“He knew not my feeling towards him, nor would he have comprehended it. It is a thing I myself can scarce understand. To the outward eye there is juster cause for hatred than for love.
“I will speak openly to you what has hitherto lain between my heart and God. Before Thor saw your mother, I had loved her. My life’s hope was to marry her. Thor came,—and my hope lingered and died. For it, was no resurrection.” Here Manetho broke all at once into sobs, covering his face with his hands; and when he continued, his voice was softened with tears.
“Thor called her to him, and she gladly went. He stormed and carried with ease the fortress which, at best, I could hope only slowly to undermine. She loved him as women love a conqueror; she might have yielded me, at most, the grace of a condescending queen. I kept silence: to whom could I speak? I had felt great ambitions,—to become honored and famous,—to preach the gospel as it had not yet been preached,—all ambitions that a lover may feel. But the tree died for lack of nourishment. See what is left!”
He opened out his arms with a gesture wanting neither in pathos nor dignity. Balder could not but sympathize with what he felt to be a genuine emotion.
“Amidst the ruins of my Memphis, I kept silence. I hated—myself! for my powerlessness to keep her. In my hours of madness I hated her too, and him; but that was madness indeed! Deeper down was a sanity that loved him. Since he had made my love his, I must love him. So only might I still love her. The only beauty left my ruins was that!
“She died; and with her would have died all sanity,—all love, but that her children kept me back from worse ruin than was mine already. They were a link to bind me to the good. Now Thor is dead, but still his son—her son—survives. Hence is it that you are more to me than other men.”
“Did Doctor Glyphic know nothing of this?”
“I never told him of either my hope or my despair. My beloved master! he lived and died without suspicion that I had striven to be a brother as well as son to him.”
“When did he die?”
“Eighteen years ago,” said Manetho, solemnly. “You are the first to whom his death has been revealed. Beloved master! have I not obeyed thy will?” And he looked up to his master’s parchment visage.
“I discovered his death for myself, you know,” observed Helwyse. “But it could not have been more than eighteen years since my father, then on the point of departure for Europe, saw Hiero Glyphic alive!”
“Yes, yes! Did he ever tell you what passed in that interview?” demanded Manetho, eagerly.
“Little more than a farewell, I think. There was some talk about the estate. At my uncle’s death, the house was to come to you, the property to my father or his heirs. But neither expected at that time that it was to be their last meeting.”
“Was no one mentioned beside Thor’s children and myself?” asked the priest, looking askant at Balder as he spoke.