Arbaces resolved to lose no further time upon cautious and perilous preparations: he resolved to place an irrevocable barrier between himself and his rivals: he resolved to possess himself of the person of Ione: not that in his present love, so long nursed and fed by hopes purer than those of passion alone, he would have been contented with that mere possession. He desired the heart, the soul, no less than the beauty, of Ione; but he imagined that once separated by a daring crime from the rest of mankind—once bound to Ione by a tie that memory could not break, she would be driven to concentrate her thoughts in him—that his arts would complete his conquest, and that, according to the true moral of the Roman and the Sabine, the empire obtained by force would be cemented by gentler means. This resolution was yet more confirmed in him by his belief in the prophecies of the stars: they had long foretold to him this year, and even the present month, as the epoch of some dread disaster, menacing life itself. He was driven to a certain and limited date. He resolved to crowd, monarch-like, on his funeral pyre all that his soul held most dear. In his own words, if he were to die, he resolved to feel that he had lived, and that Ione should be his own.
What becomes of Ione in the house of Arbaces. The first signal of the wrath of the dread foe.
When Ione entered the spacious hall of the Egyptian, the same awe which had crept over her brother impressed itself also upon her: there seemed to her as to him something ominous and warning in the still and mournful faces of those dread Theban monsters, whose majestic and passionless features the marble so well portrayed:
Their look, with the reach of past ages,
And the soul of eternity thought in their eyes.
The tall AEthiopian slave grinned as he admitted her, and motioned to her to proceed. Half-way up the hall she was met by Arbaces himself, in festive robes, which glittered with jewels. Although it was broad day without, the mansion, according to the practice of the luxurious, was artificially darkened, and the lamps cast their still and odor-giving light over the rich floors and ivory roofs.
‘Beautiful Ione,’ said Arbaces, as he bent to touch her hand, ’it is you that have eclipsed the day—it is your eyes that light up the halls—it is your breath which fills them with perfumes.’
‘You must not talk to me thus,’ said Ione, smiling, ’you forget that your lore has sufficiently instructed my mind to render these graceful flatteries to my person unwelcome. It was you who taught me to disdain adulation: will you unteach your pupil?’
There was something so frank and charming in the manner of Ione, as she thus spoke, that the Egyptian was more than ever enamoured, and more than ever disposed to renew the offence he had committed; he, however, answered quickly and gaily, and hastened to renew the conversation.