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Title: Cleopatra — Volume 03
Author: Ebers, Georg
Language: English
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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 "Cleopatra — Volume 03" ***

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CLEOPATRA

By Georg Ebers

Volume 3.



CHAPTER VI.

The men sent by Archibius to obtain news had brought back no definite
information; but a short time before, a royal runner had handed him a
tablet from Iras, requesting him to visit her the next day.  Disquieting,
but fortunately as yet unverified tidings had arrived.  The Regent was
doing everything in his power to ascertain the truth; but he (Archibius)
was aware of the distrust of the government, and everything connected
with it, felt by the sailors and all the seafaring folk at the harbour.
An independent person like himself could often learn more than the chief
of the harbour police, with all his ships and men.

The little tablet was accompanied by a second, which, in the Regent's
name, authorized the bearer to have the harbour chains raised anywhere,
to go out into the open sea and return without interference.

The messenger, the overseer of Archibius's galley slaves, was an
experienced man.  He undertook to have the "Epicurus"--a swift vessel,
which Cleopatra had given to her friend--ready for a voyage to the open
sea within two hours.  The carriage should be sent for his master, that
no time might be lost.

When Archibius had returned to the ladies and asked whether it would be
an abuse of their hospitality, if--it was now nearly midnight--he should
still delay his departure for a time, they expressed sincere pleasure,
and begged him to continue his narrative.

"I must hasten," he hurriedly began, after eating the lunch which
Berenike had ordered while he was talking with the messenger, "but the
events of the next few years are hardly worth mentioning.  Besides, my
time was wholly occupied by my studies in the museum.

"As for Cleopatra and Arsinoe, they stood like queens at the head of all
the magnificence of the court.  The day on which they left our house was
the last of their childhood.

"Who would venture to determine whether her father's restoration, or the
meeting with Antony, had wrought the great change which took place at
that time in Cleopatra?

"Just before  she  left  us, my  mother  had lamented that she must give
her to a father like the flute-player, instead of to a worthy mother; for
the best could not help regarding herself happy in the possession of such
a daughter.  Afterwards her character and conduct were better suited to
delight men than to please a mother.  The yearning for peace of mind
seemed over.  Only the noisy festivals, the singing and music, of which
there was never any cessation in the palace of the royal virtuoso, seemed
to weary her and at such times she appeared at our house and spent
several days beneath its roof.  Arsinoe never accompanied her; her heart
was sometimes won by a golden-haired officer in the ranks of the German
horsemen whom Gabinius had left among the garrison of Alexandria,
sometimes by a Macedonian noble among the youths who, at that time,
performed the service of guarding the palace.

"Cleopatra lived apart from her, and Arsinoe openly showed her hostility
from the time that she entreated her to put an end to the scandal caused
by her love affairs.

"Cleopatra held aloof from such things.

"Though she had devoted much time to the magic arts of the Egyptians, her
clear intellect had rendered her so familiar with the philosophy of the
Hellenes that it was a pleasure to hear her converse or argue in the
museum-as she often did-with the leaders of the various schools.  Her
self-confidence had become very strong.  Though, while with us, she said
that she longed to return to the days of the peaceful Garden of Epicurus,
she devoted herself eagerly enough to the events occurring in the world
and to statecraft.  She was familiar with everything in Rome, the desires
and struggles of the contending parties, as well as the characters of the
men who were directing affairs, their qualities, views, and aims.

"She followed Antony's career with the interest of love, for she had
bestowed on him the first affection of her young heart.  She had expected
the greatest achievements, but his subsequent course seemed to belie
these lofty hopes.  A tinge of scorn coloured her remarks concerning him
at that time, but here also her heart had its share.

"Pompey, to whom her father owed his restoration to the throne, she
considered a lucky man, rather than a great and wise one.  Of Julius
Caesar, on the contrary, long before she met him, she spoke with ardent
enthusiasm, though she knew that he would gladly have made Egypt a Roman
province.  The greatest deed which she expected from the energetic Julius
was that he would abolish the republic, which she hated, and soar upward
to tyrannize over the arrogant rulers of the world--only she would fain
have seen Antony in his place.  How often in those days she used magic
art to assure herself of his future!  Her father was interested in these
things, especially as, through them, and the power of the mighty Isis, he
expected to obtain relief from his many and severe sufferings.

"Cleopatra's brothers were still mere boys, completely dependent upon
their guardian, Pothinus, to whom the King left the care of the
government, and their tutor, Theodotus, a clever but unprincipled
rhetorician.  These two men and Achillas, the commander of the troops,
would gladly have aided Dionysus, the King's oldest male heir, to obtain
the control of the state, in order afterwards to rule him, but the flute-
player baffled their plans.  You know that in his last will he made
Cleopatra, his favourite child, his successor, but her brother Dionysus
was to share the throne as her husband.  This caused much scandal in
Rome, though it was an old custom of the house of Ptolemy, and suited the
Egyptians.

"The  flute-player  died.  Cleopatra  became Queen, and at the same time
the wife of a husband ten years old, for whom she did not even possess
the natural gift of sisterly tenderness.  But with the obstinate child
who had been told by his counsellors that the right to rule should be his
alone, she also married the former governors of the country.

"Then began a period of sore suffering.  Her life was a perpetual battle
against notorious intrigues, the worst of which owed their origin to her
sister.  Arsinoe had surrounded herself with a court of her own, managed
by the eunuch Ganymedes, an experienced commander, and at the same time a
shrewd adviser, wholly devoted to her interest.  He understood how to
bring her into close relations with Pothinus and other rulers of the
state, and thus at last united all who possessed any power in the royal
palace in an endeavour to thrust Cleopatra from the throne.  Pothinus,
Theodotus, and Achillas hated her because she saw their failings and made
them feel the superiority of her intellect.  Their combined efforts might
have succeeded in overthrowing her before, had not the Alexandrians,
headed by the Ephebi, over whom I still had some influence, stood by her
so steadfastly.  Whoever could still be classed as a youth glowed with
enthusiasm for her, and most of the Macedonian nobles in the body-guard
would have gone to death for her sake, though she had forced them to gaze
hopelessly up to her as if she were some unapproachable goddess.

"When her father died she was seventeen, but she knew how to resist
oppressors and foes as if she were a man.  My sister, Charmian, whom she
had appointed to a place in her service, loyally aided her.  At that time
she was a beautiful and lovable girl, but the spell exerted by the Queen
fettered her like chains and bonds.  She voluntarily resigned the love of
a noble man--he afterwards became your husband, Berenike--in order not to
leave her royal friend at a time when she so urgently needed her.  Since
then my sister has shut her heart against love.  It belonged to
Cleopatra.  She lives, thinks, cares for her alone.  She is fond of you,
Barine, because your father was so dear to her.  Iras, whose name is so
often associated with hers, is the daughter of my oldest sister, who was
already married when the King entrusted the princesses to our father's
care.  She is thirteen years younger than Cleopatra, but her mistress
holds the first place in her heart also.  Her father, the wealthy Krates,
made every effort to keep her from entering the service of the Queen, but
in vain.  A single conversation with this marvellous woman had bound her
forever.

"But I must be brief.  You have doubtless heard how completely Cleopatra
bewitched Pompey's son during his visit to Alexandria.  She had not been
so gracious to any man since her meeting with Antony, and it was not from
affection, but to maintain the independence of her beloved native land.
At that time the father of Gnejus was the man who possessed the most
power, and statecraft commanded her to win him through his son.  The
young Roman also took his leave 'full of her,' as the Egyptians say.
This pleased her, but the visit greatly aided her foes.  There was no
slander which was not disseminated against her.  The commanders of the
body-guard, whom she had always treated as a haughty Queen, had seen her
associate with Pompey's son in the theatre as if he were a friend of
equal rank; and on many other occasions the Alexandrians saw her repay
his courtesies in the same coin.  But in those days hatred of Rome surged
high.  The regents, leagued with Arsinoe, spread the rumour that
Cleopatra would deliver Egypt up to Pompey, if the senate would secure to
her the sole sovereignty of the new province, and leave her free to rid
herself of her royal brother and husband.

"She was compelled to fly, and went first to the Syrian frontier, to gain
friends for her cause among the Asiatic princes.  My brother Straton--you
remember the noble youth who won the prize for wrestling at Olympia,
Berenike--and I were commissioned to carry the treasure to her.  We
doubtless exposed ourselves to great peril, but we did so gladly, and
left Alexandria with a few camels, an ox-cart, and some trusted slaves.
We were to go to Gaza, where Cleopatra was already beginning to collect
an army, and had disguised ourselves as Nabataean merchants.  The
languages which I had learned, in order not to be distanced by Cleopatra,
were now of great service.

"Those were stirring times.  The names of Caesar and Pompey were in every
mouth.  After the defeat at Dyrrachium the cause of Julius seemed lost,
but the Pharsalian battle again placed him uppermost, unless the East
rose in behalf of Pompey.  Both seemed to be favourites of Fortune.  The
question now was to which the goddess would prove most faithful.

"My sister Charmian was with the Queen, but through one of Arsinoe's
maids, who was devoted to her, we had learned from the palace that
Pompey's fate was decided.  He had come a fugitive from the defeat of
Pharsalus, and begged the King of Egypt--that is, the men who were acting
in his name--for a hospitable reception.  Pothinus and his associates had
rarely confronted a greater embarrassment.  The troops and ships of the
victorious Caesar were close at hand; many of Gabinius' men were serving
in the Egyptian army.  To receive the vanquished Pompey kindly was to
make the victorious Caesar a foe.  I was to witness the terrible solution
of this dilemma.  The infamous words of Theodotus, 'Dead dogs no longer
bite,' had turned the scale.

"My brother and I reached Mount Casius with our precious freight, and
pitched our tents to await a messenger, when a large body of armed men
approached from the city.  At first we feared that we were pursued; but a
spy reported that the King himself was among the soldiery, and at the
same time a large Roman galley drew near the coast.  It must be Pompey's.
So they had changed their views, and the King was coming in person to
receive their guest.  The troops encamped on the flat shore on which
stood the Temple of the Casian Amon.

"The September sun shone brightly, and was reflected from the weapons.
From the high bank of the dry bed of the river, where we had pitched our
tent, we saw something scarlet move to and fro.  It was the King's
mantle.  The waves, stirred by the autumn breeze, rippled lightly, blue
as cornflowers, over the yellow sand of the dunes; but the King stood
still, shading his eyes with his hand as he gazed at the galley.
Meanwhile, Achillas, the commander of the troops, and Septimius, the
tribune, who belonged to the Roman garrison in Alexandria, and who, I
knew, had served under Pompey and owed him many favours, had entered a
boat and put off to the vessel, which could not come nearer the land on
account of the shallow water.

"The conference now began, and Achillas's offer of hospitality must have
been very warm and well calculated to inspire confidence, for a tall
lady--it was Cornelia, the wife of the Imperator--waved her hand to him
in token of gratitude."

Here the speaker paused, drew a long breath, and, pressing his hand to
his brow, continued "What follows--alas, that it was my fate to witness
the dreadful scene!  How often a garbled account has been given, and yet
the whole was so terribly simple!

"Fortune  makes  her  favourites  confiding.  Pompey was also.  Though
more than fifty years old--he lacked two years of sixty--he sprang into
the boat quickly enough, with merely a little assistance from a freedman.
A sailor--he was a negro--shoved the skiff off from the side of the huge
ship as violently as if the pole he used for the purpose was a spear, and
the galley his foe.  The boat, urged by his companions' oars, had already
moved forward, and he stumbled, the brown cap falling from his woolly
head in the act.

"It seems as if I could still see him.  Ere I clearly realized that this
was an evil omen, the boat stopped.

"The water was shallow.  I saw Achillas point to the shore.  It could be
reached by a single bound.  Pompey looked towards the King.  The freedman
put his hand under his arm to help him rise.  Septimius also stood up.  I
thought he intended to assist him.  But no!  What did this mean?
Something flashed  by the  Imperator's silver-grey hair as if a spark had
fallen from the sky.  Would Pompey defend himself, or why did he raise
his hand?  It was to draw around him the toga, with which he silently
covered his face.  The tribune's arm was again raised high into the air,
and then--what confusion!  Here, there, yonder, hands suddenly appeared
aloft, bright flashes darted through the clear air.  Achillas, the
general, dealt blows with his dagger as if he were skilled in murder.
The Imperator's stalwart figure sank forward.  The freedman supported
him.

"Then shouts arose, here a cry of fury, yonder a wail of grief, and,
rising above all, a woman's shriek of anguish.  It came from the lips of
Cornelia, the murdered man's wife.  Shouts of applause from the King's
camp followed, then the blast of a trumpet; the Egyptians drew back from
the shore.  The scarlet cloak again appeared.  Septimius, bearing in his
hand a bleeding head, went towards it and held the ghastly trophy aloft.

"The royal boy gazed into the dull eyes of the victim, who had guided the
destinies of many a battlefield, of Rome, of two quarters of the globe.
The sight was probably too terrible for the child upon the throne, for he
averted his head.  The ship moved away from the land, the Egyptians
formed into ranks and marched off.  Achillas cleansed his blood-stained
hands in the sea-water.  The freedman beside him washed his master's
headless trunk.  The general shrugged his shoulders as the faithful
fellow heaped reproaches on him."

Here Archibius paused, drawing a long breath.  Then he continued more
calmly:

"Achillas did not lead the troops back to Alexandria, but eastward,
towards Pelusium, as I learned later.

"My brother and I stood on the rocky edge of the ravine.  It was long ere
either spoke.  A cloud of dust concealed the King and his body-guard, the
sails of the galley disappeared.  Twilight closed in, and Straton pointed
westward towards Alexandria.  Then the sun set.  Red! red!  It seemed as
if a torrent of blood was pouring over the city.

"Night followed.  A scanty fire was glimmering on the strand.  Where had
the wood been gathered in this desert?  How had it been kindled?  A
wrecked, mouldering boat had lain close beside the scene of the murder.
The freedman and his companions had broken it up and fed the flames with
withered boughs, the torn garments of the murdered man, and dry sea-weed.
A blaze soon rose, and a body was carefully placed upon the wretched
funeral pyre.  It was the corpse of the great Pompey.  One of the
Imperator's veterans aided the faithful servant."

Here Archibius sank back again among the cushions, adding in explanation:

"Cordus, the man's name was Servius Cordus.  He fared well later.  The
Queen provided for him.  The others?  Fate overtook them all soon enough.
Theodotus was condemned by Brutus to a torturing death.  Amid his loud
shrieks of agony one of Pompey's veterans shouted, 'Dead dogs no longer
bite, but they howl when dying!'

"It was worthy of Caesar that he averted his face in horror from the head
of his enemy, which Theodotus sent to him.  Pothinus, too, vainly awaited
the reward of his infamous deed.

"Julius Caesar had cast anchor before Alexandria shortly after the King's
return.  Not until after his arrival in Egypt did he learn how Pompey had
been received there.  You know that he remained nine months.  How often I
have heard it said that Cleopatra understood how to chain him here!  This
is both true and false.  He was obliged to stay half a year; the
following three months he did indeed give to the woman whom he loved.
Ay, the heart of the man of fifty-four had again opened to a great
passion.  Like all wounds, those inflicted by the arrows of Eros heal
more slowly when youth lies behind the stricken one.  It was not only the
eyes and the senses which attracted a couple so widely separated by
years, but far more the mental characteristics of both.  Two winged
intellects had met.  The genius of one had recognized that of the other.
The highest type of manhood had met perfect womanhood.  They could not
fail to attract each other.  I expected it; for Cleopatra had long
watched breathlessly the flight of this eagle who soared so far above the
others, and she was strong enough to keep at his side.

"We succeeded in joining Cleopatra, and heard that, spite of the
hostility of our citizens, Caesar had occupied the palace of the
Ptolemies and was engaged in restoring order.

"We knew in what way Pothinus, Achillas, and Arsinoe would seek to
influence him.  Cleopatra had good reason to fear that her foes might
deliver Egypt unconditionally to Rome, if Caesar should leave the reins
of government in their hands and shut her out.  She had cause to dread
this, but she also had the courage to act in person in her own behalf.

"The point now was to bring her into the city, the palace-nay, into
direct communication with the dictator.  Children tell the tale of the
strong man who bore Cleopatra in a sack through the palace portals.  It
was not a sack which concealed her, but a Syrian carpet.  The strong man
was my brother Straton.  I went first, to secure a free passage.

"Julius Caesar and she saw and found each other.  Fate merely drew the
conclusion which must result from such premises.  Never have I seen
Cleopatra happier, more exalted in mind and heart, yet she was menaced on
all sides by serious perils.  It required all the military genius of
Caesar to conquer the fierce hostility which he encountered here.  It was
this, not the thrall of Cleopatra, I repeat, which first bound him to
Egypt.  What would have prevented him--as he did later--from taking the
object of his love to Rome, had it been possible at that time?  But this
was not the case.  The Alexandrians provided for that.

"He had recognized the flute-player's will, nay, had granted more to the
royal house than could have been given to the former.  Cleopatra and her
brother-husband, Dionysus, were to share the government, and he also
bestowed on Arsinoe and her youngest brother the island of Cyprus, which
had been wrested from their uncle Ptolemy by the republic.  Rome was, of
course, to remain the guardian of the brothers and sisters.

"This arrangement was unendurable to Pothinus and the former rulers of
the state.  Cleopatra as Queen, and Rome--that is Caesar, the dictator,
her friend, as guardian--meant their removal from power, their
destruction, and they resisted violently.

"The Egyptians and even the Alexandrians supported them.  The young King
hated nothing more than the yoke of the unloved sister, who was so
greatly his superior.  Caesar had come with a force by no means equal to
theirs, and it might be possible to draw the mighty general into a snare.
They fought with all the power at their command, with such passionate
eagerness, that the dictator had never been nearer succumbing to peril.
But Cleopatra certainly did not paralyze his strength and cautious
deliberation.  No!  He had never been greater; never proved the power of
his genius so magnificently.  And against what superior power, what
hatred he contended!  I myself saw the young King, when he heard that
Cleopatra had succeeded in entering the palace and meeting Caesar, rush
into the street, fairly crazed by rage, tear the diadem from his head,
hurl it on the pavement, and shriek to the passers-by that he was
betrayed, until Caesar's soldiers forced him back into the palace, and
dispersed the mob.

"Arsinoe had received more than she could venture to expect; but she was
again most deeply angered.  After Caesar's entry into the palace, she had
received him as Queen, and hoped everything from his favour.  Then her
hated sister had come and, as so often happened, she was forgotten for
Cleopatra's sake.

"This  was  too much,  and with  the  eunuch Ganymedes, her confidant,
and--as I have already said--an able warrior, she left the palace and
joined the dictator's foes.

"There were severe battles on land and sea; in the streets of the city,
for the drinkable water excavated by the foe; and against the
conflagration which destroyed part of the Bruchium and the library of the
museum.  Yet, half dead with thirst, barely escaped from drowning,
threatened on all sides by fierce hatred, he stood firm, and remained
victor also in the open field, after the young King had placed himself at
the head of the Egyptians and collected an army.

"You know that the boy was drowned in the flight.

"In battle and mortal peril, amid blood and the clank of arms, Caesar and
Cleopatra spent half a year ere they were permitted to pluck the fruit of
their common labour.  The dictator now made her Queen of Egypt, and gave
her, as co-regent, her youngest brother, a boy not half her own age.  To
Arsinoe he granted the life she had forfeited, but sent her to Italy.

"Peace followed the victory.  Now, it is true, grave duties must have
summoned the statesman back to Rome, but he tarried three full months
longer.

"Whoever knows the life of the ambitious Julius, and is aware what this
delay might have cost him, may well strike his brow with his hand, and
ask, 'Is it true and possible that he used this precious time to take a
trip with the woman he loved up the Nile, to the island of Isis, which is
so dear to the Queen, to the extreme southern frontier of the country?'
Yet it was so, and I myself went in the second ship, and not only saw
them together, but more than once shared their banquets and their
conversation.  It was giving and taking, forcing down and elevating, a
succession of discords, not unpleasant to hear, because experience taught
that they would finally terminate in the most beautiful harmony.  It was
a festal day for all the senses."

"I imagine the whole Nile journey," interrupted Barine, "to be like the
fairy voyage, when the purple silk sails of Cleopatra's galley bore
Antony along the Cydnus."

"No, no," replied Archibius, "she first learned from Antony the art of
filling this earthly existence with fleeting pleasures.  Caesar demanded
more.  Her intellect offered him the highest enjoyment."

Here he hesitated.

"True, the skill with which, to please Antony, she daily offered him for
years fresh charms for every sense, was not a matter of accident."

"And this," cried Barine, "this was undertaken by the woman who had
recognized the chief good in peace of mind!"

"Ay," replied Archibius thoughtfully, "yet this was the inevitable
result.  Pleasure had been the young girl's object in life.  Ere passion
awoke in her soul, peace of mind was the chief good she knew.  When the
hour arrived that this proved unattainable, the firmly rooted yearning
for happiness still remained the purpose of her existence.  My father
would have been wiser to take her to the Stoa and impress it upon her
that, if life must have a goal, it should be only to live in accordance
with the sensibly arranged course of the world, and in harmony with one's
own nature.  He should have taught her to derive happiness from virtue.
He should have stamped goodness upon the soul of the future Queen as the
fundamental law of her being.  He omitted to do this, because in his
secluded life he had succeeded in finding the happiness which the master
promises to his disciples.  From Athens to Cyrene, from Epicurus to
Aristippus, is but a short step, and Cleopatra took it when she forgot
that the master was far from recognizing the chief good in the enjoyment
of individual pleasure.  The happiness of Epicurus was not inferior to
that of Zeus, if he had only barley bread and water to appease his hunger
and thirst.

"Yet she still considered herself a follower of Epicurus, and later, when
Antony had gone to the Parthian war, and she was a long time alone, she
once more began to strive for freedom from pain and peace of mind, but
the state, her children, the marriage of Antony--who had long been her
lover--to Octavia, the yearning of her own heart, Anubis, magic, and the
Egyptian teachings of the life after death, above all, the burning
ambition, the unresting desire to be loved, where she herself loved, to
be first among the foremost--"

Here he was interrupted by the messenger, who informed him that the ship
was ready.



CHAPTER VII.

Archibius had buried himself so deeply in the past that it was several
minutes ere he could bring himself back to the present.  When he did so,
he hastily discussed with the two ladies the date of their departure.

It was hard for Berenike to leave her injured brother, and Barine longed
to see Dion once more before the journey.  Both were reluctant to quit
Alexandria ere decisive news had arrived from the army and the fleet.  So
they requested a few days' delay; but Archibius cut them short, requiring
them, with a resolution which transformed the amiable friend into a stern
master, to be ready for the journey the next day at sunset.  His Nile
boat would await them at the Agathodaemon harbour on Lake Mareotis, and
his travelling chariot would convey them thither, with as much luggage
and as many female slaves as they desired to take with them.  Then
softening his tone, he briefly reminded the ladies of the great
annoyances to which a longer stay would expose them, excused his rigour
on the plea of haste, pressed the hands of the mother and daughter, and
retired without heeding Barine, who called after him, yet could desire
nothing save to plead for a longer delay.  The carriage bore him swiftly
to the great harbour.

The waxing moon was mirrored like a silver column, now wavering and
tremulous, now rent by the waves tossing under a strong southeast wind,
and illumined the warm autumn night.  The sea outside was evidently
running high.  This was apparent by the motion of the vessels lying at
anchor in the angle which the shore in front of the superb Temple of
Poseidon formed with the Choma.  This was a tongue of land stretched like
a finger into the sea, on whose point stood a little palace which
Cleopatra, incited by a chance remark of Antony, had had built there to
surprise him.

Another, of white marble, glimmered in the moonlight from the island of
Antirrhodus; and farther still a blazing fire illumined the darkness.
Its flames flared from the top of the famous lighthouse on the island of
Pharos at the entrance of the harbour, and, swayed to and fro by the
wind, steeped the horizon and the outer edge of the dark water in the
harbour with moving masses of light which irradiated the gloomy distance,
sometimes faintly, anon more brilliantly.

Spite of the late hour, the harbour was full of bustle, though the wind
often blew the men's cloaks over their heads, and the women were obliged
to gather their garments closely around them.  True, at this hour
commerce had ceased; but many had gone to the port in search of news, or
even to greet before others the first ship returning from the victorious
fleet; for that Antony had defeated Octavianus in a great battle was
deemed certain.

Guards were watching the harbour, and a band of Syrian horsemen had just
passed from the barracks in the southern part of the Lochias to the
Temple of Poseidon.

Here the galleys lay at anchor, not in the harbour of Eunostus, which was
separated from the other by the broad, bridge-like dam of the
Heptastadium, that united the city and the island of Pharos.  Near it
were the royal palaces and the arsenal, and any tidings must first reach
this spot.  The other harbour was devoted to commerce, but, in order to
prevent the spread of false reports, newly arrived ships were forbidden
to enter.

True, even at the great harbour, news could scarcely be expected, for a
chain stretching from the end of the Pharos to a cliff directly opposite
in the Alveus Steganus, closed the narrow opening.  But it could be
raised if a state galley arrived with an important message, and this was
expected by the throng on the shore.

Doubtless many came from banquets, cookshops, taverns, or the nocturnal
meeting-places of the sects that practised the magic arts, yet the weight
of anxious expectation seemed to check the joyous activity, and wherever
Archibius glanced he beheld eager, troubled faces.  The wind forced many
to bow their heads, and, wherever they turned their eyes, flags and
clouds of dust were fluttering in the air, increasing the confusion.

As the galley put off from the shore, and the flutes summoned the oarsmen
to their toil, its owner felt so disheartened that he did not even
venture to hope that he was going in quest of good tidings.

Long-vanished days had, as it were, been called from the grave, and many
a scene from the past rose before him as he lay among the cushions on the
poop, gazing at the sky, across which dark, swiftly sailing clouds
sometimes veiled the stars and again revealed them.

"How much we can conceal by words without being guilty of falsehood!"
he murmured, while recalling what he had told the women.

Ay, he had been Cleopatra's confidant in his early youth, but how he had
loved her, how, even as a boy, he had been subject to her, body and soul!
He had allowed her to see it, displayed, confessed it; and she had
accepted it as her rightful due.  She had repelled with angry pride his
only attempt to clasp her, in his overflowing affection, in his arms; but
to show his love for her is a crime for which the loftiest woman pardons
the humblest suitor, and a few hours later Cleopatra had met him with the
old affectionate familiarity.

Again he recalled the torments which he had endured when compelled to
witness how completely she yielded to the passion which drew her to
Antony.  At that time the Roman had merely swept through her life like a
swiftly passing meteor, but many things betrayed that she did not forget
him; and while Archibius had seen without pain her love for the great
Caesar bud and grow, the torturing feeling of jealousy again stirred in
his heart, though youth was past, when at Tarsus, on the river Cydnus,
she renewed the bond which still united her to Antony.

Now his hair had grown grey, and though nothing had clouded his
friendship for the Queen, though he had always been ready to serve her,
this foolish feeling had not been banished, and again and again mastered
his whole being.  He by no means undervalued Antony's attractions; but he
saw his foibles no less clearly.  All in all, whenever he thought of this
pair, he felt like the lover of art who entrusts the finest gem in his
collection to a rich man who knows not how to prize its real value, and
puts it in the wrong place.

Yet he wished the Roman the most brilliant victory; for his defeat would
have been Cleopatra's also, and would she endure the consequences of such
a disaster?

The galley was approaching the flickering circle of light at the foot of
the Pharos, and Archibius was just producing the token which was to
secure the lifting of the chain, when his name echoed through the
stillness of the night.

It was Dion hailing him from a boat tossing near the mouth of the harbour
on the waves surging in from the turbulent sea.  He had recognized
Archibius's swift galley from the bust of Epicurus which was illumined by
the light of the lantern in the prow.  Cleopatra had had it placed upon
the ship which, by her orders, had been built for her friend.

Dion now desired to join him, and was soon standing on the deck at his
side.  He had landed on the island of Pharos, and entered a sailors'
tavern to learn what was passing.  But no one could give him any definite
information, for the wind was blowing from the land and allowed large
vessels to approach the Egyptian coast only by the aid of oars.  Shortly
before the breeze had veered from south to southeast, and an experienced
Rhodian would "never again lift cup of wine to his lips" if it did not
blow from the north to-morrow or the day after.  Then ships bearing news
might reach Alexandria by the dozen--that is, the greybeard added with a
defiant glance at the daintily clad city gentleman--if they were allowed
to pass the Pharos or go through the Poseidon basin into the Eunostus.
He had fancied that he saw sails on the horizon at sunset, but the
swiftest galley became a hedgehog when the wind blew against its prow,
and even checked the oars.

Others, too, had fancied that they had seen sails, and Dion would gladly
have gone out to sea to investigate, but he was entirely alone in a frail
hired boat, and this would not have been permitted to pass beyond the
harbour.  The expectation that every road would be open to Archibius had
not deceived him, and the harbour chain was drawn aside for the Epicurus.
With swelling sails, urged by the strong wind blowing from the southeast,
its keel cut the rolling waves.

Soon a faint, tremulous light appeared in the north.  It must be a ship;
and though the helmsman in the tavern at Pharos, who looked as though he
had not always steered peaceful trading-vessels, had spoken of some which
did not let the ships they caught pass unscathed, the men on the well-
equipped, stately Epicurus did not fear pirates, especially as morning
was close at hand, and it had just shot by two clumsy men-of-war which
had been sent out by the Regent.

The strong wind filled every sail, rowing would have been useless labour,
and the light in front seemed to be coming nearer.

A wan glimmer was already beginning to brighten the distant east when the
Epicurus approached the vessel with the light, but it seemed to wish to
avoid the Alexandrian, and turned suddenly towards the northeast.

Archibius and Dion now discussed whether it would be worth while to
pursue the fugitive.  It was a small ship, which, as the dark masses of
clouds became bordered with golden edges, grew more distinct and appeared
to be a Cilician pirate of the smallest size.

As to its crew, the tried sailors on the Epicurus, a much larger vessel,
which lacked no means of defence, showed no signs of alarm, the helmsman
especially, who had served in the fleet of Sextus Pompey, and had sprung
upon the deck of many a pirate ship.

Archibius deemed it foolish to commence a conflict unnecessarily.  But
Dion was in the mood to brave every peril.

If life and death were at stake, so much the better!

He had informed his friend of Iras's fears.

The fleet must be in a critical situation, and if the little Cilician had
had nothing to conceal she would not have shunned the Epicurus.

It was worth while to learn what had induced her to turn back just before
reaching the harbour.  The warlike helmsman also desired to give chase,
and Archibius yielded, for the uncertainty was becoming more and more
unbearable.  Dion's soul was deeply burdened too.  He could not banish
Barine's image; and since Archibius had told him that he had found her
resolved to shut her house against guests, and how willingly she had
accepted his invitation to the country, again and again he pondered over
the question what should prevent his marrying the quiet daughter of a
distinguished artist, whom he loved?

Archibius had remarked that Barine would be glad to greet her most
intimate friends--among whom he was included--in her quiet country.

Dion did not doubt this, but he was equally sure that the greeting would
bind him to her and rub him of his liberty, perhaps forever.  But would
the Alexandrian possess the lofty gift of freedom, if the Romans ruled
his city as they governed Carthage or Corinth?  If Cleopatra were
defeated, and Egypt became a Roman province, a share in the business of
the council, which was still addressed as "Macedonian men," and which was
dear to Dion, could offer nothing but humiliation, and no longer afford
satisfaction.

If a pirate's spear put an end to bondage under the Roman yoke and to
this unworthy yearning and wavering, so much the better!

On this autumn morning, under this grey sky, from which sank a damp,
light fog, with these hopes and fears in his heart, he beheld in both the
present and future naught save shadows.

The Epicurus overtook and captured the fugitive.  The slight resistance
the vessel might have offered was relinquished when Archibius's helmsman
shouted that the Epicurus did not belong to the royal navy, and had come
in search of news.

The Cilician took in his oars; Archibius and Dion entered the vessel and
questioned the commander.

He was an old, weather-beaten seaman, who would give no information until
after he had learned what his pursuers really desired.

At first he protested that he had witnessed on the Peloponnesian coast
a great victory gained by the Egyptian galleys over those commanded
by Octavianus; but the queries of the two friends involved him in
contradictions, and he then pretended to know nothing, and to have
spoken of a victory merely to please the Alexandrian gentlemen.

Dion, accompanied by a few men from the crew of the Epicurus, searched
the ship, and found in the little cabin a man bound and gagged, guarded
by one of the pirates.

It was a sailor from the Pontus, who spoke only his native language.
Nothing intelligible could be obtained from him; but there were important
suggestions in a letter, found in a chest in the cabin, among clothing,
jewels, and other stolen articles.

The letter-Dion could scarcely believe his own eyes-was addressed to his
friend, the architect Gorgias.  The pirate, being ignorant of writing,
had not opened it, but Dion tore the wax from the cord without delay.
Aristocrates, the Greek rhetorician, who had accompanied Antony to the
war, had written from Taenarum, in the south of the Peloponnesus,
requesting the architect, in the general's name, to set the little palace
at the end of the Choma in order, and surround it on the land side with a
high wall.

No door would be necessary.  Communication with the dwelling could be had
by water.  He must do his utmost to complete the work speedily.

The friends gazed at each other in astonishment, as they read this
commission.

What could induce Antony to give so strange an order?  How did it fall
into the hands of the pirates?

This must be understood.

When Archibius, whose gentle nature, so well adapted to inspire
confidence, quickly won friends, burst into passionate excitement, the
unexpected transition rarely failed to produce its effect, especially as
his tall, strong figure and marked features made a still more threatening
impression.

Even the captain gazed at him with fear, when the Alexandrian threatened
to recall all his promises of consideration and mercy if the pirate
withheld even the smallest trifle connected with this letter.  The man
speedily perceived that it would be useless to make false statements;
for the captive from Pontus, though unable to speak Greek, understood the
language, and either confirmed every remark of the other with vehement
gestures, or branded it in the same manner as false.

Thus it was discovered that the pirate craft, in company with a much
larger vessel, owned by a companion, had lurked behind the promontory of
Crete for a prize.  They had neither seen nor heard aught concerning the
two fleets, when a dainty galley, "the finest and fleetest that ever
sailed in the sea"--it was  probably the "Swallow," Antony's despatch-
boat-had run into the snare.  To capture her was an easy task.  The
pirates had divided their booty, but the lion's share of goods and men
had fallen to the larger ship.

A pouch containing letters and money had been taken from a gentleman of
aristocratic appearance--probably Antony's messenger--who had received a
severe wound, died, and had been flung into the sea.  The former had been
used to light the fire, and only the one addressed to the architect
remained.

The captured sailors had said that the fleet of Octavianus had defeated
Cleopatra's, and the Queen had fled, but that the land forces were still
untouched, and might yet decide the conflict in Antony's favour.  The
pirate protested that he did not know the position of the army--it might
be at Taenarum, whence the captured ship came.  It was a sin and a shame,
but his own crew had set it on fire, and it sank before his eyes.

This report seemed to be true, yet the Acharnanian coast, where the
battle was said to have been fought, was so far from the southern point
of the Peloponnesus, whence Antony's letter came, that it must have been
written during the flight.  One thing appeared to be certain--the fleet
had been vanquished and dispersed on the 2d or 3d of September.

Where would the Queen go now?  What had become of the magnificent galleys
which had accompanied her to the battle?

Even the contrary winds would not have detained them so long, for they
were abundantly supplied with rowers.

Had Octavianus taken possession of them?  Were they burned or sunk?

But in that case how had Antony reached Taenarum?

The pirate could give no answer to these questions, which stirred both
heart and brain.  Why should he conceal what had reached his ears?

At last Archibius ordered the property stolen from Antony's ship, and the
liberated sailor to be brought on board the Epicurus, but the pirate was
obliged to swear not to remain in the waters between Crete and
Alexandria.  Then he was suffered to pursue his way unmolested.

This adventure had occupied many hours, and the return against the wind
was slow; for, during the chase the Epicurus had been carried by the
strong breeze far out to sea.  Yet, when still several miles from the
mouth of the harbour at the Pharos, it was evident that the Rhodian
helmsman in the island tavern had predicted truly; for the weather
changed with unusual speed, and the wind now blew from the north.  The
sea fairly swarmed with ships, some belonging to the royal fleet, some to
curious Alexandrians, who had sailed out to take a survey.  Archibius and
Dion had spent a sleepless night and day.  The heavy air, pervaded by a
fine mist, had grown cool.  After refreshing themselves by a repast, they
paced up and down the deck of the Epicurus.

Few words were exchanged, and they wrapped their cloaks closer around
them.  Both had quaffed large draughts of the fiery wine with which the
Epicurus was well supplied, but it would not warm them.  Even the fire,
blazing brightly in the richly furnished cabin, could scarcely do so.

Archibius's thoughts lingered with his beloved Queen, and his vivid power
of imagination conjured before his mind everything which could distress
her.  No possible chance, not even the most terrible, was forgotten, and
when he saw her sinking in the ship, stretching her beautiful arms
imploringly towards him, to whom she had so long turned in every perilous
position, when he beheld her a captive in the presence of the hostile,
cold-hearted Octavianus, the blood seemed to freeze in his veins.  At
last he dropped his felt mantle and, groaning aloud, struck his brow with
his clenched hand.  He had fancied her walking with gold chains on her
slender wrists before the victor's four-horse chariot, and heard the
exulting shouts of the Roman populace.

That would have been the most terrible of all.  To pursue this train of
thought was beyond the endurance of the faithful friend, and Dion turned
in surprise as he heard him sob and saw the tears which bedewed his face.

His own heart was heavy enough, but he knew his companion's warm devotion
to the Queen; so, passing his arm around his shoulder, he entreated him
to maintain that peace of soul and mind which he had so often admired.
In the most critical situations he had seen him stand high above them, as
yonder man who fed the flames on the summit of the Pharos stood above the
wild surges of the sea.  If he would reflect over what had happened as
dispassionately as usual, he could not fail to see that Antony must be
free and in a position to guide his own future, since he directed the
palace in the Choma to be put in order.  He did not understand about the
wall, but perhaps he was bringing home some distinguished captive whom he
wished to debar from all communication with the city.  It might prove
that everything was far better than they feared, and they would yet smile
at these grievous anxieties.  His heart, too, was heavy, for he wished
the Queen the best fortune, not only for her own sake, but because with
her and her successful resistance to the greed of Rome was connected the
liberty of Alexandria.

"My love and anxiety, like yours," he concluded, "have ever been given
to her, the sovereign of this country.  The world will be desolate, life
will no longer be worth living, if the iron foot of Rome crushes our
independence and freedom."  The words had sounded cordial and sincere,
and Archibius followed Dion's counsel.  Calm thought convinced him that
nothing had yet happened which compelled belief in the worst result; and,
as one who needs consolation often finds relief in comforting another,
Archibius cheered his own heart by representing to his younger friend
that, even if Octavianus were the victor and should deprive Egypt of her
independence, he would scarcely venture to take from the citizens of
Alexandria the free control of their own affairs.  Then he explained to
Dion that, as a young, resolute, independent man, he might render himself
doubly useful if it were necessary to guard the endangered liberty of the
city, and told him how many beautiful things life still held in store.

His voice expressed anxious tenderness for his young friend.  No one had
spoken thus to Dion since his father's death.

The Epicurus would soon reach the mouth of the harbour, and after landing
he must again leave Archibius.

The decisive hour which often unites earnest men more firmly than many
previous years had come to both.  They had opened their hearts to each
other.  Dion had withheld only the one thing which, at the first sight of
the houses in the city, filled his soul with fresh uneasiness.

It was long since he had sought counsel from others.  Many who had asked
his, had left him with thanks, to do exactly the opposite of what he had
advised, though it would have been to their advantage.  More than once
he, too, had done the same, but now a powerful impulse urged him to
confide in Archibius.  He knew Barine, and wished her the greatest
happiness.  Perhaps it would be wise to let another person, who was
kindly disposed, consider what his own heart so eagerly demanded and
prudence forbade.

Hastily forming his resolution, he again turned to his friend, saying:

"You have shown yourself a father to me.  Imagine that I am indeed your
son, and, as such wished to confess that a woman had become dear to my
heart, and to ask whether you would be glad to greet her as a daughter."

Here Archibius interrupted him with the exclamation: "A ray of light
amid all this gloom?  Grasp what you have too long neglected as soon as
possible!  It befits a good citizen to marry.  The Greek does not attain
full manhood till he becomes husband and father.  If I have remained
unwedded, there was a special reason for it, and how often I have envied
the cobbler whom I saw standing before his shop in the evening, holding
his child in his arms, or the pilot, to whom large and small hands were
stretched in greeting when he returned home!  When I enter my dwelling
only my dogs rejoice.  But you, whose beautiful palace stands empty,
to whose proud family it is due that you should provide for its
continuance--"

"That is just what brings me into a state of indecision, which is usually
foreign to my nature," interrupted Dion.  "You know me and my position in
the world, and you have also known from her earliest childhood the woman
to whom I allude."

"Iras?"  asked  his  companion, hesitatingly.  His sister, Charmian, had
told him of the love felt by the Queen's younger waiting-woman.

But Dion eagerly denied this, adding  I am speaking of Barine, the
daughter of your dead friend Leonax.  I love her, yet my pride is
sensitive, and I know that it will extend to my future wife.  The
contemptuous glances which others might cast at her I should scorn,
for I know her worth.  Surely you remember my mother: she was a very
different woman.  Her house, her child, the slaves, her loom, were
everything to her.  She rigidly exacted from other women the chaste
reserve which was a marked trait in her own character.  Yet she was
gentle, and loved me, her only son, beyond aught else.  I think she would
have opened her arms to Barine, had she believed that she was necessary
to my happiness.  But would the young beauty, accustomed to gay
intercourse with distinguished men, have been able to submit to her
demands?  When I consider that she cannot help taking into her married
life the habit of being surrounded and courted; when I think that the
imprudence of a woman accustomed to perfect freedom might set idle
tongues in motion, and cast a shadow upon the radiant purity of my name;
when I even--" and he raised his clenched right hand.  But Archibius
answered soothingly:

"That anxiety is groundless if Barine warmly and joyfully gives you her
whole heart.  It is a sunny, lovable, true woman's heart, and therefore
capable of a great love.  If she bestows it on you--and I believe she
will--go and offer sacrifices in your gratitude; for the immortals
desired your happiness when they guided your choice to her and not to
Iras, my own sister's child.  If you were really my son, I would now
exclaim, 'You could not bring me a dearer daughter, if--I repeat it--
if you are sure of her love.'"

Dion gazed into vacancy a short time, and then cried firmly: "I am!"



CHAPTER VIII.

The Epicurus anchored before the Temple of Poseidon.  The crew had been
ordered to keep silence, though they knew nothing, except that a letter
from Antony, commanding the erection of a wall, had been found on board
the pirate.  This might be regarded as a good omen, for people do not
think of building unless they anticipate a time of peace.

The light rain had ceased, but the wind blew more strongly from the
north, and the air had grown cool.  A dense throng still covered the quay
from the southern end of the Heptastadium to the promontory of Lochias.
The strongest pressure was between the peninsula of the Choma and the
Sebasteum; for this afforded a view of the sea, and the first tidings
must reach the residence of the Regent, which was connected with the
palace.

A hundred contradictory rumours had been in circulation that morning; and
when, at the third hour in the afternoon, the Epicurus arrived, it was
surrounded by a dense multitude eager to hear what news the ship had
brought from without.

Other vessels shared the same fate, but none could give reliable tidings.

Two swift galleys from the royal fleet reported meeting a Samian trireme,
which had given news of a great victory gained by Antony on the land and
Cleopatra on the sea, and, as men are most ready to believe what they
desire, throngs of exulting men and women moved to and fro along the
shore, strengthening by their confidence many a timorous spirit.  Prudent
people, who had regarded the long delay of the first ships of the fleet
with anxiety, had opened their ears to the tales of evil, and looked
forward to the future with uneasiness.  But they avoided giving
expression to their fears, for the overseer of an establishment for
gold embroidery, who had ventured to warn the people against premature
rejoicing, had limped home badly beaten, and two other pessimists who had
been flung in the sea had just been dragged out dripping wet.

Nor could the multitude be blamed for this confidence; for at the
Serapeum, the theatre of Dionysus, the lofty pylons of the Sebasteum, the
main door of the museum, in front of the entrance of the palace in the
Bruchium, and before the fortress-like palaces in the Lochias, triumphal
arches had been erected, adorned with gods of victory and trophies
hastily constructed of plaster, inscriptions of congratulations and
thanks to the deities, garlands of foliage and flowers.  The wreathing of
the Egyptian pylons and obelisks, the principal temple, and the favourite
statues in the city had been commenced during the night.  The last
touches were now being given to the work.

Gorgias, like his friend Dion, had not closed his eyes since the night
before; for he had had charge of all the decorations of the Bruchium,
where one superb building adjoined another.

Sleep had also fled from the couches of the occupants of the Sebasteum,
the royal palace where Iras lived during the absence of the Queen, and
the practorium, facing its southern front, which contained the official
residence of the Regent.

When Archibius was conducted to the Queen's waiting-woman, her appearance
fairly startled him.  She had been his guest in Kanopus only the day
before yesterday, and how great was the alteration within this brief
time!  Her oval face seemed to have lengthened, the features to have
grown sharper; and this woman of seven-and-twenty years, who had hitherto
retained all the charms of youth, appeared suddenly to have aged a
decade.  There was a feverish excitement in her manner, as, holding out
her hand to her uncle, in greeting, she exclaimed hastily, "You, too,
bring no good tidings?"

"Nor any evil ones," he answered quietly.  "But, child, I do not like
your appearance--the dark circles under your keen eyes.  You have had
news which rouses your anxiety?"

"Worse than that," she answered in a low tone.

"Well?"

"Read!" gasped  Iras, her lips and nostrils quivering as she handed
Archibius a small tablet.  With a gesture of haste very unusual in him,
he snatched it from her hand and, as his eyes ran over the words traced
upon it, every vestige of colour vanished from his cheeks and lips.

They were written by Cleopatra's own hand, and contained the following
lines:

"The naval battle was lost--and by my fault.  The land forces might
still save us, but not under his command.  He is with me, uninjured, but
apparently exhausted; like a different being, bereft of courage, listless
as if utterly crushed.  I foresee the beginning of the end.  As soon as
this reaches you, arrange to have some unpretending litters ready for us
every evening at sunset.  Make the people believe that we have conquered
until trustworthy intelligence arrives concerning the fate of Canidius
and the army.  When you kiss the children in my name, be very tender with
them.  Who knows how soon they may be orphaned?  They already have an
unhappy mother; may they be spared the memory of a cowardly one!  Trust
no one except those whom I left in authority, and Archibius, not even
Caesarion or Antyllus.  Provide for having every one whose aid may be
valuable to me within reach when I come.  I cannot close with the
familiar 'Rejoice'--the 'Fresh Courage' placed on many a tombstone seems
more appropriate.  You who did not envy me in my happiness will help me
to bear misfortune.  Epicurus, who believes that the gods merely watch
the destiny of men inactively from their blissful heights, is right.
Were it otherwise, how could the love and loyalty which cleave to the
hapless, defeated woman, be repaid with anguish of heart and tears?  Yet
continue to love her."

Archibius, pale and silent, let the tablet fall.  It was long ere he
gasped hoarsely: "I foresaw it; yet now that it is here--" His voice
failed, and violent, tearless sobs shook his powerful frame.

Sinking on a couch he buried his face amid the cushions.

Iras gazed at the strong man and shook her head.  She, too, loved the
Queen; the news had brought tears to her eyes also; but even while she
wept, a host of plans coping with this disaster had darted through her
restless brain.  A few minutes after the arrival of the message of
misfortune she had consulted with the members of Cleopatra's council, and
adopted measures for sustaining the people's belief in the naval victory.

What was she, the delicate, by no means courageous girl, compared to this
man of iron strength who, she was well aware, had braved the greatest
perils in the service of the Queen?  Yet there he lay with his face
hidden in the pillows as if utterly overwhelmed.

Did a woman's soul rebound more quickly after being crushed beneath the
burdens of the heaviest suffering, or was hers of a special character,
and her slender body the casket of a hero's nature?

She had reason to believe so when she recalled how the Regent and the
Keeper of the Seal had received the terrible news.  They had rushed
frantically up and down the vast hall as if desperate; but Mardion the
eunuch had little manhood, and Zeno was a characterless old author who
had won the Queen's esteem, and the high office which he occupied solely
by the vivid power of imagination, that enabled him constantly to devise
new exhibitions, amusements, and entertainments, and present them with
magical splendour.

But Archibius, the brave, circumspect counsellor and helper?

His shoulders again quivered as if they had received a blow, and Iras
suddenly remembered what she had long known, but never fully realized--
that yonder grey-haired man loved Cleopatra, loved her as she herself
loved Dion; and she wondered whether she would have been strong enough to
maintain her composure if she had learned that a cruel fate threatened to
rob him of life, liberty, and honour.

Hour after hour she had vainly awaited the young Alexandrian, yet he had
witnessed her anxiety the day before.  Had she offended him?  Was he
detained by the spell of Didymus's granddaughter?

It seemed a great wrong that, amid the unspeakably terrible misfortune
which had overtaken her mistress, she could not refrain from thinking
continually of Dion.  Even as his image filled her heart, Cleopatra's
ruled her uncle's mind and soul, and she said to herself that it was not
alone among women that love paid no heed to years, or whether the locks
were brown or tinged with grey.

But Archibius now raised himself, left the couch, passed his hand across
his brow, and in the deep, calm tones natural to his voice, began with a
sorrowful smile: "A man stricken by an arrow leaves the fray to have his
wound bandaged.  The surgeon has now finished his task.  I ought to have
spared you this pitiable spectacle, child.  But I am again ready for the
battle.  Cleopatra's account of Antony's condition renders a piece of
news which we have just received somewhat more intelligible."

"We?"  replied Iras.  "Who was your companion?"

"Dion," answered Archibius; but when he was about to describe the
incidents of the preceding night, she interrupted him with the question
whether Barine had consented to leave the city.  He assented with a curt
"Yes," but Iras assumed the manner of having expected nothing different,
and requested him to continue his story.

Archibius now related everything which they had experienced, and their
discovery in the pirate ship.  Dion was even now on the way to carry
Antony's order to his friend Gorgias.

"Any slave might have attended to that matter equally well," Iras
remarked in an irritated tone.  "I should think he would have more reason
to expect trustworthy tidings here.  But that's the way with men!"

Here she hesitated but, meeting an inquiring glance from her uncle, she
went on eagerly; "Nothing, I believe, binds them more firmly to one
another than mutual pleasure.  But that must now be over.  They will seek
other amusements, whether with Heliodora or Thais I care not.  If the
woman had only gone before!  When she caught young Caesarion--"

"Stay, child," her uncle interrupted reprovingly.  "I know how much she
would rejoice if Antyllus had never brought the boy to her house."

"Now--because the poor deluded lad's infatuation alarms her."

"No, from his first visit.  Immature boys do not suit the distinguished
men whom she receives."

"If the door is always kept open, thieves will enter the house."

"She received only old acquaintances, and the friends whom they
presented.  Her house was closed to all others.  So there was no trouble
with thieves.  But who in Alexandria could venture to refuse admittance
to a son of the Queen?"

"There is a wide difference between quiet admittance and fanning a
passion to madness.  Wherever a fire is burning, there has certainly been
a spark to kindle it.  You men do not detect such women's work.  A
glance, a pressure of the hand, even the light touch of a garment, and
the flame blazes, where such inflammable material lies ready."

"We lament the violence of the conflagration.  You are not well disposed
towards Barine."

"I care no more for her than this couch here cares for the statue of
Mercury in the street!" exclaimed Iras, with repellent arrogance.  "There
could be no two things in the world more utterly alien than we.  Between
the woman whose door stands open, and me, there is nothing in common save
our sex."

"And," replied Archibius reprovingly, "many a beautiful gift which the
gods bestowed upon her as well as upon you.  As for the open door, it was
closed yesterday.  The thieves of whom you spoke spoiled her pleasure in
granting hospitality.  Antyllus forced himself with noisy impetuosity
into her house.  This made her dread still more unprecedented conduct in
the future.  In a few hours she will be on the way to Irenia.  I am glad
for Caesarion's sake, and still more for his mother's, whom we have
wronged by forgetting so long for another."

"To think that we should be forced to do so!" cried Iras excitedly--"
now, at this hour, when every drop of blood, every thought of this poor
brain should belong to the Queen!  Yet it could not be avoided.
Cleopatra is returning to us with a heart bleeding from a hundred wounds,
and it is terrible to think that a new arrow must strike her as soon as
she steps upon her native soil.  You know how she loves the boy, who is
the living image of the great man with whom she shared the highest joys
of love.  When she learns that he, the son of Caesar, has given his young
heart to the cast-off wife of a street orator, a woman whose home
attracted men as ripe dates lure birds, it will be--I know--like rubbing
salt into her fresh wounds.  Alas!  and the one sorrow will not be all.
Antony, her husband, also found the way to Barine.  He sought her more
than once.  You cannot know it as I do; but Charmian will tell you how
sensitive she has become since the flower of her youthful charms--you
don't perceive it--is losing one leaf after another.  Jealousy will
torture her, and--I know her well--perhaps no one will ever render the
siren a greater service than I did when I compelled her to leave the
city."

The eyes of Archibius's clever niece had glittered with such hostile
feeling as she spoke that he thought with just anxiety of his dead
friend's daughter.  What did not yet threaten Barine as serious danger
Iras had the power to transform into grave peril.

Dion had begged him to maintain strict secrecy; but even had he been
permitted to speak, he would not have done so now.  From his knowledge of
Iras's character she might be expected, if she learned that some one had
come between her and the friend of her youth, to shrink from no means of
spoiling her game.  He remembered the noble Macedonian maiden whom the
Queen had begun to favour, and who was hunted to death by Iras's hostile
intrigues.  Few were more clever, and--if she once loved--more loyal and
devoted, more yielding, pliant, and in happy hours more bewitching, yet
even in childhood she had preferred a winding path to a straight one.
It seemed as if her shrewdness scorned to attain the end desired by the
simple method lying close at hand.  How willingly his mother and his
younger sister Charmian had cared for the slaves and nursed them when
they were ill; nay, Charmian had gained in her Nubian maid Aniukis a
friend who would have gone to death for her sake!  Cleopatra, too, when a
child, had found sincere delight in taking a bouquet to his parents' sick
old housekeeper and sitting by her bedside to shorten the time for her
with merry talk.  She had gone to her unasked, while Iras had often been
punished because she had made the lives of numerous slaves in her
parents' household still harder by unreasonable harshness.  This trait
in her character had roused her uncle's anxiety and, in after-years, her
treatment of her inferiors had been such that he could not number her
among the excellent of her sex.  Therefore he was the more joyfully
surprised by the loyal, unselfish love with which she devoted herself to
the service of the Queen.  Cleopatra had gratified Charmian's wish to
have her niece for an assistant; and Iras, who had never been a loving
daughter to her own faithful mother, had served her royal mistress with
the utmost tenderness.

Archibius valued this loyalty highly, but he knew what awaited any one
who became the object of her hatred, and the fear that it would involve
Barine in urgent peril was added to his still greater anxiety for
Cleopatra.

When about to depart, burdened by the sorrowful conviction that he was
powerless against his niece's malevolent purpose, he was detained by the
representation that every fresh piece of intelligence would first reach
the Sebasteum and her.  Some question might easily arise which his calm,
prudent mind could decide far better than hers, whose troubled condition
resembled a shallow pool disturbed by stones flung into the waves.

The apartments of his sister Charmian, which were connected with his by a
corridor, were empty, and Iras begged him to remain there a short time.
The anxiety and dread that oppressed her heart would kill her.  To know
that he was near would be the greatest comfort.

When Archibius hesitated because he deemed it his duty to urge Caesarion,
over whom he possessed some influence, to give up his foolish wishes for
his mother's sake, Iras assured him that he would not find the youth.  He
had gone hunting with Antyllus and some other friends.  She had approved
the plan, because it removed him from the city and Barine's dangerous
house.

"As the Queen does not wish him to know the terrible news yet," she
concluded, "his presence would only have caused us embarrassment.  So
stay, and when it grows dark go with us to the Lochias.  I think it will
please the sorrowing woman, when she lands, to see your familiar face,
which will remind her of happier days.  Do me the favour to stay."  She
held out both hands beseechingly as she spoke, and Archibius consented.

A repast was served, and he shared it with his niece; but Iras did not
touch the carefully chosen viands, and Archibius barely tasted them.
Then, without waiting for dessert, he rose to go to his sister's
apartments.  But Iras urged him to rest on the divan in the adjoining
room, and he yielded.  Yet, spite of the softness of the pillows and his
great need of sleep, he could not find it; anxiety kept him awake, and
through the curtain which divided the room in which Iras remained from
the one he occupied he sometimes heard her light footsteps pacing
restlessly to and fro, sometimes the coming and going of messengers in
quest of news.

All his former life passed before his mind.  Cleopatra had been his sun,
and now black clouds were rising which would dim its light, perchance
forever.  He, the disciple of Epicurus, who had not followed the
doctrines of other masters until later in life, held the same view of the
gods as his first master.  To him also they had seemed immortal beings
sufficient unto themselves, dwelling free from anxiety in blissful peace,
to whom mortals must look upward on account of their supreme grandeur,
but who neither troubled themselves about the guidance of the world,
which was fixed by eternal laws, nor the fate of individuals.  Had he
been convinced of the contrary, he would have sacrificed everything he
possessed in order, by lavish offerings, to propitiate the immortals in
behalf of her to whom he had devoted his life and every faculty of his
being.

Like Iras, he, too, could find no rest upon his couch, and when she heard
his step she called to him and asked why he did not recover the sleep
which he had lost.  No one knew the demands the next night might make
upon him.

"You will find me awake," he answered quietly.

Then he went to the window which, above the pylons that rose before the
main front of the Sebasteum, afforded a view of the Bruchium and the sea.
The harbour was now swarming with vessels of every size, garlanded with
flowers and adorned with gay flags and streamers.  The report of the
successful issue of the first naval battle was believed, and many desired
to greet the victorious fleet and hail their sovereign as she entered the
harbour.

Many people, equipages, and litters had also gathered on the shore,
between the lofty pylons and the huge door of the Sebasteum.  They were
representatives of the aristocracy of the city; for the majority were
attended by richly attired slaves.  Many wore costly garlands, and
numerous chariots and litters were adorned with gold or silver ornaments,
gems, and glittering paste.  The stir and movement in front of the palace
were ceaseless, and Iras, who was now standing beside her uncle, waved
her hand towards it, saying: "The wind of rumour!  Yesterday only one or
two came; to-day every one who belongs to the 'Inimitable Livers' flocks
hither in person to get news.  The victory was proclaimed in the market-
place, at the theatre, the gymnasium, and the camp.  Every one who wears
garlands or weapons heard of a battle won.  Yesterday, among all the
thousands, there was scarcely a single doubter; but to-day-how does it
happen?  Even among those who as 'Inimitables' have shared all the
pleasures, entertainments, and festivities of our noble pair, faith
wavers; for if they were firmly convinced of the brilliant victory which
was announced loudly enough, they would not come themselves to watch,
to spy, to listen.  Just look down!  There is the litter of Diogenes--
yonder that of Ammonius.  The chariot beyond belongs to Melampous.  The
slaves in the red bombyx garments serve Hermias.  They all belong to the
society of--'Inimitables,' and shared our banquets.  That very Apollonius
who, for the last half hour, has been trying to question the palace
servants, day before yesterday ordered fifty oxen to be slaughtered to
Ares, Nike, and the great Isis, as the Queen's goddess, and when I met
him in the temple he exclaimed that this was the greatest piece of
extravagance he had ever committed; for even without the cattle Cleopatra
and Antony would be sure of victory.  But now the wind of rumour has
swept away his beautiful confidence also.  They are not permitted to see
me.  The doorkeepers say that I am in the country.  The necessity of
showing every one a face radiant with the joy of victory would kill me.
There comes Apollonius.  How his fat face beams!  He believes in the
victory, and after sunset none of yonder throng will appear here; he is
already giving orders to his slaves.  He will invite all his friends to a
banquet, and won't spare his costly wines.  Capital!  At least no one
from that company can disturb us.  Dion is his cousin, and will be
present also.  We shall see what these pleasure-lovers will do when they
are forced to confront, the terrible reality."

"I think," replied Archibius, "they will afford the world a remarkable
spectacle; friends won in prosperity who remain constant in adversity."

"Do you?"  asked Iras, with sparkling eyes.  "If that proves true, how I
would praise and value men--the majority of whom without their wealth
would be poorer than beggars.  But look at yonder figure in the white
robe beside the left obelisk--is it not Dion?  The crowd is bearing him
away--I think it was he."

But she had been deceived; the man whom she fancied she had seen, because
her heart so ardently yearned for him, was not near the Sebasteum, and
his thoughts were still farther away.

At first he had intended to give the architect the letter which was
addressed to him.  He would be sure to find him at the triumphal arch
which was being erected on the shore of the Bruchium.  But on reaching
the former place he learned that Gorgias had gone to remove the statues
of Cleopatra and Antony from the house of Didymus, and erect them in
front of the Theatre of Dionysus.  The Regent, Mardion, had ordered it.
Gorgias was already superintending the erection of the foundation.

The huge hewn stones which he required for this purpose had been taken
from the Temple of Nemesis, which he was supervising.  Whatever number of
government slaves he needed were at his disposal, so Gorgias's foreman
reported, proudly adding that before the sun went down, the architect
would have shown the Alexandrians the marvel of removing the twin statues
from one place to another in a single day, and yet establishing them as
firmly as the Colossus which had been in Thebes a thousand years.

Dion found the piece of sculpture in front of Didymus's garden, ready for
removal, but the slaves who had placed before the platform the rollers on
which it was to be moved had already been kept waiting a long time by the
architect.

This was his third visit to the old philosopher's house.  First, he had
been obliged to inform him and his family that their property was no
longer in danger; then he had come to tell them at what hour he would
remove the statues, which still attracted many curious spectators; and,
finally, he had again appeared, to announce that they were to be taken
away at once.  His foreman or a slave could probably have done this, but
Helena--Didymus's granddaughter, Barine's sister--drew him again and
again to the old man's home.  He would gladly have come still more
frequently, for at every meeting he had discovered fresh charms in the
beautiful, quiet, thoughtful maiden, who cared so tenderly for her aged
grandparents.  He believed that he loved her, and she seemed glad to
welcome him.  But this did not entitle him to seek her hand, though his
large, empty house so greatly needed a mistress.  His heart had glowed
with love for too many.  He wished first to test whether this new fancy
would prove more lasting.  If he succeeded in remaining faithful even a
few days, he would, as it were, reward himself for it, and appear before
Didymus as a suitor.

He excused his frequent visits to himself on the pretext of the necessity
of becoming acquainted with his future wife, and Helena made the task
easier for him.  The usual reserve of her manner lessened more and more;
nay, the great confidence with which he at first inspired her was
increased by his active assistance.  When he entered just now, she had
even held out her hand to him, and inquired about the progress of his
work.

He was overwhelmed with business, but so great was his pleasure in
talking with her that he lingered longer than he would have deemed right
under any other circumstances, and regarded it as an unpleasant
interruption when Barine--for whom his heart had throbbed so warmly only
yesterday--entered the tablinum.

The young beauty was by no means content with a brief greeting; but drew
Helena entirely away from him.  Never had he seen her embrace and kiss
her sister so passionately as while hurriedly telling her that she had
come to bid farewell to the loved ones in her grandparents' house.

Berenike had arrived with her, but went first to the old couple.

While Barine was telling Helena and Gorgias, also, why all this plan had
been formed so hastily, Gorgias was silently comparing the two sisters.
He found it natural that he had once believed that he loved Barine; but
she would not have been a fitting mistress of his house.  Life at her
side would have been a chain of jealous emotions and anxieties, and her
stimulating remarks and searching questions, which demanded absolute
attention, would not have permitted him, after his return home, wearied
by arduous toil, to find the rest for which he longed.  His eye wandered
from her to her sister, as if testing the space between two newly erected
pillars; and Barine, who had noticed his strange manner, suddenly laughed
merrily, and asked whether they might know what building was occupying
his thoughts, while a good friend was telling him that the pleasant hours
in her house were over.

Gorgias started, and the apology he stammered showed so plainly how
inattentively he had listened, that Barine would have had good reason to
feel offended.  But one glance at her sister and another at him enabled
her speedily to guess the truth.  She was pleased; for she esteemed
Gorgias, and had secretly feared that she might be forced to grieve him
by a refusal, but he seemed as if created for her sister.  Her arrival
had probably interrupted them so, turning to Helena, she exclaimed:
"I must see my mother and our grandparents.  Meanwhile entertain our
friend here.  We know each other well.  He is one of the few men who can
be trusted.  That is my honest opinion, Gorgias, and I say it to you
also, Helena."

With these words she nodded to both, and Gorgias was again alone with the
maiden whom he loved.

It was difficult to begin the conversation anew, and when, spite of many
efforts, it would not flow freely, the shout of the overseer, which
reached his ear through the opening of the roof, urging the men to work,
was like a deliverance.  Promising to return again soon, as eagerly as if
he had been requested to do so, he took his leave and opened the door
leading into the adjoining room.  But on the threshold he started back,
and Helena, who had followed him, did the same, for there stood his
friend Dion, and Barine's beautiful head lay on his breast, while his
hand rested as if in benediction on her fair hair.  And--no, Gorgias was
not mistaken-the slender frame of the lovely woman, whose exuberant
vivacity had so often borne him and others away with it, trembled as if
shaken by deep and painful emotion.

When Dion perceived his friend, and Barine raised her head, turning her
face towards him, it was indeed wet with tears, but their source could
not be sorrow; for her blue eyes were sparkling with a happy light.

Yet Gorgias found something in her features which he was unable to
express in words--the reflection of the ardent gratitude that had taken
possession of her soul and filled it absolutely.  While seeking the
architect, Dion had met Barine, who was on her way to her grandparents,
and what he had dreaded the day before happened.  The first glance from
her eyes which met his forced the decisive question from his lips.

In brief, earnest words he confessed his love for her, and his desire to
make her his own, as the pride and ornament of his house.

Then, in the intensity of her bliss, her eyes overflowed and, under the
spell of a great miracle wrought in her behalf, she found no words to
answer; but Dion had approached, clasped her right hand in both of his,
and frankly acknowledged how, with the image of his strict mother before
his eyes, he had wavered and hesitated until love had overmastered him.
Now, full of the warmest confidence, he asked whether she would consent
to rule as mistress of his home, the honour and ornament of his ancient
name?  He knew that her heart was his, but he must hear one thing more
from her lips--

Here she had interrupted him with the cry, "This one thing--that your
wife, in joy and in sorrow, will live for you and you alone?  The whole
world can vanish for her, now that you have raised her to your side and
she is yours."

After this assurance, which sounded like an oath, Dion felt as if a heavy
burden had fallen from his heart, and clasping her in his arms with
passionate tenderness, he repeated, "In joy and in sorrow!"

Thus Gorgias and Helena had surprised them, and the architect felt for
the first time that there is no distinction between our own happiness and
that of those whom we love.

His friend Helena seemed to have the same feeling, when she saw what this
day had given her sister; and the philosopher's house, so lately shadowed
by anxiety, and many a fear, would soon ring with voices uttering joyous
congratulations.  The architect no longer felt that he had a place in
this circle, which was now pervaded by a great common joy, and after Dion
made a brief explanation, Gorgias's voice was soon heard outside loudly
issuing orders to the workmen.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

From Epicurus to Aristippus, is but a short step
Preferred a winding path to a straight one





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