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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


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

Title: Cleopatra — Complete
Author: Ebers, Georg
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cleopatra — Complete" ***

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



CLEOPATRA

By Georg Ebers

Translated from the German by Mary J. Safford



PREFACE.

If the author should be told that the sentimental love of our day was
unknown to the pagan world, he would not cite last the two lovers,
Antony and Cleopatra, and the will of the powerful Roman general, in
which he expressed the desire, wherever he might die, to be buried
beside the woman whom he loved to his latest hour. His wish was
fulfilled, and the love-life of these two distinguished mortals, which
belongs to history, has more than once afforded to art and poesy a
welcome subject.

In regard to Cleopatra, especially, life was surrounded with an
atmosphere of romance bordering on the fabulous. Even her bitterest foes
admire her beauty and rare gifts of intellect. Her character, on the
contrary, presents one of the most difficult problems of psychology.
The servility of Roman poets and authors, who were unwilling frankly to
acknowledge the light emanating so brilliantly from the foe of the state
and the Imperator, solved it to her disadvantage. Everything that bore
the name of Egyptian was hateful or suspicious to the Roman, and it was
hard to forgive this woman, born on the banks of the Nile, for having
seen Julius Caesar at her feet and compelled Mark Antony to do her
bidding. Other historians, Plutarch at their head, explained the enigma
more justly, and in many respects in her favour.

It was a delightful task to the author to scan more closely the
personality of the hapless Queen, and from the wealth of existing
information shape for himself a creature in whom he could believe. Years
elapsed ere he succeeded; but now that he views the completed picture,
he thinks that many persons might be disposed to object to the
brightness of his colours. Yet it would not be difficult for the writer
to justify every shade which he has used. If, during his creative work,
he learned to love his heroine, it was because, the more distinctly he
conjured before his mind the image of this wonderful woman, the more
keenly he felt and the more distinctly he perceived how fully she
merited not only sympathy and admiration, but, in spite of all her sins
and weaknesses, the self-sacrificing affection which she inspired in so
many hearts.

It was an author of no less importance than Horace who called Cleopatra
“non humilis mulier”--a woman capable of no baseness. But the phrase
gains its greatest importance from the fact that it adorns the hymn
which the poet dedicated to Octavianus and his victory over Antony and
Cleopatra. It was a bold act, in such an ode, to praise the victor’s
foe. Yet he did it, and his words, which are equivalent to a deed, are
among this greatly misjudged woman’s fairest claims to renown.

Unfortunately it proved less potent than the opinion of Dio, who often
distorted what Plutarch related, but probably followed most closely the
farce or the popular tales which, in Rome, did not venture to show the
Egyptian in a favourable light.

The Greek Plutarch, who lived much nearer the period of our heroine than
Dio, estimated her more justly than most of the Roman historians. His
grandfather had heard many tales of both Cleopatra and Antony from his
countryman Philotas, who, during the brilliant days when they revelled
in Alexandria, had lived there as a student. Of all the writers who
describe the Queen, Plutarch is the most trustworthy, but even his
narrative must be used with caution. We have closely followed the clear
and comprehensive description given by Plutarch of the last days of our
heroine. It bears the impress of truth, and to deviate widely from it
would be arbitrary.

Unluckily, Egyptian records contain nothing which could have much weight
in estimating the character of Cleopatra, though we have likenesses
representing the Queen alone, or with her son Caesarion. Very recently
(in 1892) the fragment of a colossal double statue was found in
Alexandria, which can scarcely be intended for any persons except
Cleopatra and Antony hand in hand. The upper part of the female
figure is in a state of tolerable preservation, and shows a young
and attractive face. The male figure was doubtless sacrificed to
Octavianus’s command to destroy Antony’s statues. We are indebted to
Herr Dr. Walther, in Alexandria, for an excellent photograph of this
remarkable piece of sculpture. Comparatively few other works of plastic
art, in which we here include coins, that could render us familiar with
our heroine’s appearance, have been preserved.

Though the author must especially desire to render his creation a work
of art, it is also requisite to strive for fidelity. As the heroine’s
portrait must reveal her true character, so the life represented here
must correspond in every line with the civilization of the period
described. For this purpose we placed Cleopatra in the centre of
a larger group of people, whom she influences, and who enable her
personality to be displayed in the various relations of life.

Should the author succeed in making the picture of the remarkable woman,
who was so differently judged, as “lifelike” and vivid as it stamped
itself upon his own imagination, he might remember with pleasure the
hours which he devoted to this book.

                  GEORG EBERS

TUTZING ON THE STARNBERGER SEE, October 5, 1893.



CLEOPATRA.



CHAPTER I.

Gorgias, the architect, had learned to bear the scorching sunbeams of
the Egyptian noonday. Though not yet thirty, he had directed--first
as his late father’s assistant and afterwards as his successor--the
construction of the huge buildings erected by Cleopatra in Alexandria.

Now he was overwhelmed with commissions; yet he had come hither ere the
hours of work were over, merely to oblige a youth who had barely passed
the confines of boyhood.

True, the person for whom he made this sacrifice was Caesarion, the son
whom Cleopatra had given to Julius Caesar. Antony had honoured him with
the proud title of “King of kings”; yet he was permitted neither to rule
nor even to issue orders, for his mother kept him aloof from affairs of
state, and he himself had no desire to hold the sceptre.

Gorgias had granted his wish the more readily, because it was apparent
that he wanted to speak to him in private, though he had not the least
idea what Caesarion desired to confide, and, under any circumstances,
he could give him only a brief interview. The fleet, at whose head the
Queen had set sail, with Mark Antony, for Greece, must have already met
Octavianus’s galleys, and doubtless a battle wherein the destiny of the
world was decided had also been fought upon the land, Gorgias believed
that the victory would fall to Antony and the Queen, and wished the
noble pair success with his whole heart. He was even obliged to act
as if the battle had been already determined in their favour, for the
architectural preparations for the reception of the conquerors were
entrusted to his charge, and that very day must witness the decision of
the location of the colossal statues which represented Antony hand in
hand with his royal love.

The epitrop Mardion, a eunuch, who as Regent, represented Cleopatra; and
Zeno, the Keeper of the Seal, who rarely opposed him, wished to have
the piece of sculpture erected in a different place from the one he
favoured. The principal objection to the choice made by the powerful
head of the government was that it had fallen on land owned by a private
individual. This might lead to difficulties, and Gorgias opposed it.
As an artist, too, he did not approve Mardion’s plan; for though, on
Didymus’s land, the statues would have faced the sea, which the Regent
and the Keeper of the Seal regarded as very important, no fitting
background could have been obtained.

At any rate, the architect could now avail himself of Caesarion’s
invitation to overlook from the appointed place of meeting--the lofty
steps of the Temple of Isis--the Bruchium, and seek the best site for
the twin statues. He was anxious to select the most suitable one; the
master who had created this work of art had been his friend, and had
closed his eyes in death shortly after its completion.

The sanctuary whence Gorgias commenced his survey was in one of the
fairest portions of the Bruchium, the Alexandrian quarter, where stood
the royal palace with its extensive annexes, the finest temples--except
the Serapeum, situated in another part of the city-and the largest
theatres; the Forum invited the council of Macedonian citizens to its
assemblies, and the Museum afforded a resort for the scholars.

The little square closed in the east by the Temple of Isis was called
the “Corner of the Muses,” on account of the two marble statues of women
before the entrance of the house, which, with its large garden facing
the square northward and extending along the sea, belonged to Didymus,
an old and highly respected scholar and member of the Museum.

The day had been hot, and the shade of the Temple of Isis was very
welcome to the architect.

This sanctuary rested upon a lofty foundation, and a long flight of
steps led to the cella. The spot afforded Gorgias a wide prospect.

Most of the buildings within his vision belonged to the time of
Alexander and his successors in the house of the Ptolemies, but some,
and by no means the least stately, were the work of Gorgias himself or
of his father. The artist’s heart swelled with enthusiastic delight at
the sight of this portion of his native city.

He had been in Rome, and visited many other places numbered among the
world’s fairest and most populous cities; but not one contained so many
superb works of art crowded together in so small a space.

“If one of the immortals themselves,” he murmured, “should strive to
erect for the inhabitants of Olympus a quarter meet for their grandeur
and beauty, it could scarcely be much more superb or better fitted to
satisfy the artistic needs which we possess as their gift, and it would
surely be placed on the shore of such a sea.”

While speaking, he shaded his keen eyes with his hand. The architect,
who usually devoted his whole attention to the single object that
claimed his notice, now permitted himself the pleasure of enjoying the
entire picture in whose finishing touches he had himself borne a part;
and, as his practised eye perceived in every temple and colonnade the
studied and finished harmony of form, and the admirable grouping of
the various buildings and statues, he said to himself, with a sigh of
satisfaction, that his own art was the noblest and building the highest
of royal pleasures. No doubt this belief was shared by the princes who,
three centuries before, had endeavoured to obtain an environment
for their palaces which should correspond with their vast power and
overflowing wealth, and at the same time give tangible expression to
their reverence for the gods and their delight in art and beauty. No
royal race in the universe could boast of a more magnificent abode.
These thoughts passed through Gorgias’s mind as the deep azure hue of
sea and sky blended with the sunlight to bring into the strongest relief
all that the skill and brains of man, aided by exhaustless resources,
had here created.

Waiting, usually a hard task for the busy architect, became a pleasure
in this spot; for the rays streaming lavishly in all directions from the
diadem of the sovereign sun flooded with dazzling radiance the thousands
of white marble statues on the temples and colonnades, and were
reflected from the surfaces of the polished granite of the obelisks and
the equally smooth walls of the white, yellow, and green marble, the
syenite, and the brown, speckled porphyry of sanctuaries and palaces.
They seemed to be striving to melt the bright mosaic pictures which
covered every foot Of the ground, where no highway intersected and no
tree shaded it, and flashed back again from the glimmering metal or the
smooth glaze in the gay tiles on the roofs of the temples and houses.
Here they glittered on the metal ornaments, yonder they seemed to be
trying to rival the brilliancy of the gilded domes, to lend to the
superb green of the tarnished bronze surfaces the sparkling lustre of
the emerald, or to transform the blue and red lines of the white marble
temples into lapis-lazuli and coral and their gilded decorations into
topaz. The pictures in the mosaic pavement of the squares, and on the
inner walls of the colonnades, were doubly effective against the light
masses of marble surrounding them, which in their turn were indebted
to the pictures for affording the eye an attractive variety instead of
dazzling monotony.

Here the light of the weltering sun enhanced the brilliancy of colour in
the flags and streamers which fluttered beside the obelisks and Egyptian
pylons, over the triumphal arches and the gates of the temples and
palaces. Yet even the exquisite purplish blue of the banner waving above
the palace on the peninsula of Lochias, now occupied by Cleopatra’s
children, was surpassed by the hue of the sea, whose deep azure near the
shore merged far away into bands of lighter and darker blue, blending
with dull or whitish green.

Gorgias was accustomed to grasp fully whatever he permitted to influence
him, and though still loyal to his custom of associating with his art
every remarkable work of the gods or man, he had not forgotten in his
enjoyment of the familiar scene the purpose of his presence in this
spot.

No, the garden of Didymus was not the proper place for his friend’s last
work.

While gazing at the lofty plane, sycamore, and mimosa trees which
surrounded the old scholar’s home, the quiet square below him suddenly
became astir with noisy life, for all classes of the populace were
gathering in front of the sequestered house, as if some unusual
spectacle attracted them.

What could they want of the secluded philosopher?

Gorgias gazed earnestly at them, but soon turned away again; a gay voice
from below called his name.

A singular procession had approached the temple--a small body of armed
men, led by a short, stout fellow, whose big head, covered with bushy
curls, was crowned with a laurel wreath. He was talking eagerly to a
younger man, but had paused with the others in front of the sanctuary to
greet the architect. The latter shouted a few pleasant words in reply.
The laurel-crowned figure made a movement as if he intended to join him,
but his companion checked him, and, after a short parley, the older man
gave the younger one his hand, flung his heavy head back, and strutted
onward like a peacock, followed by his whole train.

The other looked after him, shrugging his shoulders; then called to
Gorgias, asking what boon he desired from the goddess.

“Your presence,” replied the architect blithely.

“Then Isis will show herself gracious to you,” was the answer, and the
next instant the two young men cordially grasped each other’s hands.

Both were equally tall and well formed; the features bore witness to
their Greek origin; nay, they might have been taken for brothers, had
not the architect’s whole appearance seemed sturdie and plainer than
that of his companion, whom he called “Dion” and friend. As the latter
heaped merry sarcasms upon the figure wearing the laurel wreath who had
just left him, Anaxenor, the famous zither-player, on whom Antony had
bestowed the revenues of four cities and permission to keep body-guard,
and Gorgias’s deeper voice sometime assented, sometimes opposed with
sensible objections, the difference between these two men of the same
age and race became clearly apparent.

Both showed a degree of self-reliance unusual, at their age; but the
architect’s was the assurance which a man gains by toil and his own
merit, Dion’s that which is bestowed by large possession and a high
position in society. Those who were ignorant that the weight of Dion’s
carefully prepared speech had more than once turned the scale in the
city councils would probably have been disposed to take him for one of
the careless worldlings who had no lack of representatives among the
gilded youth of Alexandria; while the architect’s whole exterior, from
his keen eye to the stouter leather of his sandals, revealed earnest
purpose and unassuming ability.

Their friendship had commenced when Gorgias built a new palace for Dion.
During long business association people become well acquainted, even
though their conversations relate solely to direction and execution.
But in this case, he who gave the orders had been only the inspirer and
adviser, the architect the warm-hearted friend, eager to do his
utmost to realize what hovered before the other’s mind as the highest
attainable excellence. So the two young men became first dear, and
finally almost indispensable to each other. As the architect discovered
in the wealthy man of the world many qualities whose existence he had
not suspected, the latter was agreeably surprised to find in the artist,
associated with his solidity of character, a jovial companion, who--this
first made him really beloved by his friend--had no lack of weaknesses.

When the palace was completed to Dion’s satisfaction and became one
of the most lauded ornaments of the city, the young men’s friendship
assumed a new form, and it would have been difficult to say which
received the most benefit.

Dion had just been stopped by the zither-player to ask for confirmation
of the tidings that the united forces of Antony and Cleopatra had gained
a great victory on sea and land.

In the eating-house at Kanopus, where he had breakfasted, everyone was
full of the joyful news, and rivers of wine had been drunk to the health
of the victors and the destruction of the malicious foe. “In
these days,” cried Dion, “not only weak-brained fellows, like the
zither-player, believe me omniscient, but many sensible men also. And
why? Because, forsooth, I am the nephew of Zeno, the Keeper of the Seal,
who is on the brink of despair because he himself knows nothing, not
even the veriest trifle.”

“Yet he stands nearest to the Regent,” observed Gorgias, “and must
learn, if any one does, how the fleet fares.”

“You too!” sighed his friend. “Had I been standing so far above the
ground as you, the architect--by the dog, I should not have failed to
note the quarter whence the wind blew! It has been southerly a whole
fortnight, and keeps back the galleys coming from the north. The Regent
knows nothing, absolutely nothing, and my uncle, of course, no more. But
if they do learn anything they will be shrewd enough not to enrich me
with it.”

“True, there are other rumours afloat,” said the architect thoughtfully.
“If I were in Mardion’s place--”

“Thank the Olympians that you are not,” laughed his companion. “He has
as many cares as a fish has scales. And one, the greatest. That pert
young Antyllus was over-ready with his tongue yesterday at Barine’s.
Poor fellow! He’ll have to answer for it to his tutor at home.”

“You mean the remark about the Queen’s accompanying the fleet?”

“St!” said Dion, putting his finger on his lips, for many men and women
were now ascending the temple steps. Several carried flowers and cakes,
and the features of most expressed joyful emotion. The news of the
victory had reached their ears, and they wanted to offer sacrifices to
the goddess whom Cleopatra, “the new Isis,” preferred to all others.

The first court-yard of the sanctuary was astir with life. They could
hear the ringing of the sistrum bells and the murmuring chant of the
priests. The quiet fore-court of the little temple of the goddess, which
here, in the Greek quarter of palaces, had as few visitors as the great
Temple of Isis in the Rhakotis was overcrowded, had now become the
worst possible rendezvous for men who stood so near the rulers of
the government. The remark made about the Queen the evening before by
Antyllus, Antony’s nineteen-year-old son, at the house of Barine, a
beautiful young woman who attracted all the prominent men in Alexandria,
was the more imprudent because it coincided with the opinion of all the
wisest heads. The reckless youth enthusiastically reverenced his father,
but Cleopatra, the object of Antony’s love, and--in the Egyptians’
eyes--his wife, was not Antyllus’s mother. He was the son of Fulvia, his
father’s first wife, and feeling himself a Roman, would have preferred
a thousand times to live on the banks of the Tiber. Besides, it was
certain--Antony’s stanchest friends made no attempt to conceal the
fact--that the Queen’s presence with the army exerted a disturbing
influence, and could not fail to curb the daring courage of the brave
general. Antyllus, with the reckless frankness inherited from his
father, had expressed this view in the presence of all Barine’s
guests, and in a form which would be only too quickly spread throughout
Alexandria, whose inhabitants relished such speeches.

These remarks would be slow in reaching the plain people who were
attracted to the temple by the news of the victory, yet many doubtless
knew Caesarion, whom the architect was awaiting here. It would be wiser
to meet the prince at the foot of the steps. Both men, therefore, went
down to the square, though the crowds seeking the temple and thronging
the space before Didymus’s house made it more and more difficult to pace
to and fro.

They were anxious to learn whether the rumour that Didymus’s garden was
to be taken for the twin statues had already spread abroad, and their
first questions revealed that this was the case. It was even stated that
the old sage’s house was to be torn down, and within a few hours. This
was vehemently contradicted; but a tall, scrawny man seemed to have
undertaken to defend the ruler’s violence.

The friends knew him well. It was the Syrian Philostratus, a clever
extempore speaker and agitator of the people, who placed his clever
tongue at the disposal of the highest bidder.

“The rascal is probably now in my uncle’s employ,” said Dion. “The idea
of putting the piece of sculpture there originated with him, and it is
difficult to turn him from such plans. There is some secret object to be
gained here. That is why they have brought Philostratus. I wonder if
the conspiracy is connected in any way with Barine, whose
husband--unfortunately for her--he was before he cast her off.”

“Cast her off!” exclaimed Gorgias wrathfully. “How that sounds! True, he
did it, but to persuade him the poor woman sacrificed half the fortune
her father had earned by his brush. You know as well as I that life with
that scoundrel would be unbearable.”

“Very true,” replied Dion quietly. “But as all Alexandria melted into
admiration after her singing of the ‘yalemos’ at the Adonis festival,
she no longer needed her contemptible consort.”

“How can you take pleasure, whenever it is possible, in casting such
slurs upon a woman, whom but yesterday you called blameless, charming,
peerless?”

“That the light she sheds may not dazzle your eyes. I know how sensitive
they are.”

“Then spare, instead of irritating them. Besides, your suggestion gives
food for thought Barine is the granddaughter of the man whose garden
they want, and the advocate would probably be glad to injure both.
But I’ll spoil his game. It is my business to choose the site for the
statues.”

“Yours?” replied Dion. “Unless some on who is more powerful opposes you.
I would try to win my uncle, but there are others superior to him. The
Queen has gone, it is true; but Iras, whose commands do not die away
in empty air, told me this morning that she had her own ideas about the
erection of the statue.”

“Then you bring Philostratus here!” cried the architect.

“I?” asked the other in amazement.

“Ay, you,” asserted Gorgias. “Did not you say that Iras, with whom you
played when a boy is now becoming troublesome by watching your every
step? And then--you visit Barine constantly and she so evidently prefers
you, that the fact might easily reach the ears of Iras.”

“As Argus has a hundred, jealousy has a thousand eyes,” interrupted
Dion, “yet I seek nothing from Barine, save two pleasant hours when the
day is drawing towards its close. No matter; Iras, I suppose, heard that
I was favoured by this much-admired woman. Iras herself has some
little regard for me, so she bought Philostratus. She is willing to pay
something for the sake of injuring the woman who stands between us,
or the old man who has the good or evil fortune of being her rival’s
grandfather. No, no; that would be too base! And believe me, if Iras
desired to ruin Barine, she need not make so long a circuit. Besides,
she is not really a wicked woman. Or is she? All I know is that where
any advantage is to be gained for the Queen, she does not shrink even
from doubtful means, and also that the hours speed swiftly for any one
in her society. Yes, Iras, Iras--I like to utter the name. Yet I do not
love her, and she--loves only herself, and--a thing few can say--another
still more. What is the world, what am I to her, compared with the
Queen, the idol of her heart? Since Cleopatra’s departure, Iras seems
like the forsaken Ariadne, or a young roe which has strayed from its
mother. But stop; she may have a hand in the game: the Queen trusted
her as if she were her sister, her daughter. No one knows what she
and Charmian are to her. They are called waiting-women, but are their
sovereign’s dearest friends. When, on the departure of the fleet,
Cleopatra was compelled to leave Iras here--she was ill with a
fever--she gave her the charge of her children, even those whose beards
were beginning to grow, the ‘King of kings’ Caesarion, whose tutor
punishes him for every act of disobedience; and the unruly lad Antyllus,
who has forced his way the last few evenings into our friend’s house.”

“Antony, his own father, introduced him to her.”

“Very true, and Antyllus took Caesarion there. This vexed Iras, like
everything which may disturb the Queen. Barine is troublesome on account
of Cleopatra, whom she wishes to spare every annoyance, and perhaps she
dislikes her a little for my sake. Now she wants to inflict on the
old man, Barine’s grandfather, whom she loves, some injury which the
spoiled, imprudent woman will scarcely accept quietly, and which will
rouse her to commit some folly that can be used against her. Iras will
hardly seek her life, but she may have in mind exile or something of
that kind. She knows people as well as I know her, my neighbour and
playmate, whom many a time I was obliged to lift down from some tree
into which the child had climbed as nimbly as a kitten.”

“I myself suggested this conjecture, yet I cannot credit her with such
unworthy intrigues,” cried Gorgias.

“Credit her?” repeated Dion, shrugging his shoulders. “I only transport
myself in imagination to the court and to the soul of the woman who
helps make rain and sunshine there. You have columns rounded and beams
hewed that they may afterwards support the roof to which in due time you
wish to direct attention. She and all who have a voice in the management
of court affairs look first at the roof and then seek anything to raise
and support it, though it should be corpses, ruined lives, and broken
hearts. The point is that the roof shall stand until the architect,
the Queen, sees and approves it. As to the rest--But there is the
carriage--It doubtless brings--You were--”

He paused, laid his hand on his friend’s arm, and whispered hastily:
“Iras is undoubtedly at the bottom of this, and it is not Antyllus,
but yonder dreaming lad, for whom she is moving. When she spoke of the
statues just now, she asked in the same breath where I had seen him on
the evening of the day before yesterday, and that was the very time he
called on Barine. The plot was made by her, and Iras is doing all the
work. The mouse is not caught while the trap is closed, and she is just
raising her little hand to open it.”

“If only she does not use some man’s hand,” replied the architect
wrathfully, and then turned towards the carriage and the elderly man who
had just left it, and was now approaching the two friends.



CHAPTER II.

When Caesarion’s companion reached Dion and Gorgias, the former modestly
made a movement to retire. But Archibius was acquainted with both, and
begged him to remain. There was an air of precision and clearness in the
voice and quiet movements of this big, broad-shouldered man, with his
robust frame and well-developed limbs. Though only a few years beyond
forty, not merely his grey hair but the calm, impressive dignity of his
whole manner indicated a more advanced age.

“The young King yonder,” he began in a deep, musical voice, motioning
towards the equipage, “wished to speak to you here in person, Gorgias,
but by my advice he refrained from mingling with the crowd. I have
brought him hither in a closed carriage. If the plan suits you, enter
it and talk with him while I keep watch here. Strange things seem to be
occurring, and yonder--or am I mistaken? Has the monster dragged along
there any connection with the twin statues of the Queen and her friend?
Was it you who selected that place for them?”

“No,” replied the architect. “The order was issued over my head and
against my will.”

“I thought so,” replied the other. “This is the very matter of which
Caesarion wishes to speak. If you can prevent the erection of the
statues on Didymus’s land, so much the better. I will do everything in
my power to aid you, but in the Queen’s absence that is little.”

“Then what can be said of my influence?” asked the architect. “Who, in
these days, knows whether the sky will be blue or grey to-morrow? I can
guarantee one thing only: I will do my best to prevent this injury of an
estimable citizen, interference with the laws of our city, and violation
of good taste.”

“Say so to the young King, but express yourself cautiously,” replied
Archibius as the architect turned towards the carriage.

As soon as Dion and the older man were alone, the latter inquired
the cause of the increasing uproar, and as, like every well-disposed
Alexandrian, he esteemed Archibius, and knew that he was intimately
acquainted with the owner of the imperilled garden, and therefore
with his granddaughter Barine, he confided his anxiety to him without
reserve.

“Iras is your niece, it is true,” he said in his open-hearted manner,
“but I know that you understand her character. It suits her now to fling
a golden apple into the path of a person whom she dislikes and believes
incautious, that she may pick it up and thus afford her an opportunity
to bring a charge of theft.”

Noting the inquiring glance Archibius fixed upon him as he made this
comparison, he changed his tone and continued more earnestly: “Zeus is
great, but destiny is superior even to him. Zeus can accomplish much,
but when Iras and your sister Charmian, who unfortunately is now with
the Queen, wish to effect anything, he, like the Regent Mardion, must
give way. The more lovable Cleopatra is, the more surely every one
prizes a position near her person above aught else, especially such
trifles as law and justice.”

“These are harsh words,” responded Archibius, “and seem the more bitter
in proportion to the germ of truth which they contain. Our court shares
the fate of every other in the East, and those to whom Rome formerly set
the example of holding law and justice sacred--”

“Can now go there,” interrupted Dion, “to learn how rudely both are
trampled under foot. The sovereigns here and there may smile at one
another like the augurs. They are like brothers--”

“But with the difference,” Archibius broke in, “that the head of our
public affairs is the very embodiment of affability and grace; while
in Rome, on the contrary, harsh severity and bloody arrogance, or even
repulsive servility, guide the reins.”

Here Archibius interrupted himself to point to the shouting throng
advancing towards them. “You are right,” Dion answered. “Let us defer
this discussion till we can pursue it in the house of the charming
Barine. But I rarely meet you there, though by blood you are so nearly
allied to her father. I am her friend--at my age that might easily mean
her lover. But in our case the comparison would not suit. Yet perhaps
you will believe me, for you have the right to call yourself the friend
of the most bewitching of women.”

A sorrowful smile flitted over the grave, set features of the older man,
who, raising his hand as if in protest, answered carelessly: “I grew up
with Cleopatra, but a private citizen loves a queen only as a divinity.
I believe in your friendship for Barine, though I deem it dangerous.”

“If you mean that it might injure the lovely woman,” replied Dion,
raising his head more proudly as if to intimate that he required no
warning, even from him, “perhaps you are right. Only I beg you not to
misunderstand me. I am not vain enough to suppose that I could win her
heart, but unfortunately there are many who cannot forgive the power
of attraction which she exerts over me as well as upon all. So many men
gladly visit Barine’s house that there are an equal number of women who
would rejoice to close it. Among them, of course, is Iras. She dislikes
my friend; nay, I fear that what you witness yonder is the apple she
flung in order, if not to ruin, at least to drive her from the city, ere
the Queen--may the gods grant her victory!--ere Cleopatra returns. You
know your niece Iras. Like your sister Charmian, she will shrink from
nothing to remove an annoyance from her mistress’s pathway, and it
will hardly please Cleopatra when she learns that the two youths whose
welfare lies nearest her heart--Antyllus and Caesarion--seek Barine’s
house, no matter how stainless the latter’s reputation may be.”

“I have just heard of it,” replied Archibius, “and I, too, am anxious.
Antony’s son has inherited much of his father’s insatiable love of
pleasure. But Caesarion! He has not yet ventured out of the dreamland
which surrounds him into actual life. What others scarcely perceive
deals him a serious blow. I fear Eros is sharpening arrows for him
which will pierce deep into his heart. While talking with me he seemed
strangely changed. His dreamy eyes glittered like a drunkard’s when he
spoke of Barine. I fear, I fear--”

“Impossible!” cried Dion, in surprise, nay, almost terror. “If that is
the case, Iras is not wholly wrong, and we must deal with the matter
differently. But it is of the first importance to conceal the fact that
Caesarion has any interest in the affairs of the old house-owner. To
seek to maintain the old man’s right to his own property is a matter
of course, and I will undertake to do this and try to get yonder orator
home Just see how the braggart is swinging his arms in Iras’s service!
As for Barine, it will be well to induce her to leave of her own free
will a city where it will be made unpleasant for her. Try to persuade
her to pursue this course. If I went to her with such a suggestion,
I, who yesterday--No, no! Besides, she might hear that Iras and I--She
would imagine all sorts of absurdities. You know what jealousy means. To
you, whom she esteems, she would surely listen, and she need not go far
from the city. If the heart of this enthusiastic boy--who might some day
desire to be ‘King of kings’ not only in name--should really be fired
with love for Barine, what serious misfortune might follow! We must
secure her from him. She could not go to my country house among the
papyrus plantations at Sebennys. It would afford too much license for
evil tongues. But you--your villa at Kanopus is too near--but, if I am
not mistaken, you have--”

“My estate in the lake region is remote enough, and will be at her
disposal,” interrupted the other. “The house is always kept ready for
my reception. I will do my best to persuade her, for your advice is
prudent. She must be withdrawn from the boy’s eyes.”

“I shall learn the result of your mission tomorrow,” cried Dion
eagerly--“nay, this evening. If she consents, I will tell Iras, as if
by accident, that Barine has gone to Upper Egypt to drink new milk, or
something of that kind. Iras is a shrewd woman, and will be glad if she
can keep aloof from such trifles during the time which will decide the
fate of Cleopatra and of the world.”

“My thoughts, too, are always with the army,” said Archibius. “How
trivial everything else seems compared with the result which will be
determined in the next few days! But life is made up of trifles. They
are food, drink, maintenance. Should the Queen return triumphant, and
find Caesarion in wrong paths--”

“We must close them against him,” exclaimed Dion.

“That the boy may not follow Barine?” asked Archibius, shaking his
head. “I think we need feel no anxiety on that score. He will doubtless
eagerly desire to do so, but with him there is a wide gulf between the
wish and its fulfilment. Antyllus is differently constituted. He would
be quite capable of ordering a horse to be saddled, or the sails of
a boat to be spread in order to pursue her--beyond the Cataract if
necessary. So we must maintain the utmost secrecy concerning the place
to which Barine voluntarily exiles herself.”

“But she is not yet on her way,” replied Dion with a faint sigh. “She is
bound to this city by many ties.”

“I know it,” answered Archibius, confirming his companion’s fear.
The latter, pointing to the equipage, said in a rapid, earnest tone:
“Gorgias is beckoning. But, before we part, let me beseech you to do
everything to persuade Barine to leave here. She is in serious danger.
Conceal nothing from her, and say that her friends will not leave her
too long in solitude.”

Archibius, with a significant glance, shook his finger at the young man
in playful menace, and then went up to the carriage.

Caesarion’s clear-cut but pallid face, whose every feature resembled
that of his father, the great Caesar, bent towards them from the opening
above the door, as he greeted both with a formal bend of the head and a
patronizing glance. His eyes had sparkled with boyish glee when he
first caught sight of the friend from whom he had been separated
several weeks, but to the stranger he wished to assume the bearing which
beseemed a king. He desired to make him feel his superior position, for
he was ill-disposed towards him. He had seen him favoured by the woman
whom he imagined he loved, and whose possession he had been promised by
the secret science of the Egyptians, whose power to unveil the mysteries
of the future he firmly believed. Antyllus, Antony’s son, had taken him
to Barine, and she had received him with the consideration due his rank.
Spite of her bright graciousness, boyish timidity had hitherto prevented
any word of love to the young beauty whom he saw surrounded by so many
distinguished men of mature years. Yet his beaming, expressive eyes must
have revealed his feelings to her. Doubtless his glances had not been
unobserved, for only a few hours before an Egyptian woman had stopped
him at the temple of his father, Caesar, to which, according to the
fixed rules governing the routine of his life, he went daily at a
certain hour to pray, to offer sacrifices, to anoint the stone of the
altar, or to crown the statue of the departed emperor.

Caesarion had instantly recognized her as the female slave whom he had
seen in Barine’s atrium, and ordered his train to fall back.

Fortunately his tutor, Rhodon, had not fulfilled his duty of
accompanying him. So the youth had ventured to follow the slave woman,
and in the shadow of the mimosas, in the little grove beside the temple,
he found Barine’s litter. His heart throbbed violently as, full of
anxious expectation, he obeyed her signal to draw nearer. Still, she had
granted him nothing save the favour of gratifying one of her wishes.
But his heart had swelled almost to bursting when, resting her beautiful
white arm on the door of her litter, she had told him that unjust men
were striving to rob her grandfather Didymus of his garden, and she
expected him, who bore the title of the “King of kings” to do his best
to prevent such a crime.

It had been difficult for him to grasp her meaning while she was
speaking. There was a roaring sound in his ears as if, instead of being
in the silent temple grove, he was standing on a stormy day upon the
surf-beaten promontory of Lochias. He had not ventured to raise his eyes
and look into her face. Not until she closed with the question whether
she might hope for his assistance did her gaze constrain him to glance
up. Ah, what had he not fancied he read in her imploring blue eyes! how
unspeakably beautiful she had appeared!

He had stood before her as if bereft of his senses. His sole knowledge
was that he had promised, with his hand on his heart, to do everything
in his power to prevent what threatened to cause her pain. Then her
little hand, with its sparkling rings, was again stretched towards
him, and he had resolved to kiss it; but while he glanced around at his
train, she had already waved him a farewell, and the litter was borne
away.

He stood motionless, like the figure of a man on one of his mother’s
ancient vases, staring in bewilderment after the flying figure of
Happiness, whom he might easily have caught by her floating locks. How
he raged over the miserable indecision which had defrauded him of so
much joy! Yet nothing was really lost. If he succeeded in fulfilling her
wishes, she could not fail to be grateful; and then--

He pondered over the person to whom he should apply--Mardion, the
Regent, or the Keeper of the Seal? No, they had planned the erection
of the group of sculpture in the philosopher’s garden. To Iras, his
mother’s confidante? Nay, last of all to her. The cunning woman would
have perceived his purpose and betrayed it to the Regent. Ah, if
Charmian, his mother’s other attendant, had been present! but she was
with the fleet, which perhaps was even now engaged in battle with the
enemy.

At this recollection his eyes again sought the ground--he had not been
permitted to take the place in the army to which his birth entitled
him, while his mother and Charmian--But he did not pursue this painful
current of thought; for a serious reproach had forced itself upon him
and sent the blood to his cheeks. He wished to be considered a man, and
yet, in these fateful days, which would determine the destiny of his
mother, his native city, Egypt, and that Rome which he, the only son of
Caesar, was taught to consider his heritage, he was visiting a beautiful
woman, thinking of her, and of her alone. His days and half the nights
were passed in forming plans for securing her love, forgetful of what
should have occupied his whole heart.

Only yesterday Iras had sharply admonished him that, in times like
these, it was the duty of every friend of Cleopatra, and every foe of
her foes, to be with the army at least in mind.

He had remembered this, but, instead of heeding the warning, the thought
of her had merely recalled her uncle, Archibius, who possessed great
influence, not merely on account of his wealth but because every one
also knew his high standing in the regard of the Queen. Besides, the
clever, kindly man had always been friendly to him from childhood, and
like a revelation came the idea of applying to him, and to the architect
Gorgias, who had a voice in the matter, and by whom he had been strongly
attracted during the period while he was rebuilding the wing assigned to
the prince in the palace at Lochias.

So one of the attendants was instantly despatched with the little tablet
which invited Gorgias to the interview at the Temple of Isis.

Then, in the afternoon, Caesarion went secretly in a boat to the little
palace of Archibius, situated on the seashore at Kanopus, and now as the
latter, with his friend, stood beside the carriage door, he explained to
them that he was going with the architect to old Didymus to assure him
of his assistance.

This was unadvisable in every respect, but it required all the weight of
the older man’s reasons to induce the prince to yield. The consequences
which might ensue, should the populace discover that he was taking sides
against the Regent, would be incalculable. But submission and withdrawal
were especially difficult to the young “King of kings.” He longed to
pose as a man in Dion’s presence, and as this could not be, he strove to
maintain the semblance of independence by yielding his resolve only
on the plea of not desiring to injure the aged scholar and his
granddaughter. Finally, he again entreated the architect to secure
Didymus in the possession of his property. When at last he drove away
with Archibius, twilight was already gathering, torches were lighted in
front of the temple and the little mausoleum adjoining the cella, and
pitch-pans were blazing in the square.



CHAPTER III.

“The lad is in an evil plight,” said Gorgias, shaking his head
thoughtfully as the equipage rolled over the stone pavement of the
Street of the King.

“And over yonder,” added Dion, “the prospect is equally unpleasing.
Philostratus is setting the people crazy. But the hired mischief-maker
will soon wish he had been less ready to seize Iras’s gold coins.”

“And to think,” cried the architect, “that Barine was this scoundrel’s
wife! How could it--”

“She was but a child when they married her,” interrupted Dion.
“Who consults a girl of fifteen in the choice of a husband? And
Philostratus--he was my classmate at Rhodus--at that time had the
fairest prospects. His brother Alexas, Antony’s favourite, could easily
advance him. Barine’s father was dead, her mother was accustomed to
follow Didymus’s counsel, and the clever fellow had managed to
strew dust in the old man’s eyes. Long and lank as he is, he is not
bad-looking even now.

“When he appeared as an orator he pleased his hearers. This turned his
head, and a spendthrift’s blood runs in his veins. To bring his fair
young bride to a stately mansion, he undertook the bad cause of the
thievish tax-collector Pyrrhus, and cleared him.”

“He bought a dozen false witnesses.”

“There were sixteen. Afterwards they became as numerous as the open
mouths you see shouting yonder. It is time to silence them. Go to the
old man’s house and soothe him--Barine also, if she is there. If you
find messengers from the Regent, raise objections to the unprecedented
decree. You know the portions of the law which can be turned to
Didymus’s advantage.”

“Since the reign of Euergetes II, registered landed property has been
unassailable, and his was recorded.”

“So much the better. Tell the officials also, confidentially, that you
know of objections just discovered which may perhaps change the Regent’s
views.”

“And, above all, I shall insist upon my right to choose the place for
the twin statues. The Queen herself directed the others to heed my
opinion.”

“That will cast the heaviest weight into the scale. We shall meet later.
You will prefer to keep away from Barine to-night. If you see her, tell
her that Archibius said he would visit her later--for an object I will
explain afterwards. I shall probably go to Iras to bring her to reason.
It will be better not to mention Caesarion’s wish.”

“Certainly--and you will give nothing to yonder brawler.”

“On the contrary. I feel very generous. If Peitho will aid me, the
insatiate fellow will get more than may be agreeable to him.”

Then grasping the architect’s hand, Dion forced his way through the
throng surrounding the high platform on wheels, upon which the closely
covered piece of sculpture had been rolled up. The gate of the scholar’s
house stood open, for an officer in the Regent’s service had really
entered a short time before, but the Scythian guards sent by the
exegetus Demetrius, one of Barine’s friends, were keeping back the
throng of curious spectators.

Their commander knew Gorgias, and he was soon standing in the impluvium
of the scholar’s house, an oblong, rootless space, with a fountain in
the centre, whose spray moistened the circular bed of flowers around it.
The old slave had just lighted some three-branched lamps which burned on
tall stands. The officers sent by the Regent to inform Didymus that his
garden would be converted into a public square had just arrived.

When Gorgias entered, these magistrates, their clerks, and the witnesses
accompanying them--a group of twenty men, at whose head was Apollonius,
a distinguished officer of the royal treasury--were in the house. The
slave who admitted the architect informed him of it.

In the atrium a young girl, doubtless a member of the household, stopped
him. He was not mistaken in supposing that she was Helena, Didymus’s
younger granddaughter, of whom Barine had spoken. True, she resembled
her sister neither in face nor figure, for while the young matron’s hair
was fair and waving, the young girl’s thick black tresses were wound
around her head in a smooth braid. Very unlike Barine’s voice, too, were
the deep, earnest tones trembling with emotion, in which she confronted
him with the brief question, concealing a faint reproach, “Another
demand?”

After first ascertaining that he was really speaking to Helena, his
friend’s sister, he hastily told her his name, adding that, on the
contrary, he had come to protect her grandfather from a serious
misfortune.

When his glance first rested upon her in the dimly lighted room, the
impression she made upon him was by no means favourable. The pure brow,
which seemed to him too high for a woman’s face, wore an indignant
frown; and though her mouth was beautiful in form, its outlines were
often marred by a passionate tremor that lent the exquisitely chiselled
features a harsh, nay, bitter expression. But she had scarcely heard the
motive of his presence ere, pressing her hand upon her bosom with a sigh
of relief, she eagerly exclaimed:

“Oh, do what you can to avert this terrible deed! No one knows how the
old man loves this house. And my grandmother! They will die if it is
taken from them.”

Her large eyes rested upon him with a warm, imploring light; and the
stern, almost repellent voice thrilled with love for her relatives. He
must lend his aid here, and how gladly he would do so! He assured her of
this; and Helena, who had heard him mentioned as a man of ability, saw
in him a helper in need, and begged him, with touching fervour, to show
her grandfather, when he came before the officers, that all was not
lost.

The astonished architect asked if Didymus did not know what was
impending, and Helena hastily replied:

“He is working in the summer-house by the sea. Apollonius is a
kind-hearted man, and will wait until I have prepared my grandfather. I
must go to him. He has already sent Philotas--his pupil, who finds and
unrolls his books--a dozen times to inquire the cause of the tumult
outside; but I replied that the crowds were flocking to the harbour on
account of the Queen. There is often a mob shouting madly; but nothing
disturbs my grandfather when he is absorbed in his work; and his
pupil--a young student from Amphissa--loves him and does what I bid
him. My grandmother, too, knows nothing yet. She is deaf, and the female
slaves dare not tell her. After her recent attack of giddiness, the
doctor said that any sudden shock might injure her. If only I can find
the right words, that my grandfather may not be too sorely hurt!”

“Shall I accompany you?” asked Gorgias kindly.

“No,” she answered hurriedly. “He needs time ere he will trust
strangers. Only, if Apollonius discloses the terrible truth, and his
grief threatens to overpower him, comfort him, and show him that we
still have friends who are ready to protect us from such disaster.”

She waved her hand in token of gratitude, and hurried through the little
side gate into the garden. Gorgias looked after her with sparkling eyes,
and drew a long breath. How good this girl must be, how wisely she cared
for her relatives! How energetically the young creature behaved! He
had seen his new acquaintance only in the dim light, but she must
be beautiful. Her eyes, lips, and hair certainly were. How his heart
throbbed as he asked himself the question whether this young girl,
who was endowed with every gift which constituted the true worth
of womanhood, was not preferable to her more attractive sister
Barine!--when the thought darted through his mind that he had cause to
be grateful to the beard which covered his chin and cheeks, for he felt
that he, a sedate, mature man, must have blushed. And he knew why. Only
half an hour before he had felt and admitted to Dion that he considered
Barine the most desirable of women, and now another’s image cast a
deep shadow over hers and filled his heart with new, perhaps stronger
emotions.

He had had similar experiences only too often, and his friends, Dion at
their head, had perceived his weakness and spoiled many an hour for
him by their biting jests. The series of tall and short, fair and dark
beauties who had fired his fancy was indeed of considerable length, and
every one on whom he had bestowed his quickly kindled affections had
seemed to him the one woman he must make his own, if he would be a happy
man. But ere he had reached the point of offering his hand, the question
had arisen in his mind whether he might not love another still more
ardently. So he had begun to persuade himself that his heart yearned for
no individual, but the whole sex--at least the portion which was young
and could feel love--and therefore he would scarcely be wise to bind
himself to any one. True, he knew that he was capable of fidelity, for
he clung to his friends with changeless loyalty, and was ready to
make any sacrifice in their behalf. With women, however, he dealt
differently. Was Helena’s image, which now floated before him so
bewitchingly, destined to fade as swiftly? The contrary would have been
remarkable. Yet he firmly believed that this time Eros meant honestly
by him. The laughing loves who twined their rose garlands around him and
Helena’s predecessors had nothing to do with this grave maiden.

These reflections darted through his brain with the speed of lightning,
and still stirred his heart when he was ushered into the impluvium,
where the magistrates were impatiently awaiting the owner of the house.
With the lucidity peculiar to him, he explained his reasons for hoping
that their errand would be vain, and Apollonius replied that no one
would rejoice more than he himself if the Regent should authorize him,
on the morrow, to countermand his mission. He would gladly wait there
longer to afford the old man’s granddaughter an opportunity to soften
the tidings of the impending misfortune.

The kind-hearted man’s patience, however, was not tested too long; for
when Helena entered the summer-house Didymus had already been informed
of the disaster which threatened him and his family. The philosopher
Euphranor, an elderly member of the Museum, had reached him through the
garden gate, and, spite of Philotas’s warning sign, told him what was
occurring. But Didymus knew the old philosopher, who, a recluse from the
world like himself, was devoting the remainder of his life and strength
to the pursuit of science. So he only shook his head incredulously,
pushed back the thin locks of grey hair which hung down on his cheeks
over the barest part of his skull, and exclaimed reproachfully, though
as if the matter under discussion was of the most trivial importance:
“What have you been hearing? We’ll see about it!”

He had risen as he spoke, and too abruptly surprised by the news to
remember the sandals on the mat and the upper robe which lay on a chest
of drawers at the end of the room, he was in the act of quitting it,
when his friend, who had silently watched his movements, stopped him,
and Helena entered.

The grey-haired sage turned to her, and, vexed by his friend’s doubts,
begged her to convince her grandfather that even matters which do
not please us may nevertheless be of some importance. She did so as
considerately as possible, thinking meanwhile of the architect and his
hopes.

Didymus, with his eyes bent on the ground, shook his grey head again
and again. Then, suddenly raising it, he rushed to the door, and without
heeding the upper garment which Helena still held in her hand, tore it
open, shouting, “But things must and shall be changed!”

Euphranor and his granddaughter followed. Though his head was bowed,
he crossed the little garden with a swift, firm tread, and, without
noticing the questions and warnings of his companions, walked at once to
the impluvium. The bright light dazzled his weakened eyes, and his habit
of gazing into vacancy or on the ground compelled him to glance from
side to side for some time, ere he could accustom himself to it.
Apollonius approached, greeted him respectfully, and assured him that he
deeply regretted having interrupted him in the work for which the whole
world was waiting, but he had come on important business.

“I know, I know,” the old scholar answered with a smile of superiority.
“What is all this ado about?”

As he spoke he looked around the group of spectators, among whom he knew
no one except Apollonius, who had charge of the museum accounts, and the
architect, for whom he had composed the inscription on the Odeum, which
he had recently built. But when his eyes met only unfamiliar faces, the
confidence which hitherto had sustained him began to waver, though still
convinced that a demand such as the philosopher suggested could not
possibly be made upon him, he continued: “It is stated that there is a
plan for turning my garden into a public square. And for what purpose?
To erect a piece of sculpture. But there can be nothing serious in the
rumour, for my property is recorded in the land register, and the law--”

“Pardon me,” Apollonius broke in, “if I interrupt you. We know the
ordinance to which you refer, but this case is an exceptional one. The
Regent desires to take nothing from you. On the contrary, he offers,
in the name of the Queen, any compensation you yourself may fix for
the piece of land which is to be honoured by the statues of the highest
personages in the country--Cleopatra and Antony, hand in hand. The piece
of sculpture has already been brought here. A work by the admirable
artist Lysander, who passed too early to the nether world, certainly
will not disfigure your house. The little summer-house by the sea must
be removed to-morrow, it is true; you know that our gracious Queen
may return any day-victorious if the immortals are just. This piece of
sculpture, which is created in her honour, to afford her pleasure, must
greet her on her arrival, so the Regent send me to-day to communicate
his wish, which, as he represents the Queen--”

“Yet,” interrupted the architect, who had again warmly assured the old
man’s granddaughter of his aid, “yet your friends will endeavour to
persuade the Regent to find another place for the statues.”

“They are at liberty to do so,” said the officer. “What will happen
later the future will show. My office merely requires me to induce the
worthy owner of this house and garden to submit to-day to the Queen’s
command, which the Regent and my own heart bid me clothe in the form of
a request.”

During this conversation the old man had at first listened silently to
the magistrate’s words, gazing intently into his face. So it was true.
The demand to yield up his garden, and even the little house, for
fifty years the scene of his study and creative work, for the sake of a
statue, would be made. Since this had become a certainty, he had stood
with his eyes fixed upon the ground. Grief had paralyzed his tongue, and
Helena, who felt this, for the aged head seemed as if it were bending
under a heavy burden, had drawn close to his side.

The shouts and howls of the throng outside echoed through the open roof
of the impluvium, but the old man did not seem to hear them, and did not
even notice his granddaughter. Yet, no sooner did he feel her touch than
he hurriedly shrank away, flung back his drooping head, and gazed around
the circle of intruders.

The dull, questioning eyes of the old commentator and writer of many
books now blazed with the hot fire of youthful passion and, like a
wrestler who seeks the right grip, he measured Apollonius and his
companions with wrathful glances. The fragile recluse seemed transformed
into a warrior ready for battle. His lips and the nostrils of his
delicate nose quivered, and when Apollonius began to say that it would
be wise to remove the contents of the summer-house that day, as it
would be torn down early the next morning, Didymus raised his arms,
exclaiming:

“That will not be done. Not a single roll shall be removed! They will
find me at work as usual early to-morrow morning, and if it is still
your wish to rob me of my property you must use violence to attain your
purpose.”

“Calm yourself,” replied Apollonius. “Every one beneath the moon must
submit to a higher power; the gods bow to destiny, we mortals to the
sovereign. You are a sage; I, merely mindful of the behests of duty,
administer my office. But I know life, and if I may offer my counsel,
you will accept what cannot be averted, and I will wager ten to one that
you will have the best of it; that the Queen will place in your hands
means--”

“Sufficient to build a palace on the site of the little house of which I
was robbed,” Didymus interrupted bitterly. Then rage burst forth afresh
“What do I care for your money? I want my rights, my good, guaranteed
rights. I insist upon them, and whoever assails the ground which my
grandfather and father bequeathed to me--”

He hesitated, for the throng outside had burst into a loud shout of
joy; and when it died away, and the old man began once more defiantly
to claim his rights, he was interrupted by a woman’s clear tones,
addressing him with the Greek greeting, “Rejoice!”--a voice so gay and
musical that it seemed to dispel the depression which rested like a grey
fog on the whole company.

While Didymus was listening to the excited populace, and the new-comer
was gazing at the old man whose rigid obstinacy could scarcely be
conquered by kindness, the younger men were looking at the beautiful
woman who joined them. Her haste had flushed her cheeks, and from
beneath the turquoise-blue kerchief that covered her fair locks
a bewitching face smiled at her sister, the architect, and her
grandfather.

Apollonius and many of his companions felt as if happiness in person
had entered this imperilled house, and many an eye brightened when the
infuriated old man exclaimed in an altered tone, “You here, Barine?” and
she, without heeding the presence of the others, kissed his cheek with
tender affection.

Helena, Gorgias, and the old philosopher Euphranor, had approached her,
and when the latter asked with loving reproach, “Why, Barine, how did
you get through the howling mob?” she answered gaily: “That a learned
member of the Museum may receive me with the query whether I am here,
though from childhood a kind or--what do you think, grandfather?--a
malign fate has preserved me from being overlooked, and some one else
reprovingly asks how I passed through the shouting mob, as if it were a
crime to wade into the water to hold out a helping hand to those we love
best when it is up to their chins! But, oh! dear, this howling is too
hideous!”

While speaking, she pressed her little hands on the part of the kerchief
which concealed her ears, and said no more until the noise subsided,
although she declared that she was in a hurry, and had only come to
learn how matters were. Meanwhile it seemed as if she was so full of
quick, pulsing life, that it was impossible to leave even a moment
unused, if it were merely to bestow or answer a friendly glance.

The architect and her sister were obliged to return hurried answers to
hasty questions; and as soon as she ascertained what had brought the
strangers there she thanked Apollonius, and said that old friends would
do their best to spare her grandfather such a sorrow.

In reply to repeated inquiries from the two old men in regard to her
arrival there, she answered: “Nobody will believe it, because in this
hurry I could not keep my mouth shut; but I acted like a mute fish and
reached the water.” Then, drawing her grandfather aside, she whispered
to him that, when she left her boat at the harbour, Archibius had seen
her from his carriage, and instantly stopped it to inform her of his
intended visit that evening. He was coming to discuss an important
matter. Therefore she must receive the worthy man, whom she sincerely
liked, so she could not stay. Then turning to the others still with
her kerchief on her head ready for departure--she asked what the people
meant by their outcries. The architect replied that Philostratus had
endeavoured to make the crowd believe that the only appropriate site for
the statues of which she had heard was her grandfather’s garden, and he
thought he knew in whose behalf the fellow was acting.

“Certainly not in the Regent’s,” said Apollonius, in a tone of sincere
conviction; but Barine, over whose sunny brow a shadow had flitted when
Gorgias uttered the orator’s name, assented with a slight bend of the
head, and then whispered hurriedly, yet earnestly, that she would answer
for the old man’s allowing himself to be persuaded, if he had only time
to collect his thoughts.

The next morning, when the market was crowded, the officer might
commence his negotiations afresh, if the Regent insisted on his plan.
Meanwhile she would do her best to persuade her grandfather to yield,
though he was not exactly one of the class who are easily guided.
Apollonius might remind the Regent that it would be advisable at this
time to avoid a public scandal, to remember Didymus’s age, and the
validity of his claim.

While Apollonius was talking with his companions, Barine beckoned to the
architect, and hastily took leave of the others, protesting that she
was in no danger, since she would slip away again like a fish, only
this time she would use her tongue, and hoped by its means to win to the
support of Didymus’s just cause a man who would already have ended all
the trouble had the Queen only been in Alexandria.

Until now the eyes and ears of the whole company had been fixed upon
Barine. No one had desired anything better than to gaze at and listen to
her.

Not until she had quitted the room with Gorgias did the officials
discuss the matter together, and soon after Apollonius went away with
his companions, to hold another conference with the Regent about this
unpleasant business. This time the architect had followed the young
beauty with very mingled feelings. Only an hour before he would have
rejoiced to be permitted to accompany and protect Barine; now he would
have gladly remained with her sister, who had returned his farewell
greeting so gratefully and yet with such maidenly modesty. But even the
most vacillating man cannot change one fancy for another as he would
replace a black piece on the draughtboard with a white one, and he still
found it delightful to be so near Barine. Only the thought that Helena
might believe that he stood on very intimate terms with her sister had
darted with a disquieting influence through his brain when the latter
invited him to accompany her.

In the garden Barine begged him, before they went to the landing-place
where the boat was moored, to help her ascend the narrow flight of steps
leading to the flat roof of the gatekeeper’s little house.

Here they could watch unseen the tumult in the square below, for it was
surrounded by dense laurel bushes. Bright flames were blazing in the
pitch-pans before the two temples at the side of the Corner of the
Muses, and their light was increased by the torches held in the hands of
Scythians. Yet no individuals could be distinguished in the throng. The
marble walls of the temples shimmered, the statues at Didymus’s gate,
and the hermae along the street of the King which passed the threatened
house and connected the north of the Corner of the Muses with the
sea-shore, loomed from the darkness in the brilliancy of the reflected
light, but the smoke of the torches darkened the sky and dimmed the
starlight.

The only persons distinctly visible were Dion, who had stationed himself
on the lofty framework of the platform on which the muffled statues
had been drawn hither, and the attorney Philostratus, who stood on the
pedestal of one of the dolphins which surrounded the fountain between
the Temple of Isis and the street. The space, a dozen paces wide, which
divided them, permitted the antagonists to understand each other, and
the attention of the whole throng was fixed upon the wranglers.

These verbal battles were one of the greatest pleasures of the
Alexandrians, and they greeted every clever turn of speech with shouts
of applause, every word which displeased them with groans, hisses, and
cat-calls.

Barine could see and hear what was passing below. She had pushed aside
the foliage of the laurel bushes which concealed her, and, with her
hand raised to her ear, stood listening to the two disputants. When the
scoundrel whom she had called husband, and for whom her contempt had
become too deep for hate, sneeringly assailed her family as having been
fed from generation to generation from the corn-bin of the Museum, she
bit her lips. But they soon curled, as if what she heard aroused
her disgust, for the speaker now turned to Dion and accused him of
preventing the kindly disposed Regent from increasing the renown of the
great Queen and affording her noble heart a pleasure.

“My tongue,” he cried, “is the tool which supports me. Why am I using it
here till it is weary and almost paralyzed? In honour of Cleopatra, our
illustrious Queen, and her generous friend, to whom we all owe a debt of
gratitude. Let all who love her and the divine Antony, the new Herakles
and Dionysus--both will soon make their entry among us crowned with the
laurels of victory--join the Regent and every well-disposed person in
seizing yonder bit of land so meanly withheld by base avarice and a
sentiment--a sentiment, do you hear?--which I do not name more plainly,
simply because wickedness is repulsive to me, and I do not stand here
as an accuser. Whoever upholds the word-monger who spouts forth books as
the dolphin at my side does water, may do so. I shall not envy him. But
first look at Didymus’s ally and panegyrist. There he stands opposite to
me. It would have been better for him had the dolphin at his feet taught
him silence. Then he might have remained in the obscurity which befits
him.

“But whether willing or not, I must drag him forth, and I will show you
Dion, fellow-citizens, though I would far rather have you see things
which arouse less ire. The dim light prevents your distinguishing the
colour of his robe, but I know it, for I saw it in the glare of day. It
is hyacinthine purple. You know what that costs. It would support the
wives and children of many among you for ten long years. ‘How heavy must
be the purse which can expose such a treasure to sun and rain!’ is
the thought of every one who sees him strutting about as proudly as a
peacock. And his purse is loaded with many talents. Only it is a pity
that, day after day, most of you must give your children a little less
bread and deprive yourselves of many a draught of wine to deck him out
so bravely. His father, Eumenes, was a tax-collector, and what the leech
extorted from you and your children, the son now uses to drive, clad in
hyacinthine purple, a four-horse chariot, which splashes the mire from
the street into your faces as it rolls onward. By the dog! the gentleman
does not weigh so very much, yet he needs four horses to drag him. And,
fellow-citizens, do you know why? I’ll tell you. He’s afraid of sticking
fast everywhere, even in his speech.”

Here Philostratus lowered his voice, for the phrase “sticking fast”
 had drawn a laugh from some of his hearers; but Dion, whose father
had really amassed, in the high position of a receiver of taxes, the
handsome fortune which his son possessed, did not delay his reply.

“Yes, yes,” he retorted scornfully, “yonder Syrian babbler hit the mark
this time. He stands before me, and who does not easily stick fast when
marsh and mire are so near? As for the hyacinthine purple cloak, I wear
it because I like it. His crocus-yellow one is less to my taste, though
he certainly looks fine enough in it in the sunlight. It shines like
a buttercup in the grass. You know the plant. When it fades--and I
ask whether you think Philostratus looks like a bud--when it fades,
it leaves a hollow spiral ball which a child’s breath could blow away.
Suppose in future we should call the round buttercup seed-vessels
‘Philostratus heads’? You like the suggestion? I am glad,
fellow-citizens, and I thank you. It proves your good taste. Then
we will stick to the comparison. Every head contains a tongue, and
Philostratus says that his is the tool which supports him.”

“Hear the money-bag, the despiser of the people!” interrupted
Philostratus furiously. “The honest toil by which a citizen earns a
livelihood is a disgrace in his eyes.”

“Honest toil, my good friend,” replied Dion, “is scarcely in question
here. I spoke only of your tongue.--You understand me, fellow-citizens.
Or, if any of you are not yet acquainted with this worthy man, I will
show him to you, for I know him well. He is my foe, yet I can sincerely
recommend him to many of you. If any one has a very bad, shamefully
corrupt cause to bring before the courts, I most earnestly counsel him
to apply to the buttercup man perched on yonder fountain. He will thank
me for it. Believe me, Didymus’s cause is just, precisely because this
advocate so eagerly assails it. I told you just now the matter under
discussion. Which of you who owns a garden can say in future, ‘It is
mine,’ if, during the absence of the Queen, it is allowable to take
it away to be used for any other purpose? But this is what threatens
Didymus. If this is to be the custom here, let every one beware of
sowing a radish or planting a bush or a tree, for should the wife of
some great noble desire to dry her linen there, he may be deprived of it
ere the former can ripen or the latter give shade.”

Loud applause followed this sentence, but Philostratus shouted in a
voice that echoed far and wide: “Hear me, fellow-citizens; do not allow
your selves to be deceived! No one is to be robbed here. The project
is to purchase, at a high price, the spot which the city needs for her
adornment, and to honour and please the Queen. Are the Regent and the
citizens to lose this opportunity of expressing the gratitude of years,
and the rejoicing over the greatest of victories, of which we shall soon
hear, because an evil-disposed person--the word must be uttered--a foe
to his country, opposes it?”

“Now the mire is coming too near me,” Dion angrily responded, “and I
might really stick fast, as I was warned; for I do not envy the ready
presence of mind of any person whose tongue would not falter when
the basest slander scattered its venom over him. You all know,
fellow-citizens, through how many generations the Didymus family has
lived to the honour of this city, doing praiseworthy work in yonder
house. You know that the good old man who dwells there was one of the
teachers of the royal children.”

“And yet,” cried Philostratus, “only the day before yesterday he walked
arm in arm in the Paneum garden with Arius, the tutor of Octavianus, our
own and our Queen’s most hated foe. In my presence, and before I know
not how many others, Didymus distinguished this Arius as his most
beloved pupil.”

“To give you that title,” retorted Dion, “would certainly fill any
teacher with shame and anger, no matter how far you had surpassed him
in wisdom and knowledge. Nay, had you been committed to the care of the
herring dealers, instead of the rhetoricians, every honest man among
them would disown you, for they sell only good wares for good money,
while you give the poorest in exchange for glittering gold. This time
you trample under foot the fair name of an honourable man. But I will
not suffer it; and you hear, fellow-citizens, I now challenge this
Syrian to prove that Didymus ever betrayed his native land, or I
will brand him in your presence a base slanderer, an infamous, venal
destroyer of character!”

“An insult from such lips is easily borne,” replied Philostratus in a
tone of scornful superiority; but there was a pause ere he again turned
to the listening throng, and with all the warmth he could throw into his
voice continued: “What do I desire, then, fellow-citizens? What is the
sole object of my words? I stand here with clean hands, impelled solely
by the impulse of my heart, to plead for the Queen. In order to secure
the only suitable site for the statues to be erected to Cleopatra’s
honour and fame, I enter into judgment with her foes, expose myself to
the insult with which boastful insolence is permitted to vent its wrath
upon me. But I am not dismayed, though, in pursuing this course, I am
acting against the law of Nature; for the infamous man against whom I
raise my voice was my teacher, too, and ere he turned from the path of
right and virtue--under influences which I will not mention here--he
numbered me also, in the presence of many witnesses, among his
best pupils. I was certainly one of the most grateful--I chose his
granddaughter--the truth must be spoken--for my wife. The possession--”

“Possession!” interrupted Dion in a loud, excited tone. “The corpse cast
ashore by the waves might as well boast possession of the sea!”

The dim torchlight was sufficient to reveal Philostratus’s pallor to the
bystanders. For a moment the orator seemed to lose his self-control,
but he quickly recovered himself, and shouted: “Fellow-citizens, dear
friends! I was about to make you witnesses of the misery which a woman,
whose wickedness is even greater than her beauty, brought upon an
inexperienced--”

But he went no further; for his hearers--many of whom knew the
brilliant, generous Dion, and Barine, the fair singer at the last Adonis
festival--gave the orator tokens of their indignation, which were all
the more pitiless because of the pleasure they felt in seeing an expert
vanquished by an untrained foe. The wordy war would not have ended so
quickly, however, had not restlessness and alarm taken possession of
the crowd. The shout, “Back! disperse!” ran through the multitude, and
directly after the trampling of hoofs and the commands of the leader
of a troop of Libyan cavalry were heard. The matter at stake was not
sufficiently important to induce the populace to offer an armed force
resistance which might have entailed serious danger. Besides, the
blustering war of tongues had reached a merry close, and loud laughter
blended with the shouts of fear and warning; for the surging throng
had swept with unexpected speed towards the fountain and plunged
Philostratus into the basin. Whether this was due to the wrath of some
enemy, or to mere accident, could not be learned; the vain efforts of
the luckless man to crawl out of the water up the smooth marble were so
comical, and his gestures, after helping hands had dragged him dripping
upon the pavement of the square, were so irresistibly funny, that more
laughing than angry voices were heard, especially when some one cried,
“His hands were soiled by blackening Didymus, so the washing will do
him good.” “Some wise physicians flung him into the water,” retorted an
other; “he needed the cold application after the blows Dion dealt him.”

The Regent, who had sent the troop of horsemen to drive the crowd away
from Didymus’s house, might well be pleased that the violent measure
encountered so little resistance.

The throng quickly scattered, and was speedily attracted by something
new at the Theatre of Dionysus--the zither-player Anaxenor had just
announced from its steps that Cleopatra and Antony had won the most
brilliant victory, and had sung to the accompaniment of his lute a hymn
which had deeply stirred all hearts. He had composed it long before,
and seized the first opportunity--the report had reached his ears while
breakfasting in Kanopus--to try its effect.

As soon as the square began to empty, Barine left her post of
observation. It was long since her heart had throbbed so violently. Not
one of the many suitors for her favour had been so dear to her as Dion;
but she now felt that she loved him.

What he had just done for her and her grandfather was worthy of the
deepest gratitude; it proved that he did not come to her house, like
most of her guests, merely to while away the evening hours.

It had been no small matter for the young aristocrat, in the presence
of the whole multitude, to enter into a debate with the infamous
Philostratus, and how well he had succeeded in silencing the dreaded
orator! Besides, Dion had even taken her part against his own powerful
uncle, and perhaps by his deed drawn upon himself the hostility of
his enemy’s brother, Alexas, Antony’s powerful favourite. Barine might
assure herself that he, who was the peer of any Macedonian noble in the
city, would have done this for no one else.

She felt as if the act had ransomed her.

When, after an unhappy marriage and many desolate days, she had regained
her former bright cheerfulness and saw her house become the centre of
the intellectual life of the city, she had striven until now to extend
the same welcome to all her guests. She had perceived that she ought
not to give any one the power over her which is possessed by the man who
knows that he is beloved, and even to Dion she had granted little more
than to the others. But now she saw plainly that she would resign
the pleasure of being a universally admired woman, whose modest home
attracted the most distinguished men in the city, for the far greater
happiness which would be hers as Dion’s beloved wife.

With him, cherished by his love, she believed that she could find far
greater joy in solitude than in the gay course of her present life.

She knew now what she must do if Dion sought her, and the architect,
for the first time, found her a silent companion. He had willingly
accompanied her back to her grandfather’s house, where he had again met
her sister Helena, while she had quitted it disappointed, because her
brave defender had not returned there.

After the interruption of the debate Dion had been in a very cheerful
mood. The pleasant sensation of having championed a good cause, and
the delightful consciousness of success were not new to him, but he had
rarely felt so uplifted as now. He most ardently longed for his next
meeting with Barine, and imagined how he would describe what had
happened and claim her gratitude for his friendly service. The scene had
risen clearly before his mind, but scarcely had the radiant vision of
the future faded when the unusually bright expression of his manly face
was clouded by a grave and troubled one.

The darkness of the night, illumined only by the flare of the
pitch-pans, had surrounded him, yet it had seemed as if he were standing
with Barine in the full light of noon in the blossoming garden of his
own palace, and, after asking a reward for his sturdy championship, she
had clung to him with deep emotion, and he had passionately kissed her
tearful face.

The face had quickly vanished, yet it had been as distinct as the most
vivid picture in a dream. Was Barine more to him than he supposed? Had
he not been drawn to her, during the past few months, by the mere charm
of her pliant intellect and her bright beauty? Had a new, strong passion
awakened within him? Was he in danger of seeing the will which urged him
to preserve his freedom conquered? Had he cause to fear that some
day, constrained by a mysterious, invincible power, in defiance of the
opposition of calm reason, he might perhaps bind himself for life to
this Barine, the woman who had once been the wife of a Philostratus, and
who bestowed her smiles on all who found admittance to her house seeking
a feast for the eye, a banquet for the ear, a pleasant entertainment?

Though her honor was as stainless as the breast of a swan--and he had
no reason to doubt it--she would still be classed with Aspasia and other
women whose guests sought more than songs and agreeable conversations.
The gifts with which the gods had so lavishly endowed her had already
been shared with too many to permit him, the last scion of a noble
Macedonian house, to think of leading her, as mistress, to the palace
whose erection he had so carefully and successfully planned with
Gorgias.

Surely it lacked nothing save the gracious rule of a mistress.

But if she should consent to become his without the blessing of Hymen?
No.

He could not thus dishonor the granddaughter of Didymus, the man who had
been his father’s revered teacher, a woman whom he had always rejoiced
that, spite of the gay freedom with which she received so many admirers,
he could still esteem. He would not do so, though his friends would
have greeted such scruples with a smile of superiority. Who revered the
sacredness of marriage in a city whose queen was openly living for the
second time with the husband of another? Dion himself had formed many
a brief connection, but for that very reason he could not place a woman
like Barine on the same footing with those whose love he had perhaps
owed solely to his wealth. He had never lacked courage and resolution,
but he felt that this time he would have to resist a power with which he
had never coped.

That accursed face! Again and again it rose before his mental vision,
smiling and beckoning so sweetly that the day must come when the
yearning to realize the dream would conquer all opposition. If he
remained near her he would inevitably do what he might afterwards
regret, and therefore he would fain have offered a sacrifice to Peitho
to induce her to enhance Archibius’s powers of persuasion and induce
Barine to leave Alexandria. It would be hard for him to part from her,
yet much would be gained if she went into the country. Between the
present and the distant period of a second meeting lay respite from
peril, and perhaps the possibility of victory. Dion did not recognize
himself. He seemed as unstable as a swaying reed, because he had
conquered his wish to re-enter old Didymus’s house and encourage him,
and passed on to his own home. But he would probably have found Barine
still with her grandfather, and he would not meet her, though every
fibre of his being longed for her face, her voice, and a word of
gratitude from her beloved lips. Instead of joy, he was filled with the
sense of dissatisfaction which overpowers a man standing at a crossing
in the roads, who sees before him three goals, yet can be fully content
with neither.

The Street of the King, along which he suffered himself to be carried by
the excited throng, ran between the sea and the Theatre of Dionysus. The
thought darted through his mind that his friend the architect desired to
erect the luckless statues of the royal lovers in front of this stately
building. He would divert his thoughts by examining the site which
Gorgias had chosen.

The zither-player finished his hymn just as Dion approached the theatre,
and the crowd began to disperse. Every one was full of the joyful
tidings of victory, and one shouted to another what Anaxenor, the
favourite of the great Antony, who must surely know, had just recited
in thrilling verse. Many a joyous Io and loud Evoe to Cleopatra, the
new Isis, and Antony, the new Dionysus, resounded through the air, while
bearded and smooth, delicate Greek and thick Egyptian lips joined in the
shout, “To the Sebasteum!” This was the royal palace, which faced the
government building containing the Regent’s residence. The populace
desired to have the delightful news confirmed, and to express, by a
public demonstration, the grateful joy which filled every heart.

Dion, too, was eager to obtain certainty, and, though usually averse to
mingling with the populace during such noisy outbursts of feeling, he
was preparing to follow the crowd thronging towards the Sebasteum, when
the shouts of runners clearing a passage for a closed litter fell upon
his ear.

It was occupied by Iras, the Queen’s trusted attendant. If any one could
give accurate information, it was she; yet it would hardly be possible
to gain an opportunity of conversing with her in this throng. But Iras
must have had a different opinion; she had seen Dion, and now called him
to her side. There were hoarse tones in her voice, usually so clear and
musical, which betrayed the emotion raging in her breast as she assailed
the young Macedonian noble with a flood of questions. Without giving him
the usual greeting, she hastily desired to know what was exciting
the people, who had brought the tidings of victory, and whither the
multitude was flocking?

Dion had found it difficult not to be forced from the litter while
answering. Iris perceived this, and as they were just passing the
Maeander, the labyrinth, which was closed after sunset, she ordered her
bearers to carry the litter to the entrance, made herself known to the
watchman, ordered the outer court to be opened, the litter to be placed
there, and the bearers and runners to wait outside for her summons,
which would soon be given.

This unusual haste and excitement filled Dion with just solicitude. She
refused his invitation to alight and walk up and down, declaring that
life offered so many labyrinths that one need not seek them. He, too,
seemed to be following paths which were scarcely straight ones. “Why,”
 she concluded, thrusting her head far out of the opening in the litter,
“are you rendering it so difficult for the Regent and your own uncle to
execute their plans, making common cause with the populace, like a paid
agitator?”

“Like Philostratus, you mean, on whom I bestowed a few blows in addition
to the golden guerdon received from your hand?”

“Ay, like him, for aught I care. Probably it was you, too, who had
him flung into the water, after you had vented your wrath on him?
You managed your cause well. What we do for love’s sake is usually
successful. No matter, if only his brother Alexas does not rouse Antony
against you. For my part, I merely desire to know why and for whom all
this was done.”

“For whom save the good old man who was my father’s preceptor, and
his just claim?” replied Dion frankly. “Moreover--for no site more
unsuitable could be found than his garden-in behalf of good taste.”

Iras laughed a shrill, short laugh, and her narrow, regularly formed
face, which might have been called beautiful, had not the bridge of the
straight delicate nose been too long and the chin too small, darkened
slightly, as she exclaimed, “That is frank at least.”

“You ought to be accustomed to that from me,” replied Dion calmly. “In
this case, however, the expert, Gorgias, fully shares my opinion.”

“I heard that too. You are both the most constant visitors of--what is
the woman’s name?--the bewitching Barine.”

“Barine?” repeated Dion, as if the mention of the name surprised him.
“You take care, my friend, that our conversation does honour to its
scene, the labyrinth. I speak of works of the sculptor’s art, and you
pretend that I am referring to what is most certainly a very successful
living work from the creative hands of the gods. I was very far from
thinking of the granddaughter of the old scholar for whom I interceded.”

“Ay,” she scornfully retorted, “young gentlemen in your position,
and with your habits of life, always think of their fathers estimable
teachers rather than of the women who, ever since Pandora opened her
box, have brought all sorts of misfortunes into the world. But,” she
added, pushing back her dark locks from her high forehead, “I don’t
understand myself, how, with the mountain of care that now burdens my
soul, I can waste even a single word upon such trifles. I care as little
for the aged scholar as I do for his legion of commentaries and books,
though they are not wholly unfamiliar to me. For any concern of mine
he might have as many grandchildren as there are evil tongues in
Alexandria, were it not that just at this time it is of the utmost
importance to remove everything which might cast a shadow on the Queen’s
pathway. I have just come from the palace of the royal children at
Lochias, and what I learned there. But that--I will not, I cannot
believe it. It fairly stifles me!”

“Have you received bad news from the fleet?” questioned Dion, with
sincere anxiety; but she only bent her head in assent, laying her fan of
ostrich-plumes on her lips to enjoin silence, at the same time shivering
so violently that he perceived it, even in the dusk. It was evident that
speech was difficult, as she added in a muffled tone: “It must be kept
secret--Rhodian sailors--thank the gods, it is still very doubtful--it
cannot, must not be true--and yet-the prattle of that zither-player,
which has filled the multitude with joyous anticipation, is
abominable--the great ones of the earth are often most sorely injured by
those who owe them the most gratitude. I know you can be silent, Dion.
You could as a boy, if anything was to be hidden from our parents. Would
you still be ready to plunge into the water for me, as in those days?
Scarcely. Yet you may be trusted, and, even in this labyrinth, I will
do so. My heart is heavy. But not one word to any person. I need no
confidant and could maintain silence even towards you, but I am anxious
that you should understand me, you who have just taken such a stand.
Before I entered my litter at Lochias, the boy returned, and I talked
with him.”

“Young Caesarion loves Barine,” replied Dion with grave earnestness.

“Then this horrible folly is known?” asked Iras excitedly. “A passion
far deeper than I should ever have expected this dreamer to feel has
taken possession of him. And if the Queen should now return--perhaps
less successful than we desire--if she looks to those from whom she
still expects pleasure, satisfaction, lofty deeds, and learns what has
befallen the boy--for what does not that sun-bright intellect learn and
perceive? He is dear to her, dearer than any of you imagine. How it will
increase her anxiety, perhaps her suffering! With what good reason she
will be angered against those whom duty and love should have commanded
to guard the boy!”

“And therefore,” added Dion, “the stone of offence must be removed. Your
first step to secure this object was the attack on Didymus.”

He had judged correctly and perceived that, in her assault upon the old
scholar, she had at first intended to play into the hands of the rulers,
work against the old philosopher and his relatives, among whose number
was Barine; for the Egyptian law permitted the relatives of those who
were convicted of any crime against the sovereign or the government to
be banished with the criminal. This attack upon an innocent person was
disgraceful, yet every word Iras uttered made Dion feel, every feature
of her face betrayed, that it was not merely base jealousy, but a nobler
emotion, that caused her to assail the guiltless sage--love for her
mistress, the desire which dominated her whole being to guard Cleopatra
from grief and trouble in these trying times. He knew Iras’s iron will
and the want of consideration with which she had learned to pursue her
purpose at the court. His first object was to protect Barine from the
danger which threatened her; but he also wished to relieve the anxiety
of Iras, the daughter of Krates, his father’s neighbour, with whom he
had played in boyhood and for whom he had never ceased to feel a tender
interest.

His remark surprised her. She saw that her plot was detected by the man
whose esteem she most valued, and a loving woman is glad to recognize
the superiority of her lover. Besides, from her earliest childhood--and
she was only two years younger than Dion--she had belonged to circles
where no quality was more highly prized than mental pliancy and
keenness. Her dark eyes, which at first had glittered distrustfully and
questioningly and afterwards glowed with a gloomy light, now gained a
new expression. Her gaze sought her friend’s with a tender, pleading
look as, admitting his charge, she began: “Yes! Dion, the philosopher’s
granddaughter must not stay here. Or do you see any other way to protect
the unhappy boy from incalculable misfortune? You know me well enough
to be aware that, like you, I am reluctant to infringe another’s rights,
that except in case of necessity I am not cruel. I value your esteem. No
one is more truthful, and yesterday you averred that Eros had no part in
your visits to the much-admired young woman, that you joined her guests
merely because the society you found at her house afforded a pleasant
stimulus to the mind. I have ceased to believe in many things, but not
in you and your words, and if hearing that you had taken sides with the
grandfather, I fancied that you were secretly seeking the thanks and
gratitude of the granddaughter, why--surely the atrocious maxim that
Zeus does not hear the vows of lovers comes from you men--why, suspicion
again reared its head. Now you seem to share my opinion--”

“Like you,” Dion interrupted, “I believe that Barine ought to be
withdrawn from the boy’s pursuit, which cannot be more unpleasant to
you than to her. As Caesarion neither can nor ought to leave Alexandria
while affairs are so threatening, nothing is left except to remove the
young woman--but, of course, in all kindness.”

“In a golden chariot, garlanded with roses, if you so desire,” cried
Iras eagerly.

“That might attract attention,” answered Dion, smiling and raising his
hand as if to enjoin moderation. “Your mode of action does not please
me, even now that I know its purpose, but I will gladly aid you to
attain your object. Your crooked paths also lead to the goal, and
perhaps one is less likely to stumble in them; but straight ways suit
me better, and I think I have already found the right one. A friend
will invite Barine to an estate far away from here, perhaps in the lake
regions.”

“You?” cried Iras, her narrow eyebrows suddenly contracting.

“Do you imagine that she would go with me?” he asked, in a faintly
reproachful tone. “No. Fortunately, we have older friends, and at their
head is one who happens to be your uncle and at the same time is wax in
the hands of the Queen.”

“Archibius?” exclaimed Iras. “Ah! if he could persuade her to do so!”

“He will try. He, too, is anxious about the lad. While we are talking
here, he is inviting Barine to his estate. The country air will benefit
her.”

“May she bloom there like a young shepherdess!”

“You are right to wish her the best fortune; for if the Queen does not
return victorious, the irritability of our Alexandrians will be doubled.
When you laid hands on Didymus’s garden, you were so busily engaged in
building the triumphal arch that you forgot--”

“Who would have doubted the successful issue of this war?” cried Iras.
“And they will, they will conquer. The Rhodian said that the fleet was
scattered. The disaster happened on the Acharnanian coast. How positive
it sounded! But he had it only at second and third hand. And what are
mere rumours? The source of the false tidings is discovered later.
Besides, even if the naval battle were really lost, the powerful army,
which is far superior to Octavianus’s forces, still remains. Which of
the enemy’s generals could cope with Antony on the land? How he will
fight when all is at stake-fame, honour, sovereignty, hate, and love!
Away with this fear, based on mere rumour! After Dyrrachium Caesar’s
cause was deemed lost, and how soon Pharsalus made him master of
the world! Is it worthy of a sensible person to suffer courage to be
depressed by a sailor’s gossip? And yet--yet! It began while I was
ill. And then the swallows on the Antonias, the admiral’s ship. We have
already spoken of it. Mardiou and your uncle Zeno saw with their own
eyes the strange swallows drive away those which had built their nest
on the helm of the Antonias, and kill the young ones with their cruel
beaks. An evil omen!

“I cannot forget it. And my dream, while I lay ill with fever far away
from my mistress! But I have already lingered here too long. No, Dion,
no. I am grateful for the rest here--I can now feel at ease about
Caesarion. Place the monument where you choose. The people shall see and
hear that we respect their opposition, that we are just and friendly.
Help me to turn this matter to the advantage of the Queen, and if
Archibius succeeds in getting Barine away and keeping her in the
country, then--if I had aught that seemed to you desirable it should be
yours. But what does the petted Dion care for his fading playfellow?”

“Fading?” he repeated in a tone of indignant reproach. “Say rather the
fully developed flower has learned from her royal friend the secret of
eternal youth.”

With a swift impulse of gratitude Iras bent her face towards him in the
dusk, extending the slender white hand--next to Cleopatra’s famed as the
most beautiful at court--for him to kiss, but when he merely pressed his
lips lightly on it with no shadow of tenderness, she hastily withdrew
it, exclaiming as if overwhelmed by sudden repentance: “This idle,
hollow dalliance at such a time, with such a burden of anxiety
oppressing the heart! It is un worthy, shameful! If Barine goes with
Archibius, her time will scarcely hang heavy on his estates. I think
I know some one who will speedily follow to bear her company.--Here,
Sasis! the bearers! To the Tower of Nilus, before the Gate of the Sun!”

Dion gazed after her litter a short time, then passed his hand through
his waving brown hair, walked swiftly to the shore and, without pausing
long to choose, sprang into one of the boats which were rented for
pleasure voyages. Ordering the sailors who were preparing to accompany
him to remain on shore, he stretched the sail with a practised hand,
and ran out towards the mouth of the harbour. He needed some strong
excitement, and wished to go himself in search of news.



CHAPTER IV.

The house facing the garden of the Paneum, where Barine lived, was
the property of her mother, who had inherited it from her parents. The
artist Leonax, the young beauty’s father, son of the old philosopher
Didymus, had died long before.

After Barine’s unhappy marriage with Philostratus was dissolved, she had
returned to her mother, who managed the affairs of the household. She
too, belonged to a family of scholars and had a brother who had won
high repute as a philosopher, and had directed the studies of the
young Octavianus. This had occurred long before the commencement of the
hostility which separated the heirs of Caesar and Mark Antony. But even
after the latter had deserted Octavia, the sister of Octavianus, to
return to Cleopatra, the object of his love, and there was an open
breach between the two rivals for the sovereignty of the world, Antony
had been friendly to Arius and borne him no grudge for his close
relations to his rival. The generous Roman had even given his enemy’s
former tutor a fine house, to show him that he was glad to have him in
Alexandria and near his person.

The widow Berenike, Barine’s mother, was warmly attached to her only
brother, who often joined her daughter’s guests. She was a quiet,
modest woman whose happiest days had been passed in superintending the
education of her children, Barine, the fiery Hippias, and the quiet
Helena, who for several years had lived with her grandparents and, with
faithful devotion, assumed the duty of caring for them. She had been
more easily guided than the two older children; for the boy’s aspiring
spirit had often drawn him beyond his mother’s control, and the
beautiful, vivacious girl had early possessed charms so unusual that she
could not remain unnoticed.

Hippias had studied oratory, first in Alexandria and later in Athens and
Rhodes. Three years before, his uncle Arius had sent him with excellent
letters of introduction to Rome to become acquainted with the life of
the capital and try whether, in spite of his origin, his brilliant gifts
of eloquence would forward his fortunes there.

Two miserable years with an infamous, unloved husband had changed the
wild spirits of Barine’s childhood into the sunny cheerfulness now one
of her special charms. Her mother was conscious of having desired only
her best good in uniting the girl of sixteen to Philostratus, whom the
grandfather Didymus then considered a very promising young man, and
whose advancement, in addition to his own talents, his brother Alexas,
Antony’s favourite, promised to aid. She had believed that this step
would afford the gay, beautiful girl the best protection from the perils
of the corrupt capital; but the worthless husband had caused both
mother and daughter much care and sorrow, while his brother Alexas, who
constantly pursued his young sister-in-law with insulting attentions,
was the source of almost equal trouble. Berenike often gazed in
silent astonishment at the child, who, spite of such sore grief and
humiliation, had preserved the innocent light-heartedness which made her
seem as if life had offered her only thornless roses.

Her father, Leonax, had been one of the most distinguished artists
of the day, and Barine had inherited from him the elastic artist
temperament which speedily rebounds from the heaviest pressure. To him
also she owed the rare gift of song, which had been carefully cultivated
and had already secured her the first position in the woman’s chorus at
the festival of the great goddesses of the city. Every one was full of
her praises, and after she had sung the Yalemos in the palace over the
waxen image of the favourite of the gods, slain by the boar, her name
was eagerly applauded. To have heard her was esteemed a privilege, for
she sang only in her own house or at religious ceremonials “for the
honour of the gods.”

The Queen, too, had heard her, and, after the Adonis festival, her uncle
Arius had presented her to Antony, who expressed his admiration with
all the fervour of his frank nature, and afterwards came to her house
a second time, accompanied by his son Antyllus. Doubtless he would have
called on her frequently and tested upon her heart his peculiar power
over women, had he not been compelled to leave the city on the day after
his last visit.

Berenike had reproved her brother for bringing the Queen’s lover to
Barine, for her anxiety was increased by the repeated visits of Antony’s
son, and still more aroused by that of Caesarion, who was presented by
Antyllus.

These youths were not numbered among the guests whose presence she
welcomed and whose conversation afforded her pleasure. It was flattering
that they should honour her simple home by their visits, but she knew
that Caesarion came without his tutor’s knowledge, and perceived, by
the expression of his eyes, what drew him to her daughter. Besides,
Berenike, in rearing the two children, who had been the source of so
much anxiety had lost the joyous confidence which had characterized her
own youth. Whenever life presented any new phase, she saw the dark
side first. If a burning candle stood before her, the shadow of the
candlestick caught her eye before the light. Her whole mental existence
became a chain of fears, but the kind-hearted woman loved her children
too tenderly to permit them to see it. Only it was a relief to her heart
when some of her evil forebodings were realized, to say that she had
foreseen it all.

No trace of this was legible in her face, a countenance still pretty and
pleasing in its unruffled placidity. She talked very little, but what
she did say was sensible, and proved how attentively she understood
how to listen. So she was welcome among Barine’s guests. Even the most
distinguished received something from her, because he felt that the
quiet woman understood him.

Before Barine had returned that evening, something had occurred which
made her mother doubly regret the accident to her brother Arius the
day before. On his way home from his sister’s he had been run over by
a chariot darting recklessly along the Street of the King, and was
carried, severely injured, to his home, where he now lay helpless and
fevered. Nor did it lessen his sufferings to hear his two sons threaten
to take vengeance on the reckless fellow who had wrought their father
this mischief, for he had reason to believe Antyllus the perpetrator of
the deed, and a collision between the youths and the son of Antony could
only result in fresh disaster to him and his, especially as the young
Roman seemed to have inherited little of his father’s magnanimous
generosity. Yet Arius could not be vexed with his sons for stigmatizing,
in the harshest terms, the conduct of the man who had gone on without
heeding the accident. He had cautioned his sister against the utterly
unbridled youth whose father he had himself brought to her house. With
what good reason he had raised his voice in warning was now evident. At
sunset that very day several guests had arrived as usual, followed by
Antyllus, a youth of nineteen. When the door-keeper refused to admit
him, he had rudely demanded to see Barine, thrust aside the prudent
old porter, who endeavoured to detain him, and, in spite of his
protestations, forced his way into his dead master’s work-room, where
the ladies usually received their visitors. Not until he found it empty
would he retire, and then he first fastened a bouquet of flowers he had
brought to a statue of Eros in burnt clay, which stood there. Both the
porter and Barine’s waiting-maid declared that he was drunk; they saw it
when he staggered away with the companions who had waited for him in the
garden outside.

This unseemly and insulting conduct filled Berenike with the deepest
indignation. It must not remain unpunished, and, while waiting for her
daughter, she imagined what evil consequences might ensue if Antyllus
were forbidden the house and accused to his tutor, and how unbearable,
on the other hand, he might become if they omitted to do so.

She was full of sad presentiments, and as, with such good reason, she
feared the worst, she cherished a faint hope that her daughter might
perhaps bring home some pleasant tidings; for she had had the experience
that events which had filled her with the utmost anxiety sometimes
resulted in good fortune.

At last Barine appeared, and it was indeed long since she had clasped
her mother in her arms with such joyous cheerfulness.

The widow’s troubled heart grew lighter. Her daughter must have met with
something unusually gratifying, she looked so happy, although she had
surely heard what had happened here; for her cloak was laid aside and
her hair newly arranged, so she must have been to her chamber, where
she was dressed by her loquacious Cyprian slave, who certainly could not
keep to herself anything that was worth mentioning. The nimble maid had
shown her skill that day.

“Any stranger would take her for nineteen,” thought her mother. “How
becoming the white robe and blue-bordered peplum are to her; how softly
the azure bombyx ribbon is wound around the thick waves of her hair! Who
would believe that no curling-irons had touched the little golden locks
that rest so gracefully on her brow, that no paint-brush had any share
in producing the rose and white hues on her cheek, or the alabaster
glimmer of her arms? Such beauty easily becomes a Danae dower; but it
is a magnificent gift of the gods! Yet why did she put on the bracelet
which Antony gave her after his last visit? Scarcely on my account. She
can hardly expect Dion at so late an hour. Even while I am rejoicing in
the sight of her beauty, some new misfortune may be impending.”

So ran the current of her thoughts while her daughter was gaily
describing what she had witnessed at her grandfather’s. Meanwhile she
had nestled comfortably among the cushions of a lounge; and when
she mentioned Antyllus’s unseemly conduct, she spoke of it, with a
carelessness that startled Berenike, as a vexatious piece of rudeness
which must not occur again.

“But who is to prevent it?” asked the mother anxiously.

“Who, save ourselves?” replied Barine. “He will not be admitted.”

“And if he forced his way in?”

Barine’s big blue eyes flashed angrily, and there was no lack of
decision in her voice as she exclaimed, “Let him try it!”

“But what power have we to restrain the son of Antony?” asked Berenike.
“I do not know.”

“I do,” replied her daughter. “I will be brief, for a visitor is
coming.”

“So late?” asked the mother anxiously.

“Archibius wishes to discuss an important matter with us.”

The lines on the brow of the older woman smoothed, but it contracted
again as she exclaimed inquiringly: “Important business at so unusual an
hour! Ah, I have expected nothing good since early morning! On my way
to my brother’s a raven flew up before me and fluttered towards the left
into the garden.”

“But I,” replied Barine, after receiving, in reply to her inquiry, a
favourable report concerning her uncle’s health-“I met seven--there
were neither more nor less; for seven is the best of numbers--seven
snow-white doves, which all flew swiftly towards the right. The fairest
of all came first, bearing in its beak a little basket which contained
the power that will keep Antony’s son away from us. Don’t look at me in
such amazement, you dear receptacle of every terror.”

“But, child, you said that Archibius was coming so late to discuss an
important matter,” rejoined the mother.

“He must be here soon.”

“Then cease this talking in riddles; I do not guess them quickly.”

“You will solve this one,” returned Barine; “but we really have no time
to lose. So-my beautiful dove was a good, wise thought, and what it
carried in its basket you shall hear presently. You see, mother, many
will blame us, though here and there some one may pity; but this state
of things must not continue. I feel it more and more plainly with each
passing day; and several years must yet elapse ere this scruple becomes
wholly needless. I am too young to welcome as a guest every one whom
this or that man presents to me. True, our reception-hall was my
father’s work-room and you, my own estimable, blameless mother, are the
hostess here; but though superior to me in every respect, you are so
modest that you shield yourself behind your daughter until the guests
think of you only when you are absent. So those who seek us both merely
say, ‘I am going to visit Barine’--and there are too many who say
this--I can no longer choose, and this thought--”

“Child! child!” interrupted her mother joyfully, “what god met you as
you went out this morning?”

“Surely you know,” she answered gaily; “it was seven doves, and, when I
took the little basket from the bill of the first and prettiest one, it
told me a story. Do you want to hear it?”

“Yes, yes; but be quick, or we shall be interrupted.”

Then Barine leaned farther back among the cushions, lowered her long
lashes, and began: “Once upon a time there was a woman who had a garden
in the most aristocratic quarter of the city--here near the Paneum, if
you please. In the autumn, when the fruit was ripening, she left the
gate open, though all her neighbours did the opposite. To keep away
unbidden lovers of her nice figs and dates, she fastened on the gate a
tablet bearing the inscription: ‘All may enter and enjoy the sight of
the garden; but the dogs will bite any one who breaks a flower, treads
upon the grass, or steals the fruit.’

“The woman had nothing but a lap-dog, and that did not always obey her.
But the tablet fulfilled its purpose; for at first none came except
her neighbours in the aristocratic quarter. They read the threat, and
probably without it would have respected the property of the woman who
so kindly opened the door to them. Thus matters went on for a time,
until first a beggar came, and then a Phoenician sailor, and a thievish
Egyptian from the Rhakotis--neither of whom could read. So the tablet
told them nothing; and as, moreover, they distinguished less carefully
between mine and thine, one trampled the turf and another snatched from
the boughs a flower or fruit. More and more of the rabble came, and you
can imagine what followed. No one punished them for the crime, for they
did not fear the barking of the lap-dog, and this gave even those who
could read, courage not to heed the warning. So the woman’s pretty
garden soon lost its peculiar charm; and the fruit, too, was stolen.
When the rain at last washed the inscription from the tablet, and saucy
boys scrawled on it, there was no harm done; for the garden no longer
offered any attractions, and no one who looked into it cared to enter.
Then the owner closed her gate like the neighbours, and the next year
she again enjoyed the green grass and the bright hues of the flowers.
She ate her fruit herself, and the lap-dog no longer disturbed her by
its barking.”

“That is,” said her mother, “if everybody was as courteous and as well
bred as Gorgias, Lysias, and the others, we would gladly continue to
receive them. But since there are rude fellows like Antyllus--”

“You have understood the story correctly,” Barine interrupted. “We are
certainly at liberty to invite to our house those who have learned to
read our inscription. To-morrow visitors will be informed that we can no
longer receive them as before.”

“Antyllus’s conduct affords an excellent pretext,” her mother added.
“Every fair-minded person must understand--”

“Certainly,” said Barine, “and if you, shrewdest of women, will do your
part--

“Then for the first time we can act as we please in our own home.
Believe me, child--if you only do not--”

“No ifs!--not this time!” cried the young beauty, raising her hand
beseechingly. “It gives me such delight to think of the new life, and if
matters come to pass as I hope and wish--then--do not you also believe,
mother, that the gods owe me reparation?”

“For what?” asked the deep voice of Archibius, who had entered
unannounced, and was now first noticed by the widow and her daughter.

Barine hastily rose and held out both hands to her old friend,
exclaiming, “Since they bring you to us, they are already beginning the
payment.”



CHAPTER V.

An artist, especially a great artist, finds it easy to give his house an
attractive appearance. He desires comfort in it, and only the beautiful
is comfortable to him. Whatever would disturb harmony offends his eye,
and to secure the noblest ornament of his house he need not invite any
stranger to cross its threshold. The Muse, the best of assistants, joins
him unbidden.

Leonax, Barine’s father, had been thus aided to transform the interior
of his house into a very charming residence. He had painted on the walls
of his own work-room incidents in the life of Alexander the Great, the
founder of his native city, and on the frieze a procession of dancing
Cupids.

Here Barine now received her guests, and the renown of these paintings
was not one of the smallest inducements which had led Antony to visit
the young beauty and to take his son, in whom he wished to awaken at
least a fleeting pleasure in art. He also knew how to prize her beauty
and her singing, but the ardent passion which had taken possession of
him in his mature years was for Cleopatra alone. He whose easily won
heart and susceptible fancy had urged him from one commonplace love to
another had been bound by the Queen with chains of indestructible and
supernatural power. By her side a Barine seemed to him merely a work of
art endowed with life and a voice that charmed the ear. Yet he owed her
some pleasant hours, and he could not help bestowing gifts upon any one
to whom he was indebted for anything pleasant. He liked to be considered
the most generous spendthrift on earth, and the polished bracelet set
with a gem, on which was carved Apollo playing on his lyre, surrounded
by the listening Muses, looked very simple, but was really an ornament
of priceless value, for the artist who made it was deemed the best
stone-cutter in Alexandria in the time of Philadelphus, and each one of
the tiny figures sculptured on the bit of onyx scarcely three fingers
wide was a carefully executed masterpiece of the most exquisite beauty.
Antony had chosen it because he deemed it a fitting gift for the woman
whose song had pleased him. He had not thought of asking its value;
indeed, only a connoisseur would have perceived it; and as the circlet
was not showy and well became her beautiful arm, Barine liked to wear
it.

Had not the war taken him away, Antony’s second visit would certainly
not have been his last. Besides the singing which enthralled him, the
conversation had been gay and brilliant, and in addition to Leonax’s
paintings, he had seen other beautiful works of art which the former had
obtained by exchanging with many distinguished companions.

Nor was there any lack of plastic creations in the spacious apartment,
to which the flashing of the water poured by a powerful man from the
goatskin bottle on his shoulder into a shell lent a special charm.

The master who had carved this stooping Nubian had also created the
much-discussed statues of the royal lovers. The clay Eros, who with bent
knee was aiming at a victim visible to himself alone, was also his work.
Antony, when paying his second visit, had laughingly laid the garland he
wore before “the greatest of human conquerors,” while a short time
ago his son Antyllus had rudely thrust his bouquet of flowers into the
opening of the curved right arm which was drawing the string. In doing
so the statue had been injured. Now the flowers lay unheeded upon the
little altar at the end of the large room, lighted only by a single
lamp; for the ladies had left it with their guest. They were in Barine’s
favourite apartment, a small room, where there were several pictures by
her dead father.

Antyllus’s bouquet, and the damage to the clay statue of Eros, had
played a prominent part in the conversation between the three, and
rendered Archibius’s task easier.

Berenike had greeted the guest with a complaint of the young Roman’s
recklessness and unseemly conduct, to which Barine added the declaration
that they had now sacrificed enough to Zeus Xenios, the god of
hospitality. She meant to devote her future life to the modest household
gods and to Apollo, to whom she owed the gift of song.

Archibius had listened silently in great surprise until she had finished
her explanation and declared that henceforth she intended to live alone
with her mother, instead of having her father’s workshop filled with
guests.

The young beauty’s vivid imagination transported her to this new and
quieter life. But, spite of the clear and glowing hues in which she
described her anticipations, her grey-haired listener could not have
believed in them fully. A subtle smile sometimes flitted over his grave,
somewhat melancholy face--that of a man who has ceased to wrestle in the
arena of life, and after severe conflict now preferred to stand among
the spectators and watch others win or lose the prize of victory.
Doubtless the wounds which he had received still ached, yet his
sorrowful experiences did not prevent his being an attentive observer.
The expression of his clear eyes showed that he mentally shared whatever
aroused his sympathy. Whoever understood how to listen thus, and,
moreover--the prominence of the brow above the nose showed it--was also
a trained thinker, could not fail to be a good counsellor, and as such
he was regarded by many, and first of all by the Queen.

The wise deliberation, which was one of his characteristic traits,
showed itself on this occasion; for though he had come to persuade
Barine try a country residence, he refrained from doing until she had
exhausted the story of her own affairs and inquired the important cause
of his visit.

In the principal matter his request was granted ere he made it. So he
could begin with the query whether the mother and daughter did not
think that the transition to the new mode of life could be effected more
easily if they were absent from the city a short time. It would awaken
comment they should close their house against guests on the morrow, and
as the true reason could not be given, many would be offended. If, on
the contrary, they could resolve to quit the capital for a few weeks,
many, it is true, would lament their decision, but what was alloted to
all alike could be resented by no one.

Berenike eagerly assented, but Barine grew thoughtful. Then Archibius
begged her to speak frankly, and after she had asked where they could,
he proposed his country estate.

His keen grey eyes had perceived that something, bound her so firmly
to the city that in the case of a true woman like Barine it must be
an affair of the heart. He had evidently judged correctly, for, at
his prediction that there would be no lack of visits from her dearest
friends, she raised her head, her blue eyes sparkled brightly, and when
Archibius paused she to her mother, exclaiming gaily “We will go!”

Again the vivid imagination daughter conjured the future before her in
distinct outlines. She alone knew whom she meant when she spoke of the
visitor she expected at Irenia, Archibius’s estate. The name meant “The
place of peace,” and it pleased her.

Archibius listened smilingly; but when she began to assign him also a
part in driving the little Sardinian horses and pursuing the birds, he
interrupted her with the statement that whether he could speedily allow
himself a pleasure which he should so keenly enjoy--that of breathing
the country air with such charming guests--would depend upon the fate
of another. Thank the gods, he had been able to come here with a lighter
heart, because, just before his departure, he had heard of a splendid
victory gained by the Queen. The ladies would perhaps permit him to
remain a little longer, as he was expecting confirmation of the news.

It was evident that he awaited it in great suspense, and that his heart
was by no means free from anxiety.

Berenike shared it, and her pleasant face, which had hitherto reflected
her delight at her daughter’s sensible resolution, was now clouded with
care as Archibius began: “The object of my presence here? You are making
it very easy for me to attain it. If I deemed it honest, I could now
conceal the fact that I had sought you to induce you to leave the city.
I see no peril from the boyish insolence of the son of Antony. The
point in question, child, is merely to put yourself out of the reach of
Caesarion.”

“If you could place me in the moon, it would please me best, as far as
he is concerned,” replied Barine eagerly. “That is just what induced me
to change our mode of life, since my door cannot be closed against the
boy who, though still under a tutor, uses his rank as a key to open it.
And just think of being compelled to address that dreamer, with eyes
pleading for help, by the title of ‘king’!”

“Yet what mighty impulse might not be slumbering in the breast of a son
of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra?” said Archibius. “And passion--I know,
my child, that it is no fault of yours--has now awakened within him.
Whatever the result may be, it must fill his mother’s heart with
anxiety. That is why it is needful to hasten your departure, and to keep
your destination a secret. He will attempt no violence; but--he is the
child of his parents--and some unexpected act may be anticipated from
him.”

“You startle me!” cried Barine. “You transform the cooing dove which
entered my house into a dangerous griffin.”

“As such you may regard him,” said the other, warningly. “You will be
a welcome guest, Barine, but I invited you, whom I have loved from your
earliest childhood, the daughter of my dearest friend, not merely to do
you a service at Irenia, but to save from grief or even annoyance the
person to whom--who is not aware of it--I owe everything.”

The words conveyed to both ladies the knowledge that, though they were
dear to Archibius, he would sacrifice them, and with them, perhaps, all
the rest of the world, for the peace and happiness of the Queen.

Barine had expected nothing else. She knew that Cleopatra had made the
philosopher’s son a wealthy man and the owner of extensive estates; but
she also felt that the source of his loyal devotion to the Queen, over
whom he watched like a tender father, was due to other causes. Cleopatra
prized him also. Had he been ambitious, he could have stood at the helm
of the ship of state, as Epitrop long ago, but--the whole city knew
it--he had more than once refused to accept a permanent office, because
he believed that he could serve his mistress better as an unassuming,
unnoticed counsellor. Berenike had told Barine that the relations
between Cleopatra and Archibius dated back to their childhood, but she
had learned no particulars. Various rumours were afloat which, in the
course of time, had been richly adorned and interwoven with anecdotes,
and Barine naturally lent the most ready credence to those which
asserted that the princess, in her earliest youth, had cherished a
childish love for the philosopher’s son. Now her friend’s conduct led
her to believe it.

When Archibius paused, the young beauty assured him that she understood
him; and as the alabaster hanging lamp and a three-branched light cast
a brilliant glow upon the portrait which her father had painted of the
nineteen-year-old Queen, and afterwards copied for his own household,
she pointed to it, and, pursuing the current of her own thoughts, asked
the question:

“Was she not marvellously beautiful at that time?”

“As your father’s work represents her,” was the reply. “Leonax painted
the portrait of Octavia, on the opposite side, the same year, and
perhaps the artist deemed the Roman the fairer woman.” He pointed as
he spoke to a likeness of Octavianus’s sister, whom Barine’s father had
painted as the young wife of Marcellus, her first husband.

“Oh, no!” said Berenike. “I still remember perfectly how Leonax returned
in those days. What woman might not have been jealous of his enthusiasm
for the Roman Hera? At that time I had not seen the portrait, and when I
asked whether he thought Octavia more beautiful than the Queen, for whom
Eros had inflamed his heart, as in the case of most of the beautiful
women he painted, he exclaimed--you know his impetuous manner--‘Octavia
stands foremost in the ranks of those who are called “beautiful”
 or “less beautiful”; the other, Cleopatra, stands alone, and can be
compared with no one.’”

Archibius bent his head in assent, then said firmly, “But, as a child,
when I first saw her, she would have been the fairest even in the dance
of the young gods of love.”

“How old was she then?” asked Barine, eagerly.

“Eight years,” he answered. “How far in the past it is, yet I have not
forgotten a single hour!” Barine now earnestly entreated him to tell
them the story of those days, but Archibius gazed thoughtfully at the
floor for some time ere he raised his head and answered: “Perhaps it
will be well if you learn more of the woman for whose sake I ask a
sacrifice at your hands. Arius is your brother and uncle. He stands near
to Octavianus, for he was his intellectual guide, and I know that
he reveres the Roman’s sister, Octavia, as a goddess. Antony is now
struggling with Octavianus for the sovereignty of the world. Octavia
succumbed in the conflict against the woman of whom you desire to hear.
It is not my place to judge her, but I may instruct and warn. Roman
nations burn incense to Octavia, and, when Cleopatra’s name is uttered,
they veil their faces indignantly. Here in Alexandria many imitate them.
Whoever upholds shining purity may hope to win a share of the radiance
emanating from it. They call Octavia the lawful wife, and Cleopatra the
criminal who robbed her of her husband’s heart.”

“Not I!” exclaimed Barine eagerly. “How often I have heard my uncle say
that Antony and Cleopatra were fired with the most ardent love for each
other! Never did the arrows of Eros pierce two hearts more deeply. Then
it became necessary to save the state from civil war and bloodshed.
Antony consented to form an alliance with his rival, and, as security
for the sincerity of the reconciliation, he gave his hand in marriage to
Octavia, whose first husband, Marcellus, had just died--his hand, I say,
only his hand, for his heart was captive to the Queen of Egypt. And if
Antony was faithless to the wife to whom statecraft had bound him,
he kept his pledge to the other, who had an earlier, better title.
If Cleopatra did not give up the man to whom she had sworn fidelity
forever, she was right--a thousand times right! In my eyes--no matter
how often my mother rebukes me--Cleopatra, in the eyes of the immortals,
is and always will be Antony’s real wife; the other, though on her
marriage day no custom, no word, no stroke of the stylus, no gesture
was omitted, is the intruder in a bond of love which rejoices the
gods, however it may anger mortals, and--forgive me, mother--virtuous
matrons.”

Berenike had listened with blushing cheeks to her vivacious daughter;
now with timid earnestness she interrupted: “I know that those are the
views of the new times; that Antony in the eyes of the Egyptians, and
probably also according to their customs, is the rightful husband of the
Queen. I know, too, that you are both against me. Yet Cleopatra is in
reality a Greek, and therefore--eternal gods!--I can sincerely pity her;
but the marriage has been solemnized, and I cannot blame Octavia.
She rears and cherishes, as if they were her own, the children of her
faithless husband and Fulvia, his first wife, who have no claim upon
her. It is more than human to take the stones from the path of the man
who became her foe, as she does. No woman In Alexandria can pray more
fervently than I that Cleopatra and her friend may conquer Octavianus.
His cold nature, highly as my brother esteems him, is repellent to
me. But when I gaze at Octavia’s beautiful, chaste, queenly, noble
countenance, the mirror of true womanly purity--”

“You can rejoice,” Archibius added, completing the sentence, and laying
his right hand soothingly on the arm of the excited woman, “only it
would be advisable at this time to put the portrait elsewhere, and rest
satisfied with confiding your opinion of Octavia to your brother and a
friend as reliable as myself. If we conquer, such things may pass; if
not--The messenger tarries long--”

Here Barine again entreated him to use the time. She had only once had
the happiness of being noticed by the Queen--just after her song at the
Adonis festival. Then Cleopatra had advanced to thank her. She said only
a few kind words, but in a voice which seemed to penetrate the inmost
depths of her heart and bind her with invisible threads. Meanwhile
Barine’s eyes met those of her sovereign, and at first they roused
an ardent desire to press her lips even on the hem of her robe, but
afterwards she felt as if a venomous serpent had crawled out of the most
beautiful flower.

Here Archibius interrupted her with the remark that he remembered
perfectly how, after the song, Antony had addressed her at the same time
as the Queen, and Cleopatra lacked no feminine weakness.

“Jealousy?” asked Barine, in astonishment. “I was not presumptuous
enough to admit it. I secretly feared that Alexas, the brother of
Philostratus, had prejudiced her. He is as ill-disposed towards me as
the man who was my husband. But everything connected with those two is
so base and shameful that I will not allow it to cloud this pleasant
hour. Yet the fear that Alexas might have slandered me to the Queen is
not groundless.

“He is as shrewd as his brother, and through Antony, into whose favour
he ingratiated himself, is always in communication with Cleopatra. He
went to the war with him.”

“I learned that too late, and am utterly powerless against Antony,”
 replied Archibius.

“But was it not natural that I should fear he had prejudiced the
Queen?” asked Barine. “At any rate, I imagined that I detected a hostile
expression in her eyes, and it repelled me, though at first I had been
so strongly attracted towards her.”

“And had not that other stepped between you, you could not have turned
from her again!” said Archibius. “The first time I saw her I was but a
mere boy, and she--as I have already said--a child eight years old.”

Barine nodded gratefully to Archibius, brought the distaff to her
mother, poured water into the wine in the mixing vessel, and after at
first leaning comfortably back among the cushions, she soon bent forward
in a listening attitude, with her elbow propped on her knee, and her
chin supported by her hand. Berenike drew the flax from the distaff, at
first slowly, then faster and faster.

“You know my country-house in the Kanopus,” the guest began. “It was
originally a small summer palace belonging to the royal family, and
underwent little change after we moved into it. Even the garden is
unaltered. It was full of shady old trees. Olympus, the leech, had
chosen this place, that my father might complete within its walls the
work of education entrusted to him. You shall hear the story. At that
time Alexandria was in a state of turmoil, for Rome had not recognized
the King, and ruled over us like Fate, though it had not acknowledged
the will by which the miserable Alexander bequeathed Egypt to him like a
field or a slave.

“The King of Egypt, who called himself ‘the new Dionysus,’ was a weak
man, whose birth did not give him the full right to the sovereignty.
You know that the people called him the ‘fluteplayer.’ He really had no
greater pleasure than to hear music and listen to his own performances.
He played by no means badly on more than one instrument, and, moreover,
as a reveller did honour to the other name. Whoever kept sober at the
festival of Dionysus, whose incarnate second self he regarded himself,
incurred his deepest displeasure.

“The flute-player’s wife, Queen Tryphoena, and her oldest daughter--she
bore your name, Berenike--ruined his life. Compared with them, the
King was worthy and virtuous. What had become of the heroes and the
high-minded princes of the house of Ptolemy? Every passion and crime had
found a home in their palaces!

“The flute-player, Cleopatra’s father, was by no means the worst. He
was a slave to his own caprices; no one had taught him to bridle his
passions. Where it served his purpose, even death was summoned to his
aid; but this was a custom of the last sovereigns of his race. In one
respect he was certainly superior to most of them--he still possessed
a capacity to feel a loathing for the height of crime, to believe in
virtue and loftiness of soul, and the possibility of implanting them
in youthful hearts. When a boy, he had been under the influence of an
excellent teacher, whose precepts had lingered in his memory and led him
to determine to withdraw his favourite children--two girls--from their
mother’s sway, at least as far as possible.

“I learned afterwards that it had been his desire to confide the
princesses wholly to my parents’ care. But an invincible power opposed
this. Though Greeks might be permitted to instruct the royal children
in knowledge, the Egyptians would not yield the right to their religious
education. The leech Olympus--you know the good old man--had insisted
that the delicate Cleopatra must spend the coldest winter months in
Upper Egypt, where the sky was never clouded, and the summer near the
sea in a shady garden. The little palace at Kanopus was devoted to this
purpose.

“When we moved there it was entirely unoccupied, but the princesses were
soon to be brought to us. During the winter Olympus preferred the island
of Philae, on the Nubian frontier, because the famous Temple of Isis was
there, and its priests willingly undertook to watch over the children.

“The Queen would not listen to any of these plans. Leaving Alexandria
and spending the winter on a lonely island in the tropics was an utterly
incomprehensible idea. So she let the King have his way, and no doubt
was glad to be relieved from the care of the children; for, even
after her royal husband’s exile from the city, she never visited her
daughters. True, death allowed her only a short time to do so.

“Her oldest daughter, Berenike, who became her successor, followed her
example, and troubled herself very little about her sisters. I heard
after wards that she was very glad to know that they were in charge of
persons who filled their minds with other thoughts than the desire to
rule. Her brothers were reared at Lochias by our countryman Theodotus,
under the eyes of their guardian, Pothinus.

“Our family life was of course wholly transformed by the reception of
the royal children. In the first place, we moved from our house in the
Museum Square into the little palace at Kanopus, and the big, shady
garden delighted us. I remember, as though it were but yesterday, the
morning--I was then a boy of fifteen--when my father told us that two of
the King’s daughters would soon become members of the household. There
were three of us children--Charmian, who went to the war with the Queen,
because Iras, our niece, was ill; I myself; and Straton, who died long
ago. We were urged to treat the princesses with the utmost courtesy and
consideration, and we perceived that their reception really demanded
respect; for the palace, which we had found empty and desolate, was
refurnished from roof to foundation.

“The day before they were expected horses, chariots, and litters came,
while boats and a splendid state galley, fully manned, arrived by sea.
Then a train of male and female slaves appeared, among them two fat
eunuchs.

“I can still see the angry look with which my father surveyed all these
people. He drove at once to the city, and on his return his clear eyes
were as untroubled as ever. A court official accompanied him, and only
that portion of the useless amount of luggage and number of persons that
my father desired remained.

“The princesses were to come the next morning--it was at the end of
February--flowers were blooming in the grass and on the bushes, while
the foliage of the trees glittered with the fresh green which the rising
sap gives to the young leaves. I was sitting on a strong bough of a
sycamore-tree, which grew opposite to the house, watching for them.
Their arrival was delayed and, as I gazed meanwhile over the garden, I
thought it must surely please them, for not a palace in the city had one
so beautiful.

“At last the litters appeared; they had neither runners nor attendants,
as my father had requested, and when the princesses alighted--both at
the same moment--I knew not which way to turn my eyes first, for the
creature that fluttered like a dragon-fly rather than stepped from the
first litter, was not a girl like other mortals--she seemed like a wish,
a hope. When the dainty, beautiful creature turned her head hither and
thither, and at last gazed questioningly, as if beseeching help, into
the faces of my father and mother, who stood at the gate to receive her,
it seemed to me that such must have been the aspect of Psyche when she
stood pleading for mercy at the throne of Zeus.

“But it was worth while to look at the other also. Was that Cleopatra?
She might have been the elder, for she was as tall as her sister, but
how utterly unlike! From the waving hair to every movement of the hands
and body the former--it was Cleopatra--had seemed to me as if she were
flying. Everything about the second figure, on the contrary, was solid,
nay, even seemed to offer positive resistance. She sprang from the
litter and alighted on the ground with both feet at once, clung firmly
to the door, and haughtily flung back her head, crowned with a wealth
of dark locks. Her complexion was pink and white, and her blue eyes
sparkled brightly enough; but the expression with which she gazed at my
parents was defiant rather than questioning, and as she glanced around
her red lips curled scornfully as though she deemed her surroundings
despicable and unworthy of her royal birth.

“This irritated me against the seven-year-old child, yet I said to
myself that, though it was very beautiful here--thanks to my father’s
care--perhaps it appeared plain and simple when compared with the
marble, gold, and purple of the royal palace whence she came. Her
features, too, were regular and beautiful, and she would have attracted
attention by her loveliness among a multitude. When I soon heard her
issue imperious commands and defiantly insist upon the fulfilment of
every wish, I thought, in my boyish ignorance, that Arsinoe must be the
elder; for she was better suited to wield a sceptre than her sister.
I said so to my brother and Charmian; but we all soon saw which really
possessed queenly majesty; for Arsinoe, if her will were crossed, wept,
screamed, and raged like a lunatic, or, if that proved useless, begged
and teased; while if Cleopatra wanted anything she obtained it in a
different way. Even at that time she knew what weapons would give her
victory and, while using them, she still remained the child of a king.

“No artisan’s daughter could have been further removed from airs of
majestic pathos than this embodiment of the most charming childlike
grace; but if anything for which her passionate nature ardently longed
was positively refused, she understood how to attain it by the melody of
her voice, the spell of her eyes, and in extreme cases by a silent tear.
When to such tears were added uplifted hands and a few sweet words,
such as, ‘It would make me happy,’ or, ‘Don’t you see how it hurts me?’
resistance was impossible; and in after-years also her silent tears
and the marvellous music of her voice won her a victory in the decisive
questions of life.

“We children were soon playmates and friends, for my parents did not
wish the princesses to begin their studies until after they felt at
home with us. This pleased Arsinoe, although she could already read
and write; but Cleopatra more than once asked to hear something from my
father’s store of wisdom, of which she had been told.

“The King and her former teacher had cherished the highest expectations
from the brilliant intellect of this remarkable child, and Olympus once
laid his hand on my curls and bade me take care that the princess did
not outstrip the philosopher’s son. I had always occupied one of the
foremost places, and laughingly escaped, assuring him that there was no
danger.

“But I soon learned that this warning was not groundless. You will
think that the old fool’s heart has played him a trick, and in the magic
garden of childish memories the gifted young girl was transformed into a
goddess. That she certainly was not; for the immortals are free from the
faults and weaknesses of humanity.”

“And what robbed Cleopatra of the renown of resembling the gods?” asked
Barine eagerly.

A subtle smile, not wholly free from reproach, accompanied Archibius’s
reply: “Had I spoken of her virtues, you would hardly have thought of
asking further details. But why should I try to conceal what she
has displayed to the world openly enough throughout her whole life?
Falsehood and hypocrisy were as unfamiliar to her as fishing is to the
sons of the desert. The fundamental principles which have dominated this
rare creature’s life and character to the present day are two ceaseless
desires: first, to surpass every one, even in the most difficult
achievements; and, secondly, to love and to be loved in return. From
them emanated what raised her above all other women. Ambition and love
will also sustain her like two mighty wings on the proud height to which
they have borne her, so long as they dwell harmoniously in her fiery
soul. Hitherto a rare favour of destiny has permitted this, and may the
Olympians grant that thus it may ever be!”

Here Archibius paused, wiped the perspiration from his brow, asked if
the messenger had arrived, and ordered him to be admitted as soon as he
appeared. Then he went on as calmly as before:

“The princesses were members of our household, and in the course of time
they seemed like sisters. During the first winter the King allowed them
to spend only the most inclement months at Philae, for he was unwilling
to live without them. True, he saw them rarely enough; weeks often
elapsed without a visit; but, on the other hand, he often came day after
day to our garden, clad in plain garments, and borne in an unpretending
litter, for these visits were kept secret from every one save the leech
Olympus.

“I often saw the tall, strong man, with red, bloated face, playing with
his children like a mechanic who had just returned from work. But he
usually remained only a short time, seeming to be satisfied with having
seen them again. Perhaps he merely wished to assure himself that they
were comfortable with us. At any rate, no one was permitted to go near
the group of plane-trees where he talked with them.

“But it is easy to hide amid the dense foliage of these trees, so my
knowledge that he questioned them is not solely hearsay.

“Cleopatra was happy with us from the beginning; Arsinoe needed a longer
time; but the King valued only the opinion of his older child, his
darling, on whom he feasted his eyes and ears like a lover. He often
shook his heavy head at the sight of her, and when she gave him one
of her apt replies, he laughed so loudly that the sound of his deep,
resonant voice was heard as far as the house.

“Once I saw tear after tear course down his flushed cheeks, and yet his
visit was shorter than usual. The closed ‘harmamaxa’ in which he came
bore him from our house directly to the vessel which was to convey him
to Cyprus and Rome. The Alexandrians, headed by the Queen, had forced
him to leave the city and the country.

“He was indeed unworthy of the crown, but he loved his little daughter
like a true father. Still, it was terrible, monstrous for him to invoke
curses upon the mother and sister of the children, in their presence,
and in the same breath command them to hate and execrate them, but to
love and never forget him.

“I was then seventeen and Cleopatra ten years old. I, who loved my
parents better than my life, felt an icy chill run through my veins and
then a touch upon my heart like balsam, as I heard little Arsinoe, after
her father had gone, whisper to her sister, ‘We will hate them--may the
gods destroy them!’ and when Cleopatra answered with tearful eyes,
‘Let us rather be better than they, very good indeed, Arsinoe, that the
immortals may love us and bring our father back.’

“‘Because then he will make you Queen,’ replied Arsinoe sneeringly,
still trembling with angry excitement.

“Cleopatra gazed at her with a troubled look.

“Her tense features showed that she was weighing the meaning of the
words, and I can still see her as she suddenly drew up her small figure,
and said proudly, ‘Yes, I will be Queen!’

“Then her manner changed, and in the sweetest tones of her soft voice,
she said beseechingly, ‘You won’t say such naughty things again, will
you?’

“This was at the time that my father’s instruction began to take
possession of her mind. The prediction of Olympus was fulfilled. True, I
attended the school of oratory, but when my father set the royal maiden
a lesson, I was permitted to repeat mine on the same subject, and
frequently I could not help admitting that Cleopatra had succeeded
better than I.

“Soon there were difficult problems to master, for the intellect of
this wonderful child demanded stronger food, and she was introduced into
philosophy. My father himself belonged to the school of Epicurus, and
succeeded far beyond his expectations in rousing Cleopatra’s interest
in his master’s teachings. She had been made acquainted with the other
great philosophers also, but always returned to Epicurus, and induced
the rest of us to live with her as a true disciple of the noble Samian.

“Your father and brother have doubtless made you familiar with the
precepts of the Stoa; yet you have certainly heard that Epicurus
spent the latter part of his life with his friends and pupils in quiet
meditation and instructive conversation in his garden at Athens. We,
too--according to Cleopatra’s wish--were to live thus and call ourselves
‘disciples of Epicurus.’

“With the exception of Arsinoe, who preferred gayer pastimes, into which
she drew my brother Straton--at that time a giant in strength--we all
liked the plan. I was chosen master, but I perceived that Cleopatra
desired the position, so she took my place.

“During our next leisure afternoon we paced up and down the garden, and
the conversation about the chief good was so eager, Cleopatra directed
it with so much skill, and decided doubtful questions so happily, that
we reluctantly obeyed the brazen gong which summoned us to the house,
and spent the whole evening in anticipating the next afternoon.

“The following morning my father saw several country people assembled
before the secluded garden; but he did not have time to inquire what
they wanted; for Timagenes, who shared the instruction in history--you
know he was afterwards taken to Rome as a prisoner of war--rushed up
to him, holding out a tablet which bore the inscription Epicurus had
written on the gate of his garden: ‘Stranger, here you will be happy;
here is the chief good, pleasure.’

“Cleopatra had written this notice in large letters on the top of a
small table before sunrise, and a slave had secretly fastened it on the
gate for her.

“This prank might have easily proved fatal to our beautiful
companionship, but it had been done merely to make our game exactly like
the model.

“My father did not forbid our continuing this pastime, but strictly
prohibited our calling ourselves ‘Epicureans’ outside of the garden, for
this noble name had since gained among the people a significance wholly
alien. Epicurus says that true pleasure is to be found only in peace of
mind and absence of pain.”

“But every one,” interrupted Barine, “believes that people like the
wealthy Isidorus, whose object in life is to take every pleasure which
his wealth can procure, are the real Epicureans. My mother would not
have confided me long to a teacher by whose associates ‘pleasure’ was
deemed the chief good.”

“The daughter of a philosopher,” replied Archibius, gently shaking his
head, “ought to understand what pleasure means in the sense of Epicurus,
and no doubt you do. True, those who are further removed from these
things cannot know that the master forbids yearning for individual
pleasure. Have you an idea of his teachings? No definite one? Then
permit me a few words of explanation. It happens only too often that
Epicurus is confounded with Aristippus, who places sensual pleasure
above intellectual enjoyment, as he holds that bodily pain is harder
to endure than mental anguish. Epicurus, on the contrary, considers
intellectual pleasure to be the higher one; for sensual enjoyment, which
he believes free to every one, can be experienced only in the present,
while intellectual delight extends to both the past and the future. To
the Epicureans the goal of life, as has already been mentioned, is to
attain the chief blessings, peace of mind, and freedom from pain. He is
to practise virtue only because it brings him pleasure; for who could
remain virtuous without being wise, noble, and just?--and whoever is all
these cannot have his peace of mind disturbed, and must be really happy
in the exact meaning of the master. I perceived long since the peril
lurking in this system of instruction, which takes no account of moral
excellence; but at that time it seemed to me also the chief good.

“How all this charmed the mind of the thoughtful child, still untouched
by passion! It was difficult to supply her wonderfully vigorous
intellect with sufficient sustenance, and she really felt that to enrich
it was the highest pleasure. And to her, who could scarcely endure
to have a rude hand touch her, though a small grief or trivial
disappointment could not be averted, the freedom from pain which the
master had named as the first condition for the existence of every
pleasure, and termed the chief good, seemed indeed the first condition
of a happy life.

“Yet this child, whom my father once compared to a thinking flower, bore
without complaint her sad destiny--her father’s banishment, her mother’s
death, her sister Berenike’s profligacy. Even to me, in whom she found
a second brother and fully trusted, she spoke of these sorrowful things
only in guarded allusions. I know that she understood what was passing
fully and perfectly, and how deeply she felt it; but pain placed itself
between her and the ‘chief good,’ and she mastered it. And when she sat
at work, with what tenacious power the delicate creature struggled until
she had conquered the hardest task and outstripped Charmian and even me!

“In those days I understood why, among the gods, a maiden rules over
learning, and why she is armed with the weapons of war. You have heard
how many languages Cleopatra speaks. A remark of Timagenes had fallen
into her soul like a seed. ‘With every language you learn,’ he had said,
‘you will gain a nation.’ But there were many peoples in her father’s
kingdom, and when she was Queen they must all love her. True, she began
with the tongue of the conquerors, not the conquered. So it happened
that we first learned Lucretius, who reproduces in verse the doctrines
of Epicurus. My father was our teacher, and the second year she read
Lucretius as if it were a Greek book. She had only half known Egyptian;
now she speedily acquired it. During our stay at Philae she found a
troglodyte who was induced to teach her his language. There were Jews
enough here in Alexandria to instruct her in theirs, and she also
learned its kindred tongue, Arabic.

“When, many years later, she visited Antony at Tarsus, the warriors
imagined that some piece of Egyptian magic was at work, for she
addressed each commander in his own tongue, and talked with him as if
she were a native of the same country.

“It was the same with everything. She outstripped us in every branch
of study. To her burning ambition it would have been unbearable to lag
behind.

“The Roman Lucretius became her favourite poet, although she was no more
friendly to his nation than I, but the self-conscious power of the foe
pleased her, and once I heard her exclaim ‘Ah! if the Egyptians were
Romans, I would give up our garden for Berenike’s throne.’

“Lucretius constantly led her back to Epicurus, and awakened a severe
conflict in her unresting mind. You probably know that he teaches that
life in itself is not so great a blessing that it must be deemed a
misfortune not to live. It is only spoiled by having death appear to
us as the greatest of misfortunes. Only the soul which ceases to regard
death as a misfortune finds peace. Whoever knows that thought and
feeling end with life will not fear death; for, no matter how many dear
and precious things the dead have left here below, their yearning for
them has ceased with life. He declares that providing for the body is
the greatest folly, while the Egyptian religion, in which Anubis strove
to strengthen her faith, maintained precisely the opposite.

“To a certain degree he succeeded, for his personality exerted a
powerful influence over her; and besides, she naturally took great
pleasure in mystical, supernatural things, as my brother Straton did
in physical strength, and you, Barine, enjoy the gift of song. You know
Anubis by sight. What Alexandrian has not seen this remarkable man? and
whoever has once met his eyes does not easily forget him. He does indeed
rule over mysterious powers, and he used them in his intercourse with
the young princess. It is his work if she cleaves to the religious
belief of her people, if she who is a Hellene to the last drop of blood
loves Egypt, and is ready to make any sacrifice for her independence and
grandeur. She is called ‘the new Isis,’ but Isis presides over the magic
arts of the Egyptians, and Anubis initiated Cleopatra into this secret
science, and even persuaded her to enter the observatory and the
laboratory--

“But all these things had their origin in our garden of Epicurus, and
my father did not venture to forbid it; for the King had sent a message
from Rome to say that he was glad to have Cleopatra find pleasure in her
own people and their secret knowledge.

“The flute-player, during his stay on the Tiber, had given his gold to
the right men or bound them as creditors to his interest. After Pompey,
Caesar, and Crassus had concluded their alliance, they consented at
Lucca to the restoration of the Ptolemy. Millions upon millions would
not have seemed to him too large a price for this object. Pompey would
rather have gone to Egypt himself, but the jealousy of the others would
not permit it. Gabinius, the Governor of Syria, received the commission.

“But the occupants of the Egyptian throne were not disposed to resign it
without a struggle. You know that meanwhile Queen Berenike, Cleopatra’s
sister, had been twice married. She had her miserable first husband
strangled--a more manly spouse had been chosen by the Alexandrians for
her second consort. He bravely defended his rights, and lost his life on
the field of battle.

“The senate learned speedily enough that Gabinius had brought the
Ptolemy back to his country; the news reached us more slowly. We watched
for every rumour with the same passionate anxiety as now.

“At that time Cleopatra was fourteen, and had developed magnificently.
Yonder portrait shows the perfect flower, but the bud possessed, if
possible, even more exquisite charm. How clear and earnest was the gaze
of her bright eyes! When she was gay they could shine like stars, and
then her little red mouth had an indescribably mischievous expression,
and in each cheek came one of the tiny dimples which still delight every
one. Her nose was more delicate than it is now, and the slight curve
which appears in the portrait, and which is far too prominent in the
coins, was not visible. Her hair did not grow dark until later in life.
My sister Charmian had no greater pleasure than to arrange its wavy
abundance. It was like silk, she often said, and she was right. I know
this, for when at the festival of Isis, Cleopatra, holding the
sistrum, followed the image of the goddess, she was obliged to wear it
unconfined. On her return home she often shook her head merrily, and her
hair fell about her like a cataract, veiling her face and figure. Then,
as now, she was not above middle height, but her form possessed the most
exquisite symmetry, only it was still more delicate and pliant.

“She had understood how to win all hearts. Yet, though she seemed to
esteem our father higher, trust me more fully, look up to Anubis with
greater reverence, and prefer to argue with the keen-witted Timagenes,
she still appeared to hold all who surrounded her in equal favour, while
Arsinoe left me in the lurch if Straton were present, and whenever the
handsome Melnodor, one of my father’s pupils, came to us, she fairly
devoured him with her glowing eyes.

“As soon as it was rumoured that the Romans were bringing the King back,
Queen Berenike came to us to take the young girls to the city. When
Cleopatra entreated her to leave her in our parents’ care and not
interrupt her studies, a scornful smile flitted over Berenike’s face,
and turning to her husband Archelaus, she said scornfully, ‘I think
books will prove to be the smallest danger.’

“Pothinus, the guardian of the two princesses’ brothers, had formerly
permitted them at times to visit their sisters. Now they were no longer
allowed to leave Lochias, but neither Cleopatra nor Arsinoe made many
inquiries about them. The little boys always retreated from their
caresses, and the Egyptian locks on their temples, which marked the age
of childhood, and the Egyptian garments which Pothinus made them wear,
lent them an unfamiliar aspect.

“When it was reported that the Romans were advancing from Gaza, both
girls were overpowered by passionate excitement. Arsinoe’s glittered in
every glance; Cleopatra understood how to conceal hers, but her colour
often varied, and her face, which was not pink and white like her
sister’s, but--how shall I express it?”

“I know what you mean,” Barine interrupted. “When I saw her, nothing
seemed to me more charming than that pallid hue through which the
crimson of her cheeks shines like the flame through yonder alabaster
lamp, the tint of the peach through the down. I have seen it often in
convalescents. Aphrodite breathes this hue on the faces and figures of
her favourites only, as the god of time imparts the green tinge to the
bronze. Nothing is more beautiful than when such women blush.”

“Your sight is keen,” replied Archibius, smiling. “It seemed indeed as
if not Eos, but her faint reflection in the western horizon, was tinting
the sky, when joy or shame sent the colour to her cheeks, But when
wrath took possession of her--and ere the King’s return this often
happened--she could look as if she were lifeless, like a marble statue,
with lips as colourless as those of a corpse.

“My father said that the blood of Physkon and other degenerate
ancestors, who had not learned to control their passions, was asserting
itself in her also. But I must continue my story, or the messenger will
interrupt me too soon.

“Gabinius was bringing back the King. But from the time of his approach
with the Roman army and the auxiliary troops of the Ethnarch of Judea,
nothing more was learned of him or of Antipater, who commanded the
forces of Hyrkanus; every one talked constantly of the Roman general
Antony. He had led the troops successfully through the deserts between
Syria and the Egyptian Delta without losing a single man on the
dangerous road by the Sirbonian Sea and Barathra, where many an army had
met destruction. Not to Antipater, but to him, had the Jewish garrison
of Pelusium surrendered their city without striking a blow. He had
conquered in two battles; and the second, where, as you know, Berenike’s
husband fell after a brave resistance, had decided the destiny of the
country.

“From the time his name was first mentioned, neither of the girls could
hear enough about him. It was said that he was the most aristocratic of
aristocratic Romans, the most reckless of the daring, the wildest of the
riotous, and the handsomest of the handsome.

“The waiting-maid from Mantua, with whom Cleopatra practised speaking
the Roman language, had often seen him, and had heard of him still
more frequently--for his mode of life was the theme of gossip among all
classes of Roman men and women. His house was said to have descended in
a direct line from Hercules, and his figure and magnificent black beard
recalled his ancestor. You know him, and know that the things reported
of him are those which a young girl cannot hear with indifference, and
at that time he was nearly five lustra younger than he is to-day.

“How eagerly Arsinoe listened when his name was uttered! How Cleopatra
flushed and paled when Timagenes condemned him as an unprincipled
libertine! True, Antony was opening her father’s path to his home.

“The flute-player had not forgotten his daughters. He had remained aloof
from the battle, but as soon as the victory was decided, he pressed on
into the city.

“The road led past our garden.

“The King had barely time to send a runner to his daughters, fifteen
minutes before his arrival, to say that he desired to greet them.
They were hurriedly attired in festal garments, and both presented an
appearance that might well gladden a father’s heart.

“Cleopatra was not yet as tall as Arsinoe, but, though only fourteen,
she looked like a full-grown maiden, while her sister’s face and figure
showed that in years she was still a child. But she was no longer one in
heart. Bouquets for the returning sovereign had been arranged as well
as haste permitted. Each one of the girls held one in her hand when the
train approached.

“My parents accompanied them to the garden gate. I could see what was
passing, but could hear distinctly only the voices of the men.

“The King alighted from the travelling chariot, which was drawn by eight
white Median steeds. The chamberlain who attended him was obliged to
support him. His face, reddened by his potations, fairly beamed as he
greeted his daughters. His joyful surprise at the sight of both, but
especially of Cleopatra, was evident. True, he kissed and embraced
Arsinoe, but after that he had eyes and ears solely for Cleopatra.

“Yet his younger daughter was very beautiful. Away from her sister, she
would have commanded the utmost admiration; but Cleopatra was like the
sun, beside which every other heavenly body pales. Yet, no; she should
not be compared to the sun. It was part of the fascination she exerted
that every one felt compelled to gaze at her, to discover the source of
the charm which emanated from her whole person.

“Antony, too, was enthralled by the spell as soon as he heard the first
words from her lips. He had dashed up to the King’s chariot, and seeing
the two daughters by their father’s side, he greeted them with a hasty
salute. When, in reply to the question whether he might hope for her
gratitude for bringing her father back to her so quickly, she said that
as a daughter she sincerely rejoiced, but as an Egyptian the task would
be harder, he gazed more keenly at her.

“I did not know her answer until later; but ere the last sound of her
voice had died away, I saw the Roman spring from his charger and fling
the bridle to Ammonius--the chamberlain who had assisted the King from
the chariot--as if he were his groom. The woman-hunter had met with
rare game in his pursuit of the fairest, and while he continued his
conversation with Cleopatra her father sometimes joined in, and his deep
laughter was often heard.

“No one would have recognized the earnest disciple of Epicurus. We had
often heard apt replies and original thoughts from Cleopatra’s lips,
but she had rarely answered Timagenes’s jests with another. Now she
found--one could see it by watching the speakers--a witty answer to many
of Antony’s remarks. It seemed as if, for the first time, she had met
some one for whom she deemed it worth while to bring into the field
every gift of her deep and quick intelligence. Yet she did not lose for
a moment her womanly dignity; her eyes did not sparkle one whit more
brightly than during an animated conversation with me or our father.

“It was very different with Arsinoe. When Antony flung himself from his
horse, she had moved nearer to her sister, but, as the Roman continued
to overlook her, her face crimsoned, she bit her scarlet lips. Her whole
attitude betrayed the agitation that mastered her, and I, who knew her,
saw by the expression of her eyes and her quivering nostrils that she
was on the point of bursting into tears. Though Cleopatra stood so much
nearer to my heart, I felt sorry for her, and longed to touch the arm of
the haughty Roman, who indeed looked like the god of war, and whisper
to him to take some little notice of the poor child, who was also a
daughter of the King.

“But a still harder blow was destined to fall upon Arsinoe; for when the
King, who had been holding both bouquets, warned Antony that it was time
to depart, he took one, and I heard him say in his deep, loud tones,
‘Whoever calls such flowers his daughters does not need so many others.’
Then he gave Cleopatra the blossoms and, laying his hand upon his heart,
expressed the hope of seeing her in Alexandria, and swung himself upon
the charger which the chamberlain, pale with fury, was still holding by
the bridle.

“The flute-player was delighted with his oldest daughter, and told my
father he would have the young princess conveyed to the city on the day
after the morrow. The next day he had things to do of which he desired
her to have no knowledge. Our father, in token of his gratitude, should
retain for himself and his heirs the summer palace and the garden. He
would see that the change of owner was entered in the land register.
This was really done that very day. It was, indeed, his first act save
one--the execution of his daughter Berenike.

“This ruler, who would have seemed to any one who beheld his meeting
with his children a warm-hearted man and a tender father, at that time
would have put half Alexandria to the sword, had not Antony interposed.
He forbade the bloodshed, and honoured Berenike’s dead husband by a
stately funeral.

“As the steed bore him away, he turned back towards Cleopatra; he could
not have saluted Arsinoe, for she had rushed into the garden, and her
swollen face betrayed that she had shed burning tears.

“From that hour she bitterly hated Cleopatra.

“On the day appointed, the King brought the princesses to the city with
regal splendour. The Alexandrians joyously greeted the royal sisters,
as, seated on a golden throne, over which waved ostrich-feathers,
they were borne in state down the Street of the King, surrounded by
dignitaries, army commanders, the body-guard, and the senate of the
city. Cleopatra received the adulation of the populace with gracious
majesty, as if she were already Queen. Whoever had seen her as, with
floods of tears, she bade us all farewell, assuring us of her gratitude
and faithful remembrance, the sisterly affection she showed me--I
had just been elected commander of the Ephebi--” Here Archibius was
interrupted by a slave, who announced the arrival of the messenger, and,
rising hurriedly, he went to Leonax’s workshop, to which the man had
been conducted, that he might speak to him alone.



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.



CHAPTER IX.

Gorgias went to his work without delay. When the twin statues were only
waiting to be erected in front of the Theatre of Dionysus, Dion sought
him. Some impulse urged him to talk to his old friend before leaving
the city with his betrothed bride. Since they parted the latter had
accomplished the impossible; for the building of the wall on the Choma,
ordered by Antony, was commenced, the restoration of the little palace
at the point, and many other things connected with the decoration of
the triumphal arches, were arranged. His able and alert foreman found
it difficult to follow him as he dictated order after order in his
writing-tablet.

The conversation with his friend was not a long one, for Dion had
promised Barine and her mother to accompany them to the country.
Notwithstanding the betrothal, they were to start that very day;
for Caesarion had called upon Barine twice that morning. She had not
received him, but the unfortunate youth’s conduct induced her to hasten
the preparations for her departure.

To avoid attracting attention, they were to use Archibius’s large
travelling chariot and Nile boat, although Dion’s were no less
comfortable.

The marriage was to take place in the “abode of peace.” The young
Alexandrian’s own ship, which was to convey the newly wedded pair to
Alexandria, bore the name of Peitho, the goddess of persuasion, for
Dion liked to be reminded of his oratorical powers in the council.
Henceforward it would be called the Barine, and was to receive many an
embellishment.

Dion confided to his friend what he had learned in relation to the fate
of the Queen and the fleet, and, notwithstanding the urgency of the
claims upon Gorgias’s time, he lingered to discuss the future destiny of
the city and her threatened liberty; for these things lay nearest to his
heart.

“Fortunately,” cried Dion, “I followed my inclination; now it seems to
me that duty commands every true man to make his own house a nursery
for the cultivation of the sentiments which he inherited from his
forefathers and which must not die, so long as there are Macedonian
citizens in Alexandria. We must submit if the superior might of Rome
renders Egypt a province of the republic, but we can preserve to our
city and her council the lion’s share of their freedom. Whatever may be
the development of affairs, we are and shall remain the source whence
Rome draws the largest share of the knowledge which enriches her brain.”

“And the art which adorns her rude life,” replied Gorgias. “If she is
free to crush us without pity, she will fare, I think, like the maiden
who raises her foot to trample on a beautiful, rare flower, and then
withdraws it because it would be a crime to destroy so exquisite a work
of the Creator.”

“And what does the flower owe to your maiden,” cried Dion, “or our city
to Rome? Let us meet her claims with dignified resolution, then I think
we shall not have the worst evils to fear.”

“Let us hope so. But, my friend, keep your eyes open for other than
Roman foes. Now that it will become known that you do not love her,
beware of Iras. There is something about her which reminds me of the
jackal. Jealousy!--I believe she would be capable of the worst--”

“Yet,” Dion interrupted, “Charmian will soften whatever injury Iras
plans to do me, and, though I cannot rely much upon my uncle, Archibius
is above both and favours us and our marriage.”

Gorgias uttered a sigh of relief, and exclaimed, “Then on to happiness!”

“And you must also begin to provide for yours,” replied Dion warmly.
“Forbid your heart to continue this wandering, nomad life. The tent
which the wind blows down is not fit for the architect’s permanent
residence. Build yourself a fine house, which will defy storms, as you
built my palace. I shall not grudge it, and have already said, the times
demand it.”

“I will remember the advice,” replied Gorgias. “But six eyes are again
bent upon me for direction. There are so many important things to be
done while we waste the hours in building triumphal arches for the
defeated--trophies for an overthrow. But your uncle has just issued
orders to complete the work in the most magnificent style. The ways
of destiny and the great are dark; may the brightest sunshine illumine
yours! A prosperous journey! We shall hear, of course, when you
celebrate the wedding, and if I can I shall join you in the Hymenaeus.
Lucky fellow that you are! Now I’m summoned from over yonder! May Castor
and Pollux, and all the gods favourable to travel, Aphrodite, and all
the Loves attend your trip to Irenia, and protect you in the realm of
Eros and Hymen!”

With these words the warm-hearted man clasped his friend to his breast
for the first time. Dion cordially responded, and at last shook his hard
right hand with the exclamation:

“Farewell, then, till we meet in Irenia on the wedding day, you dear,
faithful fellow.”

Then he entered the chariot which stood waiting, and Gorgias gazed after
him thoughtfully. The hyacinthine purple cloak which Dion wore that
day had not vanished from his sight when a loud crashing, rattling,
and roaring arose behind him. A hastily erected scaffold, which was to
support the pulleys for raising the statues, had collapsed. The damage
could be easily repaired, but the accident aroused a troubled feeling
in the architect’s mind. He was a child of his time, a period when duty
commanded the prudent man to heed omens. Experience also taught him that
when such a thing happened in his work something unpleasant was apt to
occur within the circle of his friends. The veil of the future concealed
what might be in store for the beloved couple; but he resolved to keep
his eyes open on Dion’s behalf and to request Archibius to do the same.

The pressure of work, however, soon silenced the sense of uneasiness.
The damage was speedily repaired, and later Gorgias, sometimes with one,
sometimes with another tablet or roll of MS. in his hand, issued the
most varied orders.

Gradually the light of this dismal day faded. Ere the night, which
threatened to bring rain and storm, closed in, he again rode on his
mule to the Bruchium to overlook the progress of the work in the various
buildings and give additional directions, for the labour was to be
continued during the night.

The north wind was now blowing so violently from the sea that it was
difficult to keep the torches and lamps lighted. The gale drove the
drops of rain into his face, and a glance northward showed him masses of
black clouds beyond the harbour and the lighthouse. This indicated a bad
night, and again the boding sense of coming misfortune stole over him.
Yet he set to work swiftly and prudently, helping with his own hands
when occasion required.

Night closed in. Not a star was visible in the sky, and the air, chilled
by the north wind, grew so cold that Gorgias at last permitted his body
slave to wrap his cloak around him. While drawing the hood over his
head, he gazed at a procession of litters and men moving towards
Lochias.

Perhaps the Queen’s children were returning home from some expedition.
But probably they were rather private citizens on their way to some
festival celebrating the victory; for every one now believed in a great
battle and a successful issue of the war. This was proved by the shouts
and cheers of the people, who, spite of the storm, were still moving to
and fro near the harbour.

The last of the torch-bearers had just passed Gorgias, and he had told
himself that a train of litters belonging to the royal family would not
move through the darkness so faintly lighted, when a single man, bearing
in his hand a lantern, whose flickering rays shone on his wrinkled
face, approached rapidly from the opposite direction. It was old Phryx,
Didymus’s house slave, with whom the architect had become acquainted,
while the aged scholar was composing the inscription for the Odeum which
Gorgias had erected. The aged servant had brought him many alterations
of his master’s first sketch, and Gorgias had reminded him of it the
previous day.

The workmen by whom the statues had been raised to the pedestal, amid
the bright glare of torches, to the accompaniment of a regular chant,
had just dropped the ropes, windlasses, and levers, when the architect
recognized the slave.

What did the old man want at so late an hour on this dark night? The
fall of the scaffold again returned to his mind.

Was the slave seeking for a member of the family? Did Helena need
assistance? He stopped the gray-haired man, who answered his question
with a heavy sigh, followed by the maxim, “Misfortunes come in pairs,
like oxen.” Then he continued: “Yesterday there was great anxiety.
Today, when there was so much rejoicing on account of Barine, I thought
directly, ‘Sorrow follows joy, and the second misfortune won’t be spared
us.’ And so it proved.”

Gorgias anxiously begged him to relate what had happened, and the
old man, drawing nearer, whispered that the pupil and assistant of
Didymus--young Philotas of Amphissa, a student, and, moreover, a
courteous young man of excellent family--had gone to a banquet to which
Antyllus, the son of Antony, had invited several of his classmates. This
had already happened several times, and he, Phryx, had warned him, for,
when the lowly associate with the lofty, the lowly rarely escape kicks
and blows. The young fellow, who usually had behaved no worse than the
other Ephebi, had always returned from such festivities with a flushed
face and unsteady steps, but to-night he had not even reached his room
in the upper story. He had darted into the house as though pursued by
the watch, and, while trying to rush up the stairs--it was really only
a ladder-he had made a misstep and fell. He, Phryx, did not believe that
he was hurt, for none of his limbs ached, even when they were pulled and
stretched, and Dionysus kindly protected drunkards; but some demon must
have taken possession of him, for he howled and groaned continually,
and would answer no questions. True, he was aware, from the festivals
of Dionysus, that the young man was one of those who, when intoxicated,
weep and lament; but this time something unusual must have occurred,
for in the first place his handsome face was coloured black and looked
hideous, since his tears had washed away the soot in many places, and
then he talked nothing but a confused jargon. It was a pity.

When an attempt was made, with the help of the garden slave, to carry
him to his room, he dealt blows and kicks like a lunatic. Didymus now
also believed that he was possessed by demons, as often happens to those
who, in falling, strike their heads against the ground, and thus wake
the demons in the earth. Well, yes, they might be demons, but only those
of wine. The student was just “crazy drunk,” as people say. But the old
gentleman was very fond of his pupil, and had ordered him, Pliryx, to
go to Olympus, who, ever since he could remember, had been the family
physician.

“The Queen’s leech?” asked Gorgias, disapprovingly, and when the slave
assented, the architect exclaimed in a positive tone: “It is not right
to force the old man out of doors in such a north wind. Age is not
specially considerate to age. Now that the statues stand yonder, I can
leave my post for half an hour and will go with you. I don’t think a
leech is needed to drive out these demons.”

“True, my lord, true!” cried the slave, “but Olympus is our friend. He
visits few patients, but he will come to our house in any weather. He
has litters, chariots, and splendid mules. The Queen gives him whatever
is best and most comfortable. He is skilful, and perhaps can render
speedy help. People must use what they have.”

“Only where it is necessary,” replied the architect. “There are my two
mules; follow me on the second. If I don’t drive out the demons, you
will have plenty of time to trot after Olympus.”

This proposal pleased the old slave, and a short time after Gorgias
entered the venerable philosopher’s tablinum.

Helena welcomed him like an intimate friend. Whenever he appeared she
thought the peril was half over. Didymus, too, greeted him warmly, and
conducted him to the little room where the youth possessed by demons lay
on a divan.

He was still groaning and whimpering. Tears were streaming down his
cheeks, and, whenever any member of the household approached, he pushed
him away.

When Gorgias held his hands and sternly ordered him to confess what
wrong he had done, he sobbed out that he was the most ungrateful wretch
on earth. His baseness would ruin his kind parents, himself, and all his
friends.

Then he accused himself of having caused the destruction of Didymus’s
granddaughter. He would not have gone to Antyllus again had not his
recent generosity bound him to him, but now he must atone-ay, atone.
Then, as if completely crushed, he continued to mumble the word,
“atone!” and for a time nothing more could be won from him.

Didymus, however, had the key to the last sentence. A few weeks before,
Philotas and several other pupils of the rhetorician whose lectures in
the museum he attended had been invited to breakfast with Antyllus. When
the young student loudly admired the beautiful gold and silver beakers
in which the wine was served, the reckless host cried: “They are yours;
take them with you.” When the guests departed the cup-bearer asked
Philotas, who had been far from taking the gift seriously, to receive
his property. Antyllus had intended to bestow the goblets; but he
advised the youth to let him pay their value in money, for among them
were several ancient pieces of most artistic workmanship, which Antony,
the extravagant young fellow’s father, might perhaps be unwilling to
lose.

Thereupon several rolls of gold solidi were paid to the astonished
student--and they had been of little real benefit, since they had made
it possible for him to keep pace with his wealthy and aristocratic
classmates and share many of their extravagances. Yet he had not ceased
to fulfil his duty to Didymus.

Though he sometimes turned night into day, he gave no serious cause for
reproof. Small youthful errors were willingly pardoned; for he was a
good-looking, merry young fellow, who knew how to make himself agreeable
to the entire household, even to the women.

What had befallen the poor youth that day? Didymus was filled with
compassion for him, and, though he gladly welcomed Gorgias, he gave him
to understand that the leech’s absence vexed him.

But, during a long bachelor career in Alexandria, a city ever gracious
to the gifts of Bacchus, Gorgias had become familiar with attacks like
those of Philotas and their treatment, and after several jars of water
had been brought and he had been left alone a short time with the
sufferer, the philosopher secretly rejoiced that he had not summoned the
grey-haired leech into the stormy night for Gorgias led forth his pupil
with dripping hair, it is true, but in a state of rapid convalescence.

The youth’s handsome face was freed from soot, but his eyes were bent
in confusion on the ground, and he sometimes pressed his hand upon his
aching brow. It needed all the old philosopher’s skill in persuasion
to induce him to speak, and Philotas, before he began, begged Helena to
leave the room.

He intended to adhere strictly to the truth, though he feared that the
reckless deed into which he had suffered himself to be drawn might have
a fatal effect upon his future life.

Besides, he hoped to obtain wise counsel from the architect, to whom he
owed his speedy recovery, and whose grave, kindly manner inspired him
with confidence; and, moreover, he was so greatly indebted to Didymus
that duty required him to make a frank confession--yet he dared not
acknowledge one of the principal motives of his foolish act.

The plot into which he had been led was directed against Barine, whom
he had long imagined he loved with all the fervour of his twenty years.
But, just before he went to the fatal banquet, he had heard that the
young beauty was betrothed to Dion. This had wounded him deeply; for in
many a quiet hour it had seemed possible to win her for himself and lead
her as his wife to his home in Amphissa. He was very little younger than
she, and if his parents once saw her, they could not fail to approve his
choice. And the people in Amphissa! They would have gazed at Barine as
if she were a goddess.

And now this fine gentleman had come to crush his fairest hopes. No word
of love had ever been exchanged between him and Barine, but how kindly
she had always looked at him, how willingly she had accepted trivial
services! Now she was lost. At first this had merely saddened him, but
after he had drunk the wine, and Antyllus, Antony’s son, in the
presence of the revellers, over whom Caesarion presided as
“symposiarch”--[Director of a banquet.]--had accused Barine of capturing
hearts by magic spells, he had arrived at the conviction that he, too,
had been shamefully allured and betrayed.

He had served for a toy, he said to himself, unless she had really loved
him and merely preferred Dion on account of his wealth. In any case,
he felt justified in cherishing resentment against Barine, and with the
number of goblets which he drained his jealous rage increased.

When urged to join in the escapade which now burdened his conscience
he consented with a burning brain in order to punish her for the wrong
which, in his heated imagination, she had done him.

All this he withheld from the older men and merely briefly described
the splendid banquet which Caesarion, pallid and listless as ever, had
directed, and Antyllus especially had enlivened with the most reckless
mirth.

The “King of kings” and Antony’s son had escaped from their tutors
on the pretext of a hunting excursion, and the chief huntsman had not
grudged them the pleasure--only they were obliged to promise him that
they would be ready to set out for the desert early the next morning.

When, after the banquet, the mixing-vessels were brought out and the
beakers were filled more rapidly, Antyllus whispered several times to
Caesarion and then turned the conversation upon Barine, the fairest
of the fair, destined by the immortals for the greatest and highest of
mankind. This was the “King of kings,” Caesarion, and he also claimed
the favour of the gods for himself. But everybody knew that Aphrodite
deemed herself greater than the highest of kings, and therefore Barine
ventured to close her doors upon their august symposiarch in a manner
which could not fail to be unendurable, not only to him but to all the
youth of Alexandria. Whoever boasted of being one of the Ephebi might
well clench his fist with indignation, when he heard that the insolent
beauty kept young men at a distance because she considered only the
older ones worthy of her notice. This must not be! The Ephebi of
Alexandria must make her feel the power of youth. This was the more
urgently demanded, because Caesarion would thereby be led to the goal of
his wishes.

Barine was going into the country that very evening. Insulted Eros
himself was smoothing their way. He commanded them to attack the
arrogant fair one’s carriage and lead her to him who sought her in the
name of youth, in order to show her that the hearts of the Ephebi, whom
she disdainfully rejected, glowed more ardently than those of the older
men on whom she bestowed her favours.

Here Gorgias interrupted the speaker with a loud cry of indignation, but
old Didymus’s eyes seemed to be fairly starting from their sockets as he
hoarsely shouted an impatient:

“Go on!”

And Philotas, now completely sobered, described with increasing
animation the wonderful change that had taken place in the quiet
Caesarion, as if some magic spell had been at work; for scarcely had
the revellers greeted Antyllus’s words with shouts of joy, declaring
themselves ready to avenge insulted youth upon Barine, than the “King
of kings” suddenly sprang from the cushions on which he had listlessly
reclined, and with flashing eyes shouted that whoever called himself his
friend must aid him in the attack.

Here he was urged to still greater haste by another impatient “Go on!”
 from his master, and hurriedly continued his story, describing how they
had blackened their faces and armed themselves with Antyllus’s swords
and lances. As the sun was setting they went in a covered boat through
the Agathodamon Canal to Lake Mareotis. Everything must have been
arranged in advance; for they landed precisely at the right hour.

As, during the trip, they had kept up their courage by swallowing the
most fiery wine, Philotas had staggered on shore with difficulty and
then been dragged forward by the others. After this he knew
nothing more, except that he had rushed with the rest upon a large
harmamaxa,--[A closed Asiatic travelling-carriage with four wheels]--and
in so doing fell. When he rose from the earth all was over.

As if in a dream he saw Scythians and other guardians of the peace seize
Antyllus, while Caesarion was struggling on the ground with another man.
If he was not mistaken it was Dion, Barine’s betrothed husband.

These communications were interrupted by many exclamations of impatience
and wrath; but now Didymus, fairly frantic with alarm, cried:

“And the child--Barine?”

But when Philotas’s sole reply to this question was a silent shake of
the head, indignation conquered the old philosopher, and clutching
his pupil’s chiton with both hands, he shook him violently, exclaiming
furiously:

“You don’t know, scoundrel? Instead of defending her who should be dear
to you as a child of this household, you joined the rascally scorners of
morality and law as the accomplice of this waylayer in purple!”

Here the architect soothed the enraged old man with expostulations,
and the assertion that everything must now yield to the necessity of
searching for Barine and Dion. He did not know which way to turn, in the
amount of labour pressing upon him, but he would have a hasty talk with
the foreman and then try to find his friend.

“And I,” cried the old man, “must go at once to the unfortunate
child.-My cloak, Phryx, my sandals!”

In spite of Gorgias’s counsel to remember his age and the inclement
weather, he cried angrily:

“I am going, I say! If the tempest hurls me to the earth, and the bolts
of Zeus strike me, so be it. One misfortune more or less matters little
in a life which has been a chain of heavy blows of Fate. I buried three
sons in the prime of manhood, and two have been slain in battle. Barine,
the joy of my heart, I myself, fool that I was, bound to the scoundrel
who blasted her joyous existence; and now that I believed she would
be protected from trouble and misconstruction by the side of a worthy
husband, these infamous rascals, whose birth protects them from
vengeance, have wounded, perhaps killed her betrothed lover. They
trample in the dust her fair name and my white hair!--Phryx, my hat and
staff.”

The storm had long been raging around the house, which stood close by
the sea, and the sailcloth awning which was stretched over the impluvium
noisily rattled the metal rings that confined it. Now so violent a gust
swept from room to room that two of the flames in the three-branched
lamp went out. The door of the house had been opened, and drenched
with rain, a hood drawn over his black head, Barine’s Nubian doorkeeper
crossed the threshold.

He presented a pitiable spectacle and at first could find no answer to
the greetings and questions of the men, who had been joined by Helena,
her grandmother leaning on her arm; his rapid walk against the fury of
the storm had fairly taken away his breath.

He had little, however, to tell. Barine merely sent a message to her
relatives that, no matter what tales rumour might bring, she and her
mother were unhurt. Dion had received a wound in the shoulder, but it
was not serious. Her grandparents need have no anxiety; the attack had
completely failed.

Doris, who was deaf, had listened vainly, holding her hand to her ear,
to catch this report; and Didymus now told his granddaughter as much as
he deemed it advisable for her to know, that she might communicate it to
her grandmother, who understood the movements of her lips.

The old man was rejoiced to learn that his granddaughter had escaped so
great a peril uninjured, yet he was still burdened by sore anxiety. The
architect, too, feared the worst, but by dint of assuring him that he
would return at once with full details when he had ascertained the fate
of Dion and his betrothed bride, he finally persuaded the old man to
give up the night walk through the tempest.

Philotas, with tears in his eyes, begged them to accept his services
as messenger or for any other purpose; but Didymus ordered him to go
to bed. An opportunity would be found to enable him to atone for the
offence so recklessly committed.

The scholar’s peaceful home was deprived of its nocturnal repose, and
when Gorgias had gone and Didymus had refused Helena’s request to have
the aged porter take her to her sister, the old man remained alone with
his wife in the tablinum.

She had been told nothing except that thieves had attacked her
granddaughter, Barine, and slightly wounded her lover; but her own heart
and the manner of the husband, at whose side she had grown grey, showed
that many things were being concealed. She longed to know the story more
fully, but it was difficult for Didymus to talk a long time in a loud
tone, so she silenced her desire to learn the whole truth. But, in order
to await the architect’s report, they did not go to rest.

Didymus had sunk into an armchair, and Doris sat near at her spindle,
but without drawing any threads from her distaff. When she heard her
husband sigh and saw him bury his face in his hands, she limped nearer
to him, difficult as it was for her to move, and stroked his head, now
nearly bald, with her hand. Then she uttered soothing words, and, as the
anxious, troubled expression did not yet pass from his wrinkled face,
she reminded him in faltering yet tender tones how often they had
thought they must despair, and yet everything had resulted well.

“Ah! husband,” she added, “I know full well that the clouds hanging over
us are very black, and I cannot even see them clearly, because you show
them at such a distance. Yet I feel that they threaten us with sore
tribulation. But, after all, what harm can they do us, if we only keep
close together, we two old people and the children of the children whom
Hades rent from us? We need only to grow old to perceive that life has a
head with many faces. The ugly one of to-day can last no longer than you
can keep that deeply furrowed brow. But you need not coerce yourself for
my sake, husband. Let it be so. I need merely close my eyes to see how
smooth and beautiful it was in youth, and how pleasant it will look when
better days say, ‘Here we are!’”

Didymus, with a mournful smile, kissed her grey hair and shouted into
her left ear, which was a little less deaf than the other:

“How young you are still, wife!”



CHAPTER X.

The tempest swept howling from the north across the island of Pharos,
and the shallows of Diabathra in the great harbour of Alexandria. The
water, usually so placid, rose in high waves, and the beacon on the
lighthouse of Sastratus sent the rent abundance of its flames with
hostile impetuosity towards the city. The fires in the pitch-pans
and the torches on the shore sometimes seemed on the point of being
extinguished, at others burst with a doubly brilliant blaze through the
smoke which obscured them.

The royal harbour, a fine basin which surrounded in the form of a
semicircle the southern part of the Lochias and a portion of the
northern shore of the Bruchium, was brightly illuminated every night;
but this evening there seemed to be an unusual movement among the lights
on its western shore, the private anchorage of the royal fleet.

Was it the storm that stirred them? No. How could the wind have set
one torch in the place of another, and moved lights or lanterns in a
direction opposite to its violent course? Only a few persons, however,
perceived this; for, though joyous anticipation or anxious fears urged
many thither, who would venture upon the quay on such a tempestuous
night? Besides, no one would have found admittance to the royal port,
which was closed on all sides. Even the mole which, towards the west,
served as the string to the bow of land surrounding it, had but a single
opening and--as every one knew--that was closed by a chain in the same
way as the main entrance to the harbour between the Pharos and Alveus
Steganus.

About two hours before midnight, spite of the increasing fury of the
tempest, the singular movement of the lights diminished, but rarely had
the hearts of those for whom they burned throbbed so anxiously.
These were the dignitaries and court officials who stood nearest to
Cleopatra--about twenty men and a single woman, Iras. Mardion and she
had summoned them because the Queen’s letter permitted those to whom
she had given authority to offer her a quiet reception. After a long
consultation they had not invited the commanders of the little Roman
garrison left behind. It was doubtful whether those whom they expected
would return that night, and the Roman soldiers who were loyal to Antony
had gone with him to the war.

The hall in the centre of the private roadstead of the royal harbour,
where they had assembled, was furnished with regal magnificence; for it
was a favourite resort of the Queen. The spacious apartment lacked
no requisite of comfort, and most of those who were waiting used the
well-cushioned couches, while others, harassed by mental anxiety, paced
to and fro.

As the room had remained unused for months, bats had made nests there,
and now that it was lighted, dazzled by the glare of the lamps and
candles, they darted to and fro above the heads of the assembly. Iras
had ordered the commander of the Mellakes, or youths, a body-guard
composed of the sons of aristocratic Macedonian families, to expel the
troublesome creatures, and it diverted the thoughts of these devoted
soldiers of the Queen to strike at them with their swords.

Others preferred to watch this futile battle rather than give themselves
up to the anxiety which filled their minds. The Regent was gazing mutely
at the ground; Iras, pale and absent-minded, was listening to Zeno’s
statements; and Archibius had gone out of doors, and, unheeding the
storm, was looking across the tossing waves of the harbour for the
expected ships.

In a wooden shed, whose roof was supported by gaily painted pillars,
through which the wind whistled, the servants, from the porters to the
litter-bearers, had gathered in groups under the flickering light of the
lanterns. The Greeks sat on wooden stools, the Egyptians upon mats on
the floor. The largest circle contained the parties who attended to the
Queen’s luggage and the upper servants, among whom were several maids.

They had been told that the Queen was expected that night, because it
was possible that the strong north wind would bear her ship home with
unexpected speed after the victory. But they were better informed:
palaces have chinks in doors and curtains, and are pervaded by a very
peculiar echo which bears even a whisper distinctly from ear to ear.

The body-slave of the commander-in-chief Seleukus was the principal
spokesman. His master had reached Alexandria but a few hours ago from
the frontier fortress of Pelusium, which he commanded. A mysterious
order from Lucilius, Antony’s most faithful friend, brought from
Taenarum by a swift galley, had summoned him hither.

The freedman Beryllus, a loquacious Sicilian, who, as an actor, had seen
better days ere pirates robbed him of his liberty, had heard many new
things, and his hearers listened eagerly; for ships coming from the
north, which touched at Pelusium, had confirmed and completed the evil
tidings that had penetrated the Sebasteum.

According to his story, he was as well informed as if he had been an
eye-witness of the naval battle; for he had been present during his
master’s conversation with many ship-captains and messengers from
Greece. He even assumed the air of a loyal, strictly silent servant, who
would only venture to confirm and deny what the Alexandrians had already
learned. Yet his knowledge consisted merely of a confused medley of
false and true occurrences. While the Egyptian fleet had been defeated
at Actium, and Antony, flying with Cleopatra, had gone first to Taenarum
at the end of the Peloponnesian coast, he asserted that the army and
fleet had met on the Peloponnesian coast and Octavianus was pursuing
Antony, who had turned towards Athens, while Cleopatra was on her way to
Alexandria.

His “trustworthy intelligence” had been patched together from a few
words caught from Seleukus at table, or while receiving and dismissing
messengers. In other matters his information was more accurate.

While for several days the harbour of Alexandria had been closed,
vessels were permitted to enter Pelusium, and all captains of newly
arrived ships and caravans were compelled to report to Beryllus’s
master, the commandant of the important frontier fortress.

He had quitted Pelusium the night before. The strong wind had driven
the trireme before it so swiftly that it was difficult for even the sea
gulls to follow. It was easy for the listeners to believe this; for the
storm outside howled louder and louder, whistling through the open hall
where the servants had gathered. Most of the lamps and torches had been
blown out, the pitch-pans only sent forth still blacker clouds of smoke,
lit by red and yellow flames, and the closed lanterns alone continued
to diffuse a flickering light. So the wide space, dim with smoke, was
illumined only by a dull, varying glimmer.

One of the porters had furnished wine to shorten the hours of waiting;
but it could only be drunk in secret, so there were no goblets. The jars
wandered from mouth to mouth, and every sip was welcome, for the wind
blew keenly, and besides, the smoke irritated their throats.

The freedman, Beryllus, was often interrupted by paroxysms of coughing,
especially from the women, while relating the evil omens which were told
to his master in Pelusium. Each was well authenticated and surpassed its
predecessor in significance.

Here one of Iras’s maids interrupted him to tell the story of the
swallows on the “Antonius,” Cleopatra’s admiral galley. He could
scarcely report from Pelusium an omen of darker presage.

But Beryllus gazed at her with a pitying smile, which so roused the
expectations of the others that the overseer of the litter and baggage
porters, who were talking loudly together, hoarsely shouted, “Silence!”

Soon no sound was heard in the open space save the shrill whistling of
the wind, a word of command to the harbour-guards, and the freedman’s
voice, which he lowered to increase the charm of the mysterious events
he was describing.

He began with the most fulsome praise of Cleopatra and Antony, reminding
his hearers that the Imperator was a descendant of Herakles. The
Alexandrians especially were aware that their Queen and Antony claimed
and desired to be called “The new Isis” and “The new Dionysus.” But
every one who beheld the Roman must admit that in face and figure he
resembled a god far more than a man.

The Imperator had appeared as Dionysus, especially to the Athenians. In
the proscenium of the theatre in that city was a huge bas-relief of
the Battle of the Giants, the famous work of an ancient sculptor--he,
Beryllus, had seen it--and from amid the numerous figures in this piece
of sculpture the tempest had torn but a single one--which? Dionysus, the
god as whose mortal image Antony had once caroused in a vine-clad arbour
in the presence of the Athenians. The storm to-night was at the utmost
like the breath of a child, compared with the hurricane which could
wrest from the hard marble the form of Dionysus. But Nature gathers all
her forces when she desires to announce to short-sighted mortals the
approach of events which are to shake the world.

The last words were quoted from his master who had studied in Athens.
They had escaped from his burdened soul when he heard of another
portent, of which a ship from Ostia had brought tidings. The flourishing
city Pisaura--

Here, however, he was interrupted, for several of those present had
learned, weeks before, that this place had sunk in the sea, but merely
pitied the unfortunate inhabitants.

Beryllus quietly permitted them to free themselves from the suspicion
that people in Alexandria had had tidings of so remarkable an event
later than those in Pelusium, and at first answered their query what
this had to do with the war merely by a shrug of the shoulders; but when
the overseer of the porters also put the question, he went on “The
omen made a specially deep impression upon our minds, for we know what
Pisaura is, or rather how it came into existence. The hapless city which
dark Hades ingulfed really belonged to Antony, for in the days of its
prosperity he was its founder.”

He measured the group with a defiant glance, and there was no lack of
evidences of horror; nay, one of the maid-servants shrieked aloud, for
the storm had just snatched a torch from the iron rings in the wall and
hurled it on the floor close beside the listener.

Suspense seemed to have reached its height. Yet it was evident that
Beryllus had not yet drawn his last arrow from the quiver.

The maid-servant, whose scream had startled the others, had regained
her composure and seemed eager to hear some other new and terrible omen,
for, with a beseeching glance, she begged the freedman not to withhold
the knew.

He pointed to the drops of perspiration which, spite of the wind
sweeping through the hall, covered her brow: “You must use your
handkerchief. Merely listening to my tale will dampen your skin. Stone
statues are made of harder material, but a soul dwells within them too.
Their natures may be harsher or more gentle; they bring us woe or heal
heavy sorrows, according to their mood. Every one learns this who raises
his hands to them in prayer. One of these statues stands in Alba. It
represents Mark Antony, in whose honour it was erected by the city. And
it foresaw what menaced the man whose stone double it is. Ay, open your
ears! About four days ago a ship’s captain came to my master and in
my presence this man reported--he grew as pale as ashes while he
spoke--what he himself had witnessed. Drops of perspiration had oozed
from the statue of Antony in Alba. Horror seized all the citizens; men
and women came to wipe the brow and cheeks of the statue, but the drops
of perspiration did not cease to drip, and this continued several days
and nights. The stone image had felt what was impending over the living
Mark Antony. It was a horrible spectacle, the man said.”

Here the speaker paused, and the group of listeners started, for the
clang of a gong was heard outside, and the next instant all were on
their feet hastening to their posts.

The officials in the magnificent hall had also risen. Here the silence
had been interrupted only by low whispers. The colour had faded from
most of the grave, anxious faces, and their timid glances shunned one
another.

Archibius had first perceived, by the flames of the Pharos, the red
glimmer which announced the approach of the royal galley. It had not
been expected so early, but was already passing the islands into the
great harbour. It was probably the Antonius, the ship on which the old
swallows had pecked the young ones to death.

Though the waves were running high, even in the sheltered harbour,
they scarcely rocked the massive vessel. An experienced pilot must
have steered it past the shallows and cliffs on the eastern side of the
roadstead, for instead of passing around the island of Antirrhodus as
usual, it kept between the island and the Lochias, steering straight
towards the entrance into the little royal harbour. The pitch-pans on
both sides had been filled with fresh resin and tow to light the way.
The watchers on the shore could now see its outlines distinctly.

It was the Antonius, and yet it was not.

Zeno, the Keeper of the Seal, who was standing beside Iras, wrapped his
cloak closer around his shivering limbs, pointed to it, and whispered,

“Like a woman who leaves her parents’ house in the rich array of a
bride, and returns to it an impoverished widow.”

Iras drew herself up, and with cutting harshness replied, “Like the sun
veiled by mists, but which will soon shine forth again more radiantly
than ever.”

“Spoken from the depths of my soul,” said the old courtier eagerly,
“so far as the Queen is concerned. Of course, I did not allude to
her Majesty, but to the ship. You were ill when it left the harbour,
garlanded with flowers and adorned with purple sails. And now! Even this
flickering light shows the wounds and rents. I am the last person whom
you need tell that our sun Cleopatra will soon regain its old radiance,
but at present it is very chilly and cold here by the water’s edge in
this stormy air; and when I think of our first moment of meeting--

“Would it were over!” murmured Iras, wrapping herself closer in her
cloak. Then she drew back shivering, for the rattle of the heavy chain,
which was drawn aside from the opening of the harbour, echoed with an
uncanny sound through the silence of the night. A mountain seemed to
weigh upon the watchers’ breasts, for the wooden monster which now
entered the little harbour moved forward as slowly and silently as a
spectral ship. It seemed as if life were extinct on the huge galley
usually swarming with a numerous crew; as if a vessel were about to cast
anchor whose sailors had fallen victims to the plague. Nothing was
heard save an occasional word of command, and the signal whistles of
the fluteplayer who directed the rowers. A few lanterns burned with
a wavering light on the vast length of her decks. The brilliant
illumination which usually shone through the darkness would have
attracted the attention of the Alexandrians.

Now it was close to the landing. The group on shore watched every inch
of its majestic progress with breathless suspense, but when the first
rope was flung to the slaves on shore several men in Greek robes pressed
forward hurriedly among the courtiers.

They had come with a message, whose importance would permit no delay, to
the Regent Mardion, who stood between Zeno and Iras, gazing gloomily
at the ground with a frowning brow. He was pondering over the words in
which to address the Queen, and within a few minutes the ship would have
made her landing, and Cleopatra might cross the bridge. To disturb him
at that moment was an undertaking few who knew the irritable, uncertain
temper of the eunuch would care to risk. But the tall Macedonian, who
for a short time attracted the eyes of most of the spectators from the
galley, ventured to do so. It was the captain of the nightwatch, the
aristocratic commander of the police force of the city.

“Only a word, my lord,” he whispered to the Regent, “though the time may
be inopportune.”

“As inopportune as possible,” replied the eunuch with repellent
harshness.

“We will say as inopportune as the degree of haste necessary for its
decision. The King Caesarion, with Antyllus and several companions,
attacked a woman. Blackened faces. A fight. Caesarion and the woman’s
companion--an aristocrat, member of the Council--slightly wounded.
Lictors interfered just in time. The young gentlemen were arrested. At
first they refused to give their names--”

“Caesarion slightly, really only slightly wounded?” asked the eunuch
with eager haste.

“Really and positively. Olympus was summoned at once. A knock on
the head. The man who was attacked flung him on the pavement in the
struggle.”

“Dion, the son of Eumenes, is the man,” interrupted Iras, whose quick
ear had caught the officer’s report. “The woman is Barine, the daughter
of the artist Leonax.”

“Then you know already?” asked the Macedonian in surprise.

“So it seems,” answered Mardion, gazing into the girl’s face with a
significant glance. Then, turning to her rather than to the Macedonian,
he added, “I think we will have the young rascals set free and brought
to Lochias with as little publicity as possible.”

“To the palace?” asked the Macedonian.

“Of course,” replied Iras firmly. “Each to his own apartments, where
they must remain until further orders.”

“Everything else must be deferred until after the reception,” added the
eunuch, and the Macedonian, with a slight, haughty nod, drew back.

“Another misfortune,” sighed the eunuch.

“A boyish prank,” Iras answered quickly, “but even a still greater
misfortune is less than nothing so long as we are not conscious of it.
This unpleasant occurrence must be concealed for the present from the
Queen. Up to this time it is a vexation, nothing more--and it can and
must remain so; for we have it in our power to uproot the poisonous tree
whence it emanates.”

“You look as if no one could better perform the task,” the Regent
interrupted, with a side glance at the galley, “so you shall have the
commission. It is the last one I shall give, during the Queen’s absence,
in her name.”

“I shall not fail,” she answered firmly.

When Iras again looked towards the landing-place she saw Archibius
standing alone, with his eyes fixed upon the ground. Impulse prompted
her to tell her uncle what had happened; but at the first step she
paused, and her thin lips uttered a firm “No.”

Her friend had become a stone in her path. If necessary, she would find
means to thrust him also aside, spite of his sister Charmian and the
old tie which united him to Cleopatra. He had grown weak, Charmian had
always been so.

She would have had time enough now to consider what step to take first,
had not her heart ached so sorely.

After the huge galley lay moored, several minutes elapsed ere two
pastophori of the goddess Isis, who guarded the goblet of Nektanebus,
taken from the temple treasures and borne along in a painted chest,
stepped upon the bridge, followed by Cleopatra’s first chamberlain,
who in a low tone announced the approach of the Queen and commanded
the waiting groups to make way. A double line of torch-bearers had been
stationed from the landing to the gate leading into the Bruchium, and
the other on the north, which was the entrance to the palaces on the
Lochias, since it was not known where Cleopatra would desire to go. The
chamberlain, however, said that she would spend the night at Lochias,
where the children lived, and ordered all the flickering, smoking
torches, save a few, to be extinguished.

Mardion, the Keeper of the Seal, Archibius, and Iras were standing by
the bridge a little in advance of the others, when voices were heard on
the ship, and the Queen appeared, preceded by several lantern-bearers
and followed by a numerous train of court officials, pages, maids, and
female slaves. Cleopatra’s little hand rested on Charmian’s arm, as,
with a haughty carriage of the head, she moved towards the shore. A
thick veil covered her face, and a large, dark cloak concealed her
figure. How elastic her step was still! how proud yet graceful was the
gesture with which she waved a greeting to Mardion and Zeno.

Extending her hand to raise Iras, who had sunk prostrate before her, she
kissed her on the forehead, whispering, “The children?”

“All is well with them,” replied the girl.

Then the returning sovereign greeted the others with a gracious gesture,
but vouchsafed a word to no one until the eunuch stepped before her
to deliver his address of welcome. She motioned him aside with a curt
“Later”; and when Zeno held open the door of the litter, she said in
a stifled tone: “I will walk. After the rocking of the galley in this
tempest, I feel reluctant to enter the litter. There are many things
to be considered to-day. An idea came to me on the way home. Summon the
captain of the harbour and his chief counsellors, the heads of the war
office, the superintendent of the fortifications on land and water,
especially the Aristarch and Gorgias--I want to see them. Time presses.
They must be here in two hours-no, in an hour and a half. I wish to
examine all their plans and charts of the eastern frontier, especially
the river channels and canals in the Delta.”

Then she turned to Archibius, who had approached the litter, laid her
hand upon his arm, and though her veil prevented him from seeing her
sparkling eyes, he felt them shining deep into his heart, as the voice
whose melody had often enthralled his soul cried, “We will take it as
a favourable omen that it is again you who lead me to this palace in a
time of trouble.”

His overflowing heart found expression in the warm reply, “Whenever
it may be, forever and ever this arm and this life are yours!” And the
Queen answered in a tone of earnest belief, “I know it.”

Then, with her hand still resting on his arm, she moved forward; but
when he began to ask whether she really had cause to speak of a time
of trouble, she cut him short with the entreaty “Not now. Let us say
nothing. It is worse than bad--as evil as possible. Yet no. Few are
permitted, in an hour of trouble, to lean on the arm of a faithful
friend.”

The words were accompanied with a light pressure of her little hand, and
it seemed as if his old heart was growing young.

He dared not speak, for her wish was law; but while moving silently at
her side, first along the shore, then through the gate, and finally over
the marble flagstones which led to the palace portal, it seemed as if
he beheld, instead of the veiled head of the hapless Queen, the soft,
light-brown locks which floated around the face of a happy child. Before
his mental vision rose the little mistress of the garden of Epicurus. He
saw the sparkle of her large blue eyes, which never ceased to question,
yet appeared to contain the mystery of the world. He fancied he heard
once more the silvery cadence of her voice and the bewitching magic of
her pure, childlike laughter, and it was hard to remember what she had
become.

Snatched away from the present, yet conscious that Fate had granted him
a great boon in this sorrowful hour, he moved on at her side and led her
through the main entrance, the spacious inner court-yard of the palace.
At the rear was the great door opening into the Queen’s apartments,
before which Mardion, Iras, and their companions had already stationed
themselves. At the left was a smaller one leading into the wing occupied
by the children.

Archibius was about to conduct Cleopatra across the lighted court-yard,
but she motioned towards the children’s rooms, and he understood her.

At the threshold her hand fell from his arm, and when he bowed as if
to retire, she said kindly: “There is Charmian. You both deserve to
accompany me to the spot where childhood is dreaming and peace of
mind and painlessness have their abode. But respect for the Queen has
prevented the brother and sister from greeting each other after so long
a separation. Do so now! Then, follow me.”

While speaking, she hastened with the swift step of youth into the
atrium and up the staircase which led to the sleeping-rooms of the
princes and princesses.

Archibius and Charmian obeyed her bidding; the brother clasped his
sister affectionately in his arms, and in hurried tones, with tears
streaming from her eyes, she informed him that to her all seemed lost.

Antony had behaved in a manner for which no words of condemnation or
regret were adequate. Probably he would follow Cleopatra; the fleet,
and perhaps the army also, were destroyed. Her fate lay in the hands of
Octavianus.

Then she preceded him towards the staircase, where Iras was standing
with a tall Syrian, who bore a striking resemblance to Philostratus,
Barine’s former husband. It was his brother Alexas, the trusted
favourite of Mark Antony. His place should now have been with him, and
Archibius asked his sister with a hasty look how this man chanced to be
in the Queen’s train.

“His skill in reading the stars,” was the reply. “His flattering tongue.
He is a parasite of the worst kind, but he tells her many things, he
diverts her, and she tolerates him near her person.”

As soon as Iras saw the direction in which Cleopatra had turned, she had
hastened after her to accompany her to the children. The Syrian Alexas
had stopped her to express his joy in meeting her again. Even before the
outbreak of the war he had devoted himself zealously to her, and he now
plainly showed that during the long period of separation his feelings
had by no means cooled. Like his brother, he had a head too small for
his body, but his well-formed features were animated by a pair of eyes
sparkling with a keen, covetous expression.

Iras, too, seemed glad to welcome the favourite, but ere the brother and
sister reached the staircase she left him to embrace Charmian, her aunt
and companion, with the affection of a daughter.

They found the Queen in the anteroom of the children’s apartments.
Euphronion, their tutor, had awaited her there, and hurriedly gave, in
the most rapturous terms, his report of them and the wonderful gifts
which became more and more apparent in each, now as a heritage from
their mother, now from their father.

Cleopatra had interrupted the torrent of his enthusiastic speech with
many a question, meanwhile endeavouring to loose the veil wound about
her head; but the little hands, unaccustomed to the task, failed. Iras
noticed it from the stairs and, hastening up the last steps, skilfully
released her from the long web of lace.

The Queen acknowledged the service by a gracious nod, but when the chief
eunuch opened the door leading into the children’s rooms, she called
joyously to the brother and sister, “Come!” The tutor, who was obliged
to leave the charge of his pupils’ sleeping apartments to the eunuchs
and nurses, drew back, but Iras felt it a bitter affront to be excluded
from this visit. Her cheeks flushed and paled; her thin lips were more
firmly compressed, and she gazed intently at the basket of fruit in
the mosaic floor at her feet as if she were counting the cherries
that filled it. But she suddenly pushed the little curls back from her
forehead, darted swiftly down the stairs, and called to Alexas just as
he was about to leave the atrium.

The Syrian hastened towards her, extolling the good fortune that made
his sun rise for him a second time that night, but she cut him short
with the words; “Cease this foolish love-making. It would be far better
for us both to become allies in serious, bitter earnest. I am ready.”

“So am I!” cried the Syrian rapturously, pressing his hand upon his
heart.

Meanwhile Cleopatra had entered the chamber where the children lay
sleeping. Deep silence pervaded the lofty hall hung with bright-hued
carpets, and softly lighted by three lamps with rose-colored globes. An
arch, supported by pillars of Libyan marble, divided the wide space. In
the first, near a window closely muffled with draperies, stood two ivory
beds, surmounted with crowns of gold and silver set with pearls and
turquoises. Around the edge, carved by the hands of a great artist, ran
a line of happy children dancing to the songs of birds in blossoming
bushes.

The couches were separated by a heavy curtain which the eunuchs had
raised at the approach of the Queen. Cleopatra could now see them all at
a single glance, and the picture was indeed one of exquisite charm; for
on these beautiful couches slept the twins, the ten-year-old children of
Cleopatra and Antony--Antonius Helios and Cleopatra Selene. The girl was
pink and white, fair and wonderfully lovely; the boy no less beautiful,
but with ebon-black hair, like his father. Both curly heads were turned
towards the side, and rested on a dimpled hand pressed upon the silken
pillow.

Upon a third bed, beyond the arch, was Alexander, the youngest prince, a
lovely boy of six, the Queen’s darling.

After gazing a long while at the twins, and pressing a light kiss upon
cheeks flushed with slumber, she turned to the youngest child and sank
beside his couch as if forced to bend the knee before some apparition
which Heaven had vouchsafed to her. Tears streamed from her eyes as,
drawing the child carefully towards her, she kissed his mouth, eyes,
and cheeks, and then laid him gently back upon the pillows. The boy,
however, did not instantly relapse into slumber, but threw his little
plump arms around his mother’s neck, murmuring incomprehensible words.
She joyously submitted to his caresses, till sleep again overpowered
him, and his little hands fell back upon the bed.

She lingered a short time longer, with her brow resting on the ivory of
the couch, praying for this child and his brother and sister. When she
rose again her cheeks were wet with tears, and she pressed her hand
upon her breast. Then, beckoning to Charmian and Archibius, she motioned
towards Alexander and the twins, saying, as she saw tears glittering in
the eyes of both: “I know you have lost this happiness for my sake. For
each one of these children a great empire would not be too high a price;
for them all----What does earth contain that I would not bestow? Yet
what can I still call my own?”

Her smiling face clouded as she asked the question. The vision of
the lost battle again rose before her mind. Her own power was lost,
forfeited, and with it the independence of the native land which she
loved. Rome was already stretching out her hand to add it to the others
as a new province. But this should not be! Her twin children yonder,
sleeping beneath crowns, must wear them! And the boy slumbering on the
pillows? How many kingdoms Antony had bestowed! What remained for her to
give?

Again she bent to the child. A beautiful dream must have hovered over
him, for he was smiling in his sleep. A flood of maternal love welled up
in her agitated heart, and, as she saw the companions of her childhood
also gazing tenderly at the little steeper, she remembered the days
of her own youth, and the quiet happiness which she had enjoyed in her
garden of Epicurus.

Power and splendour had begun for her beyond its confines, but the
greater the heights of worldly grandeur she attained, the more distant,
the more irrecoverable became the consciousness of the happiness which
she had once gratefully enjoyed, and for which she had never ceased
to long. And as she now gazed once more at the peaceful, smiling face,
whence all pain and anxiety seemed worlds away, and all the love which
her heart contained appeared to be pouring towards him, the question
arose in her mind whether this boy, for whom she possessed no crown,
might not be the only happy mortal of them all-happy in the sense of
the master. Deeply moved by this thought, she turned to Archibius
and Charmian, exclaiming in a subdued tone, in order not to rouse the
sleeper: “Whatever destiny may await us, I commend this child to your
special love and care. If Fate denies him the lustre of the crown
and the elation of power, teach him to enjoy that other happiness,
which--how long ago it is!--your father unfolded to his mother.”

Archibius kissed her robe, and Charmian her hands; but Cleopatra,
drawing a long breath, said: “The mother has already taken too much time
from the Queen. I have ordered the news of my arrival to be kept from
Caesarion. This was well. The most important matters will be settled
before our meeting. Everything relating to me and to the state must be
decided within an hour. But, first, I am something more than mother and
Queen. The woman also asserts her claim. I will find time for you, my
friend, to-morrow!-To my chamber first, Charmian. But you need rest
still more than I. Go with your brother. Send Iras to me. She will be
glad to use her skilful fingers again in her mistress’s service.”



CHAPTER XI.

The Queen had left her bath. Iras had arranged the still abundant waves
of her hair, now dark-brown in hue, and robed her magnificently to
receive the dignitaries whom, spite of the late hour of the night, she
expected.

How wonderfully she had retained her beauty! It seemed as if Time had
not ventured to touch this masterpiece of feminine loveliness; yet the
Greek’s keen eye detected here and there some token of the vanishing
spell of youth. She loved her mistress, yet her inmost soul rejoiced
whenever she detected in her the same changes which began to appear in
herself, the woman of seven-and-twenty, so many years her sovereign’s
junior. She would gladly have given Cleopatra everything at her command,
yet she felt as if she must praise Nature for an act of justice, when
she perceived that even her royal favourite was not wholly relieved from
the law which applied to all.

“Cease your flattery,” said Cleopatra, smiling mournfully. “They
say that the works of the Pharaohs here on the Nile flout Time. The
inexorable destroyer is less willing to permit this from the Queen
of Egypt. These are grey hairs, and they came from this head, however
eagerly you may deny it. Whose save my own are these lines around the
corners of the eyes and on the brow? What say you to the tooth which
my lips do not hide so kindly as you assert? It was injured the night
before the luckless battle. My dear, faithful, skilful Olympus, the
prince of leeches, is the only one who can conceal such things. But it
would not do to take the old man to the war, and Glaucus is far less
adroit. How I missed Olympus during those fatal hours! I seemed a
monster even to myself, and he--Antony’s eye is only too keen for
such matters. What is the love of men? A blackened tooth may prove its
destruction. An aspect obnoxious to the gaze will pour water on the
fiercest fire. What hours I experienced, Iras! Many a glance from him
seemed an insult, and, besides, my heart was filled with torturing
anxiety.

“Something had evidently come between us! I felt it. The trouble began
soon after he left Alexandria. It gnawed my soul like a worm, and now
that I am here again I must see clearly. He will follow me in a few
days, I know. Pinarius Scarpus, with his untouched legions, is in
Paraetonium, whither he went. At Taenarum he resolved to retire from
the world which he, on whom it had bestowed so much that is great, hates
because he has given it cause for many a shake of the head. But the old
spirit woke again, and if Fortune, usually so faithful, still aids
him, a large force will soon join the new African army. The Asiatic
princes--But the ruler of the state must be silent. I entered this room
to give the woman her just rights, and the woman shall have them. He
will soon be here. He cannot live without me. It is not alone the beaker
of Nektanebus which draws him after me!”

“When the greatest of the great, Julius Caesar, sued for your love in
Alexandria, and Antony on the Cydnus, you did not possess the goblet,”
 observed Iras. “It is two years since Anubis permitted you to borrow the
masterpiece from the temple treasures, and within a few days you will be
obliged to restore it. That a mysterious spell emanates from the cup
is certain, but one still more powerful dwells in the magic of your own
nature.”

“Would that it might assert itself to-day!” cried the Queen. “At any
rate the power of the beaker impelled Antony to do many things. I am not
vain enough to believe that it was love, that it was solely the spell
of my own personality which drew him to me in that disastrous hour. That
battle, that incomprehensible, disgraceful battle! You were ill,
and could not see our fleet when it set sail; but even experienced
spectators said that handsomer, larger vessels were never beheld. I was
right in insisting that the decision of the conflict should be left to
them. I was entitled to call them mine. Had we conquered, what a proud
delight it would have been to say, ‘The weapons which you gave to the
man you loved gained him the sovereignty of the world!’ Besides, the
stars had assured me that good fortune would attend us on the sea. They
had given the same message to Anubis here and to Alexas upon Antony’s
galley. I also trusted the spell of the goblet, which had already
compelled Antony to do many things he opposed. So I succeeded in having
the decision of the conflict left to the fleet, but the prediction was
false, false, false!--how utterly, was to be proved only too soon.

“If I had only been told in time what I learned later! After the defeat
people were more loquacious. That one remark of a veteran commander of
the foot-soldiers would probably have sufficed to open my eyes. He had
asked Mark Antony why he fixed his hopes on miserable wood, exclaiming,
‘Let the Phoenician’s and Egyptians war on the water, but leave us the
land where we are accustomed, with our feet firmly set upon the earth,
to fight, conquer, or die!’ This alone, I am sure, would have changed my
resolve in a happy hour. But it was kept from me.

“The conflict began. Our troops had lost patience. The left wing of the
fleet advanced. At first I watched the battle eagerly, with a throbbing
heart. How proudly the huge galleys moved forward! Everything was going
admirably. Antony had made an address, assuring the warriors that, even
without soldiers, our ships would destroy the foe by their mere height
and size. What orator can so carry his hearers with him! I, too,
was still fearless. Who cherishes anxiety when confidently expecting
victory? When he went on board his own ship, after bidding me farewell
far less cordially than usual, I became more troubled. I thought it
was evident that his love was waning. What had I become since we
left Alexandria, and Olympus no longer attended me! Matters could not
continue in this way. I would leave the direction of the war to him, and
vanish from his eyes. After he had looked into the beaker of Nektanebus,
he yielded to my will, but often with indignation. The unconcealed,
ineffaceable lines, and the years, the cruel years!”

“What thoughts are these?” cried Iras. “Let me take oath, my sovereign
mistress, that as you stand before me--”

“Thanks to this toilet-table and the new compounds of Olympus in these
boxes! At that time, I tell you, I was fairly startled at the sight of
my own face. Trouble does not enhance beauty, and what condemnation the
Romans had heaped on the woman who meddled with war, the craft of man! I
had answers for them, but I would not endure it longer. I had previously
determined to hold aloof from the battle on land; but even at the
commencement of the conflict, spite of its favourable promise, I longed
to leave Antony and return to the children. They do not heed the colour
of their mother’s hair, nor her wrinkles; and he, when he had looked for
and called me in vain, would feel for the first time what he possessed
in me, would miss me, and with the longing the old love would awaken
with fresh ardour. As soon as the fleet had gained the victory I would
have the prow of my galley turned southward and, without a farewell,
exclaiming only, ‘We will meet in Alexandria!’ set sail for Egypt.

“I summoned Alexas, who had remained with me, and ordered him to give me
a signal as soon as the battle was decided in our favour. I remained
on deck. Then I saw the ships of the foe describing a wide circle. The
nauarch told me that Agrippa was trying to surround us. This roused a
feeling of discomfort. I began to repent having meddled with men’s work.

“Antony looked across at me from his galley. I waved my hand to point
out the peril, but instead of eagerly and lovingly answering the
greeting, as of yore, he turned his back, and in a short time after the
wildest uproar arose around me. One ship became entangled with another,
planks and poles shattered with a loud crash. Shouts, the cries and
moans of the combatants and the wounded, mingled with the thunder of the
stones hurled by the catapults, and the sharp notes of the signals which
sounded like calls for help. Two soldiers, stricken by arrows, fell
beside me. It was horrible! Yet my courage remained steadfast, even when
a squadron--it was commanded by Aruntius--pressed upon the fleet. I saw
another line of galleys steering directly towards us, and a Roman vessel
assailed by one of mine--I had named her the Selene--turn on her side
and sink. This pleased me and seemed like the first presage of victory.
I again ordered Alexas to have the ship’s prow turned as soon as the
result of the battle was decided. Ere I had ceased speaking, Jason, the
steward--you know him--appeared with refreshments. I took the beaker,
but, ere I could raise it to my lips, he fell to the deck with a cloven
skull, mingling his blood with the spilled juice of the grape. My blood
seemed fairly to freeze in my veins, and Alexas, trembling and deadly
pale, asked, ‘Do you command us to quit the battle?’

“Every fibre of my being urged me to give the order, but I controlled
myself, and asked the nauarch, who was standing on the bridge before
me, ‘Are we gaining the advantage?’ The reply was a positive ‘Yes.’ I
thought the fitting time had come, and called to him to steer the galley
southward. But the man did not seem to understand. Meanwhile the noise
of the conflict had grown louder and louder. So, in spite of Charmian,
who besought me not to interfere in the battle, I sent Alexas to the
commander on the bridge, and while he talked with the grey-bearded
seaman, who wrathfully answered I know not what, I glanced at the
nearest ship--I no longer knew whether it was friend or foe--and as I
saw the rows of restless oars moving in countless numbers to and fro,
it seemed as if every ship had become a huge spider, and the long wooden
handles of the oars were its legs and feet. Each of these monsters
appeared to be seeking to snare me in a horrible net, and when the
nauarch came to beseech me to wait, I imperiously commanded him to obey
my orders.

“The luckless man bowed, and performed his Queen’s behest. The giant was
turned, and forced a passage through the maze.

“I breathed more freely.

“What had threatened me like the legs of huge spiders became oars once
more. Alexas led me under a roof, where no missiles could reach me. My
desire was fulfilled. I had escaped Antony’s eyes, and we were going
towards Alexandria and my children. When I at last looked around I saw
that my other ships were following. I had not given this order, and was
terribly startled. When I sought Alexas, he had vanished. The centurion
whom I sent to order the nauarch to give the signal to the other ships
to return to the battle, reported that the captain’s dead body has just
been borne away, but that the command should be given. How this was done
I do not know, but it produced no effect, and no one noticed the anxious
waving of my handkerchief.

“We had left Antony’s galley--he was standing on the bridge--far behind.

“I had waved my hand as we passed close by, and he hurried down to bend
far over the bulwark and shout to me. I can still see his hands raised
to his bearded lips. I did not understand what he said, and only pointed
southward and in spirit wished him victory and that this separation
might tend to the welfare of our love. But he shook his head, pressed
his hand despairingly to his brow, and waved his arms as though to give
me a sign, but the Antonias swept far ahead of his ship and steered
straight towards the south.

“I breathed more freely, in the pleasant consciousness of escaping a
two-fold danger. Had I remained long before Antony’s eyes, looking as I
did then, it might--

“Wretched blunder of a wretched woman, I say now. But at that time I
could not suspect what a terrible doom I had brought down in that hour
upon ourselves, my children, perhaps the whole world; so I remained
under the thrall of these petty fears and thoughts until wounded men
were carried past me. The sight distressed me; you know how sensitive I
am, and with what difficulty I endure and witness suffering.

“Charmian led me to the cabin. There I first realized what I had done. I
had hoped to aid in crushing the hated foe, and now perhaps it was I
who had built for him the bridge to victory, to sovereignty, to our
destruction. Pursued by such thoughts, as if by the Furies, I paced
restlessly to and fro.

“Suddenly I heard a loud noise on deck. A crashing blow seemed to shake
the huge ship. We were pursued! A Roman galley had boarded mine! This
was my thought as I grasped the dagger Antony had given me.

“But Charmian came back with tidings which seemed scarcely less terrible
than the baseless fear. I had angrily commanded her to leave me because
she had urged me to revoke the command to turn back. Now, deadly pale,
she announced that Mark Antony had left his galley, followed me in a
little five-oared boat, and come on board our ship.

“My blood froze in my veins.

“He had come, I imagined, to force me to return to the battle and,
drawing a long breath, my defiant pride urged me to show him that I was
the Queen and would obey only my own will, while my heart impelled me to
sink at his feet and beseech him, without heeding me, to issue any order
which promised to secure a victory.

“But he did not come.

“I sent Charmian up again. Antony had been unable to continue the
conflict when parted from me. Now he sat in front of the cabin with his
head resting on his hands, staring at the planks of the deck like one
distraught. He, he--Antony! The bravest horseman, the terror of the
foe, let his arms fall like a shepherd-boy whose sheep are stolen by
the wolves. Mark Antony, the hero who had braved a thousand dangers,
had flung down his sword. Why, why? Because a woman had yielded to idle
fears, obeyed the yearning of a mother’s heart, and fled? Of all human
weaknesses, not one had been more alien than cowardice to the man whose
recklessness had led him to many an unprecedented venture. And now? No,
a thousand times no! Fire and water would unite sooner than Mark Antony
and cowardice! He had been under the coercive power of a demon; a
mysterious spell had forced him--”

“The mightiest power, love,” interrupted Iras with enthusiastic
warmth--“a love as great and overmastering as ever subjugated the soul
of man.”

“Ay, love,” repeated Cleopatra, in a hollow tone. Then her lips curled
with a faint tinge of derision, and her voice expressed the very
bitterness of doubt, as she continued: “Had it been merely the love
which makes two mortals one, transfers the heart of one to the other, it
might perchance have borne my timorous soul into the hero’s breast!
But no. Violent tempests had raged before the battle. It had not been
possible always to appear before him in the guise in which we would fain
be seen by those whom we love.

“Even now, when your skilful hands have served me--there is the
mirror--the image it reflects--seems to me like a carefully preserved
wreck--”

“O my royal mistress,” cried Iras, raising her hands beseechingly, “must
I again declare that neither the grey hairs which are again brown, nor
the few lines which Olympus will soon render invisible, nor whatever
else perhaps disturbs you in the image you behold reflected, impairs
your beauty? Unclouded and secure of victory, the spell of your godlike
nature--”

“Cease, cease!” interrupted Cleopatra. “I know what I know. No mortal
can escape the great eternal laws of Nature. As surely as birth
commences life, everything that exists moves onward to destruction and
decay.”

“Yet the gods,” Iras persisted, “give to their works different degrees
of existence. The waterlily blooms but a single day, yet how full of
vigour is the sycamore in the garden of the Paneum, which has flourished
a thousand years! Not a petal in the blossoms of your youth has faded,
and is it conceivable that there is even the slightest diminution in the
love of him who cast away all that man holds dearest because he could
not endure to part, even for days or weeks, from the woman whom he
worshipped?”

“Would that he had done so!” cried Cleopatra mournfully. “But are you
so sure that it was love which made him follow me? I am of a different
opinion. True love does not paralyze, but doubles the high qualities of
man. I learned this when Caesar was prisoned by a greatly superior force
within this very palace, his ships burned, his supply of water cut off.
In him also, in Antony, I was permitted to witness this magnificent
spectacle twenty--what do I say?-a hundred times, so long as he loved me
with all the ardour of his fiery soul. But what happened at Actium? That
shameful flight of the cooing dove after his mate, at which generations
yet unborn will point in mockery! He who does not see more deeply will
attribute to the foolish madness of love this wretched forgetfulness of
duty, honour, fame, the present and the future; but I, Iras--and this
is the thought which whitens one hair after another, which will speedily
destroy the remnant of your mistress’s former beauty by the exhaustion
of sleepless nights--I know better. It was not love which drew Antony
after me, not love that trampled in the dust the radiant image of
reckless courage, not love that constrained the demigod to follow the
pitiful track of a fugitive woman.”

Here her voice fell, and seizing the girl’s wrist with a painful
pressure, she drew her closer to her side and whispered:

“The goblet of Nektanebus is connected with it. Ay, tremble! The powers
that emanate from the glittering wonder are as terrible as they are
unnatural. The magic spell exerted by the beaker has transformed the
heroic son of Herakles, the more than mortal, into the whimpering
coward, the crushed, broken nonentity I found upon the galley’s deck.
You are silent? Your nimble tongue finds no reply. How could you have
forgotten that you aided me to win the wager which forced Antony to gaze
into the beaker before I filled it for him? How grateful I was to Anubis
when he finally consented to trust to my care this marvel of the temple
treasures, when the first trial succeeded, and Antony, at my bidding,
placed the magnificent wreath which he wore upon the bald brow of that
crabbed old follower of Aristoteles, Diomedes, whom he detested in his
inmost soul! It was scarcely a year ago, and you know how rarely at
first I used the power of the terrible vessel. The man whom I loved
obeyed my slightest glance, without its aid. But later--before the
battle--I felt how gladly he would have sent me, who might ruin all,
back to Egypt. Besides, I felt--I have already said so--that something
had come between us. Yet, often as he was on the point of sacrificing me
to the importunate Romans, I need only bid him gaze into the beaker,
and exclaim ‘You will not send me hence. We belong together. Whither one
goes, the other will follow!’ and he besought me not to leave him. The
very morning before the battle I gave him the drinking cup, urging him,
whatever might happen, never, never to leave me. And he obeyed this time
also, though the person to whom a magic spell bound him was a fleeing
woman. It is terrible. And yet, have I a right to execrate the thrall
of the beaker? Scarcely! For without the Magian’s glittering vessel--a
secret voice in my soul has whispered the warning a thousand times
during the sleepless nights--he would have taken another on the
galley. And I believe I know this other--I mean the woman whose
singing enthralled my heart too at the Adonis festival just before our
departure. I noticed the look with which his eyes sought hers. Now I
know that it was not merely my old deceitful foe, jealousy, which warned
me against her. Alexas, the most faithful of his friends, also confirmed
what I merely feared--ah! and he told me other things which the stars
had revealed to him. Besides, he knows the siren, for she was the wife
of his own brother. To protect his honour, he cast off the coquettish
Circe.”

“Barine!” fell in resolute tones from the lips of Iras.

“So you know her?” asked Cleopatra, eagerly. The girl raised her clasped
hands beseechingly to the Queen, exclaiming:

“I know this woman only too well, and how my heart rages against her! O
my mistress, that I, too, should aid in darkening this hour! Yet it must
be said. That Antony visited the singer, and even took his son there
more than once, is known throughout the city. Yet that is not the worst.
A Barine entering into rivalry with you! It would be too ridiculous. But
what bounds can be set to the insatiate greed of these women? No rank,
no age is sacred. It was dull in the absence of the court and the army.
There were no men who seemed worth the trouble of catching, so she
cast her net for boys, and the one most closely snared was the King
Caesarion.”

“Caesarion!” exclaimed Cleopatra, her pale cheeks flushing. “And his
tutor Rhodon? My strict commands?”

“Antyllus secretly presented him to her,” replied Iras. “But I kept my
eyes open. The boy clung to the singer with insensate passion. The only
expedient was to remove her from the city. Archibius aided me.”

“Then I shall be spared sending her away.”

“Nay, that must still be done; for, on the journey to the country
Caesarion, with several comrades, attacked her.”

“And the reckless deed was successful?”

“No, my royal mistress. I wish it had been. A love-sick fool who
accompanied her drew his sword in her defence, raised his hand against
the son of Caesar, and wounded him. Calm yourself, I beseech you, I
conjure you--the wound is slight. The boy’s mad passion makes me far
more anxious.”

The Queen’s pouting scarlet lips closed so firmly that her mouth lost
the winning charm which was peculiar to it, and she answered in a firm,
resolute tone: “It is the mother’s place to protect the son against the
temptress. Alexas is right. Her star stands in the path of mine. A
woman like this casts a deep shadow on her Queen’s course. I will defend
myself. It is she who has placed herself between us; she has won Antony.
But no! Why should I blind myself? Time and the charms he steals from
women are far more powerful than twenty such little temptresses. Then,
there are the circumstances which prevented my concealing the defects
that wounded the eyes of this most spoiled of all spoiled mortals. All
these things aided the singer. I feel it. In her pursuit of men she
had at her command all the means which aid us women to conceal what is
unlovely and enhance what is beautiful in a lover’s eyes, while I was at
a disadvantage, lacking your aid and the long-tested skill of Olympus.
The divinity on the ship, amid the raging of the storm, was forced more
than once to appear before the worshipper ungarlanded, without ornament
for the head, or incense.”

“But though she used all the combined arts of Aphrodite and Isis, she
could not vie with you, my royal mistress!” cried Iras. “How little is
required to delude the senses of one scarcely more than a child!”

“Poor boy!” sighed the Queen, gently. “Had he not been wounded, and were
it not so hard to resign what we love, I should rejoice that he, too,
understands how to plan and act. Perhaps--O Iras, would that it might be
so!--now that the gate is burst open, the brain and energy of the great
Caesar will enter his living image. As the Egyptians call Horus ‘the
avenger of his father,’ perhaps he may become his mother’s defender and
avenger. If Caesar’s spirit wakes within him, he will wrest from the
dissembler Octavianus the heritage of which the nephew robbed the son.
You swear that the wound is but a slight one?”

“The physicians have said so.”

“Well, then we will hope so. Let him enter the conflict of life. We
will afford him ample opportunity to test his powers. No foolish passion
shall prevent the convalescent youth from following his father upward
along the pathway of fame. But send for the woman who ensnared him, the
audacious charmer whose aspirations mount to those I hold dearest. We
will see how she appears beside me!”

“These are grievous times,” said Iras, who saw in amazement the Queen’s
eyes sparkle with the confident light of victory. “Grant your foot its
right. Let it crush her! Monsters enough, on whom you cannot set your
foot, throng your path. Hence to Hades, in these days of conflict, with
all who can be quickly removed!”

“Murder?” asked Cleopatra, her noble brow contracting in a frown.

“If it must be, ay,” replied Iras, sharply. “If possible, banishment
to an island, an oasis. If necessity requires, to the mines with the
siren!”

“If necessity requires?” repeated the Queen. “I think that means, if it
proves that she has deserved the harshest punishment.”

“She has brought it upon herself by every hour of my sovereign’s life
clouded through her wiles. In the mines the desire to set snares for
husbands and sons soon vanishes.”

“And people languish in the most terrible torture till death ends their
suffering,” added Cleopatra, in a tone of grave reproof. “No, girl,
this victory is too easy. I will not send even my foe to death without
a hearing, especially at this time, which teaches me what it is to await
the verdict of one who is more powerful. This woman who, as it were,
summons me to battle, shall have her wish. I am curious to see the
singer again, and to learn the means by which she has succeeded in
chaining to her triumphal car so many captives, from boys up to the most
exacting men.”

“What do you intend, my royal mistress?” cried Iras in horror.

“I intend,” said Cleopatra imperiously, “to see the daughter of Leonax,
the granddaughter of Didymus, two men whom I hold in high esteem, ere
I decide her destiny. I wish to behold, test, and judge my rival, heart
and mind, ere I condemn her. I will engage in the conflict to which she
challenged the loving wife and mother! But--this is my right--I will
compel her to show herself to me as Antony so often saw me during the
past few weeks, unaided and unimproved by the arts which we both have at
command.”

Then, without paying any further heed to her attendant, she went to a
window, and, after a swift glance at the sky, added quietly: “The
first hour after midnight is drawing to a close. The council will begin
immediately. The matter to be under discussion is a venture which might
save much from the wreck. The council will last two hours, perchance
only one. The singer can wait. Where does she live?”

“In the house which belonged to her father, the artist Leonax, in the
garden of the Paneum,” replied Iras hoarsely. “But, O my Queen, if ever
my opinion had the slightest weight with you--”

“I desire no counsel now, but demand the fulfilment of my orders!” cried
Cleopatra resolutely. “As soon as those whom I expect are here--”

The Queen was interrupted by a chamberlain, who announced the arrival of
the men whom she had summoned, and Cleopatra bade him tell them that she
was on her way to the council chamber. Then she turned again to Iras
and in rapid words commanded her to go at once in a closed carriage,
accompanied by a reliable person, to Barine’s house. She must be brought
to the palace without the least delay--Iras would understand--even if it
should be necessary to rouse her from her sleep. “I wish to see her as
if a storm had forced her suddenly upon the deck of a ship,” she said in
conclusion.

Then snatching a small tablet from the dressing-table, she scrawled upon
the wax with a rapid hand: “Cleopatra, the Queen, desires to see Barine,
the daughter of Leonax, without delay. She must obey any command of
Iras, Cleopatra’s messenger, and her companion.”

Then, closing the diptychon, she handed it to her attendant, asking:

“Whom will you take?”

She answered without hesitation, “Alexas.”

“Very well,” answered Cleopatra. “Do not allow her a moment for
preparations, whatever they may be. But do not forget--I command
you--that she is a woman.”

With these words she turned to follow the chamberlain, but Iras hurried
after her to adjust the diadem upon her head and arrange some of the
folds of her robe.

Cleopatra submitted, saying kindly, “Something else, I see, is weighing
on your heart.”

“O my mistress!” cried the girl. “After these tempests of the soul,
these harassing months, you are turning night into day and assuming
fresh labours and anxieties. If the leech Olympus--”

“It must be,” interrupted Cleopatra kindly. “The last two weeks seemed
like a single long and gloomy night, during which I sometimes left my
couch for a few hours. One who seeks to drag what is dearest from
the river does not consider whether the cold bath is agreeable. If
we succumb, it does not matter whether we are well or ill; if, on the
contrary, we succeed in gathering another army and saving Egypt, let it
cost health and life. The minutes I intend to grant to the woman will be
thrown into the bargain. Whatever may come, I shall be ready to meet
my fate. I am at one of life’s great turning points. At such a time we
fulfil our obligations and demands, both great and small.”

A few minutes later Cleopatra entered the throne-room and saluted the
men whom she had roused from their slumber in order to lay before them
a bold plan which, in the lowest depths of misfortune, her yearning to
offer fresh resistance to the victorious foe had caused her vigorous,
restless mind to evoke.

When, many years before, the boy with whom, according to her father’s
will, she shared the throne, and his guardian Pothinus, had compelled
her to fly from Alexandria, she had found in the eastern frontier of
the Delta, on the isthmus which united Egypt to Asia, the remains of the
canal which the energetic Pharaohs of former times had constructed to
connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea.

Even at that period she had deemed this ruinous work worthy of notice,
had questioned the AEnites who dwelt there about the remains, and even
visited some of them herself during the leisure hours of waiting.

From this survey it had seemed possible, by a great expenditure of
labour, to again render navigable the canal which the Pharaohs had used
to reach both seas in the same galleys, and by which, less than five
hundred years before, Darius, the founder of the Persian Empire, had
brought his fleet to his support.

With the tireless desire for knowledge characteristic of her, Cleopatra
had sought information concerning all these matters, and in quiet hours
had more than once pondered over plans for again uniting the Grecian and
Arabian seas.

Clearly, plainly, fully, with more thorough knowledge of many details
than even the superintendent of the water works, she explained her
design to the assembled professionals. If it proved practicable, the
rescued ships of the fleet, with others lying in the roadstead of
Alexandria, could be conveyed across the isthmus into the Red Sea, and
thus saved to Egypt and withdrawn from the foe. Supported by this
force, many things might be attempted, resistance might be considerably
prolonged, and the time thus gained used in gathering fresh aid and
allies.

If the opportunity to make an attack arrived, a powerful fleet would
be at her disposal, for which smaller ships also should now be built at
Klysma, on the basis of the experience gained at Actium. The men who had
been robbed of their night’s rest listened in amazement to the melodious
words of this woman who, in the deepest disaster, had devised a plan
of escape so daring in its grandeur, and understood how to explain it
better than any one of their number could have done. They followed every
sentence with the keenest attention, and Cleopatra’s language grew
more impassioned, gained greater power and depth, the more plainly
she perceived the unfeigned, enthusiastic admiration paid her by her
listeners.

Even the oldest and most experienced men did not consider the surprising
proposal utterly impossible and impracticable. Some, among them Gorgias,
who during the restoration of the Serapeum had helped his father on
the eastern frontier of the Delta, and thus became familiar with
the neighbourhood of Heroonopolis, feared the difficulties which an
elevation of the earth in the centre of the isthmus would place in
the way of the enterprise. Yet, why should an undertaking which was
successful in the days of Sesostris appear unattainable?

The shortness of the time at their disposal was a still greater source
of anxiety, and to this was added the information that one hundred and
twenty thousand workmen had perished during the restoration of the canal
which Pharaoh Necho nearly completed. The water way was not finished at
that period, because an oracle had asserted that it would benefit only
the foreigners, the Phoenicians.

All these points were duly considered, but could not shake the opinion
that, under specially favourable conditions, the Queen’s plan would be
practicable; though, to execute it, obstacles mountain-high were to be
conquered. All the labourers in the fields, who had not been pressed
into the army, must be summoned to the work.

Not an hour’s delay was permitted. Where there was no water to bear the
ships, an attempt must be made to convey them across the land. There
was no lack of means. The mechanics who had understood how to move the
obelisks and colossi from the cataract to Alexandria, could here again
find opportunity to test their brains and former skill.

Never had Cleopatra’s kindling spirit roused more eager, nay, more
passionate sympathy, in any counsellors gathered around her than
during this nocturnal meeting, and when at last she paused, the loud
acclamations of excited men greeted her. The Queen’s return, and the
tidings of the lost battle which she had communicated, were to be kept
secret.

Gorgias had been appointed one of the directors of the enterprise, and
the intellect, voice, and winning charm of Cleopatra had so enraptured
him that he already fancied he saw the commencement of a new love which
would be fatal to his regard for Helena.

It was foolish to raise his wishes so high, but he told himself that
he had never beheld a woman more to be desired. Yet he cherished a very
warm memory of the philosopher’s grand-daughter, and lamented that he
would scarcely find it possible to bid her farewell.

Zeno, the Keeper of the Seal, Dion’s uncle, had questioned him about
his nephew in a very mysterious manner as soon as he entered the council
chamber, and received the reply that the wound in the shoulder, which
Caesarion had dealt with a short Roman sword, though severe, was--so the
physicians assured them-not fatal.

This seemed to satisfy Zeno, and ere Gorgias could urge him to extend a
protecting hand over his nephew, he excused himself and, with a message
to the wounded man, turned his back upon him.

The courtier had not yet learned what view the Queen would take of this
unfortunate affair, and besides, he was overloaded with business.
The new enterprise required the issue of a large number of documents
conferring authority, which all passed through his hands.

Cleopatra addressed a few kind, encouraging words to each one of the
experts who had been entrusted with the execution of her plan. Gorgias,
too, was permitted to kiss her robe, which stirred his blood afresh. He
would fain have flung himself at the feet of this marvellous woman and,
with his services, place his life at her disposal. And Cleopatra noticed
the enthusiastic ardour of his glance.

He, too, had been mentioned in the list of Barine’s admirers. There must
be something unusual about this woman! But could she have fired a body
of grave men in behalf of a great, almost impossible deed, roused them
to such enthusiastic admiration as she, the vanquished, menaced Queen?
Certainly not.

She felt in the right mood to confront Barine as judge and rival.

In the midst of the deepest misery she had spent one happy hour. She had
again felt, with joyous pride, that her intellect, fresh and unclouded,
would be capable of outstripping the best powers, and in truth she
needed no magic goblet to win hearts.



CHAPTER XII.

Barine had been an hour in the palace. The magnificently furnished room
to which she was conducted was directly above the council chamber, and
sometimes, in the silence of the night, the voice of the Queen or the
loud cheers of men were distinctly heard.

Barine listened without making the slightest effort to catch the meaning
of the words which reached her ears. She longed only for something to
divert her thoughts from the deep and bitter emotion which filled her
soul. Ay, she was roused to fury, and yet she felt how completely this
passionate resentment contradicted her whole nature.

True, the shameless conduct of Philostratus during their married life
had often stirred the inmost depths of her placid, kindly spirit, and
after wards his brother Alexas had come to drive her, by his disgraceful
proposals, to the verge of despair; rage was added to the passionate
agitation of her soul, and for this she had cause to rejoice--but for
this mighty resentment during the time of struggle she might have,
perhaps, succumbed from sheer weariness and the yearning desire to rest.

At last, at last, she and her friends, by means of great sacrifices, had
succeeded in releasing her from these tortures. Philostratus’s consent
to liberate her was purchased. Alexas’s persecution had ceased long
before; he had first been sent away as envoy by his patron Antony, and
afterwards been compelled to accompany him to the war.

How she had enjoyed the peaceful days in her mother’s house! How quickly
the bright cheerfulness which she had supposed lost had returned to her
soul!--and to-day Fate had blessed her with the greatest happiness life
had ever offered. True, she had had only a few brief hours in which to
enjoy it, for the attack of the unbridled boys and the wound inflicted
upon her lover had cast a heavy shadow on her bliss.

Her mother had again proved to be in the right when she so confidently
predicted a second misfortune which would follow the first only too
soon.

Barine had been torn at midnight from her peaceful home and her wounded
lover’s bedside. This was done by the Queen’s command, and, full of
angry excitement, she said to herself that the men were right who cursed
tyranny because it transformed free human beings into characterless
chattels.

There could be nothing good awaiting her; that was proved by the
messengers whom Cleopatra had sent to summon her at this unprecedented
hour. They were her worst enemies: Iras, who desired to wed her
lover--Dion had told her so after the assault--and Alexas, whose suit
she had rejected in a way which a man never forgives.

She had already learned Iras’s feelings. The slender figure with the
narrow head, long, delicate nose, small chin, and pointed fingers,
seemed to her like a long, sharp thorn. This strange comparison had
entered her head as Iras stood rigidly erect, reading aloud in a shrill,
high voice the Queen’s command. Everything about this hard, cold face
appeared as sharp as a sting, and ready to destroy her.

Her removal from her mother’s house to the royal palace had been swift
and simple.

After the attack--of which she saw little, because, overpowered by fear
and horror, she closed her eyes--she had driven home with her lover,
where the leech had bandaged his injuries, and Berenike had quickly and
carefully transformed her own sleeping chamber into a sick-room.

Barine, after changing her dress, did not leave Dion’s side. She
had attired herself carefully, for she knew his delight in outward
adornment. When she returned from her grandparents, before sunset, she
was alone with him, and he, kissing her arm, had murmured that wherever
the Greek tongue was spoken there was not one more beautiful. The gem
was worthy of its loveliness. So she had opened her baggage to take out
the circlet which Antony had given, and it again enclasped her arm when
she entered the sick-room.

Because Dion had told her that he deemed her fairest in the simple white
robe she had worn a few days before, when there were no guests save
himself and Gorgias, and she had sung until after midnight his favourite
songs as though all were intended for him alone, her choice had fallen
upon this garment. And she rejoiced that she had worn it--the wounded
man’s eyes rested upon her so joyously when she sat down opposite to
him.

The physician had forbidden him to talk, and urged him to sleep if
possible. So Barine only held his hand in silence, whispering, whenever
he opened his eyes, a tender word of love and encouragement.

She had remained with him for hours, leaving her place at his side
merely to give him his medicine, or, with her mother’s aid, place
poultices on his wounds.

When his manly face was distorted by suffering, she shared his pain; but
during most of the time a calm, pleasant sense of happiness pervaded her
mind. She felt safe and sheltered in the possession of the man whom
she loved, though fully aware of the perils which threatened him, and,
perhaps, her also. But the assurance of his love completely filled her
heart and cast every care entirely into the shade. Many men had seemed
estimable and agreeable, a few even desirable husbands, but Dion was the
first to awaken love in her ardent but by no means passionate soul. She
regarded the experiences of the past few days as a beautiful miracle.
How she had yearned and pined until the most fervent desire of her heart
was fulfilled! Now Dion had offered her his love, and nothing could rob
her of it.

Gorgias and the sons of her uncle Arius had disturbed her a short time.
After they had gone with a good report, Berenike had entreated her
daughter to lie down and let her take her place. But Barine would not
leave her lover’s couch, and had just loosed her hair to brush it again
and fasten the thick, fair braids around her head, when, two hours after
midnight, some one knocked loudly on the window shutters. Berenike was
in the act of removing the poultice, so Barine herself went into the
atrium to wake the doorkeeper.

But the old man was not asleep, and had anticipated her. She recognized,
with a low cry of terror, the first person who entered the lighted
vestibule--Alexas. Iras followed, her head closely muffled, for
the storm was still howling through the streets. Last of all a
lantern-bearer crossed the threshold.

The Syrian saluted the startled young beauty with a formal bow, but
Iras, without a greeting or even a single word of preparation, delivered
the Queen’s command, and then read aloud, by the light of the lantern,
what Cleopatra had scrawled upon the wax tablet.

When Barine, pallid and scarcely able to control her emotion, requested
the messengers who had arrived at so late an hour to enter, in order
to give her time to prepare for the night drive and take leave of her
mother, Iras vouchsafed no reply, but, as if she had the right to rule
the house, merely ordered the doorkeeper to bring his mistress’s cloak
without delay.

While the old man, with trembling knees, moved away, Iras asked if the
wounded Dion was in the dwelling; and Barine, her self-control restored
by the question, answered, with repellent pride, that the Queen’s orders
did not command her to submit to an examination in her own house.

Iras shrugged her shoulders and said, sneeringly, to Alexas:

“In truth, I asked too much. One who attracts so many men of all ages
can scarcely be expected to know the abode of each individual.”

“The heart has a faithful memory,” replied the Syrian in a tone of
correction, but Iras echoed, contemptuously, “The heart!”

Then all were silent until, instead of the doorkeeper, Berenike herself
came hurrying in, bringing the cloak. With pallid face and bloodless
lips she wrapped it around her daughter’s shoulders, whispering, amid
floods of tears, almost inaudible words of love and encouragement, which
Iras interrupted by requesting Barine to follow her to the carriage.

The mother and daughter embraced and kissed each other, then the closed
equipage bore the persecuted woman through the storm and darkness to
Lochias.

Not a word was exchanged between Barine and the Queen’s messengers until
they reached the room where the former was to await Cleopatra; but here
Iras again endeavoured to induce her to speak. At the first question,
however, Barine answered that she had no information to give.

The room was as bright as if it were noonday, though the lights
flickered constantly, for the wind found its way through the thin
shutters closing the windows on both sides of the corner room, and a
strong, cold draught swept in. Barine wrapped her cloak more closely
around her; the storm which howled about the sea-washed palace
harmonized with the vehement agitation of her soul. Whether she had
looked within or without, there was nothing which could have soothed her
save the assurance of being loved--an assurance that held fear at
bay. Now, indignation prevented dread from overpowering her, yet calm
consideration could not fail to show her that danger threatened on
every hand. The very manner in which Iras and Alexas whispered together,
without heeding her presence, boded peril, for courtiers show
such contempt only to those whom they know are threatened with the
indifference or resentment of the sovereign. Barine, during her
married life with a man devoid of all delicacy of feeling, and with a
disposition as evil as his tongue was ready, had learned to endure
many things which were hard to bear; yet when, after a remark from Iras
evidently concerning her, she heard Alexas laugh, she was compelled to
exert the utmost self-restraint to avoid telling her enemy how utterly
she despised the cowardly cruelty of her conduct. But she succeeded in
keeping silent. Still, the painful constraint she imposed on herself
must find vent in some way, and, as the tortured anguish of her soul
reached its height, large tears rolled down her cheeks.

These, too, were noticed by her enemy and made the target of her wit;
but this time the sarcasm failed to produce its effect upon the Syrian,
for, instead of laughing, he grew grave, and whispered something which
seemed to Barine a reproof or a warning. Iras’s reply was merely a
contemptuous shrug of the shoulders.

Barine had noticed long before that her mother, in her fear and
bewilderment, had brought her own cloak instead of her daughter’s, and
this circumstance also did not seem to her foe too trivial for a sneer.

But the childish insolence that seemed to have taken possession of one
who usually by no means lacked dignity, was merely the mask beneath
which she concealed her own suffering. A grave motive was the source of
the mirth by which she affected to be moved at the sight of her enemy’s
cloak. The grey, ill-fitting garment disfigured Barine, and she desired
that the Queen should feel confident of surpassing her rival even
in outward charms. No one, not even Cleopatra, could dispense with a
protecting wrap in this cold draught, and nothing suited her better
than the purple mantle in whose delicate woollen fabric black and gold
dragons and griffins were embroidered. Iras had taken care that it lay
ready. Barine could not fail to appear like a beggar in comparison,
though Alexas said that her blue kerchief was marvellously becoming.

He was a base-minded voluptuary, who, aided by rich gifts of mind
and wide knowledge, had shunned no means of ingratiating himself
with Antony, the most lavish of patrons. The repulse which this man,
accustomed to success, had received from Barine had been hard to forget,
yet he did not resign the hope of winning her. Never had she seemed more
desirable than in her touching weakness. Even base natures are averse
to witnessing the torture of the defenceless, and when Iras had aimed
another poisoned shaft at her, he ventured, at the risk of vexing his
ally, to say, under his breath:

“Condemned criminals are usually granted, before their end, a favourite
dish. I have no cause to wish Barine anything good; but I would not
grudge that. You, on the contrary, seem to delight in pouring wormwood
on her last mouthful.”

“Certainly,” she answered, her eyes sparkling brightly. “Malice is the
purest of pleasures; at least to me, when exercised on this woman.”

The Syrian, with a strange smile, held out his hand, saying: “Keep your
good-will towards me, Iras.”

“Because,” she retorted with a sneer, “evil may follow my enmity. I
think so, too. I am not especially sensitive concerning myself, but
whoever dares”--here she raised her voice--“to harm one whom I--Just
listen to the cheers! How she carries all hearts with her! Though Fate
had made her a beggar, she would still be peerless among women. She is
like the sun. The clouds which intrude upon her pathway of radiance are
consumed and disappear.”

While uttering the last sentence she had turned towards Barine, whose
ear the sharp voice again pierced like a thorn, as she commanded her to
prepare for the examination.

Almost at the same moment the door, caught by the wind, closed with a
loud bang. The “introducer”--[Marshal of the court.]--had opened it,
and, after a hasty glance, exclaimed:

“The audience will not be given in this meeting place for all the winds
of heaven! Her Majesty desires to receive her late visitor in the Hall
of Shells.”

With these words he bowed courteously to Barine, and ushered her and
her two companions through several corridors and apartments into a
well-heated anteroom.

Here even the windows were thoroughly protected from the storm. Several
body-guards and pages belonging to the corps of the “royal boys” stood
waiting to receive them.

“This is comfortable.” said Alexas, turning to Iras. “Was the winter we
have just experienced intended to fill us with twofold gratitude for the
delights of the mild spring in this blessed room?”

“Perhaps so,” she answered sullenly, and then added in a low tone: “Here
at Lochias the seasons do not follow their usual course. They change
according to the pleasure of the supreme will. Instead of four, the
Egyptians, as you know, have but three; in the palaces on the Nile
they are countless. What is the meaning of this sudden entry of summer?
Winter would have pleased me better.”

The Queen--Iras knew not why--had changed her arrangements for
Barine’s reception. This vexed her, and her features assumed a gloomy,
threatening expression as the young beauty, casting aside her cloak and
kerchief, stood awaiting Cleopatra in a white robe of fine material and
perfect fit. The thick, fair braids, wound simply around her shapely
head, gave her an appearance of almost childish youth, and the sight
made Iras feel as if she, and Cleopatra also, were outwitted.

In the dimly lighted atrium of the house near the Paneum garden, she
had noticed only that Barine wore something white. Had it been merely
a night robe, so much the better. But she might have appeared in her
present garb at the festival of Isis. The most careful deliberation
could have selected nothing more suitable or becoming. And did this vain
woman go to rest with costly gold ornaments? Else how did the circlet
chance to be on her arm? Each of Cleopatra’s charms seemed to Iras, who
knew them all, like a valuable possession of her own. To see even the
least of them surpassed by another vexed her; and to behold in yonder
woman a form which she could not deny was no less beautiful, enraged,
nay, pierced her to the heart.

Since she had known that because of Barine she could hope for nothing
more from the man to whose love she believed she possessed a claim
dating from their childhood, she had hated the young beauty. And now
to the many things which contributed to increase her hostile mood, was
added the disagreeable consciousness that during the last few hours she
had treated her contemptibly. Had she only seen earlier what her foe’s
cloak concealed, she would have found means to give her a different
appearance. But she must remain as she was; for Chairman had already
entered. Other hours, however, would follow, and if the next did not
decide the fate of the woman whom she hated, future ones should.

For this purpose she did not need the aid of Charmian, her uncle
Archibius’s sister, who had hitherto been a beloved associate and
maternal friend. But what had happened? Iras fancied that her pleasant
features wore a repellent expression which she had never seen before.
Was this also the singer’s fault? And what was the cause?

The older woman’s manner decided the question whether she should still
bestow upon her returned relative the love of a grateful niece. No, she
would no longer put any restraint upon herself. Charmian should feel
that she (Iras) considered any favour shown to her foe an insult. To
work against her secretly was not in her nature. She had courage to show
an enemy her aversion, and she did not fear Charmian enough to pursue a
different course. She knew that the artist Leonax, Barine’s father, had
been Charmian’s lover; but this did not justify her favouring the woman
who had robbed her niece of the heart of the man whom she--as Charmian
knew--had loved from childhood.

Charmian had just had a long conversation with her brother, and had
also learned in the palace that Barine had been summoned to the Queen’s
presence in the middle of the night; so, firmly persuaded that evil
was intended to the young woman who had already passed through so many
agitating scenes of joy and sorrow, she entered the waiting-room, and
her pleasant though no longer youthful face, framed in smooth, grey
hair, was greeted by Barine as the shipwrecked mariner hails the sight
of land.

All the emotions which had darkened and embittered her soul were
soothed. She hastened towards her friend’s sister, as a frightened child
seeks its mother, and Charmian perceived what was stirring in her heart.

It would not do, under existing circumstances, to kiss her in the
palace, but she drew Leonax’s daughter towards her to show Iras that
she was ready to extend a protecting hand over the persecuted woman. But
Barine gazed at her with pleading glances, beseeching aid, whispering
amid her tears: “Help me, Charmian. She has tortured, insulted,
humiliated me with looks and words--so cruelly, so spitefully! Help me;
I can bear no more.”

Charmian shook her kind head and urged her in a whisper to calm herself.
She had robbed Iras of her lover; she should remember that. Cost what
it might, she must not shed another tear. The Queen was gracious. She,
Charmian, would aid her. Everything would depend on showing herself to
Cleopatra as she was, not as slander represented her. She must answer
her as she would Archibius or herself.

The kindly woman, as she spoke, stroked her brow and eyes with maternal
tenderness, and Barine felt as if goodness itself had quelled the
tempest in her soul. She gazed around her as though roused from a
troubled dream, and now for the first time perceived the richly adorned
room in which she stood, the admiring glances of the boys in the
Macedonian corps of pages, and the bright fire blazing cheerily on the
hearth. The howling of the storm increased the pleasant sense of being
under a firm roof, and Iras, who had whispered to the “introducer” at
the door, no longer seemed like a sharp thorn or a spiteful demon, but a
woman by no means destitute of charm, who repulsed her, but on whom
she had inflicted the keenest pang a woman’s heart can suffer. Then
she again thought of her wounded lover at home, and remembered that,
whatever might happen, his heart did not belong to Iras, but to her
alone. Lastly, she recalled Archibius’s description of Cleopatra’s
childhood, and this remembrance was followed by the conviction that
the omnipotent sovereign would be neither cruel nor unjust, and that
it would depend upon herself to win her favour. Charmian, too, was the
Queen’s confidante; and if the manner of Iras and Alexas had alarmed
her, Charmian’s might well inspire confidence.

All these thoughts darted through her brain with the speed of lightning.
Only a brief time for consideration remained; for, even as she bowed
her head on the bosom of her friend, the “introducer” entered the room,
crying, “Her illustrious Majesty will expect those whom she summoned in
a few minutes!”

Soon after a chamberlain appeared, waving a fan of ostrich feathers and,
preceded by the court official, they passed through several brilliantly
lighted, richly furnished rooms.

Barine again breathed freely and moved with head erect; and when the
wide, lofty folding doors of ebony, against whose deep black surface the
inlaid figures of Tritons, mermaids, shells, fish, and sea monsters were
sharply relieved, she beheld a glittering, magnificent scene, for the
hall which Cleopatra had chosen for her reception was completely covered
with various marine forms, from the shells to coral and starfish.

A wide, lofty structure, composed of masses of stalactites and unhewn
blocks of stone, formed a deep grotto at the end of the hall, whence
peered the gigantic head of a monster whose open jaws formed the
fireplace of the chimney. Logs of fragrant Arabian wood were blazing
brightly on the hearth, and the dragon’s ruby glass eyes diffused a red
light through the apartment which, blended with the rays of the white
and pink lamps in the shape of lotus flowers fastened among gold and
silver tendrils and groups of sedges on the walls and ceiling, filling
the spacious apartment with the soft light whose roseate hue was
specially becoming to Cleopatra’s waxen complexion.

Several stewards and cup-bearers, the master of the hunt, chamberlains,
female attendants, eunuchs, and other court officials were awaiting the
Queen, and pages who belonged to the Macedonian cadet corps of royal
boys stood sleepily, with drooping heads, around the small throne of
gold, coral, and amber which, placed opposite to the chimney, awaited
the sovereign.

Barine had already seen this magnificent hall, and others still more
beautiful in the Sebasteum, and the splendour therefore neither excited
nor abashed her; only she would fain have avoided the numerous train of
courtiers. Could it be Cleopatra’s intention to question her before the
eyes of all these men, women, and boys?

She no longer felt afraid, but her heart still throbbed quickly. It had
beat in the same way in her girlhood, when she was asked to sing in the
presence of strangers.

At last she heard doors open, and an invisible hand parted the heavy
curtains at her right. She expected to see the Regent, the Keeper of the
Seal, and the whole brilliantly adorned train of attendants who always
surrounded the Queen on formal occasions, enter the magnificent hall.
Else why had it been selected as the scene of this nocturnal trial?

But what was this?

While she was still recalling the display at the Adonis festival,
the curtains began to close again. The courtiers around the throne
straightened their bowed figures, the pages forgot their fatigue, and
all joined in the Greek salutation of welcome, and the “Life! happiness!
health!” with which the Egyptians greeted their sovereign.

The woman of middle height who now appeared before the curtain, and who,
as she crossed the wide hall alone and unattended, seemed to Barine even
smaller than when surrounded by the gay throng at the Adonis festival,
must be the Queen. Ay, it was she!

Iras was already standing by her side, and Charmian was approaching with
the “introducer.” The women rendered her various little services thus
Iras took from her shoulders the purple mantle, with its embroidery of
black and gold dragons. What an exquisite masterpiece of the loom it
must be!

All the dangers against which she must defend herself flashed swiftly
through Barine’s mind; yet, for an instant, she felt the foolish
feminine desire to see and handle the costly mantle.

But Iras had already laid it on the arm of one of the waiting maids,
and Cleopatra now glanced around her, and with a youthful, elastic step
approached the throne.

Once more the feeling of timidity which she had had in her girlhood
overpowered Barine, but with it came the memory of the garden of
Epicurus, and Archibius’s assurance that she, too, would have left
the Queen with her heart overflowing with warm enthusiasm had not a
disturbing influence interposed between them.

Yet, had this disturbing influence really existed? No. It was created
solely by Cleopatra’s jealous imagination. If she would only permit her
to speak freely now, she should hear that Antony cared as little for
her as she, Barine, for the boy Caesarion. What prevented her from
confessing that her heart was another’s? Iras had no one to blame save
herself if she spoke the truth pitilessly in her presence.

Cleopatra now turned to the “introducer,” waving her hand towards the
throne and those who surrounded it.

Ay, she was indeed beautiful. How bright and clear was the light of her
large eyes, in spite of the harassing days through which she had passed
and the present night of watching!

Cleopatra’s heart was still elated by the reception of her bold idea of
escape, and she approached Barine with gentler feelings and intentions.
She had chosen a pleasanter room for the interview than the one Iras had
selected. She desired a special environment to suit each mood, and as
soon as she saw the group of courtiers who surrounded the throne she
ordered their dismissal.

The “introducer,” to carry out the usual ceremonial, had commanded their
presence in the audience chamber, but their attendance had given the
meeting a form which was now distasteful to the Queen. She wished to
question, not to condemn.

At so happy an hour it was a necessity of her nature to be gracious.
Perhaps she had been unduly anxious concerning this singer. It even
seemed probable; for a man who loved her like Antony could scarcely
yearn for the favour of another woman. This view had been freshly
confirmed by a brief conversation with the chief Inspector of
Sacrifices, an estimable old man, who, after hearing how Antony had
hurried in pursuit of her at Actium, raised his eyes and hands as if
transported with rapture, exclaiming: “Unhappy Queen! Yet happiest of
women! No one was ever so ardently beloved; and when the tale is told
of the noble Trojan who endured such sore sufferings for a woman’s
sake, future generations will laud the woman whose resistless spell
constrained the greatest man of his day, the hero of heroes, to cast
aside victory, fame, and the hope of the world’s sovereignty, as mere
worthless rubbish.”

Posterity, whose verdict she dreaded--this wise old reader of the
future was right--must extol her as the most fervently beloved, the most
desirable of women.

And Mark Antony? Even had the magic power of Nektanebus’s goblet forced
him to follow her and to leave the battle, there still remained his
will, a copy of which--received from Rome--Zeno, the Keeper of the Seal,
had showed to her at the close of the council. “Wherever he might die,”
 so ran the words, “he desired to be buried by the side of Cleopatra.”
 Octavianus had wrested it from the Vestal Virgins, to whose care it
had been entrusted, in order to fill the hearts of Roman citizens and
matrons with indignation against his foe. The plot had succeeded, but
the document had reminded Cleopatra that her heart had given this man
the first of its flowers, that love for him had been the sunshine of her
life. So, with head erect, she had crossed the threshold where she
was to meet the woman who had ventured to sow tares in her garden.
She intended to devote only a short time to the interview, which she
anticipated with the satisfaction of the strong who are confident of
victory.

As she approached the throne, her train left the hall; the only persons
who remained were Charmian, Iras, Zeno, the Keeper of the Seal, and the
“introducer.”

Cleopatra cast a rapid glance at the throne, to which an obsequious
gesture of the courtier’s hand invited her; but she remained standing,
gazing keenly at Barine.

Was it the coloured rays from the ruby eyes of the dragon in the
fireplace which shed the roseate glow on Cleopatra’s cheeks? It
certainly enhanced the beauty of a face now only too frequently pallid
and colourless, when rouge did not lend its aid; but Barine understood
Archibius’s ardent admiration for this rare woman, when Cleopatra, with
a faint smile, requested her to approach.

Nothing more winning could be imagined than the frank kindness, wholly
untinged by condescending pride, of this powerful sovereign.

The less Barine had expected such a reception the more deeply it moved
her; nay, her eyes grew dim with grateful emotion, which lent them so
beautiful a lustre, she looked so lovely in her glad surprise, that
Cleopatra thought the months which had elapsed since her first meeting
with the singer had enhanced her charms. And how young she was! The
Queen swiftly computed the years which Barine must have lived as the
wife of Philostratus, and afterwards as the attractive mistress of a
hospitable house, and found it difficult to reconcile the appearance of
this blooming young creature with the result of the calculation.

She was surprised, too, to note the aristocratic bearing whose
possession no one could deny the artist’s daughter. This was apparent
even in her dress, yet Iras had roused her in the middle of the night,
and certainly had given her no time for personal adornment.

She had expected lack of refinement and boldness, in the woman who was
said to have attracted so many men, but even the most bitter prejudice
could have detected no trace of it. On the contrary, the embarrassment
which she could not yet wholly subdue lent her an air of girlish
timidity. All in all, Barine was a charming creature, who bewitched men
by her vivacity, her grace, and her exquisite voice, not by coquetry and
pertness. That she possessed unusual mental endowments Cleopatra did not
believe. Barine had only one advantage over her--youth.

Time had not yet robbed the former of a single charm, while from the
Queen he had wrested many; their number was known only to herself and
her confidantes, but at this hour she did not miss them.

Barine, with a low, modest bow, advanced towards the Queen, who
commenced the conversation by graciously apologizing for the late hour
at which she had summoned her. “But,” she added, “you belong to the
ranks of the nightingales, who during the night most readily and
exquisitely reveal to us what stirs their hearts--”

Barine gazed silently at the floor a moment, and when she raised her
eyes her voice was faint and timid. “I sing, it is true, your Majesty,
but I have nothing else in common with the birds. The wings which, when
a child, bore me wherever I desired, have lost their strength. They do
not wholly refuse their service, but they now require favourable hours
to move.”

“I should not have expected that in the time of your youth, your most
beautiful possession,” replied the Queen. “Yet it is well. I too--how
long ago it seems!--was a child, and my imagination outstripped even the
flight of the eagle. It could dare the risk unpunished. Now----Whoever
has reached mature life is wise to let these wings remain idle. The
mortal who ventures to use them may easily approach too near the sun,
and, like Icarus, the wax will melt from his pinions. Let me tell you
this: To the child the gift of imagination is nourishing bread. In later
years we need it only as salt, as spice, as stimulating wine. Doubtless
it points out many paths, and shows us their end; but, of a hundred
rambles to which it summons him, scarcely one pleases the mature man. No
troublesome parasite is more persistently and sharply rebuffed. Who
can blame the ill-treated friend if it is less ready to serve us as the
years go on? The wise man will keep his ears ever open, but rarely lend
it his active hand. To banish it from life is to deprive the plant of
blossoms, the rose of its fragrance, the sky of its stars.”

“I have often said the same things to myself, though in a less clear
and beautiful form, when life has been darkened,” replied Barine, with
a faint blush; for she felt that these words were doubtless intended
to warn her against cherishing too aspiring wishes. “But, your Majesty,
here also the gods place you, the great Queen, far above us. We should
often find existence bare indeed but for the fancy which endows us with
imaginary possessions. You have the power to secure a thousand things
which to us common mortals only the gift of imagination pictures as
attainable.”

“You believe that happiness is like wealth, and that the happiest person
is the one who receives the largest number of the gifts of fortune,”
 answered the Queen. “The contrary, I think, can be easily proved. The
maxim that the more we have the less we need desire, is also false,
though in this world there are only a certain number of desirable
things. He who already possesses one of ten solidi which are to be
divided, ought really to desire only nine, and therefore would be poorer
by a wish than another who has none. True, it cannot be denied that the
gods have burdened or endowed me with a greater number of perishable
gifts than you and many others. You seem to set a high value upon them.
Doubtless there may be one or another which you could appropriate only
by the aid of the imagination. May I ask which seems to you the most
desirable?”

“Spare me the choice, I beseech you,” replied Barine in an embarrassed
tone. “I need nothing from your treasures, and, as for the other
possessions I lack many things; but it is uncertain how the noblest and
highest gifts in the possession of the marvellously endowed favourite of
the gods would suit the small, commonplace ones I call mine, and I know
not--”

“A sensible doubt!” interrupted the Queen. “The lame man, who desired
a horse, obtained one, and on his first ride broke his neck. The only
blessing--the highest of all--which surely bestows happiness can neither
be given away nor transferred from one to another. He who has gained it
may be robbed of it the next moment.”

The last sentence had fallen from the Queen’s lips slowly and
thoughtfully, but Barine, remembering Archibius’s tale, said modestly,
“You are thinking of the chief good mentioned by Epicurus--perfect peace
of mind.”

Cleopatra’s eyes sparkled with a brighter light as she asked eagerly,
“Do you, the granddaughter of a philosopher, know the system of the
master?”

“Very superficially, your Majesty. My intellect is far inferior to
yours. It is difficult for me thoroughly to comprehend all the details
of any system of philosophy.”

“Yet you have attempted it?”

“Others endeavoured to introduce me into the doctrines of the Stoics.
I have forgotten most of what I learned; only one thing lingered in my
memory, and I know why--because it pleased me.”

“And that?”

“Was the wise law of living according to the dictates of our own
natures. The command to shun everything contradictory to the simple
fundamental traits of our own characters pleased me, and wherever I saw
affectation, artificiality, and mannerism I was repelled, while from
my grandfather’s teaching I drew the principle that I could do nothing
better than to remain, so far as life would permit, what I had been as
a child ere I had heard the first word of philosophy, or felt the
constraint which society and its forms impose.”

“So the system of the Stoics leads to this end also!” cried the Queen
gaily, and, turning to the companion of her own studies, she added: “Did
you hear, Charmian? If we had only succeeded in perceiving the wisdom
and calm, purposeful order of existence which the Stoics, amid so
much that is perverse, unhealthy, and provocative of contradiction,
nevertheless set above everything else! How can I, in order to live
wisely, imitate Nature, when in her being and action I encounter so
much that is contradictory to my human reason, which is a part of the
divine?”

Here she hesitated, and the expression of her face suddenly changed.

She had advanced close to Barine and, while standing directly in front
of her, her eyes had rested on the gem which adorned her arm above the
elbow.

Was it this which agitated Cleopatra so violently that her voice lost
its bewitching melody, as she went on in a harsh, angry tone?--“So that
is the source of all this misfortune. Even as a child I detested
that sort of arbitrary judgment which passes under the mask of stern
morality. There is an example! Do you hear the howling of the storm? In
human nature, as well as in the material world, there are tempests and
volcanoes which bring destruction, and, if the original character of any
individual is full of such devastating forces, like the neighbourhood
of Vesuvius or Etna, the goal to which his impulses would lead him is
clearly visible. Ay, the Stoic is not allowed to destroy the harmony and
order of things in existence, any more than to disturb those which are
established by the state. But to follow our natural impulses wherever
they lead us is so perilous a venture, that whoever has the power to fix
a limit to it betimes is in duty bound to do so. This power is mine, and
I will use it!”

Then, with iron severity, she asked: “As it seems to be one of the
demands of your nature, woman, to allure and kindle the hearts of all
who bear the name of man, even though they have not yet donned the garb
of the Ephebi, so, too, you seem to appear to delight in idle ornaments.
Or,” and as she spoke she touched Barine’s shoulder”--or why should you
wear, during the hours of slumber, that circlet on your arm?”

Barine had watched with increasing anxiety the marked change in the
manner and language of the Queen. She now beheld a repetition of what
she had experienced at the Adonis festival, but this time she knew what
had roused Cleopatra’s jealousy. She, Barine, wore on her arm a gift
from Antony. With pallid face she strove to find a fitting answer, but
ere she could do so Iras advanced to the side of the incensed Queen,
saying: “That circlet is the counterpart of the one your august husband
bestowed upon you. The singer’s must also be a gift from Mark Antony.
Like every one else in the world, she deems the noble Imperator the
greatest man of his day. Who can blame her for prizing it so highly that
she does not remove it even while she sleeps?”

Again Barine felt as if a thorn had pierced her; but though the
resentment which she had previously experienced once more surged
hotly within her heart, she forced herself to maintain seemly external
composure, and struggled for some word in answer; but she found none
suitable, and remained silent.

She had told the truth. From early youth she had followed the impulses
of her own nature without heeding the opinion of mortals, as the
teachings of the Stoics directed, and she had been allowed to do so
because this nature was pure, truthful, alive to the beautiful, and,
moreover, free from those unbridled, volcanic impulses to which the
Queen alluded. The cheerful patience of her soul had found ample
satisfaction in the cultivation of her art, and in social intercourse
with men who permitted her to share their own intellectual life. Today
she had learned that the first great passion of her heart had met with
a response. Now she was bound to her lover, and knew herself to be pure
and guiltless, far better entitled to demand respect from sterner judges
of morality than the woman who condemned her, or the spiteful Iras, who
had not ceased to offer her love to Dion.

The sorrowful feeling of being misunderstood and unjustly condemned,
mingled with fear of the terrible fate to which she might be sentenced
by the omnipotent sovereign, whose clear intellect was clouded by
jealousy and the resentment of a mother’s wounded heart, paralyzed her
tongue. Besides, she was confused by the angry emotion which the sight
of Iras awakened. Twice, thrice she strove to utter a few words of
explanation, defence, but her voice refused to obey her will.

When Charmian at last approached to encourage her, it was too late; the
indignant Queen had turned away, exclaiming to Iras: “let her be taken
back to Lochias. Her guilt is proved; but it does not become the injured
person, the accuser, to award the punishment. This must be left to the
judges before whom we will bring her.”

Then Barine once more recovered the power of speech. How dared Cleopatra
assert that she was convicted of a crime, without hearing her defence?

As surely as she felt her own innocence she must succeed in proving
it, and with this consciousness she cried out to the Queen in a tone of
touching entreaty: “O your Majesty, do not leave me without hearing me!
As truly as I believe in your justice, I can ask you to listen to me
once more. Do not give me up to the woman who hates me because the man
whom she--”

Here Cleopatra interrupted her. Royal dignity forbade her to hear one
woman’s jealous accusation of another, but, with the subtle discernment
with which women penetrate one another’s moods, she heard in Barine’s
piteous appeal a sincere conviction that she was too severely condemned.
Doubtless she also had reason to believe in Iras’s hate, and Cleopatra
knew how mercilessly she pursued those who had incurred her displeasure.
She had rejected and still shuddered at her advice to remove the singer
from her path; for an inner voice warned her not to burden her soul now
with a fresh crime, which would disturb its peace. Besides, she had at
first been much attracted by this charming, winning creature; but the
irritating thought that Antony had bestowed the same gift upon the
sovereign and the artist’s daughter still so incensed her, that it taxed
to the utmost her graciousness and self-control as, without addressing
any special person, she exclaimed, glancing back into the hall: “This
examination will be followed by another. When the time comes, the
accused must appear before the judges; therefore she must remain at
Lochias and in custody. It is my will that no harm befalls her. You are
her friend, Charmian. I will place her in your charge. Only”--here
she raised her voice--“on pain of my anger, do not allow her by
any possibility to leave the palace, even for a moment, or to hold
intercourse with any person save yourself.”

With these words she passed out of the hall and went into her own
apartments. She had turned the night into day, not only to despatch
speedily matters which seemed to her to permit of no delay, but even
more because, since the battle of Actium, she dreaded the restless hours
upon her lonely couch. They seemed endless; and though before she had
remembered with pleasure the unprecedented display and magnificence with
which she had surrounded her love-life with Antony, she now in these
hours reproached herself for having foolishly squandered the wealth of
her people. The present appeared unbearable, and from the future a host
of black cares pressed upon her.

The following days were overcrowded with business details.

Half of her nights were spent in the observatory. She had not asked
again for Barine. On the fifth night she permitted Alexas to conduct
her once more to the little observatory which had been erected for her
father at Lochias, and Antony’s favourite knew how to prove that a star
which had long threatened her planet was that of the woman whom she
seemed to have forgotten as completely as she had ignored his former
warning against this very foe.

The Queen denied this, but Alexas eagerly continued: “The night after
your return home your kindness was again displayed in its inexhaustible
and--to us less noble souls--incomprehensible wealth. Deeply agitated,
we watched during the memorable examination the touching spectacle of
the greatest heart making itself the standard by which to measure what
is petty and ignoble. But ere the second trial takes place the wanderers
above, who know the future, bid me warn you once more; for that woman’s
every look was calculated, every word had its fixed purpose, every tone
of her voice was intended to produce a certain effect. Whatever she said
or may yet say had no other design than to deceive my royal mistress. As
yet there have been no definite questions and answers. But you will have
her examined, and then----What may she not make of the story of Mark
Antony, Barine, and the two armlets? Perhaps it will be a masterpiece.”

“Do you know its real history?” asked Cleopatra, clasping her fingers
more closely around the pencil in her hand.

“If I did,” replied Alexas, smiling significantly, “the receiver of
stolen goods should not betray the thief.”

“Not even if the person who has been robbed--the Queen--commands you to
give up the dishonestly acquired possession?”

“Unfortunately, even then I should be forced to withhold obedience; for
consider, my royal mistress, there are but two great luminaries around
which my dark life revolves. Shall I betray the moon, when I am sure of
gaining nothing thereby save to dim the warm light of the sun?”

“That means that your revelations would wound me, the sun?”

“Unless your lofty soul is too great to be reached by shadows which
surround less noble women with an atmosphere of indescribable torture.”

“Do you intend to render your words more attractive by the veil with
which you shroud them? It is transparent, and dims the vision very
little. My soul, you think, should be free from jealousy and the other
weaknesses of my sex. There you are mistaken. I am a woman, and wish to
remain one. As Terence’s Chremes says he is a human being, and nothing
human is unknown to him, I do not hesitate to confess all feminine
frailties. Anubis told me of a queen in ancient times who would not
permit the inscriptions to record ‘she,’ but ‘he came,’ or ‘he, the
ruler, conquered.’ Fool! Whatever concerns me, my womanhood is not
less lofty than the crown. I was a woman ere I became Queen. The people
prostrate themselves before my empty litters; but when, in my youth, I
wandered in disguise with Antony through the city streets and visited
some scene of merrymaking, while the men gazed admiringly at me, and we
heard voices behind us murmur, ‘A handsome couple!’ I returned home full
of joy and pride. But there was something greater still for the woman
to learn, when the heart in the breast of the Queen forgot throne and
sceptre and, in the hours consecrated to Eros, tasted joys known
to womanhood alone. How can you men, who only command and desire,
understand the happiness of sacrifice? I am a woman; my birth does not
exalt me above any feeling of my sex; and what I now ask is not as Queen
but as woman.”

“If that is the case,” Alexas answered with his hand upon his heart,
“you impose silence upon me; for were I to confess to the woman
Cleopatra what agitates my soul, I should be guilty of a double crime--I
would violate a promise and betray the friend who confided his noble
wife to my protection.”

“Now the darkness is becoming too dense for me,” replied Cleopatra,
raising her head with repellent pride. “Or, if I choose to raise the
veil, I must point out to you the barriers--

“Which surround the Queen,” replied the Syrian with an obsequious bow.
“There you behold the fact. It is an impossibility to separate the woman
from the princess. So far as I am concerned, I do not wish to anger the
former against the presumptuous adorer, and I desire to yield to the
latter the obedience which is her due. Therefore I entreat you to
forget the armlet and its many painful associations, and pass to the
consideration of other matters. Perhaps the fair Barine will voluntarily
confess everything, and even add how she managed to ensnare the amiable
son of the greatest of men, and the most admirable of mothers, the young
King Caesarion.”

Cleopatra’s eyes flashed more brightly, and she angrily exclaimed: “I
found the boy just now as though he were possessed by demons. He was
ready to tear the bandage from his wound, if he were refused the woman
whom he loved. A magic potion was the first thought, and his tutor of
course attributes everything to magic arts. Charmian, on the contrary,
declares that his visits annoyed and even alarmed Barine. Nothing except
a rigid investigation can throw light upon this subject. We will await
the Imperator’s return. Do you think that he will again seek the singer?
You are his most trusted confidant. If you desire his best good, and
care for my favour, drop your hesitation and answer this question.”

The Syrian assumed the manner of a man who had reached a decision,
and answered firmly: “Certainly he will, unless you prevent him. The
simplest way would be--”

“Well?”

“To inform him, as soon as he lands, that she is no longer to be found.
I should be especially happy to receive this commission from my royal
sun.”

“And do you think it would dim the light of your moon a little, were he
to seek her here in vain?”

“As surely as that the contrary would be the case if he were always as
gratefully aware of the peerless brilliancy of his sun as it deserves.
Helios suffers no other orb to appear so long as he adorns the heavens.
His lustre quenches all the rest. Let my sun so decree, and Barine’s
little star will vanish.”

“Enough! I know your aim now. But a human life is no small thing, and
this woman, too, is the child of a mother. We must consider, earnestly
consider, whether our purpose cannot be gained without proceeding
to extremes. This must be done with zeal and a kindly intention--But
I--Now, when the fate of this country, my own, and the children’s is
hanging in the balance, when I have not fifteen minutes at my command,
and there is no end of writing and consulting, I can waste no time on
such matters.”

“The reflective mind must be permitted to use its mighty wings
unimpeded,” cried the Syrian eagerly. “Leave the settlement of minor
matters to trustworthy friends.”

Here they were interrupted by the “introducer,” who announced the
eunuch Mardion. He had come on business which, spite of the late hour,
permitted no delay.

Alexas accompanied the Queen to the tablinum, where they found the
eunuch. A slave attended him, carrying a pouch filled with letters which
had just been brought by two messengers from Syria. Among them were some
which must be answered without delay. The Keeper of the Seal and the
Exegetus were also waiting. Their late visit was due to the necessity of
holding a conference in relation to the measures to be adopted to calm
the excited citizens. All the galleys which had escaped from the battle
had entered the harbour the day before, wreathed with garlands as if a
great victory had been won. Loud acclamations greeted them, yet tidings
of the defeat at Actium spread with the swiftness of the wind. Crowds
were now gathering, threatening demonstrations had been made in front
of the Sebasteum, and on the square of the Serapeum the troops had been
compelled to interfere, and blood had flowed.

There lay the letters. Zeno remarked that more papers conferring
authority were required for the work on the canal, and the Exegetus
earnestly besought definite instruction.

“It is much--much,” murmured Cleopatra. Then, drawing herself up to her
full height, she exclaimed, “Well, then, to work!”

But Alexas did not permit her to do this at once. Humbly advancing as
she took her seat at the large writing-table, he whispered: “And
with all this, must my royal mistress devote time and thought to the
destroyer of her peace. To disturb your Majesty with this trifle is a
crime; yet it must be committed, for should the affair remain unheeded
longer, the trickling rivulet may become a mountain torrent--”

Here Cleopatra, whose glance had just rested upon a fateful letter
from King Herod, turned her face half towards her husband’s favourite,
exclaiming curtly, with glowing cheeks, “Presently.”

Then she glanced rapidly over the letter, pushed it excitedly aside, and
dismissed the waiting Syrian with the impatient words: “Attend to the
trial and the rest. No injustice, but no untimely mildness. I will look
into this unpleasant matter myself before the Imperator returns.”

“And the authority?” asked the Syrian, with another low bow.

“You have it. If you need a written one, apply to Zeno. We will discuss
the affair further at some less busy hour.”

The Syrian retired; but Cleopatra turned to the eunuch and, flushed with
emotion, cried, pointing to the King of Judea’s letter: “Did you ever
witness baser ingratitude? The rats think the ship is sinking, and it is
time to leave it. If we succeed in keeping above water, they will return
in swarms; and this must, must, must be done, for the sake of this
beloved country and her independence. Then the children, the children!
All our powers must now be taxed, every expedient must be remembered and
used. We will hammer each feeble hope until it becomes the strong steel
of certainty. We will transform night into day. The canal will save the
fleet. Mark Antony will find in Africa Pinarius Scarpus with untouched
loyal legions. The gladiators are faithful to us. We can easily make
them ours, and my brain is seething with other plans. But first we will
attend to the Alexandrians. No violence!”

This exclamation was followed by order after order, and the promise
that, if necessary, she would show herself to the people.

The Exegetus was filled with admiration as he received the clear,
sagacious directions. After he had retired with his companions, the
Queen again turned to the Regent, saying: “We did wisely to make the
people happy at first with tidings of victory. The unexpected news of
terrible disaster might have led them to some unprecedented deed of
madness. Disappointment is a more common pain, for which less powerful
remedies will suffice. Besides, many things could be arranged ere they
knew that I was here. How much we have accomplished already, Mardion!
But I have not even granted myself the joy of seeing my children. I was
forced to defer the pleasure of the companionship of my oldest friends,
even Archibius. When he comes again he will be admitted. I have given
the order. He knows Rome thoroughly. I must hear his opinion of pending
negotiations.”

She shivered as she spoke, and pressing her hand upon her brow,
exclaimed: “Octavianus victor, Cleopatra vanquished! I, who was
everything to Caesar, beseeching mercy from his heir. I, a petitioner
to Octavia’s brother! Yet, no, no! There are still a hundred chances of
avoiding the horrible doom. But whoever wishes to compel the field to
bear fruits must dig sturdily, draw the buckets from the well, plough,
and sow the seed. To work, then, to work! When Antony returns he must
find all things ready. The first success will restore his lost energy.
I glanced through yonder letter while talking with the Exegetus; now I
will dictate the answer.”

So she sat reading, writing, and dictating, listening, answering, and
giving orders, until the east brightened with the approach of dawn, the
morning star grew pale, and the Regent, utterly exhausted, entreated her
to consider her own health and his years, and permit him a few hours’
rest.

Then she, too, allowed herself to be led into her darkened chamber, and
this time a friendly, dreamless slumber closed her weary eyes and held
her captive until roused by the loud shouts of the multitude, who had
heard of the Queen’s return and flocked to Lochias.



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.



CHAPTER XV.

Charmain went towards her own apartments. How often she had had a
similar experience! In the midst of the warmest admiration for this
rare woman’s depth of feeling, masculine strength of intellect, tireless
industry, watchful care for her native land, steadfast loyalty, and
maternal devotion, she had been sobered in the most pitiable way.

She had been forced to see Cleopatra, for the sake of realizing a
childish dream, and impressing her lover, squander vast sums, which
diminished the prosperity of her subjects; place great and important
matters below the vain, punctilious care of her own person; forget, in
petty jealousy, the justice and kindness which were marked traits in her
character; and, though the most kindly and womanly of sovereigns, suffer
herself to be urged by angry excitement to inflict outrage on a subject
whose acts had awakened her displeasure. The lofty ambition which had
inspired her noblest and most praiseworthy deeds had more than once been
the source of acts which she herself regretted. When a child, she could
not endure to be surpassed in difficult tasks, and still deemed it a
necessity to be first and peerless. Hence the unfortunate circumstance
that Antony had given Barine the counterpart of an armlet which she
herself wore as a gift from her lover, was perhaps the principal cause
of her bitter resentment against the hapless woman.

Charmian had seen Cleopatra forgive freely and generously many a wrong,
nay, many an affront, inflicted upon her; but to see herself placed
by her husband on the same plane as a Barine, even in the most trivial
matter, might easily seem to her an unbearable insult; and the mishap
which had befallen Caesarion, in consequence of his foolish passion for
the young beauty, gave her a right to punish her rival.

Deeply anxious concerning the fate of the woman in her care--greatly
agitated, moreover, and exhausted physically and mentally--Charmian
sought her own apartments.

Here she hoped to find solace in Barine’s cheerful and equable nature;
here the helpful hands of her dark-skinned maid and confidante awaited
her.

The sun was low in the western horizon when she entered the anteroom.
The members of the body-guard who were on duty told her that nothing
unusual had occurred, and with a sigh of relief she passed into the
sitting-room.

But the Ethiopian, who usually came to meet her with words of welcome,
took her veil and wraps, and removed her shoes, was absent. Today no
one greeted her. Not until she entered the second room, which she had
assigned to her guest, did she find Barine, who was weeping bitterly.

During Charmian’s absence the latter had received a letter from Alexas,
in which he informed her that he was ordered by the Queen to subject her
to an examination the next morning. Her cause looked dark but, if she
did not render his duty harder by the harshness which had formerly
caused him much pain, he would do his utmost to protect her from
imprisonment, forced labour in the mines, or even worse misfortunes.
The imprudent game which she had played with King Caesarion had
unfortunately roused the people against her. The depth of their
indignation was shown by the fury with which they had assailed the
house of her grandfather, Didymus. Nothing could save Dion, who had
audaciously attacked the illustrious son of their beloved Queen, from
the rage of the populace. He, Alexas, knew that in this Dion she would
lose a friend and protector, but he would be disposed to take his place
if her conduct did not render it impossible for him to unite mercy with
justice.

This shameful letter, which promised Barine clemency in return for her
favour without unmasking him in his character of judge, explained to
Charmian the agitation in which she found her friend’s daughter.

It was doubtless a little relief to Barine to express her loathing and
abhorrence of Alexas as eagerly as her gentle nature would permit, but
fear, grief, and indignation continued to struggle for the mastery in
her oppressed soul.

It would have been expected that the keen-witted woman would have
eagerly inquired what Charmian had accomplished with the Queen and
Archibius, and what new events had happened to affect Cleopatra, the
state, and the city; but she questioned her with far deeper interest
concerning the welfare of her lover, desiring information in regard
to many things of which her friend could give no tidings. In her
brief visit to Dion’s couch she had not learned how he bore his own
misfortunes and Barine’s, what view he took of the future, or what he
expected from the woman he loved.

Charmian’s ignorance and silence in regard to these very matters
increased the anxiety of the endangered woman, who saw not only her own
life, but those dearest to her, seriously threatened. So she entreated
her hostess to relieve her from the uncertainty which was harder to
endure than the most terrible reality; but the latter either could not
or would not give her any further details of Cleopatra’s intentions,
or the fate and present abode of her grandparents and Helena. This
increased her anxiety, for if Alexas’s information was correct, her
family must be homeless. When Charmian at last admitted that she had
seen Dion only a few minutes, the tortured Barine’s power of quiet
endurance gave way.

She, whose nature was so hopeful that, when the glow of the sunset
faded, she already anticipated with delight the rosy dawn of the next
day, now beheld in Cleopatra’s hand the reed which was to sign the
death-sentence of Dion and herself. Her mental vision conjured up her
relatives wounded by the falling house or bleeding under the stones
hurled by the raging populace. She heard Alexas command the executioner
to subject her to the rack, and fancied that Anukis had not returned
because she had failed to find Dion. The Queen’s soldiers had probably
carried him to prison, loaded with chains, if Philostratus had not
already instigated the mob to drag him through the streets.

With feverish impetuosity, which alarmed Charmian the more because
it was so unlike her old friend’s daughter, Barine described all the
spectres with which her imagination--agitated by terror, longing, love,
and loathing--terrified her; but the former exerted all the power of
eloquence she possessed, by turns reproving her and loading her with
caresses, in order to soothe her and rouse her from her despair. But
nothing availed. At last she succeeded in persuading the unhappy woman
to go with her to the window, which afforded a most beautiful view.
Westward, beyond the Heptastadium, the sun was sinking below the forests
of masts in the harbour of the Eunostus; and Charmian, who had learned
from her intercourse with the royal children how to soothe a troubled
young heart, to divert Barine’s thoughts, directed her attention to
the crimson glow in the western sky, and told her how her father, the
artist, had showed her the superb brilliancy which colours gained at
this hour of the day, even when the west was less radiant than now. But
Barine, who usually could never gaze her fill at such a spectacle, did
not thank her, for this sunset reminded her of another which she had
lately watched at Dion’s side, and she again broke into convulsive sobs.

Charmian, not knowing what to do, passed her arm around her. Just at
that moment the door was hurriedly thrown open, and Anukis, the Nubian,
entered.

Her mistress knew that something unusual must have happened to detain
her so long from her post at Barine’s side, and her appearance showed
that she had been attending to important matters which had severely
taxed her strength. Her shining dark skin looked ashen grey, her
high forehead, surrounded by tangled woolly locks, was dripping with
perspiration, and her thick lips were pale. Although she must have
undergone great fatigue, she did not seem in need of rest; for, after
greeting the ladies, apologizing for her long absence, and telling
Barine that this time Dion had seemed to her half on the way to
recovery, a rapid side glance at her mistress conveyed an entreaty that
she would follow her into the next room.

But the language of the Nubian’s eyes had not escaped the suspicious
watchfulness of the anxious Barine and, overwhelmed with fresh terror,
she begged that she might hear all.

Charmian ordered her maid to speak openly; but Anukis, ere she began,
assured them that she had received the news she brought from a
most trustworthy source--only it would make a heavy demand upon the
resolution and courage of Barine, whom she had hoped to find in a very
different mood. There was no time to lose. She was expected at the
appointed place an hour after sunset.

Here Charmian interrupted the maid with the exclamation “Impossible!”
 and reminded her of the guards which Alexas, aided by Iras, who was
thoroughly familiar with the palace, had stationed the day before in the
anteroom, at all the doors--nay, even beneath the windows.

The Nubian replied that everything had been considered; but, to gain
time, she must beg Barine to let her colour her skin and curl her hair
while she was talking.

The surprise visible in the young beauty’s face caused her to exclaim:
“Only act with entire confidence. You shall learn everything directly.
There is so much to tell! On the way here I had planned how to relate
the whole story in regular order, but it can’t be done now. No, no!
Whoever wants to save a flock of sheep from a burning shed must lead
out the bell-wether first--the main thing, I mean--so I will begin with
that, though it really comes last. The explanation of how all this--”

Here, like a cry of joy, Barine’s exclamation interrupted her:

“I am to fly, and Dion knows it and will follow me! I see it in your
face.”

In fact, every feature of the dusky maid-servant’s ugly face betrayed
that pleasant thoughts were agitating her mind. Her black eyes flashed
with fearless daring, and a smile beautified her big mouth and thick
lips as she replied:

“A loving heart like yours understands the art of prophecy better than
the chief priest of the great Serapis. Yes, my young mistress, he of
whom you speak must disappear from this wicked city where so much evil
threatens you both. He will certainly escape and, if the immortals aid
us and we are wise and brave, you also. Whence the help comes can
be told later. Now, the first thing is to transform you--don’t be
reluctant--into the ugliest woman in the world--black Anukis. You must
escape from the palace in this disguise.--Now you know the whole plan,
and while I get what is necessary from my chest of clothes, I beg you,
mistress, to consider how we are to obtain the black stains for that
ivory skin and golden hair.”

With these words she left the room, but Barine flung herself into her
friend’s arms, exclaiming, amid tears and laughter: “Though I should be
forced to remain forever as black and crooked as faithful Aisopion, if
he did not withdraw his love, though I were obliged to go through
fire and water--I would O Charmian! what changes so quickly as joy and
sorrow? I would fain show some kindness to every one in the world, even
to your Queen, who has brought all these troubles upon me.”

The new-born hope had transformed the despairing woman into a happy
one, and Charmian perceived it with grateful joy, secretly wishing that
Cleopatra had listened to her appeal.

While examining the hair-dyes used by the Queen she saw, lurking in the
background of what was still unexplained, and therefore confused her
mind, fresh and serious perils. Barine, on the contrary, gazed across
them to the anticipated meeting with her lover, and was full of the
gayest expectation until the maid-servant’s return.

The work of disfigurement began without delay. Anukis moved her lips
as busily as her hands, and described in regular order all that had
befallen her during the eventful day.

Barine listened with rising excitement, and her joy increased as she
beheld the path which had been smoothed for her by the care and wisdom
of her friends. Charmian, on the contrary, became graver and more
quiet the more distinctly she perceived the danger her favourite must
encounter. Yet she could not help admitting that it would be a sin
against Barine’s safety, perhaps her very life, to withhold her from
this well-considered plan of escape.

That it must be tried was certain; but as the moment which was to
endanger the woman she loved drew nearer, and she could not help saying
to herself that she was aiding an enterprise in opposition to the
express command of the Queen and helping to execute a plan which
threatened to rouse the indignation, perhaps the fury, of Cleopatra, a
feeling of sorrow overpowered her. She feared nothing for herself. Not
for a single instant did she think of the unpleasant consequences which
Barine’s escape might draw upon her. The burden on her soul was due only
to the consciousness of having, for the first time, opposed the will
of the sovereign, to fulfil whose desires and to promote whose aims had
been the beloved duty of her life. Doubtless the thought crossed her
mind that, by aiding Barine’s escape, she was guarding Cleopatra from
future repentance; probably she felt sure that it was her duty to
help rescue this beautiful young life, whose bloom had been so cruelly
assailed by tempest and hoar-frost, and which now had a prospect of the
purest happiness; yet, though in itself commendable, the deed brought
her into sharp conflict with the loftiest aims and aspirations of her
life. And how much nearer than the other was the woman--she shrank from
the word--whom she was about to betray, how much greater was Cleopatra’s
claim to her love and gratitude! Could she have any other emotion than
thankfulness if the plan of escape succeeded? Yet she was reluctant
to perform the task of making Barine’s beautiful, symmetrical figure
resemble the hunch-backed Nubian’s, or to dip her fingers into the
pomade intended for Cleopatra; and it grieved her to mar the beauty of
Barine’s luxuriant tresses by cutting off part of her thick fair braids.

True, these things could not be avoided, if the flight was to succeed,
and the further Anukis advanced in her story, the fewer became her
mistress’s objections to the plan.

The conversation between Iras and Alexas, which had been overheard by
the maid, already made it appear necessary to withdraw Barine and her
lover from the power of such foes. The faithful man whom Anukis had
found with Dion, whose name she did not mention and of whose home she
said only that no safer hiding-place could be found, even by the mole
which burrowed in the earth, really seemed to have been sent with
Gorgias to Dion’s couch by Fate itself. The control of the subterranean
chambers in the Temple of Isis which had been bestowed on the architect,
also appeared like a miracle.

Upon a small tablet, which the wise Aisopion had intentionally delayed
handing to her mistress until now, were the lines: “Archibius greets his
sister Charmian. If I know your heart, it will be as hard for you as for
me to share this plot, yet it must be done for the sake of her father,
to save the life and happiness of his child. So it must fall to your lot
to bring Barine to the Temple of Isis at the Corner of the Muses. She
will find her lover there and, if possible, be wedded to him. As the
sanctuary is so near, you need leave the palace only a short time. Do
not tell Barine what we have planned. The disappointment would be too
great if it should prove impracticable.”

This letter and the arrangement it proposed transformed the serious
scruples which shadowed Charmian’s good-will into a joyous, nay,
enthusiastic desire to render assistance. Barine’s marriage to the man
who possessed her heart was close at hand, and she was the daughter of
Leonax, who had once been dear to her. Fear and doubt vanished as if
scattered to the four winds, and when Aisopion’s work of transformation
was completed and Barine stood before her as the high-shouldered,
dark-visaged, wrinkled maid, she could not help admitting that it would
be easy to escape from the palace in that disguise.

She now told Barine that she intended to accompany her herself; and
though the former’s stained face forced her to refrain from kissing her
friend, she plainly expressed to her and the faithful freedwoman the
overflowing gratitude which filled her heart.

Anukis was left alone. After carefully removing all the traces of her
occupation, as habit dictated, she raised her arms in prayer, beseeching
the gods of her native land to protect the beautiful woman to whom
she had loaned her own misshapen form, which had now been of genuine
service, and who had gone forth to meet so many dangers, but also a
happiness whose very hope had been denied to her.

Charmian had told her maid that if the Queen should inquire for her
before Iras returned from the Choma to say that she had been obliged to
leave the palace, and to supply her place. During their absence, when
Charmian had been attacked by sickness, Cleopatra had often entrusted
the care of her toilet to Aisopion, and had praised her skill.

The Queen’s confidential attendant was followed as usual when she went
out by a dark-skinned maid. Lanterns and lamps had already been lighted
in the corridors of the spacious palace, and the court-yards were ablaze
with torches and pitch-pans; but, brilliantly as they burned in many
places, and numerous as were the guards, officers, eunuchs, clerks,
soldiers, cooks, attendants, slaves, door-keepers, and messengers whom
they passed, not one gave them more than a careless glance.

So they reached the last court-yard, and then came a moment when the
hearts of both women seemed to stop beating--for the man whom they had
most cause to dread, Alexas the Syrian, approached.

And he did not pass the fugitives, but stopped Charmian, and
courteously, even obsequiously, informed her that he wished to get rid
of the troublesome affair of her favourite, which had been assigned to
him against his will, and therefore had determined to bring Barine to
trial early the following morning.

The Syrian’s body-servant attended his master, and while the former was
talking with Charmian the latter turned to the supposed Nubian, tapped
her lightly on the shoulder, and whispered: “Come this evening, as you
did yesterday. You haven’t finished the story of Prince Setnau.”

The fugitive felt as if she had grown dumb and could never more regain
the power of speech. Yet she managed to nod, and directly after the
favourite bowed a farewell to Charmian. The Ligurian was obliged to
follow his master, while Charmian and Barine passed through the gateway
between the last pylons into the open air.

Here the sea-breeze seemed to waft her a joyous greeting from the realm
of liberty and happiness, and the timid woman, amid all the perils which
surrounded her, regained sufficient presence of mind to tell her friend
what Alexas’s slave had whispered--that Aisopion might remind him of
it the same evening, and thus strengthen his belief that the Nubian had
accompanied the Queen’s confidante.

The way to the Temple of Isis was short. The stars showed that they
would reach their destination in time; but a second delay unexpectedly
occurred. From the steps leading to the cella of the sanctuary a
procession, whose length seemed endless, came towards them. At the head
of the train marched eight pastophori, bearing the image of Isis. Then
came the basket-bearers of the goddess with several other priestesses,
followed by the reader with an open book-roll. Behind him appeared the
quaternary number of prophets, whose head, the chief priest, moved with
stately dignity beneath a canopy. The rest of the priestly train bore
in their hands manuscripts, sacred vessels, standards, and wreaths. The
priestesses--some of whom, with garlands on their flowing hair, were
already shaking the sistrum of Isis--mingled with the line of priests,
their high voices blending with the deep notes of the men. Neokori, or
temple servants, and a large number of worshippers of Isis, closed the
procession, all wearing wreaths and carrying flowers. Torch and lantern
bearers lighted the way, and the perfume of the incense rising from the
little pan of charcoal in the hand of a bronze arm, which the pastophori
waved to and fro, surrounded and floated after the procession.

The two women waiting for the train to pass saw it turn towards Lochias,
and the conversation of the bystanders informed them that its object was
to convey to “the new Isis,” the Queen, the greeting of the goddess, and
assure the sovereign of the divinity’s remembrance of her in the hour of
peril.

Cleopatra could not help accepting this friendly homage, and it was
incumbent upon her to receive it wearing on her head the crown of Upper
and Lower Egypt, and robed in all the ecclesiastical vestments which
only her two most trusted attendants knew how to put on with the
attention to details that custom required. This had never been entrusted
to maids of inferior position like the Nubian; so Cleopatra would miss
Charmian.

The thought filled her with fresh uneasiness and, when the steps were at
last free, she asked herself anxiously how all this would end.

It seemed as if the fugitive and her companion had exposed themselves to
this great peril in vain; for some of the temple servants were forcing
back those who wished to enter the sanctuary, shouting that it would
be closed until the return of the procession. Barine gazed timidly into
Charmian’s face; but, ere she could express her opinion, the tall figure
of a man appeared on the temple steps. It was Archibius, who with
grave composure bade them follow him, and silently led them around the
sanctuary to a side door, through which, a short time before, a litter
had passed, accompanied by several attendants.

Ascending a flight of steps within the long building, they reached the
dimly lighted cella.

As in the Temple of Osiris at Abydos seven corridors, here three led
to the same number of apartments, the holy place of the sanctuary.
The central one was dedicated to Isis, that on the left to her husband
Osiris, and that on the right to Horus, the son of the great goddess.
Before it, scarcely visible in the dim light, stood the altars, loaded
with sacrifices by Archibius.

Beside that of Horus was the litter which had been borne into the temple
before the arrival of the women. From it, supported by two friends,
descended a slender young man.

A hollow sound echoed through the pillared hall. The iron door at the
main entrance of the temple had been closed. The shrill rattle that
followed proceeded from the metal bolts which an old servant of the
sanctuary had shot into the sockets.

Barine started, but neither inquired the cause of the noise nor
perceived the wealth of objects here presented to the senses; for the
man who, leaning on another’s arm, approached the altar, was Dion, the
lover who had perilled his life for her sake. Her eyes rested intently
on his figure, her whole heart yearned towards him and, unable to
control herself,--she called his name aloud.

Charmian gazed anxiously around the group, but soon uttered a sigh
of relief; for the tall man whose arm supported Dion was Gorgias, the
worthy architect, his best friend, and the other, still taller and
stronger, her own brother Archibius. Yonder figure, emerging from
the disguise of wraps, was Berenike, Barine’s mother. All trustworthy
confidants! The only person whom she did not know was the handsome young
man standing at her brother’s side.

Barine, whose arm she still held, had struggled to escape to rush to her
mother and lover; but Archibius had approached, and in a whisper
warned her to be patient and to refrain from any greeting or question,
“supposing,” he added, “that you are willing to be married at this altar
to Dion, the son of Eumenes.”

Charmian felt Barine’s arm tremble in hers at this suggestion, but the
young beauty obeyed her friend’s directions. She did not know what had
befallen her, or whether, in the excess of happiness which overwhelmed
her, to shout aloud in her exultant joy, or melt into silent tears of
gratitude and emotion.

No one spoke. Archibius took a roll of manuscript from Dion’s hand,
presented himself before the assembled company as the bride’s kyrios,
or guardian, and asked Barine whether she so recognized him. Then he
returned to Dion the marriage contract, whose contents he knew and
approved, and informed those present that, in the marriage about to be
solemnized, they must consider him the paranymphos, or best man, and
Berenike as the bridesmaid, and they instantly lighted a torch at the
fires burning on one of the altars. Archibius, as kyrios, joined the
lovers’ hands in the Egyptian--Barine’s mother, as bridesmaid, in the
Greek-manner, and Dion gave his bride a plain iron ring. It was the same
one which his father had bestowed at his own wedding, and he whispered:
“My mother valued it; now it is your turn to honour the ancient
treasure.”

After stating that the necessary sacrifices had been offered to Isis and
Serapis, Zeus, Hera, and Artemis, and that the marriage between Dion,
son of Eumenes, and Barine, daughter of Leonax, was concluded, Archibius
shook hands with both.

Haste seemed necessary, for he permitted Berenike and his sister only
time for a brief embrace, and Gorgias to clasp her hand and Dion’s. Then
he beckoned, and the newly made bride’s mother followed him in tears,
Charmian bewildered and almost stupefied. She did not fully realize the
meaning of the event she had just witnessed until an old neokori had
guided her and the others into the open air.

Barine felt as if every moment might rouse her from a blissful dream,
and yet she gladly told herself that she was awake, for the man walking
before her, leaning on the arm of a friend, was Dion. True, she
saw, even in the faint light of the dim temple corridor, that he was
suffering. Walking appeared to be so difficult that she rejoiced when,
yielding to Gorgias’s entreaties, he entered the litter.

But where were the bearers?

She was soon to learn; for, even while she looked for them, the
architect and the youth, in whom she had long since recognized Philotas,
her grandfather’s assistant, seized the poles.

“Follow us,” said Gorgias, under his breath, and she obeyed, keeping
close behind the litter, which was borne first down a broad and then a
narrow staircase, and finally along a passage. Here a door stopped the
fugitives; but the architect opened it and helped his friend out of the
litter, which before proceeding farther he placed in a room filled with
various articles discovered during his investigation of the subterranean
temple chambers.

Hitherto not a word had been spoken. Now Gorgias called to Barine: “This
passage is low--you must stoop. Cover your head, and don’t be afraid if
you meet bats. They have long been undisturbed. We might have taken you
from the temple to the sea, and waited there, but it would probably have
attracted attention and been dangerous. Courage, young wife of Dion! The
corridor is long, and walking through it is difficult; but compared with
the road to the mines, it is as smooth and easy as the Street of the
King. If you think of your destination, the bats will seem like the
swallows which announce the approach of spring.”

Barine nodded gratefully to him; but she kissed the hand of Dion, who
was moving forward painfully, leaning on the arm of his friend. The
light of the torch carried by Gorgias’s faithful foreman, who led the
way, had fallen on her blackened arm, and when the little party advanced
she kept behind the others. She thought it might be unpleasant for
her lover to see her thus disfigured, and spared him, though she would
gladly have remained nearer. As soon as the passage grew lower, the
wounded man’s friends took him in their arms, and their task was a hard
one, for they were not only obliged to move onward bending low under
the heavy burden, but also to beat off the bats which, frightened by the
foreman’s torch, flew up in hosts.

Barine’s hair was covered, it is true, but at any other time the hideous
creatures, which often brushed against her head and arms, would have
filled her with horror and loathing. Now she scarcely heeded them; her
eyes were fixed on the recumbent figure in the bearers’ arms, the man
to whom she belonged, body and soul, and whose patient suffering pierced
her inmost heart. His head rested on the breast of Gorgias, who walked
directly in front of her; the architect’s stooping posture concealed his
face, but his feet were visible and, whenever they twitched, she fancied
he was in pain. Then she longed to press forward to his side, wipe the
perspiration from his brow in the hot, low corridor, and whisper words
of love and encouragement.

This she was sometimes permitted to do when the friends put down their
heavy burden. True, they allowed themselves only brief intervals of
rest, but they were long enough to show her how the sufferer’s strength
was failing. When they at last reached their destination, Philotas was
forced to exert all his strength to support the exhausted man, while
Gorgias cautiously opened the door. It led to a flight of sea-washed
steps close to the garden of Didymus, which as a child she had often
used with her brother to float a little boat upon the water.

The architect opened the door only a short distance; he was expected,
for Barine soon heard him whisper, and suddenly the door was flung wide.
A tall man raised Dion and bore him into the open air. While she was
still gazing after him, a second figure of equal size approached her
and, hastily begging her permission, lifted her in his arms like a
child, and as she inhaled the cool night air and felt the water through
which her bearer waded splash up and wet her feet, her eyes sought her
new-made husband--but in vain; the night was very dark, and the lights
on the shore did not reach this spot so far below the walls of the quay.

Barine was frightened; but a few minutes after the outlines of a large
fishing boat loomed through the darkness, dimly illumined by the harbour
lights, and the next instant the giant who carried her placed her on the
deck, and a deep voice whispered: “All’s well. I’ll bring some wine at
once.”

Then Barine saw her husband lying motionless on a couch which had
been prepared for him in the prow of the boat. Bending over him, she
perceived that he had fainted, and while rubbing his forehead with the
wine, raising his head on her lap, cheering him, and afterwards by the
light of a small lantern carefully renewing the bandage on his shoulder,
she did not notice that the vessel was moving through the water until
the boatman set the triangular sail.

She had not been told where the boat was bearing her, and she did not
ask. Any spot that she could share with Dion was welcome. The more
lonely the place, the more she could be to him. How her heart swelled
with gratitude and love! When she bent over him, kissed his forehead,
and felt how feverishly it burned, she thought, “I will nurse you back
to health,” and raised her eyes and soul to her favourite god, to whom
she owed the gift of song, and who understood everything beautiful and
pure, to thank Phoebus Apollo and beseech him to pour his rays the next
morning on a convalescent man. While she was still engaged in prayer the
boat touched the shore. Again strong arms bore her and Dion to the land,
and when her foot touched the solid earth, her rescuer, the freedman
Pyrrhus, broke the silence, saying: “Welcome, wife of Dion, to our
island! True, you must be satisfied to take us as we are. But if you
are as content with us as we are glad to serve you and your lord, who is
ours also, the hour of leave-taking will be far distant.”

Then, leading the way to the house, he showed her as her future
apartments two large whitewashed rooms, whose sole ornament was their
exquisite neatness. On the threshold stood Pyrrhus’s grey-haired wife,
a young woman, and a girl scarcely beyond childhood; but the older
one modestly welcomed Barine, and also begged her to accept their
hospitality. Recovery was rapid in the pure air of the Serpent Isle. She
herself, and--she pointed to the others--her oldest son’s wife, and her
own daughter, Dione, would be ready to render her any service.



CHAPTER XVI.

Brothers and sisters are rarely talkative when they are together. As
Charmian went to Lochias with Archibius, it was difficult for her to
find words, the events of the past few hours had agitated her so deeply.
Archibius, too, could not succeed in turning his thoughts in any other
direction, though important and far more momentous things claimed his
attention.

They walked on silently side by side. In reply to his sister’s inquiry
where the newly wedded pair were to be concealed, he had answered that,
spite of her trustworthiness, this must remain a secret. To her second
query, how had it been possible to use the interior of the Temple of
Isis without interruption, he also made a guarded reply.

In fact, it was the control of the subterranean corridors of the
sanctuary which had suggested to Gorgias the idea of carrying Dion
through them to Pyrrhus’s fishing-boat. To accomplish this it was only
necessary to have the Temple of Isis, which usually remained open day
and night, left to the fugitive’s friends for a short time; and this was
successfully managed.

The historian Timagenes, who had come from Rome as ambassador and
claimed the hospitality of his former pupil Archibius, had been
empowered to offer Cleopatra recognition of her own and her children’s
right to the throne, and a full pardon, if she would deliver Mark Antony
into the hands of Octavianus, or have him put to death.

The Alexandrian Timagenes considered this demand both just and
desirable, because it promised to deliver his native city from the
man whose despotic arrogance menaced its freedom, and whose lavish
generosity and boundless love of splendour diminished its wealth. To
Rome, as whose representative the historian appeared, this man’s mere
existence meant constant turmoil and civil war. At the restoration of
the flute-player by Gabinius and Mark Antony, Timagenes had been carried
into slavery. Later, when, after his freedom had been purchased by the
son of Sulla, he succeeded in attaining great influence in Rome, he
still remained hostile to Mark Antony, and it had been a welcome
charge to work against him in Alexandria. He hoped to find an ally in
Archibius, whose loyal devotion to the Queen he knew. Arius, Barine’s
uncle and Octavianus’s former tutor, would also aid him. The most
powerful support of his mission, however, could be rendered by the
venerable chief priest, the head of the whole Egyptian hierarchy. He had
shown the latter that Antony, in any case, was a lost man, and Egypt was
in the act of dropping like a ripe fruit into the lap of Octavianus.
It would soon be in his power to give the country whatever degree
of liberty and independence he might choose. The Caesar had the sole
disposal of the Queen’s fate also, and whoever desired to see her remain
on the throne must strive to gain the good-will of Octavianus.

The wise Anubis had considered all these things, but he owed to
Timagenes the hint that Arius was the man whom Octavianus most trusted.
So the august prelate secretly entered into communication with Barine’s
uncle. But the dignity of his high office, and the feebleness of extreme
age, forbade Anubis to seek the man who was suspected of friendship
for the Romans. He had therefore sent his trusted secretary, the young
Serapion, to make a compact as his representative with the friend of
Octavianus, whose severe injuries prevented his leaving the house to go
to the chief priest.

During Timagenes’s negotiations with the secretary and Arius, Archibius
came to entreat Barine’s uncle to do everything in his power to save his
niece; and, as all the Queen’s friends were anxious to prevent an act
which, in these times of excitement, could not fail, on account of its
connection with Dion, a member of the Council, to rouse a large number
of the citizens against her, Serapion, as soon as he was made aware of
the matter, eagerly protested his readiness to do his best to save the
imperilled lovers. He cared nothing for Barine or Dion as individuals,
but he doubtless would have been ready to make a still greater sacrifice
to win the influential Archibius, and especially Arius, who would have
great power through Octavianus, the rising sun.

The men had just begun to discuss plans for saving Barine, when the
Nubian appeared and told Archibius what had been arranged beside Dion’s
sick-bed by the freedman and Gorgias. The escape of the fugitives
depended solely upon their reaching the boat unseen, and the surest
way to accomplish this was to use the subterranean passage which the
architect had again opened.

Archibius, to whom the representative of the chief priest had offered
his aid, now took the others into his confidence, and Arius proposed
that Barine should marry Dion in the Temple of Isis, and the couple
should afterwards be guided through the secret passage to the boat. This
proposal was approved, and Serapion promised to reserve the sanctuary
for the wedding of the fugitives for a short time after the departure
of the procession, which was to take place at sunset. In return for
this service another might perhaps soon be requested from the friend of
Octavianus, who greeted his promise with grateful warmth.

“The priesthood,” said Serapion, “takes sides with all who are unjustly
persecuted, and in this case bestows aid the more willingly on account
of its great anxiety to guard the Queen from an act which would be
difficult to approve.” As for the fugitives, so far as he could see,
only two possibilities were open to them: Cleopatra would cleave to Mark
Antony and go--would that the immortals might avert it!--to ruin, or
she would sacrifice him and save her throne and life. In both cases the
endangered lovers could soon return uninjured--the Queen had a merciful
heart, and never retained anger long if no guilt existed.

The details of the plan were then settled by Archibius, Anukis, and
Berenike, who was with the family of Arius, and the decision was
communicated to the architect. Archibius had maintained the same silence
concerning the destination of the fugitives towards the men composing
the council and Barine’s mother as to his sister. With regard to the
mission of Timagenes and the political questions which occupied his
mind, he gave Charmian only the degree of information necessary to
explain the plan she so lovingly promoted; but she had no desire to
know more. On the way home her mind was wholly absorbed by the fear that
Cleopatra had missed her services and discovered Barine’s flight. True,
she mentioned the Queen’s desire to place her children in Archibius’s
charge, but she could not give him full particulars until she reached
her own apartments.

Her absence had not been noticed. The Regent Mardion had received the
procession in the Queen’s name, for Cleopatra had driven into the city,
no one knew where.

Charmian entered her apartments with a lighter heart. Anukis opened the
door to them. She had remained undisturbed, and it was a pleasure to
Archibius to give the faithful, clever freedwoman an account of the
matter with his own lips. He could have bestowed no richer reward
upon the modest servant, who listened to his words as if they were a
revelation. When she disclaimed the thanks with which he concluded,
protesting that she was the person under obligation, the expression was
sincere. Her keen intellect instantly recognized the aristocrat’s manner
of addressing an equal or an inferior; and he who, in her eyes, was the
first of men, had described the course of events as though she had stood
on the same level. The Queen herself might have been satisfied with the
report.

When she left Charmian’s rooms to join the other servants, she told
herself that she was an especially favoured mortal; and when a young
cook teased her about her head being sunk between her shoulders, she
answered, laughing--“My shoulders have grown so high because I shrug
them so often at the fools who jeer at me and yet are not half so happy
and grateful.”

Charmian, sorely wearied, had flung herself into an arm-chair, and
Archibius took his place opposite to her. They were happy in each
other’s society, even when silent; but to-day the hearts of both were so
full that they fared like those who are so worn out by fatigue that they
cannot sleep. How much they had to tell each other!--yet it was long ere
Charmian broke the silence and returned to the subject of the Queen’s
wish, describing to her brother Cleopatra’s visit to the house which
the children had built, how kind and cordial she had been; yet, a few
minutes later, incensed by the mere mention of Barine’s name, she had
dismissed her so ungraciously.

“I do not know what you intend,” she said in conclusion, “but,
notwithstanding my love for her, I must perhaps decide in favour of what
is most difficult, for--when she learns that it was I who withdrew the
daughter of Leonax from her and the base Alexas--what treatment can I
expect, especially as Iras no longer gives me the same affection, and
shows that she has forgotten my love and care? This will increase, and
the worst of the matter is, that if the Queen begins to favour her, I
cannot justly reproach her, for Iras is keener-witted, and has a more
active brain. Statecraft was always odious to me. Iras, on the contrary,
is delighted with the opportunity to speak on subjects connected with
the government of the country, and especially the ceaseless, momentous
game with Rome and the men who guide her destiny.”

“That game is lost,” Archibius broke in with so much earnestness that
Charmian started, repeating in a low, timid tone:

“Lost?”

“Forever,” said Archibius, “unless--

“The Olympians be praised--that there is still a doubt.”

“Unless Cleopatra can decide to commit an act which will force her to
be faithless to herself, and destroy her noble image through all future
generations.”

“How?”

“Whenever you learn it, will be too soon.”

“And suppose she should do it, Archibius? You are her most trusted
confidant. She will place in your charge what she loves more than she
does herself.”

“More? You mean, I suppose, the children?”

“The children! Yes, a hundred times yes. She loves them better than
aught else on earth. For them, believe me, she would be ready to go to
her death.”

“Let us hope so.”

“And you--were she to commit the horrible deed--I can only suspect what
it is. But should she descend from the height which she has hitherto
occupied--would you still be ready--”

“With me,” he interrupted quietly, “what she does or does not do matters
nothing. She is unhappy and will be plunged deeper and deeper into
misery. I know this, and it constrains me to exert my utmost powers in
her service. I am hers as the hermit consecrated to Serapis belongs
to the god. His every thought must be devoted to him. To the deity who
created him he dedicates body and soul until the death to which he dooms
him. The bonds which unite me to this woman--you know their origin--are
not less indestructible. Whatever she desires whose fulfilment will not
force me to despise myself is granted in advance.”

“She will never require such things from the friend of her childhood,”
 cried Charmian. Then, approaching him with both arms extended joyfully,
she exclaimed: “Thus you ought to speak and feel, and therein is the
answer to the question which has agitated my soul since yesterday.
Barine’s flight, the favour and disfavour of Cleopatra, Iras, my
poor head, which abhors politics, while at this time the Queen needs
keen-sighted confidants--”

“By no means,” her brother interrupted. “It is for men alone to give
counsel in these matters. Accursed be women’s gossip over their
toilet tables. It has already scattered to the four winds many a
well-considered plan of the wisest heads, and an Iras could never be
more fatal to statecraft than just at the present moment, had not Fate
already uttered the final verdict.”

“Then hence with these scruples,” cried Charmian eagerly; “my doubts
are at an end! As usual, you point out the right path. I had thought of
returning to the country estate we call Irenia--the abode of peace--or
to our beloved little palace at Kanopus, to spend the years which may
still be allotted to me, and return to everything that made my childhood
beautiful. The philosophers, the flowers in the garden, the poets--even
the new Roman ones, of whose works Timagenes sent us such charming
specimens--would enliven the solitude. The child, the daughter of
the man whose love I renounced, and afterwards perhaps her sons and
daughters, would fill the place of my own. As they would have been dear
to Leonax, I, too, would have loved them! This is the guise in which the
future has appeared to me in many a quiet hour. But shall Charmian--who,
when her heart throbbed still more warmly and life lay fair before
her, laid her first love upon the altar of sacrifice for her royal
playfellow--abandon Cleopatra in misfortune from mere selfish scruples?
No, no!--Like you, I too belong--come what may--to the Queen.”

She gazed into her brother’s face, sure of his approval but, waving his
uplifted hand, he answered gravely: “No, Charmian! What I, a man, can
assume, might be fatal to you, a woman. The present is not sweet enough
for me to embitter it with wormwood from the future. And yet you must
cast one glance into its gloomy domain, in order to understand me. You
can be silent, and what you now learn will be a secret between us. Only
one thing”--here he lowered the loud tones of his deep voice--“only
one thing can save her: the murder of Antony, or an act of shameless
treachery which would deliver him into Octavianus’s power. This is the
proposal Timagenes brought.”

“This?” she asked in a hollow tone, her grey head drooping.

“This,” he repeated firmly. “And if she succumbs to the temptation, she
will be faithless to the love which has coursed through her whole life
as the Nile flows through the land of her ancestors. Then, Charmian,
stay, stay under any circumstances, cling to her more firmly than ever,
for then, then, my sister, she will be more wretched--ten, a hundred
fold more wretched than if Octavianus deprives her of everything,
perhaps even life itself.”

“Nor will I leave her, come what may. I will remain at her side until
the end,” cried Charmian eagerly. But Archibius, without noticing the
enthusiastic ardor, so unusual to his sister’s quiet nature, calmly
continued: “She won your heart also, and it seems impossible for you to
desert her. Many have shared our feelings; and it is no disgrace to any
one. Misfortune is a weapon which cleaves base natures like a sword, yet
like a hammer welds noble ones more closely. To you, therefore, it now
seems doubly difficult to leave her, but you need love. The right to
live and guard yourself from the most pitiable retrogression is your
due, as much as that of the rare woman on the throne. So long as you
are sure of her love, remain with her, and show your devotion in every
situation until the end. But the motives which were drawing you away to
books, flowers, and children, weigh heavily in the balance, and if
you lack the anchor of her favour and love, I shall see you perish
miserably. The frost emanating from Cleopatra, if her heart grew cold
to you, the pin-pricks with which Iras would assail you, were you
defenceless, would kill you. This must not be, sister; we will guard
against it Do not interrupt me. The counsel I advise you to follow
has been duly weighed. If you see that the Queen still loves you as in
former days, cling to her; but should you learn the contrary, bid her
farewell to-morrow. My Irenia is yours--”

“But she does love me, and even should she no longer--”

“The test is at hand. We will leave the decision to her. You shall
confess that you were the culprit who aided Barine to escape her power
to punish.”

“Archibius!”

“If you did not, a series of falsehoods must ensue. Try whether the
petty qualities in her nature, which urged her to commit the fate of
Leonax’s daughter to unworthy hands, are more powerful than the nobler
ones. Try whether she is worthy of the self-sacrificing fidelity which
you have given her all your life. If she remains the same as before,
spite of this admission--”

Here he was interrupted by Anukis, who asked if her mistress would see
Iras at this late hour. “Admit her,” replied Archibius, after hastily
exchanging glances with his sister, whose face had paled at his demand.
He perceived it and, as the servant withdrew, he clasped her hand,
saying with earnest affection: “I gave you my opinion, but at our age we
must take counsel with ourselves, and you will find the right path.”

“I have already found it,” she answered softly with downcast eyes. “This
visitor brought a speedy decision. I must not feel ashamed in Iras’s
presence.”

She had scarcely finished speaking when the Queen’s younger confidante
entered. She was excited and, after casting a searching glance around
the familiar room, she asked, after a curt greeting:

“No one knows where the Queen has gone. Mardion received the procession
in her place. Did she take you into her confidence?”

Charmian answered in the negative, and inquired whether Antony had
arrived, and how she had found him.

“In a pitiable state,” was the reply. “I hastened hither to prevent the
Queen from visiting him, if possible. She would have received a rebuff.
It is horrible.”

“The disappointment of Paraetonium is added to the other burdens,”
 observed Archibius.

“A feather compared with the rest,” cried Iras indignantly. “What a
spectacle! A shrivelled soul, never too large, in the body of a powerful
giant. Disaster crushes the courage of the descendant of Herakles. The
weakling will drag the Queen’s splendid courage with him into the dust.”

“We will do our best to prevent it,” replied Archibius firmly. “The
immortals have placed you and Charmian at her side to sustain her, if
her own strength fails. The time to test your powers has arrived.”

“I know my duty,” replied Iras austerely.

“Prove it!” said Archibius earnestly. “You think you have cause for
anger against Charmian.”

“Whoever treats my foes so tenderly can doubtless dispense with my
affection. Where is your ward?”

“That you shall learn later,” replied Charmian advancing. “But when you
do know, you will have still better reason to doubt my love; yet it was
only to save one dear to me from misery, certainly not to grieve you,
that I stepped between you and Barine. And now let me say--had you
wounded me to the quick, and everything dear to the Greek heart called
to me for vengeance--I should impose upon myself whatever constraint
might be necessary to deny the impulse, because this breast contains a
love stronger, more powerful, than the fiercest hate. And this love we
both share. Hate me, strive to wound and injure one at whose side you
have hitherto stood like a daughter, but beware of robbing me of the
strength and freedom which I need, to be and to offer to my royal
mistress all the assistance in my power. I have just been consulting my
brother about leaving Cleopatra’s service.”

“Now?” Iras broke in vehemently. “No, no! Not that! It must not be! She
cannot spare you now.”

“More easily, perhaps, than you,” replied Charmian; “yet in many things
my services might be hard to replace.”

“Nothing under the sun could do it,” cried Iras eagerly. “If, in these
days of trouble, she should lose you too--”

“Still darker ones are approaching,” interrupted Archibius positively.
“Perhaps you will learn all to-morrow. Whether Charmian yields to her
desire for rest, or continues in the service of the Queen, depends on
you. If you wish her to remain you must not render it too hard for her
to do so. We three, my child, are perhaps the only persons at this court
to whom the Queen’s happiness is more than their own, and therefore
we should permit no incident, whatever name it may bear, to cloud our
harmony.”

Iras threw back her head with angry pride, exclaiming passionately:
“Was it I who injured you? I do not know in what respect. But you and
Charmian--though you have so long been aware that this heart was closed
against every love save one--stepped between me and the man for whom I
have yearned since childhood, and built the bridge which united Dion and
Barine. I held the woman I hated in my grasp, and thanked the immortals
for the boon; but you two--it is not difficult to guess the secret you
are still trying to keep from me--you aided her to escape. You have
robbed me of my revenge; you have again placed the singer in the path
where she must find the man to whom I have a better and older claim, and
who perhaps may still be considering which of us two will be the better
mistress of his house, if Alexas and his worthy brother do not arrange
matters so that we must both content ourselves with thinking tenderly of
a dead man. That is why I believe that I am no longer indebted to you,
that Charmian has more than repaid herself for all the kindness she has
ever showed me.”

With these words she hurried to the door, but paused on the threshold,
exclaiming: “This is the state of affairs; yet I am ready to serve the
Queen hand in hand with you as before; for you two--as I have said--are
necessary to her. In other respects--I shall follow my own path.”



CHAPTER XVII.

Cleopatra had sought the venerable Anubis, who now, as the priest
of Alexander, at the age of eighty, ruled the whole hierarchy of the
country. It was difficult for him to leave his arm-chair, but he had
been carried to the observatory to examine the adverse result of the
observation made by the Queen herself. The position of the stars,
however, had been so unfavourable that the more deeply Cleopatra entered
into these matters, the less easy he found it to urge the mitigating
influences of distant planets, which he had at first pointed out.

In his reception-hall, however, the chief priest had assured her that
the independence of Egypt and the safety of her own person lay in
her hands; only--the planets showed this--a terrible sacrifice was
required--a sacrifice of which his dignity, his eighty years, and his
love for her alike forbade him to speak. Cleopatra was accustomed to
hear these mysterious sayings from his lips, and interpreted them in her
own way. Many motives had induced her to seek the venerable prelate at
this late hour. In difficult situations he had often aided her with
good counsel; but this time she was not led to him by the magic cup of
Nektanebus, which the eight pastophori who accompanied it had that day
restored to the temple, for since the battle of Actium the superb vessel
had been a source of constant anxiety to her.

Cleopatra had now asked the teacher of her childhood the direct question
whether the cup--a wide, shallow vessel, with a flat, polished bottom
could really have induced Antony to leave the battle and follow her
ere the victory was decided. She had used it just before the conflict
between the galleys, and this circumstance led Anubis to answer
positively in the affirmative.

Long ago the marvellous chalice had been exhibited to her among the
temple treasures, and she was told that every one who induced another
person to be reflected from its shining surface obtained the mastery
over his will. Her wish to possess it, however, was not gratified, and
she did not ask for it again until the limitless devotion and ardent
love of Antony had seemed less fervent than of yore. From that time she
had never ceased to urge her aged friend to place the wondrous cup in
her keeping. At first he had absolutely refused, predicting that its use
would bring misfortune upon her; but when her request was followed by an
imperative command, and the goblet was entrusted to her, Anubis himself
believed that this one vessel did possess the magic power attributed to
it. He deemed that the drinking-cup afforded the strongest proof of the
magic art, far transcending human ability, of the great goddess by whose
aid King Nektanebus--who, according to tradition, was the father of
Alexander the Great--was said to have made the vessel in the Isis island
of Philoe.

Anubis had intended to remind Cleopatra of his refusal, and show her the
great danger incurred by mortals who strove to use powers beyond their
sphere. It had been his purpose to bid her remember Phaeton, who had
almost kindled a conflagration in the world, when he attempted, in the
chariot of his father, Phoebus Apollo, to guide the horses of the sun.
But this was unnecessary, for he had scarcely assented to the question
ere, with passionate vehemence, she ordered him to destroy before her
eyes the cup which had brought so much misfortune.

The priest feigned that her desire harmonized with a resolution which he
had himself formed. In fact, before her arrival, he had feared that
the goblet might be used in some fatal manner if Octavianus should take
possession of the city and country, and the wonder-working vessel should
fall into his hands. Nektanebus had made the cup for Egypt. To wrest
it from the foreign ruler was acting in the spirit of the last king in
whose veins had flowed the blood of the Pharaohs, and who had toiled
with enthusiastic devotion for the independence and liberty of his
people. To destroy this man’s marvellous work rather than deliver it
to the Roman conqueror seemed to the chief priest, after the Queen’s
command, a sacred duty, and as such he represented it to be when he
commanded the smelting furnace to be fired and the cup transformed into
a shapeless mass before the eyes of Cleopatra.

While the metal was melting he eagerly told the Queen how easily she
could dispense with the vessel which owed its magic power to the mighty
Isis.

The spell of woman’s charms was also a gift of the goddess. It would
suffice to render Antony’s heart soft and yielding as the fire melted
the gold. Perhaps the Imperator had forfeited, with the Queen’s respect,
her love--the most priceless of blessings. He, Anubis, would regard this
as a great boon of the Deity; “for,” he concluded, “Mark Antony is the
cliff which will shatter every effort to secure to my royal mistress
undiminished the heritage which has come to her and her children from
their ancestors, and preserve the independence and prosperity of this
beloved land. This cup was a costly treasure. The throne and prosperity
of Egypt are worthy of greater sacrifices. But I know that there is none
harder for a woman to make than her love.”

The meaning of the old man’s words Cleopatra learned the following
morning, when she granted the first interview to Timagenes, Octavianus’s
envoy.

The keen-witted, brilliant man, who had been one of her best teachers
and with whom, when a pupil, she had had many an argument, was kindly
received, and fulfilled his commission with consummate skill.

The Queen listened attentively to his representations, showed him that
her own intellect had not lost in flexibility, though it had gained
power; and when she dismissed him, with rich gifts and gracious words,
she knew that she could preserve the independence of her beloved native
land and retain the throne for herself and her children if she would
surrender Antony to the conqueror or to him, as “the person acting,”
 or--these were Timagenes’s own words--“remove him forever from the play
whose end she had the power to render either brilliant or fateful.”

When she was again alone her heart throbbed so passionately and her soul
was in such a tumult of agitation that she felt unable to attend the
appointed meeting of the Council of the crown. She deferred the session
until the following day, and resolved to go out upon the sea, to
endeavour to regain her composure.

Antony had refused to see her. This wounded her. The thought of the
goblet and its evil influences had by no means passed from her memory
with the destruction of the vessel caused by one of those outbursts of
passion to which, in these days of disaster, she yielded more frequently
than usual. On the contrary, she felt the necessity of being alone, to
collect her thoughts and strive to dispel the clouds from her troubled
soul.

The beaker had been one of the treasures of Isis, and the memory of
it recalled hours during which, in former days, she had often found
composure in the temple of the goddess. She wished to seek the sanctuary
unnoticed and, accompanied only by Iras and the chief Introducer, went,
closely veiled, to the neighbouring temple at the Corner of the Muses.

But she failed to find the object of her pilgrimage. The throng
which filled it to pray and offer sacrifices, and the fear of being
recognized, destroyed her calmness.

She was in the act of retiring, when Gorgias, the architect, followed by
an assistant carrying surveying instruments, advanced towards her. She
instantly called him to her side, and he informed her how wonderfully
Fate itself seemed to favour her plan of building. The mob had destroyed
the house of the old philosopher Didymus, and the grey-haired sage, to
whom he had offered the shelter of his home, was now ready to transfer
the property inherited from his ancestors, if her Majesty would assure
him and his family of her protection.

Then she asked to see the architect’s plan for joining the museum to
the sanctuary, and became absorbed in the first sketch, to which he
had devoted part of the night and morning. He showed it, and with
eager urgency Cleopatra commanded him to begin the building as soon as
possible and pursue the work night and day. What usually required months
must be completed in weeks.

Iras and the “Introducer,” clad in plain garments, had waited for her
in the temple court and, joined by the architect, accompanied her to the
unpretending litter standing at one of the side gates but, instead of
entering it, she ordered Gorgias to attend her to the garden.

The inspection proved that the architect was right and, even if the
mausoleum occupied a portion of it, and the street which separated it
from the Temple of Isis were continued along the shore of the sea, the
remainder would still be twice as large as the one belonging to the
palace at Lochias.

Cleopatra’s thorough examination showed Gorgias that she had some
definite purpose in view. Her inquiry whether it would be possible to
connect it with the promontory of Lochias indicated what she had
in mind, and the architect answered in the affirmative. It was only
necessary to tear down some small buildings belonging to the Crown and a
little temple of Berenike at the southern part of the royal harbour. The
arm of the Agathodaemon Canal which entered here had been bridged long
ago.

The new scene which would result from this change had been conjured
before the Queen’s mental vision with marvellous celerity, and she
described it in brief, vivid language to the architect. The garden
should remain, but must be enlarged from the Lochias to the bridge.
Thence a covered colonnade would lead to the palace. After Gorgias
had assured her that all this could easily be arranged, she gazed
thoughtfully at the ground for a time, and then gave orders that the
work should be commenced at once, and requested him to spare neither
means nor men.

Gorgias foresaw a period of feverish toil, but it did not daunt him.
With such a master builder he was ready to roof the whole city. Besides,
the commission delighted him because it proved that the woman whose
mausoleum was to rise from the earth so swiftly still thought of
enhancing the pleasures of existence; for, though she wished the garden
to remain unchanged, she desired to see the colonnade and the remainder
of the work constructed of costly materials and in beautiful forms. When
she bade him farewell, Gorgias kissed her robe with ardent enthusiasm.

What a woman! True, she had not even raised her veil, and was attired in
plain dark clothing, but every gesture revealed the most perfect grace.

The arm and hand with which she pointed now here, now there, again
seemed to him fairly instinct with life; and he, who deemed perfection
of form of so much value, found it difficult to avert his eyes from
her marvellous symmetry. And her whole figure! What lines, what genuine
aristocratic elegance, and warm, throbbing life!

That morning when Helena, now an inmate of his own home, greeted him,
he had essayed to compare her, mentally, with Cleopatra, but speedily
desisted. The man to whom Hebe proffers nectar does not ask for even
the best wine of Byblus. A feeling of grateful, cheerful satisfaction,
difficult to describe, stole over him when the reserved, quiet Helena
addressed him so warmly and cordially; but the image of Cleopatra
constantly thrust itself between them, and it was difficult for him to
understand himself. He had loved many women in succession, and now his
heart throbbed for two at once, and the Queen was the brighter of the
two stars whose light entranced him. Therefore his honest soul would
have considered it a crime to woo Helena now.

Cleopatra knew what an ardent admirer she had won in the able architect,
and the knowledge pleased her. She had used no goblet to gain him.
Doubtless he would begin to build the mausoleum the next morning. The
vault must have space for several coffins. Antony had more than once
expressed the desire to be buried beside her, wherever he might die,
and this had occurred ere she possessed the beaker. She must in any case
grant him the same favour, no matter in what place or by whose hand he
met death, and the bedimmed light of his existence was but too evidently
nearing extinction. If she spared him, Octavianus would strike him from
the ranks of the living, and she----Again she was overpowered by the
terrible, feverish restlessness which had induced her to command the
destruction of the goblet, and had brought her to the temple. She could
not return in this mood to meet her councillors, receive visitors, greet
her children. This was the birthday of the twins; Charmian had reminded
her of it and undertaken to provide the gifts. How could she have found
time and thought for such affairs? She had returned from the chief
priest late in the evening, yet had asked for a minute description of
the condition in which they found Mark Antony. The report made by Iras
harmonized with the state in which she had herself seen him during
and after the battle. Ay, his brooding gloom seemed to have deepened.
Charmian had helped her dress in the morning, and had been on the point
of making her difficult confession, and owning that she had aided Barine
to escape the punishment of her royal mistress; but ere she could begin,
Timagenes was announced, for Cleopatra had not risen from her couch
until a late hour.

The object for which the Queen had sought the temple had not been
gained; but the consultation with Gorgias had diverted her mind, and
the emotions which the thought of her last resting-place had evoked
now drowned everything else, as the roar of the surf dominates the
twittering of the swallows on the rocky shore.

Ay, she needed calmness! She must weigh and ponder over many things in
absolute quietude, and this she could not obtain at Lochias. Then her
glance rested upon the little sanctuary of Berenike, which she had
ordered removed to make room for a garden near at hand, where the
children could indulge their love of creative work. It was empty. She
need fear no interruption there. The interior contained only a single,
quiet, pleasant chamber, with the image of Berenike. The “Introducer”
 commanded the guard to admit no other visitors, and soon the little
white marble, circular room with its vaulted roof received the Queen.
She sank down on one of the bronze benches opposite to the statue. All
was still; in this cool silence her mind, trained to thought, could find
that for which it longed--clearness of vision, a plain understanding of
her own feelings and position in the presence of the impending decision.

At first her thoughts wandered to and fro like a dove ere it chooses
the direction of its flight; but after the question why she was having
a tomb built so hurriedly, when she would be permitted to live, her mind
found the right track. Among the Scythian guards, the Mauritanians, and
Blemmyes in the army there were plenty of savage fellows whom a word
from her lips and a handful of gold would have set upon the vanquished
Antony, as the huntsman’s “Seize him!” urges the hounds. A hint, and
among the wretched magicians and Magians in the Rhakotis, the Egyptian
quarter of the city, twenty men would have assassinated him by poison or
wily snares; one command to the Macedonians in the guard of the Mellakes
or youths, and he would be a captive that very day, and to-morrow, if
she so ordered, on the way to Asia, whither Octavianus, as Timagenes
told her, had gone.

What prevented her from grasping the gold, giving the hint, issuing the
command?

Doubtless she thought of the magic goblet, now melted, which had
constrained him to cast aside honour, fame, and power, as worthless
rubbish, in order to obey her behest not to leave her; but though this
remembrance burdened her soul, it had no decisive influence. It was
no one thing which prisoned her hand and lips, but every fibre of her
being, every pulsation of her heart, every glance back into the past to
the confines of childhood.

Yet she listened to other thoughts also. They reminded her of her
children, the elation of power, love for the land of her ancestors, and
the peril which menaced it without her, the bliss of seeing the
light, and the darkness, the silence, the dull rigidity of death, the
destruction of the body and the mind cherished and developed with so
much care and toil, the horrible torture which might be associated with
the transition from life to death--the act of dying. And what lay
before her in the existence which lasted an eternity? When she no longer
breathed beneath the sun, even if the death hour was deferred, and she
found that not Epicurus, who believed that with death all things ended,
had been right, but the ancient teachings of the Egyptians, what would
await her in that world beyond the grave if she purchased a few more
years of life by the murder or betrayal of her lover, her husband?

Yet perhaps the punishments inflicted upon the condemned were but
bugbears invented by the priesthood, which guarded the regulation of the
state in order to curb the unruly conduct of the populace and terrify
the turbulent transgressors of the law. And, whispered the daring Greek
spirit, in the abode of the condemned, not in the Garden of Aalu, the
Elysian Fields of the Egyptians, she would meet her father and mother
and all her wicked ancestors down to Euergetes I., who was succeeded by
the infamous Philopater. Thus the thought of the other world became an
antecedent so uncertain as to permit no definite inference, and might
therefore be left out of the account. How would--this must be the form
of the question--the years purchased by the murder or betrayal of one
whom she loved shape themselves for her?

During the night the image of the murdered man would drive sleep from
her couch, and the Furies, the Dirx, as the Roman Antony called them,
who pursue murderers with the serpent scourge, were no idle creations
of poetic fancy, but fully symbolized the restlessness of the criminal,
driven to and fro by the pangs of conscience. The chief good, the
painless happiness of the Epicureans, was forever lost to those burdened
by such guilt.

And during the hours of the day and evening? Ay, then she would be free
to heap pleasure on pleasure. But for whom were the festivals to be
celebrated; with whom could she share them? For many a long year no
banquet, no entertainment had given her enjoyment without Mark Antony.
For whom did she adorn herself or strive to stay the vanishing charm?
And how soon would anguish of soul utterly destroy the spell, which was
slowly, slowly, yet steadily diminishing, and, when the mirror revealed
wrinkles which the skill of no Olympus could efface, when she----No,
she was not created to grow old! Did the few years of life which must
contain so much misery really possess a value great enough to surrender
the right of being called by present and future generations the
bewitching Cleopatra, the most irresistible of women?

And the children?

Yes, it would have been delightful to see them grow up and occupy the
throne, but serious, decisive doubts soon blended even with an idea so
rich in joy.

How glorious to greet Caesarion as sovereign of the world in
Octavianus’s place! But how could the dreamer, whose first love affair
had caused the total sacrifice of dignity and violation of the law, and
who now seemed to have once more relapsed into the old state of torpor,
attain the position?

The other children inspired fair hopes, and how beautiful it appeared
to the mother’s heart to see Antonius Helios as King of Egypt; Cleopatra
Selene with her first child in her arms; and little Alexander a noble
statesman and hero, rich in virtue and talents! Yet, what would they,
Antony’s children, whose education she hoped Archibius would direct,
feel for the mother who had been their father’s murderess?

She shuddered at the thought, remembering the hours when her childish
heart had shed tears of blood over the infamous mother whom her father
had execrated. And Queen Tryphoena, whom history recorded as a monster,
had not killed her husband, but merely thrust him from the throne.

Arsinoe’s execrations of her mother and sister came back to her
memory, and the thought that the rosy lips of the twins and her darling
Alexander could ever open to curse her,--the idea that the children
would ever raise their beloved hands to point at her, the wicked
murderess of their father, with horror and scorn--No, no, and again no!
She would not purchase a few more years of valueless life at the cost of
this humiliation and shame.

Purchase of whom?

Of that Octavianus who had robbed her son of the heritage of his father,
Caesar, and whose mention in the will was like an imputation on her
fidelity--the cold-hearted, calculating upstart, whose nature from their
first meeting in Rome had repelled, rebuffed, chilled her; of the man by
whose cajolery and power her husband--for in her own eyes and those of
the Egyptians Antony held this position--had been induced to wed his
sister, Octavia, and thereby stamp her, Cleopatra, as merely his love,
cast a doubt upon the legitimate birth of her children; of the false
friend of the trusting Antony who, before the battle of Actium, had most
deeply humiliated and insulted both!

On the contrary, her royal pride rebelled against obeying the command
of such a man to commit the most atrocious deed; and from childhood
this pride had been as much a part of her nature as her breath and the
pulsation of her heart. And yet, for her children’s sake, she might
perhaps have incurred this disgrace, had it not been at the same time
the grave of the best and noblest things which she desired to implant in
the young souls of the twins and Alexander.

While thinking of the children’s curses she had risen from her seat.
Why should she reflect and consider longer? She had found the clear
perception she sought. Let Gorgias hasten the building of the tomb.
Should Fate demand her life, she would not resist if she were permitted
to preserve it only at the cost of murder or base treachery. Her lover’s
was already forfeited. At his side she had enjoyed a radiant, glowing,
peerless bliss, of which the world still talked with envious amazement.
At his side, when all was over, she would rest in the grave, and compel
the world to remember with respectful sympathy the royal lovers,
Antony and Cleopatra. Her children should be able to think of her
with untroubled hearts, and not even the shadow of a bitter feeling, a
warning thought, should deter them from adorning their parents’ grave
with flowers, weeping at its foot, invoking and offering sacrifices to
their spirits.

Then she glanced at the statue of Berenike, who had also once worn on
her brow the double crown of Egypt. She, too, had early died a violent
death; she, too, had known how to love. The vow to sacrifice her
beautiful hair to Aphrodite if her husband returned uninjured from the
Syrian war had rendered her name illustrious. “Berenike’s Hair” was
still to be seen as a constellation in the night heavens.

Though this woman had sinned often and heavily, one act of loyal love
had made her an honoured, worshipped princess. She--Cleopatra would do
something still greater. The sacrifice which she intended to impose upon
herself would weigh far more heavily in the balance than a handful of
beautiful tresses, and would comprise sovereignty and life.

With head erect and a sense of proud self-reliance she gazed at the
noble marble countenance of the Cyrenian queen. Ere entering the
sanctuary she had imagined that she knew how the criminals whom she had
sentenced to death must feel. Now that she herself had done with life,
she felt as if she were relieved from a heavy burden, and yet her
heart ached, and--especially when she thought of her children--she was
overwhelmed with the emotion which is the most painful of all forms of
compassion--pity for herself.



CHAPTER XVIII.

When Cleopatra left the temple, Iras marvelled at the change in her
appearance. The severe tension which had given her beautiful face a
shade of harshness had yielded to an expression of gentle sadness that
enhanced its charm, yet her features quickly brightened as her attendant
pointed to the procession which was just entering the forecourt of the
palace.

In Alexandria and throughout Egypt birthdays were celebrated as far as
possible. Therefore, to do honour to the twins, the children of the city
had been sent to offer their congratulations, and at the same time to
assure their royal mother of the love and devotion of the citizens.

The return to the palace occupied only a few minutes, and as Cleopatra,
hastily donning festal garments, gazed down at the bands of children,
it seemed as if Fate by this fair spectacle had given her a sign of
approval of her design.

She was soon standing hand in hand with the twins upon the balcony
before which the procession had halted. Hundreds of boys and girls of
the same age as the prince and princess had flocked thither, the former
bearing bouquets, the latter small baskets filled with lilies and
roses. Every head was crowned with a wreath, and many of the girls wore
garlands of flowers. A chorus of youths and maidens sang a festal
hymn, beseeching the gods to grant the royal mother and children every
happiness; the leader of the chorus of girls made a short address in the
name of the city, and during this speech the children formed in ranks,
the tallest in the rear, the smallest in the front, and the others
between according to their height. The scene resembled a living garden,
in which rosy faces were the beautiful flowers.

Cleopatra thanked the citizens for the charming greeting sent to her by
those whom they held dearest, and assured them that she returned their
love. Her eyes grew dim with tears as she went with her three children
to the throng who offered their congratulations, and an unusually pretty
little girl whom she kissed threw her arms around her as tenderly as if
she were her own mother. And how beautiful was the scene when the girls
strewed the contents of their little baskets on the ground before her,
and the boys, with many a ringing shout and loving wish, offered the
bouquets to her and the twins!

Charmian had not forgotten to provide the gifts; and when the
chamberlains and waiting-women led the children into a large hall to
offer them refreshments, the Queen’s eyes sparkled so brightly that the
companion of her childhood ventured to make her difficult confession.

And, as so often happens, the event we most dread shows, when it
actually occurs, a friendly or indifferent aspect; this was the
case now. Nothing in life is either great or small--the one may be
transformed to the other, according to the things with which it is
compared. The tallest man becomes a dwarf beside a rocky giant of the
mountain chain, the smallest is a Titan to the swarming ants in the
forest. The beggar seizes as a treasure what the rich man scornfully
casts aside. That which the day before yesterday seemed to Cleopatra
unendurable, roused her keenest anxiety, robbed her of part of her
night’s repose, and induced her to adopt strenuous measures, now
appeared trivial and scarcely worthy of consideration.

Yesterday and to-day had brought events and called up questions which
forced Barine’s disappearance into the realm of unimportant matters.

Charmian’s confession was preceded by the statement that she longed for
rest yet, nevertheless, was ready to remain with her royal friend, in
every situation, until she no longer desired her services and sent her
away. But she feared that this moment had come.

Cleopatra interrupted her with the assurance that she was speaking
of something utterly impossible; and when Charmian disclosed Barine’s
escape, and admitted that it was she who had aided the flight of the
innocent and sorely threatened granddaughter of Didymus, the Queen
started up angrily and frowned, but it was only for a moment. Then, with
a smile, she shook her finger at her friend, embraced her, and gravely
but kindly assured her that, of all vices, ingratitude was most alien to
her nature. The companion of her childhood had bestowed so many proofs
of faithfulness, love, self-sacrifice, and laborious service in her
behalf that they could not be long outweighed by a single act of wilful
disobedience. An abundant supply would still remain, by virtue of which
she might continue to sin without fearing that Cleopatra would ever part
from her Charmian.

The latter again perceived that nothing on earth could be hostile or
sharp enough to sever the bond which united her to this woman. When her
lips overflowed with the gratitude which filled her heart, Cleopatra
admitted that it seemed as if, in aiding Barine’s escape, she had
rendered her a service. The caution with which Charmian had concealed
Barine’s refuge had not escaped her notice, and she did not ask to
learn it. It was enough for her that the dangerous beauty was out of
Caesarion’s reach. As for Antony, a wall now separated him from
the world, and consequently from the woman who, spite of Alexas’s
accusations, had probably never stood closer to his heart.

Charmian now eagerly strove to show the Queen what had induced the
Syrian to pursue Barine so vindictively. It was evident--and scarcely
needed proof--that Mark Antony’s whole acquaintanceship with the
old scholar’s granddaughter had been far from leading to any tender
relation. But Cleopatra gave only partial attention. The man whom she
had loved with every pulsation of her heart already seemed to her only
a dear memory. She did not forget the happiness enjoyed with and through
him, or the wrong she had done by the use of the magic goblet; yet with
the wall on the Choma, which divided him from her and the rest of the
world, and her command to have the mausoleum built, she imagined that
the season of love was over. Any new additions to this chapter of
the life of her heart were but the close. Even the jealousy which had
clouded the happiness of her love like a fleeting, rapidly changing
shadow, she believed she had now renounced forever.

While Charmian protested that no one save Dion had ever been heard
with favour by Barine, and related many incidents of her former life,
Cleopatra’s thoughts were with Antony. Like the image of the beloved
dead, the towering figure of the Roman hero rose before her mind, but
she recalled him only as he was prior to the battle of Actium. She
desired and expected nothing more from the broken-spirited man, whose
condition was perhaps her own fault. But she had resolved to atone for
her guilt, and would do so at the cost of throne and life. This settled
the account. Whatever her remaining span of existence might add or
subtract, was part of the bargain.

The entrance of Alexas interrupted her. With fiery passion he expressed
his regret that he had been defrauded by base intrigues of the right
bestowed upon him to pass sentence upon a guilty woman. This was the
more difficult to bear because he was deprived of the possibility of
providing for the pursuit of the fugitive. Antony had honoured him
with the commission to win Herod back to his cause. He was to leave
Alexandria that very night. As nothing could be expected in this matter
from the misanthropic Imperator, he hoped that the Queen would avenge
such an offence to her dignity, and adopt severe measures towards the
singer and her last lover, Dion, who with sacrilegious hands had wounded
the son of Caesar.

But Cleopatra, with royal dignity, kept him within the limits of his
position, commanded him not to mention the affair to her again, and
then, with a sorrowful smile, wished him success with Herod, in whose
return to the lost cause of Antony, however, much as she prized the
skill of the mediator, she did not believe.

When he had retired, she exclaimed to Charmian: “Was I blind? This man
is a traitor! We shall discover it. Wherever Dion has taken his young
wife, let her be carefully concealed, not from me, but from this Syrian.
It is easier to defend one’s self against the lion than the scorpion.
You, my friend, will see that Archibius seeks me this very day. I must
talk with him, and--you no longer have any thought of a parting? Another
will come soon enough, which will forever forbid these lips from kissing
your dear face.”

As she spoke, she again clasped the companion of her childhood in
her arms, and when Iras entered to request an audience for Lucilius,
Antony’s most faithful friend, Cleopatra, who had noticed the younger
woman’s envious glance at the embrace, said: “Was I mistaken in fancying
that you imagined yourself slighted for Charmian, who is an older
friend? That would be wrong; for I love and need you both. You are
her niece, and indebted to her for much kindness from your earliest
childhood. So, even though you will lose the joy of revenge upon a hated
enemy, forget what has happened, as I did, and maintain your former
affectionate companionship. I will reward you for it with the only thing
that the daughter of the wealthy Krates cannot purchase, yet which she
probably rates at no low value--the love of her royal friend.”

With these words she clasped Iras also in a close embrace, and when the
latter left the room to summon Lucilius, she thought: “No woman has ever
won so much love; perhaps that is why she possesses so great a treasure
of it, and can afford such unspeakable happiness by its bestowal. Or is
she so much beloved because she entered the world full of its wealth,
and dispenses it as the sun diffuses light? Surely that must be the
case. I have reason to believe it, for whom did I ever love save the
Queen? No one, not even myself, and I know no one in whose love for me
I can believe. But why did Dion, whom I loved so fervently, disdain me?
Fool! Why did Mark Antony prefer Cleopatra to Octavia, who was not less
fair, whose heart was his, and whose hand held the sovereignty of half
the world?”

Passing on as she spoke, she soon returned, ushering the Roman Lucilius
into the presence of the Queen. A gallant deed had bound this man to
Antony. After the battle of Philippi, when the army of the republicans
fled, Brutus had been on the point of being seized by the enemy’s
horsemen; but Lucilius, at the risk of being cut down, had personated
him, and thereby, though but for a short time, rescued him. This had
seemed to Antony unusual and noble and, in his generous manner, he had
not only forgiven him, but bestowed his favour upon him. Lucilius was
grateful, and gave him the same fidelity he had showed to Brutus. At
Actium he had risked Antony’s favour to prevent his deserting Cleopatra
after the battle, and then accompanied him in his flight. Now he was
bearing him company in his seclusion on the Choma.

The grey-haired man who, but a short time before, had retained all
the vigour of youth, approached the Queen with bowed head and saddened
heart. His face, so regular in its contours, had undergone a marked
change within the past few weeks. The cheeks were sunken, the features
had grown sharper, and there was a sorrowful expression in the eyes,
which, when informing Cleopatra of his friend’s condition, glittered
with tears.

Before the hapless battle he was one of Cleopatra’s most enthusiastic
admirers; but since he had been forced to see his friend and benefactor
risk fame, happiness, and honour to follow the Queen, he had cherished a
feeling of bitter resentment towards her. He would certainly have spared
himself this mission, had he not been sure that she who had brought her
lover to ruin was the only person who could rouse him from spiritless
languor to fresh energy and interest in life.

From motives of friendship, urged by no one, he came unbidden to the
woman whom he had formerly so sincerely admired, to entreat her to
cheer the unfortunate man, rouse him, and remind him of his duty. He had
little news to impart; for on the voyage she had herself witnessed long
enough the pitiable condition of her husband. Now Antony was beginning
to be content in it, and this was what most sorely troubled the faithful
friend.

The Imperator had called the little palace which he occupied on the
Choma his Timonium, because he compared himself with the famous Athenian
misanthrope who, after fortune abandoned him, had also been betrayed by
many of his former friends. Even at Taenarum he had thought of returning
to the Choma, and by means of a wall, which would separate it from the
mainland, rendering it as inaccessible as--according to rumour--the
grave of Timon at Halae near Athens. Gorgias had erected it, and
whoever wished to visit the hermit was forced to go by sea and request
admittance, which was granted to few.

Cleopatra listened to Lucilius with sympathy, and then asked whether
there was no way of cheering or comforting the wretched man.

“No, your Majesty,” he replied. “His favourite occupation is to recall
what he once possessed, but only to show the uselessness of these
memories. ‘What joys has life not offered me?’ he asks, and then adds:
‘But they were repeated again and again, and after being enjoyed for the
tenth time they became monotonous and lost their charm. Then they caused
satiety to the verge of loathing.’ Only necessary things, such as bread
and water, he says, possess real value; but he desires neither, because
he has even less taste for them than for the dainties which spoil a
man’s morrow. Yesterday in a specially gloomy hour, he spoke of gold.
This was perhaps most worthy of desire. The mere sight of it awakened
pleasant hopes, because it might afford so many gratifications. Then he
laughed bitterly, exclaiming that those joys were the very ones which
produced the most disagreeable satiety. Even gold was not worth the
trouble of stretching out one’s hand.

“He is fond of enlarging upon such fancies, and finds images to make his
meaning clear.

“‘In the snow upon the highest mountain-peak the feet grow cold,’ he
said. ‘In the mire they are warm, but the dark mud is ugly and clings to
them.’

“Then I remarked that between the morass and the mountain-snows lie
sunny valleys where life would be pleasant; but he flew into a rage,
vehemently protesting that he would never be content with the pitiable
middle course of Horace. Then he exclaimed: ‘Ay, I am vanquished.
Octavianus and his Agrippa are the conquerors; but if a rock mutilates
or an elephant’s clumsy foot crushes me, I am nevertheless of a higher
quality than either.’”

“There spoke the old Mark Antony!” cried Cleopatra; but again Lucilius’s
loyal heart throbbed with resentment against the woman who had fostered
the recklessness which had brought his powerful friend to ruin, and he
continued:

“But he often sees himself in a different light. ‘No writer could invent
a more unworthy life than mine,’ he exclaimed recently. ‘A farce ending
in a tragedy.’”

Lucilius might have added still harsher sayings, but the sorrowful
expression in the tearful eyes of the afflicted Queen silenced them upon
his lips.

Yet Cleopatra’s name blended with most of the words uttered by the
broken-spirited man. Sometimes it was associated with the most furious
reproaches, but more frequently with expressions of boundless delight
and wild outbursts of fervent longing, and this was what inspired
Lucilius with the hope that the Queen’s influence would be effectual
with his friend. Therefore he repeated some especially ardent words, to
which Cleopatra listened with grateful joy.

Yet, when Lucilius paused, she remarked that doubtless the misanthropist
had spoken of her, and probably of Octavia also, in quite a different
way. She was prepared for the worst, for she was one of the rocks
against which his greatness had been shattered.

This reminded Lucilius of the comment Antony had made upon the three
women whom he had wedded, and he answered reluctantly: “Fulvia, the wife
of his youth--I knew the bold, hot-blooded woman, the former wife of
Clodius--he called the tempest which swelled his sails.”

“Yes, Yes!” cried Cleopatra. “So she did. He owes her much; but I, too,
am indebted to the dead Fulvia. She taught him to recognize and yield to
woman’s power.”

“Not always to his advantage,” retorted Lucilius, whose resentment was
revived by the last sentence and, without heeding the faint flush on the
Queen’s cheek, he added: “Of Octavia he said that she was the straight
path which leads to happiness, and those who are content to walk in it
are acceptable to gods and men.”

“Then why did he not suffer it to content him?” cried Cleopatra
wrathfully.

“Fulvia’s school,” replied the Roman, “was probably the last where
he would learn the moderation which--as you know--is so alien to his
nature. His opinion of the quiet valleys and middle course you have just
heard.”

“But I, what have I been to him?” urged the Queen.

Lucilius bent his gaze for a short time on the floor, then answered
hesitatingly:

“You asked to hear, and the Queen’s command must be obeyed. He compared
your Majesty to a delicious banquet given to celebrate a victory, at
which the guests, crowned with garlands, revel before the battle--”

“Which is lost,” said the Queen hurriedly, in a muffled voice. “The
comparison is apt. Now, after the defeat, it would be absurd to prepare
another feast. The tragedy is closing, so the play (doubtless he said
so) which preceded it would be but a wearisome repetition if performed
a second time. One thing, it is true, seems desirable--a closing act of
reconciliation. If you think it is in my power to recall my husband to
active life, rely upon me. The banquet of which he spoke occupied long
years. The dessert will consume little time, but I am ready to serve it.
When I asked permission to visit him he refused. What plan of meeting
have you arranged?”

“That I will leave to your feminine delicacy of feeling,” replied
Lucilius. “Yet I have come with a request whose fulfilment will perhaps
contain the answer. Eros, Mark Antony’s faithful body-slave, humbly
petitions your Majesty to grant him a few minutes’ audience. You know
the worthy fellow. He would die for you and his master, and he--I once
heard from your lips the remark of King Antiochus, that no man was great
to his body-slave--thus Eros sees his master’s weaknesses and lofty
qualities from a nearer point of view than we, and he is shrewd. Antony
gave him his freedom long ago, and if your Majesty does not object to
receiving a man so low in station--”

“Let him come,” replied Cleopatra. “Your demand upon me is just.
Unhappily, I am but too well aware of the atonement due your friend.
Before you came, I was engaged in making preparations for the fulfilment
of one of his warmest wishes.”

With these words she dismissed the Roman. Her feelings as she watched
his departure were of very mingled character. The yearning for the
happiness of which she had been so long deprived had again awaked, while
the unkind words which he had applied to her still rankled in her
heart. But the door had scarcely closed behind Lucilius when the usher
announced a deputation of the members of the museum.

The learned gentlemen came to complain of the wrong which had been done
to their colleague, Didymus, and also to express their loyalty during
these trying times. Cleopatra assured them of her favour, and said that
she had already offered ample compensation to the old philosopher. In a
certain sense she was one of themselves. They all knew that, from early
youth, she had honoured and shared their labours. In proof of this,
she would present to the library of the museum the two hundred thousand
volumes from Pergamus, one of the most valuable gifts Mark Antony had
ever bestowed upon her, and which she had hitherto regarded merely as
a loan. This she hoped would repay Didymus for the injury which, to her
deep regret, had been inflicted upon him, and at least partially repair
the loss sustained by the former library of the museum during the
conflagration in the Bruchium.

The sages, eagerly assuring her of their gratitude and devotion,
retired. Most of them were personally known to Cleopatra who, to their
mutual pleasure and advantage, had measured her intellectual powers with
the most brilliant minds of their body.

The sun had already set, when a procession of the priests of Serapis,
the chief god of the city, whose coming had been announced the day
before, appeared at Lochias. Accompanied by torch and lantern bearers,
it moved forward with slow and solemn majesty. In harmony with the
nature of Serapis, there were many reminders of death.

The meaning of every image, every standard, every shrine, every
peculiarity of the music and singing, was familiar to the Queen. Even
the changing colours of the lights referred to the course of growth and
decay in the universe and in human life, and the magnificent close of
the chant of homage which represented the reception of the royal soul
into the essence of the deity, the apotheosis of the sovereign, was well
suited to stir the heart; for a sea of light unexpectedly flooded the
whole procession and, while its glow irradiated the huge pile of the
palace, the sea with its forest of ships and masts, and the shore with
its temples, pylons, obelisks, and superb buildings, all the choruses,
accompanied by the music of sackbuts, cymbals, and lutes, blended in
a mighty hymn, whose waves of sound rose to the star-strewn sky and
reached the open sea beyond the Pharos.

Many a symbolical image suggested death and the resurrection, defeat and
a victory following it by the aid of great Serapis; and when the torches
retired, vanishing in the darkness, with the last, notes of the chanting
of the priests, Cleopatra, raised her head, feeling as if the vow she
had made during the gloomy singing of the aged men and the extinguishing
of the torches had received the approval of the deity brought by her
forefathers to Alexandria and enthroned there to unite in his own person
the nature of the Greek and the Egyptian gods.

Her tomb was to be built and, if destiny was fulfilled, to receive her
lover and herself. She had perceived from Antony’s bitter words, as well
as the looks and tones of Lucilius, that he, as well as the man to whom
her heart still clung with indissoluble bonds, held her responsible for
Actium and the fall of his greatness.

The world, she knew, would imitate them, but it should learn that if
love had robbed the greatest man of his day of fame and sovereignty,
that love had been worthy of the highest price.

The belief which had just been symbolically represented to her--that
it was allotted to the vanishing light to rise again in new and radiant
splendour--she would maintain for the present, though the best success
could scarcely lead to anything more than merely fanning the glimmering
spark and deferring its extinction.

For herself there was no longer any great victory to win which would be
worth the conflict. Yet the weapons must not rest until the end. Antony
must not perish, growling, like a second Timon, or a wild beast caught
in a snare. She would rekindle, though but for the last blaze, the fire
of his hero-nature, which blind love for her and the magic spell that
had enabled her to bind his will had covered for a time with ashes.

While listening to the resurrection hymn of the priests of Serapis, she
had asked herself if it might not be possible to give Antony, when he
had been roused to fresh energy, the son of Caesar as a companion in
arms. True, she had found the boy in a mood far different from the one
for which she had hoped. If he had once been carried on to a bold deed,
it seemed to have exhausted his energy; for he remained absorbed in the
most pitiable love-sickness. Yet he had not recovered from his illness.
When he was better he would surely wake to active interest in the events
which threatened to exert so great an influence on his own existence
and, like the humblest slave, lament the defeat of Actium. Hitherto he
had listened to the tidings of battle which had reached his ears with
an indifference that seemed intelligible and pardonable only when
attributed to his wound.

His tutor Rhodon had just requested a leave of absence, remarking that
Caesarion would not lack companions, since he was expecting Antyllus and
other youths of his own age. A flood of light streamed from the windows
of the reception hall of the “King of kings.” There was still time to
seek him and make him understand what was at stake. Ah! if she could but
succeed in awaking his father’s spirit! If that culpable attack should
prove the harbinger of future deeds of manly daring!

No interview with him as yet had encouraged this expectation, but a
mother’s heart easily sees, even in disappointment, a step which leads
to a new hope. When Charmian entered to announce Antony’s body-slave,
she sent word to him to wait, and requested her friend to accompany her
to her son.

As they approached the apartments occupied by Caesarion, Antyllus’s loud
voice reached them through the open door, whose curtain was only half
drawn. The first word which the Queen distinguished was her own name;
so, motioning to her companion, she stood still. Barine was again the
subject of conversation.

Antony’s son was relating what Alexas had told him. Cleopatra, the
Syrian had asserted, intended to send the young beauty to the mines or
into exile, and severely punish Dion; but both had made their escape.
The Ephebi had behaved treacherously by taking sides with their foe. But
this was because they were not yet invested with their robes. He hoped
to induce his father to do this as soon as he shook off his pitiable
misanthropy. And he must also be persuaded to direct the pursuit of the
fugitives. “This will not be difficult,” he cried insolently, “for the
old man appreciates beauty, and has himself cast an eye on the singer.
If they capture her, I’ll guarantee nothing, you ‘King of kings!’ for,
spite of his grey beard, he can cut us all out with the women, and
Barine--as we have heard--doesn’t think a man of much importance until
his locks begin to grow thin. I gave Derketaeus orders to send all his
men in pursuit. He’s as cunning as a fox, and the police are compelled
to obey him.”

“If I were not forced to lie here like a dead donkey, I would soon find
her,” sighed Caesarion. “Night or day, she is never out of my mind. I
have already spent everything I possessed in the search. Yesterday I
sent for the steward Seleukus. What is the use of being my mother’s
son, and the fat little fellow isn’t specially scrupulous! He will do
nothing, yet there must be gold enough. The Queen has sunk millions in
the sand on the Syrian frontier of the Delta. There is to be a square
hole or something of the sort dug there to hide the fleet. I only half
understand the absurd plan. The money might have paid hundreds of spies.
So talents are thrown away, and the strong-box is locked against the
son. But I’ll find one that will open to me. I must have her, though I
risk the crown. It always sounds like a jeer when they call me the King
of kings. I am not fit for sovereignty. Besides, the throne will be
seized ere I really ascend it. We are conquered, and if we succeed in
concluding a peace, which will secure us life and a little more, we must
be content. For my part, I shall be satisfied with a country estate on
the water, a sufficient supply of money and, above all, Barine. What do
I care for Egypt? As Caesar’s son I ought to have ruled Rome; but the
immortals knew what they were doing when they prompted my father to
disinherit me. To govern the world one must have less need of sleep.
Really--you know it--I always feel tired, even when I am well. People
must let me alone! Your father, too, Antyllus, is laying down his arms
and letting things go as they will.”

“Ah, so he is!” cried Antony’s son indignantly. “But just wait! The
sleeping lion will wake again, and, when he uses his teeth and paws--”

“My mother will run away, and your father will follow her,” replied
Caesarion with a melancholy smile, wholly untinged by scorn. “All is
lost. But conquered kings and queens are permitted to live. Caesar’s
son will not be exhibited to the Quirites in the triumphal procession.
Rhodon says that there would be an insurrection if I appeared in the
Forum. If I go there again, it certainly will not be in Octavianus’s
train. I am not suited for that kind of ignominy. It would stifle me
and, ere I would grant any man the pleasure of dragging the son of
Caesar behind him to increase his own renown, I would put an end--ten,
nay, a hundred times over, in the good old Roman fashion, to my life,
which is by no means especially attractive. What is sweeter than sound
sleep, and who will disturb and rouse me when Death has lowered his
torch before me? But now I think I shall be spared this extreme.
Whatever else they may inflict upon me will scarcely exceed my powers of
endurance. If any one has learned contentment it is I. The King of kings
and Co-Regent of the Great Queen has been trained persistently, and with
excellent success, to be content. What should I be, and what am I? Yet
I do not complain, and wish to accuse no one. We need not summon
Octavianus, and when he is here let him take what he will if he only
spares the lives of my mother, the twins, and little Alexander, whom I
love, and bestows on me the estate--the main thing is that it must be
full of fishponds--of which I spoke. The private citizen Caesarion, who
devotes his time to fishing and the books he likes to read, will gladly
be allowed to choose a wife to suit his own taste. The more humble her
origin, the more easily I shall win the consent of the Roman guardian.”

“Do you know, Caesarion,” interrupted Antony’s unruly son, leaning back
on the cushions and stretching his feet farther in front of him, “if
you were not the King of kings I should be inclined to call you a base,
mean-natured fellow! One who has the good fortune to be the son of
Julius Caesar ought not to forget it so disgracefully. My gall overflows
at your whimpering. By the dog! It was one of my most senseless pranks
to take you to the singer. I should think there would be other things to
occupy the mind of the King of kings. Besides, Barine cares no more for
you than the last fish you caught. She showed that plainly enough. I say
once more, if Derketaeus’s men succeed in capturing the beauty who
has robbed you of your senses, she won’t go with you to your miserable
estate to cook the fish you catch, for if we have her again, and my
father holds out his hand to her, all your labour will be in vain. He
saw the fair enchantress only twice, and had no time to become better
acquainted, but she captured his fancy and, if I remind him of her, who
knows what will happen?”

Here Cleopatra beckoned to her companion and returned to her apartments
with drooping head. On reaching them, she broke the silence, saying:
“Listening, Charmian, is unworthy of a Queen; but if all listeners
heard things so painful, one need no longer guard keyholes and chinks of
doors. I must recover my calmness ere I receive Eros. One thing more. Is
Barine’s hiding-place secure?”

“I don’t know--Archibius says so.”

“Very well. They are searching for her zealously enough, as you heard,
and she must not be found. I am glad that she did not set a snare for
the boy. How a jealous heart leads us astray! Were she here, I would
grant her anything to make amends for my unjust suspicion of her and
Antony. And to think that Alexas--but for your interposition he would
have succeeded--meant to send her to the mines! It is a terrible warning
to be on my guard. Against whom? First of all, my own weakness. This is
a day of recognition. A noble aim, but on the way the feet bleed, and
the heart--ah! Charmian, the poor, weak, disappointed heart!”

She sighed heavily, and supported her head on the arm resting upon
the table at her side. The polished, exquisitely grained surface of
thya-wood was worth a large estate; the gems in the rings and bracelets
which glittered on her hand and arm would have purchased a principality.
This thought entered her mind and, overpowered by a feeling of angry
disgust, she would fain have cast all the costly rubbish into the sea or
the destroying flames.

She would gladly have been a beggar, content with the barley bread of
Epicurus, she said to herself, if in return she could but have inspired
her son even with the views of the reckless blusterer Antyllus. Her
worst fears had not pictured Caesarion so weak, so insignificant. She
could no longer rest upon her cushions; and while, with drooping head,
she gazed backward over the past, the accusing voice in her own breast
cried out that she was reaping what she had sowed. She had repressed,
curbed the boy’s awakening will to secure his obedience; understood how
to prevent any exercise of his ability or efforts in wider circles.

True, it had been done on many a pretext. Why should not her son taste
the quiet happiness which she had enjoyed in the garden of Epicurus? And
was not the requirement that whoever is to command must first learn to
obey, based upon old experiences?

But this was a day of reckoning and insight, and for the first time she
found courage to confess that her own burning ambition had marked out
the course of Caesarion’s education. She had not repressed his talents
from cool calculation, but it had been pleasant to her to see him grow
up free from aspirations. She had granted the dreamer repose without
arousing him. How often she had rejoiced over the certainty that this
son, on whom Antony, after his victory over the Parthians, had
bestowed the title of Co-Regent, would never rebel against his mother’s
guardianship! The welfare of the state had doubtless been better secured
in her trained hands than in those of an inexperienced boy. And the
proud consciousness of power! Her heart swelled. So long as she lived
she would remain Queen. To transfer the sovereignty to another, whatever
name he might bear, had seemed to her impossible. Now she knew how
little her son yearned for lofty things. Her heart contracted. The
saying “You reap what you sowed” gave her no peace, and wherever she
turned in her past life she perceived the fruit of the seeds which she
had buried in the ground. The field was sinking under the burden of the
ears of misfortune. The harvest was ripe for the reaper; but, ere he
raised the sickle, the owner’s claim must be preserved. Gorgias must
hasten the building of the tomb; the end could not be long deferred. How
to shape this worthily, if the victor left her no other choice, had just
been pointed out by the son of whom she was ashamed. His father’s noble
blood forbade him to bear the deepest ignominy with the patience his
mother had inculcated.

It had grown late ere she admitted Antony’s body-slave, but for her the
business of the night was just commencing. After he had gone she would
be engaged for hours with the commanders of the army, the fleet, the
fortifications. The soliciting of allies, too, must be carried on by
means of letters containing the most stirring appeals to the heart.

Eros, Antony’s body-slave, appeared. His kind eyes filled with tears
at the sight of the Queen. Grief had not lessened the roundness of his
handsome face, but the expression of mischievous, often insolent, gaiety
had given place to a sorrowful droop of the lips, and his fair hair had
begun to turn grey.

Lucilius’s information that Cleopatra had consented to make advances
to Antony had seemed like the rising of the sun after a long period of
darkness. In his eyes, not only his master, but everything else, must
yield to the power of the Queen. He had heard Antony at Tarsus inveigh
against “the Egyptian serpent,” protesting that he would make her pay
so dearly for her questionable conduct towards himself and the cause
of Caesar that the treasure-houses on the Nile should be like an empty
wine-skin; yet, a few hours after, body and soul had been in her toils.
So it had continued till the battle of Actium. Now there was nothing
more to lose; but what might not Cleopatra bestow upon his master?
He thought of the delightful years during which his face had grown so
round, and every day fresh pleasures and spectacles, such as the
world would never again witness, had satiated eye and ear, palate and
nostril,--nay, even curiosity. If they could be repeated, even in a
simpler form, so much the better. His main--nay, almost his sole-desire
was to release his lord from this wretched solitude, this horrible
misanthropy, so ill suited to his nature.

Cleopatra had kept him waiting two hours, but he would willingly have
loitered in the anteroom thrice as long if she only determined to follow
his counsel. It was worth considering, and Eros did not hesitate to give
it. No one could foresee how Antony would greet Cleopatra herself, so he
proposed that she should send Charmian--not alone, but with her clever
hunch-backed maid, to whom the Imperator himself had given the name
“Aisopion.” He liked Charmian, and could never see the dusky maid
without jesting with her. If his master could once be induced to show
a cheerful face to others besides himself, Eros, and perceived how much
better it was to laugh than to lapse into sullen reverie and anger, much
would be gained, and Charmian would do the rest, if she brought a loving
message from her royal mistress.

Hitherto Cleopatra had not interrupted him; but when she expressed the
opinion that a slave’s nimble tongue would have little power to change
the deep despondency of a man overwhelmed by the most terrible disaster,
Eros waved his short, broad hand, saying:

“I trust your Majesty will pardon the frankness of a man so humble in
degree, but those in high station often permit us to see what they hide
from one another. Only the loftiest and the lowliest, the gods and the
slaves, behold the great without disguise. May my ears be cropped if
the Imperator’s melancholy and misanthropy are so intense! All this is
a disguise which pleases him. You know how, in better days, he enjoyed
appearing as Dionysus, and with what wanton gaiety he played the part
of the god. Now he is hiding his real, cheerful face behind the mask
of unsocial melancholy, because he thinks the former does not suit this
time of misfortune. True, he often says things which make your skin
creep, and frequently broods mournfully over his own thoughts. But
this never lasts long when we are alone. If I come in with a very funny
story, and he doesn’t silence me at once, you can rely on his surpassing
it with a still more comical one. A short time ago I reminded him of the
fishing party when your Majesty had a diver fasten a salted herring on
his hook. You ought to have heard him laugh, and exclaim what happy days
those were. The lady Charmian need only remind him of them, and Aisopion
spice the allusion with a jest. I’ll give my nose--true, it’s only
a small one, but everybody values that feature most--if they don’t
persuade him to leave that horrible crow’s nest in the middle of the
sea. They must remind him of the twins and little Alexander; for when he
permits me to talk about them his brow smooths most speedily. He still
speaks very often to Lucilius and his other friends of his great
plans of forming a powerful empire in the East, with Alexandria as its
principal city. His warrior blood is not yet calm. A short time ago
I was even ordered to sharpen the curved Persian scimitar he likes to
wield. One could not know what service it might be, he said. Then he
swung his mighty arm. By the dog! The grey-haired giant still has the
strength of three youths. When he is once more with you, among warriors
and battle chargers, all will be well.”

“Let us hope so.” replied Cleopatra kindly, and promised to follow his
advice.

When Iras, who had taken Charmian’s place, accompanied the Queen to her
chamber after several hours of toil, she found her silent and sad. Lost
in thought, she accepted her attendant’s aid, breaking her silence only
after she had gone to her couch. “This has been a hard day, Iras,”
 she said; “it brought nothing save the confirmation of an old saying,
perhaps the most ancient in the world: ‘Every one wilt reap only what he
sows. The plant which grows from the seed you place in the earth may
be crushed, but no power in the world will compel the seed to develop
differently or produce fruit unlike what Nature has assigned to it.’ My
seed was evil. This now appears in the time of harvest. But we will yet
bring a handful of good wheat to the storehouses. We will provide for
that while there is time. I will talk with Gorgias early to-morrow
morning. While we were building, you showed good taste and often
suggested new ideas. When Gorgias brings the plans for the mausoleum you
shall examine them with me. You have a right to do so, for, if I am not
mistaken, few will visit the finished structure more frequently than my
Iras.”

The girl started up and, raising her hand as if taking a vow, exclaimed:
“Your tomb will vainly wait my visit; your end will be mine also.”

“May the gods preserve your youth from it!” replied the Queen in a tone
of grave remonstrance. “We still live and will do battle.”



CHAPTER XIX.

Night brought little sleep to Cleopatra. Memory followed memory, plan
was added to plan. The resolve made the day before was the right one.
To-day she would begin its execution. Whatever might happen, she was
prepared for every contingency.

Ere she went to her work she granted a second audience to the Roman
envoy. Timagenes exerted all his powers of eloquence, skill in
persuasion, wit, and ingenuity. He again promised to Cleopatra life and
liberty, and to her children the throne; but when he insisted upon the
surrender or death of Mark Antony as the first condition of any further
negotiations, Cleopatra remained steadfast, and the ambassador set forth
on his way home without any pledge.

After he had gone, the Queen and Iras looked over the plans for the tomb
brought by Gorgias, but the intense agitation of her soul distracted
Cleopatra’s attention, and she begged him to come again at a later hour.
When she was alone, she took out the letters which Caesar and Antony had
written to her. How acute, subtle, and tender were those of the former;
how ardent, impassioned, yet sincere were those of the mighty and fiery
orator, whose eloquence swept the listening multitudes with him, yet
whom her little hand had drawn wherever she desired!

Her heart throbbed faster when she thought of the meeting with Antony,
now close at hand; for Charmian had gone with the Nubian to invite him
to join her again. They had started several hours ago, and she awaited
their return with increasing impatience. She had summoned him for their
last mutual battle. That he would come she did not doubt. But could she
succeed in rekindling his courage? Two persons so closely allied should
sink and perish, still firmly united, in the final battle, if victory
was denied.

Archibius was now announced.

It soothed her merely to gaze into the faithful countenance, which
recalled so many of her happiest memories.

She opened her whole soul to him without reserve, and he drew himself
up to his full height, as if restored to youth; while when she told
him that she would never sully herself by treachery to her lover and
husband, and had resolved to die worthy of her name, the expression of
his eyes revealed that she had chosen the right path.

Ere she had made the request that he should undertake the education and
guidance of the children, he voluntarily proposed to devote his best
powers to them. The plan of uniting Didymus’s garden with the Lochias
and giving it to the little ones also met with his approval. His sister
had already told him that Cleopatra had determined to build her tomb. He
hoped, he added, that its doors would not open to her for many years.

She shook her head sorrowfully, exclaiming “Would that I could read
every face as I do yours! My friend Archibius wishes me a long life, if
any one does; but he is as wise as he is faithful, and therefore will
consider that earthly life is by no means a boon in every case. Besides,
he says to himself: ‘Events are impending over this Queen and woman, my
friend, which will perhaps render it advisable to make use of the great
privilege which the immortals bestow on human beings when it becomes
desirable for them to leave the stage of life. So let her build her
tomb.’ Have I read the old familiar book aright?”

“On the whole, yes,” he answered gravely. “But it is inscribed upon its
pages that a great princess and faithful mother can be permitted to set
forth on the last journey, whence there is no return, only when--”

“When,” she interrupted, “a shameful end threatens to fall upon the fair
beginning and brilliant middle period, as a swarm of locusts darkens
the air and devours and devastates the fields. I know it, and will act
accordingly.”

“And,” added Archibius, “this end also (faithful to your nature) you
will shape regally.--On my way here I met my sister near the Choma. You
sent her to your husband. He will grasp the proffered hand. Now that it
is necessary to stake everything or surrender, the grandson of Herakles
will again display his former heroic power. Perhaps, stimulated and
encouraged by the example of the woman he loves, he will even force
hostile Fate to show him fresh favour.”

“Destiny will pursue its course,” interrupted Cleopatra firmly. “But
Antony must help me to heap fresh obstacles in the pathway, and when he
wishes to use his giant strength, what masses of rock his mighty arm can
hurl!”

“And if your lofty spirit smooths the path for him, then, my royal
mistress--”

“Even then the close of the tragedy will be death, and every scene
a disappointment. Was not the plan of bringing the fleet across the
isthmus bold and full of promise? Even the professional engineers
greeted it with applause, and yet it proved impracticable. Destiny
dug its grave. And the terrible omens before and after Actium, and the
stars--the stars! Everything points to speedy destruction, everything!
Every hour brings news of the desertion of some prince or general. As
if from a watch-tower, I now overlook what is growing from the seed I
sowed. Sterile ears or poisonous vegetation, wherever I turn my eyes.
And yet! You, who know my life from its beginning, tell me--must I veil
my head in shame when the question is asked, what powers of intellect,
what talents industry, and desire for good Cleopatra displayed?”

“No, my royal mistress, a thousand times no!”

“Yet the fruit of every tree I planted degenerated and decayed.
Caesarion is withering in the flower of his youth--by whose fault I know
only too well. You will now take charge of the education of the other
children. So it is for you to consider what brought me where I now
stand, and how to guard their life-bark from wandering and shipwreck.”

“Let me train them to be human beings,” replied Archibius gravely, “and
preserve them from the desire to enter the lists with the gods. From
the simple Cleopatra in the garden of Epicurus, who was a delight to
the good and wise, you became the new Isis, to whom the multitude raised
hearts, eyes, and hands, dazzled and blinded. We will transfer the
twins, Helios and Selene, the sun and the moon, from heaven to earth;
they must become mortals--Greeks. I will not transplant them to the
garden of Epicurus, but to another, where the air is more bracing. The
inscription on its portals shall not be, ‘Here pleasure is the chief
good,’ but ‘This is an arena for character.’ He who leaves this garden
shall not owe to it the yearning for happiness and comfort, but an
immovably steadfast moral discipline. Your children, like yourself,
were born in the East, which loves what is monstrous, superhuman,
exaggerated. If you entrust them to me, they must learn to govern
themselves. At the helm stands moral earnestness, which, however, does
not exclude the joyous cheerfulness natural to our people; the sails
will be trimmed by moderation, the noblest quality of the Greek nation.”

“I understand,” Cleopatra interrupted, with drooping head. “Interwoven
with the means of securing the children’s welfare, you set before the
mother’s eyes the qualities she has lacked. I know that long ago you
abandoned the teachings of Epicurus and the Stoa, and with an earnest
aim before your eyes sought your own paths. The tempest of life swept me
far away from the quiet garden where we sought the purest delight. Now
I have learned to know the perils which threaten those who see the chief
good in happiness. It stands too high for mortals, for in the changeful
stir of life it remains unattainable, and yet it is too low an aim
for their struggles, for there are worthier objects. Yet one saying of
Epicurus we both believed, and it has always stood us in good stead:
‘Wisdom can obtain no more precious contribution to the happiness of
mortal life than the possession of friendship.’”

She held out her hand as she spoke, and while, deeply agitated, he
raised it to his lips, she went on: “You know I am on the eve of the
last desperate battle--if the gods will--shoulder to shoulder with
Antony. Therefore I shall not be permitted to watch your work of
education; yet I will aid it. When the children question you about their
mother, you will be obliged to restrain yourself from saying: ‘Instead
of striving for the painless peace of mind, the noble pleasure of
Epicurus, which once seemed to her the highest good, she constantly
pursued fleeting amusements. The Oriental recklessly squandered her once
noble gifts of intellect and the wealth of her people, yielded to the
hasty impulses of her passionate nature.’ But you shall also say to
them: ‘Your mother’s heart was full of ardent love, she scorned what was
base, strove for the highest goal, and when she fell, preferred death to
treachery and disgrace.’”

Here she paused, for she thought she heard footsteps approaching, and
then exclaimed anxiously: “I am waiting--expecting. Perhaps Antony
cannot escape from the paralyzing grasp of despair. To fight the last
battle without him, and yet under the gaze of his wrathful, gloomy
eyes, once so full of sunshine, would be the greatest sorrow of my life.
Archibius, I may confess this to you, the friend who saw love for this
man develop in the breast of the child--But what does this mean? An
uproar! Have the people rebelled? Yesterday the representatives of
the priesthood, the members of the museum, and the leaders of the army
assured me of their changeless fidelity and love. Dion belonged to
the Macedonian men of the Council; yet I have already declared, in
accordance with the truth, that I never intended to persecute him on
Caesarion’s account. I do not even know--and do not desire to know the
refuge of the lately wedded pair. Or has the new tax levied, the command
to seize the treasures of the temple, driven them to extremities?
What am I to do? We need gold to bid the foe defiance, to preserve the
independence of the throne, the country, and the people. Or have tidings
from Rome? It is becoming serious--and the noise is growing louder.”

“Let me see what they want,” Archibius anxiously interrupted, hastening
to the door; but just at that moment the Introducer opened it, crying,
“Mark Antony is approaching the Lochias, attended by half Alexandria!”

“The noble Imperator is returning!” fell from the bearded lips of the
commander of the guard, ere the courtier’s words had died away; and even
while he spoke Iras pressed past him, shrieking as if half frantic: “He
is coming! He is here! I knew he would come! How they are shouting and
cheering! Out with you, men! If you are willing, my royal mistress, we
will greet him from the balcony of Berenike. If we only had--”

“The twins--little Alexander!” interrupted Cleopatra, with blanched face
and faltering voice. “Put on their festal garments.”

“Quick--the children, Zoe!” cried Iras, completing the order and
clapping her hands. Then she turned to the Queen with the entreaty: “Be
calm, my royal mistress, be calm, I beseech you. We have ample time.
Here is the vulture crown of Isis, and here the other. Antony’s slave,
Eros, has just come in, panting for breath. The Imperator, he says, will
appear as the new Dionysus. It would certainly please his master--though
he had not commissioned him to request it--if you greeted him as the
new Isis.--Help me, Hathor. Nephoris, tell the usher to see that the
fan-bearers and the other attendants, women and men, are in their
places.--Here are the pearl and diamond necklaces for your throat and
bosom. Take care of the robe. The transparent bombyx is as delicate as
a cobweb, and if you tear it No, you must not refuse. We all know how it
pleases him to see his goddess in divine majesty and beauty.” Cleopatra,
with glowing cheeks and throbbing heart, made no further objection
to donning the superb festal robe, strewn with glimmering pearls and
glittering gems. It would have been more in harmony with her feelings
to meet the returning Antony in the plain, dark garb which, since her
arrival at home, she had exchanged for a richer one only on festal
occasions; but Antony was coming as the new Dionysus, and Eros knew what
would please his master.

Eight nimble hands, which were often aided by Iras’s skilful fingers,
toiled busily, and soon the latter could hold up the mirror before
Cleopatra, exclaiming from the very depths of her heart, “Like the
foam-born Aphrodite and the golden Hathor!”

Then Iras, who, in adorning her beloved mistress, had forgotten love,
hate, and envy, and amid her eager haste barely found time for a brief,
fervent prayer for a happy issue of this meeting, threw the broad
folding-doors as wide as if she were about to reveal to the worshippers
in the temple the image of the god in the innermost sanctuary.

A long, echoing shout of surprise and delight greeted the Queen, for the
courtiers, hastily summoned, were already awaiting her without, from the
grey-haired epistolograph to the youngest page. Regally attired women
in her service raised the floating train of her cloak; others, in
sacerdotal robes, were testing the ease of movement of the rings on the
sistrum rods, men and boys were forming into lines according to the
rank of each individual, and the chief fan-bearer gave the signal for
departure. After a short walk through several halls and corridors, the
train reached the first court-yard of the palace, and there ascended
the few steps leading to the broad platform at the entrance-gate which
overlooked the whole Bruchium and the Street of the King, down which the
expected hero would approach.

The distant uproar of the multitude had sounded threatening, but now,
amid the deafening din, they could distinguish every shout of welcome,
every joyous greeting, every expression of delight, surprise, applause,
admiration, and homage, known to the Greek and Egyptian tongues.

Only the centre and end of the procession were visible. The head had
reached the Corner of the Muses, where, concealed by the old trees in
the garden, it moved on between the Temple of Isis and the land owned by
Didymus. The end still extended to the Choma, whence it had started.

All Alexandria seemed to have joined it.

Men large and small, of high and low degree, old and young, the lame and
the crippled, mingled with the throng, sweeping onward among horses and
carriages, carts and beasts of burden, like a mountain torrent dashing
wildly down to the valley. Here a loud shriek rang from an overturned
litter, whose bearers had fallen. Yonder a child thrown to the ground
screamed shrilly, there a dog trodden under the feet of the crowd howled
piteously. So clear and resonant were the shouts of joy that they rose
high above the flutes and tambourines, the cymbals and lutes of the
musicians, who followed the man approaching in the robes of a god.

The head of the procession now passed beyond the Corner of the Muses and
came within view of the platform.

There could be no doubt to whom this ovation was given, for the
returning hero was in the van, high above all the other figures. From
the golden throne borne on the shoulders of twelve black slaves he
waved his long thyrsus in greeting to the exulting multitude. Before the
bacchanalian train which accompanied him, and behind the musicians who
followed, moved two elephants bearing between them, as a light burden,
some unrecognizable object covered with a purple cloth. Now the column
had passed between the pylons through the lofty gateway which separated
the palace from the Street of the King, and stopped opposite to the
platform.

While officials, Scythians, and body-guards of all shades of complexion,
on foot and on horseback, kept back the throng by force where friendly
warning did not avail, Cleopatra saw her lover descend from the throne
and give a signal to the Indian slave who guided the elephants.
The cloth was flung aside, revealing to the astonished eyes of the
spectators a bouquet of flowers such as no Alexandrian had ever beheld.
It consisted entirely of blossoming rose-bushes. The red flowers formed
a circle in the centre, surrounded by a broad light garland of white
ones. The whole gigantic work rested like an egg in its cup in a
holder of palm fronds which, as it were, framed it in graceful curving
outlines. More than a thousand blossoms were united in this peerless
bouquet, and the singular gigantic gift was characteristic of its giver.

He advanced on foot to the platform, his figure towering above the
brown, light-hued, and black freedmen and slaves who followed as, on the
monuments of the Pharaohs, the image of the sovereign dominates those of
the subjects and foes.

He could look down upon the tallest men, and the width of his shoulders
was as remarkable as his colossal height. A long, gold-broidered purple
mantle, floating to his ancles, increased his apparent stature. Powerful
arms, with the swelling muscles of an athlete, were extended from his
sleeveless robe towards the beloved Queen.

The well-formed head, thick dark hair, and magnificent beard
corresponded with the powerful figure. Formerly these locks had adorned
the head of the youth with the blue-black hue of the raven’s plumage;
now the threads of grey scattered abundantly through them were
concealed by the aid of dye. A thick wreath of vine leaves rested on the
Imperator’s brow, and leafy vine branches, to which clung several dark
bunches of grapes, fell over his broad shoulders and down his back,
which was covered like a cloak, not by a leopard-skin, but that of a
royal Indian tiger of great size--he had slain it himself in the arena.
The head and paws of the animal were gold, the eyes two magnificent
sparkling sapphires. The clasp of the chain, by which the skin
was suspended, as well as that of the gold belt which circled the
Imperator’s body above the hips, was covered with rubies and emeralds.
The wide armlets above his elbows, the ornaments on his broad breast,
nay, even his red morocco boots, glittered and flashed with gems.

Radiant magnificent as his former fortunes seemed the attire of this
mighty fallen hero, who but yesterday had shrunk timidly and sadly from
the eyes of his fellow-men. His features, too, were large, noble, and
beautiful in outline; but, though his pale cheeks were adorned with
the borrowed crimson of youth, half a century of the maddest pursuit
of pleasure and the torturing excitement of the last few weeks had left
traces only too visible; for the skin hung in loose bags beneath the
large eyes; wrinkles furrowed his brow and radiated in slanting lines
from the corners of his eyes across his temples.

Yet not one of those whom this bedizened man of fifty was approaching
thought of seeing in him an aged, bedecked dandy; it was an instinct of
his nature to surround himself with pomp and splendour and, moreover,
his whole appearance was so instinct with power that scorn and mockery
shrank abashed before it.

How frank, gracious, and kindly was this man’s face, how sincere the
heart-felt emotion which sparkled in his eyes, still glowing with the
fire of youth, at the sight of the woman from whom he had been so long
parted! Every feature beamed with the most ardent tenderness for the
royal wife whom he was approaching, and the expression on the lips of
the giant varied so swiftly from humble, sorrowful anguish of mind to
gratitude and delight, that even the hearts of his foes were touched.
But when, pressing his hand on his broad breast, he advanced towards the
Queen, bending so low that it seemed as if he would fain kiss her feet,
when in fact the colossal figure did sink kneeling before her, and
the powerful arms were outstretched with fervent devotion like a child
beseeching help, the woman who had loved him throughout her whole
life with all the ardour of her passionate soul was overpowered by
the feeling that everything which stood between them, all their mutual
offences, had vanished. He saw the sunny smile that brightened her
beloved, ever-beautiful face, and then--then his own name reached his
ears from the lips to which he owed the greatest bliss love had ever
offered. At last, as if intoxicated by the tones of her voice, which
seemed to him more musical than the songs of the Muses; half smiling at
the jest which, even in the most serious earnest, he could not abandon;
half moved to the depths of his soul by the power of his newly awakening
happiness after such sore sorrow, he pointed to the gigantic bouquet,
which three slaves had lifted down from the elephant and were bearing to
the Queen. Cleopatra, too, was overwhelmed with emotion.

This floral gift imitated, on an immense scale, the little bouquet which
the famous young general had taken from her father’s hand before the
gate of the garden of Epicurus to present to her as his first gift. That
had also been composed of red roses, surrounded by white ones. Instead
of palm fronds, it had been encircled only by fern leaves. This was
one of the beautiful offerings which Antony’s gracious nature so well
understood how to choose. The bouquet was a symbol of the unprecedented
generosity natural to this large-minded man. No magic goblet had
compelled him to approach her thus and with such homage. Nothing had
constrained him, save his overflowing heart, his constant, fadeless
love.

As if restored to youth, transported by some magic spell to the happy
days of early girlhood, she forgot her royal dignity and the hundreds
of eyes which rested upon him as if spell-bound; and, obedient to an
irresistible impulse of the heart, she sank upon the broad, heaving
breast of the kneeling hero. Laughing joyously in the clear, silvery
tones which are usually heard only in youth, he clasped her in his
strong arms, raised her slender figure in its floating royal mantle
from the ground, kissed her lips and eyes, held her aloft in the soaring
attitude of the Goddess of Victory, as if to display his happiness to
the eyes of all, and at last placed her carefully on her feet again like
some treasured jewel.

Then, turning to the children, who were waiting at their mother’s side,
he lifted first little Alexander, then the twins, to kiss them; and,
while holding Helios and Selene in his arms, as if the joy of seeing
them again had banished their weight, the shouts which had arisen when
the Queen sank on his breast again burst forth.

The ancient walls of the Lochias palace had never heard such
acclamations. They passed from lip to lip, from hundreds to hundreds
and, though those more distant did not know the cause, they joined in
the shouts. Along the whole vast stretch from the Lochias to the Choma
the cheers rang out like a single, heart-stirring, inseparable cry,
echoing across the harbour, the ships lying at anchor, the towering
masts, to the cliff amid the sea where Barine was nursing her new-made
husband.



CHAPTER XX.

The property of the freedman Pyrrhus was a flat rock in the northern
part of the harbour, scarcely larger than the garden of Didymus at the
Corner of the Muses, a desolate spot where neither tree nor blade of
grass grew. It was called the Serpent Island, though the inhabitants
had long since rid it of these dangerous guests, which lived in great
numbers in the neighbouring cliffs. Not even the poorest crops would
grow in soil so hostile to life, and those who chose it for a home were
compelled to bring even the drinking-water from the continent.

This desert, around which hovered gulls, sea-swallows, and sea-eagles,
had been for several weeks the abode of the fugitives, Dion and Barine.
They still occupied the two rooms which had been assigned to them on
their arrival. During the day the sun beat fiercely down upon the yellow
chalky rock. There was no shade save in the house and at the foot of
a towering cliff in the southern part of the island, the fishermen’s
watch-tower.

There were no works of human hands save a little Temple of Poseidon, an
altar of Isis, the large house owned by Pyrrhus, solidly constructed by
Alexandrian masons, and a smaller one for the freedman’s married sons
and their families. A long wooden frame, on which nets were strung to
dry, rose on the shore. Near it, towards the north, in the open sea, was
the anchorage of the larger sea-going ships and the various skiffs and
boats of the fisher folk. Dionikos, Pyrrhus’s youngest son, who was
still unmarried, built new boats and repaired the old ones.

His two strong, taciturn brothers, with their wives and children, his
father Pyrrhus, his wife and their youngest child, a daughter, Dione,
a few dogs, cats, and chickens, composed the population of the Serpent
Island.

Such were the surroundings of the newly wedded pair, who had been reared
in the capital. At first many things were strange to them, but they
accommodated themselves to circumstances with a good grace, and both had
admitted to each other, long before, that life had never been so equable
and peaceful.

During the first week Dion’s wound and fever still harassed him, but
the prediction of Pyrrhus that the pure, fresh sea-air would benefit the
sufferer had been fulfilled, and the monotonous days had passed swiftly
enough to the young bride in caring for the invalid.

The wife of Pyrrhus--“mother,” as they all called her--had proved to be
a skilful nurse, and her daughters-in-law and young Dione were faithful
and nimble assistants. During the time of anxiety and nursing, Barine
had formed a warm friendship for them. If the taciturn men avoided using
a single unnecessary word, the women were all the more ready to gossip;
and it was a pleasure to talk to pretty Dione, who had grown up on the
island and was eager to hear about the outside world.

Dion had long since left his couch and the house, and each day looked
happier, more content with himself and his surroundings. At first his
feverish visions had shown him his dead mother, pointing anxiously
at his new-made wife, as if to warn him against her. During his
convalescence he remembered them and they conjured up the doubt whether
Barine could endure the solitude of this desolate cliff, whether she
would not lose the bright serenity of soul whose charm constantly
increased. Would it be any marvel if she should pine with longing in
this solitude, and even suffer physically from their severe privations?

The perception that love now supplied the place of all which she had
lost pleased him, but he forbade himself to expect that this condition
of affairs could be lasting. Nothing save exaggerated self-conceit
would induce the hope. But he must have undervalued his own power of
attraction--or Barine’s love--for with each passing week the cheerful
serenity of her disposition gained fresh steadfastness and charm. He,
too, had the same experience; it was long since he had felt so vigorous,
untrammelled, and free from care. His sole regret was the impossibility
of sharing the political life of the city at this critical period; and
at times he felt some little anxiety concerning the fate and management
of his property, though, even if his estates were confiscated, he
would still retain a competence which he had left in the hands of a
trustworthy money-changer. Barine shared everything that concerned him,
even these moods, and this led him to tell her about the affairs of the
city and the state, in which she had formerly taken little interest, his
property in Alexandria and the provinces. With what glad appreciation
she listened, when she went out with him from the northern anchorage
on the open sea, or sat during long winter evenings making nets, an art
which she had learned from Dione!

Her lute had been sent to her from the city, and what pleasure her
singing afforded her husband and herself; how joyously their hosts, old
and young, listened to the melody!

A few book-rolls had also come, and Dion enjoyed discussing their
contents with Barine. He himself read very little, for he was rarely
indoors during the day. The fourth week after his arrival he was able to
aid, with arms whose muscles had been steeled in the pakestra, the men
in their fishing, and Dionikos in his boat-building.

The close, constant, uninterrupted companionship of the married pair
revealed to each unexpected treasures in the other, which, perhaps,
might have remained forever concealed in city life. Here each was
everything to the other, and this undisturbed mutual life soon inspired
that blissful consciousness of inseparable union which usually appears
only after years, as the fairest fruit of a marriage founded on love.

Doubtless there were hours when Barine longed to see her mother and
others who were dear to her, but the letters which arrived from time to
time prevented this yearning from becoming a source of actual pain.

Prudence required them to restrict their intercourse with the city. But,
whenever Pyrrhus went to market, letters reached the island delivered
at the fish auction in the harbour by Anukis, Charmian’s Nubian maid, to
the old freedman, who had become her close friend.

So the time came when Dion could say without self-deception that Barine
was content in this solitude, and that his love and companionship
supplied the place of the exciting, changeful life of the capital.
Though letters came from her mother, sister, or Charmian, her
grandfather, Gorgias, or Archibius, not one transformed the wish to
leave her desolate hiding-place into actual homesickness, but each
brought fresh subjects for conversation, and among them many which, by
arousing the interest of both, united them more firmly.

The second month of their flight a letter arrived from Archibius, in
which he informed them that they might soon form plans for their return,
for Alexas, the Syrian, had proved a malicious traitor. He had not
performed the commission entrusted to him of winning Herod to Antony’s
cause, but treacherously deserted his patron and remained with the
King of the Jews. When, with unprecedented shamelessness, he sought
Octavianus to sell the secrets of his Egyptian benefactor, he was
arrested and executed in his own home, Laodicea.

Now, their friend continued, Cleopatra’s eyes as well as her husband’s
were opened to the true character of Barine’s most virulent accuser. The
influence of Philostratus, too, was of course destroyed by his brother’s
infamous deed. Yet they must wait a little longer; for Caesarion had
joined the Ephebi, and Antyllus had been invested with the toga virilis.
They could now undertake many things independently, and Caesarion often
made remarks which showed that he would not cease to lay plots for
Barine.

Dion feared nothing from the royal boy on his own account, but for his
wife’s sake he dared not disregard his friend’s warning. This was hard;
for though he still felt happy on the island, he longed to install the
woman he loved in his own house, and every impulse of his nature urged
him to be present at the meetings of the Council in these fateful times.
Therefore he was more than ready to risk returning to the city, but
Barine entreated him so earnestly not to exchange the secure happiness
they enjoyed here for a greater one, behind which might lurk the
heaviest misfortune, that he yielded. Another letter from Charmian soon
proved the absolute necessity of continuing to exercise caution.

Even from the island they could perceive that everything known as festal
pleasure was rife in Alexandria, and bore along in its mad revelry the
court and the citizens. When the wind blew from the south, it brought
single notes of inspiring music or indistinct sounds of the wildest
popular rejoicing.

The fisherman’s daughter, Dione, often called them to the strand to
admire the galleys adorned with fabulous splendour, garlanded with
flowers, and echoing with the music of lutes and the melody of songs.
Sails of purple embroidered silk bore the vessels over the smooth tide.
Once the watchers even distinguished, upon a barge richly adorned
with gilded carving, young female slaves who, with floating hair and
transparent sea-green robes, handled, in the guise of Nereids, light
sandal-wood oars with golden blades. Often the breeze bore to the
island the perfumes which surrounded the galleys, and on calm nights the
magnificent ships, surrounded by the magical illumination of many-hued
lamps, swept across the mirror-like surface of the waves, Among the
voyagers were gods, goddesses, and heroes who, standing or reclining in
beautiful groups, represented scenes from the myths and history. On the
deck of the Queen’s superb vessel guests crowned with wreaths lay on
purple couches, under garlands of flowers, eating choice viands and
draining golden wine-cups.

On other nights the illumination of the shore of the Bruchium rendered
it as bright as day. The huge dome of the Serapeum on the Rhakotis,
covered with lamps, towered above the flat roofs of the city like the
starry firmament of a smaller world which had descended to earth. Every
temple and palace was transformed into a giant candelabrum, and the
rows of lamps on the quay stretched like tendrils of light from the
dazzlingly illuminated marble Temple of Poseidon to the palace at
Lochias, steeped in radiance.

When Pyrrhus or one of his sons returned from market they described the
festivals and shows, banquets, races, and endless pleasure excursions
arranged by the court, which made the citizens fairly hold their breath.
It was a prosperous time for the fishermen; the Queen’s cooks took all
their wares and paid a liberal price.

January had come, when another letter arrived from Charmian. Dion and
Barine had watched in vain for any unusual events on Cleopatra’s birth
day, but on Antony’s, a few days later, there was plenty of music and
shouting, and in the evening an unusually magnificent illumination.

Two days after, this letter was delivered to Pyrrhus by his dusky friend
Anukis.

Her inquiry whether he thought it prudent to convey visitors to his
guests was answered in the negative, for since Octavianus had been in
Asia, the harbour swarmed with the boats of spies, and a single act of
imprudence might bring ruin.

Charmian’s letter, too, was even better calculated to curb Dion’s
increasing desire to return home than the fisherman’s warning.

True, the beginning contained good news of Barine’s relatives, and
then informed Dion that his uncle, the Keeper of the Seal, was fairly
revelling in bliss. His inventive gifts were taxed more than ever. Every
day brought a festival, every night magnificent banquets. One spectacle,
excursion, or hunting party followed another. In the theatres, the
Odeum, the Hippodrome, no more brilliant performances, races, naval
battles, gladiatorial struggles, and combats between beasts had been
given, even before Actium. Dion himself had formerly attended the
entertainments of those who belonged to the court circle, the society of
“Inimitable Livers.” It had been revived again, but Antony called them
the “Comrades of Death.” This was significant. Every one knows that
the end is drawing near, and imitates the Pharaoh to whom the oracle
promised six years of life, and who convicted it of falsehood and made
them twelve by carousing during the night also.

The Queen’s meeting with her husband, which she had previously reported,
had been magnificent. “At that time,” she wrote, “we hoped that a more
noble life would begin, and Mark Antony, awakened and elevated by
his rekindled love, would regain his former heroic power; but we were
mistaken; Cleopatra, it is true, toiled unceasingly, but her lover with
his enormous bunch of roses gave the signal for the maddest revelry
which the imagination of the wildest devotee of pleasure could conceive.
The performances of the ‘Inimitable Livers’ were far surpassed by those
of the ‘Comrades of Death’.”

“Antony is at their head, and he, whose giant frame resists even
the most unprecedented demands, succeeds in stupefying himself and
forgetting the impending ruin. When he comes to us after a night of
revelry his eyes sparkle as brightly, his deep voice has as clear a
ring, as at the beginning of the banquet. The Queen is his goddess; and
who could remain unmoved when the giant bows obediently to the nod of
his delicate sovereign, and devises and offers the most unprecedented
things to win a smile from her lips? The changeful, impetuous wooing
of youth lies far behind him, but his homage, which the Ephebi of today
would perhaps term antiquated, has always seemed to me as if a mountain
were bending before a star. The stranger who sees her in his company
believes her a happy woman. Amid the fabulous radiance of the festal
array, when all who surround her admire, worship, and strew flowers in
her path, one might believe that the old sunny days had returned; but
when we are alone, how rarely I see her smile! Then she plans for the
tomb which, under Gorgias’s direction, is rapidly rising, and considers
with him the best method of rendering it an inaccessible place of
retreat.

“She decided everything, down to the carving on the stone sarcophagi. In
addition, there are to be rooms and chambers in the lower story for the
reception of her treasures. Beneath them she has had corridors made for
the pitch and straw which, if the worst should come, are to be lighted.
She will then give to the flames the gold and silver, gems and jewels,
ebony and ivory, the costly spices--in short, all her valuables. The
pearls alone are worth many kingdoms. Who can blame her if she prefers
to destroy them rather than leave them for the foe.”

“The garden in which you grew up, Barine, is now the scene of the happy,
busy life led by Alexander and the twins. There, under my brother’s
guidance, they frolic, build, and dig. Cleopatra goes to it whenever she
longs for repose after the pursuit of pleasures which have lost their
zest.

“When, the day before yesterday, Antony, crowned with ivy as the new
Dionysus, drove up the Street of the King in the golden chariot drawn
by tamed lions, to bring her, the new Isis, from the Lochias in a lotus
flower made of silver and white paste, drawn by four snow-white steeds,
she pointed to the glittering train and said: ‘Between the quiet of the
philosopher’s garden, where I began my life and still feel most at ease,
and the grave, where nothing disturbs my last repose, stretches the
Street of the King, with this deafening tumult, this empty splendour. It
is mine.’

“O child, it was very different in former days! She loved Mark Antony
with passionate ardour. He was the first man in the world, and yet he
bowed before the supremacy of her will. The longing of the awakening
heart, the burning ambition which already kindled the soul of the child,
had alike found satisfaction, and the world beheld how the mortal woman,
Cleopatra, for her lover and herself, could steep this meagre life
with the joys of the immortals. He was grateful for them, and the most
generous of men laid at the feet of the ‘Great Queen of the East’ the
might of Rome and the kings of two quarters of the globe.

“These years were spent by both in one long revel. His marriage with
Octavia brought the first awakening. It was hard and painful. He had not
deserted Cleopatra for a woman’s sake, but on account of his endangered
power and sovereignty. But the unloved Octavia constrained him to look
up to her with respectful admiration--nay, she became dear to him.

“A fierce battle for him and his heart arose between the two. It was
fought with very different weapons, and Cleopatra conquered. The
revel, the dream began again. Then came Actium, the disenchantment, the
awakening, the fall, the flight from the world. Our object was not to
let him relapse into intoxication, to rouse the hero’s strength
and courage from their slumber, render him for love’s sake a
fellow-combatant in the common cause.

“But he had become accustomed to see in her the giver of ecstasy. The
only thing that he still desired was to drain the cup of pleasure in her
society till all was over. She sees this, grieves over it, and leaves no
means of rousing him to fresh energy untried; yet how rarely he rallies
his powers to earnest labour!

“While she is fortifying the mouths of the Nile and the frontiers of the
country, building ship after ship, arming and negotiating, she can not
resist him when he summons her to new pleasures.

“Though so many of the traits which rendered him great and noble have
vanished, she can not give up the old love and clings steadfastly to
him because, because--I know not why. A woman’s loving heart does not
question motives and laws. Besides, he is the father of her children
and, in playing with them, he regains the old joyousness of mood so
enthralling to the heart.

“Since Archibius has taken charge of them, they can dispense with
Euphronion, their tutor. The clever man knows Rome, Octavianus, and
those who surround him, so he was chosen as an envoy. His object was to
induce the conqueror to transfer the sovereignty of Egypt to the boys
Antonius Helios, and Alexander, but Caesar vouchsafed no answer to the
mediator in Antony’s affairs--nay, did not even grant him an audience.

“To Cleopatra Octavianus promised friendly treatment, and the fulfilment
of her wish concerning the boys if--and now came the repetition of the
old demand--she would put Antony out of the world or deliver him into
his hands.

“This demand, which contains base treachery, was impossible for her
noble soul. Since she had resolved to build the tomb, granting it became
impossible, yet Octavianus made every effort to tempt her to the base
deed. True, the death of this one man would have spared much bloodshed.
The Caesar knows how to choose his tools. He sent here as negotiator a
clever young man, who possessed great charms of mind and person. No plan
to prejudice the Queen against her husband and persuade her to commit
the treachery was left untried. He went so far as to assure Cleopatra
that in former years she had won the Caesar’s heart, and that he
still loved her. She accepted these assurances at their true value and
remained steadfast.

“Antony at first paid no heed to the intriguer. But when he learned what
means he employed, and especially how he made use of the surrender of
one of Caesar’s murderers, which he himself had long regretted, to brand
him as an ungrateful traitor, he would not have been Mark Antony if he
had accepted it quietly. He was completely his old self when he ordered
the smooth fellow--who, however, had come as the ambassador of the
mighty victor--to be scourged, sent him back to Rome, and wrote a
letter to Octavianus, in which he complained of the man’s arrogance and
presumption, adding--spite of my heavy heart I can not help smiling when
I think of it--that misfortune had rendered him unusually irritable;
yet if his action perhaps displeased Caesar, he might treat his freedman
Hipparchus, who was in his power, as he had served Thyrsus!

“You see that his gay arrogance has not deserted him. Trouble slips away
from him as rain is shaken from the coarse military cloak which he wore
in the Parthian war, and therefore it cannot exert its purifying power.

“When we consider that, a few years ago, this man, as it were, doubled
himself when peril was most threatening, his conduct now, on the eve of
the decisive struggle, is intelligible only to those who know him as we
do. If he fights, he will no longer do so to save himself, or even
to conquer, but to die an honourable death. If he still enjoys the
pleasures offered, he believes that he can thus mitigate for himself the
burden of defeat, and diminish the grandeur of the conqueror’s victory.
In the eyes of the world, at least, a man who can still revel like
Antony is only half vanquished. Yet the lofty tone of his mind
was lowered. The surrender of the murderer of Caesar--his name was
Turullius--proves it.

“And this, Barine--tell your husband so--this is what fills me with
anxiety and compels me to entreat you not to think of returning home
yet.

“Antony is now the jovial companion of his son, and permits Antyllus to
share all his own pleasures. Of course, he heard of Caesarion’s passion,
and is disposed to help the poor fellow. He has often said that nothing
would better serve to rouse the dreamer from torpor than your charming
vivacity. As the earth could scarcely have swallowed you up, you would
be found; he, too, should be glad to hear you sing again. I know that
search will be made for you.

“How imperiously this state of affairs requires you to exercise caution
needs no explanation. On the other hand, you may find comfort in the
tidings that Cleopatra intends to send Caesarion with his tutor Rhodon
to Ethiopia, by way of the island of Philae. Archibius heard through
Timagenes that Octavianus considers the son of Caesar, whose face so
wonderfully resembles his father’s, a dangerous person, and this opinion
is the boy’s death-warrant. Antyllus, too, is going on a journey. His
destination is Asia, where he is to seek to propitiate Octavianus and
make him new offers. As you know, he was betrothed to his daughter
Julia. The Queen ceased long ago to believe in the possibility of
victory, yet, spite of all the demands of the ‘Comrades of Death’ and
her own cares, she toils unweariedly in preparing for the defence of
the country. She is doubtless the only member of that society who thinks
seriously of the approaching end.

“Now that the tomb is rising, she ponders constantly upon death. She,
who was taught by Epicurus to strive for freedom from pain and is so
sensitive to the slightest bodily suffering, is still seeking a path
which, with the least agony, will lead to the eternal rest for which she
longs. Iras and the younger pupils of Olympus are aiding her. The
old man furnishes all sorts of poisons, which she tries upon various
animals--nay, recently even on criminals sentenced to death. All these
experiments seem to prove that the bite of the uraeus serpent, whose
image on the Egyptian crown symbolizes the sovereign’s instant power
over life and death, stills the heart most swiftly and with the least
suffering.

“How terrible these things are! What pain it causes to see the being one
loves most, the mother of the fairest children, so cruelly heighten the
anguish of parting, choose death, as it were, for a constant companion,
amid the whirl of the gayest amusements! She daily looks all his terrors
in the face, yet with proud contempt turns her back upon the bridge
which might perhaps enable her for a time to escape the monster. This is
grand, worthy of her, and never have I loved her more tenderly.

“You, too, must think of her kindly. She deserves it. A noble heart
which sees itself forced to pity a foe, easily forgives; and was she
ever your enemy?

“I have written a long, long letter to solace your seclusion from the
world and relieve my own heart. Have patience a little while longer. The
time is not far distant when Fate itself will release you from exile.
How often your relatives, Archibius and Gorgias, whom I now see
frequently in the presence of the Queen, long to visit you!--but they,
too, believe that it might prove a source of danger.”

The warnings in this letter were confirmed by another from Archibius,
and soon after they heard that Caesarion had really sailed up the Nile
for Ethiopia with his tutor Rhodon, and Antyllus had been sent to Asia
to visit Octavianus. The latter had received him, it is true; but sent
him home without making any pledges.

These tidings were not brought by letter, but by Gorgias himself, whose
visit surprised them one evening late in March.

Rarely had a guest received a more joyous welcome. When he entered the
bare room, Barine was making a net and telling the fisherman’s daughter
Dione the story of the wanderings of Ulysses. Dion, too, listened
attentively, now and then correcting or explaining her descriptions,
while carving a head of Poseidon for the prow of a newly built boat.

As Gorgias unexpectedly crossed the threshold, the dim light of the lamp
fed by kiki-oil seemed transformed into sunshine. How brightly their
eyes sparkled, how joyous were their exclamations of welcome and
surprise! Then came questions, answers, news! Gorgias was obliged to
share the family supper, which had only waited the return of the father
who had brought the guest.

The fresh oysters, langustae, and other dishes served tasted more
delicious to the denizen of the city than the most delicious banquets
of the “Comrades of Death” to which he was now frequently invited by the
Queen.

All that Pyrrhus said voluntarily and told his sons in reply to their
questions was so sensible and related to matters which, because they
were new to Gorgias, seemed so fascinating that, when Dion’s good wine
was served, he declared that if Pyrrhus would receive him he, too, would
search for pursuers and be banished here.

When the three again sat alone before the plain clay mixing vessel it
seemed to the lonely young couple as if the best part of the city life
which they had left behind had found its way to them, and what did they
not have to say to one another! Dion and Barine talked of their hermit
life, Gorgias of the Queen and the tomb, which was at the same time a
treasure chamber. The slanting walls were built as firmly as if they
were intended to last for centuries and defy a violent assault. The
centre of the lower story was formed by a lofty hall of vast dimensions,
in whose midst were the large marble sarcophagi. Men were working busily
upon the figures in relief intended for the decoration of the sides and
lids. This hall, whose low arched ceiling was supported by three pairs
of heavy columns, was furnished like a reception-room. The couches,
candelabra, and altars were already being made. Charmian had kept the
fugitives well informed. In the subterranean chambers at the side of the
hall, and in the second story, which could not be commenced until the
ceiling was completed, store-rooms were to be made, and below and
beside them were passages for ventilation and the storage of combustible
materials.

Gorgias regretted that he could not show his friend the hall, which was
perhaps the handsomest and most costly he had ever created. The
noblest material-brown porphyry, emerald-green serpentine, and the dark
varieties of marble-had been used, and the mosaic and brass doors, which
were nearing completion, were masterpieces of Alexandrian art. To have
all this destroyed was a terrible thought, but even more unbearable was
that of its object--to receive the body of the Queen.

Again rapturous admiration of this greatest and noblest of women led
Gorgias to enthusiastic rhapsodies, until Dion exercised his office of
soberer, and Barine asked tidings of her mother, her grandparents,
and her sister. There was nothing but good news to be told. True, the
architect had to wage a daily battle with the old philosopher, who
termed it an abuse of hospitality to remain so long at his friend’s with
his whole family; but thus far Gorgias had won the victory, even against
Berenike, who wished to take her father and his household to her own
home.

Cleopatra had purchased the house and garden of Didymus at thrice
their value, the architect added. He was now a wealthy man, and had
commissioned him to build a new mansion. The land facing the sea and
near the museum had been found, but the handsome residence would not be
completed until summer. The dry Egyptian air would have permitted him
to roof it sooner, but there were many of Helena’s wishes--most of them
very sensible ones--to be executed.

Barine and Dion glanced significantly at each other; but the architect,
perceiving it, exclaimed: “Your mute language is intelligible enough,
and I confess that for five months Helena has seemed to me the most
attractive of maidens. I see, too, that she has some regard for me. But
as soon as I stand before her--the Queen, I mean--and hear her voice, it
seems as if a tempest swept away every thought of Helena, and it is not
in my nature to deceive any one. How can I woo a girl whom I so deeply
honour--your sister, Barine--when the image of another rules my soul?”

Dion reminded him of his own words that the Queen was loved only as a
goddess and, without waiting for his reply, turned the conversation to
other topics.

It was three hours after midnight when Pyrrhus warned Gorgias that it
was time for departure. When the fisherman’s fleetest boat was at last
bearing him back to the city he wondered whether girls who, before
marriage, lived like Helena in undisturbed seclusion, would really
be better wives and more content with every lot than the much-courted
Barine, whom Dion had led from the gayest whirl of life in the capital
to the most desolate solitude.

This delightful evening was followed by a day of excitement and grave
anxiety. It had been necessary to conceal the young couple from the
collector’s officials, who took from Pyrrhus part of his last year’s
savings, and the large new boat which he used to go out on the open sea.
The preparations for war required large sums; all vessels suitable for
the purpose were seized for the fleet, and all residents of the city and
country shared the same fate as Pyrrhus.

Even the temple treasures were confiscated, and yet no one could help
saying to himself that the vast sums which, through these pitiless
extortions, flowed into the treasury, were used for the pleasures of the
court as well as for the equipment of the fleet and the army.

Yet so great was the people’s love for the Queen, so high their regard
for the independence of Egypt, so bitter their hate of Rome, that there
was no rebellion.

How earnestly Cleopatra, amid all the extravagant revels, from which she
could not too frequently absent herself, toiled to advance the military
preparations, could be seen even by the exiles from their cliff; for
work in two dock-yards was continued day and night, and the harbour was
filled with vessels. Ships of war were continually moving to and
fro, and from the Serpent Island they witnessed constantly, often by
starlight, the drilling of the oarsmen and of whole squadrons upon the
open sea. Sometimes a magnificent state galley appeared, on whose deck
was Antony, who inspected the hastily equipped fleet to make the newly
recruited sailors one of those kindling speeches in which he was a
master hard to surpass. Two sons of Pyrrhus were now numbered in the
crews of the recently built war ships. They had been impressed into
the service in April, and though Dion had placed a large sum at their
father’s disposal to secure their release, the attempt was unsuccessful.

So there had been sorrow and tears in the contented little colony of
human beings on the lonely cliff, and when Dionysus and Dionichos had a
day’s leave of absence to visit their relatives, they complained of
the cruel haste with which the young men were drilled and wearied to
exhaustion, and spoke of the sons of citizens and peasants who had been
dragged from their villages, their parents, and their business to be
trained for seamen. There was great indignation among them, and they
listened only too readily to the agitators who whispered how much better
they would have fared on the galleys of Octavianus.

Pyrrhus entreated his sons not to join any attempt at mutiny; the women,
on the contrary, would have approved anything which promised to release
the youths from their severe service, and their bright cheerfulness
was transformed into anxious depression. Barine, too, was no longer the
same. She had lost her joyous activity, her eyes were often wet with
tears, and she moved with drooping head as if some heavy care oppressed
her.

Was it the heat of April, with its desert winds, which had brought the
transformation? Had longing for the changeful, exciting life of former
days at last overpowered her? Was solitude becoming unendurable? Was her
husband’s love no longer sufficient to replace the many pleasures she
had sacrificed?--No! It could not be that; never had she gazed with more
devoted tenderness into Dion’s face than when entirely alone with him
in shady nooks. She who in such hours looked the very embodiment of
happiness and contentment, certainly was neither ill nor sorrowful.

Dion, on the contrary, held his head high early and late, and appeared
as proud and self-conscious as though life was showing him its fairest
face. Yet he had heard that his estates had been sequestrated, and that
he owed it solely to the influence of Archibius and his uncle, that his
property, like that of so many others, had not been added to the royal
treasures. But what disaster could he not have speedily vanquished in
these days?

A great joy--the greatest which the immortals can bestow upon human
beings--was dawning for him and his young wife, and in May the women on
the island shared her blissful hope.

Pyrrhus brought from the city an altar and a marble statue of Ilythyia,
the Goddess of Birth, called by the Romans Lucina, which his friend
Anukis had given him, in Charmian’s name, for the young wife. She
had again spoken of the serpents which lived in such numbers in the
neighbouring islands, and her question whether it would be difficult to
capture one alive was answered by the freedman in the negative.

The image of the goddess and the altar were erected beside the other
sanctuaries, and how often the stone was anointed by Barine and the
women of the fisherman’s family!

Dion vowed to the goddess a beautiful temple on the cliff and in the
city if she would be gracious to his beloved young wife.

When, in June, the noonday sun blazed most fiercely, the fisherman
brought to the cliff Helena, Barine’s sister, and Chloris, Dion’s nurse,
who had been a faithful assistant of his mother, and afterwards managed
the female slaves of the household.

How joyously and gratefully Barine held out her arms to her sister!
Her mother had been prevented from coming only by the warning that her
disappearance would surely attract the attention of the spies. And the
latter were very alert; for Mark Antony had not yet given up the
pursuit of the singer, nor had the attorney Philostratus recalled the
proclamation offering two talents for the capture of Dion, and both the
latter’s palace and Berenike’s house were constantly watched.

It seemed more difficult for the quiet Helena to accommodate herself to
this solitude than for her gayer-natured sister. Plainly as she showed
her love for Barine, she often lapsed into reverie, and every evening
she went to the southern side of the cliff and gazed towards the city,
where her grandparents doubtless sorely missed her, spite of the careful
attention bestowed upon them in Gorgias’s house.

Eight days had passed since her arrival, and life in this wilderness
seemed more distasteful than on the first and the second; the longing
for her grandparents, too, appeared to increase; for that day she had
gone to the shore, even under the burning rays of the noonday sun, to
gaze towards the city.

How dearly she loved the old people!

But Dion’s conjecture that the tears sparkling in Helena’s eyes when she
entered their room at dusk were connected with another resident of the
capital, spite of his wife’s indignant denial, appeared to be correct;
for, a short time after, clear voices were heard in front of the-house,
and when a deep, hearty laugh rang out, Dion started up, exclaiming,
“Gorgias never laughs in that way, except when he has had some unusual
piece of good fortune!”

He hurried out as he spoke, and gazed around; but, notwithstanding the
bright moonlight, he could see nothing except Father Pyrrhus on his way
back to the anchorage.

But Dion’s ears were keen, and he fancied he heard subdued voices on
the other side of the dwelling. He followed the sound without delay
and, when he turned the corner of the building, stopped short in
astonishment, exclaiming as a low cry rose close before him:

“Good-evening, Gorgias! I’ll see you later. I won’t interrupt you.”

A few rapid steps took him back to Barine, and as he whispered, “I saw
Helena out in the moonlight, soothing her longing for her grandparents
in Gorgias’s arms,” she clapped her hands and said, smiling:

“That’s the way one loses good manners in this solitude. To disturb the
first meeting of a pair of lovers! But Gorgias treated us in the same
way in Alexandria, so he is now paid in his own coin.”

The architect soon entered the room, with Helena leaning on his arm.
Hour by hour he had missed her more and more painfully, and on the
eighth day found it impossible to endure life’s burden longer without
her. He now protested that he could approach her mother and grandparents
as a suitor with a clear conscience; for on the third day after Helena’s
departure the relation between him and the Queen had changed. In
Cleopatra’s presence the image of the granddaughter of Didymus became
even more vivid than that of the peerless sovereign had formerly been
in Helena’s. Outside of the pages of poetry he had never experienced
longing like that which had tortured him during the past few days.



CHAPTER XXI.

This time the architect could spend only a few hours on the Serpent
Island, for affairs in the city were beginning to wear a very serious
aspect, and the building of the monument was pushed forward even during
the night. The interior of the first story was nearly completed and the
rough portion of the second was progressing. The mosaic workers, who
were making the floor of the great hall, had surpassed themselves. It
was impossible to wait longer for the sculptures which were to adorn
the walls. At present slabs of polished black marble were to occupy the
places intended for bronze reliefs; the utmost haste was necessary.

Octavianus had already reached Pelusium; even if Seleukus, the commander
of the garrison, held the strong fortress a long time, a part of the
hostile army might appear before Alexandria the following week.

A considerable force, however, was ready to meet him. The fleet seemed
equal to that of the enemy; the horsemen whom Antony had led before the
Queen would delight the eye of any one versed in military affairs; and
the Imperator hoped much from the veterans who had served under him in
former times, learned to know his generosity and open hand in the hour
of prosperity, and probably had scarcely forgotten the eventful days
when he had cheerfully and gaily shared their perils and privations.

Helena remained on the cliff, and her longing for the old couple had
materially diminished. Her hands moved nimbly, and her cheerful glance
showed that the lonely life on the island was beginning to unfold its
charms to her.

The young husband, however, had grown very uneasy. He concealed
it before the women, but old Pyrrhus often had much difficulty in
preventing his making a trip to the city which might imperil, on the eve
of the final decision, the result of their long endurance and privation.
Dion had often wished to set sail with his wife for a great city in
Syria or Greece, but fresh and mighty obstacles had deterred him. A
special danger lay in the fact that every large vessel was thoroughly
searched before it left the harbour, and it was impossible to escape
from it without passing through the narrow straits east of the Pharos or
the opening in the Heptastadium, both of which were easily guarded. The
calm moderation that usually distinguished the young counsellor had been
transformed into feverish restlessness, and the heart of his faithful
old monitor had also lost its poise; for an encounter between the fleet
in which his sons served and that of Octavianus was speedily expected.

One day he returned from the city greatly excited. Pelusium was said to
have fallen.

When he ascended the cliff he found everything quiet. No one, not even
Dione, came to meet him.

What had happened here?

Had the fugitives been discovered and dragged with his family to the
city to be thrown into prison, perhaps sent to the stone quarries?

Deadly pale, but erect and composed, he walked towards the house. He
owed to Dion and his father the greatest blessing in life, liberty, and
the foundation of everything else he possessed. But if his fears were
verified, if he was bereft of friends and property, even as a lonely
beggar he might continue to enjoy his freedom. If, for the sake of those
to whom he owed his best possession, he must surrender the rest, it was
his duty to bear fate patiently.

It was still light.

Even when he had approached very near the house he heard no sound save
the joyous barking of his wolf-hound, Argus, which leaped upon him.

He now laid his hand upon the lock of the door--but it was flung open
from the inside.

Dion had seen him coming and, enraptured by the new happiness with which
this day had blessed him, he flung himself impetuously on the breast of
his faithful friend, exclaiming: “A boy, a splendid boy! We will call
him Pyrrhus.”

Bright tears of joy streamed down the freedman’s face and fell on his
grey beard; and when his wife came towards him with her finger on her
lips, he whispered in a tremulous voice: “When I brought them here
you were afraid that the city people would drag us into ruin, but
nevertheless you received them as they deserved to be, and--he’s going
to name him Pyrrhus--and now!--What has a poor fellow like me done to
have such great and beautiful blessings fall to my lot?”

“And I--I?” sobbed his wife. “And the child, the darling little
creature!”

This day of sunny happiness was followed by others of quiet joy, of the
purest pleasure, yet mingled with the deepest anxiety. They also brought
many an hour in which Helena found an opportunity to show her
prudence, while old Chloris and the fisherman’s wife aided her by their
experience.

Every one, down to the greybeard whose name the little one bore,
declared that there had never been a lovelier young mother than Barine
or a handsomer child than the infant Pyrrhus; but Dion could no longer
endure to remain on the cliff.

A thousand things which he had hitherto deemed insignificant and allowed
to pass unheeded now seemed important and imperatively in need of his
personal attention. He was a father, and any negligence might be harmful
to his son.

With his bronzed complexion and long hair and beard he required little
aid to disguise him from his friends. In the garments shabby by long
use, and with his delicate hands calloused by work in the dock-yard, any
one would have taken him for a real fisherman.

Perhaps it was foolish, but the desire to show himself in the character
of a father to Barine’s mother and grandparents and to Gorgias seemed
worth risking a slight danger; so, without informing Barine, who was now
able to walk about her room, he set out for the city after sunset on the
last day of July.

He knew that Octavianus was encamped in the Hippodrome east of
Alexandria. The white mounds which had risen there had been recognized
as tents, even from the Serpent Island. Pyrrhus had returned in the
afternoon with tidings that Antony’s mounted troops had defeated those
of Octavianus. This time the news of victory could be trusted, for the
palace at Lochias was illuminated for a festival and when Dion landed
there was a great bustle on the quay. One shouted to another that all
would be well. Mark Antony was his old self again. He had fought like a
hero.

Many who yesterday had cursed him, to-day mingled their voices in the
shouts of “Evoe!” which rang out for the new Dionysus, who had again
proved his claim to godship.

The late visitor found the grandparents alone in the house of Gorgias.
They had been informed of Barine’s new happiness long before. Now they
rejoiced with Dion, and wanted to send at once for their host and future
son-in-law, who was in the city attending a meeting of the Ephebi,
although he had ceased some time ago to be a member of their company.
But Dion wished to greet him among the youths who had invited the
architect to give them his aid in deciding the question of the course
they were to pursue in the impending battle.

Yet he did not leave the old couple immediately; he was expecting two
visitors--Barine’s mother and Charmian’s Nubian maid who, since the
birth of little Pyrrhus, had come to the philosopher’s every evening.
The former’s errand was to ask whether any news of the mother and child
had been received during the day; the latter, to get the letters which
she delivered the next morning at the fish-market to her friend Pyrrhus
or his sons.

Anukis was the first to appear. She relieved her sympathizing heart by
a brief expression of congratulations; but, gladly as she would have
listened to the most minute details concerning the beloved young mother
from the lips of Dion himself, she repressed her own wishes for her
mistress’s sake, and returned to Charmian as quickly as possible to
inform her of the arrival of the unexpected guest.

Berenike bore her new dignity of grandmother with grateful joy, yet
to-night she came oppressed by a grave anxiety, which was not solely due
to her power of imagining gloomy events. Her brother Arius and his sons
were concealed in the house of a friend, for they seemed threatened by
a serious peril. Hitherto Antony had generously borne the philosopher no
ill-will on the score of his intimate relations with Octavianus; but now
that Octavianus was encamped outside the city, the house of the man
who, during the latter’s years of education, had been his mentor and
counsellor, and later a greatly valued friend, was watched, by Mardion’s
orders, by the Scythian guard. He and his family were forbidden to enter
the city, and his escape to his friend had been effected under cover of
the darkness and with great danger.

The anxious woman feared the worst for her brother if Mark Antony should
conquer, and yet, with her whole heart, she wished the Queen to gain
the victory. She, who always feared the worst, saw in imagination the
fortunes of war change--and there was reason for the belief. The bold
general who had gained so many victories, and whom the defeat of Actium
had only humbled, was said to have regained his former elasticity. He
had dashed forward at the head of his men with the heroic courage of
former days--nay, with reckless impetuosity. Rumour reported that, with
the huge sword he wielded, he had dealt from his powerful charger blows
as terrible as those inflicted five-and-twenty years before when, not
far from the same spot, he struck Archelaus on the head. The statement
that, in his golden armour, with the gold helmet framing his bearded
face, he resembled his ancestor Herakles, was confirmed by Charmian,
who had been borne quickly hither by a pair of the Queen’s swift horses.
Cleopatra might need her soon, yet she had left the Lochias to question
the father about many things concerning the young mother and her boy,
who was already dear to her as the first grandson of the man whose
suit, it is true, she had rejected, but to whom she owed the delicious
consciousness of having loved and been loved in the springtime of life.

Dion found her changed. The trying months which she had described in her
letters to Barine had completely blanched her grey hair, her cheeks were
sunken, and a deep line between her mouth and nose gave her pleasant
face a sorrowful expression. Besides, she seemed to have been weeping
and, in fact, heart-rending events had just occurred.

She had stolen away from Lochias in the midst of a revel.

Antony’s victory was being celebrated. He himself presided at the
banquet. Again his head and breast were wreathed with a wealth of fresh
leaves and superb flowers. At his side reclined Cleopatra, robed in
light-blue garments adorned with lotus-flowers which, like the little
coronet on her head, glittered with sapphires and pearls. Charmian said
she had rarely looked more beautiful. But she did not add that the Queen
had been obliged to have rouge applied to her pale, bloodless cheeks.

It was touching to see Antony after his return from the battle, still in
his suit of mail, clasp her in his arms as joyously as if he had won her
back, a prize of victory, and with his vanished heroic power regained
her and their mutual love. Her eyes, too, had been radiant with joy and,
in the elation of her heart, she had given the horseman who, for a deed
of special daring, was presented to her, a helmet and coat of mail of
solid gold.

Yet, even before the revel began, she had been forced to acknowledge
to herself that the commencement of the end was approaching; for, a few
hours after she had so generously rewarded the man, he had deserted to
the foe. Then Antony had challenged Octavianus to a duel, and received
the unfeeling reply that he would find many roads to death open.

This was the language of the cold-hearted foe, secure of superior power.
How sadly, too, she had been disappointed in the hope--that the veterans
who had served under Antony would desert their new commander at the
first summons and flock to his standard!--for all her husband’s efforts
in this direction, spite of the bewitching power of his eloquence,
failed, while every hour brought tidings of the treacherous desertion
from his army of individual warriors and whole maniples. His foe deemed
his cause so weak that he did not even resist Mark Antony’s attempts to
win the soldiers by promises.

From all these signs Cleopatra now saw plainly, in her lover’s victory,
only the last flicker of a dying fire; but so long as it burned he
should see her follow its light.

Therefore she had entered the festal hall with the victor of the day.
She had witnessed a strange festival. It began with tears and reminded
Cleopatra of the saying that she herself resembled a banquet served
to celebrate a victory before the battle was won. The cup-bearers had
scarcely advanced to the guests with their golden vessels when Antony
turned to them, exclaiming: “Pour generously, men; perhaps to-morrow you
will serve another master!”

Then, unlike his usual self, he grew thoughtful and murmured under his
breath, “And I shall probably be lying outside a corpse, a miserable
nothing.”

Loud sobs from the cup-bearers and servants followed these words; but he
addressed them calmly, assuring them that he would not take them into a
battle from which he expected an honourable death rather than rescue and
victory.

At this Cleopatra’s tears flowed also. If this reckless man of pleasure,
this notorious spendthrift and disturber of the public peace, with his
insatiate desires, had inspired bitter hostility, few had gained the
warm love of so many hearts. One glance at his heroic figure; one memory
of the days when even his foes conceded that he was never greater
than in the presence of the most imminent peril, never more capable
of awakening in others the hope of brighter times than amid the sorest
privations; one tone of the orator’s deep, resonant voice, which
so often came from the heart and therefore gained hearts with such
resistless power; the recollection of numberless instances of the bright
cheerfulness of his nature and his boundless generosity sufficiently
explained the lamentations which burst forth at that banquet, the tears
which flowed--tears of genuine feeling. They were also shed for the
beautiful Queen who, unmindful of the spectators, rested her noble brow,
with its coronal of pearls, upon his mighty shoulder.

But the grief did not last long, for Mark Antony, shouted: “Hence with
melancholy! We do not need the larva!

   [At the banquets of the Egyptians a small figure in the shape of a
   mummy was passed around to remind the guests that they, too, would
   soon be in the same condition, and have no more time to enjoy life
   and its pleasures. The Romans imitated this custom by sending the
   larva, a statuette in the form of a skeleton, to make the round of
   the revellers. The Greek love of beauty converted this ugly
   scarecrow into a winged genius.]

We know, without its aid, that pleasure will soon be over!--Xuthus,
a joyous festal song!--And you, Metrodor, lead the dancers! The first
beaker to the fairest, the best, the wisest, the most cherished, the
most fervently beloved of women!” As he spoke he waved his goblet
aloft, the flute-player, Xuthus, beckoned to the chorus, and the dancer
Metrodor, in the guise of a butterfly, led forth a bevy of beautiful
girls, who, in the cloud of ample robes of transparent coloured bombyx
which floated around them, executed the most graceful figures and
now hovered like mists, now flitted to and fro as if borne on wings,
affording the most charming variety to the delighted spectators.

The “Comrades of Death” had again become companions in pleasure; and
when Charmian, who did not lose sight of her mistress, noticed the
sorrowful quiver of her lips and glided out of the circle of guests, the
faithful Nubian had approached to inform her of Dion’s arrival.

Then--but this she concealed from her friends--she hastened to her own
apartments to prepare to go out, and when Iras opened the door to enter
her rooms she went to speak to her about the night attendance upon the
Queen. But her niece had not perceived her; shaken by convulsive sobs,
she had pressed her face among the cushions of a couch, and there
suffered the fierce anguish which had stirred the inmost depths of
her being to rave itself out with the full vehemence of her passionate
nature. Charmian called her name and, weeping herself, ripened her arms
to her, and for the first time since her return from Actium her sister’s
daughter again sank upon her breast, and they held each other in a close
embrace until Charmian’s exclamation, “With her, for her unto death!”
 was answered by Iras’s “To the tomb!”

This was a word which, in many an hour of the silent night, had stirred
the soul of the woman who had been the youthful playmate of the Queen
who, with bleeding heart, sat below among the revellers at the noisy
banquet and forced her to ask the question: “Is not your fate bound to
hers? What can life offer you without her?”

Now, this word was spoken by other lips, and, like an echo of Iras’s
exclamation, came the answer: “Unto death, like you, if she precedes us
to the other world. Whatever may follow dying, nowhere shall she lack
Charmian’s hand and heart.”

“Nor the love and service of Iras,” was the answering assurance.

So they had parted, and the agitation of this fateful moment was still
visible in the features of the woman who had formerly sacrificed to her
royal playfellow her love, and now offered her life.

When, ere leaving Gorgias’s house, she bade her friend farewell, she
pressed Dion’s hand with affectionate warmth and, as he accompanied her
to the carriage, she informed him that, before the first encounter of
the troops, Archibius had taken the royal children to his estate of
Irenia, where they were at present.

“Rarely has it been my fate to experience a more sorrowful hour than
when I beheld the Queen, her heart torn with anguish, bid them fare
well. What fate is impending over the dear ones, who are so worthy of
the greatest happiness? To see the twins and little Alexander recognized
and saved from death and insult, and your boy in Barine’s arms, is the
last wish which I still cherish.”

On returning to Lochias, Charmian had a long time to wait ere the Queen
retired. She dreaded the mood in which she would leave the banquet. For
months past Cleopatra had returned from the revels of the “Comrades of
Death” saddened to tears, or in a blaze of indignation. How must this
last banquet, which began so mournfully and continued with such reckless
mirth, affect her?

At last, the second hour after midnight, Cleopatra appeared.

Charmian believed that she must be the sport of some delusion, for
the Queen’s eyes which, when she had left her, were full of tears, now
sparkled with the radiant light of joy and, as her friend took the crown
from her head, she exclaimed:

“Why did you depart from the banquet so early? Perhaps it was the last,
but I remember no festival more brilliant. It was like the springtime of
my love. Mark Antony would have touched the heart of a stone statue by
that blending of manly daring and humble devotion which no woman can
resist. As in former days, hours shrivelled into moments. We were again
young, once more united. We were together here at Lochias to-night, and
yet in distant years and other places. The notes of the singers, the
melodies of the musicians, the figures executed by the dancers, were
lost upon us. We soared back, hand in hand, to a magic world, and the
fairy drama in the realms of the blessed, which passed before us in
dazzling splendour and blissful joy, was the dream which I loved best
when a child, and at the same time the happiest portion of the life of
the Queen of Egypt.

“It began before the gate of the garden of Epicurus, and continued on
the river Cydnus. I again beheld myself on the golden barge, garlanded
with wreaths of flowers, reclining on the purple couch with roses strewn
around me and beneath my jewelled sandals. A gentle breeze swelled the
silken sails; my female companions raised their clear voices in song to
the accompaniment of lutes; the perfumes floating around us were borne
by the wind to the shore, conveying the tidings that the bliss believed
by mortals to be reserved for the gods alone was drawing near. And even
as his heart and his enraptured senses yielded to my sway, his mind, as
he himself confessed, was under the thrall of mine. We both felt happy,
united by ties which nothing, not even misfortune, could sever. He, the
ruler of the world, was conquered, and delighted to obey the behests of
the victor, because he felt that she before whom he bowed was his own
obedient slave. And no magic goblet effected all this. I breathed
more freely, as if relieved from the oppressive delusion--the fire had
consumed it also--which had burdened my soul until a few hours ago.
No magic spell, only the gifts of mind and soul which the vanquished
victor, the woman Cleopatra, owed to the favour of the immortals, had
compelled his lofty manhood to yield.

“From the Cydnus he brought me hither to the blissful days which we
were permitted to pass in my city of Alexandria. A thousand sunny hours,
musical, echoing surges which long since dashed down the stream of Time,
he recalled to life, and I--I did the same, and our memories blended
into one. What never-to-be-forgotten moments we experienced when, with
reckless mirth, we mingled unrecognized among the joyous throng! What
Olympic delight elated our hearts when the plaudits of thousands greeted
us! What joys satiated our minds and senses in our own apartments!
What pure, unalloyed nectar of the soul was bestowed upon us by our
children--bliss which we shared with and imparted to each other until
neither knew which was the giver and which the receiver! Everything
sad and painful seemed to be effaced from the book of memory; and the
child’s dream, the fairy-tale woven by the power of imagination, stood
before my soul as a reality--the same reality, I repeat, which I call my
past life.

“And, Charmian, if death comes to-morrow, should I say that he appeared
too early--summoned me ere he permitted life to bestow all its best
gifts upon me? No, no, and again no! Whoever, in the last hour of
existence, can say that the fairest dreams of childhood were surpassed
by a long portion of actual life, may consider himself happy, even in
the deepest need and on the verge of the grave.

“The aspiration to be first and highest among the women of her own time,
which had already thrilled the young girl’s heart, was fulfilled. The
ardent longing for love which, even at that period, pervaded my whole
being, was satisfied when I became a loving wife, mother, and Queen,
and friendship, through the favour of Destiny, also bestowed upon me its
greatest blessings by the hands of Archibius, Charmian, and Iras.

“Now I care not what may happen. This evening taught me that life had
fulfilled its pledges. But others, too, must be enabled to remember the
most brilliant of queens, who was also the most fervently beloved of
women. For this I will provide: the mausoleum which Gorgias is erecting
for me will stand like an indestructible wall between the Cleopatra who
to-day still proudly wears the crown and her approaching humiliation and
disgrace.

“Now I will go to sleep. If my awakening brings defeat, sorrow, and
death, I have no reason to accuse my fate. It denied me one thing only
the painless peace which the child and the young girl recognized as the
chief good; yet Cleopatra will possess that also. The domain of death,
which, as the Egyptians say, loves silence, is opening its doors to me.
The most absolute peace begins upon its threshold--who knows where it
ends? The vision of the intellect does not extend far enough to
discover the boundary where, at the end of eternity--which in truth is
endless--it is replaced by something else.”

While speaking, the Queen had motioned to her friend to accompany her
into her chamber, from which a door led into the children’s room. An
irresistible impulse constrained her to open it and gaze into the dark,
empty apartment.

She felt an icy chill run through her veins. Taking a light from
the hand of one of the maids who attended her, she went to little
Alexander’s couch. Like the others, it was empty, deserted. Her head
sank on her breast, the courageous calmness with which she had surveyed
her whole past life failed and, like the luxuriant riot in the sky
of the most brilliant hues, ere the glow of sunset suddenly yields to
darkness, Cleopatra’s soul, after the lofty elation of the last few
hours, underwent a sudden transition and, overwhelmed by deep, sorrowful
depression, she threw herself down before the twins’ bed, where she lay
weeping softly until Charmian, as day began to dawn, urged her to retire
to rest. Cleopatra slowly rose, dried her eyes, and said: “My past life
seemed to me just now like a magnificent garden, but how many serpents
suddenly stretched out their flat heads with glittering eyes and forked
tongues! Who tore away the flowers beneath which they lay concealed? I
think, Charmian, it was a mysterious power which here, in the children’s
apartment, rules so strongly the most trivial as well as the strongest
emotions, it was--when did I last hear that ominous word?--it was
conscience. Here, in this abode of innocence and purity, whatever
resembles a spot stands forth distinctly before the eyes. Here, O
Charmian!--if the children were but here! If I could only--yet, no, no!
It is fortunate, very fortunate that they have gone. I must be strong;
and their sweet grace would rob me of my energy. But the light grows
brighter and brighter. Dress me for the day. It would be easier for me
to sleep in a falling house than with such a tumult in my heart.”

While she was being attired in the dark robes she had ordered, loud
shouts arose from the royal harbour below, blended with the blasts of
the tuba and other signals directing the movements of the fleet and the
army, a large body of troops having been marched during the night to the
neighbouring hills overlooking the sea.

The notes sounded bold and warlike. The well-armed galleys presented
a stately appearance. How often Cleopatra had seen unexpected events
occur, apparent impossibilities become possible! Had not the victory
of Octavianus at Actium been a miracle? What if Fate, like a capricious
ruler, now changed from frowns to smiles? What if Antony proved himself
the hero of yesterday, the general he had been in days of yore?

She had refused to see him again before the battle, that she might not
divert his thoughts from the great task approaching. But now, as she
beheld him, clad in glittering armour like the god of war himself, ride
before the troops on his fiery Barbary charger, greeting them with the
gay salutation whose warmth sprung from the heart and which had so
often kindled the warriors to glowing enthusiasm, she was forced to do
violence to her own feelings to avoid calling him and saying that her
thoughts would follow his course. But she refrained, and when his purple
cloak vanished from her sight her head drooped again. How different
in former days were the cheers of the troops when he showed himself to
them! This lukewarm response to his gay, glad greeting was no omen of
victory.



CHAPTER XXII.

Dion, too, witnessed the departure of the troops. Gorgias, whom he had
found among the Ephebi, accompanied him and, like the Queen, they saw,
in the cautious manner with which the army greeted the general, a bad
omen for the result of the battle. The architect had presented Dion
to the youths as the ghost of a dead man, who, as soon as he was asked
whence he came or whither he was going, would be compelled to vanish
in the form of a fly. He could venture to do this; he knew the
Ephebi--there was no traitor in their ranks.

Dion, the former head of the society, had been welcomed like a beloved
brother risen from the dead, and he had the gratification, after so
long a time, of turning the scale as speaker in a debate. True, he had
encountered very little opposition, for the resolve to hold aloof from
the battle against the Romans had been urged upon the Ephebi by the
Queen herself through Antyllus, who, however, had already left the
meeting when Dion joined it. It had seemed to Cleopatra a crime to claim
the blood of the noblest sons of the city for a cause which she herself
deemed lost. She knew the parents of many, and feared that Octavianus
would inflict a terrible punishment upon them if, not being enrolled in
the army, they fell into his power with arms in their hands.

The stars were already setting when the Ephebi accompanied their friend,
singing in chorus the Hymenaeus, which they had been unable to chant on
his wedding day. The melody of lutes accompanied the voices, and this
nocturnal music was the source of the rumour that the god Dionysus, to
whom Mark Antony felt specially akin, and in whose form he had so often
appeared to the people, had abandoned him amid songs and music.

The youths left Dion in front of the Temple of Isis. Gorgias alone
remained with him. The architect led his friend to the Queen’s mausoleum
near the sanctuary, where men were toiling busily by torchlight. Alight
scaffolding still surrounded it, but the lofty first story, containing
the real tomb, was completed, and Dion admired the art with which the
exterior of the edifice suggested its purpose. Huge blocks of dark-grey
granite formed the walls. The broad front-solemn, almost gloomy in
aspect-rose, sloping slightly, above the massive lofty door, surmounted
by a moulding bearing the winged disk of the sun. On either side were
niches containing statues of Antony and Cleopatra cast in dark bronze,
and above the cornice were brazen figures of Love and Death, Fame and
Silence, ennobling the Egyptian forms with exquisite works of Hellenic
art.

The massive door, adorned with brass figures in relief, would have
resisted a battering-ram. On the side of the steps leading to it lay
Sphinxes of dark-green diorite. Everything connected with this
building, dedicated to death, was grave and massive, suggesting by its
indestructibility the idea of eternity.

The second story was not yet finished; masons and stone-cutters were
engaged in covering the strong walls with dark serpentine and black
marble. The huge windlass stood ready to raise a masterpiece of
Alexandrian art. This was intended for the pediment, and represented
Venus Victrix with helmet, shield, and lance, leading a band of winged
gods of love, little archers at whose head Eros himself was discharging
arrows, and victoriously fighting against the three-headed Cerberus,
death, already bleeding from many wounds.

There was no time to see the interior of the building, for Pyrrhus
expected his guest to join him at the harbour at sunrise, and the
eastern sky was already brightening with the approach of dawn.

As the friends reached the landing-place the brass dome of the Serapeum,
which towered above everything, was glittering with dazzling splendour.

The pennons and masts of the fleet which was about to set sail from the
harbour seemed steeped in a sea of golden light. Tremulous reflections
of the brazen and gilded figures on the prows of the vessels were
mirrored in the undulating surface of the sea, and the long shadows of
the banks of oars united galley after galley on the surface of the water
like the meshes of a net.

Here the friends parted, and Dion walked down the quay alone to meet the
freedman, who must have found it difficult to guide his boat out of this
labyrinth of vessels. The inspection of the mausoleum had detained
the young father too long and, though disguised beyond recognition,
he reproached himself for having recklessly incurred a danger whose
consequences--he felt this to-day for the first time--would not injure
himself alone. The whole fleet was awaiting the signal for departure.
The vessels which did not belong to it had been obliged to moor in front
of the Temple of Poseidon, and all were strictly forbidden to leave the
anchorage.

Pyrrhus’s fishing-boat was in the midst, and return to the Serpent
Island was impossible at present.

How vexatious! Barine was ignorant of his trip to the city, and to
be compelled to leave her alone while a naval battle was in progress
directly before her eyes distressed him as much as it could not fail to
alarm her.

In fact, the young mother had waited from early dawn with increasing
anxiety for her husband. As the sun rose higher, and the strokes of the
oars propelling two hundred galleys, the shrill whistle of the flutes
marking the time, the deep voices of the captains shouting orders, and
the blasts of the trumpets filling the air, were heard far and near
around the island, she became so overwhelmed with uneasiness that she
insisted upon going to the shore, though hitherto she had not been
permitted to take the air except under the awning stretched for the
purpose on the shady side of the house.

In vain the women urged her not to let her fears gain the mastery and to
have patience. But she would have resisted even force in order to look
for him who, with her child, now comprised her world.

When, leaning on Helena’s arm, she reached the shore, no boat was in
sight. The sea was covered with ships of war, floating fortresses,
moving onward like dragons with a thousand legs whose feet were the
countless rowers arranged in three or five sets. Each of the larger
galleys was surrounded by smaller ones, from most of which darted
dazzling flashes of light, for they were crowded with armed men, and
from the prows of the strong boarding vessels the sunbeams glittered
on the large shining metal points whose office was to pierce the wooden
sides of the foe. The gilded statues in the prows of the large galleys
shone and sparkled in the broad radiance of the day-star, and flashes
of light also came from the low hills on the shore. Here Mark Antony’s
soldiers were stationed, and the sunbeams reflected from the helmets,
coats of mail, and lance-heads of the infantry, and the armour of the
horsemen quivered with dazzling brilliancy in the hot air of the first
day of an Egyptian August.

Amid this blazing, flashing, and sparkling in the morning air, so
steeped in warmth and radiance, the sounds of warlike preparations from
the land and fleet constantly grew louder. Barine, exhausted, had just
sunk into a chair which Dione, the fisherman’s daughter, had placed
in the shade of the highest rock on the northwestern shore of the flat
island, when a crashing blast of the tuba suddenly echoed from all the
galleys in the Egyptian fleet, and the whole array of vessels filed past
the Pharos at the opening of the harbour into the open sea.

There the narrow ranks of the wooden giants separated and moved onward
in broader lines. This was done quietly and in the same faultless order
as a few days before, when a similar manoeuvre had been executed under
the eyes of Mark Antony.

The longing for combat seemed to urge them steadily forward.

The hostile fleet, lying motionless, awaited the attack. But the
Egyptian assailants had advanced majestically only a few ships lengths
towards the Roman foe when another signal rent the air. The women whose
ears caught the waves of sound said afterwards that it seemed like a cry
of agony--it had given the signal for a deed of unequalled treachery.
The slaves, criminals, and the basest of the mercenaries on the rowers’
benches in the hold had doubtless long listened intently for it, and,
when it finally came, the men on the upper benches raised their long
oars and held them aloft, which stopped the work of those below,
and every galley paused, pointing at the next with the wooden oars
outstretched like fingers, as if seized with horror. The celerity and
faultless order with which the raising of the oars was executed and
vessel after vessel brought to a stand would have been a credit to an
honourable captain, but the manoeuvre introduced one of the basest
acts ever recorded in history; and the women, who had witnessed many
a naumachza and understood its meaning, exclaimed as if with a single
voice: “Treachery! They are going over to the enemy!”

Mark Antony’s fleet, created for him by Cleopatra, surrendered, down to
the last galley, to Caesar’s heir, the victor of Actium; and the man to
whom the sailors had vowed allegiance, who had drilled them, and only
yesterday had urged them to offer a gallant resistance, saw from one
of the downs on the shore the strong weapons on which he had based the
fairest hopes, not shattered, but delivered into the hands of the enemy!

The surrender of the fleet to the foe--he knew it--sealed his
destruction; and the women on the shore of the Serpent Island, who were
so closely connected with those on whom this misfortune fell, suspected
the same thing. The hearts of both were stirred, and their eyes grew dim
with tears of indignation and sorrow. They were Alexandrians, and did
not desire to be ruled by Rome. Cleopatra, daughter of the Macedonian
house of the Ptolemies, had the sole right to govern the city of
her ancestors, founded by the great Macedonian. The sorrow they had
themselves endured through her sank into insignificance beside the
tremendous blow of Fate which in this hour reached the Queen.

The Roman and Egyptian fleet returned to the harbour as one vast
squadron under the same commander, and anchored in the roadstead of the
city, which was now its precious booty.

Barine had seen enough, and returned to the house with drooping head.
Her heart was heavy, and her anxiety for the man she loved hourly
increased.

It seemed as if the very day-star shrank from illuminating so infamous
a deed with friendly light; for the dazzling, searching sun of the first
of August veiled its radiant face with a greyish-white mist, and
the desecrated sea wrinkled its brow, changed its pure azure robe to
yellowish grey and blackish green, while the white foam hissed on the
crests of the angry waves.

As twilight began to approach, the anxiety of the deserted wife became
unendurable. Not only Helena’s wise words of caution, but the sight of
her child, failed to exert their usual influence; and Barine had already
summoned the son of Pyrrhus to persuade him to take her in his boat to
the city, when Dione saw a boat approaching the Serpent Island from the
direction of the sea.

A short time after, Dion sprang on shore and kissed from his young
wife’s lips the reproaches with which she greeted him.

He had heard of the treachery of the fleet while entering a hired boat
with the freedman in the harbour of Eunostus, Pyrrhus’s having been
detained with the other craft before the Temple of Poseidon.

The experienced pilot had been obliged to steer the boat in a wider
curve against the wind through the open sea, and was delayed a long time
by a number of the war vessels of the fleet.

Danger and separation were now passed, and they rejoiced in the
happiness of meeting, yet could not feel genuine joy. Their souls were
oppressed by anxiety concerning the fate of the Queen and their native
city.

As night closed in the dogs barked violently, and they heard loud voices
on the shore. Dion, with a presentiment that misfortune was threatening
himself and his dear ones, obeyed the summons.

No star illumined the darkness. Only the wavering light of a lantern
on the strand and another on the nearest island illumined the immediate
vicinity, while southward the lights in the city shone as brightly as
ever.

Pyrrhus and his youngest son were just pushing a boat into the water to
release from the sands another which had run aground in a shallow near
the neighbouring island.

Dion sprang in with them, and soon recognized in the hail the voice of
the architect Gorgias.

The young father shouted a joyous greeting to his friend, but there was
no reply.

Soon after, Pyrrhus landed his belated guest on the shore. He had
escaped--as the fisherman explained--a great danger; for had he gone to
the other island, which swarmed with venomous serpents, he might easily
have fallen a victim to the bite of one of the reptiles.

Gorgias grasped Dion’s hand but, in reply to his gay invitation to
accompany him to the house at once, he begged him to listen to his story
before joining the ladies.

Dion was startled. He knew his friend. When his deep voice had such a
tone of gloomy discouragement, and his head drooped so mournfully, some
terrible event had befallen him.

His foreboding had been correct. The first tidings pierced his own soul
deeply.

He was not surprised to learn that the Romans ruled Alexandria; but a
small band of the conquerors, who had been ordered to conduct themselves
as if they were in a friendly country, had forced their way into the
architect’s large house to occupy the quarters assigned to them. The
deaf grandmother of Helena and Barine, who had but half comprehended
what threatened the citizens, terrified by the noisy entrance of the
soldiers, had had another attack of apoplexy, and closed her eyes in
death before Gorgias set out for the island.

But it was not only this sad event, which must grieve the hearts of the
two sisters, that had brought the architect in a stranger’s boat to
the Serpent Island at so late an hour. His soul was so agitated by the
horrible incidents of the day that he needed to seek consolation among
those from whom he was sure to find sympathy.

Nor was it wholly the terrible things Fate had compelled him to witness
which induced him to venture out upon the sea so recklessly, but still
more the desire to bring to the fugitives the happy news that they might
return with safety to their native city.

Deeply agitated--nay, confused and overpowered by all he had seen and
experienced--the architect, usually so clear and, with all his mental
vivacity, so circumspect, began his story. A remonstrance from Dion
induced him to collect his thoughts and describe events in the order in
which they had befallen him.



CHAPTER XXIII.

After accompanying Dion to the harbour, the architect had gone to the
Forum to converse with the men he met there, and learn what they feared
and expected in regard to the future fate of the city.

All news reached this meeting-place first, and he found a large number
of Macedonian citizens who, like himself, wished to discuss passing
events in these decisive hours.

The scene was very animated, for the most contradictory messages were
constantly arriving from the fleet and the army.

At first they were very favourable; then came the news of the treason,
and soon after of the desertion of the cavalry and foot soldiers.

A distinguished citizen had seen Mark Antony, accompanied by several
friends, dashing down the quay. The goal of their flight was the little
palace on the Choma.

Grave men, whose opinion met with little opposition, thought that it was
the duty of the Imperator--now that Fate had decided against him, and
nothing remained save a life sullied by disgrace--to put himself to
death with his own hand, like Brutus and so many other noble Romans.
Tidings soon came that he had attempted to do what the best citizens
expected.

Gorgias could not endure to remain longer in the Forum, but hastened to
the Choma, though it was difficult to force his way to the wall, where
a breach had been made. He had found the portion of the shore from which
the promontory ran densely crowded with people--from whom he learned
that Antony was no longer in the palace--and the sea filled with boats.

A corpse was just being borne out of the little palace on the Street
of the King and, among those who followed, Gorgias recognized one of
Antony’s slaves. The man’s eyes were red with weeping. He readily obeyed
the architect’s sign and, sobbing bitterly, told him that the hapless
general, after his army had betrayed him, fled hither. When he heard
in the palace that Cleopatra had preceded him to Hades, he ordered his
body-slave Eros to put an end to his life also. The worthy man drew
back, pierced his own breast with his sword, and sank dying at his
master’s feet; but Antony, exclaiming that Eros’s example had taught him
his duty, thrust the short sword into his breast with his own hand.
Yet deep and severe as was the wound, it did not destroy the tremendous
vitality of the gigantic Roman. With touching entreaties he implored
the bystanders to kill him, but no one could bring himself to commit the
deed. Meanwhile Cleopatra’s name, coupled with the wish to follow her,
was constantly on the lips of the Imperator.

At last Diomedes, the Queen’s private secretary, appeared, to bring him,
by her orders, to the mausoleum where she had taken refuge.

Antony, as if animated with fresh vigour, assented, and while being
carried thither gave orders that Eros should have a worthy burial. Even
though dying, it would have been impossible for the most generous of
masters to permit any kindness rendered to pass unrequited.

The slave again wept aloud as he uttered the words, but Gorgias hastened
at once to the tomb. The nearest way, the Street of the King, had become
so crowded with people who had been forced back by Roman soldiers,
between the Theatre of Dionysus and the Corner of the Muses, that he had
been compelled to reach the building through a side street.

The quay was already unrecognizable, and even in the other streets the
populace showed a foreign aspect. Instead of peaceful citizens, Roman
soldiers in full armour were met everywhere. Instead of Greek, Egyptian,
and Syrian faces, fair and dark visages of alien appearance were seen.

The city seemed transformed into a camp. Here he met a cohort of
fair-haired Germans; yonder another with locks of red whose home he did
not know; and again a vexil of Numidian or Pannonian horsemen.

At the Temple of the Dioscuri he was stopped. A Hispanian maniple had
just seized Antony’s son Antyllus and, after a hasty court-martial,
killed him. His tutor, Theodotus, had betrayed him to the Romans, but
the infamous fellow was being led with bound hands after the corpse of
the hapless youth, because he was caught in the act of hiding in his
girdle a costly jewel which he had taken from his neck. Before his
departure for the island Gorgias heard that the scoundrel had been
sentenced to crucifixion.

At last he succeeded in forcing a passage to the tomb, which he found
surrounded on all sides by Roman lictors and the Scythian guards of the
city, who, however, permitted him, as the architect, to pass.

The numerous obstacles by which he had been delayed spared him from
becoming an eye-witness of the most terrible scenes of the tragedy which
had just ended; but he received a minute description from the Queen’s
private secretary, a well-disposed Macedonian, who had accompanied the
wounded Antony, and with whom Gorgias had become intimately acquainted
during the building of the mausoleum.

Cleopatra had fled to the tomb as soon as the fortune of war turned
in favour of Octavianus. No one was permitted to accompany her except
Charmian and Iras, who had helped her close the heavy brazen door of
the massive building. The false report of her death, which had induced
Antony to put an end to his life, had perhaps arisen from the fact that
the Queen was literally in the tomb.

When, borne in the arms of his faithful servants, he reached the
mausoleum, mortally wounded, the Queen and her attendants vainly
endeavoured to open the heavy brazen portal. But Cleopatra ardently
longed to see her dying lover. She wished to have him near to render
the last services, assure him once more of her devotion, close his eyes,
and, if it was so ordered, die with him.

So she and her attendants had searched the place, and when Iras spoke of
the windlass which stood on the scaffold to raise the heavy brass plate
bearing the bas-relief of Love conquering Death, the Queen and her
friends hastened up the stairs, the bearer below fastened the wounded
man to the rope, and Cleopatra herself stood at the windlass to raise
him, aided by her faithful companions.

Diomedes averred that he had never beheld a more piteous spectacle than
the gigantic man hovering between heaven and earth in the agonies of
death and, while suffering the most terrible torture, extending his arms
longingly towards the woman he loved. Though scarcely able to speak, he
tenderly called her name, but she made no reply; like Iras and Charmian,
she was exerting her whole strength at the windlass in the most
passionate effort to raise him. The rope running over the pulley cut her
tender hands; her beautiful face was terribly distorted; but she did not
pause until they had succeeded in lifting the burden of the dying man
higher and higher till he reached the floor of the scaffolding. The
frantic exertion by which the three women had succeeded in accomplishing
an act far beyond their strength, though it was doubled by the power of
the most earnest will and ardent longing, would nevertheless have failed
in attaining its object had not Diomedes, at the last moment, come to
their assistance. He was a strong man, and by his aid the dying Roman
was seized, drawn upon the scaffolding, and carried down the staircase
to the tomb in the first story.

When the wounded general had been laid on one of the couches with which
the great hall was already furnished, the private secretary retired,
but remained on the staircase, an unnoticed spectator, in order to be
at hand in case the Queen again needed his assistance. Flushed from the
terrible exertion which she had just made, with tangled, dishevelled
locks, gasping and moaning, Cleopatra, as if out of her senses, tore
open her robe, beat her breast, and lacerated it with her nails. Then,
pressing her own beautiful face on her lover’s wound to stanch the
flowing blood, she lavished upon him all the endearing names which she
had bestowed on their love.

His terrible suffering made her forget her own and the sad fate
impending. Tears of pity fell like the refreshing drops of a shower upon
the still unwithered blossoms of their love, and brought those which,
during the preceding night, had revived anew, to their last magnificent
unfolding.

Boundless, limitless as her former passion for this man, was now the
grief with which his agonizing death filled her heart.

All that Mark Antony had been to her in the heyday of life, all their
mutual experiences, all that each had received from the other, had
returned to her memory in clear and vivid hues during the banquet which
had closed a few hours ago. Now these scenes, condensed into a narrow
compass, again passed before her mental vision, but only to reveal more
distinctly the depth of misery of this hour. At last anguish forced even
the clearest memories into oblivion: she saw nothing save the tortures
of her lover; her brain, still active, revealed solely the gulf at her
feet, and the tomb which yawned not only for Antony, but for herself.

Unable to think of the happiness enjoyed in the past or to hope for it
in the future, she gave herself up to uncontrolled despair, and no woman
of the people could have yielded more absolutely to the consuming grief
which rent her heart, or expressed it in wilder, more frantic language,
than did this great Queen, this woman who as a child had been so
sensitive to the slightest suffering, and whose after-life had certainly
not taught her to bear sorrow with patience. After Charmian, at the
dying man’s request, had given him some wine, he found strength to speak
coherently, instead of moaning and sighing.

He tenderly urged Cleopatra to secure her own safety, if it could be
done without dishonour, and mentioned Proculejus as the man most worthy
of her confidence among the friends of Octavianus. Then he entreated her
not to mourn for him, but to consider him happy; for he had enjoyed the
richest favours of Fortune. He owed his brightest hours to her love; but
he had also been the first and most powerful man on earth. Now he
was dying in the arms of Love, honourable as a Roman who succumbed to
Romans.

In this conviction he died after a short struggle.

Cleopatra had watched his last breath, closed his eyes, and then thrown
herself tearlessly on her lover’s body. At last she fainted, and lay
unconscious with her head upon his marble breast.

The private secretary had witnessed all this, and then returned with
tearful eyes to the second story. There he met Gorgias, who had climbed
the scaffolding, and told him what he had seen and heard from the
stairs. But his story was scarcely ended when a carriage stopped at the
Corner of the Muses and an aristocratic Roman alighted. This was the
very Proculejus whom the dying Antony had recommended to the woman he
loved as worthy of her confidence.

“In fact,” Gorgias continued, “he seemed in form and features one of the
noblest of his haughty race. He came commissioned by Octavianus, and
is said to be warmly devoted to the Caesar, and a well-disposed man.
We have also heard him mentioned as a poet and a brother-in-law of
Maecenas. A wealthy aristocrat, he is a generous patron of literature,
and also holds art and science in high esteem. Timagenes lauds his
culture and noble nature. Perhaps the historian was right; but where the
object in question is the state and its advantage, what we here regard
as worthy of a free man appears to be considered of little moment at the
court of Octavianus. The lord to whom he gives his services intrusted
him with a difficult task, and Proculejus doubtless considered it his
duty to make every effort to perform it--and yet----If I see aright, a
day will come when he will curse this, and the obedience with which he,
a free man, aided Caesar But listen.

“Erect and haughty in his splendid suit of armour, he knocked at the
door of the tomb. Cleopatra had regained consciousness and asked--she
must have known him in Rome--what he desired.

“He had come, he answered courteously, by the command of Octavianus, to
negotiate with her, and the Queen expressed her willingness to listen,
but refused to admit him into the mausoleum.

“So they talked with each other through the door. With dignified
composure, she asked to have the sons whom she had given to Antony--not
Caasarion--acknowledged as Kings of Egypt.

“Proculejus instantly promised to convey her wishes to Caesar, and gave
hopes of their fulfilment.

“While she was speaking of the children and their claims--she did not
mention her own future--the Roman questioned her about Mark Antony’s
death, and then described the destruction of the dead man’s army and
other matters of trivial importance. Proculejus did not look like a
babbler, but I felt a suspicion that he was intentionally trying to hold
the attention of the Queen. This proved to be his design; he had been
merely waiting for Cornelius Gallus, the commander of the fleet, of whom
you have heard. He, too, ranks among the chief men in Rome, and yet he
made himself the accomplice of Proculejus.

“The latter retired as soon as he had presented the new-comer to the
hapless woman.

“I remained at my post and now heard Gallus assure Cleopatra of his
master’s sympathy. With the most bombastic exaggeration he described
how bitterly Octavianus mourned in Mark Antony the friend, the
brother-in-law, the co-ruler and sharer in so many important
enterprises. He had shed burning tears over the tidings of his death.
Never had more sincere ones coursed down any man’s cheeks.

“Gallus, too, seemed to me to be intentionally prolonging the
conversation.

“Then, while I was listening intently to understand Cleopatra’s brief
replies, my foreman, who, when the workmen were driven away by the
Romans, had concealed himself between two blocks of granite, came to me
and said that Proculejus had just climbed a ladder to the scaffold in
the rear of the monument. Two servants followed, and they had all stolen
down into the hall.

“I hastily started up. I had been lying on the floor with my head
outstretched to listen.

“Cost what it might, the Queen must be warned. Treachery was certainly
at work here.

“But I came too late.

“O Dion! If I had only been informed a few minutes before, perhaps
something still more terrible might have happened, but the Queen would
have been spared what now threatens her. What can she expect from the
conqueror who, in order to seize her alive, condescends to outwit a
noble, defenceless woman, who has succumbed to superior power?

“Death would have released the unhappy Queen from sore trouble and
horrible shame. And she had already raised the dagger against her life.
Before my eyes she flung aloft her beautiful arm with the flashing
steel, which glittered in the light of the candles in the many-branched
candelabra beside the sarcophagi. But I will try to remain calm! You
shall hear what happened in regular order. My thoughts grow confused as
the terrible scene recurs to my memory. To describe it as I saw it, I
should need to be a poet, an artist in words; for what passed before
me happened on a stage--you know, it was a tomb. The walls were of dark
stone-dark, too, were the pillars and ceiling--all dark and glittering;
most portions were smoothly polished stone, shining like a mirror. Near
the sarcophagi, and around the candelabra as far as the vicinity of the
door, where the rascally trick was played, the light was brilliant as in
a festal hall. Every blood-stain on the hand, every scratch, every wound
which the desperate woman had torn with her own nails on her bosom,
which gleamed snow-white from her black robes, was distinctly visible.
Farther away, on the right and left, the light was dim, and near the
side walls the darkness was as intense as in a real tomb. On the smooth
porphyry columns, the glittering black marble and serpentine--here,
there, and everywhere--flickered the wavering reflection of the
candlelight. The draught kept it continually in motion, and it wavered
to and fro in the hall, like the restless souls of the damned. Wherever
the eye turned it met darkness. The end of the hall seemed black--black
as the anteroom of Hades--yet through it pierced a brilliant moving bar;
sunbeams which streamed from the stairway into the tomb and amid which
danced tiny motes. How the scene impressed the eye! The home of gloomy
Hecate! And the Queen and her impending fate. A picture flooded with
light, standing forth in radiant relief against the darkness of the
heavy, majestic forms surrounding it in a wide circle. This tomb in
this light would be a palace meet for the gloomy rule of the king of the
troop of demons conjured up by the power of a magician--if they have a
ruler. But where am I wandering? ‘The artist!’ I hear you exclaim again,
‘the artist! Instead of rushing forward and interposing, he stands
studying the light and its effects in the royal tomb.’ Yes, yes; I had
come too late, too late--far too late! On the stairs leading to the
lower story of the building I saw it, but I was not to blame for the
delay--not in the least!

“At first I had been unable to see the men--or even a shadow; but I
beheld plainly in the brightest glare of the light the body of Mark
Antony on the couch and, in the dusk farther towards the right, Iras
and Charmian trying to raise a trapdoor. It was the one which closed
the passage leading to the combustible materials stored in the cellar.
A sign from the Queen had commanded them to fire it. The first steps
of the staircase, down which I was hastening, were already behind
me--then--then Proculejus, with two men, suddenly dashed from the
intense darkness on the other side. Scarcely able to control myself,
I sprang down the remaining steps, and while Iras’s shrill cry, ‘Poor
Cleopatra, they will capture you!’ still rang in my ears, I saw the
betrayed Queen turn from the door through which, resolved on death, she
was saying something to Gallus, perceive Proculejus close behind her,
thrust her hand into her girdle, and with the speed of lightning--you
have already heard so--throw up her arm with the little dagger to bury
the sharp blade in her breast. What a picture! In the full radiance of
the brilliant light, she resembled a statue of triumphant victory or of
noble pride in great deeds accomplished; and then, then, only an instant
later, what an outrage was inflicted!

“Like a robber, an assassin, Proculejus rushed upon her, seized her arm,
and wrested the weapon from her grasp. His tall figure concealed her
from me. But when, struggling to escape from the ruffian’s clutch,
she again turned her face towards the hall, what a transformation had
occurred! Her eyes--you know how large they are--were twice their usual
size, and blazed with scorn, fury, and hatred for the traitor. The
cheering light had become a consuming fire. So I imagine the vengeance,
the curse which calls down ruin upon the head of a foe. And Proculejus,
the great lord, the poet whose noble nature is praised by the authors on
the banks of the Tiber, held the defenceless woman, the worthy daughter
of a brilliant line of kings, in a firm grasp, as if it required the
exertion of all his strength to master this delicate embodiment of
charming womanhood. True, the proud blood of the outwitted lioness urged
her to resist this profanation, and Proculejus--an enviable honour--made
her feel the superior strength of his arm. I am no prophet, but Dion,
I repeat, this shameful struggle and the glances which flashed upon
him will be remembered to his dying hour. Had they been darted at me, I
should have cursed my life.

“They blanched even the Roman’s cheeks. He was lividly pale as he
completed what he deemed his duty. His own aristocratic hands were
degraded to the menial task of searching the garments of a woman, the
Queen, for forbidden wares, poisons or weapons. He was aided by one of
Caesar’s freedmen, Epaphroditus, who is said to stand so high in the
favour of Octavianus.

“The scoundrel also searched Iras and Charmian, yet all the time both
Romans constantly spoke in cajoling terms of Caesar’s favour; and his
desire to grant Cleopatra everything which was due a Queen.

“At last she was taken back to Lochias, but I felt like a madman; for
the image of the unfortunate woman pursued me like my shadow. It was
no longer a vision of the bewitching sovereign nay, it resembled the
incarnation of despair, tearless anguish, wrath demanding vengeance. I
will not describe it; but those eyes, those flashing, threatening
eyes, and the tangled hair on which Antony’s blood had flowed-terrible,
horrible! My heart grew chill, as if I had seen upon Athene’s shield the
head of the Medusa with its serpent locks.

“It had been impossible for me to warn her in time, or even to seize the
traitor’s arm--I have already said so--and yet, yet her shining image
gazed reproachfully at me for my cowardly delay. Her glance still haunts
me, robbing me of calmness and peace. Not until I gaze into Helena’s
pure, calm eyes will that terrible vision of the face, flooded by light
in the midst of the tomb, cease to haunt me.”

His friend laid his hand on his arm, spoke soothingly to him, and
reminded him of the blessings which this terrible day--he had said so
himself--had brought.

Dion was right to give this warning; for Gorgias’s bearing and the very
tone of his voice changed as he eagerly declared that the frightful
events had been followed by more than happy ones for the city, his
friend, and Barine.

Then, with a sigh of relief, he continued: “I pursued my way home like
a drunken man. Every attempt to approach the Queen or her attendants was
baffled, but I learned from Charmian’s clever Nubian that Cleopatra had
been permitted, in Caesar’s name, to choose the palace she desired to
occupy, and had selected the one at Lochias.

“I did not make much progress towards my house; the crowd in front of
the great gymnasium stopped me. Octavianus had gone into the city,
and the people, I heard, had greeted him with acclamations and flung
themselves on their knees before him. Our stiff-necked Alexandrians
in the dust before the victor! It enraged me, but my resentment was
diminished.

“The members of the gymnasium all knew me. They made way and, ere I was
aware of it, I had passed through the door. Tall Phryxus had drawn my
arm through his. He appears and vanishes at will, is as alert as he is
rich, sees and hears everything, and manages to secure the best places.
This time he had again succeeded; for when he released me we were
standing opposite to a newly erected tribune.

“They were waiting for Octavianus, who was still in the hypostyle
of Euergetes receiving the homage of the epitrop, the members of the
Council, the gymnasiarch, and I know not how many others.

“Phryxus said that on Caesar’s entry he had held out his hand to his
former tutor, bade him accompany him, and commanded that his sons should
be presented. The philosopher had been distinguished above every one
else, and this will benefit you and yours; for he is Berenike’s brother,
and therefore your wife’s uncle. What he desires is sure to be granted.
You will hear at once how studiously the Caesar distinguishes him. I do
not grudge it to the man; he interceded boldly for Barine; he is lauded
as an able scholar, and he does not lack courage. In spite of Actium and
the only disgraceful deed with which, to my knowledge, Mark Antony could
be reproached--I mean the surrender of Turullius--Arius remained here,
though the Imperator might have held the friend of Julius Caesar’s
nephew as a hostage as easily as he gave up the Emperor’s assassin.

“Since Octavianus encamped before the city, your uncle has been in
serious danger, and his sons shared his peril. Surely you must know the
handsome, vigorous young Ephebi.

“We were not obliged to wait long in the gymnasium ere the Caesar
appeared on the platform; and now--if your hand clenches, it is only
what I expect--now all fell on their knees. Our turbulent, rebellious
rabble raised their hands like pleading beggars, and grave, dignified
men followed their example. Whoever saw me and Phryxus will remember us
among the kneeling lickspittles; for had we remained standing we should
certainly have been dragged down. So we followed the example of the
others.”

“And Octavianus?” asked Dion eagerly.

“A man of regal bearing and youthful aspect; beardless face of the
finest chiselling, a profile as beautiful as if created for the
coin-maker; all the lines sharp and yet pleasing; every inch an
aristocrat; but the very mirror of a cold nature, incapable of any lofty
aspiration, any warm emotion, any tenderness of feeling. All in all,
a handsome, haughty, calculating man, whose friendship would hardly
benefit the heart, but from whose enmity may the immortals guard all we
love!

“Again he led Arius by the hand. The philosopher’s sons followed the
pair. When he stood on the stage, looking down upon the thousands
kneeling before him, not a muscle of his noble face--it is certainly
that--betrayed the slightest emotion. He gazed at us like a farmer
surveying his flocks and, after a long silence, said curtly in excellent
Greek that he absolved the Alexandrians from all guilt towards him:
first--he counted as if he were summoning individual veterans to reward
them--from respect for the illustrious founder of our city, Alexander,
the conqueror of the world; secondly, because the greatness and beauty
of Alexandria filled him with admiration; and, thirdly--he turned to
Arius as he spoke--to give pleasure to his admirable and beloved friend.

“Then shouts of joy burst forth.

“Every one, from the humblest to the greatest, had had a heavy burden
removed from his mind, and the throng had scarcely left the gymnasium
when they were again laughing saucily enough, and there was no lack of
biting and innocent jests.

“The fat carpenter, Memnon--who furnished the wood-work for your
palace--exclaimed close beside me that formerly a dolphin had saved
Arius from the pirates; now Arius was saving marine Alexandria from the
robbers. So the sport went on. Philostratus, Barine’s first husband,
offered the best butt for jests. The agitator had good reason to fear
the worst; and now, clad in black mourning robes, ran after Arius, whom
but a few months ago he persecuted with the most vindictive hatred,
continually repeating this shallow bit of verse:

     “‘If he is a wise man, let the wise aid the wise.’

“Reaching home was not easy. The street was swarming with Roman
soldiers. They fared well enough; for in the joy of their hearts many
a prosperous citizen who saw his property saved invited individual
warriors, or even a whole maniple, to the taverns or cook-shops, and
the stock of wine in Alexandrian cellars will be considerably diminished
to-night.

“Many, as I have already said, had been quartered in the houses, with
orders to spare the property of the citizens; and it was in this way
that the misfortune with which I commenced my narrative befell the
grandmother. She died before my departure.

“All the gates of the city will now stand open to you, and the niece
of Arius and her husband will be received with ovations. I don’t grudge
Barine the good fortune; for the way in which your noble wife, who
had cast her spell over me too, flung aside what is always dear to the
admired city beauty and found on the loneliest of islands a new world in
love, is worthy of all admiration and praise. For yourself, I dread new
happiness and honours; if they are added to those which Fate bestowed
upon you in such a wife and your son Pyrrhus, the gods would not be
themselves if they did not pursue you with their envy. I have less
reason to fear them.”

“Ungrateful fellow!” interrupted his friend. “There will be numerous
mortals to grudge you Helena. As for me, I have already felt many a
slight foreboding; but we have already paid by no means a small tribute
to the divine ones. The lamp is still burning in the sitting-room.
Inform the sisters of their grandmother’s death, and tell them the
pleasant tidings you have brought us, but reserve until the morning
a description of the terrible scenes you witnessed. We will not spoil
their sleep. Mark my words! Helena’s silent grief and her joy at our
escape will lighten your heart.”

And so it proved. True, Gorgias lived over again in his dreams the
frightful spectacle witnessed the day before; but when the sun of the
2d day of August rose in full radiance over Alexandria and, early in
the morning, boat after boat reached the Serpent Island, landing first
Berenike and her nephews, the sons of the honoured philosopher Arius,
then clients, officials, and friends of Dion, and former favourite
guests of Barine, to greet the young pair and escort them from the
refuge which had so long sheltered them back to the city and their
midst, new and pleasant impressions robbed the gloomy picture of a large
portion of its terrors.

“Tall Phryxus” had rapidly spread the news of the place where Dion and
Barine had vanished, and that they had long been happily wedded. Many
deemed it well worth a short voyage to see the actors in so strange an
adventure and be the first to greet them. Besides, those who knew Barine
and her husband were curious to learn how two persons accustomed to the
life of a great capital had endured for months such complete solitude.
Many feared or expected to see them emaciated and careworn, haggard or
sunk in melancholy, and hence there were a number of astonished faces
among those whose boats the freedman Pyrrhus guided as pilot through the
shallows which protected his island.

The return of this rare couple to their home would have afforded an
excellent opportunity for gay festivities. Sincerely as the majority
of the populace mourned the fate of the Queen, and gravely as the
more thoughtful feared for Alexandria’s freedom under Roman rule,
all rejoiced over the lenient treatment of the city. Their lives and
property were safe, and the celebration of festivals had become a life
habit with all classes. But the news of the death of Didymus’s wife and
the illness of the old man, who could not bear up under the loss of his
faithful companion, gave Dion a right to refuse any gay welcome at his
home.

Barine’s sorrow was his also, and Didymus died a few days after his
wife, with whom he had lived in the bonds of love for more than half a
century--people said, “of a broken heart.”

So Dion and his young wife entered his beautiful palace with no noisy
festivities. Instead of the jubilant hymenaeus, the voice of his own
child greeted him on the threshold.

The mourning garments in which Barine welcomed him in the women’s
apartment reminded him of the envy of the gods which his friend had
feared for him. But he often fancied that his mother’s statue in the
tablinum looked specially happy when the young mistress of the house
entered it.

Barine, too, felt that her happiness as wife and mother in her
magnificent home would have been overwhelming had not a wise destiny
imposed upon her, just at this time, grief for those whom she loved.

Dion instantly devoted himself again to the affairs of the city and his
own business. He and the woman he loved, who had first become really his
own during a time of sore privation, had run into the harbour and gazed
quietly at the storms of life. The anchor of love, which moored their
ship to the solid earth, had been tested in the solitude of the Serpent
Island.



CHAPTER XXIV.

The fisherman and his family had watched the departure of their beloved
guests with sorrowful hearts, and the women had shed many tears,
although the sons of Pyrrhus had been dismissed from the fleet and were
again helping their father at home, as in former times.

Besides, Dion had made the faithful freedman a prosperous man, and given
his daughter, Dione, a marriage dowry. She was soon to become the
wife of the captain of the Epicurus, Archibius’s swift galley, whose
acquaintance she had made when the vessel, on several occasions, brought
Charmian’s Nubian maid to the island. Anukis’s object in making these
visits was not only to see her friend, but to induce him to catch one of
the poisonous serpents in the neighbouring island and keep it ready for
the Queen.

Since Cleopatra had ascertained that no poison caused a less painful
death than the fangs of the asp, she had resolved that the bite of one
of these reptiles should release her from the burden of life. The clever
Ethiopian had thought of inducing her friend Pyrrhus to procure the
adder, but it had required all Aisopion’s skill in persuasion, and the
touching manner in which she understood how to describe the Queen’s
terrible situation and severe suffering, to conquer the reluctance of
the upright man. At last she succeeded in persuading him to measure a
queen by a different standard from a woman of the people, and inducing
him to arrange the manner and time of conveying the serpent into the
well-guarded palace. A signal was to inform him when the decisive hour
arrived. After that he was to be ready with the asp in the fish-market
every day. Probably his service would soon be claimed; for Octavianus’s
delay was scarcely an indication of a favourable decision of Cleopatra’s
fate.

True, she was permitted to live in royal state at Lochias, and had even
been allowed to have the children, the twins, and little Alexander sent
back to her with the promise that life and liberty would be granted
them; but Caesarion--whose treacherous tutor Rhodon lured him from the
journey southward back to Alexandria by all sorts of representations,
among them the return of Barine--was held prisoner in his father’s
temple, where he had sought refuge. This news, and the fact that
Octavianus had condemned to death the youth who bore so striking a
resemblance to Caesar, had not remained concealed from the unhappy
mother. She was also informed of the words in which the philosopher
Arius had encouraged Caesar’s desire to rid himself of the son of
his famous uncle. They referred to the Homeric saying concerning the
disadvantage of having many rulers.

Everything which Cleopatra desired to know concerning events in the city
reached her ears; for she was allowed much liberty-only she was closely
watched day and night, and all the servants and officials to whom she
granted an audience were carefully searched to keep from her all means
of self-destruction.

True, it was very evident that she had closed her account with life. Her
attempt to take no food and die of starvation must have been noticed.
Threats directed against the children, through whom she could be most
easily influenced, finally induced her to eat again. Octavianus was
informed of all these things, and his conduct proved his anxiety to keep
her from suicide.

Several Asiatic princes vied with each other in the desire to honour
Mark Antony by a magnificent funeral, but Octavianus had allowed
Cleopatra to provide the most superb obsequies. In the time of her
deepest anguish it afforded her comfort and satisfaction to arrange
everything herself, and even perform some offices with her own hands.
The funeral had been as gorgeous as the dead man’s love of splendour
could have desired.

Iras and Charmian were often unable to understand how the Queen--who,
since Antony’s death, had suffered not only from the wounds she had
inflicted upon herself in her despair, but also after her baffled
attempt at starvation from a slow fever--had succeeded in resisting the
severe exertions and mental agitation to which she had been subjected by
Antony’s funeral.

The return of Archibius with the children, however, had visibly
reanimated her flagging energy. She often went to Didymus’s garden,
which was now connected with the palace at Lochias, to watch their work
and share whatever interested their young hearts.

But the gayest of mothers, who had understood how to enter so thoroughly
into her children’s pursuits, had now become a sorrowful, grave monitor.
Though the lessons she urged upon them were often beautiful and wise,
they were little suited to the ages of Archibius’s pupils, for they
usually referred to death and to questions of philosophy not easily
understood by children.

She herself felt that she no longer struck the right key; but whenever
she tried to change it and jest with them as usual, she could endure
the forced gaiety only a short time; a painful revulsion, frequently
accompanied by tears, followed, and she was obliged to leave her
darlings.

The life her foe granted her seemed like an intrusive gift, an
oppressive debt, which we desire to pay a troublesome creditor as
soon as possible. She seemed calmer and apparently content only when
permitted to talk with the companions of her youth concerning bygone
days, or with them and Iras of death, and how it would be possible to
put an end to an unwelcome existence.

After such conversations Iras and Charmian left her with bleeding
hearts. They had long since resolved to share the fate of their royal
mistress, whatever it might be. Their common suffering was the bond
which again united them in affection. Iras had provided poisoned pins
which had speedily destroyed the animals upon which they had been
tried. Cleopatra knew of their existence, but she herself preferred the
painless death bestowed by the serpent’s bite, and it was long since her
friends had seen the eyes of their beloved sovereign sparkle so brightly
as when Charmian told her that away had been found to obtain the uraeus
serpent as soon as it was needed. Put it was not yet imperative to adopt
the last expedient. Octavianus wished to be considered lenient, and
perhaps might still be prevailed upon to grant the Queen and her
children a future meet for their royal birth.

Cleopatra’s reply was an incredulous smile, yet a faint hope which saved
her from despair began to bud in her soul.

Dolabella, an aristocratic Roman, a scion of the noble Cornelius family,
was in the Caesar’s train, and had been presented to the Egyptian Queen.
In former years his father was a friend of Cleopatra; nay, she had
placed him under obligations by sending him, after the murder of Julius
Caesar, the military force at her command to be used against Cassius.
True, her legions, by messengers from Dolabella himself, were despatched
in another direction; but Cleopatra had not withdrawn her favour from
Dolabella’s father on that account. The latter had known her in Rome
before the death of Caesar, and had enthusiastically described the
charms of the bewitching Egyptian sovereign. Though the youth found
her only a mourning widow, ill in body and mind, he was so strongly
attracted and deeply moved by her beauty, her brilliant intellect, her
grace of bearing, her misfortunes and sufferings, that he devoted many
hours to her, and would have considered it a happiness to render her
greater services than circumstances permitted. He often accompanied
her to the children, whose hearts had been completely won by his frank,
cheerful nature; and so it happened that he soon became one of the most
welcome guests at Lochias. He confided without reserve every feeling
that stirred his soul to the warm-hearted woman who was so many years
his senior, and through him she learned many things connected with
Octavianus and his surroundings. Without permitting himself to be used
as a tool, he became an advocate for the unfortunate woman whom he so
deeply esteemed.

In intercourse with her he made every effort to inspire confidence
in Octavianus, who favoured him, enjoyed his society, and in whose
magnanimity the youth firmly believed.

He anticipated the best results from an interview between the Queen and
the Caesar; for he deemed it impossible that the successful conqueror
could part untouched, and with no desire to mitigate her sad fate, from
the woman who, in earlier years, had so fascinated his father, and
whom he himself, though she might almost have been his mother, deemed
peerless in her bewitching and gracious charm.

Cleopatra, on the contrary, shrank from meeting the man who had brought
so much misfortune upon Mark Antony and herself, and inflicted upon
her insults which were only too well calculated to make her doubt his
clemency and truth. On the other hand, she could not deny Dolabella’s
assertion that it would be far less easy for Octavianus to refuse her in
person the wishes she cherished for her children’s future than through
mediators. Proculejus had learned that Antony had named him to the Queen
as the person most worthy of her confidence, and more keenly felt the
wrong which, as the tool and obedient friend of Octavianus, he had
inflicted upon the hapless woman. The memory of his unworthy deed, which
history would chronicle, had robbed the sensitive man, the author and
patron of budding Roman poetry, of many an hour’s sleep, and therefore
he also now laboured zealously to oblige the Queen and mitigate her hard
fate. He, like the freedman Epaphroditus, who by Caesar’s orders watched
carefully to prevent any attempt upon her life, seemed to base great
hopes on such an interview, and endeavoured to persuade her to request
an audience from the Caesar.

Archibius said that, even in the worst case, it could not render the
present state of affairs darker. Experience, he said to Charmian, proved
that no man of any feeling could wholly resist the charm of her nature,
and to him at least she had never seemed more winning than now. Who
could have gazed unmoved into the beautiful face, so eloquent in its
silent suffering, whose soul would not have been deeply touched by the
sorrowful tones of her sweet voice? Besides, her sable mourning robes
were so well suited to the slight tinge of melancholy which pervaded her
whole aspect. When the fever flushed her cheeks, Archibius, spite of the
ravages which grief, anxiety, and fear had made upon her charms, thought
that he had never seen her look more beautiful. He knew her thoroughly,
and was aware that her desire to follow the man she loved into the realm
of death was sincere; nay, that it dominated her whole being. She clung
to life only to die as soon as possible. The decision which, after
her resolve to build the monument, she had recognized in the temple of
Berenike as the right one, had become the rule of conduct of her life.
Every thought, every conversation, led her back to the past. The future
seemed to exist no longer. If Archibius succeeded in directing her
thoughts to approaching days she occupied herself wholly with her
children’s fate. For herself she expected nothing, felt absolved from
every duty except the one of protecting herself and her name from
dishonour and humiliation.

The fact that Octavianus, when he doomed Caesarion to death, permitted
the other children to return to her with the assurance that no harm
should befall them, proved that he made a distinction between them and
his uncle’s son, and had no fears that they threatened his own safety.
She might expect important results in their favour from an interview
with Octavianus, so she at last authorized Proculejus to request an
audience.

The Imperator’s answer came the very same day. It was his place to seek
her--so ran the Caesar’s message. This meeting must decide her fate.
Cleopatra was aware of this, and begged Charmian to remember the asp.

Her attendants had been forbidden to leave Lochias, but Epaphroditus
permitted them to receive visitors. The Nubian’s merry, amusing talk had
made friends for her among the Roman guards, who allowed her to pass in
and out unmolested. On her return, of course, she was searched with the
utmost care, like every one who entered Lochias.

The decisive hour was close at hand. Charmian knew what she must do
in any event, but there was still one desire for whose fulfilment she
longed. She wished to greet Barine and see her boy.

To spare Iras, she had hitherto refrained from sending for Dion’s wife.
The sight of the mother and child might have reopened wounds still
unhealed, and she would not inflict this sorrow upon her niece, who for
a long time had once more been loyally devoted to her.

Octavianus did not hasten to fulfil his assurance. But, at the end of a
week, Proculejus brought the news that he could promise a visit from the
Caesar that afternoon. The Queen was deeply agitated, and desired before
the interview to pay a visit to her tomb. Iras offered to accompany her,
and as Cleopatra intended to remain an hour or longer, Charmian thought
it a favourable opportunity to see Barine and her boy.

Dion’s wife had been informed of her friend’s wish, and Anukis, who was
to take her to Lochias, did not wait long for the mother and child.

Didymus’s garden--now the property of the royal children--was the scene
of the meeting. In the shade of the familiar trees the young mother sank
upon the breast of her faithful friend, and Charmian could not gaze her
fill at the boy, or weary of tracing in his features a resemblance to
his grandfather Leonax.

How much these two women, to whom Fate had allotted lives so widely
different, found to tell each other! The older felt transported to the
past, the younger seemed to have naught save a present rich in blessing
and a future green with hope. She had good news to tell of her sister
also. Helena had long been the happy wife of Gorgias who, however, spite
of the love with which he surrounded the young mistress of his house,
numbered among his most blissful hours those which were devoted to
overseeing the progress of the work on the mausoleum, where he met
Cleopatra.

Time flew swiftly to the two women, and it was a painful surprise when
one of the eunuchs on guard announced that the Queen had returned.
Again Charmian embraced her lover’s grandson, blessed him and the young
mother, sent messages of remembrance to Dion, begged Barine to think
of her affectionately when she had passed from earth and, if her heart
prompted her to the act, to anoint or adorn with a ribbon or flower the
tombstone of the woman who had no friend to render her such a service.

Deeply moved by the firmness with which Charmian witnessed the approach
of death, Barine listened in silence, but suddenly started as the sharp
tones of a well-known voice called her friend’s name and, as she turned,
Iras stood before her. Pallid and emaciated, she looked in her long,
floating black robes the very incarnation of misery.

The sight pierced the heart of the happy wife and mother. She felt as if
much of the joy which Iras lacked had fallen to her own lot, and all the
grief and woe she had ever endured had been transferred to her foe.
She would fain have approached humbly and said something very kind and
friendly; but when she saw the tall, haggard woman gazing at her child,
and noticed the disagreeable expression which had formerly induced her
to compare her to a sharp thorn, a terrible dread of this woman’s evil
eye which might harm her boy seized the mother’s heart and, overwhelmed
by an impulse beyond control, she covered his face with her own veil.

Iras saw it, and after Barine had answered her question, “Dion’s child?”
 in the affirmative, with a glance beseeching forbearance, the girl drew
up her slender figure, saying with arrogant coldness “What do I care for
the child? We have more important matters on our hearts.”

Then she turned to Charmian to inform her, in the tone of an official
announcement, that during the approaching interview the Queen desired
her attendance also.

Octavianus had appointed sunset for the interview, and it still lacked
several hours of the time. The suffering Queen felt wearied by her visit
to the mausoleum, where she had implored the spirit of Antony, if he had
any power over the conqueror’s heart, to induce him to release her from
this torturing uncertainty and promise the children a happy fate.

To Dolabella, who had accompanied her from the tomb to the palace, she
said that she expected only one thing from this meeting, and then won
from him a promise which strengthened her courage and seemed the most
precious boon which could be granted at this time.

She had expressed the fear that Octavianus would still leave her in
doubt. The youth spoke vehemently in Caesar’s defence, and closed with
the exclamation, “If he should still keep you in suspense, he would be
not only cool and circumspect--”

“Then,” Cleopatra interrupted, “be nobler, be less cruel, and release
your father’s friend from these tortures. If he does not reveal to me
what awaits me and you learn it, then--you will not say no, you cannot
refuse me--then you, yes, you will inform me?”

Promptly and firmly came the reply: “What have I been able to do for you
until now? But I will release you from this torture, if possible.” Then
he hastily turned his back, that he might not be compelled to see the
eunuchs stationed at the palace gate search the garments of the royal
captive.

His promise sustained the failing courage of the wearied, anxious Queen,
and she reclined upon the cushions of a lounge to recover from the
exhausting expedition; but she had scarcely closed her eyes when the
pavement of the court-yard rang under the hoofs of the four horses which
bore the Caesar to Lochias. Cleopatra had not expected the visit so
early.

She had just been consulting with her attendants about the best mode of
receiving him. At first she had been disposed to do so on the throne,
clad in her royal attire, but she afterwards thought that she was
too ill and weak to bear the heavy ornaments. Besides, the man and
successful conqueror would show himself more indulgent and gracious to
the suffering woman than to the princess.

There was much to palliate the course which she had pursued in former
days, and she had carefully planned the defence by which she hoped to
influence his calm but not unjust nature. Many things in her favour
were contained in the letters from Caesar and Antony which, after her
husband’s death, she had read again and again during so many wakeful
nights, and they had just been brought to her.

Both Archibius and the Roman Proculejus had counselled her not to
receive him entirely alone. The latter did not express his opinion in
words, but he knew that Octavianus was more readily induced to noble and
lenient deeds when there was no lack of witnesses to report them to the
world. It was advisable to provide spectators for the most consummate
actor of his day.

Therefore the Queen had retained Iras, Charmian, and some of the
officials nearest to her person, among them the steward Seleukus, who
could give information if any question arose concerning the delivery of
the treasure.

She had also intended, after she had somewhat recovered from the visit
to the tomb, to be robed in fresh garments. This was prevented by the
Caesar’s unexpected arrival. Now, even had time permitted, she would
have been unable to have her hair arranged, she felt so weak and yet so
feverishly excited.

The blood coursed hotly through her veins and flushed her cheeks. When
told that the Caesar was close at hand, she had only time to raise
herself a little higher on her cushions, push back her hair, and let
Iras, with a few hasty touches, adjust the folds of her mourning robes.
Had she attempted to advance to meet him, her limbs would have failed to
support her.

When the Caesar at last entered, she could greet him only by a wave of
her hand; but Octavianus, who had uttered the usual salutations from the
threshold, quickly broke the painful silence, saying with a courteous
bow:

“You summoned me--I came. Every one is subject to beauty--even the
victor.”

Cleopatra’s head drooped in shame as she answered distinctly, yet in a
tone of modest denial: “I only asked the favour of an audience. I did
not summon. I thank you for granting the request. If it is dangerous for
man to bow to woman’s charms, no peril threatens you here. Beauty cannot
withstand tortures such as those which have been imposed on me--barely
can life remain. But you prevented my casting it from me. If you are
just, you will grant to the woman whom you would not permit to die an
existence whose burden will not exceed her power to endure.”

The Caesar again bowed silently and answered courteously:

“I intend to make it worthy of you.”

“Then,” cried Cleopatra impetuously, “release me from this torturing
uncertainty. You are not one of the men who never look beyond to-day and
to-morrow.”

“You are thinking,” said Octavianus harshly, “of one who perhaps would
still be among us, if with wiser caution--”

Cleopatra’s eyes, which hitherto had met the victor’s cold gaze with
modest entreaty, flashed angrily, and a majestic: “Let the past rest!”
 interrupted him.

But she soon mastered the indignation which had stirred her passionate
blood, and in a totally different tone, not wholly free from gentle
persuasion, she continued:

“The provident intellect of the man whose nod the universe obeys grasps
the future as well as the present. Must not he, therefore, have decided
the children’s fate ere he consented to see their mother? The only
obstacle in your path, the son of your great uncle--”

“His doom was a necessity,” interrupted the conqueror in a tone of
sincere regret. “As I mourned Antony, I grieve for the unfortunate boy.”

“If that is true,” replied Cleopatra eagerly, “it does honour to the
kindness of your heart. When Proculejus wrested the dagger from my grasp
he blamed me because I attributed to the most clement of conquerors
harshness and implacability.”

“Two qualities,” the Caesar protested, “which are wholly alien to my
nature.”

“And which--even if you possessed them--you neither could nor ought to
use,” cried Cleopatra, “if you really mean the beautiful words you so
often utter that, as the nephew and heir of the great Julius Caesar, you
intend to walk in his footsteps. Caesarion--there is his bust--was the
image in every feature of his father, your illustrious model. To me, the
hapless woman now awaiting my sentence from his nephew’s lips, the gods
granted, as the most precious of all gifts, the love of your divine
uncle. And what love! The world knew not what I was to his great heart,
but my wish to defend myself from misconception bids me show it to
you, his heir. From you I expect my sentence. You are the judge. These
letters are my strongest defence. I rely upon them to show myself to you
as I was and am, not as envy and slander describe me.--The little ivory
casket, Iras! It contains the precious proofs of Caesar’s love, his
letters to me.”

She raised the lid with trembling hands and, as these mementoes carried
her back to the past, she continued in lower tones:

“Among all my treasures this simple little coffer has been for half a
lifetime my most valued jewel. He gave it to me. It was in the midst of
the fierce contest here at the Bruchium.”

Then, while unfolding the first roll, she directed Octavianus’s
attention to it and the remainder of the contents of the little casket,
exclaiming:

“Silent pages, yet how eloquent! Each one a peerless picture, the
powerful thinker, the man of action, who permits his restless intellect
to repose, and suffers his heart to overflow with the love of youth!
Were I vain, Octavianus, I might call each one of these letters a trophy
of victory, an Olympic garland. The woman to whom Julius Caesar owned
his subjugation might well hold her head higher than the unhappy,
vanquished Queen who, save the permission to die--”

“Do not part with the letters,” said Octavianus kindly. “Who can doubt
that they are a precious treasure--”

“The most precious and at the same time the advocate of the accused,”
 replied Cleopatra eagerly; “on them--as you have already heard--rests my
vindication. I will commence with their contents. How terrible it is to
make what is sacred to us and intended only to elevate our own hearts
serve a purpose, to do what has always been repugnant to us! But I need
an advocate and, Octavianus, these letters will restore to the wretched,
suffering beggar the dignity and majesty of the Queen. The world knows
but two powers to which Julius Caesar bowed--the thrall of the pitiable
woman on this couch, and of all-conquering death. An unpleasant
fellowship--but I do not shrink from it; for death robbed him of life,
and from my hand--I ask only a brief moment. How gladly I would spare
myself my own praises, and you the necessity of listening to them! Yes,
here it is: ‘Through you, you irresistible woman,’ he writes, ‘I learned
for the first time, after youth was over, how beautiful life can be.’”

Cleopatra, as she spoke, handed Caesar the letter. But while she was
still searching hastily for another he returned the first, saying:

“I understand only too well your reluctance to allow such confidential
effusions to play the part of defender. I can imagine their purport, and
they shall influence me as if I had read them all. However eloquent they
may be, they are needless witnesses. Is any written testimony required
in behalf of charms whose magic is still potent?”

A bewitching smile, which seemed like a confirmation of the haughty
young conqueror’s flattering words, flitted over Cleopatra’s face.
Octavianus noticed it. This woman indeed possessed enthralling charms,
and he felt the slight flush that suffused his cheeks.

This unhappy captive, this suffering supplicant, could still draw
into her net any man who did not possess the cool watchfulness which
panoplied his soul. Was it the marvellous melody of her voice, the
changeful lustre of her tearful eyes, the aristocratic grace of the
noble figure, the exquisite symmetry of the hands and feet, the weakness
of the prostrate sufferer, strangely blended with truly royal majesty,
or the thought that love for her had found earth’s greatest and loftiest
men with indissoluble fetters, which lent this fragile woman, who
had long since passed the boundaries of youth, so powerful a spell of
attraction?

At any rate, however certain of himself he might be, he must guard his
feelings. He understood how to bridle passion far better than the uncle
who was so greatly his superior.

Yet it was of the utmost importance to keep her alive, and therefore to
maintain her belief in his admiration. He wished to show the world and
the Great Queen of the East, who had just boasted of conquering, like
death, even the most mighty, its own supremacy as man and victor. But
he must also be gentle, in order not to endanger the object for which
he wanted her. She must accompany him to Rome. She and her children
promised to render his triumph the most brilliant and memorable one
which any conqueror had ever displayed to the senate and the people.
In a light tone which, however, revealed the emotion of his soul, he
answered: “My illustrious uncle was known as a friend of fair women. His
stern life was crowned with flowers by many hands, and he acknowledged
these favours verbally and perhaps--as he did to you in all these
letters--with the reed. His genius was greater, at any rate more
many-sided and mobile, than mine. He succeeded, too, in pursuing
different objects at the same time with equal devotion. I am wholly
absorbed in the cares of state, of government, and war. I feel grateful
when I can permit our poets to adorn my leisure for a brief space.
Overburdened with toil, I have no time to yield myself captive, as my
uncle did in these very rooms, to the most charming of women. If I could
follow my own will, you would be the first from whom I would seek the
gifts of Eros. But it may not be! We Romans learn to curb even the most
ardent wishes when duty and morality command. There is no city in the
world where half so many gods are worshipped as here; and what strange
deities are numbered among them! It needs a special effort of the
intellect to understand them. But the simple duties of the domestic
hearth!--they are too prosaic for you Alexandrians, who imbibe
philosophy with your mothers’ milk. What marvel, if I looked for them
in vain? True, they would find little satisfaction--our household gods I
mean--here, where the rigid demands of Hymen are mute before the ardent
pleadings of Eros. Marriage is scarcely reckoned among the sacred things
of life. But this opinion seems to displease you.”

“Because it is false,” cried Cleopatra, repressing with difficulty a
fresh outburst of indignation. “Yet, if I see aright, your reproach is
aimed only at the bond which united me to the man who was called your
sister’s husband. But I will I would gladly remain silent, but you force
me to speak, and I will do so, though your own friend, Proculejus, is
signing to me to be cautious. I--I, Cleopatra, was the wife of Mark
Antony according to the customs of this country, when you wedded him to
the widow of Marcellus, who had scarcely closed his eyes. Not she, but
I, was the deserted wife--I to whom his heart belonged until the hour
of his death, not the unloved consort wedded--” Here her voice fell.
She had yielded to the passionate impulse which urged her to express
her feelings in the matter, and now continued in a tone of gentle
explanation: “I know that you proposed this alliance solely for the
peace and welfare of Rome--”

“To guard both, and to spare the blood of tens of thousands,” Octavianus
added with proud decision. “Your clear brain perceived the true state
of affairs. If, spite of the grave importance of these motives, you--But
what voices would not that of the heart silence with you women! The
man, the Roman, succeeded in closing his ears to its siren song. Were it
otherwise, I would never have chosen for my sister a husband by whom I
knew her happiness would be so ill-guarded--I would, as I have already
said, be unable to master my own admiration of the loveliest of women.
But I ought scarcely to boast of that. I fear that a heart like yours
opens less quickly to the modest Octavianus than to a Julius Caesar
or the brilliant Mark Antony. Yet I may be permitted to confess that
perhaps I might have avoided conducting this unhappy war against my
friend to the end under my own guidance, and appearing myself in Egypt,
had I not been urged by the longing to see once more the woman who
had dazzled my boyish eyes. Now, in my mature manhood, I desired to
comprehend those marvellous gifts of mind, that matchless sagacity--”

“Sagacity!” interrupted the Queen, shrugging her shoulders mournfully.
“You possess a far greater share of what is commonly called by that
name. My fate proves it. The pliant intellect which the gods bestowed on
me would ill sustain the test in this hour of anguish. But if you really
care to learn what mental power Cleopatra once possessed, relieve me
of this terrible burden of uncertainty, and grant me a position in life
which will permit my paralyzed soul to move freely once more.”

“It depends solely on yourself,” Octavian eagerly responded, “to make
your future life, not only free from care, but beautiful.”

“On me?” asked Cleopatra in astonishment. “Our weal and woe are in your
hands alone. I am modest and ask nothing save to know what you intend
for our future, what you mean by the lot which you term beautiful.”

“Nothing less,” replied the Caesar quietly, “than what seems to lie
nearest to your own heart--a life of that freedom of soul to which you
aspire.”

The breath of the agitated Queen began come more quickly and, no longer
able to contr the impatience which overpowered her, she exclaimed, “With
the assurance of your favour on your lips, you refuse to discuss the
question which interests, me beyond any other--for which, if any you
must have been prepared when you came here--”

“Reproaches?” asked Octavianus with we feigned surprise. “Would it not
rather be my place to complain? It is precisely because I am thoroughly
sincere in the friendly disposition which you read aright from my words,
that some of your measures cannot fail to wound me. Your treasures were
to be committed to the flames. It would be unfair to expect tokens of
friendship from the vanquished; but can you deny that even the bitterest
hatred could scarcely succeed in devising anything more hostile?”

“Let the past rest! Who would not seek in war to diminish the enemy’s
booty?” pleaded the Queen in a soothing tone. But as Octavianus delayed
his answer, she continued more eagerly: “It is said that the ibex in the
mountains, when in mortal peril, rushes upon the hunter and hurls him
with it down the precipice. The same impulse is natural to human beings,
and praiseworthy, I think, in both. Forget the past, as I will try to
do, I repeat with uplifted hands. Say that you will permit the sons whom
I gave to Antony to ascend the Egyptian throne, not under their mother’s
guardianship, but that of Rome, and grant me freedom wherever I may
live, and I will gladly transfer to you, down to the veriest trifles,
all the property and treasures I possess.”

She clenched her little hand impatiently under the folds of her robe as
she spoke; but Octavianus lowered his eyes, saying carelessly: “In war
the victor disposes of the property of the vanquished; but my heart
restrains me from applying the universal law to you, who are so far
above ordinary mortals. Your wealth is said to be vast, though the
foolish war which Antony, with your aid, so greatly prolonged, devoured
vast sums. In this country squandered gold seems like the grass which,
when mowed, springs up anew.”

“You speak,” replied Cleopatra, more and more deeply incensed, with
proud composure, “of the treasures which my ancestors, the powerful
monarchs of a wealthy country, amassed during three hundred years for
their noble race and for the adornment of the women of their line.
Parsimony did not accord with the generosity and lofty nature of an
Antony, yet avarice itself would not deem the portion still remaining
insignificant. Every article is registered.”

While speaking, she took a manuscript from the hand of Seleukus and
passed it to Octavianus who, with a slight bend of the head, received
it in silence. But he had scarcely begun to read it when the steward, a
little corpulent man with twinkling eyes half buried in his fat cheeks,
raised his short forefinger, pointed insolently at the Queen, and
asserted that she was trying to conceal some things, and had ordered him
not to place them on the list. Every tinge of colour faded from the lips
and cheeks of the agitated and passionate woman; tortured by feverish
impatience and no longer able to control her emotions, she raised
herself and, with her own dainty hand, struck the accuser--whom she had
lifted from poverty and obscurity to his present high position--again
and again in the face, till Octavianus, with a smile of superiority,
begged her, much as the man deserved his punishment, to desist.

The unfortunate woman, thus thrown off her guard, flung herself back on
her couch and, panting for breath, with tears streaming from her eyes,
sobbed aloud, declaring that in the presence of such unendurable insult,
such contemptible baseness, she fairly loathed herself. Then pressing
her clenched hands upon her temples, she exclaimed “Before the eyes of
the foe my royal dignity, which I have maintained all my life,
falls from me like a borrowed mantle. Yet what am I? What shall I be
to-morrow, what later? But who beneath the sun who has warm blood in his
veins can preserve his composure when juicy grapes are held before his
thirsting lips to be withdrawn, as from Tantalus, ere he can taste them?
You came hither with the assurance of your favour; but the flattering
words of promise which you bestowed upon the unhappy woman were probably
only the drops of poppy-juice given to soothe the ravings of fever. Was
the favour which you permitted me to see and anticipate for the future
merely intended to delude a miserable--”

But she went no further; Octavianus, with dignified bearing and loud,
clear tones, interrupted “Whoever believes the heir of Caesar capable
of shamefully deceiving a noble woman, a queen, the object of his
illustrious uncle’s love, insults and wounds him; but the just anger
which overmastered you may serve as your apology. Ay,” he added in a
totally different tone, “I might even have cause to be grateful for this
indignation, and to wish for another opportunity to witness the outbreak
of passion though in its unbridled fierceness--the royal lioness is
scarcely aware of her own beauty when the tempest of wrath sweeps her
away. What must she be when it is love that constrains the flame of her
glowing soul to burst into a blaze?”

“Her glowing soul!” Cleopatra eagerly repeated, and the desire awoke
to subjugate this man who had so confidently boasted of his power of
resistance. Though he might be stronger than many others, he certainly
was not invincible. And aware of her still unbroken sway over the hearts
of men, her eyes sparkled with the alluring radiance of love, and a
bewitching smile brightened her face.

The young Imperator’s heart began to chafe under the curb and to beat
more quickly, his cheeks flushed and paled by turns. How she gazed at
him! What if she loved the nephew as she had once loved the uncle who,
through her, had learned what bliss life can offer? Ay, it must be
happiness to kiss those lips, to be clasped in those exquisite arms,
to hear one’s own name tenderly spoken by those musical tones. Even the
magnificent marble statue of Ariadne, which he had seen in Athens, had
not displayed to his gaze lines more beautiful than those of the woman
reclining on yonder pillows. Who could venture to speak in her presence
of vanished charms? Ah, no! The spell which had conquered Julius Caesar
was as vivid, as potent as ever. He himself felt its power; he was
young, and after such unremitting exertions he too yearned to quaff the
nectar of the noblest joys, to steep body and soul in peerless bliss.

So, with a hasty movement, he took one step towards her couch, resolved
to grasp her hands and raise them to his lips. His ardent gaze answered
hers; but surprised by the power which, though so heavily burdened with
physical and mental suffering, she still possessed over the strongest
and coldest of men, she perceived what was passing in his soul, and a
smile of triumph, blended with the most bitter contempt, hovered around
her beautiful lips. Should she dupe him into granting her wishes by
feigning love for the first time? Should she yield to the man who
had insulted her, in order to induce him to accord the children their
rights? Should she, to gratify her lover’s foe, relinquish the sacred
grief which was drawing her after him, give posterity and her children
the right to call her, instead of the most loyal of the loyal, a
dishonoured woman, who sold herself for power?

To all these questions came a prompt denial. The single stride which
Octavianus had made towards her, his eyes aflame with love, gave her the
right to feel that she had vanquished the victor, and the proud delight
of triumph was too plainly reflected in her mobile features to escape
the penetrating, distrustful gaze of the subjugated Caesar.

But he had scarcely perceived what threatened him, and remembered her
words concerning his famous uncle’s surrender only to her and to death,
when he succeeded in conquering his quickly kindled senses. Blushing at
his own weakness, he averted his eyes from the Queen, and when he met
those of Proculejus and the other witnesses of the scene, he realized
the abyss on whose verge he stood. He had half succumbed to the danger
of losing, by a moment’s weakness, the fruit of great sacrifices and
severe exertions.

His expressive eyes, which had just rested rapturously upon a beautiful
woman, now scanned the spectators with the stern glance of a monarch
and, apparently wishing to moderate an excess of flattering recognition
which might be misinterpreted, he said in an almost pedagogical tone:

“Yet we would rather see the noble lioness in the majestic repose which
best suits all sovereigns. It is difficult for a calm, deliberate nature
like mine to understand an ardent, quickly kindling heart.”

Cleopatra had watched this sudden transition with more surprise than
disappointment. Octavianus had half surrendered to her, but recovered
his self-command in time, and a man of his temperament does not readily
succumb twice to a danger which he barely escaped. And this was well! He
should learn that he had misunderstood the glance which fired his heart;
so she answered distantly, with majestic dignity:

“Misery such as mine quenches all ardour. And love? Woman’s heart
is ever open to it, save where it has lost the desire for power and
pleasure. You are young and happy, therefore your soul still yearns
for love--I know that--though not for mine. To me, on the contrary, one
suitor only is welcome, he with the lowered torch, whom you keep aloof
from me. With him alone is to be found the boon for which this soul has
longed from childhood--painless peace! You smile. My past gives you the
right to do so. I will not lessen it. Each individual lives his or her
own life. Few understand the changes of their own existence, far less
those of a stranger’s. The world has witnessed how Peace fled from my
path, or I from hers, and yet I see the possibility of finding the
way. I am safe from the only things which would debar me from those
joys--humiliation and disgrace.” Here she hesitated; then, as if in
explanation, continued in the sweetest tones at her command: “Your
generosity, I think, will guard from these two foes the woman whom just
now--I did not fail to see it--you considered worthy of a more than
gracious glance. I shall treasure it among memories which will never
fade. But now, illustrious Imperator! tell me, what is your decision
concerning me and the children? What may we hope from your favour?”

“That Octavianus will be more and more warmly animated by the desire to
accord you and yours a worthy destiny, the more firmly you expect that
he will attest his generosity.”

“And if I fulfil this desire and expect from you everything that is
great and noble--the condition is not difficult--what proofs of your
graciousness will then await us?”

“Paint them with all the fervour of that vivid power of imagination
which interpreted even my glance in your favour, and devised the marvels
by which you rendered the greatest and most brilliant man in Rome
the happiest of mortals. But--by Zeus!--it is the fourth hour after
noonday!”

A glance from the window had caused the exclamation. Then, pressing his
hand upon his heart, he continued in a tone of the most sincere regret
“How gladly I would prolong this fascinating conversation, but important
matters which, unfortunately, cannot be deferred, summon me--”

“And your answer?” cried Cleopatra, panting for breath and gazing at him
with eyes full of expectation.

“Must I repeat it?” he asked with impatient haste. “Very well, then.
In return for implicit confidence on your part, favour, forgiveness,
cordiality, every consideration which you can justly desire. Your heart
is so rich in warmth of feeling, grant me but a small share of it and
ask tangible gifts in return. They are already bestowed.” Then greeting
her like a friend who is reluctant to say farewell, he hastily left the
apartment.

“Gone--gone!” cried Iras as the door closed behind him. “An eel that
slips from the hand which strives to hold him.”

“Northern ice,” added Cleopatra gloomily as Charmian aided her to find
a more comfortable position. “As smooth as it is cold; there is nothing
more to hope.”

“Yes, my royal mistress, yes,” Iras eagerly protested. “Dolabella is
waiting for him in the Philadelphus court-yard. From him--you have his
promise--we shall learn what Octavianus has in store for you.”

In truth, the Caesar did find the youth at the first gate of the palace,
inspecting his superb Cyrenean horses.

“Magnificent animals!” cried Octavianus; “a gift from the city! Will you
drive with me?--A remarkable, a very remarkable woman!”

“Isn’t she?” asked Dolabella eagerly.

“Undoubtedly,” replied the Caesar. “But though she might almost be
your mother, an uncommonly dangerous one for youths of your age. What a
melting voice, what versatility, what fervour! And yet such regal grace
in every movement! But I wish to stifle, not to fan, the spark which
perhaps has already fallen into your heart. And the play, the farce
which she just enacted before me in the midst of most serious matters!”

He uttered a low, short laugh; but Dolabella exclaimed expectantly: “You
rarely laugh, but this conversation--apparently--excites your mirth. So
the result was satisfactory?”

“Let us hope so. I was as gracious to her as possible.”

“That is delightful. May I know in what manner your kindness and wisdom
have shaped her future? Or, rather, what did you promise the vanquished
Queen?”

“My favour, if she will trust me.”

“Proculejus and I will continue to strengthen her confidence. And if we
succeed--?”

“Then, as I have said, she will have my favour--a generous abundance of
favour.”

“But her future destiny? What fate will you bestow on her and her
children?”

“Whatever the degree of her confidence deserves.”

Here he hesitated, for he met Dolabella’s earnest, troubled gaze, which
was blended with a shade of reproach.

Octavianus desired to retain the enthusiastic admiration of the youth,
who perhaps was destined to lofty achievements, so he continued in a
confidential tone: “To you, my young friend, I can venture to speak
more frankly. I will gladly grant the most aspiring wishes of this
fascinating and, I repeat, very remarkable woman, but first I need her
for my triumph. The Romans would have cause to reproach me if I deprived
them of the sight of this Queen, this peerless woman, in many respects
the first of her time. We shall soon set out for Syria. The Queen and
her children I shall send in three days to Rome. If, in the triumphal
procession there, she creates the sensation I anticipate from a
spectacle so worthy of admiration, she shall learn how I reward those
who oblige me.”

Dolabella had listened in silence. When the Caesar entered the carriage,
he requested permission to remain behind.

Octavianus drove alone eastward to the camp where, in the vicinity of
the Hippodrome, men were surveying the ground on which the suburb of
Nikopolis--city of victory--was to be built to commemorate for future
generations the victory of the first Emperor over Antony and Cleopatra.
It grew, but never attained any great importance.

The noble Cornelius gazed indignantly after his sovereign’s fiery
steeds; then, drawing up his stately figure to its full height, he
entered the palace with a firm step. The act might cost him his life,
but he would do what he believed to be his duty to the noble woman who
had honoured him with her friendship. This rare sovereign was too good
to feast the eyes of the rabble.

A few minutes later Cleopatra knew her impending ignominy.



CHAPTER XXV.

The next morning the Queen had many whispered conversations with
Charmian, and the latter with Anukis. The day before, Archibius’s
gardener had brought to his master’s sister some unusually fine figs,
which grew in the old garden of Epicurus. This fruit was also mentioned,
and Anukis went to Kanopus, and thence, in the steward’s carriage, with
a basket of the very best ones to the fish-market. There she had a great
deal to say to Pyrrhus, and the freedman went to his boat with the figs.

Shortly after the Nubian’s return the Queen came back to the palace from
the mausoleum. Her features bore an impress of resolution usually alien
to them; nay, the firmly compressed lips gave them an expression
of actual sternness. She knew what duty required, and regarded her
approaching end as an inevitable necessity. Death seemed to her like
a journey which she must take in order to escape the most terrible
disgrace. Besides, life after the death of Antony was no longer the
same; it had been only a tiresome delay and waiting for the children’s
sake.

The visit to the tomb had been intended, as it were, to announce her
coming to her husband. She had remained a long time in the silent hall,
where she had garlanded the coffin with flowers, kissed it, talked to
the dead man as if he were still alive, and told him that the day had
come when what he had mentioned in his will as the warmest desire of his
heart--to rest beside her in the same tomb--would be fulfilled. Among
the thousand forms of suffering which had assailed her, nothing had
seemed so hard to bear as to be deprived of his society and love.

Then she had gone into the garden, embraced and kissed the children,
and entreated them to remember her tenderly. Her purpose had not been
concealed from Archibius, but Charmian had told him the menace of the
future, and he approved her decision. By the exertion of all his innate
strength of will, he succeeded in concealing the grief which rent
his faithful heart. She must die. The thought of seeing her adorn the
triumphal procession of Octavianus was unbearable to him also. Her
thanks and entreaties to be an affectionate guardian to the children
were received with an external calmness which afterwards seemed to him
utterly incomprehensible.

When she spoke of her approaching meeting with her lover, he asked
whether she had entirely abandoned the teachings of Epicurus, who
believed that death absolutely ended existence.

Cleopatra eagerly assented, saying: “Absence of pain has ceased to
appear to me the chief earthly blessing, since I have known that love
does not bring pleasure only, since I have learned that pain is the
inseparable companion of love. I will not give it up, nor will I part
from my lover. Whoever experiences what fate has allotted to me has
learned to know other gods than those whom the master described as
dwelling happily in undisturbed repose. Rather eternal torture in
another world, united to the man I love, than painless, joyless mere
existence in a desolate, incomprehensible, unknown region! You will be
the last to teach the children to yearn for freedom from pain--”

“Because, like you,” cried Archibius, “I have learned how great a
blessing is love, and that love is pain.”

As he spoke he bent over her hand to kiss it, but she took his temples
between her hands and, bending hastily, pressed her lips on his broad
brow.

Then his self-control vanished, and, sobbing aloud, he hurried back to
the children.

Cleopatra gazed after him with a sorrowful smile, and leaning on
Charmian’s arm, she entered the palace.

There she was bathed and, robed in costly mourning garments, reclined
among her cushions to take breakfast, which was usually served at this
hour. Iras and Charmian shared it.

When dessert was carried in, the Nubian brought a basket filled with
delicious figs. A peasant, she told Epaphroditus, who was watching the
meal, had given them to her because they were so remarkably fine. Some
had already been snatched by the guards.

The Queen and her companions ate a little of the fruit, and Proculejus,
who had come to greet Cleopatra, was also persuaded to taste one of the
finest figs.

At the end of the meal Cleopatra wished to rest. The Roman gentlemen
and the guards retired. At last the women were alone, and gazed at each
other silently.

Charmian timidly lifted the upper layer of the fruit, but the Queen said
mournfully:

“The wife of Antony dragged through the streets of Rome behind the
victor’s chariot, a spectacle for the populace and envious matrons!”
 Then, starting up, she exclaimed: “What a thought! Was it too great
for Octavianus, or too petty? He who so loudly boasts his knowledge
of mankind expects this impossibility from the woman who revealed her
inmost soul to him as fully as he concealed his from her. We will
show him how small is his comprehension of human nature, and teach him
modesty.”

A contemptuous smile flitted over her beautiful lips as, with rapid
movements, she flung handful after handful of figs on the table, till
she saw some thing stirring under the fruit, and with a sigh of relief
exclaimed under her breath:

“There it is!” as with hasty resolution she held out her arm towards the
asp, which hissed at her.

While gazing intently at the movements of the viper, which seemed afraid
to fulfil the dread office, she said to her attendants:

“I thank you-thank you for everything. Be calm. You know, Iras, it will
cause no pain. They say it is like falling asleep.” Then she shuddered
slightly, adding: “Death is a solemn thing; yet it must be. Why does the
serpent delay? There, there; I will keep firm. Ambition and love were
the moving forces of my life. Men shall praise my memory.--I follow you,
Mark Antony!” Charmian bent over the left arm of her royal mistress,
which hung loosely at her side, and, weeping aloud, covered it with
kisses, while Cleopatra, watching the motions of the asp still more
closely, added:

“The peace of our garden of Epicurus will begin to-day. Whether it will
be painless, who can tell? Yet--there I agree with Archibius--life’s
greatest joy--love--is blended with pain, as yonder branch of exquisite
roses from Dolabella, the last gift of friendship, has its sharp
thorns. I think you have both experienced this. The twins and my little
darling--When they think of their mother and her end, will not the
children--”

Here she uttered a low cry. The asp had struck its fangs into the upper
part of her arm like an icy flash of lightning, and a few instants later
Cleopatra sank back upon her pillows lifeless.

Iras, pale but calm, pointed to her, saying “Like a sleeping child.
Bewitching even in death. Fate itself was constrained to do her will and
fulfil the last desire of the great Queen, the victorious woman, whom no
heart resisted. Its decree shatters the presumptuous plan of Octavianus.
The victor will show himself to the Romans without thee, thou dear one.”

Sobbing violently, she bent over the inanimate form, closed the eyes,
and kissed the lips and brow. The weeping Charmian did the same.

Then the footsteps of men were heard in the anteroom, and Iras, who was
the first to notice them, cried eagerly:

“The moment is approaching! I am glad it is close at hand. Does it
not seem to you also as if the very sun in the heavens was darkened?”
 Charmian nodded assent, and whispered, “The poison?”

“Here!” replied Iras calmly, holding out a plain pin. “One little prick,
and the deed will be done. Look! But no. You once inflicted the deepest
suffering upon me. You know--Dion, the playmate of my childhood--It is
forgiven. But now--you will do me a kindness. You will spare my using
the pin myself. Will you not? I will repay you. If you wish, my hand
shall render you the same service.”

Charmian clasped her niece to her heart, kissed her, pricked her arm
lightly, and gave her the other pin, saying:

“Now it is your turn. Our hearts were filled with love for one who
understood how to bestow it as none other ever did, and our love was
returned. What matters all else that we sacrificed? Those on whom the
sun shines need no other light. Love is pain,” she said in dying, “but
this pain--especially that of renunciation for love’s sake--bears with
it a joy, an exquisite joy, which renders death easy. To me it seems as
if it were merely following the Queen to--Oh, that hurt!” Iras’s pin had
pricked her.

The poison did its work quickly. Iras was seized with giddiness, and
could scarcely stand. Charmian had just sunk on her knees, when some one
knocked loudly at the closed door, and the voices of Epaphroditus and
Proculejus imperiously demanded admittance.

When no answer followed, the lock was hastily burst open.

Charmian was found lying pale and distorted at the feet of her royal
mistress; but Iras, tottering and half stupefied by the poison, was
adjusting the diadem, which had slipped from its place. To keep from her
beloved Queen everything that could detract from her beauty had been her
last care.

Enraged, fairly frantic with wrath, the Romans rushed towards the women.
Epaphroditus had seen Iras still occupied in arranging Cleopatra’s
ornaments. Now he endeavoured to raise her companion, saying
reproachfully, “Charmian, was this well done?” Summoning her last
strength, she answered in a faltering voice, “Perfectly well, and worthy
a descendant of Egyptian kings.” Her eyes closed, but Proculejus, the
author, who had gazed long with deep emotion into the beautiful proud
face of the Queen whom he had so greatly wronged, said: “No other woman
on earth was ever so admired by the greatest, so loved by the loftiest.
Her fame echoed from nation to nation throughout the world. It will
continue to resound from generation to generation; but however loudly
men may extol the bewitching charm, the fervour of the love which
survived death, her intellect, her knowledge, the heroic courage with
which she preferred the tomb to ignominy--the praise of these two must
not be forgotten. Their fidelity deserves it. By their marvellous
end they unconsciously erected the most beautiful monument to their
mistress; for what genuine goodness and lovableness must have been
possessed by the woman who, after the greatest reverses, made it seem
more desirable to those nearest to her person to die than to live
without her!”

   [The Roman’s exclamation and the answer of the loyal dying Charmian
   are taken literally from Plutarch’s narrative.]

The news of the death of their beloved, admired sovereign transformed
Alexandria into a house of mourning. Obsequies of unprecedented
magnificence and solemnity, at which many tears of sincere grief flowed,
honoured her memory. One of Octavianus’s most brilliant plans was
frustrated by her death, and he had raved furiously when he read the
letter in which Cleopatra, with her own hand, informed him of her
intention to die. But he owed it to his reputation for generosity to
grant her a funeral worthy of her rank. To the dead, who had ceased to
be dangerous, he was ready to show an excess of magnanimity.

The treatment which he accorded to Cleopatra’s children also won the
world’s admiration. His sister Octavia received them into her own house
and intrusted their education to Archibius.

When the order to destroy the statues of Antony and Cleopatra was
issued, Octavianus gave his contemporaries another proof of his
disposition to be lenient, for he ordered that the numerous statues of
the Queen in Alexandria and Egypt should be preserved. True, he had
been influenced by the large sum of two thousand talents paid by an
Alexandrian to secure this act of generosity. Archibius was the name of
the rare friend who had impoverished himself to render this service to
the memory of the beloved dead.

In later times the statues of the unfortunate Queen adorned the places
where they had been erected.

The sarcophagi of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, by whose side rested Iras
and Charmian, were constantly heaped with flowers and offerings to the
dead. The women of Alexandria, especially, went to the tomb of their
beloved Queen as if it were a pilgrimage; but in after-days faithful
mourners also came from a distance to visit it, among them the children
of the famous lovers whom death here united--Cleopatra Selene, now the
wife of the learned Numidian Prince Juba, Helios Antony, and Alexander,
who had reached manhood. Their friend and teacher, Archibius,
accompanied them. He taught them to hold their mother’s memory dear, and
had so reared them that, in their maturity, he could lead them with
head erect to the sarcophagus of the friend who had confided them to his
charge.


     ETEXT EDITOR’S BOOKMARKS:

     Aspect obnoxious to the gaze will pour water on the fire
     Contempt had become too deep for hate
     Epicurus, who believed that with death all things ended
     Everything that exists moves onward to destruction and decay
     Fairest dreams of childhood were surpassed
     From Epicurus to Aristippus, is but a short step
     Golden chariot drawn by tamed lions
     Jealousy has a thousand eyes
     Life had fulfilled its pledges
     No, she was not created to grow old
     Nothing in life is either great or small
     Pain is the inseparable companion of love
     Preferred a winding path to a straight one
     Priests: in order to curb the unruly conduct of the populace
     See facts as they are and treat them like figures in a sum
     Shadow of the candlestick caught her eye before the light
     She would not purchase a few more years of valueless life
     Soul which ceases to regard death as a misfortune finds peace
     To govern the world one must have less need of sleep
     Trouble does not enhance beauty
     Until neither knew which was the giver and which the receiver
     What changes so quickly as joy and sorrow
     Without heeding the opinion of mortals
     Zeus does not hear the vows of lovers





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cleopatra — Complete" ***

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

We also ask that you:

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

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

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

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



Home