She laughed a little as she answered, “Pity is love’s own twin, Charmion. Wondrous wayward are the paths of woman’s love, and thou hast shown thine strangely, that I know. But the more high the love, the deeper the gulf whereinto it can fall—ay, and thence soar again to heaven, once more to fall! Poor woman! thou art thy passion’s plaything: now tender as the morning sky, and now, when jealousy grips thy heart, more cruel than the sea. Well, thus are we made. Soon, after all this troubling, nothing will be left thee but tears, remorse, and—memory.”
And she went forth.
OF THE TENDER CARE OF CHARMION; OF THE HEALING OF HARMACHIS; OF THE SAILING OF THE FLEET OF CLEOPATRA FOR CILICIA; AND OF THE SPEECH OF BRENNUS TO HARMACHIS
Cleopatra went, and for a while I lay silent, gathering up my strength to speak. But Charmion came and stood over me, and I felt a great tear fall from her dark eyes upon my face, as the first heavy drop of rain falls from a thunder cloud.
“Thou goest,” she whispered; “thou goest fast whither I may not follow! O Harmachis, how gladly would I give my life for thine!”
Then at length I opened my eyes, and spoke as best I could:
“Restrain thy grief, dear friend,” I said, “I live yet; and, in truth, I feel as though new life gathered in my breast!”
She gave a little cry of joy, and I never saw aught more beautiful than the change that came upon her weeping face! It was as when the first lights of the day run up the pallor of that sad sky which veils the night from dawn. All rosy grew her lovely countenance; her dim eyes shone out like stars; and a smile of wonderment, more sweet than the sudden smile of the sea as its ripples wake to brightness beneath the kiss of the risen moon, broke through her rain of tears.
“Thou livest!” she cried, throwing herself on her knees beside my couch. “Thou livest—and I thought thee gone! Thou art come back to me! Oh! what say I? How foolish is a woman’s heart! ’Tis this long watching! Nay; sleep and rest thee, Harmachis!—why dost thou talk? Not one more word, I command thee straitly! Where is the draught left by that long-bearded fool? Nay thou shalt have no draught! There, sleep, Harmachis; sleep!” and she crouched down at my side and laid her cool hand upon my brow, murmuring, “Sleep! sleep!”
And when I woke there she was still, but the lights of dawn were peeping through the casement. There she knelt, one hand upon my forehead, and her head, in all its disarray of curls, resting upon her outstretched arm.
“Charmion,” I whispered, “have I slept?”
Instantly she was wide awake, and, gazing on me with tender eyes, “Yea, thou hast slept, Harmachis.”
“How long, then, have I slept?”
“And thou hast held thy place there, at my side, for nine long hours?”