Last Days of Pompeii eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 439 pages of information about Last Days of Pompeii.

‘Order thy litter—­at two miles’ distance from the city is a house of entertainment, frequented by the wealthier Pompeians, from the excellence of its baths, and the beauty of its gardens.  There canst thou pretend only to shape thy course—­there, ill or dying, I will meet thee by the statue of Silenus, in the copse that skirts the garden; and I myself will guide thee to the witch.  Let us wait till, with the evening star, the goats of the herdsmen are gone to rest; when the dark twilight conceals us, and none shall cross our steps.  Go home and fear not.  By Hades, swears Arbaces, the sorcerer of Egypt, that Ione shall never wed with Glaucus.’

‘And that Glaucus shall be mine,’ added Julia, filling up the incompleted sentence.

‘Thou hast said it!’ replied Arbaces; and Julia, half frightened at this unhallowed appointment, but urged on by jealousy and the pique of rivalship, even more than love, resolved to fulfill it.

Left alone, Arbaces burst forth: 

’Bright stars that never lie, ye already begin the execution of your promises—­success in love, and victory over foes, for the rest of my smooth existence.  In the very hour when my mind could devise no clue to the goal of vengeance, have ye sent this fair fool for my guide?’ He paused in deep thought.  ‘Yes,’ said he again, but in a calmer voice; ’I could not myself have given to her the poison, that shall be indeed a philtre!—­his death might be thus tracked to my door.  But the witch—­ay, there is the fit, the natural agent of my designs!’

He summoned one of his slaves, bade him hasten to track the steps of Julia, and acquaint himself with her name and condition.  This done, he stepped forth into the portico.  The skies were serene and clear; but he, deeply read in the signs of their various change, beheld in one mass of cloud, far on the horizon, which the wind began slowly to agitate, that a storm was brooding above.

‘It is like my vengeance,’ said he, as he gazed; ’the sky is clear, but the cloud moves on.’

Chapter IX

Storm in the southThe WITCH’S cavern.

It was when the heats of noon died gradually away from the earth, that Glaucus and Ione went forth to enjoy the cooled and grateful air.  At that time, various carriages were in use among the Romans; the one most used by the richer citizens, when they required no companion in their excursion, was the biga, already described in the early portion of this work; that appropriated to the matrons, was termed carpentum, which had commonly two wheels; the ancients used also a sort of litter, a vast sedan-chair, more commodiously arranged than the modern, inasmuch as the occupant thereof could lie down at ease, instead of being perpendicularly and stiffly jostled up and down.  There was another carriage, used both for travelling and for excursions in the country; it

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Last Days of Pompeii from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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