Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Bride of the Nile — 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 Bride of the Nile — Volume 05" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE BRIDE OF THE NILE

By Georg Ebers

Volume 5.



CHAPTER XVII.

During all these hours Orion had been in the solitude of his own rooms.
Next to them was little Mary's sleeping-room; he had not seen the child
again since leaving his father's death-bed.  He knew that she was lying
there in a very feverish state, but he could not so far command himself
as to enquire for her.  When, now and again, he could not help thinking
of her, he involuntarily clenched his fists.  His soul was shaken to the
foundations; desperate, beside himself, incapable of any thought but that
he was the most miserable man on earth--that his father's curse had
blighted him--that nothing could undo what had happened--that some cruel
and inexorable power had turned his truest friend into a foe and had
sundered them so completely that there was no possibility of atonement or
of moving him to a word of pardon or a kindly glance--he paced the long
room from end to end, flinging himself on his knees at intervals before
the divan, and burying his burning face in the soft pillows.  From time
to time he could pray, but each time he broke off; for what Power in
Heaven or on earth could unseal those closed eyes and stir that heart to
beat again, that tongue to speak--could vouchsafe to him, the outcast,
the one thing for which his soul thirsted and without which he thought he
must die: Pardon, pardon, his father's pardon!  Now and then he struck
his forehead and heart like a man demented, with cries of anguish, curses
and lamentations.

About midnight--it was but just twelve hours since that fearful scene,
and to him it seemed like as many days--he threw himself on the couch,
dressed as he was in the dark mourning garments, which he had half torn
off in his rage and despair, and broke out into such loud groans that he
himself was almost frightened in the silence of the night.  Full of self-
pity and horror at his own deep grief, he turned his face to the wall to
screen his eyes from the clear, full moon, which only showed him things
he did not want to see, while it hurt him.

His torture was beginning to be quite unbearable; he fancied his soul was
actually wounded, riven, and torn; it had even occurred to him to seize
his sharpest sword and throw himself upon it like Ajax in his fury--and
like Cato--and so put a sudden end to this intolerable and overwhelming
misery.

He started up for--surely it was no illusion, no mistake-the door of his
room was softly opened and a white figure came in with noiseless, ghostly
steps.  He was a brave man, but his blood ran cold; however, in a moment
he recognized his nocturnal visitor as little Mary.  She came across the
moonlight without speaking, but he exclaimed in a sharp tone:

"What is the meaning of this?  What do you want?"

The child started and stood still in alarm, stretching out imploring
hands and whispering timidly:

"I heard you lamenting.  Poor, poor Orion!  And it was I who brought it
all on you, and so I could not stay in  bed any longer--I  must--I could
not help...."  But she could say no more for sobs.  Orion exclaimed:

"Very well, very well: go back to your own room and sleep.  I will try
not to groan so loud."

He ended his speech in a less rough tone, for he observed that the child
had come to see him, though she was ill, with bare feet and only in her
night-shift, and was trembling with cold, excitement, and grief.  Mary,
however, stood still, shook her head, and replied, still weeping though
less violently:

"No, no.  I shall stop here and not go away till you tell me that you--
Oh, God, you never can forgive me, but still I must say it, I must."

With a sudden impulse she ran straight up to him, threw her arms round
his neck, laid her head against his, and then, as he did not immediately
push her away, kissed his cheeks and brow.

At this a strange feeling came over him; he himself did not know what it
was, but it was as though something within him yielded and gave way, and
the moisture which felt warm in his eyes and on his cheeks was not from
the child's tears but his own.  This lasted through many minutes of
silence; but at last he took the little one's arms from about his neck,
saying:

"How hot your hands and your cheeks are, poor thing!  You are feverish,
and the night air blows in chill--you will catch fresh cold by this mad
behavior."

He had controlled his tears with difficulty, and as he spoke, in broken
accents, he carefully wrapped her in the black robe he had thrown off and
said kindly:

"Now, be calm, and I will try to compose myself.  You did not mean any
harm, and I owe you no grudge.  Now go; you will not feel the draught in
the anteroom with that wrap on.  Go; be quick."

"No, no," she eagerly replied.  "You must let me say what I have to say
or I cannot sleep.  You see I never thought of hurting you so dreadfully,
so horribly--never, never!  I was angry with you, to be sure, because--
but when I spoke I really and truly did not think of you, but only of
poor Paula.  You do not know how good she is, and grandfather was so fond
of her before you came home; and he was lying there and going to die so
soon, and I knew that he believed Paula to be a thief and a liar, and it
seemed to me so horrible, so unbearable to see him close his eyes with
such a mistake in his mind, such an injustice!--Not for his sake, oh no!
but for Paula's; so then I--Oh Orion!  the Merciful Saviour is my
witness, I could not help it; if I had had to die for it I could not have
helped it!  I should have died, if I had not spoken!"

"And perhaps it was well that you spoke," interrupted the young man, with
a deep sigh.  "You see, child, your lost father's miserable brother is a
ruined man and it matters little about him; but Paula, who is a thousand
times better than I am, has at least had justice done her; and as I love
her far more dearly than your little heart can conceive of, I will gladly
be friends with you again: nay, I shall be more fond of you than ever.
That is nothing great or noble, for I need love--much love to make life
tolerable.  The best love a man may have I have forfeited, fool that I
am!  and now dear, good little soul, I could not bear to lose yours!  So
there is my hand upon it; now, give me another kiss and then go to bed
and sleep."

But still Mary would not do his bidding, but only thanked him vehemently
and then asked with sparkling eyes:

"Really, truly?  Do you love Paula so dearly?"  At this point however she
suddenly checked herself.  "And little Katharina. . ."

"Never mind about that," he replied with a sigh.  "And learn a lesson
from all this.  I, you see, in an hour of recklessness did a wrong thing;
to hide it I had to do further wrong, till it grew to a mountain which
fell on me and crushed me.  Now, I am the most miserable of men and I
might perhaps have been the happiest.  I have spoilt my own life by my
own folly, weakness, and guilt; and I have lost Paula, who is dearer to
me than all the other creatures on earth put together.  Yes, Mary, if she
had been mine, your poor uncle would have been the most enviable fellow
in the world, and he might have been a fine fellow, too, a man of great
achievements.  But as it is!--Well, what is done cannot be undone!  Now
go to bed child; you cannot understand it all till you are older."

"Oh I understand it already and much better perhaps than you suppose,"
cried the ten years' old child.  "And if you love Paula so much why
should not she love you?  You are so handsome, you can do so many things,
every one likes you, and Paula would have loved you, too, if only ...
Will you promise not to be angry with me, and may I say it?"

"Speak out, little simpleton."

"She cannot owe you any grudge when she knows how dreadfully you are
suffering on her account and that you are good at heart, and only that
once ever did--you know what.  Before you came home, grandfather said a
hundred times over what a joy you had been to him all your life through,
and now, now...  Well, you are my uncle, and I am only a stupid little
girl; still, I know that it will be just the same with you as it was with
the prodigal son in the Bible.  You and grandfather parted in anger...."

"He cursed me," Orion put in gloomily.

"No, no!  For I heard every word he said.  He only spoke of your evil
deed in those dreadful words and bid you go out of his sight."

"And what is the difference--Cursed or outcast?"

"Oh! a very great difference!  He had good reason to be angry with you;
but the prodigal son in the Bible became his father's best beloved, and
he had the fatted calf slain for him and forgave him all; and so will
grandfather in heaven forgive, if you are good again, as you used to be
to him and to all of us.  Paula will forgive you, too; I know her--you
will see.  Katharina loved you of course; but she, dear Heaven!  She is
almost as much a child as I am; and if only you are kind to her and make
her some pretty present she will soon be comforted.  She really deserves
to be punished for bearing false witness, and her punishment cannot, at
any rate, be so heavy as yours."

These words from the lips of an innocent child could not but fall like
seed corn on the harrowed field of the young man's tortured soul and
refresh it as with morning dew.  Long after Mary had gone to rest he lay
thinking them over.



CHAPTER XVIII.

The funeral rites over the body of the deceased Mukaukas were performed
on the day after the morrow.  Since the priesthood had forbidden the old
heathen practice of mummifying the dead, and even cremation had been
forbidden by the Antonines, the dead had to be interred soon after
decease; only those of high rank were hastily embalmed and lay in state
in some church or chapel to which they had contributed an endowment.
Mukaukas George was, by his own desire, to be conveyed to Alexandria and
there buried in the church of St. John by his father's side; but the
carrier pigeon, by which the news of the governor's death had been sent
to the Patriarch, had returned with instructions to deposit the body in
the family tomb at Memphis, as there were difficulties in the way of the
fulfillment of his wishes.

Such a funeral procession had not been seen there within the memory of
man.  Even the Moslem viceroy, the great general Amru, came over from the
other side of the Nile, with his chief military and civil officers, to
pay the last honors to the just and revered governor.  Their brown,
sinewy figures, and handsome calm faces, their golden helmets and shirts
of mail, set with precious stones--trophies of the war of destruction in
Persia and Syria--their magnificent horses with splendid trappings, and
the authoritative dignity of their bearing made a great impression on the
crowd.  They arrived with slow and impressive solemnity; they returned
like a cloud driven before the storm, galloping homewards from the
burial-ground along the quay, and then thundering and clattering over the
bridge of boats.  Vivid and dazzling lightnings had flashed through the
wreaths of white dust that shrouded them, as their gold armor reflected
the sun.  Verily, these horsemen, each of them worthy to be a prince in
his pride, could find it no very hard task to subdue the mightiest realms
on earth.

Men and women alike had gazed at them with trembling admiration: most of
all at the heroic stature and noble dusky face of Amru, and at the son of
the deceased Mukaukas, who, by the Moslem's desire, rode at his side in
mourning garb on a fiery black horse.

The handsome youth, and the lordly, powerful man were a pair from whom
the women were loth to turn their eyes; for both alike were of noble
demeanor, both of splendid stature, both equally skilled in controlling
the impatience of their steeds, both born to command.  Many a Memphite
was more deeply impressed by the head of the famous warrior, erect on a
long and massive throat, with its sharply-chiselled aquiline nose and
flashing black eyes, than by the more regular features and fine,
slightly-waving locks of the governor's son--the last representative of
the oldest and proudest race in all Egypt.

The Arab looked straight before him with a steady, commanding gaze; the
youth, too, looked up and forwards, but turned from time to time to
survey the crowd of mourners.  As he caught sight of Paula, among the
group of women who had joined the procession, a gleam of joy passed over
his pale face, and a faint flush tinged his cheeks; his fixed outlook had
knit his brows and had given his features an expression of such ominous
sternness that one and another of the bystanders whispered:

"Our gay and affable young lord will make a severe ruler."

The cause of his indignation had not escaped the notice either of his
noble companion or of the crowd.  He alone knew as yet that the Patriarch
had prohibited the removal of his father's remains to Alexandria; but
every one could see that the larger portion of the priesthood of Memphis
were absent from this unprecedented following.  The Bishop alone marched
in front of the six horses drawing the catafalque on which the costly
sarcophagus was conveyed to the burying-place, in accordance with ancient
custom:--Bishop Plotinus, with John, a learned and courageous priest, and
a few choristers bearing a crucifix and chanting psalms.

On arriving at the Necropolis they all dismounted, and the barefooted
runners in attendance on the Arabs came forward to hold the horses.  By
the tomb the Bishop pronounced a few warm words of eulogy, after which
the thin chant of the choristers sounded trivial and meagre enough; but
scarcely had they ceased when the crowd uplifted its many thousand
voices, and a hymn of mourning rang out so loud and grand that this
burial ground had scarcely ever heard the like.  The remaining ceremonies
were hasty and incomplete, since the priests who were indispensable to
their performance had not made their appearance.

Amru, whose falcon eye nothing could escape, at once noted the omission
and exclaimed, in so loud and inconsiderate a voice that it could be
heard even at some distance.

"The dead is made to atone for what the living, in his wisdom, did for
his country's good, hand-in-hand with us Moslems."

"By the Patriarch's orders," replied Orion, and his voice quavered,
while the veins in his forehead swelled with rage.  "But I swear, by my
father's soul, that as surely as there is a just God, it shall be an evil
day for Benjamin when he closes the gate of Heaven against this noblest
of noble souls."

"We carry the key of ours under our own belt," replied the general,
striking his deep chest, while he smiled consciously and with a kindly
eye on the young man.  "Come and see me on Saturday, my young friend; I
have something to say to you!  I shall expect you at sundown at my house
over there.  If I am not at home by dusk, you must wait for me."

As he spoke he twisted his hand in his horse's mane and Orion prepared to
assist him to mount; but the Arab, though a man of fifty, was too quick
for him.  He flung himself into the saddle as lightly as a youth, and
gave his followers the signal for departure.

Paula had been standing close to the entrance of the tomb with Dame
Neforis, and she had heard every word of the dialogue between the two
men.  Pale, as she beheld him, in costly but simple, flowing, mourning
robes, stricken by solemn and manly indignation, it was impossible that
she should not confess that the events of the last days had had a
powerful effect on the misguided youth.

When Paula had led the grief-worn but tearless widow to her chariot, and
had then returned home with Perpetua, the image of the handsome and
wrathful youth as he lifted his powerful arm and tightly-clenched fist
and shook them in the air, still constantly haunted her.  She had not
failed to observe that he had seen her standing opposite to him by the
open tomb and she had been able to avoid meeting his eye; but her heart
had throbbed so violently that she still felt it quivering, she had not
succeeded in thinking of the beloved dead with due devotion.

Orion, as yet, had neither come near her in her peaceful retreat, nor
sent any messenger to deliver her belongings, and this she thought very
natural; for she needed no one to tell her how many claims there must be
on his time.

But though, before the funeral, she had firmly resolved to refuse to see
him if he came, and had given her nurse fall powers to receive from his
hand the whole of her property, after the ceremony this line of conduct
no longer struck her as seemly; indeed, she considered it no more than
her duty to the departed not to repel Orion if he should crave her
forgiveness.

And there was another thing which she owed to her uncle.  She desired to
be the first to point out to Orion, from Philip's point of view, that
life was a post, a duty; and then, if his heart seemed opened to this
admonition, then--but no, this must be all that could pass between them
--then all must be at an end, extinct, dead, like the fires in a sunken
raft, like a soap-bubble that the wind has burst, like an echo that has
died away--all over and utterly gone.

And as to the counsel she thought of offering to the man she had once
looked up to?  What right had she to give it?  Did he not look like a man
quite capable of planning and living his own life in his own strength?
Her heart thirsted for him, every fibre of her being yearned to see him
again, to hear his voice, and it was this longing, this craving to which
she gave the name of duty, connecting it with the gratitude she owed to
the dead.

She was so much absorbed in these reflections and doubts that she
scarcely heard all the garrulous old nurse was saying as she walked by
her side.

Perpetua could not be easy over such a funeral ceremony as this; so
different to anything that Memphis had been wont to see.  No priests, a
procession on horseback, mourners riding, and among them the son even of
the dead--while of old the survivors had always followed the body on
foot, as was everywhere the custom!  And then a mere chirping of crickets
at the tomb of such illustrious dead, followed by the disorderly
squalling of an immense mob--it had nearly cracked her ears!  However,
the citizens might be forgiven for that, since it was all in honor of
their departed governor!--this thought touched even her resolute heart
and brought the tears to her eyes; but it roused her wrath, too, for had
she not seen quite humble folk buried in a more solemn manner and with
worthier ceremonial than the great and good Mukaukas George, who had made
such a magnificent gift to the Church.  Oh those Jacobites!  They only
were capable of such ingratitude, only their heretical prelate could
commit such a crime.  Every one in the Convent of St. Cecilia, from the
abbess down to the youngest novice, knew that the Patriarch had sent word
by a carrier pigeon forbidding the Bishop to allow the priests to take
part in the ceremony.  Plotinus was a worthy man, and he had been highly
indignant at these instructions; it was not in his power to contravene
them; but at any rate he had led the procession in person, and had not
forbidden John's accompanying him.  Orion, however, had not looked as
though he meant to brook such an insult to his father or let it pass
unpunished.  And whose arm was long enough to reach the Patriarch's
throne if not....  But no, it was impossible! the mere thought of such a
thing made her blood run cold.  Still, still...  And how graciously the
Moslem leader had talked with him!--Merciful Heaven!  If he were to turn
apostate from the holy Christian faith, like so many reprobate Egyptians,
and subscribe to the wicked doctrines of the Arabian false prophet!
It was a tempting creed for shameless men, allowing them to have half
a dozen wives or more without regarding it as a sin.  A man like Orion
could afford to keep them, of course; for the abbess had said that every
one knew that the great Mukaukas was a very rich man, though even the
chief magistrate of the city could not fully satisfy himself concerning
the enormous amount of property left.  Well, well; God's ways were past
finding out.  Why should He smother one under heaps of gold, while He
gave thousands of poor creatures too little to satisfy their hunger!

By the end of this torrent of words the two women had reached the house;
and not till then was Paula clear in her own mind: Away, away with the
passion which still strove for the mastery, whether it were in deed
hatred or love!  For she felt that she could not rightly enjoy her
recovered freedom, her new and quiet happiness in the pretty home she
owed to the physician's thoughtful care, till she had finally given up
Orion and broken the last tie that had bound her to his house.

Could she desire anything more than what the present had to offer her?
She had found a true haven of rest where she lacked for nothing that she
could desire for herself after listening to the admonitions of Philip
pus.  Round her were good souls who felt with and for her, many
occupations for which she was well-fitted, and which suited her tastes,
with ample opportunities of bestowing and winning love.  Then, a few
steps through pleasant shades took her to the convent where she could
every day attend divine service among pious companions of her own creed,
as she had done in her childhood.  She had longed intensely for such food
for the spirit, and the abbess--who was the widow of a distinguished
patrician of Constantinople and had known Paula's parents--could supply
it in abundance.  How gladly she talked to the girl of the goodness and
the beauty of those to whom she owed her being and whom she had so early
lost!  She could pour out to this motherly soul all that weighed on her
own, and was received by her as a beloved daughter of her old age.

And her hosts--what kind-hearted though singular folks! nay, in their
way, remarkable.  She had never dreamed that there could be on earth any
beings at once so odd and so lovable.

First there was old Rufinus, the head of the house, a vigorous, hale old
man, who, with his long silky, snow-white hair and beard, looked
something like the aged St. John and something like a warrior grown grey
in service.  What an amiable spirit of childlike meekness he had, in
spite of the rough ways he sometimes fell into.  Though inclined to be
contradictory in his intercourse with his fellow-men, he was merry and
jocose when his views were opposed to theirs.  She had never met a more
contented soul or a franker disposition, and she could well understand
how much it must fret and gall such a man to live on,--day after day,
appearing, in one respect at any rate, different from what he really was.
For he, too, belonged to her confession; but, though he sent his wife and
daughter to worship in the convent chapel, he himself was compelled to
profess himself a Coptic Christian, and submit to the necessity of
attending a Jacobite church with all his family on certain holy days,
averse as he was to its unattractive form of worship.

Rufinus possessed a sufficient fortune to secure him a comfortable
maintenance; and yet he was hard at work, in his own way, from morning
till night.  Not that his labors brought him any revenues; on the
contrary, they led to claims on his resources; every one knew that he was
a man of good means, and this would have certainly involved him in
persecution if the Patriarch's spies had discovered him to be a Melchite,
resulting in exile and probably the confiscation of his goods.  Hence it
was necessary to exercise caution, and if the old man could have found a
purchaser for his house and garden, in a city where there were ten times
as many houses empty as occupied, he would long since have set out with
all his household to seek a new home.

Most aged people of vehement spirit and not too keen intellect, adopt a
saying as a stop-gap or resting-place, and he was fond of using two
phrases one of which ran:  "As sure as man is the standard of all things"
and the other--referring to his house--"As sure as I long to be quit of
this lumber."  But the lumber consisted of a well-built and very spacious
dwellinghouse, with a garden which had commanded a high price in earlier
times on account of its situation near the river.  He himself had
acquired it at very small cost shortly before the Arab incursion,
and--so quickly do times change--he had actually bought it from a
Jacobite Christian who had been forced by the Melchite Patriarch Cyrus,
then in power, to fly in haste because he had found means to convert his
orthodox slaves to his confession.

It was Philippus who had persuaded his accomplished and experienced
friend to come to Memphis; he had clung to him faithfully, and they
assisted each other in their works.

Rufinus' wife, a frail, ailing little woman, with a small face and
rather hollow cheeks, who must once have been very attractive and
engaging, might have passed for his daughter; she was, in fact, twenty
years younger than her husband.  It was evident that she had suffered
much in the course of her life, but had taken it patiently and all for
the best.  Her restless husband had caused her the greatest trouble and
alarms, and yet she exerted herself to the utmost to make his life
pleasant.  She had the art of keeping every obstacle and discomfort out
of his way, and guessed with wonderful instinct what would help him,
comfort him, and bring him joy.  The physician declared that her stooping
attitude, her bent head, and the enquiring expression of her bright,
black eyes were the result of her constant efforts to discover even a
straw that might bring harm to Rufinus if his callous and restless foot
should tread on it.

Their daughter Pulcheria, was commonly called "Pul" for short, to save
time, excepting when the old man spoke of her by preference as "the poor
child."  There was at all times something compassionate in his attitude
towards his daughter; for he rarely looked at her without asking himself
what could become of this beloved child when he, who was so much older,
should have closed his eyes in death and his Joanna perhaps should soon
have followed him; while Pulcheria, seeing her mother take such care of
her father that nothing was left for her to do, regarded herself as the
most superfluous creature on earth and would have been ready at any time
to lay down her life for her parents, for the abbess, for her faith, for
the leech; nay, and though she had known her for no more than two days,
even for Paula.  However, she was a very pretty, well-grown girl, with
great open blue eyes and a dreamy expression, and magnificent red-gold
hair which could hardly be matched in all Egypt.  Her father had long
known of her desire to enter the convent as a novice and become a nursing
sister; but though he had devoted his whole life to a similar impulse,
he had more than once positively refused to accede to her wishes, for he
must ere long be gathered to his fathers and then her mother, while she
survived him, would want some one else to wear herself out for.

Just now "Pul" was longing less than usual to take the veil; for she had
found in Paula a being before whom she felt small indeed, and to whom her
unenvious soul, yearning and striving for the highest, could look up in
satisfied and rapturous admiration.  In addition to this, there were
under her own roof two sufferers needing her care: Rustem, the wounded
Masdakite, and the Persian girl.  Neforis, who since the fearful hour of
her husband's death had seemed stunned and indifferent to all the claims
of daily life, living only in her memories of the departed, had been more
than willing to leave to the physician the disposal of these two and
their removal from her house.

In the evening after Paula's arrival Philippus had consulted with his
friends as to the reception of these new guests, and the old man had
interrupted him, as soon as he raised the question of pecuniary
indemnification, exclaiming:

"They are all very welcome.  If they have wounds, we will make them heal;
if their heads are turned, we will screw them the right way round; if
their souls are dark, we will light up a flame in them.  If the fair
Paula takes a fancy to us, she and her old woman may stay as long as it
suits her and us.  We made her welcome with all our hearts; but, on the
other hand, you must understand that we must be free to bid her farewell
--as free as she is to depart.  It is impossible ever to know exactly how
such grand folks will get on with humble ones, and as sure as I long to
be quit of this piece of lumber I might one day take it into my head to
leave it to the owls and jackals and fare forth, staff in hand.--You know
me.  As to indemnification--we understand each other.  A full purse hangs
behind the sick, and the sound one has ten times more than she needs, so
they may pay.  You must decide how much; only--for the women's sake, and
I mean it seriously--be liberal.  You know what I need Mammon for; and it
would be well for Joanna if she had less need to turn over every silver
piece before she spends it in the housekeeping.  Besides, the lady
herself will be more comfortable if she contributes to pay for the food
and drink.  It would ill beseem the daughter of Thomas to be down every
evening under the roof of such birds of passage as we are with thanks for
favors received.  When each one pays his share we stand on a footing of
give and take; and if either one feels any particular affection to
another it is not strangled by 'thanks' or 'take it;' it is love for
love's sake and a joy to both parties."

"Amen," said the leech; and Paula had been quite satisfied by her
friend's arrangements.

By the next day she felt herself one of the household, though she every
hour found something that could not fail to strike her as strange.



CHAPTER XIX.

When Paula had eaten with Rufinus and his family after the funeral
ceremonies, she went into the garden with Pul and the old man--it had
been impossible to induce Perpetua to sit at the same table with her
mistress.  The sun was now low, and its level beams gave added lustre to
the colors of the flowers and to the sheen of the thick, metallic foliage
of the south, which the drought and scorching heat had still spared.
A bright-hued humped ox and an ass were turning the wheel which raised
cooling waters from the Nile and poured them into a large tank from which
they flowed through narrow rivulets to irrigate the beds.  This toil was
now very laborious, for the river had fallen to so low a level as to give
cause for anxiety, even at this season of extreme ebb.  Numbers of birds
with ruffled feathers, with little splints on their legs, or with sadly
drooping heads, were going to roost in small cages hung from the branches
to protect them from cats and other beasts of prey; to each, as he went
by, Rufinus spoke a kindly word, or chirruped to encourage and cheer it.
Aromatic odors filled the garden, and rural silence; every object shone
in golden glory, even the black back of the negro working at the water-
wheel, and the white and yellow skin of the ox; while the clear voices of
the choir of nuns thrilled through the convent-grove.  Pul listened,
turning her face to meet it, and crossing her arms over her heart.  Her
father pointed to her as he said to Paula:

"That is where her heart is.  May she ever have her God before her eyes!
That cannot but be the best thing for a woman.  Still, among such as we
are, we must hold to the rule:  Every man for his fellowman on earth, in
the name of the merciful Lord!--Can our wise and reasonable Father in
Heaven desire that brother should neglect brother, or--as in our case--a
child forsake its parents?"

"Certainly not," replied Paula.  "For my own part, nothing keeps me from
taking the veil but my hope of finding my long-lost father; I, like your
Pulcheria, have often longed for the peace of the cloister.  How piously
rapt your daughter stands there!  What a sweet and touching sight!--In my
heart all was dark and desolate; but here, among you all, it is already
beginning to feel lighter, and here, if anywhere, I shall recover what I
lost in my other home.--Happy child!  Could you not fancy, as she stands
there in the evening light, that the pure devotion which fills her soul,
radiated from her?  If I were not afraid of disturbing her, and if I were
worthy, how gladly would I join my prayers to hers!"

"You have a part in them as it is," replied the old man with a smile.
"At this moment St. Cecilia appears to her under the guise of your
features.  We will ask her--you will see."

"No, leave her alone!"  entreated Paula with a blush, and she led Rufinus
away to the other end of the garden.

They soon reached a spot where a high hedge of thorny shrubs parted the
old man's plot from that of Susannah.  Rufinus here pricked up his ears
and then angrily exclaimed:

"As sure as I long to be quit of this lumber, they are cutting my hedge
again!  Only last evening I caught one of the slaves just as he was going
to work on the branches; but how could I get at the black rascal through
the thorns?  It was to make a peep-hole for curious eyes, or for spies,
for the Patriarch knows how to make use of a petticoat; but I will be
even with them!  Do you go on, pray, as if you had seen and heard
nothing; I will fetch my whip."

The old man hurried away, and Paula was about to obey him; but scarcely
had he disappeared when she heard herself called in a shrill girl's voice
through a gap in the hedge, and looking round, she spied a pretty face
between the boughs which had yesterday been forced asunder by a man's
hands--like a picture wreathed with greenery.

Even in the twilight she recognized it at once, and when Katharina put
her curly head forward, and said in a beseeching tone: "May I get
through, and will you listen to me?"  she gladly signified her consent.

The water-wagtail, heedless of Paula's hand held out to help her, slipped
through the gap so nimbly that it was evident that she had not long
ceased surmounting such obstacles in her games with Mary.  As swift as
the wind she came down on her feet, holding out her arms to rush at
Paula; but she suddenly let them fall in visible hesitancy, and drew back
a step.  Paula, however, saw her embarrassment; she drew the girl to her,
kissed her forehead, and gaily exclaimed:

"Trespassing!  And why could you not come in by the gate?  Here comes my
host with his hippopotamus thong.--Stop, stop, good Rufinus, for the
breach effected in your flowery wall was intended against me and not
against you.  There stands the hostile power, and I should be greatly
surprised if you did not recognize her as a neighbor?"

"Recognize her?" said the old man, whose wrath was quickly appeased.
"Do we know each other, fair damsel--yes or no?  It is an open question."

"Of course!"  cried Katharina, "I have seen you a hundred times from the
gnat-tower."

"You have had less pleasure than I should have had, if I had been so
happy as to see you.--We came across each other about a year ago.  I was
then so happy as to find you in my large peach-tree, which to this day
takes the liberty of growing over your garden-plot."

"I was but a child then," laughed Katharina, who very well remembered how
the old man, whose handsome white head she had always particularly
admired, had spied her out among the boughs of his peach-tree and had
advised her, with a good-natured nod, to enjoy herself there.

"A child!" repeated Rufinus.  "And now we are quite grown up and do not
care to climb so high, but creep humbly through our neighbor's hedge."

"Then you really are strangers?"  cried Paula in surprise.  "And have you
never met Pulcheria, Katharina?"

"Pul?--oh, how glad I should have been to call her!"  said Katharina.
"I have been on the point of it a hundred times; for her mere appearance
makes one fall in love with her,--but my mother. . . ."

"Well, and what has your mother got to say against her neighbors?"  asked
Rufinus.  "I believe we are peaceable folks who do no one any harm."

"No, no, God forbid!  But my mother has her own way of viewing things;
you and she are strangers still, and as you are so rarely to be seen in
church. . . ."

"She naturally takes us for the ungodly.  Tell her that she is mistaken,
and if you are Paula's friend and you come to see her--but prettily,
through the gate, and not through the hedge, for it will be closely
twined again by to-morrow morning--if you come here, I say, you will find
that we have a great deal to do and a great many creatures to nurse and
care for--poor human creatures some of them, and some with fur or
feathers, just as it comes; and man serves his Maker if he only makes
life easier to the beings that come in his way; for He loves them all.
Tell that to your mother, little wagtail, and come again very often."

"Thank you very much.  But let me ask you, if I may, where you heard that
odious nickname?  I hate it."

"From the same person who told you the secret that my Pulcheria is called
Pul!"  said Rufinus; he laughed and bowed and left the two girls
together.

"What a dear old man!" cried Katharina.  "Oh, I know quite well how he
spends his Days!  And his pretty wife and Pul--I know them all.  How
often I have watched them--I will show you the place one day!  I can see
over the whole garden, only not what goes on near the convent on the
other side of the house, or beyond those trees.  You know my mother;
if she once dislikes any one...  But Pul, you understand, would be such
a friend for me!"

"Of course she would," replied Paula.  "And a girl of your age must chose
older companions than little Mary."

"Oh, you shall not say a word against her!"  cried Katharina eagerly.
"She is only ten years old, but many a grown-up person is not so upright
or so capable as I have found her during these last few miserable days."

"Poor child!"  said Paula stroking her hair.

At this a bitter sob broke suddenly and passionately from Katharina; she
tried with all her might to suppress it, but could not succeed.  Her fit
of weeping was so violent that she could not utter a word, till Paula had
led her to a bench under a spreading sycamore, had induced her with
gentle force to sit down by her side, clasping her in her arms like a
suffering child, and speaking to her words of comfort and encouragement.

Birds without number were going to rest in the dense branches overhead,
owls and bats had begun their nocturnal raids, the sky put on its
spangled glory of gold and silver stars, from the western end of the town
came the jackals' bark as they left their lurking-places among the ruined
houses and stole out in search of prey, the heavy dew, falling through
the mild air silently covered the leaves, the grass, and the flowers; the
garden was more powerfully fragrant now than during the day-time, and
Paula felt that it was high time to take refuge from the mists that came
up from the shallow stream.  But still she lingered while the little
maiden poured out all that weighed upon her, all she repented of,
believing she could never atone for it; and then all she had gone
through, thinking it must break her heart, and all she still had to
live down and drive out of her mind.

She told Paula how Orion had wooed her, how much she loved him, how her
heart had been tortured by jealousy of her, Paula, and how she had
allowed herself to be led away into bearing false witness before the
judges.  And then she went on to say it was Mary who had first opened her
eyes to the abyss by which she was standing.  In the afternoon after the
death of the Mukaukas she had gone with her mother to the governor's
house to join in her friends' lamentations.  She had at once asked after
Mary, but had not been allowed to see her, for she was still in bed and
very feverish.  She was then on her way to the cool hall when she heard
her mother's voice--not in grief, but angry and vehement--so, thinking it
would be more becoming to keep out of the way, she wandered off into the
pillared vestibule opening towards the Nile.  She would not for worlds
have met Orion, and was terribly afraid she might do so, but as she went
out, for it was still quite light, there she found him--and in what a
state!  He was sitting all in a heap, dressed in black, with his head
buried in his hands.  He had not observed her presence; but she pitied
him deeply, for though it was very hot he was trembling in every limb,
and his strong frame shuddered repeatedly.  She had therefore spoken to
him, begging him to be comforted, at which he had started to his feet in
dismay, and had pushed his unkempt hair back from his face, looking so
pale, so desperate, that she had been quite terrified and could not
manage to bring out the consoling words she had ready.  For some time
neither of them had uttered a syllable, but at length he had pulled
himself together as if for some great deed, he came slowly towards her
and laid his hands on her shoulders with a solemn dignity which no one
certainly had ever before seen in him.  He stood gazing into her face--
his eyes were red with much weeping--and he sighed from his very heart
the two words: "Unhappy Child!"--She could hear them still sounding in
her ears.

And he was altered: from head to foot quite different, like a stranger.
His voice, even, sounded changed and deeper than usual as he went on:

"Child, child!  Perhaps I have given much pain in my life without knowing
it; but you have certainly suffered most through me, for I have made you,
an innocent, trusting creature, my accomplice in crime.  The great sin we
both committed has been visited on me alone, but the punishment is a
hundred--a thousand times too heavy!"

"And with this," Katharina went on, "he covered his face with his hands,
threw himself on the couch again, and groaned and sighed.  Then he sprang
up once more, crying out so loud and passionately that I felt as if I
must die of grief and pity: 'Forgive me if you can!  Forgive me, wholly,
freely.  I want it--you must, you must!  I was going to run up to him and
throw my arms round him and forgive him everything, his trouble
distressed me so much; but he gravely pushed me away--not roughly or
sternly, and he said that there was an end of all love-making and
betrothal between us--that I was young, and that I should be able to
forget him.  He would still be a true friend to me and to my mother,
and the more we required of him the more gladly would he serve us.

"I was about to answer him, but he hastily interrupted me and said firmly
and decisively: 'Lovable as you are, I cannot love you as you deserve;
for it is my duty to tell you, I have another and a greater love in my
heart--my first and my last; and though once in my life I have proved
myself a wretch, still, it was but once; and I would rather endure your
anger, and hurt both you and myself now, than continue this unrighteous
tie and cheat you and others.'--At this I was greatly startled, and
asked: 'Paula?'  However, he did not answer, but bent over me and touched
my forehead with his lips, just as my father often kissed me, and then
went quickly out into the garden.

"Just then my mother came up, as red as a poppy and panting for breath:
she took me by the hand without a word, dragged me into the chariot after
her, and then cried out quite beside herself--she could not even shed a
tear for rage: 'What insolence! what unheard-of behavior--How can I find
the heart to tell you, poor sacrificed lamb. . .'"

"And she would have gone on, but that I would not let her finish; I told
her at once that I knew all, and happily I was able to keep quite calm.
I had some bad hours at home; and when Nilus came to us yesterday, after
the opening of the will, and brought me the pretty little gold box with
turquoises and pearls that I have always admired, and told me that the
good Mukaukas had written with his own hand, in his last will, that it
was to be given to me I his bright little 'Katharina,' my mother insisted
on my not taking it and sent it back to Neforis, though I begged and
prayed to keep it.  And of course I shall never go to that house again;
indeed my mother talks of quitting Memphis altogether and settling in
Constantinople or some other city under Christian rule.  'Then our nice,
pretty house must be given up, and our dear, lovely garden be sold to the
peasant folk, my mother says.  It was just the same a year and a half ago
with Memnon's palace.  His garden was turned into a corn-field, and the
splendid ground-floor rooms, with their mosaics and pictures, are now
dirty stables for cows and sheep, and pigs are fed in the rooms that
belonged to Hathor and Dorothea.  Good Heavens!  And they were my
clearest friends!  And I am never to play with Mary any more; and mother
has not a kind word for any living soul, hardly even for me, and my old
nurse is as deaf as a mole!  Am I not a really miserable, lonely
creature?  And if you, even you, will have nothing to say to me, who is
there in all Memphis whom I can trust in?  But you will not be so cruel,
will you?  And it will not be for long, for my mother really means to go
away.  You are older than I am, of course, and much graver and wiser...."

"I will be kind to you, child; but try to make friends with Pulcheria!"

"Gladly, gladly.  But then my mother!  I should get on very well by
myself if it were not. . .  Well, you yourself heard what Orion said to
me, that time in the avenue.  He surely loved me a little!  What sweet,
tender names he gave me then.  Oh God!  no man can speak like that to any
one he is not fond of!--And he is rich himself; it cannot have been only
my fortune that bewitched him.  And does he look like a man who would
allow himself to be parted from a girl by his mother, whether he would or
no?"

"He was always fond of me I think; but then, afterwards, he remembered
what a high position he had to fill and regarded me as too little and too
childish.  Oh, how many tears I have shed over being so absurdly little!
A Water-wagtail--that is what I shall always be.  Your old host called me
so; and if a man like Orion feels that he must have a stately wife I can
hardly blame him.  That other one whom he thinks he loves better than he
does me is tall and beautiful and majestic--like you; and I have always
told myself that his future wife ought to look like you.  It is all over
between him and me, and I will submit humbly; but at the same time I
cannot help thinking that when he came home he thought me pretty and
attractive, and had a real fancy and liking for me.  Yes, it was so, it
certainly was so!--But then he saw that other one, and I cannot compare
with her.  She is indeed the woman he wants,--and that other, Paula, is
yourself.  Yes, indeed, you yourself; an inner voice tells me so.  And I
tell you truly, you may quite believe me: it is a pain no doubt, but I
can be glad of it too.  I should hate any mere girl to whom he held out
his hand--but,  if you are that other--and if you are his wife. . ."

"Nonsense," exclaimed Paula decidedly.  "Consider what you are saying.
When Orion tempted you to perjure yourself, did he behave as my friend or
as my foe, my bitterest and most implacable enemy?"

"Before the judges, to be sure. . ."  replied the girl looking down
thoughtfully.  But she soon looked up again, fixed her eyes on Paula's
face with a sparkling, determined glance, and frankly and unhesitatingly
exclaimed: "And you?--In spite of it all he is so handsome, so clever, so
manly.  You can hardly help it--you love him!"

Paula withdrew her arm, which had been round Katharina, and answered
candidly.

"Until to-day, at the funeral, I hated and abominated him; but there,
by his father's tomb, he struck me as a new man, and I found it easy to
forgive him in my heart."

"Then you mean to say that you do not love him?"  urged Katharina,
clasping her friend's round arm with her slender fingers.

Paula started to feel how icy cold her hand was.  The moon was up, the
stars rose higher and higher, so, simply saying: "Come away," she rose.
"It must be within an hour of midnight," she added.  "Your mother will be
anxious about you."

"Only an hour of midnight!"  repeated the girl in alarm.  "Good Heavens,
I shall have a scolding!  She is still playing draughts with the Bishop,
no doubt, as she does every evening.  Good-bye then for the present.
The shortest way is through the hedge again."

"No," said Paula firmly, "you are no longer a child; you are grown up,
and must feel it and show it.  You are not to creep through the bushes,
but to go home by the gate.  Rufinus and I will go with you and explain
to your mother. . ."

"No, no!"  cried Katharina in terror.  "She is as angry with you as she
is with them.  Only yesterday she forbid. . ."

"Forbid you to come to me?"  asked Paula.  "Does she believe. . ."

"That it was for your sake that Orion....  Yes, she is only too glad to
lay all the blame on you.  But now that I have talked to you I....  Look,
do you see that light?  It is in her sitting-room."

And, before Paula could prevent her, she ran to the hedge and slipped
through the gap as nimbly as a weasel.

Paula looked after her with mingled feelings, and then went back to the
house, and to bed.  Katharina's story kept her awake for a long time, and
the suspicion--nay almost the conviction--that it was herself, indeed,
who had aroused that "great love" in Orion's heart gave her no rest.  If
it were she?  There, under her hand was the instrument of revenge on the
miscreant; she could make him taste of all the bitterness he had brewed
for her aching spirit.  But which of them would the punishment hurt most
sorely: him or herself?  Had not the little girl's confidences revealed a
world of rapture to her and her longing heart?  No, no.  It would be too
humiliating to allow the same hand that had smitten her so ruthlessly to
uplift her to heaven; it would be treason against herself.

Slumber overtook her in the midst of these conflicting feelings and
thoughts, and towards morning she had a dream which, even by daylight,
haunted her and made her shudder.

She saw Orion coming towards her, as pale as death, robed in mourning,
pacing slowly on a coal-black horse; she had not the strength to fly, and
without speaking to her or looking at her, he lifted her high in the air
like a child, and placed her in front of him on the horse.  She put forth
all her strength to get free and dismount, but he clasped her with both
arms like iron clamps and quelled her efforts.  Life itself would not
have seemed too great a price for escape from this constraint; but, the
more wildly she fought, the more closely she was held by the silent and
pitiless horseman.  At their feet flowed the swirling river, but Orion
did not seem to notice it, and without moving his lips, he coolly guided
the steed towards the water.  Beside herself now with horror and dread,
she implored him to turn away; but he did not heed her, and went on
unmoved into the midst of the stream.  Her terror increased to an
agonizing pitch as the horse bore her deeper and deeper into the water;
of her own free will she threw her arms round the rider's neck; his
paleness vanished, his cheeks gained a ruddy hue, his lips sought hers in
a kiss; and, in the midst of the very anguish of death, she felt a thrill
of rapture that she had never known before.  She could have gone on thus
for ever, even to destruction; and, in fact, they were still sinking--she
felt the water rising breast high, but she cared not.  Not a word had
either of them spoken.  Suddenly she felt urged to break the silence, and
as if she could not help it she asked: "Am I the other?"  At this the
waves surged down on them from all sides; a whirlpool dragged away the
horse, spinning him round, and with him Orion and herself, a shrill blast
swept past them, and then the current and the waves, the roaring of the
whirlpool, the howling of the storm--all at once and together, as with
one voice, louder than all else and filling her ears, shouted: "Thou!"--
Only Orion remained speechless.  An eddy caught the horse and sucked him
under, a wave carried her away from him, she was sinking, sinking, and
stretched out her arms with longing.--A cold dew stood on her brow as she
slept, and the nurse, waking her from her uneasy dream, shook her head as
she said:

"Why, child?  What ails you?  You have been calling Orion again and
again, at first in terror and then so tenderly.--Yes, believe me,
tenderly."



CHAPTER XX.

In the neat rooms which Rufinus' wife had made ready for her sick guests
perfect peace reigned, and it was noon.  A soft twilight fell through the
thick green curtains which mitigated the sunshine, and the nurses had
lately cleared away after the morning meal.  Paula was moistening the
bandage on the Masdakite's head, and Pulcheria was busy in the adjoining
room with Mandane, who obeyed the physician's instructions with
intelligent submission and showed no signs of insanity.

Paula was still spellbound by her past dream.  She was possessed by such
unrest that, quite against her wont, she could not long remain quiet, and
when Pulcheria came to her to tell her this or that, she listened with so
little attention and sympathy that the humble-minded girl, fearing to
disturb her, withdrew to her patient's bed-side and waited quietly till
her new divinity called her.

In fact, it was not without reason that Paula gave herself up to a
certain anxiety; for, if she was not mistaken, Orion must necessarily
present himself to hand over to her the remainder of her fortune; and
though even yesterday, on her way from the cemetery, she had said to
herself that she must and would refuse to meet him, the excitement
produced by Katharina's story and her subsequent dream had confirmed
her in her determination.

Perpetua awaited Orion's visit on the ground-floor, charged to announce
him to Rufinus and not to her mistress.  The old man had willingly
undertaken to receive the money as her representative; for Philippus had
not concealed from her that he had acquainted him with the circumstances
under which Paula had quitted the governor's house, describing Orion as a
man whom she had good reason for desiring to avoid.

By about two hours after noon Paula's restlessness had increased so much
that now and then she wandered out of the sick-room, which looked over
the garden, to watch the Nile-quay from the window of the anteroom; for
he might arrive by either way.  She never thought of the security of her
property; but the question arose in her mind as to whether it were not
actually a breach of duty to avoid the agitation it would cost her to
meet her cousin face to face.  On this point no one could advise her,
not even Perpetua; her own mother could hardly have understood all her
feelings on such an occasion.  She scarcely knew herself indeed; for
hitherto she had never failed, even in the most difficult cases, to know
at once and without long reflection, what to do and to leave undone, what
under special circumstances was right or wrong.  But now she felt herself
a yielding reed, a leaf tossed hither and thither; and every time she set
her teeth and clenched her hands, determined to think calmly and to
reason out the "for" and "against," her mind wandered away again, while
the memory of her dream, of Orion as he stood by his father's grave--of
Katharina's tale of "the other," and the fearful punishment which he had
to suffer, nay indeed, certainly had suffered--came and went in her mind
like the flocks of birds over the Nile, whose dipping and soaring had
often passed like a fluttering veil between her eye and some object on
the further shore.

It was three hours past noon, and she had returned to the sick-room, when
she thought that she heard hoofs in the garden and hurried to the window
once more.  Her heart had not beat more wildly when the dog had flown at
her and Hiram that fateful night, than it did now as she hearkened to the
approach of a horseman, still hidden from her gaze by the shrubs.  It
must be Orion--but why did he not dismount?  No, it could not be he; his
tall figure would have overtopped the shrubbery which was of low growth.

She did not know her host's friends; it was one of them very likely.  Now
the horse had turned the corner; now it was coming up the path from the
front gate; now Rufinus had gone forth to meet the visitor--and it was
not Orion, but his secretary, a much smaller man, who slipped off a mule
that she at once recognized, threw the reins to a lad, handed something
to the old man, and then dropped on to a bench to yawn and stretch his
legs.

Then she saw Rufinus come towards the house.  Had Orion charged this
messenger to bring her her possessions?  She thought this somewhat
insulting, and her blood boiled with wrath.  But there could be no
question here of a surrender of property; for what her host was holding
in his hand was nothing heavy, but a quite small object; probably, nay,
certainly a roll of papyrus.  He was coming up the narrow stairs, so she
ran out to meet him, blushing as though she were doing something wrong.
The old man observed this and said, as he handed her the scroll:

"You need not be frightened, daughter of a hero.  The young lord is not
here himself, he prefers, it would seem, to treat with you by letter;
and it is best so for both parties."

Paula nodded agreement; she took the roll, and then, while she tore the
silken tie from the seal, she turned her back on the old man; for she
felt that the blood had faded from her face, and her hands were
trembling.

"The messenger awaits an answer," remarked Rufinus, before she began to
read it.  "I shall be below and at your service."  He left; Paula
returned to the sick-room, and leaning against the frame of the casement,
read as follows, with eager agitation:

"Orion, the son of George the Mukaukas who sleeps in the Lord, to his
cousin the daughter of the noble Thomas of Damascus, greeting.

"I have destroyed several letters that I had written to you before this
one."  Paula shrugged her shoulders incredulously.  "I hope I may succeed
better this time in saying what I feel to be indispensable for your
welfare and my own.  I have both to crave a favor and offer counsel."

"Counsel! he!"  thought the girl with a scornful curl of the lips, as she
went on.  "May the memory of the man who loved you as his daughter, and
who on his death-bed wished for nothing so much as to see you--averse as
he was to your creed--and bless you as his daughter indeed, as his son's
wife,--may the remembrance of that just man so far prevail over your
indignant and outraged soul that these words from the most wretched man
on earth, for that am I, Paula, may not be left unread.  Grant me the
last favor I have to ask of you--I demand it in my father's name."

"Demand!"  repeated  the  damsel;  her  cheeks flamed, her eye sparkled
angrily, and her hands clutched the opposite sides of the letter as
though to tear it across.  But the next words: "Do not fear," checked her
hasty impulse--she smoothed out the papyrus and read on with growing
excitement:

"Do not fear that I shall address you as a lover--as the man for whom
there is but one woman on earth.  And that one can only be she whom I
have so deeply injured, whom I fought with as frantic, relentless, and
cruel weapons as ever I used against a foe of my own sex."

"But one," murmured the girl; she passed her hand across her brow, and a
faint smile of happy pride dwelt on her lips as she went on:

"I shall love you as long as breath animates this crushed and wretched
heart."

Again the letter was in danger of destruction, but again it escaped
unharmed, and Paula's expression became one of calm and tender pleasure
as she read to the end of Orion's clearly written epistle:

"I am fully conscious that I have forfeited your esteem, nay even all
good feeling towards me, by my own fault; and that, unless divine love
works some miracle in your heart, I have sacrificed all joy on earth.
You are revenged; for it was for your sake--understand that--for your
sake alone, that my beloved and dying father withdrew the blessings he
had heaped on my remorseful head, and in wrath that was only too just at
the recreant who had desecrated the judgment-seat of his ancestors,
turned that blessing to a curse."

Paula turned pale as she read.  This then was what Katharina had meant.
This was what had so changed his appearance, and perhaps, too, his whole
inward being.  And this, this bore the stamp of truth, this could not be
a lie--it was for her sake that a father's curse had blighted his only
son!  How had it all happened?  Had Philippus failed to observe it, or
had he held his peace out of respect for the secrets of another?--Poor
man, poor young man!  She must see him, must speak to him.  She could not
have a moment's ease till she knew how it was that her uncle, a tender
father.--But she must go on, quickly to the end:

"I come to you only as what I am: a heart-broken man, too young to give
myself over for lost, and at the same time determined to make use of all
that remains to me of the steadfast will, the talents, and the self-
respect of my forefathers to render me worthy of them, and I implore you
to grant me a brief interview.  Not a word, not a look shall betray the
passion within and which threatens to destroy me.

"You must on no account fail to read what follows, since it is of no
small real importance even to you.  In the first place restitution must
be made to you of all of your inheritance which the deceased was able to
rescue and to add to by his fatherly stewardship.  In these agitated
times it will be a matter of some difficulty to invest this capital
safely and to good advantage.  Consider: just as the Arabs drove out
the Byzantines, the Byzantines might drive them out again in their turn.
The Persians, though stricken to the earth, the Avars, or some other
people whose very name is as yet unknown to history, may succeed our
present rulers, who, only ten years since, were regarded as a mere
handful of unsettled camel-drivers, caravan-leaders, and poverty-stricken
desert-tribes.  The safety of your fortune would be less difficult to
provide for if, as was formerly the case here, we could entrust it to the
merchants of Alexandria.  But one great house after another is being
ruined there, and all security is at an end.  As to hiding or burying
your possessions, as most Egyptians do in these hard times, it is
impossible, for the same reason as prevents our depositing it on interest
in the state land-register.  You must be able to get it at the shortest
notice; since you might at some time wish to quit Egypt in haste with all
your possessions.

"These are matters with which a woman cannot be familiar.  I would
therefore propose that you should leave the arrangement of them to us
men; to Philippus, the physician, Rufinus, your host--who is, I am
assured, an honest man--and to our experienced and trustworthy treasurer
Nilus, whom you know as an incorruptible judge.

"I propose that the business should be settled tomorrow in the house of
Rufinus.  You can be present or not, as you please.  If we men agree in
our ideas I beg you--I beseech you to grant me an interview apart.  It
will last but a few minutes, and the only subject of discussion will be a
matter--an exchange by which you will recover something you value and
have lost, and grant me I hope, if not your esteem, at any rate a word of
forgiveness.  I need it sorely, believe me, Paula; it is as indispensable
to me as the breath of life, if I am to succeed in the work I have begun
on myself.  If you have prevailed on yourself to read through this
letter, simply answer 'Yes' by my messenger, to relieve me from torturing
uncertainty.  If you do not--which God forefend for both our sakes, Nilus
shall this very day carry to you all that belongs to you.  But, if you
have read these lines, I will make my appearance to-morrow, at two hours
after noon, with Nilus to explain to the others the arrangement of which
I have spoken.  God be with you and infuse some ruth into your proud and
noble soul!"

Paula drew a deep breath as the hand holding this momentous epistle
dropped by her side; she stood for some time by the window, lost in grave
meditation.  Then calling Pulcheria, she begged her to tend her patient,
too, for a short time.  The girl looked up at her with rapt admiration in
her clear eyes, and asked sympathetically why she was so pale; Paula
kissed her lips and eyes, and saying affectionately: "Good, happy child!"
she retired to her own room on the opposite side of the house.  There she
once more read through the letter.

Oh yes; this was Orion as she had known him after his return till the
evening of that never-to-be-forgotten water-party.  He was, indeed, a
poet; nature herself had made it so easy to him to seduce unguarded souls
into a belief in him!  And yet no!  This letter was honestly meant.
Philippus knew men well; Orion really had a heart, a warm heart.  Not the
most reckless of criminals could mock at the curse hurled at him by a
beloved father in his last moments.  And, as she once more read the
sentence in which he told her that it was his crime as an unjust judge
towards her that had turned the dying man's blessing to a curse, she
shuddered and reflected that their relative attitude was now reversed,
and that he had suffered more and worse through her than she had through
him.  His pale face, as she had seen it in the Necropolis, came back
vividly to her mind, and if he could have stood before her at this moment
she would have flown to him, have offered him a compassionate hand, and
have assured him that the woes she had brought upon him filled her with
the deepest and sincerest pity.

That morning she had asked the Masdakite whether he had besought Heaven
to grant him a speedy recovery, and the man replied that Persians never
prayed for any particular blessing, but only for "that which was good;"
for that none but the Omnipotent knew what was good for mortals.  How
wise!  For in this instance might not the most terrible blow that could
fall on a son--his father's curse--prove a blessing?  It was undoubtedly
that curse which had led him to look into his soul and to start on this
new path.  She saw him treading it, she longed to believe in his
conversion--and she did believe in it.  In this letter he spoke of his
love; he even asked her hand.  Only yesterday this would have roused her
wrath; to-day she could forgive him; for she could forgive anything to
this unhappy soul--to the man on whom she had brought such deep anguish.
Her heart could now beat high in the hope of seeing him again; nay, it
even seemed to her that the youth, whose return had been hailed with such
welcome and who had so powerfully attracted her, had only now grown and
ripened to full and perfect manhood through his sin, his penitence, and
his suffering.

And how noble a task it would be to assist him in seeking the right way,
and in becoming what he aspired to be!

The prudent care he had given to her worldly welfare merited her
gratitude.  What could he mean by the "exchange" he proposed?  The
"great love" of which he had spoken to Katharina was legible in every
line of his letter, and any woman can forgive any man--were he a sinner,
and a scarecrow into the bargain--for his audacity in loving her.  Oh!
that he might but set his heart on her--for hers, it was vain to deny
it, was strongly drawn to him.  Still she would not call it Love that
stirred within her; it could only be the holy impulse to point out to him
the highest goal of life and smooth the path for him.  The pale horseman
who had clutched her in her dream should not drag her away; no, she would
joyfully lift him up to the highest pinnacle attainable by a brave and
noble man.

So her thoughts ran, and her cheeks flushed as, with swift decision, she
opened her trunk, took out papyrus, writing implements and a seal, and
seated herself at a little desk which Rufinus had placed for her in the
window, to write her answer.

At this a sudden fervent longing for Orion came over her.  She made a
great effort to shake it off; still, she felt that in writing to him it
was impossible that she should find the right words, and as she replaced
the papyrus in the chest and looked at the seal a strange thing happened
to her; for the device on her father's well-known ring: a star above two
crossed swords--perchance the star of Orion--caught her eye, with the
motto in Greek: "The immortal gods have set sweat before virtue," meaning
that the man who aims at being virtuous must grudge neither sweat nor
toil.

She closed her trunk with a pleased smile, for the motto round the star
was, she felt, of good augury.  At the same time she resolved to speak to
Orion, taking these words, which her forefathers had adopted from old
Hesiod, as her text.  She hastened down stairs, crossed the garden,
passing by Rufinus, his wife and the physician, awoke the secretary who
had long since dropped asleep, and enjoined him to say: "Yes" to his
master, as he expected.  However, before the messenger had mounted his
mule, she begged him to wait yet a few minutes and returned to the two
men; for she had forgotten in her eagerness to speak to them of Orion's
plans.  They were both willing to meet him at the hour proposed and,
while Philippus went to tell the messenger that they would expect his
master on the next day, the old man looked at Paula with undisguised
satisfaction and said:

"We were fearing lest the news from the governor's house should have
spoilt your happy mood, but, thank God, you look as if you had just come
from a refreshing bath.--What do you say, Joanna?  Twenty years ago such
an inmate here would have made you jealous?  Or was there never a place
for such evil passions in your dove-like soul?"

"Nonsense!"  laughed the matron.  "How can I tell how many fair beings
you have gazed after, wanderer that you are in all the wide world far
away?"

"Well, old woman, but as sure as man is the standard of all things,
nowhere that I have carried my staff, have I met with a goddess like
this!"

"I certainly have not either, living here like a snail in its shell,"
said Dame Joanna, fixing her bright eyes on Paula with fervent
admiration.



CHAPTER XXI.

That evening Rufinus was sitting in the garden with his wife and daughter
and their friend Philippus.  Paula, too, was there, and from time to time
she stroked Pulcheria's silky golden hair, for the girl had seated
herself at her feet, leaning her head against Paula's knee.

The moon was full, and it was so light out of doors that they could see
each other plainly, so Rufinus' proposition that they should remain to
watch an eclipse which was to take place an hour before midnight found
all the more ready acceptance because the air was pleasant.  The men had
been discussing the expected phenomenon, lamenting that the Church should
still lend itself to the superstitions of the populace by regarding it as
of evil omen, and organizing a penitential procession for the occasion to
implore God to avert all ill.  Rufinus declared that it was blasphemy
against the Almighty to interpret events happening in the course of
eternal law and calculable beforehand, as a threatening sign from Him; as
though man's deserts had any connection with the courses of the sun and
moon.  The Bishop and all the priests of the province were to head the
procession, and thus a simple natural phenomenon was forced in the minds
of the people into a significance it did not possess.

"And if the little comet which my old foster father discovered last week
continues to increase," added the physician, "so that its tail spreads
over a portion of the sky, the panic will reach its highest pitch; I can
see already that they will behave like mad creatures."

"But a comet really does portend war, drought, plague, and famine," said
Pulcheria, with full conviction; and Paula added:

"So I have always believed."

"But very wrongly," replied the leech.  "There are a thousand reasons
to the contrary; and it is a crime to confirm the mob in such a
superstition.  It fills them with grief and alarms; and, would you
believe it--such anguish of mind, especially when the Nile is so low
and there is more sickness than usual, gives rise to numberless forms
of disease?  We shall have our hands full, Rufinus."

"I am yours to command," replied the old man.  "But at the same time, if
the tailed wanderer must do some mischief, I would rather it should break
folks' arms and legs than turn their brains."

"What a wish!"  exclaimed  Paula.  "But  you often say things--and I see
things about you too--which seem to me extraordinary.  Yesterday you
promised. . . ."

"To explain to you why I gather about me so many of God's creatures who
have to struggle under the burden of life as cripples, or with injured
limbs."

"Just so," replied Paula.  "Nothing can be more truly merciful than to
render life bearable to such hapless beings. . . ."

"But still, you think," interrupted the eager old man, "that this noble
motive alone would hardly account for the old oddity's riding his hobby
so hard.--Well, you are right.  From my earliest youth the structure of
the bones in man and beast has captivated me exceedingly; and just as
collectors of horns, when once they have a complete series of every
variety of stag, roe, and gazelle, set to work with fresh zeal to find
deformed or monstrous growths, so I have found pleasure in studying every
kind of malformation and injury in the bones of men and beasts."

"And to remedy them," added Philippus.  "It has been his passion from
childhood.

"And the passion has grown upon me since I broke my own hip bone and know
what it means," the old man went on.  "With the help of my fellow-student
there, from a mere dilettante I became a practised surgeon; and, what is
more, I am one of those who serve Esculapius at my own expense.  However,
there are accessory reasons for which I have chosen such strange
companions: deformed slaves are cheap and besides that, certain
investigations afford me inestimable and peculiar satisfaction.
But this cannot interest a young girl."

"Indeed it does!"  cried Paula.  "So far as I have understood Philippus
when he explains some details of natural history. . . ."

"Stay," laughed Rufinus,  "our friend will take good care not to explain
this.  He regards it as folly, and all he will admit is that no surgeon
or student could wish for better, more willing, or more amusing house-
mates than my cripples."

"They are grateful to you," cried Paula.

"Grateful?"  asked the old man.  "That is true sometimes, no doubt;
still, gratitude is a tribute on which no wise man ever reckons.  Now I
have told you enough; for the sake of Philippus we will let the rest
pass."

"No, no," said Paula putting up entreating hands, and Rufinus answered
gaily:

"Who can refuse you anything?  I will  cut it short, but you must pay
good heed.--Well then Man is the standard of all things.  Do you
understand that?"

"Yes, I often hear you say so.  Things you mean are only what they seem
to us."

"To us, you say, because we--you and I and the rest of us here--are sound
in body and mind.  And we must regard all things--being God's handiwork--
as by nature sound and normal.  Thus we are justified in requiring that
man, who gives the standard for them shall, first and foremost, himself
be sound and normal.  Can a carpenter measure straight planks properly
with a crooked or sloping rod?"

"Certainly not."

"Then you will understand how I came to ask myself: 'Do sickly, crippled,
and deformed men measure things by a different standard to that of sound
men?  And might it not be a useful task to investigate how their
estimates differ from ours?'"

"And have your researches among your cripples led to any results?"

"To many important ones," the old man declared; but Philippus interrupted
him with a loud: "Oho!"  adding that his friend was in too great a hurry
to deduce laws from individual cases.  Many of his observations were, no
doubt, of considerable interest...  Here Rufinus broke in with some
vehemence, and the discussion would have become a dispute if Paula had
not intervened by requesting her zealous host to give her the results, at
any rate, of his studies.

"I find," said Rufinus very confidently, as he stroked down his long
beard, "that they are not merely shrewd because their faculties are early
sharpened to make up by mental qualifications for what they lack in
physical advantages; they are also witty, like AEesop the fabulist and
Besa the Egyptian god, who, as I have been told by our old friend Horus,
from whom we derive all our Egyptian lore, presided among those heathen
over festivity, jesting, and wit, and also over the toilet of women.
This shows the subtle observation of the ancients; for the hunchback
whose body is bent, applies a crooked standard to things in general.
His keen insight often enables him to measure life as the majority of men
do, that is by a straight rule; but in some happy moments when he yields
to natural impulse he makes the straight crooked and the crooked
straight; and this gives rise to wit, which only consists in looking at
things obliquely and--setting them askew as it were.  You have only to
talk to my hump-backed gardener Gibbus, or listen to what he says.  When
he is sitting with the rest of our people in an evening, they all laugh
as soon as he opens his mouth.--And why?  Because his conformation makes
him utter nothing but paradoxes.--You know what they are?"

"Certainly."

"And you, Pul?"

"No, Father."

"You are too straight-nay, and so is your simple soul, to know what the
thing is!  Well, listen then: It would be a paradox, for instance, if I
were to say to the Bishop as he marches past in procession: 'You are
godless out of sheer piety;' or if I were to say to Paula, by way of
excuse for all the flattery which I and your mother offered her just now:
'Our incense was nauseous for very sweetness.'--These paradoxes, when
examined, are truths in a crooked form, and so they best suit the
deformed.  Do you understand?"

"Certainly," said Paula.

"And you, Pul?"

"I am not quite sure.  I should be better pleased to be simply told:  "We
ought not to have made such flattering speeches; they may vex a young
girl."

"Very good, my straightforward child," laughed her father.  "But look,
there is the man!  Here, good Gibbus--come here!--Now, just consider:
supposing you had flattered some one so grossly that you had offended him
instead of pleasing him: How would you explain the state of affairs in
telling me of it?"

The gardener, a short, square man, with a huge hump but a clever face and
good features, reflected a minute and then replied: "I wanted to make an
ass smell at some roses and I put thistles under his nose."

"Capital!"  cried Paula; and as Gibbus turned away, laughing to himself,
the physician said:

"One might almost envy the man his hump.  But yet, fair Paula, I think we
have some straight-limbed folks who can make use of such crooked phrases,
too, when occasion serves."

But Rufinus spoke before Paula could reply, referring her to his Essay on
the deformed in soul and body; and then he went on vehemently:

"I call you all to witness, does not Baste, the lame woman, restrict her
views to the lower aspect of things, to the surface of the earth indeed?
She has one leg much shorter than the other, and it is only with much
pains that we have contrived that it should carry her.  To limp along at
all she is forced always to look down at the ground, and what is the
consequence?  She can never tell you what is hanging to a tree, and about
three weeks since I asked her under a clear sky and a waning moon whether
the moon had been shining the evening before and she could not tell me,
though she had been sitting out of doors with the others till quite late,
evening after evening.  I have noticed, too, that she scarcely recognizes
men who are rather tall, though she may have seen them three or four
times.  Her standard has fallen short-like her leg.  Now, am I right or
wrong?"

"In this instance you are right," replied Philippus, "still, I know some
lame people. . ."

And again words ran high between the friends; Pulcheria, however, put an
end to the discussion this time, by exclaiming enthusiastically:

"Baste is the best and most good-natured soul in the whole house!"

"Because she looks into her own heart," replied Rufinus.  "She knows
herself; and, because she knows how painful pain is, she treats others
tenderly.  Do you remember, Philippus, how we disputed after that
anatomical lecture we heard together at Caesarea?"

"Perfectly well," said the leech, "and later life has but confirmed the
opinion I then held.  There is no less true or less just saying than the
Latin motto: 'Mens sana in corpore sano,' as it is generally interpreted
to mean that a healthy soul is only to be found in a healthy body.  As
the expression of a wish it may pass, but I have often felt inclined to
doubt even that.  It has been my lot to meet with a strength of mind, a
hopefulness, and a thankfulness for the smallest mercies in the sickliest
bodies, and at the same time a delicacy of feeling, a wise reserve, and
an undeviating devotion to lofty things such as I have never seen in a
healthy frame.  The body is but the tenement of the soul, and just as we
find righteous men and sinners, wise men and fools, alike in the palace
and the hovel--nay, and often see truer worth in a cottage than in the
splendid mansions of the great--so we may discover noble souls both
in the ugly and the fair, in the healthy and the infirm, and most
frequently, perhaps, in the least vigorous.  We should be careful how we
go about repeating such false axioms, for they can only do harm to those
who have a heavy burthen to bear through life as it is.  In my opinion a
hunchback's thoughts are as straightforward as an athlete's; or do you
imagine that if a mother were to place her new-born children in a spiral
chamber and let them grow up in it, they could not tend upwards as all
men do by nature?"

"Your comparison limps," cried Rufinus, "and needs setting to rights.
If we are not to find ourselves in open antagonism. . . ."

"You must keep the peace," Joanna put in addressing her husband; and
before Rufinus could retort, Paula had asked him with frank simplicity:

"How old are you, my worthy host?"

"Your arrival at my house blessed the second day of my seventieth year,"
replied Rufinus with a courteous bow.  His wife shook her finger at him,
exclaiming:

"I wonder whether you have not a secret hump?  Such fine phrases. . ."

"He is catching the style from his cripples," said Paula laughing at him.
"But now it is your turn, friend Philippus.  Your exposition was worthy
of an antique sage, and it struck me--for the sake of Rufinus here I will
not say convinced me.  I respect you--and yet I should like to know how
old.  .  .  ."

"I shall soon be thirty-one," said Philippus, anticipating her question.

"That is an honest answer," observed Dame Joanna.  "At your age many a
man clings to his twenties."

"Why?"  asked Pulcheria.

"Well," said her mother, "only because there are some girls who think a
man of thirty too old to be attractive."

"Stupid  creatures,"  answered  Pulcheria.  "Let them find me a young
man who is more lovable than my father; and if Philippus--yes you,
Philippus--were ten or twenty years over nine and twenty, would that make
you less clever or kind?"

"Not less ugly, at any rate," said the physician.  Pulcheria laughed, but
with some annoyance, as though she had herself been the object of the
remark.  "You are not a bit ugly!"  she exclaimed.  "Any one who says so
has no eyes.  And you will hear nothing said of you but that you are a
tall, fine man!"

As the warm-hearted girl thus spoke, defending her friend against
himself, Paula stroked her golden hair and added to the physician:

"Pulcheria's father is so far right that she, at any rate, measures men
by a true and straight standard.  Note that, Philippus!--But do not take
my questioning ill.--I cannot help wondering how a man of one and thirty
and one of seventy should have been studying in the high schools at the
same time?  The moon will not be eclipsed for a long time yet--how bright
and clear it is!--So you, Rufinus, who have wandered so far through the
wide world, if you would do me a great pleasure, will tell us something
of your past life and how you came to settle in Memphis."

"His history?"  cried Joanna.  "If he were to tell it, in all its details
from beginning to end, the night would wane and breakfast would get cold.
He has had as many adventures as travelled Odysseus.  But tell us
something husband; you know there is nothing we should like better."

"I must be off to my duties," said the leech, and when he had taken a
friendly leave of the others and bidden farewell to Paula with less
effusiveness than of late, Rufinus began his story.

"I was born in Alexandria, where, at that time, commerce and industry
still flourished.  My father was an armorer; above two hundred slaves and
free laborers were employed in his work-shops.  He required the finest
metal, and commonly procured it by way of Massilia from Britain.  On one
occasion he himself went to that remote island in a friend's ship, and he
there met my mother.  Her ruddy gold hair, which Pul has inherited, seems
to have bewitched him and, as the handsome foreigner pleased her well--
for men like my father are hard to match nowadays--she turned Christian
for his sake and came home with him.  They neither of them ever regretted
it; for though she was a quiet woman, and to her dying day spoke Greek
like a foreigner, the old man often said she was his best counsellor.
At the same time she was so soft-hearted, that she could not bear that
any living creature should suffer, and though she looked keenly after
everything at the hearth and loom, she could never see a fowl, a goose,
or a pig slaughtered.  And I have inherited her weakness--shall I say
'alas!' or 'thank God?'

"I had two elder brothers who both had to help my father, and who were to
carry on the business.  When I was ten years old my calling was decided
on.  My mother would have liked to make a priest of me and at that time I
should have consented joyfully; but my father would not agree, and as we
had an uncle who was making a great deal of money as a Rhetor, my father
accepted a proposal from him that I should devote myself to that career.
So I went from one teacher to another and made good progress in the
schools.

"Till my twentieth year I continued to live with my parents, and during
my many hours of leisure I was free to do or leave undone whatever I had
a fancy for; and this was always something medical, if that is not too
big a word.  I was but a lad of twelve when this fancy first took me,
and that through pure accident.  Of course I was fond of wandering about
the workshops, and there they kept a magpie, a quaint little bird, which
my mother had fed out of compassion.  It could say 'Blockhead,' and call
my name and a few other words, and it seemed to like the noise, for it
always would fly off to where the smiths were hammering and filing their
loudest, and whenever it perched close to one of the anvils there were
sure to be mirthful faces over the shaping and scraping and polishing.
For many years its sociable ways made it a favorite; but one day it got
caught in a vice and its left leg was broken.  Poor little creature!"

The old man stooped to wipe his eyes unseen, but he went on without
pausing:

"It fell on its back and looked at me so pathetically that I snatched the
tongs out of the bellows-man's hand--for he was going to put an end to
its sufferings in all kindness--and, picking it up gently, I made up my
mind I would cure it.  Then I carried the bird into my own room, and to
keep it quiet that it might not hurt itself, I tied it down to a frame
that I contrived, straightened its little leg, warmed the injured bone by
sucking it, and strapped it to little wooden splints.  And behold it
really set: the bird got quite well and fluttered about the workshops
again as sound as before, and whenever it saw me it would perch upon my
shoulder and peck very gently at my hair with its sharp beak.

"From that moment I could have found it in me to break the legs of every
hen in the yard, that I might set them again; but I thought of something
better.  I went to the barbers and told them that if any one had a bird,
a dog, or a cat, with a broken limb, he might bring it to me, and that I
was prepared to cure all these injuries gratis; they might tell all their
customers.  The very next day I had a patient brought me: a black hound,
with tan spots over his eyes, whose leg had been smashed by a badly-aimed
spear: I can see him now!  Others followed; feathered or four-footed
sufferers; and this was the beginning of my surgical career.  The invalid
birds on the trees I still owe to my old allies the barbers.  I only
occasionally take beasts in hand.  The lame children, whom you saw in the
garden, come to me from poor parents who cannot afford a surgeon's aid.
The merry, curly-headed boy who brought you a rose just now is to go home
again in a few days.--But to return to the story of my youth.

"The more serious events which gave my life this particular bias occurred
in my twentieth year, when I had already left even the high school behind
me; nor was I fully carried away by their influence till after my uncle
had procured me several opportunities of proving my proficiency in my
calling.  I may say without vanity that my speeches won approval; but I
was revolted by the pompous, flowery bombast, without which I should have
been hissed down, and though my parents rejoiced when I went home from
Niku, Arsmoe, or some other little provincial town, with laurel-wreaths
and gold pieces, to myself I always seemed an impostor.  Still, for my
father's sake, I dared not give up my profession, although I hated more
and more the task of praising people to the skies whom I neither loved
nor respected, and of shedding tears of pathos while all the time I was
minded to laugh.

"I had plenty of time to myself, and as I did not lack courage and held
stoutly to our Greek confession, I was always to be found where there was
any stir or contention between the various sects.  They generally passed
off with nothing worse than bruises and scratches, but now and then
swords were drawn.  On one occasion thousands came forth to meet
thousands, and the Prefect called out the troops--all Greeks--to restore
order by force.  A massacre ensued in which thousands were killed.  I
could not describe it!  Such scenes were not rare, and the fury and greed
of the mob were often directed against the Jews by the machinations of
the creatures of the archbishop and the government.  The things I saw
there were so horrible, so shocking, that the tongue refuses to tell
them; but one poor Jewess, whose husband the wretches--our fellow
Christians--killed, and then pillaged the house, I have never forgotten!
A soldier dragged her down by her hair, while a ruffian snatched the
child from her breast and, holding it by its feet, dashed its skull
against the wall before her eyes--as you might slash a wet cloth against
a pillar to dry it--I shall never forget that handsome young mother and
her child; they come before me in my dreams at night even now.

"All these things I  saw; and I  shuddered to behold God's creatures,
beings endowed with reason, persecuting their fellows, plunging them into
misery, tearing them limb from limb--and why?  Merciful Saviour, why?
For sheer hatred--as sure as man is the standard for all things--merely
carried away by a hideous impulse to spite their neighbor for not
thinking as they do--nay, simply for not being themselves--to hurt him,
insult him, work him woe.  And these fanatics, these armies who raised
the standard of ruthlessness, of extermination, of bloodthirstiness,
were Christians, were baptized in the name of Him who bids us forgive our
enemies, who enlarged the borders of love from the home and the city and
the state to include all mankind; who raised the adulteress from the
dust, who took children into his arms, and would have more joy over a
sinner who repents than over ninety and nine just persons!--Blood, blood,
was what they craved; and did not the doctrine of Him whose followers
they boastfully called themselves grow out of the blood of Him who shed
it for all men alike,--just as that lotos flower grows out of the clear
water in the marble tank?  And it was the highest guardians and keepers
of this teaching of mercy, who goaded on the fury of the mob: Patriarchs,
bishops, priests and deacons--instead of pointing to the picture of the
Shepherd who tenderly carries the lost sheep and brings it home to the
fold.

"My own times seemed to me the worst that had ever been; aye, and--as
surely as man is the standard of all things--so they are! for love is
turned to hatred, mercy to implacable hardheartedness.  The thrones not
only of the temporal but of the spiritual rulers, are dripping with the
blood of their fellow-men.  Emperors and bishops set the example;
subjects and churchmen follow it.  The great, the leading men of the
struggle are copied by the small, by the peaceful candidates for
spiritual benefices.  All that I saw as a man, in the open streets, I had
already seen as a boy both in the low and high schools.  Every doctrine
has its adherents; the man who casts in his lot with Cneius is hated by
Caius, who forthwith speaks and writes to no other end than to vex and
put down Cneius, and give him pain.  Each for his part strives his utmost
to find out faults in his neighbor and to put him in the pillory,
particularly if his antagonist is held the greater man, or is likely
to overtop him.  Listen to the girls at the well, to the women at the
spindle; no one is sure of applause who cannot tell some evil of the
other men or women.  Who cares to listen to his neighbor's praises?
The man who hears that his brother is happy at once envies him!  Hatred,
hatred everywhere!  Everywhere the will, the desire, the passion for
bringing grief and ruin on others rather than to help them, raise them
and heal them!

"That is the spirit of my time;  and everything within me revolted
against it with sacred wrath.  I vowed in my heart that I would live and
act differently; that my sole aim should be to succor the unfortunate, to
help the wretched, to open my arms to those who had fallen into unmerited
contumely, to set the crooked straight for my neighbor, to mend what was
broken, to pour in balm, to heal and to save!

"And, thank God! it has been vouchsafed to me in some degree to keep this
vow; and though, later, some whims and a passionate curiosity got mixed
up with my zeal, still, never have I lost sight of the great task of
which I have spoken, since my father's death and since my uncle also left
me his large fortune.  Then I had done with the Rhetor's art, and
travelled east and west to seek the land where love unites men's hearts
and where hatred is only a disease; but as sure as man is the standard of
all things, to this day all my endeavors to find it have been in vain.
Meanwhile I have kept my own house on such a footing that it has become a
stronghold of love; in its atmosphere hatred cannot grow, but is nipped
in the germ.

"In spite of this I am no saint.  I have committed many a folly, many an
injustice; and much of my goods and gold, which I should perhaps have
done better to save for my family, has slipped through my fingers, though
in the execution, no doubt, of what I deemed the highest duties.  Would
you believe it, Paula?--Forgive an old man for such fatherly familiarity
with the daughter of Thomas;--hardly five years after my marriage with
this good wife, not long after we had lost our only son, I left her and
our little daughter, Pul there, for more than two years, to follow the
Emperor Heraclius of my own free will to the war against the Persians who
had done me no harm--not, indeed, as a soldier, but as a surgeon eager
for experience.  To confess the truth I was quite as eager to see and
treat fractures and wounds and injuries in great numbers, as I was to
exercise benevolence.  I came home with a broken hip-bone, tolerably
patched up, and again, a few years later, I could not keep still in one
place.  The bird of passage must need drag wife and child from the peace
of hearth and homestead, and take them to where he could go to the high
school.  A husband, a father, and already grey-headed, I was a singular
exception among the youths who sat listening to the lectures and
explanations of their teachers; but as sure as man is the standard of all
things, they none of them outdid me in diligence and zeal, though many a
one was greatly my superior in gifts and intellect, and among them the
foremost was our friend Philippus.  Thus it came about, noble Paula, that
the old man and the youth in his prime were fellow-students; but to this
day the senior gladly bows down to his young brother in learning and
feeling.  To straighten, to comfort, and to heal: this is the aim of his
life too.  And even I, an old man, who started long before Philippus on
the same career, often long to call myself his disciple."

Here Rufinus paused and rose; Paula, too, got up, grasped his hand
warmly, and said:

"If I were a man, I would join you!  But Philippus has told me that even
a woman may be allowed to work with the same purpose.--And now let me beg
of you never to call me anything but Paula--you will not refuse me this
favor.  I never thought I could be so happy again as I am with you; here
my heart is free and whole.  Dame Joanna, do you be my mother!  I have
lost the best of fathers, and till I find him again, you, Rufinus, must
fill his place!"

"Gladly, gladly!"  cried the old man; he clasped both her hands and went
on vivaciously: "And in return I ask you to be an elder sister to Pul.
Make that timid little thing such a maiden as you are yourself.--But
look, children, look up quickly; it is beginning!--Typhon, in the form
of a boar, is swallowing the eye of Horns: so the heathen of old in this
country used to believe when the moon suffered an eclipse.  See how the
shadow is covering the bright disk.  When the ancients saw this happening
they used to make a noise, shaking the sistrum with its metal rings,
drumming and trumpeting, shouting and yelling, to scare off the evil one
and drive him away.  It may be about four hundred years since that last
took place, but to this day--draw your kerchiefs more closely round your
heads and come with me to the river--to this day Christians degrade
themselves by similar rites.  Wherever I have been in Christian lands,
I have always witnessed the same scenes: our holy faith has, to be sure,
demolished the religions of the heathen; but their superstitions have
survived, and have forced their way through rifts and chinks into our
ceremonial.  They are marching round now, with the bishop at their head,
and you can hear the loud wailing of the women, and the cries of the men,
drowning the chant of the priests.  Only listen!  They are as passionate
and agonized in their entreaty as though old Typhon were even now about
to swallow the moon, and the greatest catastrophe was hanging over the
world.  Aye, as surely as man is the standard of all things, those
terrified beings are diseased in mind; and how are we to forgive those
who dare to scare Christians; yes, Christian souls, with the traditions
of heathen folly, and to blind their inward vision?"



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Gratitude is a tribute on which no wise man ever reckons
Healthy soul is only to be found in a healthy body
Man is the standard of all things
Persians never prayed for any particular blessing
The immortal gods have set sweat before virtue
Things you mean are only what they seem to us
Would want some one else to wear herself out for
Any woman can forgive any man for his audacity in loving her





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Bride of the Nile — Volume 05" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home