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Title: Let us follow Him
Author: Sienkiewicz, Henryk, 1846-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Let us follow Him" ***

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LET US FOLLOW HIM



[Illustration]



  Let Us Follow Him

  BY
  HENRYK SIENKIEWICZ

  AUTHOR OF
  "Quo Vadis," "With Fire and Sword," Etc.

  _Translated from the Polish_
  BY JEREMIAH CURTIN

  BOSTON
  LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
  1897

  _Copyright, 1897_,
  BY JEREMIAH CURTIN.

  _All rights reserved._


  Plimpton Press
  H. M. PLIMPTON & CO., PRINTERS & BINDERS,
  NORWOOD, MASS., U.S.A.



PUBLISHERS' NOTE.


Although the story "Let Us Follow Him" is included in the new volume by
Sienkiewicz entitled "Hania," just issued in uniform style with Mr.
Curtin's translations of the author's other works, its publication in a
separate volume has been deemed advisable for the reason that this story
gave to its author the idea of writing "Quo Vadis," which has been the
literary sensation of the past twelve months.

The period of "Let Us Follow Him" is that of the death of Christ. Antea,
the wife of a Roman patrician, ill with terrible visions, is advised by
a physician to seek the air of Jerusalem. There she and her husband
meet Pilate, who tells them of the doctrine of the Nazarene, Jesus, and
his condemnation to death. They are present at the Crucifixion, and
Antea gives honor to the condemned Nazarene, saying, "Thou art Truth."



LET US FOLLOW HIM.



CHAPTER I.


Caius Septimius Cinna was a Roman Patrician. He had spent his youth in
the legions and in severe camp-life. Later he returned to Rome to enjoy
glory, luxury, and a great though somewhat shattered fortune. He used
and abused at that time everything which the gigantic city could offer.

His nights were spent at feasts in lordly suburban villas; his days in
sword practice with fencers, in discussions with rhetors at the baths,
where disputes were held, and where the scandal of the city and the
world was related, in circuses, at races, at the struggles of
gladiators, or among Greek musicians, Thracian soothsayers, and
wonderful dancing-girls from the islands of the Archipelago. He
inherited from the renowned Lucullus, a relative on the mother's side, a
love for exquisite dishes. At his table were served Grecian wines,
Neapolitan oysters, Numidian mice, and locust fat preserved in honey
from Pontus.

Whatever Rome possessed Cinna must have, beginning with fish of the Red
Sea, and ending with white ptarmigans from the banks of the Borysthenes
(Dnieper). He made use of things not only as a soldier run riot, but as
a patrician who passes the measure. He had instilled into himself, or
had perhaps even roused in himself, a love for the beautiful,--a love
for statues rescued from the ruins of Corinth, for pitchers from Attica,
for Etruscan vases from foggy Sericum, for Roman mosaics, for fabrics
brought from the Euphrates, for Arabian perfumes, and for all the
peculiar trifles which filled the void of patrician life.

He knew how to talk of these trifles, as a specialist and connoisseur,
with toothless old men, who decked out their baldness in wreaths of
roses when going to a feast, and who after the feast chewed heliotrope
blossoms to make the breath of their lungs odoriferous. He felt also the
beauty of Cicero's periods, and of verses of Horace or Ovid.

Educated by an Athenian rhetor, he conversed in Greek fluently; he knew
whole pages of the "Iliad" by heart, and during a feast could sing odes
of Anacreon till he had grown hoarse or drunk. Through his master and
other rhetors he had rubbed against philosophy, and become sufficiently
acquainted with it to know the plans of various edifices of thought
reared in Hellas and the colonies; he understood too that all these
edifices were in ruins. He knew many Stoics personally; for these he
cherished dislike, since he looked on them rather as a political party,
and, besides, as hypochondriacs, hostile to joyous living. Sceptics had
a seat frequently at his table; and during intervals between courses
they overturned entire systems, and announced at their cups, filled
with wine, that pleasure was vanity, truth something unattainable, and
that the object of a sage could be only dead rest.

All this struck Cinna's ears without piercing to the depth. He
recognized no principle, and would have none. In Cato he saw the union
of great character and great folly. He looked on life as a sea, on which
winds blew whithersoever they listed; and wisdom in his eyes was the art
of setting sails in such fashion that they would urge one's boat
forward. He esteemed his own broad shoulders and sound stomach; he
esteemed his own beautiful Roman head, with his aquiline nose and
powerful jaws. He was certain that with these he could pass through life
somehow.

Though not belonging to the school of Sceptics, he was a practical
Sceptic and hence a lover of pleasure, though he knew that pleasure was
not happiness. The genuine teaching of Epicurus he did not know; hence
he considered himself an Epicurean. In general he looked on philosophy
as mental fencing, as useful as that which was taught by the
sword-master. When discourses on it wearied him, he went to the circus
to see blood.

He did not believe in the gods any more than in virtue, truth, and
happiness. He believed only in soothsaying, and had his own
superstitions; moreover, the mysterious beliefs of the Orient roused his
curiosity. To slaves he was a good master, unless when occasional tedium
brought him to cruelty. He thought life a great amphora, which was the
more valuable the better the wine contained in it; hence he tried to
fill his own with the best. He did not love any one, but he loved many
things, among others his own eagle-like face with splendid skull, and
his shapely patrician foot.

In the first years of his frolicking life he loved also to astound Rome,
and succeeded a number of times. Later he grew as indifferent to that as
to other things.



CHAPTER II.


At last he ruined himself. His creditors tore his property to pieces,
and in place of it there remained to Cinna weariness, as after great
toil, satiety, and one more unexpected thing, a certain deep disquiet.
He had tried wealth; he had tried love, as that age understood it; he
had tried pleasure, military glory, and dangers. He had come to know the
limits of human thought more or less; he had come in contact with poetry
and art. Hence he might suppose that from life he had taken what it had
to give. Now he felt as though he had overlooked something--and that
the most important. But he did not know what it was, and tortured his
head over this problem in vain. More than once had he striven to shake
himself out of these thoughts, and out of this disquiet. He had tried to
persuade himself that there was nothing more in life, and could not be;
but straightway his disquiet, instead of diminishing, increased quickly
to such a degree that it seemed to him that he was disquieted not only
for himself, but for all Rome. He envied the Sceptics and also
considered them fools, for they insisted that one may fill completely
the void with the empty. There existed in him then two men, as it were,
one of whom was astonished at the disquiet which he felt, while the
other was forced to recognize it as perfectly normal.

Soon after the loss of his property, thanks to great family influence,
Cinna was sent to an official post in Alexandria, partly to build up a
new fortune in a rich country. His disquiet entered the ship at
Brundisium, and sailed across the sea with him. In Alexandria Cinna
thought that questions concerning office, new people, another society,
new impressions, would relieve him of the intrusive companion. But he
was mistaken.

Two months passed, and just as the grain of Demeter, brought from Italy,
grew still more luxuriantly in the rich soil of the Delta, so his
disquiet from a sturdy twig changed, as it were, into a spreading cedar,
and began to cast a still greater shadow on the soul of Cinna.

At first he strove to free himself of this shadow by the same life that
he had led in Rome formerly. Alexandria was a place of pleasure, full of
Grecian women with golden hair and clear complexions, which the Egyptian
sun covered with a transparent, amber lustre. In their society he sought
rest.

But when this also proved vain he began to think of suicide. Many of his
comrades had freed themselves from life's cares in that manner, and for
causes still more foolish than those which Cinna had,--frequently from
weariness alone, from the emptiness of life, or a lack of desire to make
further use of it. When a slave held a sword adroitly and with
sufficient strength, one instant ended all. Cinna caught at this idea;
but when he had almost resolved to obey it, a wonderful dream held him
back. Behold, it seemed to him that when he was borne across the
river[1] he saw on the other bank his disquiet in the form of a wretched
slave; it bowed to him, saying, "I have come in advance to receive
thee." Cinna was terrified for the first time in life; because he
understood that if he could not think of existence beyond the grave
without disquiet, then they would both go there.

In this extreme, he resolved to make the acquaintance of sages with whom
the Serapeum was crowded, judging that among them perhaps he might find
the solution of his riddle. They, it is true, were unable to solve any
doubt of his; but to make up they entitled him "of the museum," which
title they offered usually to Romans of high birth and position. That
was small consolation at first; and the stamp of sage, given a man who
could not explain that which concerned him most highly, might seem to
Cinna ironical. He supposed, however, that the Serapeum did not reveal
all its wisdom at once, perhaps; and he did not lose hope altogether.

The most active sage in Alexandria was the noble Timon of Athens, a man
of wealth, and a Roman citizen. He had lived a number of years in
Alexandria, whither he had come to sound the depths of Egyptian science.
It was said of him that there was no parchment or papyrus in the Library
which he had not read, and that he possessed all the wisdom of mankind.
He was, moreover, mild and forbearing. Cinna distinguished him at once
among the multitude of pedants and commentators with stiffened brains,
and soon formed with him an acquaintance which, after a time, was
changed into close intimacy, and even into friendship. The young Roman
admired the dialectic skill, the eloquence and dignity, with which the
old man spoke of lofty themes touching man's destiny, and that of the
world. He was struck especially by this, that that dignity was joined to
a certain sadness. Later, when they had grown more intimate, Cinna was
seized frequently by the wish to inquire of the old sage the cause of
that sadness, and to open his own heart to him. In fact, it came to that
finally.



CHAPTER III.


A certain evening, after animated discussions about the transmigration
of souls, they remained alone on the terrace, from which the view was
toward the sea. Cinna, taking Timon's hand, declared openly what the
great torment of his life was, and why he had striven to approach the
scholars and philosophers of the Serapeum.

"I have gained this much at least," said he; "I have learned to know
you, O Timon, and I understand now that if you cannot solve my life's
riddle, no other man can."

Timon gazed for a time at the smooth surface of the sea, in which the
new moon was reflected; then he said,--

"Hast thou seen those flocks of birds, Cinna, which fly past here in
winter from northern glooms? Dost thou know what they seek in Egypt?"

"I do. Warmth and light."

"Souls of men also seek warmth, which is love, and light, which means
truth. The birds know whither they are flying for their good; but souls
are flying over roadless places, in wandering, in sadness, and
disquiet."

"Why can they not find the road, noble Timon?"

"Once man's repose was in the gods; to-day, faith in the gods is burnt
out, like oil in a lamp. Men thought that to souls philosophy would be
the light of truth; to-day, as thou knowest best of all, on its ruins
in Rome and in the Academy in Athens, and here, sit Sceptics, to whom it
seemed that it was bringing in peace, but it brought in disquiet. For to
renounce light and heat is to leave the soul in darkness, which is
disquiet. Hence, stretching out our hands before us, we seek an exit in
groping."

"Hast thou not found it?"

"I have sought, and I have not found it. Thou hast sought it in
pleasure, I in thought; and the same mist encircles us. Know then that
not thou alone art suffering, but in thee the soul of the world is
tortured. Is it long since thou hast ceased to believe in the gods?"

"At Rome they are honored publicly yet, and even new ones are brought
from Asia and Egypt; but no one believes in them sincerely, except
dealers in vegetables, who come in the morning from the country to the
city."

"And these are the only people who live in peace."

"They are like those who bow down here to cats and onions."

"Just like those, who, in the manner of beasts, ask for nothing beyond
sleep after eating."

"But is life worth the living in view of this?"

"Do I know what death will bring?"

"What is the difference, then, between thee and the Sceptics?"

"Sceptics are satisfied with darkness, or feign that they are satisfied,
but I suffer in it."

"And thou seest no salvation?"

Timon was silent for a moment, and then answered slowly, as if with
hesitation,--

"I wait for it."

"Whence?"

"I know not."

Then he rested his head on the palm of his hand; and as if under the
influence of that silence which had settled down on the terrace, he
began to speak in a low and measured voice,--

"A wonderful thing; but at times it seems to me that if the world
contained nothing beyond that which we know, and if we could be nothing
more than we are, this disquiet would not exist in us. So in this
sickness I find hope of health. Faith in Olympus and philosophy are
dead, but health may be some new truth which I know not."

Beyond expectation, that talk brought great solace to Cinna. When he
heard that the whole world was sick, and not he alone, he felt as if
some one had taken a great weight from him and distributed it on a
thousand shoulders.



CHAPTER IV.


From that time the friendship uniting Cinna and the old Greek became
still more intimate. They visited each other frequently and exchanged
thoughts, like bread in time of a banquet. Besides, Cinna, in spite of
experience and the weariness which comes of use, had not reached the age
yet when life has ceased to contain the charm of unknown things; and
just this charm he found in Antea, Timon's only daughter.

Her fame was not less in Alexandria than the fame of her father. Eminent
Romans frequenting Timon's house did her homage, Greeks did her homage,
philosophers from the Serapeum did her homage, and so did the people.
Timon did not restrict her to the gineceum, after the manner of other
women; and he tried to transfer to her everything that he himself knew.
When she had passed the years of childhood, he read Greek books with
her, and even Latin and Hebrew; for, gifted with an uncommon memory, and
reared in many-tongued Alexandria, she learned those languages quickly.
She was a companion to him in thoughts; she took frequent part in the
discussions which were held in Timon's house during Symposiums. Often in
the labyrinth of difficult questions, she was able, like Ariadne, to
avoid going astray herself and to extricate others. Her father honored
and admired her. The charm of mystery and almost of sacredness
surrounded her, besides; for she had prophetic dreams, in which she saw
things invisible to common mortals. The old sage loved her as his own
soul, and the more for this reason, that he was afraid of losing her;
for frequently she said that beings appeared in dreams to her,--ominous
beings,--also a certain divine light, and she knew not whether this
light was the source of life or death.

Meanwhile she was met only by love. The Egyptians, who frequented
Timon's house, called her the Lotus; perhaps because that flower
received divine honor on the banks of the Nile, and perhaps also because
whoever saw it might forget the whole world besides.

Her beauty was equal to her wisdom. The Egyptian sun did not darken her
face, in which the rosy rays of light seemed to be enclosed in
transparent mother-of-pearl. Her eyes had the blueness of the Nile, and
their glances flowed from a remoteness as unknown as the source of that
mysterious river. When Cinna saw and heard her the first time, on
returning home, he conceived the wish to rear an altar to her in the
atrium of his house, and offer a white dove on it. He had met thousands
of women in his life, beginning with virgins from the remote north, with
white eye-lashes and hair the color of ripe wheat, and ending with
Numidians, black as lava; but he had not met hitherto such a figure, or
such a soul. And the oftener he saw her, the better he knew her, the
oftener it happened to him to hear her words, the more did amazement
increase in him. Sometimes he, who did not believe in the gods, thought
that Antea could not be the daughter of Timon, but of a god, hence only
half woman, and therefore half immortal.

And soon he loved her with a love unexpected, immense, irresistible, as
different from the feeling which he had known up to that time as Antea
was different from other women. He desired to love her only to do her
honor. Hence he was willing to give blood to possess her. He felt that
he would prefer to be a beggar with her than to be Cæsar without her.
And as a whirlpool of the sea sweeps away with irresistible might all
that comes within its circle, so Cinna's love swept away his soul, his
heart, his thoughts, his days, his nights, and everything out of which
life is composed.

Till at last it swept away Antea.

"_Tu felix_ (Thou art happy), Cinna!" said his friends.

"_Tu felix_, Cinna," said he to himself; and when at last he married
her, when her divine lips uttered the sacramental words, "Where thou
art, Caius, there am I, Caia," it seemed to him that his felicity was
like the sea,--inexhaustible and boundless.



CHAPTER V.


A year passed, and that young wife received at her domestic hearth
almost divine honor; to her husband she was the sight of his eyes, love,
wisdom, light. But Cinna, comparing his happiness with the sea, forgot
that the sea has its ebbs.

After a year Antea fell into an illness cruel and unknown. Her dreams
changed into terrible visions, which exhausted her life. In her face the
rays of light were quenched; there remained only the paleness of
mother-of-pearl. Her hands began to be transparent; her eyes sank deeply
under her forehead; and the rosy lotus became more and more a white
lotus, white as the face of the dead. It was noticed that falcons began
to circle above Cinna's house, which in Egypt was a herald of death. The
visions grew more and more terrible.

When at midday the sun filled the world with bright light, and the city
was buried in silence, it seemed to Antea that she heard around her the
quick steps of invisible beings, and in the depth of the air she saw a
dry, yellow, corpse-like face gazing with black eyes at her. Those eyes
gazed persistently, as if summoning her to go somewhere into a darkness
full of mysteries and dread. Then Antea's body began to tremble, as in a
fever; her forehead was covered with pallor, with drops of cold sweat;
and that honored priestess of the domestic hearth was changed into a
helpless and terrified child, who, hiding on her husband's breast,
repeated with pale lips,--

"Save me, O Caius! defend me!"

And Caius would have hurled himself at every spectre which Persephone
might send from the nether world, but in vain did he strain his eyes
into space round about. As is usual in midday hours, it was lonely.
White light filled the city; the sea seemed to burn in the sun, and in
the silence was heard only the calling of falcons circling above the
house.

The visions grew more and more frequent, and at last they came daily.
They pursued Antea in the interior of the house, as well as in the
atrium and the chambers. Cinna, by advice of physicians, brought in
Egyptian sambuka players, and Bedouins, blowing clay whistles; the
noisy music of these was to drown the sound made by the invisible
beings. But all this proved futile. Antea heard the sound amid the
greatest uproar; and when the sun became so high that a man's shadow was
near his feet, like a garment hanging from the arm, in the air quivering
from heat appeared the face of the corpse, and looking at Antea with
glassy eyes it moved away gradually, as if to say, "Follow me!"

Sometimes it seemed to Antea that the lips of the corpse moved slowly;
sometimes that black disgusting beetles came out from between them and
flew through the air toward her. At the very thought of that vision her
eyes were filled with terror, and at last life became such a dreadful
torture that she begged Cinna to hold a sword for her, or to let her
drink poison.

But he knew that he had not strength for the deed. With that very sword
he would have opened his own veins to serve Antea, but he could not take
her life. When he imagined that dear face of hers dead, with closed
eyes, filled with icy composure, and that breast opened with his sword,
he felt that he must go mad before he could kill her.

A certain Greek physician told him that Hecate appeared to Antea, and
that those invisible beings whose noise frightened the sick woman were
the attendants of the ominous divinity. According to him, there was no
salvation for Antea, for whoso has seen Hecate must die.

Then Cinna, who not long before would have laughed at faith in Hecate,
sacrificed a hecatomb to her. But the sacrifice was useless, and next
day the gloomy eyes were gazing at Antea about midday.

Attendants covered her head; but she saw the face even through the
thickest covering. Then they confined her in a dark room; the face
looked at her from the walls, illuminating the darkness with its pale
gleam of a corpse.

Every evening the sick woman grew better, and fell into such a deep
sleep that to Cinna and Timon it seemed more than once as though she
would not wake again. Soon she grew so weak that she could not walk
without assistance. She was borne about in a litter.

Cinna's former disquiet returned with a hundredfold greater force and
took complete possession of him. He was terrified regarding the life of
Antea; but there was also a wonderful feeling that her sickness was in
some way mysteriously connected with that of which he had spoken in his
first conversation with Timon. Perhaps the old sage had the same
thought; but Cinna would not ask him, and feared to talk concerning this
matter.

Meanwhile the sick woman withered like a flower in whose cup a poisonous
spider has settled.

But the despairing Cinna strove against hope to save her. First he took
her to the desert near Memphis; but when a stay in the quiet of the
pyramids gave no respite from the dreadful visions, he returned to
Alexandria and surrounded her with soothsayers, who professed to enchant
away diseases. He brought in from every kind of shameless rabble people
who exploited the credulity of mankind by marvellous medicines. But he
had no choice left, and snatched at every method.

At this time there came from Cæsarea a renowned physician, a Hebrew,
Joseph, son of Khuza. Cinna brought him at once to his wife, and for a
time hope returned to his heart. Joseph, who had no faith in Greek and
Roman gods, rejected contemptuously the opinion about Hecate. He
supposed it more likely that demons had entered the sick woman, and
advised Cinna to leave Egypt, where, in addition to demons, marshy
effluvia of the Delta might injure Antea. He advised also, perhaps
because he was a Hebrew, to go to Jerusalem,--a place where demons have
no entrance, and where the air is dry and wholesome.

Cinna followed this advice the more willingly,--first, because there was
no other, and second, because Jerusalem was governed by an acquaintance
of his, a procurator whose ancestors were formerly clients of the house
of Cinna.

In fact, when they came, the procurator, Pontius, received them with
open arms and gave them as dwelling his own summer residence, which
stood near the walls of the city. But Cinna's hope was swept away before
his arrival. The corpse-like face looked at Antea even on the deck of
the galley; on coming to the city the sick woman waited for midday with
the same deathly terror as on a time in Alexandria.

And so their days began to pass in oppression, despair, and fear of
death.



CHAPTER VI.


In the atrium, in spite of the fountain, the shady portico, and the
early hour, it was extremely hot, for the marble was heated by the
spring sun; but at a distance from the house there grew an old,
branching pistachio-tree, which shaded a considerable area round about.
As the place was open, the breeze there was far greater than elsewhere;
hence Cinna commanded to carry to that spot the litter, decked with
hyacinths and apple-blossoms, in which Antea was resting. Then sitting
near her, he placed his palm on her hands, which were as pale as
alabaster, and asked,--

"Is it pleasant for thee here, carissima?"

"Pleasant," answered she, in a scarcely audible voice.

And she closed her eyes, as if sleep had seized her. Silence followed.
Only the breeze moved with a rustling the branches of the
pistachio-tree; and on the earth around the litter were quivering golden
spots, formed of sun-rays, which broke through between the leaves;
locusts were hissing among the rocks.

The sick woman opened her eyes after a moment.

"Caius," said she, "is it true that in this country a philosopher has
appeared, who cures the sick?"

"They call such men prophets here," answered Cinna. "I have heard of
him, and I wished to bring him to thee, but it turned out that he was a
false miracle-worker. Besides, he blasphemed against the sanctuary and
the religion of this country; hence the procurator has delivered him to
death, and this very day he is to be crucified."

Antea dropped her head.

"Time will cure thee," said Cinna, seeing the sadness reflected on her
face.

"Time is at the service of death, not of life," answered she, slowly.

And again silence ensued; round about the golden spots quivered
continually; the locusts hissed still more loudly, and from the crannies
of the cliff little lizards crept out onto stones, and sought sunny
places.

Cinna looked from moment to moment at Antea, and for the thousandth
time despairing thoughts flew through his head. He felt that all means
of salvation had been spent, that there was no ray of hope, that soon
the dear form before him would become a vanishing shadow and a handful
of dust in a columbarium.

Even now while lying with closed eyes in the litter decked with flowers,
she seemed dead.

"I will follow thee!" said Cinna, in his soul.

Meanwhile steps were heard in the distance. Immediately Antea's face
became white as chalk; from between her half-open lips came hurried
breathing; her bosom heaved quickly. The ill-fated martyr felt sure that
the crowd of invisible beings which preceded the corpse with glassy eyes
were drawing near. Cinna seized her hands and strove to pacify her.

"Fear not, Antea; I hear those steps too. That is Pontius, who is coming
to visit us," added he, after a while. In fact, the procurator, attended
by two slaves, appeared at the turn of the path. He was a man no longer
young; he had an oval face carefully shaven, full of assumed dignity,
and also of suffering and care.

"A greeting to thee, noble Cinna, and to thee, divine Antea!" said he,
as he came under the shade of the pistachio-tree. "After a cold night
the day has grown hot. May it favor you both, and may the health of
Antea bloom like those hyacinths and those apple-tree twigs, which adorn
her litter."

"Peace be with thee, and be greeted!" answered Cinna.

The procurator seated himself on a piece of rock, looked at Antea,
frowned imperceptibly, and answered,--

"Loneliness produces sadness and sickness; but in the midst of crowds
there is no place for fear, hence I will give one advice to thee.
Unfortunately this is neither Antioch nor Cæsarea; there are no games
here, no horse-races; and were we to erect a circus, those madmen would
tear it down the next day. Here thou wilt hear nothing but this phrase,
'the law,' and everything disturbs that law. I would rather be in
Scythia."

"Of what dost thou wish to speak, O Pilate?"

"Indeed, I have wandered from my subject; but cares are the cause of
this. I have said that among crowds there is no room for fear. Now ye
can have a spectacle to-day. In Jerusalem, ye should be amused with
something; above all, Antea should be in the midst of crowds at midday.
Three men will die on the cross to-day; that is better than nothing!
Because of the Pasch a mob of the strangest ruffians has come from out
all this land to the city. Ye can look at those people. I will command
to give you a place apart near the crosses. I hope that the condemned
will die bravely. One of them is a marvellous person: he calls himself
the Son of God; he is as mild as a dove, and has really done nothing to
merit death."

"And didst thou condemn him to the cross?"

"I wanted to rid myself of trouble, and also avoid stirring up that nest
of hornets that buzz around the temple; even as it is, they send
complaints to Rome against me. Besides, the accused is not a Roman
citizen."

"The man will not suffer less for that reason."

The procurator made no answer, but after a while he began to speak, as
if to himself,--

"There is one thing that I do not like,--exaggeration. Whoever uses that
word before me takes away my cheerfulness for the day. The golden mean!
that is what wisdom commands us to follow, as I think. And there is not
a corner of the world in which that principle is less respected than
here. How all this tortures me! how it tortures me! In nothing is there
repose, in nothing balance,--neither in men nor in nature. At present,
for example, it is spring; the nights are cold; but during the day there
is such heat that it is difficult to walk on stones. It is long yet till
midday, and see what is happening! Of the people--better not speak! I am
here, because I must be here. Never mind that! I might leave my subject
a second time. Go to witness the crucifixion. I am convinced that that
Nazarene will die valiantly. I gave command to flog him, thinking in
that way to save him from death. I am not cruel. When he was lashed he
was as patient as a lamb, and he blessed the people. When he was covered
with blood, he raised his eyes and prayed. That is the most marvellous
person that I have seen in my life. My wife has not given me a moment
of peace because of him. 'Permit not the death of that innocent man!'
this is what she has been dinning into my ears since daybreak. I wanted
to save him. Twice I went to the bema and spoke to those priests and
that mangy rabble. They answered in one voice, raising their heads and
opening their jaws to the ears, 'Crucify him!'"

"Didst thou yield to them?" asked Cinna.

"I did, for in the city there would be mobs, and I am here to keep
peace. I must do my duty. I dislike exaggeration, and, besides, I am
mortally wearied; but when I undertake a thing, I do not hesitate to
sacrifice the life of one man for the general welfare, especially when
he is an unknown person whom no one will mention. All the worse for him
that he is not a Roman."

"The sun shines not on Rome alone," whispered Antea.

"Divine Antea," answered the procurator, "I might answer that on the
whole round of the earth the sun shines on Roman rule; therefore for the
good of that rule it is proper to sacrifice everything, and disturbances
undermine our authority. But, above all, I beg of thee not to ask me to
change the sentence. Cinna will tell thee that that cannot be, and that,
once sentence is pronounced, Cæsar alone can change it. Though I wished,
I have not the power to change. Is that not the case, Caius?"

"It is."

But those words caused Antea evident pain, for she said, thinking of
herself, perhaps,--

"Then it is possible to suffer and die without being guilty."

"No one is without guilt," answered Pontius. "This Nazarene has
committed no crime; hence I, as procurator, washed my hands. But as a
man, I condemn his teaching. I conversed with him purposely rather long,
wishing to test the man, and convinced myself that he announces
monstrous things. The case is difficult! The world must stand on sound
sense. Who denies that virtue is needed? Certainly not I. But even the
Stoics only teach men to endure opposition with calmness; they do not
insist that we should renounce everything, from our property to our
dinner. Answer, Cinna,--thou art a man of sound judgment,--what wouldst
thou think of me were I, neither from one cause nor another, to bestow
this house in which thou art dwelling on those tattered fellows who warm
themselves in the sun at the Joppa gate? And he insists on just such
things. Besides, he says that we should love all equally: the Jews as
well as the Romans themselves, the Romans as the Egyptians, the
Egyptians as the Africans, and so on. I confess that I have had enough
of this. At the moment when his life is in peril, he bears himself as if
the question were of some one else; he teaches--and prays. It is not my
duty to save a man who has no care for his own safety. Whoso does not
know how to preserve measure in anything is not a man of judgment.
Moreover, he calls himself the Son of God, and disturbs the foundations
on which society rests, and therefore harms people. Let him think what
he likes in his soul, if he will not raise disturbance. As a man, I
protest against his teaching. If I do not believe in the gods, let us
concede that it is my affair. Still I recognize the use of religion, and
I declare so publicly, for I judge that religion is a curb on people.
Horses must be harnessed, and harnessed securely. Finally, death should
not be terrible to that Nazarene, for he declares that he will rise from
the dead."

Cinna and Antea looked at each other with amazement.

"That he will rise from the dead?"

"Neither more nor less; after three days. So at least his disciples
declare. I forgot to ask him myself. For that matter, it is all one,
since death liberates a man from promises. And even should he not rise
from the dead, he will lose nothing, since, according to his teaching,
genuine happiness and eternal life begin only after death. He speaks of
this, indeed, as a man perfectly certain. In his Hades it is brighter
than in the world under the sun, and whoso suffers more in this world
will enter that with greater certainty; he must only love, and love, and
love."

"A wonderful doctrine," said Antea.

"And these people here cry to thee, 'Crucify him!'?" inquired Cinna.

"And I do not even wonder at this, for hatred is the soul of this
people, for what, if not hatred, can demand that love be crucified?"

Antea rubbed her forehead with her emaciated hand.

"And is he certain that it is possible to live and be happy after
death?"

"That is why neither the cross nor death terrify him."

"How good that would be, Caius!"

"How does he know this?" inquired she, after a while.

The procurator waved his hand: "He says that he knows it from the Father
of all, who for the Jews is the same as Jove for us, with this
difference, that, according to the Nazarene, the Father alone is one and
merciful."

"How good that would be, Caius!" repeated the sick woman.

Cinna opened his lips as if to make some answer, but remained silent;
and the conversation stopped. Evidently Pontius was continuing to think
of the strange doctrine of the Nazarene, for he shook his head and
shrugged his shoulders repeatedly. At last he rose and began to take
leave.

All at once Antea said,--

"Caius, let us go to look at that Nazarene."

"Hasten," said Pilate, as he was going away; "the procession will move
soon."



CHAPTER VII.


The day, hot and bright from early morning, was obscured about midday.
From the northeast clouds were rolling up, either dark or
copper-colored, not over large, but dense, as if pregnant with a
tempest. Between them the deep blue of the sky was still visible, but it
was easy to foresee that they would soon pack together and conceal the
whole round of the sky. Meanwhile the sun covered the edges of them with
fire and gold. Over the city itself and the adjacent hills there
extended yet a broad space of clear blue, and in the valley there was no
breath of wind.

On the lofty platform of ground called Golgotha stood here and there
small groups of people who had preceded the procession which was to move
from the city. The sun illuminated broad, stony spaces, which were
empty, gloomy, and barren; their monotonous pearl-color was interrupted
only by the black net of ravines and gullies, the blacker because the
platform itself was covered with light. In the distance were visible
more elevated eminences, equally empty, veiled by the blue haze of
distance.

Lower down, between the walls of the city and the platform of Golgotha,
lay a plain bordered in places with cliffs less naked. From crannies in
which had collected some little fertile earth, fig-trees peeped forth
with few and scant leaves. Here and there rose flat-roofed buildings
fixed to the cliff-side, like swallows' nests to stone walls, or shining
from afar in the sun-rays were sepulchres, painted white. At present,
because of the approaching holidays and the concourse of provincials in
the capital, multitudes of huts and tents had been raised near the city
walls; these formed whole encampments filled with men and camels.

The sun rose ever higher on that expanse of heaven which was still free
from clouds. The hours were approaching in which usually deep silence
reigned on those heights, for every living creature sought refuge inside
the walls or within the ravines. And even at this time, in spite of
uncommon animation, there was a certain sadness in that neighborhood in
which the dazzling light fell not on green, but on gray stone expanses.
The noise of distant voices, coming from the direction of the walls, was
changed into the sound of waves, as it were, and seemed to be swallowed
by the silence.

The single groups of people waiting on Golgotha since morning turned
their faces toward the city, whence the procession might move at any
moment. Antea's litter arrived; a few soldiers, sent by the procurator,
preceded it. These were to open a way through the multitude, and in case
of need restrain from deeds of disrespect the fanatical throng, and
those who hated foreigners. At the side of the litter walked Cinna, in
company with the centurion Rufilus.

Antea was calmer, less frightened than usual at the approach of midday,
and with it the terror of dreadful visions, which had drawn the life out
of her. What the procurator had said touching the young Nazarene, had
attracted her mind and turned attention from her own misery. For her
there was in this something wonderful which she could hardly understand.
The world of that time had seen many persons die as calmly as a funeral
pile quenches when the fuel in it is consumed. But that was a calmness
coming from bravery, or from a philosophic agreement with the implacable
necessity of exchanging light for darkness, real life for an existence
misty, vanishing, and indefinite. No one up to that time had blessed
death; no one had died with unshaken certainty that only after the
funeral pyre or the grave would real life begin,--life as mighty and
endless as only a being all-powerful and eternal can give.

And he whom they had appointed for crucifixion declared this as an
undoubted truth. This teaching not only struck Antea, but seemed to her
the only source of consolation. She knew that she must die, and immense
regret seized her. For what did death mean for her? It meant to lose
Cinna, to lose her father, to lose the world, to lose love, for a cold,
empty gloom, which was half nothing. Hence the more desirable it was for
her in life, the greater must be her sorrow. If death could be good for
anything, or if it were possible to take with her even the remembrance
of love, or the memory of happiness, she would be able to gain
resignation the more quickly.

Then, while she expected nothing from death, she heard all at once that
it could give everything. And who had made that announcement? A certain
wonderful man, a teacher, a prophet, a philosopher, who enjoined love as
the highest virtue, who blessed people when they were lashing him; and
this man they had condemned to the cross. Hence Antea thought: "Why did
he teach thus if the cross was his only reward? Others desired power; he
did not desire it. Others desired wealth; he remained poor. Others
desired palaces, feasts, excesses, purple robes, and chariots inlaid
with mother-of-pearl and ivory; he lived like a shepherd. Meanwhile he
enjoined love, compassion, poverty; therefore he could not be malicious
and deceive people purposely. If he spoke the truth, let death be
blessed as the end of earthly misery, as the change from a lower to a
loftier happiness, as light for eyes that are quenching, as wings with
which one flies away into endless bliss!"

Antea understood then what the promise of resurrection signified. The
mind and heart of the poor sick woman cleaved with all their strength to
that teaching. She recalled also the words of her father, who had
repeated more than once that some new truth might bring the tortured
soul of man out of darkness and imprisonment. And here was the new
truth! It had conquered death; hence it had brought salvation. Antea
sank with her whole being in those thoughts; so that for many and many a
day Cinna for the first time failed to find terror in her face at the
approach of midday.

The procession moved at last from the city toward Golgotha. From the
height where Antea was sitting, it could be seen perfectly. The crowd,
though considerable, seemed lost on those stony expanses. Through the
open gate of Jerusalem flowed more and more people, and on the way they
were joined by those who had been waiting outside the walls. They went
at first in a long line, which, as it moved forward, spread like a
swollen river. At both sides were running swarms of children.

The procession was made varied and many-colored by the white tunics and
the scarlet and blue kerchiefs of women. In the centre were glittering
the arms and spears of Roman soldiers, on which the sun cast fleeting
rays, as it were. The uproar of mingled voices came from afar and rose
with increasing distinctness.

At last the multitude came quite near; the first ranks began to ascend
the height. The throng of people hurried on so as to occupy the nearest
places and see the torment more clearly; because of this the division of
soldiers, conducting the condemned, fell more and more toward the rear.
Children arrived first, mainly boys, half naked, with cloths fastened
around their hips, with shaven heads, except two tufts of hair near the
temple, embrowned, with eyes almost blue, and harsh voices. In the wild
uproar they fell to pulling out of the crannies bits of stone broken
from the cliffs; these they wished to throw at those who were to be
crucified. Right after them the height swarmed with a nondescript
rabble. Their faces were for the greater part excited by the movement
and by the hope of a spectacle. On no face was there a sign of
compassion. The noise of rasping voices, the endless number of words
thrown out by each mouth, the suddenness of their movements, astonished
Antea, though accustomed in Alexandria to the word-loving liveliness of
Greeks. Before her, people spoke as if they wished to hurl themselves at
one another. They screamed as if escaping death; they resisted as if
some one were flaying them.

The centurion Rufilus, approaching the litter, gave explanations in a
calm, official voice. Meanwhile new waves flowed up from the city. The
throng increased every moment. In the crowd were seen wealthy men of
Jerusalem, dressed in girded tunics, holding themselves aloof from the
wretched rabble of the suburbs. In numbers also came villagers which the
festival had brought to the city, with their families; field-workers,
with kindly and astonished faces, came, bearing bags at their girdles;
shepherds came, dressed in goat-skins. Crowds of women came with the
men; but as wives of the more wealthy citizens did not leave their homes
willingly, these women were chiefly of the people. They were villagers,
or women of the street; these last dressed gaudily, had dyed hair,
brows, and nails; they wore immense ear-rings and coin necklaces, and
gave out from a distance the odor of nard.

The Sanhedrim arrived at last; and in the midst of it, Annas, an aged
man with the face of a vulture and eyes with red lids; then appeared the
unwieldy Caiaphas, wearing a two-horned hat, with a gilded tablet on his
breast. With these walked various Pharisees; as, for instance, those who
"drag their legs" and strike every obstacle purposely with their feet;
Pharisees with "bloody foreheads," who beat those foreheads against the
wall, also by design; and Pharisees "bent over," as if to receive the
burden of the sins of the whole city on their shoulders. Gloomy
importance and cold vindictiveness distinguished them from the noisy
rabble.

Cinna looked at this throng of people with the cool, contemptuous visage
of a man of the ruling race, Antea with astonishment and fear. Many Jews
inhabited Alexandria, but there they were half Hellenized; here for the
first time she saw Jews as the procurator had described them, and as
they were in their own native nest. Her youthful face, on which death
had imprinted its stamp, her form, resembling a shadow, attracted
general attention. They stared at her with insolence in so far as the
soldiers surrounding her litter permitted them; and so great among them
was contempt for foreigners that no compassion was evident in the eyes
of any; rather did gladness shine in them because the victim would not
escape death. Then the daughter of Timon understood for the first time,
and precisely, why those people demanded a cross for the prophet who had
proclaimed love.

And all at once that Nazarene appeared to Antea as some one so near that
he was almost dear to her. He had to die, and so had she. Nothing could
save him now, after the issuing of the sentence, and sentence had fallen
also on her; hence it seemed to Antea that the brotherhood of misfortune
and death had united them. But he approached the cross with faith in a
morrow after death. She had not that faith yet, and had come to obtain
it from the sight of him.

Meanwhile from afar was heard an uproar, a whistling, a howling, then
all was silent. Next came clatter of weapons and the heavy tread of
legionaries. The crowds swayed, opened, and the division conducting the
condemned began to push past the litter. In front, at both sides, and
behind, advanced soldiers with slow and measured tread. Next were three
arms of crosses, which seemed to move of themselves; they were borne by
persons bent under the weight of them. It was easy to divine that the
Nazarene was not among those three, for two had the insolent faces of
thieves. The third was a simple countryman, no longer young; clearly the
soldiers had impressed him to do work for another.

The Nazarene walked behind the crosses; two soldiers marched near him.
He wore a purple mantle thrown over his garments, and a crown of thorns,
from under the points of which drops of blood issued; of these some
flowed slowly along his face, others had grown stiff under the crown, in
the form of berries of the wild rose, or coral beads. He was pale, and
moved forward with slow, unsteady, and weakened step. He advanced amid
insults from the multitude, sunk, as it were, in the meditation of
another world; he was as if seized away from the earth altogether, as if
not caring for the cries of hatred, or as if forgiving beyond the
measure of human forgiveness and compassionate beyond the measure of
human compassion, for, embraced now by infinity, raised above human
estimate, he was exceedingly mild, and was sorrowful only through his
measureless sorrow for all men.

"Thou art Truth," whispered Antea, with trembling lips.

The retinue was passing just near the litter. It halted for a moment
while soldiers in front were clearing the road of the throng; Antea saw
then the Nazarene a few steps away. She saw the breeze move his hair;
she saw the ruddy reflection from his mantle on his pallid and almost
transparent face. The mob, rushing toward him, surrounded with a dense
half-circle the soldiers, who had to resist with spears, to save him
from their rage. Everywhere were visible outstretched arms with clinched
fists, eyes bursting through their lids, gleaming teeth, beards thrown
apart from mad movements, and foaming lips through which came hoarse
shouts. But he looked around, as if wishing to ask, "What have I done to
you?" then he raised his eyes to heaven and prayed--and forgave.

"Antea! Antea!" cried Cinna at that moment.

But Antea seemed not to hear his cries. Great tears were falling from
her eyes; she forgot her sickness, forgot that for many days she had not
risen from the litter; and sitting up on a sudden, trembling, half
conscious, from pity, compassion, and indignation at the mad shrieks of
the multitude, she took hyacinths with apple blossoms and cast them
before the feet of the Nazarene.

For a moment there was silence. Amazement seized the crowd at sight of
this noble Roman lady giving honor to the condemned. He turned his eyes
to her poor sick face, and his lips began to move, as if blessing her.
Antea fell again on the pillow of the litter; she felt that a sea of
light, of goodness, of grace, of consolation, of hope, of happiness, was
falling on her.

"Thou art Truth," whispered she, a second time.

Then a new wave of tears came to her eyes.

But they pushed him forward to a place a few tens of steps distant from
the litter; on that place stood already the uprights of crosses, fixed
in a cleft of the rocky platform. The crowd concealed him again; but,
since that place was elevated considerably, Antea soon saw his pale face
and the crown of thorns. The legionaries turned once more toward the
rabble, which they clubbed away, lest it might interrupt the execution.
They began then to fasten the two thieves to the side crosses. The
third cross stood in the middle; to the top of it was fastened, with a
nail, a white card which the growing wind pulled and raised. When
soldiers, approaching the Nazarene at last, began to undress him, shouts
rose in the crowds: "King! king! do not yield! King, where are thy
legions? Defend thyself!" At moments laughter burst forth,--laughter
that bore away the multitude till on a sudden the whole stony height
resounded with one roar. Then they stretched him face upward on the
ground, to nail his hands to the arms of the cross, and raise him
afterward with it to the main pillar.

Thereupon some man, in a white tunic, standing not far from the litter,
cast himself on the earth suddenly, gathered dust and bits of stone on
his head, and cried in a shrill despairing voice, "I was a leper, and
he cured me; why do ye crucify him?"

Antea's face became white as a kerchief.

"He cured that man; dost hear, Caius?" said she.

"Dost wish to return?" asked Cinna.

"No! I will remain here!"

But a wild and boundless despair seized Cinna because he had not called
the Nazarene to his house to cure Antea.

At that moment the soldiers, placing nails at his hands, began to
strike. The dull clink of iron against iron was heard; this soon changed
into a sound which went farther, for the points of the nails, having
passed through flesh, entered the wood. The crowds were silent again,
perhaps to enjoy cries which torture might bring from the mouth of the
Nazarene. But he remained silent, and on the height was heard only the
ominous and dreadful sound of the hammers.

At last they had finished the work, and the cross-piece was drawn up,
with the body. The centurion in charge pronounced, or rather sang out
monotonously, words of command, in virtue of which a soldier began to
nail the feet.

At this moment those clouds, which since morning had been extending on
the horizon, hid the sun. The distant hills and cliffs, which had been
gleaming in brightness, gleamed no longer. The light turned to darkness.
An ominous bronze-colored gloom seized the region about, and, as the
sun sank more deeply behind piles of clouds, the gloom became denser.
Men might have thought that some being from above was sifting down to
the earth lurid darkness. The air now grew sultry.

All at once even those remnants of lurid gleams became black. Clouds,
dark as night, rolled and pushed forward, like a gigantic wave, toward
the height and the city. A tempest was coming! The world was filled with
fear.

"Let us return!" said Cinna again.

"Once more, once more, I wish to see him," answered Antea.

Darkness had concealed the hanging bodies. Cinna gave command to carry
the litter nearer the place of torment. They carried it so near that
barely a few steps were between them and the cross. On the dark tree
they saw the body of the Crucified, who in that general eclipse seemed
made of silver rays of the moon. His breast rose with quick breathing.
His face and eyes were turned upward yet.

Then from the rolls of clouds was heard a deep rumbling. Thunder was
roused; it rose and rolled with tremendous report from the east to the
west, and then falling, as if into a bottomless abyss, was heard farther
and farther down, now dying away, and now increasing; at last it roared
till the earth shook in its foundations.

A gigantic blue lightning-flash rent the clouds, lighted the sky, the
earth, the crosses, the arms of the soldiers, and the mob huddled
together, like a flock of sheep, filled with distress and terror.

After the lightning came deeper darkness. Close to the litter was heard
the sobbing of women, who also drew near the cross. There was something
ominous in this sobbing amid silence. Those who were lost in the
multitude began now to cry out. Here and there were heard terrified
voices,--

"O Yah! oj lanu! [woe to us!] O Yah! Have they not crucified the Just
One?"

"Who gave true testimony! O Yah!"

"Who raised the dead!"

And another voice called,--

"Woe to thee, Jerusalem!"

Still another,--

"The earth trembles!"

A new lightning-flash disclosed the depths of the sky, and in them
gigantic figures of fire, as it were. The voices were silent, or rather
were lost in the whistling of the whirlwind, which sprang up all at once
with tremendous force; it swept off a multitude of mantles and
kerchiefs, and hurled them away over the height.

Voices cried out anew,--

"The earth trembles!"

Some began to flee. Terror nailed others to the spot; and they stood
fixed in amazement, without thought, with this dull impression
only,--that something awful was happening.

But, on a sudden, the gloom began to be less dense. Wind rolled the
clouds over, twisted and tore them like rotten rags; brightness
increased gradually. At last the dark ceiling was rent, and through the
opening rushed in all at once a torrent of sunlight; presently the
heights became visible, and with them the crosses and the terrified
faces of the people.

The head of the Nazarene had fallen low on his breast; it was as pale as
wax; his eyes were closed, his lips blue.

"He is dead," whispered Antea.

"He is dead," repeated Cinna.

At this moment a centurion thrust his spear into the side of the dead. A
wonderful thing: the return of light and the sight of that death seemed
to appease that crowd. They pushed nearer and nearer, especially since
the soldiers did not bar approach. Among the throng were heard
voices,--

"Come down from the cross! Come down from the cross!"

Antea cast her eyes once more on that low-hanging head, then she said,
as if to herself,--

"Will he rise from the dead?"

In view of death, which had put blue spots on his eyes and mouth, in
view of those arms stretched beyond measure, and in view of that
motionless body which had settled down with the weight of dead things,
her voice trembled with despairing doubt.

Not less was the disappointment rending Cinna's soul. He also believed
not that the Nazarene would rise from the dead; but he believed that had
he lived, he alone, with his power, good or evil, might have given
health to Antea. Meanwhile more numerous voices were calling,--

"Come down from the cross! Come down from the cross!"

"Come down!" repeated Cinna, with despair. "Cure her for me; take my
life!"

The air became purer and purer. The mountains were still in mist, but
above the height and the city the sky had cleared perfectly. "Turris
Antonia" glittered in sunlight as bright itself as the sun. The air had
become fresh, and was full of swallows. Cinna gave command to return.

It was an afternoon hour. Near the house Antea said,--

"Hecate has not come to-day."

Cinna also was thinking of that.



CHAPTER VIII.


The vision did not appear the next day. The sick woman was unusually
animated, for Timon had come from Cæsarea. Alarmed for the life of his
daughter and frightened by Cinna's letters, he had left Alexandria a few
days earlier to look once again on his only child before her parting. At
Cinna's heart hope began to knock again, as if to give notice to receive
it. But he had not courage to open the door to that guest; he did not
dare to harbor hope.

In the visions which had been killing Antea, there had been intervals,
it is true, not of two days, but of one in Alexandria, and in the
desert. The present relief Cinna attributed to Timon's arrival, and her
impressions at the cross, which so filled the sick woman's soul that she
could talk of nothing else, even with her father.

Timon listened with attention; he did not contradict; he meditated and
merely inquired carefully about the doctrine of the Nazarene, of which
Antea knew, for that matter, only what the procurator had told her.

In general she felt healthier and somewhat stronger; and when midday had
passed and gone, real solace shone in her eyes. She repeated that that
was a favorable day, and begged her husband to make note of it.

The day was really sad and gloomy. Rain had begun in the early morning,
at first very heavy, then fine and cutting, from low clouds which
extended monotonously. Only in the evening did the sky break through,
and the great fiery globe of the sun look out of the mists, paint in
purple and gold the gray rocks, the white marble porticoes of the
villas, and descend with endless gleams toward the Mediterranean.

The next morning was wonderfully beautiful. The weather promised to be
warm, but the morning was fresh, the sky without a spot, and the earth
so sunk in a blue bath that all objects seemed blue. Antea had given
directions to bear her out and place her under the favorite
pistachio-tree, so that from the elevation on which the tree stood she
might delight herself with the view of the blue and gladsome distance.

Cinna and Timon did not move a step from the litter, and watched the
face of the sick woman carefully. There was in it a certain alarm of
expectation, but it was not that mortal fear which used to seize her at
the approach of midday. Her eyes cast a more lively light, and her
cheeks bloomed with a slight flush. Cinna thought indeed at moments that
Antea might recover; and at this thought he wanted to throw himself on
the ground, to sob from delight, and bless the gods. Then again he
feared that that was perhaps the last gleam of the dying lamp. Wishing
to gain hope from some source, he glanced every little while at Timon;
but similar thoughts must have been passing through his head, for he
avoided Cinna's glances. None of the three mentioned by a word that
midday was near. But Cinna, casting his eyes every moment at the
shadows, saw with beating heart that they were growing shorter and
shorter.

And he sat as if sunk in thought. Perhaps the least alarmed was Antea
herself. Lying in the open litter, her head rested on a purple pillow;
she breathed with delight that pure air which the breeze brought from
the west, from the distant sea. But before midday the breeze had ceased
to blow. The heat increased; warmed by the sun, the pepperwort of the
cliffs and the thickets of nard began to give out a strong and
intoxicating odor. Bright butterflies balanced themselves over bunches
of anemones. From the crevices of the rocks little lizards, already
accustomed to that litter and those people, sprang out, one after the
other, confident as usual, and also cautious in every movement. The
whole world was enjoying that serene peace, that warmth, that calm
sweetness and azure drowsiness.

Timon and Cinna seemed also to dissolve in that sunny rest. The sick
woman closed her eyes as if a light sleep had seized her; and nothing
interrupted that silence except sighs, which from time to time raised
her breast.

Meanwhile Cinna noticed that his shadow had lost its lengthened form and
was lying there under his feet.

It was midday.

All at once Antea opened her eyes and called out in a kind of strange
voice,--

"Caius, give me thy hand."

He sprang up, and all the blood was stiffened to ice in his heart. The
hour of terrible visions had come.

Her eyes opened wider and wider.

"Dost thou see," said she, "how light collects there and binds the air;
how it trembles, glitters, and approaches me?"

"Antea, look not in that direction!" cried Cinna.

But, oh, wonder! there was no fear on her face. Her lips were parted;
her eyes were gazing, and opening wider and wider; a certain
immeasurable delight began to brighten her face.

"The pillar of light approaches me," said she. "See! that is he; that is
the Nazarene!--he is smiling. O Mild! O Merciful! The transfixed hands
he stretches out like a mother to me. Caius, he brings me health,
salvation, and calls me to himself."

Cinna grew very pale, and said,--

"Whithersoever he calls us, let us follow him."

       *       *       *       *       *

A moment later, on the other side, on the stony path leading to the
city, appeared Pontius Pilate. Before he had come near, it was evident
from his face that he was bringing news, which, as a man of judgment, he
considered a fresh, absurd invention of the ignorant and credulous
rabble. In fact, while still at some distance, he began to call, wiping
perspiration from his brow,--

"Imagine to thyself, they declare that he has risen from the dead!"



FOOTNOTES:

[1] Styx.





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