Himself unable to take repose, he strayed about the purlieus of the villa, in his ears the sound of rushing water, before his eyes a flitting vision which he would not see. He had heard from his steward the latest news of the countryside; it was said in Arpinum that the Gothic forces were at length assembled for the march on Rome; at Aquinum Totila would be welcomed, and what resistance was he likely to meet with all along the Latin Way? When the horsemen had refreshed themselves, Marcian summoned the leader; their services, he said, would no longer be necessary; he bade them depart as early as might be on the morrow, and bear with all speed to their lord the bishop an important letter which he forthwith wrote and gave to the man, together with a generous guerdon. This business despatched, he again wandered hither and thither, incapable of rest, incapable of clear thought, fever in his heart and in his brain.
As the sun sank, fear once more beset him. This house lay open on all sides, its only protection being a couple of dogs, which prowled at large. He thought with dread of the possibility of a brigand attack. But when night had fallen, when all lights except his own were extinguished, when no sound struck against the deep monotone of the cataracts, this emotion yielded before another, which no less harassed his mind. In the hall, in the corridors, in the garden-court, he paced ceaselessly, at times walking in utter darkness, for not yet had the moon risen. When at length its rays fell upon the pillars of the upper gallery where Veranilda slept, he stood looking towards her chamber, and turned away at length with a wild gesture, like that of a demoniac in torment.
The man was torn between spiritual fervour and passions of the flesh. With his aspiration to saintliness blended that love of his friend which was the purest affection he had known in all the years of manhood; yet this very love became, through evil thoughts, an instrument against him, being sullied, poisoned by the basest spirit of jealousy, until it seemed all but to have turned to hate. One moment he felt himself capable of acting nobly, even as he had resolved when at mass in the little mountain church; his bosom glowed with the defiance of every risk; he would guard Veranilda secretly until he could lay her hand in that of Basil. The next, he saw only danger, impossibility, in such a purpose, and was anxious to deliver the beautiful maiden to the king of her own race as soon as might be—lest worse befell. Thus did he strive with himself, thus was he racked and rent under the glowing moon.
At dawn he slept. When he rose the horsemen had long since set forth on their journey home. He inquired which road they had taken. But to this no one had paid heed; he could only learn that they had crossed the river by the westward bridge, and so perhaps had gone back by way of Aletrium, instead of descending the valley to the Latin Way. Even yet Marcian did not feel quite safe from his Greek pursuers. He feared a meeting between them and the Praenestines.