As Lydon thus spoke, he had already quitted the dark chamber of his father; and speaking eagerly, though in a whispered tone, they now stood at the same place in which we introduced the porter at his post.
‘O bless thee! bless thee, my brave boy!’ said Medon, fervently; ’and may the great Power that reads all hearts see the nobleness of thine, and forgive its error!’
The tall shape of the gladiator passed swiftly down the path; the eyes of the slave followed its light but stately steps, till the last glimpse was gone; and then, sinking once more on his seat, his eyes again fastened themselves on the ground. His form, mute and unmoving, as a thing of stone. His heart!—who, in our happier age, can even imagine its struggles—its commotion?
‘May I enter?’ said a sweet voice. ‘Is thy mistress Julia within?’
The slave mechanically motioned to the visitor to enter, but she who addressed him could not see the gesture—she repeated her question timidly, but in a louder voice.
‘Have I not told thee!’ said the slave, peevishly: ‘enter.’
‘Thanks,’ said the speaker, plaintively; and the slave, roused by the tone, looked up, and recognized the blind flower-girl. Sorrow can sympathize with affliction—he raised himself, and guided her steps to the head of the adjacent staircase (by which you descended to Julia’s apartment), where, summoning a female slave, he consigned to her the charge of the blind girl.
The dressing-room of A Pompeian beauty. Important conversation between Julia and Nydia.
The elegant Julia sat in her chamber, with her slaves around her—like the cubiculum which adjoined it, the room was small, but much larger than the usual apartments appropriated to sleep, which were so diminutive, that few who have not seen the bed-chambers, even in the gayest mansions, can form any notion of the petty pigeon-holes in which the citizens of Pompeii evidently thought it desirable to pass the night. But, in fact, ‘bed’ with the ancients was not that grave, serious, and important part of domestic mysteries which it is with us. The couch itself was more like a very narrow and small sofa, light enough to be transported easily, and by the occupant himself, from place to place; and it was, no doubt, constantly shifted from chamber to chamber, according to the caprice of the inmate, or the changes of the season; for that side of the house which was crowded in one month, might, perhaps, be carefully avoided in the next. There was also among the Italians of that period a singular and fastidious apprehension of too much daylight; their darkened chambers, which first appear to us the result of a negligent architecture, were the effect of the most elaborate study. In their porticoes and gardens they courted the sun whenever it so pleased their luxurious tastes. In the interior of their houses they sought rather the coolness and the shade.