At a door they pause an instant, there is a whispered word—they enter.
The room is furnished as becomes the room that is the private library of the King of Egypt. In one corner, seated at the table, pen in hand, sits a man of middle age, pale, clean-shaven, with hair close-cropped. His dress is not that of a soldier—it is the flowing white robe of a Roman Priest. Only one servant attends this man, a secretary, seated near, who rises and explains that the present is acceptable and shall be deposited on the floor.
The pale man at the table looks up, smiles a tired smile and murmurs in a perfunctory way his thanks.
Appolidorus having laid his burden on the floor, kneels to untie the ropes. The secretary explains that he need not trouble, pray bear thanks and again thanks to his master—he need not tarry!
The dumb man on his knees neither hears nor heeds. The rug is unrolled.
From out the roll a woman leaps lightly to her feet—a beautiful young woman of twenty.
She stands there, poised, defiant, gazing at the pale-faced man seated at the table.
He is not surprised—he never was. One might have supposed he received all his visitors in this manner.
“Well?” he says in a quiet way, a half-smile parting his thin lips.
The breast of the woman heaves with tumultuous emotion—just an instant. She speaks, and there is no tremor in her tones. Her voice is low, smooth and scarcely audible: “I am Cleopatra.”
The man at the desk lays down his pen, leans back and gently nods his head, as much as to say, indulgently, “Yes, my child, I hear—go on!”
“I am Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and I would speak with thee, alone.”
She pauses; then raising one jeweled arm motions to Appolidorus that he shall withdraw.
With a similar motion, the man at the desk signifies the same to his astonished secretary.
Appolidorus went down the long hallway, down the stone steps and waited at the outer gate amid the throng of soldiers. They questioned him, gibed him, railed at him, but they got no word in reply.
He waited—he waited an hour, two—and then came a messenger with a note written on a slip of parchment. The words ran thus: “Well-beloved ’Dorus: Veni, vidi, vici! Go fetch my maids; also, all of our personal belongings.”
As the cities are all only
two days from famine, so
is man’s life constantly but a step from dissolution.
A SPECIAL OCCASION
Once on a day, I spoke at the Athenaeum, New Orleans, for the Young Men’s Hebrew Association.
When they had asked my fee I answered, “One Hundred Fifty Dollars.” The reply was, “We will pay you Two Hundred—it is to be a special occasion.”
A carriage was sent to my hotel for me. The Jews may be close traders, but when it comes to social functions, they know what to do. The Jew is the most generous man in the world, even if he can be at times cent per cent.