Veranilda eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 419 pages of information about Veranilda.
the form of an overpowering sense of sin, plunged him into gloom.  Though burdened in conscience with no crime, he was subject in a notable degree to that malady of his world, the disposition to regard all human kind, and himself especially, as impure, depraved.  Often at the mercy of his passions, he refrained from marriage chiefly on this very account, the married state seeming to him a mere compromise with the evil of the flesh; but in his house were two children, born to him by a slave now dead, and these he would already have sent into a monastery, but that human affection struggled against what he deemed duty.  The man lived in dread of eternal judgment; he could not look at a setting sun without having his thought turned to the fires of hell, and a night of wakefulness, common enough in his imperfect health, shook him with horrors unutterable.  Being of such mind and temper, it was strange that he had not long ago joined the multitude of those who day by day fled from worldly life into ascetic seclusion; what withheld him was a spark of the ancestral spirit, some drops of the old Roman blood, prompting his human nature to assert and justify itself.  Hence the sympathy between him and Basil, both being capable of patriotism, and feeling a desire in the depths of their hearts to live as they would have lived had they been born in an earlier time.  But whereas Basil nursed this disposition, regarding it as altogether laudable, Marcian could only see in it an outcome of original sin, and after every indulgence of such mundane thoughts did penance as for something worse than weakness.  His father had died in an anguish of compunction for a life stained with sensuality; his mother had killed herself by excessive rigours of penitence; these examples were ever before his mind.  Yet he seldom spoke, save to spiritual counsellors, of this haunting trouble, and only the bitterness of envy, an envy entirely human, had drawn from him the words which so astonished Basil in their last conversation.  Indeed, the loves of Basil and Veranilda made a tumult in his soul; at times it seemed to him that he hated his friend, so intolerable was the jealousy that racked him.  Veranilda he had never seen, but the lover’s rapture had created in his imagination a face and form of matchless beauty which he could not cease from worshipping.  He took this for a persecution of the fiend, and strove against it by all methods known to him.  About his body he wore things that tortured; he fasted to the point of exhaustion; he slept—­if sleep came to him—­on a bare stone floor; some hours of each day he spent in visiting churches, where he prayed ardently.

Basil, when he had rushed forth from the Anicianum, rode straightway to the Via Lata, and presented himself at Marcian’s door.  The porter said that his master had been absent since dawn, but Basil none the less entered, and, in the room where he and his friend were wont to talk, threw himself upon a couch to wait.  He lay sunk in the most sombre thoughts, until at the door appeared Sagaris, who with the wonted suave servility, begged permission to speak to him.

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Veranilda from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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