Last Days of Pompeii eBook

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

‘You have never seen,’ said he, ’the interior of my home; it may amuse you to do so:  it contains some rooms that may explain to you what you have often asked me to describe—­the fashion of an Egyptian house; not indeed, that you will perceive in the poor and minute proportions of Roman architecture the massive strength, the vast space, the gigantic magnificence, or even the domestic construction of the palaces of Thebes and Memphis; but something there is, here and there, that may serve to express to you some notion of that antique civilization which has humanized the world.  Devote, then, to the austere friend of your youth, one of these bright summer evenings, and let me boast that my gloomy mansion has been honored with the presence of the admired Ione.’

Unconscious of the pollutions of the mansion, of the danger that awaited her, Ione readily assented to the proposal.  The next evening was fixed for the visit; and the Egyptian, with a serene countenance, and a heart beating with fierce and unholy joy, departed.  Scarce had he gone, when another visitor claimed admission....  But now we return to Glaucus.

Chapter V

The poor tortoiseNew changes for Nydia.

The morning sun shone over the small and odorous garden enclosed within the peristyle of the house of the Athenian.  He lay reclined, sad and listlessly, on the smooth grass which intersected the viridarium; and a slight canopy stretched above, broke the fierce rays of the summer sun.

When that fairy mansion was first disinterred from the earth they found in the garden the shell of a tortoise that had been its inmate.  That animal, so strange a link in the creation, to which Nature seems to have denied all the pleasure of life, save life’s passive and dream-like perception, had been the guest of the place for years before Glaucus purchased it; for years, indeed which went beyond the memory of man, and to which tradition assigned an almost incredible date.  The house had been built and rebuilt—­its possessors had changed and fluctuated—­generations had flourished and decayed—­and still the tortoise dragged on its slow and unsympathizing existence.  In the earthquake, which sixteen years before had overthrown many of the public buildings of the city, and scared away the amazed inhabitants, the house now inhabited by Glaucus had been terribly shattered.  The possessors deserted it for many days; on their return they cleared away the ruins which encumbered the viridarium, and found still the tortoise, unharmed and unconscious of the surrounding destruction.  It seemed to bear a charmed life in its languid blood and imperceptible motions; yet it was not so inactive as it seemed:  it held a regular and monotonous course; inch by inch it traversed the little orbit of its domain, taking months to accomplish the whole gyration.  It

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Last Days of Pompeii from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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