“Yea, royal Egypt; suffer that the chamber be a little darkened, and I will show thee one more thing.”
“Half am I afraid,” she answered; “nevertheless do thou as this Harmachis says, Charmion.”
So the curtains were drawn and the chamber made as though the twilight were at hand. I came forward, and stood beside Cleopatra. “Gaze thou there!” I said sternly, pointing with my wand to the empty space where I had been, “and thou shalt behold that which is in thy mind.”
Then for a little space was silence, while the two women gazed fixedly and half fearful at the spot.
And as they gazed a cloud gathered before them. Very slowly it took shape and form, and the form it took was the form of a man, though as yet he was but vaguely mapped upon the twilight, and seemed now to grow and now to melt away.
Then I cried with a loud voice:
“Spirit, I conjure thee, appear!”
And as I cried the Thing, perfect in every part, leapt into form before us, suddenly as the flash of day. His shape was the shape of royal Caesar, the toga thrown about his face, and on his form a vestment bloody from a hundred wounds. An instant so he stood, then I waved my wand and he was gone.
I turned to the two women on the couch, and saw Cleopatra’s lovely face all clothed in terror. Her lips were ashy white, her eyes stared wide, and all the flesh was shaking on her bones.
“Man!” she gasped; “man! who and what art thou who canst bring the dead before our eyes?”
“I am the Queen’s astronomer, magician, servant—what the Queen wills,” I answered, laughing. “Was this the form that was on the Queen’s mind?”
She made no answer, but, rising, left the chamber by another door.
Then Charmion rose also and took her hands from her face, for she, too, had been stricken with dread.
“How dost thou these things, royal Harmachis?” she said. “Tell me; for of a truth I fear thee.”
“Be not afraid,” I answered. “Perchance thou didst see nothing but what was in my mind. All things are shadows. How canst thou, then, know their nature, or what is and what only seems to be? But how goes it? Remember, Charmion, this sport is played to an end.”
“It goes well,” she said. “By to-morrow morning’s dawn these tales will have gone round, and thou wilt be more feared than any man in Alexandria. Follow me, I pray thee.”
OF THE WAYS OF CHARMION; AND OF THE CROWNING OF HARMACHIS AS THE KING OF LOVE