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Title: Cleopatra — Volume 06
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 06" ***

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CLEOPATRA

By Georg Ebers

Volume 6.


CHAPTER XIII.

During these hours of rest Iras and Charmian had watched in turn beside
Cleopatra.  When she rose, the younger attendant rendered her the
necessary services.  She was to devote herself to her mistress until the
evening; for her companion, who now stood in her way, was not to return
earlier.  Before Charmian left, she had seen that her apartments--in
which Barine, since the Queen had placed her in her charge, had been a
welcome guest--were carefully watched.  The commander of the Macedonian
guard, who years before had vainly sought her favour, and finally had
become the most loyal of her friends, had promised to keep them closely.

Yet Iras knew how to profit by her mistress's sleep and the absence of
her aunt.  She had learned that she would be shut out of her apartments,
and therefore from Barine also.  Ere any step could be taken against the
prisoner, she must first arrange the necessary preliminaries with Alexas.
The failure of her expectation of seeing her rival trampled in the dust
had transformed her jealous resentment into hatred, and though she was
her niece, she even transferred a portion of it to Charmian, who had
placed herself between her and her victim.

She had sent for the Syrian, but he, too, had gone to rest at a late hour
and kept her waiting a long time.  The reception which the impatient girl
bestowed was therefore by no means cordial, but her manner soon grew more
friendly.

First Alexas boasted of having induced the Queen to commit Barine's fate
to him.  If he should try her at noon and find her guilty, there was
nothing to prevent him from compelling her to drink the poisoned cup or
having her strangled before evening.  But the matter would be dangerous,
because the singer's friends were numerous and by no means powerless.
Yet, in the depths of her heart, Cleopatra desired nothing more ardently
than to rid herself of her dangerous rival.  But he knew the great ones
of the earth.  If he acted energetically and brought matters to a speedy
close, the Queen, to avoid evil gossip, would burden him with her own
act.  Antony's mood could not be predicted, and the Syrian's weal or woe
depended on his favour.  Besides, the execution of the singer at the last
Adonis festival might have a dangerous effect upon the people of
Alexandria.  They were already greatly excited, and his brother, who knew
them, said that some were overwhelmed with sorrow, and others ready, in
their fury, to rise in a bloody rebellion.  Everything was to be feared
from this rabble, but Philostratus understood how to persuade them to
many things, and Alexas had just secured his aid.

Alexas had really succeeded in the work of reconciliation.  During the
orator's married life with Barine she had forbidden her brother-in-law
the house, and her husband had quarrelled with the brother who sought his
wife.  But after the latter had risen to a high place in Antony's favour,
and been loaded with gold by his lavish hand, Philostratus had again
approached him to claim his share of the new wealth.  And the source from
which Alexas drew flowed so abundantly that his favourite did not find it
difficult to give.  Both men were as unprincipled as they were lavish,
and experience taught them that base natures always have at their
disposal a plank with which to bridge chasms.  If it is of gold, it will
be crossed the more speedily.  Such was the case here, and of late it had
become specially firm; for each needed the other's aid.

Alexas loved Barine, while Philostratus no longer cared for her.  On the
other hand, he hated Dion with so ardent a thirst for revenge that, to
obtain it, he would have resigned even the hope of fresh gains.  The
humiliation inflicted upon him by the arrogant Macedonian noble, and the
derision which through his efforts had been heaped upon him, haunted him
like importunate pursuers; and he felt that he could only rid himself of
them with the source of his disgrace.  Without his brother's aid, he
would have been content to assail Dion with his slandering tongue; with
his powerful assistance he could inflict a heavier injury upon him,
perhaps even rob him of liberty and life.  They had just made an
agreement by which Philostratus pledged himself to reconcile the
populace to any punishment that might be inflicted upon Barine,
and Alexas promised to help his brother take a bloody vengeance
upon Dion the Macedonian.

Barine's death could be of no service to Alexas.  The sight of her beauty
had fired his heart a second time, and he was resolved to make her his
own.  In the dungeon, perhaps by torture, she should be forced to grasp
his helping hand.  All this would permit no delay.  Everything must be
done before the return of Antony, who was daily expected.  Alexas's
lavish patron had made him so rich that he could bear to lose his favour
for the sake of this object.  Even without it, he could maintain a
household with royal magnificence in some city of his Syrian home.

On receiving the favourite's assurance that he would remove Barine from
Charmian's protection on the morrow, Iras became more gracious.  She
could make no serious objection to his statement that the new trial might
not, it is true, end in a sentence of death, but the verdict would
probably be transportation to the mines, or something of the sort.

Then Alexas cautiously tested Iras's feelings towards his brother's
mortal foe.  They were hostile; yet when the favourite intimated that he,
too, ought to be given up to justice, she showed so much hesitation, that
Alexas stopped abruptly and turned the conversation upon Barine.  Here
she promised assistance with her former eager zeal, and it was settled
that the arrest should be made the following morning during the hours of
Charmian's attendance upon the Queen.

Iras had valuable counsel to offer.  She was familiar with one of the
prisons, whose doors she had opened to many a hapless mortal whose
disappearance, in her opinion, might be of service to the Queen.  She had
deemed it a duty, aided by the Keeper of the Seal, to anticipate her
mistress in cases where her kind heart would have found it difficult to
pronounce a severe sentence, and Cleopatra had permitted it, though
without commendation or praise.  What happened within its walls--thanks
to the silence of the warder--never passed beyond the portals.  If Barine
cursed her life there, she would still fare better than she, Iras, who
during the past few nights had been on the brink of despair whenever she
thought of the man who had disdained her love and abandoned her for
another.

As the Syrian held out his hand to take leave, she asked bluntly

"And Dion?"

"He cannot be set free," was the reply, "for he loves Barine; nay, the
fool was on the eve of leading her home to his beautiful palace as its
mistress."

"Is that true, really true?" asked Iras, whose cheeks and lips lost every
tinge of colour, though she succeeded in maintaining her composure.

"He confessed it yesterday in a letter to his uncle, the Keeper of the
Seal, in which he entreated him to do his utmost for his chosen bride,
whom he would never resign.  But Zeno has no liking for this niece.  Do
you wish to see the letter?"

"Then, of course, he cannot be set at liberty," replied Iras, and there
was additional shrillness in her voice.  "He will do everything in his
power for the woman he loves, and that is much--far more than you, who
are half a stranger here, suspect.  The Macedonian families stand by each
other.  He is a member of the council.  The bands of the Ephebi will
support him to a man.  And the populace?--He lately spoiled the game of
your brother, who was acting for me, in a way.  He was finally dragged
out of the basin of the fountain, dripping with water and overwhelmed
with shame."

"For that very reason his mouth must be closed."

Iras nodded assent, but after a short pause she exclaimed angrily:
"I will help you to silence him, but not forever.  Do you hear?
Theodotus's saying about the dead dogs which do not bite brought no
blessing to any one who followed it.  There are other ways of getting rid
of this man."

"A bird sang that you were not unfriendly to him."

"A bird?  Then it was probably an owl, which cannot see in the daylight.
His worst enemy, your brother, would probably sacrifice himself for his
welfare sooner than I."

"Then I shall begin to feel sympathy for this Dion."

"I saw recently that your  compassion  surpassed mine.  Death is not the
hardest punishment."

"Is that the cause of this gracious respite?"

"Perhaps so.  But there are other matters to be considered here.  First,
the condition of the times.  Everything is tottering, even the royal
power, which a short time ago was a wall which concealed many things and
afforded shelter from every assault.  Then Dion himself.  I have already
numbered those who will support him.  Since the defeat at Actium, the
Queen can no longer exclaim to that many-headed monster, the people,
'You must,' but 'I entreat.'  The others--"

"The first considerations are enough; but may I be permitted to know what
my wise friend has awarded to the hapless wight from whom she withdrew
her favour?"

"First, imprisonment here at Lochias.  He has stained his hands with the
blood of Caesarion, the King of kings.  That is high treason, even in the
eyes of the people.  Try to obtain the order for the arrest this very
day."

"Whenever I can disturb the Queen with such matters."

"Not for nay sake, but to save her from injury.  Away with everything
which can cloud her intellect in these decisive days!  First, away with
Barine, who spoiled her return home; and then let us take care of the man
who would be capable, for this woman's sake, of causing an insurrection
in Alexandria.  The great cares associated with the state and the throne
are hers; for the minor ones of the toilet and the heart I will provide."

Here she was interrupted by one of Cleopatra's waiting-maids.  The Queen
had awakened, and Iras hastened to her post.

As she passed Charmian's apartments and saw two handsome soldiers,
belonging to the Macedonian body-guard, pacing to and fro on duty before
them, her face darkened.  It was against her alone that Charmian was
protecting Barine.  She had been harshly reproved by the older woman on
account of the artist's daughter, who had been the source of so many
incidents which had caused her pain, and Iras regretted that she had ever
confided to her aunt her love for Dion.  But, no matter what might
happen, the upas-tree whence emanated all these tortures, anxieties, and
vexations, must be rooted out--stricken from the ranks of the living.

Ere she entered the Queen's anteroom she had mentally pronounced sentence
of death on her enemy.  Her inventive brain was now busy in devising
means to induce the Syrian to undertake its execution.  If this stone of
offence was removed it would again be possible to live in harmony with
Charmian.  Dion would be free, and then, much as he had wounded her, she
would defend him from the hatred of Philostratus and his brother.

She entered the Queen's presence with a lighter heart.  The death of a
condemned person had long since ceased to move her deeply.  While
rendering the first services to her mistress, who had been much refreshed
by her sleep, her face grew brighter and brighter; for Cleopatra
voluntarily told her that she was glad to have her attendance, and not
be constantly annoyed by the same disagreeable matter, which must soon
be settled.

In fact, Charmian, conscious that no one else at court would have
ventured to do so, had never grown weary, spite of many a rebuff, of
pleading Barine's cause until, the day before, Cleopatra, in a sudden
fit of anger, had commanded her not to mention the mischief-maker again.

When Charmian soon after requested permission to let Iras take her place
the following day, the Queen already regretted the harsh reproof she had
given her friend, and, while cordially granting the desired leave, begged
her to attribute her angry impatience to the cares which burdened her.
"And when you show me your kind, faithful face again," she concluded,
"you will have remembered that a true friend withholds from an unhappy
woman whom she loves whatever will shadow more deeply her already clouded
life.  This Barine's very name sounds like a jeer at the composure I
maintain with so much difficulty.  I do not wish to hear it again."

The words were uttered in a tone so affectionate and winning, that
Charmian's vexation melted like ice in the sun.  Yet she left the Queen's
presence anxious and troubled; for ere she quitted the room Cleopatra
remarked that she had committed the singer's affairs to Alexas.  She was
now doubly eager to obtain a day's freedom, for she knew the unprincipled
favourite's feelings towards the young beauty, and longed to discuss with
Archibius the best means of guarding her from the worst perils.

When at a late hour she went to rest, she was served by the Nubian maid,
who had accompanied her to the court from her parents' home.  She came
from the Cataract, where she had been bought when the family of Alypius
accompanied the child Cleopatra to the island of Philae.  Anukis was
given to Charmian, who at the time was just entering womanhood, as the
first servant who was her sole property, and she had proved so clever,
skilful, apt to learn, and faithful, that her mistress took her, as her
personal attendant, to the palace.

Charmian's warm, unselfish love for the Queen was equalled by Anukis's
devotion to the mistress who had long since made her free, and had become
so strongly attached to her that the Nubian's interests were little less
regarded than her own.  Her sound, keen judgment and natural wit had
gained a certain renown in the palace, and as Cleopatra often
condescended to rouse her to an apt answer, Antony had done so, too;
and since the slight crook in the back, which she had from childhood,
had grown into a hump, he gave her the name of Aisopion--the female
AEsop.  All the Queen's attendants now used it, and though others of
lower rank did the same, she permitted it, though her ready wit would
have supplied her tongue with a retort sharp enough to respond to any
word which displeased her.

But she knew the life and fables of AEsop, who had also once been a
slave, and deemed it an honour to be compared with him.

When Charmian had left Cleopatra and sought her chamber, she found Barine
sound asleep, but Anukis was awaiting her, and her mistress told her
with what deep anxiety for Barine she had quitted the presence of the
Queen.  She knew that the Nubian was fond of the young matron, whom in
her childhood she had carried in her arms, and whose father, Leonax, had
often jested with her.  The maid had watched her career with much
interest, and while Barine had been her mistress's guest her efforts to
amuse and soothe her were unceasing.

She had gone every morning to Berenike to ask tidings of Dion's health,
and always brought favourable news.  Anukis knew Philostratus and his
brother, too, and as she liked Antony, who jested with her so kindly, she
grieved to see an unprincipled fellow like Alexas his chief confidant.
She knew the plots with which the Syrian had persecuted Barine, and when
Charmian told her that the Queen had committed the young beauty's fate to
this man's keeping her dark face grew fairly livid; but she forced
herself to conceal the terror which the news inspired.  Her mistress was
also aware what this choice meant to Barine.  But Anukis would have
thought it wrong to disturb Charmian's sleep by revealing her own
distress.  It was fortunate that she was going early the next morning to
seek the aid of Archibius, whom Anukis believed to be the wisest of men;
but this by no means soothed her.  She knew the fable of the lion and the
mouse, which had been told in her home long before the time of the author
for whom she was nicknamed, and already more than once she had been in a
position to render far greater and more powerful persons an important
service.  To soothe Charmian to sleep and turn her thoughts in another
direction, she told her about Dion, whom she had found much better that
day, how tenderly he seemed to love Barine, and how touchingly patient
and worthy of her father the daughter of Leonax had been.

After her mistress had fallen asleep she went to the hall where, spite of
the late hour, she expected to meet some of the servants--sure of being
greeted as a welcome guest.  When, a short time later, Alexas's body-
slave appeared, she filled his wire cup, sat down by his side, and tried
with all the powers at her command to win his confidence.  And so well
did the elderly Nubian succeed that Marsyas, a handsome young Ligurian,
after she had gone, declared that Aisopion's jokes and stories were
enough to bring the dead to life, and it was as pleasant to talk
seriously with the brown-skinned monster as to dally with a fair-haired
sweetheart.

After Charmian had left the palace the following morning, Anukis again
sought Marsyas and learned from him for what purpose and at what hour
Iras had summoned Alexas.  His master was continually whispering with the
languishing Macedonian.

When Anukis returned, Barine seemed troubled because she brought no
tidings from her mother and Dion; but the Nubian entreated her to have
patience, and gave her some books and a spindle, that she might have
occupation in her solitude.  She, Anukis, must go to the kitchen, because
she had heard yesterday that the cook had bought some mushrooms, which
might be poisonous; she knew the fungi and wanted to see them.

Then, passing into Charmian's chamber, she glided through the corridor
which connected the apartments of Cleopatra's confidential attendants,
and slipped into Iras's room.  When Alexas entered she was concealed
behind one of the hangings which covered the walls of the reception-room.

After the Syrian had retired and Iras had been called away, Anukis
returned to Barine and said that the mushrooms had really been poisonous,
and of the deadliest species.  They had been cooked, and she must go out
to seek an antidote.  Since a precious human life might be at stake,
Barine would not wish to keep her.

"Go," said the latter, kindly.  "But if you are the old obliging
Aisopion, you won't object to going a little farther."

"And inquiring at the house near the Paneum garden," added Anukis.
"That was already settled.  Longing is also a poison for a loving heart,
and its antidote is good news."

With these laughing words she left her favourite; but as soon as she was
out of doors her black brow became lined with earnest thought, and she
stood pondering a long time.  At last she went to the Bruchium to hire a
donkey to ride to Kanopus, where she hoped to find Archibius.  It was
difficult to reach the nearest stand; for a great crowd had assembled on
the quay between the Lochias and the Corner of the Muses, and groups of
the common people, sailors, and slaves were constantly flocking hither.
But she at last forced her way to the spot and, while the driver was
helping her to mount the animal she had chosen, she asked what had
attracted the throng, and he answered:

"They are tearing down the house of the old Museum fungus, Didymus."

"How can that be?" cried the startled woman.  "The good old man!"

"Good?"  repeated the driver, scornfully.  "He's a traitor, who has
caused all the trouble.  Philostratus, the brother of the great Alexas,
a friend of Mark Antony, told us so.  He wanted to prove it, so it must
be true.  Hear the shouts, and how the stones are flying!  Yes, yes.  His
granddaughter and her lover set an ambush for the King Caesarion.  They
would have killed him, but the watch interfered, and now he lies wounded
on his couch.  If mighty Isis does not lend her aid, the young prince's
life will soon be over."

Then, turning to the donkey, he dealt him two severe blows on the right
and left haunches, shouting: "Hi, Grey!  It does one good to hear that
royal backs have room for the cudgel too."

Meanwhile, the Nubian was hesitating whether she should not first turn
the donkey to the right and seek Didymus; but Barine was threatened by
greater peril, and her life was of more value than the welfare of the
aged pair.  This decided the question, and she rode forward.

The donkey and his driver did their best, but they came too late;
for in the little palace at Kanopus, Anukis learned from the porter
that Archibius had gone to the city with his old friend Timagenes,
the historian, who lived in Rome, and seemed to have come to Alexandria
as an envoy.

Charmian, too, had been here, but also failed to find the master of the
house, and followed him.  Evil tidings-which, owing to the loss of time
involved, might prove fatal.  If the donkey had only been swifter!  True,
Archibius's stable was full of fine animals, but who was she that she
should presume to use them?  Yet she had gained something which rendered
her the equal of many who were born free and occupied a higher station--
the reputation for trustworthiness and wisdom; and relying upon this, she
told the faithful old steward, as far as possible, what was at stake, and
soon after he himself took her, both mounted on swift mules, to the city
and the Paneum garden.

He chose the nearest road thither through the Gate of the Sun and the
Kanopic Way.  Usually at this hour it was crowded with people, but to-day
few persons were astir.  All the idlers had thronged to the Bruchium and
the harbour to see the returning ships of the vanquished fleet, hear
something new, witness the demonstrations of joy, the sacrifices and
processions, and--if Fortune favoured--meet the Queen and relieve their
overflowing hearts by acclamations.

When the carriage turned towards the left and approached the Paneum,
progress for the first time became difficult.  A dense crowd had gathered
around the hill on whose summit the sanctuary of Pan dominated the
spacious garden.  Anukis's eye perceived the tall figure of Philostratus.
Was the mischief-maker everywhere?  This time he seemed to encounter
opposition, for loud shouts interrupted his words.  Just as the carriage
passed he pointed to the row of houses in which the widow of Leonax
lived, but violent resistance followed the gesture.

Anukis perceived what restrained the crowd; for, as the equipage
approached its destination, a body of armed youths stopped it.  Their
finely-formed limbs, steeled by the training of the Palaestra, and the
raven, chestnut, and golden locks floating around their well-shaped
heads, were indeed beautiful.  They were a band of the Ephebi, formerly
commanded by Archibius, and to whose leadership more recently Dion had
been elected.  The youths had heard what had occurred--that imprisonment,
perhaps even worse disaster, threatened him.  At any other time it would
scarcely have been possible to oppose the decree of the Government and
guard their imperilled friend, but in these dark days the rulers must
deal with them.  Though they were loyal to the Queen, and had resolved,
spite of her defeat, to support her cause, as soon as she needed them,
they would not suffer Dion to be punished for a crime which, in their
eyes, was an honour.  Their determination to protect him grew more eager
with every vexatious delay on the part of the city council to deal with a
matter which concerned one of their own body.  They had not yet decided
whether to demand a full pardon or only a mild sentence for the man who
had wounded the "King of kings," the son of the sovereign.  Moreover, the
quiet Caesarion, still subject to his tutor, had not understood how to
win the favour of the Ephebi.  The weakling never appeared in the
Palaestra, which even the great Mark Antony did not disdain to visit.
The latter had more than once given the youths assembled there proofs of
his giant strength, and his son Antyllus also frequently shared their
exercises.  Dion had merely dealt Caesarion with his clenched fist one of
the blows which every one must encounter in the arena.

Philotas of Amphissa, the pupil of Didymus, had been the first to inform
them of the attack and, with fiery zeal, had used his utmost power to
atone for the wrong done to his master's granddaughter.  His appeal had
roused the most eager sympathy.  The Ephebi believed themselves strong
enough to defend their friend against any one and, if the worst should
come, they knew they would be sustained by the council, the Exegetus, the
captain of the guard--a brave Macedonian, who had once been an ornament
of their own band--and the numerous clients of Dion and his family.
There was not a single weakling among them.  They had already found an
opportunity to prove this; for, though they had arrived too late to
protect Didymus's property from injury, they had checked the fury of the
mob whose passions Philostratus had aroused, and forced back the crowd
whom the Syrian led to Barine's dwelling to devote it to the same fate.

Another equipage was already standing before the door of Berenike's
house--one of the carriages which were always at the disposal of the
Queen's officials--when Anukis left Archibius's vehicle.  Had some of
Alexas's myrmidons arrived, or was he himself on the way to examine Dion,
or even arrest him?  The driver, like all the palace servants, knew
Anukis, and she learned from him that he had brought Gorgias, the
architect.

Anukis had never met the latter, though, during the rebuilding of
Caesarion's apartments, she had often seen him, and heard much of him;
among other things, that Dion's beautiful palace was his work.  He was
a friend of the wounded man, so she need not fear him.

When she entered the atrium she heard that Berenike had gone out to drive
with Archibius and his Roman friend.  The leech had forbidden his patient
to see many visitors.  No one had been admitted except Gorgias and one of
Dion's freedmen.

But time pressed; people of the same rank and disposition understand
one another; the old porter and the Nubian were both loyal to their
employers, and, moreover, were natives of the same country; so it
required only a few words to persuade the door-keeper to conduct her
without delay to the bedside of the wounded man.

The freedman, a tall, weather-beaten greybeard, simply clad, who looked
like a pilot, was waiting outside the sick-room.  He had not yet been
admitted to Dion's presence, but this did not appear to vex him, for he
stood leaning quietly against the wall beside the door, gazing at the
broad-brimmed sailor's hat which he was slowly turning in his hands.

Scarcely had Dion heard Anukis's name, when an eager "Let her come in"
reached her ears through the half-open door.

The Nubian waited to be summoned, but her dark face must have showed
distinctly that something important and urgent had brought her here, for
the wounded man added to his first words of greeting the expression of a
fear that she had no good news.

Her reply was an eager nod of assent, accompanied by a doubtful glance at
Gorgias; and Dion now curtly told the architect the name of the newcomer,
and assured her that his friend might hear everything, even the greatest
secret.

Anukis uttered a sigh of relief and then, in a tone of the most earnest
warning, poured forth the story of the impending danger.  She would not
be satisfied when he spoke of the Ephebi, who were ready to defend him,
and the council, which would make the cause of one of its members its
own, but entreated him to seek some safe place of refuge, no matter
where; for powers against whom no resistance would avail were stretching
their hands towards him.  Even this statement, however, proved useless,
for Dion was convinced that the influence of his uncle, the Keeper of the
Seal, would guard him from any serious danger.  Then Anukis resolved to
confess what she had overheard; but she told the story without mentioning
Barine, and the peril threatening her also.  Finally, with all the warmth
of a really anxious heart, she entreated him to heed her warning.

Even while she was still speaking, the friends exchanged significant
glances; but scarcely had the last words fallen from her lips when the
giant figure of the freedman passed through the door, which had remained
open.

"You here, Pyrrhus?" cried the wounded man kindly.

"Yes, master, it is I," replied the stalwart fellow, twirling his sailor
hat still faster.  "Listening isn't exactly my trade, and I don't usually
enter your  presence uninvited;  but I couldn't help hearing what came
through the door, and the croaking of the old raven drew me in."

"I wish you had heard more cheerful things," replied Dion; "but the
brown-skinned bird of ill omen usually sings pleasant songs, and they all
come from a faithful heart.  But when my silent Pyrrhus opens his mouth
so far, something important must surely follow, and you can speak freely
in her presence."

The sailor cleared his throat, gripped his coarse felt hat in his sinewy
hands, and said, in such a tremulous, embarrassed tone that his heavy
chin quivered and his voice sometimes faltered: "If the woman is to be
trusted, you must leave here, master, and seek some safe hiding-place.
I came to offer one.  On my way I heard your name.  It was said that you
had wounded the Queen's son, and it might cost you your life.  Then I
thought: 'No, no, not that, so long as Pyrrhus lives, who taught his
young master Dion to use the oars and to set his first sail--Pyrrhus and
his family.'  Why repeat what we both know well enough?  From my first
boat and the land on our island to the liberty you bestowed upon us, we
owe everything to your father and to you, and a blessing has rested upon
your gift and our labour, and what is mine is yours.  No more words are
needed.  You know our cliff beyond the Alveus Steganus, north of the
great harbour--the Isle of Serpents.  It is quickly gained by any one who
knows the course through the water, but is as inaccessible to others as
the moon and stars.  People are afraid of the mere name, though we rid
the island of the vermin long ago.  My boys Dionysus, Dionichus, and
Dionikus--they all have 'Dion' in their name--are waiting in the fish
market, and when it grows dusk--"  Here the wounded man interrupted the
speaker by holding out his hand and thanking him warmly for his fidelity
and kindness, though he refused the well-meant invitation.  He admitted
that he knew no safer hiding-place than the cliff surrounded by
fluttering sea-gulls, where Pyrrhus lived with his family and earned
abundant support by fishing and serving as pilot.  But anxiety concerning
his future wife prevented his leaving the city.

The freedman however gave him no rest.  He represented how quickly the
harbour could be reached from his island, that fish were brought thence
from it daily, and he would therefore always have news of what was
passing.  His sons were like him, and never used any unnecessary words;
talking did not suit them.  The women of the household rarely left the
island.  So long as it sheltered their beloved guest, they should not set
foot away from it.  If occasion should require, the master could be in
Alexandria again quickly enough to put anything right.

This suggestion pleased the architect, who joined in the conversation to
urge the freedman's request.  But Dion, for Barine's sake, obstinately
refused, until Anukis, who had long been anxious to go in pursuit of
Archibius, thought it time to give her opinion.

"Go with the man, my lord!" she cried.  "I know what I know.  I will tell
our Barine of your faithful resolution; but how can she show her
gratitude for it if you are a dead man?"

This question and the information which followed it turned the scale;
and, as soon as Dion had consented to accompany the freedman, the Nubian
prepared to continue her errands, but the wounded man detained her to
give many messages for Barine, and then she was stopped by the architect,
who thought he had found in her the right assistant for numerous plans he
had in his mind.

He had returned early that morning from Heroonpolis, where, with other
members of his profession, he had inspected the newly constructed
waterway.  The result of the first investigation had been unfavourable to
the verge of discouragement; and, in behalf of the others, he had gone to
the Queen to persuade her to give up the enterprise which, though so full
of promise, was impracticable in the short time at their disposal.

He had travelled all night, and was received as soon as Cleopatra rose
from her couch.  He had driven from the Lochias in the carriage placed at
his disposal because he had business at the arsenal and various points
where building was going on, in order to inspect the wall erected for
Antony on the Choma, and the Temple of Isis at the Corner of the Muses,
to which Cleopatra desired to add a new building.  But scarcely had he
quitted the Bruchium when he was detained by the crowd assailing the
house of Didymus with beams and rams, and at the same time keeping off
the Ephebi who had attacked them.

He had forced his way through the raging mob to aid the old couple and
their granddaughter.  The slave Phryx had been busily preparing the boats
which lay moored in the harbour of the seawashed estate, but Gorgias had
found it difficult to persuade the grey-haired philosopher to go with him
and his family to the shore.  He was ready to face the enraged rioters
and--though it should cost his life--cry out that they were shamefully
deceived and were staining themselves with a disgraceful crime.  Not
until the architect represented that it was unworthy of a Didymus to
expose to bestial violence a life on which helpless women and the whole
world--to whom his writings were guide-posts to the realms of truth--
possessed a claim, could he be induced to yield.  Nevertheless, the sage
and his relatives almost fell into the hands of the furious rabble, for
Didymus would not depart until he had saved this, that, and the other
precious book, till the number reached twenty or thirty.  Besides, his
old deaf wife, who usually submitted quietly when her defective hearing
prevented her comprehension of many things, insisted upon knowing what
was occurring.  She ordered everybody who came near her to explain what
had happened, thus detaining her granddaughter Helena, who was trying to
save the most valuable articles in the dwelling.  So the departure was
delayed, and only the brave defence of young Philotas, Didymus's
assistant, and some of the Ephebi, who joined him, enabled them to escape
unharmed.

The Scythian guards, which at last put a stop to the frantic rage of the
deluded populace, arrived too late to prevent the destruction of the
house, but they saved Philotas and the other youths from the fists and
stones of the rabble.  When the boats had gone farther out into the
harbour the question of finding a home for the philosopher and his family
was discussed.  Berenike's house was also threatened, and the rules of
the museum prevented the reception of women.  Five servants had
accompanied the family, and none of Didymus's learned friends had room
for so many guests.  When the old man and Helena began to enumerate the
lodgings of which they could think, Gorgias interposed with an entreaty
that they would come to his house.

He had inherited the dwelling from his father.  It was very large and
spacious, almost empty, and they could reach it speedily, as it stood on
the seashore, north of the Forum.  The fugitives would be entirely at
liberty there, since he had work on hand which would permit him to spend
no time under his own roof except at night.  He soon overcame the trivial
objections made by the philosopher and, fifteen minutes after they had
left the Corner of the Muses, he was permitted to open the door of his
house to his guests, and he did so with genuine pleasure.  The old
housekeeper and the grey-haired steward, who had been in his father's
service, looked surprised, but worked zealously after Gorgias had
confided the visitors to their charge.  The pressure of business forbade
his fulfilling the duties of host in his own person.

Didymus and his family had reason to be grateful; and when the old sage
found in the large library which the architect placed at his disposal
many excellent books and among them some of his own, he ceased his
restless pacing to and fro and forced himself to settle down.  Then he
remembered that, by the advice of a friend, he had placed his property in
the keeping of a reliable banker and, though life still seemed dark grey,
it no longer looked as black as before.

Gorgias briefly related all this to the Nubian, and Dion added that she
would find Archibius with his Roman friend at the house of Berenike's
brother, the philosopher Arius.  Like himself, the latter was suffering
from an injury inflicted by a reckless trick of Antyllus.  Barine's
mother was there also, so Anukis could inform them of the fate of Didymus
and his brother, and tell them that he, Dion, intended to leave her house
and the city an hour after sunset.

"But," interrupted Gorgias, "no one, not even your hostess Berenike and
her brother, must know your destination.--You look as if you could keep a
secret, woman."

"Though she owes her nickname Aisopion to her nimble tongue," replied
Dion.

"But this tongue is like the little silver fish with scarlet spots in the
palace garden," said Anukis.  "They dart to and fro nimbly enough; but as
soon as danger threatens they keep as quiet in the water as though they
were nailed fast.  And--by mighty Isis!--we have no lack of peril in
these trying times.  Would you like to see the lady Berenike and the
others before your departure?"

"Berenike, yes; but the sons of Arius--they are fine fellows--would be
wise to keep aloof from this house to-day."

"Yes indeed!" the architect chimed in.  "It will be prudent for their
father, too, to seek some hiding-place.  He is too closely connected with
Octavianus.  It may indeed happen that the Queen will desire to make use
of him.  In that case he may be able to aid Barine, who is his sister's
child.  Timagenes, too, who comes from Rome as a mediator, may have some
influence."

"The same thoughts entered my poor brain also," said Anukis.  "I am now
going to show the gentlemen the danger which threatens her, and if I
succeed--Yet what could a serving-woman of my appearance accomplish?
Still--my house is nearer to the brink of the stream than the dwelling of
most others, and if I fling in a loaf, perhaps the current will bear it
to the majestic sea."

"Wise Aisopion!" cried Dion; but the worthy maid-servant shrugged her
crooked shoulders, saying: "We needn't be free-born to find pleasure in
what is right; and if being wise means using one's brains to think, with
the intention of promoting right and justice, you can always call me so.
Then you will start after sundown?"

With these words she was about to leave the room, but the architect, who
had watched her every movement, had formed a plan and begged her to
follow him.

When they reached the next room he asked for a faithful account of Barine
and the dangers threatening her.  After consulting her as if she were an
equal, he held out his hand in farewell, saying: "If it is possible to
bring her to the Temple of Isis unseen, these clouds may scatter.  I
shall be in the sanctuary of the goddess from the first hour after
sunset.  I have some measurements to take there.  When you say you know
that the immortals will have pity on the innocent woman whom they have
led to the verge of the abyss, perhaps you may be right.  It seems as if
matters here were combining in a way which would be apt to rob the story-
teller of his listener's faith."

After Aisopion had gone, Gorgias returned to Dion's room and asked the
freedman to be ready with his boat at a place on the shore which he
carefully described.

The friends were again alone.  Gorgias had his hands full of work, but he
could not help expressing his surprise at the calm bearing which Dion
maintained.  "You behave as if you were going to an oyster supper at
Kanopus," he said, shaking his head as though perplexed by some
incomprehensible problem.

"What else would you have me do?"  asked the Macedonian.  "The vivid
imagination of you artists shows you the future according to your own
varying moods.  If you hope, you transform a pleasant garden into the
Elysian fields; if you fear anything you behold in a burning roof the
conflagration of a world.  We, from whose cradle the Muse was absent, who
use only sober reason to provide for the welfare of the household and the
state, as well as for our own, see facts as they are and treat them like
figures in a sum.  I know that Barine is in danger.  That might drive me
frantic; but beyond her I see Archibius and Charmian spreading their
protecting wings over her head; I perceive the fear of my faction,
including the museum, of the council of which I am a member, of my
clients and the conditions of the times, which precludes arousing the
wrath of the citizens.  The product which results from the correct
addition of all these known quantities--"

"Will be correct," interrupted his friend, "so long as the most
incalculable of all factors, passion, does not blend with them--the
passion of a woman--and the Queen belongs to the sex which is certainly
more powerful in that domain."

"Granted!  But as soon as Mark Antony returns it will be proved that her
jealousy was needless."

"We will hope so.  It is only the misled, deceived, abused Cleopatra whom
I fear; for she herself is matchless in divine goodness.  The charm by
which she ensnares hearts is indescribable, and the iron power of her
intellect!  I tell you, Dion--"

"Friend, friend," was the laughing interruption.  "How high your wishes
soar!  For three years I have kept an account of the conflagrations in
your heart.  I believe we had reached seventeen; but this last one is
equal to two."

"Folly!" cried Gorgias in an irritated tone: "May not a man admire what
is magnificent, wonderful, unique?  She is all these things!  Just now--
how long ago is it?--she appeared before me in a radiance of beauty--"

"Which should have made you shade both eyes.  Yet you have been speaking
so warmly of your young guest, her loving caution, her gentle calmness in
the midst of peril--"

"Do you suppose I wish to recall a single syllable?" the architect
indignantly broke in.  "Helena has no peer among the maidens of
Alexandria--but the other--Cleopatra--is elevated in her divine majesty
above all ordinary mortals.  You might spare me and yourself that
scornful curl of the lip.  Had she gazed into your face with those
tearful, sorrowful eyes, as she did into mine, and spoken of her misery,
you would have gone through fire and water, hand in hand with me, for her
sake.  I am not a man who is easily moved, and since my father's death
the only tears I have seen have been shed by others; but when she talked
of the mausoleum I was to build for her because Fate, she knew not how
soon, might force her to seek refuge in the arms of death, my calmness
vanished.  Then, when she cumbered me among the friends on whom she could
rely and held out her hand--a matchless hand--oh! laugh if you choose--
I felt I know not how, and kneeling at her feet I kissed it; it was wet
with my tears.  I am not ashamed of this emotion, and my lips seem
consecrated since they touched the little white hand which spoke a
language of its own and stands before my eyes wherever I gaze."

Pushing back his thick locks from his brow as he spoke, he shook his head
as though dissatisfied with himself and, in an altered tone, hurriedly
continued: "But this is a time ill-suited for such ebullitions of
feeling.  I mentioned the mausoleum, whose erection the Queen desires.
She will see the first hasty sketch to-morrow.  It is already before my
mind's eye.  She wished to have it adjoin the Temple of Isis, her
goddess--I proposed the great sanctuary in the Rhakotis quarter, but she
objected--she wished to have it close to the palace at Lochias.  She had
thought of the temple at the Corner of the Muses, but the house occupied
by Didymus stood in the way of a larger structure.  If this were removed
it would be possible to carry the street through the old man's garden,
perhaps even to the sea-shore, and we should have had space for a
gigantic edifice and still left room for a fine garden.  But we had
learned how the philosopher loved his family estate.  The Queen is
unwilling to use violence towards the old man.  She is just, and perhaps
other reasons, of which I am ignorant, influence her.  So I promised to
look for another site, though I saw how much she desired to have her tomb
connected with the sanctuary of her favourite goddess  Then--I have
already told the clever brown witch--then the immortals, Divinity, Fate,
or whatever we call the power which guides the world and our lives
according to eternal laws and its own mysterious, omnipotent will,
permitted a rascally deed, from which I think may come deliverance for
you and a source of pleasure to the Queen in these days of trial."

"Man, man!  Where will this new passion lead you?  The horses are
stamping impatiently outside; duty summons the most faithful of men,
and he stands like a prophet, indulging in mysterious sayings!"

"Whose meaning and purport, spite of your calm calculations of existing
circumstances, will soon seem no less wonderful to you than to me, whose
unruly artist nature, according to your opinion, is playing me a trick,"
retorted the architect.  "Now listen to this explanation: Didymus's house
will be occupied at once by my workmen, but I shall examine the lower
rooms of the Temple of Isis.  I have with me a document requiring
obedience to my orders.  Cleopatra herself laid the plans before me,
even the secret portion showing the course of the subterranean chambers.
It will cast some light upon my mysterious sayings if I bear you away
from the enemy through one of the secret corridors.  They were right in
concealing from you by how slender a thread, spite of the power of your
example in mathematics, the sword hangs above your head.  Now that I see
a possibility of removing it, I can show it to you.  Tomorrow you would
have fallen, without hope of rescue, into the hands of cruel foes and
been shamefully abandoned by your own weak uncle, had not the most
implacable of all your enemies permitted himself the infamous pleasure of
laying hands on an old man's house, and the Queen, in consequence of an
agitating message, had the idea suggested of building her own mausoleum.
The corridor"--here he lowered his voice--"of which I spoke leads to the
sea at a spot close beside Didymus's garden, and through it I will guide
you, and, if possible, Barine also, to the shore.  This could be
accomplished in the usual way only by the greatest risk.  If we use the
passage we can reach a dark place on the strand unseen, and unless some
special misfortune pursues us our flight will be unnoticed.  The litters
and your tottering gait would betray everything if we were to enter the
boat anywhere else in the great harbour."

"And we, sensible folk, refuse to believe in miracles!" cried Dion,
holding out his wan hand to the architect.  "How shall I thank you, you
dear, clever, most loyal of friends to your male friends, though your
heart is so faithless to fair ones?  Add that malicious speech to the
former ones, for which I now crave your pardon.  What you intend to
accomplish for Barine and me gives you a right to do and say to me
whatever ill you choose all the rest of my life.  Anxiety for her would
surely have bound me to this house and the city when the time came to
make the escape, for without her my life would now be valueless.  But
when I think that she might follow me to Pyrrhus's cliff--"

"Don't flatter yourself with this hope," pleaded Gorgias.  "Serious
obstacles may interpose.  I am to have another talk with the Nubian
later.  With no offence to others, I believe her advice will be the best.
She knows how matters stand with the lofty, and yet herself belongs to
the lowly.  Besides, through Charmian the way to the Queen lies open, and
nothing which happens at court escapes her notice.  She showed me that we
must consider Barine's delivery to Alexas a piece of good fortune.  How
easily jealousy might have led to a fatal crime one whose wish promptly
becomes action, unless she curbs the undue zeal of her living tools!
Those on whom Fate inflicts so many blows rarely are in haste to spare
others.  Would the anxieties which weigh upon her like mountains
interpose between the Queen and the jealous rancour which is too petty
for her great soul?"

"What is great or petty to the heart of a loving woman?"  asked Dion.
"In any case you will do what you can to remove Barine from the power of
the enraged princess--I know."

Gorgias pressed his friend's hand closely, then, yielding to a sudden
impulse, kissed him on the forehead and hurried to the door.

On the threshold a faint moan from the wounded man stopped him.  Would he
be strong enough to follow the long passage leading to the sea?

Dion protested that he confidently expected to do so, but his deeply
flushed face betrayed that the fever which had once been conquered had
returned.

Gorgias's eyes sought the floor in deep thought.  Many sick persons were
borne to the temple in the hope of cure; so Dion's appearance would cause
no special surprise.  On the other hand, to have strangers carry him
through the passage seemed perilous.  He himself was strong, but even the
strongest person would have found it impossible to support the heavy
burden of a grown man to the sea, for the gallery was low and of
considerable length.  Still, if necessary, he would try.  With the
comforting exclamation, "If your strength does not suffice, another way
will be found," he took his leave, gave Barine's maid and the wounded
man's body-slave the necessary directions, commanded the door-keeper to
admit no one save the physician, and stepped into the open air.

A little band of Ephebi were pacing to and fro before the house.  Others
had flung themselves down in an open space surrounded by shrubbery in the
Paneum garden, and were drinking the choice wine which Dion's cellarer,
by his orders, had brought and was pouring out for the crowd.

It was an animated scene, for the clients of the sufferer, who, after
expressing their sympathy, had been dismissed by the porter, and
bedizened girls had joined the youths.  There was no lack of jests and
laughter, and when some pretty young mother or female slave passed by
leading children, with whom the garden was a favourite playground, many a
merry word was exchanged.

Gorgias waved his hands gaily to the youths, pleased with the
cheerfulness with which the brave fellows transformed duty into a
festival, and many raised their wine-cups, shouting a joyous "Io" and
"Evoe," to drink the health of the famous artist who not long ago had
been one of themselves.

The others were led by a slender youth, the student Philotas, from
Amphissa, Didymus's assistant, whom the architect, a few days before,
had helped to liberate from the demons of wine.  Even while Gorgias was
beckoning to him from the two-wheeled chariot, the thought entered his
mind that yonder handsome youth, who had so deeply wronged Barine and
Dion, would be the very person to help carry his friend through the low-
roofed passage to the sea.  If Philotas was the person Gorgias believed
him to be, he would deem it a special favour to make amends for his crime
to those whom he had injured, and he was not mistaken; for, after the
youth had taken a solemn oath not to betray the secret to any one, the
architect asked him to aid in Dion's rescue.  Philotas, overflowing with
joyful gratitude, protested his willingness to do so, and promised to
wait at the appointed spot in the Temple of Isis at the time mentioned.



CHAPTER XIV.

While Gorgias was examining the subterranean chambers in the Temple of
Isis, Charmian returned to Lochias earlier than she herself had expected.
She had met her brother, whom she did not find at Kanopus, at Berenike's,
and after greeting Dion on his couch of pain, she told Archibius of her
anxiety.  She confided to him alone that the Queen had committed Barine's
fate to Alexas, for the news might easily have led the mother of the
endangered woman to some desperate venture; but even Archibius's
composure, so difficult to disturb, was not proof against it.  He would
have sought the Queen's presence at once--if necessary, forced his way
to it; but the historian Timagenes, who had just come from Rome, was
expecting him, and he had not returned to his birthplace as a private
citizen, but commissioned by Octavianus to act as mediator in putting an
end to the struggle which had really been decided in his favour at the
battle of Actium.  The choice of this mediator was a happy one; for he
had taught Cleopatra in her childhood, and was the self-same quick-witted
man who had so often roused her to argument.  His share in a popular
insurrection against the Roman rule had led to his being carried as a
slave to the Tiber.  There he soon purchased his freedom, and attained
such distinction that Octavianus entrusted this important mission to the
man who was so well known in Alexandria.  Archibius was to meet him at
the house of Arius, who was still suffering from the wounds inflicted by
the chariot-wheels of Antyllus, and Berenike had accompanied Timagenes to
her brother.

Charmian did not venture to go there; a visit to Octavianus's former
teacher would have been misinterpreted, and it was repugnant to her own
delicacy of feeling to hold intercourse at this time with the foe and
conqueror of her royal mistress.  She therefore let her brother drive
with Berenike to the injured man's; but before his departure Archibius
had promised, if the worst came, to dare everything to open the eyes of
the Queen, who had forbidden her, Charmian, to speak in behalf of Barine
and thwart the plans of Alexas.

From the Paneum garden she was carried to the Kanopic Way and the Jewish
quarter, where she had many important purchases to make for Cleopatra.
It was long after noon when the litter was again borne to Lochias.

On the way she had severely felt her own powerlessness.  Without having
accomplished anything herself, she was forced to wait for the success of
others; and she had scarcely crossed the threshold of the palace ere
fresh cares were added to those which already burdened her soul.

She understood how to read the faces of courtiers, and the door-keeper's
had taught her that since her departure something momentous had occurred.
She disliked to question the slaves and lower officials, so she
refrained, though the interior of the palace was crowded with guards,
officials of every grade, attendants, and slaves.  Many who saw her gazed
at her with the timidity inspired by those over whom some disaster is
im pending.  Others, whose relations were more intimate, pressed forward
to enjoy the mournful satisfaction of being the first messengers of evil
tidings.  But she passed swiftly on, keeping them back with grave words
and gestures, until, before the door of the great anteroom thronged with
Greek and Egyptian petitioners, she met Zeno, the Keeper of the Seal.
Charmian stopped him and inquired what had happened.

"Since when?" asked the old courtier.  "Every moment has brought some
fresh tidings and all are mournful.  What terrible times, Charmian, what
disasters!"

"No messenger had arrived when I left the Lochias," replied Charmian.
"Now it seems as though the old monster of a palace, accustomed to so
many horrors, is holding its breath in dread.  Tell me the main thing,
at least, before I meet the Queen."

 The main thing?  Pestilence  or  famine--which shall we call the worse?"

"Quick, Zeno!  I am expected."

"I, too, am in haste, and really there is nothing to relate over which
the tongue would care to dwell.  Candidus arrived first.  Came himself
straight from Actium.  The fellow is bold enough."

"Is the army defeated also?"

"Defeated, dispersed, deserted to the foe--King Herod with his legions in
the van."

Charmian covered her face with her hands and groaned aloud, but Zeno
continued:

"You were with her in the flight.  When Mark Antony left you, he sailed
with the ships which joined him for Paraetonium.  A large body of troops
on which the Queen and Mardion had fixed their hopes was encamped there.
Reinforcements could easily be gained and we should once more have a fine
army at our disposal."

"Pinarius Scarpus, a cautious soldier, was in command; and I, too,
believed--"

"The more you trusted him, the greater would be your error.  The
shameless rascal--he owes everything to Antony--had received tidings of
Actium ere the ships arrived, and had already made overtures to
Octavianus when the Imperator came.  The veterans who opposed the
treachery were hewn down by the wretch's orders, but the brave garrison
of the city could not be won over to the monstrous crime.  It is due to
these men that Mark Antony still lives and did not come to a miserable
end at the hands of his own troops.  The twice-defeated general--
a courier brought the news--will arrive to-night.  Strangely enough, he
will not come to Lochias, but to the little palace on the Choma."

"Poor, poor Queen!" cried Charmian; "how did she bear all this?"

"In the presence of the defeated Candidus and Antony's messenger like a
heroine.  But afterwards----Her raving did not last long; but the mute,
despairing silence!  Ere she had fully recovered her self-command she
sent us all away, and I have not seen her since.  But all the thoughts
and feelings which dwell here"--he pointed to his brow and breast--"have
left their abode and linger with her.  I totter from place to place like
a soulless body.  O Charmian! what has befallen us?  Where are the days
when care and trouble lay buried with the other dead--the days and nights
when my brain united with that of the Queen to transform this desolate
earth into the beautiful Elysian Fields, every-day life to a festival,
festivals to the very air of Olympus?  What unprecedented scenes of
splendour had I not devised for the celebration of the victory, the
triumph--nay, even the entry into Rome!  Whole chests are filled with the
sketches, programmes, drawings, and verses.  All who handle brush and
chisel, compose and execute music, would have lent their aid, and--you
may believe me-the result would have been something which future
generations would have discussed, lauded, and extolled in song.
And now--now?"

"Now we will double our efforts to save what is yet to be rescued!"

"Rescued?" repeated the courtier in a hollow tone.  "The Queen, too,
still clings to this fine word.  When I saw her at work yesterday, it
seemed as if I beheld her drawing water with the bottomless vessel of the
Danaides.  True, today, when I left her, her arms had fallen--and in this
attitude she now stands before me with her tearful eyes.  And besides, I
can't get my nephew Dion out of my mind.  Cares--nothing but cares
concerning him!  And my intentions towards him were so kind!  My will
gives him my entire fortune; but now he actually wants to marry the
singer, the daughter of the artist Leonax.  You have taken her under your
protection, but surely your own niece, Iras, is dearer to you, so you
will approve of my destroying the will if Dion insists upon his own way.
He shall not have a solidus of my property if he does not give up the
woman who is a thorn in the Queen's flesh.  And his choice does not suit
our ancient race.  Iras, on the contrary, was Dion's playfellow, and I
have long destined her for his wife.  No better match, nor one more
acceptable to the Queen, could be found for him.  He cared for her until
the singer bewitched him.  Bring them together, and they shall be like my
own children.  If the fool resists his uncle, whose sole desire is to
benefit him, I will withdraw my aid.  Whatever intrigues his foes may
weave, I shall fold my arms and not interfere.  I stand in the place of
his father, my dead brother, and demand obedience.  The Queen is my
universe, and her favour is of more value than twenty refractory
nephews."

"You will retain her Majesty's favour, even if you intercede for your
brother's son."

"And Iras?  When she finds herself deceived--and she will soon discover
it--she will not rest--"

"Until she has brought ruin upon him," interrupted Charmian, in a tone of
sorrow rather than reproach as though she already beheld the impending
disaster.  "But Iras has no greater influence with the Queen than I, and
if you and I unite to protect the brave young fellow, who is of your own
blood--"

"Then, of course--no doubt, on account of your longer period of service,
you have more influence with her Majesty than Iras--however--such matters
must be considered--and I have already said--my mind leaves its abode to
follow the Queen like her shadow.  It heeds only what concerns her.  Let
everything else go as it will.  The fleet the same as destroyed, Candidus
defeated, Herod a deserter, treason on treason--the African legions lost!
What in the name of the god who tried to roll back the wheel dashing down
the mountain-side!--And yet!  Let us offer sacrifices, my friend, and
hope for better days!"

Zeno retired as he spoke, but Charmian moved forward with a drooping head
to find Barine and her faithful Anukis, and weep her fill ere she went to
perform the duty of consoling and sustaining her beloved mistress.  Yet
she herself so sorely needed comfort.  Wherever she turned her eyes she
beheld disaster, peril, treachery, and base intrigues.  She felt as if
she had lived long enough, and that her day was over.  Hitherto her
gentle nature, her intellect, which yearned to expand, gather new riches,
and exchange what it had gained with others, had possessed much to offer
to the Queen.  She had not only been Cleopatra's confidante, but
necessary to her to discuss questions far in advance of the demands of
the times, which occupied her restless mind.  Now the Queen's attention
was wholly absorbed by events--hard, cruel facts--which she must resist
or turn to her own advantage.  Her life had become a conflict, and
Charmian felt that she was by no means combative.  The hard, supple,
keenly polished intellect of Iras now asserted its value, and the elderly
woman told herself that she was in danger of being held in less regard
than her younger companion.  To resign her office would have given her
peace of mind, but she repelled the thought.  For the very reason that
these days were so full of misery and perhaps drawing nearer to the end,
she must remain, first for the sake of the Queen, but also to watch over
Barine.

Now she longed to go to Cleopatra.  Her mere presence, she knew, would do
her sore heart good.  The silvery laugh of a child reached her ears
through the open gate of the garden which she was rapidly approaching.
Little six-year-old Alexander ran towards her with open arms, hugged her
closely, pressed his curly head against her, and gazed into her face with
his large clear eyes.

Charmian's heart swelled; and as she raised the child in her arms and
kissed him, she thought of the sad fate impending, and the composure
maintained with so much difficulty gave way; tears streamed from her eyes
and, sobbing violently, she pressed the boy closer to her breast.

The prince, accustomed to bright faces and tender caresses, broke away
from her in terror to run back to his brother and sisters.  But he had a
kind little heart, and, knowing that no one weeps and sobs unless in
pain, Alexander pitied Charmian, whom he loved, and hurried to her again.

What he meant to show her had pleased his mother, too, and dried the
tears in her eyes.  So he took Charmian by the hand and drew her along,
saying that he wanted her to see the prettiest thing.  She willingly
allowed herself to be led over the paths, strewn with red sand, of the
little garden which Antony had had laid out for his children in the
magnificent style which pleased his love of splendour, and filled with
rare and beautiful things.

There was a pond with tiny gold and silver fish, where the rare lotus
flowers with pink blossoms arose from amid their smooth green leaves, and
another where dwarf ducks of every colour, which seemed as if they had
been created for children, swam to and fro.  A bit of the sea which
washed its shore had been enclosed by a gilded latticework, and on its
surface floated a number of snow-white swans and black ones with scarlet
bills.  Native and Indian flowers of every hue adorned the beds, and the
narrow paths were shaded by arbours made of gold wire, over which ran
climbing vines filled with bright blossoms.

A grotto of stalactites behind the dense foliage of an Indian tree
offered a resting-place, and beside it was a little house where the
children could stay.  The interior lacked none of the requisites of
living, not even the cooking utensils in the kitchen, and the family
portraits in the tablinum, delicately painted by an artist on small ivory
slabs.  Everything was made to suit the size of children, but of the most
costly material and careful workmanship.

Behind the house was a little stable where four tiny horses with spotted
skins, the rarest and prettiest creatures imaginable--a gift from the
King of Media--were stamping the ground.

In another place was an enclosure containing gazelles, ostriches, young
giraffes, and other grass-eating animals.  Bright-plumaged birds and
monkeys filled the tops of the trees, gay balls rose and fell on the jets
of the fountains, and child genii and images of the gods in bronze and
marble peered from the foliage.  This whole enchanted world was comprised
within a narrow space, and, with its radiance of colour and wealth of
form, its  perfume, songs, and warbling, exerted a bewildering influence
upon the excited imaginations of grown people as well as children.

Little Alexander, without even casting a glance at all this, drew
Charmian forward.  He did not pause until he reached the shore of the
lotus pond; then, putting his fingers on his lips, he said: "There, now,
I'll show you.  Look here!"

Rising cautiously upon tip-toe as he spoke, he pointed to the hollow in
the trunk of a tree.  A pair of finches had built their nest in it, and
five young ones with big yellow beaks stretched their ugly little heads
hungrily upward.

"That's so pretty!" cried the prince.  "And you must see the old ones
come to feed them."  The beautiful boy's sweet face fairly beamed with
delight, and Charmian kissed him tenderly.  Yet, even as she did so, she
thought of the young swallows hacked to death in his mother's galley, and
a chill ran through her veins.

Just at that moment voices were heard calling Alexander from a neglected
spot behind the dainty little house built for the children, and the boy
exclaimed peevishly:

"There, now, I showed you the little nest, so I forgot.  Agatha fell
asleep and Smerdis went away, so we were alone.  Then they sent me to
Horus, the gate-keeper, to get some of his spelt bread.  He never says no
to anything, and it does taste so good.  We're peasants, and have been
using the axe and the hoe, so we want something to eat.  Have you seen
our house?  We built it ourselves.  Selene, Helios, Jotape, my future
wife, and I--yes, I!  They let me help, and we finished it alone, all
alone!  Everything is here.  We shall build the shed for the cow
to-morrow.  The others mustn't see it, but I may show it to you."

While speaking, he drew her forward again, and Charmian obediently
followed.  The twins and little Jotape, who had been chosen for the
future bride of the six-year-old Prince Alexandera pretty, delicate,
fair-haired child of his own age, the daughter of the Median king, who
had been betrothed to the boy after the Parthian war, and now remained as
a hostage at Cleopatra's court--welcomed her with joyous shouts.  With
the exception of the little Median princess, Charmian had witnessed their
birth, and they all loved her dearly.

The little royal labourers showed their work with proud delight, and it
really was well done.

They had toiled at it for weeks, paying no heed to the garden and all its
costly rarities.  They pointed with special pride to the two planks which
Helios, aided by Alexander, had fished out of the sea after the last
storm, when they were left alone, and to the lock on the door which they
had secretly managed to wrench from an old gate.  Selene herself had
woven the curtain in front of the door.  Now they were going to build a
hearth too.

Charmian praised their skill, while they--all talking merrily together--
told her how they had conquered the greatest difficulties.  Their bright
eyes sparkled with pleasure while describing the work of their own hands,
and they were so absorbed in eager delight that they did not notice the
approach of a man until startled by his words: "Enough of this idle sport
now, your Highnesses.  Too much time has already been wasted on it."

Then, turning to the Queen, who had accompanied him, he continued in a
tone of apology: "This amusement might seem somewhat hazardous, yet there
is much to be said in its favour.  Besides, it appeared to afford the
royal children so much pleasure that I permitted it for a short time.
But if your Majesty commands:

"Let them have their pleasure," the Queen interrupted kindly; and as soon
as the children saw their mother they rushed forward, crowded around her
with fearless love, thanked her, and eagerly assured her that nothing in
the whole garden was half so dear to them as their little house.  They
meant to build a stable too.

"That might be too much," said the tutor Euphronion, a grey-haired man
with a shrewd, kindly face.  "We must remember how many things are yet to
be learned, that we may reach the goal fixed for your Majesty's birthday
and pass the examination."

But all the children now joined in the entreaty to be allowed to build
the stable too, and it was granted.

When the tutor at last began to lead them away, the royal mother stopped
them, asking "Suppose, instead of this garden, I should give you a bit of
bare land, such as the peasants till, where, after your lessons, you
might dig and build as much as you please?"

Loud shouts of joy from the children answered the question; but the
little Median girl, Jotape, said hesitatingly:

"Could I take my doll too--only the oldest, Atossa?  She has lost one
arm, yet I love her the best."

"Deprive us of anything you choose!" cried Helios, drawing little
Alexander towards him, to show that they, the men, were of the same mind,
"only give us some ground and let us build."

"We will consider whether it can be done," replied Cleopatra.  "Perhaps,
Euphronion, you would be the right person--But we will discuss the matter
at a more quiet hour."

The tutor withdrew and the children, who followed, looked back, waving
their hands and calling to their mother for a long time.

When they had disappeared behind the shrubbery in the garden Charmian
exclaimed, "However dark the sky may be, so long as you possess these
little ones you can never lack sunshine."

"If," replied Cleopatra, gazing pensively at the ground, "with a thought
of them another did not blend which makes the gloom become deeper still.
You know the tidings this terrible day has brought?"

"All," replied Charmian, sighing heavily.

"Then you know the abyss on whose verge we are walking; and to see them--
them also dragged into the yawning gulf by their unhappy mother--
Oh, Charmian, Charmian!"

She sobbed aloud, threw her arms around the neck of her friend and
playfellow, and laid her head upon her bosom like a child seeking
consolation.  Cleopatra wept for several minutes, and when she again
raised her tear-stained face she said softly:

"That did me good!  O, Charmian!  no one needs love as I do.  On your
warm heart my own has already grown calmer."

"Use it, nestle there whenever you need it, to the end," cried Charmian,
deeply moved.

"To the end," repeated Cleopatra, wiping her eyes.  "It began to-day, I
think.  I have just spent an hour alone.  I meant to commit a crime, and
you know how impatiently passion sweeps me along.  But what misfortunes
have assailed me!  The army destroyed; the desertion of Herod and
Pinarius; Antony's generous, trusting heart torn by base treachery, his
soul darkened; the reconstruction of the canal, the last hope--Gorgias
brought the news--the same as destroyed.  Just then little Alexander came
to show me his bird's nest.  Everything else in the garden seemed to him
worthless by comparison.  This awakened new thoughts, and now here is the
little house which the children have built with their own hands.  All
these things forced me by some mysterious power to look back along the
course of my life to the distant days in your father's  house--I--These
children!  Upon what different foundations our lives have been built!
I made them begin at the point I had gained when youth lay behind me.
My childhood commenced among the disorders of the government, clouded by
my father's exile and my mother's death, on the brink of ruin.  That of
the twins--they are ten years old--will soon be over--and now, after
enjoying pleasures not one of which was bestowed on me, they must endure
the same sorrow.  But did not we have better ones?  What they daily
possessed we only dreamed of in our simple garden.  How often I let you
share the radiant visions which my soul revealed to me!  You willingly
accompanied me into the splendid fairy world of my dreams.  All that my
imagination conjured up during the years of quiet and repose accompanied
me into my after-life.  Again and again I have beheld them, rich and
powerful, upon the throne.  The means of rendering the vision a varity
were at hand; and when I met the man whose own life resembled the
realization of a dream, I recalled those childish fancies and made them
facts.  The marvels with which I adorned my lover's existence were
childish dreams to which I gave tangible form.  This garden is an image
of the life to which I intended to rise; in reality, fell.  We collected
within the limits of this bit of earth everything which can delight the
senses; not a single one is omitted in this narrow space, whose crowded
maze of pleasures fairly impede freedom of movement.  Yet in your home,
and guided by your wise father, I had learned to be content with so
little, and commenced the struggle to attain peace.  That painless peace
--our chief good--whence came it?  Through me it was lost to you both
But the children--I made them begin their lives in an arena of every
disturbing influence; and now I see how their own healthy natures yearn
to escape from the dazzling wealth of colour, the stupefying fragrance,
the bewildering songs and twittering.  They long to return to the
untilled earth, where the life of struggling mortals began.

"The boy casts away the baubles, to test his own creative powers.  The
girl follows his example, and clings fast only to the doll in which she
sees the living child, in order to do justice to the maternal instinct,
the token of her sex.  But what they so eagerly desire is right, and
shall be granted.  When I was ten years old, like the twins, my life and
efforts were already directed towards one fixed goal.  They are still
blindly following the objects set before them.  Let them return to the
place whence their mother started, where she received everything good
which is still hers.  They shall go to the garden of Epicurus, no matter
whether it is the old one in Kanopus or elsewhere.  All that their mother
beheld in vivid dreams, which she often strove with wanton extravagance
to realize, has surrounded them from their birth and early satiated them.
When they enter life, they will scorn what merely stirs and dazzles the
senses, and cling to the aspiration for painless peace of mind, if a wise
guide directs them and protects them from the dangers which the teachings
of Epicurus contain for youth.  I have found this guide, and you, too,
will trust him--I mean your brother Archibius."

"Archibius?" asked Charmian in surprise.  "Yes, he who grew up in the
garden of Epicurus, and in life and philosophy found the support which
has preserved his peace of mind during all the conflicts of existence--
he who loves the mother, and to whom the children are also dear--
he to whom the boys and girls cling with affectionate confidence.  I wish
to place the children under his protection and, if he will consent to
grant this desire of the most hapless of women, I shall look forward
calmly to the end.  It is approaching!  I feel, I know it!  Gorgias is
already at work upon the plan for my tomb."

"O my Queen!" cried Charmian sorrowfully.  Whatever may happen, your
illustrious life cannot be in danger!  The generous heart of Mark Antony
does not throb in Octavianus's breast, but he is not cruel, and for the
very reason that cool calculation curbs ambition he will spare you.  He
knows that you are the idol of the city, the whole country; and if he
really succeeds in adding fresh victories to this first conquest, if the
immortals permit your throne and--may they avert it!--your sacred person,
too, to fall into his power--"

"Then," cried Cleopatra, her clear eyes flashing, "then he shall learn
which of us two is the greater--then I shall know how to maintain the
right to despise him, though blind Fate should make the whole power of
the world subject to him who robbed my son and Caesar's of his heritage!"

Her eyes had blazed with anger as she uttered the words; then, letting
her little clenched hand fall, she went on in an altered tone:

"Months may pass before he is strong enough to risk the attack, and the
immortals themselves approved the erection of the monument.  The only
obstacle in the way, the house of the old philosopher Didymus, was
destroyed.  A messenger from Gorgias brought the news.  It is to be the
second monument in Alexandria worthy of notice.  The other contains the
body of the great Alexander, to whom the city owes its origin and name.
He who subjected half the world to his power and the genius of the
Greeks, was younger than I when he died.  Whence do I, by whose miserable
weakness the battle of Actium was lost, derive the right to walk longer
beneath the sun?  Perhaps Mark Antony will arrive in a few hours."

"And will you meet the disheartened hero in this mood?" interrupted
Charmian.

"He does not wish to be received," answered Cleopatra bitterly.  "He even
refused to let me greet him, and I understand the denial.  But what must
have overwhelmed this joyous nature, so friendly to all mankind, that he
longs for solitude and avoids meeting those who are nearest and dearest?
Iras is now at the Choma--whither he wishes to retire--to see that
everything is in order.  She will also provide a supply of the flowers
he loves.  It is hard, cruelly hard, not to welcome him as usual.
Oh, Charmian, what joy it was when, with open arms and overflowing heart,
he swung his mighty figure ashore like a youth, while his handsome,
heroic face beamed with ardent love for me!  And then--you do not forget
it either--when he raised his deep voice to shout the first greeting,
why, it seemed as if the very fish in the water must join in, and the
palm-trees on the shore wave their feathery tops in joyous sympathy.
And here!  The dreams of my childhood, which I made reality for him,
received us, and our existence, wreathed with love and roses, became a
fairy tale.  Since the day he rode towards us at Kanopus and offered me
the first bouquet, with his sunny glance wooing my love, his image has
stood before my soul as the embodiment of the virile strength which
conquers everything, and the bright, undimmed joy which renders the whole
world happy.  And now--now?  Do you remember the dull dreamer whom we
left ere he set forth for Paraetonium?  But no, no, a thousand times no,
he must not remain so!  Not with bowed head, but erect as in the days of
happiness, must he cross the threshold of Hades, hand in hand with her
whom he loved.  And he does love me still.  Else would he have followed
me hither, though no magic goblet drew him after me?  And I?  The heart
which, in the breast of the child, gave him its first young love, is
still his, and will be forever.  Might I not go to the harbour and await
him there?  Look me in the face, Charmian, and answer me as fearlessly as
a mirror: did Olympus really succeed in effacing the wrinkles?"

"They were scarcely visible before," was the reply, "and even the keenest
eye could no longer discover them.  I have brought the pomade, too, and
the prescription Olympus gave me for--"

"Hush, hush!" interrupted Cleopatra softly.  "There are many living
creatures in this garden, and they say that even the birds are good
listeners."

A roguish smile deepened the dimples in her cheeks as she spoke, and
delight in her bewitching grace forced from Charmian's lips the
exclamation:

"If Mark Antony could only see you now!"

"Flatterer!" replied the Queen with a grateful smile.  But Charmian felt
that the time had now come to plead once more for Barine, and she began
eagerly:

"No, I certainly do not flatter.  No one in Alexandria, no matter what
name she bears, could venture to vie even remotely with your charms.  So
cease the persecution of the unfortunate woman whom you confided to my
care.  It is an insult to Cleopatra--"

But here an indignant "Again!"  interrupted her.

Cleopatra's face, which during the conversation had mirrored every
emotion of a woman's soul, from the deepest sorrow to the most
mischievous mirth, assumed an expression of repellent harshness, and,
with the curt remark, "You are forgetting what I had good reason to
forbid--I must go to my work," she turned her back upon the companion of
her youth.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

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