“Hush, hush!” interrupted Cleopatra softly. “There are many living creatures in this garden, and they say that even the birds are good listeners.”
A roguish smile deepened the dimples in her cheeks as she spoke, and delight in her bewitching grace forced from Charmian’s lips the exclamation:
“If Mark Antony could only see you now!”
“Flatterer!” replied the Queen with a grateful smile. But Charmian felt that the time had now come to plead once more for Barine, and she began eagerly:
“No, I certainly do not flatter. No one in Alexandria, no matter what name she bears, could venture to vie even remotely with your charms. So cease the persecution of the unfortunate woman whom you confided to my care. It is an insult to Cleopatra—”
But here an indignant “Again!” interrupted her.
Cleopatra’s face, which during the conversation had mirrored every emotion of a woman’s soul, from the deepest sorrow to the most mischievous mirth, assumed an expression of repellent harshness, and, with the curt remark, “You are forgetting what I had good reason to forbid—I must go to my work,” she turned her back upon the companion of her youth.
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See facts as they are and treat them like figures in a sum
By Georg Ebers
Charmain went towards her own apartments. How often she had had a similar experience! In the midst of the warmest admiration for this rare woman’s depth of feeling, masculine strength of intellect, tireless industry, watchful care for her native land, steadfast loyalty, and maternal devotion, she had been sobered in the most pitiable way.
She had been forced to see Cleopatra, for the sake of realizing a childish dream, and impressing her lover, squander vast sums, which diminished the prosperity of her subjects; place great and important matters below the vain, punctilious care of her own person; forget, in petty jealousy, the justice and kindness which were marked traits in her character; and, though the most kindly and womanly of sovereigns, suffer herself to be urged by angry excitement to inflict outrage on a subject whose acts had awakened her displeasure. The lofty ambition which had inspired her noblest and most praiseworthy deeds had more than once been the source of acts which she herself regretted. When a child, she could not endure to be surpassed in difficult tasks, and still deemed it a necessity to be first and peerless. Hence the unfortunate circumstance that Antony had given Barine the counterpart of an armlet which she herself wore as a gift from her lover, was perhaps the principal cause of her bitter resentment against the hapless woman.
Charmian had seen Cleopatra forgive freely and generously many a wrong, nay, many an affront, inflicted upon her; but to see herself placed by her husband on the same plane as a Barine, even in the most trivial matter, might easily seem to her an unbearable insult; and the mishap which had befallen Caesarion, in consequence of his foolish passion for the young beauty, gave her a right to punish her rival.