Ione sighed deeply, and lowered her veil over her eyes.
‘I wish,’ said she, after a pause, ’that he had not been so hasty. Perhaps, like all who expect too much, he is revolted too easily!’
’Then he is not happy in his new condition. And this Egyptian, was he a priest himself? was he interested in recruits to the sacred band?
’No. His main interest was in our happiness. He thought he promoted that of my brother. We were left orphans.’
‘Like myself,’ said Glaucus, with a deep meaning in his voice.
Ione cast down her eyes as she resumed:
’And Arbaces sought to supply the place of our parent. You must know him. He loves genius.’
’Arbaces! I know him already; at least, we speak when we meet. But for your praise I would not seek to know more of him. My heart inclines readily to most of my kind. But that dark Egyptian, with his gloomy brow and icy smiles, seems to me to sadden the very sun. One would think that, like Epimenides, the Cretan, he had spent forty years in a cave, and had found something unnatural in the daylight ever afterwards.’
‘Yet, like Epimenides, he is kind, and wise, and gentle,’ answered Ione.
’Oh, happy that he has thy praise! He needs no other virtues to make him dear to me.’
‘His calm, his coldness,’ said Ione, evasively pursuing the subject, ’are perhaps but the exhaustion of past sufferings; as yonder mountain (and she pointed to Vesuvius), which we see dark and tranquil in the distance, once nursed the fires for ever quenched.’
They both gazed on the mountain as Ione said these words; the rest of the sky was bathed in rosy and tender hues, but over that grey summit, rising amidst the woods and vineyards that then clomb half-way up the ascent, there hung a black and ominous cloud, the single frown of the landscape. A sudden and unaccountable gloom came over each as they thus gazed; and in that sympathy which love had already taught them, and which bade them, in the slightest shadows of emotion, the faintest presentiment of evil, turn for refuge to each other, their gaze at the same moment left the mountain, and full of unimaginable tenderness, met. What need had they of words to say they loved?
The Fowler snares again the bird that had just escaped, and sets his nets for A new victim.
In the history I relate, the events are crowded and rapid as those of the drama. I write of an epoch in which days sufficed to ripen the ordinary fruits of years.