Infomotions, Inc.— Volume 07 / Ebers, Georg, 1837-1898

Author: Ebers, Georg, 1837-1898
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Title: Cleopatra, Volume 7.

Author: Georg Ebers

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CLEOPATRA

By Georg Ebers

Volume 7.



CHAPTER XV.

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.

Deeply anxious concerning the fate of the woman in her care--greatly
agitated, moreover, and exhausted physically and mentally--Charmian
sought her own apartments.

Here she hoped to find solace in Barine's cheerful and equable nature;
here the helpful hands of her dark-skinned maid and confidante awaited
her.

The sun was low in the western horizon when she entered the anteroom.
The members of the body-guard who were on duty told her that nothing
unusual had occurred, and with a sigh of relief she passed into the
sitting-room.

But the Ethiopian, who usually came to meet her with words of welcome,
took her veil and wraps, and removed her shoes, was absent.  Today no one
greeted her.  Not until she entered the second room, which she had
assigned to her guest, did she find Barine, who was weeping bitterly.

During Charmian's absence the latter had received a letter from Alexas,
in which he informed her that he was ordered by the Queen to subject her
to an examination the next morning.  Her cause looked dark but, if she
did not render his duty harder by the harshness which had formerly caused
him much pain, he would do his utmost to protect her from imprisonment,
forced labour in the mines, or even worse misfortunes.  The imprudent
game which she had played with King Caesarion had unfortunately roused
the people against her.  The depth of their indignation was shown by the
fury with which they had assailed the house of her grandfather, Didymus.
Nothing could save Dion, who had audaciously attacked the illustrious son
of their beloved Queen, from the rage of the populace.  He, Alexas, knew
that in this Dion she would lose a friend and protector, but he would be
disposed to take his place if her conduct did not render it impossible
for him to unite mercy with justice.

This shameful letter, which promised Barine clemency in return for her
favour without unmasking him in his character of judge, explained to
Charmian the agitation in which she found her friend's daughter.

It was doubtless a little relief to Barine to express her loathing and
abhorrence of Alexas as eagerly as her gentle nature would permit, but
fear, grief, and indignation continued to struggle for the mastery in her
oppressed soul.

It would have been expected that the keen-witted woman would have eagerly
inquired what Charmian had accomplished with the Queen and Archibius,
and what new events had happened to affect Cleopatra, the state, and the
city; but she questioned her with far deeper interest concerning the
welfare of her lover, desiring information in regard to many things of
which her friend could give no tidings.  In her brief visit to Dion's
couch she had not learned how he bore his own misfortunes and Barine's,
what view he took of the future, or what he expected from the woman he
loved.

Charmian's ignorance and silence in regard to these very matters
increased the anxiety of the endangered woman, who saw not only her own
life, but those dearest to her, seriously threatened.  So she entreated
her hostess to relieve her from the uncertainty which was harder to
endure than the most terrible reality; but the latter either could not or
would not give her any further details of Cleopatra's intentions, or the
fate and present abode of her grandparents and Helena.  This increased
her anxiety, for if Alexas's information was correct, her family must be
homeless.  When Charmian at last admitted that she had seen Dion only a
few minutes, the tortured Barine's power of quiet endurance gave way.

She, whose nature was so hopeful that, when the glow of the sunset faded,
she already anticipated with delight the rosy dawn of the next day, now
beheld in Cleopatra's hand the reed which was to sign the death-sentence
of Dion and herself.  Her mental vision conjured up her relatives wounded
by the falling house or bleeding under the stones hurled by the raging
populace.  She heard Alexas command the executioner to subject her to the
rack, and fancied that Anukis had not returned because she had failed to
find Dion.  The Queen's soldiers had probably carried him to prison,
loaded with chains, if Philostratus had not already instigated the mob to
drag him through the streets.

With feverish impetuosity, which alarmed Charmian the more because it was
so unlike her old friend's daughter, Barine described all the spectres
with which her imagination--agitated by terror, longing, love, and
loathing--terrified her; but the former exerted all the power of
eloquence she possessed, by turns reproving her and loading her with
caresses, in order to soothe her and rouse her from her despair.  But
nothing availed.  At last she succeeded in persuading the unhappy woman
to go with her to the window, which afforded a most beautiful view.
Westward, beyond the Heptastadium, the sun was sinking below the forests
of masts in the harbour of the Eunostus; and Charmian, who had learned
from her intercourse with the royal children how to soothe a troubled
young heart, to divert Barine's thoughts, directed her attention to the
crimson glow in the western sky, and told her how her father, the artist,
had showed her the superb brilliancy which colours gained at this hour of
the day, even when the west was less radiant than now.  But Barine, who
usually could never gaze her fill at such a spectacle, did not thank her,
for this sunset reminded her of another which she had lately watched at
Dion's side, and she again broke into convulsive sobs.

Charmian, not knowing what to do, passed her arm around her.  Just at
that moment the door was hurriedly thrown open, and Anukis, the Nubian,
entered.

Her mistress knew that something unusual must have happened to detain her
so long from her post at Barine's side, and her appearance showed that
she had been attending to important matters which had severely taxed her
strength.  Her shining dark skin looked ashen grey, her high forehead,
surrounded by tangled woolly locks, was dripping with perspiration, and
her thick lips were pale.  Although she must have undergone great
fatigue, she did not seem in need of rest; for, after greeting the
ladies, apologizing for her long absence, and telling Barine that this
time Dion had seemed to her half on the way to recovery, a rapid side
glance at her mistress conveyed an entreaty that she would follow her
into the next room.

But the language of the Nubian's eyes had not escaped the suspicious
watchfulness of the anxious Barine and, overwhelmed with fresh terror,
she begged that she might hear all.

Charmian ordered her maid to speak openly; but Anukis, ere she began,
assured them that she had received the news she brought from a most
trustworthy source--only it would make a heavy demand upon the resolution
and courage of Barine, whom she had hoped to find in a very different
mood.  There was no time to lose.  She was expected at the appointed
place an hour after sunset.

Here Charmian interrupted the maid with the exclamation "Impossible!"
and reminded her of the guards which Alexas, aided by Iras, who was
thoroughly familiar with the palace, had stationed the day before in the
anteroom, at all the doors--nay, even beneath the windows.

The Nubian replied that everything had been considered; but, to gain
time, she must beg Barine to let her colour her skin and curl her hair
while she was talking.

The surprise visible in the young beauty's face caused her to exclaim:
"Only act with entire confidence.  You shall learn everything directly.
There is so much to tell!  On the way here I had planned how to relate
the whole story in regular order, but it can't be done now.  No, no!
Whoever wants to save a flock of sheep from a burning shed must lead out
the bell-wether first--the main thing, I mean--so I will begin with that,
though it really comes last.  The explanation of how all this--"

Here, like a cry of joy, Barine's exclamation interrupted her:

"I am to fly, and Dion knows it and will follow me!  I see it in your
face."

In fact, every feature of the dusky maid-servant's ugly face betrayed
that pleasant thoughts were agitating her mind.  Her black eyes flashed
with fearless daring, and a smile beautified her big mouth and thick lips
as she replied:

"A loving heart like yours understands the art of prophecy better than
the chief priest of the great Serapis.  Yes, my young mistress, he of
whom you speak must disappear from this wicked city where so much evil
threatens you both.  He will certainly escape and, if the immortals aid
us and we are wise and brave, you also.  Whence the help comes can be
told later.  Now, the first thing is to transform you--don't be
reluctant--into the ugliest woman in the world--black Anukis.  You must
escape from the palace in this disguise.--Now you know the whole plan,
and while I get what is necessary from my chest of clothes, I beg you,
mistress, to consider how we are to obtain the black stains for that
ivory skin and golden hair."

With these words she left the room, but Barine flung herself into her
friend's arms, exclaiming, amid tears and laughter: "Though I should be
forced to remain forever as black and crooked as faithful Aisopion, if he
did not withdraw his love, though I were obliged to go through fire and
water--I would  O Charmian! what changes so quickly as joy and sorrow?
I would fain show some kindness to every one in the world, even to your
Queen, who has brought all these troubles upon me."

The new-born hope had transformed the despairing woman into a happy one,
and Charmian perceived it with grateful joy, secretly wishing that
Cleopatra had listened to her appeal.

While examining the hair-dyes used by the Queen she saw, lurking in the
background of what was still unexplained, and therefore confused her
mind, fresh and serious perils.  Barine, on the contrary, gazed across
them to the anticipated meeting with her lover, and was full of the
gayest expectation until the maid-servant's return.

The work of disfigurement began without delay.  Anukis moved her lips as
busily as her hands, and described in regular order all that had befallen
her during the eventful day.

Barine listened with rising excitement, and her joy increased as she
beheld the path which had been smoothed for her by the care and wisdom of
her friends.  Charmian, on the contrary, became graver and more quiet the
more distinctly she perceived the danger her favourite must encounter.
Yet she could not help admitting that it would be a sin against Barine's
safety, perhaps her very life, to withhold her from this well-considered
plan of escape.

That it must be tried was certain; but as the moment which was to
endanger the woman she loved drew nearer, and she could not help saying
to herself that she was aiding an enterprise in opposition to the express
command of the Queen and helping to execute a plan which threatened to
rouse the indignation, perhaps the fury, of Cleopatra, a feeling of
sorrow overpowered her.  She feared nothing for herself.  Not for a
single instant did she think of the unpleasant consequences which
Barine's escape might draw upon her.  The burden on her soul was due only
to the consciousness of having, for the first time, opposed the will of
the sovereign, to fulfil whose desires and to promote whose aims had been
the beloved duty of her life.  Doubtless the thought crossed her mind
that, by aiding Barine's escape, she was guarding Cleopatra from future
repentance; probably she felt sure that it was her duty to help rescue
this beautiful young life, whose bloom had been so cruelly assailed by
tempest and hoar-frost, and which now had a prospect of the purest
happiness; yet, though in itself commendable, the deed brought her into
sharp conflict with the loftiest aims and aspirations of her life.  And
how much nearer than the other was the woman--she shrank from the word--
whom she was about to betray, how much greater was Cleopatra's claim
to her love and gratitude!  Could she have any other emotion than
thankfulness if the plan of escape succeeded?  Yet she was reluctant to
perform the task of making Barine's beautiful, symmetrical figure
resemble the hunch-backed Nubian's, or to dip her fingers into the pomade
intended for Cleopatra; and it grieved her to mar the beauty of Barine's
luxuriant tresses by cutting off part of her thick fair braids.

True, these things could not be avoided, if the flight was to succeed,
and the further Anukis advanced in her story, the fewer became her
mistress's objections to the plan.

The conversation between Iras and Alexas, which had been overheard by the
maid, already made it appear necessary to withdraw Barine and her lover
from the power of such foes.  The faithful man whom Anukis had found with
Dion, whose name she did not mention and of whose home she said only that
no safer hiding-place could be found, even by the mole which burrowed in
the earth, really seemed to have been sent with Gorgias to Dion's couch
by Fate itself.  The control of the subterranean chambers in the Temple
of Isis which had been bestowed on the architect, also appeared like a
miracle.

Upon a small tablet, which the wise Aisopion had intentionally delayed
handing to her mistress until now, were the lines:  "Archibius greets his
sister Charmian.  If I know your heart, it will be as hard for you as for
me to share this plot, yet it must be done for the sake of her father, to
save the life and happiness of his child.  So it must fall to your lot to
bring Barine to the Temple of Isis at the Corner of the Muses.  She will
find her lover there and, if possible, be wedded to him.  As the
sanctuary is so near, you need leave the palace only a short time.  Do
not tell Barine what we have planned.  The disappointment would be too
great if it should prove impracticable."

This letter and the arrangement it proposed transformed the serious
scruples which shadowed Charmian's good-will into a joyous, nay,
enthusiastic desire to render assistance.  Barine's marriage to the man
who possessed her heart was close at hand, and she was the daughter of
Leonax, who had once been dear to her.  Fear and doubt vanished as if
scattered to the four winds, and when Aisopion's work of transformation
was completed and Barine stood before her as the high-shouldered, dark-
visaged, wrinkled maid, she could not help admitting that it would be
easy to escape from the palace in that disguise.

She now told Barine that she intended to accompany her herself; and
though the former's stained face forced her to refrain from kissing her
friend, she plainly expressed to her and the faithful freedwoman the
overflowing gratitude which filled her heart.

Anukis was left alone.  After carefully removing all the traces of her
occupation, as habit dictated, she raised her arms in prayer, beseeching
the gods of her native land to protect the beautiful woman to whom she
had loaned her own misshapen form, which had now been of genuine service,
and who had gone forth to meet so many dangers, but also a happiness
whose very hope had been denied to her.

Charmian had told her maid that if the Queen should inquire for her
before Iras returned from the Choma to say that she had been obliged to
leave the palace, and to supply her place.  During their absence, when
Charmian had been attacked by sickness, Cleopatra had often entrusted the
care of her toilet to Aisopion, and had praised her skill.

The Queen's confidential attendant was followed as usual when she went
out by a dark-skinned maid.  Lanterns and lamps had already been lighted
in the corridors of the spacious palace, and the court-yards were ablaze
with torches and pitch-pans; but, brilliantly as they burned in many
places, and numerous as were the guards, officers, eunuchs, clerks,
soldiers, cooks, attendants, slaves, door-keepers, and messengers whom
they passed, not one gave them more than a careless glance.

So they reached the last court-yard, and then came a moment when the
hearts of both women seemed to stop beating--for the man whom they had
most cause to dread, Alexas the Syrian, approached.

And he did not pass the fugitives, but stopped Charmian, and courteously,
even obsequiously, informed her that he wished to get rid of the
troublesome affair of her favourite, which had been assigned to him
against his will, and therefore had determined to bring Barine to trial
early the following morning.

The Syrian's body-servant attended his master, and while the former was
talking with Charmian the latter turned to the supposed Nubian, tapped
her lightly on the shoulder, and whispered: "Come this evening, as you
did yesterday.  You haven't finished the story of Prince Setnau."

The fugitive felt as if she had grown dumb and could never more regain
the power of speech.  Yet she managed to nod, and directly after the
favourite bowed a farewell to Charmian.  The Ligurian was obliged to
follow his master, while Charmian and Barine passed through the gateway
between the last pylons into the open air.

Here the sea-breeze seemed to waft her a joyous greeting from the realm
of liberty and happiness, and the timid woman, amid all the perils which
surrounded her, regained sufficient presence of mind to tell her friend
what Alexas's slave had whispered--that Aisopion might remind him of it
the same evening, and thus strengthen his belief that the Nubian had
accompanied the Queen's confidante.

The way to the Temple of Isis was short.  The stars showed that they
would reach their destination in time; but a second delay unexpectedly
occurred.  From the steps leading to the cella of the sanctuary a
procession, whose length seemed endless, came towards them.  At the head
of the train marched eight pastophori, bearing the image of Isis.  Then
came the basket-bearers of the goddess with several other priestesses,
followed by the reader with an open book-roll.  Behind him appeared the
quaternary number of prophets, whose head, the chief priest, moved with
stately dignity beneath a canopy.  The rest of the priestly train bore in
their hands manuscripts, sacred vessels, standards, and wreaths.  The
priestesses--some of whom, with garlands on their flowing hair, were
already shaking the sistrum of Isis--mingled with the line of priests,
their high voices blending with the deep notes of the men.  Neokori, or
temple servants, and a large number of worshippers of Isis, closed the
procession, all wearing wreaths and carrying flowers.  Torch and lantern
bearers lighted the way, and the perfume of the incense rising from the
little pan of charcoal in the hand of a bronze arm, which the pastophori
waved to and fro, surrounded and floated after the procession.

The two women waiting for the train to pass saw it turn towards Lochias,
and the conversation of the bystanders informed them that its object was
to convey to "the new Isis," the Queen, the greeting of the goddess, and
assure the sovereign of the divinity's remembrance of her in the hour of
peril.

Cleopatra could not help accepting this friendly homage, and it was
incumbent upon her to receive it wearing on her head the crown of Upper
and Lower Egypt, and robed in all the ecclesiastical vestments which only
her two most trusted attendants knew how to put on with the attention to
details that custom required.  This had never been entrusted to maids of
inferior position like the Nubian; so Cleopatra would miss Charmian.

The thought filled her with fresh uneasiness and, when the steps were at
last free, she asked herself anxiously how all this would end.

It seemed as if the fugitive and her companion had exposed themselves to
this great peril in vain; for some of the temple servants were forcing
back those who wished to enter the sanctuary, shouting that it would be
closed until the return of the procession.  Barine gazed timidly into
Charmian's face; but, ere she could express her opinion, the tall figure
of a man appeared on the temple steps.  It was Archibius, who with grave
composure bade them follow him, and silently led them around the
sanctuary to a side door, through which, a short time before, a litter
had passed, accompanied by several attendants.

Ascending a flight of steps within the long building, they reached the
dimly lighted cella.

As in the Temple of Osiris at Abydos seven corridors, here three led to
the same number of apartments, the holy place of the sanctuary.  The
central one was dedicated to Isis, that on the left to her husband
Osiris, and that on the right to Horus, the son of the great goddess.
Before it, scarcely visible in the dim light, stood the altars, loaded
with sacrifices by Archibius.

Beside that of Horus was the litter which had been borne into the temple
before the arrival of the women.  From it, supported by two friends,
descended a slender young man.

A hollow sound echoed through the pillared hall.  The iron door at the
main entrance of the temple had been closed.  The shrill rattle that
followed proceeded from the metal bolts which an old servant of the
sanctuary had shot into the sockets.

Barine started, but neither inquired the cause of the noise nor perceived
the wealth of objects here presented to the senses; for the man who,
leaning on another's arm, approached the altar, was Dion, the lover who
had perilled his life for her sake.  Her eyes rested intently on his
figure, her whole heart yearned towards him and, unable to control
herself,--she called his name aloud.

Charmian gazed anxiously around the group, but soon uttered a sigh of
relief; for the tall man whose arm supported Dion was Gorgias, the worthy
architect, his best friend, and the other, still taller and stronger, her
own brother Archibius.  Yonder figure, emerging from the disguise of
wraps, was Berenike, Barine's mother.  All trustworthy confidants!  The
only person whom she did not know was the handsome young man standing at
her brother's side.

Barine, whose arm she still held, had struggled to escape to rush to her
mother and lover; but Archibius had approached, and in a whisper warned
her to be patient and to refrain from any greeting or question,
"supposing," he added, "that you are willing to be married at this altar
to Dion, the son of Eumenes."

Charmian felt Barine's arm tremble in hers at this suggestion, but the
young beauty obeyed her friend's directions.  She did not know what had
be fallen her, or whether, in the excess of happiness which overwhelmed
her, to shout aloud in her exultant joy, or melt into silent tears of
gratitude and emotion.

No one spoke.  Archibius took a roll of manuscript from Dion's hand,
presented himself before the assembled company as the bride's kyrios, or
guardian, and asked Barine whether she so recognized him.  Then he
returned to Dion the marriage contract, whose contents he knew and
approved, and informed those present that, in the marriage about to be
solemnized, they must consider him the paranymphos, or best man, and
Berenike as the bridesmaid, and they instantly lighted a torch at the
fires burning on one of the altars.  Archibius, as kyrios, joined the
lovers' hands in the Egyptian--Barine's mother, as bridesmaid, in the
Greek-manner, and Dion gave his bride a plain iron ring.  It was the same
one which his father had bestowed at his own wedding, and he whispered:
"My mother valued it; now it is your turn to honour the ancient
treasure."

After stating that the necessary sacrifices had been offered to Isis and
Serapis, Zeus, Hera, and Artemis, and that the marriage between Dion, son
of Eumenes, and Barine, daughter of Leonax, was concluded, Archibius
shook hands with both.

Haste seemed necessary, for he permitted Berenike and his sister only
time for a brief embrace, and Gorgias to clasp her hand and Dion's.  Then
he beckoned, and the newly made bride's mother followed him in tears,
Charmian bewildered and almost stupefied.  She did not fully realize the
meaning of the event she had just witnessed until an old neokori had
guided her and the others into the open air.

Barine felt as if every moment might rouse her from a blissful dream,
and yet she gladly told herself that she was awake, for the man walking
before her, leaning on the arm of a friend, was Dion.  True, she saw,
even in the faint light of the dim temple corridor, that he was
suffering.  Walking appeared to be so difficult that she rejoiced when,
yielding to Gorgias's entreaties, he entered the litter.

But where were the bearers?

She was soon to learn; for, even while she looked for them, the architect
and the youth, in whom she had long since recognized Philotas, her
grandfather's assistant, seized the poles.

"Follow us," said Gorgias, under his breath, and she obeyed, keeping
close behind the litter, which was borne first down a broad and then a
narrow staircase, and finally along a passage.  Here a door stopped the
fugitives; but the architect opened it and helped his friend out of the
litter, which before proceeding farther he placed in a room filled with
various articles discovered during his investigation of the subterranean
temple chambers.

Hitherto not a word had been spoken.  Now Gorgias called to Barine: "This
passage is low--you must stoop.  Cover your head, and don't be afraid if
you meet bats.  They have long been undisturbed.  We might have taken you
from the temple to the sea, and waited there, but it would probably have
attracted attention and been dangerous.  Courage, young wife of Dion!
The corridor is long, and walking through it is difficult; but compared
with the road to the mines, it is as smooth and easy as the Street of the
King.  If you think of your destination, the bats will seem like the
swallows which announce the approach of spring."

Barine nodded gratefully to him; but she kissed the hand of Dion, who was
moving forward painfully, leaning on the arm of his friend.  The light of
the torch carried by Gorgias's faithful foreman, who led the way, had
fallen on her blackened arm, and when the little party advanced she kept
behind the others.  She thought it might be unpleasant for her lover to
see her thus disfigured, and spared him, though she would gladly have
remained nearer.  As soon as the passage grew lower, the wounded man's
friends took him in their arms, and their task was a hard one, for they
were not only obliged to move onward bending low under the heavy burden,
but also to beat off the bats which, frightened by the foreman's torch,
flew up in hosts.

Barine's hair was covered, it is true, but at any other time the hideous
creatures, which often brushed against her head and arms, would have
filled her with horror and loathing.  Now she scarcely heeded them; her
eyes were fixed on the recumbent figure in the bearers' arms, the man to
whom she belonged, body and soul, and whose patient suffering pierced her
inmost heart.  His head rested on the breast of Gorgias, who walked
directly in front of her; the architect's stooping posture concealed his
face, but his feet were visible and, whenever they twitched, she fancied
he was in pain.  Then she longed to press forward to his side, wipe the
perspiration from his brow in the hot, low corridor, and whisper words of
love and encouragement.

This she was sometimes permitted to do when the friends put down their
heavy burden.  True, they allowed themselves only brief intervals of
rest, but they were long enough to show her how the sufferer's strength
was failing.  When they at last reached their destination, Philotas was
forced to exert all his strength to support the exhausted man, while
Gorgias cautiously opened the door.  It led to a flight of sea-washed
steps close to the garden of Didymus, which as a child she had often used
with her brother to float a little boat upon the water.

The architect opened the door only a short distance; he was expected,
for Barine soon heard him whisper, and suddenly the door was flung wide.
A tall man raised Dion and bore him into the open air.  While she was
still gazing after him, a second figure of equal size approached her and,
hastily begging her permission, lifted her in his arms like a child, and
as she inhaled the cool night air and felt the water through which her
bearer waded splash up and wet her feet, her eyes sought her new-made
husband--but in vain; the night was very dark, and the lights on the
shore did not reach this spot so far below the walls of the quay.

Barine was frightened; but a few minutes after the outlines of a large
fishing boat loomed through the darkness, dimly illumined by the harbour
lights, and the next instant the giant who carried her placed her on the
deck, and a deep voice whispered: "All's well.  I'll bring some wine at
once."

Then Barine saw her husband lying motionless on a couch which had been
prepared for him in the prow of the boat.  Bending over him, she
perceived that he had fainted, and while rubbing his forehead with the
wine, raising his head on her lap, cheering him, and afterwards by the
light of a small lantern carefully renewing the bandage on his shoulder,
she did not notice that the vessel was moving through the water until the
boatman set the triangular sail.

She had not been told where the boat was bearing her, and she did not
ask.  Any spot that she could share with Dion was welcome.  The more
lonely the place, the more she could be to him.  How her heart swelled
with gratitude and love!  When she bent over him, kissed his forehead,
and felt how feverishly it burned, she thought, "I will nurse you back to
health," and raised her eyes and soul to her favourite god, to whom she
owed the gift of song, and who understood everything beautiful and pure,
to thank Phoebus Apollo and beseech him to pour his rays the next morning
on a convalescent man.  While she was still engaged in prayer the boat
touched the shore.  Again strong arms bore her and Dion to the land, and
when her foot touched the solid earth, her rescuer, the freedman Pyrrhus,
broke the silence, saying: "Welcome, wife of Dion, to our island!  True,
you must be satisfied to take us as we are.  But if you are as content
with us as we are glad to serve you and your lord, who is ours also, the
hour of leave-taking will be far distant."

Then, leading the way to the house, he showed her as her future
apartments two large whitewashed rooms, whose sole ornament was their
exquisite neatness.  On the threshold stood Pyrrhus's grey-haired wife,
a young woman, and a girl scarcely beyond childhood; but the older one
modestly welcomed Barine, and also begged her to accept their
hospitality.  Recovery was rapid in the pure air of the Serpent Isle.
She herself, and--she pointed to the others--her oldest son's wife, and
her own daughter, Dione, would be ready to render her any service.




CHAPTER XVI.

Brothers and sisters are rarely talkative when they are together.  As
Charmian went to Lochias with Archibius, it was difficult for her to find
words, the events of the past few hours had agitated her so deeply.
Archibius, too, could not succeed in turning his thoughts in any other
direction, though important and far more momentous things claimed his
attention.

They walked on silently side by side.  In reply to his sister's inquiry
where the newly wedded pair were to be concealed, he had answered that,
spite of her trustworthiness, this must remain a secret.  To her second
query, how had it been possible to use the interior of the Temple of Isis
without interruption, he also made a guarded reply.

In fact, it was the control of the subterranean corridors of the
sanctuary which had suggested to Gorgias the idea of carrying Dion
through them to Pyrrhus's fishing-boat.  To accomplish this it was only
necessary to have the Temple of Isis, which usually remained open day and
night, left to the fugitive's friends for a short time; and this was
successfully managed.

The historian Timagenes, who had come from Rome as ambassador and claimed
the hospitality of his former pupil Archibius, had been empowered to
offer Cleopatra recognition of her own and her children's right to the
throne, and a full pardon, if she would deliver Mark Antony into the
hands of Octavianus, or have him put to death.

The Alexandrian Timagenes considered this demand both just and desirable,
because it promised to deliver his native city from the man whose
despotic arrogance menaced its freedom, and whose lavish generosity and
boundless love of splendour diminished its wealth.  To Rome, as whose
representative the historian appeared, this man's mere existence meant
constant turmoil and civil war.  At the restoration of the flute-player
by Gabinius and Mark Antony, Timagenes had been carried into slavery.
Later, when, after his freedom had been purchased by the son of Sulla, he
succeeded in attaining great influence in Rome, he still remained hostile
to Mark Antony, and it had been a welcome charge to work against him in
Alexandria.  He hoped to find an ally in Archibius, whose loyal devotion
to the Queen he knew.  Arius, Barine's uncle and Octavianus's former
tutor, would also aid him.  The most powerful support of his mission,
however, could be rendered by the venerable chief priest, the head of the
whole Egyptian hierarchy.  He had shown the latter that Antony, in any
case, was a lost man, and Egypt was in the act of dropping like a ripe
fruit into the lap of Octavianus.  It would soon be in his power to give
the country whatever degree of liberty and independence he might choose.
The Caesar had the sole disposal of the Queen's fate also, and whoever
desired to see her remain on the throne must strive to gain the good-will
of Octavianus.

The wise Anubis had considered all these things, but he owed to Timagenes
the hint that Arius was the man whom Octavianus most trusted.  So the
august prelate secretly entered into communication with Barine's uncle.
But the dignity of his high office, and the feebleness of extreme age,
forbade Anubis to seek the man who was suspected of friendship for the
Romans.  He had therefore sent his trusted secretary, the young Serapion,
to make a compact as his representative with the friend of Octavianus,
whose severe injuries prevented his leaving the house to go to the chief
priest.

During Timagenes's negotiations with the secretary and Arius, Archibius
came to entreat Barine's uncle to do everything in his power to save his
niece; and, as all the Queen's friends were anxious to prevent an act
which, in these times of excitement, could not fail, on account of its
connection with Dion, a member of the Council, to rouse a large number of
the citizens against her, Serapion, as soon as he was made aware of the
matter, eagerly protested his readiness to do his best to save the
imperilled lovers.  He cared nothing for Barine or Dion as individuals,
but he doubtless would have been ready to make a still greater sacrifice
to win the influential Archibius, and especially Arius, who would have
great power through Octavianus, the rising sun.

The men had just begun to discuss plans for saving Barine, when the
Nubian appeared and told Archibius what had been arranged beside Dion's
sick-bed by the freedman and Gorgias.  The escape of the fugitives
depended solely upon their reaching the boat unseen, and the surest way
to accomplish this was to use the subterranean passage which the
architect had again opened.

Archibius, to whom the representative of the chief priest had offered his
aid, now took the others into his confidence, and Arius proposed that
Barine should marry Dion in the Temple of Isis, and the couple should
afterwards be guided through the secret passage to the boat.  This
proposal was approved, and Serapion promised to reserve the sanctuary for
the wedding of the fugitives for a short time after the departure of the
procession, which was to take place at sunset.  In return for this
service another might perhaps soon be requested from the friend of
Octavianus, who greeted his promise with grateful warmth.

"The priesthood," said Serapion, "takes sides with all who are unjustly
persecuted, and in this case bestows aid the more willingly on account of
its great anxiety to guard the Queen from an act which would be difficult
to approve."  As for the fugitives, so far as he could see, only two
possibilities were open to them: Cleopatra would cleave to Mark Antony
and go--would that the immortals might avert it!--to ruin, or she would
sacrifice him and save her throne and life.  In both cases the endangered
lovers could soon return uninjured--the Queen had a merciful heart, and
never retained anger long if no guilt existed.

The details of the plan were then settled by Archibius, Anukis, and
Berenike, who was with the family of Arius, and the decision was
communicated to the architect.  Archibius had maintained the same silence
concerning the destination of the fugitives towards the men composing the
council and Barine's mother as to his sister.  With regard to the mission
of Timagenes and the political questions which occupied his mind, he gave
Charmian only the degree of information necessary to explain the plan she
so lovingly promoted; but she had no desire to know more.  On the way
home her mind was wholly absorbed by the fear that Cleopatra had missed
her services and discovered Barine's flight.  True, she mentioned the
Queen's desire to place her children in Archibius's charge, but she could
not give him full particulars until she reached her own apartments.

Her absence had not been noticed.  The Regent Mardion had received the
procession in the Queen's name, for Cleopatra had driven into the city,
no one knew where.

Charmian entered her apartments with a lighter heart.  Anukis opened the
door to them.  She had remained undisturbed, and it was a pleasure to
Archibius to give the faithful, clever freedwoman an account of the
matter with his own lips.  He could have bestowed no richer reward upon
the modest servant, who listened to his words as if they were a
revelation.  When she disclaimed the thanks with which he concluded,
protesting that she was the person under obligation, the expression was
sincere.  Her keen intellect instantly recognized the aristocrat's manner
of addressing an equal or an inferior; and he who, in her eyes, was the
first of men, had described the course of events as though she had stood
on the same level.  The Queen herself might have been satisfied with the
report.

When she left Charmian's rooms to join the other servants, she told
herself that she was an especially favoured mortal; and when a young cook
teased her about her head being sunk between her shoulders, she answered,
laughing--"My shoulders have grown so high because I shrug them so often
at the fools who jeer at me and yet are not half so happy and grateful."

Charmian, sorely wearied, had flung herself into an arm-chair, and
Archibius took his place opposite to her.  They were happy in each
other's society, even when silent; but to-day the hearts of both were so
full that they fared like those who are so worn out by fatigue that they
cannot sleep.  How much they had to tell each other!--yet it was long ere
Charmian broke the silence and returned to the subject of the Queen's
wish, describing to her brother Cleopatra's visit to the house which the
children had built, how kind and cordial she had been; yet, a few minutes
later, incensed by the mere mention of Barine's name, she had dismissed
her so ungraciously.

"I do not know what you intend," she said in conclusion, "but,
notwithstanding my love for her, I must perhaps decide in favour of what
is most difficult, for--when she learns that it was I who withdrew the
daughter of Leonax from her and the base Alexas--what treatment can I
expect, especially as Iras no longer gives me the same affection, and
shows that she has forgotten my love and care?  This will increase, and
the worst of the matter is, that if the Queen begins to favour her, I
cannot justly reproach her, for Iras is keener-witted, and has a more
active brain.  Statecraft was always odious to me.  Iras, on the
contrary, is delighted with the opportunity to speak on subjects
connected with the government of the country, and especially the
ceaseless, momentous game with Rome and the men who guide her destiny."

"That game is lost," Archibius broke in with so much earnestness that
Charmian started, repeating in a low, timid tone:

"Lost?"

"Forever," said Archibius, "unless--

"The Olympians be praised--that there is still a doubt."

"Unless Cleopatra can decide to commit an act which will force her to
be faithless to herself, and destroy her noble image through all future
generations."

"How?"

"Whenever you learn it, will be too soon."

"And suppose she should do it, Archibius?  You are her most trusted
confidant.  She will place in your charge what she loves more than she
does herself."

"More?  You mean, I suppose, the children?"

"The children!  Yes, a hundred times yes.  She loves them better than
aught else on earth.  For them, believe me, she would be ready to go to
her death."

"Let us hope so."

"And you--were she to commit the horrible deed--I can only suspect what
it is.  But should she descend from the height which she has hitherto
occupied--would you still be ready--"

"With me," he interrupted quietly, "what she does or does not do matters
nothing.  She is unhappy and will be plunged deeper and deeper into
misery.  I know this, and it constrains me to exert my utmost powers in
her service.  I am hers as the hermit consecrated to Serapis belongs to
the god.  His every thought must be devoted to him.  To the deity who
created him he dedicates body and soul until the death to which he dooms
him.  The bonds which unite me to this woman--you know their origin--are
not less indestructible.  Whatever she desires whose fulfilment will not
force me to despise myself is granted in advance."

"She will never require such things from the friend of her childhood,"
cried Charmian.  Then, approaching him with both arms extended joyfully,
she exclaimed: "Thus you ought to speak and feel, and therein is the
answer to the question which has agitated my soul since yesterday.
Barine's flight, the favour and disfavour of Cleopatra, Iras, my poor
head, which abhors politics, while at this time the Queen needs keen-
sighted confidants--"

"By no means," her brother interrupted.  "It is for men alone to give
counsel in these matters.  Accursed be women's gossip over their toilet
tables.  It has already scattered to the four winds many a well-
considered plan of the wisest heads, and an Iras could never be more
fatal to statecraft than just at the present moment, had not Fate
already uttered the final verdict."

"Then hence with these scruples," cried Charmian eagerly; "my doubts are
at an end!  As usual, you point out the right path.  I had thought of
returning to the country estate we call Irenia--the abode of peace--or to
our beloved little palace at Kanopus, to spend the years which may still
be allotted to me, and return to everything that made my childhood
beautiful.  The philosophers, the flowers in the garden, the poets--
even the new Roman ones, of whose works Timagenes sent us such charming
specimens--would enliven the solitude.  The child, the daughter of the
man whose love I renounced, and afterwards perhaps her sons and
daughters, would fill the place of my own.  As they would have been dear
to Leonax, I, too, would have loved them!  This is the guise in which the
future has appeared to me in many a quiet hour.  But shall Charmian--who,
when her heart throbbed still more warmly and life lay fair before her,
laid her first love upon the altar of sacrifice for her royal playfellow
--abandon Cleopatra in misfortune from mere selfish scruples?  No, no!--
Like you, I too belong--come what may--to the Queen."

She gazed into her brother's face, sure of his approval but, waving his
uplifted hand, he answered gravely: "No, Charmian!  What I, a man, can
assume, might be fatal to you, a woman.  The present is not sweet enough
for me to embitter it with wormwood from the future.  And yet you must
cast one glance into its gloomy domain, in order to understand me.  You
can be silent, and what you now learn will be a secret between us.  Only
one thing"--here he lowered the loud tones of his deep voice--"only one
thing can save her: the murder of Antony, or an act of shameless
treachery which would deliver him into Octavianus's power.  This is the
proposal Timagenes brought."

"This?" she asked in a hollow tone, her grey head drooping.

"This," he repeated firmly.  "And if she succumbs to the temptation, she
will be faithless to the love which has coursed through her whole life as
the Nile flows through the land of her ancestors.  Then, Charmian, stay,
stay under any circumstances, cling to her more firmly than ever, for
then, then, my sister, she will be more wretched--ten, a hundred fold
more wretched than if Octavianus deprives her of everything, perhaps even
life itself."

"Nor will I leave her, come what may.  I will remain at her side until
the end," cried Charmian eagerly.  But Archibius, without noticing the
enthusiastic ardor, so unusual to his sister's quiet nature, calmly
continued: "She won your heart also, and it seems impossible for you to
desert her.  Many have shared our feelings; and it is no disgrace to any
one.  Misfortune is a weapon which cleaves base natures like a sword, yet
like a hammer welds noble ones more closely.  To you, therefore, it now
seems doubly difficult to leave her, but you need love.  The right to
live and guard yourself from the most pitiable retrogression is your due,
as much as that of the rare woman on the throne.  So long as you are sure
of her love, remain with her, and show your devotion in every situation
until the end.  But the motives which were drawing you away to books,
flowers, and children, weigh heavily in the balance, and if you lack the
anchor of her favour and love, I shall see you perish miserably.  The
frost emanating from Cleopatra, if her heart grew cold to you, the pin-
pricks with which Iras would assail you, were you defenceless, would kill
you.  This must not be, sister; we will guard against it  Do not
interrupt me.  The counsel I advise you to follow has been duly weighed.
If you see that the Queen still loves you as in former days, cling to
her; but should you learn the contrary, bid her farewell to-morrow.  My
Irenia is yours--"

"But she does love me, and even should she no longer--"

"The test is at hand.  We will leave the decision to her.  You shall
confess that you were the culprit who aided Barine to escape her power to
punish."

"Archibius!"

"If you did not, a series of falsehoods must ensue.  Try whether the
petty qualities in her nature, which urged her to commit the fate of
Leonax's daughter to unworthy hands, are more powerful than the nobler
ones.  Try whether she is worthy of the self-sacrificing fidelity which
you have given her all your life.  If she remains the same as before,
spite of this admission--"

Here he was interrupted by Anukis, who asked if her mistress would see
Iras at this late hour.  "Admit her," replied Archibius, after hastily
exchanging glances with his sister, whose face had paled at his demand.
He perceived it and, as the servant withdrew, he clasped her hand, saying
with earnest affection: "I gave you my opinion, but at our age we must
take counsel with ourselves, and you will find the right path."

"I have already found it," she answered softly with downcast eyes.  "This
visitor brought a speedy decision.  I must not feel ashamed in Iras's
presence."

She had scarcely finished speaking when the Queen's younger confidante
entered.  She was excited and, after casting a searching glance around
the familiar room, she asked, after a curt greeting:

"No one knows where the Queen has gone.  Mardion received the procession
in her place.  Did she take you into her confidence?"

Charmian answered in the negative, and inquired whether Antony had
arrived, and how she had found him.

"In a pitiable state," was the reply.  "I hastened hither to prevent the
Queen from visiting him, if possible.  She would have received a rebuff.
It is horrible."

"The disappointment of Paraetonium is added to the other burdens,"
observed Archibius.

"A feather compared with the rest," cried Iras indignantly.  "What a
spectacle!  A shrivelled soul, never too large, in the body of a powerful
giant.  Disaster crushes the courage of the descendant of Herakles.  The
weakling will drag the Queen's splendid courage with him into the dust."

"We will do our best to prevent it," replied Archibius firmly.
"The immortals have placed you and Charmian at her side to sustain her,
if her own strength fails.  The time to test your powers has arrived."

"I know my duty," replied Iras austerely.

"Prove it!" said Archibius earnestly.  "You think you have cause for
anger against Charmian."

"Whoever treats my foes so tenderly can doubtless dispense with my
affection.  Where is your ward?"

"That you shall learn later," replied Charmian advancing.  "But when you
do know, you will have still better reason to doubt my love; yet it was
only to save one dear to me from misery, certainly not to grieve you,
that I stepped between you and Barine.  And now let me say--had you
wounded me to the quick, and everything dear to the Greek heart called to
me for vengeance--I should impose upon myself whatever constraint might
be necessary to deny the impulse, because this breast contains a love
stronger, more powerful, than the fiercest hate.  And this love we both
share.  Hate me, strive to wound and injure one at whose side you have
hitherto stood like a daughter, but beware of robbing me of the strength
and freedom which I need, to be and to offer to my royal mistress all the
assistance in my power.  I have just been consulting my brother about
leaving Cleopatra's service."

"Now?" Iras broke in vehemently.  "No, no!  Not that!  It must not be!
She cannot spare you now."

"More easily, perhaps, than you," replied Charmian; "yet in many things
my services might be hard to replace."

"Nothing under the sun could do it," cried Iras eagerly.  "If, in these
days of trouble, she should lose you too--"

"Still darker ones are approaching," interrupted Archibius positively.
"Perhaps you will learn all to-morrow.  Whether Charmian yields to her
desire for rest, or continues in the service of the Queen, depends on
you.  If you wish her to remain you must not render it too hard for her
to do so.  We three, my child, are perhaps the only persons at this court
to whom the Queen's happiness is more than their own, and therefore we
should permit no incident, whatever name it may bear, to cloud our
harmony."

Iras threw back her head with angry pride, exclaiming passionately:
"Was it I who injured you?  I do not know in what respect.  But you and
Charmian--though you have so long been aware that this heart was closed
against every love save one--stepped between me and the man for whom I
have yearned since childhood, and built the bridge which united Dion and
Barine.  I held the woman I hated in my grasp, and thanked the immortals
for the boon; but you two--it is not difficult to guess the secret you
are still trying to keep from me--you aided her to escape.  You have
robbed me of my revenge; you have again placed the singer in the path
where she must find the man to whom I have a better and older claim, and
who perhaps may still be considering which of us two will be the better
mistress of his house, if Alexas and his worthy brother do not arrange
matters so that we must both content ourselves with thinking tenderly of
a dead man.  That is why I believe that I am no longer indebted to you,
that Charmian has more than repaid herself for all the kindness she has
ever showed me."

With these words she hurried to the door, but paused on the threshold,
exclaiming: "This is the state of affairs; yet I am ready to serve the
Queen hand in hand with you as before; for you two--as I have said--are
necessary to her.  In other respects--I shall follow my own path."




CHAPTER XVII.

Cleopatra had sought the venerable Anubis, who now, as the priest of
Alexander, at the age of eighty, ruled the whole hierarchy of the
country.  It was difficult for him to leave his arm-chair, but he had
been carried to the observatory to examine the adverse result of the
observation made by the Queen herself.  The position of the stars,
however, had been so unfavourable that the more deeply Cleopatra entered
into these matters, the less easy he found it to urge the mitigating
influences of distant planets, which he had at first pointed out.

In his reception-hall, however, the chief priest had assured her that the
independence of Egypt and the safety of her own person lay in her hands;
only--the planets showed this--a terrible sacrifice was required--a
sacrifice of which his dignity, his eighty years, and his love for her
alike forbade him to speak.  Cleopatra was accustomed to hear these
mysterious sayings from his lips, and interpreted them in her own way.
Many motives had induced her to seek the venerable prelate at this late
hour.  In difficult situations he had often aided her with good counsel;
but this time she was not led to him by the magic cup of Nektanebus,
which the eight pastophori who accompanied it had that day restored to
the temple, for since the battle of Actium the superb vessel had been a
source of constant anxiety to her.

Cleopatra had now asked the teacher of her childhood the direct question
whether the cup--a wide, shallow vessel, with a flat, polished bottom
could really have induced Antony to leave the battle and follow her ere
the victory was decided.  She had used it just before the conflict
between the galleys, and this circumstance led Anubis to answer
positively in the affirmative.

Long ago the marvellous chalice had been exhibited to her among the
temple treasures, and she was told that every one who induced another
person to be reflected from its shining surface obtained the mastery over
his will.  Her wish to possess it, however, was not gratified, and she
did not ask for it again until the limitless devotion and ardent love of
Antony had seemed less fervent than of yore.  From that time she had
never ceased to urge her aged friend to place the wondrous cup in her
keeping.  At first he had absolutely refused, predicting that its use
would bring misfortune upon her; but when her request was followed by an
imperative command, and the goblet was entrusted to her, Anubis himself
believed that this one vessel did possess the magic power attributed to
it.  He deemed that the drinking-cup afforded the strongest proof of the
magic art, far transcending human ability, of the great goddess by whose
aid King Nektanebus--who, according to tradition, was the father of
Alexander the Great--was said to have made the vessel in the Isis island
of Philoe.

Anubis had intended to remind Cleopatra of his refusal, and show her the
great danger incurred by mortals who strove to use powers beyond their
sphere.  It had been his purpose to bid her remember Phaeton, who had
almost kindled a conflagration in the world, when he attempted, in the
chariot of his father, Phoebus Apollo, to guide the horses of the sun.
But this was unnecessary, for he had scarcely assented to the question
ere, with passionate vehemence, she ordered him to destroy before her
eyes the cup which had brought so much misfortune.

The priest feigned that her desire harmonized with a resolution which he
had himself formed.  In fact, before her arrival, he had feared that the
goblet might be used in some fatal manner if Octavianus should take
possession of the city and country, and the wonder-working vessel should
fall into his hands.  Nektanebus had made the cup for Egypt.  To wrest it
from the foreign ruler was acting in the spirit of the last king in whose
veins had flowed the blood of the Pharaohs, and who had toiled with
enthusiastic devotion for the independence and liberty of his people.
To destroy this man's marvellous work rather than deliver it to the Roman
conqueror seemed to the chief priest, after the Queen's command, a sacred
duty, and as such he represented it to be when he commanded the smelting
furnace to be fired and the cup transformed into a shapeless mass before
the eyes of Cleopatra.

While the metal was melting he eagerly told the Queen how easily she
could dispense with the vessel which owed its magic power to the mighty
Isis.

The spell of woman's charms was also a gift of the goddess.  It would
suffice to render Antony's heart soft and yielding as the fire melted the
gold.  Perhaps the Imperator had forfeited, with the Queen's respect, her
love--the most priceless of blessings.  He, Anubis, would regard this as
a great boon of the Deity; "for," he concluded, "Mark Antony is the
cliff which will shatter every effort to secure to my royal mistress
undiminished the heritage which has come to her and her children from
their ancestors, and preserve the independence and prosperity of this
beloved land.  This cup was a costly treasure.  The throne and prosperity
of Egypt are worthy of greater sacrifices.  But I know that there is none
harder for a woman to make than her love."

The meaning of the old man's words Cleopatra learned the following
morning, when she granted the first interview to Timagenes, Octavianus's
envoy.

The keen-witted, brilliant man, who had been one of her best teachers
and with whom, when a pupil, she had had many an argument, was kindly
received, and fulfilled his commission with consummate skill.

The Queen listened attentively to his representations, showed him that
her own intellect had not lost in flexibility, though it had gained
power; and when she dismissed him, with rich gifts and gracious words,
she knew that she could preserve the independence of her beloved native
land and retain the throne for herself and her children if she would
surrender Antony to the conqueror or to him, as "the person acting,"
or--these were Timagenes's own words--"remove him forever from the play
whose end she had the power to render either brilliant or fateful."

When she was again alone her heart throbbed so passionately and her soul
was in such a tumult of agitation that she felt unable to attend the
appointed meeting of the Council of the crown.  She deferred the session
until the following day, and resolved to go out upon the sea, to
endeavour to regain her composure.

Antony had refused to see her.  This wounded her.  The thought of the
goblet and its evil influences had by no means passed from her memory
with the destruction of the vessel caused by one of those outbursts of
passion to which, in these days of disaster, she yielded more frequently
than usual.  On the contrary, she felt the necessity of being alone, to
collect her thoughts and strive to dispel the clouds from her troubled
soul.

The beaker had been one of the treasures of Isis, and the memory of it
recalled hours during which, in former days, she had often found
composure in the temple of the goddess.  She wished to seek the sanctuary
unnoticed and, accompanied only by Iras and the chief Introducer, went,
closely veiled, to the neighbouring temple at the Corner of the Muses.

But she failed to find the object of her pilgrimage.  The throng which
filled it to pray and offer sacrifices, and the fear of being recognized,
destroyed her calmness.

She was in the act of retiring, when Gorgias, the architect, followed by
an assistant carrying surveying instruments, advanced towards her.  She
instantly called him to her side, and he informed her how wonderfully
Fate itself seemed to favour her plan of building.  The mob had destroyed
the house of the old philosopher Didymus, and the grey-haired sage, to
whom he had offered the shelter of his home, was now ready to transfer
the property inherited from his ancestors, if her Majesty would assure
him and his family of her protection.

Then she asked to see the architect's plan for joining the museum to
the sanctuary, and became absorbed in the first sketch, to which he had
devoted part of the night and morning.  He showed it, and with eager
urgency Cleopatra commanded him to begin the building as soon as possible
and pursue the work night and day.  What usually required months must be
completed in weeks.

Iras and the "Introducer," clad in plain garments, had waited for her
in the temple court and, joined by the architect, accompanied her to the
unpretending litter standing at one of the side gates but, instead of
entering it, she ordered Gorgias to attend her to the garden.

The inspection proved that the architect was right and, even if the
mausoleum occupied a portion of it, and the street which separated it
from the Temple of Isis were continued along the shore of the sea, the
remainder would still be twice as large as the one belonging to the
palace at Lochias.

Cleopatra's thorough examination showed Gorgias that she had some
definite purpose in view.  Her inquiry whether it would be possible to
connect it with the promontory of Lochias indicated what she had in mind,
and the architect answered in the affirmative.  It was only necessary to
tear down some small buildings belonging to the Crown and a little temple
of Berenike at the southern part of the royal harbour.  The arm of the
Agathodaemon Canal which entered here had been bridged long ago.

The new scene which would result from this change had been conjured
before the Queen's mental vision with marvellous celerity, and she
described it in brief, vivid language to the architect.  The garden
should remain, but must be enlarged from the Lochias to the bridge.
Thence a covered colonnade would lead to the palace.  After Gorgias had
assured her that all this could easily be arranged, she gazed
thoughtfully at the ground for a time, and then gave orders that the work
should be commenced at once, and requested him to spare neither means nor
men.

Gorgias foresaw a period of feverish toil, but it did not daunt him.
With such a master builder he was ready to roof the whole city.  Besides,
the commission delighted him because it proved that the woman whose
mausoleum was to rise from the earth so swiftly still thought of
enhancing the pleasures of existence; for, though she wished the garden
to remain unchanged, she desired to see the colonnade and the remainder
of the work constructed of costly materials and in beautiful forms.  When
she bade him farewell, Gorgias kissed her robe with ardent enthusiasm.

What a woman!  True, she had not even raised her veil, and was attired in
plain dark clothing, but every gesture revealed the most perfect grace.

The arm and hand with which she pointed now here, now there, again seemed
to him fairly instinct with life; and he, who deemed perfection of form
of so much value, found it difficult to avert his eyes from her
marvellous symmetry.  And her whole figure!  What lines, what genuine
aristocratic elegance, and warm, throbbing life!

That morning when Helena, now an inmate of his own home, greeted him,
he had essayed to compare her, mentally, with Cleopatra, but speedily
desisted.  The man to whom Hebe proffers nectar does not ask for even
the best wine of Byblus.  A feeling of grateful, cheerful satisfaction,
difficult to describe, stole over him when the reserved, quiet Helena
addressed him so warmly and cordially; but the image of Cleopatra
constantly thrust itself between them, and it was difficult for him to
understand himself.  He had loved many women in succession, and now his
heart throbbed for two at once, and the Queen was the brighter of the two
stars whose light entranced him.  Therefore his honest soul would have
considered it a crime to woo Helena now.

Cleopatra knew what an ardent admirer she had won in the able architect,
and the knowledge pleased her.  She had used no goblet to gain him.
Doubtless he would begin to build the mausoleum the next morning.  The
vault must have space for several coffins.  Antony had more than once
expressed the desire to be buried beside her, wherever he might die, and
this had occurred ere she possessed the beaker.  She must in any case
grant him the same favour, no matter in what place or by whose hand he
met death, and the bedimmed light of his existence was but too evidently
nearing extinction.  If she spared him, Octavianus would strike him from
the ranks of the living, and she----Again she was overpowered by the
terrible, feverish restlessness which had induced her to command the
destruction of the goblet, and had brought her to the temple.  She could
not return in this mood to meet her councillors, receive visitors, greet
her children.  This was the birthday of the twins; Charmian had reminded
her of it and undertaken to provide the gifts.  How could she have found
time and thought for such affairs?  She had returned from the chief
priest late in the evening, yet had asked for a minute description of the
condition in which they found Mark Antony.  The report made by Iras
harmonized with the state in which she had herself seen him during and
after the battle.  Ay, his brooding gloom seemed to have deepened.
Charmian had helped her dress in the morning, and had been on the point
of making her difficult confession, and owning that she had aided Barine
to escape the punishment of her royal mistress; but ere she could begin,
Timagenes was announced, for Cleopatra had not risen from her couch until
a late hour.

The object for which the Queen had sought the temple had not been gained;
but the consultation with Gorgias had diverted her mind, and the emotions
which the thought of her last resting-place had evoked now drowned
everything else, as the roar of the surf dominates the twittering of the
swallows on the rocky shore.

Ay, she needed calmness!  She must weigh and ponder over many things in
absolute quietude, and this she could not obtain at Lochias.  Then her
glance rested upon the little sanctuary of Berenike, which she had
ordered removed to make room for a garden near at hand, where the
children could indulge their love of creative work.  It was empty.  She
need fear no interruption there.  The interior contained only a single,
quiet, pleasant chamber, with the image of Berenike.  The "Introducer"
commanded the guard to admit no other visitors, and soon the little white
marble, circular room with its vaulted roof received the Queen.  She sank
down on one of the bronze benches opposite to the statue.  All was still;
in this cool silence her mind, trained to thought, could find that for
which it longed--clearness of vision, a plain understanding of her own
feelings and position in the presence of the impending decision.

At first her thoughts wandered to and fro like a dove ere it chooses the
direction of its flight; but after the question why she was having a tomb
built so hurriedly, when she would be permitted to live, her mind found
the right track.  Among the Scythian guards, the Mauritanians, and
Blemmyes in the army there were plenty of savage fellows whom a word from
her lips and a handful of gold would have set upon the vanquished Antony,
as the huntsman's "Seize him!" urges the hounds.  A hint, and among the
wretched magicians and Magians in the Rhakotis, the Egyptian quarter of
the city, twenty men would have assassinated him by poison or wily
snares; one command to the Macedonians in the guard of the Mellakes or
youths, and he would be a captive that very day, and to-morrow, if she
so ordered, on the way to Asia, whither Octavianus, as Timagenes told
her, had gone.

What prevented her from grasping the gold, giving the hint, issuing the
command?

Doubtless she thought of the magic goblet, now melted, which had
constrained him to cast aside honour, fame, and power, as worthless
rubbish, in order to obey her behest not to leave her; but though this
remembrance burdened her soul, it had no decisive influence.  It was no
one thing which prisoned her hand and lips, but every fibre of her being,
every pulsation of her heart, every glance back into the past to the
confines of childhood.

Yet she listened to other thoughts also.  They reminded her of her
children, the elation of power, love for the land of her ancestors,
and the peril which menaced it without her, the bliss of seeing the
light, and the darkness, the silence, the dull rigidity of death, the
destruction of the body and the mind cherished and developed with so much
care and toil, the horrible torture which might be associated with the
transition from life to death--the act of dying.  And what lay before her
in the existence which lasted an eternity?  When she no longer breathed
beneath the sun, even if the death hour was deferred, and she found that
not Epicurus, who believed that with death all things ended, had been
right, but the ancient teachings of the Egyptians, what would await her
in that world beyond the grave if she purchased a few more years of life
by the murder or betrayal of her lover, her husband?

Yet perhaps the punishments inflicted upon the condemned were but
bugbears invented by the priesthood, which guarded the regulation of the
state in order to curb the unruly conduct of the populace and terrify the
turbulent transgressors of the law.  And, whispered the daring Greek
spirit, in the abode of the condemned, not in the Garden of Aalu, the
Elysian Fields of the Egyptians, she would meet her father and mother and
all her wicked ancestors down to Euergetes I., who was succeeded by the
infamous Philopater.  Thus the thought of the other world became an
antecedent so uncertain as to permit no definite inference, and might
therefore be left out of the account.  How would--this must be the form
of the question--the years purchased by the murder or betrayal of one
whom she loved shape themselves for her?

During the night the image of the murdered man would drive sleep from her
couch, and the Furies, the Dirx, as the Roman Antony called them, who
pursue murderers with the serpent scourge, were no idle creations of
poetic fancy, but fully symbolized the restlessness of the criminal,
driven to and fro by the pangs of conscience.  The chief good, the
painless happiness of the Epicureans, was forever lost to those burdened
by such guilt.

And during the hours of the day and evening?  Ay, then she would be free
to heap pleasure on pleasure.  But for whom were the festivals to be
celebrated; with whom could she share them?  For many a long year no
banquet, no entertainment had given her enjoyment without Mark Antony.
For whom did she adorn herself or strive to stay the vanishing charm?
And how soon would anguish of soul utterly destroy the spell, which was
slowly, slowly, yet steadily diminishing, and, when the mirror revealed
wrinkles which the skill of no Olympus could efface, when she----No,
she was not created to grow old!  Did the few years of life which must
contain so much misery really possess a value great enough to surrender
the right of being called by present and future generations the
bewitching Cleopatra, the most irresistible of women?

And the children?

Yes, it would have been delightful to see them grow up and occupy the
throne, but serious, decisive doubts soon blended even with an idea so
rich in joy.

How glorious to greet Caesarion as sovereign of the world in Octavianus's
place!  But how could the dreamer, whose first love affair had caused the
total sacrifice of dignity and violation of the law, and who now seemed
to have once more relapsed into the old state of torpor, attain the
position?

The other children inspired fair hopes, and how beautiful it appeared to
the mother's heart to see Antonius Helios as King of Egypt; Cleopatra
Selene with her first child in her arms; and little Alexander a noble
statesman and hero, rich in virtue and talents!  Yet, what would they,
Antony's children, whose education she hoped Archibius would direct,
feel for the mother who had been their father's murderess?

She shuddered at the thought, remembering the hours when her childish
heart had shed tears of blood over the infamous mother whom her father
had execrated.  And Queen Tryphoena, whom history recorded as a monster,
had not killed her husband, but merely thrust him from the throne.

Arsinoe's execrations of her mother and sister came back to her memory,
and the thought that the rosy lips of the twins and her darling Alexander
could ever open to curse her,--the idea that the children would ever
raise their beloved hands to point at her, the wicked murderess of their
father, with horror and scorn--No, no, and again no!  She would not
purchase a few more years of valueless life at the cost of this
humiliation and shame.

Purchase of whom?

Of that Octavianus who had robbed her son of the heritage of his father,
Caesar, and whose mention in the will was like an imputation on her
fidelity--the cold-hearted, calculating upstart, whose nature from their
first meeting in Rome had repelled, rebuffed, chilled her; of the man by
whose cajolery and power her husband--for in her own eyes and those of
the Egyptians Antony held this position--had been induced to wed his
sister, Octavia, and thereby stamp her, Cleopatra, as merely his love,
cast a doubt upon the legitimate birth of her children; of the false
friend of the trusting Antony who, before the battle of Actium, had most
deeply humiliated and insulted both!

On the contrary, her royal pride rebelled against obeying the command of
such a man to commit the most atrocious deed; and from childhood this
pride had been as much a part of her nature as her breath and the
pulsation of her heart.  And yet, for her children's sake, she might
perhaps have incurred this disgrace, had it not been at the same time the
grave of the best and noblest things which she desired to implant in the
young souls of the twins and Alexander.

While thinking of the children's curses she had risen from her seat.
Why should she reflect and consider longer?  She had found the clear
perception she sought.  Let Gorgias hasten the building of the tomb.
Should Fate demand her life, she would not resist if she were permitted
to preserve it only at the cost of murder or base treachery.  Her lover's
was already forfeited.  At his side she had enjoyed a radiant, glowing,
peerless bliss, of which the world still talked with envious amazement.
At his side, when all was over, she would rest in the grave, and compel
the world to remember with respectful sympathy the royal lovers, Antony
and Cleopatra.  Her children should be able to think of her with
untroubled hearts, and not even the shadow of a bitter feeling, a warning
thought, should deter them from adorning their parents' grave with
flowers, weeping at its foot, invoking and offering sacrifices to their
spirits.

Then she glanced at the statue of Berenike, who had also once worn on her
brow the double crown of Egypt.  She, too, had early died a violent
death; she, too, had known how to love.  The vow to sacrifice her
beautiful hair to Aphrodite if her husband returned uninjured from the
Syrian war had rendered her name illustrious.  "Berenike's Hair" was
still to be seen as a constellation in the night heavens.

Though this woman had sinned often and heavily, one act of loyal love
had made her an honoured, worshipped princess.  She--Cleopatra would do
something still greater.  The sacrifice which she intended to impose upon
herself would weigh far more heavily in the balance than a handful of
beautiful tresses, and would comprise sovereignty and life.

With head erect and a sense of proud self-reliance she gazed at the noble
marble countenance of the Cyrenian queen.  Ere entering the sanctuary she
had imagined that she knew how the criminals whom she had sentenced to
death must feel.  Now that she herself had done with life, she felt as if
she were relieved from a heavy burden, and yet her heart ached, and--
especially when she thought of her children--she was overwhelmed with the
emotion which is the most painful of all forms of compassion--pity for
herself.




CHAPTER XVIII.

When Cleopatra left the temple, Iras marvelled at the change in her
appearance.  The severe tension which had given her beautiful face a
shade of harshness had yielded to an expression of gentle sadness that
enhanced its charm, yet her features quickly brightened as her attendant
pointed to the procession which was just entering the forecourt of the
palace.

In Alexandria and throughout Egypt birthdays were celebrated as far as
possible.  Therefore, to do honour to the twins, the children of the city
had been sent to offer their congratulations, and at the same time to
assure their royal mother of the love and devotion of the citizens.

The return to the palace occupied only a few minutes, and as Cleopatra,
hastily donning festal garments, gazed down at the bands of children, it
seemed as if Fate by this fair spectacle had given her a sign of approval
of her design.

She was soon standing hand in hand with the twins upon the balcony before
which the procession had halted.  Hundreds of boys and girls of the same
age as the prince and princess had flocked thither, the former bearing
bouquets, the latter small baskets filled with lilies and roses.  Every
head was crowned with a wreath, and many of the girls wore garlands of
flowers.  A chorus of youths and maidens sang a festal hymn, beseeching
the gods to grant the royal mother and children every happiness; the
leader of the chorus of girls made a short address in the name of the
city, and during this speech the children formed in ranks, the tallest in
the rear, the smallest in the front, and the others between according to
their height.  The scene resembled a living garden, in which rosy faces
were the beautiful flowers.

Cleopatra thanked the citizens for the charming greeting sent to her by
those whom they held dearest, and assured them that she returned their
love.  Her eyes grew dim with tears as she went with her three children
to the throng who offered their congratulations, and an unusually pretty
little girl whom she kissed threw her arms around her as tenderly as if
she were her own mother.  And how beautiful was the scene when the girls
strewed the contents of their little baskets on the ground before her,
and the boys, with many a ringing shout and loving wish, offered the
bouquets to her and the twins!

Charmian had not forgotten to provide the gifts; and when the
chamberlains and waiting-women led the children into a large hall to
offer them refreshments, the Queen's eyes sparkled so brightly that the
companion of her childhood ventured to make her difficult confession.

And, as so often happens, the event we most dread shows, when it actually
occurs, a friendly or indifferent aspect; this was the case now.  Nothing
in life is either great or small--the one may be transformed to the
other, according to the things with which it is compared.  The tallest
man becomes a dwarf beside a rocky giant of the mountain chain, the
smallest is a Titan to the swarming ants in the forest.  The beggar
seizes as a treasure what the rich man scornfully casts aside.  That
which the day before yesterday seemed to Cleopatra unendurable, roused
her keenest anxiety, robbed her of part of her night's repose, and
induced her to adopt strenuous measures, now appeared trivial and
scarcely worthy of consideration.

Yesterday and to-day had brought events and called up questions which
forced Barine's disappearance into the realm of unimportant matters.

Charmian's confession was preceded by the statement that she longed for
rest yet, nevertheless, was ready to remain with her royal friend, in
every situation, until she no longer desired her services and sent her
away.  But she feared that this moment had come.

Cleopatra interrupted her with the assurance that she was speaking of
something utterly impossible; and when Charmian disclosed Barine's
escape, and admitted that it was she who had aided the flight of the
innocent and sorely threatened granddaughter of Didymus, the Queen
started up angrily and frowned, but it was only for a moment.  Then, with
a smile, she shook her finger at her friend, embraced her, and gravely
but kindly assured her that, of all vices, ingratitude was most alien to
her nature.  The companion of her childhood had bestowed so many proofs
of faithfulness, love, self-sacrifice, and laborious service in her
behalf that they could not be long outweighed by a single act of wilful
disobedience.  An abundant supply would still remain, by virtue of which
she might continue to sin without fearing that Cleopatra would ever part
from her Charmian.

The latter again perceived that nothing on earth could be hostile or
sharp enough to sever the bond which united her to this woman.  When her
lips overflowed with the gratitude which filled her heart, Cleopatra
admitted that it seemed as if, in aiding Barine's escape, she had
rendered her a service.  The caution with which Charmian had concealed
Barine's refuge had not escaped her notice, and she did not ask to learn
it.  It was enough for her that the dangerous beauty was out of
Caesarion's reach.  As for Antony, a wall now separated him from the
world, and consequently from the woman who, spite of Alexas's
accusations, had probably never stood closer to his heart.

Charmian now eagerly strove to show the Queen what had induced the Syrian
to pursue Barine so vindictively.  It was evident--and scarcely needed
proof--that Mark Antony's whole acquaintanceship with the old scholar's
granddaughter had been far from leading to any tender relation.  But
Cleopatra gave only partial attention.  The man whom she had loved with
every pulsation of her heart already seemed to her only a dear memory.
She did not forget the happiness enjoyed with and through him, or the
wrong she had done by the use of the magic goblet; yet with the wall on
the Choma, which divided him from her and the rest of the world, and her
command to have the mausoleum built, she imagined that the season of love
was over.  Any new additions to this chapter of the life of her heart
were but the close.  Even the jealousy which had clouded the happiness of
her love like a fleeting, rapidly changing shadow, she believed she had
now renounced forever.

While Charmian protested that no one save Dion had ever been heard with
favour by Barine, and related many incidents of her former life,
Cleopatra's thoughts were with Antony.  Like the image of the beloved
dead, the towering figure of the Roman hero rose before her mind, but she
recalled him only as he was prior to the battle of Actium.  She desired
and expected nothing more from the broken-spirited man, whose condition
was perhaps her own fault.  But she had resolved to atone for her guilt,
and would do so at the cost of throne and life.  This settled the
account.  Whatever her remaining span of existence might add or subtract,
was part of the bargain.

The entrance of Alexas interrupted her.  With fiery passion he expressed
his regret that he had been defrauded by base intrigues of the right
bestowed upon him to pass sentence upon a guilty woman.  This was the
more difficult to bear because he was deprived of the possibility of
providing for the pursuit of the fugitive.  Antony had honoured him with
the commission to win Herod back to his cause.  He was to leave
Alexandria that very night.  As nothing could be expected in this matter
from the misanthropic Imperator, he hoped that the Queen would avenge
such an offence to her dignity, and adopt severe measures towards the
singer and her last lover, Dion, who with sacrilegious hands had wounded
the son of Caesar.

But Cleopatra, with royal dignity, kept him within the limits of his
position, commanded him not to mention the affair to her again, and then,
with a sorrowful smile, wished him success with Herod, in whose return to
the lost cause of Antony, however, much as she prized the skill of the
mediator, she did not believe.

When he had retired, she exclaimed to Charmian: "Was I blind?  This man
is a traitor!  We shall discover it.  Wherever Dion has taken his young
wife, let her be carefully concealed, not from me, but from this Syrian.
It is easier to defend one's self against the lion than the scorpion.
You, my friend, will see that Archibius seeks me this very day.  I must
talk with him, and--you no longer have any thought of a parting?  Another
will come soon enough, which will forever forbid these lips from kissing
your dear face."

As she spoke, she again clasped the companion of her childhood in her
arms, and when Iras entered to request an audience for Lucilius, Antony's
most faithful friend, Cleopatra, who had noticed the younger woman's
envious glance at the embrace, said: "Was I mistaken in fancying that you
imagined yourself slighted for Charmian, who is an older friend?  That
would be wrong; for I love and need you both.  You are her niece, and
indebted to her for much kindness from your earliest childhood.  So,
even though you will lose the joy of revenge upon a hated enemy, forget
what has happened, as I did, and maintain your former affectionate
companionship.  I will reward you for it with the only thing that the
daughter of the wealthy Krates cannot purchase, yet which she probably
rates at no low value--the love of her royal friend."

With these words she clasped Iras also in a close embrace, and when the
latter left the room to summon Lucilius, she thought: "No woman has ever
won so much love; perhaps that is why she possesses so great a treasure
of it, and can afford such unspeakable happiness by its bestowal.  Or is
she so much beloved because she entered the world full of its wealth, and
dispenses it as the sun diffuses light?  Surely that must be the case.
I have reason to believe it, for whom did I ever love save the Queen?
No one, not even myself, and I know no one in whose love for me I can
believe.  But why did Dion, whom I loved so fervently, disdain me?  Fool!
Why did Mark Antony prefer Cleopatra to Octavia, who was not less fair,
whose heart was his, and whose hand held the sovereignty of half the
world?"

Passing on as she spoke, she soon returned, ushering the Roman Lucilius
into the presence of the Queen.  A gallant deed had bound this man to
Antony.  After the battle of Philippi, when the army of the republicans
fled, Brutus had been on the point of being seized by the enemy's
horsemen; but Lucilius, at the risk of being cut down, had personated
him, and thereby, though but for a short time, rescued him.  This had
seemed to Antony unusual and noble and, in his generous manner, he had
not only forgiven him, but bestowed his favour upon him.  Lucilius was
grateful, and gave him the same fidelity he had showed to Brutus.  At
Actium he had risked Antony's favour to prevent his deserting Cleopatra
after the battle, and then accompanied him in his flight.  Now he was
bearing him company in his seclusion on the Choma.

The grey-haired man who, but a short time before, had retained all the
vigour of youth, approached the Queen with bowed head and saddened heart.
His face, so regular in its contours, had undergone a marked change
within the past few weeks.  The cheeks were sunken, the features had
grown sharper, and there was a sorrowful expression in the eyes, which,
when informing Cleopatra of his friend's condition, glittered with tears.

Before the hapless battle he was one of Cleopatra's most enthusiastic
admirers; but since he had been forced to see his friend and benefactor
risk fame, happiness, and honour to follow the Queen, he had cherished a
feeling of bitter resentment towards her.  He would certainly have spared
himself this mission, had he not been sure that she who had brought her
lover to ruin was the only person who could rouse him from spiritless
languor to fresh energy and interest in life.

From motives of friendship, urged by no one, he came unbidden to the
woman whom he had formerly so sincerely admired, to entreat her to cheer
the unfortunate man, rouse him, and remind him of his duty.  He had
little news to impart; for on the voyage she had herself witnessed long
enough the pitiable condition of her husband.  Now Antony was beginning
to be content in it, and this was what most sorely troubled the faithful
friend.

The Imperator had called the little palace which he occupied on the Choma
his Timonium, because he compared himself with the famous Athenian
misanthrope who, after fortune abandoned him, had also been betrayed by
many of his former friends.  Even at Taenarum he had thought of returning
to the Choma, and by means of a wall, which would separate it from the
mainland, rendering it as inaccessible as--according to rumour--the grave
of Timon at Halae near Athens.  Gorgias had erected it, and whoever
wished to visit the hermit was forced to go by sea and request
admittance, which was granted to few.

Cleopatra listened to Lucilius with sympathy, and then asked whether
there was no way of cheering or comforting the wretched man.

"No, your Majesty," he replied.  "His favourite occupation is to recall
what he once possessed, but only to show the uselessness of these
memories.  'What joys has life not offered me?' he asks, and then adds:
'But they were repeated again and again, and after being enjoyed for the
tenth time they became monotonous and lost their charm.  Then they caused
satiety to the verge of loathing.'  Only necessary things, such as bread
and water, he says, possess real value; but he desires neither, because
he has even less taste for them than for the dainties which spoil a man's
morrow.  Yesterday in a specially gloomy hour, he spoke of gold.  This
was perhaps most worthy of desire.  The mere sight of it awakened
pleasant hopes, because it might afford so many gratifications.  Then he
laughed bitterly, exclaiming that those joys were the very ones which
produced the most disagreeable satiety.  Even gold was not worth the
trouble of stretching out one's hand.

"He is fond of enlarging upon such fancies, and finds images to make his
meaning clear.

"'In the snow upon the highest mountain-peak the feet grow cold,' he
said.  'In the mire they are warm, but the dark mud is ugly and clings to
them.'

"Then I remarked that between the morass and the mountain-snows lie sunny
valleys where life would be pleasant; but he flew into a rage, vehemently
protesting that he would never be content with the pitiable middle course
of Horace.  Then he exclaimed: 'Ay, I am vanquished.  Octavianus and his
Agrippa are the conquerors; but if a rock mutilates or an elephant's
clumsy foot crushes me, I am nevertheless of a higher quality than
either.'"

"There spoke the old Mark Antony!"  cried Cleopatra; but again Lucilius's
loyal heart throbbed with resentment against the woman who had fostered
the recklessness which had brought his powerful friend to ruin, and he
continued:

"But he often sees himself in a different light.  'No writer could invent
a more unworthy life than mine,' he exclaimed recently.  'A farce ending
in a tragedy.'"

Lucilius might have added still harsher sayings, but the sorrowful
expression in the tearful eyes of the afflicted Queen silenced them upon
his lips.

Yet Cleopatra's name blended with most of the words uttered by the
broken-spirited man.  Sometimes it was associated with the most furious
reproaches, but more frequently with expressions of boundless delight and
wild outbursts of fervent longing, and this was what inspired Lucilius
with the hope that the Queen's influence would be effectual with his
friend.  Therefore he repeated some especially ardent words, to which
Cleopatra listened with grateful joy.

Yet, when Lucilius paused, she remarked that doubtless the misanthropist
had spoken of her, and probably of Octavia also, in quite a different
way.  She was prepared for the worst, for she was one of the rocks
against which his greatness had been shattered.

This reminded Lucilius of the comment Antony had made upon the three
women whom he had wedded, and he answered reluctantly: "Fulvia, the wife
of his youth--I knew the bold, hot-blooded woman, the former wife of
Clodius--he called the tempest which swelled his sails."

"Yes, Yes!" cried Cleopatra.  'So she did.  He owes her much; but I, too,
am indebted to the dead Fulvia.  She taught him to recognize and yield to
woman's power."

"Not always to his advantage," retorted Lucilius, whose resentment was
revived by the last sentence and, without heeding the faint flush on the
Queen's cheek, he added: "Of Octavia he said that she was the straight
path which leads to happiness, and those who are content to walk in it
are acceptable to gods and men."

"Then why did he not suffer it to content him?"  cried Cleopatra
wrathfully.

"Fulvia's school," replied the Roman, "was probably the last where he
would learn the moderation which--as you know--is so alien to his nature.
His opinion of the quiet valleys and middle course you have just heard."

"But I, what have I been to him?" urged the Queen.

Lucilius bent his gaze for a short time on the floor, then answered
hesitatingly:

"You asked to hear, and the Queen's command must be obeyed.  He compared
your Majesty to a delicious banquet given to celebrate a victory, at
which the guests, crowned with garlands, revel before the battle--"

"Which is lost," said the Queen hurriedly, in a muffled voice.  "The
comparison is apt.  Now, after the defeat, it would be absurd to prepare
another feast.  The tragedy is closing, so the play (doubtless he said
so) which preceded it would be but a wearisome repetition if performed a
second time.  One thing, it is true, seems desirable--a closing act of
reconciliation.  If you think it is in my power to recall my husband to
active life, rely upon me.  The banquet of which he spoke occupied long
years.  The dessert will consume little time, but I am ready to serve it.
When I asked permission to visit him he refused.  What plan of meeting
have you arranged?"

"That I will leave to your feminine delicacy of feeling," replied
Lucilius.  "Yet I have come with a request whose fulfilment will perhaps
contain the answer.  Eros, Mark Antony's faithful body-slave, humbly
petitions your Majesty to grant him a few minutes' audience.  You know
the worthy fellow.  He would die for you and his master, and he--I once
heard from your lips the remark of King Antiochus, that no man was great
to his body-slave--thus Eros sees his master's weaknesses and lofty
qualities from a nearer point of view than we, and he is shrewd.  Antony
gave him his freedom long ago, and if your Majesty does not object to
receiving a man so low in station--"

"Let him  come," replied  Cleopatra.  "Your demand upon me is just.
Unhappily, I am but too well aware of the atonement due your friend.
Before you came, I was engaged in making preparations for the fulfilment
of one of his warmest wishes."

With these words she dismissed the Roman.  Her feelings as she watched
his departure were of very mingled character.  The yearning for the
happiness of which she had been so long deprived had again awaked, while
the unkind words which he had applied to her still rankled in her heart.
But the door had scarcely closed behind Lucilius when the usher announced
a deputation of the members of the museum.

The learned gentlemen came to complain of the wrong which had been done
to their colleague, Didymus, and also to express their loyalty during
these trying times.  Cleopatra assured them of her favour, and said that
she had already offered ample compensation to the old philosopher.  In a
certain sense she was one of themselves.  They all knew that, from early
youth, she had honoured and shared their labours.  In proof of this, she
would present to the library of the museum the two hundred thousand
volumes from Pergamus, one of the most valuable gifts Mark Antony had
ever bestowed upon her, and which she had hitherto regarded merely as a
loan.  This she hoped would repay Didymus for the injury which, to her
deep regret, had been inflicted upon him, and at least partially repair
the loss sustained by the former library of the museum during the
conflagration in the Bruchium.

The sages, eagerly assuring her of their gratitude and devotion, retired.
Most of them were personally known to Cleopatra who, to their mutual
pleasure and advantage, had measured her intellectual powers with the
most brilliant minds of their body.

The sun had already set, when a procession of the priests of Serapis, the
chief god of the city, whose coming had been announced the day before,
appeared at Lochias.  Accompanied by torch and lantern bearers, it moved
forward with slow and solemn majesty.  In harmony with the nature of
Serapis, there were many reminders of death.

The meaning of every image, every standard, every shrine, every
peculiarity of the music and singing, was familiar to the Queen.  Even
the changing colours of the lights referred to the course of growth and
decay in the universe and in human life, and the magnificent close of the
chant of homage which represented the reception of the royal soul into
the essence of the deity, the apotheosis of the sovereign, was well
suited to stir the heart; for a sea of light unexpectedly flooded the
whole procession and, while its glow irradiated the huge pile of the
palace, the sea with its forest of ships and masts, and the shore with
its temples, pylons, obelisks, and superb buildings, all the choruses,
accompanied by the music of sackbuts, cymbals, and lutes, blended in a
mighty hymn, whose waves of sound rose to the star-strewn sky and reached
the open sea beyond the Pharos.

Many a symbolical image suggested death and the resurrection, defeat and
a victory following it by the aid of great Serapis; and when the torches
retired, vanishing in the darkness, with the last, notes of the chanting
of the priests, Cleopatra, raised her head, feeling as if the vow she had
made during the gloomy singing of the aged men and the extinguishing of
the torches had received the approval of the deity brought by her
forefathers to Alexandria and enthroned there to unite in his own person
the nature of the Greek and the Egyptian gods.

Her tomb was to be built and, if destiny was fulfilled, to receive her
lover and herself.  She had perceived from Antony's bitter words, as well
as the looks and tones of Lucilius, that he, as well as the man to whom
her heart still clung with indissoluble bonds, held her responsible for
Actium and the fall of his greatness.

The world, she knew, would imitate them, but it should learn that if love
had robbed the greatest man of his day of fame and sovereignty, that love
had been worthy of the highest price.

The belief which had just been symbolically represented to her--that it
was allotted to the vanishing light to rise again in new and radiant
splendour--she would maintain for the present, though the best success
could scarcely lead to anything more than merely fanning the glimmering
spark and deferring its extinction.

For herself there was no longer any great victory to win which would be
worth the conflict.  Yet the weapons must not rest until the end.  Antony
must not perish, growling, like a second Timon, or a wild beast caught in
a snare.  She would rekindle, though but for the last blaze, the fire of
his hero-nature, which blind love for her and the magic spell that had
enabled her to bind his will had covered for a time with ashes.

While listening to the resurrection hymn of the priests of Serapis, she
had asked herself if it might not be possible to give Antony, when he had
been roused to fresh energy, the son of Caesar as a companion in arms.
True, she had found the boy in a mood far different from the one for
which she had hoped.  If he had once been carried on to a bold deed, it
seemed to have exhausted his energy; for he remained absorbed in the most
pitiable love-sickness.  Yet he had not recovered from his illness.  When
he was better he would surely wake to active interest in the events which
threatened to exert so great an influence on his own existence and,
like the humblest slave, lament the defeat of Actium.  Hitherto he had
listened to the tidings of battle which had reached his ears with an
indifference that seemed intelligible and pardonable only when attributed
to his wound.

His tutor Rhodon had just requested a leave of absence, remarking that
Caesarion would not lack companions, since he was expecting Antyllus and
other youths of his own age.  A flood of light streamed from the windows
of the reception hall of the "King of kings."  There was still time to
seek him and make him understand what was at stake.  Ah! if she could but
succeed in awaking his father's spirit!  If that culpable attack should
prove the harbinger of future deeds of manly daring!

No interview with him as yet had encouraged this expectation, but a
mother's heart easily sees, even in disappointment, a step which leads to
a new hope.  When Charmian entered to announce Antony's body-slave, she
sent word to him to wait, and requested her friend to accompany her to
her son.

As they approached the apartments occupied by Caesarion, Antyllus's loud
voice reached them through the open door, whose curtain was only half
drawn.  The first word which the Queen distinguished was her own name;
so, motioning to her companion, she stood still.  Barine was again the
subject of conversation.

Antony's son was relating what Alexas had told him.  Cleopatra, the
Syrian had asserted, intended to send the young beauty to the mines or
into exile, and severely punish Dion; but both had made their escape.
The Ephebi had behaved treacherously by taking sides with their foe.
But this was because they were not yet invested with their robes.
He hoped to induce his father to do this as soon as he shook off his
pitiable misanthropy.  And he must also be persuaded to direct the
pursuit of the fugitives.  "This will not be difficult," he cried
insolently, "for the old man appreciates beauty, and has himself cast
an eye on the singer.  If they capture her, I'll guarantee nothing, you
'King of kings!' for, spite of his grey beard, he can cut us all out with
the women, and Barine--as we have heard--doesn't think a man of much
importance until his locks begin to grow thin.  I gave Derketaeus orders
to send all his men in pursuit.  He's as cunning as a fox, and the police
are compelled to obey him."

"If I were not forced to lie here like a dead donkey, I would soon find
her," sighed Caesarion.  "Night or day, she is never out of my mind.
I have already spent everything I possessed in the search.  Yesterday I
sent for the steward Seleukus.  What is the use of being my mother's son,
and the fat little fellow isn't specially scrupulous!  He will do
nothing, yet there must be gold enough.  The Queen has sunk millions in
the sand on the Syrian frontier of the Delta.  There is to be a square
hole or something of the sort dug there to hide the fleet.  I only half
understand the absurd plan.  The money might have paid hundreds of spies.
So talents are thrown away, and the strong-box is locked against the son.
But I'll find one that will open to me.  I must have her, though I risk
the crown.  It always sounds like a jeer when they call me the King of
kings.  I am not fit for sovereignty.  Besides, the throne will be seized
ere I really ascend it.  We are conquered, and if we succeed in
concluding a peace, which will secure us life and a little more, we must
be content.  For my part, I shall be satisfied with a country estate on
the water, a sufficient supply of money and, above all, Barine.  What do
I care for Egypt?  As Caesar's son I ought to have ruled Rome; but the
immortals knew what they were doing when they prompted my father to
disinherit me.  To govern the world one must have less need of sleep.
Really--you know it--I always feel tired, even when I am well.  People
must let me alone!  Your father, too, Antyllus, is laying down his arms
and letting things go as they will."

"Ah, so he is!"  cried Antony's son indignantly.  "But just wait!  The
sleeping lion will wake again, and, when he uses his teeth and paws--"

"My mother will run away, and your father will follow her," replied
Caesarion with a melancholy smile, wholly untinged by scorn.  "All is
lost.  But conquered kings and queens are permitted to live.  Caesar's
son will not be exhibited to the Quirites in the triumphal procession.
Rhodon says that there would be an insurrection if I appeared in the
Forum.  If I go there again, it certainly will not be in Octavianus's
train.  I am not suited for that kind of ignominy.  It would stifle me
and, ere I would grant any man the pleasure of dragging the son of Caesar
behind him to increase his own renown, I would put an end--ten, nay, a
hundred times over, in the good old Roman fashion, to my life, which is
by no means especially attractive.  What is sweeter than sound sleep, and
who will disturb and rouse me when Death has lowered his torch before me?
But now I think I shall be spared this extreme.  Whatever else they may
inflict upon me will scarcely exceed my powers of endurance.  If any one
has learned contentment it is I.  The King of kings and Co-Regent of the
Great Queen has been trained persistently, and with excellent success,
to be content.  What should I be, and what am I?  Yet I do not complain,
and wish to accuse no one.  We need not summon Octavianus, and when he is
here let him take what he will if he only spares the lives of my mother,
the twins, and little Alexander, whom I love, and bestows on me the
estate--the main thing is that it must be full of fishponds--of which I
spoke.  The private citizen Caesarion, who devotes his time to fishing
and the books he likes to read, will gladly be allowed to choose a wife
to suit his own taste.  The more humble her origin, the more easily I
shall win the consent of the Roman guardian."

"Do you know, Caesarion," interrupted Antony's unruly son, leaning back
on the cushions and stretching his feet farther in front of him, "if you
were not the King of kings I should be inclined to call you a base, mean-
natured fellow!  One who has the good fortune to be the son of Julius
Caesar ought not to forget it so disgracefully.  My gall overflows at
your whimpering.  By the dog!  It was one of my most senseless pranks to
take you to the singer.  I should think there would be other things to
occupy the mind of the King of kings.  Besides, Barine cares no more
for you than the last fish you caught.  She showed that plainly enough.
I say once more, if Derketaeus's men succeed in capturing the beauty who
has robbed you of your senses, she won't go with you to your miserable
estate to cook the fish you catch, for if we have her again, and my
father holds out his hand to her, all your labour will be in vain.  He
saw the fair enchantress only twice, and had no time to become better
acquainted, but she captured his fancy and, if I remind him of her, who
knows what will happen?"

Here Cleopatra beckoned to her companion and returned to her apartments
with drooping head.  On reaching them, she broke the silence, saying:
"Listening, Charmian, is unworthy of a Queen; but if all listeners heard
things so painful, one need no longer guard keyholes and chinks of doors.
I must recover my calmness ere I receive Eros.  One thing more.  Is
Barine's hiding-place secure?"

"I don't know--Archibius says so."

"Very well.  They are searching for her zealously enough, as you heard,
and she must not be found.  I am glad that she did not set a snare for
the boy.  How a jealous heart leads us astray!  Were she here, I would
grant her anything to make amends for my unjust suspicion of her and
Antony.  And to think that Alexas--but for your interposition he would
have succeeded--meant to send her to the mines!  It is a terrible warning
to be on my guard.  Against whom?  First of all, my own weakness.  This
is a day of recognition.  A noble aim, but on the way the feet bleed, and
the heart--ah!  Charmian, the poor, weak, disappointed heart!"

She sighed heavily, and supported her head on the arm resting upon the
table at her side.  The polished, exquisitely grained surface of thya-
wood was worth a large estate; the gems in the rings and bracelets which
glittered on her hand and arm would have purchased a principality.  This
thought entered her mind and, overpowered by a feeling of angry disgust,
she would fain have cast all the costly rubbish into the sea or the
destroying flames.

She would gladly have been a beggar, content with the barley bread of
Epicurus, she said to herself, if in return she could but have inspired
her son even with the views of the reckless blusterer Antyllus.  Her
worst fears had not pictured Caesarion so weak, so insignificant.  She
could no longer rest upon her cushions; and while, with drooping head,
she gazed backward over the past, the accusing voice in her own breast
cried out that she was reaping what she had sowed.  She had repressed,
curbed the boy's awakening will to secure his obedience; understood how
to prevent any exercise of his ability or efforts in wider circles.

True, it had been done on many a pretext.  Why should not her son taste
the quiet happiness which she had enjoyed in the garden of Epicurus?  And
was not the requirement that whoever is to command must first learn to
obey, based upon old experiences?

But this was a day of reckoning and insight, and for the first time she
found courage to confess that her own burning ambition had marked out the
course of Caesarion's education.  She had not repressed his talents from
cool calculation, but it had been pleasant to her to see him grow up free
from aspirations.  She had granted the dreamer repose without arousing
him.  How often she had rejoiced over the certainty that this son, on
whom Antony, after his victory over the Parthians, had bestowed the title
of Co-Regent, would never rebel against his mother's guardianship!  The
welfare of the state had doubtless been better secured in her trained
hands than in those of an inexperienced boy.  And the proud consciousness
of power!  Her heart swelled.  So long as she lived she would remain
Queen.  To transfer the sovereignty to another, whatever name he might
bear, had seemed to her impossible.  Now she knew how little her son
yearned for lofty things.  Her heart contracted.  The saying "You reap
what you sowed" gave her no peace, and wherever she turned in her past
life she perceived the fruit of the seeds which she had buried in the
ground.  The field was sinking under the burden of the ears of
misfortune.  The harvest was ripe for the reaper; but, ere he raised the
sickle, the owner's claim must be preserved.  Gorgias must hasten the
building of the tomb; the end could not be long deferred.  How to shape
this worthily, if the victor left her no other choice, had just been
pointed out by the son of whom she was ashamed.  His father's noble blood
forbade him to bear the deepest ignominy with the patience his mother had
inculcated.

It had grown late ere she admitted Antony's body-slave, but for her the
business of the night was just commencing.  After he had gone she would
be engaged for hours with the commanders of the army, the fleet, the
fortifications.  The soliciting of allies, too, must be carried on by
means of letters containing the most stirring appeals to the heart.

Eros, Antony's body-slave, appeared.  His kind eyes filled with tears at
the sight of the Queen.  Grief had not lessened the roundness of his
handsome face, but the expression of mischievous, often insolent, gaiety
had given place to a sorrowful droop of the lips, and his fair hair had
begun to turn grey.

Lucilius's information that Cleopatra had consented to make advances to
Antony had seemed like the rising of the sun after a long period of
darkness.  In his eyes, not only his master, but everything else, must
yield to the power of the Queen.  He had heard Antony at Tarsus inveigh
against "the Egyptian serpent," protesting that he would make her pay so
dearly for her questionable conduct towards himself and the cause of
Caesar that the treasure-houses on the Nile should be like an empty wine-
skin; yet, a few hours after, body and soul had been in her toils.  So it
had continued till the battle of Actium.  Now there was nothing more to
lose; but what might not Cleopatra bestow upon his master?  He thought of
the delightful years during which his face had grown so round, and every
day fresh pleasures and spectacles, such as the world would never again
witness, had satiated eye and ear, palate and nostril,--nay, even
curiosity.  If they could be repeated, even in a simpler form, so much
the better.  His main--nay, almost his sole-desire was to release his
lord from this wretched solitude, this horrible misanthropy, so ill
suited to his nature.

Cleopatra had kept him waiting two hours, but he would willingly have
loitered in the anteroom thrice as long if she only determined to follow
his counsel.  It was worth considering, and Eros did not hesitate to give
it.  No one could foresee how Antony would greet Cleopatra herself, so he
proposed that she should send Charmian--not alone, but with her clever
hunch-backed maid, to whom the Imperator himself had given the name
"Aisopion."  He liked Charmian, and could never see the dusky maid
without jesting with her.  If his master could once be induced to show a
cheerful face to others besides himself, Eros, and perceived how much
better it was to laugh than to lapse into sullen reverie and anger, much
would be gained, and Charmian would do the rest, if she brought a loving
message from her royal mistress.

Hitherto Cleopatra had not interrupted him; but when she expressed the
opinion that a slave's nimble tongue would have little power to change
the deep despondency of a man overwhelmed by the most terrible disaster,
Eros waved his short, broad hand, saying:

"I trust your Majesty will pardon the frankness of a man so humble in
degree, but those in high station often permit us to see what they hide
from one another.  Only the loftiest and the lowliest, the gods and the
slaves, behold the great without disguise.  May my ears be cropped if the
Imperator's melancholy and misanthropy are so intense!  All this is a
disguise which pleases him.  You know how, in better days, he enjoyed
appearing as Dionysus, and with what wanton gaiety he played the part of
the god.  Now he is hiding his real, cheerful face behind the mask of
unsocial melancholy, because he thinks the former does not suit this time
of misfortune.  True, he often says things which make your skin creep,
and frequently broods mournfully over his own thoughts.  But this never
lasts long when we are alone.  If I come in with a very funny story, and
he doesn't silence me at once, you can rely on his surpassing it with
a still more comical one.  A short time ago I reminded him of the fishing
party when your Majesty had a diver fasten a salted herring on his hook.
You ought to have heard him laugh, and exclaim what happy days those
were.  The lady Charmian need only remind him of them, and Aisopion spice
the allusion with a jest.  I'll give my nose--true, it's only a small
one, but everybody values that feature most--if they don't persuade him
to leave that horrible crow's nest in the middle of the sea.  They must
remind him of the twins and little Alexander; for when he permits me to
talk about them his brow smooths most speedily.  He still speaks very
often to Lucilius and his other friends of his great plans of forming a
powerful empire in the East, with Alexandria as its principal city.  His
warrior blood is not yet calm.  A short time ago I was even ordered to
sharpen the curved Persian scimitar he likes to wield.  One could not
know what service it might be, he said.  Then he swung his mighty arm.
By the dog!  The grey-haired giant still has the strength of three
youths.  When he is once more with you, among warriors and battle
chargers, all will be well."

"Let us hope so."  replied Cleopatra kindly, and promised to follow his
advice.

When Iras, who had taken Charmian's place, accompanied the Queen to her
chamber after several hours of toil, she found her silent and sad.  Lost
in thought, she accepted her attendant's aid, breaking her silence only
after she had gone to her couch.  "This has been a hard day, Iras," she
said; "it brought nothing save the confirmation of an old saying, perhaps
the most ancient in the world: 'Every one wilt reap only what he sows.
The plant which grows from the seed you place in the earth may be
crushed, but no power in the world will compel the seed to develop
differently or produce fruit unlike what Nature has assigned to it.'
My seed was evil.  This now appears in the time of harvest.  But we will
yet bring a handful of good wheat to the storehouses.  We will provide
for that while there is time.  I will talk with Gorgias early to-morrow
morning.  While we were building, you showed good taste and often
suggested new ideas.  When Gorgias brings the plans for the mausoleum you
shall examine them with me.  You have a right to do so, for, if I am not
mistaken, few will visit the finished structure more frequently than my
Iras."

The girl started up and, raising her hand as if taking a vow, exclaimed:
"Your tomb will vainly wait my visit; your end will be mine also."

"May the gods preserve your youth from it!" replied the Queen in a tone
of grave remonstrance.  "We still live and will do battle."




ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Epicurus, who believed that with death all things ended
No,  she was not created to grow old
Nothing in life is either great or small
Priests: in order to curb the unruly conduct of the populace
She would not purchase a few more years of valueless life
To govern the world one must have less need of sleep
What changes so quickly as joy and sorrow





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