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Last Days of Pompeii eBook

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

’Bethink thee well! the lion’s fangs:  the hoots of the brutal mob:  the vulgar gaze on thy dying agony and mutilated limbs:  thy name degraded; thy corpse unburied; the shame thou wouldst avoid clinging to thee for aye and ever!’

’Thou ravest; thou art the madman! shame is not in the loss of other men’s esteem—­it is in the loss of our own.  Wilt thou go?—­my eyes loathe the sight of thee! hating ever, I despise thee now!’

‘I go,’ said Arbaces, stung and exasperated, but not without some pitying admiration of his victim, ’I go; we meet twice again—­once at the Trial, once at the Death!  Farewell!’

The Egyptian rose slowly, gathered his robes about him, and left the chamber.  He sought Sallust for a moment, whose eyes began to reel with the vigils of the cup:  ’He is still unconscious, or still obstinate; there is no hope for him.’

‘Say not so,’ replied Sallust, who felt but little resentment against the Athenian’s accuser, for he possessed no great austerity of virtue, and was rather moved by his friend’s reverses than persuaded of his innocence—­’say not so, my Egyptian! so good a drinker shall be saved if possible.  Bacchus against Isis!’

‘We shall see,’ said the Egyptian.

Suddenly the bolts were again withdrawn—­the door unclosed; Arbaces was in the open street; and poor Nydia once more started from her long watch.

‘Wilt thou save him?’ she cried, clasping her hands.

’Child, follow me home; I would speak to thee—­it is for his sake I ask it.’

‘And thou wilt save him?’

No answer came forth to the thirsting ear of the blind girl:  Arbaces had already proceeded far up the street; she hesitated a moment, and then followed his steps in silence.

‘I must secure this girl,’ said he, musingly, ’lest she give evidence of the philtre; as to the vain Julia, she will not betray herself.’

Chapter VIII

A classic funeral.

While Arbaces had been thus employed, Sorrow and Death were in the house of Ione.  It was the night preceding the morn in which the solemn funeral rites were to be decreed to the remains of the murdered Apaecides.  The corpse had been removed from the temple of Isis to the house of the nearest surviving relative, and Ione had heard, in the same breath, the death of her brother and the accusation against her betrothed.  That first violent anguish which blunts the sense to all but itself, and the forbearing silence of her slaves, had prevented her learning minutely the circumstances attendant on the fate of her lover.  His illness, his frenzy, and his approaching trial, were unknown to her.  She learned only the accusation against him, and at once indignantly rejected it; nay, on hearing that Arbaces was the accuser, she required no more to induce her firmly and solemnly to believe that the Egyptian himself was the criminal. 

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