“We ask no thanks from thee, noble Dellius; nor lies it in thy mouth to chide our servant,” broke in Cleopatra, frowning heavily; “we will take thanks from the lips of Antony alone. Get thee to thy master, and say to him that before he can make ready a fitting welcome our keels shall follow in the track of thine. And now, farewell! Thou shalt find some small token of our bounty upon thy vessel.”
Dellius bowed thrice and withdrew, while the Court stood waiting the Queen’s word. And I, too, waited, wondering if she would yet make good her promise, and name me royal Spouse there in the face of Egypt. But she said nothing. Only, still frowning heavily, she rose, and, followed by her guards, left the throne, and passed into the Alabaster Hall. Then the Court broke up, and as the lords and councillors went by they looked on me with mockery. For though none knew all my secret, nor how it stood between me and Cleopatra, yet they were jealous of the favour shown me by the Queen, and rejoiced greatly at my fall. But I took no heed of their mocking as I stood dazed with misery and felt the world of Hope slip from beneath my feet.
OF THE REPROACH OF HARMACHIS; OF THE STRUGGLE OF HARMACHIS WITH THE GUARDS; OF THE BLOW OF BRENNUS; AND OF THE SECRET SPEECH OF CLEOPATRA
And at length, all being gone, I, too, turned to go, when a eunuch struck me on the shoulder and roughly bade me wait on the presence of the Queen. An hour past this fellow would have crawled to me on his knees; but he had heard, and now he treated me—so brutish is the nature of such slaves—as the world treats the fallen, with scorn. For to come low after being great is to learn all shame. Unhappy, therefore, are the Great, for they may fall!
I turned upon the slave with so fierce a word that, cur-like, he sprang behind me; then I passed on to the Alabaster Hall, and was admitted by the guards. In the centre of the hall, near the fountain, sat Cleopatra, and with her were Charmion and the Greek girl Iras, and Merira and other of her waiting-ladies. “Go,” she said to these, “I would speak with my astrologer.” So they went, and left us face to face.
“Stand thou there,” she said, lifting her eyes for the first time. “Come not nigh me, Harmachis: I trust thee not. Perchance thou hast found another dagger. Now, what hast thou to say? By what right didst thou dare to break in upon my talk with the Roman?”
I felt the blood rush through me like a storm; bitterness and burning anger took hold of my heart. “What hast thou to say, Cleopatra?” I answered boldly. “Where is thy vow, sworn on the dead heart of Menkau-ra, the ever-living? Where now thy challenge to this Roman Antony? Where thy oath that thou wouldest call me ‘husband’ in the face of Egypt?” and I choked and ceased.