contributed to confirm.

This conquest, thus easily made, the Egyptian could now give himself wholly
up to the pursuit of a far dearer and mightier object; and he hailed, in his
success with the brother, an omen of his triumph over the sister.

He had seen Ione on the day following the revel we have witnessed; and which
was also the day after he had poisoned her mind against his rival. The next
day, and the next, he saw her also: and each time he laid himself out with
consummate art, partly to confirm her impression against Glaucus, and
principally to prepare her for the impressions he desired her to receive.
The proud Ione took care to conceal the anguish she endured; and the pride
of woman has an hypocrisy which can deceive the most penetrating, and shame
the most astute. But Arbaces was no less cautious not to recur to a subject
which he felt it was most politic to treat as of the lightest importance.
He knew that by dwelling much upon the fault of a rival, you only give him
dignity in the eyes of your mistress: the wisest plan is, neither loudly to
hate, nor bitterly to contemn; the wisest plan is to lower him by an
indifference of tone, as if you could not dream that he could be loved.
Your safety is in concealing the wound to your own pride, and imperceptibly
alarming that of the umpire, whose voice is fate! Such, in all times, will
be the policy of one who knows the science of the sex--it was now the
Egyptian's.

He recurred no more, then, to the presumption of Glaucus; he mentioned his
name, but not more often than that of Clodius or of Lepidus. He affected to
class them together as things of a low and ephemeral species; as things
wanting nothing of the butterfly, save its innocence and its grace.
Sometimes he slightly alluded to some invented debauch, in which he declared
them companions; sometimes he adverted to them as the antipodes of those
lofty and spiritual natures, to whose order that of Ione belonged. Blinded
alike by the pride of Ione, and, perhaps, by his own, he dreamed not that
she already loved; but he dreaded lest she might have formed for Glaucus the
first fluttering prepossessions that lead to love. And, secretly, he ground
his teeth in rage and jealousy, when he reflected on the youth, the
fascinations, and the brilliancy of that formidable rival whom he pretended
to undervalue.

It was on the fourth day from the date of the close of the previous book,
that Arbaces and Ione sat together.

'You wear your veil at home,' said the Egyptian; 'that is not fair to those
whom you honour with your friendship.'

'But to Arbaces,' answered Ione, who, indeed, had cast the veil over her
features to conceal eyes red with weeping--'to Arbaces, who looks only to
the mind, what matters it that the face is concealed?'

'I do look only to the mind,' replied the Egyptian: 'show me then your
face--for there I shall see it.'

'You grow gallant in the air of Pompeii,' said Ione, with a forced tone of
gaiety.

'Do you think, fair Ione, that it is only at Pompeii that I have learned to
value you?' The Egyptian's voice trembled--he paused for a moment, and then
resumed.

'There is a love, beautiful Greek, which is not the love only of the
thoughtless and the young--there is a love which sees not with the eyes,
which hears not with the ears; but in which soul is enamoured of soul. The
countryman of thy ancestors, the cave-nursed Plato, dreamed of such a
love--his followers have sought to imitate it; but it is a love that is not
for the herd to echo--it is a love that only high and noble natures can
conceive--it hath nothing in common with the sympathies and ties of coarse
affection--wrinkles do not revolt it--homeliness of feature does not deter;
it asks youth, it is true, but it asks it only in the freshness of the
emotions; it asks beauty, it is true, but it is the beauty of the thought
and of the spirit. Such is the love, O Ione, which is a worthy offering to
thee from the cold and the austere. Austere and cold thou deemest me--such
is the love that I venture to lay upon thy shrine--thou canst receive it
without a blush.'

'And its name is friendship!' replied Ione: her answer was innocent, yet it
sounded like the reproof of one conscious of the design of the speaker.

'Friendship!' said Arbaces, vehemently. 'No; that is a word too often
profaned to apply to a sentiment so sacred. Friendship! it is a tie that
binds fools and profligates! Friendship! it is the bond that unites the
frivolous hearts of a Glaucus and a Clodius! Friendship! no, that is an
affection of earth, of vulgar habits and sordid sympathies; the feeling of
which I speak is borrowed from the stars'--it partakes of that mystic and
ineffable yearning, which we feel when we gaze on them--it burns, yet it
purifies--it is the lamp of naphtha in the alabaster vase, glowing with
fragrant odorous, but shining only through the purest vessels. No; it is
not love, and it is not friendship, that Arbaces feels for Ione. Give it no
name--earth has no name for it--it is not of earth--why debase it with
earthly epithets and earthly associations?'

Never before had Arbaces ventured so far, yet he felt his ground step by
step: he knew that he uttered a language which, if at this day of affected
platonisms it would speak unequivocally to the ears of beauty, was at that
time strange and unfamiliar, to which no precise idea could be attached,
from which he could imperceptibly advance or recede, as occasion suited, as
hope encouraged or fear deterred. Ione trembled, though she knew not why;
her veil hid her features, and masked an expression, which, if seen by the
Egyptian, would have at once damped and enraged him; in fact, he never was
more displeasing to her--the harmonious modulation of the most suasive voice
that ever disguised unhallowed thought fell discordantly on her ear. Her
whole soul was still filled with the image of Glaucus; and the accent of
tenderness from another only revolted and dismayed; yet she did not conceive
that any passion more ardent than that platonism which Arbaces expressed
lurked beneath his words. She thought that he, in truth, spoke only of the
affection and sympathy of the soul; but was it not precisely that affection
and that sympathy which had made a part of those emotions she felt for
Glaucus; and could any other footstep than his approach the haunted adytum
of her heart?

Anxious at once to change the conversation, she replied, therefore, with a
cold and indifferent voice, 'Whomsoever Arbaces honors with the sentiment of
esteem, it is natural that his elevated wisdom should color that sentiment
with its own hues; it is natural that his friendship should be purer than
that of others, whose pursuits and errors he does not deign to share. But
tell me, Arbaces, hast thou seen my brother of late? He has not visited me
for several days; and when I last saw him his manner disturbed and alarmed
me much. I fear lest he was too precipitate in the severe choice that he
has adopted, and that he repents an irrevocable step.'

'Be cheered, Ione,' replied the Egyptian. 'It is true that, some little
time since he was troubled and sad of spirit; those doubts beset him which
were likely to haunt one of that fervent temperament, which ever ebbs and
flows, and vibrates between excitement and exhaustion. But he, Ione, he
came to me his anxieties and his distress; he sought one who pitied me and
loved him; I have calmed his mind--I have removed his doubts--I have taken
him from the threshold of Wisdom into its temple; and before the majesty of
the goddess his soul is hushed and soothed. Fear not, he will repent no
more; they who trust themselves to Arbaces never repent but for a moment.'

'You rejoice me,' answered Ione. 'My dear brother! in his contentment I am
happy.'

The conversation then turned upon lighter subjects; the Egyptian exerted
himself to please, he condescended even to entertain; the vast variety of
his knowledge enabled him to adorn and light up every subject on which he
touched; and Ione, forgetting the displeasing effect of his former words,
was carried away, despite her sadness, by the magic of his intellect. Her
manner became unrestrained and her language fluent; and Arbaces, who had
waited his opportunity, now hastened to seize it.

'You have never seen,' said he, 'the interior of my home; it may amuse you
to do so: it contains some rooms that may explain to you what you have often
asked me to describe--the fashion of an Egyptian house; not indeed, that you
will perceive in the poor and minute proportions of Roman architecture the
massive strength, the vast space, the gigantic magnificence, or even the
domestic construction of the palaces of Thebes and Memphis; but something
there is, here and there, that may serve to express to you some notion of
that antique civilization which has humanized the world. Devote, then, to
the austere friend of your youth, one of these bright summer evenings, and
let me boast that my gloomy mansion has been honored with the presence of
the admired Ione.'

Unconscious of the pollutions of the mansion, of the danger that awaited
her, Ione readily assented to the proposal. The next evening was fixed for
the visit; and the Egyptian, with a serene countenance, and a heart beating
with fierce and unholy joy, departed. Scarce had he gone, when another
visitor claimed admission.... But now we return to Glaucus.

Chapter V

THE POOR TORTOISE. NEW CHANGES FOR NYDIA.

THE morning sun shone over the small and odorous garden enclosed within the
peristyle of the house of the Athenian. He lay reclined, sad and
listlessly, on the smooth grass which intersected the viridarium; and a
slight canopy stretched above, broke the fierce rays of the summer sun.

When that fairy mansion was first disinterred from the earth they found in
the garden the shell of a tortoise that had been its inmate. That animal,
so strange a link in the creation, to which Nature seems to have denied all
the pleasure of life, save life's passive and dream-like perception, had
been the guest of the place for years before Glaucus purchased it; for
years, indeed which went beyond the memory of man, and to which tradition
assigned an almost incredible date. The house had been built and
rebuilt--its possessors had changed and fluctuated--generations had
flourished and decayed--and still the tortoise dragged on its slow and
unsympathizing existence. In the earthquake, which sixteen years before had
overthrown many of the public buildings of the city, and scared away the
amazed inhabitants, the house now inhabited by Glaucus had been terribly
shattered. The possessors deserted it for many days; on their return they
cleared away the ruins which encumbered the viridarium, and found still the
tortoise, unharmed and unconscious of the surrounding destruction. It
seemed to bear a charmed life in its languid blood and imperceptible
motions; yet it was not so inactive as it seemed: it held a regular and
monotonous course; inch by inch it traversed the little orbit of its domain,
taking months to accomplish the whole gyration. It was a restless voyager,
that tortoise!--patiently, and with pain, did it perform its self-appointed
journeys, evincing no interest in the things around it--a philosopher
concentrated in itself. There was something grand in its solitary
selfishness!--the sun in which it basked--the waters poured daily over
it--the air, which it insensibly inhaled, were its sole and unfailing
luxuries. The mild changes of the season, in that lovely clime, affected it
not. It covered itself with its shell--as the saint in his piety--as the
sage in his wisdom--as the lover in his hope.

It was impervious to the shocks and mutations of time--it was an emblem of
time itself: slow, regular, perpetual; unwitting of the passions that fret
themselves around--of the wear and tear of mortality. The poor tortoise!
nothing less than the bursting of volcanoes, the convulsions of the riven
world, could have quenched its sluggish spark! The inexorable Death, that
spared not pomp or beauty, passed unheedingly by a thing to which death
could bring so insignificant a change.

For this animal the mercurial and vivid Greek felt all the wonder and
affection of contrast. He could spend hours in surveying its creeping
progress, in moralizing over its mechanism. He despised it in joy--he
envied it in sorrow.

Regarding it now as he lay along the sward--its dull mass moving while it
seemed motionless, the Athenian murmured to himself:

'The eagle dropped a stone from his talons, thinking to break thy shell: the
stone crushed the head of a poet. This is the allegory of Fate! Dull
thing! Thou hadst a father and a mother; perhaps, ages ago, thou thyself
hadst a mate. Did thy parents love, or didst thou? Did thy slow blood
circulate more gladly when thou didst creep to the side of thy wedded one?
Wert thou capable of affection? Could it distress thee if she were away from
thy side? Couldst thou feel when she was present? What would I not give to
know the history of thy mailed breast--to gaze upon the mechanism of thy
faint desires--to mark what hair--breadth difference separates thy sorrow
from thy joy! Yet, methinks, thou wouldst know if Ione were present! Thou
wouldst feel her coming like a happier air--like a gladder sun. I envy thee
now, for thou knowest not that she is absent; and I--would I could be like
thee--between the intervals of seeing her! What doubt, what presentiment,
haunts me! why will she not admit me? Days have passed since I heard her
voice. For the first time, life grows flat to me. I am as one who is left
alone at a banquet, the lights dead, and the flowers faded. Ah! Ione,
couldst thou dream how I adore thee!'

From these enamoured reveries, Glaucus was interrupted by the entrance of
Nydia. She came with her light, though cautious step, along the marble
tablinum. She passed the portico, and paused at the flowers which bordered
the garden. She had her water-vase in her hand, and she sprinkled the
thirsting plants, which seemed to brighten at her approach. She bent to
inhale their odor. She touched them timidly and caressingly. She felt,
along their stems, if any withered leaf or creeping insect marred their
beauty. And as she hovered from flower to flower, with her earnest and
youthful countenance and graceful motions, you could not have imagined a
fitter handmaid for the goddess of the garden.

'Nydia, my child!' said Glaucus.

At the sound of his voice she paused at once--listening, blushing,
breathless; with her lips parted, her face upturned to catch the direction
of the sound, she laid down the vase--she hastened to him; and wonderful it
was to see how unerringly she threaded her dark way through the flowers, and
came by the shortest path to the side of her new lord.

'Nydia,' said Glaucus, tenderly stroking back her long and beautiful hair,
'it is now three days since thou hast been under the protection of my
household gods. Have they smiled on thee? Art thou happy?'

'Ah! so happy!' sighed the slave.

'And now,' continued Glaucus, 'that thou hast recovered somewhat from the
hateful recollections of thy former state,--and now that they have fitted
thee (touching her broidered tunic) with garments more meet for thy delicate
shape--and now, sweet child, that thou hast accustomed thyself to a
happiness, which may the gods grant thee ever! I am about to pray at thy
hands a boon.'

'Oh! what can I do for thee?' said Nydia, clasping her hands.

'Listen,' said Glaucus, 'and young as thou art, thou shalt be my confidant.
Hast thou ever heard the name of Ione?'

The blind girl gasped for breath, and turning pale as one of the statues
which shone upon them from the peristyle, she answered with an effort, and
after a moment's pause:

'Yes! I have heard that she is of Neapolis, and beautiful.'

'Beautiful! her beauty is a thing to dazzle the day! Neapolis! nay, she is
Greek by origin; Greece only could furnish forth such shapes. Nydia, I love
her!'

'I thought so,' replied Nydia, calmly.

'I love, and thou shalt tell her so. I am about to send thee to her. Happy
Nydia, thou wilt be in her chamber--thou wilt drink the music of her
voice--thou wilt bask in the sunny air of her presence!'

'What! what! wilt thou send me from thee?'

'Thou wilt go to Ione,' answered Glaucus, in a tone that said, 'What more
canst thou desire?'

Nydia burst into tears.

Glaucus, raising himself, drew her towards him with the soothing caresses of
a brother.

'My child, my Nydia, thou weepest in ignorance of the happiness I bestow on
thee. She is gentle, and kind, and soft as the breeze of spring. She will
be a sister to thy youth--she will appreciate thy winning talents--she will
love thy simple graces as none other could, for they are like her own.
Weepest thou still, fond fool? I will not force thee, sweet. Wilt thou not
do for me this kindness?'

'Well, if I can serve thee, command. See, I weep no longer--I am calm.'

'That is my own Nydia,' continued Glaucus, kissing her hand. 'Go, then, to
her: if thou art disappointed in her kindness--if I have deceived thee,
return when thou wilt. I do not give thee to another; I but lend. My home
ever be thy refuge, sweet one. Ah! would it could shelter all the
friendless and distressed! But if my heart whispers truly, I shall claim
thee again soon, my child. My home and Ione's will become the same, and
thou shalt dwell with both.'

A shiver passed through the slight frame of the blind girl, but she wept no
more--she was resigned.

'Go, then, my Nydia, to Ione's house--they shall show thee the way. Take her
the fairest flowers thou canst pluck; the vase which contains them I will
give thee: thou must excuse its unworthiness. Thou shalt take, too, with
thee the lute that I gave thee yesterday, and from which thou knowest so
well to awaken the charming spirit. Thou shalt give her, also, this letter,
in which, after a hundred efforts, I have embodied something of my thoughts.
Let thy ear catch every accent, every modulation of her voice, and tell me,
when we meet again, if its music should flatter me or discourage. It is
now, Nydia, some days since I have been admitted to Ione; there is something
mysterious in this exclusion. I am distracted with doubts and fears;
learn--for thou art quick, and thy care for me will sharpen tenfold thy
acuteness--learn the cause of this unkindness; speak of me as often as thou
canst; let my name come ever to thy lips: insinuate how I love rather than
proclaim it; watch if she sighs whilst thou speakest, if she answer thee;
or, if she reproves, in what accents she reproves. Be my friend, plead for
me: and oh! how vastly wilt thou overpay the little I have done for thee!
Thou comprehendest, Nydia; thou art yet a child--have I said more than thou
canst understand?'

'No.'

'And thou wilt serve me?'

'Yes.'

'Come to me when thou hast gathered the flowers, and I will give thee the
vase I speak of; seek me in the chamber of Leda. Pretty one, thou dost not
grieve now?'

'Glaucus, I am a slave; what business have I with grief or joy?'

'Sayest thou so? No, Nydia, be free. I give thee freedom; enjoy it as thou
wilt, and pardon me that I reckoned on thy desire to serve me.'

'You are offended. Oh! I would not, for that which no freedom can give,
offend you, Glaucus. My guardian, my saviour, my protector, forgive the
poor blind girl! She does not grieve even in leaving thee, if she can
contribute to thy happiness.'

'May the gods bless this grateful heart!' said Glaucus, greatly moved; and,
unconscious of the fires he excited, he repeatedly kissed her forehead.

'Thou forgivest me,' said she, 'and thou wilt talk no more of freedom; my
happiness is to be thy slave: thou hast promised thou wilt not give me to
another...'

'I have promised.'

'And now, then, I will gather the flowers.'

Silently, Nydia took from the hand of Glaucus the costly and jewelled vase,
in which the flowers vied with each other in hue and fragrance; tearlessly
she received his parting admonition. She paused for a moment when his voice
ceased--she did not trust herself to reply--she sought his hand--she raised
it to her lips, dropped her veil over her face, and passed at once from his
presence. She paused again as she reached the threshold; she stretched her
hands towards it, and murmured:

'Three happy days--days of unspeakable delight, have I known since I passed
thee--blessed threshold! may peace dwell ever with thee when I am gone! And
now, my heart tears itself from thee, and the only sound it utters bids
me--die!'

Chapter VI

THE HAPPY BEAUTY AND THE BLIND SLAVE.

A SLAVE entered the chamber of Ione. A messenger from Glaucus desired to be
admitted.

Ione hesitated an instant.

'She is blind, that messenger,' said the slave; 'she will do her commission
to none but thee.'

Base is that heart which does not respect affliction! The moment she heard
the messenger was blind, Ione felt the impossibility of returning a chilling
reply. Glaucus had chosen a herald that was indeed sacred--a herald that
could not be denied.

'What can he want with me? what message can he send?' and the heart of Ione
beat quick. The curtain across the door was withdrawn; a soft and echoless
step fell upon the marble; and Nydia, led by one of the attendants, entered
with her precious gift.

She stood still a moment, as if listening for some sound that might direct
her.

'Will the noble Ione,' said she, in a soft and low voice, 'deign to speak,
that I may know whither to steer these benighted steps, and that I may lay
my offerings at her feet?'

'Fair child,' said Ione, touched and soothingly, 'give not thyself the pain
to cross these slippery floors, my attendant will bring to me what thou hast
to present'; and she motioned to the handmaid to take the vase.

'I may give these flowers to none but thee,' answered Nydia; and, guided by
her ear, she walked slowly to the place where Ione sat, and kneeling when
she came before her, proffered the vase.

Ione took it from her hand, and placed it on the table at her side. She
then raised her gently, and would have seated her on the couch, but the girl
modestly resisted.

'I have not yet discharged my office,' said she; and she drew the letter of
Glaucus from her vest. 'This will, perhaps, explain why he who sent me
chose so unworthy a messenger to Ione.'

The Neapolitan took the letter with a hand, the trembling of which Nydia at
once felt and sighed to feel. With folded arms, and downcast looks, she
stood before the proud and stately form of Ione--no less proud, perhaps, in
her attitude of submission. Ione waved her hand, and the attendants
withdrew; she gazed again upon the form of the young slave in surprise and
beautiful compassion; then, retiring a little from her, she opened and read
the following letter:

'Glaucus to Ione sends more than he dares to utter. Is Ione ill? thy slaves
tell me "No", and that assurance comforts me. Has Glaucus offended
Ione?--ah! that question I may not ask from them. For five days I have been
banished from thy presence. Has the sun shone?--I know it not. Has the sky
smiled?--it has had no smile for me. My sun and my sky are Ione. Do I
offend thee? Am I too bold? Do I say that on the tablet which my tongue
has hesitated to breathe? Alas! it is in thine absence that I feel most the
spells by which thou hast subdued me. And absence, that deprives me of joy,
brings me courage. Thou wilt not see me; thou hast banished also the common
flatterers that flock around thee. Canst thou confound me with them? It is
not possible! Thou knowest too well that I am not of them--that their clay
is not mine. For even were I of the humblest mould, the fragrance of the
rose has penetrated me, and the spirit of thy nature hath passed within me,
to embalm, to sanctify, to inspire. Have they slandered me to thee, Ione?
Thou wilt not believe them. Did the Delphic oracle itself tell me thou wert
unworthy, I would not believe it; and am I less incredulous than thou I
think of the last time we met--of the song which I sang to thee--of the look
that thou gavest me in return. Disguise it as thou wilt, Ione, there is
something kindred between us, and our eyes acknowledged it, though our lips
were silent. Deign to see me, to listen to me, and after that exclude me if
thou wilt. I meant not so soon to say I loved. But those words rush to my
heart--they will have way. Accept, then, my homage and my vows. We met
first at the shrine of Pallas; shall we not meet before a softer and a more
ancient altar?

'Beautiful! adored Ione! If my hot youth and my Athenian blood have
misguided and allured me, they have but taught my wanderings to appreciate
the rest--the haven they have attained. I hang up my dripping robes on the
Sea-god's shrine. I have escaped shipwreck. I have found THEE. Ione,
deign to see me; thou art gentle to strangers, wilt thou be less merciful to
those of thine own land? I await thy reply. Accept the flowers which I
send--their sweet breath has a language more eloquent than words. They take
from the sun the odorous they return--they are the emblem of the love that
receives and repays tenfold--the emblem of the heart that drunk thy rays,
and owes to thee the germ of the treasures that it proffers to thy smile. I
send these by one whom thou wilt receive for her own sake, if not for mine.
She, like us, is a stranger; her fathers' ashes lie under brighter skies:
but, less happy than we, she is blind and a slave. Poor Nydia! I seek as
much as possible to repair to her the cruelties of Nature and of Fate, in
asking permission to place her with thee. She is gentle, quick, and docile.
She is skilled in music and the song; and she is a very Chloris to the
flowers. She thinks, Ione, that thou wilt love her: if thou dost not, send
her back to me.

'One word more--let me be bold, Ione. Why thinkest thou so highly of yon
dark Egyptian? he hath not about him the air of honest men. We Greeks learn
mankind from our cradle; we are not the less profound, in that we affect no
sombre mien; our lips smile, but our eyes are grave--they observe--they
note--they study. Arbaces is not one to be credulously trusted: can it be
that he hath wronged me to thee? I think it, for I left him with thee; thou
sawest how my presence stung him; since then thou hast not admitted me.
Believe nothing that he can say to my disfavor; if thou dost, tell me so at
once; for this Ione owes to Glaucus. Farewell! this letter touches thy
hand; these characters meet thine eyes--shall they be more blessed than he
who is their author. Once more, farewell!'

It seemed to Ione, as she read this letter, as if a mist had fallen from her
eyes. What had been the supposed offence of Glaucus?--that he had not
really loved! And now, plainly, and in no dubious terms, he confessed that
love. From that moment his power was fully restored. At every tender word
in that letter, so full of romantic and trustful passion, her heart smote
her. And had she doubted his faith, and had she believed another? and had
she not, at least, allowed to him the culprit's right to know his crime, to
plead in his defence?--the tears rolled down her cheeks--she kissed the
letter--she placed it in her bosom: and, turning to Nydia, who stood in the
same place and in the same posture:

'Wilt thou sit, my child,' said she, 'while I write an answer to this
letter?'

'You will answer it, then!' said Nydia, coldly. 'Well, the slave that
accompanied me will take back your answer.'

'For you,' said Ione, 'stay with me--trust me, your service shall be light.'

Nydia bowed her head.

'What is your name, fair girl?'

'They call me Nydia.'

'Your country?'

'The land of Olympus--Thessaly.'

'Thou shalt be to me a friend,' said Ione, caressingly, 'as thou art already
half a countrywoman. Meanwhile, I beseech thee, stand not on these cold and
glassy marbles. There! now that thou art seated, I can leave thee for an
instant.'

'Ione to Glaucus greeting. Come to me, Glaucus,' wrote Ione, 'come to me
to-morrow. I may have been unjust to thee; but I will tell thee, at least,
the fault that has been imputed to thy charge. Fear not, henceforth, the
Egyptian--fear none. Thou sayest thou hast expressed too much--alas! in
these hasty words I have already done so. Farewell.'

As Ione reappeared with the letter, which she did not dare to read after she
had written (Ah! common rashness, common timidity of love!)--Nydia started
from her seat.

'You have written to Glaucus?'

'I have.'

'And will he thank the messenger who gives to him thy letter?'

Ione forgot that her companion was blind; she blushed from the brow to the
neck, and remained silent.

'I mean this,' added Nydia, in a calmer tone; 'the lightest word of coldness
from thee will sadden him--the lightest kindness will rejoice. If it be the
first, let the slave take back thine answer; if it be the last, let me--I
will return this evening'

'And why, Nydia,' asked Ione, evasively, 'Wouldst thou be the bearer of my
letter?'

'It is so, then!' said Nydia. 'Ah! how could it be otherwise; who could be
unkind to Glaucus?'

'My child,' said Ione, a little more reservedly than before, 'thou speakest
warmly--Glaucus, then, is amiable in thine eyes?'

'Noble Ione! Glaucus has been that to me which neither fortune nor the gods
have been--a friend!'

The sadness mingled with dignity with which Nydia uttered these simple
words, affected the beautiful Ione: she bent down and kissed her. 'Thou art
grateful, and deservedly so; why should I blush to say that Glaucus is
worthy of thy gratitude? Go, my Nydia--take to him thyself this letter--but
return again. If I am from home when thou returnest--as this evening,
perhaps, I shall be--thy chamber shall be prepared next my own. Nydia, I
have no sister--wilt thou be one to me?' The Thessalian kissed the hand of
Ione, and then said, with some embarrassment:

'One favor, fair Ione--may I dare to ask it?'

'Thou canst not ask what I will not grant,' replied the Neapolitan.

'They tell me,' said Nydia, 'that thou art beautiful beyond the loveliness
of earth. Alas! I cannot see that which gladdens the world! Wilt thou
suffer me, then, to pass my hand over thy face?--that is my sole criterion
of beauty, and I usually guess aright.'

She did not wait for the answer of Ione, but, as she spoke, gently and
slowly passed her hand over the bending and half-averted features of the
Greek--features which but one image in the world can yet depicture and
recall--that image is the mutilated, but all-wondrous, statue in her native
city--her own Neapolis--that Parian face, before which all the beauty of the
Florentine Venus is poor and earthly--that aspect so full of harmony--of
youth--of genius--of the soul--which modern critics have supposed the
representation of Psyche.

Her touch lingered over the braided hair and polished brow--over the downy
and damask cheek--over the dimpled lip--the swan-like and whitish neck. 'I
know now, that thou art beautiful,' she said: 'and I can picture thee to my
darkness henceforth, and for ever!'

When Nydia left her, Ione sank into a deep but delicious reverie. Glaucus
then loved her; he owned it--yes, he loved her. She drew forth again that
dear confession; she paused over every word, she kissed every line; she did
not ask why he had been maligned, she only felt assured that he had been so.
She wondered how she had ever believed a syllable against him; she wondered
how the Egyptian had been enabled to exercise a power against Glaucus; she
felt a chill creep over her as she again turned to his warning against
Arbaces, and her secret fear of that gloomy being darkened into awe. She
was awakened from these thoughts by her maidens, who came to announce to her
that the hour appointed to visit Arbaces was arrived; she started, she had
forgotten the promise. Her first impression was to renounce it; her second,
was to laugh at her own fears of her eldest surviving friend. She hastened
to add the usual ornaments to her dress, and doubtful whether she should yet
question the Egyptian more closely with respect to his accusation of
Glaucus, or whether she should wait till, without citing the authority, she
should insinuate to Glaucus the accusation itself, she took her way to the
gloomy mansion of Arbaces.

Chapter VII

IONE ENTRAPPED. THE MOUSE TRIES TO GNAW THE NET.

'DEAREST Nydia!' exclaimed Glaucus as he read the letter of Ione, 'whitest
robed messenger that ever passed between earth and heaven--how, how shall I
thank thee?'

'I am rewarded,' said the poor Thessalian.

'To-morrow--to-morrow! how shall I while the hours till then?'

The enamoured Greek would not let Nydia escape him, though she sought
several times to leave the chamber; he made her recite to him over and over
again every syllable of the brief conversation that had taken place between
her and Ione; a thousand times, forgetting her misfortune, he questioned her
of the looks, of the countenance of his beloved; and then quickly again
excusing his fault, he bade her recommence the whole recital which he had
thus interrupted. The hours thus painful to Nydia passed rapidly and
delightfully to him, and the twilight had already darkened ere he once more
dismissed her to Ione with a fresh letter and with new flowers. Scarcely
had she gone, than Clodius and several of his gay companions broke in upon
him; they rallied him on his seclusion during the whole day, and absence
from his customary haunts; they invited him to accompany them to the various
resorts in that lively city, which night and day proffered diversity to
pleasure. Then, as now, in the south (for no land, perhaps, losing more of
greatness has retained more of custom), it was the delight of the Italians
to assemble at the evening; and, under the porticoes of temples or the shade
of the groves that interspersed the streets, listening to music or the
recitals of some inventive tale-teller, they hailed the rising moon with
libations of wine and the melodies of song. Glaucus was too happy to be
unsocial; he longed to cast off the exuberance of joy that oppressed him.
He willingly accepted the proposal of his comrades, and laughingly they
sallied out together down the populous and glittering streets.

In the meantime Nydia once more gained the house of Ione, who had long left
it; she inquired indifferently whither Ione had gone.

The answer arrested and appalled her.

'To the house of Arbaces--of the Egyptian? Impossible!'

'It is true, my little one,' said the slave, who had replied to her
question. 'She has known the Egyptian long.'

'Long! ye gods, yet Glaucus loves her?' murmured Nydia to herself.

'And has,' asked she aloud, 'has she often visited him before?'

'Never till now,' answered the slave. 'If all the rumored scandal of
Pompeii be true, it would be better, perhaps, if she had not ventured there
at present. But she, poor mistress mine, hears nothing of that which
reaches us; the talk of the vestibulum reaches not to the peristyle.'

'Never till now!' repeated Nydia. 'Art thou sure?'

'Sure, pretty one: but what is that to thee or to us?'

Nydia hesitated a moment, and then, putting down the flowers with which she
had been charged, she called to the slave who had accompanied her, and left
the house without saying another word.

Not till she had got half-way back to the house of Glaucus did she break
silence, and even then she only murmured inly:

'She does not dream--she cannot--of the dangers into which she has plunged.
Fool that I am--shall I save her?--yes, for I love Glaucus better than
myself.'

When she arrived at the house of the Athenian, she learnt that he had gone
out with a party of his friends, and none knew whither. He probably would
not be home before midnight.

The Thessalian groaned; she sank upon a seat in the hall and covered her
face with her hands as if to collect her thoughts. 'There is no time to be
lost,' thought she, starting up. She turned to the slave who had
accompanied her.

'Knowest thou,' said she, 'if Ione has any relative, any intimate friend at
Pompeii?'

'Why, by Jupiter!' answered the slave, 'art thou silly enough to ask the
question? Every one in Pompeii knows that Ione has a brother who, young and
rich, has been--under the rose I speak--so foolish as to become a priest of
Isis.'

'A priest of Isis! O Gods! his name?'

'Apaecides.'

'I know it all,' muttered Nydia: 'brother and sister, then, are to be both
victims! Apaecides! yes, that was the name I heard in... Ha! he well, then,
knows the peril that surrounds his sister; I will go to him.'

She sprang up at that thought, and taking the staff which always guided her
steps, she hastened to the neighboring shrine of Isis. Till she had been
under the guardianship of the kindly Greek, that staff had sufficed to
conduct the poor blind girl from corner to corner of Pompeii. Every street,
every turning in the more frequented parts, was familiar to her; and as the
inhabitants entertained a tender and half-superstitious veneration for those
subject to her infirmity, the passengers had always given way to her timid
steps. Poor girl, she little dreamed that she should, ere many days were
passed, find her blindness her protection, and a guide far safer than the
keenest eyes!

But since she had been under the roof of Glaucus, he had ordered a slave to
accompany her always; and the poor devil thus appointed, who was somewhat of
the fattest, and who, after having twice performed the journey to Ione's
house, now saw himself condemned to a third excursion (whither the gods only
knew), hastened after her, deploring his fate, and solemnly assuring Castor
and Pollux that he believed the blind girl had the talaria of Mercury as
well as the infirmity of Cupid.

Nydia, however, required but little of his assistance to find her way to the
popular temple of Isis: the space before it was now deserted, and she won
without obstacle to the sacred rail.

'There is no one here,' said the fat slave. 'What dost thou want, or whom
Knowest thou not that the priests do not live in the temple?'

'Call out,' said she, impatiently; 'night and day there is always one
flamen, at least, watching in the shrine of Isis.'

The slave called--no one appeared.

'Seest thou no one?'

'No one.'

'Thou mistakest; I hear a sigh: look again.'

The slave, wondering and grumbling, cast round his heavy eyes, and before
one of the altars, whose remains still crowd the narrow space, he beheld a
form bending as in meditation.

'I see a figure, said he; 'and by the white garments, it is a priest.'

'O flamen of Isis!' cried Nydia; 'servant of the Most Ancient, hear me!'

'Who calls?' said a low and melancholy voice.

'One who has no common tidings to impart to a member of your body: I come to
declare and not to ask oracles.'

'With whom wouldst thou confer? This is no hour for thy conference; depart,
disturb me not; the night is sacred to the gods, the day to men.'

'Methinks I know thy voice? thou art he whom I seek; yet I have heard thee
speak but once before. Art thou not the priest Apaecides?'

'I am that man,' replied the priest, emerging from the altar, and
approaching the rail.

'Thou art! the gods be praised!' Waving her hand to the slave, she bade him
withdraw to a distance; and he, who naturally imagined some superstition
connected, perhaps, with the safety of Ione, could alone lead her to the
temple, obeyed, and seated himself on the ground, at a little distance.
'Hush!' said she, speaking quick and low; 'art thou indeed Apaecides?'

'If thou knowest me, canst thou not recall my features?'

'I am blind,' answered Nydia; 'my eyes are in my ear, and that recognizes
thee: yet swear that thou art he.'

'By the gods I swear it, by my right hand, and by the moon!'

'Hush! speak low--bend near--give me thy hand; knowest thou Arbaces? Hast
thou laid flowers at the feet of the dead? Ah! thy hand is cold--hark
yet!--hast thou taken the awful vow?'

'Who art thou, whence comest thou, pale maiden?' said Apaecides, fearfully:
'I know thee not; thine is not the breast on which this head hath lain; I
have never seen thee before.'

'But thou hast heard my voice: no matter, those recollections it should
shame us both to recall. Listen, thou hast a sister.'

'Speak! speak! what of her?'

'Thou knowest the banquets of the dead, stranger--it pleases thee, perhaps,
to share them--would it please thee to have thy sister a partaker? Would it
please thee that Arbaces was her host?'

'O gods, he dare not! Girl, if thou mockest me, tremble! I will tear thee
limb from limb!'

'I speak the truth; and while I speak, Ione is in the halls of Arbaces--for
the first time his guest. Thou knowest if there be peril in that first
time! Farewell! I have fulfilled my charge.'

'Stay! stay!' cried the priest, passing his wan hand over his brow. 'If
this be true, what--what can be done to save her? They may not admit me. I
know not all the mazes of that intricate mansion. O Nemesis! justly am I
punished!'

'I will dismiss yon slave, be thou my guide and comrade; I will lead thee to
the private door of the house: I will whisper to thee the word which admits.
Take some weapon: it may be needful!'

'Wait an instant,' said Apaecides, retiring into one of the cells that flank
the temple, and reappearing in a few moments wrapped in a large cloak, which
was then much worn by all classes, and which concealed his sacred dress.
'Now,' he said, grinding his teeth, 'if Arbaces hath dared to--but he dare
not! he dare not! Why should I suspect him? Is he so base a villain? I
will not think it--yet, sophist! dark bewilderer that he is! O gods
protect--hush! are there gods? Yes, there is one goddess, at least, whose
voice I can command; and that is--Vengeance!'

Muttering these disconnected thoughts, Apaecides, followed by his silent and
sightless companion, hastened through the most solitary paths to the house
of the Egyptian.

The slave, abruptly dismissed by Nydia, shrugged his shoulders, muttered an
adjuration, and, nothing loath, rolled off to his cubiculum.

Chapter VIII

THE SOLITUDE AND SOLILOQUY OF THE EGYPTIAN. HIS CHARACTER ANALYSED.

WE must go back a few hours in the progress of our story. At the first grey
dawn of the day, which Glaucus had already marked with white, the Egyptian
was seated, sleepless and alone, on the summit of the lofty and pyramidal
tower which flanked his house. A tall parapet around it served as a wall,
and conspired, with the height of the edifice and the gloomy trees that
girded the mansion, to defy the prying eyes of curiosity or observation. A
table, on which lay a scroll, filled with mystic figures, was before him.
On high, the stars waxed dim and faint, and the shades of night melted from
the sterile mountain-tops; only above Vesuvius there rested a deep and massy
cloud, which for several days past had gathered darker and more solid over
its summit. The struggle of night and day was more visible over the broad
ocean, which stretched calm, like a gigantic lake, bounded by the circling
shores that, covered with vines and foliage, and gleaming here and there
with the white walls of sleeping cities, sloped to the scarce rippling
waves.

It was the hour above all others most sacred to the daring science of the
Egyptian--the science which would read our changeful destinies in the stars.

He had filled his scroll, he had noted the moment and the sign; and, leaning
upon his hand, he had surrendered himself to the thoughts which his
calculation excited.

'Again do the stars forewarn me! Some danger, then, assuredly awaits me!'
said he, slowly; 'some danger, violent and sudden in its nature. The stars
wear for me the same mocking menace which, if our chronicles do not err,
they once wore for Pyrrhus--for him, doomed to strive for all things, to
enjoy none--all attacking, nothing gaining--battles without fruit, laurels
without triumph, fame without success; at last made craven by his own
superstitions, and slain like a dog by a tile from the hand of an old woman!
Verily, the stars flatter when they give me a type in this fool of war--when
they promise to the ardour of my wisdom the same results as to the madness
of his ambition--perpetual exercise--no certain goal!--the Sisyphus task,
the mountain and the stone!--the stone, a gloomy image!--it reminds me that
I am threatened with somewhat of the same death as the Epirote. Let me look
again. "Beware," say the shining prophets, "how thou passest under ancient
roofs, or besieged walls, or overhanging cliffs--a stone hurled from above,
is charged by the curses of destiny against thee!" And, at no distant date
from this, comes the peril: but I cannot, of a certainty, read the day and
hour. Well! if my glass runs low, the sands shall sparkle to the last. Yet,
if I escape this peril--ay, if I escape--bright and clear as the moonlight
track along the waters glows the rest of my existence. I see honors,
happiness, success, shining upon every billow of the dark gulf beneath which
I must sink at last. What, then, with such destinies beyond the peril,
shall I succumb to the peril? My soul whispers hope, it sweeps exultingly
beyond the boding hour, it revels in the future--its own courage is its
fittest omen. If I were to perish so suddenly and so soon, the shadow of
death would darken over me, and I should feel the icy presentiment of my
doom. My soul would express, in sadness and in gloom, its forecast of the
dreary Orcus. But it smiles--it assures me of deliverance.'

As he thus concluded his soliloquy, the Egyptian involuntarily rose. He
paced rapidly the narrow space of that star-roofed floor, and, pausing at
the parapet, looked again upon the grey and melancholy heavens. The chills
of the faint dawn came refreshingly upon his brow, and gradually his mind
resumed its natural and collected calm. He withdrew his gaze from the
stars, as, one after one, they receded into the depths of heaven; and his
eyes fell over the broad expanse below. Dim in the silenced port of the
city rose the masts of the galleys; along that mart of luxury and of labor
was stilled the mighty hum. No lights, save here and there from before the
columns of a temple, or in the porticoes of the voiceless forum, broke the
wan and fluctuating light of the struggling morn. From the heart of the
torpid city, so soon to vibrate with a thousand passions, there came no
sound: the streams of life circulated not; they lay locked under the ice of
sleep. From the huge space of the amphitheatre, with its stony seats rising
one above the other--coiled and round as some slumbering monster--rose a
thin and ghastly mist, which gathered darker, and more dark, over the
scattered foliage that gloomed in its vicinity. The city seemed as, after
the awful change of seventeen ages, it seems now to the traveler,--a City of
the Dead.'

The ocean itself--that serene and tideless sea--lay scarce less hushed, save
that from its deep bosom came, softened by the distance, a faint and regular
murmur, like the breathing of its sleep; and curving far, as with
outstretched arms, into the green and beautiful land, it seemed
unconsciously to clasp to its breast the cities sloping to its
margin--Stabiae, and Herculaneum, and Pompeii--those children and darlings
of the deep. 'Ye slumber,' said the Egyptian, as he scowled over the
cities, the boast and flower of Campania; 'ye slumber!--would it were the
eternal repose of death! As ye now--jewels in the crown of empire--so once
were the cities of the Nile! Their greatness hath perished from them, they
sleep amidst ruins, their palaces and their shrines are tombs, the serpent
coils in the grass of their streets, the lizard basks in their solitary
halls. By that mysterious law of Nature, which humbles one to exalt the
other, ye have thriven upon their ruins; thou, haughty Rome, hast usurped
the glories of Sesostris and Semiramis--thou art a robber, clothing thyself
with their spoils! And these--slaves in thy triumph--that I (the last son
of forgotten monarchs) survey below, reservoirs of thine all-pervading power
and luxury, I curse as I behold! The time shall come when Egypt shall be
avenged! when the barbarian's steed shall make his manger in the Golden
House of Nero! and thou that hast sown the wind with conquest shalt reap the
harvest in the whirlwind of desolation!'

As the Egyptian uttered a prediction which fate so fearfully fulfilled, a
more solemn and boding image of ill omen never occurred to the dreams of
painter or of poet. The morning light, which can pale so wanly even the
young cheek of beauty, gave his majestic and stately features almost the
colors of the grave, with the dark hair falling massively around them, and
the dark robes flowing long and loose, and the arm outstretched from that
lofty eminence, and the glittering eyes, fierce with a savage gladness--half
prophet and half fiend!

He turned his gaze from the city and the ocean; before him lay the vineyards
and meadows of the rich Campania. The gate and walls--ancient, half
Pelasgic--of the city, seemed not to bound its extent. Villas and villages
stretched on every side up the ascent of Vesuvius, not nearly then so steep
or so lofty as at present. For, as Rome itself is built on an exhausted
volcano, so in similar security the inhabitants of the South tenanted the
green and vine-clad places around a volcano whose fires they believed at
rest for ever. From the gate stretched the long street of tombs, various in
size and architecture, by which, on that side, the city is as yet
approached. Above all, rode the cloud-capped summit of the Dread Mountain,
with the shadows, now dark, now light, betraying the mossy caverns and ashy
rocks, which testified the past conflagrations, and might have
prophesied--but man is blind--that which was to come!

Difficult was it then and there to guess the causes why the tradition of the
place wore so gloomy and stern a hue; why, in those smiling plains, for
miles around--to Baiae and Misenum--the poets had imagined the entrance and
thresholds of their hell--their Acheron, and their fabled Styx: why, in
those Phlegrae, now laughing with the vine, they placed the battles of the
gods, and supposed the daring Titans to have sought the victory of
heaven--save, indeed, that yet, in yon seared and blasted summit, fancy
might think to read the characters of the Olympian thunderbolt.

But it was neither the rugged height of the still volcano, nor the fertility
of the sloping fields, nor the melancholy avenue of tombs, nor the
glittering villas of a polished and luxurious people, that now arrested the
eye of the Egyptian. On one part of the landscape, the mountain of Vesuvius
descended to the plain in a narrow and uncultivated ridge, broken here and
there by jagged crags and copses of wild foliage. At the base of this lay a
marshy and unwholesome pool; and the intent gaze of Arbaces caught the
outline of some living form moving by the marshes, and stooping ever and
anon as if to pluck its rank produce.

'Ho!' said he, aloud, 'I have then, another companion in these unworldly
night--watches. The witch of Vesuvius is abroad. What! doth she, too, as
the credulous imagine--doth she, too, learn the lore of the great stars?
Hath she been uttering foul magic to the moon, or culling (as her pauses
betoken) foul herbs from the venomous marsh? Well, I must see this
fellow-laborer. Whoever strives to know learns that no human lore is
despicable. Despicable only you--ye fat and bloated things--slaves of
luxury--sluggards in thought--who, cultivating nothing but the barren sense,
dream that its poor soil can produce alike the myrtle and the laurel. No,
the wise only can enjoy--to us only true luxury is given, when mind, brain,
invention, experience, thought, learning, imagination, all contribute like
rivers to swell the seas of SENSE!--Ione!'

As Arbaces uttered that last and charmed word, his thoughts sunk at once
into a more deep and profound channel. His steps paused; he took not his
eyes from the ground; once or twice he smiled joyously, and then, as he
turned from his place of vigil, and sought his couch, he muttered, 'If death
frowns so near, I will say at least that I have lived--Ione shall be mine!'

The character of Arbaces was one of those intricate and varied webs, in
which even the mind that sat within it was sometimes confused and perplexed.
In him, the son of a fallen dynasty, the outcast of a sunken people, was
that spirit of discontented pride, which ever rankles in one of a sterner
mould, who feels himself inexorably shut from the sphere in which his
fathers shone, and to which Nature as well as birth no less entitles
himself. This sentiment hath no benevolence; it wars with society, it sees
enemies in mankind. But with this sentiment did not go its common
companion, poverty. Arbaces possessed wealth which equalled that of most of
the Roman nobles; and this enabled him to gratify to the utmost the passions
which had no outlet in business or ambition. Travelling from clime to
clime, and beholding still Rome everywhere, he increased both his hatred of
society and his passion for pleasure. He was in a vast prison, which,
however, he could fill with the ministers of luxury. He could not escape
from the prison, and his only object, therefore, was to give it the
character of the palace. The Egyptians, from the earliest time, were
devoted to the joys of sense; Arbaces inherited both their appetite for
sensuality and the glow of imagination which struck light from its
rottenness. But still, unsocial in his pleasures as in his graver pursuits,
and brooking neither superior nor equal, he admitted few to his
companionship, save the willing slaves of his profligacy. He was the
solitary lord of a crowded harem; but, with all, he felt condemned to that
satiety which is the constant curse of men whose intellect is above their
pursuits, and that which once had been the impulse of passion froze down to
the ordinance of custom. >From the disappointments of sense he sought to
raise himself by the cultivation of knowledge; but as it was not his object
to serve mankind, so he despised that knowledge which is practical and
useful. His dark imagination loved to exercise itself in those more
visionary and obscure researches which are ever the most delightful to a
wayward and solitary mind, and to which he himself was invited by the daring
pride of his disposition and the mysterious traditions of his clime.
Dismissing faith in the confused creeds of the heathen world, he reposed the
greatest faith in the power of human wisdom. He did not know (perhaps no one
in that age distinctly did) the limits which Nature imposes upon our
discoveries. Seeing that the higher we mount in knowledge the more wonders
we behold, he imagined that Nature not only worked miracles in her ordinary
course, but that she might, by the cabala of some master soul, be diverted
from that course itself. Thus he pursued science, across her appointed
boundaries, into the land of perplexity and shadow. From the truths of
astronomy he wandered into astrological fallacy; from the secrets of
chemistry he passed into the spectral labyrinth of magic; and he who could
be sceptical as to the power of the gods, was credulously superstitious as
to the power of man.

The cultivation of magic, carried at that day to a singular height among the
would-be wise, was especially Eastern in its origin; it was alien to the
early philosophy of the Greeks; nor had it been received by them with favor
until Ostanes, who accompanied the army of Xerxes, introduced, amongst the
simple credulities of Hellas, the solemn superstitions of Zoroaster. Under
the Roman emperors it had become, however, naturalized at Rome (a meet
subject for Juvenal's fiery wit). Intimately connected with magic was the
worship of Isis, and the Egyptian religion was the means by which was
extended the devotion to Egyptian sorcery. The theurgic, or benevolent
magic--the goetic, or dark and evil necromancy--were alike in pre-eminent
repute during the first century of the Christian era; and the marvels of
Faustus are not comparable to those of Apollonius. Kings, courtiers, and
sages, all trembled before the professors of the dread science. And not the
least remarkable of his tribe was the most formidable and profound Arbaces.
His fame and his discoveries were known to all the cultivators of magic;
they even survived himself. But it was not by his real name that he was
honored by the sorcerer and the sage: his real name, indeed, was unknown in
Italy, for 'Arbaces' was not a genuinely Egyptian but a Median appellation,
which, in the admixture and unsettlement of the ancient races, had become
common in the country of the Nile; and there were various reasons, not only
of pride, but of policy (for in youth he had conspired against the majesty
of Rome), which induced him to conceal his true name and rank. But neither
by the name he had borrowed from the Mede, nor by that which in the colleges
of Egypt would have attested his origin from kings, did the cultivators of
magic acknowledge the potent master. He received from their homage a more
mystic appellation, and was long remembered in Magna Graecia and the Eastern
plain by the name of 'Hermes, the Lord of the Flaming Belt'. His subtle
speculations and boasted attributes of wisdom, recorded in various volumes,
were among those tokens 'of the curious arts' which the Christian converts
most joyfully, yet most fearfully, burnt at Ephesus, depriving posterity of
the proofs of the cunning of the fiend.

The conscience of Arbaces was solely of the intellect--it was awed by no
moral laws. If man imposed these checks upon the herd, so he believed that
man, by superior wisdom, could raise himself above them. 'If (he reasoned) I
have the genius to impose laws, have I not the right to command my own
creations? Still more, have I not the right to control--to evade--to
scorn--the fabrications of yet meaner intellects than my own?' Thus, if he
were a villain, he justified his villainy by what ought to have made him
virtuous--namely, the elevation of his capacities.

Most men have more or less the passion for power; in Arbaces that passion
corresponded exactly to his character. It was not the passion for an
external and brute authority. He desired not the purple and the fasces, the
insignia of vulgar command. His youthful ambition once foiled and defeated,
scorn had supplied its place--his pride, his contempt for Rome--Rome, which
had become the synonym of the world (Rome, whose haughty name he regarded
with the same disdain as that which Rome herself lavished upon the
barbarian), did not permit him to aspire to sway over others, for that would
render him at once the tool or creature of the emperor. He, the Son of the
Great Race of Rameses--he execute the orders of, and receive his power from,
another!--the mere notion filled him with rage. But in rejecting an
ambition that coveted nominal distinctions, he but indulged the more in the
ambition to rule the heart. Honoring mental power as the greatest of
earthly gifts, he loved to feel that power palpably in himself, by extending
it over all whom he encountered. Thus had he ever sought the young--thus
had he ever fascinated and controlled them. He loved to find subjects in
men's souls--to rule over an invisible and immaterial empire!--had he been
less sensual and less wealthy, he might have sought to become the founder of
a new religion. As it was, his energies were checked by his pleasures.
Besides, however, the vague love of this moral sway (vanity so dear to
sages!) he was influenced by a singular and dreamlike devotion to all that
belonged to the mystic Land his ancestors had swayed. Although he
disbelieved in her deities, he believed in the allegories they represented
(or rather he interpreted those allegories anew). He loved to keep alive
the worship of Egypt, because he thus maintained the shadow and the
recollection of her power. He loaded, therefore, the altars of Osiris and
of Isis with regal donations, and was ever anxious to dignify their
priesthood by new and wealthy converts. The vow taken--the priesthood
embraced--he usually chose the comrades of his pleasures from those whom he
made his victims, partly because he thus secured to himself their
secrecy--partly because he thus yet more confirmed to himself his peculiar
power. Hence the motives of his conduct to Apaecides, strengthened as these
were, in that instance, by his passion for Ione.

He had seldom lived long in one place; but as he grew older, he grew more
wearied of the excitement of new scenes, and he had sojourned among the
delightful cities of Campania for a period which surprised even himself. In
fact, his pride somewhat crippled his choice of residence. His unsuccessful
conspiracy excluded him from those burning climes which he deemed of right
his own hereditary possession, and which now cowered, supine and sunken,
under the wings of the Roman eagle. Rome herself was hateful to his
indignant soul; nor did he love to find his riches rivalled by the minions
of the court, and cast into comparative poverty by the mighty magnificence
of the court itself. The Campanian cities proffered to him all that his
nature craved--the luxuries of an unequalled climate--the imaginative
refinements of a voluptuous civilization. He was removed from the sight of
a superior wealth; he was without rivals to his riches; he was free from the
spies of a jealous court. As long as he was rich, none pried into his
conduct. He pursued the dark tenour of his way undisturbed and secure.

It is the curse of sensualists never to love till the pleasures of sense
begin to pall; their ardent youth is frittered away in countless
desires--their hearts are exhausted. So, ever chasing love, and taught by a
restless imagination to exaggerate, perhaps, its charms, the Egyptian had
spent all the glory of his years without attaining the object of his
desires. The beauty of to-morrow succeeded the beauty of to-day, and the
shadows bewildered him in his pursuit of the substance. When, two years
before the present date, he beheld Ione, he saw, for the first time, one
whom he imagined he could love. He stood, then, upon that bridge of life,
from which man sees before him distinctly a wasted youth on the one side,
and the darkness of approaching age upon the other: a time in which we are
more than ever anxious, perhaps, to secure to ourselves, ere it be yet too
late, whatever we have been taught to consider necessary to the enjoyment of
a life of which the brighter half is gone.

With an earnestness and a patience which he had never before commanded for
his pleasures, Arbaces had devoted himself to win the heart of Ione. It did
not content him to love, he desired to be loved. In this hope he had watched
the expanding youth of the beautiful Neapolitan; and, knowing the influence
that the mind possesses over those who are taught to cultivate the mind, he
had contributed willingly to form the genius and enlighten the intellect of
Ione, in the hope that she would be thus able to appreciate what he felt
would be his best claim to her affection: viz, a character which, however
criminal and perverted, was rich in its original elements of strength and
grandeur. When he felt that character to be acknowledged, he willingly
allowed, nay, encouraged her, to mix among the idle votaries of pleasure, in
the belief that her soul, fitted for higher commune, would miss the
companionship of his own, and that, in comparison with others, she would
learn to love herself. He had forgot, that as the sunflower to the sun, so
youth turns to youth, until his jealousy of Glaucus suddenly apprised him of
his error. From that moment, though, as we have seen, he knew not the
extent of his danger, a fiercer and more tumultuous direction was given to a
passion long controlled. Nothing kindles the fire of love like the
sprinkling of the anxieties of jealousy; it takes then a wilder, a more
resistless flame; it forgets its softness; it ceases to be tender; it
assumes something of the intensity--of the ferocity--of hate.

Arbaces resolved to lose no further time upon cautious and perilous
preparations: he resolved to place an irrevocable barrier between himself
and his rivals: he resolved to possess himself of the person of Ione: not
that in his present love, so long nursed and fed by hopes purer than those
of passion alone, he would have been contented with that mere possession.
He desired the heart, the soul, no less than the beauty, of Ione; but he
imagined that once separated by a daring crime from the rest of
mankind--once bound to Ione by a tie that memory could not break, she would
be driven to concentrate her thoughts in him--that his arts would complete
his conquest, and that, according to the true moral of the Roman and the
Sabine, the empire obtained by force would be cemented by gentler means.
This resolution was yet more confirmed in him by his belief in the
prophecies of the stars: they had long foretold to him this year, and even
the present month, as the epoch of some dread disaster, menacing life
itself. He was driven to a certain and limited date. He resolved to crowd,
monarch-like, on his funeral pyre all that his soul held most dear. In his
own words, if he were to die, he resolved to feel that he had lived, and
that Ione should be his own.

Chapter IX

WHAT BECOMES OF IONE IN THE HOUSE OF ARBACES. THE FIRST SIGNAL OF THE WRATH
OF THE DREAD FOE.

WHEN Ione entered the spacious hall of the Egyptian, the same awe which had
crept over her brother impressed itself also upon her: there seemed to her
as to him something ominous and warning in the still and mournful faces of
those dread Theban monsters, whose majestic and passionless features the
marble so well portrayed:

  Their look, with the reach of past ages, was wise,
  And the soul of eternity thought in their eyes.

The tall AEthiopian slave grinned as he admitted her, and motioned to her to
proceed. Half-way up the hall she was met by Arbaces himself, in festive
robes, which glittered with jewels. Although it was broad day without, the
mansion, according to the practice of the luxurious, was artificially
darkened, and the lamps cast their still and odor-giving light over the rich
floors and ivory roofs.

'Beautiful Ione,' said Arbaces, as he bent to touch her hand, 'it is you
that have eclipsed the day--it is your eyes that light up the halls--it is
your breath which fills them with perfumes.'

'You must not talk to me thus,' said Ione, smiling, 'you forget that your
lore has sufficiently instructed my mind to render these graceful flatteries
to my person unwelcome. It was you who taught me to disdain adulation: will
you unteach your pupil?'

There was something so frank and charming in the manner of Ione, as she thus
spoke, that the Egyptian was more than ever enamoured, and more than ever
disposed to renew the offence he had committed; he, however, answered
quickly and gaily, and hastened to renew the conversation.

He led her through the various chambers of a house, which seemed to contain
to her eyes, inexperienced to other splendor than the minute elegance of
Campanian cities, the treasures of the world.

In the walls were set pictures of inestimable art, the lights shone over
statues of the noblest age of Greece. Cabinets of gems, each cabinet itself
a gem, filled up the interstices of the columns; the most precious woods
lined the thresholds and composed the doors; gold and jewels seemed lavished
all around. Sometimes they were alone in these rooms--sometimes they passed
through silent rows of slaves, who, kneeling as she passed, proffered to her
offerings of bracelets, of chains, of gems, which the Egyptian vainly
entreated her to receive.

'I have often heard,' said she, wonderingly, 'that you were rich; but I
never dreamed of the amount of your wealth.'

'Would I could coin it all,' replied the Egyptian, 'into one crown, which I
might place upon that snowy brow!'

'Alas! the weight would crush me; I should be a second Tarpeia,' answered
Ione, laughingly.

'But thou dost not disdain riches, O Ione! they know not what life is
capable of who are not wealthy. Gold is the great magician of earth--it
realizes our dreams--it gives them the power of a god--there is a grandeur,
a sublimity, in its possession; it is the mightiest, yet the most obedient
of our slaves.'

The artful Arbaces sought to dazzle the young Neapolitan by his treasures
and his eloquence; he sought to awaken in her the desire to be mistress of
what she surveyed: he hoped that she would confound the owner with the
possessions, and that the charms of his wealth would be reflected on
himself. Meanwhile, Ione was secretly somewhat uneasy at the gallantries
which escaped from those lips, which, till lately, had seemed to disdain the
common homage we pay to beauty; and with that delicate subtlety, which woman
alone possesses, she sought to ward off shafts deliberately aimed, and to
laugh or to talk away the meaning from his warming language. Nothing in the
world is more pretty than that same species of defence; it is the charm of
the African necromancer who professed with a feather to turn aside the
winds.

The Egyptian was intoxicated and subdued by her grace even more than by her
beauty: it was with difficulty that he suppressed his emotions; alas! the
feather was only powerful against the summer breezes--it would be the sport
of the storm.

Suddenly, as they stood in one hall, which was surrounded by draperies of
silver and white, the Egyptian clapped his hands, and, as if by enchantment,
a banquet rose from the floor--a couch or throne, with a crimson canopy,
ascended simultaneously at the feet of Ione--and at the same instant from
behind the curtains swelled the invisible and softest music.

Arbaces placed himself at the feet of Ione--and children, young and
beautiful as Loves, ministered to the feast.

The feast was over, the music sank into a low and subdued strain, and
Arbaces thus addressed his beautiful guest:

'Hast thou never in this dark and uncertain world--hast thou never aspired,
my pupil, to look beyond--hast thou never wished to put aside the veil of
futurity, and to behold on the shores of Fate the shadowy images of things
to be? For it is not the past alone that has its ghosts: each event to come
has also its spectrum--its shade; when the hour arrives, life enters it, the
shadow becomes corporeal, and walks the world. Thus, in the land beyond the
grave, are ever two impalpable and spiritual hosts--the things to be, the
things that have been! If by our wisdom we can penetrate that land, we see
the one as the other, and learn, as I have learned, not alone the mysteries
of the dead, but also the destiny of the living.'

'As thou hast learned!--Can wisdom attain so far?'

'Wilt thou prove my knowledge, Ione, and behold the representation of thine
own fate? It is a drama more striking than those of AEschylus: it is one I
have prepared for thee, if thou wilt see the shadows perform their part.'

The Neapolitan trembled; she thought of Glaucus, and sighed as well as
trembled: were their destinies to be united? Half incredulous, half
believing, half awed, half alarmed by the words of her strange host, she
remained for some moments silent, and then answered:

'It may revolt--it may terrify; the knowledge of the future will perhaps
only embitter the present!'

'Not so, Ione. I have myself looked upon thy future lot, and the ghosts of
thy Future bask in the gardens of Elysium: amidst the asphodel and the rose
they prepare the garlands of thy sweet destiny, and the Fates, so harsh to
others, weave only for thee the web of happiness and love. Wilt thou then
come and behold thy doom, so that thou mayest enjoy it beforehand?'

Again the heart of Ione murmured 'Glaucus'; she uttered a half-audible
assent; the Egyptian rose, and taking her by the hand, he led her across the
banquet-room--the curtains withdrew as by magic hands, and the music broke
forth in a louder and gladder strain; they passed a row of columns, on
either side of which fountains cast aloft their fragrant waters; they
descended by broad and easy steps into a garden. The eve had commenced; the
moon was already high in heaven, and those sweet flowers that sleep by day,
and fill, with ineffable odorous, the airs of night, were thickly scattered
amidst alleys cut through the star-lit foliage; or, gathered in baskets, lay
like offerings at the feet of the frequent statues that gleamed along their
path.

'Whither wouldst thou lead me, Arbaces?' said Ione, wonderingly.

'But yonder,' said he, pointing to a small building which stood at the end
of the vista. 'It is a temple consecrated to the Fates--our rites require
such holy ground.'

They passed into a narrow hall, at the end of which hung a sable curtain.
Arbaces lifted it; Ione entered, and found herself in total darkness.

'Be not alarmed,' said the Egyptian, 'the light will rise instantly.' While
he so spoke, a soft, and warm, and gradual light diffused itself around; as
it spread over each object, Ione perceived that she was in an apartment of
moderate size, hung everywhere with black; a couch with draperies of the
same hue was beside her. In the centre of the room was a small altar, on
which stood a tripod of bronze. At one side, upon a lofty column of
granite, was a colossal head of the blackest marble, which she perceived, by
the crown of wheat-ears that encircled the brow, represented the great
Egyptian goddess. Arbaces stood before the altar: he had laid his garland
on the shrine, and seemed occupied with pouring into the tripod the contents
of a brazen vase; suddenly from that tripod leaped into life a blue, quick,
darting, irregular flame; the Egyptian drew back to the side of Ione, and
muttered some words in a language unfamiliar to her ear; the curtain at the
back of the altar waved tremulously to and fro--it parted slowly, and in the
aperture which was thus made, Ione beheld an indistinct and pale landscape,
which gradually grew brighter and clearer as she gazed; at length she
discovered plainly trees, and rivers, and meadows, and all the beautiful
diversity of the richest earth. At length, before the landscape, a dim
shadow glided; it rested opposite to Ione; slowly the same charm seemed to
operate upon it as over the rest of the scene; it took form and shape, and
lo!--in its feature and in its form Ione beheld herself!

Then the scene behind the spectre faded away, and was succeeded by the
representation of a gorgeous palace; a throne was raised in the centre of
its hall, the dim forms of slaves and guards were ranged around it, and a
pale hand held over the throne the likeness of a diadem.

A new actor now appeared; he was clothed from head to foot in a dark
robe--his face was concealed--he knelt at the feet of the shadowy Ione--he
clasped her hand--he pointed to the throne, as if to invite her to ascend
it.

The Neapolitan's heart beat violently. 'Shall the shadow disclose itself?'
whispered a voice beside her--the voice of Arbaces.

'Ah, yes!' answered Ione, softly.

Arbaces raised his hand--the spectre seemed to drop the mantle that
concealed its form--and Ione shrieked--it was Arbaces himself that thus
knelt before her.

'This is, indeed, thy fate!' whispered again the Egyptian's voice in her
ear. 'And thou art destined to be the bride of Arbaces.'

Ione started--the black curtain closed over the phantasmagoria: and Arbaces
himself--the real, the living Arbaces--was at her feet.

'Oh, Ione!' said he, passionately gazing upon her, 'listen to one who has
long struggled vainly with his love. I adore thee! The Fates do not
lie--thou art destined to be mine--I have sought the world around, and found
none like thee. From my youth upward, I have sighed for such as thou art.
I have dreamed till I saw thee--I wake, and I behold thee. Turn not away
from me, Ione; think not of me as thou hast thought; I am not that
being--cold, insensate, and morose, which I have seemed to thee. Never
woman had lover so devoted--so passionate as I will be to Ione. Do not
struggle in my clasp: see--I release thy hand. Take it from me if thou
wilt--well be it so! But do not reject me, Ione--do not rashly
reject--judge of thy power over him whom thou canst thus transform. I, who
never knelt to mortal being, kneel to thee. I, who have commanded fate,
receive from thee my own. Ione, tremble not, thou art my queen--my
goddess--be my bride! All the wishes thou canst form shall be fulfilled.
The ends of the earth shall minister to thee--pomp, power, luxury, shall be
thy slaves. Arbaces shall have no ambition, save the pride of obeying thee.
Ione, turn upon me those eyes--shed upon me thy smile. Dark is my soul when
thy face is hid from it: shine over me, my sun--my heaven--my
daylight!--Ione, Ione--do not reject my love!'

Alone, and in the power of this singular and fearful man, Ione was not yet
terrified; the respect of his language, the softness of his voice, reassured
her; and, in her own purity, she felt protection. But she was
confused--astonished: it was some moments before she could recover the power
of reply.

'Rise, Arbaces!' said she at length; and she resigned to him once more her
hand, which she as quickly withdrew again, when she felt upon it the burning
pressure of his lips. 'Rise! and if thou art serious, if thy language be in
earnest...'

'If!' said he tenderly.

'Well, then, listen to me: you have been my guardian, my friend, my monitor;
for this new character I was not prepared--think not,' she added quickly, as
she saw his dark eyes glitter with the fierceness of his passion--'think not
that I scorn--that I am untouched--that I am not honored by this homage;
but, say--canst thou hear me calmly?'

'Ay, though thy words were lightning, and could blast me!'

'I love another!' said Ione, blushingly, but in a firm voice.

'By the gods--by hell!' shouted Arbaces, rising to his fullest height; 'dare
not tell me that--dare not mock me--it is impossible!--Whom hast thou
seen--whom known? Oh, Ione, it is thy woman's invention, thy woman's art
that speaks--thou wouldst gain time; I have surprised--I have terrified
thee. Do with me as thou wilt--say that thou lovest not me; but say not
that thou lovest another!'

'Alas!' began Ione; and then, appalled before his sudden and unlooked-for
violence, she burst into tears.

Arbaces came nearer to her--his breath glowed fiercely on her cheek; he
wound his arms round her--she sprang from his embrace. In the struggle a
tablet fell from her bosom on the ground: Arbaces perceived, and seized
it--it was the letter that morning received from Glaucus. Ione sank upon
the couch, half dead with terror.

Rapidly the eyes of Arbaces ran over the writing; the Neapolitan did not
dare to gaze upon him: she did not see the deadly paleness that came over
his countenance--she marked not his withering frown, nor the quivering of
his lip, nor the convulsions that heaved his breast. He read it to the end,
and then, as the letter fell from his hand, he said, in a voice of deceitful
calmness:

'Is the writer of this the man thou lovest?'

Ione sobbed, but answered not.

'Speak!' he rather shrieked than said.

'It is--it is!

'And his name--it is written here--his name is Glaucus!'

Ione, clasping her hands, looked round as for succour or escape.

'Then hear me,' said Arbaces, sinking his voice into a whisper; 'thou shalt
go to thy tomb rather than to his arms! What! thinkest thou Arbaces will
brook a rival such as this puny Greek? What! thinkest thou that he has
watched the fruit ripen, to yield it to another! Pretty fool--no! Thou art
mine--all--only mine: and thus--thus I seize and claim thee!' As he spoke,
he caught Ione in his arms; and, in that ferocious grasp, was all the
energy--less of love than of revenge.

But to Ione despair gave supernatural strength: she again tore herself from
him--she rushed to that part of the room by which she had entered--she half
withdrew the curtain--he had seized her--again she broke away from him--and
fell, exhausted, and with a loud shriek, at the base of the column which
supported the head of the Egyptian goddess. Arbaces paused for a moment, as
if to regain his breath; and thence once more darted upon his prey.

At that instant the curtain was rudely torn aside, the Egyptian felt a
fierce and strong grasp upon his shoulder. He turned--he beheld before him
the flashing eyes of Glaucus, and the pale, worn, but menacing, countenance
of Apaecides. 'Ah,' he muttered, as he glared from one to the other, 'what
Fury hath sent ye hither?'

'Ate,' answered Glaucus; and he closed at once with the Egyptian.
Meanwhile, Apaecides raised his sister, now lifeless, from the ground; his
strength, exhausted by a mind long overwrought, did not suffice to bear her
away, light and delicate though her shape: he placed her, therefore, on the
couch, and stood over her with a brandishing knife, watching the contest
between Glaucus and the Egyptian, and ready to plunge his weapon in the
bosom of Arbaces should he be victorious in the struggle. There is,
perhaps, nothing on earth so terrible as the naked and unarmed contest of
animal strength, no weapon but those which Nature supplies to rage. Both
the antagonists were now locked in each other's grasp--the hand of each
seeking the throat of the other--the face drawn back--the fierce eyes
flashing--the muscles strained--the veins swelled--the lips apart--the teeth
set--both were strong beyond the ordinary power of men, both animated by
relentless wrath; they coiled, they wound, around each other; they rocked to
and fro--they swayed from end to end of their confined arena--they uttered
cries of ire and revenge--they were now before the altar--now at the base of
the column where the struggle had commenced: they drew back for
breath--Arbaces leaning against the column--Glaucus a few paces apart.

'O ancient goddess!' exclaimed Arbaces, clasping the column, and raising his
eyes toward the sacred image it supported, 'protect thy chosen--proclaim
they vengeance against this thing of an upstart creed, who with sacrilegious
violence profanes thy resting-place and assails thy servant.'

As he spoke, the still and vast features of the goddess seemed suddenly to
glow with life; through the black marble, as through a transparent veil,
flushed luminously a crimson and burning hue; around the head played and
darted coruscations of livid lightning; the eyes became like balls of lurid
fire, and seemed fixed in withering and intolerable wrath upon the
countenance of the Greek. Awed and appalled by this sudden and mystic
answer to the prayer of his foe, and not free from the hereditary
superstitions of his race, the cheeks of Glaucus paled before that strange
and ghastly animation of the marble--his knees knocked together--he stood,
seized with a divine panic, dismayed, aghast, half unmanned before his foe!
Arbaces gave him not breathing time to recover his stupor: 'Die, wretch!' he
shouted, in a voice of thunder, as he sprang upon the Greek; 'the Mighty
Mother claims thee as a living sacrifice!' Taken thus by surprise in the
first consternation of his superstitious fears, the Greek lost his
footing--the marble floor was as smooth as glass--he slid--he fell. Arbaces
planted his foot on the breast of his fallen foe. Apaecides, taught by his
sacred profession, as well as by his knowledge of Arbaces, to distrust all
miraculous interpositions, had not shared the dismay of his companion; he
rushed forward--his knife gleamed in the air--the watchful Egyptian caught
his arm as it descended--one wrench of his powerful hand tore the weapon
from the weak grasp of the priest--one sweeping blow stretched him to the
earth--with a loud and exulting yell Arbaces brandished the knife on high.
Glaucus gazed upon his impending fate with unwinking eyes, and in the stern
and scornful resignation of a fallen gladiator, when, at that awful instant,
the floor shook under them with a rapid and convulsive throe--a mightier
spirit than that of the Egyptian was abroad!--a giant and crushing power,
before which sunk into sudden impotence his passion and his arts. IT
woke--it stirred--that Dread Demon of the Earthquake--laughing to scorn
alike the magic of human guile and the malice of human wrath. As a Titan,
on whom the mountains are piled, it roused itself from the sleep of years,
it moved on its tortured couch--the caverns below groaned and trembled
beneath the motion of its limbs. In the moment of his vengeance and his
power, the self-prized demigod was humbled to his real clay. Far and wide
along the soil went a hoarse and rumbling sound--the curtains of the chamber
shook as at the blast of a storm--the altar rocked--the tripod reeled, and
high over the place of contest, the column trembled and waved from side to
side--the sable head of the goddess tottered and fell from its pedestal--and
as the Egyptian stooped above his intended victim, right upon his bended
form, right between the shoulder and the neck, struck the marble mass! The
shock stretched him like the blow of death, at once, suddenly, without sound
or motion, or semblance of life, upon the floor, apparently crushed by the
very divinity he had impiously animated and invoked!

'The Earth has preserved her children,' said Glaucus, staggering to his
feet. 'Blessed be the dread convulsion! Let us worship the providence of
the gods!' He assisted Apaecides to rise, and then turned upward the face of
Arbaces; it seemed locked as in death; blood gushed from the Egyptian's lips
over his glittering robes; he fell heavily from the arms of Glaucus, and the
red stream trickled slowly along the marble. Again the earth shook beneath
their feet; they were forced to cling to each other; the convulsion ceased
as suddenly as it came; they tarried no longer; Glaucus bore Ione lightly in
his arms, and they fled from the unhallowed spot. But scarce had they
entered the garden than they were met on all sides by flying and disordered
groups of women and slaves, whose festive and glittering garments contrasted
in mockery the solemn terror of the hour; they did not appear to heed the
strangers--they were occupied only with their own fears. After the
tranquillity of sixteen years, that burning and treacherous soil again
menaced destruction; they uttered but one cry, 'THE EARTHQUAKE! THE
EARTHQUAKE!' and passing unmolested from the midst of them, Apaecides and
his companions, without entering the house, hastened down one of the alleys,
passed a small open gate, and there, sitting on a little mound over which
spread the gloom of the dark green aloes, the moonlight fell on the bended
figure of the blind girl--she was weeping bitterly.

BOOK THE THIRD

Chapter I

THE FORUM OF THE POMPEIANS. THE FIRST RUDE MACHINERY BY WHICH THE NEW ERA
OF THE WORLD WAS WROUGHT.

IT was early noon, and the forum was crowded alike with the busy and the
idle. As at Paris at this day, so at that time in the cities of Italy, men
lived almost wholly out of doors: the public buildings, the forum, the
porticoes, the baths, the temples themselves, might be considered their real
homes; it was no wonder that they decorated so gorgeously these favorite
places of resort--they felt for them a sort of domestic affection as well as
a public pride. And animated was, indeed, the aspect of the forum of
Pompeii at that time! Along its broad pavement, composed of large flags of
marble, were assembled various groups, conversing in that energetic fashion
which appropriates a gesture to every word, and which is still the
characteristic of the people of the south. Here, in seven stalls on one
side the colonnade, sat the money-changers, with their glittering heaps
before them, and merchants and seamen in various costumes crowding round
their stalls. On one side, several men in long togas were seen bustling
rapidly up to a stately edifice, where the magistrates administered
justice--these were the lawyers, active, chattering, joking, and punning, as
you may find them at this day in Westminster. In the centre of the space,
pedestals supported various statues, of which the most remarkable was the
stately form of Cicero. Around the court ran a regular and symmetrical
colonnade of Doric architecture; and there several, whose business drew them
early to the place, were taking the slight morning repast which made an
Italian breakfast, talking vehemently on the earthquake of the preceding
night as they dipped pieces of bread in their cups of diluted wine. In the
open space, too, you might perceive various petty traders exercising the
arts of their calling. Here one man was holding out ribands to a fair dame
from the country; another man was vaunting to a stout farmer the excellence
of his shoes; a third, a kind of stall-restaurateur, still so common in the
Italian cities, was supplying many a hungry mouth with hot messes from his
small and itinerant stove, while--contrast strongly typical of the mingled
bustle and intellect of the time--close by, a schoolmaster was expounding to
his puzzled pupils the elements of the Latin grammar.' A gallery above the
portico, which was ascended by small wooden staircases, had also its throng;
though, as here the immediate business of the place was mainly carried on,
its groups wore a more quiet and serious air.

Every now and then the crowd below respectfully gave way as some senator
swept along to the Temple of Jupiter (which filled up one side of the forum,
and was the senators' hall of meeting), nodding with ostentatious
condescension to such of his friends or clients as he distinguished amongst
the throng. Mingling amidst the gay dresses of the better orders you saw
the hardy forms of the neighboring farmers, as they made their way to the
public granaries. Hard by the temple you caught a view of the triumphal
arch, and the long street beyond swarming with inhabitants; in one of the
niches of the arch a fountain played, cheerily sparkling in the sunbeams;
and above its cornice rose the bronzed and equestrian statue of Caligula,
strongly contrasting the gay summer skies. Behind the stalls of the
money-changers was that building now called the Pantheon; and a crowd of the
poorer Pompeians passed through the small vestibule which admitted to the
interior, with panniers under their arms, pressing on towards a platform,
placed between two columns, where such provisions as the priests had rescued
from sacrifice were exposed for sale.

At one of the public edifices appropriated to the business of the city,
workmen were employed upon the columns, and you heard the noise of their
labor every now and then rising above the hum of the multitude: the columns
are unfinished to this day!

All, then, united, nothing could exceed in variety the costumes, the ranks,
the manners, the occupations of the crowd--nothing could exceed the bustle,
the gaiety, the animation--where pleasure and commerce, idleness and labor,
avarice and ambition, mingled in one gulf their motley rushing, yet
harmonius, streams.

Facing the steps of the Temple of Jupiter, with folded arms, and a knit and
contemptuous brow, stood a man of about fifty years of age. His dress was
remarkably plain--not so much from its material, as from the absence of all
those ornaments which were worn by the Pompeians of every rank--partly from
the love of show, partly, also, because they were chiefly wrought into those
shapes deemed most efficacious in resisting the assaults of magic and the
influence of the evil eye. His forehead was high and bald; the few locks
that remained at the back of the head were concealed by a sort of cowl,
which made a part of his cloak, to be raised or lowered at pleasure, and was
now drawn half-way over the head, as a protection from the rays of the sun.
The color of his garments was brown, no popular hue with the Pompeians; all
the usual admixtures of scarlet or purple seemed carefully excluded. His
belt, or girdle, contained a small receptacle for ink, which hooked on to
the girdle, a stilus (or implement of writing), and tablets of no ordinary
size. What was rather remarkable, the cincture held no purse, which was the
almost indispensable appurtenance of the girdle, even when that purse had
the misfortune to be empty!

It was not often that the gay and egotistical Pompeians busied themselves
with observing the countenances and actions of their neighbors; but there
was that in the lip and eye of this bystander so remarkably bitter and
disdainful, as he surveyed the religious procession sweeping up the stairs
of the temple, that it could not fail to arrest the notice of many.

'Who is yon cynic?' asked a merchant of his companion, a jeweller.

'It is Olinthus,' replied the jeweller; 'a reputed Nazarene.'

The merchant shuddered. 'A dread sect!' said he, in a whispered and fearful
voice. 'It is said. that when they meet at nights they always commence
their ceremonies by the murder of a new-born babe; they profess a community
of goods, too--the wretches! A community of goods! What would become of
merchants, or jewellers either, if such notions were in fashion?'

'That is very true,' said the jeweller; 'besides, they wear no jewels--they
mutter imprecations when they see a serpent; and at Pompeii all our
ornaments are serpentine.'

'Do but observe,' said a third, who was a fabricant of bronze, 'how yon
Nazarene scowls at the piety of the sacrificial procession. He is murmuring
curses on the temple, be sure. Do you know, Celcinus, that this fellow,
passing by my shop the other day, and seeing me employed on a statue of
Minerva, told me with a frown that, had it been marble, he would have broken
it; but the bronze was too strong for him. "Break a goddess!" said I. "A
goddess!" answered the atheist; "it is a demon--an evil spirit!" Then he
passed on his way cursing. Are such things to be borne? What marvel that
the earth heaved so fearfully last night, anxious to reject the atheist from
her bosom?--An atheist, do I say? worse still--a scorner of the Fine Arts!
Woe to us fabricants of bronze, if such fellows as this give the law to
society!'

'These are the incendiaries that burnt Rome under Nero,' groaned the
jeweller.

While such were the friendly remarks provoked by the air and faith of the
Nazarene, Olinthus himself became sensible of the effect he was producing;
he turned his eyes round, and observed the intent faces of the accumulating
throng, whispering as they gazed; and surveying them for a moment with an
expression, first of defiance and afterwards of compassion, he gathered his
cloak round him and passed on, muttering  audibly, 'Deluded idolaters!--did
not last night's convulsion warn ye? Alas! how will ye meet the last day?'

The crowd that heard these boding words gave them different interpretations,
according to their different shades of ignorance and of fear; all, however,
concurred in imagining them to convey some awful imprecation. They regarded
the Christian as the enemy of mankind; the epithets they lavished upon him,
of which 'Atheist' was the most favored and frequent, may serve, perhaps, to
warn us, believers of that same creed now triumphant, how we indulge the
persecution of opinion Olinthus then underwent, and how we apply to those
whose notions differ from our own the terms at that day lavished on the
fathers of our faith.

As Olinthus stalked through the crowd, and gained one of the more private
places of egress from the forum, he perceived gazing upon him a pale and
earnest countenance, which he was not slow to recognize.

Wrapped in a pallium that partially concealed his sacred robes, the young
Apaecides surveyed the disciple of that new and mysterious creed, to which
at one time he had been half a convert.

'Is he, too, an impostor? Does this man, so plain and simple in life, in
garb, in mien--does he too, like Arbaces, make austerity the robe of the
sensualist? Does the veil of Vesta hide the vices of the prostitute?'

Olinthus, accustomed to men of all classes, and combining with the
enthusiasm of his faith a profound experience of his kind, guessed, perhaps,
by the index of the countenance, something of what passed within the breast
of the priest. He met the survey of Apaecides with a steady eye, and a brow
of serene and open candour.

'Peace be with thee!' said he, saluting Apaecides.

'Peace!' echoed the priest, in so hollow a tone that it went at once to the
heart of the Nazarene.

'In that wish,' continued Olinthus, 'all good things are combined--without
virtue thou canst not have peace. Like the rainbow, Peace rests upon the
earth, but its arch is lost in heaven. Heaven bathes it in hues of
light--it springs up amidst tears and clouds--it is a reflection of the
Eternal Sun--it is an assurance of calm--it is the sign of a great covenant
between Man and God. Such peace, O young man! is the smile of the soul; it
is an emanation from the distant orb of immortal light. PEACE be with you!'

'Alas!' began Apaecides, when he caught the gaze of the curious loiterers,
inquisitive to know what could possibly be the theme of conversation between
a reputed Nazarene and a priest of Isis. He stopped short, and then added
in a low tone: 'We cannot converse here, I will follow thee to the banks of
the river; there is a walk which at this time is usually deserted and
solitary.'

Olinthus bowed assent. He passed through the streets with a hasty step, but
a quick and observant eye. Every now and then he exchanged a significant
glance, a slight sign, with some passenger, whose garb usually betokened the
wearer to belong to the humbler classes; for Christianity was in this the
type of all other and less mighty revolutions--the grain of mustard-seed was
in the heart of the lowly. Amidst the huts of poverty and labor, the vast
stream which afterwards poured its broad waters beside the cities and
palaces of earth took its neglected source.

Chapter II

THE NOONDAY EXCURSION ON THE CAMPANIAN SEAS.

'BUT tell me, Glaucus,' said Ione, as they glided down the rippling Sarnus
in their boat of pleasure, 'how camest thou with Apaecides to my rescue from
that bad man?'

'Ask Nydia yonder,' answered the Athenian, pointing to the blind girl, who
sat at a little distance from them, leaning pensively over her lyre; 'she
must have thy thanks, not we. It seems that she came to my house, and,
finding me from home, sought thy brother in his temple; he accompanied her
to Arbaces; on their way they encountered me, with a company of friends,
whom thy kind letter had given me a spirit cheerful enough to join. Nydia's
quick ear detected my voice--a few words sufficed to make me the companion
of Apaecides; I told not my associates why I left them--could I trust thy
name to their light tongues and gossiping opinion?--Nydia led us to the
garden gate, by which we afterwards bore thee--we entered, and were about to
plunge into the mysteries of that evil house, when we heard thy cry in
another direction. Thou knowest the rest.'

Ione blushed deeply. She then raised her eyes to those of Glaucus, and he
felt all the thanks she could not utter. 'Come hither, my Nydia,' said she,
tenderly, to the Thessalian.

'Did I not tell thee that thou shouldst be my sister and friend? Hast thou
not already been more?--my guardian, my preserver!'

'It is nothing,' answered Nydia coldly, and without stirring.

'Ah! I forgot,' continued Ione, 'I should come to thee'; and she moved along
the benches till she reached the place where Nydia sat, and flinging her
arms caressingly round her, covered her cheeks with kisses.

Nydia was that morning paler than her wont, and her countenance grew even
more wan and colorless as she submitted to the embrace of the beautiful
Neapolitan. 'But how camest thou, Nydia,' whispered Ione, 'to surmise so
faithfully the danger I was exposed to? Didst thou know aught of the
Egyptian?'

'Yes, I knew of his vices.'

'And how?'

'Noble Ione, I have been a slave to the vicious--those whom I served were
his minions.'

'And thou hast entered his house since thou knewest so well that private
entrance?'

'I have played on my lyre to Arbaces,' answered the Thessalian, with
embarrassment.

'And thou hast escaped the contagion from which thou hast saved Ione?'
returned the Neapolitan, in a voice too low for the ear of Glaucus.

'Noble Ione, I have neither beauty nor station; I am a child, and a slave,
and blind. The despicable are ever safe.'

It was with a pained, and proud, and indignant tone that Nydia made this
humble reply; and Ione felt that she only wounded Nydia by pursuing the
subject. She remained silent, and the bark now floated into the sea.

'Confess that I was right, Ione,' said Glaucus, 'in prevailing on thee not
to waste this beautiful noon in thy chamber--confess that I was right.'

'Thou wert right, Glaucus,' said Nydia, abruptly.

'The dear child speaks for thee,' returned the Athenian. 'But permit me to
move opposite to thee, or our light boat will be over-balanced.'

So saying, he took his seat exactly opposite to Ione, and leaning forward,
he fancied that it was her breath, and not the winds of summer, that flung
fragrance over the sea.

'Thou wert to tell me,' said Glaucus, 'why for so many days thy door was
closed to me?'

'Oh, think of it no more!' answered Ione, quickly; 'I gave my ear to what I
now know was the malice of slander.'

'And my slanderer was the Egyptian?'

Ione's silence assented to the question.

'His motives are sufficiently obvious.'

'Talk not of him,' said Ione, covering her face with her hands, as if to
shut out his very thought.

'Perhaps he may be already by the banks of the slow Styx,' resumed Glaucus;
'yet in that case we should probably have heard of his death. Thy brother,
methinks, hath felt the dark influence of his gloomy soul. When we arrived
last night at thy house he left me abruptly. Will he ever vouchsafe to be my
friend?'

'He is consumed with some secret care,' answered Ione, tearfully. 'Would
that we could lure him from himself! Let us join in that tender office.'

'He shall be my brother,' returned the Greek.

'How calmly,' said Ione, rousing herself from the gloom into which her
thoughts of Apaecides had plunged her--'how calmly the clouds seem to repose
in heaven; and yet you tell me, for I knew it not myself, that the earth
shook beneath us last night.'

'It did, and more violently, they say, than it has done since the great
convulsion sixteen years ago: the land we live in yet nurses mysterious
terror; and the reign of Pluto, which spreads beneath our burning fields,
seems rent with unseen commotion. Didst thou not feel the earth quake,
Nydia, where thou wert seated last night? and was it not the fear that it
occasioned thee that made thee weep?'

'I felt the soil creep and heave beneath me, like some monstrous serpent,'
answered Nydia; 'but as I saw nothing, I did not fear: I imagined the
convulsion to be a spell of the Egyptian's. They say he has power over the
elements.'

'Thou art a Thessalian, my Nydia,' replied Glaucus, 'and hast a national
right to believe in magic.

'Magic!--who doubts it?' answered Nydia, simply: 'dost thou?'

'Until last night (when a necromantic prodigy did indeed appal me), methinks
I was not credulous in any other magic save that of love!' said Glaucus, in
a tremulous voice, and fixing his eyes on Ione.

'Ah!' said Nydia, with a sort of shiver, and she awoke mechanically a few
pleasing notes from her lyre; the sound suited well the tranquility of the
waters, and the sunny stillness of the noon.

'Play to us, dear Nydia, said Glaucus--'play and give us one of thine old
Thessalian songs: whether it be of magic or not, as thou wilt--let it, at
least, be of love!'

'Of love!' repeated Nydia, raising her large, wandering eyes, that ever
thrilled those who saw them with a mingled fear and pity; you could never
familiarize yourself to their aspect: so strange did it seem that those dark
wild orbs were ignorant of the day, and either so fixed was their deep
mysterious gaze, or so restless and perturbed their glance, that you felt,
when you encountered them, that same vague, and chilling, and
half-preternatural impression, which comes over you in the presence of the
insane--of those who, having a life outwardly like your own, have a life
within life--dissimilar--unsearchable--unguessed!

'Will you that I should sing of love?' said she, fixing those eyes upon
Glaucus.

'Yes,' replied he, looking down.

She moved a little way from the arm of Ione, still cast round her, as if
that soft embrace embarrassed; and placing her light and graceful instrument
on her knee, after a short prelude, she sang the following strain:

               NYDIA'S LOVE-SONG

                     I

         The Wind and the Beam loved the Rose,
           And the Rose loved one;
          For who recks the wind where it blows?
          Or loves not the sun?

                     II

         None knew whence the humble Wind stole,
           Poor sport of the skies--
         None dreamt that the Wind had a soul,
           In its mournful sighs!

                    III

         Oh, happy Beam! how canst thou prove
           That bright love of thine?
          In thy light is the proof of thy love.
           Thou hast but--to shine!

                     IV

         How its love can the Wind reveal?
           Unwelcome its sigh;
          Mute--mute to its Rose let it steal--
          Its proof is--to die!

'Thou singest but sadly, sweet girl,' said Glaucus; 'thy youth only feels as
yet the dark shadow of Love; far other inspiration doth he wake, when he
himself bursts and brightens upon us.

'I sing as I was taught,' replied Nydia, sighing.

'Thy master was love-crossed, then--try thy hand at a gayer air. Nay, girl,
give the instrument to me.' As Nydia obeyed, her hand touched his, and, with
that slight touch, her breast heaved--her cheek flushed. Ione and Glaucus,
occupied with each other, perceived not those signs of strange and premature
emotions, which preyed upon a heart that, nourished by imagination,
dispensed with hope.

And now, broad, blue, bright, before them, spread that halcyon sea, fair as
at this moment, seventeen centuries from that date, I behold it rippling on
the same divinest shores. Clime that yet enervates with a soft and Circean
spell--that moulds us insensibly, mysteriously, into harmony with thyself,
banishing the thought of austerer labor, the voices of wild ambition, the
contests and the roar of life; filling us with gentle and subduing dreams,
making necessary to our nature that which is its least earthly portion, so
that the very air inspires us with the yearning and thirst of love. Whoever
visits thee seems to leave earth and its harsh cares behind--to enter by the
Ivory gate into the Land of Dreams. The young and laughing Hours of the
PRESENT--the Hours, those children of Saturn, which he hungers ever to
devour, seem snatched from his grasp. The past--the future--are forgotten;
we enjoy but the breathing time. Flower of the world's garden--Fountain of
Delight--Italy of Italy--beautiful, benign Campania!--vain were, indeed, the
Titans, if on this spot they yet struggled for another heaven! Here, if God
meant this working-day life for a perpetual holiday, who would not sigh to
dwell for ever--asking nothing, hoping nothing, fearing nothing, while thy
skies shine over him--while thy seas sparkle at his feet--while thine air
brought him sweet messages from the violet and the orange--and while the
heart, resigned to--beating with--but one emotion, could find the lips and
the eyes, which flatter it (vanity of vanities!) that love can defy custom,
and be eternal?

It was then in this clime--on those seas, that the Athenian gazed upon a
face that might have suited the nymph, the spirit of the place: feeding his
eyes on the changeful roses of that softest cheek, happy beyond the
happiness of common life, loving, and knowing himself beloved.

In the tale of human passion, in past ages, there is something of interest
even in the remoteness of the time. We love to feel within us the bond
which unites the most distant era--men, nations, customs perish; THE
AFFECTIONS ARE IMMORTAL!--they are the sympathies which unite the ceaseless
generations. The past lives again, when we look upon its emotions--it lives
in our own! That which was, ever is! The magician's gift, that revives the
dead--that animates the dust of forgotten graves, is not in the author's
skill--it is in the heart of the reader!

Still vainly seeking the eyes of Ione, as, half downcast, half averted, they
shunned his own, the Athenian, in a low and soft voice, thus expressed the
feelings inspired by happier thoughts than those which had colored the song
of Nydia.

THE SONG OF GLAUCUS

                    I

   As the bark floateth on o'er the summer-lit sea,
    Floats my heart o'er the deeps of its passion for thee;
    All lost in the space, without terror it glides,
    For bright with thy soul is the face of the tides.
    Now heaving, now hush'd, is that passionate ocean,
    As it catches thy smile or thy sighs;
    And the twin-stars that shine on the wanderer's devotion
    Its guide and its god--are thine eyes!

                    II

   The bark may go down, should the cloud sweep above,
    For its being is bound to the light of thy love.
    As thy faith and thy smile are its life and its joy,
    So thy frown or thy change are the storms that destroy.
    Ah! sweeter to sink while the sky is serene,
     If time hath a change for thy heart!
    If to live be to weep over what thou hast been,
     Let me die while I know what thou art!

As the last words of the song trembled over the sea, Ione raised her
looks--they met those of her lover. Happy Nydia!--happy in thy affliction,
that thou couldst not see that fascinated and charmed gaze, that said so
much--that made the eye the voice of the soul--that promised the
impossibility of change!

But, though the Thessalian could not detect that gaze, she divined its
meaning by their silence--by their sighs. She pressed her hands lightly
across her breast, as if to keep down its bitter and jealous thoughts; and
then she hastened to speak--for that silence was intolerable to her.

'After all, O Glaucus!' said she, 'there is nothing very mirthful in your
strain!'

'Yet I meant it to be so, when I took up thy lyre, pretty one. Perhaps
happiness will not permit us to be mirthful.'

'How strange is it,' said Ione, changing a conversation which oppressed her
while it charmed--'that for the last several days yonder cloud has hung
motionless over Vesuvius! Yet not indeed motionless, for sometimes it
changes its form; and now methinks it looks like some vast giant, with an
arm outstretched over the city. Dost thou see the likeness--or is it only
to my fancy?'

'Fair Ione! I see it also. It is astonishingly distinct. The giant seems
seated on the brow of the mountain, the different shades of the cloud appear
to form a white robe that sweeps over its vast breast and limbs; it seems to
gaze with a steady face upon the city below, to point with one hand, as thou
sayest, over its glittering streets, and to raise the other (dost thou note
it?) towards the higher heaven. It is like the ghost of some huge Titan
brooding over the beautiful world he lost; sorrowful for the past--yet with
something of menace for the future.'

'Could that mountain have any connection with the last night's earthquake?
They say that, ages ago, almost in the earliest era of tradition, it gave
forth fires as AEtna still. Perhaps the flames yet lurk and dart beneath.'

'It is possible,' said Glaucus, musingly.

'Thou sayest thou art slow to believe in magic,' said Nydia, suddenly. 'I
have heard that a potent witch dwells amongst the scorched caverns of the
mountain, and yon cloud may be the dim shadow of the demon she confers
with.'

'Thou art full of the romance of thy native Thessaly,' said Glaucus; 'and a
strange mixture of sense and all conflicting superstitions.'

'We are ever superstitious in the dark,' replied Nydia. 'Tell me,' she
added, after a slight pause, 'tell me, O Glaucus! do all that are beautiful
resemble each other? They say you are beautiful, and Ione also. Are your
faces then the same? I fancy not, yet it ought to be so.'

'Fancy no such grievous wrong to Ione,' answered Glaucus, laughing. 'But we
do not, alas! resemble each other, as the homely and the beautiful sometimes
do. Ione's hair is dark, mine light; Ione's eyes are--what color, Ione? I
cannot see, turn them to me. Oh, are they black? no, they are too soft.
Are they blue? no, they are too deep: they change with every ray of the
sun--I know not their color: but mine, sweet Nydia, are grey, and bright
only when Ione shines on them! Ione's cheek is...'

'I do not understand one word of thy description,' interrupted Nydia,
peevishly. 'I comprehend only that you do not resemble each other, and I am
glad of it.'

'Why, Nydia?' said Ione.

Nydia colored slightly. 'Because,' she replied, coldly, 'I have always
imagined you under different forms, and one likes to know one is right.'

'And what hast thou imagined Glaucus to resemble?' asked Ione, softly.

'Music!' replied Nydia, looking down.

'Thou art right,' thought Ione.

'And what likeness hast thou ascribed to Ione?'

'I cannot tell yet,' answered the blind girl; 'I have not yet known her long
enough to find a shape and sign for my guesses.'

'I will tell thee, then,' said Glaucus, passionately; 'she is like the sun
that warms--like the wave that refreshes.'

'The sun sometimes scorches, and the wave sometimes drowns,' answered Nydia.

'Take then these roses,' said Glaucus; 'let their fragrance suggest to thee
Ione.'

'Alas, the roses will fade!' said the Neapolitan, archly.

Thus conversing, they wore away the hours; the lovers, conscious only of the
brightness and smiles of love; the blind girl feeling only its darkness--its
tortures--the fierceness of jealousy and its woe!

And now, as they drifted on, Glaucus once more resumed the lyre, and woke
its strings with a careless hand to a strain, so wildly and gladly
beautiful, that even Nydia was aroused from her reverie, and uttered a cry
of admiration.

'Thou seest, my child,' cried Glaucus, 'that I can yet redeem the character
of love's music, and that I was wrong in saying happiness could not be gay.
Listen, Nydia! listen, dear Ione! and hear:

             THE BIRTH OF LOVE

                    I

         Like a Star in the seas above,
             Like a Dream to the waves of sleep--
        Up--up--THE INCARNATE LOVE--
            She rose from the charmed deep!
          And over the Cyprian Isle
          The skies shed their silent smile;
          And the Forest's green heart was rife
          With the stir of the gushing life--
         The life that had leap'd to birth,
          In the veins of the happy earth!
                Hail! oh, hail!
          The dimmest sea-cave below thee,
             The farthest sky-arch above,
          In their innermost stillness know thee:
             And heave with the Birth of Love!
                Gale! soft Gale!
          Thou comest on thy silver winglets,
             From thy home in the tender west,
          Now fanning her golden ringlets,
             Now hush'd on her heaving breast.
          And afar on the murmuring sand,
          The Seasons wait hand in hand
          To welcome thee, Birth Divine,
          To the earth which is henceforth thine.

                    II

         Behold! how she kneels in the shell,
          Bright pearl in its floating cell!
          Behold! how the shell's rose-hues,
             The cheek and the breast of snow,
          And the delicate limbs suffuse,
             Like a blush, with a bashful glow.
          Sailing on, slowly sailing
             O'er the wild water;
          All hail! as the fond light is hailing
             Her daughter,
                   All hail!
          We are thine, all thine evermore:
          Not a leaf on the laughing shore,
          Not a wave on the heaving sea,
             Nor a single sigh
             In the boundless sky,
          But is vow'd evermore to thee!

                   III

         And thou, my beloved one--thou
,          As I gaze on thy soft eyes now,
          Methinks from their depths I view
          The Holy Birth born anew;
          Thy lids are the gentle cell
             Where the young Love blushing lies;
          See! she breaks from the mystic shell,
             She comes from thy tender eyes!
                Hail! all hail!
          She comes, as she came from the sea,
          To my soul as it looks on thee;
             She comes, she comes!
          She comes, as she came from the sea,
          To my soul as it looks on thee!
                Hail! all hail!

Chapter III

THE CONGREGATION.

FOLLOWED by Apaecides, the Nazarene gained the side of the Sarnus--that
river, which now has shrunk into a petty stream, then rushed gaily into the
sea, covered with countless vessels, and reflecting on its waves the
gardens, the vines, the palaces, and the temples of Pompeii. From its more
noisy and frequented banks, Olinthus directed his steps to a path which ran
amidst a shady vista of trees, at the distance of a few paces from the
river. This walk was in the evening a favorite resort of the Pompeians, but
during the heat and business of the day was seldom visited, save by some
groups of playful children, some meditative poet, or some disputative
philosophers. At the side farthest from the river, frequent copses of box
interspersed the more delicate and evanescent foliage, and these were cut
into a thousand quaint shapes, sometimes into the forms of fauns and satyrs,
sometimes into the mimicry of Egyptian pyramids, sometimes into the letters
that composed the name of a popular or eminent citizen. Thus the false
taste is equally ancient as the pure; and the retired traders of Hackney and
Paddington, a century ago, were little aware, perhaps, that in their
tortured yews and sculptured box, they found their models in the most
polished period of Roman antiquity, in the gardens of Pompeii, and the
villas of the fastidious Pliny.

This walk now, as the noonday sun shone perpendicularly through the
chequered leaves, was entirely deserted; at least no other forms than those
of Olinthus and the priest infringed upon the solitude. They sat themselves
on one of the benches, placed at intervals between the trees, and facing the
faint breeze that came languidly from the river, whose waves danced and
sparkled before them--a singular and contrasted pair; the believer in the
latest--the priest of the most ancient--worship of the world!

'Since thou leftst me so abruptly,' said Olinthus, 'hast thou been happy?
has thy heart found contentment under these priestly robes? hast thou, still
yearning for the voice of God, heard it whisper comfort to thee from the
oracles of Isis? That sigh, that averted countenance, give me the answer my
soul predicted.'

'Alas!' answered Apaecides, sadly, 'thou seest before thee a wretched and
distracted man! From my childhood upward I have idolized the dreams of
virtue! I have envied the holiness of men who, in caves and lonely temples,
have been admitted to the companionship of beings above the world; my days
have been consumed with feverish and vague desires; my nights with mocking
but solemn visions. Seduced by the mystic prophecies of an impostor, I have
indued these robes;--my nature (I confess it to thee frankly)--my nature has
revolted at what I have seen and been doomed to share in! Searching after
truth, I have become but the minister of falsehoods. On the evening in which
we last met, I was buoyed by hopes created by that same impostor, whom I
ought already to have better known. I have--no matter--no matter! suffice
it, I have added perjury and sin to rashness and to sorrow. The veil is now
rent for ever from my eyes; I behold a villain where I obeyed a demigod; the
earth darkens in my sight; I am in the deepest abyss of gloom; I know not if
there be gods above; if we are the things of chance; if beyond the bounded
and melancholy present there is annihilation or an hereafter--tell me, then,
thy faith; solve me these doubts, if thou hast indeed the power!'

'I do not marvel,' answered the Nazarene, 'that thou hast thus erred, or
that thou art thus sceptic. Eighty years ago there was no assurance to man
of God, or of a certain and definite future beyond the grave. New laws are
declared to him who has ears--a heaven, a true Olympus, is revealed to him
who has eyes--heed then, and listen.'

And with all the earnestness of a man believing ardently himself, and
zealous to convert, the Nazarene poured forth to Apaecides the assurances of
Scriptural promise. He spoke first of the sufferings and miracles of
Christ--he wept as he spoke: he turned next to the glories of the Saviour's
Ascension--to the clear predictions of Revelation. He described that pure
and unsensual heaven destined to the virtuous--those fires and torments that
were the doom of guilt.

The doubts which spring up to the mind of later reasoners, in the immensity
of the sacrifice of God to man, were not such as would occur to an early
heathen. He had been accustomed to believe that the gods had lived upon
earth, and taken upon themselves the forms of men; had shared in human
passions, in human labours, and in human misfortunes. What was the travail
of his own Alcmena's son, whose altars now smoked with the incense of
countless cities, but a toil for the human race? Had not the great Dorian
Apollo expiated a mystic sin by descending to the grave? Those who were the
deities of heaven had been the lawgivers or benefactors on earth, and
gratitude had led to worship. It seemed therefore, to the heathen, a
doctrine neither new nor strange, that Christ had been sent from heaven,
that an immortal had indued mortality, and tasted the bitterness of death.
And the end for which He thus toiled and thus suffered--how far more
glorious did it seem to Apaecides than that for which the deities of old had
visited the nether world, and passed through the gates of death! Was it not
worthy of a God to, descend to these dim valleys, in order to clear up the
clouds gathered over the dark mount beyond--to satisfy the doubts of
sages--to convert speculation into certainty--by example to point out the
rules of life--by revelation to solve the enigma of the grave--and to prove
that the soul did not yearn in vain when it dreamed of an immortality? In
this last was the great argument of those lowly men destined to convert the
earth. As nothing is more flattering to the pride and the hopes of man than
the belief in a future state, so nothing could be more vague and confused
than the notions of the heathen sages upon that mystic subject. Apaecides
had already learned that the faith of the philosophers was not that of the
herd; that if they secretly professed a creed in some diviner power, it was
not the creed which they thought it wise to impart to the community. He had
already learned, that even the priest ridiculed what he preached to the
people--that the notions of the few and the many were never united. But, in
this new faith, it seemed to him that philosopher, priest, and people, the
expounders of the religion and its followers, were alike accordant: they did
not speculate and debate upon immortality, they spoke of as a thing certain
and assured; the magnificence of the promise dazzled him--its consolations
soothed. For the Christian faith made its early converts among sinners!
many of its fathers and its martyrs were those who had felt the bitterness
of vice, and who were therefore no longer tempted by its false aspect from
the paths of an austere and uncompromising virtue. All the assurances of
this healing faith invited to repentance--they were peculiarly adapted to
the bruised and sore of spirit! the very remorse which Apaecides felt for
his late excesses, made him incline to one who found holiness in that
remorse, and who whispered of the joy in heaven over one sinner that
repenteth.

'Come,' said the Nazarene, as he perceived the effect he had produced, 'come
to the humble hall in which we meet--a select and a chosen few; listen there
to our prayers; note the sincerity of our repentant tears; mingle in our
simple sacrifice--not of victims, nor of garlands, but offered by
white-robed thoughts upon the altar of the heart. The flowers that we lay
there are imperishable--they bloom over us when we are no more; nay, they
accompany us beyond the grave, they spring up beneath our feet in heaven,
they delight us with an eternal odor, for they are of the soul, they partake
of its nature; these offerings are temptations overcome, and sins repented.
Come, oh come! lose not another moment; prepare already for the great, the
awful journey, from darkness to light, from sorrow to bliss, from corruption
to immortality! This is the day of the Lord the Son, a day that we have set
apart for our devotions. Though we meet usually at night, yet some amongst
us are gathered together even now. What joy, what triumph, will be with us
all, if we can bring one stray lamb into the sacred fold!'

There seemed to Apaecides, so naturally pure of heart, something ineffably
generous and benign in that spirit of conversation which animated
Olinthus--a spirit that found its own bliss in the happiness of others--that
sought in its wide sociality to make companions for eternity. He was
touched, softened, and subdued. He was not in that mood which can bear to
be left alone; curiosity, too, mingled with his purer stimulants--he was
anxious to see those rites of which so many dark and contradictory rumours
were afloat. He paused a moment, looked over his garb, thought of Arbaces,
shuddered with horror, lifted his eyes to the broad brow of the Nazarene,
intent, anxious, watchful--but for his benefits, for his salvation! He drew
his cloak round him, so as wholly to conceal his robes, and said, 'Lead on,
I follow thee.'

Olinthus pressed his hand joyfully, and then descending to the river side,
hailed one of the boats that plyed there constantly; they entered it; an
awning overhead, while it sheltered them from the sun, screened also their
persons from observation: they rapidly skimmed the wave. From one of the
boats that passed them floated a soft music, and its prow was decorated with
flowers--it was gliding towards the sea.

'So,' said Olinthus, sadly, 'unconscious and mirthful in their delusions,
sail the votaries of luxury into the great ocean of storm and shipwreck! we
pass them, silent and unnoticed, to gain the land.'

Apaecides, lifting his eyes, caught through the aperture in the awning a
glimpse of the face of one of the inmates of that gay bark--it was the face
of Ione. The lovers were embarked on the excursion at which we have been
made present. The priest sighed, and once more sunk back upon his seat.
They reached the shore where, in the suburbs, an alley of small and mean
houses stretched towards the bank; they dismissed the boat, landed, and
Olinthus, preceding the priest, threaded the labyrinth of lanes, and arrived
at last at the closed door of a habitation somewhat larger than its
neighbors. He knocked thrice--the door was opened and closed again, as
Apaecides followed his guide across the threshold.

They passed a deserted atrium, and gained an inner chamber of moderate size,
which, when the door was closed, received its only light from a small window
cut over the door itself. But, halting at the threshold of this chamber,
and knocking at the door, Olinthus said, 'Peace be with you!' A voice from
within returned, 'Peace with whom?' 'The Faithful!' answered Olinthus, and
the door opened; twelve or fourteen persons were sitting in a semicircle,
silent, and seemingly absorbed in thought, and opposite to a crucifix rudely
carved in wood.

They lifted up their eyes when Olinthus entered, without speaking; the
Nazarene himself, before he accosted them, knelt suddenly down, and by his
moving lips, and his eyes fixed steadfastly on the crucifix, Apaecides saw
that he prayed inly. This rite performed, Olinthus turned to the
congregation--'Men and brethren,' said he, 'start not to behold amongst you
a priest of Isis; he hath sojourned with the blind, but the Spirit hath
fallen on him--he desires to see, to hear, and to understand.'

'Let him,' said one of the assembly; and Apaecides beheld in the speaker a
man still younger than himself, of a countenance equally worn and pallid, of
an eye which equally spoke of the restless and fiery operations of a working
mind.

'Let him,' repeated a second voice, and he who thus spoke was in the prime
of manhood; his bronzed skin and Asiatic features bespoke him a son of
Syria--he had been a robber in his youth.

'Let him,' said a third voice; and the priest, again turning to regard the
speaker, saw an old man with a long grey beard, whom he recognized as a
slave to the wealthy Diomed.

'Let him,' repeated simultaneously the rest--men who, with two exceptions,
were evidently of the inferior ranks. In these exceptions, Apaecides noted
an officer of the guard, and an Alexandrian merchant.

'We do not,' recommenced Olinthus--'we do not bind you to secrecy; we impose
on you no oaths (as some of our weaker brethren would do) not to betray us.
It is true, indeed, that there is no absolute law against us; but the
multitude, more savage than their rulers, thirst for our lives. So, my
friends, when Pilate would have hesitated, it was the people who shouted
"Christ to the cross!" But we bind you not to our safety--no! Betray us to
the crowd--impeach, calumniate, malign us if you will--we are above death,
we should walk cheerfully to the den of the lion, or the rack of the
torturer--we can trample down the darkness of the grave, and what is death
to a criminal is eternity to the Christian.'

A low and applauding murmur ran through the assembly.

'Thou comest amongst us as an examiner, mayest thou remain a convert! Our
religion? you behold it! Yon cross our sole image, yon scroll the mysteries
of our Caere and Eleusis! Our morality? it is in our lives!--sinners we all
have been; who now can accuse us of a crime? we have baptized ourselves from
the past. Think not that this is of us, it is of God. Approach, Medon,'
beckoning to the old slave who had spoken third for the admission of
Apaecides, 'thou art the sole man amongst us who is not free. But in
heaven, the last shall be first: so with us. Unfold your scroll, read and
explain.'

Useless would it be for us to accompany the lecture of Medon, or the
comments of the congregation. Familiar now are those doctrines, then
strange and new. Eighteen centuries have left us little to expound upon the
lore of Scripture or the life of Christ. To us, too, there would seem
little congenial in the doubts that occurred to a heathen priest, and little
learned in the answers they receive from men uneducated, rude, and simple,
possessing only the knowledge that they were greater than they seemed.

There was one thing that greatly touched the Neapolitan: when the lecture
was concluded, they heard a very gentle knock at the door; the password was
given, and replied to; the door opened, and two young children, the eldest
of whom might have told its seventh year, entered timidly; they were the
children of the master of the house, that dark and hardy Syrian, whose youth
had been spent in pillage and bloodshed. The eldest of the congregation (it
was that old slave) opened to them his arms; they fled to the shelter--they
crept to his breast--and his hard features smiled as he caressed them. And
then these bold and fervent men, nursed in vicissitude, beaten by the rough
winds of life--men of mailed and impervious fortitude, ready to affront a
world, prepared for torment and armed for death--men, who presented all
imaginable contrast to the weak nerves, the light hearts, the tender
fragility of childhood, crowded round the infants, smoothing their rugged
brows and composing their bearded lips to kindly and fostering smiles: and
then the old man opened the scroll and he taught the infants to repeat after
him that beautiful prayer which we still dedicate to the Lord, and still
teach to our children; and then he told them, in simple phrase, of God's
love to the young, and how not a sparrow falls but His eye sees it. This
lovely custom of infant initiation was long cherished by the early Church,
in memory of the words which said, 'Suffer little children to come unto me,
and forbid them not'; and was perhaps the origin of the superstitious
calumny which ascribed to the Nazarenes the crime which the Nazarenes, when
victorious, attributed to the Jew, viz. the decoying children to hideous
rites, at which they were secretly immolated.

And the stern paternal penitent seemed to feel in the innocence of his
children a return into early life--life ere yet it sinned: he followed the
motion of their young lips with an earnest gaze; he smiled as they repeated,
with hushed and reverent looks, the holy words: and when the lesson was
done, and they ran, released, and gladly to his knee, he clasped them to his
breast, kissed them again and again, and tears flowed fast down his
cheek--tears, of which it would have been impossible to trace the source, so
mingled they were with joy and sorrow, penitence and hope--remorse for
himself and love for them!

Something, I say, there was in this scene which peculiarly affected
Apaecides; and, in truth, it is difficult to conceive a ceremony more
appropriate to the religion of benevolence, more appealing to the household
and everyday affections, striking a more sensitive chord in the human
breast.

It was at this time that an inner door opened gently, and a very old man
entered the chamber, leaning on a staff. At his presence, the whole
congregation rose; there was an expression of deep, affectionate respect
upon every countenance; and Apaecides, gazing on his countenance, felt
attracted towards him by an irresistible sympathy. No man ever looked upon
that face without love; for there had dwelt the smile of the Deity, the
incarnation of divinest love--and the glory of the smile had never passed
away.

'My children, God be with you!' said the old man, stretching his arms; and
as he spoke the infants ran to his knee. He sat down, and they nestled
fondly to his bosom. It was beautiful to see that mingling of the extremes
of life--the rivers gushing from their early source--the majestic stream
gliding to the ocean of eternity! As the light of declining day seems to
mingle earth and heaven, making the outline of each scarce visible, and
blending the harsh mountain-tops with the sky, even so did the smile of that
benign old age appear to hallow the aspect of those around, to blend
together the strong distinctions of varying years, and to diffuse over
infancy and manhood the light of that heaven into which it must so soon
vanish and be lost.

'Father,' said Olinthus, 'thou on whose form the miracle of the Redeemer
worked; thou who wert snatched from the grave to become the living witness
of His mercy and His power; behold! a stranger in our meeting--a new lamb
gathered to the fold!'

'Let me bless him,' said the old man: the throng gave way. Apaecides
approached him as by an instinct: he fell on his knees before him--the old
man laid his hand on the priest's head, and blessed him, but not aloud. As
his lips moved, his eyes were upturned, and tears--those tears that good men
only shed in the hope of happiness to another--flowed fast down his cheeks.

The children were on either side of the convert; his heart was theirs--he
had become as one of them--to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.

Chapter IV

THE STREAM OF LOVE RUNS ON. WHITHER?

DAYS are like years in the love of the young, when no bar, no obstacle, is
between their hearts--when the sun shines, and the course runs smooth--when
their love is prosperous and confessed. Ione no longer concealed from
Glaucus the attachment she felt for him, and their talk now was only of
their love. Over the rapture of the present the hopes of the future glowed
like the heaven above the gardens of spring. They went in their trustful
thoughts far down the stream of time: they laid out the chart of their
destiny to come; they suffered the light of to-day to suffuse the morrow.
In the youth of their hearts it seemed as if care, and change, and death,
were as things unknown. Perhaps they loved each other the more because the
condition of the world left to Glaucus no aim and no wish but love; because
the distractions common in free states to men's affections existed not for
the Athenian; because his country wooed him not to the bustle of civil life;
because ambition furnished no counterpoise to love: and, therefore, over
their schemes and projects, love only reigned. In the iron age they
imagined themselves of the golden, doomed only to live and to love.

To the superficial observer, who interests himself only in characters
strongly marked and broadly colored, both the lovers may seem of too slight
and commonplace a mould: in the delineation of characters purposely subdued,
the reader sometimes imagines that there is a want of character; perhaps,
indeed, I wrong the real nature of these two lovers by not painting more
impressively their stronger individualities. But in dwelling so much on
their bright and birdlike existence, I am influenced almost insensibly by
the forethought of the changes that await them, and for which they were so
ill prepared. It was this very softness and gaiety of life that contrasted
most strongly the vicissitudes of their coming fate. For the oak without
fruit or blossom, whose hard and rugged heart is fitted for the storm, there
is less fear than for the delicate branches of the myrtle, and the laughing
clusters of the vine.

They had now advanced far into August--the next month their marriage was
fixed, and the threshold of Glaucus was already wreathed with garlands; and
nightly, by the door of Ione, he poured forth the rich libations. He
existed no longer for his gay companions; he was ever with Ione. In the
mornings they beguiled the sun with music: in the evenings they forsook the
crowded haunts of the gay for excursions on the water, or along the fertile
and vine-clad plains that lay beneath the fatal mount of Vesuvius. The
earth shook no more; the lively Pompeians forgot even that there had gone
forth so terrible a warning of their approaching doom. Glaucus imagined
that convulsion, in the vanity of his heathen religion, an especial
interposition of the gods, less in behalf of his own safety than that of
Ione. He offered up the sacrifices of gratitude at the temples of his
faith; and even the altar of Isis was covered with his votive garlands--as
to the prodigy of the animated marble, he blushed at the effect it had
produced on him. He believed it, indeed, to have been wrought by the magic
of man; but the result convinced him that it betokened not the anger of a
goddess.

Of Arbaces, they heard only that he still lived; stretched on the bed of
suffering, he recovered slowly from the effect of the shock he had
sustained--he left the lovers unmolested--but it was only to brood over the
hour and the method of revenge.

Alike in their mornings at the house of Ione, and in their evening
excursions, Nydia was usually their constant, and often their sole
companion. They did not guess the secret fires which consumed her--the
abrupt freedom with which she mingled in their conversation--her capricious
and often her peevish moods found ready indulgence in the recollection of
the service they owed her, and their compassion for her affliction. They
felt an interest in her, perhaps the greater and more affectionate from the
very strangeness and waywardness of her nature, her singular alternations of
passion and softness--the mixture of ignorance and genius--of delicacy and
rudeness--of the quick humors of the child, and the proud calmness of the
woman. Although she refused to accept of freedom, she was constantly
suffered to be free; she went where she listed; no curb was put either on
her words or actions; they felt for one so darkly fated, and so susceptible
of every wound, the same pitying and compliant indulgence the mother feels
for a spoiled and sickly child--dreading to impose authority, even where
they imagined it for her benefit. She availed herself of this license by
refusing the companionship of the slave whom they wished to attend her.
With the slender staff by which she guided her steps, she went now, as in
her former unprotected state, along the populous streets: it was almost
miraculous to perceive how quickly and how dexterously she threaded every
crowd, avoiding every danger, and could find her benighted way through the
most intricate windings of the city. But her chief delight was still in
visiting the few feet of ground which made the garden of Glaucus--in tending
the flowers that at least repaid her love. Sometimes she entered the
chamber where he sat, and sought a conversation, which she nearly always
broke off abruptly--for conversation with Glaucus only tended to one
subject--Ione; and that name from his lips inflicted agony upon her. Often
she bitterly repented the service she had rendered to Ione: often she said
inly, 'If she had fallen, Glaucus could have loved her no longer'; and then
dark and fearful thoughts crept into her breast.

She had not experienced fully the trials that were in store for her, when
she had been thus generous. She had never before been present when Glaucus
and Ione were together; she had never heard that voice so kind to her, so
much softer to another. The shock that crushed her heart with the tidings
that Glaucus loved, had at first only saddened and benumbed--by degrees
jealousy took a wilder and fiercer shape; it partook of hatred--it whispered
revenge. As you see the wind only agitate the green leaf upon the bough,
while the leaf which has lain withered and seared on the ground, bruised and
trampled upon till the sap and life are gone, is suddenly whirled aloft--now
here--now there--without stay and without rest; so the love which visits the
happy and the hopeful hath but freshness on its wings! its violence is but
sportive. But the heart that hath fallen from the green things of life,
that is without hope, that hath no summer in its fibres, is torn and whirled
by the same wind that but caresses its brethren--it hath no bough to cling
to--it is dashed from path to path--till the winds fall, and it is crushed
into the mire for ever.

The friendless childhood of Nydia had hardened prematurely her character;
perhaps the heated scenes of profligacy through which she had passed,
seemingly unscathed, had ripened her passions, though they had not sullied
her purity. The orgies of Burbo might only have disgusted, the banquets of
the Egyptian might only have terrified, at the moment; but the winds that
pass unheeded over the soil leave seeds behind them. As darkness, too,
favors the imagination, so, perhaps, her very blindness contributed to feed
with wild and delirious visions the love of the unfortunate girl. The voice
of Glaucus had been the first that had sounded musically to her ear; his
kindness made a deep impression upon her mind; when he had left Pompeii in
the former year, she had treasured up in her heart every word he had
uttered; and when any one told her that this friend and patron of the poor
flower-girl was the most brilliant and the most graceful of the young
revellers of Pompeii, she had felt a pleasing pride in nursing his
recollection. Even the task which she imposed upon herself, of tending his
flowers, served to keep him in her mind; she associated him with all that
was most charming to her impressions; and when she had refused to express
what image she fancied Ione to resemble, it was partly, perhaps, that
whatever was bright and soft in nature she had already combined with the
thought of Glaucus. If any of my readers ever loved at an age which they
would now smile to remember--an age in which fancy forestalled the reason,
let them say whether that love, among all its strange and complicated
delicacies, was not, above all other and later passions, susceptible of
jealousy? I seek not here the cause: I know that it is commonly the fact.

When Glaucus returned to Pompeii, Nydia had told another year of life; that
year, with its sorrows, its loneliness, its trials, had greatly developed
her mind and heart; and when the Athenian drew her unconsciously to his
breast, deeming her still in soul as in years a child--when he kissed her
smooth cheek, and wound his arm round her trembling frame, Nydia felt
suddenly, and as by revelation, that those feelings she had long and
innocently cherished were of love. Doomed to be rescued from tyranny by
Glaucus--doomed to take shelter under his roof--doomed to breathe, but for
so brief a time, the same air--and doomed, in the first rush of a thousand
happy, grateful, delicious sentiments of an overflowing heart, to hear that
he loved another; to be commissioned to that other, the messenger, the
minister; to feel all at once that utter nothingness which she was--which
she ever must be, but which, till then, her young mind had not taught
her--that utter nothingness to him who was all to her; what wonder that, in
her wild and passionate soul, all the elements jarred discordant; that if
love reigned over the whole, it was not the love which is born of the more
sacred and soft emotions? Sometimes she dreaded only lest Glaucus should
discover her secret; sometimes she felt indignant that it was not suspected:
it was a sign of contempt--could he imagine that she presumed so far? Her
feelings to Ione ebbed and flowed with every hour; now she loved her because
he did; now she hated him for the same cause. There were moments when she
could have murdered her unconscious mistress; moments when she could have
laid down life for her. These fierce and tremulous alternations of passion
were too severe to be borne long. Her health gave way, though she felt it
not--her cheek paled--her step grew feebler--tears came to her eyes more
often, and relieved her less.

One morning, when she repaired to her usual task in the garden of the
Athenian, she found Glaucus under the columns of the peristyle, with a
merchant of the town; he was selecting jewels for his destined bride. He
had already fitted up her apartment; the jewels he bought that day were
placed also within it--they were never fated to grace the fair form of Ione;
they may be seen at this day among the disinterred treasures of Pompeii, in
the chambers of the studio at Naples.

'Come hither, Nydia; put down thy vase, and come hither. Thou must take
this chain from me--stay--there, I have put it on. There, Servilius, does
it not become her?'

'Wonderfully!' answered the jeweller; for jewellers were well-bred and
flattering men, even at that day. 'But when these ear-rings glitter in the
ears of the noble Ione, then, by Bacchus! you will see whether my art adds
anything to beauty.'

'Ione?' repeated Nydia, who had hitherto acknowledged by smiles and blushes
the gift of Glaucus.

'Yes,' replied the Athenian, carelessly toying with the gems; 'I am choosing
a present for Ione, but there are none worthy of her.'

He was startled as he spoke by an abrupt gesture of Nydia; she tore the
chain violently from her neck, and dashed it on the ground.

'How is this? What, Nydia, dost thou not like the bauble? art thou
offended?'

'You treat me ever as a slave and as a child,' replied the Thessalian, with
ill-suppressed sobs, and she turned hastily away to the opposite corner of
the garden.

Glaucus did not attempt to follow, or to soothe; he was offended; he
continued to examine the jewels and to comment on their fashion--to object
to this and to praise that, and finally to be talked by the merchant into
buying all; the safest plan for a lover, and a plan that any one will do
right to adopt, provided always that he can obtain an Ione!

When he had completed his purchase and dismissed the jeweller, he retired
into his chamber, dressed, mounted his chariot, and went to Ione. He
thought no more of the blind girl, or her offence; he had forgotten both the
one and the other.

He spent the forenoon with his beautiful Neapolitan, repaired thence to the
baths, supped (if, as we have said before, we can justly so translate the
three o'clock coena of the Romans) alone, and abroad, for Pompeii had its
restaurateurs--and returning home to change his dress ere he again repaired
to the house of Ione, he passed the peristyle, but with the absorbed reverie
and absent eyes of a man in love, and did not note the form of the poor
blind girl, bending exactly in the same place where he had left her. But
though he saw her not, her ear recognized at once the sound of his step.
She had been counting the moments to his return. He had scarcely entered
his favorite chamber, which opened on the peristyle, and seated himself
musingly on his couch, when he felt his robe timorously touched, and,
turning, he beheld Nydia kneeling before him, and holding up to him a
handful of flowers--a gentle and appropriate peace-offering--her eyes,
darkly upheld to his own, streamed with tears.

'I have offended thee,' said she, sobbing, 'and for the first time. I would
die rather than cause thee a moment's pain--say that thou wilt forgive me.
See! I have taken up the chain; I have put it on: I will never part from
it--it is thy gift.'

'My dear Nydia,' returned Glaucus, and raising her, he kissed her forehead,
'think of it no more! But why, my child, wert thou so suddenly angry? I
could not divine the cause?'

'Do not ask!' said she, coloring violently. 'I am a thing full of faults
and humors; you know I am but a child--you say so often: is it from a child
that you can expect a reason for every folly?'

'But, prettiest, you will soon be a child no more; and if you would have us
treat you as a woman, you must learn to govern these singular impulses and
gales of passion. Think not I chide: no, it is for your happiness only I
speak.'

'It is true,' said Nydia, 'I must learn to govern myself I must bide, I must
suppress, my heart. This is a woman's task and duty; methinks her virtue is
hypocrisy.'

'Self-control is not deceit, my Nydia,' returned the Athenian; and that is
the virtue necessary alike to man and to woman; it is the true senatorial
toga, the badge of the dignity it covers!'

'Self-control! self-control! Well, well, what you say is right! When I
listen to you, Glaucus, my wildest thoughts grow calm and sweet, and a
delicious serenity falls over me. Advise, ah! guide me ever, my preserver!'

'Thy affectionate heart will be thy best guide, Nydia, when thou hast
learned to regulate its feelings.'

'Ah! that will be never,' sighed Nydia, wiping away her tears.

'Say not so: the first effort is the only difficult one.'

'I have made many first efforts,' answered Nydia, innocently. 'But you, my
Mentor, do you find it so easy to control yourself? Can you conceal, can
you even regulate, your love for Ione?'

'Love! dear Nydia: ah! that is quite another matter,' answered the young
preceptor.

'I thought so!' returned Nydia, with a melancholy smile. 'Glaucus, wilt
thou take my poor flowers? Do with them as thou wilt--thou canst give them
to Ione,' added she, with a little hesitation.

'Nay, Nydia,' answered Glaucus, kindly, divining something of jealousy in
her language, though he imagined it only the jealousy of a vain and
susceptible child; 'I will not give thy pretty flowers to any one. Sit here
and weave them into a garland; I will wear it this night: it is not the
first those delicate fingers have woven for me.'

The poor girl delightedly sat down beside Glaucus. She drew from her girdle
a ball of the many-colored threads, or rather slender ribands, used in the
weaving of garlands, and which (for it was her professional occupation) she
carried constantly with her, and began quickly and gracefully to commence
her task. Upon her young cheeks the tears were already dried, a faint but
happy smile played round her lips--childlike, indeed, she was sensible only
of the joy of the present hour: she was reconciled to Glaucus: he had
forgiven her--she was beside him--he played caressingly with her silken
hair--his breath fanned her cheek--Ione, the cruel Ione, was not by--none
other demanded, divided, his care. Yes, she was happy and forgetful; it was
one of the few moments in her brief and troubled life that it was sweet to
treasure, to recall. As the butterfly, allured by the winter sun, basks for
a little in the sudden light, ere yet the wind awakes and the frost comes
on, which shall blast it before the eve--she rested beneath a beam, which,
by contrast with the wonted skies, was not chilling; and the instinct which
should have warned her of its briefness, bade her only gladden in its smile.

'Thou hast beautiful locks,' said Glaucus. 'They were once, I ween well, a
mother's delight.'

Nydia sighed; it would seem that she had not been born a slave; but she ever
shunned the mention of her parentage, and, whether obscure or noble, certain
it is that her birth was never known by her benefactors, nor by any one in
those distant shores, even to the last. The child of sorrow and of mystery,
she came and went as some bird that enters our chamber for a moment; we see
it flutter for a while before us, we know not whence it flew or to what
region it escapes.

Nydia sighed, and after a short pause, without answering the remark, said:
'But do I weave too many roses in my wreath, Glaucus? They tell me it is
thy favorite flower.'

'And ever favored, my Nydia, be it by those who have the soul of poetry: it
is the flower of love, of festival; it is also the flower we dedicate to
silence and to death; it blooms on our brows in life, while life be worth
the having; it is scattered above our sepulchre when we are no more.'

'Ah! would,' said Nydia, 'instead of this perishable wreath, that I could
take thy web from the hand of the Fates, and insert the roses there!'

'Pretty one! thy wish is worthy of a voice so attuned to song; it is uttered
in the spirit of song; and, whatever my doom, I thank thee.'

'Whatever thy doom! is it not already destined to all things bright and
fair? My wish was vain. The Fates will be as tender to thee as I should.'

'It might not be so, Nydia, were it not for love! While youth lasts, I may
forget my country for a while. But what Athenian, in his graver manhood,
can think of Athens as she was, and be contented that he is happy, while she
is fallen?--fallen, and for ever?'

'And why for ever?'

'As ashes cannot be rekindled--as love once dead can never revive, so
freedom departed from a people is never regained. But talk we not of these
matters unsuited to thee.'

'To me, oh! thou errest. I, too, have my sighs for Greece; my cradle was
rocked at the foot of Olympus; the gods have left the mountain, but their
traces may be seen--seen in the hearts of their worshippers, seen in the
beauty of their clime: they tell me it is beautiful, and I have felt its
airs, to which even these are harsh--its sun, to which these skies are
chill. Oh! talk to me of Greece! Poor fool that I am, I can comprehend
thee! and methinks, had I yet lingered on those shores, had I been a Grecian
maid whose happy fate it was to love and to be loved, I myself could have
armed my lover for another Marathon, a new Plataea. Yes, the hand that now
weaves the roses should have woven thee the olive crown!'

'If such a day could come!' said Glaucus, catching the enthusiasm of the
blind Thessalian, and half rising.--'But no! the sun has set, and the night
only bids us be forgetful--and in forgetfulness be gay--weave still the
roses!'

But it was with a melancholy tone of forced gaiety that the Athenian uttered
the last words: and sinking into a gloomy reverie, he was only wakened from
it, a few minutes afterwards, by the voice of Nydia, as she sang in a low
tone the following words, which he had once taught her:-

           THE APOLOGY FOR PLEASURE

                    I

           Who will assume the bays
              That the hero wore?
           Wreaths on the Tomb of Days
              Gone evermore!
           Who shall disturb the brave,
           Or one leaf on their holy grave?
           The laurel is vowed to them,
           Leave the bay on its sacred stem!
              But this, the rose, the fading rose,
              Alike for slave and freeman grows.

                    II

           If Memory sit beside the dead
              With tombs her only treasure;
           If Hope is lost and Freedom fled,
              The more excuse for Pleasure.
           Come, weave the wreath, the roses weave,
              The rose at least is ours:
           To feeble hearts our fathers leave,
              In pitying scorn, the flowers!

                    III

             On the summit, worn and hoary,
           Of Phyle's solemn hill,
           The tramp of the brave is still!
           And still in the saddening Mart,
           The pulse of that mighty heart,
              Whose very blood was glory!
           Glaucopis forsakes her own,
              The angry gods forget us;
           But yet, the blue streams along,
           Walk the feet of the silver Song;
           And the night-bird wakes the moon;
           And the bees in the blushing noon
              Haunt the heart of the old Hymettus.
           We are fallen, but not forlorn,
              If something is left to cherish;
           As Love was the earliest born,
              So Love is the last to perish.

                    IV

           Wreathe then the roses, wreathe
              The BEAUTIFUL still is ours,
           While the stream shall flow and the sky shall glow,
           The BEAUTIFUL still is ours!
           Whatever is fair, or soft, or bright,
           In the lap of day or the arms of night,
           Whispers our soul of Greece--of Greece,
           And hushes our care with a voice of peace.
              Wreathe then the roses, wreathe!
              They tell me of earlier hours;
           And I hear the heart of my Country breathe
              From the lips of the Stranger's flowers.

Chapter V

NYDIA ENCOUNTERS JULIA. INTERVIEW OF THE HEATHEN SISTER AND CONVERTED
BROTHER. AN ATHENIAN'S NOTION OF CHRISTIANITY.

'WHAT happiness to Ione! what bliss to be ever by the side of Glaucus, to
hear his voice!--And she too can see him!'

Such was the soliloquy of the blind girl, as she walked alone and at
twilight to the house of her new mistress, whither Glaucus had already
preceded her. Suddenly she was interrupted in her fond thoughts by a female
voice.

'Blind flower-girl, whither goest thou? There is no pannier under thine
arm; hast thou sold all thy flowers?'

The person thus accosting Nydia was a lady of a handsome but a bold and
unmaidenly countenance: it was Julia, the daughter of Diomed. Her veil was
half raised as she spoke; she was accompanied by Diomed himself, and by a
slave carrying a lantern before them--the merchant and his daughter were
returning home from a supper at one of their neighbors'.

'Dost thou not remember my voice?' continued Julia. 'I am the daughter of
Diomed the wealthy.'

'Ah! forgive me; yes, I recall the tones of your voice. No, noble Julia, I
have no flowers to sell.'

'I heard that thou wert purchased by the beautiful Greek Glaucus; is that
true, pretty slave?' asked Julia.

'I serve the Neapolitan, Ione,' replied Nydia, evasively.

'Ah! and it is true, then...'

'Come, come!' interrupted Diomed, with his cloak up to his mouth, 'the night
grows cold; I cannot stay here while you prate to that blind girl: come, let
her follow you home, if you wish to speak to her.'

'Do, child,' said Julia, with the air of one not accustomed to be refused;
'I have much to ask of thee: come.'

'I cannot this night, it grows late,' answered Nydia. 'I must be at home; I
am not free, noble Julia.'

'What, the meek Ione will chide thee?--Ay, I doubt not she is a second
Thalestris. But come, then, to-morrow: do--remember I have been thy friend
of old.'

'I will obey thy wishes,' answered Nydia; and Diomed again impatiently
summoned his daughter: she was obliged to proceed, with the main question
she had desired to put to Nydia unasked.

Meanwhile we return to Ione. The interval of time that had elapsed that day
between the first and second visit of Glaucus had not been too gaily spent:
she had received a visit from her brother. Since the night he had assisted
in saving her from the Egyptian, she had not before seen him.

Occupied with his own thoughts--thoughts of so serious and intense a
nature--the young priest had thought little of his sister; in truth, men,
perhaps of that fervent order of mind which is ever aspiring above earth,
are but little prone to the earthlier affections; and it had been long since
Apaecides had sought those soft and friendly interchanges of thought, those
sweet confidences, which in his earlier youth had bound him to Ione, and
which are so natural to that endearing connection which existed between
them.

Ione, however, had not ceased to regret his estrangement: she attributed it,
at present, to the engrossing duties of his severe fraternity. And often,
amidst all her bright hopes, and her new attachment to her betrothed--often,
when she thought of her brother's brow prematurely furrowed, his unsmiling
lip, and bended frame, she sighed to think that the service of the gods
could throw so deep a shadow over that earth which the gods created.

But this day when he visited her there was a strange calmness on his
features, a more quiet and self-possessed expression in his sunken eyes,
than she had marked for years. This apparent improvement was but
momentary--it was a false calm, which the least breeze could ruffle.

'May the gods bless thee, my brother!' said she, embracing him.

'The gods! Speak not thus vaguely; perchance there is but one God!'

'My brother!'

'What if the sublime faith of the Nazarene be true? What if God be a
monarch--One--Invisible--Alone? What if these numerous, countless deities,
whose altars fill the earth, be but evil demons, seeking to wean us from the
true creed? This may be the case, Ione!'

'Alas! can we believe it? or if we believed, would it not be a melancholy
faith answered the Neapolitan. 'What! all this beautiful world made only
human!--mountain disenchanted of its Oread--the waters of their Nymph--that
beautiful prodigality of faith, which makes everything divine, consecrating
the meanest flowers, bearing celestial whispers in the faintest
breeze--wouldst thou deny this, and make the earth mere dust and clay? No,
Apaecides: all that is brightest in our hearts is that very credulity which
peoples the universe with gods.'

Ione answered as a believer in the poesy of the old mythology would answer.
We may judge by that reply how obstinate and hard the contest which
Christianity had to endure among the heathens. The Graceful Superstition
was never silent; every, the most household, action of their lives was
entwined with it--it was a portion of life itself, as the flowers are a part
of the thyrsus. At every incident they recurred to a god, every cup of wine
was prefaced by a libation; the very garlands on their thresholds were
dedicated to some divinity; their ancestors themselves, made holy, presided
as Lares over their hearth and hall. So abundant was belief with them, that
in their own climes, at this hour, idolatry has never thoroughly been
outrooted: it changes but its objects of worship; it appeals to innumerable
saints where once it resorted to divinities; and it pours its crowds, in
listening reverence, to oracles at the shrines of St. Januarius or St.
Stephen, instead of to those of Isis or Apollo.

But these superstitions were not to the early Christians the object of
contempt so much as of horror. They did not believe, with the quiet
scepticism of the heathen philosopher, that the gods were inventions of the
priests; nor even, with the vulgar, that, according to the dim light of
history, they had been mortals like themselves. They imagined the heathen
divinities to be evil spirits--they transplanted to Italy and to Greece the
gloomy demons of India and the East; and in Jupiter or in Mars they
shuddered at the representative of Moloch or of Satan.

Apaecides had not yet adopted formally the Christian faith, but he was
already on the brink of it. He already participated the doctrines of
Olinthus--he already imagined that the lively imaginations of the heathen
were the suggestions of the arch-enemy of mankind. The innocent and natural
answer of Ione made him shudder. He hastened to reply vehemently, and yet
so confusedly, that Ione feared for his reason more than she dreaded his
violence.

'Ah, my brother!' said she, 'these hard duties of thine have shattered thy
very sense. Come to me, Apaecides, my brother, my own brother; give me thy
hand, let me wipe the dew from thy brow--chide me not now, I understand thee
not; think only that Ione could not offend thee!'

'Ione,' said Apaecides, drawing her towards him, and regarding her tenderly,
'can I think that this beautiful form, this kind heart, may be destined to
an eternity of torment?'

'Dii meliora! the gods forbid!' said Ione, in the customary form of words by
which her contemporaries thought an omen might be averted.

The words, and still more the superstition they implied, wounded the ear of
Apaecides. He rose, muttering to himself, turned from the chamber, then,
stopping, half way, gazed wistfully on Ione, and extended his arms.

Ione flew to them in joy; he kissed her earnestly, and then he said:

'Farewell, my sister! when we next meet, thou mayst be to me as nothing;
take thou, then, this embrace--full yet of all the tender reminiscences of
childhood, when faith and hope, creeds, customs, interests, objects, were
the same to us. Now, the tie is to be broken!'

With these strange words he left the house.

The great and severest trial of the primitive Christians was indeed this;
their conversion separated them from their dearest bonds. They could not
associate with beings whose commonest actions, whose commonest forms of
speech, were impregnated with idolatry. They shuddered at the blessing of
love, to their ears it was uttered in a demon's name. This, their
misfortune, was their strength; if it divided them from the rest of the
world, it was to unite them proportionally to each other. They were men of
iron who wrought forth the Word of God, and verily the bonds that bound them
were of iron also!

Glaucus found Ione in tears; he had already assumed the sweet privilege to
console. He drew from her a recital of her interview with her brother; but
in her confused account of language, itself so confused to one not prepared
for it, he was equally at a loss with Ione to conceive the intentions or the
meaning of Apaecides.

'Hast thou ever heard much,' asked she, 'of this new sect of the Nazarenes,
of which my brother spoke?'

'I have often heard enough of the votaries,' returned Glaucus, 'but of their
exact tenets know I naught, save that in their doctrine there seemeth
something preternaturally chilling and morose. They live apart from their
kind; they affect to be shocked even at our simple uses of garlands; they
have no sympathies with the cheerful amusements of life; they utter awful
threats of the coming destruction of the world; they appear, in one word, to
have brought their unsmiling and gloomy creed out of the cave of Trophonius.
Yet,' continued Glaucus, after a slight pause, 'they have not wanted men of
great power and genius, nor converts, even among the Areopagites of Athens.
Well do I remember to have heard my father speak of one strange guest at
Athens, many years ago; methinks his name was PAUL. My father was amongst a
mighty crowd that gathered on one of our immemorial hills to hear this sage
of the East expound: through the wide throng there rang not a single
murmur!--the jest and the roar, with which our native orators are received,
were hushed for him--and when on the loftiest summit of that hill, raised
above the breathless crowd below, stood this mysterious visitor, his mien
and his countenance awed every heart, even before a sound left his lips. He
was a man, I have heard my father say, of no tall stature, but of noble and
impressive mien; his robes were dark and ample; the declining sun, for it
was evening, shone aslant upon his form as it rose aloft, motionless, and
commanding; his countenance was much worn and marked, as of one who had
braved alike misfortune and the sternest vicissitude of many climes; but his
eyes were bright with an almost unearthly fire; and when he raised his arm
to speak, it was with the majesty of a man into whom the Spirit of a God
hath rushed!

'"Men of Athens!" he is reported to have said, "I find amongst ye an altar
with this inscription:

              TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Ye worship in ignorance the same Deity I serve.
  To you unknown till now, to you be it now revealed."

'Then declared that solemn man how this great Maker of all things, who had
appointed unto man his several tribes and his various homes--the Lord of
earth and the universal heaven, dwelt not in temples made with hands; that
His presence, His spirit, were in the air we breathed--our life and our
being were with Him. "Think you," he cried, "that the Invisible is like
your statues of gold and marble? Think you that He needeth sacrifice from
you: He who made heaven and earth?" Then spoke he of fearful and coming
times, of the end of the world, of a second rising of the dead, whereof an
assurance had been given to man in the resurrection of the mighty Being
whose religion he came to preach.

'When he thus spoke, the long-pent murmur went forth, and the philosophers
that were mingled with the people, muttered their sage contempt; there might
you have seen the chilling frown of the Stoic, and the Cynic's sneer; and
the Epicurean, who believeth not even in our own Elysium, muttered a
pleasant jest, and swept laughing through the crowd: but the deep heart of
the people was touched and thrilled; and they trembled, though they knew not
why, for verily the stranger had the voice and majesty of a man to whom "The
Unknown God" had committed the preaching of His faith.'

Ione listened with wrapt attention, and the serious and earnest manner of
the narrator betrayed the impression that he himself had received from one
who had been amongst the audience that on the hill of the heathen Mars had
heard the first tidings of the word of Christ!

Chapter VI

THE PORTER. THE GIRL. AND THE GLADIATOR.

THE door of Diomed's house stood open, and Medon, the old slave, sat at the
bottom of the steps by which you ascended to the mansion. That luxurious
mansion of the rich merchant of Pompeii is still to be seen just without the
gates of the city, at the commencement of the Street of Tombs; it was a gay
neighborhood, despite the dead. On the opposite side, but at some yards
nearer the gate, was a spacious hostelry, at which those brought by business
or by pleasure to Pompeii often stopped to refresh themselves. In the space
before the entrance of the inn now stood wagons, and carts, and chariots,
some just arrived, some just quitting, in all the bustle of an animated and
popular resort of public entertainment. Before the door, some farmers,
seated on a bench by a small circular table, were talking over their morning
cups, on the affairs of their calling. On the side of the door itself was
painted gaily and freshly the eternal sign of the chequers. By the roof of
the inn stretched a terrace, on which some females, wives of the farmers
above mentioned, were, some seated, some leaning over the railing, and
conversing with their friends below. In a deep recess, at a little distance,
was a covered seat, in which some two or three poorer travellers were
resting themselves, and shaking the dust from their garments. On the other
side stretched a wide space, originally the burial-ground of a more ancient
race than the present denizens of Pompeii, and now converted into the
Ustrinum, or place for the burning of the dead. Above this rose the
terraces of a gay villa, half hid by trees. The tombs themselves, with
their graceful and varied shapes, the flowers and the foliage that
surrounded them, made no melancholy feature in the prospect. Hard by the
gate of the city, in a small niche, stood the still form of the
well-disciplined Roman sentry, the sun shining brightly on his polished
crest, and the lance on which he leaned. The gate itself was divided into
three arches, the centre one for vehicles, the others for the
foot-passengers; and on either side rose the massive walls which girt the
city, composed, patched, repaired at a thousand different epochs, according
as war, time, or the earthquake had shattered that vain protection. At
frequent intervals rose square towers, whose summits broke in picturesque
rudeness the regular line of the wall, and contrasted well with the modern
buildings gleaming whitely by.

The curving road, which in that direction leads from Pompeii to Herculaneum,
wound out of sight amidst hanging vines, above which frowned the sullen
majesty of Vesuvius.

'Hast thou heard the news, old Medon?' said a young woman, with a pitcher in
her hand, as she paused by Diomed's door to gossip a moment with the slave,
ere she repaired to the neighboring inn to fill the vessel, and coquet with
the travellers.

'The news! what news?' said the slave, raising his eyes moodily from the
ground.

'Why, there passed through the gate this morning, no doubt ere thou wert
well awake, such a visitor to Pompeii!'

'Ay,' said the slave, indifferently.

'Yes, a present from the noble Pomponianus.'

'A present! I thought thou saidst a visitor?'

'It is both visitor and present. Know, O dull and stupid! that it is a most
beautiful young tiger, for our approaching games in the amphitheatre. Hear
you that, Medon? Oh, what pleasure! I declare I shall not sleep a wink
till I see it; they say it has such a roar!'

'Poor fool!' said Medon, sadly and cynically.

'Fool me no fool, old churl! It is a pretty thing, a tiger, especially if
we could but find somebody for him to eat. We have now a lion and a tiger;
only consider that, Medon! and for want of two good criminals perhaps we
shall be forced to see them eat each other. By-the-by, your son is a
gladiator, a handsome man and a strong, can you not persuade him to fight
the tiger? Do now, you would oblige me mightily; nay, you would be a
benefactor to the whole town.'

'Vah! vah!' said the slave, with great asperity; 'think of thine own danger
ere thou thus pratest of my poor boy's death.'

'My own danger!' said the girl, frightened and looking hastily
around--'Avert the omen! let thy words fall on thine own head!' And the
girl, as she spoke, touched a talisman suspended round her neck. '"Thine own
danger!" what danger threatens me?'

'Had the earthquake but a few nights since no warning?' said Medon. 'Has it
not a voice? Did it not say to us all, "Prepare for death; the end of all
things is at hand?"'

'Bah, stuff!' said the young woman, settling the folds of her tunic. 'Now
thou talkest as they say the Nazarenes talked--methinks thou art one of
them. Well, I can prate with thee, grey croaker, no more: thou growest
worse and worse--Vale! O Hercules, send us a man for the lion--and another
for the tiger!'

            Ho! ho! for the merry, merry show,
            With a forest of faces in every row!
            Lo, the swordsmen, bold as the son of Alcmena,
            Sweep, side by side, o'er the hushed arena;
            Talk while you may--you will hold your breath
            When they meet in the grasp of the glowing death.
            Tramp, tramp, how gaily they go!
            Ho! ho! for the merry, merry show!

Chanting in a silver and clear voice this feminine ditty, and holding up her
tunic from the dusty road, the young woman stepped lightly across to the
crowded hostelry.

'My poor son!' said the slave, half aloud, 'is it for things like this thou
art to be butchered? Oh! faith of Christ, I could worship thee in all
sincerity, were it but for the horror which thou inspirest for these bloody
lists.'

The old man's head sank dejectedly on his breast. He remained silent and
absorbed, but every now and then with the corner of his sleeve he wiped his
eyes. His heart was with his son; he did not see the figure that now
approached from the gate with a quick step, and a somewhat fierce and
reckless gait and carriage. He did not lift his eyes till the figure paused
opposite the place where he sat, and with a soft voice addressed him by the
name of:

'Father!'

'My boy! my Lydon! is it indeed thou?' said the old man, joyfully. 'Ah, thou
wert present to my thoughts.'

'I am glad to hear it, my father,' said the gladiator, respectfully touching
the knees and beard of the slave; 'and soon may I be always present with
thee, not in thought only.'

'Yes, my son--but not in this world,' replied the slave, mournfully.

'Talk not thus, O my sire! look cheerfully, for I feel so--I am sure that I
shall win the day; and then, the gold I gain buys thy freedom. Oh! my
father, it was but a few days since that I was taunted, by one, too, whom I
would gladly have undeceived, for he is more generous than the rest of his
equals. He is not Roman--he is of Athens--by him I was taunted with the
lust of gain--when I demanded what sum was the prize of victory. Alas! he
little knew the soul of Lydon!'

'My boy! my boy!' said the old slave, as, slowly ascending the steps, he
conducted his son to his own little chamber, communicating with the entrance
hall (which in this villa was the peristyle, not the atrium)--you may see it
now; it is the third door to the right on entering. (The first door
conducts to the staircase; the second is but a false recess, in which there
stood a statue of bronze.) 'Generous, affectionate, pious as are thy
motives,' said Medon, when they were thus secured from observation, 'thy
deed itself is guilt: thou art to risk thy blood for thy father's
freedom--that might be forgiven; but the prize of victory is the blood of
another. oh, that is a deadly sin; no object can purify it. Forbear!
forbear! rather would I be a slave for ever than purchase liberty on such
terms!'

'Hush, my father!' replied Lydon, somewhat impatiently; 'thou hast picked up
in this new creed of thine, of which I pray thee not to speak to me, for the
gods that gave me strength denied me wisdom, and I understand not one word
of what thou often preachest to me--thou hast picked up, I say, in this new
creed, some singular fantasies of right and wrong. Pardon me if I offend
thee: but reflect! Against whom shall I contend? Oh! couldst thou know
those wretches with whom, for thy sake, I assort, thou wouldst think I
purified earth by removing one of them. Beasts, whose very lips drop blood;
things, all savage, unprincipled in their very courage: ferocious,
heartless, senseless; no tie of life can bind them: they know not fear, it
is true--but neither know they gratitude, nor charity, nor love; they are
made but for their own career, to slaughter without pity, to die without
dread! Can thy gods, whosoever they be, look with wrath on a conflict with
such as these, and in such a cause? Oh, My father, wherever the powers
above gaze down on earth, they behold no duty so sacred, so sanctifying, as
the sacrifice offered to an aged parent by the piety of a grateful son!'

The poor old slave, himself deprived of the lights of knowledge, and only
late a convert to the Christian faith, knew not with what arguments to
enlighten an ignorance at once so dark, and yet so beautiful in its error.
His first impulse was to throw himself on his son's breast--his next to
start away to wring his hands; and in the attempt to reprove, his broken
voice lost itself in weeping.

'And if,' resumed Lydon--'if thy Deity (methinks thou wilt own but one?) be
indeed that benevolent and pitying Power which thou assertest Him to be, He
will know also that thy very faith in Him first confirmed me in that
determination thou blamest.'

'How! what mean you?' said the slave.

'Why, thou knowest that I, sold in my childhood as a slave, was set free at
Rome by the will of my master, whom I had been fortunate enough to please.
I hastened to Pompeii to see thee--I found thee already aged and infirm,
under the yoke of a capricious and pampered lord--thou hadst lately adopted
this new faith, and its adoption made thy slavery doubly painful to thee; it
took away all the softening charm of custom, which reconciles us so often to
the worst. Didst thou not complain to me that thou wert compelled to
offices that were not odious to thee as a slave, but guilty as a Nazarene?
Didst thou not tell me that thy soul shook with remorse when thou wert
compelled to place even a crumb of cake before the Lares that watch over yon
impluvium? that thy soul was torn by a perpetual struggle? Didst thou not
tell me that even by pouring wine before the threshold, and calling on the
name of some Grecian deity, thou didst fear thou wert incurring penalties
worse than those of Tantalus, an eternity of tortures more terrible than
those of the Tartarian fields? Didst thou not tell me this? I wondered, I
could not comprehend; nor, by Hercules! can I now: but I was thy son, and my
sole task was to compassionate and relieve. Could I hear thy groans, could
I witness thy mysterious horrors, thy constant anguish, and remain inactive?
No! by the immortal gods! the thought struck me like light from Olympus! I
had no money, but I had strength and youth--these were thy gifts--I could
sell these in my turn for thee! I learned the amount of thy ransom--I
learned that the usual prize of a victorious gladiator would doubly pay it.
I became a gladiator--I linked myself with those accursed men, scorning,
loathing, while I joined--I acquired their skill--blessed be the lesson!--it
shall teach me to free my father!'

'Oh, that thou couldst hear Olinthus!' sighed the old man, more and more
affected by the virtue of his son, but not less strongly convinced of the
criminality of his purpose.

'I will hear the whole world talk if thou wilt,' answered the gladiator,
gaily; 'but not till thou art a slave no more. Beneath thy own roof, my
father, thou shalt puzzle this dull brain all day long, ay, and all night
too, if it give thee pleasure. Oh, such a spot as I have chalked out for
thee!--it is one of the nine hundred and ninety-nine shops of old Julia
Felix, in the sunny part of the city, where thou mayst bask before the door
in the day--and I will sell the oil and the wine for thee, my father--and
then, please Venus (or if it does not please her, since thou lovest not her
name, it is all one to Lydon)--then, I say, perhaps thou mayst have a
daughter, too, to tend thy grey hairs, and hear shrill voices at thy knee,
that shall call thee "Lydon's father!" Ah! we shall be so happy--the prize
can purchase all. Cheer thee! cheer up, my sire!--And now I must away--day
wears--the lanista waits me. Come! thy blessing!'

As Lydon thus spoke, he had already quitted the dark chamber of his father;
and speaking eagerly, though in a whispered tone, they now stood at the same
place in which we introduced the porter at his post.

'O bless thee! bless thee, my brave boy!' said Medon, fervently; 'and may
the great Power that reads all hearts see the nobleness of thine, and
forgive its error!'

The tall shape of the gladiator passed swiftly down the path; the eyes of
the slave followed its light but stately steps, till the last glimpse was
gone; and then, sinking once more on his seat, his eyes again fastened
themselves on the ground. His form, mute and unmoving, as a thing of stone.
His heart!--who, in our happier age, can even imagine its struggles--its
commotion?

'May I enter?' said a sweet voice. 'Is thy mistress Julia within?'

The slave mechanically motioned to the visitor to enter, but she who
addressed him could not see the gesture--she repeated her question timidly,
but in a louder voice.

'Have I not told thee!' said the slave, peevishly: 'enter.'

'Thanks,' said the speaker, plaintively; and the slave, roused by the tone,
looked up, and recognized the blind flower-girl. Sorrow can sympathize with
affliction--he raised himself, and guided her steps to the head of the
adjacent staircase (by which you descended to Julia's apartment), where,
summoning a female slave, he consigned to her the charge of the blind girl.

Chapter VII

THE DRESSING-ROOM OF A POMPEIAN BEAUTY. IMPORTANT CONVERSATION BETWEEN JULIA
AND NYDIA.

THE elegant Julia sat in her chamber, with her slaves around her--like the
cubiculum which adjoined it, the room was small, but much larger than the
usual apartments appropriated to sleep, which were so diminutive, that few
who have not seen the bed-chambers, even in the gayest mansions, can form
any notion of the petty pigeon-holes in which the citizens of Pompeii
evidently thought it desirable to pass the night. But, in fact, 'bed' with
the ancients was not that grave, serious, and important part of domestic
mysteries which it is with us. The couch itself was more like a very narrow
and small sofa, light enough to be transported easily, and by the occupant
himself, from place to place; and it was, no doubt, constantly shifted from
chamber to chamber, according to the caprice of the inmate, or the changes
of the season; for that side of the house which was crowded in one month,
might, perhaps, be carefully avoided in the next. There was also among the
Italians of that period a singular and fastidious apprehension of too much
daylight; their darkened chambers, which first appear to us the result of a
negligent architecture, were the effect of the most elaborate study. In
their porticoes and gardens they courted the sun whenever it so pleased
their luxurious tastes. In the interior of their houses they sought rather
the coolness and the shade.

Julia's apartment at that season was in the lower part of the house,
immediately beneath the state rooms above, and looking upon the garden, with
which it was on a level. The wide door, which was glazed, alone admitted
the morning rays: yet her eye, accustomed to a certain darkness, was
sufficiently acute to perceive exactly what colors were the most
becoming--what shade of the delicate rouge gave the brightest beam to her
dark glance, and the most youthful freshness to her cheek.

On the table, before which she sat, was a small and circular mirror of the
most polished steel: round which, in precise order, were ranged the
cosmetics and the unguents--the perfumes and the paints--the jewels and
combs--the ribands and the gold pins, which were destined to add to the
natural attractions of beauty the assistance of art and the capricious
allurements of fashion. Through the dimness of the room glowed brightly the
vivid and various colourings of the wall, in all the dazzling frescoes of
Pompeian taste. Before the dressing-table, and under the feet of Julia, was
spread a carpet, woven from the looms of the East. Near at hand, on another
table, was a silver basin and ewer; an extinguished lamp, of most exquisite
workmanship, in which the artist had represented a Cupid reposing under the
spreading branches of a myrtle-tree; and a small roll of papyrus, containing
the softest elegies of Tibullus. Before the door, which communicated with
the cubiculum, hung a curtain richly broidered with gold flowers. Such was
the dressing-room of a beauty eighteen centuries ago.

The fair Julia leaned indolently back on her seat, while the ornatrix (i.e.
hairdresser) slowly piled, one above the other, a mass of small curls,
dexterously weaving the false with the true, and carrying the whole fabric
to a height that seemed to place the head rather at the centre than the
summit of the human form.

Her tunic, of a deep amber, which well set off her dark hair and somewhat
embrowned complexion, swept in ample folds to her feet, which were cased in
slippers, fastened round the slender ankle by white thongs; while a
profusion of pearls were embroidered in the slipper itself, which was of
purple, and turned slightly upward, as do the Turkish slippers at this day.
An old slave, skilled by long experience in all the arcana of the toilet,
stood beside the hairdresser, with the broad and studded girdle of her
mistress over her arm, and giving, from time to time (mingled with judicious
flattery to the lady herself), instructions to the mason of the ascending
pile.

'Put that pin rather more to the right--lower--stupid one! Do you not
observe how even those beautiful eyebrows are?--One would think you were
dressing Corinna, whose face is all of one side. Now put in the
flowers--what, fool!--not that dull pink--you are not suiting colors to the
dim cheek of Chloris: it must be the brightest flowers that can alone suit
the cheek of the young Julia.'

'Gently!' said the lady, stamping her small foot violently: 'you pull my
hair as if you were plucking up a weed!'

'Dull thing!' continued the directress of the ceremony. 'Do you not know
how delicate is your mistress?--you are not dressing the coarse horsehair of
the widow Fulvia. Now, then, the riband--that's right. Fair Julia, look in
the mirror; saw you ever anything so lovely as yourself?'

When, after innumerable comments, difficulties, and delays, the intricate
tower was at length completed, the next preparation was that of giving to
the eyes the soft languish, produced by a dark powder applied to the lids
and brows; a small patch cut in the form of a crescent, skillfully placed by
the rosy lips, attracted attention to their dimples, and to the teeth, to
which already every art had been applied in order to heighten the dazzle of
their natural whiteness.

To another slave, hitherto idle, was now consigned the charge of arranging
the jewels--the ear-rings of pearl (two to each ear)--the massive bracelets
of gold--the chain formed of rings of the same metal, to which a talisman
cut in crystals was attached--the graceful buckle on the left shoulder, in
which was set an exquisite cameo of Psyche--the girdle of purple riband,
richly wrought with threads of gold, and clasped by interlacing
serpents--and lastly, the various rings, fitted to every joint of the white
and slender fingers. The toilet was now arranged according to the last mode
of Rome. The fair Julia regarded herself with a last gaze of complacent
vanity, and reclining again upon her seat, she bade the youngest of her
slaves, in a listless tone, read to her the enamoured couplets of Tibullus.
This lecture was still proceeding, when a female slave admitted Nydia into
the presence of the lady of the place.

'Salve, Julia!' said the flower-girl, arresting her steps within a few paces
from the spot where Julia sat, and crossing her arms upon her breast. 'I
have obeyed your commands.'

'You have done well, flower-girl,' answered the lady. 'Approach--you may
take a seat.'

One of the slaves placed a stool by Julia, and Nydia seated herself.

Julia looked hard at the Thessalian for some moments in rather an
embarrassed silence. She then motioned her attendants to withdraw, and to
close the door. When they were alone, she said, looking mechanically from
Nydia, and forgetful that she was with one who could not observe her
countenance:

'You serve the Neapolitan, Ione?'

'I am with her at present,' answered Nydia.

'Is she as handsome as they say?'

'I know not,' replied Nydia. 'How can I judge?'

'Ah! I should have remembered. But thou hast ears, if not eyes. Do thy
fellow-slaves tell thee she is handsome? Slaves talking with one another
forget to flatter even their mistress.'

'They tell me that she is beautiful.'

'Hem!--say they that she is tall?'

'Yes.'

'Why, so am I. Dark haired?'

'I have heard so.'

'So am I. And doth Glaucus visit her much?'

'Daily' returned Nydia, with a half-suppressed sigh.

'Daily, indeed! Does he find her handsome?'

'I should think so, since they are so soon to be wedded.'

'Wedded!' cried Julia, turning pale even through the false roses on her
cheek, and starting from her couch. Nydia did not, of course, perceive the
emotion she had caused. Julia remained a long time silent; but her heaving
breast and flashing eyes would have betrayed, to one who could have seen,
the wound her vanity had sustained.

'They tell me thou art a Thessalian,' said she, at last breaking silence.

'And truly!'

'Thessaly is the land of magic and of witches, of talismans and of
love-philtres,' said Julia.

'It has ever been celebrated for its sorcerers,' returned Nydia, timidly.

'Knowest thou, then, blind Thessalian, of any love-charms?'

'I!' said the flower-girl, coloring; 'I! how should I? No, assuredly not!'

'The worse for thee; I could have given thee gold enough to have purchased
thy freedom hadst thou been more wise.'

'But what,' asked Nydia, 'can induce the beautiful and wealthy Julia to ask
that question of her servant? Has she not money, and youth, and loveliness?
Are they not love-charms enough to dispense with magic?'

'To all but one person in the world,' answered Julia, haughtily: 'but
methinks thy blindness is infectious; and... But no matter.'

'And that one person?' said Nydia, eagerly.

'Is not Glaucus,' replied Julia, with the customary deceit of her sex.
'Glaucus--no!'

Nydia drew her breath more freely, and after a short pause Julia
recommenced.

'But talking of Glaucus, and his attachment to this Neapolitan, reminded me
of the influence of love-spells, which, for ought I know or care, she may
have exercised upon him. Blind girl, I love, and--shall Julia live to say
it?--am loved not in return! This humbles--nay, not humbles--but it stings
my pride. I would see this ingrate at my feet--not in order that I might
raise, but that I might spurn him. When they told me thou wert Thessalian,
I imagined thy young mind might have learned the dark secrets of thy clime.'

'Alas! no, murmured Nydia: 'would it had!'

'Thanks, at least, for that kindly wish,' said Julia, unconscious of what
was passing in the breast of the flower-girl.

'But tell me--thou hearest the gossip of slaves, always prone to these dim
beliefs; always ready to apply to sorcery for their own low loves--hast thou
ever heard of any Eastern magician in this city, who possesses the art of
which thou art ignorant? No vain chiromancer, no juggler of the
market-place, but some more potent and mighty magician of India or of
Egypt?'

'Of Egypt?--yes!' said Nydia, shuddering. 'What Pompeian has not heard of
Arbaces?'

'Arbaces! true,' replied Julia, grasping at the recollection. 'They say he
is a man above all the petty and false impostures of dull pretenders--that
he is versed in the learning of the stars, and the secrets of the ancient
Nox; why not in the mysteries of love?'

'If there be one magician living whose art is above that of others, it is
that dread man,' answered Nydia; and she felt her talisman while she spoke.

'He is too wealthy to divine for money?' continued Julia, sneeringly. 'Can
I not visit him?'

'It is an evil mansion for the young and the beautiful,' replied Nydia. 'I
have heard, too, that he languishes in...'

'An evil mansion!' said Julia, catching only the first sentence. 'Why so?'

'The orgies of his midnight leisure are impure and polluted--at least, so
says rumor.'

'By Ceres, by Pan, and by Cybele! thou dost but provoke my curiosity,
instead of exciting my fears,' returned the wayward and pampered Pompeian.
'I will seek and question him of his lore. If to these orgies love be
admitted--why the more likely that he knows its secrets!'

Nydia did not answer.

'I will seek him this very day,' resumed Julia; 'nay, why not this very
hour?'

'At daylight, and in his present state, thou hast assuredly the less to
fear,' answered Nydia, yielding to her own sudden and secret wish to learn
if the dark Egyptian were indeed possessed of those spells to rivet and
attract love, of which the Thessalian had so often heard.

'And who dare insult the rich daughter of Diomed?' said Julia, haughtily.
'I will go.'

'May I visit thee afterwards to learn the result?' asked Nydia, anxiously.

'Kiss me for thy interest in Julia's honour,' answered the lady. 'Yes,
assuredly. This eve we sup abroad--come hither at the same hour to-morrow,
and thou shalt know all: I may have to employ thee too; but enough for the
present. Stay, take this bracelet for the new thought thou hast inspired me
with; remember, if thou servest Julia, she is grateful and she is generous.'

'I cannot take thy present,' said Nydia, putting aside the bracelet; 'but
young as I am, I can sympathize unbought with those who love--and love in
vain.'

'Sayest thou so!' returned Julia. 'Thou speakest like a free woman--and
thou shalt yet be free--farewell!'

Chapter VIII

JULIA SEEKS ARBACES. THE RESULT OF THAT INTERVIEW.

ARBACES was seated in a chamber which opened on a kind of balcony or portico
that fronted his garden. His cheek was pale and worn with the sufferings he
had endured, but his iron frame had already recovered from the severest
effects of that accident which had frustrated his fell designs in the moment
of victory. The air that came fragrantly to his brow revived his languid
senses, and the blood circulated more freely than it had done for days
through his shrunken veins.

'So, then,' thought he, 'the storm of fate has broken and blown over--the
evil which my lore predicted, threatening life itself, has chanced--and yet
I live! It came as the stars foretold; and now the long, bright, and
prosperous career which was to succeed that evil, if I survived it, smiles
beyond: I have passed--I have subdued the latest danger of my destiny. Now
I have but to lay out the gardens of my future fate--unterrified and secure.
First, then, of all my pleasures, even before that of love, shall come
revenge! This boy Greek--who has crossed my passion--thwarted my
designs--baffled me even when the blade was about to drink his accursed
blood--shall not a second time escape me! But for the method of my
vengeance? Of that let me ponder well! Oh! Ate, if thou art indeed a
goddess, fill me with thy direst Inspiration!' The Egyptian sank into an
intent reverie, which did not seem to present to him any clear or
satisfactory suggestions. He changed his position restlessly, as he
revolved scheme after scheme, which no sooner occurred than it was
dismissed: several times he struck his breast and groaned aloud, with the
desire of vengeance, and a sense of his impotence to accomplish it. While
thus absorbed, a boy slave timidly entered the chamber.

A female, evidently of rank from her dress, and that of the single slave who
attended her, waited below and sought an audience with Arbaces.

'A female!' his heart beat quick. 'Is she young?'

'Her face is concealed by her veil; but her form is slight, yet round, as
that of youth.'

'Admit her,' said the Egyptian: for a moment his vain heart dreamed the
stranger might be Ione.

The first glance of the visitor now entering the apartment sufficed to
undeceive so erring a fancy. True, she was about the same height as Ione,
and perhaps the same age--true, she was finely and richly formed--but where
was that undulating and ineffable grace which accompanied every motion of
the peerless Neapolitan--the chaste and decorous garb, so simple even in the
care of its arrangement--the dignified yet bashful step--the majesty of
womanhood and its modesty?

'Pardon me that I rise with pain,' said Arbaces, gazing on the stranger: 'I
am still suffering from recent illness.'

'Do not disturb thyself, O great Egyptian!' returned Julia, seeking to
disguise the fear she already experienced beneath the ready resort of
flattery; 'and forgive an unfortunate female, who seeks consolation from thy
wisdom.'

'Draw near, fair stranger,' said Arbaces; 'and speak without apprehension or
reserve.'

Julia placed herself on a seat beside the Egyptian, and wonderingly gazed
around an apartment whose elaborate and costly luxuries shamed even the
ornate enrichment of her father's mansion; fearfully, too, she regarded the
hieroglyphical inscriptions on the walls--the faces of the mysterious
images, which at every corner gazed upon her--the tripod at a little
distance--and, above all, the grave and remarkable countenance of Arbaces
himself: a long white robe like a veil half covered his raven locks, and
flowed to his feet: his face was made even more impressive by its present
paleness; and his dark and penetrating eyes seemed to pierce the shelter of
her veil, and explore the secrets of her vain and unfeminine soul.

'And what,' said his low, deep voice, 'brings thee, O maiden! to the house
of the Eastern stranger?'

'His fame,' replied Julia.

'In what?' said he, with a strange and slight smile.

'Canst thou ask, O wise Arbaces? Is not thy knowledge the very gossip theme
of Pompeii?'

'Some little lore have I indeed, treasured up,' replied Arbaces: 'but in
what can such serious and sterile secrets benefit the ear of beauty?'

'Alas!' said Julia, a little cheered by the accustomed accents of adulation;
'does not sorrow fly to wisdom for relief, and they who love unrequitedly,
are not they the chosen victims of grief?'

'Ha!' said Arbaces, 'can unrequited love be the lot of so fair a form, whose
modelled proportions are visible even beneath the folds of thy graceful
robe? Deign, O maiden! to lift thy veil, that I may see at least if the
face correspond in loveliness with the form.'

Not unwilling, perhaps, to exhibit her charms, and thinking they were likely
to interest the magician in her fate, Julia, after some slight hesitation,
raised her veil, and revealed a beauty which, but for art, had been indeed
attractive to the fixed gaze of the Egyptian.

'Thou comest to me for advice in unhappy love,' said he; 'well, turn that
face on the ungrateful one: what other love-charm can I give thee?'

'Oh, cease these courtesies!' said Julia; 'it is a love-charm, indeed, that
I would ask from thy skill!'

'Fair stranger!' replied Arbaces, somewhat scornfully, 'love-spells are not
among the secrets I have wasted the midnight oil to attain.'

'Is it indeed so? Then pardon me, great Arbaces, and farewell!'

'Stay,' said Arbaces, who, despite his passion for Ione, was not unmoved by
the beauty of his visitor; and had he been in the flush of a more assured
health, might have attempted to console the fair Julia by other means than
those of supernatural wisdom.

'Stay; although I confess that I have left the witchery of philtres and
potions to those whose trade is in such knowledge, yet am I myself not so
dull to beauty but that in earlier youth I may have employed them in my own
behalf. I may give thee advice, at least, if thou wilt be candid with me.
Tell me then, first, art thou unmarried, as thy dress betokens?'

'Yes,' said Julia.

'And, being unblest with fortune, wouldst thou allure some wealthy suitor?'

'I am richer than he who disdains me.'

'Strange and more strange! And thou lovest him who loves not thee?'

'I know not if I love him,' answered Julia, haughtily; 'but I know that I
would see myself triumph over a rival--I would see him who rejected me my
suitor--I would see her whom he has preferred in her turn despised.'

'A natural ambition and a womanly,' said the Egyptian, in a tone too grave
for irony. 'Yet more, fair maiden; wilt thou confide to me the name of thy
lover? Can he be Pompeian, and despise wealth, even if blind to beauty?'

'He is of Athens,' answered Julia, looking down.

'Ha!' cried the Egyptian, impetuously, as the blood rushed to his cheek;
'there is but one Athenian, young and noble, in Pompeii. Can it be Glaucus
of whom thou speakest!'

'Ah! betray me not--so indeed they call him.'

The Egyptian sank back, gazing vacantly on the averted face of the
merchant's daughter, and muttering inly to himself: this conference, with
which he had hitherto only trifled, amusing himself with the credulity and
vanity of his visitor--might it not minister to his revenge?'

'I see thou canst assist me not,' said Julia, offended by his continued
silence; 'guard at least my secret. Once more, farewell!'

'Maiden,' said the Egyptian, in an earnest and serious tone, 'thy suit hath
touched me--I will minister to thy will. Listen to me; I have not myself
dabbled in these lesser mysteries, but I know one who hath. At the base of
Vesuvius, less than a league from the city, there dwells a powerful witch;
beneath the rank dews of the new moon, she has gathered the herbs which
possess the virtue to chain Love in eternal fetters. Her art can bring thy
lover to thy feet. Seek her, and mention to her the name of Arbaces: she
fears that name, and will give thee her most potent philtres.'

'Alas!' answered Julia, I know not the road to the home of her whom thou
speakest of: the way, short though it be, is long to traverse for a girl who
leaves, unknown, the house of her father. The country is entangled with wild
vines, and dangerous with precipitous caverns. I dare not trust to mere
strangers to guide me; the reputation of women of my rank is easily
tarnished--and though I care not who knows that I love Glaucus, I would not
have it imagined that I obtained his love by a spell.'

'Were I but three days advanced in health,' said the Egyptian, rising and
walking (as if to try his strength) across the chamber, but with irregular
and feeble steps, 'I myself would accompany thee. Well, thou must wait.'

'But Glaucus is soon to wed that hated Neapolitan.'

'Wed!'

'Yes; in the early part of next month.'

'So soon! Art thou well advised of this?'

'From the lips of her own slave.'

'It shall not be!' said the Egyptian, impetuously. 'Fear nothing, Glaucus
shall be thine. Yet how, when thou obtainest it, canst thou administer to
him this potion?'

'My father has invited him, and, I believe, the Neapolitan also, to a
banquet, on the day following to-morrow: I shall then have the opportunity
to administer it.'

'So be it!' said the Egyptian, with eyes flashing such fierce joy, that
Julia's gaze sank trembling beneath them. 'To-morrow eve, then, order thy
litter--thou hast one at thy command?'

'Surely--yes,' returned the purse-proud Julia.

'Order thy litter--at two miles' distance from the city is a house of
entertainment, frequented by the wealthier Pompeians, from the excellence of
its baths, and the beauty of its gardens. There canst thou pretend only to
shape thy course--there, ill or dying, I will meet thee by the statue of
Silenus, in the copse that skirts the garden; and I myself will guide thee
to the witch. Let us wait till, with the evening star, the goats of the
herdsmen are gone to rest; when the dark twilight conceals us, and none
shall cross our steps. Go home and fear not. By Hades, swears Arbaces, the
sorcerer of Egypt, that Ione shall never wed with Glaucus.'

'And that Glaucus shall be mine,' added Julia, filling up the incompleted
sentence.

'Thou hast said it!' replied Arbaces; and Julia, half frightened at this
unhallowed appointment, but urged on by jealousy and the pique of rivalship,
even more than love, resolved to fulfill it.

Left alone, Arbaces burst forth:

'Bright stars that never lie, ye already begin the execution of your
promises--success in love, and victory over foes, for the rest of my smooth
existence. In the very hour when my mind could devise no clue to the goal
of vengeance, have ye sent this fair fool for my guide?' He paused in deep
thought. 'Yes,' said he again, but in a calmer voice; 'I could not myself
have given to her the poison, that shall be indeed a philtre!--his death
might be thus tracked to my door. But the witch--ay, there is the fit, the
natural agent of my designs!'

He summoned one of his slaves, bade him hasten to track the steps of Julia,
and acquaint himself with her name and condition. This done, he stepped
forth into the portico. The skies were serene and clear; but he, deeply
read in the signs of their various change, beheld in one mass of cloud, far
on the horizon, which the wind began slowly to agitate, that a storm was
brooding above.

'It is like my vengeance,' said he, as he gazed; 'the sky is clear, but the
cloud moves on.'

Chapter IX

STORM IN THE SOUTH. THE WITCH'S CAVERN.

IT was when the heats of noon died gradually away from the earth, that
Glaucus and Ione went forth to enjoy the cooled and grateful air. At that
time, various carriages were in use among the Romans; the one most used by
the richer citizens, when they required no companion in their excursion, was
the biga, already described in the early portion of this work; that
appropriated to the matrons, was termed carpentum, which had commonly two
wheels; the ancients used also a sort of litter, a vast sedan-chair, more
commodiously arranged than the modern, inasmuch as the occupant thereof
could lie down at ease, instead of being perpendicularly and stiffly jostled
up and down. There was another carriage, used both for travelling and for
excursions in the country; it was commodious, containing three or four
persons with ease, having a covering which could be raised at pleasure; and,
in short, answering very much the purpose of (though very different in shape
from) the modern britska. It was a vehicle of this description that the
lovers, accompanied by one female slave of Ione, now used in their
excursion. About ten miles from the city, there was at that day an old
ruin, the remains of a temple, evidently Grecian; and as for Glaucus and
Ione everything Grecian possessed an interest, they had agreed to visit
these ruins: it was thither they were now bound.

Their road lay among vines and olive-groves; till, winding more and more
towards the higher ground of Vesuvius, the path grew rugged; the mules moved
slowly, and with labor; and at every opening in the wood they beheld those
grey and horrent caverns indenting the parched rock, which Strabo has
described; but which the various revolutions of time and the volcano have
removed from the present aspect of the mountain. The sun, sloping towards
his descent, cast long and deep shadows over the mountain; here and there
they still heard the rustic reed of the shepherd amongst copses of the
beechwood and wild oak. Sometimes they marked the form of the silk-haired
and graceful capella, with its wreathing horn and bright grey eye--which,
still beneath Ausonian skies, recalls the eclogues of Maro, browsing
half-way up the hills; and the grapes, already purple with the smiles of the
deepening summer, glowed out from the arched festoons, which hung pendent
from tree to tree. Above them, light clouds floated in the serene heavens,
sweeping so slowly athwart the firmament that they scarcely seemed to stir;
while, on their right, they caught, ever and anon, glimpses of the waveless
sea, with some light bark skimming its surface; and the sunlight breaking
over the deep in those countless and softest hues so peculiar to that
delicious sea.

'How beautiful!' said Glaucus, in a half-whispered tone, 'is that expression
by which we call Earth our Mother! With what a kindly equal love she pours
her blessings upon her children! and even to those sterile spots to which
Nature has denied beauty, she yet contrives to dispense her smiles: witness
the arbutus and the vine, which she wreathes over the arid and burning soil
of yon extinct volcano. Ah! in such an hour and scene as this, well might
we imagine that the Faun should peep forth from those green festoons; or,
that we might trace the steps of the Mountain Nymph through the thickest
mazes of the glade. But the Nymphs ceased, beautiful Ione, when thou wert
created!'

There is no tongue that flatters like a lover's; and yet, in the
exaggeration of his feelings, flattery seems to him commonplace. Strange and
prodigal exuberance, which soon exhausts itself by overflowing!

They arrived at the ruins; they examined them with that fondness with which
we trace the hallowed and household vestiges of our own ancestry--they
lingered there till Hesperus appeared in the rosy heavens; and then
returning homeward in the twilight, they were more silent than they had
been; for in the shadow and beneath the stars they felt more oppressively
their mutual love.

It was at this time that the storm which the Egyptian had predicted began to
creep visibly over them. At first, a low and distant thunder gave warning
of the approaching conflict of the elements; and then rapidly rushed above
the dark ranks of the serried clouds. The suddenness of storms in that
climate is something almost preternatural, and might well suggest to early
superstition the notion of a divine agency--a few large drops broke heavily
among the boughs that half overhung their path, and then, swift and
intolerably bright, the forked lightning darted across their very eyes, and
was swallowed up by the increasing darkness.

'Swifter, good Carrucarius!' cried Glaucus to the driver; 'the tempest comes
on apace.'

The slave urged on the mules--they went swift over the uneven and stony
road--the clouds thickened, near and more near broke the thunder, and fast
rushed the dashing rain.

'Dost thou fear?' whispered Glaucus, as he sought excuse in the storm to
come nearer to Ione.

'Not with thee,' said she, softly.

At that instant, the carriage, fragile and ill-contrived (as, despite their
graceful shapes, were, for practical uses, most of such inventions at that
time), struck violently into a deep rut, over which lay a log of fallen
wood; the driver, with a curse, stimulated his mules yet faster for the
obstacle, the wheel was torn from the socket, and the carriage suddenly
overset.

Glaucus, quickly extricating himself from the vehicle, hastened to assist
Ione, who was fortunately unhurt; with some difficulty they raised the
carruca (or carriage), and found that it ceased any longer even to afford
them shelter; the springs that fastened the covering were snapped asunder,
and the rain poured fast and fiercely into the interior.

In this dilemma, what was to be done? They were yet some distance from the
city--no house, no aid, seemed near.

'There is,' said the slave, 'a smith about a mile off; I could seek him, and
he might fasten at least the wheel to the carruca--but, Jupiter! how the
rain beats; my mistress will be wet before I come back.'

'Run thither at least,' said Glaucus; 'we must find the best shelter we can
till you return.'

The lane was overshadowed with trees, beneath the amplest of which Glaucus
drew Ione. He endeavored, by stripping his own cloak, to shield her yet
more from the rapid rain; but it descended with a fury that broke through
all puny obstacles: and suddenly, while Glaucus was yet whispering courage
to his beautiful charge, the lightning struck one of the trees immediately
before them, and split with a mighty crash its huge trunk in twain. This
awful incident apprised them of the danger they braved in their present
shelter, and Glaucus looked anxiously round for some less perilous place of
refuge. 'We are now,' said he, 'half-way up the ascent of Vesuvius; there
ought to be some cavern, or hollow in the vine-clad rocks, could we but find
it, in which the deserting Nymphs have left a shelter.' While thus saying he
moved from the trees, and, looking wistfully towards the mountain,
discovered through the advancing gloom a red and tremulous light at no
considerable distance. 'That must come,' said he, 'from the hearth of some
shepherd or vine-dresser--it will guide us to some hospitable retreat. Wilt
thou stay here, while I--yet no--that would be to leave thee to danger.'

'I will go with you cheerfully,' said Ione. 'Open as the space seems, it is
better than the treacherous shelter of these boughs.'

Half leading, half carrying Ione, Glaucus, accompanied by the trembling
female slave, advanced towards the light, which yet burned red and
steadfastly. At length the space was no longer open; wild vines entangled
their steps, and hid from them, save by imperfect intervals, the guiding
beam. But faster and fiercer came the rain, and the lightning assumed its
most deadly and blasting form; they were still therefore, impelled onward,
hoping, at last, if the light eluded them, to arrive at some cottage or some
friendly cavern. The vines grew more and more intricate--the light was
entirely snatched from them; but a narrow path, which they trod with labor
and pain, guided only by the constant and long-lingering flashes of the
storm, continued to lead them towards its direction. The rain ceased
suddenly; precipitous and rough crags of scorched lava frowned before them,
rendered more fearful by the lightning that illumined the dark and dangerous
soil. Sometimes the blaze lingered over the iron-grey heaps of scoria,
covered in part with ancient mosses or stunted trees, as if seeking in vain
for some gentler product of earth, more worthy of its ire; and sometimes
leaving the whole of that part of the scene in darkness, the lightning,
broad and sheeted, hung redly over the ocean, tossing far below, until its
waves seemed glowing into fire; and so intense was the blaze, that it
brought vividly into view even the sharp outline of the more distant
windings of the bay, from the eternal Misenum, with its lofty brow, to the
beautiful Sorrentum and the giant hills behind.

Our lovers stopped in perplexity and doubt, when suddenly, as the darkness
that gloomed between the fierce flashes of lightning once more wrapped them
round, they saw near, but high, before them, the mysterious light. Another
blaze, in which heaven and earth were reddened, made visible to them the
whole expanse; no house was near, but just where they had beheld the light,
they thought they saw in the recess of the cavern the outline of a human
form. The darkness once more returned; the light, no longer paled beneath
the fires of heaven, burned forth again: they resolved to ascend towards it;
they had to wind their way among vast fragments of stone, here and there
overhung with wild bushes; but they gained nearer and nearer to the light,
and at length they stood opposite the mouth of a kind of cavern, apparently
formed by huge splinters of rock that had fallen transversely athwart each
other: and, looking into the gloom, each drew back involuntarily with a
superstitious fear and chill.

A fire burned in the far recess of the cave; and over it was a small
cauldron; on a tall and thin column of iron stood a rude lamp; over that
part of the wall, at the base of which burned the fire, hung in many rows,
as if to dry, a profusion of herbs and weeds. A fox, couched before the
fire, gazed upon the strangers with its bright and red eye--its hair
bristling--and a low growl stealing from between its teeth; in the centre of
the cave was an earthen statue, which had three heads of a singular and
fantastic cast: they were formed by the real skulls of a dog, a horse, and a
boar; a low tripod stood before this wild representation of the popular
Hecate.

But it was not these appendages and appliances of the cave that thrilled the
blood of those who gazed fearfully therein--it was the face of its inmate.
Before the fire, with the light shining full upon her features, sat a woman
of considerable age. Perhaps in no country are there seen so many hags as
in Italy--in no country does beauty so awfully change, in age, to
hideousness the most appalling and revolting. But the old woman now before
them was not one of these specimens of the extreme of human ugliness; on the
contrary, her countenance betrayed the remains of a regular but high and
aquiline order of feature: with stony eyes turned upon them--with a look
that met and fascinated theirs--they beheld in that fearful countenance the
very image of a corpse!--the same, the glazed and lustreless regard, the
blue and shrunken lips, the drawn and hollow jaw--the dead, lank hair, of a
pale grey--the livid, green, ghastly skin, which seemed all surely tinged
and tainted by the grave!

'It is a dead thing,' said Glaucus.

'Nay--it stirs--it is a ghost or larva,' faltered Ione, as she clung to the
Athenian's breast.

'Oh, away, away!' groaned the slave, 'it is the Witch of Vesuvius!'

'Who are ye?' said a hollow and ghostly voice. 'And what do ye here?'

The sound, terrible and deathlike as it was--suiting well the countenance of
the speaker, and seeming rather the voice of some bodiless wanderer of the
Styx than living mortal, would have made Ione shrink back into the pitiless
fury of the storm, but Glaucus, though not without some misgiving, drew her
into the cavern.

'We are storm-beaten wanderers from the neighboring city,' said he, 'and
decoyed hither by yon light; we crave shelter and the comfort of your
hearth.'

As he spoke, the fox rose from the ground, and advanced towards the
strangers, showing, from end to end, its white teeth, and deepening in its
menacing growl.

'Down, slave!' said the witch; and at the sound of her voice the beast
dropped at once, covering its face with its brush, and keeping only its
quick, vigilant eye fixed upon the invaders of its repose. 'Come to the fire
if ye will!' said she, turning to Glaucus and his companions. 'I never
welcome living thing--save the owl, the fox, the toad, and the viper--so I
cannot welcome ye; but come to the fire without welcome--why stand upon
form?'

The language in which the hag addressed them was a strange and barbarous
Latin, interlarded with many words of some more rude, and ancient dialect.
She did not stir from her seat, but gazed stonily upon them as Glaucus now
released Ione of her outer wrapping garments, and making her place herself
on a log of wood, which was the only other seat he perceived at hand--fanned
with his breath the embers into a more glowing flame. The slave, encouraged
by the boldness of her superiors, divested herself also of her long palla,
and crept timorously to the opposite corner of the hearth.

'We disturb you, I fear,' said the silver voice of Ione, in conciliation.

The witch did not reply--she seemed like one who has awakened for a moment
from the dead, and has then relapsed once more into the eternal slumber.

'Tell me,' said she, suddenly, and after a long pause, 'are ye brother and
sister?'

'No,' said Ione, blushing.

'Are ye married?'

'Not so,' replied Glaucus.

'Ho, lovers!--ha!--ha!--ha!' and the witch laughed so loud and so long that
the caverns rang again.

The heart of Ione stood still at that strange mirth. Glaucus muttered a
rapid counterspell to the omen--and the slave turned as pale as the cheek of
the witch herself.

'Why dost thou laugh, old crone?' said Glaucus, somewhat sternly, as he
concluded his invocation.

'Did I laugh?' said the hag, absently.

'She is in her dotage,' whispered Glaucus: as he said this, he caught the
eye of the hag fixed upon him with a malignant and vivid glare.

'Thou liest!' said she, abruptly.

'Thou art an uncourteous welcomer,' returned Glaucus.

'Hush! provoke her not, dear Glaucus!' whispered Ione.

'I will tell thee why I laughed when I discovered ye were lovers,' said the
old woman. 'It was because it is a pleasure to the old and withered to look
upon young hearts like yours--and to know the time will come when you will
loathe each other--loathe--loathe--ha!--ha!--ha!'

It was now Ione's turn to pray against the unpleasing prophecy.

'The gods forbid!' said she. 'Yet, poor woman, thou knowest little of love,
or thou wouldst know that it never changes.'

'Was I young once, think ye?' returned the hag, quickly; 'and am I old, and
hideous, and deathly now? Such as is the form, so is the heart.' With these
words she sank again into a stillness profound and fearful, as if the
cessation of life itself.

'Hast thou dwelt here long?' said Glaucus, after a pause, feeling
uncomfortably oppressed beneath a silence so appalling.

'Ah, long!--yes.'

'It is but a drear abode.'

'Ha! thou mayst well say that--Hell is beneath us!' replied the hag,
pointing her bony finger to the earth. 'And I will tell thee a secret--the
dim things below are preparing wrath for ye above--you, the young, and the
thoughtless, and the beautiful.'

'Thou utterest but evil words, ill becoming the hospitable,' said Glaucus;
'and in future I will brave the tempest rather than thy welcome.'

'Thou wilt do well. None should ever seek me--save the wretched!'

'And why the wretched?' asked the Athenian.

'I am the witch of the mountain,' replied the sorceress, with a ghastly
grin; 'my trade is to give hope to the hopeless: for the crossed in love I
have philtres; for the avaricious, promises of treasure; for the malicious,
potions of revenge; for the happy and the good, I have only what life
has--curses! Trouble me no more.

With this the grim tenant of the cave relapsed into a silence so obstinate
and sullen, that Glaucus in vain endeavored to draw her into farther
conversation. She did not evince, by any alteration of her locked and rigid
features, that she even heard him. Fortunately, however, the storm, which
was brief as violent, began now to relax; the rain grew less and less
fierce; and at last, as the clouds parted, the moon burst forth in the
purple opening of heaven, and streamed clear and full into that desolate
abode. Never had she shone, perhaps, on a group more worthy of the
painter's art. The young, the all-beautiful Ione, seated by that rude
fire--her lover already forgetful of the presence of the hag, at her feet,
gazing upward to her face, and whispering sweet words--the pale and
affrighted slave at a little distance--and the ghastly hag resting her
deadly eyes upon them; yet seemingly serene and fearless (for the
companionship of love hath such power) were these beautiful beings, things
of another sphere, in that dark and unholy cavern, with its gloomy
quaintness of appurtenance. The fox regarded them from his corner with his
keen and fiery eye: and as Glaucus now turned towards the witch, he
perceived for the first time, just under her seat, the bright gaze and
crested head of a large snake: whether it was that the vivid coloring of the
Athenian's cloak, thrown over the shoulders of Ione, attracted the reptile's
anger--its crest began to glow and rise, as if menacing and preparing itself
to spring upon the Neapolitan--Glaucus caught quickly at one of the
half-burned logs upon the hearth--and, as if enraged at the action, the
snake came forth from its shelter, and with a loud hiss raised itself on end
till its height nearly approached that of the Greek.

'Witch!' cried Glaucus, 'command thy creature, or thou wilt see it dead.'

'It has been despoiled of its venom!' said the witch, aroused at his threat;
but ere the words had left her lip, the snake had sprung upon Glaucus; quick
and watchful, the agile Greek leaped lightly aside, and struck so fell and
dexterous a blow on the head of the snake, that it fell prostrate and
writhing among the embers of the fire.

The hag sprung up, and stood confronting Glaucus with a face which would
have befitted the fiercest of the Furies, so utterly dire and wrathful was
its expression--yet even in horror and ghastliness preserving the outline
and trace of beauty--and utterly free from that coarse grotesque at which
the imaginations of the North have sought the source of terror.  'Thou
hast,' said she, in a slow and steady voice--which belied the expression of
her face, so much was it passionless and calm--'thou hast had shelter under
my roof, and warmth at my hearth; thou hast returned evil for good; thou
hast smitten and haply slain the thing that loved me and was mine: nay,
more, the creature, above all others, consecrated to gods and deemed
venerable by man,--now hear thy punishment. By the moon, who is the
guardian of the sorceress--by Orcus, who is the treasurer of wrath--I curse
thee! and thou art cursed! May thy love be blasted--may thy name be
blackened--may the infernals mark thee--may thy heart wither and scorch--may
thy last hour recall to thee the prophet voice of the Saga of Vesuvius! And
thou,' she added, turning sharply towards Ione, and raising her right arm,
when Glaucus burst impetuously on her speech:

'Hag!' cried he, 'forbear! Me thou hast cursed, and I commit myself to the
gods--I defy and scorn thee! but breathe but one word against yon maiden,
and I will convert the oath on thy foul lips to thy dying groan. Beware!'

'I have done,' replied the hag, laughing wildly; 'for in thy doom is she who
loves thee accursed. And not the less, that I heard her lips breathe thy
name, and know by what word to commend thee to the demons. Glaucus--thou
art doomed!' So saying, the witch turned from the Athenian, and kneeling
down beside her wounded favorite, which she dragged from the hearth, she
turned to them her face no more.

'O Glaucus!' said Ione, greatly terrified, 'what have we done?--Let us
hasten from this place; the storm has ceased. Good mistress, forgive
him--recall thy words--he meant but to defend himself--accept this
peace-offering to unsay the said': and Ione, stooping, placed her purse on
the hag's lap.

'Away!' said she, bitterly--'away! The oath once woven the Fates only can
untie. Away!'

'Come, dearest!' said Glaucus, impatiently. 'Thinkest thou that the gods
above us or below hear the impotent ravings of dotage? Come!'

Long and loud rang the echoes of the cavern with the dread laugh of the
Saga--she deigned no further reply.

The lovers breathed more freely when they gained the open air: yet the scene
they had witnessed, the words and the laughter of the witch, still fearfully
dwelt with Ione; and even Glaucus could not thoroughly shake off the
impression they bequeathed. The storm had subsided--save, now and then, a
low thunder muttered at the distance amidst the darker clouds, or a
momentary flash of lightning affronted the sovereignty of the moon. With
some difficulty they regained the road, where they found the vehicle already
sufficiently repaired for their departure, and the carrucarius calling
loudly upon Hercules to tell him where his charge had vanished.

Glaucus vainly endeavored to cheer the exhausted spirits of Ione; and scarce
less vainly to recover the elastic tone of his own natural gaiety. They
soon arrived before the gate of the city: as it opened to them, a litter
borne by slaves impeded the way.

'It is too late for egress,' cried the sentinel to the inmate of the litter.

'Not so,' said a voice, which the lovers started to hear; it was a voice
they well recognized. 'I am bound to the villa of Marcus Polybius. I shall
return shortly. I am Arbaces the Egyptian.'

The scruples of him at the gate were removed, and the litter passed close
beside the carriage that bore the lovers.

'Arbaces, at this hour!--scarce recovered too, methinks!--Whither and for
what can he leave the city?' said Glaucus.

'Alas!' replied Ione, bursting into tears, 'my soul feels still more and
more the omen of evil. Preserve us, O ye Gods! or at least,' she murmured
inly, 'preserve my Glaucus!'

Chapter X

THE LORD OF THE BURNING BELT AND HIS MINION. FATE WRITES HER PROPHECY IN
RED LETTERS, BUT WHO SHALL READ THEM?

ARBACES had tarried only till the cessation of the tempest allowed him,
under cover of night, to seek the Saga of Vesuvius. Borne by those of his
trustier slaves in whom in all more secret expeditions he was accustomed to
confide, he lay extended along his litter, and resigning his sanguine heart
to the contemplation of vengeance gratified and love possessed. The slaves
in so short a journey moved very little slower than the ordinary pace of
mules; and Arbaces soon arrived at the commencement of a narrow path, which
the lovers had not been fortunate enough to discover; but which, skirting
the thick vines, led at once to the habitation of the witch. Here he rested
the litter; and bidding his slaves conceal themselves and the vehicle among
the vines from the observation of any chance passenger, he mounted alone,
with steps still feeble but supported by a long staff, the drear and sharp
ascent.

Not a drop of rain fell from the tranquil heaven; but the moisture dripped
mournfully from the laden boughs of the vine, and now and then collected in
tiny pools in the crevices and hollows of the rocky way.

'Strange passions these for a philosopher,' thought Arbaces, 'that lead one
like me just new from the bed of death, and lapped even in health amidst the
roses of luxury, across such nocturnal paths as this; but Passion and
Vengeance treading to their goal can make an Elysium of a Tartarus.' High,
clear, and melancholy shone the moon above the road of that dark wayfarer,
glossing herself in every pool that lay before him, and sleeping in shadow
along the sloping mount. He saw before him the same light that had guided
the steps of his intended victims, but, no longer contrasted by the
blackened clouds, it shone less redly clear.

He paused, as at length he approached the mouth of the cavern, to recover
breath; and then, with his wonted collected and stately mien, he crossed the
unhallowed threshold.

The fox sprang up at the ingress of this newcomer, and by a long howl
announced another visitor to his mistress.

The witch had resumed her seat, and her aspect of gravelike and grim repose.
By her feet, upon a bed of dry weeds which half covered it, lay the wounded
snake; but the quick eye of the Egyptian caught its scales glittering in the
reflected light of the opposite fire, as it writhed--now contracting, now
lengthening, its folds, in pain and unsated anger.

'Down, slave!' said the witch, as before, to the fox; and, as before, the
animal dropped to the ground--mute, but vigilant.

'Rise, servant of Nox and Erebus!' said Arbaces, commandingly; 'a superior
in thine art salutes thee! rise, and welcome him.'

At these words the hag turned her gaze upon the Egyptian's towering form and
dark features. She looked long and fixedly upon him, as he stood before her
in his Oriental robe, and folded arms, and steadfast and haughty brow. 'Who
art thou,' she said at last, 'that callest thyself greater in art than the
Saga of the Burning Fields, and the daughter of the perished Etrurian race?'

'I am he,' answered Arbaces, 'from whom all cultivators of magic, from north
to south, from east to west, from the Ganges and the Nile to the vales of
Thessaly and the shores of the yellow Tiber, have stooped to learn.'

'There is but one such man in these places,' answered the witch, 'whom the
men of the outer world, unknowing his loftier attributes and more secret
fame, call Arbaces the Egyptian: to us of a higher nature and deeper
knowledge, his rightful appellation is Hermes of the Burning Girdle.'

'Look again, returned Arbaces: 'I am he.'

As he spoke he drew aside his robe, and revealed a cincture seemingly of
fire, that burned around his waist, clasped in the centre by a plate whereon
was engraven some sign apparently vague and unintelligible but which was
evidently not unknown to the Saga. She rose hastily, and threw herself at
the feet of Arbaces. 'I have seen, then,' said she, in a voice of deep
humility, 'the Lord of the Mighty Girdle--vouchsafe my homage.'

'Rise,' said the Egyptian; 'I have need of thee.'

So saying, he placed himself on the same log of wood on which Ione had
rested before, and motioned to the witch to resume her seat.

'Thou sayest,' said he, as she obeyed, 'that thou art a daughter of the
ancient Etrurian tribes; the mighty walls of whose rock-built cities yet
frown above the robber race that hath seized upon their ancient reign.
Partly came those tribes from Greece, partly were they exiles from a more
burning and primeval soil. In either case art thou of Egyptian lineage, for
the Grecian masters of the aboriginal helot were among the restless sons
whom the Nile banished from her bosom. Equally, then, O Saga! thy descent
is from ancestors that swore allegiance to mine own. By birth as by
knowledge, art thou the subject of Arbaces. Hear me, then, and obey!'

The witch bowed her head.

'Whatever art we possess in sorcery,' continued Arbaces, 'we are sometimes
driven to natural means to attain our object. The ring and the crystal, and
the ashes and the herbs, do not give unerring divinations; neither do the
higher mysteries of the moon yield even the possessor of the girdle a
dispensation from the necessity of employing ever and anon human measures
for a human object. Mark me, then: thou art deeply skilled, methinks, in
the secrets of the more deadly herbs; thou knowest those which arrest life,
which burn and scorch the soul from out her citadel, or freeze the channels
of young blood into that ice which no sun can melt. Do I overrate thy
skill? Speak, and truly!'

'Mighty Hermes, such lore is, indeed, mine own. Deign to look at these
ghostly and corpse-like features; they have waned from the hues of life
merely by watching over the rank herbs which simmer night and day in yon
cauldron.'

The Egyptian moved his seat from so unblessed or so unhealthful a vicinity
as the witch spoke.

'It is well,' said he; 'thou hast learned that maxim of all the deeper
knowledge which saith, "Despise the body to make wise the mind." But to thy
task. There cometh to thee by to-morrow's starlight a vain maiden, seeking
of thine art a love-charm to fascinate from another the eyes that should
utter but soft tales to her own: instead of thy philtres, give the maiden
one of thy most powerful poisons. Let the lover breathe his vows to the
Shades.'

The witch trembled from head to foot.

'Oh pardon! pardon! dread master,' said she, falteringly, 'but this I dare
not. The law in these cities is sharp and vigilant; they will seize, they
will slay me.'

'For what purpose, then, thy herbs and thy potions, vain Saga?' said
Arbaces, sneeringly.

The witch hid her loathsome face with her hands.

'Oh! years ago,' said she, in a voice unlike her usual tones, so plaintive
was it, and so soft, 'I was not the thing that I am now. I loved, I fancied
myself beloved.'

'And what connection hath thy love, witch, with my commands?' said Arbaces,
impetuously.

'Patience,' resumed the witch; 'patience, I implore. I loved! another and
less fair than I--yes, by Nemesis! less fair--allured from me my chosen. I
was of that dark Etrurian tribe to whom most of all were known the secrets
of the gloomier magic. My mother was herself a saga: she shared the
resentment of her child; from her hands I received the potion that was to
restore me his love; and from her, also, the poison that was to destroy my
rival. Oh, crush me, dread walls! my trembling hands mistook the phials, my
lover fell indeed at my feet; but dead! dead! dead! Since then, what has
been life to me I became suddenly old, I devoted myself to the sorceries of
my race; still by an irresistible impulse I curse myself with an awful
penance; still I seek the most noxious herbs; still I concoct the poisons;
still I imagine that I am to give them to my hated rival; still I pour them
into the phial; still I fancy that they shall blast her beauty to the dust;
still I wake and see the quivering body, the foaming lips, the glazing eyes
of my Aulus--murdered, and by me!'

The skeleton frame of the witch shook beneath strong convulsions.

Arbaces gazed upon her with a curious though contemptuous eye.

'And this foul thing has yet human emotions!' thought he; 'still she cowers
over the ashes of the same fire that consumes Arbaces!--Such are we all!
Mystic is the tie of those mortal passions that unite the greatest and the
least.'

He did not reply till she had somewhat recovered herself, and now sat
rocking to and fro in her seat, with glassy eyes fixed on the opposite
flame, and large tears rolling down her livid cheeks.

'A grievous tale is thine, in truth,' said Arbaces. 'But these emotions are
fit only for our youth--age should harden our hearts to all things but
ourselves; as every year adds a scale to the shell-fish, so should each year
wall and incrust the heart. Think of those frenzies no more! And now,
listen to me again! By the revenge that was dear to thee, I command thee to
obey me! it is for vengeance that I seek thee! This youth whom I would
sweep from my path has crossed me, despite my spells:--this thing of purple
and broidery, of smiles and glances, soulless and mindless, with no charm
but that of beauty--accursed be it!--this insect--this Glaucus--I tell thee,
by Orcus and by Nemesis, he must die.'

And working himself up at every word, the Egyptian, forgetful of his
debility--of his strange companion--of everything but his own vindictive
rage, strode, with large and rapid steps, the gloomy cavern.

'Glaucus! saidst thou, mighty master!' said the witch, abruptly; and her dim
eye glared at the name with all that fierce resentment at the memory of
small affronts so common amongst the solitary and the shunned.

'Ay, so he is called; but what matters the name? Let it not be heard as
that of a living man three days from this date!'

'Hear me!' said the witch, breaking from a short reverie into which she was
plunged after this last sentence of the Egyptian. 'Hear me! I am thy thing
and thy slave! spare me! If I give to the maiden thou speakest of that
which would destroy the life of Glaucus, I shall be surely detected--the
dead ever find avengers. Nay, dread man! if thy visit to me be tracked, if
thy hatred to Glaucus be known, thou mayest have need of thy archest magic
to protect thyself!'

'Ha!' said Arbaces, stopping suddenly short; and as a proof of that
blindness with which passion darkens the eyes even of the most acute, this
was the first time when the risk that he himself ran by this method of
vengeance had occurred to a mind ordinarily wary and circumspect.

'But,' continued the witch, 'if instead of that which shall arrest the
heart, I give that which shall sear and blast the brain--which shall make
him who quaffs it unfit for the uses and career of life--an abject, raving,
benighted thing--smiting sense to drivelling youth to dotage--will not thy
vengeance be equally sated--thy object equally attained?'

'Oh, witch! no longer the servant, but the sister--the equal of Arbaces--how
much brighter is woman's wit, even in vengeance, than ours! how much more
exquisite than death is such a doom!'

'And,' continued the hag, gloating over her fell scheme, 'in this is but
little danger; for by ten thousand methods, which men forbear to seek, can
our victim become mad. He may have been among the vines and seen a
nymph--or the vine itself may have had the same effect--ha, ha! they never
inquire too scrupulously into these matters in which the gods may be agents.
And let the worst arrive--let it be known that it is a love-charm--why,
madness is a common effect of philtres; and even the fair she that gave it
finds indulgence in the excuse. Mighty Hermes, have I ministered to thee
cunningly?'

'Thou shalt have twenty years' longer date for this,' returned Arbaces. 'I
will write anew the epoch of thy fate on the face of the pale stars--thou
shalt not serve in vain the Master of the Flaming Belt. And here, Saga,
carve thee out, by these golden tools, a warmer cell in this dreary
cavern--one service to me shall countervail a thousand divinations by sieve
and shears to the gaping rustics.' So saying, he cast upon the floor a heavy
purse, which clinked not unmusically to the ear of the hag, who loved the
consciousness of possessing the means to purchase comforts she disdained.
'Farewell,' said Arbaces, 'fail not--outwatch the stars in concocting thy
beverage--thou shalt lord it over thy sisters at the Walnut-tree,' when thou
tellest them that thy patron and thy friend is Hermes the Egyptian.
To-morrow night we meet again.'

He stayed not to hear the valediction or the thanks of the witch; with a
quick step he passed into the moonlit air, and hastened down the mountain.

The witch, who followed his steps to the threshold, stood at the entrance of
the cavern, gazing fixedly on his receding form; and as the sad moonlight
streamed over her shadowy form and deathlike face, emerging from the dismal
rocks, it seemed as if one gifted, indeed, by supernatural magic had escaped
from the dreary Orcus; and, the foremost of its ghostly throng, stood at its
black portals--vainly summoning his return, or vainly sighing to rejoin him.
The hag, then slowly re-entering the cave, groaningly picked up the heavy
purse, took the lamp from its stand, and, passing to the remotest depth of
her cell, a black and abrupt passage, which was not visible, save at a near
approach, closed round as it was with jutting and sharp crags, yawned before
her: she went several yards along this gloomy path, which sloped gradually
downwards, as if towards the bowels of the earth, and, lifting a stone,
deposited her treasure in a hole beneath, which, as the lamp pierced its
secrets, seemed already to contain coins of various value, wrung from the
credulity or gratitude of her visitors.

'I love to look at you,' said she, apostrophising the moneys; 'for when I
see you I feel that I am indeed of power. And I am to have twenty years'
longer life to increase your store! O thou great Hermes!'

She replaced the stone, and continued her path onward for some paces, when
she stopped before a deep irregular fissure in the earth. Here, as she
bent--strange, rumbling, hoarse, and distant sounds might be heard, while
ever and anon, with a loud and grating noise which, to use a homely but
faithful simile, seemed to resemble the grinding of steel upon wheels,
volumes of streaming and dark smoke issued forth, and rushed spirally along
the cavern.

'The Shades are noisier than their wont,' said the hag, shaking her grey
locks; and, looking into the cavity, she beheld, far down, glimpses of a
long streak of light, intensely but darkly red. 'Strange!' she said,
shrinking back; 'it is only within the last two days that dull, deep light
hath been visible--what can it portend?'

The fox, who had attended the steps of his fell mistress, uttered a dismal
howl, and ran cowering back to the inner cave; a cold shuddering seized the
hag herself at the cry of the animal, which, causeless as it seemed, the
superstitions of the time considered deeply ominous. She muttered her
placatory charm, and tottered back into her cavern, where, amidst her herbs
and incantations, she prepared to execute the orders of the Egyptian.

'He called me dotard,' said she, as the smoke curled from the hissing
cauldron: 'when the jaws drop, and the grinders fall, and the heart scarce
beats, it is a pitiable thing to dote; but when,' she added, with a savage
and exulting grin, 'the young, and the beautiful, and the strong, are
suddenly smitten into idiocy--ah, that is terrible! Burn, flame--simmer
herb--swelter toad--I cursed him, and he shall be cursed!'

On that night, and at the same hour which witnessed the dark and unholy
interview between Arbaces and the Saga, Apaecides was baptized.

Chapter XI

PROGRESS OF EVENTS. THE PLOT THICKENS. THE WEB IS WOVEN, BUT THE NET
CHANGES HANDS.

'AND you have the courage then, Julia, to seek the Witch of Vesuvius this
evening; in company, too, with that fearful man?'

'Why, Nydia?' replied Julia, timidly; 'dost thou really think there is
anything to dread? These old hags, with their enchanted mirrors, their
trembling sieves, and their moon-gathered herbs, are, I imagine, but crafty
impostors, who have learned, perhaps, nothing but the very charm for which I
apply to their skill, and which is drawn but from the knowledge of the
field's herbs and simples. Wherefore should I dread?'

'Dost thou not fear thy companion?'

'What, Arbaces? By Dian, I never saw lover more courteous than that same
magician! And were he not so dark, he would be even handsome.'

Blind as she was, Nydia had the penetration to perceive that Julia's mind
was not one that the gallantries of Arbaces were likely to terrify. She
therefore dissuaded her no more: but nursed in her excited heart the wild
and increasing desire to know if sorcery had indeed a spell to fascinate
love to love.

'Let me go with thee, noble Julia,' said she at length; 'my presence is no
protection, but I should like to be beside thee to the last.'

'Thine offer pleases me much,' replied the daughter of Diomed. 'Yet how
canst thou contrive it? we may not return until late, they will miss thee.'

'Ione is indulgent,' replied Nydia. 'If thou wilt permit me to sleep
beneath thy roof, I will say that thou, an early patroness and friend, hast
invited me to pass the day with thee, and sing thee my Thessalian songs; her
courtesy will readily grant to thee so light a boon.'

'Nay, ask for thyself!' said the haughty Julia. 'I stoop to request no
favor from the Neapolitan!'

'Well, be it so. I will take my leave now; make my request, which I know
will be readily granted, and return shortly.'

'Do so; and thy bed shall be prepared in my own chamber.' With that, Nydia
left the fair Pompeian.

On her way back to Ione she was met by the chariot of Glaucus, on whose
fiery and curveting steeds was riveted the gaze of the crowded street.

He kindly stopped for a moment to speak to the flower-girl.

'Blooming as thine own roses, my gentle Nydia! and how is thy fair
mistress?--recovered, I trust, from the effects of the storm?'

'I have not seen her this morning,' answered Nydia, 'but...'

'But what? draw back--the horses are too near thee.'

'But think you Ione will permit me to pass the day with Julia, the daughter
of Diomed?--She wishes it, and was kind to me when I had few friends.'

'The gods bless thy grateful heart! I will answer for Ione's permission.'

'Then I may stay over the night, and return to-morrow?' said Nydia,
shrinking from the praise she so little merited.

'As thou and fair Julia please. Commend me to her; and hark ye, Nydia, when
thou hearest her speak, note the contrast of her voice with that of the
silver-toned Ione. Vale!'

His spirits entirely recovered from the effect of the past night, his locks
waving in the wind, his joyous and elastic heart bounding with every spring
of his Parthian steeds, a very prototype of his country's god, full of youth
and of love--Glaucus was borne rapidly to his mistress.

Enjoy while ye may the present--who can read the future?

As the evening darkened, Julia, reclined within her litter, which was
capacious enough also to admit her blind companion, took her way to the
rural baths indicated by Arbaces. To her natural levity of disposition, her
enterprise brought less of terror than of pleasurable excitement; above all,
she glowed at the thought of her coming triumph over the hated Neapolitan.

A small but gay group was collected round the door of the villa, as her
litter passed by it to the private entrance of the baths appropriated to the
women.

'Methinks, by this dim light,' said one of the bystanders, 'I recognize the
slaves of Diomed.'

'True, Clodius,' said Sallust: 'it is probably the litter of his daughter
Julia. She is rich, my friend; why dost thou not proffer thy suit to her?'

'Why, I had once hoped that Glaucus would have married her. She does not
disguise her attachment; and then, as he gambles freely and with
ill-success...'

'The sesterces would have passed to thee, wise Clodius. A wife is a good
thing--when it belongs to another man!'

'But,' continued Clodius, 'as Glaucus is, I understand, to wed the
Neapolitan, I think I must even try my chance with the dejected maid. After
all, the lamp of Hymen will be gilt, and the vessel will reconcile one to
the odor of the flame. I shall only protest, my Sallust, against Diomed's
making thee trustee to his daughter's fortune.'

'Ha! ha! let us within, my comissator; the wine and the garlands wait us.'

Dismissing her slaves to that part of the house set apart for their
entertainment, Julia entered the baths with Nydia, and declining the offers
of the attendants, passed by a private door into the garden behind.

'She comes by appointment, be sure,' said one of the slaves.

'What is that to thee?' said a superintendent, sourly; 'she pays for the
baths, and does not waste the saffron. Such appointments are the best part
of the trade. Hark! do you not hear the widow Fulvia clapping her hands?
Run, fool--run!'

Julia and Nydia, avoiding the more public part of the garden, arrived at the
place specified by the Egyptian. In a small circular plot of grass the
stars gleamed upon the statue of Silenus--the merry god reclined upon a
fragment of rock--the lynx of Bacchus at his feet--and over his mouth he
held, with extended arm, a bunch of grapes, which he seemingly laughed to
welcome ere he devoured.

'I see not the magician,' said Julia, looking round: when, as she spoke, the
Egyptian slowly emerged from the neighboring foliage, and the light fell
palely over his sweeping robes.

'Salve, sweet maiden!--But ha! whom hast thou here? we must have no
companions!'

'It is but the blind flower-girl, wise magician,' replied Julia: 'herself a
Thessalian.'

'Oh! Nydia!' said the Egyptian. 'I know her well.'

Nydia drew back and shuddered.

'Thou hast been at my house, methinks!' said he, approaching his voice to
Nydia's ear; 'thou knowest the oath!--Silence and secrecy, now as then, or
beware!'

'Yet,' he added, musingly to himself, 'why confide more than is necessary,
even in the blind--Julia, canst thou trust thyself alone with me? Believe
me, the magician is less formidable than he seems.'

As he spoke, he gently drew Julia aside.

'The witch loves not many visitors at once,' said he: 'leave Nydia here till
your return; she can be of no assistance to us: and, for protection--your
own beauty suffices--your own beauty and your own rank; yes, Julia, I know
thy name and birth. Come, trust thyself with me, fair rival of the youngest
of the Naiads!'

The vain Julia was not, as we have seen, easily affrighted; she was moved by
the flattery of Arbaces, and she readily consented to suffer Nydia to await
her return; nor did Nydia press her presence. At the sound of the
Egyptian's voice all her terror of him returned: she felt a sentiment of
pleasure at learning she was not to travel in his companionship.

She returned to the Bath-house, and in one of the private chambers waited
their return. Many and bitter were the thoughts of this wild girl as she
sat there in her eternal darkness. She thought of her own desolate fate,
far from her native land, far from the bland cares that once assuaged the
April sorrows of childhood--deprived of the light of day, with none but
strangers to guide her steps, accursed by the one soft feeling of her heart,
loving and without hope, save the dim and unholy ray which shot across her
mind, as her Thessalian fancies questioned of the force of spells and the
gifts of magic.

Nature had sown in the heart of this poor girl the seeds of virtue never
destined to ripen. The lessons of adversity are not always
salutary--sometimes they soften and amend, but as often they indurate and
pervert. If we consider ourselves more harshly treated by fate than those
around us, and do not acknowledge in our own deeds the justice of the
severity, we become too apt to deem the world our enemy, to case ourselves
in defiance, to wrestle against our softer self, and to indulge the darker
passions which are so easily fermented by the sense of injustice. Sold
early into slavery, sentenced to a sordid taskmaster, exchanging her
situation, only yet more to embitter her lot--the kindlier feelings,
naturally profuse in the breast of Nydia, were nipped and blighted. Her
sense of right and wrong was confused by a passion to which she had so madly
surrendered herself; and the same intense and tragic emotions which we read
of in the women of the classic age--a Myrrha, a Medea--and which hurried and
swept away the whole soul when once delivered to love--ruled, and rioted in,
her breast.

Time passed: a light step entered the chamber where Nydia yet indulged her
gloomy meditations.

'Oh, thanked be the immortal gods!' said Julia, 'I have returned, I have
left that terrible cavern! Come, Nydia! let us away forthwith!'

It was not till they were seated in the litter that Julia again spoke.

'Oh!' said she, tremblingly, 'such a scene! such fearful incantations! and
the dead face of the hag!--But, let us talk not of it. I have obtained the
potion--she pledges its effect. My rival shall be suddenly indifferent to
his eye, and I, I alone, the idol of Glaucus!'

'Glaucus!' exclaimed Nydia.

'Ay! I told thee, girl, at first, that it was not the Athenian whom I loved:
but I see now that I may trust thee wholly--it is the beautiful Greek!'

What then were Nydia's emotions! she had connived, she had assisted, in
tearing Glaucus from Ione; but only to transfer, by all the power of magic,
his affections yet more hopelessly to another. Her heart swelled almost to
suffocation--she gasped for breath--in the darkness of the vehicle, Julia
did not perceive the agitation of her companion; she went on rapidly
dilating on the promised effect of her acquisition, and on her approaching
triumph over Ione, every now and then abruptly digressing to the horror of
the scene she had quitted--the unmoved mien of Arbaces, and his authority
over the dreadful Saga.

Meanwhile Nydia recovered her self-possession: a thought flashed across her:
she slept in the chamber of Julia--she might possess herself of the potion.

They arrived at the house of Diomed, and descended to Julia's apartment,
where the night's repast awaited them.

'Drink, Nydia, thou must be cold, the air was chill to-night; as for me, my
veins are yet ice.'

And Julia unhesitatingly quaffed deep draughts of the spiced wine.

'Thou hast the potion,' said Nydia; 'let me hold it in my hands. How small
the phial is! of what color is the draught?'

'Clear as crystal,' replied Julia, as she retook the philtre; 'thou couldst
not tell it from this water. The witch assures me it is tasteless. Small
though the phial, it suffices for a life's fidelity: it is to be poured into
any liquid; and Glaucus will only know what he has quaffed by the effect.'

'Exactly like this water in appearance?'

'Yes, sparkling and colorless as this. How bright it seems! it is as the
very essence of moonlit dews. Bright thing! how thou shinest on my hopes
through thy crystal vase!'

'And how is it sealed?'

'But by one little stopper--I withdraw it now--the draught gives no odor.
Strange, that that which speaks to neither sense should thus command all!'

'Is the effect instantaneous?'

'Usually--but sometimes it remains dormant for a few hours.'

'Oh, how sweet is this perfume!' said Nydia, suddenly, as she took up a
small bottle on the table, and bent over its fragrant contents.

'Thinkest thou so? the bottle is set with gems of some value. Thou wouldst
not have the bracelet yestermorn--wilt thou take the bottle?'

'It ought to be such perfumes as these that should remind one who cannot see
of the generous Julia. If the bottle be not too costly...'

'Oh! I have a thousand costlier ones: take it, child!'

Nydia bowed her gratitude, and placed the bottle in her vest.

'And the draught would be equally efficacious, whoever administers it?'

'If the most hideous hag beneath the sun bestowed it, such is its asserted
virtue that Glaucus would deem her beautiful, and none but her!'

Julia, warmed by wine, and the reaction of her spirits, was now all
animation and delight; she laughed loud, and talked on a hundred
matters--nor was it till the night had advanced far towards morning that she
summoned her slaves and undressed.

When they were dismissed, she said to Nydia, 'I will not suffer this holy
draught to quit my presence till the hour comes for its use. Lie under my
pillow, bright spirit, and give me happy dreams!'

So saying, she placed the potion under her pillow. Nydia's heart beat
violently.

'Why dost thou drink that unmixed water, Nydia? Take the wine by its side.'

'I am fevered,' replied the blind girl, 'and the water cools me. I will
place this bottle by my bedside, it refreshes in these summer nights, when
the dews of sleep fall not on our lips. Fair Julia, I must leave thee very
early--so Ione bids--perhaps before thou art awake; accept, therefore, now
my congratulations.'

'Thanks: when next we meet you may find Glaucus at my feet.'

They had retired to their couches, and Julia, worn out by the excitement of
the day, soon slept. But anxious and burning thoughts rolled over the mind
of the wakeful Thessalian. She listened to the calm breathing of Julia; and
her ear, accustomed to the finest distinctions of sound, speedily assured
her of the deep slumber of her companion.

'Now befriend me, Venus!' said she, softly.

She rose gently, and poured the perfume from the gift of Julia upon the
marble floor--she rinsed it several times carefully with the water that was
beside her, and then easily finding the bed of Julia (for night to her was
as day), she pressed her trembling hand under the pillow and seized the
potion. Julia stirred not, her breath regularly fanned the burning cheek of
the blind girl. Nydia, then, opening the phial, poured its contents into
the bottle, which easily contained them; and then refilling the former
reservoir of the potion with that limpid water which Julia had assured her
it so resembled, she once more placed the phial in its former place. She
then stole again to her couch, and waited--with what thoughts!--the dawning
day.

The sun had risen--Julia slept still--Nydia noiselessly dressed herself,
placed her treasure carefully in her vest, took up her staff, and hastened
to quit the house.

The porter, Medon, saluted her kindly as she descended the steps that led to
the street: she heard him not; her mind was confused and lost in the whirl
of tumultuous thoughts, each thought a passion. She felt the pure morning
air upon her cheek, but it cooled not her scorching veins.

'Glaucus,' she murmured, 'all the love-charms of the wildest magic could not
make thee love me as I love thee. Ione!--ah; away hesitation! away remorse!
Glaucus, my fate is in thy smile; and thine! hope! O joy! O transport, thy
fate is in these hands!'

BOOK THE FOURTH

Chapter I

REFLECTIONS ON THE ZEAL OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS. TWO MEN COME TO A PERILOUS
RESOLVE. WALLS HAVE EARS, PARTICULARLY SACRED WALLS.

WHOEVER regards the early history of Christianity, will perceive how
necessary to its triumph was that fierce spirit of zeal, which, fearing no
danger, accepting no compromise, inspired its champions and sustained its
martyrs. In a dominant Church the genius of intolerance betrays its
cause--in a weak and persecuted Church, the same genius mainly supports. It
was necessary to scorn, to loathe, to abhor the creeds of other men, in
order to conquer the temptations which they presented--it was necessary
rigidly to believe not only that the Gospel was the true faith, but the sole
true faith that saved, in order to nerve the disciple to the austerity of
its doctrine, and to encourage him to the sacred and perilous chivalry of
converting the Polytheist and the Heathen. The sectarian sternness which
confined virtue and heaven to a chosen few, which saw demons in other gods,
and the penalties of hell in other religions--made the believer naturally
anxious to convert all to whom he felt the ties of human affection; and the
circle thus traced by benevolence to man was yet more widened by a desire
for the glory of God. It was for the honour of the Christian faith that the
Christian boldly forced its tenets upon the scepticism of some, the
repugnance of others, the sage contempt of the philosopher, the pious
shudder of the people--his very intolerance supplied him with his fittest
instruments of success; and the soft Heathen began at last to imagine there
must indeed be something holy in a zeal wholly foreign to his experience,
which stopped at no obstacle, dreaded no danger, and even at the torture, or
on the scaffold, referred a dispute far other than the calm differences of
speculative philosophy to the tribunal of an Eternal Judge. It was thus
that the same fervor which made the Churchman of the middle age a bigot
without mercy, made the Christian of the early days a hero without fear.

Of these more fiery, daring, and earnest natures, not the least ardent was
Olinthus. No sooner had Apaecides been received by the rites of baptism
into the bosom of the Church, than the Nazarene hastened to make him
conscious of the impossibility to retain the office and robes of priesthood.
He could not, it was evident, profess to worship God, and continue even
outwardly to honour the idolatrous altars of the Fiend.

Nor was this all, the sanguine and impetuous mind of Olinthus beheld in the
power of Apaecides the means of divulging to the deluded people the juggling
mysteries of the oracular Isis. He thought Heaven had sent this instrument
of his design in order to disabuse the eyes of the crowd, and prepare the
way, perchance, for the conversion of a whole city. He did not hesitate
then to appeal to all the new-kindled enthusiasm of Apaecides, to arouse his
courage, and to stimulate his zeal. They met, according to previous
agreement, the evening after the baptism of Apaecides, in the grove of
Cybele, which we have before described.

'At the next solemn consultation of the oracle,' said Olinthus, as he
proceeded in the warmth of his address, 'advance yourself to the railing,
proclaim aloud to the people the deception they endure, invite them to
enter, to be themselves the witness of the gross but artful mechanism of
imposture thou hast described to me. Fear not--the Lord, who protected
Daniel, shall protect thee; we, the community of Christians, will be amongst
the crowd; we will urge on the shrinking: and in the first flush of the
popular indignation and shame, I myself, upon those very altars, will plant
the palm-branch typical of the Gospel--and to my tongue shall descend the
rushing Spirit of the living God.'

Heated and excited as he was, this suggestion was not unpleasing to
Apaecides. He was rejoiced at so early an opportunity of distinguishing his
faith in his new sect, and to his holier feelings were added those of a
vindictive loathing at the imposition he had himself suffered, and a desire
to avenge it. In that sanguine and elastic overbound of obstacles (the
rashness necessary to all who undertake venturous and lofty actions),
neither Olinthus nor the proselyte perceived the impediments to the success
of their scheme, which might be found in the reverent superstition of the
people themselves, who would probably be loth, before the sacred altars of
the great Egyptian goddess, to believe even the testimony of her priest
against her power.

Apaecides then assented to this proposal with a readiness which delighted
Olinthus. They parted with the understanding that Olinthus should confer
with the more important of his Christian brethren on his great enterprise,
should receive their advice and the assurances of their support on the
eventful day. It so chanced that one of the festivals of Isis was to be
held on the second day after this conference. The festival proffered a
ready occasion for the design. They appointed to meet once more on the next
evening at the same spot; and in that meeting were finally to be settled the
order and details of the disclosure for the following day.

It happened that the latter part of this conference had been held near the
sacellum, or small chapel, which I have described in the early part of this
work; and so soon as the forms of the Christian and the priest had
disappeared from the grove, a dark and ungainly figure emerged from behind
the chapel.

'I have tracked you with some effect, my brother flamen,' soliloquised the
eavesdropper; 'you, the priest of Isis, have not for mere idle discussion
conferred with this gloomy Christian. Alas! that I could not hear all your
precious plot: enough! I find, at least, that you meditate revealing the
sacred mysteries, and that to-morrow you meet again at this place to plan
the how and the when. May Osiris sharpen my ears then, to detect the whole
of your unheard-of audacity! When I have learned more, I must confer at
once with Arbaces. We will frustrate you, my friends, deep as you think
yourselves. At present, my breast is a locked treasury of your secret.'

Thus muttering, Calenus, for it was he, wrapped his robe round him, and
strode thoughtfully homeward.

Chapter II

A CLASSIC HOST, COOK, AND KITCHEN. APAECIDES SEEKS IONE. THEIR
CONVERSATION.

IT was then the day for Diomed's banquet to the most select of his friends.
The graceful Glaucus, the beautiful Ione, the official Pansa, the high-born
Clodius, the immortal Fulvius, the exquisite Lepidus, the epicurean Sallust,
were not the only honourers of his festival. He expected, also, an invalid
senator from Rome (a man of considerable repute and favor at court), and a
great warrior from Herculaneum, who had fought with Titus against the Jews,
and having enriched himself prodigiously in the wars, was always told by his
friends that his country was eternally indebted to his disinterested
exertions! The party, however, extended to a yet greater number: for
although, critically speaking, it was, at one time, thought inelegant among
the Romans to entertain less than three or more than nine at their banquets,
yet this rule was easily disregarded by the ostentatious. And we are told,
indeed, in history, that one of the most splendid of these entertainers
usually feasted a select party of three hundred. Diomed, however, more
modest, contented himself with doubling the number of the Muses. His party
consisted of eighteen, no unfashionable number in the present day.

It was the morning of Diomed's banquet; and Diomed himself, though he
greatly affected the gentleman and the scholar, retained enough of his
mercantile experience to know that a master's eye makes a ready servant.
Accordingly, with his tunic ungirdled on his portly stomach, his easy
slippers on his feet, a small wand in his hand, wherewith he now directed
the gaze, and now corrected the back, of some duller menial, he went from
chamber to chamber of his costly villa.

He did not disdain even a visit to that sacred apartment in which the
priests of the festival prepare their offerings. On entering the kitchen,
his ears were agreeably stunned by the noise of dishes and pans, of oaths
and commands. Small as this indispensable chamber seems to have been in all
the houses of Pompeii, it was, nevertheless, usually fitted up with all that
amazing variety of stoves and shapes, stew-pans and saucepans, cutters and
moulds, without which a cook of spirit, no matter whether he be an ancient
or a modern, declares it utterly impossible that he can give you anything to
eat. And as fuel was then, as now, dear and scarce in those regions, great
seems to have been the dexterity exercised in preparing as many things as
possible with as little fire. An admirable contrivance of this nature may
be still seen in the Neapolitan Museum, viz., a portable kitchen, about the
size of a folio volume, containing stoves for four dishes, and an apparatus
for heating water or other beverages.

Across the small kitchen flitted many forms which the quick eye of the
master did not recognize.

'Oh! oh!' grumbled he to himself, 'that cursed Congrio hath invited a whole
legion of cooks to assist him. They won't serve for nothing, and this is
another item in the total of my day's expenses. By Bacchus! thrice lucky
shall I be if the slaves do not help themselves to some of the drinking
vessels: ready, alas, are their hands, capacious are their tunics. Me
miserum!'

The cooks, however, worked on, seemingly heedless of the apparition of
Diomed.

'Ho, Euclio, your egg-pan! What, is this the largest? it only holds
thirty-three eggs: in the houses I usually serve, the smallest egg-pan holds
fifty, if need be!'

'The unconscionable rogue!' thought Diomed; 'he talks of eggs as if they
were a sesterce a hundred!'

'By Mercury!' cried a pert little culinary disciple, scarce in his
novitiate; 'whoever saw such antique sweetmeat shapes as these?--It is
impossible to do credit to one's art with such rude materials. Why,
Sallust's commonest sweetmeat shape represents the whole siege of Troy;
Hector and Paris, and Helen... with little Astyanax and the Wooden Horse
into the bargain!'

'Silence, fool!' said Congrio, the cook of the house, who seemed to leave
the chief part of the battle to his allies. 'My master, Diomed, is not one
of those expensive good-for-noughts, who must have the last fashion, cost
what it will!'

'Thou liest, base slave!' cried Diomed, in a great passion--and thou costest
me already enough to have ruined Lucullus himself! Come out of thy den, I
want to talk to thee.'

The slave, with a sly wink at his confederates, obeyed the command.

'Man of three letters,' said Diomed, with his face of solemn anger, 'how
didst thou dare to invite all those rascals into my house?--I see thief
written in every line of their faces.'

'Yet, I assure you, master, that they are men of most respectable
character--the best cooks of the place; it is a great favor to get them.
But for my sake...'

'Thy sake, unhappy Congrio!' interrupted Diomed; and by what purloined
moneys of mine, by what reserved filchings from marketing, by what goodly
meats converted into grease, and sold in the suburbs, by what false charges
for bronzes marred, and earthenware broken--hast thou been enabled to make
them serve thee for thy sake?'

'Nay, master, do not impeach my honesty! May the gods desert me if...'

'Swear not!' again interrupted the choleric Diomed, 'for then the gods will
smite thee for a perjurer, and I shall lose my cook on the eve of dinner.
But, enough of this at present: keep a sharp eye on thy ill-favored
assistants, and tell me no tales to-morrow of vases broken, and cups
miraculously vanished, or thy whole back shall be one pain. And hark thee!
thou knowest thou hast made me pay for those Phrygian attagens enough, by
Hercules, to have feasted a sober man for a year together--see that they be
not one iota over-roasted. The last time, O Congrio, that I gave a banquet
to my friends, when thy vanity did so boldly undertake the becoming
appearance of a Melian crane--thou knowest it came up like a stone from
AEtna--as if all the fires of Phlegethon had been scorching out its juices.
Be modest this time, Congrio--wary and modest. Modesty is the nurse of
great actions; and in all other things, as in this, if thou wilt not spare
thy master's purse, at least consult thy master's glory.'

'There shall not be such a coena seen at Pompeii since the days of
Hercules.'

'Softly, softly--thy cursed boasting again! But I say, Congrio, yon
homunculus--yon pigmy assailant of my cranes--yon pert-tongued neophyte of
the kitchen, was there aught but insolence on his tongue when he maligned
the comeliness of my sweetmeat shapes? I would not be out of the fashion,
Congrio.'

'It is but the custom of us cooks,' replied Congrio, gravely, to undervalue
our tools, in order to increase the effect of our art. The sweetmeat shape
is a fair shape, and a lovely; but I would recommend my master, at the first
occasion, to purchase some new ones of a...'

'That will suffice,' exclaimed Diomed, who seemed resolved never to allow
his slave to finish his sentences. 'Now, resume thy
charge--shine----eclipse thyself. Let men envy Diomed his cook--let the
slaves of Pompeii style thee Congrio the great! Go! yet stay--thou hast not
spent all the moneys I gave thee for the marketing?'   '"All!" alas! the
nightingales' tongues and the Roman tomacula, and the oysters from Britain,
and sundry other things, too numerous now to recite, are yet left unpaid
for. But what matter? every one trusts the Archimagirus of Diomed the
wealthy!'

'Oh, unconscionable prodigal!--what waste!--what profusion!--I am ruined!
But go, hasten--inspect!--taste!--perform!--surpass thyself! Let the Roman
senator not despise the poor Pompeian. Away, slave--and remember, the
Phrygian attagens.'

The chief disappeared within his natural domain, and Diomed rolled back his
portly presence to the more courtly chambers. All was to his liking--the
flowers were fresh, the fountains played briskly, the mosaic pavements were
as smooth as mirrors.

'Where is my daughter Julia?' he asked.

'At the bath.'

'Ah! that reminds me!--time wanes!--and I must bathe also.'

Our story returns to Apaecides. On awaking that day from the broken and
feverish sleep which had followed his adoption of a faith so strikingly and
sternly at variance with that in which his youth had been nurtured, the
young priest could scarcely imagine that he was not yet in a dream; he had
crossed the fatal river--the past was henceforth to have no sympathy with
the future; the two worlds were distinct and separate--that which had been,
from that which was to be. To what a bold and adventurous enterprise he had
pledged his life!--to unveil the mysteries in which he had participated--to
desecrate the altars he had served--to denounce the goddess whose
ministering robe he wore! Slowly he became sensible of the hatred and the
horror he should provoke amongst the pious, even if successful; if
frustrated in his daring attempt, what penalties might he not incur for an
offence hitherto unheard of--for which no specific law, derived from
experience, was prepared; and which, for that very reason, precedents,
dragged from the sharpest armoury of obsolete and inapplicable legislation,
would probably be distorted to meet! His friends--the sister of his
youth--could he expect justice, though he might receive compassion, from
them? This brave and heroic act would by their heathen eyes be regarded,
perhaps, as a heinous apostasy--at the best as a pitiable madness.

He dared, he renounced, everything in this world, in the hope of securing
that eternity in the next, which had so suddenly been revealed to him.
While these thoughts on the one hand invaded his breast, on the other hand
his pride, his courage, and his virtue, mingled with reminiscences of
revenge for deceit, of indignant disgust at fraud, conspired to raise and to
support him.

The conflict was sharp and keen; but his new feelings triumphed over his
old: and a mighty argument in favor of wrestling with the sanctities of old
opinions and hereditary forms might be found in the conquest over both,
achieved by that humble priest. Had the early Christians been more
controlled by 'the solemn plausibilities of custom'--less of democrats in
the pure and lofty acceptation of that perverted word--Christianity would
have perished in its cradle!

As each priest in succession slept several nights together in the chambers
of the temple, the term imposed on Apaecides was not yet completed; and when
he had risen from his couch, attired himself, as usual, in his robes, and
left his narrow chamber, he found himself before the altars of the temple.

In the exhaustion of his late emotions he had slept far into the morning,
and the vertical sun already poured its fervid beams over the sacred place.

'Salve, Apaecides!' said a voice, whose natural asperity was smoothed by
long artifice into an almost displeasing softness of tone. 'Thou art late
abroad; has the goddess revealed herself to thee in visions?'

'Could she reveal her true self to the people, Calenus, how incenseless
would be these altars!'

'That,' replied Calenus, 'may possibly be true; but the deity is wise enough
to hold commune with none but priests.'

'A time may come when she will be unveiled without her own acquiescence.'

'It is not likely: she has triumphed for countless ages. And that which has
so long stood the test of time rarely succumbs to the lust of novelty. But
hark ye, young brother! these sayings are indiscreet.'

'It is not for thee to silence them,' replied Apaecides, haughtily.

'So hot!--yet I will not quarrel with thee. Why, my Apaecides, has not the
Egyptian convinced thee of the necessity of our dwelling together in unity?
Has he not convinced thee of the wisdom of deluding the people and enjoying
ourselves? If not, oh, brother! he is not that great magician he is
esteemed.'

'Thou, then, hast shared his lessons?' said Apaecides, with a hollow smile.

'Ay! but I stood less in need of them than thou. Nature had already gifted
me with the love of pleasure, and the desire of gain and power. Long is the
way that leads the voluptuary to the severities of life; but it is only one
step from pleasant sin to sheltering hypocrisy. Beware the vengeance of the
goddess, if the shortness of that step be disclosed!'

'Beware, thou, the hour when the tomb shall be rent and the rottenness
exposed,' returned Apaecides, solemnly. 'Vale!'

With these words he left the flamen to his meditations. When he got a few
paces from the temple, he turned to look back. Calenus had already
disappeared in the entry room of the priests, for it now approached the hour
of that repast which, called prandium by the ancients, answers in point of
date to the breakfast of the moderns. The white and graceful fane gleamed
brightly in the sun. Upon the altars before it rose the incense and bloomed
the garlands. The priest gazed long and wistfully upon the scene--it was
the last time that it was ever beheld by him!

He then turned and pursued his way slowly towards the house of Ione; for
before possibly the last tie that united them was cut in twain--before the
uncertain peril of the next day was incurred, he was anxious to see his last
surviving relative, his fondest as his earliest friend.

He arrived at her house, and found her in the garden with Nydia.

'This is kind, Apaecides,' said Ione, joyfully; 'and how eagerly have I
wished to see thee!--what thanks do I not owe thee? How churlish hast thou
been to answer none of my letters--to abstain from coming hither to receive
the expressions of my gratitude! Oh! thou hast assisted to preserve thy
sister from dishonour! What, what can she say to thank thee, now thou art
come at last?'

'My sweet Ione, thou owest me no gratitude, for thy cause was mine. Let us
avoid that subject, let us recur not to that impious man--how hateful to
both of us! I may have a speedy opportunity to teach the world the nature
of his pretended wisdom and hypocritical severity. But let us sit down, my
sister; I am wearied with the heat of the sun; let us sit in yonder shade,
and, for a little while longer, be to each other what we have been.'

Beneath a wide plane-tree, with the cistus and the arbutus iclustering round
them, the living fountain before, the greensward beneath their feet; the gay
cicada, once so dear to Athens, rising merrily ever and anon amidst the
grass; the butterfly, beautiful emblem of the soul, dedicated to Psyche, and
which has continued to furnish illustrations to the Christian bard, rich in
the glowing colors caught from Sicilian skies, hovering about the sunny
flowers, itself like a winged flower--in this spot, and this scene, the
brother and the sister sat together for the last time on earth. You may
tread now on the same place; but the garden is no more, the columns are
shattered, the fountain has ceased to play. Let the traveler search amongst
the ruins of Pompeii for the house of Ione. Its remains are yet visible; but
I will not betray them to the gaze of commonplace tourists. He who is more
sensitive than the herd will discover them easily: when he has done so, let
him keep the secret.

They sat down, and Nydia, glad to be alone, retired to the farther end of
the garden.

'Ione, my sister,' said the young convert, 'place your hand upon my brow;
let me feel your cool touch. Speak to me, too, for your gentle voice is
like a breeze that hath freshness as well as music. Speak to me, but forbear
to bless me! Utter not one word of those forms of speech which our
childhood was taught to consider sacred!'

'Alas! and what then shall I say? Our language of affection is so woven
with that of worship, that the words grow chilled and trite if I banish from
them allusion to our gods.'

'Our gods!' murmured Apaecides, with a shudder: 'thou slightest my request
already.'

'Shall I speak then to thee only of Isis?'

'The Evil Spirit! No, rather be dumb for ever, unless at least thou
canst--but away, away this talk! Not now will we dispute and cavil; not now
will we judge harshly of each other. Thou, regarding me as an apostate! and
I all sorrow and shame for thee as an idolater. No, my sister, let us avoid
such topics and such thoughts. In thy sweet presence a calm falls over my
spirit. For a little while I forget. As I thus lay my temples on thy
bosom, as I thus feel thy gentle arm embrace me, I think that we are
children once more, and that the heaven smiles equally upon both. For oh!
if hereafter I escape, no matter what peril; and it be permitted me to
address thee on one sacred and awful subject; should I find thine ear closed
and thy heart hardened, what hope for myself could countervail the despair
for thee? In thee, my sister, I behold a likeness made beautiful, made
noble, of myself. Shall the mirror live for ever, and the form itself be
broken as the potter's clay? Ah, no--no--thou wilt listen to me yet! Dost
thou remember how we went into the fields by Baiae, hand in hand together,
to pluck the flowers of spring? Even so, hand in hand, shall we enter the
Eternal Garden, and crown ourselves with imperishable asphodel!'

Wondering and bewildered by words she could not comprehend, but excited even
to tears by the plaintiveness of their tone, Ione listened to these
outpourings of a full and oppressed heart. In truth, Apaecides himself was
softened much beyond his ordinary mood, which to outward seeming was usually
either sullen or impetuous. For the noblest desires are of a jealous
nature--they engross, they absorb the soul, and often leave the splenetic
humors stagnant and unheeded at the surface. Unheeding the petty things
around us, we are deemed morose; impatient at earthly interruption to the
diviner dreams, we are thought irritable and churlish. For as there is no
chimera vainer than the hope that one human heart shall find sympathy in
another, so none ever interpret us with justice; and none, no, not our
nearest and our dearest ties, forbear with us in mercy! When we are dead
and repentance comes too late, both friend and foe may wonder to think how
little there was in us to forgive!

'I will talk to thee then of our early years,' said Ione. 'Shall yon blind
girl sing to thee of the days of childhood? Her voice is sweet and musical,
and she hath a song on that theme which contains none of those allusions it
pains thee to hear.'

'Dost thou remember the words, my sister?' asked Apaecides.

'Methinks yes; for the tune, which is simple, fixed them on my memory.'

'Sing to me then thyself. My ear is not in unison with unfamiliar voices;
and thine, Ione, full of household associations, has ever been to me more
sweet than all the hireling melodies of Lycia or of Crete. Sing to me!'

Ione beckoned to a slave that stood in the portico, and sending for her
lute, sang, when it arrived, to a tender and simple air, the following
verses:-

              REGRETS FOR CHILDHOOD

                    I

         It is not that our earlier Heaven
              Escapes its April showers,
          Or that to childhood's heart is given
              No snake amidst the flowers.
                 Ah! twined with grief
                 Each brightest leaf,
              That's wreath'd us by the Hours!
          Young though we be, the Past may sting,
              The present feed its sorrow;
          But hope shines bright on every thing
              That waits us with the morrow.
                 Like sun-lit glades,
                 The dimmest shades
              Some rosy beam can borrow.

                    II

         It is not that our later years
              Of cares are woven wholly,
          But smiles less swiftly chase the tears,
              And wounds are healed more slowly.
                 And Memory's vow
                 To lost ones now,
              Makes joys too bright, unholy.
          And ever fled the Iris bow
              That smiled when clouds were o'er us.
          If storms should burst, uncheered we go,
              A drearier waste before us--
                And with the toys
                 Of childish joys,
              We've broke the staff that bore us!

Wisely and delicately had Ione chosen that song, sad though its burthen
seemed; for when we are deeply mournful, discordant above all others is the
voice of mirth: the fittest spell is that borrowed from melancholy itself,
for dark thoughts can be softened down when they cannot be brightened; and
so they lose the precise and rigid outline of their truth, and their colors
melt into the ideal. As the leech applies in remedy to the internal sore
some outward irritation, which, by a gentler wound, draws away the venom of
that which is more deadly, thus, in the rankling festers of the mind, our
art is to divert to a milder sadness on the surface the pain that gnaweth at
the core. And so with Apaecides, yielding to the influence of the silver
voice that reminded him of the past, and told but of half the sorrow born to
the present, he forgot his more immediate and fiery sources of anxious
thought. He spent hours in making Ione alternately sing to, and converse
with him; and when he rose to leave her, it was with a calmed and lulled
mind.

'Ione,' said he, as he pressed her hand, 'should you hear my name blackened
and maligned, will you credit the aspersion?'

'Never, my brother, never!'

'Dost thou not imagine, according to thy belief, that the evil-doer is
punished hereafter, and the good rewarded?'

'Can you doubt it?'

'Dost thou think, then, that he who is truly good should sacrifice every
selfish interest in his zeal for virtue?'

'He who doth so is the equal of the gods.'

'And thou believest that, according to the purity and courage with which he
thus acts, shall be his portion of bliss beyond the grave?'

'So we are taught to hope.'

'Kiss me, my sister. One question more. Thou art to be wedded to Glaucus:
perchance that marriage may separate us more hopelessly--but not of this
speak I now--thou art to be married to Glaucus--dost thou love him? Nay, my
sister, answer me by words.'

'Yes!' murmured Ione, blushing.

'Dost thou feel that, for his sake, thou couldst renounce pride, brave
dishonour, and incur death? I have heard that when women really love, it is
to that excess.'

'My brother, all this could I do for Glaucus, and feel that it were not a
sacrifice. There is no sacrifice to those who love, in what is borne for
the one we love.'

'Enough! shall woman feel thus for man, and man feel less devotion to his
God?'

He spoke no more. His whole countenance seemed instinct and inspired with a
divine life: his chest swelled proudly; his eyes glowed: on his forehead was
writ the majesty of a man who can dare to be noble! He turned to meet the
eyes of Ione--earnest, wistful, fearful--he kissed her fondly, strained her
warmly to his breast, and in a moment more he had left the house.

Long did Ione remain in the same place, mute and thoughtful. The maidens
again and again came to warn her of the deepening noon, and her engagement
to Diomed's banquet. At length she woke from her reverie, and prepared, not
with the pride of beauty, but listless and melancholy, for the festival: one
thought alone reconciled her to the promised visit--she should meet
Glaucus--she could confide to him her alarm and uneasiness for her brother.

Chapter III

A FASHIONABLE PARTY AND A DINNER A LA MODE IN POMPEII.

MEANWHILE Sallust and Glaucus were slowly strolling towards the house of
Diomed. Despite the habits of his life, Sallust was not devoid of many
estimable qualities. He would have been an active friend, a useful
citizen--in short, an excellent man, if he had not taken it into his head to
be a philosopher. Brought up in the schools in which Roman plagiarism
worshipped the echo of Grecian wisdom, he had imbued himself with those
doctrines by which the later Epicureans corrupted the simple maxims of their
great master. He gave himself altogether up to pleasure, and imagined there
was no sage like a boon companion. Still, however, he had a considerable
degree of learning, wit, and good nature; and the hearty frankness of his
very vices seemed like virtue itself beside the utter corruption of Clodius
and the prostrate effeminacy of Lepidus; and therefore Glaucus liked him the
best of his companions; and he, in turn, appreciating the nobler qualities
of the Athenian, loved him almost as much as a cold muraena, or a bowl of
the best Falernian.

'This is a vulgar old fellow, this Diomed,' said Sallust: 'but he has some
good qualities--in his cellar!'

'And some charming ones--in his daughter.'

'True, Glaucus: but you are not much moved by them, methinks. I fancy
Clodius is desirous to be your successor.'

'He is welcome. At the banquet of Julia's beauty, no guest, be sure, is
considered a musca.'

'You are severe: but she has, indeed, something of the Corinthian about
her--they will be well matched, after all! What good-natured fellows we are
to associate with that gambling good-for-nought.'

'Pleasure unites strange varieties,' answered Glaucus. 'He amuses me...'

'And flatters--but then he pays himself well! He powders his praise with
gold-dust.'

'You often hint that he plays unfairly--think you so really?'

'My dear Glaucus, a Roman noble has his dignity to keep up--dignity is very
expensive--Clodius must cheat like a scoundrel, in order to live like a
gentleman.'

'Ha ha!--well, of late I have renounced the dice. Ah! Sallust, when I am
wedded to Ione, I trust I may yet redeem a youth of follies. We are both
born for better things than those in which we sympathize now--born to render
our worship in nobler temples than the stye of Epicurus.'

'Alas!' returned Sallust, in rather a melancholy tone, 'what do we know more
than this--life is short--beyond the grave all is dark? There is no wisdom
like that which says "enjoy".'

'By Bacchus! I doubt sometimes if we do enjoy the utmost of which life is
capable.'

'I am a moderate man,' returned Sallust, 'and do not ask "the utmost". We
are like malefactors, and intoxicate ourselves with wine and myrrh, as we
stand on the brink of death; but, if we did not do so, the abyss would look
very disagreeable. I own that I was inclined to be gloomy until I took so
heartily to drinking--that is a new life, my Glaucus.'

'Yes! but it brings us next morning to a new death.'

'Why, the next morning is unpleasant, I own; but, then, if it were not so,
one would never be inclined to read. I study betimes--because, by the gods!
I am generally unfit for anything else till noon.'

'Fie, Scythian!'

'Pshaw! the fate of Pentheus to him who denies Bacchus.'

'Well, Sallust, with all your faults, you are the best profligate I ever
met: and verily, if I were in danger of life, you are the only man in all
Italy who would stretch out a finger to save me.'

'Perhaps I should not, if it were in the middle of supper. But, in truth,
we Italians are fearfully selfish.'

'So are all men who are not free,' said Glaucus, with a sigh. 'Freedom alone
makes men sacrifice to each other.'

'Freedom, then, must be a very fatiguing thing to an Epicurean,' answered
Sallust. 'But here we are at our host's.'

As Diomed's villa is one of the most considerable in point of size of any
yet discovered at Pompeii, and is, moreover, built much according to the
specific instructions for a suburban villa laid down by the Roman architect,
it may not be uninteresting briefly to describe the plan of the apartments
through which our visitors passed.

They entered, then, by the same small vestibule at which we have before been
presented to the aged Medon, and passed at once into a colonnade,
technically termed the peristyle; for the main difference between the
suburban villa and the town mansion consisted in placing, in the first, the
said colonnade in exactly the same place as that which in the town mansion
was occupied by the atrium. In the centre of the peristyle was an open
court, which contained the impluvium.

From this peristyle descended a staircase to the offices; another narrow
passage on the opposite side communicated with a garden; various small
apartments surrounded the colonnade, appropriated probably to country
visitors. Another door to the left on entering communicated with a small
triangular portico, which belonged to the baths; and behind was the
wardrobe, in which were kept the vests of the holiday suits of the slaves,
and, perhaps, of the master. Seventeen centuries afterwards were found
those relics of ancient finery calcined and crumbling: kept longer, alas!
than their thrifty lord foresaw.

Return we to the peristyle, and endeavor now to present to the reader a coup
d'oeil of the whole suite of apartments, which immediately stretched before
the steps of the visitors.

Let him then first imagine the columns of the portico, hung with festoons of
flowers; the columns themselves in the lower part painted red, and the walls
around glowing with various frescoes; then, looking beyond a curtain, three
parts drawn aside, the eye caught the tablinum or saloon (which was closed
at will by glazed doors, now slid back into the walls). On either side of
this tablinum were small rooms, one of which was a kind of cabinet of gems;
and these apartments, as well as the tablinum, communicated with a long
gallery, which opened at either end upon terraces; and between the terraces,
and communicating with the central part of the gallery, was a hall, in which
the banquet was that day prepared. All these apartments, though almost on a
level with the street, were one story above the garden; and the terraces
communicating with the gallery were continued into corridors, raised above
the pillars which, to the right and left, skirted the garden below.

Beneath, and on a level with the garden, ran the apartments we have already
described as chiefly appropriated to Julia.

In the gallery, then, just mentioned, Diomed received his guests.

The merchant affected greatly the man of letters, and, therefore, he also
affected a passion for everything Greek; he paid particular attention to
Glaucus.

'You will see, my friend,' said he, with a wave of his hand, 'that I am a
little classical here--a little Cecropian--eh? The hall in which we shall
sup is borrowed from the Greeks. It is an OEcus Cyzicene. Noble Sallust,
they have not, I am told, this sort of apartment in Rome.'

'Oh!' replied Sallust, with a half smile; 'you Pompeians combine all that is
most eligible in Greece and in Rome; may you, Diomed, combine the viands as
well as the architecture!'

'You shall see--you shall see, my Sallust,' replied the merchant. 'We have
a taste at Pompeii, and we have also money.'

'They are two excellent things,' replied Sallust. 'But, behold, the lady
Julia!'

The main difference, as I have before remarked, in the manner of life
observed among the Athenians and Romans, was, that with the first, the
modest women rarely or never took part in entertainments; with the latter,
they were the common ornaments of the banquet; but when they were present at
the feast, it usually terminated at an early hour.

Magnificently robed in white, interwoven with pearls and threads of gold,
the handsome Julia entered the apartment.

Scarcely had she received the salutation of the two guests, ere Pansa and
his wife, Lepidus, Clodius, and the Roman senator, entered almost
simultaneously; then came the widow Fulvia; then the poet Fulvius, like to
the widow in name if in nothing else; the warrior from Herculaneum,
accompanied by his umbra, next stalked in; afterwards, the less eminent of
the guests. Ione yet tarried.

It was the mode among the courteous ancients to flatter whenever it was in
their power: accordingly it was a sign of ill-breeding to seat themselves
immediately on entering the house of their host. After performing the
salutation, which was usually accomplished by the same cordial shake of the
right hand which we ourselves retain, and sometimes, by the yet more
familiar embrace, they spent several minutes in surveying the apartment, and
admiring the bronzes, the pictures, or the furniture, with which it was
adorned--a mode very impolite according to our refined English notions,
which place good breeding in indifference. We would not for the world
express much admiration of another man's house, for fear it should be
thought we had never seen anything so fine before!

'A beautiful statue this of Bacchus!' said the Roman senator.

'A mere trifle!' replied Diomed.

'What charming paintings!' said Fulvia.

'Mere trifles!' answered the owner.

'Exquisite candelabra!' cried the warrior.

'Exquisite!' echoed his umbra.

'Trifles! trifles!' reiterated the merchant.

Meanwhile, Glaucus found himself by one of the windows of the gallery, which
communicated with the terraces, and the fair Julia by his side.

'Is it an Athenian virtue, Glaucus,' said the merchant's daughter, 'to shun
those whom we once sought?'

'Fair Julia--no!'

'Yet methinks, it is one of the qualities of Glaucus.'

'Glaucus never shuns a friend!' replied the Greek, with some emphasis on the
last word.

'May Julia rank among the number of his friends?'

'It would be an honour to the emperor to find a friend in one so lovely.'

'You evade my question,' returned the enamoured Julia. 'But tell me, is it
true that you admire the Neapolitan Ione?'

'Does not beauty constrain our admiration?'

'Ah! subtle Greek, still do you fly the meaning of my words. But say, shall
Julia be indeed your friend?'

'If she will so favor me, blessed be the gods! The day in which I am thus
honored shall be ever marked in white.'

'Yet, even while you speak, your eye is resting--your color comes and
goes--you move away involuntarily--you are impatient to join Ione!'

For at that moment Ione had entered, and Glaucus had indeed betrayed the
emotion noticed by the jealous beauty.

'Can admiration to one woman make me unworthy the friendship of another?
Sanction not so, O Julia the libels of the poets on your sex!'

'Well, you are right--or I will learn to think so. Glaucus, yet one moment!
You are to wed Ione; is it not so?'

'If the Fates permit, such is my blessed hope.'

'Accept, then, from me, in token of our new friendship, a present for your
bride. Nay, it is the custom of friends, you know, always to present to
bride and bridegroom some such little marks of their esteem and favoring
wishes.'

'Julia! I cannot refuse any token of friendship from one like you. I will
accept the gift as an omen from Fortune herself.'

'Then, after the feast, when the guests retire, you will descend with me to
my apartment, and receive it from my hands. Remember!' said Julia, as she
joined the wife of Pansa, and left Glaucus to seek Ione.

The widow Fulvia and the spouse of the aedile were engaged in high and grave
discussion.

'O Fulvia! I assure you that the last account from Rome declares that the
frizzling mode of dressing the hair is growing antiquated; they only now
wear it built up in a tower, like Julia's, or arranged as a helmet--the
Galerian fashion, like mine, you see: it has a fine effect, I think. I
assure you, Vespius (Vespius was the name of the Herculaneum hero) admires
it greatly.'

'And nobody wears the hair like yon Neapolitan, in the Greek way.'

'What, parted in front, with the knot behind? Oh, no; how ridiculous it is!
it reminds one of the statue of Diana! Yet this Ione is handsome, eh?'

'So the men say; but then she is rich: she is to marry the Athenian--I wish
her joy. He will not be long faithful, I suspect; those foreigners are very
faithless.'

'Oh, Julia!' said Fulvia, as the merchant's daughter joined them; 'have you
seen the tiger yet?'

'No!'

'Why, all the ladies have been to see him. He is so handsome!'

'I hope we shall find some criminal or other for him and the lion,' replied
Julia. 'Your husband (turning to Pansa's wife) is not so active as he
should be in this matter.'

'Why, really, the laws are too mild,' replied the dame of the helmet.
'There are so few offences to which the punishment of the arena can be
awarded; and then, too, the gladiators are growing effeminate! The stoutest
bestiarii declare they are willing enough to fight a boar or a bull; but as
for a lion or a tiger, they think the game too much in earnest.'

'They are worthy of a mitre," replied Julia, in disdain.

'Oh! have you seen the new house of Fulvius, the dear poet?' said Pansa's
wife.

'No: is it handsome?'

'Very!--such good taste. But they say, my dear, that he has such improper
pictures! He won't show them to the women: how ill-bred!'

'Those poets are always odd,' said the widow. 'But he is an interesting
man; what pretty verses he writes! We improve very much in poetry: it is
impossible to read the old stuff now.'

'I declare I am of your opinion, returned the lady of the helmet. 'There is
so much more force and energy in the modern school.'

The warrior sauntered up to the ladies.

'It reconciles me to peace,' said he, 'when I see such faces.'

'Oh! you heroes are ever flatterers,' returned Fulvia, hastening to
appropriate the compliment specially to herself.

'By this chain, which I received from the emperor's own hand,' replied the
warrior, playing with a short chain which hung round the neck like a collar,
instead of descending to the breast, according to the fashion of the
peaceful--'By this chain, you wrong me! I am a blunt man--a soldier should
be so.'

'How do you find the ladies of Pompeii generally?' said Julia.

'By Venus, most beautiful! They favor me a little, it is true, and that
inclines my eyes to double their charms.'

'We love a warrior,' said the wife of Pansa.

'I see it: by Hercules! it is even disagreeable to be too celebrated in
these cities. At Herculaneum they climb the roof of my atrium to catch a
glimpse of me through the compluvium; the admiration of one's citizens is
pleasant at first, but burthensome afterwards.'

'True, true, O Vespius!' cried the poet, joining the group: 'I find it so
myself.'

'You!' said the stately warrior, scanning the small form of the poet with
ineffable disdain. 'in what legion have you served?'

'You may see my spoils, my exuviae, in the forum itself,' returned the poet,
with a significant glance at the women. 'I have been among the
tent-companions, the contubernales, of the great Mantuan himself.'

'I know no general from Mantua, said the warrior, gravely. 'What campaign
have you served?'

'That of Helicon.'

'I never heard of it.'

'Nay, Vespius, he does but joke,' said Julia, laughing.

'Joke! By Mars, am I a man to be joked!'

'Yes; Mars himself was in love with the mother of jokes,' said the poet, a
little alarmed. 'Know, then, O Vespius! that I am the poet Fulvius. It is
I who make warriors immortal!'

'The gods forbid!' whispered Sallust to Julia. 'If Vespius were made
immortal, what a specimen of tiresome braggadocio would be transmitted to
posterity!'

The soldier looked puzzled; when, to the infinite relief of himself and his
companions, the signal for the feast was given.

As we have already witnessed at the house of Glaucus the ordinary routine of
a Pompeian entertainment, the reader is spared any second detail of the
courses, and the manner in which they were introduced.

Diomed, who was rather ceremonious, had appointed a nomenclator, or
appointer of places to each guest.

The reader understands that the festive board was composed of three tables;
one at the centre, and one at each wing. It was only at the outer side of
these tables that the guests reclined; the inner space was left untenanted,
for the greater convenience of the waiters or ministri. The extreme corner
of one of the wings was appropriated to Julia as the lady of the feast; that
next her, to Diomed. At one corner of the centre table was placed the
aedile; at the opposite corner, the Roman senator--these were the posts of
honour. The other guests were arranged, so that the young (gentleman or
lady) should sit next each other, and the more advanced in years be
similarly matched. An agreeable provision enough, but one which must often
have offended those who wished to be thought still young.

The chair of Ione was next to the couch of Glaucus. The seats were veneered
with tortoiseshell, and covered with quilts stuffed with feathers, and
ornamented with costly embroideries. The modern ornaments of epergne or
plateau were supplied by images of the gods, wrought in bronze, ivory, and
silver. The sacred salt-cellar and the familiar Lares were not forgotten.
Over the table and the seats a rich canopy was suspended from the ceiling.
At each corner of the table were lofty candelabra--for though it was early
noon, the room was darkened--while from tripods, placed in different parts
of the room, distilled the odor of myrrh and frankincense; and upon the
abacus, or sideboard, large vases and various ornaments of silver were
ranged, much with the same ostentation (but with more than the same taste)
that we find displayed at a modern feast.

The custom of grace was invariably supplied by that of libations to the
gods; and Vesta, as queen of the household gods, usually received first that
graceful homage.

This ceremony being performed, the slaves showered flowers upon the couches
and the floor, and crowned each guest with rosy garlands, intricately woven
with ribands, tied by the rind of the linden-tree, and each intermingled
with the ivy and the amethyst--supposed preventives against the effect of
wine; the wreaths of the women only were exempted from these leaves, for it
was not the fashion for them to drink wine in public. It was then that the
president Diomed thought it advisable to institute a basileus, or director
of the feast--an important office, sometimes chosen by lot; sometimes, as
now, by the master of the entertainment.

Diomed was not a little puzzled as to his election. The invalid senator was
too grave and too infirm for the proper fulfilment of his duty; the aedile
Pansa was adequate enough to the task: but then, to choose the next in
official rank to the senator, was an affront to the senator himself. While
deliberating between the merits of the others, he caught the mirthful glance
of Sallust, and, by a sudden inspiration, named the jovial epicure to the
rank of director, or arbiter bibendi.

Sallust received the appointment with becoming humility.

'I shall be a merciful king,' said he, 'to those who drink deep; to a
recusant, Minos himself shall be less inexorable. Beware!'

The slaves handed round basins of perfumed water, by which lavation the
feast commenced: and now the table groaned under the initiatory course.

The conversation, at first desultory and scattered, allowed Ione and Glaucus
to carry on those sweet whispers, which are worth all the eloquence in the
world. Julia watched them with flashing eyes.

'How soon shall her place be mine!' thought she.

But Clodius, who sat in the centre table, so as to observe well the
countenance of Julia, guessed her pique, and resolved to profit by it. He
addressed her across the table in set phrases of gallantry; and as he was of
high birth and of a showy person, the vain Julia was not so much in love as
to be insensible to his attentions.

The slaves, in the interim, were constantly kept upon the alert by the
vigilant Sallust, who chased one cup by another with a celerity which seemed
as if he were resolved upon exhausting those capacious cellars which the
reader may yet see beneath the house of Diomed. The worthy merchant began to
repent his choice, as amphora after amphora was pierced and emptied. The
slaves, all under the age of manhood (the youngest being about ten years
old--it was they who filled the wine--the eldest, some five years older,
mingled it with water), seemed to share in the zeal of Sallust; and the face
of Diomed began to glow as he watched the provoking complacency with which
they seconded the exertions of the king of the feast.

'Pardon me, O senator!' said Sallust; 'I see you flinch; your purple hem
cannot save you--drink!'

'By the gods,' said the senator, coughing, 'my lungs are already on fire;
you proceed with so miraculous a swiftness, that Phaeton himself was nothing
to you. I am infirm, O pleasant Sallust: you must exonerate me.'

'Not I, by Vesta! I am an impartial monarch--drink.'

The poor senator, compelled by the laws of the table, was forced to comply.
Alas! every cup was bringing him nearer and nearer to the Stygian pool.

'Gently! gently! my king,' groaned Diomed; 'we already begin to...'

'Treason!' interrupted Sallust; 'no stern Brutus here!--no interference with
royalty!'

'But our female guests...'

'Love a toper! Did not Ariadne dote upon Bacchus?'

The feast proceeded; the guests grew more talkative and noisy; the dessert
or last course was already on the table; and the slaves bore round water
with myrrh and hyssop for the finishing lavation. At the same time, a small
circular table that had been placed in the space opposite the guests
suddenly, and as by magic, seemed to open in the centre, and cast up a
fragrant shower, sprinkling the table and the guests; while as it ceased the
awning above them was drawn aside, and the guests perceived that a rope had
been stretched across the ceiling, and that one of those nimble dancers for
which Pompeii was so celebrated, and whose descendants add so charming a
grace to the festivities of Astley's or Vauxhall, was now treading his airy
measures right over their heads.

This apparition, removed but by a cord from one's pericranium, and indulging
the most vehement leaps, apparently with the intention of alighting upon
that cerebral region, would probably be regarded with some terror by a party
in May Fair; but our Pompeian revellers seemed to behold the spectacle with
delighted curiosity, and applauded in proportion as the dancer appeared with
the most difficulty to miss falling upon the head of whatever guest he
particularly selected to dance above. He paid the senator, indeed, the
peculiar compliment of literally falling from the rope, and catching it
again with his hand, just as the whole party imagined the skull of the Roman
was as much fractured as ever that of the poet whom the eagle took for a
tortoise. At length, to the great relief of at least Ione, who had not much
accustomed herself to this entertainment, the dancer suddenly paused as a
strain of music was heard from without. He danced again still more wildly;
the air changed, the dancer paused again; no, it could not dissolve the
charm which was supposed to possess him! He represented one who by a
strange disorder is compelled to dance, and whom only a certain air of music
can cure. At length the musician seemed to hit on the right tune; the
dancer gave one leap, swung himself down from the rope, alighted on the
floor, and vanished.

One art now yielded to another; and the musicians who were stationed without
on the terrace struck up a soft and mellow air, to which were sung the
following words, made almost indistinct by the barrier between and the
exceeding lowness of the minstrelsy:-

             FESTIVE MUSIC SHOULD BE LOW

                      I

     Hark! through these flowers our music sends its greeting
        To your loved halls, where Psilas shuns the day;
      When the young god his Cretan nymph was meeting
        He taught Pan's rustic pipe this gliding lay:
           Soft as the dews of wine
             Shed in this banquet hour,
           The rich libation of Sound's stream divine,
             O reverent harp, to Aphrodite pour!

                     II

     Wild rings the trump o'er ranks to glory marching;
        Music's sublimer bursts for war are meet;
      But sweet lips murmuring under wreaths o'er-arching,
        Find the low whispers like their own most sweet.
           Steal, my lull'd music, steal
             Like womans's half-heard tone,
           So that whoe'er shall hear, shall think to feel
             In thee the voice of lips that love his own.

At the end of that song Ione's cheek blushed more deeply than before, and
Glaucus had contrived, under cover of the table, to steal her hand.

'It is a pretty song,' said Fulvius, patronizingly.

'Ah! if you would oblige us!' murmured the wife of Pansa.

'Do you wish Fulvius to sing?' asked the king of the feast, who had just
called on the assembly to drink the health of the Roman senator, a cup to
each letter of his name.

'Can you ask?' said the matron, with a complimentary glance at the poet.

Sallust snapped his fingers, and whispering the slave who came to learn his
orders, the latter disappeared, and returned in a few moments with a small
harp in one hand, and a branch of myrtle in the other. The slave approached
the poet, and with a low reverence presented to him the harp.

'Alas! I cannot play,' said the poet.

'Then you must sing to the myrtle. It is a Greek fashion: Diomed loves the
Greeks--I love the Greeks--you love the Greeks--we all love the Greeks--and
between you and me this is not the only thing we have stolen from them.
However, I introduce this custom--I, the king: sing, subject, sing!' The
poet, with a bashful smile, took the myrtle in his hands, and after a short
prelude sang as follows, in a pleasant and well-tuned voice:--

           THE CORONATION OF THE LOVES

                    I

           The merry Loves one holiday
              Were all at gambols madly
;           But Loves too long can seldom play
              Without behaving sadly.
           They laugh'd, they toy'd, they romp'd about,
           And then for change they all fell out.
           Fie, fie! how can they quarrel so?
              My Lesbia--ah, for shame, love
           Methinks 'tis scarce an hour ago
              When we did just the same, love.

                    II

        The Loves, 'tis thought, were free till then,
           They had no king or laws, dear;
         But gods, like men, should subject be,
           Say all the ancient saws, dear.
         And so our crew resolved, for quiet,
         To choose a king to curb their riot.
             A kiss: ah! what a grievous thing
              For both, methinks, 'twould be, child,
             If I should take some prudish king,
              And cease to be so free, child!

                    III

        Among their toys a Casque they found,
           It was the helm of Ares;
         With horrent plumes the crest was crown'd,
           It frightened all the Lares.
         So fine a king was never known--
        They placed the helmet on the throne.
         My girl, since Valor wins the world,
           They chose a mighty master;
         But thy sweet flag of smiles unfurled
           Would win the world much faster!

                    IV

      The Casque soon found the Loves too wild
         A troop for him to school them;
       For warriors know how one such child
         Has aye contrived to fool them.
       They plagued him so, that in despair
       He took a wife the plague to share.
           If kings themselves thus find the strife
              Of earth, unshared, severe, girl;
           Why just to halve the ills of life,
              Come, take your partner here, girl.

                    V

       Within that room the Bird of Love
          The whole affair had eyed then;
        The monarch hail'd the royal dove,
          And placed her by his side then:
        What mirth amidst the Loves was seen!
        'Long live,' they cried, 'our King and Queen.'
            Ah! Lesbia, would that thrones were mine,
              And crowns to deck that brow, love!
            And yet I know that heart of thine
              For me is throne enow, love!

                    VI

       The urchins hoped to tease the mate
          As they had teased the hero;
        But when the Dove in judgment sate
          They found her worse than Nero!
        Each look a frown, each word a law;
        The little subjects shook with awe.
        In thee I find the same deceit--
         Too late, alas! a learner!
        For where a mien more gently sweet?
          And where a tyrant sterner?

This song, which greatly suited the gay and lively fancy of the Pompeians,
was received with considerable applause, and the widow insisted on crowning
her namesake with the very branch of myrtle to which he had sung. It was
easily twisted into a garland, and the immortal Fulvius was crowned amidst
the clapping of hands and shouts of Io triumphe! The song and the harp now
circulated round the party, a new myrtle branch being handed about, stopping
at each person who could be prevailed upon to sing.

The sun began now to decline, though the revellers, who had worn away
several hours, perceived it not in their darkened chamber; and the senator,
who was tired, and the warrior, who had to return to Herculaneum, rising to
depart, gave the signal for the general dispersion. 'Tarry yet a moment, my
friends,' said Diomed; 'if you will go so soon, you must at least take a
share in our concluding game.'

So saying, he motioned to one of the ministri, and whispering him, the slave
went out, and presently returned with a small bowl containing various
tablets carefully sealed, and, apparently, exactly similar. Each guest was
to purchase one of these at the nominal price of the lowest piece of silver:
and the sport of this lottery (which was the favorite diversion of Augustus,
who introduced it) consisted in the inequality, and sometimes the
incongruity, of the prizes, the nature and amount of which were specified
within the tablets. For instance, the poet, with a wry face, drew one of
his own poems (no physician ever less willingly swallowed his own draught);
the warrior drew a case of bodkins, which gave rise to certain novel
witticisms relative to Hercules and the distaff; the widow Fulvia obtained a
large drinking-cup; Julia, a gentleman's buckle; and Lepidus, a lady's
patch-box. The most appropriate lot was drawn by the gambler Clodius, who
reddened with anger on being presented to a set of cogged dice. A certain
damp was thrown upon the gaiety which these various lots created by an
accident that was considered ominous; Glaucus drew the most valuable of all
the prizes, a small marble statue of Fortune, of Grecian workmanship: on
handing it to him the slave suffered it to drop, and it broke in pieces.

A shiver went round the assembly, and each voice cried spontaneously on the
gods to avert the omen.

Glaucus alone, though perhaps as superstitious as the rest, affected to be
unmoved.

'Sweet Neapolitan,' whispered he tenderly to Ione, who had turned pale as
the broken marble itself, 'I accept the omen. It signifies that in
obtaining thee, Fortune can give no more--she breaks her image when she
blesses me with thine.'

In order to divert the impression which this incident had occasioned in an
assembly which, considering the civilization of the guests, would seem
miraculously superstitious, if at the present day in a country party we did
not often see a lady grow hypochondriacal on leaving a room last of
thirteen, Sallust now crowning his cup with flowers, gave the health of
their host. This was followed by a similar compliment to the emperor; and
then, with a parting cup to Mercury to send them pleasant slumbers, they
concluded the entertainment by a last libation, and broke up the party.
Carriages and litters were little used in Pompeii, partly owing to the
extreme narrowness of the streets, partly to the convenient smallness of the
city. Most of the guests replacing their sandals, which they had put off in
the banquet-room, and induing their cloaks, left the house on foot attended
by their slaves.

Meanwhile, having seen Ione depart, Glaucus turning to the staircase which
led down to the rooms of Julia, was conducted by a slave to an apartment in
which he found the merchant's daughter already seated.

'Glaucus!' said she, looking down, 'I see that you really love Ione--she is
indeed beautiful.'

'Julia is charming enough to be generous,' replied the Greek. 'Yes, I love
Ione; amidst all the youth who court you, may you have one worshipper as
sincere.'

'I pray the gods to grant it! See, Glaucus, these pearls are the present I
destine to your bride: may Juno give her health to wear them!'

So saying, she placed a case in his hand, containing a row of pearls of some
size and price. It was so much the custom for persons about to be married
to receive these gifts, that Glaucus could have little scruple in accepting
the necklace, though the gallant and proud Athenian inly resolved to requite
the gift by one of thrice its value. Julia then stopping short his thanks,
poured forth some wine into a small bowl.

'You have drunk many toasts with my father,' said she smiling--'one now with
me. Health and fortune to your bride!'

She touched the cup with her lips and then presented it to Glaucus. The
customary etiquette required that Glaucus should drain the whole contents;
he accordingly did so. Julia, unknowing the deceit which Nydia had
practised upon her, watched him with sparkling eyes; although the witch had
told her that the effect might not be immediate, she yet sanguinely trusted
to an expeditious operation in favor of her charms. She was disappointed
when she found Glaucus coldly replace the cup, and converse with her in the
same unmoved but gentle tone as before. And though she detained him as long
as she decorously could do, no change took place in his manner. 'But
to-morrow,' thought she, exultingly recovering her
disappointment--'to-morrow, alas for Glaucus!'

Alas for him, indeed!

Chapter IV

THE STORY HALTS FOR A MOMENT AT AN EPISODE.

RESTLESS and anxious, Apaecides consumed the day in wandering through the
most sequestered walks in the vicinity of the city. The sun was slowly
setting as he paused beside a lonely part of the Sarnus, ere yet it wound
amidst the evidences of luxury and power. Only through openings in the woods
and vines were caught glimpses of the white and gleaming city, in which was
heard in the distance no din, no sound, nor 'busiest hum of men'. Amidst
the green banks crept the lizard and the grasshopper, and here and there in
the brake some solitary bird burst into sudden song, as suddenly stifled.
There was deep calm around, but not the calm of night; the air still
breathed of the freshness and life of day; the grass still moved to the stir
of the insect horde; and on the opposite bank the graceful and white capella
passed browsing through the herbage, and paused at the wave to drink.

As Apaecides stood musingly gazing upon the waters, he heard beside him the
low bark of a dog.

'Be still, poor friend,' said a voice at hand; 'the stranger's step harms
not thy master.' The convert recognized the voice, and, turning, he beheld
the old mysterious man whom he had seen in the congregation of the
Nazarenes.

The old man was sitting upon a fragment of stone covered with ancient
mosses; beside him were his staff and scrip; at his feet lay a small shaggy
dog, the companion in how many a pilgrimage perilous and strange.

The face of the old man was as balm to the excited spirit of the neophyte:
he approached, and craving his blessing, sat down beside him.

'Thou art provided as for a journey, father,' said he: 'wilt thou leave us
yet?'

'My son,' replied the old man, 'the days in store for me on earth are few
and scanty; I employ them as becomes me travelling from place to place,
comforting those whom God has gathered together in His name, and proclaiming
the glory of His Son, as testified to His servant.'

'Thou hast looked, they tell me, on the face of Christ?'

'And the face revived me from the dead. Know, young proselyte to the true
faith, that I am he of whom thou readest in the scroll of the Apostle. In
the far Judea, and in the city of Nain, there dwelt a widow, humble of
spirit and sad of heart; for of all the ties of life one son alone was
spared to her. And she loved him with a melancholy love, for he was the
likeness of the lost. And the son died. The reed on which she leaned was
broken, the oil was dried up in the widow's cruse. They bore the dead upon
his bier; and near the gate of the city, where the crowd were gathered,
there came a silence over the sounds of woe, for the Son of God was passing
by. The mother, who followed the bier, wept--not noisily, but all who
looked upon her saw that her heart was crushed. And the Lord pitied her,
and he touched the bier, and said, "I SAY UNTO THEE, ARISE," And the dead
man woke and looked upon the face of the Lord. oh, that calm and solemn
brow, that unutterable smile, that careworn and sorrowful face, lighted up
with a God's benignity--it chased away the shadows of the grave! I rose, I
spoke, I was living, and in my mother's arms--yes, I am the dead revived!
The people shouted, the funeral horns rung forth merrily: there was a cry,
"God has visited His people!" I heard them not--I felt--I saw--nothing but
the face of the Redeemer!'

The old man paused, deeply moved; and the youth felt his blood creep, and
his hair stir. He was in the presence of one who had known the Mystery of
Death!

'Till that time,' renewed the widow's son, 'I had been as other men:
thoughtless, not abandoned; taking no heed, but of the things of love and
life; nay, I had inclined to the gloomy faith of the earthly Sadducee! But,
raised from the dead, from awful and desert dreams that these lips never
dare reveal--recalled upon earth, to testify the powers of Heaven--once more
mortal, the witness of immortality; I drew a new being from the grave. O
faded--O lost Jerusalem!--Him from whom came my life, I beheld adjudged to
the agonized and parching death! Far in the mighty crowd I saw the light
rest and glimmer over the cross; I heard the hooting mob, I cried aloud, I
raved, I threatened--none heeded me--I was lost in the whirl and the roar of
thousands! But even then, in my agony and His own, methought the glazing
eye of the Son of Man sought me out--His lip smiled, as when it conquered
death--it hushed me, and I became calm. He who had defied the grave for
another--what was the grave to him? The sun shone aslant the pale and
powerful features, and then died away! Darkness fell over the earth; how
long it endured, I know not. A loud cry came through the gloom--a sharp and
bitter cry!--and all was silent.

'But who shall tell the terrors of the night?' I walked along the city--the
earth reeled to and fro, and the houses trembled to their base--the living
had deserted the streets, but not the Dead: through the gloom I saw them
glide--the dim and ghastly shapes, in the cerements of the grave--with
horror, and woe, and warning on their unmoving lips and lightless
eyes!--they swept by me, as I passed--they glared upon me--I had been their
brother; and they bowed their heads in recognition; they had risen to tell
the living that the dead can rise!'

Again the old man paused, and, when he resumed, it was in a calmer tone.

'From that night I resigned all earthly thought but that of serving HIM. A
preacher and a pilgrim, I have traversed the remotest corners of the earth,
proclaiming His Divinity, and bringing new converts to His fold. I come as
the wind, and as the wind depart; sowing, as the wind sows, the seeds that
enrich the world.

'Son, on earth we shall meet no more. Forget not this hour,--what are the
pleasures and the pomps of life? As the lamp shines, so life glitters for
an hour; but the soul's light is the star that burns for ever, in the heart
of inimitable space.'

It was then that their conversation fell upon the general and sublime
doctrines of immortality; it soothed and elevated the young mind of the
convert, which yet clung to many of the damps and shadows of that cell of
faith which he had so lately left--it was the air of heaven breathing on the
prisoner released at last. There was a strong and marked distinction
between the Christianity of the old man and that of Olinthus; that of the
first was more soft, more gentle, more divine. The heroism of Olinthus had
something in it fierce and intolerant--it was necessary to the part he was
destined to play--it had in it more of the courage of the martyr than the
charity of the saint. It aroused, it excited, it nerved, rather than
subdued and softened. But the whole heart of that divine old man was bathed
in love; the smile of the Deity had burned away from it the leaven of
earthlier and coarser passions, and left to the energy of the hero all the
meekness of the child.

'And now,' said he, rising at length, as the sun's last ray died in the
west; 'now, in the cool of twilight, I pursue my way towards the Imperial
Rome. There yet dwell some holy men, who like me have beheld the face of
Christ; and them would I see before I die.'

'But the night is chill for thine age, my father, and the way is long, and
the robber haunts it; rest thee till to-morrow.'

'Kind son, what is there in this scrip to tempt the robber? And the Night
and the Solitude!--these make the ladder round which angels cluster, and
beneath which my spirit can dream of God. Oh! none can know what the
pilgrim feels as he walks on his holy course; nursing no fear, and dreading
no danger--for God is with him! He hears the winds murmur glad tidings; the
woods sleep in the shadow of Almighty wings--the stars are the Scriptures of
Heaven, the tokens of love, and the witnesses of immortality. Night is the
Pilgrim's day.' With these words the old man pressed Apaecides to his
breast, and taking up his staff and scrip, the dog bounded cheerily before
him, and with slow steps and downcast eyes he went his way.

The convert stood watching his bended form, till the trees shut the last
glimpse from his view; and then, as the stars broke forth, he woke from the
musings with a start, reminded of his appointment with Olinthus.

Chapter V

THE PHILTRE. ITS EFFECT.

WHEN Glaucus arrived at his own home, he found Nydia seated under the
portico of his garden. In fact, she had sought his house in the mere chance
that he might return at an early hour: anxious, fearful, anticipative, she
resolved upon seizing the earliest opportunity of availing herself of the
love-charm, while at the same time she half hoped the opportunity might be
deferred.

It was then, in that fearful burning mood, her heart beating, her cheek
flushing, that Nydia awaited the possibility of Glaucus's return before the
night. He crossed the portico just as the first stars began to rise, and
the heaven above had assumed its most purple robe.

'Ho, my child, wait you for me?'

'Nay, I have been tending the flowers, and did but linger a little while to
rest myself'

'It has been warm,' said Glaucus, placing himself also on one of the seats
beneath the colonnade.

'Very.'

'Wilt thou summon Davus? The wine I have drunk heats me, and I long for
some cooling drink.'

Here at once, suddenly and unexpectedly, the very opportunity that Nydia
awaited presented itself; of himself, at his own free choice, he afforded to
her that occasion. She breathed quick--'I will prepare for you myself,'
said she, 'the summer draught that Ione loves--of honey and weak wine cooled
in snow.'

'Thanks,' said the unconscious Glaucus. 'If Ione love it, enough; it would
be grateful were it poison.'

Nydia frowned, and then smiled; she withdrew for a few moments, and returned
with the cup containing the beverage. Glaucus took it from her hand. What
would not Nydia have given then for one hour's prerogative of sight, to have
watched her hopes ripening to effect--to have seen the first dawn of the
imagined love--to have worshipped with more than Persian adoration the
rising of that sun which her credulous soul believed was to break upon her
dreary night! Far different, as she stood then and there, were the
thoughts, the emotions of the blind girl, from those of the vain Pompeian
under a similar suspense. In the last, what poor and frivolous passions had
made up the daring whole! What petty pique, what small revenge, what
expectation of a paltry triumph, had swelled the attributes of that
sentiment she dignified with the name of love! but in the wild heart of the
Thessalian all was pure, uncontrolled, unmodified passion--erring,
unwomanly, frenzied, but debased by no elements of a more sordid feeling.
Filled with love as with life itself, how could she resist the occasion of
winning love in return!

She leaned for support against the wall, and her face, before so flushed,
was now white as snow, and with her delicate hands clasped convulsively
together, her lips apart, her eyes on the ground, she waited the next words
Glaucus should utter.

Glaucus had raised the cup to his lips, he had already drained about a
fourth of its contents, when his eye suddenly glancing upon the face of
Nydia, he was so forcibly struck by its alteration, by its intense, and
painful, and strange expression, that he paused abruptly, and still holding
the cup near his lips, exclaimed:

'Why, Nydia! Nydia! I say, art thou ill or in pain? Nay, thy face speaks
for thee. What ails my poor child?'  As he spoke, he put down the cup and
rose from his seat to approach her, when a sudden pang shot coldly to his
heart, and was followed by a wild, confused, dizzy sensation at the brain.
The floor seemed to glide from under him--his feet seemed to move on air--a
mighty and unearthly gladness rushed upon his spirit--he felt too buoyant
for the earth--he longed for wings, nay, it seemed in the buoyancy of his
new existence, as if he possessed them. He burst involuntarily into a loud
and thrilling laugh. He clapped his hands--he bounded aloft--he was as a
Pythoness inspired; suddenly as it came this preternatural transport passed,
though only partially, away. He now felt his blood rushing loudly and
rapidly through his veins; it seemed to swell, to exult, to leap along, as a
stream that has burst its bounds, and hurries to the ocean. It throbbed in
his ear with a mighty sound, he felt it mount to his brow, he felt the veins
in the temples stretch and swell as if they could no longer contain the
violent and increasing tide--then a kind of darkness fell over his
eyes--darkness, but not entire; for through the dim shade he saw the
opposite walls glow out, and the figures painted thereon seemed, ghost-like,
to creep and glide. What was most strange, he did not feel himself ill--he
did not sink or quail beneath the dread frenzy that was gathering over him.
The novelty of the feelings seemed bright and vivid--he felt as if a younger
health had been infused into his frame. He was gliding on to madness--and
he knew it not!

Nydia had not answered his first question--she had not been able to
reply--his wild and fearful laugh had roused her from her passionate
suspense: she could not see his fierce gesture--she could not mark his
reeling and unsteady step as he paced unconsciously to and fro; but she
heard the words, broken, incoherent, insane, that gushed from his lips. She
became terrified and appalled--she hastened to him, feeling with her arms
until she touched his knees, and then falling on the ground she embraced
them, weeping with terror and excitement.

'Oh, speak to me! speak! you do not hate me?--speak, speak!'

'By the bright goddess, a beautiful land this Cyprus! Ho! how they fill us
with wine instead of blood! now they open the veins of the Faun yonder, to
show how the tide within bubbles and sparkles. Come hither, jolly old god!
thou ridest on a goat, eh?--what long silky hair he has! He is worth all
the coursers of Parthia. But a word with thee--this wine of thine is too
strong for us mortals. Oh! beautiful! the boughs are at rest! the green
waves of the forest have caught the Zephyr and drowned him! Not a breath
stirs the leaves--and I view the Dreams sleeping with folded wings upon the
motionless elm; and I look beyond, and I see a blue stream sparkle in the
silent noon; a fountain--a fountain springing aloft! Ah! my fount, thou
wilt not put out rays of my Grecian sun, though thou triest ever so hard
with thy nimble and silver arms. And now, what form steals yonder through
the boughs? she glides like a moonbeam!--she has a garland of oak-leaves on
her head. In her hand is a vase upturned, from which she pours pink and
tiny shells and sparkling water. Oh! look on yon face! Man never before
saw its like. See! we are alone; only I and she in the wide forest. There
is no smile upon her lips--she moves, grave and sweetly sad. Ha! fly, it is
a nymph!--it is one of the wild Napaeae! Whoever sees her becomes mad-fly!
see, she discovers me!'

'Oh! Glaucus! Glaucus! do you not know me? Rave not so wildly, or thou wilt
kill me with a word!'

A new change seemed now to operate upon the jarring and disordered mind of
the unfortunate Athenian. He put his hand upon Nydia's silken hair; he
smoothed the locks--he looked wistfully upon her face, and then, as in the
broken chain of thought one or two links were yet unsevered, it seemed that
her countenance brought its associations of Ione; and with that remembrance
his madness became yet more powerful, and it swayed and tinged by passion,
as he burst forth:

'I swear by Venus, by Diana, and by Juno, that though I have now the world
on my shoulders, as my countryman Hercules (ah, dull Rome! whoever was truly
great was of Greece; why, you would be godless if it were not for us!)--I
say, as my countryman Hercules had before me, I would let it fall into chaos
for one smile from Ione. Ah, Beautiful,--Adored,' he added, in a voice
inexpressibly fond and plaintive, 'thou lovest me not. Thou art unkind to
me. The Egyptian hath belied me to thee--thou knowest not what hours I have
spent beneath thy casement--thou knowest not how I have outwatched the
stars, thinking thou, my sun, wouldst rise at last--and thou lovest me not,
thou forsakest me! Oh! do not leave me now! I feel that my life will not
be long; let me gaze on thee at least unto the last. I am of the bright
land of thy fathers--I have trod the heights of Phyle--I have gathered the
hyacinth and rose amidst the olive-groves of Ilyssus. Thou shouldst not
desert me, for thy fathers were brothers to my own. And they say this land
is lovely, and these climes serene, but I will bear thee with me--Ho! dark
form, why risest thou like a cloud between me and mine? Death sits calmly
dread upon thy brow--on thy lip is the smile that slays: thy name is Orcus,
but on earth men call thee Arbaces. See, I know thee! fly, dim shadow, thy
spells avail not!'

'Glaucus! Glaucus!' murmured Nydia, releasing her hold and falling, beneath
the excitement of her dismay, remorse, and anguish, insensible on the floor.

'Who calls?' said he in a loud voice. 'Ione, it is she! they have borne her
off--we will save her--where is my stilus? Ha, I have it! I come, Ione, to
thy rescue! I come! I come!'

So saying, the Athenian with one bound passed the portico, he traversed the
house, and rushed with swift but vacillating steps, and muttering audibly to
himself, down the starlit streets. The direful potion burnt like fire in
his veins, for its effect was made, perhaps, still more sudden from the wine
he had drunk previously. Used to the excesses of nocturnal revellers, the
citizens, with smiles and winks, gave way to his reeling steps; they
naturally imagined him under the influence of the Bromian god, not vainly
worshipped at Pompeii; but they who looked twice upon his face started in a
nameless fear, and the smile withered from their lips. He passed the more
populous streets; and, pursuing mechanically the way to Ione's house, he
traversed a more deserted quarter, and entered now the lonely grove of
Cybele, in which Apaecides had held his interview with Olinthus.

Chapter VI

A REUNION OF DIFFERENT ACTORS. STREAMS THAT FLOWED APPARENTLY APART RUSH
INTO ONE GULF.

IMPATIENT to learn whether the fell drug had yet been administered by Julia
to his hated rival, and with what effect, Arbaces resolved, as the evening
came on, to seek her house, and satisfy his suspense. It was customary, as I
have before said, for men at that time to carry abroad with them the tablets
and the stilus attached to their girdle; and with the girdle they were put
off when at home. In fact, under the appearance of a literary instrument,
the Romans carried about with them in that same stilus a very sharp and
formidable weapon. It was with his stilus that Cassius stabbed Caesar in
the senate-house. Taking, then, his girdle and his cloak, Arbaces left his
house, supporting his steps, which were still somewhat feeble (though hope
and vengeance had conspired greatly with his own medical science, which was
profound, to restore his natural strength), by his long staff--Arbaces took
his way to the villa of Diomed.

And beautiful is the moonlight of the south! In those climes the night so
quickly glides into the day, that twilight scarcely makes a bridge between
them. One moment of darker purple in the sky--of a thousand rose-hues in
the water--of shade half victorious over light; and then burst forth at once
the countless stars--the moon is up--night has resumed her reign!

Brightly then, and softly bright, fell the moonbeams over the antique grove
consecrated to Cybele--the stately trees, whose date went beyond tradition,
cast their long shadows over the soil, while through the openings in their
boughs the stars shone, still and frequent. The whiteness of the small
sacellum in the centre of the grove, amidst the dark foliage, had in it
something abrupt and startling; it recalled at once the purpose to which the
wood was consecrated--its holiness and solemnity.

With a swift and stealthy pace, Calenus, gliding under the shade of the
trees, reached the chapel, and gently putting back the boughs that
completely closed around its rear, settled himself in his concealment; a
concealment so complete, what with the fane in front and the trees behind,
that no unsuspicious passenger could possibly have detected him. Again, all
was apparently solitary in the grove: afar off you heard faintly the voices
of some noisy revellers or the music that played cheerily to the groups that
then, as now in those climates, during the nights of summer, lingered in the
streets, and enjoyed, in the fresh air and the liquid moonlight, a milder
day.

From the height on which the grove was placed, you saw through the intervals
of the trees the broad and purple sea, rippling in the distance, the white
villas of Stabiae in the curving shore, and the dim Lectiarian hills
mingling with the delicious sky. Presently the tall figure of Arbaces, in
his way to the house of Diomed, entered the extreme end of the grove; and at
the same instant Apaecides, also bound to his appointment with Olinthus,
crossed the Egyptian's path.

'Hem! Apaecides,' said Arbaces, recognizing the priest at a glance; 'when
last we met, you were my foe. I have wished since then to see you, for I
would have you still my pupil and my friend.'

Apaecides started at the voice of the Egyptian; and halting abruptly, gazed
upon him with a countenance full of contending, bitter, and scornful
emotions.

'Villain and impostor!' said he at length; 'thou hast recovered then from
the jaws of the grave! But think not again to weave around me thy guilty
meshes. Retiarius, I am armed against thee!'

'Hush!' said Arbaces, in a very low voice--but his pride, which in that
descendant of kings was great, betrayed the wound it received from the
insulting epithets of the priest in the quiver of his lip and the flush of
his tawny brow. 'Hush! more low! thou mayest be overheard, and if other
ears than mine had drunk those sounds--why...'

'Dost thou threaten?--what if the whole city had heard me?'

'The manes of my ancestors would not have suffered me to forgive thee. But,
hold, and hear me. Thou art enraged that I would have offered violence to
thy sister. Nay, peace, peace, but one instant, I pray thee. Thou art
right; it was the frenzy of passion and of jealousy--I have repented
bitterly of my madness. Forgive me; I, who never implored pardon of living
man, beseech thee now to forgive me. Nay, I will atone the insult--I ask thy
sister in marriage--start not--consider--what is the alliance of yon holiday
Greek compared to mine? Wealth unbounded--birth that in its far antiquity
leaves your Greek and Roman names the things of yesterday--science--but that
thou knowest! Give me thy sister, and my whole life shall atone a moment's
error.'

'Egyptian, were even I to consent, my sister loathes the very air thou
breathest: but I have my own wrongs to forgive--I may pardon thee that thou
hast made me a tool to thy deceits, but never that thou hast seduced me to
become the abettor of thy vices--a polluted and a perjured man.
Tremble!--even now I prepare the hour in which thou and thy false gods shall
be unveiled. Thy lewd and Circean life shall be dragged to day--thy mumming
oracles disclosed--the fane of the idol Isis shall be a byword and a
scorn--the name of Arbaces a mark for the hisses of execration! Tremble!'

The flush on the Egyptian's brow was succeeded by a livid paleness. He
looked behind, before, around, to feel assured that none were by; and then
he fixed his dark and dilating eye on the priest, with such a gaze of wrath
and menace, that one, perhaps, less supported than Apaecides by the fervent
daring of a divine zeal, could not have faced with unflinching look that
lowering aspect. As it was, however, the young convert met it unmoved, and
returned it with an eye of proud defiance.

'Apaecides,' said the Egyptian, in a tremulous and inward tone, 'beware!
What is it thou wouldst meditate? Speakest thou--reflect, pause before thou
repliest--from the hasty influences of wrath, as yet divining no settled
purpose, or from some fixed design?'

'I speak from the inspiration of the True God, whose servant I now am,'
answered the Christian, boldly; 'and in the knowledge that by His grace
human courage has already fixed the date of thy hypocrisy and thy demon's
worship; ere thrice the sun has dawned, thou wilt know all! Dark sorcerer,
tremble, and farewell!'

All the fierce and lurid passions which he inherited from his nation and his
clime, at all times but ill concealed beneath the blandness of craft and the
coldness of philosophy, were released in the breast of the Egyptian.
Rapidly one thought chased another; he saw before him an obstinate barrier
to even a lawful alliance with Ione--the fellow-champion of Glaucus in the
struggle which had baffled his designs--the reviler of his name--the
threatened desecrator of the goddess he served while he disbelieved--the
avowed and approaching revealer of his own impostures and vices. His love,
his repute, nay, his very life, might be in danger--the day and hour seemed
even to have been fixed for some design against him. He knew by the words
of the convert that Apaecides had adopted the Christian faith: he knew the
indomitable zeal which led on the proselytes of that creed. Such was his
enemy; he grasped his stilus--that enemy was in his power! They were now
before the chapel; one hasty glance once more he cast around; he saw none
near--silence and solitude alike tempted him.

'Die, then, in thy rashness!' he muttered; 'away, obstacle to my rushing
fates!'

And just as the young Christian had turned to depart, Arbaces raised his
hand high over the left shoulder of Apaecides, and plunged his sharp weapon
twice into his breast.

Apaecides fell to the ground pierced to the heart--he fell mute, without
even a groan, at the very base of the sacred chapel.

Arbaces gazed upon him for a moment with the fierce animal joy of conquest
over a foe. But presently the full sense of the danger to which he was
exposed flashed upon him; he wiped his weapon carefully in the long grass,
and with the very garments of his victim; drew his cloak round him, and was
about to depart, when he saw, coming up the path, right before him, the
figure of a young man, whose steps reeled and vacillated strangely as he
advanced: the quiet moonlight streamed full upon his face, which seemed, by
the whitening ray, colorless as marble. The Egyptian recognized the face
and form of Glaucus. The unfortunate and benighted Greek was chanting a
disconnected and mad song, composed from snatches of hymns and sacred odes,
all jarringly woven together.

'Ha!' thought the Egyptian, instantaneously divining his state and its
terrible cause; 'so, then, the hell-draught works, and destiny hath sent
thee hither to crush two of my foes at once!'

Quickly, even ere this thought occurred to him, he had withdrawn on one side
of the chapel, and concealed himself amongst the boughs; from that lurking
place he watched, as a tiger in his lair, the advance of his second victim.
He noted the wandering and restless fire in the bright and beautiful eyes of
the Athenian; the convulsions that distorted his statue-like features, and
writhed his hueless lip. He saw that the Greek was utterly deprived of
reason. Nevertheless, as Glaucus came up to the dead body of Apaecides,
from which the dark red stream flowed slowly over the grass, so strange and
ghastly a spectacle could not fail to arrest him, benighted and erring as
was his glimmering sense. He paused, placed his hand to his brow, as if to
collect himself, and then saying:

'What ho! Endymion, sleepest thou so soundly? What has the moon said to
thee? Thou makest me jealous; it is time to wake'--he stooped down with the
intention of lifting up the body.

Forgetting--feeling not--his own debility, the Egyptian sprung from his
hiding-place, and, as the Greek bent, struck him forcibly to the ground,
over the very body of the Christian; then, raising his powerful voice to its
highest pitch, he shouted:

'Ho, citizens--oh! help me!--run hither--hither!--A murder--a murder before
your very fane! Help, or the murderer escapes!' As he spoke, he placed his
foot on the breast of Glaucus: an idle and superfluous precaution; for the
potion operating with the fall, the Greek lay there motionless and
insensible, save that now and then his lips gave vent to some vague and
raving sounds.

As he there stood awaiting the coming of those his voice still continued to
summons, perhaps some remorse, some compunctious visitings--for despite his
crimes he was human--haunted the breast of the Egyptian; the defenceless
state of Glaucus--his wandering words--his shattered reason, smote him even
more than the death of Apaecides, and he said, half audibly, to himself:

'Poor clay!--poor human reason; where is the soul now? I could spare thee,
O my rival--rival never more! But destiny must be obeyed--my safety demands
thy sacrifice.' With that, as if to drown compunction, he shouted yet more
loudly; and drawing from the girdle of Glaucus the stilus it contained, he
steeped it in the blood of the murdered man, and laid it beside the corpse.

And now, fast and breathless, several of the citizens came thronging to the
place, some with torches, which the moon rendered unnecessary, but which
flared red and tremulously against the darkness of the trees; they
surrounded the spot. 'Lift up yon corpse,' said the Egyptian, 'and guard
well the murderer.'

They raised the body, and great was their horror and sacred indignation to
discover in that lifeless clay a priest of the adored and venerable Isis;
but still greater, perhaps, was their surprise, when they found the accused
in the brilliant and admired Athenian.

'Glaucus!' cried the bystanders, with one accord; 'is it even credible?'

'I would sooner,' whispered one man to his neighbor, 'believe it to be the
Egyptian himself.'

Here a centurion thrust himself into the gathering crowd, with an air of
authority.

'How! blood spilt! who the murderer?'

The bystanders pointed to Glaucus.

'He!--by Mars, he has rather the air of being the victim!

'Who accuses him?'

'I,' said Arbaces, drawing himself up haughtily; and the jewels which
adorned his dress flashing in the eyes of the soldier, instantly convinced
that worthy warrior of the witness's respectability.

'Pardon me--your name?' said he.

'Arbaces; it is well known methinks in Pompeii. Passing through the grove,
I beheld before me the Greek and the priest in earnest conversation. I was
struck by the reeling motions of the first, his violent gestures, and the
loudness of his voice; he seemed to me either drunk or mad. Suddenly I saw
him raise his stilus--I darted forward--too late to arrest the blow. He had
twice stabbed his victim, and was bending over him, when, in my horror and
indignation, I struck the murderer to the ground. He fell without a
struggle, which makes me yet more suspect that he was not altogether in his
senses when the crime was perpetrated; for, recently recovered from a severe
illness, my blow was comparatively feeble, and the frame of Glaucus, as you
see, is strong and youthful.'

'His eyes are open now--his lips move,' said the soldier. 'Speak, prisoner,
what sayest thou to the charge?'

'The charge--ha--ha! Why, it was merrily done; when the old hag set her
serpent at me, and Hecate stood by laughing from ear to ear--what could I
do? But I am ill--I faint--the serpent's fiery tongue hath bitten me. Bear
me to bed, and send for your physician; old AEsculapius himself will attend
me if you let him know that I am Greek. Oh, mercy--mercy! I burn!--marrow
and brain, I burn!'

And, with a thrilling and fierce groan, the Athenian fell back in the arms
of the bystanders.

'He raves,' said the officer, compassionately; 'and in his delirium he has
struck the priest. Hath any one present seen him to-day!'

'I,' said one of the spectators, 'beheld him in the morning. He passed my
shop and accosted me. He seemed well and sane as the stoutest of us!'

'And I saw him half an hour ago,' said another, 'passing up the streets,
muttering to himself with strange gestures, and just as the Egyptian has
described.'

'A corroboration of the witness! it must be too true. He must at all events
to the praetor; a pity, so young and so rich! But the crime is dreadful: a
priest of Isis, in his very robes, too, and at the base itself of our most
ancient chapel!'

At these words the crowd were reminded more forcibly, than in their
excitement and curiosity they had yet been, of the heinousness of the
sacrilege. They shuddered in pious horror.

'No wonder the earth has quaked,' said one, 'when it held such a monster!'

'Away with him to prison--away!' cried they all.

And one solitary voice was heard shrilly and joyously above the rest:
'The beasts will not want a gladiator now,  Ho, ho, for the merry, merry
show!

It was the voice of the young woman whose conversation with Medon has been
repeated.

'True--true--it chances in season for the games!' cried several; and at that
thought all pity for the accused seemed vanished. His youth, his beauty,
but fitted him better for the purpose of the arena.

'Bring hither some planks--or if at hand, a litter--to bear the dead,' said
Arbaces: 'a priest of Isis ought scarcely to be carried to his temple by
vulgar hands, like a butchered gladiator.'

At this the bystanders reverently laid the corpse of Apaecides on the
ground, with the face upwards; and some of them went in search of some
contrivance to bear the body, untouched by the profane.

It was just at that time that the crowd gave way to right and left as a
sturdy form forced itself through, and Olinthus the Christian stood
immediately confronting the Egyptian. But his eyes, at first, only rested
with inexpressible grief and horror on that gory side and upturned face, on
which the agony of violent death yet lingered.

'Murdered!' he said. 'Is it thy zeal that has brought thee to this? Have
they detected thy noble purpose, and by death prevented their own shame?'

He turned his head abruptly, and his eyes fell full on the solemn features
of the Egyptian.

As he looked, you might see in his face, and even the slight shiver of his
frame, the repugnance and aversion which the Christian felt for one whom he
knew to be so dangerous and so criminal. It was indeed the gaze of the bird
upon the basilisk--so silent was it and so prolonged. But shaking off the
sudden chill that had crept over him, Olinthus extended his right arm
towards Arbaces, and said, in a deep and loud voice:

'Murder hath been done upon this corpse! Where is the murderer? Stand
forth, Egyptian! For, as the Lord liveth, I believe thou art the man!'

An anxious and perturbed change might for one moment be detected on the
dusky features of Arbaces; but it gave way to the frowning expression of
indignation and scorn, as, awed and arrested by the suddenness and vehemence
of the charge, the spectators pressed nearer and nearer upon the two more
prominent actors.

'I know,' said Arbaces, proudly, 'who is my accuser, and I guess wherefore
he thus arraigns me. Men and citizens, know this man for the most bitter of
the Nazarenes, if that or Christians be their proper name! What marvel that
in his malignity he dares accuse even an Egyptian of the murder of a priest
of Egypt!'

'I know him! I know the dog!' shouted several voices. 'It is Olinthus the
Christian--or rather the Atheist--he denies the gods!'

'Peace, brethren,' said Olinthus, with dignity, 'and hear me! This murdered
priest of Isis before his death embraced the Christian faith--he revealed to
me the dark sins, the sorceries of yon Egyptian--the mummeries and delusions
of the fane of Isis. He was about to declare them publicly. He, a
stranger, unoffending, without enemies! who should shed his blood but one of
those who feared his witness? Who might fear that testimony the
most?--Arbaces, the Egyptian!'

'You hear him!' said Arbaces; 'you hear him! he blasphemes! Ask him if he
believes in Isis!'

'Do I believe in an evil demon?' returned Olinthus, boldly.

A groan and shudder passed through the assembly. Nothing daunted, for
prepared at every time for peril, and in the present excitement losing all
prudence, the Christian continued:

'Back, idolaters! this clay is not for your vain and polluting rites--it is
to us--to the followers of Christ, that the last offices due to a Christian
belong. I claim this dust in the name of the great Creator who has recalled
the spirit!'

With so solemn and commanding a voice and aspect the Christian spoke these
words, that even the crowd forbore to utter aloud the execration of fear and
hatred which in their hearts they conceived. And never, perhaps, since
Lucifer and the Archangel contended for the body of the mighty Lawgiver, was
there a more striking subject for the painter's genius than that scene
exhibited. The dark trees--the stately fane--the moon full on the corpse of
the deceased--the torches tossing wildly to and fro in the rear--the various
faces of the motley audience--the insensible form of the Athenian,
supported, in the distance, and in the foreground, and above all, the forms
of Arbaces and the Christian: the first drawn to its full height, far taller
than the herd around; his arms folded, his brow knit, his eyes fixed, his
lip slightly curled in defiance and disdain. The last bearing, on a brow
worn and furrowed, the majesty of an equal command--the features stern, yet
frank--the aspect bold, yet open--the quiet dignity of the whole form
impressed with an ineffable earnestness, hushed, as it were, in a solemn
sympathy with the awe he himself had created. His left hand pointing to the
corpse--his right hand raised to heaven.

The centurion pressed forward again.

'In the first place, hast thou, Olinthus, or whatever be thy name, any proof
of the charge thou hast made against Arbaces, beyond thy vague suspicions?'

Olinthus remained silent--the Egyptian laughed contemptuously.

'Dost thou claim the body of a priest of Isis as one of the Nazarene or
Christian sect?'

'I do.'

'Swear then by yon fane, yon statue of Cybele, by yon most ancient sacellum
in Pompeii, that the dead man embraced your faith!'

'Vain man! I disown your idols! I abhor your temples! How can I swear by
Cybele then?'

'Away, away with the Atheist! away! the earth will swallow us, if we suffer
these blasphemers in a sacred grove--away with him to death!'

'To the beasts!' added a female voice in the centre of the crowd; 'we shall
have one a-piece now for the lion and tiger!'

'If, O Nazarene, thou disbelievest in Cybele, which of our gods dost thou
own?' resumed the soldier, unmoved by the cries around.

'None!'

'Hark to him! hark!' cried the crowd.

'O vain and blind!' continued the Christian, raising his voice: 'can you
believe in images of wood and stone? Do you imagine that they have eyes to
see, or ears to hear, or hands to help ye? Is yon mute thing carved by
man's art a goddess!--hath it made mankind?--alas! by mankind was it made.
Lo! convince yourself of its nothingness--of your folly.'

And as he spoke he strode across to the fane, and ere any of the bystanders
were aware of his purpose, he, in his compassion or his zeal, struck the
statue of wood from its pedestal.

'See!' cried he, 'your goddess cannot avenge herself. Is this a thing to
worship?'

Further words were denied to him: so gross and daring a sacrilege--of one,
too, of the most sacred of their places of worship--filled even the most
lukewarm with rage and horror. With one accord the crowd rushed upon him,
seized, and but for the interference of the centurion, they would have torn
him to pieces.

'Peace!' said the soldier, authoritatively--'refer we this insolent
blasphemer to the proper tribunal--time has been already wasted. Bear we
both the culprits to the magistrates; place the body of the priest on the
litter--carry it to his own home.'

At this moment a priest of Isis stepped forward. 'I claim these remains,
according to the custom of the priesthood.'

'The flamen be obeyed,' said the centurion. 'How is the murderer?'

'Insensible or asleep.'

'Were his crimes less, I could pity him. On!'

Arbaces, as he turned, met the eye of that priest of Isis--it was Calenus;
and something there was in that glance, so significant and sinister, that
the Egyptian muttered to himself:

'Could he have witnessed the deed?'

A girl darted from the crowd, and gazed hard on the face of Olinthus. 'By
Jupiter, a stout knave! I say, we shall have a man for the tiger now; one
for each beast!'

'Ho!' shouted the mob; 'a man for the lion, and another for the tiger! What
luck! Io Paean!'

Chapter VII

IN WHICH THE READER LEARNS THE CONDITION OF GLAUCUS. FRIENDSHIP TESTED.
ENMITY SOFTENED. LOVE THE SAME, BECAUSE THE ONE LOVING IS BLIND.

THE night was somewhat advanced, and the gay lounging places of the
Pompeians were still crowded. You might observe in the countenances of the
various idlers a more earnest expression than usual. They talked in large
knots and groups, as if they sought by numbers to divide the half-painful,
half-pleasurable anxiety which belonged to the subject on which they
conversed: it was a subject of life and death.

A young man passed briskly by the graceful portico of the Temple of
Fortune--so briskly, indeed, that he came with no slight force full against
the rotund and comely form of that respectable citizen Diomed, who was
retiring homeward to his suburban villa.

'Holloa!' groaned the merchant, recovering with some difficulty his
equilibrium; 'have you no eyes? or do you think I have no feeling? By
Jupiter! you have well nigh driven out the divine particle; such another
shock, and my soul will be in Hades!'

'Ah, Diomed! is it you? forgive my inadvertence. I was absorbed in
thinking of the reverses of life. Our poor friend, Glaucus, eh! who could
have guessed it?'

'Well, but tell me, Clodius, is he really to be tried by the senate?'

'Yes; they say the crime is of so extraordinary a nature that the senate
itself must adjudge it; and so the lictors are to induct him formally.'

'He has been accused publicly, then?'

'To be sure; where have you been not to hear that?'

'Why, I have only just returned from Neapolis, whither I went on business
the very morning after his crime--so shocking, and at my house the same
night that it happened!'

'There is no doubt of his guilt,' said Clodius, shrugging his shoulders;
'and as these crimes take precedence of all little undignified peccadilloes,
they will hasten to finish the sentence previous to the games.'

'The games! Good gods!' replied Diomed, with a slight shudder: 'can they
adjudge him to the beasts?--so young, so rich!'

'True; but then he is a Greek. Had he been a Roman, it would have been a
thousand pities. These foreigners can be borne with in their prosperity;
but in adversity we must not forget that they are in reality slaves.
However, we of the upper classes are always tender-hearted; and he would
certainly get off tolerably well if he were left to us: for, between
ourselves, what is a paltry priest of Isis!--what Isis herself? But the
common people are superstitious; they clamor for the blood of the
sacrilegious one. It is dangerous not to give way to public opinion.'

'And the blasphemer--the Christian, or Nazarene, or whatever else he be
called?'

'Oh, poor dog! if he will sacrifice to Cybele or Isis, he will be
pardoned--if not, the tiger has him. At least, so I suppose; but the trial
will decide. We talk while the urn's still empty. And the Greek may yet
escape the deadly Theta of his own alphabet. But enough of this gloomy
subject. How is the fair Julia?'

'Well, I fancy.'

'Commend me to her. But hark! the door yonder creaks on its hinges; it is
the house of the praetor. Who comes forth? By Pollux! it is the Egyptian!
What can he want with our official friend!'

'Some conference touching the murder, doubtless,' replied Diomed; 'but what
was supposed to be the inducement to the crime? Glaucus was to have married
the priest's sister.'

'Yes: some say Apaecides refused the alliance. It might have been a sudden
quarrel. Glaucus was evidently drunk--nay, so much so as to have been quite
insensible when taken up, and I hear is still delirious--whether with wine,
terror, remorse, the Furies, or the Bacchanals, I cannot say.'

'Poor fellow!--he has good counsel?'

'The best--Caius Pollio, an eloquent fellow enough. Pollio has been hiring
all the poor gentlemen and well-born spendthrifts of Pompeii to dress
shabbily and sneak about, swearing their friendship to Glaucus (who would
not have spoken to them to be made emperor!--I will do him justice, he was a
gentleman in his choice of acquaintance), and trying to melt the stony
citizens into pity. But it will not do; Isis is mightily popular just at
this moment.'

'And, by-the-by, I have some merchandise at Alexandria. Yes, Isis ought to
be protected.'

'True; so farewell, old gentleman: we shall meet soon; if not, we must have
a friendly bet at the Amphitheatre. All my calculations are confounded by
this cursed misfortune of Glaucus! He had bet on Lydon the gladiator; I
must make up my tablets elsewhere. Vale!'

Leaving the less active Diomed to regain his villa, Clodius strode on,
humming a Greek air, and perfuming the night with the odorous that steamed
from his snowy garments and flowing locks.

'If,' thought he, 'Glaucus feed the lion, Julia will no longer have a person
to love better than me; she will certainly doat on me--and so, I suppose, I
must marry. By the gods! the twelve lines begin to fail--men look
suspiciously at my hand when it rattles the dice. That infernal Sallust
insinuates cheating; and if it be discovered that the ivory is clogged, why
farewell to the merry supper and the perfumed billet--Clodius is undone!
Better marry, then, while I may, renounce gaming, and push my fortune (or
rather the gentle Julia's) at the imperial court.'

Thus muttering the schemes of his ambition, if by that high name the
projects of Clodius may be called, the gamester found himself suddenly
accosted; he turned and beheld the dark brow of Arbaces.

'Hail, noble Clodius! pardon my interruption; and inform me, I pray you,
which is the house of Sallust?'

'It is but a few yards hence, wise Arbaces. But does Sallust entertain
to-night?'

'I know not,' answered the Egyptian; 'nor am I, perhaps, one of those whom
he would seek as a boon companion. But thou knowest that his house holds
the person of Glaucus, the murderer.'

'Ay! he, good-hearted epicure, believes in the Greek's innocence! You
remind me that he has become his surety; and, therefore, till the trial, is
responsible for his appearance.' Well, Sallust's house is better than a
prison, especially that wretched hole in the forum. But for what can you
seek Glaucus?'

'Why, noble Clodius, if we could save him from execution it would be well.
The condemnation of the rich is a blow upon society itself. I should like
to confer with him--for I hear he has recovered his senses--and ascertain
the motives of his crime; they may be so extenuating as to plead in his
defence.'

'You are benevolent, Arbaces.'

'Benevolence is the duty of one who aspires to wisdom,' replied the
Egyptian, modestly. 'Which way lies Sallust's mansion?'

'I will show you,' said Clodius, 'if you will suffer me to accompany you a
few steps. But, pray what has become of the poor girl who was to have wed
the Athenian--the sister of the murdered priest?'

'Alas! well-nigh insane! Sometimes she utters imprecations on the
murderer--then suddenly stops short--then cries, "But why curse? Oh, my
brother! Glaucus was not thy murderer--never will I believe it!" Then she
begins again, and again stops short, and mutters awfully to herself, "Yet if
it were indeed he?"'

'Unfortunate Ione!'

'But it is well for her that those solemn cares to the dead which religion
enjoins have hitherto greatly absorbed her attention from Glaucus and
herself: and, in the dimness of her senses, she scarcely seems aware that
Glaucus is apprehended and on the eve of trial. When the funeral rites due
to Apaecides are performed, her apprehension will return; and then I fear me
much that her friends will be revolted by seeing her run to succour and aid
the murderer of her brother!'

'Such scandal should be prevented.'

'I trust I have taken precautions to that effect. I am her lawful guardian,
and have just succeeded in obtaining permission to escort her, after the
funeral of Apaecides, to my own house; there, please the gods! she will be
secure.'

'You have done well, sage Arbaces. And, now, yonder is the house of
Sallust. The gods keep you! Yet, hark you, Arbaces--why so gloomy and
unsocial? Men say you can be gay--why not let me initiate you into the
pleasures of Pompeii?--I flatter myself no one knows them better.'

'I thank you, noble Clodius: under your auspices I might venture, I think,
to wear the philyra: but, at my age, I should be an awkward pupil.'

'Oh, never fear; I have made converts of fellows of seventy. The rich, too,
are never old.'

'You flatter me. At some future time I will remind you of your promise.'

'You may command Marcus Clodius at all times--and so, vale!'

'Now,' said the Egyptian, soliloquising, 'I am not wantonly a man of blood;
I would willingly save this Greek, if, by confessing the crime, he will lose
himself for ever to Ione, and for ever free me from the chance of discovery;
and I can save him by persuading Julia to own the philtre, which will be
held his excuse. But if he do not confess the crime, why, Julia must be
shamed from the confession, and he must die!--die, lest he prove my rival
with the living--die, that he may be my proxy with the dead! Will he
confess?--can he not be persuaded that in his delirium he struck the blow?
To me it would give far greater safety than even his death. Hem! we must
hazard the experiment.'

Sweeping along the narrow street, Arbaces now approached the house of
Sallust, when he beheld a dark form wrapped in a cloak, and stretched at
length across the threshold of the door.

So still lay the figure, and so dim was its outline, that any other than
Arbaces might have felt a superstitious fear, lest he beheld one of those
grim lemures, who, above all other spots, haunted the threshold of the homes
they formerly possessed. But not for Arbaces were such dreams.

'Rise!' said he, touching the figure with his foot; 'thou obstructest the
way!'

'Ha! who art thou cried the form, in a sharp tone, and as she raised herself
from the ground, the starlight fell full on the pale face and fixed but
sightless eyes of Nydia the Thessalian. 'Who art thou? I know the burden
of thy voice.'

'Blind girl! what dost thou here at this late hour? Fie!--is this seeming
thy sex or years? Home, girl!'

'I know thee,' said Nydia, in a low voice, 'thou art Arbaces the Egyptian':
then, as if inspired by some sudden impulse, she flung herself at his feet,
and clasping his knees, exclaimed, in a wild and passionate tone, 'Oh dread
and potent man! save him--save him! He is not guilty--it is I! He lies
within, ill-dying, and I--I am the hateful cause! And they will not admit
me to him--they spurn the blind girl from the hall. Oh, heal him! thou
knowest some herb--some spell--some countercharm, for it is a potion that
hath wrought this frenzy!

'Hush, child! I know all!--thou forgettest that I accompanied Julia to the
saga's home. Doubtless her hand administered the draught; but her
reputation demands thy silence. Reproach not thyself--what must be, must:
meanwhile, I seek the criminal--he may yet be saved. Away!'

Thus saying, Arbaces extricated himself from the clasp of the despairing
Thessalian, and knocked loudly at the door.

In a few moments the heavy bars were heard suddenly to yield, and the
porter, half opening the door, demanded who was there.

'Arbaces--important business to Sallust relative to Glaucus. I come from
the praetor.'

The porter, half yawning, half groaning, admitted the tall form of the
Egyptian. Nydia sprang forward. 'How is he?' she cried; 'tell me--tell
me!'

'Ho, mad girl! is it thou still?--for shame! Why, they say he is sensible.'

'The gods be praised!--and you will not admit me? Ah! I beseech thee...'

'Admit thee!--no. A pretty salute I should prepare for these shoulders were
I to admit such things as thou! Go home!'

The door closed, and Nydia, with a deep sigh, laid herself down once more on
the cold stones; and, wrapping her cloak round her face, resumed her weary
vigil.

Meanwhile Arbaces had already gained the triclinium, where Sallust, with his
favorite freedman, sat late at supper.

'What! Arbaces! and at this hour!--Accept this cup.'

'Nay, gentle Sallust; it is on business, not pleasure, that I venture to
disturb thee. How doth thy charge?--they say in the town that he has
recovered sense.'

'Alas! and truly,' replied the good-natured but thoughtless Sallust, wiping
the tear from his eyes; 'but so shattered are his nerves and frame that I
scarcely recognize the brilliant and gay carouser I was wont to know. Yet,
strange to say, he cannot account for the cause of the sudden frenzy that
seized him--he retains but a dim consciousness of what hath passed; and,
despite thy witness, wise Egyptian, solemnly upholds his innocence of the
death of Apaecides.'

'Sallust,' said Arbaces, gravely, 'there is much in thy friend's case that
merits a peculiar indulgence; and could we learn from his lips the
confession and the cause of his crime, much might be yet hoped from the
mercy of the senate; for the senate, thou knowest, hath the power either to
mitigate or to sharpen the law. Therefore it is that I have conferred with
the highest authority of the city, and obtained his permission to hold a
private conference this night with the Athenian. Tomorrow, thou knowest,
the trial comes on.'

'Well,' said Sallust, 'thou wilt be worthy of thy Eastern name and fame if
thou canst learn aught from him; but thou mayst try. Poor Glaucus!--and he
had such an excellent appetite! He eats nothing now!'

The benevolent epicure was moved sensibly at this thought. He sighed, and
ordered his slaves to refill his cup.

'Night wanes,' said the Egyptian; 'suffer me to see thy ward now.'

Sallust nodded assent, and led the way to a small chamber, guarded without
by two dozing slaves. The door opened; at the request of Arbaces, Sallust
withdrew--the Egyptian was alone with Glaucus.

One of those tall and graceful candelabra common to that day, supporting a
single lamp, burned beside the narrow bed. Its rays fell palely over the
face of the Athenian, and Arbaces was moved to see how sensibly that
countenance had changed. The rich color was gone, the cheek was sunk, the
lips were convulsed and pallid; fierce had been the struggle between reason
and madness, life and death. The youth, the strength of Glaucus had
conquered; but the freshness of blood and soul--the life of life--its glory
and its zest, were gone for ever.

The Egyptian seated himself quietly beside the bed; Glaucus still lay mute
and unconscious of his presence. At length, after a considerable pause,
Arbaces thus spoke:

'Glaucus, we have been enemies. I come to thee alone and in the dead of
night--thy friend, perhaps thy saviour.'

As the steed starts from the path of the tiger, Glaucus sprang up
breathless--alarmed, panting at the abrupt voice, the sudden apparition of
his foe. Their eyes met, and neither, for some moments, had power to
withdraw his gaze. The flush went and came over the face of the Athenian,
and the bronzed cheek of the Egyptian grew a shade more pale. At length,
with an inward groan, Glaucus turned away, drew his hand across his brow,
sunk back, and muttered:

'Am I still dreaming?'

'No, Glaucus thou art awake. By this right hand and my father's head, thou
seest one who may save thy life. Hark! I know what thou hast done, but I
know also its excuse, of which thou thyself art ignorant. Thou hast
committed murder, it is true--a sacrilegious murder--frown not--start
not--these eyes saw it. But I can save thee--I can prove how thou wert
bereaved of sense, and made not a free-thinking and free-acting man. But in
order to save thee, thou must confess thy crime. Sign but this paper,
acknowledging thy hand in the death of Apaecides, and thou shalt avoid the
fatal urn.'

'What words are these?--Murder and Apaecides!--Did I not see him stretched
on the ground bleeding and a corpse? and wouldst thou persuade me that I did
the deed? Man, thou liest! Away!'

'Be not rash--Glaucus, be not hasty; the deed is proved. Come, come, thou
mayst well be excused for not recalling the act of thy delirium, and which
thy sober senses would have shunned even to contemplate. But let me try to
refresh thy exhausted and weary memory. Thou knowest thou wert walking with
the priest, disputing about his sister; thou knowest he was intolerant, and
half a Nazarene, and he sought to convert thee, and ye had hot words; and he
calumniated thy mode of life, and swore he would not marry Ione to thee--and
then, in thy wrath and thy frenzy, thou didst strike the sudden blow. Come,
come; you can recollect this!--read this papyrus, it runs to that
effect--sign it, and thou art saved.'

'Barbarian, give me the written lie, that I may tear it! I the murderer of
Ione's brother: I confess to have injured one hair of the head of him she
loved! Let me rather perish a thousand times!'

'Beware!' said Arbaces, in a low and hissing tone; 'there is but one
choice--thy confession and thy signature, or the amphitheatre and the lion's
maw!'

As the Egyptian fixed his eyes upon the sufferer, he hailed with joy the
signs of evident emotion that seized the latter at these words. A slight
shudder passed over the Athenian's frame--his lip fell--an expression of
sudden fear and wonder betrayed itself in his brow and eye.

'Great gods!' he said, in a low voice, 'what reverse is this? It seems but
a little day since life laughed out from amidst roses--Ione mine--youth,
health, love, lavishing on me their treasures; and now--pain, madness,
shame, death! And for what? What have I done? Oh, I am mad still?'

'Sign, and be saved!' said the soft, sweet voice of the Egyptian.

'Tempter, never!' cried Glaucus, in the reaction of rage. 'Thou knowest me
not: thou knowest not the haughty soul of an Athenian! The sudden face of
death might appal me for a moment, but the fear is over. Dishonour appals
for ever! Who will debase his name to save his life? who exchange clear
thoughts for sullen days? who will belie himself to shame, and stand
blackened in the eyes of love? If to earn a few years of polluted life
there be so base a coward, dream not, dull barbarian of Egypt! to find him
in one who has trod the same sod as Harmodius, and breathed the same air as
Socrates. Go! leave me to live without self-reproach--or to perish without
fear!'

'Bethink thee well! the lion's fangs: the hoots of the brutal mob: the
vulgar gaze on thy dying agony and mutilated limbs: thy name degraded; thy
corpse unburied; the shame thou wouldst avoid clinging to thee for aye and
ever!'

'Thou ravest; thou art the madman! shame is not in the loss of other men's
esteem--it is in the loss of our own. Wilt thou go?--my eyes loathe the
sight of thee! hating ever, I despise thee now!'

'I go,' said Arbaces, stung and exasperated, but not without some pitying
admiration of his victim, 'I go; we meet twice again--once at the Trial,
once at the Death! Farewell!'

The Egyptian rose slowly, gathered his robes about him, and left the
chamber. He sought Sallust for a moment, whose eyes began to reel with the
vigils of the cup: 'He is still unconscious, or still obstinate; there is no
hope for him.'

'Say not so,' replied Sallust, who felt but little resentment against the
Athenian's accuser, for he possessed no great austerity of virtue, and was
rather moved by his friend's reverses than persuaded of his innocence--'say
not so, my Egyptian! so good a drinker shall be saved if possible. Bacchus
against Isis!'

'We shall see,' said the Egyptian.

Suddenly the bolts were again withdrawn--the door unclosed; Arbaces was in
the open street; and poor Nydia once more started from her long watch.

'Wilt thou save him?' she cried, clasping her hands.

'Child, follow me home; I would speak to thee--it is for his sake I ask it.'

'And thou wilt save him?'

No answer came forth to the thirsting ear of the blind girl: Arbaces had
already proceeded far up the street; she hesitated a moment, and then
followed his steps in silence.

'I must secure this girl,' said he, musingly, 'lest she give evidence of the
philtre; as to the vain Julia, she will not betray herself.'

Chapter VIII

A CLASSIC FUNERAL.

WHILE Arbaces had been thus employed, Sorrow and Death were in the house of
Ione. It was the night preceding the morn in which the solemn funeral rites
were to be decreed to the remains of the murdered Apaecides. The corpse had
been removed from the temple of Isis to the house of the nearest surviving
relative, and Ione had heard, in the same breath, the death of her brother
and the accusation against her betrothed. That first violent anguish which
blunts the sense to all but itself, and the forbearing silence of her
slaves, had prevented her learning minutely the circumstances attendant on
the fate of her lover. His illness, his frenzy, and his approaching trial,
were unknown to her. She learned only the accusation against him, and at
once indignantly rejected it; nay, on hearing that Arbaces was the accuser,
she required no more to induce her firmly and solemnly to believe that the
Egyptian himself was the criminal. But the vast and absorbing importance
attached by the ancients to the performance of every ceremonial connected
with the death of a relation, had, as yet, confined her woe and her
convictions to the chamber of the deceased. Alas! it was not for her to
perform that tender and touching office, which obliged the nearest relative
to endeavor to catch the last breath--the parting soul--of the beloved one:
but it was hers to close the straining eyes, the distorted lips: to watch by
the consecrated clay, as, fresh bathed and anointed, it lay in festive robes
upon the ivory bed; to strew the couch with leaves and flowers, and to renew
the solemn cypress-branch at the threshold of the door. And in these sad
offices, in lamentation and in prayer, Ione forgot herself. It was among
the loveliest customs of the ancients to bury the young at the morning
twilight; for, as they strove to give the softest interpretation to death,
so they poetically imagined that Aurora, who loved the young, had stolen
them to her embrace; and though in the instance of the murdered priest this
fable could not appropriately cheat the fancy, the general custom was still
preserved.

The stars were fading one by one from the grey heavens, and night slowly
receding before the approach of morn, when a dark group stood motionless
before Ione's door. High and slender torches, made paler by the unmellowed
dawn, cast their light over various countenances, hushed for the moment in
one solemn and intent expression. And now there arose a slow and dismal
music, which accorded sadly with the rite, and floated far along the
desolate and breathless streets; while a chorus of female voices (the
Praeficae so often cited by the Roman poets), accompanying the Tibicen and
the Mysian flute, woke the following strain:

               THE FUNERAL DIRGE

      O'er the sad threshold, where the cypress bough
         Supplants the rose that should adorn thy home,
       On the last pilgrimage on earth that now
         Awaits thee, wanderer to Cocytus, come!
       Darkly we woo, and weeping we invite--
        Death is thy host--his banquet asks thy soul,
       Thy garlands hang within the House of Night,
         And the black stream alone shall fill thy bowl.

      No more for thee the laughter and the song,
         The jocund night--the glory of the day!
       The Argive daughters' at their labours long;
         The hell-bird swooping on its Titan prey--

      The false AEolides upheaving slow,
         O'er the eternal hill, the eternal stone;
       The crowned Lydian, in his parching woe,
         And green Callirrhoe's monster-headed son-

      These shalt thou see, dim shadowed through the dark,
         Which makes the sky of Pluto's dreary shore;
       Lo! where thou stand'st, pale-gazing on the bark
,         That waits our rite to bear thee trembling o'er!
       Come, then! no more delay!--the phantom pines
         Amidst the Unburied for its latest home;
       O'er the grey sky the torch impatient shines--
        Come, mourner, forth!--the lost one bids thee come.

As the hymn died away, the group parted in twain; and placed upon a couch,
spread with a purple pall, the corpse of Apaecides was carried forth, with
the feet foremost. The designator, or marshal of the sombre ceremonial,
accompanied by his torch-bearers, clad in black, gave the signal, and the
procession moved dreadly on.

First went the musicians, playing a slow march--the solemnity of the lower
instruments broken by many a louder and wilder burst of the funeral trumpet:
next followed the hired mourners, chanting their dirges to the dead; and the
female voices were mingled with those of boys, whose tender years made still
more striking the contrast of life and death--the fresh leaf and the
withered one. But the players, the buffoons, the archimimus (whose duty it
was to personate the dead)--these, the customary attendants at ordinary
funerals, were banished from a funeral attended with so many terrible
associations.

The priests of Isis came next in their snowy garments, barefooted, and
supporting sheaves of corn; while before the corpse were carried the images
of the deceased and his many Athenian forefathers. And behind the bier
followed, amidst her women, the sole surviving relative of the dead--her
head bare, her locks disheveled, her face paler than marble, but composed
and still, save ever and anon, as some tender thought--awakened by the
music, flashed upon the dark lethargy of woe, she covered that countenance
with her hands, and sobbed unseen; for hers were not the noisy sorrow, the
shrill lament, the ungoverned gesture, which characterized those who honored
less faithfully. In that age, as in all, the channel of deep grief flowed
hushed and still.

And so the procession swept on, till it had traversed the streets, passed
the city gate, and gained the Place of Tombs without the wall, which the
traveler yet beholds.

Raised in the form of an altar--of unpolished pine, amidst whose interstices
were placed preparations of combustible matter--stood the funeral pyre; and
around it drooped the dark and gloomy cypresses so consecrated by song to
the tomb.

As soon as the bier was placed upon the pile, the attendants parting on
either side, Ione passed up to the couch, and stood before the unconscious
clay for some moments motionless and silent. The features of the dead had
been composed from the first agonized expression of violent death. Hushed
for ever the terror and the doubt, the contest of passion, the awe of
religion, the struggle of the past and present, the hope and the horror of
the future!--of all that racked and desolated the breast of that young
aspirant to the Holy of Life, what trace was visible in the awful serenity
of that impenetrable brow and unbreathing lip? The sister gazed, and not a
sound was heard amidst the crowd; there was something terrible, yet
softening, also, in the silence; and when it broke, it broke sudden and
abrupt--it broke, with a loud and passionate cry--the vent of long-smothered
despair.

'My brother! my brother!' cried the poor orphan, falling upon the couch;
'thou whom the worm on thy path feared not--what enemy couldst thou provoke?
Oh, is it in truth come to this? Awake! awake! We grew together! Are we
thus torn asunder? Thou art not dead--thou sleepest. Awake! awake!'

The sound of her piercing voice aroused the sympathy of the mourners, and
they broke into loud and rude lament. This startled, this recalled Ione;
she looked up hastily and confusedly, as if for the first time sensible of
the presence of those around.

'Ah!' she murmured with a shiver, 'we are not then alone!' With that, after
a brief pause, she rose; and her pale and beautiful countenance was again
composed and rigid. With fond and trembling hands, she unclosed the lids of
the deceased; but when the dull glazed eye, no longer beaming with love and
life, met hers, she shrieked aloud, as if she had seen a spectre. Once more
recovering herself she kissed again and again the lids, the lips, the brow;
and with mechanic and unconscious hand, received from the high priest of her
brother's temple the funeral torch.

The sudden burst of music, the sudden song of the mourners announced the
birth of the sanctifying flame.

           HYMN TO THE WIND

                I

       On thy couch of cloud reclined,
        Wake, O soft and sacred Wind!
        Soft and sacred will we name thee,
        Whosoe'er the sire that claim thee--
       Whether old Auster's dusky child,
        Or the loud son of Eurus wild;
        Or his who o'er the darkling deeps,
        From the bleak North, in tempest sweeps;
        Still shalt thou seem as dear to us
        As flowery-crowned Zephyrus,
        When, through twilight's starry dew,
        Trembling, he hastes his nymph to woo.

                II

       Lo! our silver censers swinging,
        Perfumes o'er thy path are flinging--
       Ne'er o'er Tempe's breathless valleys,
        Ne'er o'er Cypria's cedarn alleys,
        Or the Rose-isle's moonlit sea,
        Floated sweets more worthy thee.
        Lo! around our vases sending
        Myrrh and nard with cassia blending:
        Paving air with odorous meet,
        For thy silver-sandall'd feet!

               III

       August and everlasting air!
          The source of all that breathe and be,
        From the mute clay before thee bear
          The seeds it took from thee!
        Aspire, bright Flame! aspire!
          Wild wind!--awake, awake!
        Thine own, O solemn Fire!
          O Air, thine own retake!

                IV

       It comes! it comes! Lo! it sweeps,
          The Wind we invoke the while!
        And crackles, and darts, and leaps
          The light on the holy pile!
        It rises! its wings interweave
        With the flames--how they howl and heave!
            Toss'd, whirl'd to and fro,
            How the flame-serpents glow!
            Rushing higher and higher,
            On--on, fearful Fire!
            Thy giant limbs twined
            With the arms of the Wind!
        Lo! the elements meet on the throne
        Of death--to reclaim their own!

                 V

       Swing, swing the censer round--
       Tune the strings to a softer sound!
        From the chains of thy earthly toil,
        From the clasp of thy mortal coil,
        From the prison where clay confined thee,
        The hands of the flame unbind thee!
            O Soul! thou art free--all free!
        As the winds in their ceaseless chase,
          When they rush o'er their airy sea,
        Thou mayst speed through the realms of space,
          No fetter is forged for thee!
        Rejoice! o'er the sluggard tide
        Of the Styx thy bark can glide,
        And thy steps evermore shall rove
        Through the glades of the happy grove;
        Where, far from the loath'd Cocytus,
        The loved and the lost invite us.
        Thou art slave to the earth no more!
          O soul, thou art freed!--and we?--
       Ah! when shall our toil be o'er?
          Ah! when shall we rest with thee?

And now high and far into the dawning skies broke the fragrant fire; it
flushed luminously across the gloomy cypresses--it shot above the massive
walls of the neighboring city; and the early fisherman started to behold the
blaze reddening on the waves of the creeping sea.

But Ione sat down apart and alone, and, leaning her face upon her hands, saw
not the flame, nor heard the lamentation of the music: she felt only one
sense of loneliness--she had not yet arrived to that hallowing sense of
comfort, when we know that we are not alone--that the dead are with us!

The breeze rapidly aided the effect of the combustibles placed within the
pile. By degrees the flame wavered, lowered, dimmed, and slowly, by fits
and unequal starts, died away--emblem of life itself; where, just before,
all was restlessness and flame, now lay the dull and smouldering ashes.

The last sparks were extinguished by the attendants--the embers were
collected. Steeped in the rarest wine and the costliest odorous, the
remains were placed in a silver urn, which was solemnly stored in one of the
neighboring sepulchres beside the road; and they placed within it the vial
full of tears, and the small coin which poetry still consecrated to the grim
boatman. And the sepulchre was covered with flowers and chaplets, and
incense kindled on the altar, and the tomb hung round with many lamps.

But the next day, when the priest returned with fresh offerings to the tomb,
he found that to the relics of heathen superstition some unknown hands had
added a green palm-branch. He suffered it to remain, unknowing that it was
the sepulchral emblem of Christianity.

When the above ceremonies were over, one of the Praeficae three times
sprinkled the mourners from the purifying branch of laurel, uttering the
last word, 'Ilicet!'--Depart!--and the rite was done.

But first they paused to utter--weepingly and many times--the affecting
farewell, 'Salve Eternum!' And as Ione yet lingered, they woke the parting
strain.

            SALVE ETERNUM

                 I

       Farewell! O soul departed!
          Farewell! O sacred urn!
        Bereaved and broken-hearted,
          To earth the mourners turn.
        To the dim and dreary shore,
        Thou art gone our steps before!
        But thither the swift Hours lead us,
        And thou dost but a while precede us,
                  Salve--salve!
        Loved urn, and thou solemn cell,
        Mute ashes!--farewell, farewell!
                  Salve--salve!

                II

         Ilicet--ire licet--
       Ah, vainly would we part!
        Thy tomb is the faithful heart.
        About evermore we bear thee;
        For who from the heart can tear thee?
        Vainly we sprinkle o'er us
          The drops of the cleansing stream;
        And vainly bright before us
          The lustral fire shall beam.
        For where is the charm expelling
        Thy thought from its sacred dwelling?
        Our griefs are thy funeral feast,
        And Memory thy mourning priest.
                  Salve--salve!

                III

         Ilicet--ire licet!
        The spark from the hearth is gone
          Wherever the air shall bear it;
        The elements take their own--
         The shadows receive thy spirit.
        It will soothe thee to feel our grief,
          As thou glid'st by the Gloomy River!
        If love may in life be brief,
          In death it is fixed for ever.
                  Salve--salve!
        In the hall which our feasts illume,
        The rose for an hour may bloom;
        But the cypress that decks the tomb--
       The cypress is green for ever!
                  Salve--salve!                       

Chapter IX

IN WHICH AN ADVENTURE HAPPENS TO IONE.

WHILE some stayed behind to share with the priests the funeral banquet, Ione
and her handmaids took homeward their melancholy way. And now (the last
duties to her brother performed) her mind awoke from its absorption, and she
thought of her allianced, and the dread charge against him. Not--as we have
before said--attaching even a momentary belief to the unnatural accusation,
but nursing the darkest suspicion against Arbaces, she felt that justice to
her lover and to her murdered relative demanded her to seek the praetor, and
communicate her impression, unsupported as it might be. Questioning her
maidens, who had hitherto--kindly anxious, as I have said, to save her the
additional agony--refrained from informing her of the state of Glaucus, she
learned that he had been dangerously ill: that he was in custody, under the
roof of Sallust; that the day of his trial was appointed.

'Averting gods,' she exclaimed; 'and have I been so long forgetful of him?
Have I seemed to shun him? O! let me hasten to do him justice--to show that
I, the nearest relative of the dead, believe him innocent of the charge.
Quick! quick! let us fly. Let me soothe--tend--cheer him! and if they will
not believe me; if they will not lead to my conviction; if they sentence him
to exile or to death, let me share the sentence with him!'

Instinctively she hastened her pace, confused and bewildered, scarce knowing
whither she went; now designing first to seek the praetor, and now to rush
to the chamber of Glaucus. She hurried on--she passed the gate of the
city--she was in the long street leading up the town. The houses were
opened, but none were yet astir in the streets; the life of the city was
scarce awake--when lo! she came suddenly upon a small knot of men standing
beside a covered litter. A tall figure stepped from the midst of them, and
Ione shrieked aloud to behold Arbaces.

'Fair Ione!' said he, gently, and appearing not to heed her alarm: 'my ward,
my pupil! forgive me if I disturb thy pious sorrows; but the praetor,
solicitous of thy honour, and anxious that thou mayest not rashly be
implicated in the coming trial; knowing the strange embarrassment of thy
state (seeking justice for thy brother, but dreading punishment to thy
betrothed)--sympathizing, too, with thy unprotected and friendless
condition, and deeming it harsh that thou shouldst be suffered to act
unguided and mourn alone--hath wisely and paternally confided thee to the
care of thy lawful guardian. Behold the writing which intrusts thee to my
charge!'

'Dark Egyptian!' cried Ione, drawing herself proudly aside; 'begone! It is
thou that hast slain my brother! Is it to thy care, thy hands yet reeking
with his blood, that they will give the sister Ha! thou turnest pale! thy
conscience smites thee! thou tremblest at the thunderbolt of the avenging
god! Pass on, and leave me to my woe!'

'Thy sorrows unstring thy reason, Ione,' said Arbaces, attempting in vain
his usual calmness of tone. 'I forgive thee. Thou wilt find me now, as
ever, thy surest friend. But the public streets are not the fitting place
for us to confer--for me to console thee. Approach, slaves! Come, my sweet
charge, the litter awaits thee.'

The amazed and terrified attendants gathered round Ione, and clung to her
knees.

'Arbaces,' said the eldest of the maidens, 'this is surely not the law! For
nine days after the funeral, is it not written that the relatives of the
deceased shall not be molested in their homes, or interrupted in their
solitary grief?'

'Woman!' returned Arbaces, imperiously waving his hand, 'to place a ward
under the roof of her guardian is not against the funeral laws. I tell thee
I have the fiat of the praetor. This delay is indecorous. Place her in the
litter.'

So saying, he threw his arm firmly round the shrinking form of Ione. She
drew back, gazed earnestly in his face, and then burst into hysterical
laughter:

'Ha, ha! this is well--well! Excellent guardian--paternal law! Ha, ha!'
And, startled herself at the dread echo of that shrill and maddened
laughter, she sunk, as it died away, lifeless upon the ground... A minute
more, and Arbaces had lifted her into the litter. The bearers moved swiftly
on, and the unfortunate Ione was soon borne from the sight of her weeping
handmaids.

Chapter X

WHAT BECOMES OF NYDIA IN THE HOUSE OF ARBACES. THE EGYPTIAN FEELS
COMPASSION FOR GLAUCUS. COMPASSION IS OFTEN A VERY USELESS VISITOR TO THE
GUILTY.

IT will be remembered that, at the command of Arbaces, Nydia followed the
Egyptian to his home, and conversing there with her, he learned from the
confession of her despair and remorse, that her hand, and not Julia's, had
administered to Glaucus the fatal potion. At another time the Egyptian
might have conceived a philosophical interest in sounding the depths and
origin of the strange and absorbing passion which, in blindness and in
slavery, this singular girl had dared to cherish; but at present he spared
no thought from himself. As, after her confession, the poor Nydia threw
herself on her knees before him, and besought him to restore the health and
save the life of Glaucus--for in her youth and ignorance she imagined the
dark magician all-powerful to effect both--Arbaces, with unheeding ears, was
noting only the new expediency of detaining Nydia a prisoner until the trial
and fate of Glaucus were decided. For if, when he judged her merely the
accomplice of Julia in obtaining the philtre, he had felt it was dangerous
to the full success of his vengeance to allow her to be at large--to appear,
perhaps, as a witness--to avow the manner in which the sense of Glaucus had
been darkened, and thus win indulgence to the crime of which he was
accused--how much more was she likely to volunteer her testimony when she
herself had administered the draught, and, inspired by love, would be only
anxious, at any expense of shame, to retrieve her error and preserve her
beloved? Besides, how unworthy of the rank and repute of Arbaces to be
implicated in the disgrace of pandering to the passion of Julia, and
assisting in the unholy rites of the Saga of Vesuvius! Nothing less,
indeed, than his desire to induce Glaucus to own the murder of Apaecides, as
a policy evidently the best both for his own permanent safety and his
successful suit with Ione, could ever have led him to contemplate the
confession of Julia.

As for Nydia, who was necessarily cut off by her blindness from much of the
knowledge of active life, and who, a slave and a stranger, was naturally
ignorant of the perils of the Roman law, she thought rather of the illness
and delirium of her Athenian, than the crime of which she had vaguely heard
him accused, or the chances of the impending trial. Poor wretch that she
was, whom none addressed, none cared for, what did she know of the senate
and the sentence--the hazard of the law--the ferocity of the people--the
arena and the lion's den? She was accustomed only to associate with the
thought of Glaucus everything that was prosperous and lofty--she could not
imagine that any peril, save from the madness of her love, could menace that
sacred head. He seemed to her set apart for the blessings of life. She
only had disturbed the current of his felicity; she knew not, she dreamed
not that the stream, once so bright, was dashing on to darkness and to
death. It was therefore to restore the brain that she had marred, to save
the life that she had endangered that she implored the assistance of the
great Egyptian.

'Daughter,' said Arbaces, waking from his reverie, 'thou must rest here; it
is not meet for thee to wander along the streets, and be spurned from the
threshold by the rude feet of slaves. I have compassion on thy soft
crime--I will do all to remedy it. Wait here patiently for some days, and
Glaucus shall be restored.' So saying, and without waiting for her reply, he
hastened from the room, drew the bolt across the door, and consigned the
care and wants of his prisoner to the slave who had the charge of that part
of the mansion.

Alone, then, and musingly, he waited the morning light, and with it
repaired, as we have seen, to possess himself of the person of Ione.

His primary object, with respect to the unfortunate Neapolitan, was that
which he had really stated to Clodius, viz., to prevent her interesting
herself actively in the trial of Glaucus, and also to guard against her
accusing him (which she would, doubtless, have done) of his former act of
perfidy and violence towards her, his ward--denouncing his causes for
vengeance against Glaucus--unveiling the hypocrisy of his character--and
casting any doubt upon his veracity in the charge which he had made against
the Athenian. Not till he had encountered her that morning--not till he had
heard her loud denunciations--was he aware that he had also another danger
to apprehend in her suspicion of his crime. He hugged himself now at the
thought that these ends were effected: that one, at once the object of his
passion and his fear, was in his power. He believed more than ever the
flattering promises of the stars; and when he sought Ione in that chamber in
the inmost recesses of his mysterious mansion to which he had consigned
her--when he found her overpowered by blow upon blow, and passing from fit
to fit, from violence to torpor, in all the alternations of hysterical
disease--he thought more of the loveliness which no frenzy could distort
than of the woe which he had brought upon her. In that sanguine vanity
common to men who through life have been invariably successful, whether in
fortune or love, he flattered himself that when Glaucus had perished--when
his name was solemnly blackened by the award of a legal judgment, his title
to her love for ever forfeited by condemnation to death for the murder of
her own brother--her affection would be changed to horror; and that his
tenderness and his passion, assisted by all the arts with which he well knew
how to dazzle woman's imagination, might elect him to that throne in her
heart from which his rival would be so awfully expelled. This was his hope:
but should it fail, his unholy and fervid passion whispered, 'At the worst,
now she is in my power.'

Yet, withal, he felt that uneasiness and apprehension which attended upon
the chance of detection, even when the criminal is insensible to the voice
of conscience--that vague terror of the consequences of crime, which is
often mistaken for remorse at the crime itself. The buoyant air of Campania
weighed heavily upon his breast; he longed to hurry from a scene where
danger might not sleep eternally with the dead; and, having Ione now in his
possession, he secretly resolved, as soon as he had witnessed the last agony
of his rival, to transport his wealth--and her, the costliest treasure of
all, to some distant shore.

'Yes,' said he, striding to and fro his solitary chamber--'yes, the law that
gave me the person of my ward gives me the possession of my bride. Far
across the broad main will we sweep on our search after novel luxuries and
inexperienced pleasures. Cheered by my stars, supported by the omens of my
soul, we will penetrate to those vast and glorious worlds which my wisdom
tells me lie yet untracked in the recesses of the circling sea. There may
this heart, possessed of love, grow once more alive to ambition--there,
amongst nations uncrushed by the Roman yoke, and to whose ear the name of
Rome has not yet been wafted, I may found an empire, and transplant my
ancestral creed; renewing the ashes of the dead Theban rule; continuing in
yet grander shores the dynasty of my crowned fathers, and waking in the
noble heart of Ione the grateful consciousness that she shares the lot of
one who, far from the aged rottenness of this slavish civilization, restores
the primal elements of greatness, and unites in one mighty soul the
attributes of the prophet and the king.' From this exultant soliloquy,
Arbaces was awakened to attend the trial of the Athenian.

The worn and pallid cheek of his victim touched him less than the firmness
of his nerves and the dauntlessness of his brow; for Arbaces was one who had
little pity for what was unfortunate, but a strong sympathy for what was
bold. The congenialities that bind us to others ever assimilate to the
qualities of our own nature. The hero weeps less at the reverses of his
enemy than at the fortitude with which he bears them. All of us are human,
and Arbaces, criminal as he was, had his share of our common feelings and
our mother clay. Had he but obtained from Glaucus the written confession of
his crime, which would, better than even the judgment of others, have lost
him with Ione, and removed from Arbaces the chance of future detection, the
Egyptian would have strained every nerve to save his rival. Even now his
hatred was over--his desire of revenge was slaked: he crushed his prey, not
in enmity, but as an obstacle in his path. Yet was he not the less resolved,
the less crafty and persevering, in the course he pursued, for the
destruction of one whose doom was become necessary to the attainment of his
objects: and while, with apparent reluctance and compassion, he gave against
Glaucus the evidence which condemned him, he secretly, and through the
medium of the priesthood, fomented that popular indignation which made an
effectual obstacle to the pity of the senate. He had sought Julia; he had
detailed to her the confession of Nydia; he had easily, therefore, lulled
any scruple of conscience which might have led her to extenuate the offence
of Glaucus by avowing her share in his frenzy: and the more readily, for her
vain heart had loved the fame and the prosperity of Glaucus--not Glaucus
himself, she felt no affection for a disgraced man--nay, she almost rejoiced
in the disgrace that humbled the hated Ione. If Glaucus could not be her
slave, neither could he be the adorer of her rival. This was sufficient
consolation for any regret at his fate. Volatile and fickle, she began
again to be moved by the sudden and earnest suit of Clodius, and was not
willing to hazard the loss of an alliance with that base but high-born noble
by any public exposure of her past weakness and immodest passion for
another. All things then smiled upon Arbaces--all things frowned upon the
Athenian.

Chapter XI

NYDIA AFFECTS THE SORCERESS.

WHEN the Thessalian found that Arbaces returned to her no more--when she was
left, hour after hour, to all the torture of that miserable suspense which
was rendered by blindness doubly intolerable, she began, with outstretched
arms, to feel around her prison for some channel of escape; and finding the
only entrance secure, she called aloud, and with the vehemence of a temper
naturally violent, and now sharpened by impatient agony.

'Ho, girl!' said the slave in attendance, opening the door; art thou bit by
a scorpion? or thinkest thou that we are dying of silence here, and only to
be preserved, like the infant Jupiter, by a hullabaloo?'

'Where is thy master? and wherefore am I caged here? I want air and
liberty: let me go forth!'

'Alas! little one, hast thou not seen enough of Arbaces to know that his
will is imperial! He hath ordered thee to be caged; and caged thou art, and
I am thy keeper. Thou canst not have air and liberty; but thou mayst have
what are much better things--food and wine.'

'Proh Jupiter!' cried the girl, wringing her hands; 'and why am I thus
imprisoned? What can the great Arbaces want with so poor a thing as I am?'

'That I know not, unless it be to attend on thy new mistress, who has been
brought hither this day.'

'What! Ione here?'

'Yes, poor lady; she liked it little, I fear. Yet, by the Temple of Castor!
Arbaces is a gallant man to the women. Thy lady is his ward, thou knowest.'

'Wilt thou take me to her?'

'She is ill--frantic with rage and spite. Besides, I have no orders to do
so; and I never think for myself. When Arbaces made me slave of these
chambers, he said, "I have but one lesson to give thee--while thou servest
me, thou must have neither ears, eyes, nor thought; thou must be but one
quality--obedience."'

'But what harm is there in seeing Ione?'

'That I know not; but if thou wantest a companion, I am willing to talk to
thee, little one, for I am solitary enough in my dull cubiculum. And, by
the way, thou art Thessalian--knowest thou not some cunning amusement of
knife and shears, some pretty trick of telling fortunes, as most of thy race
do, in order to pass the time

'Tush, slave, hold thy peace! or, if thou wilt speak, what hast thou heard
of the state of Glaucus?'

'Why, my master has gone to the Athenian's trial; Glaucus will smart for
it!'

'For what?'

'The murder of the priest Apaecides.'

'Ha!' said Nydia, pressing her hands to her forehead; 'something of this I
have indeed heard, but understand not. Yet, who will dare to touch a hair
of his head?'

'That will the lion, I fear.'

'Averting gods! what wickedness dost thou utter?'

'Why, only that, if he be found guilty, the lion, or may be the tiger, will
be his executioner.'

Nydia leaped up, as if an arrow had entered her heart; she uttered a
piercing scream; then, falling before the feet of the slave, she cried, in a
tone that melted even his rude heart:

'Ah! tell me thou jestest--thou utterest not the truth--speak, speak!'

'Why, by my faith, blind girl, I know nothing of the law; it may not be so
bad as I say. But Arbaces is his accuser, and the people desire a victim
for the arena. Cheer thee! But what hath the fate of the Athenian to do
with thine?'

'No matter, no matter--he has been kind to me: thou knowest not, then, what
they will do? Arbaces his accuser! O fate! The people--the people! Ah!
they can look upon his face--who will be cruel to the Athenian!--Yet was not
Love itself cruel to him?'

So saying, her head drooped upon her bosom: she sunk into silence; scalding
tears flowed down her cheeks; and all the kindly efforts of the slave were
unable either to console her or distract the absorption of her reverie.

When his household cares obliged the ministrant to leave her room, Nydia
began to re-collect her thoughts. Arbaces was the accuser of Glaucus;
Arbaces had imprisoned her here; was not that a proof that her liberty might
be serviceable to Glaucus? Yes, she was evidently inveigled into some
snare; she was contributing to the destruction of her beloved! Oh, how she
panted for release! Fortunately, for her sufferings, all sense of pain
became merged in the desire of escape; and as she began to revolve the
possibility of deliverance, she grew calm and thoughtful. She possessed
much of the craft of her sex, and it had been increased in her breast by her
early servitude. What slave was ever destitute of cunning? She resolved to
practise upon her keeper; and calling suddenly to mind his superstitious
query as to her Thessalian art, she hoped by that handle to work out some
method of release. These doubts occupied her mind during the rest of the
day and the long hours of night; and, accordingly, when Sosia visited her
the following morning, she hastened to divert his garrulity into that
channel in which it had before evinced a natural disposition to flow.

She was aware, however, that her only chance of escape was at night; and
accordingly she was obliged with a bitter pang at the delay to defer till
then her purposed attempt.

'The night,' said she, 'is the sole time in which we can well decipher the
decrees of Fate--then it is thou must seek me. But what desirest thou to
learn?'

'By Pollux! I should like to know as much as my master; but that is not to
be expected. Let me know, at least, whether I shall save enough to purchase
my freedom, or whether this Egyptian will give it me for nothing. He does
such generous things sometimes. Next, supposing that be true, shall I
possess myself of that snug taberna among the Myropolia, which I have long
had in my eye? 'Tis a genteel trade that of a perfumer, and suits a retired
slave who has something of a gentleman about him!'

'Ay! so you would have precise answers to those questions?--there are
various ways of satisfying you. There is the Lithomanteia, or
Speaking-stone, which answers your prayer with an infant's voice; but, then,
we have not that precious stone with us--costly is it and rare. Then there
is the Gastromanteia, whereby the demon casts pale and deadly images upon
the water, prophetic of the future. But this art requires also glasses of a
peculiar fashion, to contain the consecrated liquid, which we have not. I
think, therefore, that the simplest method of satisfying your desire would
be by the Magic of Air.'

'I trust,' said Sosia, tremulously, 'that there is nothing very frightful in
the operation? I have no love for apparitions.'

'Fear not; thou wilt see nothing; thou wilt only hear by the bubbling of
water whether or not thy suit prospers. First, then, be sure, from the
rising of the evening star, that thou leavest the garden-gate somewhat open,
so that the demon may feel himself invited to enter therein; and place
fruits and water near the gate as a sign of hospitality; then, three hours
after twilight, come here with a bowl of the coldest and purest water, and
thou shalt learn all, according to the Thessalian lore my mother taught me.
But forget not the garden-gate--all rests upon that: it must be open when
you come, and for three hours previously.'

'Trust me,' replied the unsuspecting Sosia; 'I know what a gentleman's
feelings are when a door is shut in his face, as the cookshop's hath been in
mine many a day; and I know, also, that a person of respectability, as a
demon of course is, cannot but be pleased, on the other hand, with any
little mark of courteous hospitality. Meanwhile, pretty one, here is thy
morning's meal.'

'But what of the trial?'

'Oh, the lawyers are still at it--talk, talk--it will last over all
to-morrow.'

'To-morrow? You are sure of that?'

'So I hear.'

'And Ione?'

'By Bacchus! she must be tolerably well, for she was strong enough to make
my master stamp and bite his lip this morning. I saw him quit her apartment
with a brow like a thunderstorm.'

'Lodges she near this?'

'No--in the upper apartments. But I must not stay prating here longer.
Vale!'

Chapter XII

A WASP VENTURES INTO THE SPIDER'S WEB.

THE second night of the trial had set in; and it was nearly the time in
which Sosia was to brave the dread Unknown, when there entered, at that very
garden-gate which the slave had left ajar--not, indeed, one of the
mysterious spirits of earth or air, but the heavy and most human form of
Calenus, the priest of Isis. He scarcely noted the humble offerings of
indifferent fruit, and still more indifferent wine, which the pious Sosia
had deemed good enough for the invisible stranger they were intended to
allure. 'Some tribute,' thought he, 'to the garden god. By my father's
head! if his deityship were never better served, he would do well to give up
the godly profession. Ah! were it not for us priests, the gods would have a
sad time of it. And now for Arbaces--I am treading a quicksand, but it
ought to cover a mine. I have the Egyptian's life in my power--what will he
value it at?'

As he thus soliloquised, he crossed through the open court into the
peristyle, where a few lamps here and there broke upon the empire of the
starlit night; and issuing from one of the chambers that bordered the
colonnade, suddenly encountered Arbaces.

'Ho! Calenus--seekest thou me?' said the Egyptian; and there was a little
embarrassment in his voice.

'Yes, wise Arbaces--I trust my visit is not unseasonable?'

'Nay--it was but this instant that my freedman Callias sneezed thrice at my
right hand; I knew, therefore, some good fortune was in store for me--and,
lo! the gods have sent me Calenus.'

'Shall we within to your chamber, Arbaces?'

'As you will; but the night is clear and balmy--I have some remains of
languor yet lingering on me from my recent illness--the air refreshes
me--let us walk in the garden--we are equally alone there.'

'With all my heart,' answered the priest; and the two friends passed slowly
to one of the many terraces which, bordered by marble vases and sleeping
flowers, intersected the garden.

'It is a lovely night,' said Arbaces--'blue and beautiful as that on which,
twenty years ago, the shores of Italy first broke upon my view. My Calenus,
age creeps upon us--let us, at least, feel that we have lived.'

'Thou, at least, mayst arrogate that boast,' said Calenus, beating about, as
it were, for an opportunity to communicate the secret which weighed upon
him, and feeling his usual awe of Arbaces still more impressively that
night, from the quiet and friendly tone of dignified condescension which the
Egyptian assumed--'Thou, at least, mayst arrogate that boast. Thou hast had
countless wealth--a frame on whose close-woven fibres disease can find no
space to enter--prosperous love--inexhaustible pleasure--and, even at this
hour, triumphant revenge.'

'Thou alludest to the Athenian. Ay, to-morrow's sun the fiat of his death
will go forth. The senate does not relent. But thou mistakest: his death
gives me no other gratification than that it releases me from a rival in the
affections of Ione. I entertain no other sentiment of animosity against
that unfortunate homicide.'

'Homicide!' repeated Calenus, slowly and meaningly; and, halting as he
spoke, he fixed his eyes upon Arbaces. The stars shone pale and steadily on
the proud face of their prophet, but they betrayed there no change: the eyes
of Calenus fell disappointed and abashed. He continued rapidly--'Homicide!
it is well to charge him with that crime; but thou, of all men, knowest that
he is innocent.'

'Explain thyself,' said Arbaces, coldly; for he had prepared himself for the
hint his secret fears had foretold.

'Arbaces,' answered Calenus, sinking his voice into a whisper, 'I was in the
sacred grove, sheltered by the chapel and the surrounding foliage. I
overheard--I marked the whole. I saw thy weapon pierce the heart of
Apaecides. I blame not the deed--it destroyed a foe and an apostate.'

'Thou sawest the whole!' said Arbaces, dryly; 'so I imagined--thou wert
alone

'Alone!' returned Calenus, surprised at the Egyptian's calmness.

'And wherefore wert thou hid behind the chapel at that hour?'

'Because I had learned the conversion of Apaecides to the Christian
faith--because I knew that on that spot he was to meet the fierce
Olinthus--because they were to meet there to discuss plans for unveiling the
sacred mysteries of our goddess to the people--and I was there to detect, in
order to defeat them.'

'Hast thou told living ear what thou didst witness?'

'No, my master: the secret is locked in thy servant's breast.'

'What! even thy kinsman Burbo guesses it not! Come, the truth!'

'By the gods...'

'Hush! we know each other--what are the gods to us?'

'By the fear of thy vengeance, then--no!'

'And why hast thou hitherto concealed from me this secret? Why hast thou
waited till the eve of the Athenian's condemnation before thou hast ventured
to tell me that Arbaces is a murderer? And having tarried so long, why
revealest thou now that knowledge?'

'Because--because...' stammered Calenus, coloring and in confusion.

'Because,' interrupted Arbaces, with a gentle smile, and tapping the priest
on the shoulder with a kindly and familiar gesture--'because, my Calenus
(see now, I will read thy heart, and explain its motives)--because thou
didst wish thoroughly to commit and entangle me in the trial, so that I
might have no loophole of escape; that I might stand firmly pledged to
perjury and to malice, as well as to homicide; that having myself whetted
the appetite of the populace to blood, no wealth, no power, could prevent my
becoming their victim: and thou tellest me thy secret now, ere the trial be
over and the innocent condemned, to show what a desperate web of villainy
thy word to-morrow could destroy; to enhance in this, the ninth hour, the
price of thy forbearance; to show that my own arts, in arousing the popular
wrath, would, at thy witness, recoil upon myself; and that if not for
Glaucus, for me would gape the jaws of the lion! Is it not so?'

'Arbaces, replied Calenus, losing all the vulgar audacity of his natural
character, 'verily thou art a Magician; thou readest the heart as it were a
scroll.'

'It is my vocation,' answered the Egyptian, laughing gently. 'Well, then,
forbear; and when all is over, I will make thee rich.'

'Pardon me,' said the priest, as the quick suggestion of that avarice, which
was his master-passion, bade him trust no future chance of generosity;
'pardon me; thou saidst right--we know each other. If thou wouldst have me
silent, thou must pay something in advance, as an offer to Harpocrates.' If
the rose, sweet emblem of discretion, is to take root firmly, water her this
night with a stream of gold.'

'Witty and poetical!' answered Arbaces, still in that bland voice which
lulled and encouraged, when it ought to have alarmed and checked, his
griping comrade. 'Wilt thou not wait the morrow?'

'Why this delay? Perhaps, when I can no longer give my testimony without
shame for not having given it ere the innocent man suffered, thou wilt
forget my claim; and, indeed, thy present hesitation is a bad omen of thy
future gratitude.'

'Well, then, Calenus, what wouldst thou have me pay thee?'

'Thy life is, very precious, and thy wealth is very great,' returned the
priest, grinning.

'Wittier and more witty. But speak out--what shall be the sum?'

'Arbaces, I have heard that in thy secret treasury below, beneath those rude
Oscan arches which prop thy stately halls, thou hast piles of gold, of
vases, and of jewels, which might rival the receptacles of the wealth of the
deified Nero. Thou mayst easily spare out of those piles enough to make
Calenus among the richest priests of Pompeii, and yet not miss the loss.'

'Come, Calenus,' said Arbaces, winningly, and with a frank and generous air,
'thou art an old friend, and hast been a faithful servant. Thou canst have
no wish to take away my life, nor I a desire to stint thy reward: thou shalt
descend with me to that treasury thou referrest to, thou shalt feast thine
eyes with the blaze of uncounted gold and the sparkle of priceless gems; and
thou shalt for thy own reward, bear away with thee this night as much as
thou canst conceal beneath thy robes. Nay, when thou hast once seen what
thy friend possesses, thou wilt learn how foolish it would be to injure one
who has so much to bestow. When Glaucus is no more, thou shalt pay the
treasury another visit. Speak I frankly and as a friend?'

'Oh, greatest, best of men!' cried Calenus, almost weeping with joy, 'canst
thou thus forgive my injurious doubts of thy justice, thy generosity?'

'Hush! one other turn and we will descend to the Oscan arches.'

Chapter XIII

THE SLAVE CONSULTS THE ORACLE. THEY WHO BLIND THEMSELVES THE BLIND MAY
FOOL. TWO NEW PRISONERS MADE IN ONE NIGHT.

IMPATIENTLY Nydia awaited the arrival of the no less anxious Sosia.
Fortifying his courage by plentiful potations of a better liquor than that
provided for the demon, the credulous ministrant stole into the blind girl's
chamber.

'Well, Sosia, and art thou prepared? Hast thou the bowl of pure water?'

'Verily, yes: but I tremble a little. You are sure I shall not see the
demon? I have heard that those gentlemen are by no means of a handsome
person or a civil demeanor.'

'Be assured! And hast thou left the garden-gate gently open?'

'Yes; and placed some beautiful nuts and apples on a little table close by?'

'That's well. And the gate is open now, so that the demon may pass through
it?'

'Surely it is.'

'Well, then, open this door; there--leave it just ajar. And now, Sosia,
give me the lamp.'

'What, you will not extinguish it?'

'No; but I must breathe my spell over its ray. There is a spirit in fire.
Seat thyself.'

The slave obeyed; and Nydia, after bending for some moments silently over
the lamp, rose, and in a low voice chanted the following rude:

     INVOCATION TO THE SPECTRE OF THE AIR

       Loved alike by Air and Water
        Aye must be Thessalia's daughter;
        To us, Olympian hearts, are given
        Spells that draw the moon from heaven.
          All that Egypt's learning wrought--
        All that Persia's Magian taught--
       Won from song, or wrung from flowers,
        Or whisper'd low by fiend--are ours.

       Spectre of the viewless air!
        Hear the blind Thessalian's prayer!
        By Erictho's art, that shed
        Dews of life when life was fled--
       By lone Ithaca's wise king,

        Who could wake the crystal spring
        To the voice of prophecy?
        By the lost Eurydice,
        Summon'd from the shadowy throng,
        As the muse-son's magic song--
       By the Colchian's awful charms,
        When fair-haired Jason left her arms-

       Spectre of the airy halls,
        One who owns thee duly calls!
        Breathe along the brimming bowl,
        And instruct the fearful soul
        In the shadowy things that lie
        Dark in dim futurity.
        Come, wild demon of the air,
        Answer to thy votary's prayer!
          Come! oh, come!

       And no god on heaven or earth--
       Not the Paphian Queen of Mirth,
        Not the vivid Lord of Light,
        Nor the triple Maid of Night,
        Nor the Thunderer's self shall be
        Blest and honour'd more than thee!
          Come! oh, come!

'The spectre is certainly coming,' said Sosia. 'I feel him running along my
hair!'

'Place thy bowl of water on the ground. Now, then, give me thy napkin, and
let me fold up thy face and eyes.'

'Ay! that's always the custom with these charms. Not so tight, though:
gently--gently!'

'There--thou canst not see?'

'See, by Jupiter! No! nothing but darkness.'

'Address, then, to the spectre whatever question thou wouldst ask him, in a
low-whispered voice, three times. If thy question is answered in the
affirmative, thou wilt hear the water ferment and bubble before the demon
breathes upon it; if in the negative, the water will be quite silent.'

'But you will not play any trick with the water, eh?'

'Let me place the bowl under thy feet--so. Now thou wilt perceive that I
cannot touch it without thy knowledge.'

'Very fair. Now, then, O Bacchus! befriend me. Thou knowest that I have
always loved thee better than all the other gods, and I will dedicate to
thee that silver cup I stole last year from the burly carptor (butler), if
thou wilt but befriend me with this water-loving demon. And thou, O Spirit!
listen and hear me. Shall I be enabled to purchase my freedom next year?
Thou knowest; for, as thou livest in the air, the birds have doubtless
acquainted thee with every secret of this house,--thou knowest that I have
filched and pilfered all that I honestly--that is, safely--could lay finger
upon for the last three years, and I yet want two thousand sesterces of the
full sum. Shall I be able, O good Spirit! to make up the deficiency in the
course of this year? Speak--Ha! does the water bubble? No; all is as still
as a tomb.--Well, then, if not this year, in two years?--Ah! I hear
something; the demon is scratching at the door; he'll be here presently.--In
two years, my good fellow: come now, two; that's a very reasonable time.
What! dumb still! Two years and a half--three--four? ill fortune to you,
friend demon! You are not a lady, that's clear, or you would not keep
silence so long. Five--six--sixty years? and may Pluto seize you! I'll ask
no more.' And Sosia, in a rage, kicked down the water over his legs. He
then, after much fumbling and more cursing, managed to extricate his head
from the napkin in which it was completely folded--stared round--and
discovered that he was in the dark.

'What, ho! Nydia; the lamp is gone. Ah, traitress; and thou art gone too;
but I'll catch thee--thou shalt smart for this!' The slave groped his way to
the door; it was bolted from without: he was a prisoner instead of Nydia.
What could he do? He did not dare to knock loud--to call out--lest Arbaces
should overhear him, and discover how he had been duped; and Nydia,
meanwhile, had probably already gained the garden-gate, and was fast on her
escape.

'But,' thought he, 'she will go home, or, at least, be somewhere in the
city. To-morrow, at dawn, when the slaves are at work in the peristyle, I
can make myself heard; then I can go forth and seek her. I shall be sure to
find and bring her back, before Arbaces knows a word of the matter. Ah!
that's the best plan. Little traitress, my fingers itch at thee: and to
leave only a bowl of water, too! Had it been wine, it would have been some
comfort.'

While Sosia, thus entrapped, was lamenting his fate, and revolving his
schemes to repossess himself of Nydia, the blind girl, with that singular
precision and dexterous rapidity of motion, which, we have before observed,
was peculiar to her, had passed lightly along the peristyle, threaded the
opposite passage that led into the garden, and, with a beating heart, was
about to proceed towards the gate, when she suddenly heard the sound of
approaching steps, and distinguished the dreaded voice of Arbaces himself.
She paused for a moment in doubt and terror; then suddenly it flashed across
her recollection that there was another passage which was little used except
for the admission of the fair partakers of the Egyptian's secret revels, and
which wound along the basement of that massive fabric towards a door which
also communicated with the garden. By good fortune it might be open. At
that thought, she hastily retraced her steps, descended the narrow stairs at
the right, and was soon at the entrance of the passage. Alas! the door at
the entrance was closed and secured. While she was yet assuring herself that
it was indeed locked, she heard behind her the voice of Calenus, and, a
moment after, that of Arbaces in low reply. She could not stay there; they
were probably passing to that very door. She sprang onward, and felt
herself in unknown ground. The air grew damp and chill; this reassured her.
She thought she might be among the cellars of the luxurious mansion, or, at
least, in some rude spot not likely to be visited by its haughty lord, when
again her quick ear caught steps and the sound of voices. On, on, she
hurried, extending her arms, which now frequently encountered pillars of
thick and massive form. With a tact, doubled in acuteness by her fear, she
escaped these perils, and continued her way, the air growing more and more
damp as she proceeded; yet, still, as she ever and anon paused for breath,
she heard the advancing steps and the indistinct murmur of voices. At
length she was abruptly stopped by a wall that seemed the limit of her path.
Was there no spot in which she could hide? No aperture? no cavity? There
was none! She stopped, and wrung her hands in despair; then again, nerved
as the voices neared upon her, she hurried on by the side of the wall; and
coming suddenly against one of the sharp buttresses that here and there
jutted boldly forth, she fell to the ground. Though much bruised, her
senses did not leave her; she uttered no cry; nay, she hailed the accident
that had led her to something like a screen; and creeping close up to the
angle formed by the buttress, so that on one side at least she was sheltered
from view, she gathered her slight and small form into its smallest compass,
and breathlessly awaited her fate.

Meanwhile Arbaces and the priest were taking their way to that secret
chamber whose stores were so vaunted by the Egyptian. They were in a vast
subterranean atrium, or hall; the low roof was supported by short, thick
pillars of an architecture far remote from the Grecian graces of that
luxuriant period. The single and pale lamp, which Arbaces bore, shed but an
imperfect ray over the bare and rugged walls, in which the huge stones,
without cement, were fitted curiously and uncouthly into each other. The
disturbed reptiles glared dully on the intruders, and then crept into the
shadow of the walls.

Calenus shivered as he looked around and breathed the damp, unwholesome air.

'Yet,' said Arbaces, with a smile, perceiving his shudder, 'it is these rude
abodes that furnish the luxuries of the halls above. They are like the
laborers of the world--we despise their ruggedness, yet they feed the very
pride that disdains them.'

'And whither goes yon dim gallery to the left asked Calenus; 'in this depth
of gloom it seems without limit, as if winding into Hades.'

'On the contrary, it does but conduct to the upper rooms,' answered Arbaces,
carelessly: 'it is to the right that we steer to our bourn.'

The hall, like many in the more habitable regions of Pompeii, branched off
at the extremity into two wings or passages; the length of which, not really
great, was to the eye considerably exaggerated by the sudden gloom against
which the lamp so faintly struggled. To the right of these alae, the two
comrades now directed their steps.

'The gay Glaucus will be lodged to-morrow in apartments not much drier, and
far less spacious than this,' said Calenus, as they passed by the very spot
where, completely wrapped in the shadow of the broad, projecting buttress,
cowered the Thessalian.

'Ay, but then he will have dry room, and ample enough, in the arena on the
following day. And to think,' continued Arbaces, slowly, and very
deliberately--'to think that a word of thine could save him, and consign
Arbaces to his doom!'

'That word shall never be spoken,' said Calenus.

'Right, my Calenus! it never shall,' returned Arbaces, familiarly leaning
his arm on the priest's shoulder: 'and now, halt--we are at the door.'

The light trembled against a small door deep set in the wall, and guarded
strongly by many plates and bindings of iron, that intersected the rough and
dark wood. From his girdle Arbaces now drew a small ring, holding three or
four short but strong keys. Oh, how beat the griping heart of Calenus, as
he heard the rusty wards growl, as if resenting the admission to the
treasures they guarded!

'Enter, my friend,' said Arbaces, 'while I hold the lamp on high, that thou
mayst glut thine eyes on the yellow heaps.'

The impatient Calenus did not wait to be twice invited; he hastened towards
the aperture.

Scarce had he crossed the threshold, when the strong hand of Arbaces plunged
him forwards.

'The word shall never be spoken!' said the Egyptian, with a loud exultant
laugh, and closed the door upon the priest.

Calenus had been precipitated down several steps, but not feeling at the
moment the pain of his fall, he sprung up again to the door, and beating at
it fiercely with his clenched fist, he cried aloud in what seemed more a
beast's howl than a human voice, so keen was his agony and despair: 'Oh,
release me, release me, and I will ask no gold!'

The words but imperfectly penetrated the massive door, and Arbaces again
laughed. Then, stamping his foot violently, rejoined, perhaps to give vent
to his long-stifled passions:

'All the gold of Dalmatia,' cried he, 'will not buy thee a crust of bread.
Starve, wretch! thy dying groans will never wake even the echo of these vast
halls; nor will the air ever reveal, as thou gnawest, in thy desperate
famine, thy flesh from thy bones, that so perishes the man who threatened,
and could have undone, Arbaces! Farewell!'

'Oh, pity--mercy! Inhuman villain; was it for this...'

The rest of the sentence was lost to the ear of Arbaces as he passed
backward along the dim hall. A toad, plump and bloated, lay unmoving before
his path; the rays of the lamp fell upon its unshaped hideousness and red
upward eye. Arbaces turned aside that he might not harm it.

'Thou art loathsome and obscene,' he muttered, 'but thou canst not injure
me; therefore thou art safe in my path.'

The cries of Calenus, dulled and choked by the barrier that confined him,
yet faintly reached the ear of the Egyptian. He paused and listened
intently.

'This is unfortunate,' thought he; 'for I cannot sail till that voice is
dumb for ever. My stores and treasures lie, not in yon dungeon it is true,
but in the opposite wing. My slaves, as they move them, must not hear his
voice. But what fear of that? In three days, if he still survive, his
accents, by my father's beard, must be weak enough, then!--no, they could
not pierce even through his tomb. By Isis, it is cold!--I long for a deep
draught of the spiced Falernian.'

With that the remorseless Egyptian drew his gown closer round him, and
resought the upper air.

Chapter XIV

NYDIA ACCOSTS CALENUS.

WHAT words of terror, yet of hope, had Nydia overheard! The next day
Glaucus was to be condemned; yet there lived one who could save him, and
adjudge Arbaces to his doom, and that one breathed within a few steps of her
hiding-place! She caught his cries and shrieks--his imprecations--his
prayers, though they fell choked and muffled on her ear. He was imprisoned,
but she knew the secret of his cell: could she but escape--could she but
seek the praetor he might yet in time be given to light, and preserve the
Athenian. Her emotions almost stifled her; her brain reeled--she felt her
sense give way--but by a violent effort she mastered herself,--and, after
listening intently for several minutes, till she was convinced that Arbaces
had left the space to solitude and herself, she crept on as her ear guided
her to the very door that had closed upon Calenus. Here she more distinctly
caught his accents of terror and despair. Thrice she attempted to speak,
and thrice her voice failed to penetrate the folds of the heavy door. At
length finding the lock, she applied her lips to its small aperture, and the
prisoner distinctly heard a soft tone breathe his name.

His blood curdled--his hair stood on end. That awful solitude, what
mysterious and preternatural being could penetrate! 'Who's there?' he
cried, in new alarm; 'what spectre--what dread larva, calls upon the lost
Calenus?'

'Priest,' replied the Thessalian, 'unknown to Arbaces, I have been, by the
permission of the gods, a witness to his perfidy. If I myself can escape
from these walls, I may save thee. But let thy voice reach my ear through
this narrow passage, and answer what I ask.'

'Ah, blessed spirit,' said the priest, exultingly, and obeying the
suggestion of Nydia, 'save me, and I will sell the very cups on the altar to
pay thy kindness.'

'I want not thy gold--I want thy secret. Did I hear aright? Canst thou save
the Athenian Glaucus from the charge against his life?'

'I can--I can!--therefore (may the Furies blast the foul Egyptian!) hath
Arbaces snared me thus, and left me to starve and rot!'

'They accuse the Athenian of murder: canst thou disprove the accusation?'

'Only free me, and the proudest head of Pompeii is not more safe than his.
I saw the deed done--I saw Arbaces strike the blow; I can convict the true
murderer and acquit the innocent man. But if I perish, he dies also. Dost
thou interest thyself for him? Oh, blessed stranger, in my heart is the urn
which condemns or frees him!'

'And thou wilt give full evidence of what thou knowest?'

'Will!--Oh! were hell at my feet--yes! Revenge on the false
Egyptian!--revenge!--revenge! revenge!'

As through his ground teeth Calenus shrieked forth those last words, Nydia
felt that in his worst passions was her certainty of his justice to the
Athenian. Her heart beat: was it to be her proud destiny to preserve her
idolized--her adored? Enough,' said she, 'the powers that conducted me
hither will carry me through all. Yes, I feel that I shall deliver thee.
Wait in patience and hope.'

'But be cautious, be prudent, sweet stranger. Attempt not to appeal to
Arbaces--he is marble. Seek the praetor--say what thou knowest--obtain his
writ of search; bring soldiers, and smiths of cunning--these locks are
wondrous strong! Time flies--I may starve--starve! if you are not quick!
Go--go! Yet stay--it is horrible to be alone!--the air is like a
charnel--and the scorpions--ha! and the pale larvae; oh! stay, stay!'

'Nay,' said Nydia, terrified by the terror of the priest, and anxious to
confer with herself--'nay, for thy sake, I must depart. Take hope for thy
companion--farewell!'

So saying, she glided away, and felt with extended arms along the pillared
space until she had gained the farther end of the hall and the mouth of the
passage that led to the upper air. But there she paused; she felt that it
would be more safe to wait awhile, until the night was so far blended with
the morning that the whole house would be buried in sleep, and so that she
might quit it unobserved. she, therefore, once more laid herself down, and
counted the weary moments. In her sanguine heart, joy was the predominant
emotion. Glaucus was in deadly peril--but she should save him!

Chapter XV

ARBACES AND IONE. NYDIA GAINS THE GARDEN. WILL SHE ESCAPE AND SAVE THE
ATHENIAN?

WHEN Arbaces had warmed his veins by large draughts of that spiced and
perfumed wine so valued by the luxurious, he felt more than usually elated
and exultant of heart. There is a pride in triumphant ingenuity, not less
felt, perhaps, though its object be guilty. Our vain human nature hugs
itself in the consciousness of superior craft and self-obtained
success--afterwards comes the horrible reaction of remorse.

But remorse was not a feeling which Arbaces was likely ever to experience
for the fate of the base Calenus. He swept from his remembrance the thought
of the priest's agonies and lingering death: he felt only that a great
danger was passed, and a possible foe silenced; all left to him now would be
to account to the priesthood for the disappearance of Calenus; and this he
imagined it would not be difficult to do. Calenus had often been employed
by him in various religious missions to the neighboring cities. On some
such errand he could now assert that he had been sent, with offerings to the
shrines of Isis at Herculaneum and Neapolis, placatory of the goddess for
the recent murder of her priest Apaecides. When Calenus had expired, his
body might be thrown, previous to the Egyptian's departure from Pompeii,
into the deep stream of the Sarnus; and when discovered, suspicion would
probably fall upon the Nazarene atheists, as an act of revenge for the death
of Olinthus at the arena. After rapidly running over these plans for
screening himself, Arbaces dismissed at once from his mind all recollection
of the wretched priest; and, animated by the success which had lately
crowned all his schemes, he surrendered his thoughts to Ione. The last time
he had seen her, she had driven him from her presence by a reproachful and
bitter scorn, which his arrogant nature was unable to endure. He now felt
emboldened once more to renew that interview; for his passion for her was
like similar feelings in other men--it made him restless for her presence,
even though in that presence he was exasperated and humbled. From delicacy
to her grief he laid not aside his dark and unfestive robes, but, renewing
the perfumes on his raven locks, and arranging his tunic in its most
becoming folds, he sought the chamber of the Neapolitan. Accosting the
slave in attendance without, he inquired if Ione had yet retired to rest;
and learning that she was still up, and unusually quiet and composed, he
ventured into her presence. He found his beautiful ward sitting before a
small table, and leaning her face upon both her hands in the attitude of
thought. Yet the expression of the face itself possessed not its wonted
bright and Psyche-like expression of sweet intelligence; the lips were
apart--the eye vacant and unheeding--and the long dark hair, falling
neglected and disheveled upon her neck, gave by the contrast additional
paleness to a cheek which had already lost the roundness of its contour.

Arbaces gazed upon her a moment ere he advanced. She, too, lifted up her
eyes; and when she saw who was the intruder, shut them with an expression of
pain, but did not stir.

'Ah!' said Arbaces in a low and earnest tone as he respectfully, nay,
humbly, advanced and seated himself at a little distance from the
table--'Ah! that my death could remove thy hatred, then would I gladly die!
Thou wrongest me, Ione; but I will bear the wrong without a murmur, only let
me see thee sometimes. Chide, reproach, scorn me, if thou wilt--I will
teach myself to bear it. And is not even thy bitterest tone sweeter to me
than the music of the most artful lute? In thy silence the world seems to
stand still--a stagnation curdles up the veins of the earth--there is no
earth, no life, without the light of thy countenance and the melody of thy
voice.'

'Give me back my brother and my betrothed,' said Ione, in a calm and
imploring tone, and a few large tears rolled unheeded down her cheeks.

'Would that I could restore the one and save the other!' returned Arbaces,
with apparent emotion. 'Yes; to make thee happy I would renounce my
ill-fated love, and gladly join thy hand to the Athenian's. Perhaps he will
yet come unscathed from his trial (Arbaces had prevented her learning that
the trial had already commenced); if so, thou art free to judge or condemn
him thyself. And think not, O Ione, that I would follow thee longer with a
prayer of love. I know it is in vain. Suffer me only to weep--to mourn
with thee. Forgive a violence deeply repented, and that shall offend no
more. Let me be to thee only what I once was--a friend, a father, a
Protector. Ah, Ione! spare me and forgive.'

'I forgive thee. Save but Glaucus, and I will renounce him. O mighty
Arbaces! thou art powerful in evil or in good: save the Athenian, and the
poor Ione will never see him more.' As she spoke, she rose with weak and
trembling limbs, and falling at his feet, she clasped his knees: 'Oh! if
thou really lovest me--if thou art human--remember my father's ashes,
remember my childhood, think of all the hours we passed happily together,
and save my Glaucus!'

Strange convulsions shook the frame of the Egyptian; his features worked
fearfully--he turned his face aside, and said, in a hollow voice, 'If I
could save him, even now, I would; but the Roman law is stern and sharp.
Yet if I could succeed--if I could rescue and set him free--wouldst thou be
mine--my bride?'

'Thine?' repeated Ione, rising: 'thine!--thy bride? My brother's blood is
unavenged: who slew him? O Nemesis, can I even sell, for the life of
Glaucus, thy solemn trust? Arbaces--thine? Never.'

'Ione, Ione!' cried Arbaces, passionately; 'why these mysterious words?--why
dost thou couple my name with the thought of thy brother's death?'

'My dreams couple it--and dreams are from the gods.'

'Vain fantasies all! Is it for a dream that thou wouldst wrong the
innocent, and hazard thy sole chance of saving thy lover's life?'

'Hear me!' said Ione, speaking firmly, and with a deliberate and solemn
voice: 'If Glaucus be saved by thee, I will never be borne to his home a
bride. But I cannot master the horror of other rites: I cannot wed with
thee. Interrupt me not; but mark me, Arbaces!--if Glaucus die, on that same
day I baffle thine arts, and leave to thy love only my dust! Yes--thou
mayst put the knife and the poison from my reach--thou mayst imprison--thou
mayst chain me, but the brave soul resolved to escape is never without
means. These hands, naked and unarmed though they be, shall tear away the
bonds of life. Fetter them, and these lips shall firmly refuse the air.
Thou art learned--thou hast read how women have died rather than meet
dishonour. If Glaucus perish, I will not unworthily linger behind him. By
all the gods of the heaven, and the ocean, and the earth, I devote myself to
death! I have said!'

High, proud, dilating in her stature, like one inspired, the air and voice
of Ione struck an awe into the breast of her listener.

'Brave heart!' said he, after a short pause; 'thou art indeed worthy to be
mine. Oh! that I should have dreamt of such a partner in my lofty
destinies, and never found it but in thee! Ione,' he continued rapidly,
'dost thou not see that we are born for each other? Canst thou not recognize
something kindred to thine own energy--thine own courage--in this high and
self-dependent soul? We were formed to unite our sympathies--formed to
breathe a new spirit into this hackneyed and gross world--formed for the
mighty ends which my soul, sweeping down the gloom of time, foresees with a
prophet's vision. With a resolution equal to thine own, I defy thy threats
of an inglorious suicide. I hail thee as my own! Queen of climes
undarkened by the eagle's wing, unravaged by his beak, I bow before thee in
homage and in awe--but I claim thee in worship and in love! Together will we
cross the ocean--together will we found our realm; and far distant ages
shall acknowledge the long race of kings born from the marriage-bed of
Arbaces and Ione!'

'Thou ravest! These mystic declamations are suited rather to some palsied
crone selling charms in the market-place than to the wise Arbaces. Thou
hast heard my resolution--it is fixed as the Fates themselves. Orcus has
heard my vow, and it is written in the book of the unforgetful Hades.
Atone, then, O Arbaces!--atone the past: convert hatred into
regard--vengeance into gratitude; preserve one who shall never be thy rival.
These are acts suited to thy original nature, which gives forth sparks of
something high and noble. They weigh in the scales of the Kings of Death:
they turn the balance on that day when the disembodied soul stands shivering
and dismayed between Tartarus and Elysium; they gladden the heart in life,
better and longer than the reward of a momentary passion. Oh, Arbaces! hear
me, and be swayed!'

'Enough, Ione. All that I can do for Glaucus shall be done; but blame me
not if I fail. Inquire of my foes, even, if I have not sought, if I do not
seek, to turn aside the sentence from his head; and judge me accordingly.
Sleep then, Ione. Night wanes; I leave thee to rest--and mayst thou have
kinder dreams of one who has no existence but in thine.'

Without waiting a reply, Arbaces hastily withdrew; afraid, perhaps, to trust
himself further to the passionate prayer of Ione, which racked him with
jealousy, even while it touched him to compassion. But compassion itself
came too late. Had Ione even pledged him her hand as his reward, he could
not now--his evidence given--the populace excited--have saved the Athenian.
Still made sanguine by his very energy of mind, he threw himself on the
chances of the future, and believed he should yet triumph over the woman
that had so entangled his passions.

As his attendants assisted to unrobe him for the night, the thought of Nydia
flashed across him. He felt it was necessary that Ione should never learn
of her lover's frenzy, lest it might excuse his imputed crime; and it was
possible that her attendants might inform her that Nydia was under his roof,
and she might desire to see her. As this idea crossed him, he turned to one
of his freedmen:

'Go, Callias,' said he, 'forthwith to Sosia, and tell him, that on no
pretence is he to suffer the blind slave Nydia out of her chamber. But,
stay--first seek those in attendance upon my ward, and caution them not to
inform her that the blind girl is under my roof Go--quick!'

The freedman hastened to obey. After having discharged his commission with
respect to Ione's attendants, he sought the worthy Sosia. He found him not
in the little cell which was apportioned for his cubiculum; he called his
name aloud, and from Nydia's chamber, close at hand, he heard the voice of
Sosia reply:

'Oh, Callias, is it you that I hear?--the gods be praised!' Open the door, I
pray you!'

Callias withdrew the bolt, and the rueful face of Sosia hastily protruded
itself.

'What!--in the chamber with that young girl, Sosia! Proh pudor! Are there
not fruits ripe enough on the wall, but that thou must tamper with such
green...'

'Name not the little witch!' interrupted Sosia, impatiently; 'she will be my
ruin!' And he forthwith imparted to Callias the history of the Air Demon,
and the escape of the Thessalian.

'Hang thyself, then, unhappy Sosia! I am just charged from Arbaces with a
message to thee; on no account art thou to suffer her, even for a moment,
from that chamber!'

'Me miserum!' exclaimed the slave. 'What can I do!--by this time she may
have visited half Pompeii. But tomorrow I will undertake to catch her in
her old haunts. Keep but my counsel, my dear Callias.'

'I will do all that friendship can, consistent with my own safety. But are
you sure she has left the house?--she may be hiding here yet.'

'How is that possible? She could easily have gained the garden; and the
door, as I told thee, was open.'

'Nay, not so; for, at that very hour thou specifiest, Arbaces was in the
garden with the priest Calenus. I went there in search of some herbs for my
master's bath to-morrow. I saw the table set out; but the gate I am sure
was shut: depend upon it, that Calenus entered by the garden, and naturally
closed the door after him.'

'But it was not locked.'

'Yes; for I myself, angry at a negligence which might expose the bronzes in
the peristyle to the mercy of any robber, turned the key, took it away,
and--as I did not see the proper slave to whom to give it, or I should have
rated him finely--here it actually is, still in my girdle.'

'Oh, merciful Bacchus! I did not pray to thee in vain, after all. Let us
not lose a moment! Let us to the garden instantly--she may yet be there!'

The good-natured Callias consented to assist the slave; and after vainly
searching the chambers at hand, and the recesses of the peristyle, they
entered the garden.

It was about this time that Nydia had resolved to quit her hiding-place, and
venture forth on her way. Lightly, tremulously holding her breath, which
ever and anon broke forth in quick convulsive gasps--now gliding by the
flower--wreathed columns that bordered the peristyle--now darkening the
still moonshine that fell over its tessellated centre--now ascending the
terrace of the garden--now gliding amidst the gloomy and breathless trees,
she gained the fatal door--to find it locked! We have all seen that
expression of pain, of uncertainty, of fear, which a sudden disappointment
of touch, if I may use the expression, casts over the face of the blind.
But what words can paint the intolerable woe, the sinking of the whole
heart, which was now visible on the features of the Thessalian? Again and
again her small, quivering hands wandered to and fro the inexorable door.
Poor thing that thou wert! in vain had been all thy noble courage, thy
innocent craft, thy doublings to escape the hound and huntsmen! Within but
a few yards from thee, laughing at thy endeavors--thy despair--knowing thou
wert now their own, and watching with cruel patience their own moment to
seize their prey--thou art saved from seeing thy pursuers!

'Hush, Callias!--let her go on. Let us see what she will do when she has
convinced herself that the door is honest.'

'Look! she raises her face to the heavens--she mutters--she sinks down
despondent! No! by Pollux, she has some new scheme! She will not resign
herself! By Jupiter, a tough spirit! See, she springs up--she retraces her
steps--she thinks of some other chance!--I advise thee, Sosia, to delay no
longer: seize her ere she quit the garden--now!'

'Ah! runaway! I have thee--eh?' said Sosia, seizing upon the unhappy Nydia.
As a hare's last human cry in the fangs of the dogs--as the sharp voice of
terror uttered by a sleep-walker suddenly awakened--broke the shriek of the
blind girl, when she felt the abrupt gripe of her gaoler. It was a shriek
of such utter agony, such entire despair, that it might have rung hauntingly
in your ears for ever. She felt as if the last plank of the sinking Glaucus
were torn from his clasp! It had been a suspense of life and death; and
death had now won the game.

'Gods! that cry will alarm the house! Arbaces sleeps full lightly. Gag
her!' cried Callias.

'Ah! here is the very napkin with which the young witch conjured away my
reason! Come, that's right; now thou art dumb as well as blind.'

And, catching the light weight in his arms, Sosia soon gained the house, and
reached the chamber from which Nydia had escaped. There, removing the gag,
he left her to a solitude so racked and terrible, that out of Hades its
anguish could scarcely be exceeded.

Chapter XVI

THE SORROW OF BOON COMPANIONS FOR OUR AFFLICTIONS. THE DUNGEON AND ITS
VICTIMS.

IT was now late on the third and last day of the trial of Glaucus and
Olinthus. A few hours after the court had broken up and judgment been
given, a small party of the fashionable youth at Pompeii were assembled
round the fastidious board of Lepidus.

'So Glaucus denies his crime to the last?' said Clodius.

'Yes; but the testimony of Arbaces was convincing; he saw the blow given,'
answered Lepidus.

'What could have been the cause?'

'Why, the priest was a gloomy and sullen fellow. He probably rated Glaucus
soundly about his gay life and gaming habits, and ultimately swore he would
not consent to his marriage with Ione. High words arose; Glaucus seems to
have been full of the passionate god, and struck in sudden exasperation.
The excitement of wine, the desperation of abrupt remorse, brought on the
delirium under which he suffered for some days; and I can readily imagine,
poor fellow! that, yet confused by that delirium, he is even now unconscious
of the crime he committed! Such, at least, is the shrewd conjecture of
Arbaces, who seems to have been most kind and forbearing in his testimony.'

'Yes; he has made himself generally popular by it. But, in consideration of
these extenuating circumstances, the senate should have relaxed the
sentence.'

'And they would have done so, but for the people; but they were outrageous.
The priest had spared no pains to excite them; and they imagined--the
ferocious brutes!--because Glaucus was a rich man and a gentleman, that he
was likely to escape; and therefore they were inveterate against him, and
doubly resolved upon his sentence. It seems, by some accident or other,
that he was never formally enrolled as a Roman citizen; and thus the senate
is deprived of the power to resist the people, though, after all, there was
but a majority of three against him. Ho! the Chian!'

'He looks sadly altered; but how composed and fearless!'

'Ay, we shall see if his firmness will last over to-morrow.' But what merit
in courage, when that atheistical hound, Olinthus, manifested the same?'

'The blasphemer! Yes,' said Lepidus, with pious wrath, 'no wonder that one
of the decurions was, but two days ago, struck dead by lightning in a serene
sky.' The gods feel vengeance against Pompeii while the vile desecrator is
alive within its walls.'

'Yet so lenient was the senate, that had he but expressed his penitence, and
scattered a few grains of incense on the altar of Cybele, he would have been
let off. I doubt whether these Nazarenes, had they the state religion,
would be as tolerant to us, supposing we had kicked down the image of their
Deity, blasphemed their rites, and denied their faith.'

'They give Glaucus one chance, in consideration of the circumstances; they
allow him, against the lion, the use of the same stilus wherewith he smote
the priest.'

'Hast thou seen the lion? hast thou looked at his teeth and fangs, and wilt
thou call that a chance? Why, sword and buckler would be mere reed and
papyrus against the rush of the mighty beast! No, I think the true mercy
has been, not to leave him long in suspense; and it was therefore fortunate
for him that our benign laws are slow to pronounce, but swift to execute;
and that the games of the amphitheatre had been, by a sort of providence, so
long since fixed for to-morrow. He who awaits death, dies twice.'

'As for the Atheist, said Clodius, 'he is to cope the grim tiger
naked-handed. Well, these combats are past betting on. Who will take the
odds?' A peal of laughter announced the ridicule of the question.

'Poor Clodius!' said the host; I to lose a friend is something; but to find
no one to bet on the chance of his escape is a worse misfortune to thee.'

'Why, it is provoking; it would have been some consolation to him and to me
to think he was useful to the last.'

'The people,' said the grave Pansa, 'are all delighted with the result.
They were so much afraid the sports at the amphitheatre would go off without
a criminal for the beasts; and now, to get two such criminals is indeed a
joy for the poor fellows! They work hard; they ought to have some
amusement.'

'There speaks the popular Pansa, who never moves without a string of clients
as long as an Indian triumph. He is always prating about the people. Gods!
he will end by being a Gracchus!'

'Certainly I am no insolent patrician,' said Pansa, with a generous air.

'Well,' observed Lepidus, it would have been assuredly dangerous to have
been merciful at the eve of a beast-fight. If ever I, though a Roman bred
and born, come to be tried, pray Jupiter there may be either no beasts in
the vivaria, or plenty of criminals in the gaol.'

'And pray,' said one of the party, 'what has become of the poor girl whom
Glaucus was to have married? A widow without being a bride--that is hard!'

'Oh,' returned Clodius, 'she is safe under the protection of her guardian,
Arbaces. It was natural she should go to him when she had lost both lover
and brother.'

'By sweet Venus, Glaucus was fortunate among the women. They say the rich
Julia was in love with him.'

'A mere fable, my friend,' said Clodius, coxcombically; 'I was with her
to-day. If any feeling of the sort she ever conceived, I flatter myself
that I have consoled her.'

'