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Title: Pictures of Hellas - Five Tales Of Ancient Greece
Author: Mariager, Peder
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  PICTURES OF HELLAS

  FIVE TALES OF ANCIENT GREECE

  BY
  PEDER MARIAGER

  _TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH_

  BY
  MARY J. SAFFORD

  NEW YORK
  WILLIAM S. GOTTSBERGER, PUBLISHER
  11 MURRAY STREET
  1888



  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1888
  BY WILLIAM S. GOTTSBERGER
  in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington



TRANSLATOR’S PREFACE.


The author’s preface to “Pictures of Hellas” is so full, that the
translator has nothing to add to the English version except the
acknowledgment of valuable assistance rendered in “the obscure recesses
of Greek literature” by Professor Andrews, Ph.D., of Madison University.

            MARY J. SAFFORD.



PREFACE.


Nearly all the more recent romances and dramas, whose scene is laid in
classic times, depict the period of the great rupture between Paganism
and Christianity. This is true of “Hypatia,” “Fabiola,” “The Last Days
of Pompeii,” “The Epicureans,” “The Emperor and The Galilean,” “The
Last Athenian,” and many other works. The cause of this coincidence
is not difficult to understand; for a period containing such strong
contrasts invites æsthetic treatment.

The present tales derive their material from a different, but no less
interesting epoch. They give pictures of the flowering of Hellas, the
distant centuries whose marvellous culture rested solely on the purely
human elements of character as developed beneath a mild and radiant sky.

Yet it required a certain degree of persistence to procure this
material. When we examine the Greek writers to find descriptions of
the _men_ of those times or the special characteristics of the social
life of the period, Greek literature, so rich in accounts of historical
events, becomes strangely laconic, nay almost silent.

How entirely different is the situation of a person who desires to
sketch a picture of the Frenchmen of the sixteenth or seventeenth
centuries. The whole collection of memoirs is at his disposal. In these
writings the author discourses familiarly with the reader, gives him
lifelike portraits of the ladies and gentlemen of the court, and tells
him the most minute anecdotes of the society of that day.

Greek literature has nothing of this kind. The description of common
events and the history of daily existence are forms of writing of later
origin, nothing was farther from the minds of ancient authors than the
idea that _private life_ could contain anything worth noting. Herodotus
and Thucydides narrated little or nothing of what the novelists of the
present day seek, nay, even among the orators only scattered details
are found, and strangely enough there are more in the speeches of
Lysias than of Demosthenes.

Among the poets Aristophanes produces a whole gallery of contemporary
characters, but indistinctly and in vague outlines; they were what
would now be called “originals from the street” who, during the
performance of his comedies, sat among the spectators, and whom he only
needed to mention to evoke the laughter of the crowd. Something more
may be gathered from Lucian and Apuleius, together with the better
“Milesian” tales, especially from Heliodorus and Achilles Tatius while,
on the contrary, the great Alexandrian lumber-room, owed to Athenaeus,
contains more gewgaws of learning and curiosa than really marked
characteristics.

In the obscure recesses of Greek literature, where we are abandoned
by all translators, and where--as everybody knows who has devoted
himself to the interpretation of the classics--only short excursions
can be made, we are sometimes surprised at finding, by pure accident,
useful matter. Dion Chrysostomus (VII) gives extremely interesting
descriptions of life in the Greek villages and commercial towns. But
what is discovered is always so scattered that only a few notes can be
obtained from numerous volumes.

When I decided to turn what I had read to account, I was fully aware
that a presentation of ancient life in the form of a romance or novel
was one of the most difficult æsthetic tasks which could be undertaken.
If, nevertheless, I devoted myself to it, I naturally regarded the work
only as an experiment.

In choosing the narrow frame-work of short stories I set before myself
this purpose--to sketch the ordinary figures of ancient life on a
historical background. I have--resting step by step on the classic
writers--endeavored to present some pictures of ancient times; but
I have no more desired to exalt former ages at the expense of our
own than the contrary. As to the mode of treatment--I have steadily
intended to keep the representations objective, and to avoid using
foreign words or giving the dialogues a form so ancient that they would
not be easy to read.[A] The stiff classic ceremonies, foot-washings,
etc., I have almost entirely omitted, and the archaeological and
historical details have everywhere been subordinated to the contents of
the story, so that they merely serve to give an antique coloring to the
descriptions. Lastly, I have believed that the Greek characters ought
to be completely banished from the book, and even from the notes and
preface.

                                  [A] So far as the idiomatic
                                      differences of the two languages
                                      would permit, the translator
                                      has endeavored to retain the
                                      simplicity of style deemed by the
                                      author best suited to his purpose.

After these general remarks I must be permitted to dwell briefly upon
the different tales, partly to point out the authority for such or such
a stroke and partly to give some few more detailed explanations.

Little is known of the Pelasgian epoch; but it is a historical fact
that a woman was abducted at the fountain of Callirrhoë. On this
incident the first story “Zeus Hypsistos” is founded, and the climax
of Periphas’ death is based upon an ancient idea: a voice of fate. The
belief in Phēmai or Cledones is older than in that of most oracles,
and dates back to the days of Homer. When Ulysses is wandering about,
pondering over the thought of killing the suitors, he prays to Zeus for
a sign and omen, a voice of fate, which then sounds in a thunder-clap
and, inside of the house, he hears a slave-girl wishing evil to the
suitors. The old demi-god Cychreus of Salamis is mentioned by Pausanias
(I. 36). It was a universal idea in ancient times that demi-gods liked
to transform themselves into serpents. In the battle of Salamis a
serpent appeared in the Athenian fleet; the oracle declared that it was
the ancient demi-god Cychreus. In Eleusis Demeter had a serpent called
the Cychrean, for Cychreus, who had either slain it or himself assumed
its form. For the remarkable ceremonial of purification after a murder
(page 58), see Apollonius’ Argonautica (IV. 702). The words: “Zeus was,
Zeus is, and Zeus will be” are borrowed from the ancient hymn sung by
the Dodonian priestesses, called Peleiades (doves.)

In “The Sycophant” the notes cited on pages 72-73 would be valueless,
if they did not contain the punishments which, according to Attic law,
were appointed for the transgressions named.

_Hetaeriae_ was the name given to secret societies or fraternities,
where six, seven, or more members united to work against or break
down the increasing power of the popular government, which was
exerting a more and more unendurable pressure. There were many kinds
of “_hetaeriae_,” but the most absolute secrecy was common to all.
The members were conspirators, pledged to assist one another by a
solemn oath, sworn by what was dearest to them in life. The harmless
_hetaeriae_ comprised those who were pursuing no political object,
but merely consisted of office-seekers whose purpose was to aid one
another in the election to office or before the courts of justice. The
_hetaeria_ here described is of the latter sort; for the delineation
of a political society of this kind would require a far more extensive
apparatus than could be contained within the brief limits of a tale.
Several of the characters in “The Hetaeria” have actually existed. The
comedian Sthenelus is mentioned by Aristophanes (_vesp._ 1313) as well
as the orator and tragedian Acestor (_vesp._ 1220; _aves_ 31) both are
sketched from the more minute details of the Scoliastae. Phanus is also
mentioned by Aristophanes (_equit._ 1233) as Cleon’s clerk. Among the
women of the tale there is also an historical personage, the foreign
witch Ninus, who professed to be a priestess of the Phrygian god
Sabazius. She travelled through Hellas at the time of the Peloponnesian
War and reaped a rich harvest by her divination and manufacture of love
potions; but her end was tragical--she was summoned before the courts
as a poisoner and condemned to death (A. Schaefer, Demosth. I. 199).
The main outlines of the relations between Hipyllos and Cleobule are
taken from the commencement of Cnemon’s story in Heliodorus (I. 2) and
the description of Sthenelus’ fall from the boards is almost literally
repeated from Lucian (The Dream, 26). The account of the naval battle
at Rhion is an extract from Thucydides (II. 86-92).

“Too Happy” is founded upon an ancient idea: the prayer for a sign
and the acceptance of an omen. Piracy, which plays a prominent part
in the narrative, was practised at an early period in the Ægean
Sea and afterwards attained such dangerous extent that large and
magnificent fleets of pirate cruisers finally threatened Rome herself
with intercepting the importations of grain from Pontus. It might
perhaps be considered too romantic for a disguised corsair to examine
the ship lying in port before plundering her in the open sea. Quite
different things, however, are reported. The Phoenician pirates had
secret agents who discovered where a ship with a rich cargo lay and
promised the helmsman “ten-fold freight money,” if he would anchor
in some secluded place, behind a promontory, etc., where the vessel
could be overpowered. (Philostratus, _vita Apoll. Tyan._ III. 24). The
conclusion of the story (the ladder hung outside of the ship so that it
touches the water) is taken from Plutarch (Pompeius, 24).

In “Lycon with the Big Hand” the artist Aristeides and what is said
of his paintings are historical. The same is true of the traits of
character cited about the tyrant Alexander of Pherae. Under the
description of the earthquake is given an account of what is called
in seismology a _tidal wave_. A side-piece to this may be found in
Thucydides (III. 89) where--after a remark about the frequency of
earthquakes during the sixth year of the Peloponnesian War--it is
stated: “Among these earthquakes the one at Orobiæ in Eubœa displayed a
remarkable phenomenon. _The sea receded from the shore; then suddenly
returned with a tremendous wave and flooded part of the coast_, so
that what was formerly land became a portion of the sea. Many people
perished.”

In these five stories the scene is laid in Athens, on the Ægean Sea,
and in Thessaly--but, wherever it is, I have always endeavored to
give the characters life and movement, and make them children of the
times and of the Hellenic soil. I have also sought to delve deeper
into the life of ancient times than usually happens in novels. Many
peculiarities, like the purification after a murder in the first tale,
the Baetylus oracle in “The Hetaeria,” and the use of the great weapon
of naval warfare, _the dolphin_, in “Too Happy” have scarcely been
previously described in any form in our literature. The belief in
marvellous stones animated by spirits was widely diffused in ancient
times, as such stones, under the name of _abadir_, were known in
Phoenicia. The description of the Baetylus oracle is founded upon Pliny
(17, 9, 51), Photius (p. 1047) and Pausanias (X. 24). It is evident
enough that the stone-spirit’s answer was given by the ventriloquist’s
art. Though the ancients had several names for ventriloquists, such as
_engastrimythae_, _sternomanteis_, etc., the art was certainly little
known in daily life, it seems to have been kept secret and used for the
answers of oracles, etc. The soothsayer and ventriloquist Eurycles,
mentioned by Aristophanes, endeavored to make the people believe that a
spirit spoke from his mouth because he uttered words without moving his
lips. For the _dolphin_, the weapon used in naval warfare, see _Scholia
graeca in Aristoph._ (_equit_ 762) and Thucydides (VII. 41).

In the ancient dialogue I have always endeavored to give the replies
an individual coloring, and it will be found that Acestor speaks a
different language from Sthenelus, Philopator from Polycles, etc.
Phrases like: “Begone to the vultures,” “show the hollows under the
soles of the feet,” “casting fire into the bosom,” etc., may easily be
recognized as borrowed from the classic writers. To enter into the
subject more minutely would be carrying the matter too far. Single
characteristic expressions, such as _palpale legein_, etc. cannot be
reproduced.

In introducing the reader to so distant and alien a world, it has been
a matter of great importance to me to win his confidence; with this
purpose I have sought by quotations to show the authority for what I
have written. Here and there, to remove any doubt of the existence of
an object in ancient times, I have added the Greek names. For the rest
I have everywhere striven to follow the old maxim _artis est celare
artem_.

  COPENHAGEN, November 1, 1881.

            P. MARIAGER.



CONTENTS.


                                                                    PAGE
  ZEUS HYPSISTOS,                                                      1

  THE SYCOPHANT,                                                      69

  THE HETAERIA,                                                       95

  TOO HAPPY,                                                         203

  LYCON WITH THE BIG HAND,                                           225



ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                                    PAGE
  _Gold-fillet_ (Dr. Schliemann. Hissarlik, Troy.)                     1

  _Dragon figure on a gold plate_ (Dr. Schliemann, Mycenæ.)           65

  _The market of Athens_ at a later period, about 200 B. C.
      (In the upper part, in the background, is the Acropolis
      with the Parthenon, the colossal statue of Athene, and
      the Propylæa. To the left of the centre is a part of King
      Attalus’ hall, afterwards the Stoa Poecile, the circular
      Tholus, and behind, the Bouleuterium. In the foreground is
      a statue of Eirene, Peace, with the child Plutus in her
      arms; in the centre of the steps the square orator’s stage
      with hermae at the corners.)                                    69

  _Antique vase design_,                                              92

  _Athens seen from the road to Eleusis._ (In the centre of the
      picture the Acropolis, with the lower town in front, in the
      background Mt. Hymettus.)                                       95

  _Antique vase design_,                                             199

  _The Ægean Sea._ (A large ploion, merchant ship, followed by a
      pirate craft. Two of the Cyclades in the background.)          203

  _Renaissance design_,                                              222

  _Coast scene in Thessaly_, (near Pass of Thermopylæ,)              225

  _Ancient jugglers._ (The figure at the right is performing a
      “sword dance.”)                                                318



ZEUS HYPSISTOS.

A TALE OF THE PELASGIAN PERIOD.



[Illustration]



ZEUS HYPSISTOS.


I.

The region was one of the most noteworthy in Attica. Manifold in
variety were the objects crowded together within a narrow space. By the
side of riven masses of rock appeared the smooth slopes of a mountain
plateau, and--the centre of the landscape--a huge crag with a flat top
and steep sides towered aloft like a gigantic stone altar, reared by
the earth itself to receive the homage and reverence of mankind. Two
rivers, a wide and a narrow stream, flowed down its sides. Height and
valley, ravine and mountain peak, closely adjoined each other, all easy
of access and affording a surprising wealth of beautiful views.

The spot had a lofty destination. Here temples and pillared halls,
hermae and statues were to appear like the marble embodiment of a
dream of beauty in the youth of the human race; from hence the light of
intellect was to diffuse its rays over the whole inhabited world.

But in the distant ages of which we are now speaking Athens had no
existence even in name. Yet a suburb of the city afterwards so renowned
was already in course of construction. On the Pnyx, the Areopagus,
and part of the Museium stood a number of dwellings, and even at the
present day traces may be found on these heights of eight or nine
hundred houses, which must have lodged three or four thousand persons.

This city, founded by inhabitants of the island of Salamis, was called
Kranaai, and its residents were known by the name of Cranai, dwellers
on the heights.

Nothing could be more simple than these houses. As may still be
seen, they consisted merely of a room hollowed in the cliff, closed
in front and above with clay and stones,--the latter seem to have
rested upon logs to prevent a sudden fall during the earthquakes so
frequent in this region. Here and there small holes, into which the
ends of the pieces of timber were thrust, may still be discerned in
the cliffs. Many of the dwellings were arranged in rows, rising like
stairs one above another, all with an open space in front to serve as
a place of meeting for the inhabitants. These terraces were connected
by small steps hewn in the rock; here and there appeared altars,
large storehouses, and tombs, the latter consisting of one or more
subterranean rock chambers. Great numbers of such sepulchres are still
found scattered over large tracts of the ancient cliff-city.

Other remains of masonry may be seen in the holes in the earth made
to collect rain-water. More than twenty of these ancient wells can be
counted in this region, for though the Attic country was richly dowered
in many respects, it lacked water, and it was not without cause that
Solon’s law afterwards prohibited any one from borrowing of a neighbor
more than a certain quantity. The inhabitants of Kranaai had located
their wells so skilfully that even now--after the lapse of more than
thirty centuries--many of them collect and keep the rain.

Below the cliff-city itself the direction of the streets may still be
discerned, especially in the deep gully leading down to the Ilissus.
Here there are distinct traces of wheels, between which the stone was
roughened to give the draught-animals a better foothold, and along the
sides of the road ran smooth-hewn gutters to carry off the rain-water
pouring down from both bluffs.


II.

Many generations had already succeeded each other in the cliff-city,
when a new race settled on the little plateau between the Hill of
the Nymphs and the Gulf of Barathron. Like their predecessors,
the new-comers originated in Salamis, but they called themselves
Cychreans, from a family descended from Cychreus, one of the demi-gods
of the island.

While on the Pnyx alone was found the altar of Zeus Hypsistos, the
supreme Zeus, around which gathered the native inhabitants and the
Cranai to worship a common god, the new-comers erected a sanctuary to
the sea-nymph Melite, Hercules’ love, who was related to the Æacidae,
natives of Salamis.

The two neighboring colonies thus each worshipped its own divinity and
lived in peace and friendship, nay at last some of the Cychreans took
wives among the daughters of the Cranai.

On the other hand the new-comers were by no means on good terms with
the natives; for, as the latter lived scattered over the country and
did not seem to be very numerous, the Cychreans had forced those they
met to work for them. They had already employed them to smooth the
cliff, to enable them to build there, and many of the Pelasgians had
been seriously injured by the toilsome labor. Nay, Tydeus, a tall,
handsome youth, brother of one of their chiefs, had suffered a terrible
death, having been stoned because he had defended himself and refused
to work for the foreigners.

The Cychreans endeavored to conceal their crime, fearing that when the
matter reached the Pelasgians’ ears they would make war upon them.
There was very grave cause for alarm; for the Cychreans had often seen
from their cliff Pelasgian scouts hiding behind the clumps of broom on
the plains, evidently watching for an opportunity to approach their
enslaved countrymen. Young, swift-footed youths, whom it was lost
time to pursue, had invariably been chosen for this service, so the
Cychreans lay in ambush, captured some of the lads and questioned them
narrowly then, as they pretended to know nothing, forced them to work
like the others.

The morning after the capture of these spies the Cychreans noticed
that, far out on the plain, a pile of wood had been lighted, on which
ferns and green plants were undoubtedly thrown; for it sent forth a
dense, blackish-brown smoke, which rose to a considerable height and
could be seen far and near. Later in the day another bale-fire was
discovered farther off, and before noon ten columns of smoke were
counted from the cliff, five on each side, the last of which were
almost lost to sight in the distance. There was something strangely
menacing in these murky clouds which, calling to and answering each
other, rose like a mute accusation towards the sky.

The whole Cychrean nation, young and old, bond and free, gathered
outside of their houses and stared at the unknown sign. They suspected
that it was a signal for the Pelasgians to assemble, but when they
spoke of it to the new bondmen the latter said they had never seen such
a smoke, but that the Cychreans might rely upon it that the Pelasgians
would not march against them until the arrival of a more propitious
day. When the new settlers asked when that would be, they answered:

“When the moon is large in the sky.”

The Cychreans were obliged to be content with this, but each man in
secret carefully examined his weapons; no one believed himself safe.


III.

Lyrcus, son of Xanthios, was one of the principal Cychrean chiefs. He
was feared for his strength and, in those days, fear was synonymous
with respect. Lyrcus had devoted himself to the trade of war; he
understood how to forge and handle weapons and taught the youths their
use. In personal appearance he was a tall man with curling black
locks, a reddish-brown beard, and a keen, but by no means ugly face.
He usually went clad in a tight-fitting garment made of wolf-skins,
that left his muscular legs and arms bare, and wore around his waist
a leather girdle in which was thrust a bronze knife a finger long.
Many tales about him were in circulation among the Pelasgians; for
being a warlike man he had often quarrelled with them and on predatory
excursions with some of his comrades had plundered their lands,
carrying off goats, barley, figs, honey, and whatever else pleased him.

Lyrcus was no longer very young. He had seen the green leaves unfold
and the swallows return some forty times. Nevertheless, he had always
scoffed at love and considered it foolish trifling. When he was not
forging, his mind was absorbed in the chase and in practising the use
of arms.

Yet, though Lyrcus was so fierce a warrior, Aphrodite had touched
his heart and shown that she, as well as Artemis, deserved the name
of Hekaërge, the far-shooting. Once, during a short visit to the
neighboring settlement, Lyrcus had seen Byssa, the fairest maiden in
the cliff-city, drawing water from the well in front of her house, and
had instantly been seized with an ardent passion for her. Grasping her
firmly by the arm, he gazed intently at her and, when the blushing
maiden asked why he held her so roughly, he replied: “Never to let you
go!” Such was the fierce Lyrcus’ wooing.

Byssa’s father, Ariston, the priest of Zeus Hypsistos, was an aged,
gentle-natured man who dared not refuse the turbulent warrior; yet he
only gave his consent on condition that Byssa should keep the faith
of her ancestors and not offer sacrifices to Melite in the Cychreans’
sanctuary. Nevertheless, both he and his wife had tears in their eyes
when Lyrcus bore their only child away and, in taking leave of Byssa,
Ariston laid his hands upon her head, saying:

“Be a good wife to this stranger. But do not abandon Zeus Hypsistos,
that Zeus Hypsistos may not abandon you.”

Since that day a whole winter had passed, and Lyrcus seemed to love
Byssa more and more tenderly. There was only one subject on which the
husband and wife held different opinions. When Lyrcus saw the other
women flocking to Melite’s sanctuary he often wished that Byssa should
accompany them. But Byssa was inflexible. “Remember your promise to
my father,” she said. “Whatever may befall me, I shall never forget
his counsel: ‘Do not abandon Zeus Hypsistos, that Zeus Hypsistos may
not abandon you.’” And so the matter rested. But when a Phoenician
ship came to the coast--for in those days the Phoenicians were the
only people who dared to sail across the sea--Lyrcus bought the
finest stuffs, ornaments, and veils. It seemed as though he could not
adorn Byssa enough, she was to be more richly attired than any of the
Cychrean women.

Byssa had already had one suitor before her marriage, one of the
Pelasgian chiefs, a man thirty-eight years old, named Periphas. He was
the owner of a large herd of goats, often offered sacrifices to Zeus,
smoothed many a quarrel, and had the reputation of being a good and
upright man. Yet there was little reason that he should be renowned for
piety and sanctity, for he could scarcely control his passions and had
so violent a temper that he had once killed a soothsayer because the
latter, in the presence of the people, had predicted that he would die
a shameful death.

While offering a sacrifice in the cliff-city Periphas had seen pretty
Byssa and instantly asked her of her father, promising rich bridal
gifts. But the priest Ariston had answered that the maiden was still
too young.

After that time Periphas was often met in the vicinity of the Cranai’s
cliff and, when sacrifices were offered on the ancient altar, always
appeared at the head of the Pelasgians. But from the hour Lyrcus had
carried Byssa home none of the Cranai had seen him, though it was said
that on one of Lyrcus’ pillaging excursions he had shouted:

“Beware, when the day of retribution comes, I shall not content myself
with carrying off goats.”

Such was the state of affairs at the beginning of our tale. It almost
seemed as if the capture of the spies was to give occasion for war;
one of the youths had succeeded in escaping and the Cychreans feared
that during his stay among them he might have obtained news of Tydeus’
death. This Tydeus, who had been so shamefully stoned, was Periphas’
brother, and the chief thus had double cause for vengeance--his
brother’s murder and his slighted love.

But spite of the danger, under these circumstances, of leaving the
Cychreans’ cliff Lyrcus had too restless a nature to remain quietly at
home. The very day that the columns of smoke had struck such terror
into the people he had set out early in the morning, accompanied by six
or eight men, to hunt on the plains or among the woods that clothed Mt.
Parnes.


IV.

The day had been one of scorching heat. The sun had still one-sixth of
its course to run, and the air quivered over the heated cliffs.

The Cychreans had sought refuge outside of their small, close dwellings
to get a breath of the north wind. On each terrace, men, women,
and children were moving about, the former often clad merely with
the skin of some animal thrown around the hips, the boys perfectly
nude, and the women in looped, sleeveless garments or sometimes with
only a short petticoat over the loins. Most of these robes were
white, and the others were made of red, yellow, or blue stuffs; at
that time people valued only bright pure colors. Everywhere merry
conversation was heard, and these hundreds of half-nude figures formed
an indescribably animated picture against the dark background of rock.
Fear of the Pelasgians seemed to have vanished even before the fires
were extinguished, at any rate it did not prevent the Cychreans from
enjoying the present moment.

On one of the lowest terraces, directly opposite to the Areopagus,
stood Lyrcus’ house and beside it the shed where he forged his weapons.
At the door he had chained a large yellow dog of the Molossian breed,
a sort of bull-dog, and in the shelter of the dwelling an old female
slave was busy at a fire, over which she had hung a soot-encrusted clay
vessel.

A few paces off, towards the edge of the cliff, a canopy of rushes was
stretched between long poles. Beneath its shadow stood Byssa busied in
weaving loose bits of woollen stuff into a single piece. The “chain”
was placed perpendicularly, so that the weaving was done standing;--the
horizontal loom, which had been used in Egypt for centuries, was not
yet known in Hellas.

As Byssa stood near the verge of the cliff, with the blue sky behind
her, there was an excellent opportunity to observe her. She had
fastened her dark hair in a knot through which a bronze pin was thrust,
and wore around her neck a row of blue glass beads. The rest of her
dress consisted merely of a red petticoat, reaching from her hips to
her knees. But her low brow, her calm black eyes, brilliant complexion,
and full bust displayed the voluptuous beauty peculiar to the South,
and which, even in early youth, suggests the future mother. In short,
she was a true descendant of the grand Hellenic women, who from the
dim mists of distant ages appear in the bewitching lore of tradition,
fair enough to lure the gods themselves and strong enough to bear their
ardent embrace and become the mothers of demi-gods and heroes.

It was a pleasure to see how nimbly she used her hands, and how swiftly
the weaving progressed. Each movement of the young wife’s vigorous,
rounded, slightly-sun-burned body, though lacking in grace, possessed a
peculiar witchery on which no man’s eye would have rested with impunity.

But all men seemed banished from her presence. Every one knew that
Lyrcus’ jealousy was easily inflamed, and however great the charm Byssa
exercised, fear of the fierce warrior was more potent still.

Byssa’s thoughts did not seem to be absorbed in her work. Each moment
she glanced up from her weaving.

The Attic plain lay outspread before her in the sunlight. Here were no
waving grain-fields, no luxuriant vineyards; the layer of soil that
covered the rocks was so thin that the scanty crop of grass could only
feed a few goats. Here and there appeared a few gnarled olive-trees,
whose green-grey foliage glistened with a silvery lustre, and wherever
there was a patch of moisture the earth was covered with a speckled
carpet of crocus, hyacinth, and narcissus blossoms.

Finding the plain always empty and desolate, the young wife at last let
her hands fall and, sighing deeply, turned towards the slave.

“How long he stays!” she exclaimed, breaking the silence.

“Lyrcus is strong and well armed,” replied the slave as she heaped more
wood on the fire. “The Pelasgians fear him worse than death. He will
return unhurt.”

Byssa worked on silently; but she was not at ease and looked up from
her weaving still more frequently than before.

“Why,” cried the slave suddenly, “there they are. Look at Bremon.”[B]
The bull-dog had risen on its hind legs and was leaning forward so
that the chain was stretched tight; snuffing the wind and growling
impatiently it wagged its tail with all its might.

                                  [B] Growler.


V.

Byssa stepped farther from under the rush canopy and shaded her eyes
with her hands. On the right the view was closed by Mt. Lycabettus,
whose twin peaks looked almost like one; on the left the gaze rested on
dark Parnes, whose strangely-formed side-spur, Harma, the chariot, was
distinctly visible from the Cychreans’ cliff.

For a long time Byssa saw nothing, then she accidentally noticed, much
nearer than she had expected, a white spot among some trees.

“There he is! There he is!” she cried joyously, clapping her hands.
“Tratta, rejoice! I see a light spot out there--his white horse.”

In a mountainous country like Attica even the plains are uneven, and a
rise of the ground concealed her view of the approaching steed.

At last the light spot appeared again--this time considerably nearer.
Then several moments passed, during which it seemed to grow larger.

Byssa strained her sight to the utmost, her bosom heaving with anxious
suspense. Suddenly she turned very pale and throwing herself upon
Tratta’s breast, faltered in a low voice:

“Something terrible has happened. The horse is alone--riderless.”

Almost at the same instant she released herself from the slave’s
embrace and went to the very verge of the cliff. From thence, at a
long distance behind the horse, she descried a group of people slowly
advancing. Several men who looked like black specks seemed to be
carrying another, and several more followed.

At this sight Byssa uttered a loud shriek and clenched both hands in
her hair. But Tratta held her back.

“Be calm, child,” she said with all the authority of age. “First learn
what has happened. You can find plenty of time to mourn.”

But Byssa did not heed her. The horse had come very near and was
galloping swiftly to its stable at the foot of the cliff.

Ere Tratta could prevent it, Byssa hurried to the nearest flight of
stairs and darted madly down the rough-hewn steps, where the slightest
stumble would cause mutilation or death. The slave, not without an
anxious shake of the head, slowly followed.

The horse had scarcely allowed itself to be caught when Byssa, with
tears in her eyes and a peculiar solemnity of manner, turned to the old
servant and pointed to the animal’s heaving flank.

There was not the slightest wound to be seen; but a streak of blood a
finger broad had flowed down the steed’s white side and matted its hair
together.

“I knew it, Tratta, I knew it!” cried Byssa despairingly.

Then, in a lower tone, she added: “It is _his_ blood.”

But Tratta answered almost angrily:

“His or some other person’s; what do you know about it? Help me to get
the horse into the shed.”

Byssa, without knowing what she was doing, obeyed and then looked out
over the plain, where she beheld a sight that made her tremble from
head to foot.

Lyrcus was approaching uninjured at the head of his men.

Byssa uttered a shriek of joy that echoed from cliff to cliff as, with
outstretched arms and fluttering hair, she flew to meet her husband.

Lyrcus knit his brows.

“What is it? What do you want here?” he asked, surprised to find her at
the base of the cliff.

But Byssa heeded neither words nor look. Throwing her arms around his
neck she clung to him and covered his wolf-skin robe with tears and
kisses.

“Lyrcus, you are alive,” she repeated frantically, while all the fear
and suspense she had endured found vent in soothing sobs.

“Byssa, speak! What is it?” asked Lyrcus, amazed at the excitement in
which he found his wife.

Byssa took him by the hand, led him to the stable, and put her finger
on the red streak upon the horse’s side.

“Simpleton!” said Lyrcus laughing. “That is no human blood.” And he
pointed to a huge dead wild-boar, which two men could scarcely carry
on a lance flung over their shoulders. “After the hunt,” he continued,
“we wanted to put the great heavy beast on the horse; but it was
frightened, bolted, and ran home.”

Meantime the men had come up. In spite of their fear of Lyrcus they
could not refrain from looking at pretty Byssa, who was now doubly
beautiful in her agitation and delight. Nay, some were not content
with gazing at her face, but cast side-glances at her bare feet and
ankles, which were sufficiently well-formed to attract attention,
though it was customary for women to go about with looped garments.

Lyrcus noticed these stolen glances, and frowning gripped his lance
more firmly.

“Why do you wear that red rag?” he said harshly, pointing to Byssa’s
short petticoat. “Haven’t I given you long robes?”

“The sun is so hot--and I was alone at my weaving,” stammered the poor
young wife with a burning blush.

As she spoke, confused and abashed, she put her foot on the lowest step
of the rock-stairs and was going to hurry up the cliff. But Lyrcus
seized her and hurling her behind him so that he concealed her with his
own body, shouted sternly to his companions:

“Forward!”

Then he himself went up after them, watching rigidly to see that no one
looked back, but left Byssa and the slave to follow as best they could.


VI.

On the cliff above there was great joy among the Cychreans over the
splendid game. But when the animal was flayed and its flesh cut into
pieces all, not merely the hunters themselves but their friends and
relatives, wanted a share of the prize. From words they came to blows,
and Lyrcus needed all his authority to restrain the infuriated men.

Meantime the sun had set behind the mountains of Corydallus. The
olive-trees on the plain cast no shadows, the whole of the level ground
was veiled in darkness. Everything was silent and peaceful, ever and
anon a low twittering rose from the thickets.

The Cychreans lingered gossipping together after the labor of the
day. Some of them asked Lyrcus and his companions whether anything
had happened during the hunt. Lyrcus replied that small parties of
Pelasgians had been seen passing in the distance, but he seemed to
attach no importance to the matter, and many of the Cychreans were
preparing to go to rest--when a child’s clear voice cried in amazement:

“Look, look! The hills are moving!”

Every eye followed the direction of the child’s finger.

Far away over some low hills, whose crests stood forth in clear relief
against the evening sky, a strange rippling motion was going on. It
looked as though some liquid body was flowing down, for one dark rank
succeeded another, as wave follows wave.

There was something in the sight which turned the blood in the
Cychreans’ veins to ice. Nothing was visible on the plain itself;
everything there was shrouded in the dusk of evening.

All listened in breathless suspense. Then a rushing sound echoed
through the increasing darkness--a noise like a great body of men in
motion, the hum of many voices, distant shouts, songs, and the clash
of weapons. The din seemed to increase and draw nearer. Then flames
glimmered, as though instantly covered by dark figures. It was like a
living stream, that grew and widened till it surrounded the whole cliff.

Then a torch was lighted and a small party of ten or twelve men
approached within a bow-shot. Two of them put long horns of spiral
form to their mouths, and wild echoing notes resounded from cliff to
cliff. A man clad in a white linen robe stepped forward, raising aloft
a laurel staff. Deep silence followed, and his shrill voice was now
heard, saying:

“Cychreans! Ye have greatly wronged us. Ye have built houses on land
that was not yours; ye have made the men of our nation serve you and,
when the youth Tydeus refused, ye basely murdered him.

“For the surrender of the land and in token of subjection ye must pay
us, the original inhabitants of the country, an annual tribute of seven
hundred spears and as many swords and shields.”

Here a loud clamor arose among the Cychreans. They understood that it
was the Pelasgians’ intention to disarm them, and their wrath found
vent in fierce invectives.

“Listen to the dogs!” they shouted. “Ere the battle has begun, they
talk like conquerors. Do the bragging fools suppose they can blow the
cliff over with their snail horns?”

But the herald did not allow himself to be interrupted.

“Cychreans!” he continued, “the Pelasgians whom ye have enslaved must
be set free and, in compensation for your crime of murder, we demand
that you deliver up to us Lyrcus, who has provoked war and pillaged
peaceful dwellers in the land. These demands we will enforce by arms.
We no longer come with entreaties, but with commands.”

Again a terrible din arose, but Lyrcus ordered silence and springing
upon a rock, from which he could be seen and heard far and near,
shouted:

“Pelasgians! The land where we have built was desolate and uninhabited;
it belonged to us as much as to you. When you demand slaves and wish
me to be delivered over to you, the answer is: _Come and take us_. But
mark this: it is _you_, not _we_, who begin the war; we only defend
ourselves against assault. This answer is deserved, and approved by our
people.”

Loud exulting shouts from the Cychreans hailed his words.

Lyrcus gazed confidently around him; for, reckless as he was of his own
safety, he was cautious where the people’s welfare was concerned. At
the first sign of war he had put the cliff in a posture of defence.

At all the wider approaches he had piled heaps of huge stones to be
rolled down on the foe, and where men could climb up singly he had
stationed sentinels. The rear of the height was inaccessible; here
stretched for more than four hundred ells the Golf of Barathron,
bordered along its almost perpendicular sides by cliffs from ninety to
a hundred yards high. This dark, wild chasm was afterwards used for
a place of execution; and it was here that malefactors whom the law
sentenced “to be hurled into the abyss” ended their days. Towards the
north, the windward side, the cliff had no covering of earth and here
at its foot, half concealed among some huge boulders, was the entrance
to a cave which led obliquely upward to some subterranean tombs, whence
a steep passage extended to one of the lower terraces. In this passage
Lyrcus had had steps hewn in order to secure a secret descent to the
plain, and for farther concealment he had ordered bushes to be planted
outside of the cave.

Though the Cychreans on the whole were in good spirits, they found
themselves in a serious mood as the decisive hour approached. Lyrcus,
at his first leisure moment, had assured Byssa that the Pelasgians
would be received in such a way that not a single man could set foot on
the open space before the houses. The young wife silently embraced him;
her eyes were full of tears and she could not speak. She trusted her
husband implicitly, but nevertheless was deeply moved.

“Before the sun goes down,” she thought, “many an eye will be closed.
And what will be Lyrcus’ fate?”


VII.

The greater portion of the night passed quietly. They saw the
Pelasgians light fires in a semi-circle around the cliff and noticed
the smell of roasted meat. Songs and laughter were heard, and with the
fires a thicket of spears seemed to have grown out of the earth.

On the cliff itself deep silence reigned. Yet a strange crackling sound
echoed upon the night, and the wind brought a light mist and a smell of
burning. Soon after a red cloud rose into the air and from lip to lip
ran the shout:

“The store-house is on fire!”

Was it some foolhardy Pelasgian or one of the new-made bondmen who
had set it in flames? In any case the task had been no easy one. The
store-house, like the dwellings, had been hewn out of the cliff and
contained nothing combustible except seeds and the timbers on which
the roof rested. Nevertheless, the flames spread swiftly, when the
fire first reached the air, and a part of the roof fell. Vast lurid
clouds of smoke whirled aloft and, as usual when seeds are burning,
numberless showers of sparks rose with the smoke and fell back again to
the earth in a fine rain. Suddenly, just as the fallen timbers burst
into a blaze, a lofty column of fire shot up from the roof. The Hill
of the Nymphs, the Areopagus, and the height known in later times as
the Acropolis were illumined by a crimson glow, and the whole Pelasgian
army broke into exulting shouts.

Some of the boldest came nearer, and an old bow-legged simpleton,
ridiculously equipped with a gigantic helmet and an enormous club,
strode toward the cliff, where he made a movement as though he was
setting his foot on the neck of a conquered foe.

At this defiance a young Cychrean seized his bow and arrow.

“_Rhai--bo--ske--lēs!_ Bow-legs!” he shouted, his voice echoing far
over the plain, “where did you get your shield?”

The bow-string twanged--and the old man just as he took flight fell
backward to the ground.

The Cychreans clapped their hands and uttered loud shouts of joy.

At the sight of the old man’s fall--he was probably a chief--a
bloodthirsty yell ran through the ranks of the Pelasgians. A long word,
rendered unintelligible by the distance, flew from mouth to mouth till
it suddenly rang out clearly and distinctly like a command.

“_Sphendonētai!_ Slingers!”

Forth from the dark throng gathered around the fires marched a body of
men who had nothing but a sheep-skin around their hips. They formed in
two rows facing the cliff, a score of paces intervening between the
ranks, and the same distance between man and man.

Among a pastoral race like the Pelasgians the sling was an
indispensable implement. It served to keep the herds together; for
when a goat or any of the cattle had been hit once or twice by a stone
from a sling the shepherd-dog noticed it and kept a strict watch upon
the animal. By skill in the use of the sling the herdsman thus saved
himself the trouble of running after the beasts which strayed away from
the flocks, and in a mountainous region like Attica, where one can
scarcely walk a few hundred paces without going up or down, it is well
to spare the legs.

The sling itself was very simple. It consisted merely of two woollen
cords half an ell long and about as thick as the finger, fastened at
each corner of a piece of leather shaped like a lance-head, with a hole
in the middle to hold the stone firmly. The art of using the implement
consisted in letting one cord drop at the moment the stone was in the
right curve to reach the mark.

The men with the sheep-skins round their loins collected stones from
the ground and hurled them towards the cliff, until they ascertained
the distance--then they took them from the pouches they carried
suspended by a leather thong over their shoulders. These stones, of
which each man carried twelve or fourteen, weighed about eight pounds.
Afterwards bullets the size of a hen’s egg were used and these bullets,
marked with the Hellenic stamp, are still found on the plain of
Marathon.

Suddenly a deafening clatter resounded upon the Cychreans’ cliff from
the stones which beat against the houses and fell back on the hard
ground. Soon shrieks of pain blended with the din and Lyrcus perceived
with alarm that his people were being badly wounded as, under the hail
of stones from above, heads were bruised or shoulder-joints injured.

The youth who had felled the old chieftain again seized his bow, but
Lyrcus dashed it from his hands.

“Luckless wight!” he said, “our bows do not reach half so far as their
slings. Do you want to show them it is so?”

After hurriedly stationing sentinels where there was any shelter, he
ordered his men to retreat into the houses. But even there they were
not safe; for when one or more stones struck a roof whose timbers were
not new, it fell wholly or in part, wounding men, women, and children.
The cliff soon echoed with wails and shrieks of pain, and the deafening
rattle of the shower of stones was gradually weakening the Cychreans’
courage, the more so because they were unable to defend themselves.

Then Lyrcus, who had mounted guard himself, saw a small body of men
approaching from the Pelasgian camp, evidently to reconnoitre. They
moved along the cliff about a bow-shot off for some time, quietly
allowing the stones from the slings to fly over them. Suddenly one who
marched at the head of the band raised a large conch horn to his lips,
sounding three long, shrill notes, and a great bustle arose among the
Pelasgians.

Five or six hundred men gathered in front of the camp and hastily
formed in ranks. Leaders were heard firing their zeal and issuing
orders. Then they ran at full speed towards the cliff, where the spies,
holding their shields over their heads, were already trying to show
the advancing soldiers the places most easy to ascend.

At the moment the dark figures in their goat-skin garments and hoods
set foot on the cliff, the hail of stones ceased. The Cychreans now
came out of their houses and went to the heaps of stones piled on the
steps. Though the fire of the store-house was beginning to die away,
the lurid flames still afforded sufficient light to show the Pelasgians
their way. When Lyrcus saw that they had scaled part of the height, he
gave orders to hurl the stones down. The Cychreans set to work eagerly;
rock after rock rolled down, bounding from one boulder to another.
Again loud shrieks of pain arose, but this time from the Pelasgians,
many of whom missed their footing, plunged downward, and were mangled
by the fall.

Nevertheless, many of them, partly by escaping the stones and partly by
protecting themselves with their shields, succeeded in approaching the
open terrace of the crag unhurt. Here the Cychreans rushed upon them,
but they defended themselves with the obstinacy of men who have a steep
cliff behind them. For a long time the battle remained undecided--then
the Cychrean women hastened to the aid of the men. They flung ashes and
sand into the Pelasgians’ eyes, and some finally used heavy hand-mills
for weapons. Nay, lads of twelve and fourteen followed their mothers’
example and armed themselves with everything on which they could lay
hands.

When Lyrcus perceived that the battle was raging violently he turned
towards the burning store-house and, seeing that the fire was nearly
out, he laughed and exclaimed: “I’ll risk it.” Then, collecting the
men who could be spared, he led them by torchlight through the covered
passage to the plain. Here, under cover of the darkness, he stole
with his soldiers behind the Pelasgians’ camp and, while the latter
were gazing intently towards the cliff to see whether the attack was
successful, the Cychreans uttered a loud war cry and unexpectedly
assailed them in the rear.

Lyrcus, as usual, wore his wolf-skin robe and a hood of the same
fur on which, by way of ornament, he had left the animal’s ears--an
appendage that gave his head-gear a peculiarly fierce appearance. By
the uncertain light of the fires many of the Pelasgians recognized him
by the hood with the wolf’s ears, and soon the cry was heard:

“Lyrcus is upon us! Fly from Lyrcus!” Then began a flight so headlong
that many of the soldiers thus taken by surprise did not even give
themselves time to pull their spears out of the ground.

Just at that moment a chief in a copper helmet, breast-plate, greaves,
and shield, sprang from behind a rock, threw himself like a madman
before the fugitives and wounded several with his spear.

“Periphas!” shouted Lyrcus, hurling his lance at him. But the Pelasgian
parried it with his shield, and at the same instant its edge was cleft
by the weapon he stooped behind the rattling pieces. The ash-spear
whizzed over his head, ruffling his hair.

“So near death!” he thought, and an icy chill ran through bone and
marrow.

Lyrcus drew his sword; but a throng of fugitives pressed between him
and Periphas--he saw the latter’s glittering helmet whirled around and
swept away by the stream of men.

At the name of Lyrcus the alarm spread from watch-fire to watch-fire.
Just at that moment a loud shriek of terror arose from those who had
climbed the Cychreans’ cliff, for when the glow of the flames from the
burning store-house had died away they were forced in the darkness over
the verge of the bluff. This shriek hastened the Pelasgians’ flight;
they instantly perceived that they could expect no help from their
comrades.

Lyrcus, fearing that the enemy might discover how small his band was,
soon checked the pursuit, and when his people on the way home vied with
each other in lauding him as conqueror, he replied:

“It was their mistake that they used fire as a torch to scale the
cliff; for when the flames died down they were suddenly left in thick
darkness with the foe in front and a steep bluff behind.... I, for my
part, put my trust in the darkness, under whose cover I surprised the
Pelasgians, and the darkness did not deceive me as their flames deluded
them.”


VIII.

During the first few days after the unsuccessful attack Periphas, from
fear of the Cychreans, concealed himself in a cave in Mt. Hymettus. It
was known only by the herdsman who brought him his provisions, and the
furniture consisted of some goat-skin coverlids, a hand-mill, a few
clay vessels, and a stone hearth.

One sultry afternoon when the sun shone into the cavern Periphas was
lying almost naked behind a block of stone at the entrance. Before him
stood a youth with curling black hair and a deer-skin thrown around
his loins. Nomion was the son of a neighboring chieftain, and had been
Tydeus’ friend from boyhood.

Both looked grave, nay troubled; they were talking about the Cychreans
and Tydeus’ murder.

“I believe you are mistaken,” said Nomion. “Lyrcus had nothing to do
with the matter. Tydeus fell in a broil; his refusal to serve the
Cychreans irritated them and made them furious. Each threw a stone and
wounded him until the hapless youth drew his last breath. It was like a
swarm of bees attacking a mule; no single bee can be said to kill it,
each one merely gives its little sting--but the animal dies of them.”

Periphas shook his head.

“I know better,” he answered. “Lyrcus hates me and all my race. Did I
not woo Byssa?”

“No, no,” persisted Nomion, who as the son of a chief used greater
freedom of speech in addressing Periphas than most others would have
ventured to do. “If Lyrcus was the murderer, how could he enter the
places of assembly before the houses and move about among the other
Cychreans? Who will associate with an assassin? Are not trials in all
cases of murder, according to ancient custom, held under the open sky
that neither accusers nor judges may be beneath the same roof with the
slayer?”

“I know,” muttered Periphas with a sullen glance, “that a murderer is
unclean.”

“Not merely unclean--but under a double ban. The victim’s and the wrath
of the gods. Shall the murdered soul wander away from light and life
without demanding a bloody vengeance? And the gods--to whom murder is
an abomination--shall they forbear to practise righteous retribution?”

Periphas, averting his face, remained silent.

“Forgive me!” exclaimed Nomion, “I forgot that you yourself....”

“The soothsayer,”--said Periphas, lowering his voice, “yes, he fell
before my spear. But he was rightly served. Did not the fool proclaim
aloud, in the presence of all, what he ought to have confided to me
alone?”

“Yet it was a murder.”

“No, my friend, believe me, it was something very different from their
crime. Don’t you know, Nomion, that no Pelasgian owns larger herds than
I--well! If I have offended the gods, no one has brought them more
numerous and costly offerings. Besides, I went directly to Kranaai and
caused Ariston to purify me, according to priestly fashion, from the
stain of blood. As for the dead man’s family--I appeased them long ago
with costly gifts.”

“But--the disposition?” asked Nomion, looking Periphas straight in the
eye.

“The disposition!” replied Periphas, shunning Nomion’s glance. “Youth,
you utter strange words. When neither gods nor men complain, who asks
about the disposition?”

And Periphas burst into a strange, forced laugh, that echoed almost
uncannily through the cave.

“Be that as it may,” said Nomion. “If the Cychreans suffer murderers
to live among them unpunished, will not they, too, will not the whole
nation be unclean and exposed to the wrath of the gods?”

“It seems so.”

“Yet the Cychreans remain victors, while we, Tydeus’ avengers, are
scattered like chaff before the wind. What is the cause?”

“Perhaps their gods are stronger than ours.”

“The sea-nymph Melite stronger than Zeus Hypsistos! You cannot believe
that.”

“Perhaps we ought to have waited for a lucky day.”

“No,” retorted Nomion, “I believe that Lyrcus conquered because he has
done no evil. He is a warlike fellow and foremost in the fray, so he
cannot content himself with carrying away goats, barley, figs, and
honey. But he has never killed a man except in fair fight. Had he been
present, Tydeus would never have been stoned.”

“You have a remarkably good opinion of Lyrcus,” said Periphas. “But why
talk about this Cychrean continually? There are other chiefs in the
country.... Well! We’ll see whether the gods will protect him another
time.”

“Periphas! What are you planning?”

“Do you know the pretty bird whose name is Kitta? It loves its mate so
dearly that it cannot live without it. Let the hen be caught in the
nest by some simple snare, and the cock will fly after her of its own
accord and allow itself to be captured.”

“In the name of the gods! Do I understand you? Do you mean to steal
Byssa?”

“Doesn’t she seem to you worth having? Well, by Zeus,” continued
Periphas, the blood mounting into his cheeks, “I would rather carry her
away than goats, barley, figs, and honey.”

“Beware, Periphas! Don’t drive Lyrcus to frenzy. He will then be
capable of anything.”

“Not when he is in _my_ power.”


IX.

At the foot of the heights of Agrae, a part of Mt. Hymettus, the
channel of the Ilissus widens. The river here divides into two arms,
which enclose a level island. At the place where the branches meet the
banks form a bluff with two pits; here, trickling between the layers of
stone, excellent drinking water collects in such abundance as to form a
pond. It is the fountain of Callirhoë (beautiful spring) and is used at
the present day as a pool for washing.

At the time of this story Callirhoë was the place from which the wives
and daughters of the Cychreans, as well as the Cranai, brought water
when the little wells on the cliffs were exhausted. The fountain of
Clepsydra was considerably nearer; but as the name (water that steals
forth) implies, it was too scanty to supply two colonies. Therefore
the people were obliged to fetch water from the banks of the Ilissus,
more than two thousand feet off, in a desolate tract of country called
Agrae. The journey was not wholly free from peril, for the Pelasgians
roving over Mt. Hymettus considered the pool their own and looked
askance at all others who sought to use it. Women had often been
molested there and several times even abducted. Therefore it had become
the custom for the women and girls to go to the fountain in parties,
and to be accompanied by armed men. But several years had now elapsed
since any one had been molested, and the guard of men was beginning to
be rather careless. Instead of weapons, many of the younger ones took
the implements of the chase and amused themselves by snaring hares,
great numbers of which were found in this region.

The trip to the fountain on the whole was a pleasure excursion. With
the faculty for making life easy and pleasant possessed by all southern
nations, the time was well-chosen. In the first place the party started
in the afternoon; the sun was then behind them and when they returned
it was hidden below Mt. Corydallus. One of the older men took a syrinx
or a flute; the young fellows jested with the pretty maids and matrons,
they relieved each other in carrying the water-jars, laughter and song
resounded, sometimes they even danced in long lines on the open ground
beside the pool.

A few days after the conversation between Periphas and Nomion in the
cave on Mt. Hymettus one of these expeditions was made. After the
recent victory there was two-fold mirth, and the party could be heard
for a long distance amid the rural stillness of the country bordering
the Ilissus. At the first sound of the notes of the flute and the merry
voices something stirred in the bushes on the crag just below the
fountain of Callirhoë. Two sunburnt hands pushed the branches aside
and a brown visage appeared, of which, however, little could be seen,
as a goat-skin hood was drawn low over the brow. Periphas--for it was
he--saw from his hiding-place the women approaching between a double
row of men.

“There they are!” he said to Nomion, who lay concealed behind him.
“What do you say to the plot? First the wife, then the husband.
To-morrow morning, perhaps to-night, Lyrcus will be in our power. Will
you help me?”

“No, by Zeus, no!” replied Nomion firmly. “On the contrary, I will
warn you again. Consider, Periphas! Don’t throw the last anchor upon
treacherous ground. It ill-beseems the younger man to advise the
older--may Zeus open your eyes while there is yet time.”

“Begone to the vultures, foolish boy!” cried Periphas angrily. “You use
sword and lance like a man. But where is your courage?”

“By the gods, it isn’t courage I lack,” replied Nomion, as he let
himself slide down the precipice and vanished among the hills.

Meantime the party had come nearer. Suddenly there was a movement in
the last rank and the joyous shout: “A hare! A hare!” Without losing a
moment the youths divided into two bands who, with long poles in their
hands, tried to drive the animal towards some snares set at the end of
the valley. The older ones convinced themselves that no Pelasgians were
in sight, and then slowly followed to witness the result of the chase.

Had Lyrcus been present, this would not have happened; but he had
remained at home to forge some weapons.


X.

The women, who were left to themselves by the men’s zeal for the
chase, went to the pool and set down their water-jars. The barren,
dreary region, where usually nothing was seen except a few goats
and shepherds, now swarmed with young Cychrean women in white
and variegated robes. Most of them stood talking together by the
pond--some, weary and breathless, stretched themselves on the mossy
bank of the river; others wiped the dust from their limbs with dry
leaves; many gathered flowers in the shade, others waded out into the
stream to cool their feet in the shallow, but clear and inviting water.

Periphas, from his hiding-place, saw them all, yet among the whole
party his eye sought only one.

Byssa was sitting near the pool among some young matrons of her own
age. She had removed her sandals, and while he was watching her, rested
her foot on her knee to examine a scratch she had received from the
stones on the way. A young woman, whose appearance indicated that she
was about to become a mother, approached with her arms full of flowers
and, smiling, flung them all into Byssa’s lap, whispering something in
her ear as if it were to be kept a secret from the very stones. Byssa
flushed crimson and snatched up one of the sandals lying by her side to
make a feint of punishing her friend; but, as she raised her arm, the
sandal slipped from her hand and flew far out in the water.

There was a general outburst of screams and laughter.

Byssa started up, shaking all the flowers from her lap on the ground,
hastily gathered up the folds of her garments, and waded out into the
stream. But the current had already swept the sandal into somewhat
deeper water, so that, to avoid being wet, she was obliged to lift her
clothes above her knees. She soon perceived that the task was not so
easy. Every time she stretched out her hand she was baffled. The little
whirlpools in the stream played sportively with their prize; each
moment they bore the sandal under their light foam, and when it again
appeared it was in an entirely different place from where its owner
expected.

A cold wind was blowing and Byssa, like many of her companions, wore a
goat-skin bodice. As she had become heated by the long walk she allowed
it to hang loosely about her, and every time the pretty Cychrean bent
forward to grasp the sandal, Periphas’ gaze could take a dangerous
liberty.

Of all the materials that can be used for clothing, nothing displays
better than fur the smoothness and fairness of a woman’s form. At
the sight of the beautiful shoulders and still more exquisite bosom
rising from the rough, blackish-brown skin Periphas’ eyes dilated,
and when Byssa’s movements, ere she succeeded in seizing the sandal,
revealed more and more of her nude charms, the half-savage Pelasgian’s
passionate heart kindled.

He cast a hurried glance towards the spot where the men had vanished
and, as he neither saw nor heard anything, he took a large green leaf
between his lips to hide the lower part of his face, drew his hood down
to his eyes, burst suddenly out of the bushes and leaped from the
shore into the stream.

The women, shrieking with terror, instantly sprang to their feet.

But Periphas paid no heed. Seizing Byssa, who was paralyzed by
surprise, in his arms, he bore her, spite of her struggles, to the
shore. Like all well-developed women she was no light burden and,
notwithstanding the Pelasgian’s strength, he felt that it would be
impossible for him to carry her up the steep bank and therefore put her
down, though without releasing his hold on her arm. But Byssa no sooner
felt the solid earth under her feet than her senses returned.

“Help! Help!” she screamed. “Shall we fear this one man? Are we not
strong enough to capture him?”

And, following words by action, she boldly grasped the Pelasgian’s belt
with her left hand, which was free.

“Quick! quick!” she added. “Only hold him a moment--the men will return
directly.”

Byssa’s courage produced its effect. The women hurried towards her from
all sides; yet the nearest gave themselves considerably more time than
those who were farther away.

Periphas perceived that his position was very critical. Without
releasing Byssa’s arm, he drew his sword.

“Beware!” he shouted fiercely, “I’ll hew down on the spot the first one
who approaches.”

And, as Byssa still did not loosen her grasp from his belt, he muttered
between his teeth.

“Follow me, or by Zeus....” He did not finish the sentence, but his
sinister glance left no doubt of his meaning.

Byssa trembled, for she thought of the soothsayer of whose death she
had heard.

“You are the stronger!” she said, and allowed herself to be led up the
bank without resistance.

At the top Periphas turned and shouted:

“Women, the first one who shows herself here I’ll give up to my
bondmen.”

But the Pelasgian had nothing more to fear. The sight of the naked
sword had banished the women’s courage.

He now carried Byssa among some small hills, where a low, two-wheeled
vehicle, drawn by two horses, was waiting under the charge of a slave.
“Get in!” said Periphas imperiously, then, to render her more yielding,
added: “No harm shall befall you! I only want you to serve me as a
hostage.”

“I will obey,” replied Byssa, “but on condition that you don’t lay
hands on me again.”

She took her place in the front of the chariot, resting both hands on
the top. Periphas grasped the reins, dismissed the slave by a sign,
braced his feet firmly against the inner foot-board and, standing
behind his enemy’s wife, gave his steeds the rein, swung the whip--and
off they rattled over stock and stone.


XI.

Meantime the men had wandered a considerable distance from the
fountain. The youths succeeded in driving the hare into a snare, whose
owner thought he had exclusive right to it, while those who had driven
it into the trap demanded a share of the prize. When the older people
came up their opinions differed and, amid the dispute, they did not
notice the screams of the women, especially as they often shrieked in
sport when they splashed water upon each other.

Suddenly a very young girl, scarcely beyond childhood, came running
towards them, beckoning with agitated gestures while still a long way
off. The men suspected that something unusual must have happened and
hurried to meet the messenger, though without forgetting the hare.
Weeping bitterly, she told them what had occurred.

Her hearers were filled with alarm.

“Byssa carried off!” exclaimed the oldest. “Woe betide us! Woe betide
us! Curses on the hare, it is the cause of the whole misfortune.”

The walk home from the fountain was very different from usual.

In those days it was not well to be the bearer of evil tidings. Lyrcus’
outbursts of fury were well known; it was also known how passionately
he loved Byssa, and no one felt the courage to tell him what had
happened. Yet it was necessary that he should hear it.

The party had almost reached the Cychrean cliff, and still no plan had
been formed. But an unexpected event ended their indecision.

Lyrcus came to meet the returning band.

He had just finished his task of forging and, after standing in the
heat and smoke, it was doubly pleasant to breathe the cool sea-breeze.
He had never felt more joyous and light-hearted.

“How silent you are!” he called as he advanced. “Have the women lost
their voices? By Pan, that would be the greatest of miracles.”

But when he came nearer, seeing their troubled faces, he himself became
grave, and with the speed of lightning his glance sought Byssa.

The men, one by one, slunk behind the women.

“Where is Byssa?” said Lyrcus.

No one answered.

He now put the same question to a very young girl, who chanced to be
the same one who had rushed from the fountain to meet the men and
brought the ill-omened message.

Startled by the unexpected query, she turned pale and vainly tried to
answer; her throat seemed choked.

Lyrcus seized her firmly by the arm.

“Speak, luckless girl, speak!” he said. “What have you to tell?”

The girl strove to collect her thoughts, and in faltering words said
that a Pelasgian had sprung out of the thicket and carried Byssa away.

Then, falling at Lyrcus’ feet, she clasped her hands over the knife he
wore in his belt, shrieking:

“Don’t kill me. I did nothing....”

“Where were the men?” asked Lyrcus sternly.

She was silent.

“Where were the men?” Lyrcus repeated, in a tone which demanded an
answer.

The girl clasped his knees imploringly.

“They had gone hunting,” she whispered almost inaudibly.

Several minutes passed ere Lyrcus opened his lips. The men wished the
earth would swallow them; but their chief’s thoughts were already far
from their negligence.

“Who was the Pelasgian?” he asked with a calmness which, to those who
knew him, boded danger.

No one replied.

At last the young wife who had flung the flowers into Byssa’s lap
stepped forward, drew the kneeling girl away and, without raising her
eyes to Lyrcus, said with a faint blush:

“No one knew the ravisher. He held in his mouth a green leaf which
concealed his face. But Byssa was _forced_ to obey him or she would
have been killed before our eyes. He drew his sword.... Directly after
we heard a chariot roll away.”

“A chief then!” said Lyrcus, and without another word he returned by
the same way he had come.

Lyrcus was too good a hunter to have any doubt what he should do. Going
directly home he unfastened Bremon, led him into the house, and let him
snuff Byssa’s clothes, repeating:

“Where is she? Where is Byssa?”

The dog uttered a low whine, put his muzzle to the ground and snuffed
several times, wagging his tail constantly as if to show that he knew
what was wanted. Lyrcus buckled his sword around his waist, seized a
spear and shield, flung a cloak over his arm and led Bremon out.

The dog fairly trembled with impatience, and without once losing the
trail guided Lyrcus, who held his chain, directly to the fountain of
Callirhoë.

Here he followed the bank of the river a short distance but suddenly,
as if at a loss, began to run to and fro in all directions.

Lyrcus released the animal but, as it constantly ran down to the bank
and snuffed the water, the chief perceived that Byssa must have waded
out into the stream. So he led Bremon along the shore, hoping to find
the place where she had come out on the land.

Suddenly the dog stopped, snuffed, and began to wag his tail again.
This was the spot where Periphas had put Byssa down after having
carried her to the bank. Bremon now led Lyrcus away from the brink
among some low hills, but here once more he began to run to and fro
irresolutely--doubtless where Byssa had entered the chariot.

Meantime night had closed in.

Lyrcus at first thought of getting a torch, but soon perceived the
impossibility of following the trail of the chariot by torch-light.
There was nothing to be done except to wait for morning.

It was a time of terrible torture.

Byssa in a stranger’s power! At the thought he was seized with a frenzy
of rage that almost stifled him. But whither should he turn? Who was
the ravisher--Periphas? No, he would not have had courage for such a
deed directly after a defeat. Besides, the abductor seemed to have gone
in the opposite direction to the road to Periphas’ home.

Lyrcus did not know that the Pelasgian had concealed himself in a cave
in Mt. Hymettus.


XII.

While Lyrcus allowed himself to be led by Bremon, Periphas was
continuing his wild career. At the foot of a distant height of Hymettus
he gave the chariot to a slave and ascended the mountain with Byssa,
who had remained perfectly silent during the whole ride.

At the entrance of the cave Periphas cast a stolen glance at her. The
young wife’s face was clouded and threatening; not only the expression
of her features, but her bearing and movements showed that she was
filled with burning wrath. She resembled at this moment an incensed
swan, darting along with half-spread wings, every feather ruffled in
rage. Periphas perceived that he must try to soothe her.

He led her into a room in the cave where a clay lamp was burning and on
a large flat stone stood dishes containing barley bread, fruit, honey,
and milk.

“Do not grieve, fair Byssa,” he said. “A man must secure himself
against such a foe as Lyrcus....”

“By stealing women?” Byssa contemptuously interrupted. “Is that the
custom among the Pelasgians? Lyrcus carried home neither maids nor
matrons.”

“Perhaps so,” replied Periphas calmly. “But the Pelasgians have made
war upon the Cychreans and were defeated. As one of the chiefs who took
up arms, I have everything to fear. So I sought a hostage, and where
could I find a better one than the woman who is most dear to Lyrcus?”

“Your tongue is smooth, Periphas! But I do not trust you.”

“What do you fear, Byssa? Hostages are sacred; you are as secure as if
you were under a father’s roof.”

“And Lyrcus! Will he have no suspicion? Will he think I have been under
a father’s roof?”

“You will tell him so, and he will believe you. The inside of the cave
is yours; no one shall molest you. You will be compelled to stay here
only a few days, until everything is arranged between the Pelasgians
and Cychreans.”

Byssa gazed sullenly into vacancy.

“Beware, Periphas!” she said. “This will surely bring misfortune.”

“To you or to me?” asked Periphas.

“That I do not know,” replied Byssa. “But one thing I _do_ know. It
will cause bloodshed.”

Periphas shrugged his shoulders.

“Look,” he said, pointing to a bear-skin couch, “you can rest here in
safety; you must be weary. May the gods grant you pleasant dreams--in
the morning everything will seem brighter.”

With these words he left her, went to the outer part of the cavern,
passed through the entrance, and walking several paces away clapped his
hands.

There was a rustling sound among the huge piles of mouldering debris
above the cavern. A dark figure clad in skins, with a huge staff in his
hand, stood outlined against the grey evening sky. It was the herdsman
who supplied the cave with provisions.

“Have you done what I ordered?” asked Periphas. “Have you put sentinels
on both sides and brought the men?”

“When you sound the horn, Periphas, twenty Pelasgians will hasten to
your aid.”

“Do they know Lyrcus, the Cychrean?”

“Not all of them, but some do.”

“Very well. When he comes, the men must hide until he is half-way
between them. Then let him be surrounded. I will make the man rich who
brings me Lyrcus alive or dead. Tell the warriors so.”

Periphas then entered the cave and lay down on the couch of skins
flung behind the boulder projecting at the entrance. It was a still,
star-lit evening, yet spite of the peace and silence without, a
strange restlessness seized upon him. Sometimes he felt a presentiment
of impending misfortune, at others he exulted in the thought of having
Byssa in his power. Thanks to the green leaf he had held in his mouth
when he carried her away, none of the Cychreans had recognized him.
But so long as Lyrcus knew not where to turn he would not summon the
warriors. He would pursue his quest alone and fall into the ambush. At
the thought Periphas rubbed his hands and became absorbed in planning
how he should best humiliate his captive.

The night was far advanced ere the Pelasgian leader fell asleep. A
strange dream visited him. It seemed as if he were with Byssa--when he
felt a hand on his shoulder. The soothsayer whom he had murdered stood
before him, pale and rigid, with a dark blood-stain on his white robes.
Periphas stretched out his hand to keep him off, touched his own body,
felt with horror an icy, corpse-like chill, opened his eyes, and was
broad awake.

As he rose he accidentally laid his hand on the boulder at the
entrance. It was dank with the night-dew, and he again felt a chill.

“It was only the rock,” he muttered, with inexpressible relief.

The clear dawn brooded over the land like a soft grey gleam. The
mountains were wrapped in clouds and vapor and the swallows were
twittering. Periphas breathed the fresh morning air and felt
strengthened and inspirited. His first thought was that in the cave,
only a few paces from him, he had the fairest woman in the Cychrean
city, the woman whom he had once wooed, and who had been given to
another.

Doubtless she, like himself, had at last fallen asleep from weariness.
He must go to her, see her.

With a slight shiver, caused by emotion more than by the chill air of
the morning, he bound a goat-skin around his loins, buckled a belt
about his waist, thrust his knife into it and with bare feet stole
noiselessly into the cave.


XIII.

At every step Periphas took the darkness increased, and the lamplight
in the inner room was but a feeble substitute for the dawning day. Yet
he instantly distinguished the light figure which lay extended on the
black skin.

Byssa slept resting on her side, with her face half averted. Instead
of lying on the couch wholly undressed, with her garments loosely
thrown over her, she had, probably from fear of some nocturnal visitor,
retained her white kirtle and spread the goat-skin bodice over her
breast.

Holding his breath, Periphas stole to the couch with a throbbing heart.

Byssa’s head rested on her round arm and her long black hair flowed
down in two streams, one behind her shoulders, the other over her
neck, where it was lost in the swelling outlines of the bust, only
the upper portion of which could be seen above the shaggy edge of
the bodice. The troubled expression of her features had given place
to a sweet repose, which harmonized perfectly with the unconstrained
grace of her recumbent attitude. Her cheeks were still somewhat paler
than usual, but her half-parted lips were ruddy with the freshness of
youth. In her slumber she had drawn her limbs under her in a peculiarly
feminine way, and from the sea of white folds formed by her garments
appeared a naked foot as smooth and plump as a child’s.

Periphas bent softly over the sleeper and listened to her calm, regular
breathing. He felt like a thief who dreads being caught, and thought
with terror that she might open her eyes. But when his glance fell
upon the white foot that peeped from under the garments, he mentally
compared Byssa to the Pelasgian women who, according to ancient custom,
climbed the mountains to bring the shepherds food, and with their brown
skins and muscular figures closely resembled beasts of burden. He could
not avert his gaze from the bare foot. It seemed to him a perfect
marvel and, even at the risk of waking Byssa, he could not refrain from
touching it. Slowly and cautiously extending his huge hand, he took
hold of it as gently as if it had been a little bird.

Byssa started and sat erect on the couch. Half-stupefied by sleep, she
pushed her long hair back from her eyes with both hands, but scarcely
had she recognized the Pelasgian when with a loud shriek she thrust
him away.

“Wretch!” she exclaimed as she sprang up almost frantic with terror and
fled.

At the entrance of the cave she felt herself seized and stopped. She
turned.

Periphas was a terrible spectacle; his brown cheeks were deeply flushed
and his eyes flashed like a wildcat’s.

“Woman!” he gasped breathlessly, in a voice tremulous with passion.
“You are in my power ... you shall obey me.”

But Byssa bent backward over his arm to get as far away from him as
possible. At that instant, she remembered her father’s parting charge:
“Do not abandon Zeus Hypsistos, that Zeus Hypsistos may not abandon
you.”

She called loudly upon the god’s name.

Periphas laughed.

“Zeus is far away,” he said.

Byssa gazed wildly around the cave, expecting to see Lyrcus appear
with spear and shield. But no living creature was visible far or
near--naught save clouds and mountains.

Again Periphas laughed.

“No one is coming,” he murmured. “If you want to be saved, help
yourself.”

The words darted into Byssa’s brain like a flash of lightning.

Yes!--it was “a voice of fate,” a sign sent by the gods, an answer to
her appeal placed in Periphas’ mouth, without his suspecting it, by
Zeus himself.

A thrill of emotion ran through her frame and with all the strength
that animates a person who believes himself acting in the name of a
god, she snatched the knife from the Pelasgian’s belt and with the
speed of light drove it up to the hilt in his bare breast.

Periphas staggered back a step. He felt no special pain, he lost very
little blood, yet he perceived that a change was taking place which
could mean nothing but death.

Turning frightfully pale, he tottered and covered his eyes with both
hands as though to escape a sight full of awe and horror.

“The soothsayer!” he exclaimed. “I see him ... in the midst of the
darkness.... He is stretching out his arms to clutch me.”

Then, with failing voice, he murmured:

“That was the prediction ... that vile ... death by a woman’s hand.”

As he spoke, without an effort to save himself, he fell prostrate on
the ground behind the boulder at the entrance of the cave, clouds of
dust whirling upward around him.

Byssa, so brave a few moments before, trembled from head to foot. Her
knees could no longer support her, and she sank down on a rock at the
other side of the entrance.

Her eyes, as if by some magic spell, were fixed upon the figure behind
the boulder. She saw the last convulsions shake the Pelasgian’s
shoulders; she saw his hand clench in a spasmodic tremor; she saw the
waxen hue of a corpse spread over his body--and could not avert her
gaze.


XIV.

How long Byssa sat thus she knew not.

She felt neither hope nor fear; she had no distinct consciousness of
what had happened.

A shadow passed before the entrance of the cave; there was a howl of
joy, and Byssa felt herself pushed against the cliff.

It was Bremon, who in delight at finding her trail at the foot of the
mountain, had snatched his chain from Lyrcus’ hand and now leaped upon
her, overwhelming her with caresses.

The dog’s affection cheered Byssa’s heart; she roused herself from her
stupor and covered the faithful animal with tears and kisses.

Again a shadow glided past the opening of the cavern.

Lyrcus, armed with spear and shield, stood before her, gazing wildly
beyond her into the cave as though his glance sought someone. Then he
looked searchingly into her eyes, as if he would fain read her inmost
soul.

Byssa rose--her knees no longer trembled. As though answering the
doubt in her husband’s glance, she pointed to the Pelasgian stretched
in the dust and said:

“I have killed him.”

A shudder ran through Lyrcus’ limbs and he stared, as though unable to
trust his eyes, at the lifeless form lying in the darkness.

“Byssa!” he cried, stretching out his arms to embrace his wife.

But she shrank back, shrieking:

“No, no, do not touch me.” Then in a low tone she added: “Shall I go to
Mekone to be purified from the blood?”

For a moment Lyrcus made no answer, then he replied:

“No. Go to your father. It was a righteous murder.”

When, a short time after, they left the cave Lyrcus lingered behind
and, unnoticed by his wife, drew the murderous weapon from the wound
and thrust it into his own belt.

Scarcely had Bremon followed the pair out, ere in his joy, he leaped
and danced around them, barking with all his might.

Instantly the whole mountain seemed to be alive. The loose stones above
the cave rattled again and, urged by some dark foreboding, Periphas’
faithful herdsman hastily descended. At the same time, from the nearest
chasm on each side, emerged half a score of armed men, yawning, rubbing
their eyes, and straightening their skin cloaks, as if suddenly roused
from sleep.

The shepherd entered the cave, but instantly came out again, looking
very pale and troubled, as pointing to the two retreating figures he
shouted wrathfully:

“Seize them! They have killed him ... with his own knife.”

The sleepy Pelasgians opened their eyes and several recognized the
Cychrean leader.

“It’s Lyrcus!” they shouted to the other party.

“Let us surround him,” was the reply.

The men approached from both sides and speedily formed a circle around
the departing pair. At each step they took the ring grew smaller.
Bremon noticed the danger, showed his teeth, growled, and no longer
wandered away from his master.

“Keep close behind me, wife,” said Lyrcus.

And, to obtain greater freedom of movement, he took off his upper
garment and flung it to her. Then, crouching slightly behind his
shield, he waited until the difficulty of marching on the uneven
surface of the mountain should make a breach in the Pelasgians’ circle.

“Follow me!” he called to Byssa, and set off at a run, but to give her
time did not go at full speed and, ere he knew it, he was surrounded.

With the courage given by superior strength Lyrcus now tried to fight
his way through. He felled two Pelasgians to the earth, and Bremon
furiously attacked two others and made them unfit for combat. But the
poor dog was soon killed, and Lyrcus needed all his skill in the use of
arms to defend himself.

Just at that moment a loud shout was heard close at hand.

“Hold! In the name of the gods, hold!”

A youth in full armor suddenly forced his way to Lyrcus and covered him
with his own body.

“Pelasgians!” he cried, “so brave a warrior ought not to die thus ...
one against many.”

Lyrcus’ assailants let their weapons fall and looked around them in
surprise. They were already outflanked by the young chieftain’s men.

Several raised their voices:

“This Cychrean has killed Periphas.”

“I know it,” replied the youth; “I heard the shepherd call to you. But
Periphas fell by his own deeds. He stole this man’s wife.”

Lyrcus had thrust his spear into the ground and used his sword when
his assailants pressed upon him. He now drew it out and approached the
young leader.

“Who are you, youth?” he asked in surprise; for he perceived by the
new-comers’ arms and dress that they were Pelasgians.

“My name is Nomion,” the young man answered: “I am a son of Hyllus,
surnamed ‘the old.’ Ten days ago he gave me the command of our tribe.
A few hours after I assembled the other chiefs to hold a council. My
most ardent desire is to establish peace and friendship between the
Pelasgians and Cychreans.”

Lyrcus shook his head.

“It will be no easy task. There is blood between us.”

“I can smooth over Periphas’ murder,” said Nomion, “but Tydeus’
assassination is a harder matter. How did he perish?”

“He fell in a popular brawl one day when I was away fishing.”

Nomion nodded with a look of satisfaction.

“I thought that you were absent,” he said.

Then, turning to his men, he shouted in a loud voice:

“This Cychrean and his wife are free. They can go where they list.”


XV.

The day was far advanced when Lyrcus and his wife reached Kranaai.
Weighed down by the sin of murder, Byssa could not enter the places
of general assembly and it was only with difficulty and by circuitous
paths that she approached the house of her father, the priest Ariston.

The outer room was empty--Byssa entered and silently seated herself
beside the hearth. Lyrcus thrust the bloody knife he had brought from
the cave into the earth at her feet.

Then he turned to go; but ere he did so fixed his eyes on Byssa with a
half-anxious, half-pitying look. He would gladly have extended his hand
to her, uttered a word of encouragement. But he dared not. A fugitive
murderer, until the rite of purification had been performed, was like a
person plague-stricken.

Lyrcus silently departed. Byssa hid her face in her hands, tears
trickled through her fingers.

As she sat there quietly she heard the business of the household
pursuing its usual course. Her father was whetting his sacrificial
knife, her mother was busying herself with the hand-mill, and the
female slave was chopping wood outside. Then her mother began to hum a
hymn:

    Zeus Ombrius, we pray thee
    Gentle, fruitful rain to send,
    Bless, refresh our native country,
    Bid the torturing drought to end.

How well Byssa knew those notes! Her whole soul yearned for her
parents--and now she must cause them so great a sorrow.

She dreaded the moment when her father would enter and see her sitting
by the hearth, crime-stained and unclean. How gladly she would have
warned him, that the surprise and shame might not kill the old man! But
a single word from her lips might bring misfortune.

So she remained sitting silently, hiding her face with both hands. Then
she heard a rustling, and a peculiar dry cough told her that her father
had entered.

A convulsive shudder ran through her limbs. She dared not raise her
eyes.

Ariston had come to put a vessel used to hold offerings in its place in
a recess in the wall. He was clad in a grey garment, worn when he was
occupied in the house. As he held the dish up to the light to see if it
was bright his glance rested upon Byssa.

At the sight of his daughter, sitting humbly beside the hearth, he
stared at her as though she were some terrible vision in a dream or a
spectre risen from Hades. He could not believe what he beheld--then he
perceived the knife thrust into the earth at her feet.

His face blanched almost as white as his snowy beard, the vessel fell
from his hand, and he stood for a moment as though turned to stone.
Then he pressed both hands on his breast.

“Horrible!” he faltered. “Byssa ... my gentle Byssa ... has shed blood!”

Byssa’s mother, Strybele, appeared in the doorway. Uttering a loud cry,
she rushed with outstretched arms toward her daughter.

Ariston hastily stepped between them.

“Come!” he said, and with resolute authority led his wife out of the
room.

“Ariston,” whispered the poor mother, “utter no curses, no evil words.
Remember, she is your daughter.”

When Ariston returned he was clad in his priestly robes. A long white
garment fell to his feet, and he wore around his brow a chaplet.

He approached Byssa. In the deep stillness of the house the mother was
heard sobbing and praying within.

Ariston, raising his voice, said with great solemnity:

“Zeus was, Zeus is, and Zeus will be; oh, supreme god Zeus! In thy
name, Catharsius, cleanser from all guilt, in thy name Meilichius,
all-merciful one, I say to ... this woman....”

At the last word his voice trembled.

“This is thy command, oh Zeus. Purification shall be given to him who
comes humbly to ask for purification. No one must ask his name, no one
must inquire the name of him who is slain; for it is seemly to keep
silence in the presence of the unclean. But no one, neither man nor
woman, shall refuse to yield him the blessing of purification.”

Ariston then brought the animal to be sacrificed, a tiny sucking-pig.
The blood flowed from a wound in the neck.

At the sight of the red stream he fixed an accusing glance on his
daughter’s head and then raised his eyes to Heaven, as though seeking
refuge from inexpressible agony.

“Woman,” he murmured, “prepare!”

Byssa stretched out her arms.

Ariston held the animal before her and let the blood stream down over
her hands, repeating in a low voice:

“Blood expiates blood.”

Then he brought a basin of consecrated water in which Byssa’s mother,
to strengthen its effect, had placed a brand from the altar before the
house.

Invoking Zeus as the god of purification and the guardian of those who
prayed, he washed Byssa’s hands and arms. When this was accomplished
he burned the cakes and other offerings, first pouring on them as a
libation water mixed with honey--meantime praying that Zeus would
restrain the wrath of the goddess of vengeance and show himself
merciful and gracious.

Then, taking Byssa’s hand, he drew her up from the hearth.

“My daughter,” he said, “the blood is expiated and the uncleanness
washed away with consecrated water. Thou art no longer an outcast,
odious to the gods. Thou canst again enter the places of assemblage and
the temples consecrated to the deities; thou canst once more mingle
among thy companions, amid bond and free. But this is not all. Now that
thou hast obtained the forgiveness of the gods, thou must be answerable
to men....”

Strybele anxiously entered, approached Ariston, and seized his arm.

“What will be done to her?” she asked.

“Justice.”

“Will she be punished?”

“Yes, if she has sinned.”

With these words Ariston led his daughter into the inner room. A
cold perspiration stood on his brow, and the muscles around his lips
quivered. He who had cleansed Byssa from blood did not yet know
_whose_ blood she had shed.

“Speak!” he said, “and conceal nothing from us.”

Strybele silently pressed her daughter’s hand.

Byssa raised her calm black eyes to her father’s face and answered:

“I have nothing to conceal.”

Then she related the expedition to the fountain, the abduction, and
the stay in the cave on Mt. Hymettus. But when she spoke of her appeal
to Zeus and the sacred tremor with which, as swiftly as the lightning,
she had obeyed the god’s sign, Ariston’s eyes sparkled and, bending low
with his arms folded on his breast, he said:

“Zeus deserts no one. But praised be thou, my daughter, for having
heard the god’s voice. In saving yourself, you slew the Cychreans’ foe.
The nation to which thy husband belongs owes thee thanks and honor.”

Strybele pressed Byssa to her bosom and mother and daughter, clasped in
each other’s embrace, wept long together.


XVI.

At noon Lyrcus came back to Kranaai for his wife. He found her
reconciled to gods and men, gay and happy in the reverent admiration
of her parents. Ariston was proud of his daughter’s having received a
sign from Zeus, and Strybele tenderly smoothed her dark hair as though
she were still a child.

The meeting between Lyrcus and Byssa was as touching as if there had
been a long separation.

On their return to the Cychrean city they found the place of assembly
filled with an anxious throng. Several boys, while returning from
bird-snaring, had seen in the distance parties of Pelasgians moving
towards the cliff.

Lyrcus carried Byssa into the house and then, hurrying to the edge of
the bluff, gazed out over the plain.

He had not waited long ere dark groups appeared from between the low
hills. There were more than one chieftain’s men.

Lyrcus was already in the act of calling his people to arms, when his
eye fell on several Pelasgians marching in front of the others and
among them Nomion. The young chief held in his left hand an olive
branch and, instead of resting his lance on his shoulder he carried it
under his arm, with its point turned towards the earth.

At this sign of peace Lyrcus felt great relief, and the feeling was
much strengthened when Nomion and his companions left their men behind
a bow-shot from the cliff.

Shortly after the young Pelasgian, accompanied by three or four other
leaders, stood before Lyrcus. When he had heard their errand he sounded
the horn five times as a signal for the assembling of the oldest and
most respected men in the tribe.

After all had met and formed a large semi-circle in the place of
assemblage, Lyrcus stepped forward with Nomion by his side.

“Cychreans!” he shouted, “listen in silence to what this stranger has
to say.”

Then he asked Nomion to step on a block of stone, where he could be
seen and heard by all.

The young Pelasgian chief had laid aside helmet, armor, spear, and
shield. A gold circlet confined his waving black hair, and a white
cloak with a broad yellow border fell in graceful folds a little below
his knees. All eyes rested with pleasure on the handsome youth.

“Cychreans!” he said in a clear, loud voice, “we Pelasgians have
come--if you agree--to conclude peace and form an alliance with you.”

A murmur of approval greeted the words; for though the Cychreans had
recently conquered, the horrors of war were too freshly remembered for
them not to prefer peace.

“As you know,” Nomion continued, “we live in friendship with the
Cranai. We now desire that there shall also be a good understanding
between us and you. One of our chiefs, who was your bitterest foe, is
no more. He was a rich and distinguished man, and his funeral will be
so magnificent that it will be talked about far and wide. A huge pyre
shall be erected for him and tall urns, filled with oil and honey,
shall be placed at the corners of the bier; sheep and oxen, dogs and
horses shall be slain and burned upon the pyre. But one thing we will
not do--we do not mean to avenge his death. He is responsible for his
own deeds, and it is a just punishment that he fell by a woman’s hand.
Since he had taken her for a hostage, she ought to have been sacred to
him.”

“Yes, yes, the youth speaks the truth!” murmured the Elders, and some
applauded him.

After Nomion had explained his wishes more definitely and some of
the Elders of the Cychrean nation had spoken, both parties agreed to
conclude peace and form an alliance for twenty years.

Lyrcus, with an impatient gesture, said:

“Then I can close my forge and break my weapons.”

Nomion smiled.

“You don’t mean that, Lyrcus,” he replied, “for what man is mad enough
to prefer war to peace? Is not war like a tempest or an earthquake? It
turns everything upside down. In peace the sons bury their fathers, but
in war fathers bury their sons.”

To strengthen the compact a lamb was offered to Zeus, to the sun, and
to the earth--to Zeus and the sun a white wether for the glittering
masculine divinity, but to the earth a black ewe-lamb as if to a female
deity that acted in secret. During the offerings prayers were addressed
not only to the three gods, but to the rivers and to the deities of the
nether world who avenge perjury.

Finally there was a foaming mixture prepared from Cychrean and
Pelasgian wine, and during the libation an invocation was solemnly
repeated.

“Oh, Zeus! oh, Sun, oh Earth!... If any one dares to violate this
compact, let his brains and his children’s brains be poured out on the
ground like this wine.”

Thus they sought to secure peace.

After the sacrifices were finished, several voices shouted:

“Hail to Lyrcus! The honor is his--he trained us in the use of arms.”

“Hail to Byssa!” cried another.

“Honor to Byssa, Byssa the strong and brave. She has received a sign
from Zeus.”

“She killed the man who brought war upon us.”

“Hail to Byssa! We want to see Byssa.”

Lyrcus smiled, yet his brows contracted in a frown. He felt half proud,
half jealous.

But the shouts became so loud and persistent that he was forced to
yield and hurried into his house.

When he came out again, leading Byssa by the hand, every eye was fixed
upon the pretty native of Kranaai.

She wore an ample snow-white over-garment and on her head a blue
Sidonian veil, which encircled her black hair like a wreath.

Hundreds of voices greeted her with the shout:

“Hail, Byssa! Avenger of thyself and of thy people.”

Byssa stood motionless, pale with emotion. Lyrcus made a sign that he
wished to speak; but the people cried: “No, no, let thy wife speak.”

Byssa blushed and lowered her eyes, but she did not lose her presence
of mind.

A death-like silence reigned over the whole place and, though Byssa
did not speak loudly, every word uttered by her clear, resonant voice
reached the farthest ranks of soldiers.

“Cychreans!” she said, “women, it seems to me, should be silent among
men; for only a man is fit to answer men. Yet, since you give me
liberty to speak, know that I have only fulfilled a higher command. So
raise your voices with me and say: Praised be the supreme god, Zeus
Hypsistos.”

Then a deafening shout was raised by hundreds of voices. Even the
cliffs repeated:

“Zeus Hypsistos.”

From that day Lyrcus never asked Byssa to accompany the other women to
Melite’s sanctuary. And when some talked of the miracles performed by
the goddess of the place he smiled like one who knows better and said:

“Yet Zeus is the mightiest.”

[Illustration]



THE SYCOPHANT.

SECOND YEAR OF THE 89TH OLYMPIAD (423 B.C.)



[Illustration]



THE SYCOPHANT.


I.

Callippides was universally detested in Athens. Every one knew him to
be one of the most dangerous informers, who lived by extorting money
from people by threatening them with some ruinous impeachment.

When he entered a workshop, a hair-dresser’s, or a lesche,[C] any of
the places where the citizens met to discuss the incidents of the day
or to drive a bargain, one after another stole away till he was left
alone. If he bought a fillet from one of the pretty perfume dealers in
the market-place, she put his copper coins aside that they might not
become mixed with the other money and so bring ill-luck to the day’s
receipts; if he spoke in the street to a female slave who knew the
residents of the city she hurried off, and if he had merely laid the
tips of his fingers on her arm, she rubbed it with the palm of her hand
as though some poisonous reptile had touched her. If he was seen in any
one’s company more than once, that person was known to be a timid man
who was trying to flatter and cajole him in order to be safe from him.
In other respects he led so solitary a life that a well-known jester,
the parasite Meidias, said of him that “the only thing that stood near
him was his shadow.”

                                  [C] A sort of portico, supplied with
                                      seats, and free to all.

Yet there was _one_ person in Athens who valued him. This was
Pyrrhander, the Ildmand,[D] to whom he was inestimable in tracking the
hetaeriae or secret societies and who, when Callippides was mentioned,
used to say: “He’s the best sleuth-hound in our pack.”

                                  [D] Ildmand--the red-haired, seems to
                                      have been a nickname for Cleon,
                                      who at this time was treasurer.
                                      (Aristophanes, equites v. 901.)

The sycophant was by no means frightful in his external appearance. On
the contrary, he was a stately man. Of noble lineage, he had belonged
in his youth to the select circle of the “gilded youth” of Athens, and
in the company of the young Eupatridae, Proxenides and Theagenes, he
had squandered his ancestral property in a few years upon horses and
chariots. At every horse and chariot race he was seen among the most
excited spectators. No one could say how often he had been thrown from
his chariot while swinging around the race-course, or how frequently
a snorting, foaming team of four horses had been driven over him. The
last time this had happened he had been kicked so violently on the
head by one of the steeds that he always bore the mark of it. He was
so severely injured that the physician, Pittalus, had already sent a
messenger for the wailing women.

When Callippides regained his health, his passion for horses and
chariots was at an end. His fortune was expended and, like so many
Athenians of rank before him, he now sold his last Samphora steed and
bought the sandals of a sycophant. With this foot-covering, which made
every step noiseless, he stole around the market-place like a snake or
a scorpion, listened to backbiters, came behind whispering couples,
questioned slaves and soon became as full of unsavory secrets as a
marsh is full of croaking frogs. These secrets he used for his own
profit and the ruin of others.

In his almost deserted house in the street of the Potters not far
from the Pnyx, the market, and the Prytaneum he had a strange, dismal
room, whose like was not to be found in Athens, and which he jestingly
called his Opisthodomus, treasure-chamber. The name was no pious one
and showed no deep reverence for the gods; for the real Opisthodomus,
the apartment where the treasures of the state were kept, was a sacred
place behind the Parthenon and was placed under the protection of
Athene Polias, the defender of the city. But Callippides only used this
title when he was talking to his faithful old Manes, a slave nearly
seventy years old who, like the house, had been a legacy to him from
his ancestors.

Whoever had expected to find gold and silver in Callippides’
treasure-chamber would have been greatly mistaken.

The apartment was almost empty, the only furniture it contained being
an old arm-chair, a sort of high seat with a foot-stool beside a little
table. The riches of the chamber consisted of the notes which covered
its white walls--all written in a firm, elegant hand. They were found
by the score, were as tersely composed as possible, and were all
accurately marked with the day, month, and Archon’s year. Over the door
leading to the peristyle were the following inscriptions:

  “POLYCLES, SON OF STRATON. _Accused of deserting from the
  military service. Sentenced to the_ LOSS OF THE RIGHTS OF
  CITIZENSHIP, THOUGH WITHOUT FORFEITURE OF PROPERTY.”

  “MANTITHEUS, SON OF CTESIPHON. _Accused of secret understanding
  with the Spartans. Ran away. Punished by the erection of a pillar
  of infamy_ INSCRIBED WITH HIS NAME.”

These and a number of other notes were written with charcoal; but
directly over the entrance, in the most conspicuous place in the room,
there were a large collection written with red chalk and embracing the
most severe and terrible punishments. The first and second of these
inscriptions ran as follows:

  “STEPHANUS, SON OF EUCTEMON. _Accused of treason. Sentenced_ TO
  DRINK THE HEMLOCK.

  “NAUSICRATES, SON OF GLAUCUS. _Accused of having tempted his
  step-mother to commit adultery._ HURLED INTO THE GULF.”

Yet in his way Callippides seemed to be an honest man, for, little as
it might have been expected, here and there appeared a sentence whose
result had gone against him, as for instance:

  “POLEMARCHUS, SON OF CALLIAS. _Accused of fraud. Sentenced by
  the_ Forty _to loss of the rights of citizenship and forfeiture
  of property. The decree_ DECLARED INVALID _by the_ dicasts of the
  people _because founded on the deposition of a false witness_.”

True, this inscription was placed in the darkest corner, where no
one would easily seek it, and what the record did not relate was
that the affair had almost proved a bad one for Callippides--so bad
that Pyrrhander, the Ildmand, had required all his influence to save
him. But this concealment must be regarded as an allowable military
stratagem.

It is certain that the “treasure-chamber” rarely failed in its purpose.
Here Callippides used to bring his victims, the unfortunates who
were threatened with a dangerous accusation. Scarcely did they find
themselves here when, on some pretext, he left them alone. As they
read the gloomy records, read them by scores, at first with surprise,
then with anxiety, and finally with increasing fear, there were few who
had confidence in the justice of their cause. As they stood there alone
with throbbing hearts, quaking with dread lest everything which in a
short time would belong to their Past should make a fresh inscription
on these ill-boding walls, the written characters gradually began to
run into each other before their eyes; the red letters seemed to be
inscribed with blood, and even firm, brave men were ready, almost
without exception, to come to terms with Callippides without bargaining
as to price, if he would only promise to let the accusation drop. In
this way the “treasure-chamber” justified its name, there was not a
little money in it.

Strangely enough there was one place in the room where a whole row of
records was erased, leaving only a dark stain on the white wall. It had
happened in this way.

From the first the old slave, Manes, had not liked these notes. During
the greater part of his life he had served Philocles, Callippides’
father. The latter had been one of the most distinguished of the
Athenian citizens and had filled the most important offices; he had
been commander of a trireme, inspector of the city walls, and member
of the Council of Five Hundred. Messengers from tributary cities never
came to Athens without seeking him, to bring him costly gifts, as one
of her principal citizens.

The room in which he used to receive them was the prettiest in the
house, and richly furnished with brass tripods, ivory couches,
magnificent vases, and Milesian carpets.

This was the apartment of which the son, Callippides, made so unworthy
a use. Every time a new inscription was placed on the walls which to
Manes seemed so sacred he felt as though he had received a stab in his
honest old heart. One day, when the number had again increased, he
plucked up courage and, without asking permission, he was beginning to
wash the walls as if merely intending to clean the room. But he had
scarcely commenced, when Callippides came behind him.

Their eyes met. The master looked so sharply at the servant that for
the first time in many years the old man’s pale, wrinkled cheeks
flushed.

“Well, well!” said Callippides drily and, without another word, he
seized the largest whip he had left from the time of his passion for
horse-racing and belabored the luckless Manes’ back until the shrieking
slave clasped his knees and begged for mercy.

“Blockhead!” muttered Callippides, flinging the scourge into a corner,
“don’t you know that these notes are my livelihood.”

From that day the old man never meddled with the inscriptions.

Whatever the “treasure-chamber” brought in, Callippides had not
succeeded in making a new fortune. Men like him, with a restless mind
and tireless body, only give up one passion to devote themselves to
another. He who, when a youth, had cared for nothing except horses and
chariots, now, in his fortieth year, could not see a pretty hetaera
fasten up her dress to dance without having his heart kindle with the
most ardent love. It was no longer Menippus, the horse-dealer, but
Philostratus, the go-between, with whom he had business. Just before we
made his acquaintance it was said that, by a written agreement, he had
hired the key of Philostratus’ garden gate for two months that he might
be able to steal in to visit his youngest daughter, fifteen year old
Charixena. This bargain, in which the father had sold his daughter, was
rumored to have cost Callippides two bright staters.[E] It was with the
profit of his wiles, with blood-money, that he paid for the key of the
quiet room where Dionysus and Aphrodite, the deities of joy, were to
receive him.

                                  [E] A stater was about 20 drachmae--at
                                      that time a considerable sum. An
                                      archon received for his daily pay
                                      only 2 drachmae.

But Aphrodite did not allow herself to be mocked.

Behind Callippides’ house lay a garden which was in a very neglected
condition, so overgrown with weeds that there was scarcely an avenue
or path, and the statue of Hermes in front of the house had fallen and
rested on one side. An old stone seat under a tall leafy plane-tree was
in better preservation, and here Callippides used to seek coolness and
shade during the burning heat of noon.

While resting there one day, half drowsily turning the leaves of a
yellow roll of manuscript, he heard a door in the next house open
and saw a young female slave come out to spread a carpet over a
prettily-carved _aiōra_ (swing) which was hung in the shadiest place
between the pillars of the house. Directly after a little girl seven or
eight years old, dressed in white, came skipping out and was lifted on
to the rug by the slave. But the swing had scarcely been set in motion
before it began to rock unsteadily and the child, growing impatient,
leaned back in the seat and shouted:

“No, Chloris, not you! Stop, stop! My sister knows how to do it a great
deal better.” Then the little one began to scream with all her might:
“Melitta, Melitta!”

The sycophant, whose profession required him to know everything,
remembered at the child’s call that the young girl who bore this name
must be a daughter of General Myronides, who had recently inherited
the next house, and that she was reputed to be _amechanōs kalē_,
irresistibly pretty. So it was not without eager expectation that he
awaited her coming. Then he heard a young girl’s voice inside the
house, singing:

   “Amid the vines, amid the leaves
    Peer forth the lustrous grapes....”

The singer approached, and Callippides’ heart throbbed faster.

But he was not taken by surprise when the door opened. Rumor had
told the truth; for she was beautiful, fairer than any woman he had
ever seen--half child, half maiden, like Polycleitus’ bewitching
basket-bearers.[F]

                                  [F] Basket-bearers. This was the
                                      name given to a chosen band of
                                      citizens’ daughters who, at
                                      the Panathenaic Festival, took
                                      part in the great procession of
                                      the whole Athenian population.
                                      They carried on their heads
                                      baskets containing offerings. A
                                      representation in marble of these
                                      beautiful Attic virgins was the
                                      sculptor Polycleitus’ most famous
                                      work.

She laughed so gaily and carelessly at her little sister’s impatience
that her dark eyes sparkled and her white teeth glittered between her
scarlet lips, then as the child turned, stretching its arms towards
her, she darted to her, embracing and kissing the little one.

“Swing me, Melitta, swing me!” cried the child. “Chloris can’t do it.”

Melitta fastened the purple fillet tighter around her black locks,
removed the upper garment worn over her red-bordered dress, and told
the slave to carry it into the house; then, leaning forward, she put
the swing in motion.

So this was Melitta, the irresistibly pretty Melitta.

Callippides’ glance rested as though spell-bound on the young maiden
with the dark eyes, smiling lips, and slender, girlish figure. As she
stood there in her light robe in the shadow between the pillars of
the house, she was surrounded by such an atmosphere of purity that
it defended her like a shield against evil thoughts. From the black
curls that slipped out beneath the purple fillet to the gold-broidered
sandals everything about her was full of childlike grace.

“Higher!” cried the little girl joyously, striking her feet together
till the sandal straps clapped.

Melitta bent still lower to give the swing a stronger push. This
loosened the gold clasp that fastened her dress at the neck, and the
dainty dazzling shoulders appeared a moment.

Callippides knew himself, so he was surprised that no flush of passion
had crimsoned his face. In the midst of his secret agitation, he
recognized this fact as a sign that he was no longer the same man.

As Melitta soon after stopped the swing and helped the child out,
her glance fell on the next garden where Callippides, half concealed
by some bushes, stood motionless as a statue in the shade of the
plane-tree.

Callippides was a tall, distinguished-looking man. His dark hair
and beard were cut by Sporgilus, the best barber in Athens, and the
blood-red scar made by the horse’s hoof on the crown of his head
was partially concealed by the hair which, in this place, had grown
somewhat thin. His features were dark and stern, but in consequence of
his arduous exercises in the race-course, he had retained a bearing
which made him ten years younger. Like all Athenians of noble birth,
he paid great attention to his person and most frequently wore a
snow-white chiton or tunic of the finest Milesian wool, with a blue
over-garment of Persian kaunakē, a kind of costly rough woollen fabric
imported from Sardis. Down to the light soles which belonged to his
calling of sycophant he was, in short, in everything an exquisite, a
dandy, but in such a way that he did not make himself ridiculous. His
gait showed none of the affected stiffness with which Athenian coxcombs
tried to attract attention, and he never carried a short staff under
his cloak nor walked with a fragrant Median apple in his hands when he
appeared out of doors.

Women have quick eyes. Melitta, with a single glance, received an
impression of his whole person. The tall, grave, bearded man seemed
to her to resemble her father--the only free citizen whom in her
monotonous life in the women’s apartments she had had an opportunity
to notice. She let the child go in first, and turned her head again.
Melitta was very fond of her father. She wanted to see whether she had
been right--whether the man in the next garden resembled him.

At the young girl’s movement a flood of joy swept through Callippides’
heart, and he became even happier when he fancied he read good-will in
the look with which Melitta gazed at him.

The sycophant was not spoiled by good-will.

When Melitta had disappeared he walked towards the house as if in a
dream. At the sun-dial he found old Manes who, bending over the pin,
was in the act of reading the hour. He looked intently at him but the
slave did not seem to have noticed anything.

Callippides went into the “treasure-chamber” and took his seat in the
arm-chair. He imagined that he still saw Melitta with the purple fillet
around her black curls, with her dark eyes, smiling lips, and dazzling
shoulders. There was something in the girl’s fresh youth which moved
his inmost soul. He, the voluptuary, who was ever seeking to devise
some new pleasure, thought that the highest joy he could fancy would
be to hold Melitta’s hand in his.

“By the Graces!” he exclaimed, “she is a living human flower.”

Suddenly it became evident to him that in a few moments, a far shorter
time than the water-clock required to run out, he had become an
entirely different person. A shudder ran through his limbs and--as if
afraid to hear his own words, he murmured softly:

“Callippides no longer belongs to himself.”

When he again raised his head and looked at the walls they seemed to
him, for the first time, as they had appeared to Manes. He did not like
the inscriptions, there was something about them which disturbed him,
so he went into the next room and threw himself on a couch where he
fell into deep thought. He lay thus a long time; the day declined more
and more, the short twilight merged into the deep shades of evening.
When he roused himself and looked through the open door the stars were
shining over the peristyle.

He called Manes and told him to light the lamp.

As he rose from the couch his glance fell upon his foot-gear, which,
contrary to habit and custom, he had kept on after having come in from
the garden. At the sight of the thin soles, the token of his trade of
sycophant, he shuddered.

“How cold the wind blows!” he muttered as though to deceive himself.

Then he called again, thrust out his foot, and said:

“Manes, take off my soles, and”--he spoke hurriedly--“burn them and
all the others of the same kind I possess.”

The old man stood as if he were petrified. If his master had been a
soldier and had ordered him to break his sword, he could not have been
more dumb with amazement.

“Don’t you hear?” said Callippides sternly.

Manes knelt before him, but his hands trembled so that he was unable to
open the buckles.

“You are growing old, Manes,” said Callippides more gently as though he
regretted his harshness.

Then he put his foot on the edge of the couch to unfasten the straps
himself; but, ere he had touched them with his hands, started up and,
with two vigorous kicks, hurled them into the farthest corner of the
chamber, where they fell on the ground with a clapping noise.

“Did you hear?” he said to Manes, “the dumb soles spoke. It was their
farewell.”

Callippides then drew from his belt a key with three wards which he
gave to Manes, saying:

“Take it to Philostratus to-morrow morning.”

Mares passed from one surprise to another.

“What shall I say to him?” he asked timidly.

“That I have no farther use for it.”

The old man scarcely believed his ears. He clasped his hands, but dared
not speak.

“What would you say, Manes,” asked Callippides, “if you should see me
some day with a helmet on my head leading a troop of horsemen?”

At these words the aged face brightened and the old man fixed his eyes
with almost a father’s tenderness upon the master whom, when a child,
he had often played with on his knee.

“The day I see you leader of the band of horsemen,” he exclaimed, “the
day the bridal torches....”

Manes got no farther; at the last word Callippides started up and
covered his mouth with his hand.

“Silence, old fool!” he cried sternly. “You are talking about things
which don’t concern you. Do you want me to tear your tongue out of your
mouth and fling it to the dogs?”

The slave silently slunk away, trembling from head to foot.

Contrary to his custom Callippides, during the following days, remained
at home and did not fail to spend the afternoon hours in the garden.
But day after day slipped by without his having the smallest glimpse
of Melitta. The door of the next house often opened; but it was only a
female slave who came out to gather flowers, pluck fruits, or bring in
from the garden the stuffs that had been washed. As each day elapsed,
Callippides became more and more depressed.

One night, as he sat half erect on his couch, unable to sleep, he saw
through the open door a narrow ray of light which fell upon the flags
in the courtyard. Surprised, he rose; the light came from Manes’ room.
Fearing that the old man might be ill, he went to him at once.

Manes was sitting working on a pair of sandals, whose straps were
not in the best condition. When Callippides entered, he was evidently
startled and confused and tried to hide something behind his chair.

“What are you doing, Manes?” asked Callippides.

“Putting new straps to a pair of old sandals.”

“Whose are they?”

“Mine.”

“And these?” asked Callippides, taking from behind the chair a pair of
little sandals for a child seven or eight years old, “are these yours
too?”

Manes silently tried to avoid his master’s eye.

Callippides now understood something of which hitherto he had not
thought, and knew to whom he owed the frugal meals which had been set
before him during the last few days.

Yet he said nothing. Callippides was a man of few words.

He stood still a moment gazing silently at the old slave, who scarcely
knew whether he might venture to continue his work or not. Suddenly
Callippides laid his hand upon his shoulder and said with a strange
gentleness in his voice:

“Go to rest. Manes; you have worked enough to-day.”

The old man seized his master’s hand and kissed it. At that moment he
would have died for him.

The next day Callippides, contrary to his usual custom, went out into
the garden before noon. Some presentiment told him that this time it
would not be in vain. He had remained there only a few minutes when,
through the half open door of the next house, he fancied he heard a
child’s voice utter Melitta’s name.

Almost at the same moment the young girl came out, accompanied by an
old female slave. Taking from her hand a graceful jug, she began to
water the rarer flowers which were planted nearest to the house. Then
she searched for buds, removed the withered blossoms, and tied up the
drooping branches; in short, she busied herself a long time among the
flowers, and at every movement her slender figure displayed some fresh
girlish charm.

To-day she wore on her dark locks a gold clasp which fastened a blue
fillet above her brow, and her white garment was trimmed with a double
border of the same color. It seemed to Callippides that the young girl
looked a little graver, but even more beautiful than when he first saw
her.

As she came to the clump of bushes nearest to the next garden she
perceived Callippides. The slave, who was holding a red umbrella over
her young mistress’ head, followed the direction of her glance, but had
scarcely caught sight of the sycophant when she dropped the umbrella
and seized the girl’s arm as though some danger threatened her.

Melitta turned in astonishment, and the slave hastily uttered a few
words which made her mistress frown. She seemed to contradict her
attendant, who became more and more vehement.

Callippides had sharp ears--he was a sycophant--and the distance from
the two speakers to the spot where he stood was only thirty or forty
paces. First he caught one of the slave’s words, then more, until at
last he distinctly heard her say:

“As sure as you’re General Myronides’ daughter, he belongs to the
venomous brood whose pathway is filled with curses, blood, and corpses.
You can see for yourself that he is marked by the wrath of the gods! Is
not his shadow blacker than other men’s?”

As Callippides stood in the green dusk under the plane-tree, with the
white wall of the house behind him, so dense a shadow really fell
upon him that, from the sunlit spot where the two women stood, it was
impossible to discern the colors in his dress.

Disturbed by the slave’s words, Melitta herself fancied she saw
something spectral and threatening in the tall, dark man. With a shriek
she dropped the water-jar, gathered the folds of her robe around her,
and rushed into the house. By the terror with which she closed the
door behind her, Callippides understood that it had shut between them
forever.

Quietly as ever, though somewhat paler than usual, he went back to the
house. Sometimes he fancied he again heard the door banged, and each
time he felt as though his heart would break.

The lonely and desolate condition, the seclusion from intercourse with
others in which he had spent his later years had often weighed heavily,
nay almost unendurably upon him, yet never had his heart been so empty,
so dead to all hope, as now. “Alas!” he murmured, “everything might
have been different, entirely different--but it is too late.” He gazed
steadily into vacancy, and his eyes expressed a sombre resolve.

Soon after he had come in from the garden he sat down to write, but
twice tore up what he had traced before he was satisfied. Then he made
an exact copy of it.

“Now it only needs the signatures of the witnesses,” he said to
himself, as he put his seal-ring on his finger.

After standing for some time absorbed in deep thought, he took from a
chest a flask with a wicker basket-work covering called a _lagynos_.
When he had assured himself that it was empty, he smelled it and was in
the act of calling Manes when he suddenly stopped.

“Why wash it?” he said, looking at the flask with a strange smile. “It
can have held nothing worse than I intend to buy.”

Callippides then left the house, and did not return until the evening.

Manes had scarcely lighted the double-wicked lamp, when his master said
in a curt, imperious tone:

“Bring water, efface these inscriptions, and wash the walls clean.”

The old man would fain have hugged his master, but he had not forgotten
how badly he had fared when he let fall a word about the hymeneal
torches. Yet never had he obeyed a command with greater joy. Still,
zealously as he worked, it was not quick enough for Callippides.

With a restlessness very unusual, he wandered to and fro hurrying the
slave every moment.

At last the walls were partially cleaned, but the water stood in great
pools on the flagged floor.

“Let it stay,” said Callippides curtly, “it will soon sink into the
ground.”

Then he added:

“Come here, Manes!” and, after having gazed at him with a long, earnest
glance, he said with the same strange gentleness as on the evening
before.

“You have always been a faithful servant to me.”

Something in both words and tone surprised the old man.

“Is the master going away?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“For a long time?”

“Perhaps so,” replied Callippides with a faint smile.

Towards dawn Manes had a strange dream. It seemed to him that a vast
shining Shape formed of mist, with wings on its cap and heels, came
floating in to his master and took him by the hand. Scarcely had this
happened ere his master himself became a misty form and both soared
noiselessly away.

The old man awoke with a shudder. He felt a chill on his brow as though
wings were waving around him, and did not exactly know whether he was
awake or dreaming.

Seized by a gloomy foreboding, he rose from his couch. To his terror
Callippides’ sleeping-room was empty. The couch was untouched, the
pillow had not been pressed, and an old over-garment lay carefully
rolled at the foot. It was evident that no one had slept there during
the night.

When he entered the “treasure-chamber,” he felt greatly relieved at
seeing his master sitting in the arm-chair. His head was resting
against the high back and his eyes were closed. He was apparently
sleeping.

The old man approached--a penetrating, disagreeable odor, proceeding
from a goblet on the table reached him--the smell of hemlock.

He now understood everything.

“Dead!” he murmured, “dead!” he repeated, as though he could not
believe his own words.

Motionless and carefully attired as usual, Callippides sat in the
high-backed chair he had inherited. His dark hair and beard were
redolent of perfume, there was not a spot to be seen on his light robe,
and shining rings glittered on his fingers. The only thing which showed
he had fought his last battle, was that his right hand was pressed
against his side as if in an attack of pain, while the left hung
loosely over the arm of the chair. His features were dark and grave,
but neither darker nor graver than usual, and a ray of the dawning day
cast a delusive semblance of life upon his pallid cheeks.

Directly above him on the white wall were two lines of an imperfectly
washed inscription.

Manes, fixing his eyes on it, read:

            ... “Sentenced _to
    drink the hemlock_.”

At the sight of these words, which stood there like the inscription on
a tomb, marked by the finger of retribution, tears streamed from the
old slave’s eyes.

“Zeus Soter be merciful to him,” he murmured. “He has sentenced
himself!”

Directly after Manes saw a sheet of papyrus lying on the table. Taking
it up with a trembling hand he read:

  “COPY
  OF
  CALLIPPIDES’ LAST WILL.

  “May all be well! I hereby make the following disposition of
  my estate. The little rented dwelling in the Piræeus shall be
  sold to the highest bidder and the money used for my funeral
  obsequies, which must be worthy of my birth. The tomb shall be
  built on the road to Budoron, opposite to the garden attached to
  General Myronides’ country-seat, and the memorial stone is to
  be a plain column inscribed with the name and date of birth and
  death. Nothing more.

  “I free my slave Manes and, as I have no relatives, I give him
  for his property my house in the Street of the Potters, with the
  garden belonging to it, on condition that he always takes care of
  the tomb.

  “The papyrus furnished with a seal, of which this is a copy, is
  deposited with Philon, son of Sophilus. The witnesses are: Lycon,
  son of Hegesias, and Charicles, son of Theron.”

By the side of the papyrus lay a note in which was written:

  “To Manes:

  “Conceal the manner of my death, that I may go to the grave
  unmutilated.[G] Say that you found me dead in the chair.

  “In a box on the table is a ring with an exquisitely-carved
  stone, representing Charis bathing her mistress Aphrodite in the
  sacred grove at Paphos. Take the ornament to Melitta, General
  Myronides’ daughter, and say to her: ‘My dead master Callippides,
  your neighbor, begs you to accept this ring, which belonged to
  his mother. You can wear it without fear; from the day he first
  saw you he has not been a sycophant.’

  “To you, my faithful Manes, I say: Farewell, and do not grieve.
  It is better to have poison in the body than in the soul.”

                                  [G] It was the custom to punish
                                      suicides by cutting off the right
                                      hand.

The old man gave free course to his tears.

As if in a dream he heard the birds twittering in the garden; the
refreshing fragrance of the dewy verdure entered, filling the room, and
through the still morning air echoed nearer and nearer the rumbling of
chariots. Outside was heard the Acharnians’ usual cry in the streets:

“Buy charcoal! Buy vinegar!”

The unexpected and the usual, stillness and awakening traffic,
death and life, blended so strangely in this hour that the old man
experienced a feeling he had never before known.

Without knowing what he was doing he knelt and kissed his dead master’s
hand, then clasping his own he cried in his simple, honest fashion:

“May the twelve Olympians grant him every blessing! He was a kind
master.”

[Illustration]



THE HETAERIA.

THE SECOND YEAR OF THE 91ST OLYMPIAD (415 B.C.)



[Illustration]



THE HETAERIA.


I.

Hipyllos had not mentioned where he was going. Old Myrmex, who
accompanied him with a blazing pine-torch, did not rack his brains
to discover, but trudged on with dull indifference, following his
young master step by step. His most distinct feeling was that he was
beginning to be tired. They had already traversed the greater part of
Athens, and at this time--the year Chabrias was archon--Athens was a
large city.

Shortly after sunset the master and slave had quitted Hipyllos’
house, just inside the Acharnian Gate, and passed through the length
of Colonus, the most northern portion of the city. Then they walked
by the “Big Stones” of the Acropolis with their numerous niches for
votive offerings, which may still be seen at the present day. From
the Prytaneium they had followed the Street of the Tripods, with its
temples of the gods and huge brazen tripods, and had gone from the
Odeium down through the Theatre of Dionysus, over whose orchestra
people were in the habit of making a short cut, as the huge building,
with the exception of a few festival days, stood empty almost all
the year. Next they had followed the Street of the Temples along the
southern edge of the citadel, where no fewer than six marble temples
gleamed through the twilight shadows at the foot of the dark cliff.

Hipyllos had made this circuit to consume the time until the lamps were
lighted in the houses. The moment had now come, more and more points of
light glimmered through the dusk.

From the Street of the Temples master and man turned into a narrow
alley, which wound between the houses, trees, and garden-walls. There
was and is still a marked difference between the air in this quarter
and the atmosphere of the rest of Athens. South of the Acropolis a
refreshing sea-breeze usually blows over country and city.

Hipyllos, inhaling the damp air with delight, pursued his walk. He had
a joyous face, and his whole person illumined by the red torch-glare
made a striking impression. His white upper-garment, adorned with a
blue border, formed a picturesque contrast to his sunburnt skin and
black locks, and every movement of his well-formed limbs was firm and
steadfast, in harmony with the expression of his face.

Old Myrmex did not care for the sea-breeze. He was suffering from
lumbago and, at the first puff of the damp air, he took his torch into
his left hand and rubbed his side with the right--an act in which he
was not impeded by his clothing, which consisted of a dark _exomis_,
the usual garment worn by slaves, and which, to give freedom of motion,
left the right arm, shoulder, and side bare.

About the middle of the street the way led close by a side-building,
doubtless the women’s apartment of a stately house that apparently
belonged to a wealthy citizen. From one of the sparsely scattered
_thyrides_, a kind of air-hole, the light of a lamp streamed into the
darkness. Hipyllos paused. This light must have had some peculiar charm
for him, he could not turn his eyes from it.

As if in the mood when some secret joy renders men communicative he
suddenly patted the old man on the shoulder, saying:

“Myrmex, do you know whence that light shines?” And, without waiting
for an answer, he added: “From the room occupied by Clytie, the fairest
of all Athenian maidens.”

Myrmex stared at Hipyllos with his mouth wide open in amazement.

“Master, master!” he stammered, “what have you taken into your head?”

Hipyllos did not hear. But Myrmex feared his master was in the act of
committing some hasty deed, and he knew that when a citizen was guilty
of a crime, but denied his offence, it was ordained that he should have
one of his slaves tortured. The law was based on the belief that the
slave would testify against his master and, if he did not, the master’s
innocence was proved.

As this did not seem to be one of the women who led a dissolute
life, but a citizen’s daughter, a closely-guarded maiden, Myrmex
in imagination already felt himself stretched on the rack, whipped
with brushes and scourges, tortured with thumb-screws, laden with
tile-stones on his stomach, and half-choked by vinegar in both
nostrils. So he repeated in a still louder tone.

“Master, master, what have you taken into your head?”

Hipyllos picked up a pebble, but just as he was flinging it against
the wall, as though in obedience to a preconcerted signal, he saw two
shadows on the red curtain inside of the loop-hole.

“_Aiboi!_ a piece of ill-luck!” he muttered, dropping the pebble, “she
isn’t alone.”

Then kissing his hand to the bright ray of light, he passed on
half reluctantly, farther in the direction of the Cerameicus, the
northwestern part of the city.

Myrmex did not think much; but when an idea once entered his brain he
did not let it go easily, and now asked for the third time:

“Master, master, what have you taken into your head?”

This time Hipyllos heard him. He cast a glance at his companion and,
seeing his troubled face, understood the connection of ideas and burst
into a loud laugh.

“Poor Myrmex,” he said, pinching the old man’s cheeks, “are you afraid
of the thumb-screws? Pooh! You’ll escape! This is no matter of life
and death, and a citizen can be compelled to have a slave tortured
only in an affair of life and death.... Have you heard,” he continued,
mischievously, “the story of Killikon from Miletus? He betrayed his
native place to the citizens of Priene, and when his friends, during
the preparations, asked what he had in view, constantly replied:
‘Nothing but good.’ Well then! when you ask what I have taken into my
head I can, with still better reason, answer: ‘Nothing but good.’ For
the maiden belongs to a highly-respected family, and I intend that she
shall become my wife.”


II.

Hipyllos walked on silently for some time, then suddenly exclaimed:

“Myrmex, you don’t know--no words can tell how pretty she is.... It’s
a little more than a month since I first saw her. She was returning
home from the temple of Demeter, accompanied by her mother and several
slaves. The wind raised her veil and revealed a face which, crimsoned
with blushes at the notice she was attracting, was the loveliest I had
ever seen. The young girl was tall and wore a snow-white robe with a
broad violet-blue border; her shining black hair was drawn high above
her neck, and over her veil a gold clasp ornamented with a large blue
stone glittered on her brow. Her silver-wrought sandal-straps fitted
her small feet so trimly, that even men usually blind to the secrets of
beauty uttered a murmur of admiration. Whenever the breeze tightened
her garments, making her movements more visible, her bearing showed a
reserve and modesty impossible to describe in words and, as she passed,
I seemed to feel an atmosphere of freshness mingled with the faint
fragrance of some costly ointment.... Never has any woman so bewitched
me! At night I dreamed of her dazzlingly white neck and soft black
hair--heavenly powers, how pretty she is! But you don’t understand
me, Myrmex; I might as well confide in the trees and stones by the
wayside.... All the young men she met turned--no one was content with
merely seeing her pass. Here, where the girls spend their days in the
narrow limits of the women’s apartment, it isn’t three times in a man’s
life that he meets such a maiden on the highway.

“As she and her mother approached the house where we just saw the
light shining, one of the slaves ran into the Phalerian street to
knock at the door, and I now knew who the young girl was. The mansion
belonged to the architect Xenocles, and the maiden was doubtless his
daughter Clytie, whose beauty I had often heard praised. At the corner
of the wall the wind blew stronger, so that the women were obliged
to struggle against it. Suddenly the young girl’s veil was loosened
and flew away on the breeze. Uttering a loud shriek, she stopped and
covered her face with her hands. Rushing on in advance of the rest
after the veil, which was whirling around in the air, I caught it as
it fell and hung on a slender branch. As I approached the young girl,
who had let her hands fall and stood blushing crimson, with eyes bent
on the ground, she looked so bewitchingly beautiful that, fairly beside
myself, I grasped the hand with which she took the veil, exclaiming:

“‘Pretty Clytie, raise your eyes to mine; for here, in your mother’s
presence, I swear that you and no one else shall become my wife.’

“The young girl turned pale and snatched her hand from my clasp, but
she did what I asked. She raised her large dark eyes and fixed them on
mine--it seemed to me not with dislike.

“The mother, however, was very angry and thrust me away, saying:

“‘Who are you, Youth, who dares to speak so boldly to a modest maiden?
Clytie--_your_ wife! May all the gods forbid! Know that her father has
promised her to another....’

“‘By Zeus!’ I interrupted, ‘that other shall yield, were he the king of
Persia himself.’”

Myrmex looked up at his master and laughed in his beard at his audacity.

“The next morning,” Hipyllos continued, “on the walls, the bark of the
trees, and the stones along the roadside were the words written by
different hands:

   ‘_Clytie is beautiful. No one
    is lovelier than Clytie._’

“I alone did not write; but, at the hour that everybody was going to
market, I rode my black Samphora steed through the narrow lane. It was
very rare to hear the sound of hoofs there and, as I had anticipated,
the pretty maid appeared at the peep-hole. Her room was where I had
expected. She hastily drew back, but I saw by her glance that she had
recognized me. The next day I again rode by. She did not vanish so
quickly; but I didn’t speak to her, for I did not know whether she was
alone. The last time I rode through the street I passed close by the
house and laid a laurel-blossom in the loop-hole; when I came back it
had been exchanged for a narcissus flower, which lay where it could be
easily taken. I then sent Manidoros--whom you know: the boldest and
most cunning of my slaves--to Phalerian street. He speedily ingratiated
himself with Doris, the youngest of Xenocles’ female slaves, and how
happy I was when one afternoon he came home and said:

“‘Everything has happened as you wish. Doris told me that her young
mistress has seemed wholly unlike herself ever since she saw you. She
weeps, dreams, and murmurs your name. But the man to whom her father
has promised her--he is a great orator and writer of tragedies--she
hates worse than death. Doris declares you have used some spell, and
that the girl is bewitched.’”

Old Myrmex shook his head.

“May all this give you happiness!” he murmured.


III.

The master and slave continued their way towards the Cerameicus.

The district through which they were walking was the most rugged part
of Athens, and the eye everywhere met the proud outlines of steep
mountains. A few hundred paces on the right towered the Acropolis; a
little farther away at the left lay the Museium, and five hundred paces
in front the broad Pnyx and steep Areopagus rose into the air. Most
of these heights were considerable cliffs and the two nearest, the
Acropolis and the Museium, towered hundreds of ells above the stony
ground where the road lay.

It was a bright, clear evening in the month Boedromion. The wind was
dying away; but every time a faint breeze swept by it bore a peculiar
spicy odor from the wild thyme that grew on Mt. Hymettus. The crescent
moon was high in the heavens. The Acropolis, with the temple on its
summit, appeared like a huge, shadowy mass, against which the greyish
flanks of the Museium lay bathed in moonlight, so that one could count
the little white houses.

Suddenly from the distance a loud shriek of pain echoed through the
evening stillness and repose. A man’s deep voice moaned as if some
one were suffering a torturing death-agony. More than twenty times
the: _Oi moi! Oi moi!_ (Woe is me! Woe is me!) was repeated. Every
syllable, every intonation was borne through the soft air with peculiar
distinctness. A little later the sound became fainter till at last it
died away in a dull, breathless silence.

Hipyllos started, though he had heard piteous wails in this place
before.

The cries came from a part of the height where there were no houses.
The interior of the cliff was doubtless inhabited, for about twenty
yards above the place where the road wound light shone through twenty
or thirty small holes in the mass of rock. These holes, ranged in two
rows, may be seen at the present day, and inside of them lay--and
still remain--some ancient cliff-chambers, whose origin mocks human
speculation, since even that period--nearly twenty-three centuries
ago--possessed no knowledge of whose hands had formed them or--if they
were tombs--whose bones had mouldered there. At that time these rooms
were used for prisons, and many a criminal sentenced to death was
here--where no escape was possible--compelled to drain the poisoned cup.

Hearing the wails reminded Hipyllos that “the eleven” were in the habit
of going at sundown to the prison to loose the chains of the condemned
criminal and inform him that his last hour had come. The hapless man
then took a bath, and was afterwards compelled to drink a goblet of
hemlock juice and pace up and down the narrow room until his limbs grew
cold under him. Then he was obliged to lie down on the couch, cover his
face, and await death. It was during this torturing expectation that
even the strongest man uttered lamentations.

Whoever knew this fact could understand the cause when, as on this
evening, shrieks of anguish echoed from the dark stone chambers.[H]

                                  [H] Numerous subterranean rooms
                                      are found in the southwestern
                                      quarter of Athens, the ancient
                                      cliff-city, which is now almost
                                      uninhabited. A certain part of
                                      the eastern base of the Museium
                                      contains three entrances, the
                                      central one somewhat dilapidated,
                                      that lead to two rooms 10-11
                                      feet in length and a well-like
                                      air-passage connected with lower
                                      corridors. These cliff-chambers
                                      now bear the name of _hē fylakē
                                      tu Socratus_, Socrates’ dungeon,
                                      and are marked as such by oral
                                      tradition.

Even Myrmex awoke from his indifference and spit three times on his
breast to avert misfortune.

“Do as I do,” he said to his master, “keep ill-luck away.”

Hipyllos quickened his pace.

“I fear nothing for myself,” he replied “and I cannot aid the doomed
man.”

His features at this moment wore a serious expression which showed
that, spite of his youth, he had seen and experienced many things.


IV.

Hipyllos’ father, Chaeretades, one of the guardians of orphan children,
was already advanced in life when he lost his wife, Hipyllos’ mother.
After the short period of mourning, thirty days, he married a young
widow named Cleobule, famed for her beauty, but about whom nothing good
was said in other respects. Scarcely six months after, rumor asserted
that she was carrying on an intrigue with a young Carystian who lived
in the house.

The report reached Hipyllos’ ears through the slaves and, stirred to
his inmost soul, he taxed Cleobule with her infamy, but she called
all the gods to witness that she was unjustly suspected, and looked
so pathetic and beautiful in her despairing grief that Hipyllos did
not know what to believe. But, after the Carystian had left the house,
the caresses which, as his step-mother, she could venture to bestow
upon her husband’s son, grew warmer than was seemly and when, at the
great Panathenaic festival, he returned from the procession clad in
his holiday robe with a garland on his hair, she ran to meet him,
embraced him, and called him her young Hippolytus, her young Theseus.
He thrust her away so violently that she fell on the tiled pavement
of the peristyle, and from that hour Cleobule pursued him with the
bitterest hatred. As he stood alone--Chaeretades was completely in
her power--this gradually developed in his nature a premature degree
of firmness and resolution. Nevertheless, he was obliged to submit to
many things. Cleobule finally alleged that he associated with dissolute
revellers, and persuaded her husband to send him to the fleet of twenty
ships with which Phormion, since the second year of the war, had
guarded the mouth of the Corinthian Gulf.

Hipyllos found the fleet lying off Antirrhium, opposite to the
Peloponnesian galleys. It seemed strange to suddenly find himself so
near the enemy that he could hear the Spartan war-songs and see their
spears and swords glitter in the sunlight. Aboard young and old were
confident of victory, for they had recently defeated a Corinthian fleet
twice as large as their own.

The battle was not long delayed.

Early in the morning the Peloponnesians rowed into the bay opposite
Naupactus, a city belonging to the allies of Athens. Phormion was
hurrying after to defend the place, when the enemy suddenly made a
circuit by which they intercepted and captured his last nine ships.
Hipyllos was on the eighth and, frantic at falling into the hands of
the foe, he shouted to a party of Messenians from Naupactus whom he saw
on shore:

“Messenians! Will you calmly see ships that were hastening to the aid
of your city, captured by the enemy? Help us save this one galley.
When we are once free, we will speedily rescue the others.”

The men on land consulted together a moment, then they waded out into
the sea and assisted their allies. But scarcely was the ship freed,
when it rowed to the next, and when two were rescued they easily
succeeded in recapturing the others, so that the Peloponnesians only
kept a single one of the Athenian galleys. Meantime Phormion had rowed
farther on with the remainder of the fleet, but, perceiving that the
Peloponnesians kept no order, he attacked and routed them, capturing
six ships. The Athenians raised the sign of victory, jeering at the
Peloponnesians for doing the same.

Hipyllos was universally praised; for he had not only summoned the
Messenians to the rescue, but had fought bravely and killed a brother
of Lycophron, one of the commanders of the hostile fleet.

On his return to Athens Hipyllos found his father on a sick-bed. Shame
for Cleobule’s misconduct, which at last could no longer be concealed,
affected the old man like a slow poison.

Hipyllos’ valor in the naval battle at Rhium was his last joy. The very
day that he had listened to the account of it from one of the officers
of the fleet he breathed his last, holding his son’s hand in his own.
Hipyllos mourned sincerely for his father. Cleobule was more richly
dowered by the dead man’s will than she had any right to expect, but
was compelled to instantly quit the hearth on which she had brought
disgrace.

At the time we make Hipyllos’ acquaintance he was in independent
possession of a fine house, numerous slaves, and a fortune of more
than thirty talents.[I] The firmness he had acquired in the conflict
with his wicked step-mother now served him in good stead. Having early
learned to govern himself, he was wiser than most of the men of his own
age and did not squander his property. When reproached for not keeping
open house for his friends and sending a team of four horses to the
games, he shook his head and answered:

“Why should I waste my inheritance? Some day Athens will knock at
my door, saying: ‘Give me a ship for the fleet or a chorus for the
theatre’--then will be the time to be open-handed.”

                                  [I] An Attic talent was equal to
                                      about eleven hundred dollars.


V.

Hipyllos and Myrmex had now reached the closely-built Cerameicus. But
even the great market which, half steeped in moonlight, half veiled
in deep shadow, lay outspread before them with its temples, arcades,
booths, altars, hermae, and statues--even here there was little
movement.

Most of the people had long since returned from the gymnasia, freedmen
and slaves had performed the duties of the day, and after sunset
children were not permitted to play outside of the doors of the houses.

Yet life was not wholly silent. Laughter and song echoed from the
wine-shops, and the heavy grating of the stone-saws was heard from many
a sculptor’s; for in those days sculptors had so much to do that their
slaves were often obliged to work in the evening and part of the night.
Ever and anon the hooting of owls sounded from their countless hidden
holes in the cliffs and, as usual in the autumn, there was heard,
like voices from another world, the wailing notes of invisible birds
of passage calling to each other in the night as they flew at a dizzy
height above the city.

Hipyllos turned into a side street, which led from the superb street
extending from the Dipylum Gate to a long hill in the Melitan quarter.
Here he told Myrmex to extinguish the torch; then after looking around
him and listening, till he thought himself sure that no one was
following, he directed his steps towards a solitary house at the foot
of the height which, seen in the moonlight, presented a peculiar aspect.

It had a hyperoon or upper story which extended only over part of the
building and was reached by a staircase on the outside. It was an
old-fashioned, but very convenient style of architecture, especially
when this upper story was used for guest rooms. In those days, when
taverns were almost unknown, nearly every house annually received
visits from distant guests who, on the great festivals, came to Athens
to attend the processions and torch-races, or the performances in the
Theatre of Dionysus. Both stories were so low that a man, by standing
on another’s shoulders, could have reached the roof with a staff.
Nevertheless, the house had a certain air of distinction from being
enthroned on a huge limestone rock, in whose crumbling sides ten or
twelve steps were hewn.

As Hipyllos and his companion went towards the dwelling there was
a rustling on the outside staircase, and the figure of a boy with
closely-cropped hair suddenly appeared outlined against the grey
evening sky--doubtless a young slave stationed to keep watch. At the
sight of the approaching forms he began to sing at the top of his
voice, apparently to attract the attention of the inmates of the house,
the beginning of the old Harmodius chorus:

   “Never has Athens possessed such a man,
    Never did citizen so serve the city....”

Then he suddenly stopped and, in the stillness, which seemed doubly
as profound as before, a dog was heard barking within the dwelling.
Hipyllos went up to the door of the house and signed to Myrmex to
knock with the copper ring. Scarcely had the heavy blow fallen, when
a frantic deafening barking was heard, interrupted by a short howl as
though the dog had been silenced by a kick. A heavy step approached
inside and a rough voice asked:

“Who knocks so late?”

Hipyllos thrust Myrmex aside and, while he mentioned his master’s name,
he himself put his lips to the door and replied in a low tone:

“Zeus Philios and Nike.”

This was evidently a preconcerted watch-word, for the door instantly
opened. The door-keeper, a big, strong slave, with dark-brown hair and
beard, raised the smoking lamp aloft and, recognizing Hipyllos, said in
a mysterious tone: “Xenocles and Acestor have come.” Then he led him
across a courtyard only five or six paces wide to a room from which
echoed loud voices and laughter.


VI.

Hipyllos raised the curtain hanging over the door and entered a
small, low chamber, lighted by a lamp with two wicks placed on a high
bronze pedestal. The rest of the furniture consisted of four couches
and a table covered with goblets, wreaths, fillets for the hair, and
alabaster phials of perfume with necks so narrow that the precious
contents could only ooze out drop by drop.

In this room were three men. Two reclined on the same couch, half
resting against each other, the third stood before them with folded
arms, talking to the pair. One of the couple on the couch was a small,
white-haired, white-robed man, with a pair of strangely brilliant eyes,
the other was a stately personage with long black locks and rings on
his fingers, clad in a showy yellow robe. The one who stood before them
was a large, stout bald man, with a weather-beaten face and a grey
beard, very plainly dressed in a grey chiton, but there was something
in his bearing which attracted attention. He carried his head high, and
his whole outer man bore the impress of unwavering self-confidence and
unbending pride. He was evidently a man of action, and had more than
once held command when the point in question was life and death. His
manner clearly showed that he was host and the others were his guests.

When Hipyllos entered he advanced several steps to meet him, patted him
on the shoulder, and said in a curt, loud tone: “I like a youth who
comes at the right hour--spite of chariot-races, dice, women, and wine.
By Zeus, when I was young--I always came late.”

Thuphrastos--this was the speaker’s name--had formerly been a captain
of horsemen and was known by the name of Cōdōn, the barker. From asthma
or habit, he rarely uttered more than five or six words at a time, and
so abruptly that his speech really bore some resemblance to a dog’s
barking.

“Ha! ha! ha!” chimed in the little white-haired man. “And I was often
outside the house till late into the night. But, though my father was
only a poor miller, he watched his household strictly enough. For a
long time I told our old slave-woman to put a pair of dusty sandals
outside of my door, so that he should think I was at home. One night,
however, he found the chamber empty, so that trick was over. Ah, I was
a young fellow then--it seems so short a time ago--yet now I am old.”

Hipyllos greeted the speaker with marked respect. He was the architect
Xenocles, the lovely Clytie’s father.

“Old!” repeated the man in the yellow robe--the orator and tragedian
Acestor--“old, don’t say that!” And, glancing at the others, he added
“Spite of his white hair, Xenocles is the most active man among us.
Like the swan, the bird of Phoebus Apollo--he has no age.”

“Hm,” muttered Thuphrastos tartly, “don’t listen to him. Orators are
cunning flatterers. Old friend,” he continued, laying his hand on
Xenocles’ shoulder, “we both know better. Age is a sickness of the
whole body. We can--at a hundred paces--distinguish a _Koppa_-stallion
from an animal destined for sacrifice; we can, if necessary, chew our
barley bread, but--the girls turn their backs upon us.”

Hipyllos exchanged a cold greeting with the stately Acestor, Clytie’s
acknowledged suitor.

The latter scarcely seemed to notice the young man; for Hipyllos was
not known by many, while every child recognized the orator Acestor. He
well knew what pleased the multitude, and talked with equal ease and
fluency about campaigns, legal cases, art, the working of mines, and
the cultivation of vineyards. He was indebted for what he had learned
solely and entirely to his excellent memory--he was far from rich
enough to own a library. Books were extraordinarily expensive. Three
small treatises by Philolaos, the Pythagorean philosopher, cost 110
minae.[J]

                                  [J] About 1800 dollars.

Whether from lack of will or lack of conviction, Acestor was in one
respect an incapable orator. He could never control an assembly
that was unfavorable to him. Signs of disapproval from the majority
completely upset him, clouded his brain, and made him contradict
himself. Yet he was able to sway an audience as he pleased when sure
of having his hearers with him. He seemed created to delude credulous
folk; thousands on thousands had applauded him, and many thought that,
as orator and debater, he surpassed Antiphon the Rhamnusian, and as a
tragedian he deserved to rank by the side of the great Pratinas. The
more sagacious, on the other hand, held a totally different opinion;
they said that he “puffed himself up till the city was too small for
him,” thought his voice shrill and his statements untrustworthy and as
to his tragedy they remarked with old Cratinus that he “ought to be
flogged until he learned to write more briefly.”

His worst opponents went still farther. They openly called him _Carian_
or _Phrygian_, nay even gave him the slave-name of _Sacas_--all to
intimate that they did not consider him a native Athenian, but a
foreigner who had smuggled himself into the list of citizens. The
punishment for this imposition was very severe, and consisted of
having the hair clipped and being enslaved. Yet nothing was more common
than for foreigners, nay, even fugitive slaves, to bribe the recording
clerks and be entered in the register of citizens. A revision of this
register had led to the perplexing, almost incredible discovery, that
no fewer than 4,760 persons had insinuated themselves among 14,240
native citizens.

Hipyllos had not yet taken his seat when the slave-boy’s resonant
voice was again heard outside. The blow of the knocker on the door
echoed through the house, and the dog in the outer hall snuffed but,
remembering the kick, contented itself with growling. Shortly after a
peculiarly firm step echoed across the peristyle.

“Hush!” exclaimed little Xenocles. “What a step. If Heracles himself
was approaching, it could not sound different. I’ll wager that is
Lamon.”


VII.

The door-curtain was drawn aside admitting a broad-shouldered man of
middle height, with muscular limbs, sunburnt skin, short neck, curling
locks, and thick beard. He wore a purple fillet around his hair and
was clad in a robe of dazzling whiteness. This was Lamon, famed for
his remarkable strength, who in the 88th Olympiad would have won the
prize for wrestling, had he not unintentionally crushed to death his
opponent, a Heracleotian athlete. Lamon was a fuller by trade. In
those days, when the white robe was commonly worn, the business was a
very general and very profitable occupation, since the fine woollen
stuff, every time it was to be cleansed from stains and soils, had
to be entrusted to the fuller where, among other processes, it was
subjected to a skilful bleaching. Lamon was therefore regarded,
certainly with good reason, as a very well-to-do citizen.

There was silent admiration, mingled with a touch of submission, in the
greeting of all. At that time strength was a power to which every one
bowed. Thuphrastos alone showed no special reverence. This man, who
belonged to one of the most distinguished families in Athens, had early
given numerous proofs of intelligence and courage. One day, during
the expedition against rebellious Megara, he was separated from the
heavily armed troops by a dense fog and very hard pressed by the foe.
At night he ordered each of his men to collect _two_ beds of leaves,
and in the early dawn he retreated. The Megarians pursued, counted
the heaps of leaves, and believing the Attic horsemen to be twice as
numerous as they really were, did not dare to attack them, but held a
council. Meantime Pericles came up with his heavily armed troops and
the Megarians were surrounded, which ended the campaign.

But Thuphrastos was conscious of his distinction. He had a peculiar
way of using his eyes, lowering them slowly as though measuring the
person with whom he was conversing from head to foot. Lamon was thus
inspected, after which he greeted him, with a certain reserve, it is
true, as one great man salutes another, yet with evident good-will.

Stately Acestor sprang up from his couch, went to meet the fuller, and
pressing his hand, said:

“I greet you, Heracles of our day!” Then, turning to the others--he
usually seemed to speak to as many persons as possible at once--“With
Lamon among us we can laugh at all informers and slaves of the city
police force. Lamon be praised, he is our shield, our armor!”

With these words Acestor raised his head and arched his chest as
though, having bowed to another, he hastened to take the place that was
his due.

Lamon who, like most remarkably strong men, was somewhat grave and
taciturn, now opened his mouth for the first time and, without paying
the least heed to Acestor’s flattery, said:

“It is late. If Sthenelus and Lysiteles would come, we could begin.”

With these words he reclined on the couch opposite to Xenocles and
beckoned to Hipyllos.


VIII.

Lamon’s wish appeared to be uttered in a lucky hour; for it was
scarcely spoken when again a stir arose in the house and, directly
after, voices echoed in the peristyle outside. It was a peculiar
exchange of words, which could scarcely be called a conversation,
since only every other sentence was heard. One of the speakers,
especially, had a voice so low that it was lost in a faint murmur. The
other, on the contrary, talked in very high, clear tones, emphasizing
each syllable with a distinctness that could only proceed from long
training. It was easy to perceive that his mode of speech was connected
with his profession of addressing words to a numerous assembly. Yet,
though his voice was so well developed, there was something frivolous,
mocking, almost insolent in the tone, which precluded the thought that
the man might be an orator.

The dialogue outside began with a whining mutter, which sounded almost
as if it came from a disconsolate dog.

“Why!” replied the loud-voiced speaker, “what is there strange in that?
Where should two ragamuffins like ourselves meet better than in the
Himatiopolis Agora (Rag-market)?”

Again a mutter was heard, that sounded like a feeble remonstrance.

“Simpleton!” replied the loud voice, and each of the sonorous Attic
words rang out so distinctly that it was impossible not to listen.
“How can you make yourself richer than you are? My cloak, my robe,
every thread I have belong to the clothes-dealers, I own that! But
the wine I have here” (the listeners knew that the speaker patted
himself in the stomach) “belongs to me, it is my own,--my own, do you
understand?--even if it isn’t paid for. So am I not right in esteeming
wine more than clothes?”

The question was answered by a rude laugh, which could scarcely have
proceeded from the low-voiced man, but was doubtless uttered by the
door-keeper as he followed the guests across the peristyle.

“Good!” cried Xenocles smiling, “there is our merry brother Sthenelus
the actor.”

“And the other,” added Acestor, as if the last comer was not worth
mentioning by name.

The curtain was raised and two persons entered, each a queer figure in
his own way. The loud-tongued man, Sthenelus the comedian, was a plump
fellow about forty years old, with a red face, a still rosier nose,
small, piercing eyes, and tousled brown hair. His costume consisted
of a shabby grey robe, whose white border was full of spots. At the
first step through the door he sank low on one side--he was very
lame. He had not been born with this infirmity, but once, on one of
the great festivals, while personating Cecrops with floating plumes,
gold-broidered cloak, and sword with an ivory hilt by his side, he
had carelessly stepped off the boards and fallen. Half stunned by the
accident he had heard, as though in a dream, the frantic laughter of
the crowd. For where was Cecrops? The hero’s helmet and mask were lying
in the dust, and the comedian’s red face suddenly appeared, while
beneath the magnificent garments were some shabby rags with a pair of
thin legs, whose lack of proportion to the huge _cothurni_ would alone
have been sufficient to awake the mirth of the populace. But this
fall, amid the laughter of thousands upon thousands of people, had
serious consequences; from that day Sthenelus was lame.

No one pitied him. Who knew much about a poor comedian? In whatever
character he appeared the spectators saw only a close linen mask,
which covered the whole head, and a costume that suited the mask. An
Agonistēs might appear in three or four parts, year after year on the
great holidays, might grow old on the stage, but win admiration and
affection--impossible! It was the lifelike disguise, the mask and robe
which the populace applauded. _Who_ was concealed beneath no one knew
and no one cared to know.

As Sthenelus’ lameness had rendered him useless as an actor, he was
obliged to fight his way through the world as he best could. The
scanty alms bestowed by the state upon all cripples was far from being
sufficient for his needs. He first sold his stage paraphernalia, his
masks, daggers, etc., and then wandered through the small towns in the
neighborhood of Athens, making merriment for the inhabitants. He went,
as he himself said, from tragedy to comedy. Jesting became his means of
livelihood, and to keep up his courage he drank whenever opportunity
offered, and in those days opportunities were not rare.

“Why! why!” he said as he entered, “you are as solemn as the
Areopagites themselves. By Heracles, it was far livelier where I’ve
been! I come from Halipedon; the good folks there were amusing
themselves by jumping on leather bottles. Finally a fat sausage-dealer
set his flat feet on one so that it burst with a loud report--and over
he went slap on his back in the midst of the mire. There wasn’t a dry
thread on him. Ha! ha! ha!”

The other new-comer, Lysiteles, a small, wizened, hump-backed man,
plucked Sthenelus’ robe to warn him to be less noisy. Then he greeted
the assembled group, but in an awkward, humble way, as though he knew
no one would notice the salutation, after which he shrank into himself
still more, so that nothing was seen of his face except a big pale
forehead covered with a network of wrinkles.

This man was one of the utterly ruined idlers, of whom there were so
many in Athens. As a youth he had been attractive, gay, haughty, and
extravagant, but all that was left of the “magnificent” Lysiteles
was a decrepit old man of sixty who, with age, had red, rheumy eyes.
The jester Meidias asserted that Hermes had changed his eyes to two
fountains, which wept for his lost fortune day and night. On the whole
Lysiteles was accustomed to be made the butt of jests. Some dissolute
young fellows had once dragged him in to a dinner at the house of
Ægidion, a well-known hetaera from Corinth. After the banquet the
question was asked.

“Can any one tell why Lysiteles is more crooked and bent than any other
Athenian?”

Ægidion who, clad in a robe of semi-transparent stuff from Amorgos, was
reclining on a couch, stretched out her smooth arm adorned with a gold
bracelet and beckoned to Lysiteles. Fixing her dark eyes on him, she
gave him a light tap on his lean stomach and said: “It’s hard for an
empty sack to stand upright.”


IX.

Thuphrastos invited the last arrivals to be seated.

Lysiteles took the couch farthest in the rear, while Sthenelus
stretched himself at full length on one of the front ones, close beside
the master of the house.

Then a tall mixing-vessel was placed on the tiled floor. It was a
vase made of burnt clay, adorned with a mask of Silenus, surrounded
by fruits and flowers. Into this beautiful vessel the Chian wine was
poured, after being mixed--by the general desire--in the proportion of
one part wine to three of water. Sthenelus alone demurred. “It’s frog’s
wine, not human beings’ wine!” he said.

Thuphrastos gave each of his guests a wreath, and set small tables
bearing goblets in front of the couches.

To any one familiar with Attic customs there was something remarkable
in these preparations. Not a single slave was present to wait upon the
company. This exclusion of the servants was scarcely natural; but it
agreed with having a watchword demanded at the door of the house. This
was evidently no ordinary drinking-bout.

When the goblets were filled Thuphrastos stood forth among the men
with a certain solemnity of manner. Pouring a little of the mixed wine
into a shallow drinking-cup, he said: “To the good spirit,” sipped the
liquor, and passed the cup to his next neighbor.

While the wine was going the round of the company, he gazed around the
circle with an earnest look, then, raising his voice, he said in his
singularly abrupt fashion:

“In a short time--on the eleventh day of the month--there will be a
popular assembly and election of magistrates. Who can foresee the
result? Shall we come forth rejoicing as victors or grieving and
exasperated by defeat?”

One of the wicks of the lamp flared up. Thuphrastos’ eyes rested on
Lysiteles, who sat cowering at the back of the group. The old captain
did not consider his manner sufficiently attentive.

“Man!” he shouted, as if he wanted to rouse him from sleep.

Lysiteles started and approached with unsteady steps, looking still
more hump-backed than before.

“The elections are close at hand,” repeated Thuphrastos, raising his
voice as though speaking to a deaf man. “Many,” he added, laying his
hand on Lysiteles’ shoulder, “see in you a man sorely persecuted by the
gods--to whom no one ought to refuse anything. Others have formerly
been your friends and table companions. You can win votes--many votes,
if you choose.”

“But,” said Acestor, “he is feather-brained; he might betray us.”

Sthenelus half started from his couch. There seemed to be a singular
comradeship existing between him and Lysiteles. He himself jeered at
him, but he would not allow any one else to do so.

“Feather-brained?” he repeated, and staring fixedly at Acestor he
rolled the rug spread over the couch into a bundle and, propping his
elbow on it, raised himself a little. “My friends,” he continued,
waving his hand with the gesture of an orator, “lend me your ears! I
know a man who in former days was handsome, wealthy, and extravagant.
He was called “the Magnificent.” Now he is only a shadow, and considers
himself a worm. I know another man too. He’s as showy and stately
as one of Pyrilampes’ peacocks, as hollow and noisy as a drum; but,
because many admire him, he fancies himself a demi-god and behaves as
though he had vanquished the king of Persia himself. Now, I ask, which
of these two is the more feather-brained?”

“By Zeus, the second!” cried little Xenocles, with more haste than
prudence.

All except the grave Lamon burst into a peal of laughter, because it
was Xenocles, Acestor’s friend, who had made this answer.

An angry sparkle flashed into Acestor’s eyes; his lips parted. But
Thuphrastos anticipated him.

“No quarrelling!” he shouted harshly. “Lysiteles has sworn faith. He
will keep his oath.”

“That he will,” said Sthenelus with a glance at Acestor. “Doesn’t he
know--as we all do--that a drawn sword is hanging over our heads?”

“Ah!” added Xenocles, “these are evil days. What changes have
happened during the last few months! First happiness, rejoicing, the
intoxication of battle when the expedition to Sicily was determined.
The younger men flocked to the wrestling-schools and baths, the older
ones to the work-shops and wine-rooms; the island was described and
sketched with the surrounding sea and the cities facing Libya. All
quoted Alcibiades’ words: ‘Sicily is only the earnest money--Libya and
Karchēdon are the wages of the battle. When we once possess them, we
will conquer Italy and surround the Peloponnesus. A great future is
before us; Athens is worthy to rule the world!”

“Yes,” said Acestor, “and lo--in the midst of the rejoicings came evil
signs and omens. What did men whisper in each other’s ears? Socrates’
good spirit had predicted evil--the soothsayers, and the oracle of
Ammon foretold terrible things--a man mutilated himself on the altar of
the twelve gods--and ravens had pecked the golden fruits on the bronze
palm-tree at Delphi.”

“In truth,” continued Xenocles, “the omens were not false. Soon came
that fateful morning when all the hermae in the market-place except
those outside of Leagoras’ house, were found broken and shamefully
disfigured. Many insolent hands must have united to accomplish so
much mischief in a single night. Who will ever forget the frightful
tumult in the city when the sacrilege was reported? All the morning
the heralds’ voices were heard, first summoning men to the council and
afterwards to the popular assembly. Just before noon, a reward of ten
thousand drachmae was offered for the first accusation. This opened
the door to all the powers of evil. Citizens, metic, and slaves vied
with each other in making indictments in the council. What did it avail
that Alcibiades was ordered to sail with the fleet? That didn’t end the
matter....”

“On the contrary,” muttered Thuphrastos, “day by day there was more and
more legal prosecution. Every time the heralds summoned the people to a
council terror and confusion arose. Peaceful citizens talking together
in the market hastily separated from each other--every one feared a
false accusation and sought refuge beside his own hearth-stone.”

“And not without reason,” observed Xenocles. “What has become of
those denounced like Diocleides or the rich metic Teucros?--all gone,
either fugitives or sentenced to death! Remember the two members of
the council, who first sought refuge at the altar of the gods, and
afterwards--when bail had been given for them--mounted their horses to
leave wives, children and all they possessed--glad to escape with only
their lives! The gods be praised that it has been more quiet in the
city lately.”

“Don’t be too secure,” said Acestor in a warning tone. “Phanus, Cleon’s
clerk and confidential man, has not forgotten the time when his
master was treasurer. He bore all the hetaeriae ill-will, but he has
been three times worse since Cleon’s death. Now that he has joined
Peisandros, Charicles, and the other open or secret rulers, he sees
in every convivial meeting of friends a threat against the safety of
the state, and has in his pay a whole pack of informers who, like
sleuth-hounds, understand how to scent an hetaeria, often without any
other clue than a chance word or a vague hint.”

Lysiteles groaned; all the others were silent.


X.

It was some time before the conversation was resumed. There seemed to
be no special friendship between these “friends;” each had his own
hopes and wishes.

Thuphrastos’ desire was to be elected state envoy to one of the
tributary cities which threatened revolt. It was an office that lasted
only thirty days, but during this short time afforded an excellent
opportunity for money-making. The envoy only needed to inspire the
city with the fear of a stern punishment, to induce it to enter into
an agreement in which he placed his demands as high as possible and
required the payment for each separate item in ready money. This was
the universal method of proceeding and Thuphrastos had no hesitation in
following it. In and for itself the proud captain of horse set little
value on money; but he was a poor manager and continually in debt. This
was not without peril at a period when an irresponsible debtor might be
sold as a slave, so it was extremely important for him to be elected,
and he anticipated with anxiety and suspense what the next popular
assembly would bring.

Xenocles did not aspire so high. He wanted to be superintendent of
the public aqueducts. These, which were supplied from the neighboring
mountains, bore no resemblance to the Roman aqueducts, but consisted of
deep canals with reservoirs from which the water was distributed to the
city. No one was more familiar with this gigantic work than Xenocles;
for in his youth he had been employed by Meton who had superintended
the excavations and masonry of the whole of the newest portion.

“Had you not been a member of our hetaeria,” said Sthenelus, “you
should never have had my vote.” And when Xenocles asked the reason he
replied: “Because, by Zeus, you know the aqueducts far too well--you’ll
be a costly superintendent.”

Lamon cherished wholly different wishes. He wanted to be
gymnasiarch[K]--a post for which he was fitted both by his dexterity
in physical exercises and his unusual strength. He was one of those
who daily visited the Lyceium. It was a pleasure and delight to
wander among the crowd in the roofless marble halls around the open
squares, and gaze over the yellowish-white sand, where hundreds of
the handsomest youths, wrestling nude in the sunlight, displayed their
agility and strength.

                                  [K] Inspector of the gymnasia.

Acestor agreed with Thuphrastos, flattered Lamon, and said what he
thought would please Xenocles; but in his heart he despised them all
and considered himself the chief man in the hetaeria. Nevertheless
he appeared to desire nothing except to become one of the people’s
advocates. Every one who knew his high opinion of himself wondered that
he did not aspire to some greater goal. Hipyllos had also noticed that
Acestor had been unusually silent at the last meetings of the hetaeria
and concluded that he was cherishing some secret plan. Thuphrastos also
thought his manner strange, and determined to keep a watchful eye upon
him.

Hipyllos was very differently situated. As, with his fortune, he
belonged to the class of “knights” and was bound to serve in the
mounted troops with the weapons, horses, and other costly outfit
incidental to this duty, the thought of obtaining the position of a
captain in the police force was natural. By the aid of Thuphrastos and
others he succeeded in being elected, and had thus attained the end of
his desires, but in doing so had by no means loosened the bond uniting
them to the hetaeria.

Sthenelus would have liked to be public herald, but he was a cripple
and the heralds, these sacred and unblemished men with the serpent
staves, the “friends of Zeus,” must be persons without any physical
defects. Therefore, like Lysiteles, he was obliged to wait until one
of their more fortunately situated “friends” had been elected. Many of
those chosen to fill public offices could have clerks, and to Sthenelus
and Lysiteles, from whose houses smoke was never seen to rise, a
clerk’s salary, though small, would have been a real blessing from the
gods.

Thuphrastos talked of the numerous law cases that would pour in upon
him when the time of his embassy had expired. Oppressed citizens,
informers who knew that he had obtained money, envious fellow
solicitors--would all rush to him.

“So it’s worth while, Friends, to be firm,” he said. “You, Hipyllos,”
he added with a winning smile, “must contrive to have your uncle appear
before the court.”

This was evidently an allusion to a very aristocratic and distinguished
man. It was a common custom to bring powerful families into the courts
of justice to make an impression upon the judges. Xenocles who, from
his impoverished youth, had cherished a special reverence for all
prominent personages, raised his head like a horse pricking its ears.

“Hipyllos’ uncle?” he asked, “who is that?”

“The former archon, Euthydemus.”

“An archon!” repeated Xenocles, gazing at Hipyllos as though the latter
had suddenly grown taller.

Hipyllos thought of pretty Clytie, and did not lose his opportunity.

“Why yes,” he said carelessly, “our family is said to descend from
the Pallantidae, Theseus’ old antagonists. It has numbered not a few
archons, among them one whose name you all know--Lacrateides.”

“What!” exclaimed Lamon with unexpected energy, “the one in whose
archonship the severe winter happened. My grandmother often spoke of
it. The roads were covered with snow, and poor people struggled for
room in the baths so that some fell on the stoves and were burned.”

Xenocles stared at Hipyllos.

“A descendant of Lacrateides!” he exclaimed, clasping both his hands.
“Excellent young man! You belong to one of the noblest races in
Athens--and you never mentioned it till now!”

Thuphrastos, to whom this interruption seemed long, loudly cleared his
throat.

“To business!” he said harshly. “What do you think? Shall we deal with
Megas, the dyer?”

“He is a man highly esteemed,” replied Lamon. “His whole family
connection see with his eyes and speak with his lips. He disposes of
numerous votes.”

“Megas!” exclaimed Sthenelus, “The dyer without a work-shop ... yes,
by Zeus, I know him. He’s a man of strict Spartan manners--always goes
plainly dressed and bare-footed.... But when this pattern of manly
sobriety meets his companions at night there is--I swear to you--no
infamy that is not committed. To me that Megas is detestable.”

“Well, there is Medon, the brass-founder,” said Xenocles. “He’s
a pleasanter fellow to bargain with. Do you know him?--A stout,
sun-burned man, who loves wine and is always laughing. His family is
even more numerous than the one of which Megas is head.”

“Why not win them both?” asked Hipyllos.

“There isn’t money enough,” replied Thuphrastos.

“Shall it be Medon?” said Xenocles.

After some discussion, this was generally approved.

“But,” said Hipyllos, more thoughtful than some of the older men, “if
Megas finds out that we go to Medon--will he not be vexed and perhaps
betray us?”


XI.

As a captain in the mounted police Hipyllos was obliged to have a
helmet, breast-plate, shield, lance, sword, and spurs; besides the
armor required for the forehead, chest, and flanks of the horse. The
greater part of this costly equipment was made by the armorer Sauros.
The latter did not live, like most of those who followed his trade,
in the Scambonidae quarter of the city, but in the street of the
sun-dials, and his forge was in the alley obliquely opposite to the
side-building of Xenocles’ house. This was a place Hipyllos never
wearied of visiting; merely to know he was near pretty Clytie was a
delight to him.

The day after the meeting at Thuphrastos’ house, he was to try on the
cuirass. He reached Sauros’ shop just at twilight. The smith had gone
out, but a young slave who was filing a metal plate thought he would
soon return. The work-shop was filled with smoke and unpleasant odors,
so Hipyllos preferred to wait outside.

A luxuriant garden extended to a slope, along which ran a walk
overgrown with vines supported on cross-bars resting on tall poles. The
end of this walk, where Hipyllos stood, was closed by a dilapidated
wall.

A wide view was obtained from this place. At the left rose the hill
of the Museium and farther on the Acropolis towered into the air. The
streets, trees, and houses between stood forth in dusky outlines amid
the gloom of twilight. Lamps shone here and there. The sky was slightly
overcast, and the foliage exhaled a strong odor as though it was going
to rain. Ever and anon a sleepy gust of wind stirred the damp air.
Everything expressed peace and rest, and the most profound silence
reigned in this quarter of the city.

Suddenly light footsteps and mysterious whispers were heard at a little
distance.

Hipyllos looked through a gap in the ruined wall, and saw several women
approaching from the other end of the walk. The first one carried a
lantern with horn sides and seemed to be showing the second the way. A
third figure followed.

The woman with the lantern was dressed in a strange, outlandish
costume. Over her head a blue cloth wrought with silver stars was drawn
in long folds, two of which hung down on her breast, and on her hair
above the brow, in place of a clasp, glittered a gold sun. She wore a
blue robe, and across her bosom and shoulder passed a broad white band
upon which were embroidered golden suns, crescents, and stars.

At this time there lived in Athens a woman of foreign birth named
Ninus, who called herself a priestess of the Phrygian god Sabazius. She
foretold future events and brewed love-potions, while invoking gods and
demons. Rumor said that she had a large number of customers, especially
women.

Hipyllos did not doubt that this was the person he saw. She seemed
to be about forty years old; her face was still beautiful, though
uncommonly pale, and as cold and motionless as if hewn from stone.

Her companion was closely-veiled and wrapped in a long, dark robe
drawn over her face like a hood. Hipyllos could not catch the smallest
glimpse of her features, but so far as he could judge from her figure,
bearing, and gait, she was young, and so, too, seemed the female slave
who followed her.

The new-comers directed their steps towards the vine-covered alley
where Hipyllos was standing. The priestess of Sabazius set the lantern
on a stone table just inside the ruined wall, and took from a basket a
quantity of strange things. As well as Hipyllos could see by the dim
light, among them were metal bowls, laurel branches, purple wool, an
iron gridiron, some wax figures, and a wheel.

During these preparations her veiled companion had often showed signs
of impatience.

“Oh, if I had never come!” she exclaimed. “A daughter outside of
her father’s house after dark! If my mother should miss me--what a
disgrace!”

The voice which echoed in clear, musical tones on the stillness of
evening made Hipyllos’ heart throb. He had never heard Clytie speak,
but it seemed to him that she _must_ speak thus.

“Have no fear, pretty maid,” said Ninus in a singularly deep voice with
a foreign accent. “Let Doris run back and keep watch. Then you can be
called at once.”

“Yes, dear Doris, run, run!”

The slave lingered, but was obliged to obey.

Hearing the name of Doris strengthened Hipyllos in the belief that
Clytie stood before him, for the slave through whom he had learned from
Manodoros that her mistress loved him was called Doris.

“Make haste, good Ninus,” said the veiled figure when she was left
alone with the priestess. “I am trembling with fright.”

“Give me time,” muttered Ninus. “Do you suppose the gods can be invoked
as we draw water or chop wood? It would be a pity,” she added, pointing
to the numerous articles on the table, “if all this should have been
done in vain. I was obliged to bargain with and bribe slaves. How else
could I get a man’s shoe or the fringe from his upper garment? But to
bargain and bribe....”

Ninus paused, casting a side-glance at the young girl, who remained
silent. The priestess saw that she must speak more plainly.

“But to bribe,” she added, “requires money, a great deal of money.”

“I haven’t any; I’ve never had money.”

This was evidently not the first time the answer had been given to
Ninus. She understood how to help herself.

“Well, well!” she cried, “if you have no money, my pretty one, you
probably have many rings, clasps, and such things.”

The veiled figure threw back her cloak; two dazzlingly white arms
appeared a moment and unfastened a brooch from her forehead. But the
light from the lantern was so faint that Hipyllos rather imagined than
saw the features which to him were the dearest in the world.

“Take this ornament,” she said; “I have many of them.... Take this pin
and clasp too.”

Ninus bent her head to conceal her delight.

“Generous girl!” she exclaimed, “who would not gladly serve a maiden
fair as Aphrodite and blooming as Artemis?”

“Offer your thanks to Doris,” said the veiled figure. “She persuaded
me to come. She has told you all, even that terrible thing--the worst
misfortune which could befall me.”


XII.

Hipyllos strained his attention to the utmost.

Ninus herself seemed to become somewhat thoughtful at hearing the
girl’s words.

“Why don’t you speak to your mother?” she said.

“Ah, no, no! Mother will not venture to help me. She wants only what my
father desires.”

Ninus was silent a moment.

“Yet there is no other way,” she said. “You must either go to your
mother or do what Doris advises.”

“Follow Doris’ advice?” cried the veiled figure impetuously. “No,
never, never! What are you asking? I should die with shame.”

How eagerly Hipyllos listened. Here was something he did not understand.

“True,” replied Ninus, “it must be torture to a respectable girl. Yet
to _him_....”

The muffled figure hastily interrupted her.

“Yes,” she said, “I know whom you mean.”

A faint smile flitted over Ninus’ pallid features.

“Aha!” she murmured. “You are afraid I might utter his name, and that
it might be an ill-omen. So you think of him very often, pretty maid?”

The young girl bent her head with a bewitching air of embarrassment.

“Then it is true,” Ninus persisted, “you often think of him?”

“Always,” was the reply.

Hipyllos could have hugged the sorceress for that one word.

“Girl,” said Ninus suddenly, “is your mind devout and your body pure?”

“Before coming here I prayed to the gods and anointed myself.”

Ninus was silent for a time, then going close to the muffled form she
asked in a whisper:

“Have you ever heard of stones animated with souls, which have fallen
from the skies? We call them _baetyli_, but among your people they are
known by the name of _orites_ or _siderites_.”

“I know nothing about them,” replied the young girl, then seizing the
priestess’ hand with an enquiring gesture she murmured: “Tell me, what
do these _baetyli_ give?”

“Counsel.”

“What! Stones--talk?”

“Hush, hush! In the name of the gods--silence. It is a great mystery.”

Hipyllos listened attentively. He had already heard of a strange
connection between demons and stones; he knew that in the temple of
Apollo at Delphi there was a stone that had fallen from the sky, which
was daily anointed with oil. This was the stone Rhea had let Cronos
swallow instead of Zeus.

“As you know, fair maid,” Ninus continued, “I will gladly serve you.”

“I shall not be ungrateful.”

Ninus shook her head.

“Promises are words written in water,” she murmured.

The young girl, without answering, began to draw a ring from her finger
but Ninus prevented it.

“The ring is worth eight drachmae,” she said. “Conjuring with the stone
will cost ten times as much. Know that hitherto no Hellene has made
a _baetylus_ speak. Such things can only be learned in Phrygia....
Farewell, maiden; we must part....”

“Don’t leave me!” cried the girl, seizing Ninus’ robe. “Look!” she
added drawing from her arm a glittering gold band, “if this is enough,
take it.”

“I am easily satisfied,” said Ninus, snatching the gold. “Well then,
I’ll tell you everything. Before a _baetylus_ will show its power one
must fast thrice seven days and hold no conversation with men; then
the stone must be washed in spring-water and clad in swaddling clothes
like a little child. Even this is not enough. A lamp must be lighted in
a clean room in the house, incense offered, and prayers repeated. All
this I have done from the hour Doris first told me.”

Ninus now thrust both hands down into the basket and, with great care,
drew out a smooth oval stone, wrapped in swaddling clothes like a
new-born child.

Holding out the stone, she bowed low.

Hipyllos felt like a person who, at some untimely hour, had entered a
sanctuary and beheld things no mortal eye ought to see.

“Maiden,” whispered Ninus, “take the _baetylus_ in your arms and rock
it to and fro. But beware of dropping it; for then it would be angry.”

The veiled figure received the stone with evident anxiety.

Ninus now lighted some charcoal on the gridiron by the flame of the
lantern, scattered incense upon it, and let the smoke rise before
the _baetylus_. Then, taking it from Clytie’s hands, she removed the
swaddling clothes and anointed it with oil.

“Look!” she cried, raising it in the air, “the soul is coming.”

Hipyllos felt a slight thrill of awe. He fancied he saw the stone make
a slight movement in the priestess’ hands.

Ninus now rocked it more violently and in a strange tone, that sounded
like the monotonous buzzing of an Egyptian sistrum, chanted the
following words:

    Orites, lend thine ear,
    Stone smooth and splendid,
    Let us the spirit hear
    Within thy heart hid.
    Stone that thyself canst stir,
    From earth arising,
    Lipless art thou, yet murmur
    Counsel inspiring.

Again the stone seemed to make a slight movement.

The priestess of Sabazius, bending over it, whispered:

“By the two great mysteries, life and death, I conjure thee, Orites,
raise thy voice and answer. Shall this maiden apply to her mother or
shall she follow the advice of the slave-girl, Doris?”

A whimpering sound like an infant’s cry was heard.

Ninus bent lower and kissed the stone three times--a strange, weak
voice, which seemed to issue from it with difficulty, said slowly,
syllable by syllable, the two words:

“_O-bey Do-ris!_”

Hipyllos had been made no wiser by this scene. He did not yet know what
terrible thing had happened to Clytie or for what reason she sought
advice.

The priestess of Sabazius wiped the perspiration from her forehead,
and in absolute silence washed the _baetylus_ and put on its swaddling
clothes.

“See!” she said as she replaced it in the basket, “the spirit is
departing again.... But know one thing, girl; you must do what the
_baetylus_ advised; the ‘Unknown’ do not give their counsel in vain.”

“I will do it,” replied the muffled figure sighing. “But--the other
thing of which Doris told you?”

Ninus smiled.

“You haven’t seen him for ten days,” she murmured. “And you think that
he has forgotten you?”

“Dear Ninus!” cried the girl, pressing her hand upon her bosom. “He is
my hope, my only hope. Your spells will not harm him?”

There was such tender anxiety in the question, that Hipyllos felt an
almost unconquerable desire to spring forward and clasp the young girl
in his arms.

“No,” replied Ninus. “These spells will do no harm. But, since I fulfil
your wishes in this, give me the ring you showed me just now.”

Clytie hastened to comply with the demand.

Ninus then drew out an article wrapped in a cloth. “This is one of his
sandals,” she whispered. Scattering sulphur on the charcoal she held
the sandal in the smoke, then flung salt into the flame, saying in a
slow, solemn tone:

“Hi-pyl-los, Cly-ti-e!”

The young man felt a shiver run through his limbs at hearing his name
so suddenly.

Ninus glanced around. This was the moment when the person summoned,
drawn by an invincible power, ought to appear and fall at his loved
one’s feet.

The priestess shrugged her shoulders.

“Hm!” she muttered, as though baffled. “Your fear was not groundless,
pretty maid. Take this vessel I use in pouring libations and wrap the
purple wool around it, put these laurel branches on the flames, hold
the wax near them, and set the dish beneath.”

At the same time Ninus raised aloft a tri-colored wax image and flung
fragrant boughs upon the fire before it.

“Hear me, most terrible of goddesses, mysterious Hecate!” she cried,
“mercifully aid us and make our spells more powerful than those
of Medea and Circe. Let his blood burn as these laurel leaves are
consumed in the flame, and his heart bleed and melt with tenderness
for this maiden as this wax melts from the heat.”

Ninus started and listened.

The baying of a dog was heard in the stillness of the night.

“Hush!” she muttered. “I hear dogs barking. Hecate is near--in the
cross-road yonder, where her altar stands. Strike these metal basins
against each other--let the sound tell her that we feel her approach.
Oh, Hecate, stern, exalted goddess, I will pour three libations in thy
honor! Thrice accursed be each new fancy of the man this maiden loves.
Let him instantly desert her rivals, as Theseus deserted the hapless
Ariadne.”

Then, seizing the wheel, she set it in motion.

“Let his footsteps circle around this maiden’s dwelling, as this wheel
turns on its axle. Direct his steps hither, lofty goddess,” continued
Ninus, throwing a powder upon the charcoal. “_Appear, oh Hipyllos,
appear!_” she called loudly. A clear yellow flame shot high into
the air and vanished with a faint crackling sound, like a flash of
lightning.

By the glow the young girl had seen Hipyllos’ face appear and disappear
like a vision in a dream--a wall seemed to open and close over it.
Terror and surprise made her utter a piercing shriek. Ninus fancied
herself watched and blew out the light.

While Hipyllos, dazzled by the blaze, was groping his way around the
corner of the wall he heard the dry twigs snapping under hurried
footsteps. It was the two women, who were stealing away through the
other end of the long arbor. He wanted to follow them, but ran into the
arms of the armorer’s slave who was looking for him to say that his
master had come. Almost at the same moment the door of Xenocles’ house
closed with a bang, rendering farther pursuit useless.

He followed the slave into the shop. Sauros deserved credit for his
work; the cuirass fitted admirably. But Hipyllos did not hear the
smith’s long explanations; his sole desire was to be alone with his
thoughts. So, when the fitting was over, he hastily took his leave,
called his slave, told him to light a torch and set out on his homeward
way. His disappointment at pretty Clytie’s escape had already vanished;
nay even his anxiety about the trouble threatening her was forced to
yield to the blissful thought of being beloved by the fairest maiden in
Athens. He knew that now from her own lips--for it did not occur to him
to doubt that the muffled figure was Clytie herself.


XIII.

The following day Hipyllos returned from the race-course shortly
after noon and flung himself upon a couch; but his blood was too
keenly stirred for him to find immediate repose. He still saw and
heard only the chariot-races. A long, long course, marble benches
filled with passionately excited spectators, slanting rows of chariot
sheds, falling barricades, horses dashing forward four abreast,
clouds of dust, clapping of hands, and shouts of: “Speude, speude!”
(haste) and: “Aristeue!” (keep ahead)--all this had gone to his
head like intoxication. Gradually his excitement died away into a
pleasant lassitude, and at the same time his thoughts wandered to
the conjuration the day before in Sauros’ garden. Again he heard the
priestess of Sabazius say: “You think of him very often, pretty maid?”
and recalled the bewitching movement with which the young girl had bent
her head and whispered the one word: “Always!” that had almost made
him betray himself in his delight. He had reached this point in his
love-dream, when the door-keeper entered.

“A young slave-girl wants to speak to you,” he said. “She has a letter
from her mistress.”

Hipyllos started from the couch.

“Bring her in--quick.”

He understood two things--that some misfortune must really have
befallen Clytie, and that what Doris had advised and the _baetylus_
confirmed was--to write to him.

A young slave with a bright face entered and, folding her arms across
her breast, bowed before him.

Hipyllos hastily advanced to meet her.

“In the name of the gods, what has happened?” he asked.

“This letter will tell you,” replied Doris--for it was she--and handed
him two wax-tablets folded together.

Hipyllos broke the ribbon that confined them, opened the tablets, and
read the lines traced upon the wax. They ran as follows:

  “Clytie, Xenocles’ daughter, greets Hipyllos, Chaeretades’ son.

  “It is necessary, doubly necessary, for me to write, first for
  the sake of the matter itself and secondly because a higher
  power has counselled me to do so. But I shall make the message
  short--for it concerns a misfortune. Know that my father, urged
  by that man, has hastened my marriage, and the wedding will take
  place in five days. Woe is me, funeral flambeaux would be more
  welcome than those bridal torches. Yet how is escape possible?
  Can a daughter contend against her father? Can a wife oppose her
  husband? My mother kisses me and weeps with me, but says she
  dares not do that. You, oh Hipyllos, are the only person with
  whom I can seek refuge. What you will do, I know not. But I turn
  to you as an ill-treated slave flies to the altar. Your vow that
  day, in my mother’s hearing, was no promise written in water. I
  read sincerity and truth in your face, and since that hour I have
  considered you the master of my life. You will not yield. In the
  midst of my grief I have but _one_ joy--that you cannot see me.
  My cheeks are crimson with shame, and my eyes are full of tears.
  This letter, the first and last, I still write as a maiden.”

While reading these lines the most varied feelings assailed Hipyllos;
he felt both grieved and charmed. He again glanced over the letter,
and the superscription awakened a feeling of delight. The young girl,
educated under her mother’s eye, was honesty itself--it had not once
occurred to her to write anonymously. She did not utter a single unkind
word about Acestor, the source of her trouble; she merely alluded to
him as “that man.” And how touching was her confidence! She did not
know what he would do, yet she appealed to him as the only person with
whom she could find refuge. And the last warning that there was only a
short time for action she expressed in the words “I write this _still_
as a maiden.”

There was something so womanly in the letter that Hipyllos felt his
heart swell with pride and happiness. It seemed as though some part of
the lovely girl’s personality clung to the wax tablets and the delicate
lines traced upon them, and again he vowed to win her, cost what it
might.

Hipyllos glanced from the letter to the slave.

She was a blooming girl, sixteen or seventeen years old, rather tall
than short, with a brown skin and curling black hair. Her dress was a
white linen robe, confined under the youthful bosom by a girdle striped
with blue and yellow.

Doris smilingly returned the look. She understood the whole matter.

“Why is the wedding so hurried?” asked Hipyllos. “Why does it take
place in five days?”

“How should I know?” replied Doris. “Some of the slaves think Acestor
needs the dowry.”

Hipyllos took from a low chest a reed, “the black kind,” and a roll of
the papyrus known among dealers by the name of _taneotica_.

While Doris, knowing that on her return she would be obliged to
describe every couch, rug, and tripod, was gazing around the room,
Hipyllos sat down at a small table and wrote as his youth and love
dictated:

  “I greet you, beautiful Clytie, my light, my soul, and my life!

  “Your letter has been a source of both terror and delight. But
  the terror is conquered and the delight remains. Rely upon me,
  I shall leave nothing untried. But should I not save you in the
  five days, my advice is this: Feign illness, so that the marriage
  must be delayed. I shall thus gain more time. And now farewell,
  dearest treasure of my soul! Be of good courage and calm
  yourself.”

A drachma was slipped with the letter into Doris’ hand and, blushing
for joy, she left Hipyllos with the best wishes for him and Clytie.

The young man was scarcely alone ere he became absorbed in thought.
“Five days!” he murmured, “five days!” He could have killed Acestor,
but he perceived that violence was no way to win the fair girl. To go
to Xenocles and tell him everything would certainly be the simplest
method, but would the latter break his pledged word, especially so
short a time before the wedding? It surely was not probable. After
long irresolution Hipyllos thought of Thuphrastos. The old soldier was
clever in everything he undertook, experienced in all the relations of
life, and renowned for his wise counsel. Besides, Clytie’s father had
the greatest respect for him. Perhaps he might help.


XIV.

The next moment Hipyllos was on his way to Thuphrastos. It was just
the hour between the time to go to market and the time of visiting the
gymnasia. As the young man expected, he found the old captain at home.
The latter received him kindly and listened to him attentively but,
when Hipyllos mentioned his real errand, Thuphrastos frowned and gave
him a flat refusal.

“What do you ask?” he said in his rough way. “I am to go to
Xenocles--and dictate to him to whom he shall marry his daughter? Make
myself a laughing-stock for him and others? No, young man, you don’t
know Thuphrastos.”

Hipyllos bent his head and fixed his eyes upon the ground. His last
hope was destroyed.

There was a moment’s silence, in which the dog was heard rattling his
chain outside.

Thuphrastos straightened his grey robe, rubbed his bald pate, and
absently pulled his beard. Hipyllos felt ashamed of his request and
looked thoroughly disheartened. At last Thuphrastos laid his hand on
his shoulder and sat down on the couch by his side.

“Don’t lower your eyes like a woman,” he said, and then added in a
kinder tone: “Pluck up your courage! There are other ways and means.”

“What do you mean?” asked Hipyllos, raising his head.

“Listen--I’m going to give you a piece of advice. The old general
Stratocles once saw some of his heavy-armed troopers turn pale when
about to meet the foe. He instantly shouted: ‘If any of you have
forgotten anything in the camp, you can go and get it!’ One man sneaked
timidly out of the ranks, followed by five or six others. ‘Good!’ cried
Stratocles, ‘the cowards have gone! Now we have only brave men among
us.’ Then he rushed forward, and the enemy fled.... But, young man, you
don’t yet fully understand?”

Hipyllos made a gesture of denial.

“Well then,” Thuphrastos continued with a certain impetuosity, as
though he could not utter what he had to say quickly enough, “I think
your rival, Acestor, is a chatterer and a coward--I mean--that, like
those slaves, he must be brought to show himself in his true colors.
Then Xenocles--without asking anybody’s advice--will let him go.”

“Splendid! Excellent!” cried Hipyllos, clapping his hands. “Men don’t
praise your clever counsel without cause. But how is this to be
managed?”

“By Zeus, there’s no difficulty about that. Make yourself small as he
makes himself great--feign to be timid, and let him show himself brave.
Then, when he has puffed himself up well, give him a real fright.
Pretend that the meetings of the hetaeriae are discovered, that the
house is surrounded by bowmen, and when he is trembling with terror and
doesn’t know where to hide, do as Stratocles did with the cowards--give
him an excuse to slip away, and he’ll speedily show the hollows under
the soles of his feet.”

Hipyllos laughed. The pair talked together some time longer, and when
the young man went away all anxiety and doubt had forsaken him.


XV.

Hipyllos’ letter was a joy and comfort to Clytie, but it did not
soothe her. Five days was so short a time! Amid tears and caresses
she confided in her mother, and described Hipyllos with such loving
eloquence that Maira (her mother) was won over to her wishes. Though
Clytie had little faith in her intercession, she went to her and by
entreaties and persuasions induced her to promise to tell her story to
Xenocles. Two of the five days had already passed, so there was no time
to lose.

The next evening, when the husband and wife were supping together, the
husband comfortably extended on a couch and the wife sitting humbly
on its outer edge, Maira--not without a secret tremor--ventured
to mention the subject; but the hot-tempered little man scarcely
understood what she was talking about, ere he started up and repulsed
her in such a way that she dared not revert to the matter again. Every
hope of Maira’s assistance was thus cut off, and to speak to her father
herself did not even enter the young girl’s mind. She could do nothing
but fix her last faint hope on Hipyllos.

Yet, when the day before the wedding arrived without any prospect
of deliverance, Clytie ceased to weep and fell into a state of dull
insensibility, like a person who is utterly hopeless. “What is the
use of pretending to be ill?” she thought. They will say: “It is
nothing--it will pass off! Can I oppose them all? Can I keep the bridal
procession waiting? No, even if I complain of sickness, they will lift
me into the chariot and let that man carry me to his house.”

From that moment she felt as though she had no will in anything.

When evening came, the last evening she was to spend under her parents’
roof, her mother and a few female slaves were busied about her in her
maiden-bower. It was a small room with reddish-brown walls, lighted by
a clay lamp which stood on a brass tripod. Clytie sat on a low chair,
with her face turned from the lamp, and Doris stood behind her in the
act of fastening her hair into a knot. At the back of the room Maira
and a middle-aged slave, who had been Clytie’s nurse, were busied in
examining robes, kerchiefs, girdles, and over-garments, which they
spread out on the young girl’s bed, a small maple-wood couch, covered
with embroidered pillows and coverlets.

A sorrowful, troubled mood prevailed. Even the atmosphere of the little
room was heavy, as though saturated with the peculiar damp freshness of
women’s clean garments, mingled with a penetrating odor of ointments
and Median apples, the latter being laid between the stuffs to perfume
them. Now and then Clytie’s mother and the nurse exchanged a few words,
but as softly as if they were trying not to disturb some sick person.
Clytie resigned herself in perfect silence to the care of her favorite
attendant, and even the latter’s nimble tongue was still.

Suddenly a girl’s merry voice was heard outside. According to ancient
custom the bride, on her marriage eve, bathed in water brought from the
Fountain of Enneacrunus.

This water must be brought by a virgin, and a young neighbor, Coronis,
the daughter of a rich basket-maker, who from childhood had been
Clytie’s friend and looked up to her with admiration, had gone with her
slaves to the fountain to fetch the water.

As she entered, a breath of gayety and life seemed to come into the
silent room. Coronis was a merry little maid, with a childish face,
whose dark eyes, lips, cheeks, dimples--all laughed. She was dressed
entirely in white, and carried the laurel branch used for purification.
This she instantly put down by the door, as if to say: “Stay there, you
useless, solemn thing.”

She had so much to tell that she scarcely took time to greet Clytie and
her mother. She had met at the fountain two other bride-maids; they
had talked together, and Coronis therefore knew all about the weddings
which were to take place the next day; she knew the fathers, mothers,
brides, and bridegrooms, and had a great deal to say about the marriage
garments, bridesmen, and nuptial banquets.

When her story was ended, preparations were made for a ceremony which
the art of those days has represented upon many a vase.

Doris placed a bath-tub shaped like a mussel-shell in the middle of
the floor, and set the full hydria beside it. Then, kneeling before
her mistress, she loosed her girdle and unfastened the clasps on her
shoulders. Two slight pulls were sufficient to make the garments fall
around the hips, and from a cloud of white folds appeared the whole
upper portion of the maiden’s slender form, whose fairness, seen
against the brown wall, became doubly dazzling and seemed created to
ensnare both eyes and hearts.

Now began the familiar talk that always takes place among women on such
occasions.

“How beautiful you are, dear!” exclaimed little Coronis, pressing a
light kiss on her friend’s shoulder. “What a complexion--what is the
finest Syrian stuff compared with its smoothness!”

“Yes,” said the middle-aged nurse, with as much self-satisfaction as
though she considered Clytie her own work, “I know that even Leda’s
bosom was not more beautiful, ... no breast-band is needed here.”

Doris glanced with a smile at Coronis and the nurse.

“What you praise deserves the highest compliments,” she said, “but it
is not what I value most.” With a look of earnest affection she knelt
before Clytie, took her hand, and kissed it. “What I value most is
my beautiful mistress’ goodness. I have served her daily ever since
she was a little child--and never in that long time has she uttered a
single unkind word.”

“Believe me, my Clytie,” the mother added, not without a certain pride,
though her eyes were full of tears, “you will be fortunate and happy.
What husband can fail to love you--so good and so beautiful!”

Coronis now took her friend by the hand. As Clytie rose, the garments
slipped lower and remained lying around her on the floor like a broad
white linen garland. An instant, but only an instant, the young girl,
faintly illumined by the lamp, stood in the white beauty of her snowy
limbs in the dusky room; then, with a swift movement, she stepped out
of the folds of her robes into the bath-tub.

Coronis, with a mischievous expression, raised the full hydria.

“Prepare to shiver, Clytie,” she said laughing. “I’m going to do what
is written in Lamprus’ bath-song.” And holding it so that the water
trickled down over the shining, supple body, she chanted in a low tone:

   “Slowly pour the fountain’s water
    O’er the white neck of the bride;
    Brow and bosom let it moisten,
    Hand, and foot, and back, and side!
    Soon the fair one will perceive the
    Cooling freshness of the bath,
    As her fair limbs’ marble whiteness
    The pink bloom of roses hath.”

While Doris was wiping her mistress’ back with a soft woollen cloth,
the latter’s eyes followed the quivering drops of water that chased and
mingled with each other on her white neck before trickling in waving
streams over the smooth skin. Clytie was not vain of her beauty; but
when, as now, she looked down over the soft slope of her shoulders
and the chaste curves of her bosom she could not help receiving an
impression of something uncommonly pretty. The water had not only
strengthened her body, but given fresh vigor to her mind. A multitude
of thoughts darted through her brain. Did not Homer himself tell the
story of a bloody war waged for a fair woman’s sake? So woman’s beauty
must be something precious. And for whom was _she_ destined?

She saw in imagination her bridegroom Acestor--stately and boastful,
but without a trace of Attic refinement, heavy and dull. She had only
cast one hasty, timid glance at him, but a woman’s glance is like a
flash of lightning, and she had caught him fixing his eyes on her with
an expression she had never seen. She felt that it was monstrous, a
desecration, to be given to this man, and secretly vowed to shun no
means of escaping so bitter a fate.

This resolve was soon to be tested.


XVI.

Scarcely had Maira, accompanied by the nurse, left the room to go with
Coronis to the door and make a final survey of the house, when a noise
like a pebble flung against the wall was heard outside. Faint as the
sound was, Doris started and Clytie, who was in the act of putting on
her tunic, stopped, blushed crimson, and held her breath to listen.

Doris ran to the peep-hole and drew the red curtain aside. A voice
whispered a few words which sounded like a question.

Before Doris replied, she turned towards Clytie and said: “It is his
slave Manodoros.... He asks if you are alone.”

Then she put her head through the hole and answered in a smothered
tone: “Yes, entirely alone. But what do you want? Speak. My mistress’
mother has just gone out, and will be back directly.”

Again there was a whisper outside.

Doris stretched her arm through the opening as far as she could. At
the same moment her neck and ears grew crimson, and she stamped her
foot impatiently. “Let go!” she cried, “let go! This is no time for
trifling.” When she again turned, she held in her hand a letter written
on a papyrus-scroll.

“Read it, dear Mistress,” she said as she took the bath-tub and carried
it away. “I’ll keep watch outside.”

Clytie seized the letter with a trembling hand and broke the seal. The
dull expression of her features had vanished, and her lovely face was
radiant with expectation and hope.

The letter contained the following lines, which seemed to have been
hastily written, for here and there a word was erased and changed for
another.

  “DEAREST CLYTIE!

  “You are alone against many; I fear you may let yourself be
  over-persuaded. You must fly; it is the only way of escape. The
  priestess of Sabazius is willing to receive you. Doris must go,
  too, or she will be tortured and confess everything.

  “In the name of all the gods, do what I advise, my beloved. Have
  you not yourself called me the lord of your life? You can easily
  escape through the garden; keep concealed a few days, and all
  danger will be over. I shall know how to soothe your father’s
  wrath. Besides, can it be counted against the many happy years
  awaiting us?”

If this letter had come earlier, Clytie would never have decided upon
a step so entirely opposed to what was seemly for an Attic maiden. The
idea of quitting her father’s roof would have appeared to her the most
impossible of all. Yet, now that her aversion to Acestor had become as
intense as her love for Hipyllos, she thought the letter very bold, but
at the same time perceived that Hipyllos told the truth. The danger was
imminent, and there was no escape save flight if they were not to be
parted forever.

“He is right,” she thought. “I have called him the lord of my life.
Should I then fail to fulfil his first command? No--I will do what he
directs--happen what may.”

When Doris entered to fetch the empty hydria, Clytie stood before her
with flushed cheeks and a glance which expressed firm resolution.

“When everything is quiet in the house,” she said, “I shall fly through
the garden. You will go with me.”

Doris stared at her in open-mouthed amazement; the empty hydria she
had taken dropped from her hand and broke with a rattling noise on the
tiled floor.

“May the gods avert the warning!” she murmured, as she picked up the
pieces.

But Clytie did not allow herself to be disturbed.

“When father and mother are asleep,” she continued, “you must slip into
their chamber and get the key of the garden.”

Doris scarcely believed her ears. She no longer recognized Clytie. Was
this the timid young girl who had been afraid to meet Ninus and whom
she was obliged to lead step by step? Now it was Clytie who commanded
and Doris who hesitated.

“But, do you think, Mistress...?”

Clytie raised her hand with a gesture that commanded silence.

At the same moment steps were heard outside. Clytie’s mother returned
and, sending Doris away, seated herself on the edge of the couch and
drew the young girl down beside her. This was the last evening the
daughter would spend at home. Maira tenderly stroked Clytie’s hair,
clasped her hands in her own, and talked a long time to her in a
whisper. When they at last parted it was reluctantly, after many an
embrace and caress, and the eyes of both were wet with tears.

Clytie felt a twinge of remorse, but it did not change her resolve.

Tearing a strip of papyrus from Hipyllos’ letter, she wrote the
following lines:

  “Dear Mother!

  “Forgive me, I must fly--I abhor that man. But do not fear! I
  shall seek a safe place, where no harm will befall me. Doris goes
  with me. In a few days, when the danger is over, I will come
  back. Farewell, dear mother, blessings on you for your love! I
  leave my father’s house a virgin, and as a virgin I shall return.”

When Clytie had fastened the strip of papyrus with a pin to the pillow,
she gathered together the few articles of clothing she would need for
a short absence. Doris now came stealing in; she had been listening
outside the chamber. Xenocles and his wife were not yet asleep,
but were talking to each other; she had heard them utter the word
“bride-man.”


XVII.

An hour later Doris again glided through the open hall of the women’s
apartment, called the _prostas_, to the chamber occupied by Clytie’s
parents. She listened, but heard nothing; the conversation seemed to
have ceased. The room was one of the few apartments in a Greek house
that could be closed by a door. Fortunately this door was ajar, but to
slip in Doris was obliged to push it farther open. Scarcely had she
touched it when she was startled by a loud, distinct creaking. She felt
her cheeks grow bloodless, but she must go in. With the utmost caution
she again took hold of the door, and this time it opened noiselessly.
Silently as a shadow she stole bare-footed into the room. A sultry,
heavy atmosphere greeted her. She heard the breathing of the sleepers,
but there was no other sound. From the peristyle the faint light of
the night-heavens shone through the open doorway. Doris saw the bed
indistinctly; something light trailed on the floor beside it--doubtless
a woman’s long robes hanging from a chain. She cautiously groped her
way forward, fearing to knock against something and make a noise. There
was a strange feeling of insecurity about her, and her feet seemed
as heavy as lead. With dilated eyes she saw, or fancied that she saw,
two human figures stretched upon the bed. Advancing a few steps nearer
she felt paralyzed with terror and on the point of falling. One of
the figures sat upright in the bed and turned its face towards her.
She could not see the eyes, but was aware that the person saw her
distinctly.

“Is it you, Doris? What do you want?” a voice said, interrupting the
silence.

Doris knew the tones, though amid the darkness and stillness of the
night they seemed to have a ghostly sound. It was Maira who spoke.

The mother was so engrossed by the thought of her daughter’s wedding,
that she had not been greatly startled by seeing Doris glide in. The
voice merely sounded a little surprised.

Doris could not answer; it was impossible for her to utter a single
word.

“What do you want so late?” Maira said again, this time with a touch of
impatience.

Doris forced herself to control her voice.

“The key....” she stammered, “I want to get the key.”

“Why?”

“The night-lamp has gone out, and I want to light it at the neighbor’s.”

“Simpleton, you can light it from Clytie’s. It is shining on the
pillars outside.”

This was unanswerable--Doris thought her cause lost. But the very
magnitude of the danger forced her to calm herself. She drew a long
breath, and once more felt in possession of her wits. She _would_ have
the key. And all the resolution and defiance that exist in a firm
determination suddenly filled her soul so completely that, heedless
whether she roused Xenocles or not, she went straight to her goal.

“But I must have the key,” she replied in a tone that sounded cold and
strange in her own ears, “I want to pour out the bath-water.”

“Let it stand till morning.”

Doris felt with her hand over the wall near the head of the bed and
found the nail with the three-toothed key, which she took quietly
without any extreme haste.

“I dare not let the water stand,” she said, “my mistress ordered me to
pour it out.”

Without waiting for a reply, she left the room as lightly as a feather,
and breathless with joy and excitement ran back to Clytie, before whom
she triumphantly held aloft the key.

Clytie clasped her in her arms and kissed her tenderly, then,
without losing a moment, she gave her the bundle of clothes, threw
a blue-striped kerchief over her head, and holding her faithful
maid-servant’s hand, glided out of the room.


XVIII.

Clytie’s heart was throbbing with excitement. In passing on she raised
the curtain hanging at the door of the apartment in which stood the
images of the household gods, and bowing towards the little statues,
wholly invisible in the gloom, murmured in a low tone:

“Do not be wrathful, protectors of my race! Do not desert me because I
forsake you.”

Then, accompanied by Doris, she walked through the open hall into a
large work-room set apart for women. The darkness here was so great
that nothing was visible save two narrow grey streaks; these were the
loop-holes in the wall, through which the room received its light by
day. A warm atmosphere, the heat emanating from human bodies, greeted
the fugitives, and they heard the heavy breathing of numerous sleepers.
Most of the female slaves of the household spent the night here on
couches made of piles of cushions or felt rugs ranged along the wall.
As Doris moved towards the garden door she ran against something,
probably a tall tripod. She hastily caught at it, but in the darkness
missed her aim and it fell with a heavy crash, while a copper lamp
which had stood upon it rattled on the stone floor. The slave women
started from their sleep; the shrieks of one terrified the others till
all vied in screaming. Hasty footsteps crossed the peristyle, and a
man’s voice cried angrily:

“What an ado! Why are you yelling so? What is it?”

“Hush, you simpletons!” said Doris’ well-known tones, “do you take
me for a thief who has lifted the door off its hinges or dug his way
through under the wall?”

“What are you doing here?” asked the door-keeper of the women’s
apartment; for it was he who had hurried in.

Meantime Doris had found the lock and put the key in it.

“Oh, pshaw!” she replied, as though vexed by so much disturbance,
“I’m going to pour out the bath-water. In the dark I ran against a
tripod--it fell, and so they screamed as if they were possessed by some
evil demon.”

With these words she opened the door, pushed Clytie out, and followed
herself.

The fugitives now found themselves in the garden. Here the darkness
was not too great to permit them to distinguish without difficulty the
paths winding between the black masses of the shrubs and trees. A damp
wind blew into their faces and the odor of the flowers was oppressively
strong; they heard a rustling among the leaves, like the sound of dice
dropping on a copper shield, and big drops fell singly.

After the anxiety she had experienced Clytie felt unspeakable relief.
It seemed as if she inhaled liberty with every breath of the
night air, and she thought with a touch of joyful dread of meeting
Hipyllos. Doris was still absorbed by the remembrance of the nocturnal
disturbance in the house, but consoled herself by thinking that the
door-keeper would explain everything.

Outside the garden gate stood two dark figures. One wore his hair cut
short--so he was a slave; the other had long locks, and though both
appeared like dim black outlines Clytie instantly recognized Hipyllos
by the stately way in which his mantle was draped about him--in itself
sufficient to mark the young Eupatride.

Clytie’s heart beat faster, and she suddenly trembled in every limb
as she had done the evening she stole out to meet the priestess of
Sabazius. She had scarcely stepped outside of the garden, when Hipyllos
hurried towards her.

“I thank you,” he said, “blessings on you for coming.”

The young girl made no reply; she was far too much agitated and
confused to be able to utter a single word.

“You saw the necessity,” Hipyllos continued, “and besides....”

He paused and, smiling, gazed into her face; he had never seen her look
lovelier. The blue-striped kerchief she had thrown over her head cast a
slight shadow upon her features, which lent them a mysterious charm.

... “And besides,” he added, “you wrote that you trusted me.”

Clytie raised her dark eyes to him.

Hipyllos threw his arm around her waist, and though he felt a slight
movement of resistance he led her in this way the short distance to the
hired house where the priestess of Sabazius lived. It was a dwelling
called a _tristegos_, a three-storied house which belonged to Sauros,
the armorer, and stood close beside his workshop.

At the first subdued tap of the knocker, Ninus was ready and opened the
door.

Hipyllos clasped both of Clytie’s hands.

“We must part,” he said. “But, whatever happens, do not go home until
you have received a message from me. And now farewell, you beautiful
one, you darling, you light of my life!”

He pressed her to his breast, and ere she could prevent it he had
snatched a kiss.

But Clytie tore herself from his embrace, gathered the folds of her
robe around her, and fled as lightly as a deer up the steps, where her
slender figure vanished in the darkness.

Hipyllos gazed after her.

“By Aphrodite,” he exclaimed, “she is like a butterfly.”


XIX.

Maira did not sleep much that night. The next morning she was surprised
not to see Doris flitting about the house, and having found Clytie’s
room empty, she did not doubt that her daughter was in the garden with
her favorite attendant. She went there and called repeatedly; but, when
silence was the only reply, a presentiment of misfortune darted through
her mind. She hurried back to Clytie’s chamber, searched it, found the
papyrus note on the pillow, and read its contents with breathless haste.

“Merciful Gods!” she exclaimed, clasping her hands. “Gone--fled in the
night!... Clytie, Clytie, how could you cause me such sorrow? Make our
house the scorn of envious neighbors--What will your father say? He
will rage and curse you....”

Suddenly a revulsion of feeling came over her.

“Well, let him rage,” she murmured, “let him rage and call down
curses.... To drive my Clytie to this! How she must have suffered! But,
by Hera, he shall hear the truth.”

She was already on her way to her chamber, when she paused.

“What am I doing!” she exclaimed. “The first thing is to conceal
Clytie’s flight. No one must suspect that her room is empty.”

Calling Eunoa, the oldest female slave in the house, she said to her:
“Clytie is ill. Sit down here outside of her door and let no one enter,
not even her nurse. Do exactly as I tell you.”

Eunoa opened her eyes in astonishment; she had never heard her mistress
speak in so curt and imperious a tone.

When Maira entered her bed-room, there was a certain solemnity in her
manner that attracted Xenocles’ attention. Stretching himself on the
couch, he beckoned to her.

But, instead of taking her seat on the edge, Maira remained standing
before him, gazing steadily into his face. Xenocles scarcely believed
his eyes. It was the first time during the twenty years of their
married life that his wife had not instantly done whatever he requested.

“Sit down,” he repeated, again pointing to the seat.

Maira did not seem to hear.

“I have evil tidings,” she said coldly. “A misfortune has happened to
us during the night.”

“What is it? What is it?” cried the excitable little man, and pointing
to the strip of papyrus she held in her hand, he asked: “Is this the
misfortune?”

“It is from Clytie,” replied Maira, and read the contents in a tone
which seemed to imply that the matter was no concern of hers.

At the words: “Forgive me, I must fly,” Xenocles started and, with a
stiff movement, as though both his limbs had suddenly become one, he
swung himself up from his reclining posture and put his feet on the
floor so that he sat erect on the couch. He seemed to have been struck
speechless, and his hands fumbled with his belt, which he had not yet
buckled.

He was thinking of Clytie’s childhood, of her pretty, gentle face, her
innocent caresses. His eyes filled with tears--he could not believe
that she had gone.

Maira was a good wife and loved her husband tenderly; but she was not
more generous than the majority of the female sex. Deeply as Xenocles
was moved, it did not occur to her to spare him. All that she had
silently endured for years must be uttered.

“Now we have no daughter,” she said, as a sort of preamble.

Xenocles was silent, the muscles around his mouth twitched convulsively.

A pause ensued. At that early hour of the morning the house was so
still that the flies were heard buzzing in the sunshine on the rush
carpet inside the door.

“It would have been better,” Maira continued, “if you had not always
had your head filled with your plans and measurements for buildings.
Whole days passed without your saying a word to Clytie or me, and if
I spoke to you about anything that disturbed you, I was so harshly
rebuffed that I often dared not address you. Doris the slave-girl
knew ten times as much about Clytie’s affairs. By Adrasteia, it’s an
easy matter to be a father, if a man considers it enough to give his
daughter home and clothes and food. But, if you had had any love for
your child, had you suspected what she hoped and longed for, had you
known what she feared more than death--this misfortune would not have
befallen us.”

Xenocles gazed at Maira as though she were a stranger. He understood
that it was maternal affection which made her so strong, and at the
same time dimly felt that perhaps he had some reason to reproach
himself.

He bent his head.

“What is to be done?” he murmured. “Tell me, Maira. You have always
been a good wife to me.”

At these simple words all Maira’s wrath vanished. She involuntarily
sat down beside her husband and, as their eyes met, she threw her arms
around his neck and kissed him.

“First,” she whispered, “we must conceal Clytie’s flight. Then you
must--better now than later--go to Acestor and tell him that Clytie is
ill and the wedding must be postponed. You can say she is delirious and
no one is allowed to see her.”

Xenocles rose.

“It will be a hard task,” he said.

Fortunately Acestor’s house stood in the Melitan quarter so Xenocles,
while on his way to it, had time to clear his brain.

As he had feared, he found the slaves in the act of decorating the
building with garlands and green branches.

“Take all this down!” said the impetuous little man. “The bride is ill.
There will be no wedding.”

The door-keeper, who was standing at the half-open door watching the
slaves, heard these words and hurrying to his master, repeated them
while announcing the visitor.

Xenocles was not a man to stand waiting at an open door, especially
in the house of his future son-in-law. He followed close behind, but
while crossing the peristyle he started at the sound of a blow, and
distinctly heard the words:

“Take that, bird of misfortune, for your evil tidings.”

Acestor received Xenocles with a sullen face and frowning brow.

“Is what this blockhead says true?” he asked, without letting Xenocles
have time to speak.

“The gods have given me a bitter cup to drain,” replied the little man
with dignity. “My daughter has had a sudden attack of illness. She is
delirious, and no one is permitted to see her. The wedding must be
deferred.”

Acestor made no reply, but stared angrily into vacancy.

“Strange!” he muttered, “A bride who falls ill on her wedding day--who
ever heard of such a thing? By Zeus, this or something else seems to
me a bad omen. Do not forget that you owe me compensation and, by the
gods, a double one. In the first place the girl is beautiful enough for
many to desire to wed her, even without a dowry, and secondly I had
calculated on the amount agreed upon as a sum of which I was sure.”

“I will think of it,” replied Xenocles coldly, and went away even more
displeased with Acestor than with himself.

On the walk home he recalled the events of the morning and, as Clytie’s
flight, Maira’s reproaches, and Acestor’s greed passed through his
mind, he sighed heavily and exclaimed:

“The gods know where all this will end.”


XX.

Two days after the hetaeria assembled at Lamon’s home. The house, where
for many generations a large bleaching business had been carried on,
stood on the side of the Museium. All the water used was laboriously
drawn up by slaves or beasts of burden; but on the other hand the dust
of the city did not rise here, so the cloth could be dried in the open
air, and moreover there was no trouble with road-inspectors on account
of the waste-water. It ran down the hill-side unheeded.

To reach the door, customers from the lower part of the city
were obliged to pass around the longest wing of the house; this
inconvenience had been endured for many generations. They followed, as
it were, the customs of their forefathers and the idea of change did
not occur to them.

But Lamon had understood how to help himself. By the side of the
bleaching-room was one for hanging clothes which looked out upon the
lower part of the city and this, for his customers’ convenience, he
had transformed into an open shop, by first replacing the outer wall
by a few pillars and then having a marble-topped counter built across
the stone floor. On this customers laid their bundles and from it was
delivered the finished work which, furnished with the owner’s mark,
hung on the wall inside. In the evening the place of the outer wall was
supplied by a curtain, and at night with a grating reaching from roof
to floor.

In this room, next in size to the workshop, the secret society had
assembled. It was late in the evening, and at each end of the counter
lamps were burning on tall brass tripods. The green curtain between the
pillars was drawn, and closed the apartment like a wall.

Business discussions had not yet commenced; Thuphrastos and Hipyllos
were talking about armor and weapons. Xenocles had several times given
signs of impatience, till at last Sthenelus laughed, saying:

“Let the weapons rest! Xenocles has something to tell and, it seems to
me, something important.”

“Yes, by Zeus, I have!” cried the eager little man and, glancing
cautiously around him in every direction, he whispered: “I fear we are
betrayed.”

Acestor started from his couch.

“Betrayed?” he repeated with evident anxiety.

Xenocles looked enquiringly at Sthenelus, who nodded assent.

“I was talking with Sthenelus this morning at the market,” the little
white-haired man continued. “We were standing in front of the arcade of
Zeus the Liberator and, when we parted Sthenelus called after me: ‘You
know we meet this evening at Lamon’s.’ The words were spoken by the
statue of Zeus the Liberator. As I turned to go, Sthenelus pointed to
the ground. A little round shadow, like a man’s head, appeared in the
great one cast by the pedestal. Urged by the same fear, we both hurried
behind the statue and saw a thin man with tangled hair walking rapidly
away. He was scarcely ten paces from us.”

“Who was the man?” asked Acestor breathlessly.

“Cephisodemos.”

“One of the most dangerous informers.”

“It’s all over with us!” murmured Lysiteles rising.

Drops of perspiration stood on Acestor’s brow; nevertheless he strove
to appear calm, and proposed that the meeting should break up and each
person go to his own home.

Thuphrastos took a different view of the matter. He wanted to judge for
himself, and therefore asked one question after another. Had the market
echoed with shouts and cries or was the time for buying and selling
over? How far from the statue were the speakers standing? He put these
and several more questions, then when he had learned what he wished to
know he shrugged his shoulders saying:

“No one can judge with certainty whether the spy heard anything or
not, but an empty fear ought not to put men to flight. Let us go on as
though nothing had happened.”

There was such perfect calmness in Thuphrastos’ manner that it
communicated itself to the others. Only Acestor and Lysiteles seemed
undecided for a moment; but, when the others remained, they were
ashamed to go and stayed also.

It was easy to see that Acestor had had some great plan in view. He
was clad in all the splendor with which he appeared in the popular
assemblies; his long, carefully arranged hair was perfumed, he had
donned a dazzlingly white chiton, adorned around the neck and at the
bottom with an embroidered blue border, and on the fore-finger of his
right hand he wore a large seal ring.


XXI.

Acestor did not instantly commence what he had to say. Calmness must
first be restored to the minds of the assembly so, glancing with
a smile around the circle, he began in a tone intended to command
attention.

“Is it not true, oh! my friends, that you would be greatly amazed if I
said: ‘You have never seen Athens.’”

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Xenocles, who was always too impatient to
like riddles.

“You know,” Acestor continued, “that some faces, to appear beautiful,
should be seen from the front, others from the side. That is the way
with cities--some should be seen from the sea, others from the land....”

“And whence shall Athens be seen?” asked Xenocles, to whom this
introduction seemed too long.

“By Zeus, from this spot.”

Lamon smiled.

“Why yes,” he said, “Pythocleides from Ceos, Pericles’ first teacher
in the arts of the Muses, came here in his old age. He was perfectly
bewitched by the view of the city, and used to say afterwards: ‘No one
has seen Athens save he who has beheld it from Lamon’s house on the
Museium.’”

“Well then, show us Athens!” cried Sthenelus. “By Pan, you have made me
very curious though, having been born in the Street of the Sculptors, I
thought I knew the city.”

Lamon made a sign to Acestor and the two men, each from his own side,
drew the green curtain apart between the pillars.

The first impression was so overpowering that no one found words to
praise it. Beyond the dark frame formed by the roof, pillars, and floor
of the apartment the whole space was filled with a subdued light, like
a bluish mist. The moon itself was not visible; it was obliquely
behind the house. The transition from the lamp-light had been so sudden
that at first the group could see nothing; but scarcely had the tripods
with the lamps been moved farther back ere the outlines of stately
houses and the dark tops of trees began to appear.

In front of the house, towards the brow of the hill, was a stone
balustrade, on which stood vases containing large-leaved plants.
Behind these, far down in the valley, were seen like a forest the
wide-stretching kēpoi or gardens, amid whose dark poplars and cypresses
shone here and there a curve of the Ilissus, glittering like molten
silver. Not far from the foot of the hill spread the low Limnae with
its labyrinth of buildings, and the ancient sanctuary of Dionysus,
which seemed buried in the shadows of the night. Farther away red
specks of light gleamed through the dusk; they moved very slowly,
meeting, crossing, and moving away from each other--they were the
torches carried by pedestrians along the way leading from the citadel
to the market. Beyond this tract the ground rose in three or four
lofty undulations, on whose crests appeared houses and trees, among
the latter single palms, but distant and small, like delicately carved
toys. Between the largest of these hills the flat top and steep sides
of the Acropolis towered dark and frowning into the air. Close against
the cliff, as if comparing itself with it, stood the vast Theatre of
Dionysus, over whose encircling wall the eye pierced the dark gulf
formed by the steeply-rising seats. But on the summit, towering over
the low Limnae, glimmered the white marble temple, with its delicate,
shadowy rows of columns, above which again rose the colossal statue of
the patron goddess of Athens, visible for miles away, as in motionless
grandeur it seemed to both rule and watch.

A strangely sublime impress rested upon this whole landscape, where the
gods had once wandered and where, so to speak, each spot was sacred.
Upon the height Pallas Athene had planted the olive-tree sacred to
her, and yonder, by the shore of the Ilissus, almost on the very spot
where his altar stood, Boreas had borne away the Princess Oreithyia.
Sometimes a cool evening breeze, following the course of the stream,
swept through the valley. A distant, confused sound, the breathing of
the half slumbering city, then reached the ear; but when the wind died
away everything was still, and houses, trees, and mountains, steeped in
the melancholy lustre of the moonbeams, once more rose before the eyes
in majestic silence.

“Magnificent! Marvellous!” exclaimed little Xenocles, extending his
arms towards the city as though he would fain embrace it.

“Friends,” said Acestor, but paused while his glance wandered around
the room as though in search of something.

Sthenelus’ eyes twinkled; he knew all Acestor’s tricks of art.

“Why,” he said, “Acestor wants the bema.[L] But if you are willing,
Lamon, surely he can speak from the marble counter.”

                                  [L] Orator’s stage.

Lamon, who was again drawing the green curtain between the pillars,
made a sign of assent.

Sthenelus, spite of his lameness, dragged a bench up to the counter.

“The bema is ready,” he said, offering Acestor his hand.

The latter took it, and stepped clumsily upon the bench and from the
bench to the counter. He was apparently no adept in physical exercises
and, when he visited the gymnasia, doubtless did so only to meet
orators and poets in the arcades.

After having thrown back his head and shut his eyes to collect his
thoughts, he extended both hands.

“Friends,” he said, and his powerful voice filled the room so that it
gave back a resonant echo, “what the eye-ball is to the eye, Athens
is to Hellas. As an orator and teacher of the art of oratory, I have
travelled through many lands and visited many cities. I don’t say this
to pride myself upon it, but to show that I am competent to judge. I
have seen what great cities are, and how they are governed. Now I say
to you: Athens is going to her destruction! If I--which perhaps I am
not quite unworthy to do--stood at the head of public affairs, I should
know well what was needed. Then, like a second Pericles.”

At this comparison Thuphrastos knit his brows; the blood rushed to his
brain and, clenching his hands, he rose from the couch. Every one was
aware that he had known Pericles and admired him with his whole soul.

There was perfect silence in the room. All eyes rested on Thuphrastos,
who walked straight to the counter, seized Acestor by his bare leg, and
shook him, saying:

“Come to your senses, Sacas! You forget how wide is the gulf between
you and a Pericles.”

At the slave name of Sacas Acestor sprung heavily down on the tiled
floor. He was deadly pale, his eyes sparkled with a fierce, gloomy
light, and he raised his hand to deal a blow.

Thuphrastos did not make the slightest movement to parry it; folding
his arms across his chest, he held his furious antagonist in check with
his cold glance, as though he had been a vicious dog. For a moment the
two men stood motionless, gazing into each other’s faces, then they
felt a grasp on the arm that seemed like an iron band.

“No quarrelling!” said Lamon’s deep voice and, as the simplest way of
restoring peace, he seized Acestor round the loins and lifted him on
the counter as easily as if he had been a child. “Talk on!” he added
curtly, and returned to his seat without looking at him as though it
was a matter of course that he should be obeyed.

Acestor passed his hand across his brow several times, and it was long
ere he could control his voice.

“If we desire to save Athens,” he at last resumed, “we must manage to
have the friends of the rulers kept away from the popular assemblies.
Then it will not be difficult to destroy them; for they have many foes.”

Lamon and Sthenelus uttered a murmur of disapproval.

It was a special agreement that the hetaeria should labor only for the
advantage of fellow members, and not meddle in affairs of state. After
exchanging glances with Hipyllos, Thuphrastos, to the surprise of every
one, made a gesture as if he were not yet weary of hearing what Acestor
had to say. Still, the latter felt that his listeners were not in
harmony with him; he paused abruptly, as if his thoughts were eluding
him, and then added, raising his voice louder and louder as though
trying to deafen himself with his own words:

“Charicles and Aristocrates ought to resign their offices, Peisandros
must be banished and Phanos, who has made so many citizens wretched by
his pursuit of the hetaeriae, should not only forfeit his position as
clerk, but have erected in some conspicuous place a pillar of infamy
bearing his name.”

Here Acestor suddenly stopped and stared with dilated eyes at the
curtain between the pillars, as though he had beheld through an opening
all the horrors of Hades. Without adding another word, he jumped down
from the counter and pointed with trembling hand to the threshold
between the columns.

All followed the direction of his eyes.

Under the green curtain was seen on each side a pair of feet. The
sight of these motionless feet aroused an indescribable excitement
among the men. At first no one believed his eyes; then all rose from
their couches. It was so still that, for the first time in the course
of the evening, the water was heard trickling in the fulling-room
adjoining.

“Dunces of slaves!” muttered Lamon, shaking his clenched hand towards
the interior of the house. “You have forgotten the garden. They have
come upon us from the hill.”

Hipyllos exchanged a significant glance with Thuphrastos and, pointing
to Acestor, said in a very low tone:

“It has turned out differently from what we expected. The jest has
become earnest.”


XXII.

Scarcely had the sudden silence warned those standing outside that they
were discovered, when the curtain was drawn back.

The clerk Phanos, the persecutor of the hetaeriae, entered the room,
while his companion, a subaltern officer of the city police, remained
standing at the entrance.

“The house is surrounded!” cried the latter in a loud voice. “No one
can escape.”

With these words he pulled the curtain farther aside and beyond it
appeared, like a living wall, the dark figures of the toxoternae or
bowmen, whose helmets, spears, and shields flashed in the torchlight.

All eyes were fixed on Phanos, a small, stout man, with a pale,
handsome face. A lock of black hair hung low on his forehead, but
the most remarkable thing about him was his eyes--a pair of clear,
light-blue eyes, sparkling with intelligence, whose gaze was doubly
piercing because he bent his head a little and looked out from under
his eye-brows. It was evident that those eyes forgot no one, and that
each person on whom they rested might as well have been recorded in a
book. He wore a plain white robe, entirely without ornament, and had
thrown a brown mantle around him.

At sight of Phanos Acestor made a movement as though he were about
to escape through the peristyle. “Where are you going?” whispered
Thuphrastos. “You will run directly into the arms of the archers. No,
hide, hide!--Phanos has heard every word.”

“In there!” added Xenocles hastily, pointing to the door of the
bleaching-room. “He hasn’t seen you yet. Perhaps you will be forgotten.”

Acestor crept behind the counter and stole like a thief into the
bleaching-room, closing the door carefully behind him.

It was quite time. Half a score of the slaves of the city police
pressed in from the peristyle and watched every exit, among them the
door through which Acestor had slipped.

While this was happening Phanos had gazed sternly around him, but at
the sight of Thuphrastos and Xenocles his face brightened. Approaching
Lamon, the owner of the house, he held out his hand.

“Lamon,” he said, in so loud a tone that the officer and slaves could
hear, “it is fortunate for you that I meet men like Thuphrastos and
Xenocles here. I know them--they are plotting no evil. Your hetaeria
does not seem to be of the sort we so rigidly pursue. You are
office-seekers, not men striving to usurp the government. I have now
seen with my own eyes.... Yet--did I not hear a chatterer shrieking
among you? He has shouted intolerably long; I’ll close his lips.”

“If you heard that,” replied Lamon, “you must have heard our
disapproval.”

“Well then,” continued Phanos, “speak frankly. To what places do you
want to be elected?”

Lamon--and then the others--obeyed the command without hesitation.

“Very well!” Phanos then continued, “promise to break up the hetaeria,
and you shall lose nothing. The places of which we dispose are not
dependent upon election, but are appointments. But there must be no
more meetings of the hetaeria. If, in spite of your promise, you
secretly assemble, woe betide you! No punishment will be too severe for
us.”

Without bending an inch, or condescending to flattery, Thuphrastos
thanked the clerk for his consideration and, after having exchanged
glances with Lamon and the others, promised, in the name of himself
and his friends, to disband the hetaeria.

Phanos now turned towards Hipyllos, the youngest of the group.

“Bring me that shrieker,” he said to him, “the only one of you who
fled.” And, with a smile that showed he had noticed everything, he
pointed to the door of the bleaching-room and added, “You’ll find him
in there.”

No command could have been more welcome to Hipyllos. His heart throbbed
with joyous anticipation; he had a presentiment that he was near his
aim.


XXIII.

The sentinel at the door made way at a sign from Phanos, and Hipyllos
hurried into the bleaching-room.

A suffocating odor of sulphur, mingled with a horrible smell of urine
and soap, greeted him. A copper lamp was burning on a tripod placed
near the wall, and he scanned the whole apartment with a single glance.
At the back were five recesses in the wall containing reservoirs of
water, where lay soaking the material to be stamped by the slaves on
the morrow. In the middle of the workshop stood a large stone table,
on which lay some batlets. On the left, over a pole under the ceiling,
hung a purple robe, in whose lower folded part was flung an iron
teasel. Behind this article of clothing one could see the drying-room,
where Hipyllos noticed hundreds of garments hanging on long poles. He
was going to creep under them, when he heard a smothered sound from
the opposite direction. Here, ranged along the wall, stood a number of
wicker baskets, the height of a man, which resembled hen-coops. Clothes
were spread over five or six where, as the vapor in the room showed,
sulphur had been recently lighted to give them the requisite whiteness.
From one of the centre ones issued a strange stifled moaning.

“I have him!” murmured Hipyllos smiling, as he took hold of the handle
on top shaped like an owl, the sacred bird of Athens. When he had
removed the basket, Acestor sat crouching before him with half-closed
eyes, panting and groaning, almost fainting. The sulphur under the
clothes had nearly smothered him, and Hipyllos found it difficult to
lift him upon his legs.

But how entirely transformed was the stately Acestor! A couple of small
metal jars filled with powdered sulphur had been placed under the
basket, ready for the next day’s bleaching. In his confusion and terror
Acestor had overturned them and, as he had afterwards pressed his
hands on his head, he had filled his hair, eye-brows, and beard with
sulphur, besides yellow spots on his nose, forehead, and cheeks. He had
no sooner taken a few long breaths when he began to sneeze as though
his head would burst. He seemed to be completely stupefied; his limbs
tottered under him and he allowed himself to be led like a child.

Without wasting a word upon him, Hipyllos brought him before the
waiting group.

At sight of this pitiful figure all burst into a shout of laughter;
even the slaves mounting guard laughed till the spears shook in their
hands.

“Why, why,” said Phanos, “is this the hero who banishes officials and
erects pillars of infamy? Who would believe it? Does he look like a
murderer?”

A fresh burst of laughter greeted the words.

“But--dangerous or not,” Phanos continued, “he has committed a crime
and deserves punishment.”

“What has he done?” asked Xenocles.

“He is a spurious citizen. His father’s name cannot be found in the
temple of Apollo Patrous.”

Acestor raised his head and fixed his eyes on Phanos with a venomous
glance.

“You are mistaken,” he said. “It can be found there.”

“Where?”

“By the side of _your_ father’s name.”

Phanos recoiled a step as though struck by an invisible shaft; but the
next moment the veins in his temples swelled, and his eyes flashed.

“Wretch!” he exclaimed, his lips quivering with indignation. “My
father’s name is not to be found in the temple--he was, as every one
knows, a freedman. Nevertheless, my right to citizenship is a legal
one, bestowed for services rendered to the state. Note this, Gobryas,
son of Tisamenos.”

These words fell upon Acestor like a thunder-bolt. At hearing his
name, his real name, which he had believed concealed from every one, he
perceived that all was discovered.

Throwing himself at Phanos’ feet, he raised his arms submissively.

“Mercy!” he murmured, “mercy!”

“Do you know the dungeons in the cliff?” asked Phanos sternly.

Acestor made a sign of assent.

“Well! Sthenelus can tell you what rumor says of them.”

Merry Sthenelus limped a few steps nearer, cleared his throat, and
answered in a sepulchral voice:

“Rumor says that prisoners _walk_ into them, but are _carried_ out,
feet foremost.”

Acestor kissed the edge of Phanos’ robe.

“Mercy!” he cried. “Mercy! Forgive my evil speech.”

“Spare him,” said Xenocles.

“Let him run,” added Thuphrastos.

“Well then,” replied Phanos, “you boasted of your travels, Acestor. You
must journey farther still. If you don’t want to have your hair clipped
and become a slave for having your name spuriously inserted on the
citizens’ list, you must leave Athens before to-morrow noon.”

Acestor bowed his head under Phanos’ hand in token of submission.

“Milon!” shouted Phanos.

The officer of the city-watch, who was still mounting guard inside the
curtain, came forward.

“Follow this man,” said Phanos, pointing to Acestor, “and don’t lose
sight of him. When he has quitted Athens, report to me.”

Milon grasped Acestor’s arm and went away with him.

Xenocles gazed after them.

“By Zeus!” he exclaimed, “believe me or not as you choose, but I’ve
always had a presentiment that the eagle might become a crow.”

“And I,” replied Thuphrastos, “have always seen the crow, never the
eagle.”

When, soon after, the house was cleared of the city-watch, the friends
looked at each other a moment in silence.

“Who has done this?” asked Lamon.

Thuphrastos shrugged his shoulders.

“Is there any way of knowing who has denounced an hetaeria?” he
muttered.

“It was probably Megas,” whispered Lysiteles in his faint, cracked
voice.

“No,” replied Sthenelus positively, “had it been he, by Zeus, he would
have been with them. Megas would have wanted to enjoy the sight of
our faces when we were surprised. No, it was not he. I think it was
Cephidosemos, who watched Xenocles and myself from behind the column.
As an informer he is afraid of drawing hatred on his head, so he keeps
away.”

Thuphrastos passed his hand thoughtfully over his beard.

“What offices can Phanos bestow upon us?” he asked.

“I have heard,” answered Lamon, “that a tax-collector is to be sent to
some of the rebellious cities. He will have hundreds of soldiers with
him. It would not surprise me, Thuphrastos, if you should be appointed
to that office.”

“Well!” exclaimed the old captain, “I shall rely on Phanos’ words. He
never forgets.”

“We will all trust him!” echoed the group in chorus.

“But,” continued Thuphrastos, turning to Xenocles, “however we may
fare, there is _one_ person who will lose....”

“Whom do you mean?”

“By Zeus, your daughter! Was she not betrothed to Acestor, and was not
the wedding to have taken place this very day?”

Xenocles made a repellent gesture.

“Do not speak of it!” he cried.

“Well then,” replied Thuphrastos, “I’ll give you a son-in-law and, by
the gods, a better one than that chatterer.”

Xenocles raised his head with a questioning glance.

“The man I shall bring you is not far off,” continued Thuphrastos.
“Here you see Hipyllos! He loves the maiden. We know of him--what
nobody knew about that shrieker--that he is rich. He showed his
courage at the battle of Antirrhium--he has archons in his family. What
more can you desire?”

“Nothing, by Zeus!” answered Xenocles laughing and grasping the young
man’s hand, “what objection should I have to a son-in-law who will make
me a family connection of Lacrateides?”

Hipyllos pressed Xenocles’ hand in both his own.

“Father!” he cried warmly, “give me your daughter Clytie! Neither you
nor she shall repent it--that I swear by all the gods.”

Soon after Hipyllos stole out into the peristyle and called his slave.

“Myrmex,” he whispered, “hurry down to the house of Sauros, the
armorer. Ask for Ninus, the priestess of Sabazius, and let her see that
the young lady and her slave return home at once without being seen.
Look, here is money.”

When Hipyllos returned, the last discussion among the hetaeria took
place. It lasted an hour; finally the members of the society released
one another from their oaths and divided the money which had been
contributed.

As soon as possible Hipyllos slipped away, without taking leave of any
one except Lamon, the owner of the house.


XXIV.

Hipyllos walked swiftly down the hill. He wanted to be the first to
carry the glad tidings to Clytie.

About half way he met Myrmex, who was apparently returning after having
performed his errand. As the way was stony and the moon often concealed
behind clouds the old man had lighted a torch, but Hipyllos wanted
neither him nor his torch--he let the moon light him as best it could
and hurried past him, exclaiming:

“Follow me, and put out the torch when you enter the street.”

Then, leaping rather than walking down the hill, he turned into the
dark, shaded Limnae, and soon saw the familiar ray of light stream out
to meet him from the side-building of Xenocles’ house. Hurrying towards
it, he picked up a pebble from the ground and flung it against the wall.

The red curtain was drawn aside and in the opening appeared the object
of his longing--Clytie! As the lamp stood back in the room the rays
divided and left her almost in darkness, but the youthful figure formed
a shadowy outline, which was quite enough to make a lover’s heart
throb. Though Hipyllos was unable to distinguish her features, the
luxuriant hair, the childish roundness of the cheeks, and the graceful
slope of the shoulders possessed bewitching suggestions of youthful
beauty, and Hipyllos knew that these signs were no delusions.

Spite of the darkness outside, Clytie recognized him and exclaimed:

“Eternal Gods! What has happened? Good or evil fortune? Speak, speak, I
implore you.”

Hipyllos listened in delight. Every word uttered by the young girl’s
lips echoed with a silvery cadence upon the silence of the night.

He pushed a log against the wall with his foot, and sprang upon it.

“Dear, lovely Clytie,” he whispered, “give me your hand! What I have to
say is surely worth a clasp of the fingers.”

He now told her in a few words the events of the evening; but he was
apparently not satisfied with a mere clasp of the hand.

Suddenly the street was illumined by a broad ray of light and, though
Hipyllos’ shadow, gigantic and strangely distorted, fell on the wall
and the loop-hole it was not difficult for the new-comers to see that
he was in the act of pressing his lips upon a dazzlingly white arm,
which vainly strove to escape the caress.

“Aha!” cried an angry voice, “a pretty sight, by Heracles....”

Clytie, with a half-stifled shriek, vanished from the loop-hole and
Hipyllos, turning, leaped down from the log.

Accompanied by a slave bearing a blazing torch Xenocles, after
following a cross-path over the hill, had just emerged from the
shrubbery. Hipyllos had not thought that the active little man, spite
of his age, was almost as agile in his gait as he himself.

Xenocles seemed furiously enraged, and struck fiercely at the youth
with his clenched fists.

“Begone!” he shouted. “Begone from my sight. Do you suppose I will give
my daughter to a rake who steals to the maiden’s room in the darkness
of night. Be off from here, I say; Clytie shall never be your wife.”

At these words Hipyllos turned deadly pale and his head swam. Now that
all obstacles were removed, now that he believed himself at the goal of
his wishes, this had happened so unexpectedly that it seemed as though
the earth had yawned under his feet.

Throwing himself at Xenocles’ feet, he clasped his knees and with tears
in his eyes exclaimed in the most imploring accents: “My father, punish
me, let me be scourged by your slaves--I will offer my back to them
myself, but forgive me! Your daughter is dearer to me than the light of
my eyes.”

A singular twitching convulsed Xenocles’ features; he averted his face,
but unable to control himself, burst into a loud laugh.

“Young man,” he said, when he was once more capable of speech, “confess
that I gave you a terrible fright. But,” he added, raising his voice,
“you both deserved it--she not less than you. Now I understand the
whole affair--had she not been accompanied by you, she would never have
dared to fly from her father’s house at night.”

Hipyllos scarcely knew himself how he took leave of Xenocles. Now that
everything had resulted happily he was fairly intoxicated with joy.
Attended by Myrmex he wandered about, revelling in his delight, through
the moon-lit night. What cared he for the rough rioters he met, or the
muffled thieves who watched behind the altars on the cross-roads.

Did not everything seem to smile upon him? He had come into the
“Gardens,” the loveliest part of Athens. In the centre of the ground
sloping towards the river towered a tall plane-tree at whose foot a
fountain rippled; around it stretched thickets of Agnus castus trees,
against whose dark background white statues were clearly relieved. Of
the nine sanctuaries in this quarter the marble temple of Aphrodite
gleamed through dark, towering cypresses; below it the waves of the
Ilissus, consecrated to the Muses, sparkled in their deep channel, and
from a path along the bank of the stream gay conversation echoed upon
the silence of the night. Suddenly a youthful voice, which seemed the
embodiment of light-heartedness, began the following song:

   “Wherefore, prithee, need I learn
    Justice, law, and oratory?
    Wherefore must I my thoughts turn
    To things valueless to me?
    Let me rather gaily seek
    With my friends for mirth and joy,
    Teach me tender words to speak
    And with fair Aphrodite toy.”

Hipyllos softly repeated the last words of the song. He felt as though,
like the gods themselves, he was walking on the clouds. Just at that
moment repeated groans happened to attract his attention, and turning
he saw that his old slave could scarcely keep up with him.

“What is the matter, Myrmex?” he asked good-naturedly. “Don’t you
see that I am as happy as a god--and here you are growing worse than
Sisyphus himself.”

“Don’t be angry,” whined the old man. “It is growing late. Haven’t we
walked far enough to-day?”

“Well then--home!” replied Hipyllos laughing, “but to-morrow....”

“What are you going to do?” asked Myrmex rather anxiously.

“To-morrow I shall go to the Lyceium to listen to the wise teachings
of Hippias from Elis. He who can boast of being able to answer any
question must surely be a man of varied knowledge.”

“And what do you want him to teach you?”

“First to make _happiness_ a household goddess.”

“And next?”

“To bind her wings.”

“So that she can always stay with you?”

“Even so, wise Myrmex.”

[Illustration]



TOO HAPPY.

THIRD YEAR OF THE 98TH OLYMPIAD (386 B.C.)



[Illustration]



TOO HAPPY.


One beautiful summer day in the month Metageitnion a large ship sailed
past the eastern point of Crete and steered with its two shovel-shaped
rudders into the Ægean Sea. A fresh east wind fluttered the purple flag
and made the white sail, strengthened by a network of cordage, swell
above the waves.

The ship was called a Samian, and its deeply-arched bow showed that
it was built to contain a large cargo. Although nearly a quarter of
a stadium long--or about as large as the largest war-vessel of those
days--she was evidently a peaceful trader; for below the protecting
figure-head--a Doris, daughter of Oceanus--with which the curve of the
prow was adorned and whose name the ship bore, one would have vainly
looked for the weapons peculiar to a ship’s armament, the projecting
iron-shod embolus or beak. On the stern was the statue of the goddess
Athene, the familiar “Attic sign,” which showed that the vessel was an
Athenian ship. To strengthen the joining of the planks the hull, from
stem to stem, was surrounded with numerous belts of thick ropes which,
like the hull itself, were smeared with a mixture of pitch and wax.
Along the vessel’s sides appeared a row of semi-circular air-holes, and
through the openings made for the rudders ran the hawsers wound about
a capstan. Outside, just below the figure-head, two huge eyes were
painted--probably to indicate that the ship understood how to find her
way over the sea.

At the curve of the prow, the highest part of the Samian, where the
bearded steersman managed the double helm, stood a little group
of travellers talking gaily with each other. They were Lydian and
Phoenician merchants, availing themselves of the opportunity to go to
Athens, as the merchantman, after having visited the most important
ports in Asia Minor, would return home fully laden to the Piræeus for
repairs.

The sailors who had gathered in the bow sang their monotonous songs or
fell asleep, stretched in the shade behind the sail, in the very act of
chewing onions, while some young slaves, busied in making preparations
for an approaching meal, moved to and fro among them.

At the foot of the mast was a red and white striped tent, low enough
not to interfere with the movements of the sail. This tent was closed
by a curtain, though not so completely that those within could not
keep an eye upon a little white-robed boy four or five years old, who
was riding up and down on a speckled hobby-horse. The space for play
was very small and he sometimes ran among a pile of chests and boxes,
where he tripped, stumbled, and almost fell. Whenever this happened, a
woman’s voice inside the pavilion said:

“Callias must stay where mother told him--or Mormo will come.”

The tent contained two persons, the ship’s owner and master, a young
Attic merchant, who was reclining on a couch, and his wife, who sat on
the edge of the seat in front of him.

Glaucus--the merchant’s name--was a man of five and twenty, with a
handsome, somewhat pallid face. He was clad in a reddish-brown robe
with a broad white border and, as the summer day was scorching hot, he
wore no girdle around his waist. In his hand he held a manuscript, but
had let it fall by his side as though his thoughts were not fixed on
the contents.

“No!” he suddenly exclaimed, as he pushed back his dark locks and flung
the scroll on a table, “I cannot forget that strange man!”

“Who was he?” asked his wife.

“How do I know, Charicleia? He rowed out to the ship in the bay of
Celenderis to sell us some sheep he had in his boat. You had gone on
shore with the slaves to make some purchases. Scarcely had he come on
board, ere he asked in the most simple-minded way about everything he
saw. He wanted to know whether Indian ivory or Sardian purple was the
dearer, and whether a house could be built for the money one of the
gold embroidered carpets from Babylon had cost.”

“How did the man look?” asked Charicleia.

“He resembled Heracles, as he is represented on the stage by the
actors. He was tall, large-limbed, walked with his back bent, was
clumsy and awkward in his movements, and had tangled hair hanging low
on his forehead.”

“What else did he notice on board?”

“He could not weary of examining everything. He had never supposed that
there were ships so large. Finally he became so troublesome that I
ordered my sailors to put him back in his boat; but the giant defended
himself and--quicker than speech--two of my steersmen lay stretched on
the deck, one with his face bleeding from a blow. Frantic with rage, I
gripped his breast, shouting: ‘Quit my ship, Barbarian or, by Zeus, you
will fare ill.’ But lo! something very like a miracle happened before
our eyes. At the word: ‘Barbarian,’ he drew himself up, flung back his
hair, and suddenly stood before us like a totally different being.
His stupid look had vanished, his eyes flashed, and his huge figure
and dark face made a terrible impression of untamed strength and
fierceness. ‘We shall meet again, Athenian!’ he said and, pushing my
people aside like bundles of straw, he swung himself down into the boat
and rowed swiftly to the shore.”

“Glaucus,” said the young wife, turning pale, “I am afraid of this man.”

“Simpleton!” replied Glaucus smiling, “you ought rather to rejoice”
and, lowering his voice, he added: “I long for some touch of adversity.
We are too fortunate, we fare like the happy gods. We have nothing
to desire.... Have I not a superabundance of property and wealth, a
spacious, handsome house, large store-houses in Athens and the Piræeus,
numerous ships at sea, and a beautiful villa at Salamis? And as to the
future, have I not my little Callias to inherit all I possess?”

Now that he had spoken of his wealth and his son, he thought of his
wife. In ancient times women were little valued.

Half rising on his couch he let his eyes rest on Charicleia’s figure.
Her thin, light dress, with a pattern of small green leaves, displayed
the delicate neck and white shoulders, and the mere way in which she
carried her head revealed the young _oikodespoina_ (mistress of the
house) who was born of a noble race and accustomed to command numerous
slaves.

Glaucus clasped her soft, ringed hand.

“And have I not,” he added, “a good and beautiful wife?”

Charicleia raised her dark eyes to his and replied by a pressure of the
hand that meant: “And haven’t I the best and handsomest of husbands?”

“Don’t look at me so, my bee,”[M] said Glaucus smiling. “My whole
soul yearns to you. But you know what the sailors say: ‘Ships must be
kept free from Aphrodite’s lures, first because they are sacred, and
secondly because it isn’t right to trifle, when there is only a plank
between us and death.’”

                                  [M] A common term of endearment for
                                      women. Of course the allusion
                                      was not to the bee as armed with
                                      a sting, but to the producer of
                                      honey, the sweetest thing known
                                      at that period.

Charicleia was not listening to him.

“So you think,” she said reflectively, “that we are too happy. Do you
fear the envy of the gods?”

“I do,” Glaucus whispered, as though afraid of being heard by invisible
ears.

“Console yourself, my friend. The happy gods have no wishes. But I have
one so important to me that the doubt of its fulfilment is a thorn in
my heart.”

“And what is this desire?” asked Glaucus in surprise.

“That, when our lives draw near their end, we may die together. Think,
Glaucus, if one of us should suddenly be left alone. Beneficent Gods!
how often I have prayed ye to avert this misfortune.”

“Beware, Charicleia!” said Glaucus gravely. “Do not pray for foolish
things. Life and death are in the power of the gods--what do we know
about them? Perhaps you would bitterly repent your wish, if the
heavenly powers should grant it.”

“Oh, no, no!” cried Charicleia. “Let death come _when_ and _as_ it
will, if it only snatches us away together.”

With these words she drew the curtain of the tent aside. Before them
lay the glittering sea, furrowed with its greenish billows, which
seemed to roll sleepily away in the sunshine. In the distance two of
the Cyclades raised their rocky heights towards the sky, and far away
to the north towered some bluish-black clouds, so sharply outlined
against the clear azure of the heavens that they resembled jagged
mountain peaks.

“If my wish has found favor with Ye, Heavenly Powers,” cried
Charicleia, raising her arms with southern fervor towards the sky,
“oh! give me, in my husband’s presence, a sign that my prayer will be
granted.”

Stepping entirely out of the pavilion she gazed around her. Glaucus
had risen from the couch and, standing in the shadow, followed the
direction of her glance. Even little Callias had a presentiment that
something was expected. Pausing in his play, he ran to his mother and
took hold of her dress.

Just at that moment a dazzling flash of lightning darted from the dark
sky far away, followed in a few moments by the roll of distant thunder.
Three white birds, one small and two large ones, flew with rapid
strokes of their long wings over the ship, following each other at
precisely the same distance, as though bound together by some invisible
chain. They mounted higher and higher as if they wanted to soar into
the sky and soon became mere indistinct specks.

“Look!” exclaimed Charicleia, her face radiant with joy, “they come
from the right and move towards the left. My prayer will be fulfilled.”
And kneeling, she stretched her arms towards the sky, saying:
“_Dechomai ton oiōnon!_ I accept the omen.”

Again from the distance, as if in confirmation, echoed a low peal of
thunder.

“But,” remarked Glaucus, “there were _three_ birds, one smaller than
the others...?”

“My friend,” said Charicleia, clasping his hands, “perhaps it is the
will of the gods that we must die while Callias is still a child. In
that case I accept the omen for him also. Let him follow us!”

Whatever impression this scene had made upon Glaucus, it had not
escaped his notice that meantime a strange tumult had arisen on deck.
Eager, anxious conversation echoed from the stern where the steersman
stood, several young slaves were running to and fro, nay even the lazy
sailors in the bow were beginning to move. Some of them strolled slowly
past the tent.

“What has happened?” asked Glaucus. “A small vessel has been sighted in
the offing....” began one.

“Which seems to be following us,” added another.

Glaucus went to the steersman.

“Ever since we passed Rhodus,” said the latter, “that little ship
yonder has been following us, always steering in the same direction.
Twice I have intentionally tacked, and each time I saw that the vessel
turned with us. So I fear she is a Cilician pirate.”

“Come here, Egyptian!” said Glaucus, beckoning to the oldest of the
sailors, a bald, grey-bearded man of very singular aspect.

He had been dubbed “Egyptian” because for many years he had sailed to
Busiris, Bubastis, and other cities on the Nile. No one had ever seen
him wear anything except a garment of braided mats, through which his
lean arms and legs looked like a little child’s first rude drawings of
the human figure. His skin seemed tanned by the Libyan sun and never
appeared clean, and his mouth was a tightly closed straight line as if
he had no lips. It might be supposed that few words escaped them.

“What do _you_ think, Egyptian?” said Glaucus, raising his voice--the
man was somewhat deaf.

“The rustling of a fig-leaf,”[N] replied the Egyptian curtly, shrugging
his shoulders.

                                  [N] A false alarm.

“What kind of craft do you think she is?” asked Glaucus.

“A Myoparian,” was the reply.

Myoparian (nimble as a mouse) was the name given to small swift-sailing
ships belonging to the Cyclades. In earlier times they had often been
used to plunder trading-vessels, but at this date were employed only
for peaceful purposes and had the best reputation.

The Egyptian’s statement was therefore eagerly welcomed.

“The man is right,” said one of the Phoenician merchants, stroking his
braided beard. “How often small ships are seen following large ones! It
is partly because their captains think the steersmen of large vessels
have more experience and partly because they hope for a refuge in case
of need.”

“But,” objected one of the travelers, “pirates can just as well pursue
us in a Myoparian they have captured as in any other vessel.”

“May I be permitted to speak, Master,” said a native-born Athenian
slave, turning to Glaucus. He was a young man with a refined,
intelligent face, whose natural beauty was not even destroyed by hair
closely cut after the slave-fashion.

Glaucus nodded assent.

“I think the steersman is right,” said the youth. “If that vessel is as
fleet as is said, yet holds back, there is surely some evil intended,
which will not appear until the time seems favorable.”

So the talk went on and the most contradictory opinions were expressed.
The dispute was not yet over at the approach of sunset.

The western sky was radiant with golden light and far above the ship a
few thin clouds, which formerly had scarcely been noticed, were clearly
relieved against the deep azure as they assumed a bright crimson hue,
which made them resemble light feathers. Even the sea shared the sunset
splendor and mirrored the fiery glow, against which the long billows
looked like dark, moving streaks.

The Samian made little headway. The sail flapped feebly to and fro;
there was not wind enough to fill it, and ere the sun had sunk beneath
the sea the last faint breeze had died away.

The rowers were now obliged to take their seats; the celeustis began
the monotonous chant that marked the time, yet nimbly as the oars
moved, the great ship advanced slowly.

It was far different with the small vessel, whose distance seemed
gradually to decrease, and there could soon be no doubt that it was
gaining upon the Attic ship. Ere long those on the latter could see
the white foam washing under the Myoparian’s bow--a sign of the speed
with which she was moving--and soon after they perceived that she was
strongly manned and had all her oars out. From that time the vessel
approached so swiftly that it seemed to grow every moment.

Suddenly one of the Lydian merchants exclaimed in a loud voice:

“It’s all over with us! They are pirates, the craft is Thyamis’ ship
from Coracesium. Once before I have been robbed by him and barely
escaped with my life.”

At these words indescribable terror and confusion arose on board. Some
covered their faces to await death, others uttered loud lamentations
and wrung their hands irresolutely; a few tried to hide in the ship’s
hold, others wanted to have the boats lowered to escape by flight, and
some young slaves, in their fear of losing a life which scarcely seemed
of any special value, ran to and fro as though out of their senses.

Amid this universal irresolution, the Myoparian came close behind.

Glaucus comforted his wife with a few soothing words and told her to
stay inside of the tent with little Callias. He himself went to the
stern, collected the passengers and sailors around him, and said:

“Friends, if we do not repulse that wretch’s attack, many of us must
lose our lives. But we are numerous enough, if we only resolve to do
so, to save ourselves and the ship. Besides the steersman and myself,
there are on board five foreign merchants and six sailors; so in all,
we have thirteen free men, while of slaves there are the fourteen
oarsmen, four slaves of my own, and ten who accompanied the foreign
merchants. As the Myoparian has no boats, we can only be attacked on
_one_ side and there only for a distance not exceeding the length of
yonder little vessel. Twenty brave men would be enough to repel such
an assault, and we,--including freemen and slaves--number more than
forty! You can obtain weapons from the steersman; for though I have
never met pirates until now, I have always been ready to receive them.
If we repulse the attack, I will free my slaves and give each sailor
a large reward. Show courage and firmness--and the victory will be
ours. Besides, we shall fight from a higher position as if we were in a
fortress.”

“Let them come,” said the steersman coolly, “we’ll receive them in
such a way that hereafter they’ll avoid attacking an Attic ship.”

The crew, in answer to these words, maintained an ominous silence and,
when the steersman distributed the weapons, he noticed that many of the
men were reluctant to take them.

One of the rowers, a Cretan with a sly, crafty face, had alarmed the
men on their way to him.

“Don’t be simpletons!” he had said. “Throw the swords into the sea in
time. Those whom the pirates catch with arms in their hands will be
killed at once.”

Meantime, twilight had begun to close in. The glowing colors in the
sky had faded, the black storm-cloud had risen higher, and the sea
stretched sullen and leaden-hued below.

The Myoparian glided past the ship at some distance. It was a proud
sight to behold the light craft, with a fringe of snow-white foam
before her prow, cut through the billows, while the glittering oars
rose and fell in regular time. The pirate swept round the Athenian ship
in a wide curve and, as though to display her superiority, encircled it
several times in ever narrowing rounds, so that the big, clumsy Samian
lay as though besieged by this one little craft.

Suddenly a score of fir-wood torches were lighted on board the
Myoparian and, by the glare of their red, flaring flames, reflected
like quivering streaks of fire over the sea, the vessel was seen
swarming with dark, threatening figures, among whom, ever and anon,
was noticed the glint of shining arms. There was something strangely
gloomy about this glimmer which made the Egyptian say:

“Do you see those weapons? They cut the eye as they wound the flesh.”

On an empty space near the pirate’s stern stood her captain, a gigantic
man, clad with barbaric splendor. Around his dark hair was bound
a broad fillet of yellow byssus, embroidered with gold; a superb
violet-blue upper-robe hung loosely over his shoulders and opened over
a dazzlingly white chiton, fastened with a gold belt. On his feet he
had short _endromides_ or half boots of the same magnificent hue as his
upper robe, and in his hand he held a trident of polished steel that
sparkled and flashed in the torch-light.

“Woe betide us! Woe betide us!” repeated the Lydian merchant, who had
first recognized the vessel. “It is Thyamis, the most terrible of all
the Cilician corsairs.”

Glaucus, too, recognized the man in spite of his changed exterior. Now
he understood why the giant had desired to see everything on board when
the Samian lay at anchor in the bay at Celenderis.

The Myoparian with a few powerful strokes of the oars approached still
nearer, so that it lay side by side with the Attic ship.

At a sign from his captain, one of the pirates sprang upon the gunwale
and shouted to the crew of the merchantman:

“Luckless men! Why do you seek death? Why resist a superior force?
Yield the ship, then you can get into your boats and row wherever you
choose.”

But Glaucus stepped into the stern of his ship and answered:

“Wretches! Know that we lack neither men nor weapons. If you attack, we
will defend ourselves and fight till the victory is ours.”

The corsairs’ reply was only a jeering laugh.

Then there was a great bustle on board the Myoparian. The mast was
raised, hoisting a yard consisting of two pieces, from which hung a
large dark object bearing a certain resemblance to a dolphin, for it
was distaff-shaped, thickest in the middle and lessening at both ends.
This object was evidently very heavy; the mast creaked and strained and
the yard bent perceptibly under its weight.

The pirate-ship again approached the merchantman and lay alongside. A
man with an evil, almost animal face, wearing a red Phrygian cap on his
head, climbed up the yard far enough to be able to look down on the
Samian’s deck.

“Too late to yield now!” he shouted. “Now you must all die.”

At these words some of the young slaves burst into loud lamentations;
but above every other sound echoed from the tent a frightened child’s
sobbing and wailing, which would not be silenced, no matter how
tenderly it was hushed.

“What a horrible bawler!” cried the man with the Phrygian cap. “Just
wait! When the dolphin comes, he’ll stop his mouth.”

Then, swinging himself over among the rigging that supported the mast,
he called to the men below: “Heave!”

The pirates, with a quick swing, brought the yard over the great ship.
The man in the red cap pulled with all his might at a rope he held
in his hand, and the missile suspended from the yard--the so-called
“dolphin,” a leaden mass of immense weight, plunged down upon the tent
just as Charicleia came out of it, holding the crying child by the
hand. There was a terrible, deafening crash, the ship trembled from
masthead to keel as though every seam was separating; almost at the
same moment there was heard--this time under the deck--a similar crash,
accompanied by a violent jarring and a strange, gurgling, rippling
noise like the bubbling of a spring.

The tent was dragged down and partly covered a yawning hole in the
deck, from which rose splinters yards long. Charicleia had felt little
Callias’ hand torn from hers by some terrible, resistless power, and at
the same moment, while half buried under the folds of the tent, a warm,
sticky stream had spurted over her foot. Though she had not seen it,
she well knew what it was.

Pale as a corpse, she staggered back a step and seemed on the verge
of fainting. Then, as if in a dream, she heard the red-capped corsair
burst into a laugh and call to his comrades:

“You see, it hit! The bawler is silenced. He has ridden down to Hades
on the dolphin.”

At the words and laugh a mist of blood seemed to dim Charicleia’s
eyes; she seized a sword and with the scream of a wild beast rushed
upon the wretch, who was clinging with one hand to the rigging of the
pirate-vessel and with the other to the Samian. He had no time to parry
the attack, no time to open his lips, ere the glittering weapon was
buried to the hilt in his breast. He moved his head and neck several
times as if stifling, a stream of blood welled from his mouth, the red
cap fell off, his hands loosed their grip, and he fell headlong into
the dark gulf between the ships.

A fierce cry of rage rose from the pirates; they placed ladders against
the trader’s bow and some of the boldest sprang on her deck--others
followed.

Deeply as Glaucus was moved, he made every effort to inspire his men
with courage, but most of them threw down their arms and begged the
corsairs to spare their lives.

Thyamis now gave orders to stop the slaughter and commanded the sailors
and foreign merchants to leave the ship without taking anything except
the clothes they wore. The slaves were compelled to go in couples on
board the pirate craft.

The Samian’s boat was lowered into the water, and the seamen vied with
each other in leaping in, believing that they would only be safe when
far away from Thyamis and his band. Overcrowded though this boat was,
there was no danger; the sea was calm, there were men enough to row,
and the distance to the nearest of the Cyclades was not great.

Glaucus and his wife were now led down to the Myoparian, while Thyamis
went on board of the Samian. He showed his men where the ivory, purple,
and gold-embroidered carpets from Babylon were to be found, and the
costliest part of the cargo was soon transferred to the pirate craft.
The merchantman filled faster and faster, and already lay considerably
lower.

Thyamis ordered his vessel to be rowed away from the sinking ship.

The darkness had gradually increased and the Samian looked like a
black, shapeless mass. The part of the hull still remaining above the
water grew smaller and smaller. Suddenly the stern sank and, with a
strangely unexpected movement, the prow rose high in the air for a
moment, then the great ship sank with terrible speed. A roaring noise
like a whirlpool echoed over the sea, and a spot of whirling snow-white
foam for a short time marked the spot where the vessel had gone down.

Glaucus, who had watched the scene, pressed his wife’s hand.

“The envious wretches!” he exclaimed with suppressed fury. “It was my
best and handsomest ship.”

Charicleia raised her eyes to heaven in mute accusation.

Soon after both were brought before Thyamis, who sat in all his
splendor upon a sort of throne at the stern. As they approached he
rose with a courtesy that boded ill.

“Do not imagine, Glaucus,” he said “that it is my intention to detain
you and your wife captive to extort a ransom. We _Barbarians_, though
inferior to you, are also men of honor. Athenian, depart in peace to
your native city.”

The pirates now brought a ladder and fastened it outside of the ship,
so that the end touched the water; then they formed two ranks, holding
flaring torches to light the descent to the sea.

“I salute you, Glaucus!” added Thyamis, pointing to the ladder: “The
way is open. You and your wife are free!”

Glaucus stood as though petrified by this grewsome jest. But the
pirates pressed upon him with their torches and compelled him and his
wife to approach the ladder. Charicleia was deadly pale, and trembled
so that she could scarcely stand. Glaucus clasped her hand, whispering:

“Take courage! Your dearest wish will be fulfilled. Did you not say:
‘Let death come _when_ and _as_ it will, if it only snatches us away
together.’ And did you not yourself accept the omen?”

The young wife’s eyes filled with tears.

“Forgive me!” she stammered. “I did not know what I was asking.”

With a look in which love conquered the fear of death she raised her
eyes to her husband’s face and threw her arms around his neck. Glaucus
clasped her waist and went slowly down the steps of the ladder.

When he had reached the last one he paused and glanced up at the ship.
But at the sight of the pirates’ curious, malicious faces, which did
not express even the faintest touch of compassion, he understood that
all hope was over and, too proud to beg for his life, he pressed
Charicleia closer to his breast and took the fatal step from the last
round of the ladder.

The sea closed over their heads, forming a small, swiftly revolving
whirlpool, and through this narrowing circle the too happy mortals,
united in death as in life, entered the great unknown country whence no
one returns.

[Illustration]



LYCON WITH THE BIG HAND.

SECOND YEAR OF THE 103D OLYMPIAD (367 B.C.)



[Illustration]



LYCON WITH THE BIG HAND.


I.

Few young men in Athens had so many acquaintances as Lycon, yet he did
not possess a single friend. He was courteous to all, but intimate
with no one, had a care-free disposition, liked to try his luck at
astragals[O] or dice, always knew where the best Chian wine and the
prettiest girls could be found, and was never unwilling to lend an
acquaintance a few drachmae. So Lycon was universally esteemed, nay
people even overlooked certain eccentricities which were contradictory
to Attic custom. For instance, he never visited the gymnasium, and when
some one spoke to him about it, he carelessly replied:

                                  [O] A game like knuckle-bones.

“What should I do there? Oratory and subtleties of speech I don’t
understand--and why train my body? I’m strong enough as I am, and have
better uses for my time.”

As to Lycon’s appearance--he had handsome, though rather harsh black
hair, manly, somewhat stern features, large heavy eyebrows, a short but
thick beard, a broad-shouldered, strongly-built frame, and unusually
large hands, from which he received the nickname Lycon _ho makrocheir_,
Lycon with the big hand.

He was entered on the citizens’ list as Lycon, son of Megacles. But
nobody had known this Megacles, and no one could tell where the house
of Lycon’s parents stood, or had stood. All that was known about him
was that, two years before, he had suddenly appeared in Athens--as he
said, after a long residence in Bithynia where his father had died.
Now and then it was whispered that he was “a spurious citizen,” and
at one of the examinations to which these lists were occasionally
subjected, he was questioned by the demarchs or district inspectors.
To them Lycon stated that his father had been a ship’s captain and for
many years had been absent from Athens; he had himself gone to sea with
him, and the rough work on board had given him large, hard hands. One
of the demarchs, a rich ship-owner, thought he could entrap Lycon by
questioning him about the names of the various parts of a vessel. But
the latter was at no loss for an answer. This resulted greatly to his
advantage; the ship-owner declared himself satisfied, and Lycon’s name
remained on the list.

Still, there were many strange things about him. For instance, he knew
so little of the poets that, as the jester Stephanus said, he might
easily have been persuaded that one of Pindar’s odes was written by
Homer. But, if any one laughed at such stupendous ignorance, Lycon said:

“You are laughing at my pedagogue, not at me. It is his fault. He was
so weak that he submitted to everything, and we played and quarrelled
during the time we ought to have learned something useful.”

It was one of Lycon’s peculiarities that, though he never refused an
invitation to a drinking-bout, he had no inclination to attend any
of the great festivals to which strangers flocked from all parts of
Hellas, the islands, and the new colonies, to see the processions, the
performances at the theatre, or the torchlight races. On such days
Lycon either remained at home in his little house in the Ceriadae
suburb, or went away for a short journey, remaining absent until the
strangers might be supposed to have left Athens. This singular conduct
was not noticed by many, for on holidays most persons have enough
to do to attend to their own affairs. But the few who did remark it
marvelled.

Only one individual knew the cause of Lycon’s eccentricities. This was
the artist Aristeides from Thebes, a quiet, thoughtful young man, who
never said more than he meant. He enjoyed a high reputation for his
powerful picture of the battle between the Persians and Macedonians, a
painting containing hundreds of human figures; but his master-piece was
the plundering of a captured city, in which a dying mother holds her
delicate babe away from her breast, that it may not drink blood instead
of milk.

This Aristeides once went on a pleasure excursion with Lycon--both
on horseback, attended by a single slave--to the beautifully located
Deceleia at the foot of Mt. Parnes. Wearied by the noon-tide heat,
they sought shelter on the way in the wretched log-hut owned by a
poor countryman, who received them kindly, gave them a bowl of fresh
goat’s-milk, and offered them his rude bed; but it was so dirty that,
after exchanging glances, they begged permission to lie on the hay
stored in the shed opposite. The man led the way there. Lycon stretched
himself comfortably upon the fragrant hay, yawned, and fell asleep.
Aristeides also slept, but was roused soon after by a movement of Lycon
and, turning over, suddenly felt broad awake.

Lycon’s robe had opened at the throat, baring his shoulder. On the
sunburned skin appeared a large white scar, consisting of three marks
which together formed a kappa.[P]

                                  [P] Kappa, the letter K. This is an
                                      abbreviation of the word Klemma,
                                      theft. Slaves were usually
                                      branded on the forehead (or on
                                      the ears or hands.) The mark
                                      seems to have been stamped on the
                                      shoulder only by special favor,
                                      when the offence was trivial.

“A slave!” cried Aristeides, “and branded!”

At first he was almost stupefied; then he moved away from Lycon’s side
and sat down on a log a short distance off.

“Now I understand everything,” he thought, “his fear of undressing in
the gymnasium--his unknown origin--his large hands--his ignorance of
the poets--and his absence during the great festivals.... So he is a
fugitive slave, and has been punished for theft. Before his flight he
probably robbed his master and of no inconsiderable sum. He was entered
in the citizens’ list by bribery, and now the thievish, branded slave
lives in Athens as a free citizen, and enjoys himself on his defrauded
master’s money.”

Aristeides rose to go to the city magistrates, but ere he left the shed
he started and listened.

Lycon was laughing in his sleep.

There was something so joyous and light-hearted in his laughter that
Aristeides involuntarily paused.

“Look!” murmured Lycon, stretching out his arm as though pointing,
“now fat Dryas is jumping!--The leather bottle is bursting--he’ll
fall--plump! there he lies on his stomach in the water.”

And Lycon laughed again.

“No!” said Aristeides, “a man who laughs in his sleep like a child is
not wicked.... Who knows whether freedom has not made him a different
and a better man? Certainly nothing dishonorable is known about him,
and he is universally respected.... Perhaps his master has made up his
loss long ago. Perhaps he has himself repaid the stolen money; he has
slaves who work for him. Besides, how does the matter concern me?”

The artist went nearer to the sleeper and looked at him.

A pleasant smile was hovering around Lycon’s mouth. “Take this!” he
muttered, and his big hand made a gesture as if he were giving alms.

Aristeides felt a sudden inspiration.

“Had the gods desired to punish him,” he thought, “they would have made
him betray himself to a foe, not to a friend.”

Glad to have found such a consolation to his mind, he carefully drew
Lycon’s robe together and fastened it at the neck. His hand shook a
little as he did so. If Lycon should suddenly open his eyes, what might
he not do in his despair at seeing his secret discovered!

But Lycon slept on. Without rousing him, Aristeides went around into
the shade behind the house, where the slaves were waiting with the
horses. Beckoning to Lycon’s servant, he said:

“When your master wakes, tell him that a dream I had in my sleep
compels me to return home at once. Beg him from me to go on as though I
were still in his company.”

With these words he swung himself on the horse and rode away so fast
that his slave could scarcely follow him.

From that hour Aristeides held aloof from Lycon, without attracting any
special attention from the latter. But whenever, later, conversation
turned upon Lycon’s eccentricities Aristeides found special
gratification in going as near the truth as possible. He always said:

“There is a sign that explains them.”

Did he make the remark from a vague spite against Lycon or a child’s
delight in playing with fire? He did not know himself, but he never
said more.


II.

Lycon, who suspected no evil, continued his usual mode of life. One
noon he went to the house of a freedman named Opasion, who usually had
gay doings in his home, as he lived by entertaining young men. The
little peristyle, scarcely ten feet long, was filled with a noisy,
laughing party. Half a score of youths in mantles of every hue had
formed a circle around two fighting quails.

“I’ll bet fifteen drachmae against you, Opasion,” shouted one voice.

“So will I,” added a second.

“Hegesias’ quail is braver. See, your bird is giving way, Opasion--it
yields again. Ha! ha! ha! Now it’s outside of the circle.”

“Conquered, conquered!” shouted the whole party in chorus, joined by
the freedman.

“Your bird lost, Opasion. Down with the money.”

The freedman, a short, stout fellow, with a foxy face, lifted a rumpled
bird in the air and shrieked into its ear, as though trying to drown
the shouts of victory. At the same time the other bird was borne away
in triumph, and then carefully taken under its owner’s arm as if it
were the most costly treasure.

Lycon walked carelessly on to the so-called banqueting hall found in
every large house, but which usually offered only a very limited space.
He cast a hurried glance around the room but saw no strange faces.
Seven or eight young men whom he met every day were just breakfasting,
reclining singly or in pairs upon leather-covered couches, before which
stood small tables bearing numerous spots of grease and the marks of
wet goblets.

At the back of the room a couple of half naked boys, slaves, were
busily washing cups and dishes, and not far from them on a low chair
without a back sat two young girls from fifteen to twenty years old.
They were whispering eagerly together, and by the way they fixed their
eyes on the young men reclining upon the couches, it was easy to guess
the subject of the talk. Both were pretty, but their bold glances and
careless laughter showed that they were women of free lives, accustomed
to associate with men.

The older and larger of the two held in her hand a Phrygian double
flute. Her back hair was covered by a blue kerchief and the locks on
her brow were adorned with a clasp of polished steel. Her whole costume
consisted of a saffron-yellow robe, originally fine and costly, now
somewhat frayed, open at the left side to the hip and fastened up above
the knee. The younger and prettier, who was evidently a juggler, as she
rested her feet on a box containing short swords, balls, and small bows
and arrows, wore on her head a red hood to confine her dark curls, and
moreover was wrapped in a faded green mantle, which she drew closely
around her. Whenever, during the conversation, she moved her hands this
loose upper dress parted, showing that she had a totally different
under-garment and a pair of short, parti-colored breeches, which
surrounded her loins like a wide belt.

The young men paid no attention to the girls. Their talk turned upon
the best way of getting hold of a father’s money during his life.
Opinions seemed to vary greatly. The more experienced agreed in holding
aloof from the matter themselves and having their fathers deceived by
a cunning slave, while those less skilled preferred to beg the money
from their mothers, on the threat of going to sea or enlisting in the
light-armed troops.

“The old theme again!” said Lycon smiling, after having greeted and
shaken hands with all present except Aristeides, who was busily
cleansing his hands after the meal in the dough prepared for the
purpose.

“Lycon speaks the truth,” cried a pale-faced young man with flabby
features, afterwards known as the architect Deinocrates. “We must talk
about something else. This subject doesn’t suit _him_.”

Lycon, who had neither father nor mother, understood the concealed
sting, but kept silence in order not to enter deeper into the matter.

The talk ceased for a moment; the god Hermes--as the saying went in
those days--passed through the room. Then a quick step echoed over the
flags of the peristyle, and a tall young fellow with a light beard
suddenly stood among them. He seemed to have just arrived from a
journey, for dust lay thick amid the folds of his brown mantle, and he
wore a broad-brimmed felt hat.

“Phorion!” cried seven or eight voices in a breath, “we greet you,
welcome!”

The new-comer flung his cloak and hat to one of the boys who came
hurrying up, pressed Aristeides’ hand, and lay down in the vacant place
by his side.

“Where are you from, Phorion?” asked pallid Deinocrates.

“From Thessaly.”

Lycon, who was reclining alone upon a couch at the nearest table,
forgot his barley cake and raised his head.

“From what city in Thessaly?”

“Methone in the province of Magnesia, on the Pagasaean Gulf.”

Aristeides’ eyes happened to rest on Lycon, who had turned deadly pale
and was pressing his hand upon his breast.

“From which of the citizens did you receive hospitality? continued
Deinocrates.

“From Simonides, dealer in grain.”

Lycon started so that he almost upset the little table in front of the
couch.

“How strange!” exclaimed Deinocrates eagerly. “Simonides was my
father’s host, too, and I have often heard him praise his cheerful
temper and great fondness for the comic writers. He owns, if I
remember rightly, many of old Magnes, the Icarian’s, comedies in the
manuscripts, as the author himself revised them, and--especially in
“the Harpers” knows the merriest scenes by heart.... You perceive I am
acquainted with the man without having seen him.”

“Alas! he is no longer the same person!” said Phorion gravely. “Grief
and sickness have prematurely aged him.... All his misery was brought
upon him by a dishonest slave.”

Again Aristeides looked at Lycon, but this time not accidentally.

The perspiration stood in big drops on his brow, his cheeks were
flushed, and he passed his great hand over his face as he was in the
habit of doing when deeply moved.

“Made miserable by a dishonest slave!” exclaimed Deinocrates, “you must
tell us about it.”

“The story is soon told,” replied Phorion. “But come here, boy. Push
the tables aside, brush the bones and fruit-skins away, and bring wine,
wine! I am dying of thirst.”

When everything was arranged, the slave brought a silver vessel and
poured some wine into it from an ancient silver cup, the show-piece in
Opasion’s house.

Phorion took the vessel. The flute-player rose, put her instrument to
her lips, and began a subdued, solemn melody.

“Let this beaker,” said the young man, “be offered to the gods of my
native city, with thanks for their gracious protection on my journey!”

Then he poured out some of the contents of the cup.

The notes of the flute sounded louder, but not so loud as to drown the
noise of the wine falling on the smooth stones of the floor. Then the
subdued melody followed. Phorion drank a few sips from the beaker and
passed it to Aristeides, who also took a little, and so it went the
round of the party, always accompanied by the music of the flute.

Lycon gazed with a strangely vacant glance at the preparations for the
drinking-bout, and it was evidently a relief to him when Deinocrates
asked the new-comer to continue his story.

“About five years ago,” resumed Phorion, “Simonides bought a young
slave called Zenon.”

Hearing this name so suddenly, Lycon turned ghastly pale and, half
falling back on his couch, made a groping movement with his hands, as
though he had suddenly been plunged into the blackest darkness.

Aristeides pitied him, and, to force him to control himself, said:

“Are you ill, Lycon?”

Lycon passed his huge hand over his face; the muscles around his mouth
quivered, and it was a moment ere he could mutter a few words which
sounded as if he had taken too large a mouthful.

“So,” continued Phorion, “Simonides bought a young slave named Zenon.
He hadn’t given much for him, because Zenon had robbed his former
master, a physician in the neighboring city of Ormenium; he had been
branded and fled to Poseidon’s altar in Methone. Nobody would buy him,
but when he fell weeping at Simonides’ feet and promised to conquer
his evil propensities, the latter was touched and bought him for less
than a mina.[Q] For more than a year his conduct obtained his master’s
approval and won his favor and confidence. One day Simonides was
visited by a man from Hypata, with whom he had business relations.
Zenon waited on the table and saw the stranger pay Simonides nearly
a talent, partly in ready money and partly in drafts on well-known
moneylenders in Athens, and noticed that this property was placed in a
box where many bags of darics[R] were already kept. The next morning
the chest where the box had been placed was found broken open. The box
had gone, and with it Zenon. Simonides sent mounted messengers to this
city, but Zenon had already had the drafts cashed, the more easily
because his master’s seal ring was in the chest.

“Simonides had the great robbery and an exact description of the
thief’s personal appearance proclaimed in the market by the public
heralds; but all his efforts were useless. Grief and worry over this
great loss broke down his health. He was attacked by paralysis, his
right side was benumbed, his mouth drawn awry, and for a time he was
almost speechless. The once gay, jovial man is now a mere shadow of his
former self. Though he is too proud to complain, I think the slaves
take advantage of his condition and do what they choose. There is not
the least sign of the order that formerly existed in the house. In
the vestibule lay fragments of broken wine-jars, fruit-skins, faded
garlands, and the handles of burnt torches. Yet not even to his best
friend, Polycles the wine-dealer, has he mentioned their negligence.
The only complaint that ever escaped the lips of the sick man, so
deserted by his servants, was the wish: ‘If I only had a son! I could
depend upon him.’”

                                  [Q] Mina = equal to about $20.

                                  [R] Persian gold coin, named for
                                      Darius, value a little over $5.

“By Heracles!” cried one of the reckless young fellows, “he’ll find
that wish hard to get--weak as he is.”

“And why not?” replied Phorion gravely. “Of what consequence here is
the mere tie of blood? Nothing is needed except a son’s affection.
Yes,” he added warmly, “among those who have known Simonides in his
days of happiness, why should there not be one person that would take
pleasure in coming to the sick man’s help and making amends for the
wrong others have done him?”

Opasion thrust his foxy face from behind one of the pillars, and
noticing that the conversation had almost ceased, made a sign to the
young girls.

The flute-player began a lively tune; the juggler threw off her shabby
upper-robe and took from the box she used as a foot-stool nine short
swords whose handles ended in a sharp point. These swords she stuck
firmly into the cracks between the flag-stones, placing them in two
rows, all with their keen two-edged blades in the air. Then she stepped
between them and, after straightening her short breeches a little,
walked on her hands, to the music of the flute, between the weapons,
then rising turned somersaults over them so swiftly that the eye could
scarcely follow the movements of her slender, pliant body.

This was the dangerous sword-dance, always greatly admired.

The young men clapped their hands and shouted their plaudits.

“What ought not a _man_ to be able to accomplish,” exclaimed
Deinocrates, “when a woman can learn to leap so boldly between swords?”

Aristeides had not watched this scene; his eyes were fixed on Lycon.
The latter had risen. He was a little paler than usual and stood gazing
into vacancy with a strange look, as if he saw something far, far away.
Something extraordinary seemed to be occupying his thoughts, and he
repeatedly passed his huge hand over his face.

Then, apparently by chance, he approached Phorion. “I’m going to
Thessaly in a few days,” he said in a tone which he endeavored to make
as careless as possible, “and shall probably visit Methone. If you
wish, Phorion I will carry your regards to Simonides.”

“Do so, and if you can, be his guest for a short time. Perhaps there
is reason to report the servants’ conduct to the magistrates. His
daughter Myrtale, according to his own account, is a child of seventeen
who cannot rule slaves. But one thing you must know in advance--the
door-keeper turns all strangers away; it is not easy to get into the
house.”

“I shall get in,” said Lycon.


III.

A few days after Lycon might have been seen with a large travelling-hat
on his head riding along the road between Halus and Iton in the
province of Phthiotis in Thessaly. He had sold his house in Athens and
all his slaves except one, a slender boy named Paegnion who, carrying a
bundle suspended from a stick over his shoulders, accompanied him. He
himself had a similar bundle fastened to his horse; in his hand he held
a switch cut from the trunk of a vine and, when his cloak blew aside,
the handle of a short sword appeared in his belt. Beside Paegnion
walked a young slave from Halus, who was to take the hired horse back.

It was a pleasant summer morning when Lycon rode down the stony road
over a spur of Mt. Othrys.

Before him on his left hand rose huge limestone cliffs, their sides
overgrown with poplar, plane, and ash-trees, and their summits
covered with thorny tragacanth bushes. Far below, one smiling valley
lay beside another and through them all the river Amphrysus wound
in glittering curves. The morning mists still rested on the wide
landscape, revealing, ever and anon, a glimpse of distant cities at the
foot of the mountains and undulating plains, with yellow grain-fields
and luxuriant vineyards, interspersed here and there with clumps of
fig-trees and groves of dwarf and stone oaks. Far at the right the
white marble temples of a city glimmered against the dark-blue waters
of a bay in the Pagasaean gulf. On the other side of the valley rose
lofty hills, and beyond them--at the farthest point of view--the two
snow-capped peaks of Pelion towered into the air.

Lycon let his gaze wander over the broad, sun-steeped landscape, and
inhaled with pleasure the pure mountain air. Freedom had never seemed
to him more alluring. The nearer he approached Methone, the more
anxiously he asked himself whether he, who for years had lived as a
free citizen, must again sink into a wretched, subservient bondman. He
fancied he already felt on his neck the pressure of the wooden ring by
which sweet-toothed slaves were prevented from raising their hands to
their lips; he imagined he had fetters on his limbs and the heavy block
dragging after him, and he shuddered at the thought of the smoking iron
and its hissing on the skin.

Who told him he would escape this punishment? Had he not stolen a
second time?

“By Zeus!” he muttered, “I’m afraid I have made the dog’s throw.”[S]

                                  [S] The worst throw in a game of dice.

But, remembering how he had altered during the past few years, he
suddenly exclaimed: “No, I will not return as Zenon, but as Lycon.”

He had incautiously uttered the last words aloud and, starting, looked
around him. The strange slave had paid no heed; but it was important
for him to know whether Paegnion had heard them.

He beckoned to the boy, bent down from his horse, and took him by the
ear.

“Did you hear what I said?” he asked curtly. “Tell the truth.”

“I believe so,” stammered Paegnion, somewhat bewildered by this sudden
attack.

“Repeat my words.”

“I will not return as Zenon, but as Lycon.”

Lycon drew his short sword and placed its point against Paegnion’s bare
breast. The lad uttered a loud shriek.

“Did you ever cut yourself with a knife?” asked Lycon. “Then think what
you will feel if I thrust now. Well then! If you repeat one word of
what I said, I will drive this sword into you, if it were at the altar
of the gods. So guard your mouth.”

Without listening to Paegnion’s assurances, he gave the horse a light
blow with his whip and continued his way down to the valley.

The next day Lycon was riding up the Street of the Bakers in Methone,
at whose end was seen the sea with the ships where he had learned the
nautical expressions that had proved so useful to him with the district
inspector at Athens. Though no anxiety was apparent in his bearing,
his heart beat faster than usual. There was no change in the little
city; it seemed as though he had never been away, he recognized every
house, every wall, every stone. He was obliged to wait a moment at the
laurel-tree and statue of Hermes, outside of Simonides’ house, ere he
could control his voice sufficiently to say to Paegnion: “Knock!”

Paegnion seized the copper ring on the door and rapped loudly. The
door-keeper was not at his post. It was a long time before he came
and drew the bolt, and he opened the door no wider than was necessary
to thrust out his hand. Lycon recognized in him an old slave named
Satyrus, who had a sullen face and lazy bearing.

At sight of the youth in travelling dress, he said harshly: “What do
you want? My master is sick and receives no one.” With these words
he slammed the door so that the whole house shook. Lycon signed to
Paegnion, who knocked again. “My good fellow,” he called, “announce me
to your master. Tell him I am Lycon the Athenian, son of Megacles, and
that I bring a greeting and message from Phorion, who was his guest
a short time ago.” The door-keeper went grumbling away. At last he
returned, opened the door, and said in a milder tone:

“Come in, he’ll speak to you.”

Sending away the boy with the hired horse, Lycon entered the dwelling.
Anxious as he felt, he noticed that the appearance of the vestibule
agreed exactly with Phorion’s description. There was dirt and disorder
in every corner.

While crossing the peristyle, Lycon addressed a few words to Paegnion.
At the sound of his voice a young girl who was just gliding into the
women’s apartment, stopped, turned her head, and fixed upon him a look
of wonder and surprise, but ere he had time to notice her she had
vanished through the door. He had only caught a glimpse of a blue robe
and a pair of questioning dark eyes. Was it Myrtale, whom he had last
seen as a child, and with whom he had often played in the garden and at
Simonides’ country-seat?

Absorbed in these thoughts, Lycon had walked so rapidly towards the
room usually occupied by the master of the house that old Satyrus, the
door-keeper, found it hard to keep up with him.

“Queer!” he muttered, “though you are a stranger, one would suppose you
knew the house.”

Lycon saw that he had been on the point of betraying himself, but he
was quick-witted.

“Of course I know the house, my good fellow,” he replied smiling“--from
my friend Phorion’s description.”


IV.

Simonides was just breakfasting. On seeing how weak and feeble he had
become, Lycon could scarcely control his emotion, and it cut him to the
heart when he saw the crooked mouth--the mark paralysis had stamped
upon him for life.

“Thief!” he thought; “it is your work!” and he passed his big hand over
his face to hide his tears. He longed to throw himself at his master’s
feet and clasp his knees.

Simonides did not rise when Lycon entered, but gave him his hand and
greeted him kindly.

“Welcome!” he said. “You are Phorion’s friend, I hear, and bring
a greeting and message from him. How is his blind father? Does
Praxagoras, the physician from Cos, think he will succeed in restoring
his lost sight?”

Lycon could not answer; he knew nothing about Phorion’s father.

“How is his wife, who was so ill after the birth of her last child?”

Lycon knew nothing of Phorion’s wife either. He felt extremely
uncomfortable, tried to turn the conversation into another channel and,
by way of explanation, added carelessly:

“I know Phorion only in the market, the arcades, and other places where
men daily meet in Athens. He has never spoken of his family.”

Simonides raised his head and looked intently at Lycon.

“Ah!” he exclaimed, apparently with some little disappointment. “I
thought that you and Phorion were intimate friends. There is an old
acquaintanceship between us, dating from the time when his father and I
were both young.”

The conversation now took a different turn, as Simonides asked for news
from Athens. This was a subject on which Lycon could talk, and the more
freely because relieved from his worst fear. Simonides evidently had
not recognized him. His long hair and thick beard, especially his heavy
eyebrows, which he had had clipped very frequently to make them large
and bushy, had entirely changed his appearance.

Simonides had offered his guest some refreshments after his journey.
In the long time that elapsed before they were brought Lycon saw a
confirmation of the bad condition of household affairs. He also noticed
that two goblets stood on the little table; of course Simonides had
had a companion at his meal, doubtless his daughter, Myrtale, who,
according to the universal Hellenic custom, had left the room when the
door-keeper announced a stranger. She was probably the young girl of
whom he had caught a glimpse in the peristyle.

After the meal Simonides offered to let a slave called Conops show
Lycon around the city. He called, but no one came. He rapped repeatedly
on the floor with his cane: but no one seemed to hear--the veins on
Lycon’s forehead swelled and his heavy eyebrows met in a frown.

“Wretches!” he muttered.

“Be not angry, Simonides,” he added warmly, clasping his hand in both
his own, “be not angry if, though a stranger, I speak freely of things
which do not concern me. Let me, I beg you, talk in your name to these
sluggards. Imagine that I am your son and have returned from a long
journey. Come! Lean on my arm, let us go about the house and see what
the slaves are doing.”

Simonides fixed a puzzled glance upon Lycon.

“Stranger,” he said, “you speak singular words. You have not been half
so long under my roof as the water-clock needs to run out, yet you seem
to read the wishes of my soul. Who are you, young man? Your voice is
strangely familiar, yet no ... you speak the Attic dialect so purely
that Phorion, who was born in the city, has no better accent.”

With these words he rose slowly, by the help of his cane, and took
Lycon’s arm.

“Another person,” he added, “might perhaps be angry with you or feel
offended. I am neither. It is seldom, very seldom, that a careless
youth has so much affection for a sick and feeble man. Come, my
son--let me call you so--try whether you can help me to restore the
discipline of the house, but do not suppose that the victory will be
an easy one. Thistles which have grown all the year are not uprooted
by the first jerk. If you could stay with me for a time--yet I will
not urge you,” he added smiling faintly, “that you may not say you
are drubbed into accepting the invitation. A resident of Athens will
scarcely waste time on our little city.”

“Do you think so?” said Lycon, smiling. “I will gladly stay, if you
believe that I can serve you.”

Simonides had difficulty in dragging himself onward. Fortunately
the distance was not great; in ancient times the houses were small,
supplied with numerous corners, it is true, but covering little space.
Supported by Lycon’s arm, Simonides walked through the short colonnade
outside of the men’s rooms; in the little peristyle of the women’s
apartment, where he was forced to stop a moment to rest, no human
being appeared and the small chambers occupied by the slaves,--half
a score of dungeon-like cells,--all stood empty. The same state of
affairs existed in the women’s work-room. In the door leading to the
garden sat, or rather lay, one of the youngest slaves of the household,
a light-haired boy seven or eight years old. He had leaned his head
against the door-post and, overcome by the noonday heat, had fallen
asleep.

“Look!” whispered Lycon, pointing to the boy, “fortune favors us. The
sentinel is slumbering at his post. We shall come upon them unawares.”

Loud, merry talk reached them from the garden.

“Conops has slept on the bench long enough,” said a harsh voice, not
without a shade of envy.

“How he snores!” added another.

“Only a swine-herd can snore like that.”

“Pour some wine into his mouth.”

“Tickle him on the nose with a straw.”

“Put a frog on his neck.”

The last proposal was greeted with shrill laughter.

Lycon pushed the sleeping boy away with his foot and, in the midst of
the slaves’ noisy mirth, the master of the house and his guest suddenly
stood among them.

A strange spectacle was presented to their eyes. On a roughly-made
couch, which had been carried into the shade, lay the largest and
strongest of the slaves, the swine-herd Conops, almost naked, snoring
loudly with his mouth wide open. Close around him stood those who had
proposed to wake him, and behind this group some half nude boys, lying
flat on the ground, were playing dice, while a couple of older slaves
sitting at a table were quietly drinking a tankard of wine which they
had forgotten to mix with water. Still farther away some young men were
romping on a bench beneath some blossoming Agnus-castus trees with two
slave-girls who, at the sight of the new-comers, started up with a loud
shriek and, covering their faces with their hands, fled around the
nearest corner of the house.

Lycon did not speak a word to the slaves, but as he turned slowly with
Simonides to go back to the dwelling by the same path, he said as
though continuing an interrupted conversation:

“My advice is this: Sell them all to the mines in Laurium--they will be
cured of laziness there--and buy new ones, even if you have to pay more
for them.”

He had spoken loud enough for the nearest slaves to hear every word.

Work in the mines of Laurium was considered the hardest slave-labor
in Hellas. What terror and consternation therefore seized upon the
pampered, idle slaves in Simonides’ house at the prospect so suddenly
opened before them.

A low, but eager murmur instantly arose behind the retreating figures.
Many were talking at the same time and in an angry tone.

“Do you hear?” said Lycon to Simonides, “the medicine is beginning to
work.”

The old man pressed his hand.


V.

Lycon let himself be shown around the city by the boy he had found
sleeping with his head against the door-post, and invented errands to
many of the citizens but none of them recognized him.

Meantime his young slave, Paegnion, was sauntering idly about
the house. He was tired, so he welcomed the event when some one
unexpectedly spoke to him in the peristyle of the women’s apartment.

“What is your name, my lad?” asked a gay, musical voice from one of the
little openings in the wall facing the peristyle.

Paegnion looked up. All he saw inside the small opening was a delicate
white hand, which had drawn aside the Coan curtain, some shining
braids of brown hair, a gold fillet, and a pair of mischievous black
eyes, whose sparkle vied with the fillet.

“What is your name, my lad?” the voice repeated.

“Paegnion.”

“A pretty name! Are many boys in Athens called Paegnion as well as you?”

“Some, but not many.”

“Has your master a pretty name too?”

“He is called Lycon.”

“Has he no other name?”

Paegnion was silent.

“Well then!” said the gay voice in a strangely contemptuous tone, and
the hand moved as though to close the curtain.

Paegnion feared the conversation was over.

“What do you mean?” he hastened to ask.

“I thought Attic youths were more clever than others--so clever that
their masters could never conceal anything from them. Now I see that
the Athenian lads are no brighter than our own.”

Paegnion felt a little nettled.

“I _could_ answer you, if I _chose_,” he muttered roughly.

“And why don’t you choose, Paegnion?”

“Because I don’t want to be thrust through the breast with a long
knife.”

“Empty threats! And you care for them? A boy like you isn’t easily
killed.... No, say rather that you know nothing.”

And again the delicate hand moved as if to drop the curtain.

“But I _do_ know something,” Paegnion hastened to reply. “He has, as
you say, another name.”

“Who told you so?”

“He himself.”

“What did he say?”

“That I won’t tell.”

“Are you so timid, Paegnion? I thought the Attic boys were braver.
Besides, what do you risk by telling me, a woman? I shall never see
your master, never have a chance to speak to him--what do you fear?”

Paegnion reflected a moment.

“No!” he cried resolutely, “I dare not! He might find out.”

“That’s a pity! I thought you would earn some money. Look!” the young
girl continued, holding out a number of small flat silver coins in a
box and showing them to Paegnion, “here are twelve triobols.”

The lad gazed covetously at the glittering coins.

“_Twelve_ triobols,” he repeated with a crafty smile, “and I am
_fifteen_ years old.”

“You shall have three more. But make haste, somebody might come. What
did your master say?”

Paegnion looked around him.

“On the way here,” he whispered, advancing close to the wall, “my
master rode for a time absorbed in thought; then he suddenly exclaimed:
‘No, I will not return as Zenon, but as Lycon.’”

“I knew it!” cried the girl and, forgetting the money, she clapped her
hands so that the obols fell on the ground and rolled about in every
direction.

Paegnion was not slow in picking up his treasure.

“The three triobols,” he then said, “the three triobols you promised
me.”

The girl disappeared from the opening. A moment after a fold of the
curtain was raised and, if Paegnion had had eyes for it, he might have
seen a beautiful white arm bared to the shoulder, but the lad was more
intent upon obols than arms.

At this moment the back door of the garden creaked on its rusty hinges,
and Paegnion ran with all his might to the little guest-room at the
corner of the house, which had been assigned to him and his master.

When Lycon--for it was he--was crossing the small courtyard on the way
to the guest-room he saw that the household slaves, half a score in
all, had assembled there. Some were carrying hay from a large cart into
a barn, others were pouring water over the rude wheels, consisting of
round wooden disks, to cleanse them from lumps of clay, and others were
standing idle in the shade. But, whether busy or not, there was an air
of malevolence about them and not one uttered a word. The prospect of
forced labor in the Laurium mines rested like a dark cloud on every
face.

The big swine-herd, Conops, held in his hand a bunch of dry leaves with
which he was wiping the sweat from the heaving flanks of a mule.

Lycon passed quietly on to the guest-room, where he called to Conops in
a curt, authoritative tone:

“Open the door. You see I am carrying something under my cloak.”

The huge fellow did not stir.

Lycon beckoned to the little boy and gave him his bundle.

“Don’t you know,” he then said to Conops, “that I am your master’s
guest, and that you should obey a guest as you would your master
himself?”

“Perhaps that is the custom in Athens,” replied Conops impudently,
looking at the others. “In Methone slaves do what they choose.”

Lycon’s great hand suddenly fell upon Conops’ cheek. So violent was
the blow that the swine-herd reeled several paces aside, struck his
head against the stable-wall, and scratched one of his ears. Dizzy and
confused as he was, he was servile enough to recognize in the hand that
struck such a blow a superior power, which it would not do to defy.

“What a cuff!” he muttered, wiping away the blood which streamed from
his ear upon his brown shoulder then, glancing at the others again, he
added with evident admiration of the blow: “I never had such a knock
before.”

“The door!” said Lycon curtly.

Conops opened it without a word.

Lycon now turned to the slaves and informed them that the order of the
household must and should be restored. No one would be overburdened
with work; but, if each did his share, there would seem to be less
to be done. Then he represented to the slaves who had been born in
Simonides’ house how shamefully they had behaved in consulting only
their own convenience, while their master was ill and helpless, needing
more than anything else careful attendance.

He soon succeeded in touching the hearts of the slaves and, when
he perceived it, he added that Simonides would forgive and forget
everything if within three days they would bring him the household
instruments of punishment which they had thrown away and broken. If one
of the older slaves fulfilled this demand, Simonides would make him
overseer of the others, but should they persist in their negligence
their master, with an Attic slave-dealer’s assistance, would sell them
to the mines.


VI.

Early the next morning, while the dew was still sparkling on the leaves
and in the grass, Simonides’ daughter, Myrtale, a girl of seventeen,
came out of the women’s apartment into the garden. She had thrown over
her head a red scarf with small white stars, from beneath which fell
her thick dark-brown locks. Her figure, though not tall, was well
developed, and its delicately-rounded outlines were fully displayed by
the red robe she wore. The little Methonian bore no resemblance to the
stately marble caryatides which as images of the Attic virgins adorned
the vestibule of the Erechtheum; but her whole figure was so instinct
with life and youth that no eye could help lingering on it with
pleasure. Even the swine-herd, Conops, turned his clumsy head to watch
her as she passed and among the slaves, who half neglected and half
admired her, she was never called anything but _hē pais_, “the child.”

Myrtale, however, was a child who had a will of her own and a very
determined one. Having early lost her mother, she had had no female
companionship except her nurse, who indulged her in everything. She had
been educated in a much freer manner than was usually the case with
Hellenic maidens. She took her meals with her father, even when his
friend Polycles, the wine-dealer, visited him. When Polycles noticed
that the young girl did not lack intelligence he often asked her
opinion, and this pleased Simonides, who spoiled his only child and
treated her more like a son and heir than like a daughter.

Nay, when Simonides, during his days of health, read aloud the plays
of Magnes, the Icarian, Myrtale, at that time a girl of thirteen
or fourteen, was usually present and stimulated by the unbridled
laughter of the two friends, understood much that had been previously
incomprehensible, and caught many an allusion which the two men did not
suspect that she could comprehend. In this way Myrtale had learned to
know more of the world and life than other young girls who spent their
days in a virgin chamber.[T]

                                  [T] Part of the women’s apartment.

The slaves’ negligence, the only thing that could have shadowed her
youth, disturbed her far less than it troubled her father, since she
always had her faithful nurse with her and--thanks to the freedom
granted her--enjoyed her life like a careless child, to whom the
present moment is everything.

When Myrtale came out into the garden early that morning, she stood
still for a time irresolute but, woman-like, not idle. Seeing how dark
and wet the ground was and what big drops glittered in the grass, she
instantly set to work to fasten up her dress that it might not be
soiled by dampness. Then she tripped on through maples, ivy, and vines
twined around poles which rested on stout posts, towards the most
secluded part of the garden. When she reached the bee-hives and heard
the buzzing of the insects, she paused a moment, laughed softly, and
said to herself with a mischievous little smile:

“Now I know what to do--he shall be forced to confess everything.”
Seeing some superb white lilies, she left her silver-embroidered
sandals in the garden-path and skipped on her little bare feet into
the wet grass. While gathering the flowers she felt as though ants
were crawling on her and, raising her dress a little, looked over her
shoulder at her ankles, carefully examining each. The pretty girl
thought herself alone and unobserved, and there was something so
bewitching in her whole appearance that it would have been a pity not
to have had a witness.

But there _was_ a witness.

Lycon, who had been unable to sleep all night, because each passing day
brought the decision of his fate nearer, had gone out into the garden
early and seated himself on a bench in the nearest thicket. From his
green ambush not one of Myrtale’s movements escaped his notice. Had
he been familiar with Homer, he would have thought that she resembled
Danae, Acrisius’ daughter, and deserved the name of Callisphyrus, the
maid with the beautiful calves. But Lycon knew nothing of Homer, so he
contented himself with muttering:

“Is that Myrtale? How pretty she has grown.”

Yet he did not go to meet her. Of course she would have been frightened
by the sight of a strange man. And what should he talk about? He had
nothing to say to her.

While Myrtale was putting on her silver-wrought sandals, a black
and white goat, with trailing tether, came running towards her. She
glanced at the wet, rough-coated animal, then at her light dress and,
drawing back, clapped her hands violently to frighten the creature
away. But the goat did not understand. It merely stopped in its run and
approached slowly, holding its head very high, evidently supposing the
movement of her hands a challenge to play. With the mischievousness
natural to this animal it suddenly made a couple of short, frolicsome
leaps, lowered its head and sharp horns, and darted towards the young
girl.

Without hesitation Myrtale pulled up the nearest flower-stake and
defended herself against the goat. But the animal, now it was once
in fighting mood, constantly renewed the attack and the young girl
found it more and more difficult to keep the creature at bay. She was
therefore more pleased than alarmed when the bushes rustled and Lycon
sprang out and seized the goat’s tether.

Myrtale silently put back the flower-stake, and busied herself in tying
up the plant.

For some time neither spoke.

“Are you Myrtale, Simonides’ daughter?” asked Lycon, as he watched the
pretty Methonian with a pleasure he had never felt before.

Myrtale nodded assent.

“Are you Lycon, the Athenian, my father’s guest?” she inquired, without
raising her eyes to the stranger’s face.

Lycon had scarcely time to reply, for the goat now renewed its attack
upon him. He laughed:

“Come, my kid. You shall learn that I am not called Lycon with the big
hand for nothing.”

Seizing one of the goat’s horns with one hand, and its little tail with
the other, he lifted the mischievous animal from the ground so that
its four legs hung loosely down. When he set it on the earth again
the creature was thoroughly cowed. Bleating feebly, it unresistingly
allowed itself to be dragged back to the grass-plot from which it had
escaped.

At the beehives Myrtale managed to have Lycon pass tolerably near them.
While the insects were buzzing most thickly around him, she suddenly
exclaimed:

“A bee, a bee!” and laying her hand on Lycon’s neck added: “Don’t you
feel any pain? It must have stung you. I saw it creep out from under
your robe.”

Lycon denied feeling any hurt.

“Let me see your shoulder!” continued Myrtale. “An old woman from
Hypata taught me two magic words with which the stings of wasps and
bees can be instantly cured.”

“It is unnecessary,” replied Lycon curtly.

“Do as I beg you,” urged Myrtale.

“Girl!” cried Lycon impatiently, “you ask foolish things.... I will not
do it.”

Myrtale’s eyes flashed, the color in her cheeks deepened, and she
suddenly stopped.

“Zenon,” she said, raising her voice, “I, the daughter of your master
Simonides, command you to do it.”

If the earth had opened at Lycon’s feet he could not have been more
surprised and horrified than by these words.

“Merciful Gods!” he exclaimed, turning pale and clasping his hands,
“how do you know?--Who has told you?”

“Silence!” said Myrtale sternly. “Neither my father nor the slaves
recognized you, but I knew you at the first sound of your voice, though
you now speak the Attic dialect. You are Zenon, do not deny it. Shall
I call Conops and the others, and have your robe torn off? There is a
kappa on your shoulder; I know it.”

“Oh, miserable man that I am!” exclaimed Lycon, wringing his hands,
while his eyes filled with tears. “I have seen you to my destruction.”
And falling at Myrtale’s feet, he clasped her knees, adding: “How shall
I answer? What am I to say?”

“The truth.”

“Ah, I will conceal nothing, but tell you a secret which is the key of
my soul. Know that I am not, as you suppose, slave-born. My parents
were free and lived in Carystus at Eubœa. My father was overseer
of the slaves in the marble quarries. During my childhood he lived
comfortably; but afterwards he began to drink, became involved in
debt, and with his wife and child was sold into slavery. Yet, with my
free birth, I had obtained a different temper from that of a slave.
The scourge humbled far more than it hurt me, and I could not laugh
with the rest when the pain was over. Day and night I plotted to gain
my freedom and, as I could not purchase it, I resolved to steal it.
To be free I could have robbed the gods themselves. The first time I
failed--I was caught and branded. The next I was more successful....
There--now you know my crime.”

And he then told her about his happy life in Athens, his deep
repentance at Phorion’s description of Simonides’ illness, and his
determination to restore the discipline of the household in order to
obtain forgiveness.

Myrtale did not lose a single word, but while Lycon was kneeling before
her she noticed that his tearful eyes were very handsome, and that a
delicate odor of ointment rose from his hair. The power of trifles has
always been great, especially with women. This perfume made a strange
impression upon her. For a moment she forgot that Lycon was a slave,
and compared him in her mind with the son of their neighbor the baker,
who after having spent ten days in Athens went as foppishly clad and
moved as stiffly as the Athenian dandies. She looked at Lycon’s broad
shoulders and sinewy arms--and whatever the cause, she felt more kindly
disposed.

“You are a strange person,” she said, gazing into Lycon’s eyes. “Who
and what are you?... Half Athenian and half Methonian, half citizen and
half slave, half Lycon and half Zenon. I will do as my father once did:
I will trust you, though perhaps I am unwise.”

With these words she was hurrying towards the house, but Lycon seized a
fold of her robe.

“Myrtale,” he said, “believe me, a good emotion induced me to return.
Consider how free from care my life was in Athens, and what I have
risked. Do not make me miserable--do not prematurely reveal my secret,
so that your father will refuse me his forgiveness! He who has once
been free is of no value as a slave.”

Myrtale noticed the shudder that ran through his limbs, and felt
strangely moved. She read in Lycon’s eyes the anguish he was suffering
and to console him said:

“Have no fear! Myrtale does not hate Lycon.... I have never forgotten
how kind you were to me when I was a child. I still have the little
cart you made for me.”

“And I,” said Lycon, deeply moved as he seized her arm and kissed it,
“I did not suppose that little Myrtale would become such a girl--so
good and so beautiful!”

Myrtale smiled.

“Now Lycon is forgetting Zenon!” she replied, and raising her light
dress, ran off towards the house.

But Lycon was by no means cheerful. On the contrary he was very anxious
at knowing his secret was in a woman’s keeping. “The sooner I speak to
Simonides the better,” he thought.


VII.

Two days after, just as Lycon had breakfasted with the master of the
house, Carion, the old slave, entered. Lycon was going to rise and
leave the room, but Simonides took him by the arm and made him keep
his place on the edge of the couch.

“Master,” said old Carion, “I have come to ask for myself and the rest
of the slaves that you will forgive and forget. If you only will not
sell us to the mines, we will obey you in everything and, as a token of
our submission, we bring you the household implements of punishment,
all of them, and in good condition.”

Simonides could scarcely believe his ears, and turned to his guest in
speechless surprise. Lycon laughed in his sleeve.

At a sign from Carion, two young slaves entered and laid at their
master’s feet large and small whips, iron collars, fetters, stocks,
branding irons, neck-wheels, and the so-called “tree,” which served
as a pillory and at the same time inflicted the torture of sitting in
a doubled up position. Bringing in all these articles consumed time
enough to enable Simonides to regain his composure.

Without showing his satisfaction in the presence of the slaves, he
replied that he would grant their petition and forgive what had
happened. No one should suffer oppression, but if any one did wrong
he would be punished. Carion, the first who had given an example of
obedience, would be made overseer of the others, and in token that he
himself was ready to forget what had happened, each of them would be
received that evening as if he were entering his master’s house for the
first time. He should be led to the hearth by the overseer and there
receive figs, dried grapes, nuts, and small pastry cakes, in token that
there was an abundance in the house and he would lack nothing.

Simonides then ordered the slaves to carry the instruments of
punishment to the room intended for them.

Scarcely was he alone with Lycon ere, with overflowing affection, he
pressed him to his breast.

“By all the gods of friendship!” he exclaimed, “tell me by what magic
you have accomplished this?”

Lycon now mentioned the chastisement he had given Conops, and the
demand he had made of the slaves in their master’s name under the
penalty of labor in the mines.

Simonides grasped Lycon’s hand and pressed it in both his own.

“Though a stranger,” he said, “you have fulfilled my dearest wish and
restored order to my household. May the gods bless you for it! To my
dying day I shall remember this time as a happy hour. But tell me, my
son, is there nothing you desire, nothing I can do for you?”

Lycon averted his face. Now, in this decisive moment, which he had
anticipated during so many days and nights, he could not force himself
to utter a single word.

“My son,” persisted Simonides, “there is something that weighs upon
your heart. Do not deny it. By Zeus, I want to see only happy faces
to-day. So, tell me what it is.”

Lycon sprang from the couch and threw himself at Simonides’ feet.

“Pardon, Master!” he faltered, “I am not worthy to be your guest.”

“What fire-brand are you casting into my bosom,” cried Simonides,
half-raising himself on the couch as, seized by a dark foreboding, he
gazed with dilated eyes at the kneeling figure.

Lycon turned deadly pale. Grasping a fold of Simonides’ robe, he said
in a voice almost choked with emotion:

“Master ... don’t you know me?... I am your slave Zenon.”

“Wonder-working Gods!” exclaimed Simonides doubtfully, “what am I
compelled to hear!”

“Mercy, Master, mercy!”

Simonides, uttering a fierce cry, kicked Lycon away with his foot.

“Thief,” he shouted, trembling with rage, “miserable thief, you have
stolen my money and my health, what do you seek in my house? Have you
come here to rob me a second time?... For two years I have not suffered
your name to be spoken in my hearing.... Begone, begone from my sight,
you source of my misery--you destroyer of the happiness of my life!”

And as Lycon still lingered, Simonides pointed to the door of the
peristyle, shouting imperatively: “Go, go, I command you!”

Lycon left the room with drooping head, without casting a glance
behind. He no longer had a hope.

At the same moment the curtain at the door of a side-chamber stirred
slightly, and soon after Myrtale entered and silently seated herself
on the edge of the couch at her father’s feet. She was very pale, and
through the folds of her thin dress the rapid rising and falling of her
bosom showed that she was struggling for breath. Simonides scarcely
seemed to notice her and, without moving or looking up, she waited
patiently for him to speak.

At last he broke the silence.

“Do you know who Lycon is?” he asked.

“Yes, I know.”

“And you did not tell me?”

“It was _his_ business to confess, not mine.”

“What do you advise, Myrtale?”

“To wait until to-morrow.”

“Why?”

“To let Lycon sentence himself.”

“What do you mean?”

“One of two things will happen--either he will run away during the
night and then his solicitude for himself will be greater than his
repentance, or he will stay, and then his repentance will be deep
enough to make him prefer to suffer everything rather than not obtain
your forgiveness.”

Simonides drew Myrtale towards him and stroked her pretty brown hair.

“Polycles is right,” he said, “your name ought to have been Metis[U]
and not Myrtale.... But will not Lycon take advantage of the night to
steal from me again?”

                                  [U] Prudence, ingenuity.

Myrtale made no reply, but the lines around her mouth expressed so much
wrath and scorn that Simonides in surprise looked at her more closely.
A glittering streak ran from her eyes down over her cheeks.

“So you trust him?” he asked.

“I _do_ trust him,” replied Myrtale so earnestly that her father
remained silent a long time.

“Was I too severe?” he said at last.

Myrtale did not answer.

“Remember, child, that the service he has rendered to me is nothing in
comparison to the crime he committed. If his own sin had not made me
ill, I should never have needed his assistance.”

The next morning, while Lycon was uncertain whether he ought to go to
Simonides or wait for the latter’s orders, a boy entered and said:

“Simonides asks Lycon to come to him.”

This message showed he was not to be treated as a slave.

“I will come,” Lycon hastily replied, and when the lad had gone he
fairly leaped into the air in his delight.

Before he had left the guest-room he remembered that during his
restless sleep he had had a dream. In his childhood he had often seen
a little boy, the son of poor parents, known by the name of unlucky
Knemon, because he looked so doleful that everybody slapped and pushed
him because he really seemed to invite cuffs. This boy had appeared
to him in the dream. Lycon tried to push him aside--but at the same
moment the lad was transformed and Eros himself stood smiling before
him, a garland of roses on his hair. Gazing intently at Lycon he shook
his finger at him. Lycon thought of Myrtale and murmured: “I accept the
omen.”

This dream now returned to his mind.

“Yes,” he exclaimed, “yesterday I was a doleful, unlucky Lycon; I
invited a beating--so Simonides kicked me.... Would a dog get so many
blows if it did not crouch before its master? Well, I will be braver
to-day.”

With these words he took up the two bundles he had brought with him
from Athens.

“What have you there?” asked Simonides, as he saw Lycon enter with a
package under each arm.

“Not my property, but yours,” replied Lycon.

Simonides understood that the parcels contained the ready money and
articles of value Lycon had brought with him from Athens.

“Put them there,” he said, pointing to a small cabinet.

Lycon laid the bundles down.

“Tell me,” Simonides continued, “what did you think about your position
in the city?”

“Nothing--by Zeus!” said Lycon, as though amused by his own freedom
from anxiety. “I had so much to do in becoming acquainted with people
and things in Athens, that I forgot both past and future and, when I
heard Phorion speak of your illness and your servants’ laziness and
negligence, I was so busy in selling my house and slaves to hasten to
your assistance that not until during the journey here did I find an
opportunity to think of scourges, fetters, and branding-irons--in short
of all that might await me.”

“Did it not occur to you to run away during the night?”

“Certainly,” replied Lycon; “but I said to myself: ‘Then it would have
been better not to come at all.’ So I stayed.”

“Were you not afraid of being enslaved again?”

“No,” said Lycon quietly; “you would not do that. You know that a man
who has lived for years as a free citizen cannot become a bondsman.”

“Well, by Hera!” exclaimed Simonides laughing, “you are a strange
mortal. Yesterday you were all humility, and to-day you dictate what I
am to do. Yet I like Lycon better to-day than yesterday! Take one of my
slaves with you, look about the city and return at dinner time; by that
time I shall have considered what will serve you best.”


VIII.

Accompanied by the gigantic Conops, who had volunteered his services,
Lycon went to the market. It was a little open square, one side
occupied by the council-hall, a pretty new pillared building, another
by an ancient temple of Poseidon, one of the noteworthy objects in the
city, a third by an arcade used for a shelter in rainy weather, and the
fourth by the houses of the citizens.

Though it was still early in the day, the place was crowded. Lycon
found entertainment in looking about him for, although only in
miniature, this market-place was an image of the one in Athens.

Country people, standing in booths made of interwoven green branches,
were selling fresh cheese, eggs, honey, oil, fruit, and green
vegetables; one or two potters were loudly praising their painted jars;
bakers’ wives were half concealed behind huge piles of bread and cakes,
and young flower-girls sat among their bright-hued, fragrant wares,
busily making wreaths. Freemen, as well as male and female slaves,
wandered among the booths, bargaining here and there, while youths
in light mantles, with embroidered fillets around their hair, jested
with the prettiest saleswomen. But the most successful person was a
_neurospastes_, the owner of a puppet-show, who had taken his stand on
a spot generally used for a slave-mart. Unseen himself, he pulled the
hidden strings which set the ugly puppets’ bodies in motion so that, to
the delight of the children and their pedagogues, the figures made the
most ridiculous gestures.

Lycon had stopped a moment to look at the busy puppets and the laughing
children, when a strange, deafening noise was suddenly heard.

It seemed as though a countless number of chains were falling with
a prolonged, rattling clash into a measureless depth, yet it was
impossible to tell whence the sound came. It filled the earth and
the air, and withal was so mighty, so startling, that all jest, all
conversation ceased. Even the animals were roused from their usual
repose, and the swallows which had been darting and twittering about
the market-place and up and down the long Street of the Bakers,
suddenly gathered into flocks and soared screaming into the air as if
trying to escape some danger.

No one remembered having heard anything like it; no one knew what it
was. But, from the people who came thronging up, it was soon learned
that the noise had been just as loud inside the most closely shut rooms
in the houses as in the open market-place and just as near and distinct
in each remote part of the city, nay even on the ships in the port. The
crews of the vessels declared that the sound came from the water.

Only one old smith, a man almost a hundred years of age, seemed to
suspect the cause. He shook his head anxiously, but would not speak
freely. “I may be wrong,” he said, “but take my advice. Keep out of the
houses--that will perhaps save many a life.”

Lycon felt as though some misfortune was impending. Accompanied by
Conops, without knowing where he was going, he had walked down to the
harbor, where he had not been since his return to the city. The view
here offered to his gaze was so magnificent and beautiful that it made
the same impression as if he were beholding it for the first time. Ere
long he felt his mind relieved and his former light-heartedness return.

“What should happen?” he said to himself. “Can a summer day be clearer
or brighter than this?”

The sun rode high in the heavens. Not a cloud was visible far or near,
and not a breath of air was stirring. About thirty boats and small
vessels were lying at a quay built of large limestone-blocks--the ones
whose masts were seen from the Street of the Bakers. On the right the
gaze rested upon the highest part of the city, above which rose the
distant mountains of Pherae; at the left the smiling, fertile coast
extended almost as far as the eye could reach, towering upward into a
spur of Pelion. Over the green water of the bay, that glittered like
a mirror, fishing boats and pleasure craft glided past each other and
beyond, like a broad dark-blue stripe, appeared the Pagasaean Gulf,
which melted into the open sea, flashing like gold in the sunshine.
On the opposite side of the gulf rose the promontory of Pyrrha, while
through the mists of distance gleamed the coast-cities, and behind them
the ridge of the Othrys mountains, over which led the road to Locris,
Bœotia, and Attica.

Lycon stopped at the first of the little vessels, whose owner, an old
sailor named Dorion, he had formerly known. The sight of this man
vividly brought to mind what strangely different fates the same years
may bring. While he himself had been in Athens, seeing and hearing so
many new things that his memory could scarcely retain them, Dorion
had daily sailed to and fro across the same corner of the bay to get
and sell sand. Yet he seemed content, and when Lycon entered into
conversation with him he told him with joyous satisfaction that his
boat was new, that his sons had built it, and that it was large enough
for him to make longer voyages.

“But,” cried Dorion, suddenly interrupting himself and springing into
the bow, “look, look, how the sea is falling! Holy Dioscuri! What is
happening before our eyes?... I never saw the water run out so fast.”

“It is the second marvel to-day,” said Lycon. “What can it mean?”

Even while they were speaking the boat and all the other small vessels
sank lower and lower, so that the lime-stone quay seemed to tower
far above them. Confused shouts and shrieks echoed from one craft to
another and a moment after the inner bay, except for a few pools of
water, lay as dry as a heath. Where the glittering surface of the waves
had just extended, nothing was now seen save the greyish sand overgrown
here and there with large and small patches of sea-weed. The little
vessels which a short time before were flitting about far out on the
water, now lay on dry ground, keeling over upon one side, and their
crews were seen like small black dots standing around them uncertain
what to do.

Conops, who had watched what was occurring with less indifference and
dullness than usual, now made an apt remark.

“If the bay had been a drinking cup,” he said, “and there was an
invisible mouth reaching from one shore to the other, the water could
not have been drained quicker--in five, six long swallows.”

“What!” cried Dorion suddenly, “if I see aright, the water is
returning.”

Lycon shaded his eyes with his hand and looked out towards the bay.
The mass of water was moving across the cove like a rampart nine or
ten ells high, the crest and bottom white with foam, and at a velocity
greater than that of a man running at full speed. He saw the billow
roll under the craft resting on the ground, raise them aloft, and sweep
them onward in its own mad course.

Followed by Conops, he leaped into Dorion’s boat, shouting at the top
of his voice to the people in the other vessels:

“Loose the boats from the quay!... or the water will fill them and
drown us all.”

These words ran from mouth to mouth.

Then a thundering roar echoed from the approaching mass of water, it
buried the quay in snowy foam, raised one boat after another,--not
without partially filling them--and bore them with furious speed up the
Street of the Bakers, which lay straight before the landing-place.

Lycon, Dorion, and Conops had succeeded, with the help of oars and
poles, in keeping their craft clear of trees and houses. As if in a
dream they heard wild cries of terror and saw the two buildings nearest
the harbor sink under the force of the water, while some of the small
vessels were stranded on the fallen walls and pillars.

Soon after another surge came rolling in and, amid fresh shrieks from
drowning men, swept the boats farther on into the middle of the long
street. Lycon saw with delight that Simonides’ house stood uninjured,
though the water was more than half way over the door.

Almost at the same moment human figures were seen on the roofs of the
nearest houses, and they heard the shrieks and wails of women, which
reminded Lycon of the lamentations daily resounding during the Adonis
festival in Athens. But it was easy to perceive that this was a more
serious matter for, with the shrieks mingled the shouts of numerous men
calling, each from his own side of the street, to the boats for aid.

Lycon’s heart swelled with a humanity as warm as the greatness of the
peril surrounding him. Springing to the stern he shouted to the men in
the nearest boats:

“Friends! let us thank the gods for our own deliverance by saving as
many of these unfortunates as possible. Let nine or ten of the boats
row about in the next street. There is enough for us all to do until
evening, though there seems to be only one street besides this under
water.”

“The Athenian is right,” replied a voice from another vessel. “Let us
do what we can for the city. Have we not all acquaintances and friends
here?”

Lycon and Dorion now rowed the boat to Simonides’ house. There was
only one person to be seen on the roof--Paegnion.

“Where are Simonides and his daughter?” asked Lycon.

“On the roof of the women’s apartment.”

“And where are the slaves?” enquired Conops.

“On the stable.”

Lycon poled the boat between the buildings. Suddenly it was shaken from
stem to stern by a strange, mysterious shock, which congealed the blood
in Lycon’s veins. This shock was repeated, though the boat was floating
in water three ells deep and had not run against anything.

At the same moment a cry of horror ran from roof to roof.

“_Seiei, seiei!_ The earth is shaking, it’s an earthquake.”

Lycon now understood that the day’s prodigies, the noise and the flood,
were connected with what was occurring.

Though neither of the shocks had lasted longer than the short time
required for a man to raise his arms and let them fall again, the
result was terrible; two of the houses in the street sank crashing
into the water with the hapless people on their roofs. Fortunately
the ruins formed a heap large enough to enable most of the inmates to
keep themselves above the tide until the boats could come to their
assistance.

Lycon perceived that there was no time to lose. Anxiously as his
own heart throbbed, he encouraged Dorion and Conops. They took off
Paegnion, though not without difficulty and, uniting their strength,
urged the boat towards the women’s apartment.

But between the buildings the dark, muddy water moved in a powerful
stream and, as Dorion unluckily broke his oar, the boat was swept
with irresistible force past the corner of the women’s apartment out
into the garden. Here it struck against the tops of some bushes and
suddenly struck fast between the trunks of two trees concealed at the
bottom by the water and at the top by leaves. It required a long time
and much exertion to release it from this position, and the task was
not accomplished until after the water had reached a level in the
flooded streets, so that the current was less swift. When they at last
succeeded in getting back to the women’s apartment, they found it
impossible to save Simonides and his daughter without the help of a
ladder.

Lycon was beginning to get impatient over these delays, for the day was
waning.

Conops knew that there ought to be a ladder in the stable, but when
the boat reached the place it had disappeared. After some search it
was found where they least expected to discover it. A rude two-wheeled
harvest cart had caught on a marble monument by the side of the house,
and the pole of this cart had accidentally run between the rounds of
the ladder and held it fast.

It was not without fresh difficulties that they succeeded in raising
the ladder to the roof of the women’s apartment; and it was high
time, for the stars were beginning to twinkle in the sky. Lycon found
Simonides and Myrtale in a very exhausted condition; the clothing of
both was drenched with water, and they had spent the whole afternoon
in dread lest the house should yield to the pressure of the flood and
sink beneath it. The overseer Carion, who had helped Myrtale carry her
father up the stairs, had vainly sought to obtain dry garments; nothing
could be found in the little rooms under the roof.

Simonides was shaking so violently with a feverish chill that his teeth
chattered; his eyes were closed and he muttered now and then a few
unintelligible words; but when Lycon carried him down to the boat he
pressed his hand. When Lycon turned to bring Myrtale she was already
standing by her father’s side. Light and agile as the pretty little
creature which shades itself with its tail,[V] she had sprung into the
boat unaided.

                                  [V] Squirrel.

Fortunately the craft was a large one, for there were many to save
and, much as Lycon hastened the work of rescuing the slaves and their
children from the stable-roof, by the time all had embarked night had
closed in, so that it was difficult to find the way out between the
buildings.


IX.

It was a strange voyage, which none of the occupants of the boat ever
forgot. The Street of the Bakers, the largest and finest street in the
city, usually so full of life, this evening, for the first time within
the memory of man, neither resounded with loud conversations from door
to door, nor the merry songs of young men echoing from the wine-shops;
silence reigned in harmony with the ruin that everywhere met the eye.
The rippling and gurgling of the water, as well as the light strokes
of the oars and the murmured words of the boatmen when two craft met,
were the only sounds that interrupted the gloomy stillness. The houses
were outlined in dark masses against the sky; but whenever an opening
between them was reached columns of smoke and blazing flames were seen
in the distance, which shed a murky light on the angles of the houses,
the faces in the boats, and the smallest ripple upon the surface of the
water. Ever and anon a shower of sparks fell hissing into the waves,
and sometimes the cool evening breeze swept a veil of smoke over the
street, bringing with it a suffocating smell of fire.

At the edge of the flood the people stood in little groups talking
together. From them it was learned that some of the houses in the
higher part of the city had also fallen. There had been fire on their
hearths, the flames had caught the ruins, and it was these buildings
which were now burning.

At the house of Polycles the wine-dealer, where Lycon, by Myrtale’s
request, took her father, an unusual bustle prevailed. Lanterns were
hung on slender poles in front of the house, and at a number of small
tables sat part of the citizens, discussing over a goblet of wine all
that had happened on this eventful day.

At the sight of Lycon, who, with the closely-veiled Myrtale, was
supporting Simonides, an eager murmur arose; some rose to get a better
view; others pointed to him as though saying: “That’s he!” and from one
table to another the question ran in low tones:

“Is that the Athenian?”

“The one who saved the sailors by unfastening the boats?”

“And who helped the citizens in the flooded streets?”

“Who knows him?--Who can tell whether it’s he?”

The temptation was too strong for Conops; he forgot to ask whether he
might speak.

“I can tell you that!” he replied, not without a touch of pride; “he’s
my master’s guest, and I’ve been with him all day, first at market and
then in the boat--he and no other is Lycon the Athenian.”

A universal shout of applause rang out; several women of light repute,
who were passing, flung him kisses, and Polycles, the owner of the
house, grasped his hand, saying:

“If you are the Lycon of whom everybody is talking, you are a man of
honor to whom the city owes more than a new robe.”

Then, with the most cordial sympathy, Polycles welcomed the sick
Simonides and his daughter, and learning from the latter’s lips that
they had spent the afternoon in terror lest the house should fall and
bury them in the water, he said:

“I won’t take you to my old stone mansion--there might be another
shock of earthquake--but I have in my garden a good new wooden barn,
where you can rest in safety and be supplied by my old housekeeper
with everything necessary. The slaves shall be cared for as well as
possible.” And, as he took Simonides’ arm out of Lycon’s to guide him
and Myrtale to their temporary abode, he called to one of the boys who
were hurrying about waiting on the guests and ordered him to bring
Lycon wine, barley bread, cheese, and fruit.

While the latter was hurriedly eating the meal before returning to
Dorian’s boat, Polycles came back from the garden and Lycon hastened to
say:

“I see that many of the citizens have assembled here. Could not some
of the younger ones relieve one another in guarding the burned houses,
that no one in the absence of the master and the darkness of the night,
may get in and take what still remains. A watch will be kept from the
boats upon the houses in the flooded streets.”

Instead of answering, Polycles turned to the people seated at the
tables and called in a loud voice:

“Citizens, this stranger puts us to shame. He seems to think more and
take wiser care of our city than we who were born and have spent our
lives here. Do you know what he proposes?”

Polycles had scarcely repeated Lycon’s advice ere twelve or fourteen
young men came forward, ready for the required service. Soon after they
were divided into three parties, the first of which, supplied with a
sack of Chian wine and accompanied by some slaves, went to the scene of
the fire.

“My house is yours,” said Polycles to Lycon, “come here when there is
nothing more to be saved. You will need rest and sleep if the night is
quiet.”

Before Lycon, followed by Conops, again entered the boat, he lighted
with the help of some of the citizens a large pile of wood on the
edge of the flood, so that the vessels might be provided with torches
whenever they brought anything they had rescued ashore. Then an
agreement was made between the captains of the boats about sharing the
work. Half a score of the craft were stationed in each street, five
on a side. The rest were to help wherever assistance was most needed
and, as ladders had been found necessary in many instances, most of the
boats were provided with them.

When everything was arranged in this way, the work of rescue
progressed more rapidly than Lycon had expected, and when at last no
voice called for aid, the twenty boats had saved the owners of more
than twenty houses, besides a large number of slaves.

Lycon, attended by Conops, now hurried back to Polycles’ house. The
wine-dealer came to meet him with a troubled face and told him that
Simonides was dangerously ill. The cold and fright he had endured had
been too severe a trial for him.

As Lycon entered the wooden barn where Simonides and his daughter were
lodged, his first glance sought the sick man. The latter’s eyes were
open, but stared fixedly into vacancy, and his thin hands fumbled to
and fro over the coverlids with a convulsive twitching. Lycon wished to
approach, but Polycles held him back.

On the opposite side of the couch sat a little man of grave and
dignified bearing, dressed in a white robe. Lycon instantly saw that
this was the physician; for ever and anon he took the sick man’s hand
to judge of his condition by the pulse, and on a little table close
beside him lay his pouch of medicines and the instruments used in his
profession. At the foot of the bed stood the overseer, Carion, with
clasped hands and eyes fixed on his suffering master.

The preparations hastily made for the latter’s comfort showed that
the household was a wealthy one. Milesian carpets were hung in a
semi-circle around the couch to shut out every draught of air, and
beneath its ivory feet Babylonian stuffs had been spread to prevent any
chill from the stone floor.

The twitching of the sick man’s hands gradually ceased. The physician
rose softly and went to Polycles.

“Simonides is better,” he said. “But if you have anything important to
discuss with him, do not delay. His voice will soon become thick and
unintelligible.”

“Do you think his death is near?”

“If it is the will of the gods, he may live a day or more; but he will
never rise from this bed.”

Soon after, the restless movements of the patient’s hands ceased and
they fell feebly on the coverlid. Raising his head with difficulty he
looked around him.

“Where is Myrtale?” was his first question.

“She is preparing a decoction the doctor ordered,” replied the
wine-dealer.

“And Lycon?”

“Here,” said Polycles, beckoning to Lycon to approach the bed.

“Is it true,” asked Simonides, “that you have saved the citizens in the
flooded streets, besides numerous slaves?”

“Not my boat only, all the small craft.”

“It’s the same thing,” said Simonides with a faint smile, “you will now
and in the future be regarded as one of the benefactors of the city,
a sort of demi-god--and as it is not seemly for a demi-god to be a
bondsman, I shall give you your liberty. Polycles, who knows everything
that concerns you, has added the necessary codicil to my last will,
which he and the physician have signed as witnesses.”

Lycon knelt beside the couch, clasped Simonides’ hand, and covered it
with kisses. “I thank you,” he faltered, overwhelmed by emotion. “You
have fulfilled my dearest wish. I have obtained my freedom--and this
time I did not steal it.”

Soon after the curtain at the door was pushed aside and Myrtale
entered, followed by the old housekeeper. She held a glass cup in her
hands and seemed to have eyes only for her sick father. The physician
poured a few drops from a little flask into the smoking potion, and
Simonides drank a few mouthfuls. “How it revives me!” he said, while
Myrtale was straightening the embroidered pillows under his head and
shoulders. “Are those lamps which shine so? It seems as though I saw
the sun in the midst of the night.”

“Do you feel better, old friend?” asked Polycles.

A glimmer of his former mirthful spirit sparkled in Simonides’ small
brown eyes.

“That fellow yonder,” he whispered, pointing to the physician, “has
given me too many drops. He didn’t make me well, but drunk.”

Then, with an unexpectedly sudden movement, he seized Myrtale’s arm.
His mouth and chin projected so that he was almost unrecognizable, and
a corpse-like hue overspread his face as swiftly as though an unseen
hand had caused it by gliding lightly over it.

“He is dying! he is dying!” cried Myrtale and, sobbing passionately,
she flung herself upon her father’s breast.


X.

A large clay jar filled with water, placed outside the door of
Polycles’ dwelling, announced the next morning, to all who passed,
that the mansion was a house of mourning. While the female slaves were
perfuming and dressing the dead man, Polycles was talking with Myrtale
about Simonides’ last will.

Myrtale had no brother, but was a so-called inheriting daughter.[W] As
there was no kinsman whom she could wed and endow with her fortune,
Simonides had bequeathed his whole property, amounting to twenty
talents, to his friend Polycles on condition that he should marry
Myrtale. If Polycles was not willing to do this, he was to inherit only
two talents and then use his best judgment in choosing a husband for
the young girl who, in such a case, was to keep all the rest of the
fortune as a dowry.

                                  [W] In Athens, daughters inherited
                                      only in default of male heirs.

Much as Myrtale was absorbed in her grief, she felt the importance
of the arrangements which would decide her fate. So it was a great
relief to her when Polycles said that he was too old to take a young
wife and, moreover, had been warned in a dream against marrying again.
One night in his sleep he had seen his house decked with garlands as
though for a bridal; but when he was leading the bride home the green
wreath vanished and, in its place above the door, hung an oil-jar,
twined with a blue ribbon, as though for an offering at a tomb. The
interpreter of dreams being consulted had said that if Polycles married
he would die on his wedding day.

Polycles then asked the young girl to consider him a second father,
and added that he would not act against her wishes in the choice of a
bridegroom.

During the day another shock of earthquake was felt, and though it
did no damage except to open cracks in the ancient walls of the city,
universal terror was aroused. Some fled to the market-place, and
others, fearing another flood, to the nearest heights. This dread,
however, proved groundless. On the contrary, the water in the inundated
streets began to fall so rapidly that the boats were obliged to follow
it in haste, and by noon they were again lying at their usual place,
moored to the lime-stone quay, though this quay no longer rose so far
above the surface of the tide and the whole of the old shore, with its
pebbles, sea-weed, and mussel-shells, remained under the waves.

Simonides’ funeral was conducted as beseemed a wealthy family. The
corpse, crowned with myrtle and resting on embroidered pillows, was
displayed upon a couch, where it was seen during the day by a throng of
citizens, old and young, rich and poor, some of the latter clad in grey
or black clothes with closely cut hair, asserting by this mourning garb
a distant relationship.

On the day of the funeral obsequies hundreds of persons assembled
outside the house and, before the sun rose, the funeral procession
started amid the mournful notes of Carian flutes, alternating with
a chorus of men’s voices. This choir was followed by the dead man’s
friends and acquaintances, numbering more than half the citizens of the
place. Then came the bier, an ivory bed, borne by friends and freedmen,
among them Lycon, to whom many hands pointed and many lips mentioned as
the “preserver of the city, the quick-witted Athenian.” On the ivory
couch lay the dead man, robed in white and covered with so many wreaths
and blue and red sacrifice ribbons, that the magnificent purple carpet
in which he was wrapped could scarcely be seen. By the side of the bier
walked slaves bearing oil jars, boxes of ointment, and other articles
belonging to the funeral rites. Then came a few elderly kinswomen, for
Myrtale was too young to follow the corpse. The train was closed by
a few sacrifice attendants in short parti-colored mantles and light
half boots, who bore on their heads small offering-tables covered with
offerings of the same kind as those the slaves carried beside the bier.

At the farthest end of Polycles’ garden the funeral train stopped on
a height which afforded a view of the city, harbor, bay, and country
beyond. This had always been Simonides’ favorite spot, and he had often
expressed a desire to be laid to rest here.

At the foot of the hill was seen the huge funeral pyre, a heap of logs
filled with combustible materials. After it had been adorned with the
jars, vases, and dishes brought, and the bier lifted upon it, it was
lighted by torches. Amid the sobs and wails of the spectators, the
flames flared high into the air and in an instant the smoke and red
blaze enveloped the bier, concealing it from every eye. Many an oil
jar, many a box of ointment was now flung upon the fire as a last token
of affection and, when it was once more possible to see the pyre, the
bier had crumbled into a dark, shapeless mass, from which rose a column
of black smoke.

The majority of the procession returned to Polycles’ house and there,
as the dead man’s guests, partook of a festal banquet. Some few, among
them Lycon, remained until the ashes were collected and the bones
committed to the bosom of the earth.

Three days after the first, and nine days after the second offering to
the dead was brought to the grave. About a week later a marble column
was erected upon it, crowned with a capital made of colored acanthus
leaves. The thirtieth day after the funeral obsequies Myrtale twined
the memorial column with blue and red sacrifice ribbons from which hung
small oil jars, after which she poured milk, honey, spring-water, and
mixed wine on the ground as a sacrifice to the rich man’s shade, taking
careful heed to throw each one of the vessels she had used over her
shoulder, so that they were shattered, for none of the articles which
had served at a funeral ceremonial could be used by the living.

With this offering the time of mourning ended.


XI.

A few days later Polycles and Myrtale visited Simonides’ country-house
to look after a vineyard whose fruit, in Polycles’ opinion, was the
best in Thessaly. When they returned home, accompanied by a male and
female slave, evening was approaching. The sun was sinking behind some
hills, and the atmosphere glowed with orange and crimson hues. The
road they were following was only marked by a few deep wheel tracks
in the grass; on the right was a clump of gnarled olive trees, whose
foliage as usual reflected the color of the sky, so that now in the
sunset radiance they seemed covered with a golden veil; on the left
a brook flowed between hedges of flowering laurel. A light mist was
rising from the meadows, and the whole air was filled with the spicy
odor of blossoms. Ever and anon a faint twitter echoed from the bushes;
sometimes a bee, apparently bewildered and drowsy, buzzed upward from
the grass at their feet, and through the profound stillness of the
country a dog’s bark was heard in the distance.

There was something in the peacefulness of the evening which invited
familiar conversation. Polycles took Myrtale’s hand.

“Dear child,” he said. “It is time to think of your affairs.”

“What do you mean, Polycles?”

“I am wondering whether among the youths of the city, whom you must
have seen on festival days, there is not one you would like for a
husband.”

Myrtale blushed faintly, but shook her head.

“There is Theagenes, the son of Straton, the dyer. True, he is rather
stout for a young man, but he is clever, talks well, and has a fortune
at least as large as your own.”

Myrtale made no reply; but struck, with the tassel on the corner of her
upper robe, the head of a dandelion growing by the roadside, so that
its white down flew in every direction.

Polycles understood that the proposed suitor was excluded from the list.

“There is Eumolpus, son of Socles the rope-maker!” he continued. “He is
slender, well-formed, and handsome. True, he is on intimate terms with
a hetaira, but after marriage....”

Myrtale made no answer in words; but the tassel was put in motion with
the same result as before.

“There is also,” added Polycles, “young Nicias, your neighbor’s son.
I don’t deny that since his visit to Athens he has become a dandy;
but....”

This was too much for Myrtale; she forgot the reserve required of a
young girl and wrathfully exclaimed:

“The coxcomb!”

“But is there no one?”

Myrtale silently lowered her eyes; then, to change the conversation,
said:

“How is the house in the Street of the Bakers? Has it been much damaged
by the flood and the earthquake?”

“Only one of the pillars in the peristyle was twisted awry; but the
damage has been repaired and, so far as your home is concerned, you can
have the wedding there any day.”

As they approached the city Myrtale became more and more thoughtful.
Suddenly she sighed, drew her hand from her companion’s clasp, and
remarked:

“It’s a pity that Lycon is a slave!” Then, as if fearing she had said
too much, she hastened to add: “Don’t you think so, too?”

Polycles looked keenly at her and, in spite of the dusk of evening, he
noticed that her cheeks were flushed.

“You are mistaken, child,” he replied. “Lycon is no slave. Your father
freed him on the day of his death.”

“And I knew nothing about it?”

“You were standing at the hearth, preparing the decoction the physician
had ordered.”

“My dear father!” exclaimed Myrtale, deeply moved, kissing her fingers
as if she had seen the dead man alive before her.

“But that doesn’t settle everything,” said Polycles gravely. “In Athens
Lycon is a spurious citizen and subject to the penalty of the law. He
would be made a slave there.”

Myrtale started.

“Do what you can for him,” she said hurriedly, clasping Polycles’ hand
in both her own.

“That is no easy matter,” replied Polycles, who found a secret
satisfaction in being entreated to do what he himself intended. “It’s
no easy matter, I tell you.”

“You _can_ free him, if you _wish_. Remember what he has done for the
city. Besides, did he not save my father’s life and mine?”

“I’ll think of it,” said Polycles.

“No, no, you must promise me!” exclaimed Myrtale. “Save him from the
punishment of the law, and I will be a daughter to you!” And raising
herself on tiptoe, she flung her arms around Polycles’ neck and kissed
him on the cheek.

Polycles felt the soft pressure of Myrtale’s youthful figure and, when
he had taken leave of her at the door of the women’s apartment in his
house, he stood still, absorbed in thought.

“By Aphrodite!” he cried, “the girl is bewitching, and I am not so
old....”

But at the same instant he beheld, as he had done in his dream,
the oil-jar suspended by a blue ribbon over the door of his house.
He pressed his hands upon his eyes and, when he entered his lonely
sleeping-room, he said, sighing:

“Polycles, you are a greater simpleton than I had supposed.”


XII.

The next morning the public criers summoned the citizens to a popular
assembly, and soon after the streets were filled with young and old,
rich and poor, who, amid hubbub, shrieks, and laughter, flocked towards
the theatre, the place where popular assemblies were usually held in
the smaller cities.

Thessaly, renowned for its beautiful river valley, its fine horses,
and its powerful sorceresses, was at that time under the sole rule
of Alexander of Pherae--a man who treated his subjects so harshly
that he ordered some to be buried alive and had others dressed in
bear-skins and torn to pieces by dogs. Like all tyrants, he lived in
perpetual fear. He had so little faith in his own body guard that he
had himself watched by a dog; he spent the night in the upper loft of
his stately palace, that he might be able to draw the ladder up after
him. The family to which he belonged had raised themselves from Tagoi,
chiefs elected by the people, to sovereigns, and he himself, like his
predecessor, had paved his way to power by murder.

But heavily as Alexander’s yoke rested upon the city of Pherae, it was
comparatively little felt in Methone, though the latter was scarcely a
day’s journey away. When the little city had sent its quota of men to
the army and paid its taxes, the citizens had full liberty to attend to
their own affairs, while the descendants of the original inhabitants
of the country, as slaves, penestae, performed all the field work and
drudgery. Whoever did not know better might have easily believed that
Methone was a free state.

On the way to the place of assembly, Polycles followed the least
frequented streets. Suddenly he signed to the slaves who accompanied
him to keep back and, throwing his arm over Lycon’s shoulder, he said
to him:

“My friend, I have important matters to discuss with you to-day! You
know that Simonides, in his last will, left me his fortune and his
daughter. But, as I am too old to marry a young wife, I want to ask if
you are willing to take the girl with a dowry of eighteen talents?”

Lycon stopped, but did not utter a word in reply. If the rude statue
of Poseidon in front of the temple of the god had suddenly descended
from its pedestal and come towards him, he could not have been more
speechless with bewilderment.

“That this may be done,” Polycles continued smiling, “I will adopt you
as a son and make you my heir. True, I should have preferred a suitor
who was the girl’s equal in birth, but as she seems to incline to you,
I will submit to her wish.”

Lycon drew a long breath, and passed his huge hand over his face
several times.

“I thank you, Polycles,” he said at last, “I thank you from my heart!
But how is this to be? I am a freedman, it is true; but you forget....”

“I forget nothing,” answered Polycles. “But one thing you must
know--the citizens must hear the whole story ... your condition of
slave, your sin, and the punishment whose mark you bear. In a little
place like Methone nothing can be hidden, so it is better to confess
everything yourself rather than have it discovered by others. Besides,
matters relating to inheritance, marriage, and other kindred affairs
are often discussed in our popular assemblies. Here, where all the
citizens know each other, no distinction is made between public and
private business.”

In front of the theatre the city police were busily engaged in urging
on the groups of gossiping, laughing citizens by threatening to mark
them with ropes covered with red paint. These ropes left ugly stains on
mantles, and the people therefore tried to avoid them.

But the largest crowd outside of the theatre was not disturbed by the
police. It consisted of slaves waiting for the close of the assembly to
attend their masters to the market, baths, or gymnasium. These slaves
were no less merry than the citizens. Their attention was specially
directed to the flat roofs of the nearest houses, where a group of
young slave-girls were busily sunning rugs and cushions, to get an
opportunity to see the throngs of men and be seen by them. Signs, not
always the most seemly, were sometimes exchanged between the square
before the theatre and the roofs.

At the entrance the recording clerk objected to admitting Lycon; but
Polycles patted him on the shoulder, saying: “If this man isn’t a
citizen of Methone, he will soon become one. Let him go in.”

The interior of the theatre presented a deep, semi-circular recess,
surrounded by a mound of earth slanting upward, covered with stone
benches, and supported by a thick encircling wall. About the center of
the place, between the seats rising around, stood the altar, where, at
the moment Polycles and Lycon entered, a priest in a long white robe,
with a garland on his hair, was in the act of offering the customary
sacrifice of purification. When this short ceremony was over the chief
magistrate took his seat and a struggle, half jest, half earnest,
followed, for all wanted places in the front row where they could hear
best.

The chief magistrate opened the meeting by relating the misfortunes
which had recently overwhelmed the place. When he spoke of the
efficient service rendered by the boats during the flood, a smith rose
in the crowd and in a deep voice shouted:

“Let us not forget the brave Athenian, Lycon. But for him many of us
would have perished. It is he who saved us by first unmooring the
boats.”

“Yes, yes, the smith is right!” responded many voices, with an
earnestness which showed that the speakers themselves had been among
the number of those rescued.

The dead and missing had not even one word of remembrance. Human life
was of little value in those days. On the other hand, the magistrate
did not forget to mention that the lands of the city had suffered very
little damage, almost all of them having been too high to be reached
by the flood. The shocks of earthquake had caused warm springs, which
possibly possessed healing powers, to bubble up in many places, and in
that case they might become a source of great wealth to the city and
perhaps render it as much frequented as Aedepsus in Eubœa.

As exaggerated rumors of the injury sustained by the city had been in
circulation, this report was received with joy, and the assembly was
in the best humor when a tall, thin man, with hollow cheeks and a long
beard, stepped forward saying:

“I am a friend of the simple, frugal customs of our ancestors.”

“That’s why you go ragged and shoeless,” shouted a youthful voice from
one of the nearest passages between the seats.

The speaker was a little disconcerted, but recovered his composure.

“I do not favor the new custom of bestowing on any one who does the
place a trifling service the high-sounding title of benefactor of the
city, and overwhelming him with rewards and marks of distinction. If
we keep on so there will soon be as many benefactors as citizens; one
after another is not only released from paying taxes, but granted money
to boot, while the really useful citizens, the instructors of youth and
the people....”

“Who is that speaking?” asked a white-bearded old man on the front row
of seats, holding his hand to his ear to catch the answer:

“That is the orator, Philopator,” replied the person addressed, with a
scornful emphasis on the word “orator.”

“He’s also called the man with the mustard face,” added another.

As these explanations were given to a deaf man, Philopator could not
avoid hearing them. Perceiving that the current of feeling was against
him, he continued more rapidly with visible irresolution.

“The gods forbid that I should envy anybody. No one can feel a deeper
reverence for actual services, deeds truly great, exploits really
noble. But, my friends, is there anything great in saving a few people
in a boat? That requires neither the sage’s sagacity, the warrior’s
courage, nor the sacrifice of self. It is a thing any one can do, the
ignorant as well as the expert.”

“Then you ought to have done it, Philopator,” shouted the smith’s deep
voice, and as there was something in Philopator’s appearance that
showed he had never handled an oar, the interruption caused immoderate
laughter.

Philopator wiped the perspiration from his brow.

“I have never boasted of seamanship,” he replied.

The words were received with a fresh outbreak of mirth.

“You have talked enough!” cried a voice.

“We know what you want to say!” shouted a second.

“Back to your seat!” added a third.

Then, as the luckless orator still remained standing, a terrible tumult
arose and at the same time deafening shouts burst like a gust of wind
or a sudden tempest over the assembly.

The wretched Philopator, at whom hundreds of throats were yelling,
became fairly frantic. He turned deadly pale, tore his hair, and ran to
and fro in the level space as though out of his senses. As his voice
would have been lost amid the shouts, he threw himself humbly on his
knees and extended his arms towards the benches from which echoed the
most furious cries. At last the storm subsided and the smith’s deep
voice said:

“Go back to your seat, Philopator, that’s the best thing to do.”

The orator followed the good advice and, trembling from head to foot,
slunk back to his place, where he cowered making himself as small as
possible.

Polycles signed to Lycon to seat himself behind the bema, where he was
concealed from every one; then he himself stepped forward, apparently
as calm as when moving among the guests in front of his house.

“Fellow citizens,” he said, “I am no professional orator like
Philopator yonder, but perhaps you will listen to me, since I wish to
speak to you of a man who came to us in an evil time and who, within a
few days, has become dear to the whole city.”

“Speak, speak!” shouted numerous voices.

“Much evil and much good can be told of him. I will begin with the
evil.... You think Lycon is an Athenian--he is not. You think Lycon is
a citizen--he is not that either. He is a freedman, who a little more
than a month ago was a slave.”

This statement was followed by silence so profound that no one would
have believed himself to be in the same place and among the same men
who a short time before were yelling at Philopator. Amid the breathless
expectation of the throng, external surroundings suddenly seemed like
a revelation from another world. The wind was heard sighing through
the tree-tops and the swallows twittering in the air. Many on the back
seats rose and held their hands behind their ears, that they might not
lose a single word.

Polycles did not spare Lycon, but told the people that his dead friend
Simonides a few years before had bought a young slave named Zenon, who,
after being branded for theft, had fled to Poseidon’s altar. For a long
time Zenon had served his new master well; but when he saw a man from
Hypata pay Simonides a large sum of money, he ran away with it during
the night.

A movement passed through the assembly, one man muttered to another.
Polycles foresaw a fresh storm.

“Friends and fellow citizens,” he said in a jesting tone; “we know each
other, so I shall not ask you to keep quiet. On the contrary, I will
beg you to chatter and yell to your hearts’ content, in order to have
it over the sooner.”

Some of the men laughed; but most were already too angry to allow
themselves to be softened by a jest.

“A branded slave!” cried some.

“And we have been permitted to do him honor!”

“Why did no one tell us?”

“Let us drive this Zenon out of the city!”

“We’ll stone him!”

“Truly a fine benefactor to add to the rest of the city’s benefactors!”
shouted Philopator. But those who sat nearest seized his robe and
forced him back into his seat. As he made wild gestures with his arms
and assumed the air of a deeply injured man, the smith turned towards
him.

“Philopator!”

He merely uttered the man’s name, but in precisely the same tone as if
he had been a dog. Philopator made no reply, but shrunk into as small a
space in his corner as possible.

At the sight of this submission, which could only be explained by a
thorough respect for the smith’s brawny fists, a noisy expression of
mirth ran through the assembly.

Polycles continued:

“I will now speak of Lycon’s good qualities,” and he related how
the latter had been respected as a citizen and popular with all in
Athens. “We Methonians,” he added, “have cause to be proud that an
insignificant slave from this city was found worthy to associate with
the leading men in Athens, so that he was daily seen arm in arm with
the rich Timotheus, son of Conon.”

Polycles knew his fellow citizens, the Methonians. If anything could
flatter their pride, it would be to have one of their own number, and a
poor slave into the bargain, win favor and affection in Athens.

“Even if the man did once take what belonged to others,” observed a
friendly philosopher, “there may be some good in him.”

“Yes, Lycon is really a good man,” replied Polycles, and now related
how the latter, who was living so prosperously in Athens, had no sooner
heard of Simonides’ illness and the slaves’ neglect than he sold
everything he possessed and came to Methone to restore order in the
household and obtain his master’s forgiveness.

“That was a noble act! Yes, by Zeus, a noble act!” shouted many voices.

Polycles then spoke of the flood and, by a clever inspiration,
described how Philopator, who thought it was so easy to save a few
people in a boat, would have behaved. At sight of the gigantic billow
that rolled in, threatening to sweep everything away, he would surely
have been no less disconcerted than at the storm which had recently
burst upon him in the assembly. He would have fled at full speed up
the street, but would have been overtaken by the water and met his
death with the men in the boats. But how had Lycon behaved? Instead
of flying before the flood, he had jumped into the nearest boat and,
instead of thinking solely of himself, in the midst of the peril had
remembered others and warned the men in the rest of the boats. “Had it
not been for Lycon,” said Polycles, raising his voice, “not only would
thirty men in the boats have perished, but a number of free citizens,
as well as slaves, would have lost their lives in the flooded streets.
For, on that day of misfortune, Lycon, with perhaps a score of boats,
saved from about twenty flooded houses eighty citizens, men, women and
children, besides more than two hundred and seventy slaves. So great is
the number of those who owe their lives to Lycon.”

A deafening tumult of joy arose, a storm of applause, and it was long
ere Polycles could again be heard.

“I think, therefore,” he added, “that Lycon has some claim--even if
Philopator does not consider it--to deserve the name of benefactor of
the city.”

Just at that moment a voice from one of the back seats shouted: “Where
is Lycon? We want to see him.”

The cry was instantly taken up by all, and the whole theatre echoed
with the call: “Where is Lycon?”

“It seems to me,” said Polycles, smiling, “that the very men who a
short time ago wanted to drive Lycon out of the city and stone him, are
now shouting the loudest.”

These words roused much noisy hilarity. The worthy Methonians could
not help laughing themselves at the ease with which they passed from
one extreme to the other.

“As I knew you would want to see Lycon,” Polycles added, “I have, with
the chief magistrate’s permission, brought him with me.” He beckoned to
Lycon and the latter, pale with emotion but apparently calm, now came
forward before the rampart of human faces formed by the seats towering
before him.

At the sight of Lycon’s frank, good-natured face and powerful form, a
new and long continued storm of applause arose.

“Dear friends and fellow citizens,” Polycles began again, “I will
propose to you to reward this man in a way that will bring no great
expense upon the city and yet, perhaps, best suit his own wishes.
Simonides, as you know, bequeathed me his fortune with his daughter.
But, as I am too old to take a young wife and the girl has a fancy for
Lycon, I thought of giving her to him in marriage, by which he will
come into possession of the greater part of her property. But, to do
this, you must make him a citizen; then I will adopt him as a son and
name him my heir, that he may become a proper suitor. But to prevent
any one in future from taunting Lycon with having been a branded slave,
I propose to you that as a public reward, you bestow upon him exemption
from taxes and a free maintenance in the Prytaneium.

“Lastly, let there be hung in the temple of Poseidon a tablet bearing
a representation of Lycon’s deed at the time of the flood and a short
account of his life, in which it should be stated that he had been a
branded slave. Coming generations could then read there that the city
of Methone did her duty even to the most insignificant person. This,
dear fellow citizens, is my proposal concerning Lycon. If any one has a
better plan to suggest, I will gladly recall it.”

The rope-maker, Socles, rose. He was a small, stout man, with big,
prominent eyes and a wide half open mouth, which gave him an extremely
foolish air.

“I can vote for no reward to this Lycon,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Because, by Zeus, he seems to me one of the most foolish of men!...
If he was living so merrily and contentedly at Athens as is said, why
doesn’t he stay there? What does he want here of us?”

Lycon laughed and asked:

“Of what city is this man a native?”

“Of Chæroneia.”

“Aha!” exclaimed Lycon laughing, “I thought the man who reproached me
for my return to Methone, the only good deed I ever performed, must be
a--Bœotian!”

Socles did not know what to answer and, seeing him stand there with
his mouth wide open, an image of Bœotian stupidity, the whole assembly
burst into a roar of laughter, so scornful, noisy, deafening in its
mirth, that it seemed as if every stone in the theatre was laughing.

Socles stood for a moment as though paralyzed with bewilderment.
Then, wrapping his mantle around him, he started with crimson face for
the nearest entrance, slipping through the crowd, striding over empty
places in the stone benches, and forcing his way through the groups
in the passages. It was done so quickly that it looked as if the fat
little man was blown away over the seats by the unbridled laughter of
the throng.

“Why, why, how he jumps!” shouted the smith, shaking with glee as,
fairly convulsed with merriment, he loudly slapped his thigh.

“Lycon has made Socles a deer!” cried a second voice.

“He skips like a discus behind the mark!” added a third.

When silence was partially restored, the chief magistrate put Polycles’
proposal to vote. All raised their hands except Philopator. But when
the smith, who still kept an eye on him, cleared his throat loudly and
looked askance at him, Philopator’s hand also rose, though slowly and
reluctantly.

The chief magistrate, a white-haired old man of venerable aspect,
embraced Lycon in the presence of the whole assembly and said to him in
a tone so loud and distinct that amid the deep silence it was heard in
the most distant seats:

“You are now a citizen of Methone and a guest of the Prytaneium. May
you have happiness and prosperity.”


XIII.

The next day Polycles sent by a trustworthy messenger a letter to the
ship-owner in Athens who had been the demarch of Lycon’s district. The
wine-dealer knew him, for the latter had visited Methone more than once
in his ship. Ten days after the answer came, stating that if Lycon
would pay a fine of ten minae his name would be erased from the list of
citizens, thereby avoiding any legal prosecution.

At this message Lycon drew a deep breath, like a man who has reached
dry land after fighting a long time for his life among the waves.

“The gods be praised!” he exclaimed. “Now, for the first time, I can
use my liberty as a thing which belongs to me, and which no man has a
right to take away.”

Myrtale embraced Polycles, and said with her brightest smile:

“So you, too, are a benefactor! Have you not saved the city’s deliverer
from becoming a slave in a strange place?”

A few days after Lycon, attended by Conops, made an excursion to the
neighboring city of Ormenium, the place where he had been a slave
before he fled to Poseidon’s altar in Methone. In Ormenium he visited
his former master, a physician, and remained a long time with him.
On his departure the physician accompanied him part of the way to
Methone and, as they took leave of each other, he asked Lycon if he
was serious in the request he had made him. When Lycon answered in the
affirmative, the doctor laughed and shook his head as though it was
very extraordinary. “Take it then,” he said, handing him something
wrapped in cloth, which Lycon carefully concealed in the folds of his
robe.

After having been elected a citizen of Methone, Lycon had gone to live
in the house in the Street of the Bakers. Much of the furniture had
been ruined by the flood so, with the help of Myrtale’s nurse, he was
obliged to provide the women’s apartment with many things ere a bride
could be received and a new household established.

One day, early in the morning, the old mansion was adorned with
garlands and the door, especially, was decked and surrounded with ropes
of flowers decorated with tassels of blossoms. Polycles’ house, the
bride’s present home, was ornamented in the same way.

Darkness had scarcely closed in, when the roll of wheels and the hum
of many voices were heard outside of the door of the latter dwelling.
Accompanied by a numerous train, a chariot drawn by white mules stopped
before the door, ready to bear the bride home. Lycon and his chosen
bridesman, Polycles, entered the house and received from the hand of
an elderly female relative the closely-veiled bride to conduct her to
the chariot, where each took a seat beside the muffled figure.

The nuptial torches were lighted, and the procession started. The
flames cast their red glare over the magnificent holiday robes; the
flutes sounded, and the hymeneal hymns echoed far through the stillness
of the evening.

The inhabitants had all gathered outside the doors of their houses,
and within the dusky vestibules appeared the heads of male and female
slaves. All who were passing stopped and greeted the procession with
the words: “Happiness and prosperity!”

“How peaceful and beautiful it is here,” whispered Lycon to his bride.
“In Athens, on the contrary, on such an evening there is more noise and
bustle than usual. Every bridal procession is surrounded by beggars,
carrying tame crows in their hands.”

“Crows?” repeated Myrtale in surprise.

“It is really so,” replied Lycon, smiling. “Among the Athenians the
crow is the bird sacred to bridals, and when a beggar carries one in
his hand no one can forbid him to follow the procession into the house,
to sing the ancient vulgar crow-song and then make himself at home.”

On reaching home the wedded pair, according to custom, were overwhelmed
with a shower of little cakes, figs, dried grapes, and small
coins--emblematical of the prosperity to be expected.

The festal hall was lighted by tripods bearing numerous lamps; on one
side stood tables for the men, on the other for the women. Among the
guests were the old chief magistrate who had presided at the popular
assembly, the citizens who had been on the most intimate terms with
Simonides, and some of the female relatives of the bride. Young slaves
in new garments, with purple fillets around their hair, placed between
the couches little tables bearing favorite dishes.

When the wedding cakes were eaten it was nearly midnight. The oldest
female relative now led the young couple across the peristyle to the
quiet sleeping room. All the guests followed, and the nuptial hymn was
sung once more outside of the closed door. But when the last visitor
had gone and the porter closed the heavy house-door with a noise that
echoed through the peristyle, Lycon clasped Myrtale’s hand, saying:

“That noise is dearer to me than the notes of the nuptial hymn. Now we
are alone; now I have you forever.”

He drew her towards him and his lips sought hers, but Myrtale, reared
in the seclusion of the virgin-chamber, had never been alone with any
man, and blushing deeply, averted her face.

Lycon took the clay lamp, shaped like a couch on which lay a sleeping
Eros, and pointing to the little god, said:

“The love that fills my breast will never slumber until my hair is
white and my back bowed with age. It would be an evil omen if I let
this lamp burn on our bridal night. Neither now nor in the future
shall it shine for us.”

With these words, he flung it down so that it was broken in the fall
and lay shattered on the tiled floor.

In the intense darkness which had surrounded them, he drew Myrtale to
his breast. His heart throbbed as it never had before, and the gloom
seemed filled with little dancing flames like those of the broken lamp.
With the perfume from Myrtale’s hair, he felt as if he were breathing
an atmosphere of warm, ardent youth, and in the silence which Eros
commands his mouth again sought the small, fresh lips.

This time Myrtale did not avert her face.


XIV.

Time passes swiftly to the happy; ere they realized it a year had gone
by.

One day every door in the house was adorned with an olive garland--a
son had been born to its owner. Lycon said that the child should be
reared. The father was at liberty to expose or even kill it.

The infant was carried by the midwife around the blazing household
altar. Parents, relatives, and even slaves gave it a multitude of
presents, principally platagai, children’s rattles.

At the great sacrificial banquet on the tenth day after the boy’s
birth, Lycon, to Myrtale’s delight, named the child Simonides.

Lycon took pride in enlarging his dead master’s business, but never
commenced any great enterprise without having consulted the clever and
experienced Polycles. On the day that the latter completed his sixtieth
year, Lycon, to his great joy, gave him the vineyard which, in his
opinion, produced the best wine in Thessaly.

This present had cost Lycon more than Polycles ever knew. When he first
spoke of it to Myrtale, she eagerly opposed the plan and made many
objections.

“Polycles is rich enough,” she said.

“But not too rich to have this gift please him.”

“It is a man’s duty to bequeath what he possesses to his children.”

“It is also a man’s duty to show his gratitude to one who has done him
many kindnesses and helped make him prosperous.”

“So you will give Polycles the vineyard?”

“I shall.”

“Even against my wish?”

“You forget, dear one, that but for Polycles I should have had nothing.”

The blood rushed into Myrtale’s cheeks and her eyes flashed.

“And you forget,” she said, “that everything you possess is mine.”

The words had scarcely escaped her lips ere she regretted them.

Lycon passed his huge hand over his face, rose, and left her.

Myrtale stole after him. She saw him cross the peristyle and enter a
little room where part of the furniture was kept. Through the door,
which stood ajar, she watched him open a box and take out something
wrapped in cloth. But, as she cautiously pushed the door in order to
see better, her shadow fell on Lycon’s arm and he turned.

“What have you there?” asked Myrtale, slightly confused at being
discovered.

“What is mine--it belongs to no one else.”

Myrtale understood the reproof. Her eyes filled with tears as she sank
at Lycon’s feet and clasped his knees.

“Forgive me,” she whispered humbly, “forget my wicked words.”

“Forget them--I cannot. But I will treat you as if you had never
uttered them.”

Myrtale still remained on her knees; Lycon raised her and she pressed
her lips upon his shoulder.

“What have you there?” she timidly repeated.

“A peacemaker. The image of a good spirit.”

“Let me see it.”

“No,” replied Lycon, wrapping the cloth closer. “If any one else should
look at the image it would lose its power. So promise me that you will
never,--either now or in future--ask to see it.”

Myrtale pointed to an ivory couch which stood in the little room; Lycon
reclined upon it, and she took her seat on the edge at his side.

“What harm would it do if I, your wife, should see it?” she whispered
coaxingly, putting her arm around Lycon’s neck.

“I have told you,” replied Lycon. “Do what I ask.”

“Well then,” murmured Myrtale sighing, “I promise.”

But at the same moment she turned pale, as if she felt a sudden chill.

“Confess!” she cried in a strangely altered tone. “It is the picture of
an Athenian woman.”

Lycon shrank from the fierce expression of her face and, ere he could
prevent it, she had seized the little article which he had laid on the
edge of the couch in front of her.

She tore off the cloth with her teeth. A clumsy square bit of iron
appeared. She turned and twisted it in her hands until, on one end, she
discovered the letter K formed of three raised lines.

It was the stamp of the brand Lycon bore on his shoulder.

Myrtale instantly understood why he kept the rough bit of iron. To him,
as he had said, it was the image of a good spirit.

By keeping this sign of his humiliation, he not only crushed all
arrogance, but learned to judge mildly, govern himself, and become a
better man. By remembering that he had been a slave, he made others
forget it.

Myrtale felt a new emotion. Her heart swelled with affection, and
throwing herself into her husband’s arms, she covered his face with
tears and kisses.

“The gods be praised for what has happened!” she exclaimed. “To-day you
have become doubly dear to me! For the first time I know you wholly.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Lycon and Myrtale filled the place of children to the lonely Polycles,
and he was never happier than when they visited him in the quiet
evening hours.

The hillock in the garden, which had been Simonides’ favorite spot and
where his monument stood, was the goal of their walks, and when they
had offered their homage to the dead man by adorning his grave with
flowers, they sat down on a bench among a group of tall plane-trees to
gaze over the city and country.

One evening, when the distant, sun-illumined mountains of Pherae were
gleaming more brightly than ever through the twilight, Lycon exclaimed:

“Simonides was right! Where is there a spot more beautiful than this?”

Myrtale looked him in the face and suddenly asked:

“Do you never wish yourself back in Athens?”

Polycles raised his eyebrows. In his opinion this was evidently a
very difficult question. But Lycon found the answer easy. Clasping
Myrtale’s hand, he said:

“How can you ask? In Athens I was gay; here I am happy.”

[Illustration]



ADVERTISEMENTS

_WILLIAM S. GOTTSBERGER’S_ LIST OF PUBLICATIONS.

[Illustration]


_TRANSLATIONS._


SPANISH AUTHORS.

  ENRIQUE PEREZ ESCRICH.

  =The Martyr of Golgotha=, from the Spanish by Adèle Josephine Godoy,
      two vols., paper, $1.00, Cloth, $1.75 per set.

  B. PEREZ GALDÓS.

  =Gloria=, from the Spanish by Clara Bell, two vols. paper, $1.00,
      cloth, $1.75 per set.

  =Leon Roch=, from the Spanish by Clara Bell, two volumes, paper,
      $1.00. Cloth, $1.75.

  =Marianela=, from the Spanish by Clara Bell, one vol. paper, 50 cts.
      cloth, 90 cts.

  =Trafalgar=, from the Spanish by Clara Bell, one vol. paper, 50 cts.
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  =The Court of Charles IV.=, from the Spanish by Clara Bell, one vol.,
      paper, 50 cts., cloth, 90 cts.


FRENCH.

  Mme. SOPHIE COTTIN.

  =Elizabeth=, or the Exiles of Siberia, from the French, one vol.
      paper, 25 cts., cloth, 50 cts.

  =Matilda=, Princess of England, from the French by Jennie W. Raum,
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  Mme. AUGUSTUS CRAVEN.

  =Eliane=, from the French by Lady Georgiana Fullerton, one vol.
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  OCTAVE FEUILLET.

  =A Romance of a Poor Young Man=, from the French by J. H. Hagar, one
      vol. paper, 50 cts., cloth, 90 cts.

  LEÏLA-HANOUM

  =A Tragedy at Constantinople=, from the French by Gen. R. E.
      Colston, one vol. paper, 50 cts.. cloth, 90 cts.

  PIERRE-LOTI.

  =From Lands of Exile=, from the French by Clara Bell, one vol.,
      paper, 50 cts., cloth, 90 cts.

  BERNARDIN DE SAINT-PIERRE.

  =Paul and Virginia=, from the French by Clara Bell, one vol., paper,
      25 cts., cloth, 50 cts.


ITALIAN.

  ANTON GIULIO BARRILI.

  =The Devil’s Portrait=, from the Italian by Evelyn Wodehouse, one
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  =The Eleventh Commandment=, from the Italian by Clara Bell, one vol.
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  =A Whimsical Wooing=, from the Italian by Clara Bell, one vol.
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  LA MARCHESA COLOMBI.

  =The Wane of an Ideal=, from the Italian by Clara Bell, one vol.
      paper, 50 cts., cloth, 90 cts.


RUSSIAN.

  COUNT LEON TOLSTOÏ.

  =War and Peace=, translated into French by a Russian Lady, and from
      the French by Clara Bell. Authorized Edition. Complete in Three
      Parts. Paper, $3.00. Cloth, $5.25. Half calf, $12.00.

  Part I, BEFORE TILSIT, 1805-1807, in two vols, paper, $1.00, cloth,
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  Part II, THE INVASION, 1807-1812, in two vols, paper, $1.00, cloth,
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  Part III, BORODINO, the French at Moscow, 1812-1820, in two vols,
      paper, $1.00. cloth, $1.75.

=Katia=, from the French. Authorized edition. one volume, paper, 25
cts. cloth, 50 cts.

=The Cossacks=, a tale of the Caucasus in 1852 from the Russian by
Eugene Schuyler. one vol., paper, 50 cts. cloth, $1.00.

=What I Believe=, from the Russian by Constantine Popoff, one volume
12mo., paper, 60 cents, cloth, $1.00.


DUTCH.

  CARL VOSMAER.

  =The Amazon=, from the Dutch by E. J. Irving, one vol. paper, 40 cts.
      cloth, 75 cts.


DANISH.

  PETER MARIAGER.

  =Pictures of Hellas=, five tales of ancient Greece, from the Danish
      by Mary J. Safford. Illustrated, one vol., 16mo paper, 50 cts.,
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TURKISH.

  =The Story of Jewad=, a Romance by ‘Alî ‘Azīz Efendi, the Cretan,
      translated from the Turkish by E. J. W. Gibb, M.R.A.S. _Membre
      de la Société Asiatique de Paris_. 12mo. paper, 60 cents, Cloth,
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GERMAN.

  FELIX DAHN.

  =Felicitas=, from the German by Mary J. Safford, one vol. paper, 50
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  =The Ebers Gallery=, a collection of paintings, illustrating the
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  GEORG EBERS.

  =An Egyptian Princess=, from the German by Eleanor Grove; revised
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  =A Question=, from the German by Mary J. Safford; authorized
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  =A Word, Only a Word=, from the German by Mary J. Safford, one vol.,
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  =Homo Sum=, from the German by Clara Bell; authorized edition, one
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  =The Bride of the Nile=, from the German by Clara Bell; authorized
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  =The Burgomaster’s Wife=, from the German by Mary J. Safford, one
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  =The Emperor=, from the German, by Clara Bell; authorized edition,
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  =The Sisters=, from the German by Clara Bell; authorized edition, one
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  =Uarda=, from the German by Clara Bell; authorized edition, revised,
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  =Lorenz Alma Tadema=, his Life and Works, from the German by Mary J.
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  =Richard Lepsius=, a biography, from the German by Zoe Dana
      Underhill, one vol. 12mo, paper, 60 cts., cloth, $1.25.

  =Ebers’ Romances=, 14 vols. cloth in box, $11.00, half calf extra, in
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  =Ebers’ Romances and Biographies=, 16 vols., cloth, in box, $13.00,
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  ERNST ECKSTEIN.

  =Aphrodite=, from the German, by Mary J. Safford, one vol. paper, 50
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  =Prusias=, from the German by Clara Bell, two vols. paper, $1.00,
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  =The Will=, from the German by Clara Bell, two vols. paper, $1.00,
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  ROBERT HAMERLING.

  =Aspasia=, from the German by Mary J. Safford, two vols. paper,
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  W. VON HILLERN.

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  =Higher Than The Church=, from the German, by Mary J. Safford, one
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  =The Hour Will Come=, from the German, by Clara Bell, one vol. paper,
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  OSSIP SCHUBIN.

  =Our Own Set=, from the German by Clara Bell, one vol. paper, 50
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  =Gloria Victis=, from the German, by Mary Maxwell, one vol., paper,
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  ADOLF WILBRANDT.

  =Fridolin’s mystical Marriage=, from the German, by Clara Bell, one
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  GEORGE TAYLOR.

  =Antinous=, from the German by Mary J. Safford, one vol. paper, 50
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  =Clytia=, from the German by Mary J. Safford, one vol. paper, 50cts.
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  WILHELM WALLOTH.

  =The King’s Treasure House=, from the German by Mary J. Safford, one
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MISCELLANEOUS.

  ROSE TERRY COOKE.

  =Poems=, new and enlarged edition, one vol., 12mo cloth, $1.50.

  LADY CUST.

  =The Invalid’s Own Book=, a Collection of Recipes from various books
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  A. M. GIBSON.

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  A. RAMOS DIAS deVILLEGAS.

  =A Practical method for Learning Spanish=, one vol. 12mo. cloth,
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       *       *       *       *       *

  =Henry Irving=, a short account of his public life. Paper, with
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  G. H. LEWES.

  =Ranthorpe=, one vol. paper. 40 cts. cloth, 75 cts.

  OTTO KUPHAL, PH. D.

  =A method for the Idiomatic Study of German.=

      Part One, Lessons, Exercises, and Vocabulary, large, 12mo., 536
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      Part Two, Notes. [In Press.]

  GEORGE E. RAUM.

  =A Tour Around the World=. one vol. 12mo., Cloth Gilt Sides, $1.50.

       *       *       *       *       *

  =Locomotives and Locomotive Building=, being a brief sketch of the
      growth of the Railroad system and of the various Improvements in
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      Origin and Growth of the Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works.
      Paterson, N. J., from 1831 to 1886. Illustrated, one volume,
      octavo, Cloth, $2.00.



Transcriber’s Notes


The punctuation in this book was unusually inconsistent. Transcriber
has attempted to correct the more obvious errors, particularly with
regard to the omission of quotation marks, but there were too many to
document individually.

Simple spelling errors were corrected.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

Page 134: “Museium” was printed that way.





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