A Question eBook

Georg Ebers
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 66 pages of information about A Question.

Xanthe felt and saw that her father was suffering, and exclaimed in a fearless, resolute tone: 

“Silence, Semestre! your scolding is hurting my father.”

These words increased the house-keeper’s wrath instead of lessening it.  In a half-furious, half-whining tone, she exclaimed: 

“So it comes to this!  The child orders the old woman.  But you shall know, Lysander, that I won’t allow myself to be mocked like a fool.  That impudent Mopsus is your freed-woman’s child, and served this house for high wages, but he shall leave it this very day, so surely as I hope to live until the vintage.  He or I!  If you wish to keep him, I’ll go to Agrigentum and live with my daughter and grandchildren, who send to me by every messenger.  If this insolent fellow is more to you than I am, I’ll leave this place of ingratitude.  In Agrigentum—­”

“It is beautiful in Agrigentum !” interrupted the conjurer, pointing with his finger impressively in the direction of this famous city.

“It is delightful there,” cried the old woman, “so long as one doesn’t meet pygmies like you in the streets.”

The house-keeper was struggling for breath, and her master took advantage of the pause to murmur beseechingly, like a child who is to be deprived of something it loves: 

“Mopsus must go—­merry Mopsus?  Nobody knows how to lift and support me so well.”

These words softened Semestre’s wrath, and, lowering her voice, she replied: 

“You will no longer need the lad for that purpose; Leonax, Alciphron’s son, is coming to-day.  He’ll lift and support you as if you were his own father.  The people in Messina are friendly and honor age, for, while you jeer at me, they remember the old woman, and will send me a beautiful matron’s-robe for the future wedding.”

The invalid looked inquiringly at his daughter, and the latter answered, blushing: 

“Semestre has told me.  She informed me, while I was cutting the cloth, that Leonax would come as a suitor.”

“May he fare better than Alkamenes and the others, whom you sent home!  You know I will not force your inclinations, but, if I am to lose Mopsus, I should like a pleasant son.  Why has Phaon fallen into such foolish, evil ways?  The young Leonax—­”

“Is of a different stamp,” interrupted Semestre—­” Now come, my dove, I have a thousand things to do.”

“Go,” replied Xanthe.  “I’ll come directly.—­You will feel better, father, if you rest now.  Let me help you into the house, and lie down on the cushion for a time.”

The young girl tried to lift her father, but her strength was too feeble to raise the wearied man.  At last, with the conjurer’s help, he succeeded in rising, and the latter whispered earnestly in his ear: 

“My hens tell me many things, but another oracle behind my forehead says, you are on the high-road to recovery, but you won’t reach the goal, unless you treat the old woman, who is limping into the house yonder, as I do the birds I train.”

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A Question from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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