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Title: The Emperor — Volume 05
Author: Ebers, Georg
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 "The Emperor — Volume 05" ***

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THE EMPEROR, Part 1.

By Georg Ebers

Volume 5.



CHAPTER XIX.

Plutarch was one of the richest citizens of Alexandria, and the owner of
the papyrus manufactory where Selene and Arsinoe worked; and he had of
his own free will offered to provide for the "suitable" entertainment of
the wives and daughters of his fellow-citizens, who were, this very day,
to assemble in one of the smaller theatres of the city.  Every one that
knew him,  knew too that "suitable" with  him  meant as much as to say
imperial splendor.

The ship-builder's daughter had prepared Arsinoe for grand doings,
but by the time she had reached the entrance only of the theatre her
expectations were exceeded, for as soon as she gave her father's name and
her own, a boy, who looked out from an arbor of flowers gave her a
magnificent bunch of flowers, and another, who sat perched on a dolphin,
handed her, as a ticket of admission, a finely-cut ornament of ivory
mounted in gold, with a pin, by which the invited owner was intended to
fix it like a brooch in her peplum; and at each entrance to the theatre,
the ladies, as they came in, had a similar present made them.

The passage leading to the auditorium was full of perfume, and Arsinoe,
who had already visited this theatre two or three times, hardly
recognized it, it was so gaily decorated with colored scarfs.  And who
had ever seen ladies and young girls filling the best places instead of
men, as was the case to-day?  Indeed the citizens' daughters were in
general not permitted to see a theatrical performance at all, unless on
very special and exceptional occasions.  She looked up with a smile at
the empty topmost rows of the cheapest seats of the semicircular
auditorium, as one looks at an old playfellow one had outgrown by a head,
for it was there--when she had occasionally been permitted to dip into
their scanty common purse--that she had almost fainted many a time, with
pleasure, fear, or sympathy, though the draught so high up and under the
open heaven which was the only roof, was incessantly blowing; and in
summer the discomforts were even greater from the awning which shaded the
amphitheatre on the sunny side.  The wide breadths of canvas were managed
by means of stout ropes, and when these were pulled through the rings
they rode in, they made a screech which compelled the bearer to stop his
ears; and often it was necessary to duck his head not to be hit by the
heavy ropes or by the awning itself.  But Arsinoe only remembered these
things to-day as a butterfly sporting in the sun may remember the hideous
pupa-case that it has burst and left behind it.

Radiant with happy excitement, she was led to her seat with her young
companion, the black-haired daughter of the shipwright.  She perceived
indeed that numerous eyes turned upon her, but that only added to her
pleasure, for she knew that she could well bear looking at, and there
could be no greater pleasure, as she thought, than to give pleasure to a
multitude.

To-day at any rate!  For those who were looking at her were the chief
citizens of Alexandria; they stood on the stage, and among them stood
kind tall Pollux, waving his hand to her.  She could not keep her feet
quiet, but she did contrive to keep her arms still by crossing them in
front of her, so that they might not betray how excited she was.

This distribution of parts had already begun, for, by waiting for Selene,
she had come in almost half an hour too late.  As soon as she saw that
the eyes that had been attracted to herself as she entered the theatre
had turned to other objects she herself looked round her.  She was
sitting on a bench at the lowest and narrowest end of one of the wedge-
shaped sections of seats, which grew wider at the upper end, and which
were divided from each other by gangways for those who came and went,
thus forming the semicircular area of the auditorium.

Here she was surrounded only by young girls and women who were to have a
part or place in the performances.  The places for these interested
persons were divided from the stage by a space for the orchestra, whence
the stage was easily reached by steps up which the chorus were wont to
mount to it.

Behind Arsinoe, in the larger circular rows, sat the parents and husbands
of the performers, among whom Keraunus, in his saffron robe, had taken a
place, besides a considerable number of sight-loving matrons and older
citizens who had accepted Plutarch's invitation.

Among the young women and girls Arsinoe saw several whose beauty struck
her, but she admired them ungrudgingly, and it never came into her head
to compare herself with them, for she knew very accurately that she was
pretty, and that even here she had nothing to conceal, and this was
enough for her.

The many-voiced hum which incessantly buzzed in her ears, and the perfume
which rose from the attar in the orchestra had something intoxicating in
them.  Her gaze round the assembled multitude could not disturb any one,
and her companion had found some friends with whom she was chattering and
laughing.  Other ladies and young girls sat staring silently in front of
them, or studying the appearance of the rest of the audience, male and
female; while others again concentrated their whole attention on the
stage.  Arsinoe soon followed this example, nor was this solely on
account of Pollux who, by the prefect's orders, had been enlisted among
the artists to whom the arrangement of the display was entrusted, in
spite of the objections of his master Papias.  More than once before had
she seen the afternoon sun shine as brightly into the theatre as it did
to-day, and the blue sky overarching it without a cloud, but with what
different feelings did she now direct her gaze to the raised level behind
the orchestra.  The background, it is true, was the same as usual, the
pillared front of a palace built entirely of colored marbles, and
ornamented with gold; but on this occasion fresh garlands of fragrant
flowers hung gracefully between the pilasters and across from column to
column.  Several artists, the first of the city, with tablets and styla
in their hands were moving about among fifty girls and ladies, and
Plutarch himself, and the gentlemen with him, composed, as it were a
grand chorus which sometimes divided, and sometimes stood all together.

On the right side of the stage were three purple-covered couches.  On one
of them sat Titianus, the prefect, who, like the artists, used his
pencil; with him was his wife Julia.  On another reclined Verus, at full
length, and as usual, crowned with roses; the third was for Plutarch, but
was unoccupied.  The praetor did not hesitate to interrupt any speaker,
as though he were the host of the entertainment, and many of his remarks
were followed by loud applause, or approving laughter.

The face and figure of the wealthy Plutarch, which could never be
forgotten, were not altogether strange to Arsinoe, for, a few days
previously he had shown himself for the first time in many years in his
papyrus factory, with an architect to settle with him how the courts and
rooms could best be cleaned and decorated for the reception of the
Emperor; and on this occasion he had gone into the room where she worked
and had pinched her cheek with a few roguish and flattering words.

There he was, walking across the stage.  He was an old man, said to be
about seventy years of age, his legs were half-paralyzed, and they
nevertheless moved with a series of incessant and rapid but unvoluntary
jerks under his heavy bowed body, and he was supported on either hand by
a tall young fellow.  His nobly-formed head, must have been in his youth,
of extraordinary beauty.  Now his head was covered by a wig of long brown
hair, his eyebrows and lashes were darkly dyed, his cheeks daubed with
red and white paint, which gave his countenance a fixed expression, as if
he had been stricken in the very act of smiling.  On his curls he wore a
wreath of rare flowers in long racemes.  An abundance of red and white
roses stuck out from the front folds of his ample toga, and were held in
their place by gold brooches, sparkling with precious stones of large
size.  The hems of his mantle were all edged with rose-buds, and each was
fastened in with an emerald that shone like some bright insect.  The
young men who supported him seemed like a portion of himself; he took no
more heed of them than if they had been crutches, and they needed not
command to tell them where he wished to go, where to stand still, and
where to rest.

At a distance his face was like that of a youth, but seen close it looked
like a painted plaster mask, with regular features and large movable
eyes.

Favorinus, the sophist, had said of him that one might cry over his
handsome locomotive corpse, if one were not obliged to laugh at it, and
it was said that he had himself declared that he would force his
faithless youth to remain with him.  The Alexandrians called him the
Adonis with six legs, on account of the lads who supported him, and
without whom no one ever saw him and who always accompanied him when he
went out.  The first time he heard this nickname he remarked: "They had
better have called me sixhanded;" and in fact he had a thoroughly good
heart, he was liberal and benevolent, took fatherly care of his work-
people, treated his slaves well, enriched those whom he set free, and
from time to time distributed large sums among the people in money and
in grain.

Arsinoe looked compassionately on the poor old man who could not buy back
his youth with all his money and all his art.

In the supercilious man who at once came up to Plutarch she recognized
the art-dealer Gabinius to whom her father had shown the door, on account
of the mosaic picture in their sitting-room, but their conversation was
interrupted, for the distribution of the women's part for the group of
Alexander's entry into Babylon, was now about to take place; about fifty
girls and young women were sent away from the stage and went down into
the orchestra.  The Exegetes, the highest official in the town, now came
forward and took a new list out of the hand of Papias the sculptor.
After rapidly casting an eye on this, he handed it to a herald who
followed him, who proclaimed to all the assembly:

"In the name of the most noble Exegetes I request your attention, all you
ladies here assembled, the wives and daughters of Macedonians and of
Roman citizens.  We now come to a distribution of the characters in our
representation of the life and history of the great Macedonian, of the
'Marriage of Alexander and Roxana,' and I hereby request those among you
to come upon the stage whom our artists have selected to take part in
this scene in the procession."  After this exordium he shouted in a deep
and resonant voice a long list of names, and while this was going on
every other sound was hushed in the wide amphitheatre.

Even on the stage all was still; only Verus whispered a few remarks to
Titianus, and the curiosity-dealer spoke into Plutarch's ear, long
sentences with the stringent emphasis which was peculiar to him; and the
old man answered sometimes with an assenting nod, and sometimes with a
deprecatory motion of his hands.

Arsinoe listened with suspended breath to the herald's proclamation; she
started and colored all over, with her eyes fixed on the bunch of flowers
in her hand, when she heard from the stage loudly uttered and plain to be
heard by all present:

"Arsinoe, the second daughter of Keraunus, the Macedonian and a Roman
citizen."

The ship-builder's daughter had already been called before her, and had
immediately left her seat, but Arsinoe waited modestly till some older
ladies rose.  She then joined them and went among the last members of the
little procession which went down to the orchestra and from thence up the
steps for the chorus, on to the stage.

There the ladies and young girls were placed in two ranks, and looked at
with amiable consideration by the artists.  Arsinoe was not long in
perceiving that these gentlemen looked at her longer and more often than
at the others; and then, after the masters of the festival had gone aside
in groups to discuss the matter they looked at her constantly and were
talking, she felt sure, about her.  Nor did it escape her that she had
become the centre of many glances from the lookers-on who were sitting in
the theatre, and it occurred to her that on several sides people were
pointing at her with their fingers.  She did not know which way she
should look and began to feel bashful; still she was pleased at being
remarked by so many people, and as she stood looking at the ground out of
sheer embarrassment to hide the delight she felt, Verus, who had gone up
to the group of artists, called out, putting his hand on the prefect's
arm.

"Charming-charming! a Roxana that might have sprung straight out of the
picture."

Arsinoe heard these words, and guessing that they referred to her she
became more confused than ever, while her awkward smile gradually changed
to an expression of joyful but anxious expectation of a delight which was
almost painful in its magnitude.

Now one of the artists pronounced her name, and as she ventured to raise
her eyes to see if it were not Pollux who had spoken, she observed the
wealthy Plutarch who, with his two living crutches and Gabinius, the lean
curiosity-dealer, was inspecting the ranks of her companions.  Presently
he had come quite close to her, and as he was helped towards her with
tottering steps, he dug the dealer in the ribs and said, kissing the back
of his hand, and winking his great eyes: "I know--I know!  It is not
easily forgotten.  Ivory and red coral!"

Arsinoe started, the blood left her cheeks, and all satisfaction fled
from her heart when the old man came to a stand-still in front of her,
and said kindly:

"Ah! ah! a bud out of the papyrus factory among all these proud roses and
lilies.  Ah!  ah!  out of my work-rooms to join my assembly!  Never mind-
never mind, beauty is everywhere welcome.  I do not ask how you got here.
I am only glad that you are here."

Arsinoe covered part of her face with her hand, but he tapped her white
arm three times with his middle finger, and then tottered on laughing to
himself.  The dealer had caught Plutarch's words, and asked him, when
they had gone a few steps from Arsinoe, with eager indignation:

"Did I hear you rightly? a work-woman in your factory, and here among our
daughters?"

"So it is--two busy hands among so many idle ones," said the old man,
gaily.

"Then she must have forced her way in, and must be turned out."

"Certainly she shall not--Why, she is charming."

"It is revolting! here, in this assembly!"

"Revolting?"  interrupted Plutarch.  "Oh dear, no! we must not be too
particular.  And how are we to obtain mere children from you antiquity-
mongers?" Then he added pleasantly:

"This lovely creature must I should think, delight your fine sense of
beauty; or are you afraid that she may seem better suited to the part of
Roxana than your own charming daughter?  Only listen to the men up there!
Let us see what is going on."

These words referred to a loud discussion which had arisen close by the
couches of the prefect and Verus, the praetor.  They, and with them most
of the painters and sculptors present, were of opinion that Arsinoe would
be a wonderfully effective Roxana; they maintained that her face and
figure answered perfectly to those of the Bactrian princes as they were
represented by Action, whose picture was, to a certain extent, to serve
as the basis of the living group.  Only Papias and two of his fellow-
artists, declared against this choice, and eagerly asserted that among
all the damsels present one, and one alone, was worthy to appear before
the Emperor as Alexander's bride, and that one was Praxilla, the daughter
of Gabinius.  All three were in close business relations with the father
of the young girl, who was tall, and slim, and certainly very lovely, and
they wanted to do a pleasure to the rich and knowing purchaser.  Their
zeal even assumed a tone of vehemence, when the dealer, following in the
wake of Plutarch, joined the group of disputants, and they were certain
of being heard by him.

"And who is this girl yonder?"  asked Papias, pointing to Arsinoe,
as the two came up.  "Nothing can be said against her beauty, but she is
dressed less than simply, and wears no kind of ornament worth speaking
of--it is a thousand to one against her parents being in a position to
provide her with such a rich dress, and such costly jewels as Roxana
certainly ought to display when about to be married to Alexander.  The
Asiatic princess must appear in silk, gold and precious stones.  Now my
friend here will be able so to dress his Praxilla that the splendor of
her attire might have astonished the great Macedonian himself, but who is
the father of that pretty child who is satisfied with the blue ribbon in
her hair, her two roses, and her little white frock?"

"Your reflections are just, Papias," interrupted the dealer, with dry
incisiveness.  "The girl you are speaking of is quite out of the
question.  I do not say so for my daughter's sake, but because everything
in bad taste is odious to me; it is hardly conceivable how such a young
thing could have had the audacity to force herself in here.  A pretty
face, to be sure, opens locks and bars.  She is--do not be too much
startled--she is nothing more than a work-girl in the papyrus factory of
our excellent host, Plutarch."

"That is not the truth," Pollux interrupted, indignantly, as he heard
this assertion.

"Moderate your tongue, young man," replied the dealer.  "I can call you
to witness, noble Plutarch."

"Let her be whom she may," answered the old man, with annoyance.  "She is
very one of my workwomen, but even if she had come straight here from the
gumming-table with such a face and such a figure, she is perfectly in
place here and everywhere.  That is my opinion."

"Bravo! my fine friend!" cried Verus, nodding to the old man.  "Caesar
will be far better pleased with such a paragon of charmers as that sweet
creature, than with all your old writs of citizenship and heavy purses."

"That is true," the prefect said, confirming this statement.  "And I dare
swear she is a free maiden, and not a slave.  But you stood up for her
friend Pollux--what do you know about her?"

"That she is the daughter of Keraunus, the palace-steward, and that I
have known her from her childhood," answered the youthful artist
emphatically.  "He is a Roman citizen, and of an old Macedonian house as
well."

"Perhaps even of royal descent," added Titianus, laughing.

"I know the man," answered the dealer hastily.  "He is an impecunious
insolent old fool."

"I should think," interrupted Verus with lofty composure, but rather as
being bored, than as reproving the irritated speaker, "it seems to me
that this is hardly the place to conduct a discussion as to the nature
and disposition of the fathers of all those ladies and young girls."

"But he is poor," cried the dealer angrily.  "A few days since he offered
to sell me his few miserable curiosities, but really I could not--"

"We are sorry for your sake if the transaction was unsuccessful," Verus
again interposed, this time with excessive politeness.  "Now, first let
us decide on the persons and afterwards on the costumes.  The father of
the girl is a Roman citizen then?"

"A member of the council, and in his way a man of position," replied
Titianus.

"And I," added his wife Julia, "have taken a great fancy to the sweet
little maid, and if the principal part is given to her, and her noble
father is without adequate means, as you assert my friend, I will
undertake to provide for her costume.  Caesar will be charmed with
such a Roxana."

The dealer's clients were silent, he himself was trembling with
disappointment and vexation, and his fury rose to the utmost when
Plutarch, whom till then he thought he had won over to his daughter's
side, tried to bow his bent old body before dame Julia, and said with a
graceful gesture of regret:

"My old eyes have deceived me again on this occasion.  The little girl
is very like one of my workwomen; very like--but I see now that there is
a certain something which the other lacks.  I have done her an injustice
and remain her debtor.  Permit, me, noble lady to add the ornaments to
the dress you provide for our Roxana.  I may be lucky enough to find
something pretty for her.  A sweet child!  I shall go at once and beg her
forgiveness and tell her what we propose.  May I do so noble Julia?  Have
I your permission gentlemen?"

In a very few minutes it was known all over the stage, and soon after all
through the amphitheatre, that Arsinoe, the daughter of Keraunus, had
been selected to represent the character of Roxana.

"But who was Keraunus?"

"How was it that the children of the most illustrious and wealthy
citizens had been overlooked in assigning this most prominent part?"

"This was just what might be expected when every thing was left to those
reckless artists!"

"And where was a poor little girl like that to find the talents which it
would cost to procure the costume of an Asiatic princess, Alexander's
bride?"

"Plutarch, and the prefect's wife had undertaken that."

"A mere beggar."

"How well the family jewels would have suited our daughters!"

"Do we want to show Caesar nothing but a few silly pretty faces?--and not
something of our wealth and taste?"

"Supposing Hadrian asks who this Roxana is, and had to be told that a
collection had to be made to get her a proper costume."

"Such things never could happen anywhere but in Alexandria."

"Every one wants to know whether she worked in Plutarch's factory.  They
say it is not true--but the painted old villain still loves a pretty
face.  He smuggled her in, you may be sure; where there is smoke there is
fire, and it is beyond a doubt that she gets money from the old man."

"What for?"

"Ah! you had better enquire of a priest of Aphrodite.  It is nothing to
laugh at, it is scandalous, audacious!"

Thus and on this wise ran the comments with which the announcement of
Arsinoe's preferment to the part of Roxana was received, and hatred and
bitter animosity had grown up in the souls of the dealer and his
daughter.  Praxilla was selected as a companion to Alexander's bride, and
she yielded without objecting, but on her way homewards she nodded assent
when her father said:

"Let things go on now as they may, but a few hours before the performance
begins, I will send them word that you are ill."

The selection of Arsinoe had however, on the other hand, given pleasure
as well as pain.  Up in the middle places in the amphitheatre sat
Keraunus, his legs far apart, his face glowing, panting and choking with
sheer delight, and too haughty to draw in his feet even when the brother
of the archidikastes tried to squeeze by his bulky person which filled
two seats at once.  Arsinoe, whose sharp ears had not failed to catch the
dealer's remonstrances, and the words in which brave Pollux had taken her
part, had, at first, felt dying of shame and terror, but now she felt as
though she could fly on the wings of her delight.  She had never been so
happy in her life, and when she got out with her father, in the first
dark street she threw her arms round his neck, kissed both his cheeks,
and then told him how kind the lady Julia, the prefect's wife had been to
her, and that she had undertaken, with the warmest friendliness, to have
her costly dress made for her.

Keraunus had no objection to offer, and, strange to say, he did not
consider it beneath his dignity to allow Arsinoe to be supplied with
jewels by the wealthy manufacturer.

"People have seen," he said, pathetically, "that we need not shrink from
doing as much as other citizens do, but to dress a Roxana as befits a
bride would cost millions, and I am very willing to confess to my friends
that I have not millions.  Where the costume comes from is all the same,
be that as it may you will still stand the first of all the maidens in
the city, and I am pleased with you for that, my child.  To-morrow will
be the last meeting, and then perhaps Selene too, may have a prominent
part given to her.  Happily we are able to dress her as befits.  When
will the prefect's wife fetch you?"

"To-morrow about noon."

"Then early to-morrow buy a nice new dress."

"Will there not be enough for a new bracelet too?"  asked Arsinoe,
coaxingly.  "This one of mine is too narrow and trumpery."

"You shall have one, for you have deserved it," replied Keraunus, with
dignity.  "But you must have patience till the day after to-morrow;
to-morrow the goldsmiths will be closed on account of the festival."

Arsinoe had never seen her father so cheerful and talkative as he was
to-day, and yet the walk from the theatre to Lochias was not a very short
one, and it was long past the early hour at which he was accustomed to
retire to bed.

By the time the father and daughter reached the palace it was already
tolerably late, for, after Arsinoe had quitted the stage, suitable
representatives of parts had been selected for three other scenes from
the life of Alexander, by the light of torches, lamps and tapers; and
before the assemblage broke up, Plutarch's guests were entertained with
wine, fruit, syrups, sweet cakes, oyster pasties, and other delicacies.
The steward had fallen with good will on the noble drink and excellent
food, and when he was replete, he was wont to be in a better humor, and
after a modicum of wine, in a more cheerful mood than usual.  Just now he
was content and kind, for although he had done all that lay in his power,
the entertainment had not lasted long enough, for him to arrive at a
state of intoxication which could make him surly, or to overload his
digestion.  Towards the end of their walk, he turned thoughtful and said:

"To-morrow the council does not sit on account of the festival, and that
is well; all the world will congratulate me, question me, and notice me,
and the gilding on my circlet is quite shabby; and in some places the
silver shines through.  Your outfit will now cost nothing, and it is
quite necessary that before the next meeting I should go to a goldsmith
and exchange that wretched thing for one of real gold.  A man should show
what he is."

He spoke the words pompously, and Arsinoe eagerly acquiesced, and only
begged him, as they went in at the open door, to leave enough for
Selene's costume; he laughed quietly to himself, and said:

"We need no longer be so very cautious.  I should like to know who the
Alexander will be who will be the first to ask for my Roxana as his wife.
Rich old Plutarch's only son already has a seat in the council, and has
not yet taken a wife.  He is no longer very young, but he is a fine man
still."

The radiant father's dream of the future was interrupted by Doris, who
came out of the gate-house and called him by his name.  Keraunus stood
still.  When the old woman went on:

"I must speak with you."

He answered, repellently: "But I shall not listen to you--neither now nor
at any time."

"It was certainly not for my pleasure," retorted Doris, "that I called to
you; I have only to tell you that you will not find your daughter Selene
at home."

"What do you say?" cried Keraunus.

"I say that the poor girl with her damaged foot could at last walk no
farther, and that she had to be carried into a strange house where she is
being taken care of."

"Selene!" cried Arsinoe, falling from all her clouds of happiness,
startled and grieved--"do you know where she is?"

Before Doris could reply, Keraunus stormed out:

"It is all the fault of the Roman architect and his raging beast of a
dog.  Very good!  very good!  now Caesar will certainly help me to my
rights.  He will give a lesson to those who throw Roxana's sister into a
sick-bed, and hinder her from taking any part in the processions.  Very
good! very good indeed!"

"It is sad enough to cry over!"  said the gatekeeper's wife, indignantly.
"Is this the thanks she gets for all her care of her little brothers and
sisters!  Only to think that a father can speak so, when his best child
is lying with a broken leg, helpless among strangers!"

"With a broken leg," whimpered Arsinoe.

"Broken!" repeated  Keraunus slowly, and now sincerely anxious.  "Where
can I find her?"

"At dame Hannah's little house at the bottom of the garden belonging to
the widow of Pudeus."

"Why did they not bring her here?"

"Because the physician forbade it.  She is in a fever, but she is well
cared for.  Hannah is one of the Christians.  I cannot bear the people,
but they know how to nurse the sick better than any one."

"With Christians!  my child is with Christians!" shrieked Keraunus,
beside himself.  "At once Arsinoe, at once come with me; Selene shall not
stay a moment longer among that accursed rabble.  Eternal gods! besides
all our other troubles this disgrace too!"

"Nay, it is not so bad as that," said Doris soothingly.  "There are very
estimable folks even among the Christians.  At any rate they are
certainly honorable, for the poor hunch-backed creature who first brought
the bad news gave me this little bag of money which dame Hannah had found
in Selene's pocket."

Keraunus took his daughter's hard-won wages as contemptuously as though
he was quite accustomed to gold, and thought nothing of more wretched
silver; but Arsinoe began to cry at the sight of the drachmae, for she
knew it was for the sake of that money that Selene had left her home, and
could divine what frightful pain she must have suffered on the way.

"Honorable this, and honorable that!"  cried Keraunus, as he tied up his
money-bag.  "I know well enough how shameless are the goings on in
assemblies of that stamp; kissing and hugging slaves! quite the right
sort of thing for my daughter!  Come Arsinoe, let us find a litter at
once!"

"No, no!"  exclaimed Doris eagerly.  "For the present you must leave her
in peace.  I should be glad to conceal it from you as a father--but the
physician declared it might cost her her life if she were not left just
now in perfect quiet.  No one goes to any kind of assembly with a burning
wound in the head, a high fever and a broken leg.--Poor dear child!"

Keraunus stood silent in grave consternation, while Arsinoe exclaimed
through her tears:

"But I must go to her, I must see her Doris."

"That I cannot blame you for, my pretty one," said the old woman.  I have
already been to the house of the Christians, but they would not let me in
to see the patient.  With you it is rather different as you are her
sister."

"Come father," begged Arsinoe, "first let us see to the children, and
then you shall come with me to see Selene.  Oh! why did I not go with
her.  Oh! if she should die."



CHAPTER XX.

Keraunus and his daughter reached their rooms less quickly than usual,
for the steward dreaded a fresh attack from the blood-hound, which,
to-night however, was sharing Antinous' room.  They found the old
slavewoman up, and in great excitement, for she loved Selene, she was
frightened at her absence, and in the children's sleeping-room all was
not as it should be.

Arsinoe went without delay to see the little ones, but the black woman
remained with her master, and told him with many tears, while he
exchanged his saffron-colored pallium for an old cloak, that the joy of
her heart, little blind Helios had been ill, and could not sleep, even
after she had given him some of the drops which Keraunus himself was
accustomed to take.

"Idiotic animal!"  exclaimed Keraunus, "to give my medicine to the
child," and he kicked off his new shoes to replace them with shabbier
ones.  "If you were younger I would have you flogged."

"But you did say the drops were good," stammered the old woman.

"For me," shouted the steward, and without fastening his shoe-straps
round his ankles, so that they flapped and pattered on the ground, he
hurried off into the children's room.  There sat his darling blind child,
his 'neir' as he liked to call him, with his pretty, fair, curly head
resting on Arsinoe's breast.  The child recognized his step, and began
his little lament:

"Selene was away, and I was frightened, and I feel so sick, so sick."

The steward laid his hand on the child's forehead, and feeling how hot it
was he began to walk restlessly up and down by the little bed.

"That is just how it always happens," he said.  "When one misfortune
comes another always follows.  Look at him Arsinoe.  Do you remember how
the fever took poor Berenice?  Sickness, uneasiness, and a burning head.
--"Have you any pain in your head my boy?"

"No," answered Helios, "but I feel so sick."

The steward opened the child's little shirt to see if he had any spots on
his breast, but Arsinoe said, as she bent over him:

"It is nothing much, he has only overloaded his stomach.  The stupid old
woman gives him every thing he asks for, and she let him have half of the
currant cake, which we sent her to fetch before we went out."

"But his head is burning," repeated Keraunus.

"He will be quite well again by to-morrow morning," replied Arsinoe.
"Our poor Selene needs us far snore than he does.  Come father.  The old
woman can stay with him."

"I want Selene to come," whimpered the child.  "Pray, pray, do not leave
me alone again."

"Your old father will stay with you my pet," said Keraunus tenderly, for
it cut him to the soul to see this child suffer.  "You none of you know
what this boy is to us all."

"He will soon go to sleep," Arsinoe asserted.  "Do let us go, or it will
be too late."

"And leave the old woman to commit some other stupid blunder?"  cried
Keraunus.  "It is my duty to stay with the poor little boy.  You can
go to your sister and take the old woman with you."

"Very good, and to-morrow early I will come back."

"To-morrow morning?"  said Keraunus surprised.  "No, no, that will not
do.  Doris said just now that Selene will be well nursed by the
Christians.  Only see how she is, give her my love, and then come back."

"But father--"

"Besides you must remember that the prefect's wife expects you to-morrow
at noon to choose the stuff for your dress, and you must not look as if
you had been sitting up all night."

"I will rest a little while in the morning."

"In the morning?  And how about curling my hair?  And your new frock?
And poor little Helios?--No child, you are only just to see Selene and
then come back again.  Early in the morning too the holiday will have
begun, and you know what goes on then; the old woman would be of no use
to you in the throng.  Go and see how Selene is, you are not to stay."

"I will see--"

"Not a word about seeing--you come home again.  I desire it; in two hours
you are to be in bed."

Arsinoe shrugged her shoulders, and two minutes after she was standing
with the old slave-woman in front of the gate-house.

A broad beam of light still fell through the half-open door of the bowery
little room, so Euphorion and Doris had not retired to rest and could at
once open the palace-gate for her.  The Graces set up a bark as Arsinoe
crossed the threshold of her old friends' house, but they did not leave
their cushion for they soon recognized her.

It was several years since Arsinoe, in obedience to her father's strict
prohibition had set foot in the snug the house, and her heart was deeply
touched as she saw again all the surroundings she had loved as a child,
and had not forgotten as she grew into girlhood.  There were the birds,
the little dogs, and the lutes on the wall near the Apollo.  On worthy
dame Doris' table there had always been something to eat, and there, now,
good a lovely, golden-brown cake, by the side of the wine-jar.  How often
as a child had she sneaked in to beg a sweet morsel, how often to see
whether tall Pollux were not there, Pollux, whose bold devices and
original suggestions, gave his work and his play alike, the stamp of
genius, and lent them a peculiar charm.  And there sat her saucy
playfellow in person, his legs stretched at full length in front of him,
and talking, eagerly.  Arsinoe heard him relating the end of the history
of her being chosen for Roxana, and caught her own name, graced with such
epithets as brought the blushes to her cheeks, and gave her double
pleasure because he could not guess that she could overhear them.  From a
boy he had grown to a man, and a fine man, and a great artist--but he was
still the old kind and audacious Pollux.

The sudden leap with which he sprang from his seat to welcome her, the
frank laughter with which he several times interrupted her speech, the
childlike loving way in which he held his arm round his little mother
while he greeted her, and asked why she was going out so late, the
winning, touching tone of his voice as he expressed his regret at
Selene's mishaps--all went home to Arsinoe as a thing known and loved,
of which she had long been deprived, and she clung to the two strong
hands he held out to her.  If at that moment he had taken her up, and
clasped her to his heart before the very eyes of Eupliorion and his
mother she really would have been incapable of resisting him.

It was with a heavy heart that Arsinoe had gone into dame Doris, but in
the gate-keeper's house there reigned an atmosphere in which care and
anxiety could not breathe, and the light-hearted girl's vision of her
sister as tormented with pain and threatened with danger was changed in
a wonderfully short time to that of a sufferer comfortably in bed, with
only a severely-injured foot.  In the place of consuming anxiety she felt
only hearty sympathy, and this sounded in her voice as she begged the
singer Euphorion to open the gate for her, because she wanted to go out
with her slave-woman to ascertain how Selene was.

Doris soothed her, repeating her assurance that the patient would be
nursed with the utmost care in dame Hannah's hands; still, she thought
her wish to see her sister very justifiable, and eagerly seconded Pollux
when he entreated Arsinoe to accept his escort; for the festival would be
beginning soon after midnight, the streets would be full of rough and
impudent people, and a bunch of feathers would be about as much use
against the drunken slaves as her black scarecrow, who had been falling
into decrepitude even before she had done the stupidest deed of her life
and roused the steward's anger against herself.

So they went along the dark streets which grew full of people the farther
they went, side by side in silence.  Presently Pollux said:

"Put your arm through mine; you ought to feel that I am protecting you,
and I--I should like to feel at every step that I have found you once
more, and am allowed to be near you--so sweet a creature."

The words did not sound impertinent, on the contrary, they sounded very
much in earnest, and the sculptor's deep voice trembled with emotion as
he spoke them with deep tenderness.  They knocked at the door of the
girl's heart with the urgent hand of love; she unhesitatingly put her
hand through his arm and answered softly:

"You will take care of me now."

"Yes," said he, and he took her little hand, which rested on his right
arm, in his left hand.  She did not draw it away, and after they had gone
on thus for a few paces he sighed and said:

"Do you know how I feel?"

"Well!"

"Nay, I myself cannot put it into words.  Rather as if I had triumphed in
the Olympian games, or as if Caesar had invested me with the purple!--But
who cares for the wealth or the purple!  You are hanging on my arm, and I
have hold of your hand; compared with this, all is as nought.  If it were
not for the people about I--I do not know what I could do."

She looked up at him with happy content, but he lifted her hand to his
lips and pressed it to them long and fervently.  Then he let it go again
and said, with a sigh that came up from the bottom of his heart:

"Oh Arsinoe, my sweet Arsinoe, how I love you!"

As the words came softly yet hotly from his lips the girl clasped his arm
closely to her bosom, leaned her head on his shoulder, looked up at him
with a wide-eyed, tender gaze, and said softly:

"Oh Pollux, I am so happy, the world is so good!"

"Nay, I could hate it!" cried the sculptor.  "To hear this--and to have
an old mother wide awake at home, and to be obliged to walk steadily on
in a street crowded with men--it is unendurable!  I shall not hold out
much longer--sweetest of girls--here it is quiet and dark."

Yes, in a little nook made by two contiguous houses, and into which
Pollux drew Arsinoe, it was pitch dark, as he hastily pressed his first
kiss on her innocent lips; but in their hearts it was light-radiant
sunshine.

She had thrown her arms round his neck and would willingly have clung to
him till day should end; but they heard the approach of a noisy
procession of slaves.  These unfortunate creatures began soon after
midnight singing and shouting so as to avail themselves to the extremist
limit of the holiday, which released them for a short time from their
tasks and duties; Pollux knew well how unbounded the license of their
pleasures could be, and as he walked on with Arsinoe he enjoined her to
keep with him as close as possible to the houses.

"How jolly they are!" he said pointing to the merry-makers.  "Their
masters will wait on themselves a little to-day, and the best day in the
year is just beginning for them, but for us the best day in all our
lives."

"Yes, yes," cried Arsinoe, and she clasped his strong arm with both her
hands.

Then they both laughed merrily, for Pollux had noticed that the old
slave-woman had gone on past them with her head sunk on her breast, and
was following another pair.

"I will call her," Arsinoe said.

"No, no, let her be," said the artist.  "The couple in front certainly
require her protection more than we do."

"But how could she possibly mistake that little man for you?" laughed
Arsinoe.

"I wish I were a little smaller," replied Pollux with a sigh.  "Only
picture to yourself the vast amount of burning love and tormenting
longing that can be contained in so large a body as mine!"  She slapped
him on the arm, and to punish her he hastily pressed his lips on her
forehead.

"Don't--think of the people," she said reprovingly, but he gaily
answered:

"It is not a misfortune to be envied."

Here the streets came to an end, and they found themselves in front of
the garden belonging to Pudeus' widow; Pollux knew it, for Paulina who
owned it was the sister of Pontius, the architect, who himself owned a
magnificent house in the city.  But could it be possible?  Had invisible
hands brought them here already?  The gate of the enclosure was locked.
Pollux roused a porter, told him what he wanted, and was conducted by him
with Arsinoe to apart of the grounds where a bright light shone out from
dame Hannah's little abode, for he had had instructions to admit the sick
girl's friends even during the night.

A crescent moon lighted the paths, which were strewed with shells; the
shrubs and trees in the garden threw sharply-defined shadows on their
gleaming whiteness, the sea sparkled brightly, and as soon as the porter
had left the happy young pair together, and they found themselves in a
shadowy alley, Pollux said, opening his arms to the girl:

"Now--one more kiss, just for a remembrance, while I wait."

"Not now," begged Arsinoe.

"I am no longer happy since we came in here.  I cannot help thinking of
poor Selene."

"I have not a word to say against that," replied Pollux submissively.
"Then when waiting is over may I have my reward?"

"No, no, now, at once," cried Arsinoe throwing herself on his breast, and
then she hurried towards the house.

He followed her, and when she paused in front of a brightly-lighted
window on the ground floor, he stopped also.  They both looked in on a
lofty and spacious room, kept in the most perfect order and cleanliness;
it had one door only opening on the roofless forecourt of the house; the
walls of the room were plainly painted of a light green color, and the
only ornament it contained was one piece of carved work over the door.

On the farther side stood the bed on which Selene was lying; a few paces
from it sat the deformed girl asleep, while dame Hannah softly went up to
the patient with a wet compress in her hand which she carefully laid on
her head.

Pollux touched Arsinoe and whispered to her:

"Your sister lies there in her sleep like an Ariadne deserted by
Dionysus.  How wretched she will feel when she comes to herself."

"She looks to me less pale than usual."

"Look now, how she bends her arm, and what a lovely attitude as she puts
her hand to her head!"

"Go--" said Arsinoe.  "You ought not to be spying here."

"Directly, directly--but if you were lying there no power should stir me
from the spot.  How carefully Hannah lifts the wet wrapper from her poor
broken ankle.  You could not touch your eye more gently than the good
woman handles Selene's foot."

"Go back, she is looking straight this way."

"What a wonderful face!  It would do for a Penelope, but there is
something singular in her eyes.  Now if I had to make another star-gazing
Urania, or a Sappho full of the deity, and with eyes fixed on the heavens
in poetic rapture, that is what I would put into her!  She is no longer
young, but how pure her face is!  It is like a sky when the wind has
swept it clear of clouds."

"Seriously you must go now," said Arsinoe drawing away her hand, which he
had again taken.  Pollux saw that his praise of another woman's beauty
annoyed her, and he said soothingly:

"Be easy child.  You have not your match here in Alexandria, no, nor so
far as Greek is spoken.  A perfectly clear sky is certainly not the most
beautiful to my taste.  Pure light, and pure blue, give no satisfaction
to the artist, it is only behind a few moving clouds, lighted up by
changing gleams of gold and silver, that the firmament has any true
charm, and though your face too is like heaven to me it does not lack
sweet movement, never twice alike.  Now this matron--"

"Only look," interrupted Arsinoe, "how tenderly dame Hannah bends over
Selene, and now she is gently kissing her brow.  No mother could tend her
own daughter more lovingly.  I have known her for a long time; she is
good, very good; it is hardly credible for she is a Christian."

"The cross up there over the door," said Pollux "is the token by which
these extraordinary people recognize each other."

"And what is signified by the dove and fish and anchor round it?"  asked
Arsinoe.

"They are emblems of the mysteries of the Christians," replied Pollux.
"I do not understand them; the things are wretchedly painted; the
adherents of the crucified God contemn all art, and particularly my
branch of it, for they hate all images of the gods."

"And yet among such blasphemers we find such good men; I will go in at
once; Hannah is wetting another handkerchief."

"And how unwearied and kind she looks as she does it; still there is
something strange, deserted, and graceless in this large bare room.  I
should not like to live there."

"Have you noticed the faint scent of lavender that comes through the
window?"

"Long since--there your sister is moving and has opened her eyes--now she
has shut them again."

"Go back into the garden and wait till I come," Arsinoe commanded him
decidedly.  "I will only see how Selene is going on; I will not stop long
for my father wishes me to return soon, and no one can nurse her better
than Hannah!"

The girl drew her hand out of her lover's and knocked at the door of the
little house; it was opened and the widow herself led Arsinoe to the
bedside of her sister.  Pollux at first sat a while on a bench in the
garden, but soon sprang up and paced with long steps the path he had
previously trodden with Arsinoe.  A stone table across the path, brought
him to a stand-still, and he took a fancy for leaping it.  The third time
he came up to it he sprang over it with a long jump.  But no sooner had
he done the frolicsome deed than he paused, shook his head at himself and
muttered to himself: "Like a boy!"--He felt indeed like a happy child.
But as he waited he became calmer and graver.  He acknowledged to
himself, with sincere thankfulness, that he had now found the ideal
woman, of whom he had dreamed in his hours of best inspiration, and that
she was his, wholly and alone.  And after all, what was he?  A poor
rascal who had many mouths to fill, and was no more than two fingers of
his master's hand.  This must be altered.  He would not reduce his
sister's comforts in any way but he must break with Papias, and stand
henceforth on his own feet.  His courage mounted fast, and when at last,
Arsinoe returned from her sister, he had resolved that he must first
finish Balbilla's bust with all diligence in his own workshop, and that
then he would model his beloved; these two female heads he could not fail
in.  Caesar must see them, they must be exhibited, and already in his
mind's eye, he saw himself refusing order after order, and accepting only
the most splendid where all were good.

Arsinoe went home comforted.  Selene's sufferings were certainly less
than she had pictured them; she did not wish to be nursed by any one
besides dame Hannah.  She might perhaps have a little fever, but any
one who was capable of discussing every little question of house-keeping,
and all that related to the children could not be--as Arsinoe thought
while she walked back through the garden, leaning on the artist's arm--
really and properly ill.

"It must revive and delight her to have Roxana for a sister!" cried
Pollux; but his pretty companion shook her head and said: "She is always
so odd; what most delights me is averse to her."

"Well Selene is of course the moon, and you are the sun."

"And what are you?" asked Arsinoe.

"I am tall Pollux, and to-night I feel as if I might some day be great
Pollux."

"If you succeed I shall grow with you."

"That will be your right, since it is only through you that I can ever
succeed in that which I propose to do.

"And how should a simple little thing, such as I am, be able to help an
artist?"

"By living, and by loving him," cried the sculptor, lifting her up in his
arms before she could prevent him.

Outside the garden-gate the old slave-woman was sitting asleep.  She had
learnt from the porter that her young mistress had been admitted with her
companion, but she herself had been forbidden to enter the grounds.  A
curbstone had served her for a seat, and as she waited her eyes had
closed, in spite of the increasing noise in the street.  Arsinoe did not
waken her, but asked Pollux, with a roguish laugh:

"We shall find our way alone, shall we not?"

"If Eros does not lead us astray," answered the artist.  And so, as they
went on their way, they jested and exchanged little tender speeches.

The nearer they got to Lochias and to the main lines of traffic which
intersected at right angles the Canopic way--the widest and longest road
in the city--the fuller was the stream of people that flowed onwards in
the direction in which they were going; but this circumstance favored
them, for those who wish to be unobserved, when they cannot be absolutely
alone, have only to mix with the crowd.  As they were borne towards the
focus and centre of the festive doings, they clung closely together, she
to him, and he to her, so that they might not be torn apart by any of the
rushing and tumultuous processions of excited Thracian women who,
faithful to their native usages, came storming by with a young bull, on
this particular night of the year, that following the shortest day.  They
had hardly gone a hundred paces beyond the Moon-street when they heard
proceeding from it a wild roving song of tipsy jollity, and loud above it
the sound of drums and pipes, cymbals and noisy shouting, and at the same
time in the King's street, a road which crossed the Bruchiom and opened
on Lochias, a merry troup came towards them.

At their head, among other acquaintances, came Teuker, the gem-cutter,
the younger brother of Pollux.  Crowned with ivy, and flourishing a
thyrsus he came dancing on, and behind him, leaping and shouting, a train
of men and women, all excited to the verge of folly, singing, hollooing,
and dancing.

Garlands of vine, ivy and asphodel fluttered from a hundred heads;
poplar, lotus, and laurel wreaths overhung their heated brows; panther-
skins, deer and goatskins hung from their bare shoulders and waved in the
wind as their bearers hurried onwards.  This procession had been first
formed by some artists and rich youths returning with some women from a
banquet, with a band of music; every one who met this festal party had
joined it or had been forced to enlist with it.  Respectable citizens and
their wives, laborers, maid-servants, slaves, soldiers and sailors,
officers, women flute-players, artisans, ship-captains, the whole chorus
of a theatre invited by a friend of art, excited women who dragged with
them a goat that was to be slaughtered to Dionysus--none had been able to
resist the temptation to join the procession.  It turned down the Moon-
street, keeping to the middle of the road which was planted with elms,
and had on each side of it a raised foot-way, which at this time of night
no one used.  How clear was the sound of the double-pipes, how bravely
the girls hit the calf-skin of the tambourines with their soft fists, how
saucily the wind tossed and tangled the dishevelled hair of the riotous
women and played with the smoke of the torches which were wielded in the
air by audacious youths, disguised as Pan or as Satyrs, and shouting as
they went.

Here a girl, holding her tambourine high in the air, rattled the little
bells on its hoop, as she flew along, as violently as though she wanted
to shake the hollow metal balls out of their frame, and send them
whistling through the air on their own account-there, side by side with
his comrades, who were excited almost to madness, a handsome lad came
skipping along in elaborately graceful leaps, but carrying over his arm,
with comic care, a long bull's-tail that he had tied on, and blowing
alternately up and down the short scale from the shortest to the longest
of the reeds composing his panpipes.  Through the noisy crowd as they
rushed by, sounded, now and again, a loud roar, that might as easily have
been caused by pain as joy; but it was each time hastily drowned in mad
laughter, extravagant singing and jubilant music.

Old and young, great and small, all in short that came near this rabble
train, were carried off with irresistible force to follow it with shouts
of triumph.  Even Pollux and Arsinoe had for some time ceased to walk
soberly side by side, but moved their feet, laughingly in time to the
merry measure.

"How nice it sounds," cried the artist.  "I could dance and be merry too
Arsinoe, dance and make merry with you like a madman!"

Before she could find time to say 'yes' or 'no,' he shouted a loud "To,
To, Dionysus," and flung her up in the air.  She too was caught by the
spirit of the thing, and waving her hand above her head she joined in his
shout of triumph, and let him drag her along to a corner of the Moon-
street where a seller of garlands offered her wares for sale.  There she
let him wreathe her with ivy, she stuck a laurel wreath on his head,
twisted a streamer of ivy round his neck and breast, and laughed loudly
as she flung a large silver coin into the flower-woman's lap and clung
tightly to his arm.  It was all done in swift haste without reflection,
as if in a fit of intoxication, and with trembling hands.

The procession was drawing to an end.  Six women and girls in wreaths
closed it, walking arm in arm with loud singing.  Pollux drew his
sweetheart behind this jovial crew, threw his arm around Arsinoe once
more, while she put hers round him, and then both of them stepped out in
a brisk dance-step flinging their arms left free, throwing back their
heads, shouting and singing loudly, and forgetting all that surrounded
them; they felt as though they were bound to each other by a glory of
sunbeams, while some god lifted them above the earth and bore them up
through a realm of delight and joy beyond the myriad stars and through
the translucent ether; thus they let themselves be led away through the
Moon-street into the Canopic way and so back to the sea, and as far as
the temple of Dionysus.

There they paused breathless and it suddenly struck them that he was
Pollux and she Arsinoe, and that she must get back again to her father
and the children.

"Come home," she said softly, and as she spoke she dropped her arm and
began to gather up her loosened hair.

"Yes, yes," he said as if in a dream.  He released her, struck his hand
against his brow, and turning to the open cella of the temple he said:

"Long have I known that thou art mighty O Dionysus, and that thou O
Aphrodite art lovely, and that thou art sweet O Eros!  but how
inestimable your gifts, that I have learnt to-day for the first time."

"We were indeed full of the deity," said Arsinoe.  "But here comes
another procession and I must go home."

"Then let us go by the Little Harbor," answered Pollux.

"Yes--I must pick the leaves out of my hair and no one will see us
there."

"I will help you--"

"No, you are not to touch me," said Arsinoe decidedly.  She grasped her
abundant soft and shiny hair, and cleared it of the leaves that had got
entangled in it, as tiny beetles do in a double flower.  Finally she hid
her hair under her veil, which had slipped off her head long since, but,
almost by a miracle, had caught and remained hanging on the brooch of her
peplum.  Pollux stood looking at her, and overmastered by the passion
that possessed him, he exclaimed:

"Eternal gods! how I love you!  Till now my soul has been like a careless
child, to-day it is grown to heroic stature.--Wait--only wait, it will
soon learn to use its weapons."

"And I will help it in the fight," she said happily, as she put her hand
through his arm again, and they hurried back to the old palace, dancing
rather than walking.

The late December sun was already giving warning of his approaching
rising by cold yellowish-grey streaks in the sky as Pollux and his
companion entered the gate, which had long since been opened for the
workmen.  In the hall of the Muses they took a first farewell, in the
passage leading to the steward's room, a second--sad and yet most happy;
but this was but a short one for the gleam of a lamp made them start
apart, and Arsinoe instantly fled.

The disturber was Antinous who was waiting here for the Emperor who was
still gazing at the stars from the watch-tower Pontius had erected for
him.  As she vanished he turned to Pollux and said gaily:

"I need your forgiveness for I have disturbed you in an interview with
your sweetheart."

"She will be my wife," said the sculptor proudly.

"So much the better!"  replied the favorite, and he drew a deep breath,
as though the artist's words had relieved his mind of a burden.

"Ah! so much the better.  Can you tell me where to find the fair
Arsinoe's sister?"

"To be sure," replied the artist, and he felt pleased that the young
Bithynian should cling to his arm.  Within the next hour, Pollux, from
whose lips there flowed a stream of eager and enthusiastic words, like
water from a spring, had completely won the heart of the Emperor's
favorite.

The girl found both her father and Helios, who no longer looked like a
sick patient--fast asleep.  The old slave-woman came in a few minutes
after her, and when at last, after unbinding her hair, Arsinoe threw
herself on her bed she fell asleep instantly, and in her dreams found
herself once more by the side of her Pollux, while they both were flying
to the sound of drums, flutes, and cymbals high above the dusty ways of
earth, like leaves swept on by the wind.



CHAPTER XXI.

The steward awoke soon after sunrise.  He had slept no less soundly, it
is true, in his arm-chair than in his bed, but he did not feel refreshed,
and his limbs ached.

In the living-room everything was in the same disorder as on the previous
evening, and this annoyed him, for he was accustomed to find his room in
order when he entered it in the morning.  On the table, surrounded by
flies, stood the remains of the children's supper, and among the bread
crusts and plates lay his own ornaments and his daughter's!  Wherever he
turned he saw articles of dress and other things out of their place.  The
old slave-woman came in yawning, her woolly grey hair hung in disorder
about her face, and her eyes seemed fixed, her feet carried her
unsteadily here and there.

"You are drunk," cried Keraunus; nor was he mistaken, for when the old
woman had waked up, sitting by the house of Pudeus, and had learned from
the gate keeper that Arsinoe had quitted the garden, she had gone into a
tavern with other slave-women.  When her master seized her arm and shook
her, she exclaimed with a stupid grin on her wet lips:

"It is the feast-day.  Every one is free, to-day is the feast."

"Roman nonsense!"  interrupted the steward.  "is my breakfast ready?"

While the old woman stood muttering some inaudible words, the slave came
into the room and said:

"To-day is a general holiday, may I go out too?"

"Oh that would suit me admirably!"  cried the steward.

"This monster drunk, Selene sick, and you running about the streets."

"But no one stops at home to-day," replied the slave timidly.

"Be off then!"  cried Keraunus.  "Walk about from now till midnight!  Do
as you please, only do not expect me to keep you any longer.  You are
still fit to turn the hand-mill, and I dare say I can find a fool to give
me a few drachmae for you."

"No, no, do not sell me," groaned the old man, raising his hands in
entreaty; Keraunus however would not hear him, but went on angrily:

"A dog at least remains faithful to his master, but you slaves eat him
out of house and home, and when he most needs you, you want to run about
the streets."

"But I will stay," howled the old man.

"Nay, do as you please.  You have long been like a lame horse which makes
its rider a butt for the laughter of children.  When, you go out with me
everyone looks round as if I had a stain on my pallium.  And then the
mangy dog wants to keep holiday, and stick himself up among the
citizens!"

"I will stay here, only do not sell me!"  whimpered the miserable old
man, and he tried to take his master's hand; but the steward shoved him
off, and desired him to go into the kitchen and light a fire, and throw
some water on the old woman's head to sober her.  The slave pushed his
companion out of the room, while Keraunus went into his daughter's
bedroom to rouse her.

There was no light in Arsinoe's room but that which could creep in
through a narrow opening just below the ceiling; the slanting rays fell
directly on the bed up to which Keraunus went.  There lay his daughter n
sound sleep; her pretty head rested on her uplifted right arm, her
unbound brown hair flowed like a stream over her soft round shoulders and
over the edge of the little bed.  He had never seen the child look so
pretty, and the sight of her really touched his heart, for Arsinoe
reminded him of his lost wife, and it was not vain pride merely, but a
movement of true paternal love, which involuntarily transformed his
earnest wish that the gods night leave him this child and let her be
happy, into an unspoken but fervent prayer.

He was not accustomed to waking his daughter who was always up and busy
before he was, and he could hardly bear to disturb his darling's sweet
sleep; but it had to be done, so he called Arsinoe by her name, shook her
arm and said, as at last she sat up and looked at him enquiringly:

"It is I, get up, remember what has to be done today."

"Yes--yes," she said yawning, "but it is so early yet!"

"Early," said Keraunus, smiling.  "My stomach says the contrary.  The sun
is already high, and I have not yet had my porridge."

"Make the old woman cook it."

"No, no, my child--you must get up.  Have you forgotten whom you are to
represent?  And my hair is to be curled, and the prefect's wife, and then
your dress."

"Very well--go; I do not care the least bit about Roxana and all the
dressing-up."

"Because you are not yet quite awake," laughed the steward.  "How did
this ivy-leaf get into your hair?"  Arsinoe colored, put her hand to the
spot indicated by her father, and said reluctantly:

"Out of some bough or another, but now go that I may get up."

"In a minute--tell me how did you find Selene?"

"Not so very bad--but I will tell you all about that afterwards.  Now I
want to be alone."

When, half an hour later, Arsinoe brought her father his porridge he
gazed at the child in astonishment.  Some extraordinary change seemed to
have come over his daughter.  Something shone in her eyes that he had
never observed before, and that gave her childlike features an importance
and significance that almost startled him.   While she was making the
porridge, Keraunus, with the slave's help, had taken the children
up and dressed them; now they were all sitting at breakfast; Helios among
them fresh and blooming.  Now, while Arsinoe told her father all about
Selene, and the nursing she was having at dame Hannah's hands, Keraunus
kept his eyes fixed on her, and when she noticed this and asked
impatiently what there was peculiar in her appearance to-day, he shook
his head and answered:

"What strange things are girls!  A great honor has been done you.  You
are to represent the bride of Alexander, and pride and delight have
changed you wonder fully in a single night--but I think to your
disadvantage."

"Folly," said Arsinoe reddening, and stretching herself with fatigue she
threw herself back on a couch.  She did not feel weary exactly, for the
lassitude she felt in every limb had a peculiar pleasure in it.  She felt
as if she had come out of a hot bath, and since her father had roused her
she seemed to hear, again and again, the sound of the inspiriting music
which she had followed arm in arm with Pollux.  Now and again she smiled,
now and again she gazed straight before her, and at the same time she
said to herself that if at this very moment her lover were to ask her,
she would not lack strength to fling herself at once, with him, once more
into the mad whirl.  Yes--she felt perfectly fresh!  only her eyes burned
a little; and if Keraunus fancied he saw anything new in his daughter it
must be the glowing light which now lurked in them along with the playful
sparkle he had always seen there.

When breakfast was over the slave took the children out, and Arsinoe had
begun to curl her father's hair, when Keraunus put on his most dignified
attitude and said ponderously.

"My child."

The girl dropped the heated tongs and calmly asked.  "Well"--fully
prepared to hear one of the wonderful propositions which Selene was wont
to oppose.

"Listen to me attentively."

Now, what Keraunus was about to say had only occurred to him an hour
since when he had spoiled his slave's desire to go out; but as he said it
he pressed his hand to his forehead assuming the expression of a
meditative philosopher.

"For a long time I have been considering a very important matter.  Now I
have come to a decision and I will confide it to you.  We must buy a new
manslave."

"But father!"  cried Arsinoe, "think what it will cost you.  If we have
another man to feed--"

"There is no question of that," replied Keraunus.  "I will exchange the
old one for a younger one that I need not be ashamed to be seen with.
Yesterday I told you that henceforth we shall attract greater attention
than hitherto, and really if we appear with that black scarecrow at our
heels in the streets or elsewhere--"

"Certainly we cannot make  much show Sebek," interrupted Arsinoe, "but we
can leave him at home for the future."

"Child, child!"  exclaimed Keraunus reproachfully, "will you never
remember who and what we are.  How would it beseem us to appear in the
streets without a slave?"

The girl shrugged her shoulders, and put it to her father that Sebek was
an old piece of family property, that the little ones were fond of him
because he cared for them like a nurse, that a new slave would cost a
great deal and would only be driven by force to many services which the
old one was always ready and willing to fulfil.

But Arsinoe preached to deaf ears.  Selene was not there; secure from her
reproaches and as anxious as a spoiled boy for the thing that was denied
him, Keraunus adhered to his determination to exchange the faithful old
fellow for a new and more showy slave.  Not for a moment did he think of
the miserable fate that threatened the decrepit creature, who had grown
old in his house, if he were to sell him; but he still had a feeling that
it was not quite right to spend the last money that had chanced to come
into the house, on a thing that really and truly was not in any way
necessary.  The more justifiable Arsinoe's doubts seemed to be and the
more loudly did an inward voice warn him not to offer this fresh
sacrifice to his vain-gloriousness, the more firmly and desperately did
he defend his wish to do so; and as he fought for the thing he desired,
it acquired in his eyes a semblance of necessity and a number of reasons
suggested themselves which made it appear both justifiable and easy of
attainment.

There was money in hand; after Arsinoe's being chosen for the part of
Roxana he might expect to be able to borrow more; it was his duty to
appear with due dignity that he might not scare off the illustrious son-
in-law of whom he dreamed, and in the extremity of need he could still
fall back on his collection of rarities.  The only thing was to find the
right purchaser; for, if the sword of Antony had brought him so much,
what would not some amateur give him for the other, far more valuable,
objects.

Arsinoe turned red and white as her father referred again and again to
the bargain she had made; but she dared not confess the truth, and she
rued her falsehood all the more bitterly the more clearly she saw with
her own sound sense, that the Honor which had fallen upon her yesterday,
threatened to develop all her father's weaknesses in an absolutely fatal
manner.

To-day she would have been amply satisfied with pleasing Pollux, and she
would, without a regret have transferred to another her part with all the
applause and admiration it would procure her, and which, only yesterday,
had seemed to her so inestimably precious.  This she said; but Keraunus
would not take the assertion in earnest, laughed in her face, went off
into mysterious allusions to the wealth which could not fail to come into
the house and--since an obscure consciousness told him that it would be
becoming him to prove that it was not solely personal vanity and self-
esteem that influenced all his proceedings--he explained that he had made
up his mind to a great sacrifice and would be content on the coming
occasion to wear his gilt fillet and not buy a pure gold one.  By this
act of self-denial he fancied he had acquired a full right to devote a
very pretty little sum to the acquisition of a fine-looking slave.
Arsinoe's entreaties were unheeded, and when she began to cry with grief
at the prospect of losing her old house-mate he forbid her crossly to
shed a tear for such a cause, for it was very childish, and he would not
be pleased to conduct her with red eyes to meet the prefect's wife.

During the course of this argument his hair had got itself duly curled,
and he now desired Arsinoe to arrange her own hair nicely and then to
accompany him.

They would buy a new dress and peplum, go to see Selene, and then be
carried to the prefect's.

Only yesterday he had thought it too bold a step to use a litter, and
to-day he was already considering the propriety of hiring a chariot.

No sooner was he alone than a new idea occurred to him.  The insolent
architect should be taught that he was not the man to be insulted and
injured with impunity.  So he cut a clean strip of papyrus off a letter
that lay in his chest, and wrote upon it the following words:

"Keraunus, the Macedonian, to Claudius Venator, the architect, of Rome:"

"My eldest daughter, Selene, is by your fault, so severely hurt that
she is in great danger, is kept to her bed and suffers frightful pain.
My other children are no longer safe in their father's house, and I
therefore require you, once more, to chain up your dog.  If you refuse
to accede to this reasonable demand I will lay the matter before Caesar.
I can tell you that circumstances have occurred which will determine
Hadrian to punish any insolent person who may choose to neglect the
respect due to me and to my daughters."

When Keraunus had closed this letter with his seal he called the slave
and said coldly:

"Take this to the Roman architect, and then fetch two litters; make
haste, and while we are out take good care of the children.  To-morrow or
next day you will be sold.  To whom?  That must depend on how you behave
during the last hours that you belong to us."  The negro gave a loud cry
of grief that came from the depth of his heart, and flung himself on the
ground at the steward's feet.  His cry did indeed pierce his master's
soul--but Keraunus had made up his mind not to let himself be moved nor
to yield.  But the negro clung more closely to his knees, and when the
children, attracted to the spot by their poor old friend's lamentation,
cried loudly in unison, and little Helios began to pat and stroke the
little remains of the negro's woolly hair, the vain man felt uneasy about
the heart, and to protect himself against his own weakness he cried out
loudly and violently:

"Now, away with you, and do as you are ordered or I will find the whip."

With these words he tore himself loose from the miserable--old man who
left the room with his head hanging down, and who soon was standing at
the door of the Emperor's rooms with the letter in his hand.  Hadrian's
appearance and manner had filled him with terror and respect, and he
dared not knock at the door.  After he had waited for some time, still
with tears in his eyes, Mastor came into the passage with the remains of
his master's breakfast.  The negro called to him and held out the
steward's letter, stammering out lamentably:

"From Keraunus, for you master."

"Lay it here on the tray," said the Sarmatian.  "But what has happened to
you, my old friend?  you are wailing most pitifully and look miserable.
Have you been beaten?"

The negro shook his head and answered, whimpering: "Keraunus is going to
sell me."

"There are better masters than he."

"But Sebek is old, Sebek is weak--he can no longer lift and pull, and
with hard work he will certainly die."

"Has life been so easy and comfortable then at the steward's?"

"Very little wine, very little meat, very much hunger," said the old man.

"Then you must be glad to leave him."

"No, no," groaned Sebek.

"You foolish old owl," said Mastor.  "Why do you care then for that
grumpy niggard?"

The negro did not answer for some time, then his lean breast heaved and
fell, and, as if the dam were broken through that had choked his
utterance, he burst out with a mixture of loud sobs:

"The children, the little ones, our little ones.  They are so sweet; and
our little blind Helios stroked my hair because I was to go away, here--
just here he stroked it"--and he put his hand on a perfectly bald place
--"and now Sebek must go and never see them all again, just as if they
were all dead."

And the words rolled out and with difficulty, as if carried on in the
flood of his tears.  They went to Mastor's heart, rousing the memory of
his own lost children and a strong desire to comfort his unhappy comrade.

"Poor fellow!"  he said, compassionately.  "Aye, the children! they are
so small, and the door into one's heart is so narrow--and they dance in
at it a thousand times better and more easily than grown-up folks.
I, too, have lost dear children, and they were my own, too.  I can teach
any one what is meant by sorrow--but I know too now where comfort is to
be found."  With these words Mastor held the tray he was carrying on his
hip with his right hand, while he put the left on the negro's shoulder
and whispered to him:

"Have you ever heard of the Christians?"

Sebek nodded eagerly as if Mastor were speaking of a matter of which he
had heard great things and expected much, and Mastor went on in a low
voice "Come early to-morrow before sunrise to the pavement-workers in the
'court, and there you will hear of One who comforts the weary and heavy-
laden."

The Emperor's servant once more took his tray in both hands and hurried
away, but a faint gleam of hope had lighted up in the old slave's eyes.
He expected no happiness, but perhaps there might be some way of bearing
the sorrows of life more easily.

Mastor as soon he had given his tray to the kitchen slaves--who were now
busy again in the palace at Lochias--returned to his lord and gave him
the steward's letter.  It was an ill-chosen hour for Keraunus, for the
Emperor was in a gloomy mood.  He had sat up till morning, had rested
scarcely three hours, and now, with knitted brows, was comparing the
results of his night's observation of the starry sky with certain
astronomical tables which lay spread out before him.  Over this work he
frequently shook his head which was covered with crisp waves of hair;
nay--he once flung the pencil, with which he was working his
calculations, down on the table, leaned back in his seat and covered his
eyes with both hands.  Then again he began to write fresh numbers, but
his new results seemed to be no more satisfactory than the former one.

The steward's letter had been for a long time lying before him when at
last it again caught his attention as he put out his hand for another
document.  Needing some change of ideas he tore it open, read it and
flung it from him with annoyance.  At any other time he would have
expressed some sympathy with the suffering girl, have laughed at the
ridiculous man, and have thought out some trick to tease or to terrify;
but just now the steward's threats made him angry and increased his
dislike for him.

Tired of the silence around him he called to Antinous, who sat gazing
dreamily down on the harbor; the youth immediately approached his master.
Hadrian looked at him and said, shaking his head:

"Why you too look as if some danger were threatening you.  Is the sky
altogether overcast?"

"No my lord, it is blue over the sea, but towards the south the black
clouds are gathering."

"Towards the south?"  said Hadrian thoughtfully.  "Any thing serious can
hardly threaten us from that quarter.--But it comes, it is near, it is
upon us before we suspect it."

"You sat up too long, and that has put you out of tune."

"Out of tune?"  muttered Hadrian to himself.  "And what is tune?  That
subtle harmony or discord is a condition which masters all the emotions
of the soul at once; and not without reason--to-day my heart is paralyzed
with anxiety."

"Then you have seen evil signs in the heavens?"

"Direful signs!"

"You wise men believe in the stars," replied Antinous.  "No doubt you are
right, but my weak head cannot understand what their regular courses have
to do with my inconstant wanderings."

"Grow gray," replied the Emperor, "learn to comprehend the universe with
your intellect, and not till then speak of these things for not till then
will you discern that every atom of things created, and the greatest as
well as the least, is in the closest bonds with every other; that all
work together, and each depends on all.  All that is or ever will be in
nature, all that we men feel, think or do, all is dependent on eternal
and immutable causes; and these causes have each their Daimon who
interposes between us and the divinity and is symbolized in golden
characters on the vault of heaven.  The letters are the stars, whose
orbits are as unchanging and everlasting as are the first causes of all
that exists or happens."

"And are you quite sure that you never read wrongly in this great
record?"  asked Antinous.

"Even I may err," replied Hadrian.  "But this time I have not deceived
myself.  A heavy misfortune threatens me.  It is a strange, terrible and
extraordinary coincidence!"

"What?"

"From that accursed Antioch--whence nothing good has ever come to me--
I have received the saying of an oracle which foretells that, that--why
should I hide it from you--in the middle of the year now about to begin
some dreadful misfortune shall fall upon me, as lightning strikes the
traveller to the earth; and tonight--look here.  Here is the house of
Death, here are the planets--but what do you know of such things?  Last
night--the night in which once before such terrors were wrought, the
stars confirmed the fatal oracle with as much naked plainness, as much
unmistakable certainty as if they had tongues to shout the evil forecast
in my ear.  It is hard to walk on with such a goal in prospect.  What may
not the new year bring in its course?"

Hadrian sighed deeply, but Antinous went close up to him, fell on his
knees before him and asked in a tone of childlike humility:

"May I, a poor foolish lad, teach a great and wise man how to enrich his
life with six happy months?"  The Emperor smiled, as though he knew what
was coming, but his favorite felt encouraged to proceed.

"Leave the future to the future," he said.  "What must come will come,
for the gods themselves have no power against Fate.  When evil is
approaching it casts its black shadow before it; you fix your gaze on it
and let it darken the light of day.  I saunter dreamily on my way and
never see misfortune till it runs up against me and falls upon me
unawares--"

"And so you are spared many a gloomy day," interrupted Hadrian.

"That is just what I would have said."

"And your advice is excellent, for you and for every other loiterer
through the gay fair-time of an idle life," replied the Emperor, "but
the man whose task it is to bear millions in safety and over abysses,
must watch the signs around him, look out far and near, and never dare
close his eyes, even when such terrors loom as it was my fate to see
during the past night."

As he spoke, Phlegon, the Emperor's private secretary, came in with
letters just received from Rome, and approached his master.  He bowed
low, and taking up Hadrian's last words he said:

"The stars disquiet you, Caesar?"

"Well, they warn me to be on my guard," replied Hadrian.

"Let us hope that they be," cried the Greek, with cheerful vivacity.
"Cicero was not altogether wrong when he doubted the arts of Astrology."

"He was a mere talker!"  said the Emperor, with a frown.

"But," asked Phlegon, "would it not be fair that if the horoscopes cast
for Cneius or Caius, let us say, were alike, to expect that Cneius or
Caius must have the same temperament and the same destiny through life
if they had happened to be born in the same hour?"

"Always the old commonplaces, the old silly objections!"  interrupted
Hadrian, vexed to the verge of rage.  "Speak when you are spoken to, and
do not trouble yourself about things you do not understand and which do
not concern you.  Is there anything of importance among these papers?"

Antinous gazed at his sovereign in astonishment; why should Phlegon's
objections make him so furious when he had answered his so kindly?

Hadrian paid no farther heed to him, but read the despatches one after
another, hastily but attentively, wrote brief notes on the margins,
signed a decree with a firm hand, and, when his work was finished desired
the Greek to leave him.  Hardly was he alone with Antinous when the loud
cries and jovial shouting of a large multitude came to their ears through
the open window.

"What does this mean?"  he asked Mastor, and as soon as he had been
informed that the workmen and slaves had just been let out to give
themselves up to the pleasures of their holiday, he muttered to himself:

"These creatures can riot, shout, dress themselves with garlands, forget
themselves in a debauch--and I, I whom all envy--I spoil my brief span of
life with vain labors, let myself be tormented with consuming cares--I--"
here he broke off and cried in quite an altered tone:

"Ha! ha!  Antinous, you are wiser than I.  Let us leave the future to the
future.  The feast-day is ours too; let us take advantage of this day of
freedom.  We too will throw ourselves into the holiday whirlpool
disguised, I as a satyr, and you as a young faun or something of the
kind; we will drain cups, wander round the city and enjoy all that is
enjoyable."

"Oh!" exclaimed Antinous, joyfully clapping his hands.

"Evoe Bacche!" cried Hadrian, tossing up his cup that stood on his table.
"You are free till this evening, Mastor, and you my boy, go and talk to
Pollux, the sculptor.  He shall be our guide and he will provide us with
wreaths and some mad disguise.  I must see drunken men, I must laugh with
the jolliest before I am Caesar again.  Make haste, my friend, or new
cares will come to spoil my holiday mood."



CHAPTER XXII.

Antinous and Mastor at once quitted the Emperor's room; in the corridor
the lad beckoned the slave to him and said in a low voice:

"You can hold your tongue I know, will you do me a favor?"

"Three sooner than one," replied the Sarmatian.

"You are free to-day--are you going into the city?"

"I think so."

"You are not known here, but that does not matter.  Take these gold
pieces and in the flower-market buy with one of them the most beautiful
bunch of flowers you can find, with another you may make merry, and
out of the remainder spend a drachma in hiring an ass.  The driver will
conduct you to the garden of Pudeus' widow where stands the house of dame
Hannah; you remember the name?"

"Dame Hannah and the widow of Pudeus."

"And at the little house, not the big one, leave the flowers for the sick
Selene."

"The daughter of the fat steward, who was attacked by our big dog?"
asked Mastor, curiously.

"She or another," said Antinous, impatiently, "and when they ask you who
sent the flowers, say 'the friend at Lochias,' nothing more.  You
understand."

The slave nodded and said to himself: "What! you too-oh! these women."

Antinous signed to him to be silent, impressed on him in a few hasty
words that he was to be discreet and to pick out the very choicest
flowers, and then betook himself into the hall of the Muses to seek
Pollux.  From him he had learnt where to find the suffering Selene, of
whom he could not help thinking incessantly and wherever he might be.  He
did not find the sculptor in his screened-off nook; prompted by a wish to
speak to his mother, Pollux had gone down to the gatehouse where he was
now standing before her and frankly narrating, with many eager gestures
of his long arms, all that had occurred on the previous night.  His story
flowed on like a song of triumph, and when he described how the holiday
procession had carried away Arsinoe and himself, the old woman jumped up
from her chair and clapping her fat little hands, she exclaimed:

"Ah!  that is pleasure, that is happiness!  I remember flying along with
your father in just the same way thirty years ago."

"And since thirty years," Pollux interposed.  "I can still remember very
well how at one of the great Dionysiac festivals, fired by the power of
the god, you rushed through the streets with a deer-skin over your
shoulders."

"That was delightful--lovely!"  cried Doris with sparkling eyes.  "But
thirty years since it was all different, very different.  I have told you
before now how I went with our maid-servant into the Canopic way to the
house of my aunt Archidike to look on at the great procession.  I had not
far to go for we lived near the Theatre, my father was stage-manager and
yours was one of the chief singers in the chorus.  We hurried along, but
all sorts of people stopped us, and drunken men wanted to joke with me."

"Ah, you were as sweet as a rose-bud then," her son interrupted.

"As a rose-bud, yes, but not like your lovely rose," said the old woman.
"At any rate I looked nice enough for the men in disguise--fauns and
satyrs and were the cynic hypocrites in their ragged cloaks, to think it
worth while to look at me and to take a rap on the knuckles when they
tried to put an arm round me or to steal a kiss, I did not care for the
handsomest of them, for Euphorion had done for me with his fiery glances
--not with words for I was very strictly kept and he had never been able
to get a chance to speak to me.  At the corner of the Canopic way and the
Market street we could get no farther, for the crowd had blocked the way
and were howling and storming as they stared at a party of Klodones and
other Maenads, who in their sacred fury were tearing a goat to pieces
with their teeth.  I shuddered at the spectacle, but I must need stare
with the rest and shout and halloo as they did.  My maid, who I held on
to tightly, was seized with the frenzy and dragged me into the middle of
the circle close up to the bleeding sacrifice.  Two of the possessed
women sprang upon us, and I felt one clasping me tightly and trying to
throw me down.  It was a horrible moment but I defended myself bravely
and had succeeded in keeping on my feet when your father sprang forward,
set me free and led me away.  What happened after I could not tell you
now; it was one of those wild happy dreams in which you must hold your
heart with both hands for fear it should crack with joy, or fly out and
away up to the sky and in the very eye of the sun.  Late in the evening
I got home and a week after I was Euphorion's wife."

"We have exactly followed your example," said Pollux, "and if Arsinoe
grows to be like my dear old woman I shall be quite satisfied."

"Happy and contented," replied Doris.  "Keep you health, snap your
fingers at care and sorrow, do your duty on work-days and drink till you
are jolly in honor of the god on holidays, and then all will be well.
Those who do all they are able and enjoy as much as they can get, make
good use of their lives and need feel no remorse in their last hours.
What is past is done for, and when Atropos cuts our thread some one else
will stand in our place and joys will begin all over again.  May the gods
bless you!"

"You are right," said Pollux embracing his mother, and two together can
turn the work out of hand more lightly and enjoy the pleasures of
existence better than each alone--can they not?"

"I am sure of it; and you have chosen the right mate," cried the old
woman.  "You are a sculptor and used to simple things; you need no
riches, only a sweet face which may every day rejoice your heart, and
that you have found."

"There is nowhere a sweeter or a lovelier," said Pollux.

"No, that there is not," continued Doris.  "First I cast my eyes on
Selene.  She need not be ashamed to show herself either, and she is a
pattern for girls; but then as Arsinoe grew older, whenever she passed
this way I thought to myself: 'that girl is growing up for my boy,' and
now that you have won her I feel as if I were once more as young as your
sweetheart herself.  My old heart beats as happily as if the little Loves
were touching it with their wings and rosy fingers.  If my feet had not
grown so heavy with constantly standing over the hearth and at washing--
really and truly I could take Euphorion by the arm and dance through the
streets with him to-day."

"Where is father?"

"Out singing."

"In the morning! where?"

"There is some sect that are celebrating their mysteries.  They pay well
and he had to sing dismal hymns for them behind a curtain; the wildest
stuff, in which he does not follow a word, and that I do not understand
a half of."

"It is a pity for I wanted to speak to him."

"He will not be back till late."

"There is plenty of time."

"So much the better, otherwise I might have told him what you had to
say."

"Your advice is as good as his.  I think of giving up working under
Papias and standing on my own feet."

"You are quite right; the Roman architect told me yesterday that a great
future was open to you."

"There are only my poor sister and the children to be considered.  If,
during the first few months I should find myself falling short--"

"We will manage to pull through.  It is high time that you yourself
should reap from what you sow."

"So it seems to me, for my own sake and Arsinoe's; if only Keraunus--"

"Aye--there will be a battle to fight with him."

"A hard one, a hard one," sighed Pollux.

"The thought of the old man troubles my happiness."

"Folly!"  cried Doris.  "Avoid all useless anxiety.  It is almost as
injurious as remorse gnawing at your heart.  Take a workshop of your own,
do some great work in a joyful spirit, something to astonish the world,
and I will wager anything that the old fool of a steward will only be
vexed to think that he destroyed the first work of the celebrated Pollux,
instead of treasuring it in his cabinet of curiosities.  Just imagine
that no such person exists in the world and enjoy your happiness."

"I will stick to that."

"One thing more my lad: take good care of Arsinoe.  She is young and
inexperienced and you must not persuade her to do anything you would
advise her not to do if she were betrothed to your brother instead of to
yourself."

Doris had not done speaking when Antinous came into the gate-house and
delivered the commands of the architect Claudius Venator, to escort him
through the city.  Pollux hesitated with his answer, for he had still
much to do in the palace, and he hoped to see Arsinoe again in the course
of the day.  After such a morning what could noon and evening be to him
without her?  Dame Doris noticed his indecision and cried:

"Yes, go; the festival is for pleasure, besides, the architect can
perhaps advise you on many points, and recommend you to his friends."

"Your mother is right," said Antinous.  "Claudius Venator can be very
touchy, but he can also be grateful, and I wish you sincerely well--"

"Good then, I will come," Pollux interposed while the Bithynian was still
speaking, for he felt himself strongly attracted by Hadrian's imposing
personality and considered that under the circumstances, it might be very
desirable to revel with him for a while.

"I will come, but first I must let Pontius know that I am going to fly
from the heat of the fray for a few hours to-day."

"Leave that to Venator," replied the favorite, "and you must find some
amusing disguise and procure masks for him and for me and, if you like,
for yourself too.  He wants to join the revel as a satyr and I in some
other disguise."

"Good," replied the sculptor.  "I will go at once and order what is
requisite.  A quantity of dresses for the Dionysiac processions are lying
in our workshop and in half an hour I will be back with the things."

"But pray make haste," Antinous begged him.  "My master cannot bear to be
kept waiting, and besides--one thing--"

At these words Antinous had grown embarrassed and had gone quite close up
to the artist.  He laid his hand on his shoulder and said in a low voice
but impressively:

"Venator stands very near to Caesar.  Beware of saying anything before
him that is not in Hadrian's favor."

"Is your master Caesar's spy?"  asked Pollux, looking suspiciously at
Antinous.  "Pontius has already, given me a similar warning, and if that
is the case--"

"No, no," interrupted the lad hastily.

"Anything but that; but the two have no secrets from each other and
Venator talks a good deal--cannot hold his tongue--"

"I thank you and will be on my guard."

"Aye do so--I mean it honestly."  The Bithynian held out his hand to the
artist with an expression of warm regard on his handsome features and
with an indescribably graceful gesture.  Pollux took it heartily, but
dame Doris, whose old eyes had been fixed as if spellbound on Antinous,
seized her son's arm and quite excited by the sight of his beauty cried
out:

"Oh! what a splendid creature!  moulded by the gods! sacred to the gods!
Pollux, boy! you might almost think one of the immortals had come down to
earth."

"Look at my old woman!" exclaimed Pollux laughing, "but in truth friend,
she has good reasons for her ecstasies, I could follow her example."

"Hold him fast, hold him fast!"  cried Doris.  "If he only will let you
take his likeness you can show the world a thing worth seeing."

"Will you?"  interrupted Pollux turning to Hadrian's favorite.

"I have never yet been able to keep still for any artist," said Antinous.
"But I will do any thing you wish to please you.  It only vexes me that
you too should join in the chorus with the rest of the world.  Farewell
for the present, I must go back to my master."

As soon as the youth had left the house Doris exclaimed:

"Whether a work of art is good for any thing or not I can only guess at,
but as to what is beautiful that I know as well as any other woman in
Alexandria.  If that boy will stand as your model you will produce
something that will delight men and turn the heads of the women, and you
will be sought after even in a workshop of your own.  Eternal gods! such
beauty as that is sublime.  Why are there no means of preserving such a
face and such a form from old age and wrinkles?"

"I know the means, mother," said Pollux, as he went to the door.  "It is
called Art: to her it is given to bestow eternal youth on this mortal
Adonis."

The old woman glanced at her son with pardonable pride, and confirmed his
words by an assenting nod.  While she fed her birds, with many coaxing
words, and made one which was a special favorite pick crumbs from her
lips, the young sculptor was hurrying through the streets with long
steps.

He was greeted as he went with many a cross word, and many exclamations
rose from the crowd he left behind him, for he pushed his way by the
weight of his tall person and his powerful arms, and saw and heard, as he
went, little enough of what was going around him.  He thought of Arsinoe,
and between whiles of Antinous and of the attitude in which he best might
represent him--whether as hero or god.

In the flower-market, near the Gymnasium, he was for a moment roused from
his reverie by a picture which struck him as being unusual and which
riveted his gaze, as did every thing exceptional that came under his
eyes.  On a very small dark-colored donkey sat a tall, well-dressed
slave, who held in his right hand a nosegay of extraordinary size and
beauty.  By his side walked a smartly dressed-up man with a splendid
wreath, and a comic mask over his face followed by two garden-gods of
gigantic stature, and four graceful boys.  In the slave, Pollux at once
recognized the servant of Claudius Venator, and he fancied he must have
seen the masked gentlemen too before now, but he could not remember
where, and did not trouble himself to retrace him in his mind.  At any
rate, the rider of the donkey had just heard something he did not like,
for he was looking anxiously at his bunch of flowers.

After Pollux had hurried past this strange party his thoughts reverted to
other, and to him far nearer and dearer subjects.  But Mastor's anxious
looks were not without a cause, for the gentleman who was talking to him
was no less a person than Verus, the praetor, who was called by the
Alexandrians the sham Eros.  He had seen the Emperor's body-slave a
hundred times about his person; he therefore recognized him at once, and
his presence here in Alexandria led him directly to the simple and
correct inference that his master too must be in the city.  The praetor's
curiosity was roused, and he at once proceeded to ply the poor fellow
with bewildering cross-questions.  When the donkey-rider shortly and
sharply refused to answer, Verus thought it well to reveal himself to
him, and the slave lost his confident demeanor when he recognized the
grand gentleman, the Emperor's particular friend.

He lost himself in contradictory statements, and although he did not
directly admit it, he left his interrogator in the certainty that Hadrian
was in Alexandria.

It was perfectly evident that the beautiful nosegay, which had attracted
the praetor's attention to Mastor could not belong to himself.  What
could be its destination?  Verus recommenced his questioning, but the
Sarmatian would betray nothing, till Verus tapped him lightly first on
one cheek and then on the other, and said gaily:

"Mastor, my worthy friend Mastor, listen to me.  I will make you certain
proposals, and you shall nod your head, towards that of the estimable
beast with two pairs of legs on which you are mounted, as soon as one of
them takes your fancy."

"Let me go on my way," the slave implored, with growing anxiety.

"Go, by all means, but I go with you," retorted Verus, "until I have hit
on the thing that suits you.  A great many plans dwell in my head, as you
will see.  First I must ask you, shall I go to your master and tell him
that you have betrayed his presence in Alexandria?"

"Sir, you will never do that!"  cried Mastor.

"To proceed then.  Shall I and my following hang on to your skirts and
stay with you till nightfall, when you and your steed must return home?
You decline--with thanks! and very wisely, for the execution of this
project would be equally unpleasant to you and to me, and would probably
get you punished.  Whisper to me then, softly, in my ear, where your
master is lodging, and from whom and to whom you are carrying those
flowers; as soon as you have agreed to that proposal I will let you go on
alone, and will show you that I care no more for my gold pieces here, in
Alexandria, than I do in Italy."

"Not gold--certainly I will not take gold!"  cried Mastor.

"You are an honest fellow," replied Verus in an altered tone, "and you
know of me that I treat my servants well and would rather be kind to
folks than hard upon them.  So satisfy my curiosity without any fear, and
I will promise you in return, that not a soul, your master least of all,
shall ever know from me what you tell me."  Mastor hesitated a little,
but as he could not but own to himself that he would be obliged at last
to yield to the stronger will of this imperious man, and as moreover he
knew that the haughty and extravagant praetor was in fact one of the
kindest of masters, he sighed deeply and whispered:

"You will not be the ruin of a poor wretch like me, that I know, so I
will tell you, we are living at Lochias."

"There," exclaimed Verus clapping his hands.  "And now as to the
flowers?"

"Mere trifling."

"Is Hadrian then in a merry mood?"

"Till to-day he was very gay--but since last night--"

"Well?"

"You know yourself what he is when he has seen lead signs in the sky."

"Bad signs," said Verus gravely.

"And yet he sends flowers?"

"Not he, can you not guess?"

"Antinous?"

Mastor nodded assent.

"Only think," laughed Verus.  "Then he too is beginning to think it
better worth while to admire than to be admired.  And who is the fair one
who has succeeded in waking up his slumbering heart?"

"Nay--I promised him not to chatter."

"And I promise you the same.  My powers of reserve are far greater than
my curiosity even."

"Be content, I beseech you with what you already know."

"But to know half is less endurable than to know nothing."

"Nay--I cannot tell you."

"Then am I to begin with fresh suggestions, and all over again?"

"Oh! my lord.  I beg you, entreat you--"

"Out with the word, and I go on my way, but if you persist in refusing--"

"Really and truly it only concerns a white-faced girl whom you would not
even look at."

"A girl-indeed!"

"Our big dog threw the poor thing down."

"In the street?"

"No, at  Lochias.  Her father is Keraunus the palace-steward."

"And her name is Arsinoe?"  asked Verus with undisguised concern, for he
had a pleasant recollection of the beautiful child who had been selected
to fill the part of Roxana.

"No, her name is Selene, Arsinoe indeed is her younger sister."

"Then you bring these flowers from Lochias?"

"She went out, and she could not get back home again, she is now lying in
the house of a stranger."

"Where?"

"That must be quite indifferent to you--"

"By no means, quite the contrary.  I beg you to tell me the whole truth."

"Eternal gods! what can you care about the poor sick creature?"

"Nothing whatever; but I must know whither you are riding."

"Down by the sea.  I do not know the house, but the donkey driver--"

"Is it far from here?"

"About half an hour yet," said the lad.

"A good way then," replied Verus.  "And Hadrian is particularly anxious
to remain unknown."

"Certainly."

"And you his body-servant, who  are known to numbers of others here from
Rome, like myself, you propose to ride half a mile through the streets
where every creature that can stand or walk is swarming, with a large
nosegay in your hand which attracts every body's attention.  Oh Mastor
that is not wise!"

The slave started, and seeing at once that Verus was right, he asked in
alarm:

"What then can I do?"

Get off your donkey," said the praetor.  "Disguise yourself and make
merry to your heart's content with these gold pieces."

"And the flowers?"

"I will see to that."

"You will?  I may trust you; and never betray to Antinous what you
compelled me to do?"

"Positively not."

"There--there are the flowers, but I cannot take the gold."

"Then I shall fling it among the crowd.  Buy yourself a garland, a mask
and some wine, as much as you can carry.  Where is the girl to be found?"

"At dame Hannah's.  She lives in a little house in a garden belonging to
the widow of Pudeus.  And whoever gives it to her is to say that it is
sent by the friend at Lochias."

"Good.  Now go, and take care that no one recognizes you.  Your secret is
mine, and the friend at Lochias shall be duly mentioned."

Mastor disappeared in the crowd.  Verus put the nosegay into the hands of
one of the garden-gods that followed in his train, sprang laughing on to
the ass, and desired the driver to show him the way.  At the corner of
the next street, he met two litters, carried with difficulty through the
crowd by their bearers.  In the first sat Keraunus, whose saffron-colored
cloak was conspicuous from afar, as fat as Silenus the companion of
Dionysus, but looking very sullen.  In the second sat Arsinoe, looking
gaily about her, and so fresh and pretty that the Roman's easily-stirred
pulses beat more rapidly.

Without reflecting, he took the flowers from the hand of the garden-god--
the flowers intended for Selene--laid them on the girl's litter, and
said:

"Alexander greets Roxana, the fairest of the fair."  Arsinoe colored,
and Verus, after watching her for some time as she was carried onwards,
desired one of his boys to follow her litter, and to join him again in
the flower-market, where he would wait, to inform him whither she had
gone.

The messenger hurried off, and Verus, turning his ass's head soon reached
a semicircular pillared hall on the shady side of a large open space,
under which the better sort of gardeners and flower dealers of the city
exposed their gay and fragrant wares to be sold by pretty girls.  To-day
every stall had been particularly well supplied, but the demand for
wreaths and flowers had steadily increased from an early hour, and
although Verus had all that he could find of fresh flowers arranged and
tied together, still the nosegay, though much larger, was not half so
beautiful as that intended for Selene, and for which he substituted it.

Now this annoyed the Roman.  His sense of justice prompted him to make
good the loss he had inflicted on the sick girl.  Gay ribbons were wound
round the stalks of the flowers, and the long ends floated in the air, so
Verus took a brooch from his dress and stuck it into the bow which
ornamented the stem of the nosegay; then he was satisfied, and as he
looked at the stone set in a gold border--an onyx on which was engraved
Eros sharpening his arrows--he pictured to himself the pleasure, the
delight of the girl that the handsome Bithynian loved, as she received
the beautiful gift.

His slaves, natives of Britain, who were dressed as garden-gods, were
charged with the commission to proceed to dame Hannah's under the
guidance of the donkey-driver to deliver the nosegay to Selene from
'the friend at Lochias,' and then to wait for him outside the house of
Titianus, the prefect; for thither, as he had ascertained from his swift-
footed messenger, had Keraunus and his daughter been carried.

Verus needed a longer time than the boy, to make his way through the
crowd.  At the door of the prefect's residence he laid aside his mask,
and in an anteroom where the steward was sitting on a couch waiting for
his daughter, he arranged his hair and the folds of his toga, and was
then conducted to the lady Julia with whom he hoped, once more, to see
the charming Arsinoe.

But in the reception-room, instead of Arsinoe he found his own wife and
the poetess Balbilla and her companion.  He greeted the ladies gaily,
amiably and gracefully, as usual, and then, as he looked enquiringly
round the large room without concealing his disappointment, Balbilla came
up to him and asked him in a low voice:

"Can you be honest, Verus?"

"When circumstances allow it, yes."

"And will they allow it here?"

"I should suppose so."

"Then answer me truly.  Did you come here for Julia's sake, or did you
come--"

"Well?"

"Or did you expect to find the fair Roxana with the prefect's wife?"

"Roxana?"  asked Verus, with a cunning smile.  "Roxana!  Why she was the
wife of Alexander the Great, and is long since dead, but I care only for
the living, and when I left the merry tumult in the streets it was simply
and solely--"

"You excite my curiosity."

"Because my prophetic heart promised me, fairest Balbilla, that I should
find you here."

And that you call honest!"  cried the poetess, hitting the praetor a blow
with the stick of the ostrich-feather fan she held in her hand.  "Only
listen, Lucilla, your husband declares he came here for my sake."  The
praetor looked reproachfully at the speaker, but she whispered:

"Due punishment for a dishonest man."  Then, raising her voice, she said:

"Do you know, Lucilla, that if I remain unmarried, your husband is not
wholly innocent in the matter."

"Alas! yes, I was born too late for you," interrupted Verus, who knew
very well what the poetess was about to say.

"Nay--no  misunderstanding!"  cried  Balbilla.  "For how can a woman
venture upon wedlock when she cannot but fear the possibility of getting
such a husband as Verus."

"And what man," retorted the praetor, "would ever be so bold as to court
Balbilla, could he hear how cruelly she judges an innocent admirer of
beauty?"

"A husband ought not to admire beauty--only the one beauty who is his
wife."

"Ah Vestal maiden," laughed Verus.  "I am meanwhile punishing you by
withholding from you a great secret which interests us all.  No, no, I am
not going to tell--but I beg you my lady wife to take her to task, and
teach her to exercise some indulgence so that her future husband may not
have too hard a time of it."

"No woman can learn to be indulgent," replied Lucilla.  "Still we
practise indulgence when we have no alternative, and the criminal
requires us to make allowance for him in this thing or the other."

Verus made his wife a bow and pressed his lips on her arm, then he asked.
"And where is dame Julia?"

"She is saving the sheep from the wolf," replied Balbilla.

"Which means--?"

"That as soon as you were announced she carried off little Roxana to a
place of safety."

"No, no," interrupted Lucilla.  "The tailor was waiting in an inner room
to arrange the charming child's costume.  Only look at the lovely nosegay
she brought to Julia.  And do you deny my right to share your secret?"

"How could I?"  replied Verus.

"He is very much in need of your making allowances!"  laughed Balbilla,
while the praetor went up to, his wife and told her in a whisper what he
had learnt from Mastor.  Lucilla clasped her hands in astonishment, and
Verus cried to the poetess:

"Now you see what a satisfaction your cruel tongue has deprived you of?"

"How can you be so revengeful most estimable Verus," said the lady
coaxingly.  "I am dying of curiosity."

"Live but a few days longer fair Balbilla, for my sake," replied the
Roman, "and the cause of your early death will be removed."

"Only wait, I will be revenged!"  cried the girl threatening him with her
finger, but Lucilla led her away saying:

"Come now, it is time we should give Julia the benefit of our advice."

"Do so," said Verus.  "Otherwise I am afraid my visit to-day would seem
opportune to no one.--Greet Julia from me."

As he went away he cast a glance at the nosegay which Arsinoe had given
away as soon as she had received it from him, and he sighed: "As we grow
old we have to learn wisdom."



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Avoid all useless anxiety
To know half is less endurable than to know nothing
Who do all they are able and enjoy as much as they can get





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