Infomotions, Inc.— or New Foes with an Old Face / Kingsley, Charles, 1819-1875

Author: Kingsley, Charles, 1819-1875
Title: — or New Foes with an Old Face
Date: 2002-11-23
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Title: Hypatia
       or New Foes with an Old Face

Author: Charles Kingsley

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HYPATIA

OR

NEW FOES WITH AN OLD FACE

by Charles Kingsley





PREFACE


A picture of life in the fifth century must needs contain much which
will be painful to any reader, and which the young and innocent will
do well to leave altogether unread.  It has to represent a very
hideous, though a very great, age; one of those critical and
cardinal eras in the history of the human race, in which virtues and
vices manifest themselves side by side--even, at times, in the same
person--with the most startling openness and power.  One who writes
of such an era labours under a troublesome disadvantage.   He dare
not tell how evil people were; he will not be believed if he tells
how good they were.  In the present case that disadvantage is
doubled; for while the sins of the Church, however heinous, were
still such as admit of being expressed in words, the sins of the
heathen world, against which she fought, were utterly indescribable;
and the Christian apologist is thus compelled, for the sake of
decency, to state the Church's case far more weakly than the facts
deserve.

Not, be it ever remembered, that the slightest suspicion of
immorality attaches either to the heroine of this book, or to the
leading philosophers of her school, for several centuries.
Howsoever base and profligate their disciples, or the Manichees, may
have been, the great Neo-Platonists were, as Manes himself was,
persons of the most rigid and ascetic virtue.

For a time had arrived, in which no teacher who did not put forth
the most lofty pretensions to righteousness could expect a hearing.
That Divine Word, who is 'The Light who lighteth every man which
cometh into the world,' had awakened in the heart of mankind a moral
craving never before felt in any strength, except by a few isolated
philosophers or prophets.  The Spirit had been poured out on all
flesh; and from one end of the Empire to the other, from the slave
in the mill to the emperor on his throne, all hearts were either
hungering and thirsting after righteousness, or learning to do
homage to those who did so.  And He who excited the craving, was
also furnishing that which would satisfy it; and was teaching
mankind, by a long and painful education, to distinguish the truth
from its innumerable counterfeits, and to find, for the first time
in the world's life, a good news not merely for the select few, but
for all mankind without respect of rank or race.

For somewhat more than four hundred years, the Roman Empire and the
Christian Church, born into the world almost at the same moment, had
been developing themselves side by side as two great rival powers,
in deadly struggle for the possession of the human race.  The
weapons of the Empire had been not merely an overwhelming physical
force, and a ruthless lust of aggressive conquest: but, even more
powerful still, an unequalled genius for organisation, and an
uniform system of external law and order.  This was generally a real
boon to conquered nations, because it substituted a fixed and
regular spoliation for the fortuitous and arbitrary miseries of
savage warfare: but it arrayed, meanwhile, on the side of the Empire
the wealthier citizens of every province, by allowing them their
share in the plunder of the labouring masses below them.  These, in
the country districts, were utterly enslaved; while in the cities,
nominal freedom was of little use to masses kept from starvation by
the alms of the government, and drugged into brutish good humour by
a vast system of public spectacles, in which the realms of nature
and of art were ransacked to glut the wonder, lust, and ferocity of
a degraded populace.

Against this vast organisation the Church had been fighting for now
four hundred years, armed only with its own mighty and all-embracing
message, and with the manifestation of a spirit of purity and
virtue, of love and self-sacrifice, which had proved itself mightier
to melt and weld together the hearts of men, than all the force and
terror, all the mechanical organisation, all the sensual baits with
which the Empire had been contending against that Gospel in which it
had recognised instinctively and at first sight, its internecine
foe.

And now the Church had conquered.  The weak things of this world had
confounded the strong.  In spite of the devilish cruelties of
persecutors; in spite of the contaminating atmosphere of sin which
surrounded her; in spite of having to form herself, not out of a
race of pure and separate creatures, but by a most literal 'new
birth' out of those very fallen masses who insulted and persecuted
her; in spite of having to endure within herself continual outbursts
of the evil passions in which her members had once indulged without
cheek; in spite of a thousand counterfeits which sprang up around
her and within her, claiming to be parts of her, and alluring men to
themselves by that very exclusiveness and party arrogance which
disproved their claim; in spite of all, she had conquered.  The very
emperors had arrayed themselves on her side.  Julian's last attempt
to restore paganism by imperial influence had only proved that the
old faith had lost all hold upon the hearts of the masses; at his
death the great tide-wave of new opinion rolled on unchecked, and
the rulers of earth were fain to swim with the stream; to accept, in
words at least, the Church's laws as theirs; to acknowledge a King
of kings to whom even they owed homage and obedience; and to call
their own slaves their 'poorer brethren,' and often, too, their
'spiritual superiors.'

But if the emperors had become Christian, the Empire had not.   Here
and there an abuse was lopped off; or an edict was passed for the
visitation of prisons and for the welfare of prisoners; or a
Theodosius was recalled to justice and humanity for a while by the
stern rebukes of an Ambrose.  But the Empire was still the same:
still a great tyranny, enslaving the masses, crushing national life,
fattening itself and its officials on a system of world-wide
robbery; and while it was paramount, there could be no hope for the
human race.  Nay, there were even those among the Christians who
saw, like Dante afterwards, in the 'fatal gift of Constantine,' and
the truce between the Church and the Empire, fresh and more deadly
danger.  Was not the Empire trying to extend over the Church itself
that upas shadow with which it had withered up every other form of
human existence; to make her, too, its stipendiary slave-official,
to be pampered when obedient, and scourged whenever she dare assert
a free will of her own, a law beyond that of her tyrants; to throw
on her, by a refined hypocrisy, the care and support of the masses
on whose lifeblood it was feeding?  So thought many then, and, as I
believe, not unwisely.

But if the social condition of the civilised world was anomalous at
the beginning of the fifth century, its spiritual state was still
more so.  The universal fusion of races, languages, and customs,
which had gone on for four centuries under the Roman rule, had
produced a corresponding fusion of creeds, an universal fermentation
of human thought and faith.  All honest belief in the old local
superstitions of paganism had been long dying out before the more
palpable and material idolatry of Emperor-worship; and the gods of
the nations, unable to deliver those who had trusted in them, became
one by one the vassals of the 'Divus Caesar,' neglected by the
philosophic rich, and only worshipped by the lower classes, where
the old rites still pandered to their grosser appetites, or
subserved the wealth and importance of some particular locality.

In the meanwhile, the minds of men, cut adrift from their ancient
moorings, wandered wildly over pathless seas of speculative doubt,
and especially in the more metaphysical andcontemplative East,
attempted to solve for themselves the questions of man's relation to
the unseen by those thousand schisms, heresies, and theosophies (it
is a disgrace to the word philosophy to call them by it), on the
records of which the student now gazes bewildered, unable alike to
count or to explain their fantasies.

Yet even these, like every outburst of free human thought, had their
use and their fruit.  They brought before the minds of churchmen a
thousand new questions which must be solved, unless the Church was
to relinquish for ever her claims as the great teacher and satisfier
of the human soul.  To study these bubbles, as they formed and burst
on every wave of human life; to feel, too often by sad experience,
as Augustine felt, the charm of their allurements; to divide the
truths at which they aimed from the falsehood which they offered as
its substitute; to exhibit the Catholic Church as possessing, in the
great facts which she proclaimed, full satisfaction, even for the
most subtle metaphysical cravings of a diseased age;--that was the
work of the time; and men were sent to do it, and aided in their
labour by the very causes which had produced the intellectual
revolution.  The general intermixture of ideas, creeds, and races,
even the mere physical facilities for intercourse between different
parts of the Empire, helped to give the great Christian fathers of
the fourth and fifth centuries a breadth of observation, a depth of
thought, a large-hearted and large-minded patience and tolerance,
such as, we may say boldly, the Church has since beheld but rarely,
and the world never; at least, if we are to judge those great men by
what they had, and not by what they had not, and to believe, as we
are bound, that had they lived now, and not then, they would have
towered as far above the heads of this generation as they did above
the heads of their own.  And thus an age, which, to the shallow
insight of a sneerer like Gibbon, seems only a rotting and aimless
chaos of sensuality and anarchy, fanaticism and hypocrisy, produced
a Clement and an Athanase, a Chrysostom and an Augustine; absorbed
into the sphere of Christianity all which was most valuable in the
philosophies of Greece and Egypt, and in the social organisation of
Rome, as an heirloom for nations yet unborn; and laid in foreign
lands, by unconscious agents, the foundations of all European
thought and Ethics.

But the health of a Church depends, not merely on the creed which it
professes, not even on the wisdom and holiness of a few great
ecclesiastics, but on the faith and virtue of its individual
members.  The _mens sana_ must have a _corpus sanum_ to inhabit.
And even for the Western Church, the lofty future which was in store
for it would have been impossible, without some infusion of new and
healthier blood into the veins of a world drained and tainted by the
influence of Rome.

And the new blood, at the era of this story, was at hand.  The great
tide of those Gothic nations, of which the Norwegian and the German
are the purest remaining types, though every nation of Europe, from
Gibraltar to St. Petersburg, owes to them the most precious elements
of strength, was sweeping onward, wave over wave, in a steady south-
western current, across the whole Roman territory, and only stopping
and recoiling when it reached the shores of the Mediterranean.
Those wild tribes were bringing with them into the magic circle of
the Western Church's influence the very materials which she required
for the building up of a future Christendom, and which she could
find as little in the Western Empire as in the Eastern; comparative
purity of morals; sacred respect for woman, for family life, law,
equal justice, individual freedom, and, above all, for honesty in
word and deed; bodies untainted by hereditary effeminacy, hearts
earnest though genial, and blessed with a strange willingness to
learn, even from those whom they despised; a brain equal to that of
the Roman in practical power, and not too far behind that of the
Eastern in imaginative and speculative acuteness.

And their strength was felt at once.  Their vanguard, confined with
difficulty for three centuries beyond the Eastern Alps, at the
expense of sanguinary wars, had been adopted wherever it was
practicable, into the service of the Empire; and the heart's core of
the Roman legion was composed of Gothic officers and soldiers.  But
now the main body had arrived.  Tribe after tribe was crowding down
to the Alps, and trampling upon each other on the frontiers of the
Empire.  The Huns, singly their inferiors, pressed them from behind
with the irresistible weight of numbers; Italy, with her rich cities
and fertile lowlands, beckoned them on to plunder; as auxiliaries,
they had learned their own strength and Roman weakness; a _casus
belli_ was soon found.   How iniquitous was the conduct of the sons
of Theodosius, in refusing the usual bounty, by which the Goths were
bribed not to attack the Empire!--The whole pent-up deluge burst
over the plains of Italy, and the Western Empire became from that
day forth a dying idiot, while the new invaders divided Europe among
themselves.  The fifteen years before the time of this tale had
decided the fate of Greece; the last four that of Rome itself.  The
countless treasures which five centuries of rapine had accumulated
round the Capitol had become the prey of men clothed in sheepskins
and horse-hide; and the sister of an emperor had found her beauty,
virtue, and pride of race worthily matched by those of the hard-
handed Northern hero who led her away from Italy as his captive and
his bride, to found new kingdoms in South France and Spain, and to
drive the newly-arrived Vandals across the Straits of Gibraltar into
the then blooming coast-land of Northern Africa.  Everywhere the
mangled limbs of the Old World were seething in the Medea's caldron,
to come forth whole, and young, and strong.  The Longbeards, noblest
of their race, had found a temporary resting-place upon the Austrian
frontier, after long southward wanderings from the Swedish
mountains, soon to be dispossessed again by the advancing Huns, and,
crossing the Alps, to give their name for ever to the plains of
Lombardy.  A few more tumultuous years, and the Franks would find
themselves lords of the Lower Rhineland; and before the hairs of
Hypatia's scholars had grown gray, the mythic Hengist and Horsa
would have landed on the shores of Kent, and an English nation have
begun its world-wide life.

But some great Providence forbade to our race, triumphant in every
other quarter, a footing beyond the Mediterranean, or even in
Constantinople, which to this day preserves in Europe the faith and
manners of Asia.  The Eastern World seemed barred, by some stern
doom, from the only influence which could have regenerated it.
Every attempt of the Gothic races to establish themselves beyond the
sea, whether in the form of an organised kingdom, as the Vandals
attempted in Africa; or of a mere band of brigands, as did the Goths
in Asia Minor, under Gainas; or of a praetorian guard, as did the
Varangens of the middle age; or as religious invaders, as did the
Crusaders, ended only in the corruption and disappearance of the
colonists.  That extraordinary reform in morals, which, according to
Salvian and his contemporaries, the Vandal conquerors worked in
North Africa, availed them nothing; they lost more than they gave.
Climate, bad example, and the luxury of power degraded them in one
century into a race of helpless and debauched slave-holders, doomed
to utter extermination before the semi-Gothic armies of Belisarius;
and with them vanished the last chance that the Gothic races would
exercise on the Eastern World the same stern yet wholesome
discipline under which the Western had been restored to life.

The Egyptian and Syrian Churches, therefore, were destined to labour
not for themselves, but for us.  The signs of disease and
decrepitude were already but too manifest in them.  That very
peculiar turn of the Graeco-Eastern mind, which made them the great
thinkers of the then world, had the effect of drawing them away from
practice to speculation; and the races of Egypt and Syria were
effeminate, over-civilised, exhausted by centuries during which no
infusion of fresh blood had come to renew the stock.  Morbid, self-
conscious, physically indolent, incapable then, as now, of personal
or political freedom, they afforded material out of which fanatics
might easily be made, but not citizens of the kingdom of God.  The
very ideas of family and national life-those two divine roots of the
Church, severed from which she is certain to wither away into that
most godless and most cruel of spectres, a religious world-had
perished in the East from the evil influence of the universal
practice of slaveholding, as well as from the degradation of that
Jewish nation whichhad been for ages the great witness for those
ideas; and all classes, like their forefather Adam--like, indeed,
'the old Adam' in every man and in every age--were shifting the
blame of sin from their own consciences to human relationships and
duties--and therein, to the God who had appointed them; and saying
as of old, '_The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me
of the tree, and I did eat._'  The passionate Eastern character,
like all weak ones, found total abstinence easier than temperance,
religious thought more pleasant than godly action; and a monastic
world grew up all over the East, of such vastness that in Egypt it
was said to rival in numbers the lay population, producing, with an
enormous decrease in the actual amount of moral evil, an equally
great enervation and decrease of the population.  Such a people
could offer no resistance to the steadily-increasing tyranny of the
Eastern Empire.  In vain did such men as Chrysostom and Basil oppose
their personal influence to the hideous intrigues and villainies of
the Byzantine court; the ever-downward career of Eastern
Christianity went on unchecked for two more miserable centuries,
side by side with the upward development of the Western Church; and,
while the successors of the great Saint Gregory were converting and
civilising a new-born Europe, the Churches of the East were
vanishing before Mohammedan invaders, strong by living trust in that
living God, whom the Christians, while they hated and persecuted
each other for arguments about Him, were denying and blaspheming in
every action of their lives.

But at the period whereof this story treats, the Graeco-Eastern mind
was still in the middle of its great work.  That wonderful
metaphysic subtlety, which, in phrases and definitions too often
unmeaning to our grosser intellect, saw the symbols of the most
important spiritual realities, and felt that on the distinction
between homoousios and homoiousios might hang the solution of the
whole problem of humanity, was set to battle in Alexandria, the
ancient stronghold of Greek philosophy, with the effete remains of
the very scientific thought to which it owed its extraordinary
culture.  Monastic isolation from family and national duties
especially fitted the fathers of that period for the task, by giving
them leisure, if nothing else, to face questions with a lifelong
earnestness impossible to the more social and practical Northern
mind.  Our duty is, instead of sneering at them as pedantic
dreamers, to thank Heaven that men were found, just at the time when
they were wanted, to do for us what we could never have done for
ourselves; to leave to us, as a precious heirloom, bought most truly
with the lifeblood of their race, a metaphysic at once Christian and
scientific, every attempt to improve on which has hitherto been
found a failure; and to battle victoriously with that strange brood
of theoretic monsters begotten by effete Greek philosophy upon
Egyptian symbolism, Chaldee astrology, Parsee dualism, Brahminic
spiritualism-graceful and gorgeous phantoms, whereof somewhat more
will be said in the coming chapters.

I have, in my sketch of Hypatia and her fate, closely followed
authentic history, especially Socrates' account of the closing
scene, as given in Book vii. Para 15, of his _Ecclesiastical
History_.  I am inclined, however, for various historical reasons,
to date her death two years earlier than he does.  The tradition
that she was the wife of Isidore, the philosopher, I reject with
Gibbon, as a palpable anachronism of at least fifty years (Isidore's
master, Proclus, not having been born till the year before Hypatia's
death), contradicted, moreover, by the very author of it, Photius,
who says distinctly, after comparing Hypatia and Isidore, that
Isidore married a certain 'Domna.'  No hint, moreover, of her having
been married appears in any contemporary authors; and the name of
Isidore nowhere occurs among those of the many mutual friends to
whom Synesius sends messages in his letters to Hypatia, in which, if
anywhere, we should find mention of a husband, had one existed.  To
Synesius's most charming letters, as well as to those of Isidore,
the good Abbot of Pelusium, I beg leave to refer those readers who
wish for further information about the private life of the fifth
century.

I cannot hope that these pages will be altogether free from
anachronisms and errors.  I can only say that I have laboured
honestly and industriously to discover the truth, even in its
minutest details, and to sketch the age, its manners and its
literature, as I found them-altogether artificial, slipshod, effete,
resembling far more the times of Louis Quinze than those of
Sophocles and Plato.  And so I send forth this little sketch, ready
to give my hearty thanks to any reviewer, who, by exposing my
mistakes, shall teach me and the public somewhat more about the last
struggle between the Young Church and the Old World.



CHAPTER I: THE LAURA


In the four hundred and thirteenth year of the Christian Era, some
three hundred miles above Alexandria, the young monk Philammon was
sitting on the edge of a low range of inland cliffs, crested with
drifting sand.  Behind him the desert sand-waste stretched,
lifeless, interminable, reflecting its lurid glare on the horizon of
the cloudless vault of blue.  At his feet the sand dripped and
trickled, in yellow rivulets, from crack to crack and ledge to
ledge, or whirled past him in tiny jets of yellow smoke, before the
fitful summer airs.  Here and there, upon the face of the cliffs
which walled in the opposite side of the narrow glen below, were
cavernous tombs, huge old quarries, with obelisks and half-cut
pillars, standing as the workmen had left them centuries before; the
sand was slipping down and piling up around them, their heads were
frosted with the arid snow; everywhere was silence, desolation-the
grave of a dead nation, in a dying land.  And there he sat musing
above it all, full of life and youth and health and beauty--a young
Apollo of the desert.  His only clothing was a ragged sheep-skin,
bound with a leathern girdle.  His long black locks, unshorn from
childhood, waved and glistened in the sun; a rich dark down on cheek
and chin showed the spring of healthful manhood; his hard hands and
sinewy sunburnt limbs told of labour and endurance; his flashing
eyes and beetling brow, of daring, fancy, passion, thought, which
had no sphere of action in such a place.  What did his glorious
young humanity alone among the tombs?

So perhaps he, too, thought, as he passed his hand across his brow,
as if to sweep away some gathering dream, and sighing, rose and
wandered along the cliffs, peering downward at every point and
cranny, in search of fuel for the monastery from whence he came.

Simple as was the material which he sought, consisting chiefly of
the low arid desert shrubs, with now and then a fragment of wood
from some deserted quarry or ruin, it was becoming scarcer and
scarcer round Abbot Pambo's Laura at Scetis; and long before
Philammon had collected his daily quantity, he had strayed farther
from his home than he had ever been before.

Suddenly, at a turn of the glen, he came upon a sight new to
him....a temple carved in the sandstone cliff; and in front a smooth
platform, strewn with beams and mouldering tools, and here and there
a skull bleaching among the sand, perhaps of some workman
slaughtered at his labour in one of the thousand wars of old.  The
abbot, his spiritual father--indeed, the only father whom he knew,
for his earliest recollections were of the Laura and the old man's
cell-had strictly forbidden him to enter, even to approach any of
those relics of ancient idolatry: but a broad terrace-road led down
to the platform from the table-land above; the plentiful supply of
fuel was too tempting to be passed by ....  He would go down, gather
a few sticks, and then return, to tell the abbot of the treasure
which he had found, and consult him as to the propriety of
revisiting it.

So down he went, hardly daring to raise his eyes to the alluring
iniquities of the painted imagery which, gaudy in crimson and blue,
still blazed out upon the desolate solitude, uninjured by that
rainless air.  But he was young, and youth is curious; and the
devil, at least in the fifth century, busy with young brains.  Now
Philammon believed most utterly in the devil, and night and day
devoutly prayed to be delivered from him; so he crossed himself, and
ejaculated, honestly enough, 'Lord, turn away mine eyes, lest they
behold vanity!' .... and looked nevertheless....

And who could have helped looking at those four colossal kings, who
sat there grim and motionless, their huge hands laid upon their
knees in everlasting self-assured repose, seeming to bear up the
mountain on their stately heads?  A sense of awe, weakness, all but
fear, came over him.  He dare not stoop to take up the wood at his
feet, their great stern eyes watched him so steadily.

Round their knees and round their thrones were mystic characters
engraved, symbol after symbol, line below line--the ancient wisdom
of the Egyptians, wherein Moses the man of God was learned of old--
why should not he know it too?  What awful secrets might not be
hidden there about the great world, past, present, and future, of
which he knew only so small a speck?  Those kings who sat there,
they had known it all; their sharp lips seem parting, ready to speak
to him ....  Oh that they would speak for once! .... and yet that
grim sneering smile, that seemed to look down on him from the
heights of their power and wisdom, with calm contempt .... him, the
poor youth, picking up the leaving and rags of their past majesty
....  He dared look at them no more.

So he looked past them into the temple halls; into a lustrous abyss
of cool green shade, deepening on and inward, pillar after pillar,
vista after vista, into deepest night.  And dimly through the gloom
he could descry, on every wall and column, gorgeous arabesques, long
lines of pictured story; triumphs and labours; rows of captives in
foreign and fantastic dresses, leading strange animals, bearing the
tributes of unknown lands; rows of ladies at feasts, their heads
crowned with garlands, the fragrant lotus-flower in every hand,
while slaves brought wine and perfumes, and children sat upon their
knees, and husbands by their side; and dancing girls, in transparent
robes and golden girdles, tossed their tawny limbs wildly among the
throng ....  What was the meaning of it all?  Why had it all been?
Why had it gone on thus, the great world, century after century,
millennium after millennium, eating and drinking, and marrying and
giving in marriage, and knowing nothing better .... how could they
know anything better?  Their forefathers had lost the light ages and
ages before they were born ....  And Christ had not come for ages
and ages after they were dead ....  How could they know? ....  And
yet they were all in hell .... every one of them.  Every one of
these ladies who sat there, with her bushy locks, and garlands, and
jewelled collars, and lotus-flowers, and gauzy dress, displaying all
her slender limbs-who, perhaps, when she was alive, smiled so
sweetly, and went so gaily, and had children, and friends, and never
once thought of what was going to happen to her--what must happen to
her ....  She was in hell ....  Burning for ever, and ever, and
ever, there below his feet.  He stared down on the rocky floors.  If
he could but see through them .... and the eye of faith could see
through them .... he should behold her writhing and twisting among
the flickering flame, scorched, glowing .... in everlasting agony,
such as the thought of enduring for a moment made him shudder.  He
had burnt his hands once, when a palm-leaf but caught fire ....  He
recollected what that was like ....  She was enduring ten thousand
times more than that for ever.  He should hear her shrieking in vain
for a drop of water to cool her tongue ....  He had never heard a
human being shriek but once .... a boy bathing on the opposite Nile
bank, whom a crocodile had dragged down .... and that scream, faint
and distant as it came across the mighty tide, had rung intolerable
in his ears for days .... and to think of all which echoed through
those vaults of fire-for ever!  Was the thought bearable!--was it
possible!  Millions upon millions burning forever for Adam's fall
....  Could God be just in that? ....

It was the temptation of a fiend!  He had entered the unhallowed
precincts, where devils still lingered about their ancient shrines;
he had let his eyes devour the abominations of the heathen, and
given place to the devil.  He would flee home to confess it all to
his father.  He would punish him as he deserved, pray for him,
forgive him.  And yet could he tell him all?  Could he, dare he
confess to him the whole truth--the insatiable craving to know the
mysteries of learning--to see the great roaring world of men, which
had been growing up in him slowly, month after month, till now it
had assumed this fearful shape?  He could stay no longer in the
desert.  This world which sent all souls to hell--was it as bad as
monks declared it was?  It must be, else how could such be the fruit
of it?  But it was too awful a thought to be taken on trust.  No; he
must go and see.

Filled with such fearful questionings, half-inarticulate and vague,
like the thoughts of a child, the untutored youth went wandering on,
till he reached the edge of the cliff below which lay his home.
It lay pleasantly enough, that lonely Laura, or lane of rude
Cyclopean cells, under the perpetual shadow of the southern wall of
crags, amid its grove of ancient date-trees.  A branching cavern in
the cliff supplied the purposes of a chapel, a storehouse, and a
hospital; while on the sunny slope across the glen lay the common
gardens of the brotherhood, green with millet, maize, and beans,
among which a tiny streamlet, husbanded and guided with the most
thrifty care, wandered down from the cliff foot, and spread
perpetual verdure over the little plot which voluntary and fraternal
labour had painfully redeemed from the inroads of the all-devouring
sand. For that garden, like everything else in the Laura, except
each brother's seven feet of stone sleeping-hut, was the common
property, and therefore the common care and joy of all. For the
common good, as well as for his own, each man had toiled up the glen
with his palm-leaf basket of black mud from the river Nile, over
whose broad sheet of silver the glen's mouth yawned abrupt. For the
common good, each man had swept the ledges clear of sand, and sown
in the scanty artificial soil, the harvest of which all were to
share alike.  To buy clothes, books, and chapel furniture for the
common necessities, education, and worship, each man sat, day after
day, week after week, his mind full of high and heavenly thoughts,
weaving the leaves of their little palm-copse into baskets, which an
aged monk exchanged for goods with the more prosperous and
frequented monasteries of the opposite bank.  Thither Philammon
rowed the old man over, week by week, in a light canoe of papyrus,
and fished, as he sat waiting for him, for the common meal.  A
simple, happy, gentle life was that of the Laura, all portioned out
by rules and methods, which were held hardly less sacred than those
of the Scriptures, on which they were supposed (and not so wrongly
either) to have been framed.  Each man had food and raiment, shelter
on earth, friends and counsellors, living trust in the continual
care of Almighty God; and, blazing before his eyes, by day and
night, the hope of everlasting glory beyond all poets' dreams ....
And what more would man have had in those days?  Thither they had
fled out of cities, compared with which Paris is earnest and
Gomorrha chaste,--out of a rotten, infernal, dying world of tyrants
and slaves, hypocrites and wantons,--to ponder undisturbed on duty
and on judgment, on death and eternity, heaven and hell; to find a
common creed, a common interest, a common hope, common duties,
pleasures, and sorrows ....  True, they had many of them fled from
the post where God had placed them, when they fled from man into the
Thebaid waste ....  What sort of post and what sort of an age they
were, from which those old monks fled, we shall see, perhaps, before
this tale is told out.

'Thou art late, son,' said the abbot, steadfastly working away at
his palm-basket, as Philammon approached.

'Fuel is scarce, and I was forced to go far.'

'A monk should not answer till he is questioned.  I did not ask the
reason.  Where didst thou find that wood?'

'Before the temple, far up the glen.'

'The temple!  What didst thou see there?'

No answer.  Pambo looked up with his keen black eye.

'Thou hast entered it, and lusted after its abominations.'

'I--I did not enter; but I looked--'

'And what didst thou see?  Women?'

Philammon was silent.

'Have I not bidden you never to look on the face of women?  Are they
not the firstfruits of the devil, the authors of all evil, the
subtlest of all Satan's snares?  Are they not accursed for ever, for
the deceit of their first mother, by whom sin entered into the
world?  A woman first opened the gates of hell; and, until this day,
they are the portresses thereof.  Unhappy boy!  What hast thou
done?'

'They were but painted on the walls.'

'Ah!' said the abbot, as if suddenly relieved from a heavy burden.
'But how knewest thou them to be women, when thou hast never yet,
unless thou liest--which I believe not of thee--seen the face of a
daughter of Eve?'

'Perhaps--perhaps,' said Philammon, as if suddenly relieved by a new
suggestion--'perhaps they were only devils.  They must have been, I
think, for they were so very beautiful.'

'Ah! how knowest thou that devils are beautiful?'

'I was launching the boat, a week ago, with Father Aufugus; and on
the bank,....not very near,....there were two creatures....with long
hair, and striped all over the lower half of their bodies with
black, and red, and yellow....and they were gathering flowers on the
shore. Father Aufugus turned away; but I ....  I could not help
thinking them the most beautiful things that I had ever seen....so I
asked him why he turned away; and he said that those were the same
sort of devils which tempted the blessed St. Anthony.  Then I
recollected having heard it read aloud, how Satan tempted Anthony in
the shape of a beautiful woman ....  And so .... and so .... those
figures on the wall were very like .... and I thought they might
be....'

And the poor boy, who considered that he was making confession of a
deadly and shameful sin, blushed scarlet, and stammered, and at last
stopped.

'And thou thoughtest them beautiful?  Oh utter corruption of the
flesh!--oh subtilty of Satan!  The Lord forgive thee, as I do, my
poor child; henceforth thou goest not beyond the garden walls.'

'Not beyond the walls!  Impossible!  I cannot!  If thou wert not my
father, I would say, I will not!--I must have liberty!--I must see
for myself--I must judge for myself, what this world is of which you
all talk so bitterly.  I long for no pomps and vanities.  I will
promise you this moment, if you will, never to re-enter a heathen
temple--to hide my face in the dust whenever I approach a woman.
But I must--I must see the world; I must see the great mother-church
in Alexandria, and the patriarch, and his clergy.  If they can serve
God in the city, why not I?  I could do more for God there than here
....  Not that I despise this work--not that I am ungrateful to you
--oh, never, never that!--but I pant for the battle.  Let me go!  I
am not discontented with you, but with myself.  I know that
obedience is noble; but danger is nobler still.  If you have seen
the world, why should not I?  If you have fled from it because you
found it too evil to live in, why should not I, and return to you
here of my own will, never to leave you?  And yet Cyril and his
clergy have not fled from it....'

Desperately and breathlessly did Philammon drive this speech out of
his inmost heart; and then waited, expecting the good abbot to
strike him on the spot.  If he had, the young man would have
submitted patiently; so would any man, however venerable, in that
monastery.  Why not?  Duly, after long companionship, thought, and
prayer, they had elected Pambo for their abbot--Abba--father--the
wisest, eldest-hearted and headed of them--if he was that, it was
time that he should be obeyed.  And obeyed he was, with a loyal,
reasonable love, and yet with an implicit, soldier-like obedience,
which many a king and conqueror might envy.  Were they cowards and
slaves?  The Roman legionaries should be good judges on that point.
They used to say that no armed barbarian, Goth or Vandal, Moor or
Spaniard, was so terrible as the unarmed monk of the Thebaid.

Twice the old man lifted his staff to strike; twice he laid it down
again; and then, slowly rising, left Philammon kneeling there, and
moved away deliberately, and with eyes fixed on the ground, to the
house of the brother Aufugus.

Every one in the Laura honoured Aufugus.  There was a mystery about
him which heightened the charm of his surpassing sanctity, his
childlike sweetness and humility.  It was whispered--when the monks
seldom and cautiously did whisper together in their lonely walks--
that he had been once a great man; that he had come from a great
city--perhaps from Rome itself.  And the simple monks were proud to
think that they had among them a man who had seen Rome.  At least,
Abbot Pambo respected him.  He was never beaten; never even
reproved--perhaps he never required it; but still it was the meed of
all; and was not the abbot a little partial?  Yet, certainly, when
Theophilus sent up a messenger from Alexandria, rousing every Laura
with the news of the sack of Rome by Alaric, did not Pambo take him
first to the cell of Aufugus, and sit with him there three whole
hours in secret consultation, before he told the awful story to the
rest of the brotherhood?  And did not Aufugus himself give letters
to the messenger, written with his own hand, containing, as was
said, deep secrets of worldly policy, known only to himself?  So,
when the little lane of holy men, each peering stealthily over his
plaiting work from the doorway of his sandstone cell, saw the abbot,
after his unwonted passion, leave the culprit kneeling, and take his
way toward the sage's dwelling, they judged that something strange
and delicate had befallen the common weal, and each wished, without
envy, that he were as wise as the man whose counsel was to solve the
difficulty.

For an hour or more the abbot remained there, talking earnestly and
low; and then a solemn sound as of the two old men praying with sobs
and tears; and every brother bowed his head, and whispered a hope
that He whom they served might guide them for the good of the Laura,
and of His Church, and of the great heathen world beyond; and still
Philammon knelt motionless, awaiting his sentence; his heart filled-
who can tell how?  'The heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a
stranger intermeddleth not with its joy.'  So thought he as he
knelt; and so think I, too, knowing that in the pettiest character
there are unfathomable depths, which the poet, all-seeing though he
may pretend to be, can never analyse, but must only dimly guess at,
and still more dimly sketch them by the actions which they beget.

At last Pambo returned, deliberate, still, and slow, as he had gone,
and seating himself within his cell, spoke--

'And the youngest said, Father, give me the portion of goods that
falleth to my share ....  And he took his journey into a far
country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.  Thou
shalt go, my son.  But first come after me, and speak with Aufugus.'

Philammon, like everyone else, loved Aufugus; and when the abbot
retired and left the two alone together, he felt no dread or shame
about unburdening his whole heart to him.  Long and passionately he
spoke, in answer to the gentle questions of the old man, who,
without the rigidity or pedantic solemnity of the monk, interrupted
the youth, and let himself be interrupted in return, gracefully,
genially, almost playfully.  And yet there was a melancholy about
his tone as he answered to the youth's appeal--

'Tertullian, Origen, Clement, Cyprian--all these moved in the world;
all these and many more beside, whose names we honour, whose prayers
we invoke, were learned in the wisdom of the heathen, and fought and
laboured, unspotted, in the world; and why not I?  Cyril the
patriarch himself, was he not called from the caves of Nitria to sit
on the throne of Alexandria?'

Slowly the old man lifted his band, and putting back the thick locks
of the kneeling youth, gazed, with soft pitying eyes, long and
earnestly into his face.

'And thou wouldst see the world, poor fool?  And thou wouldst see
the world?'

'I would convert the world!'

'Thou must know it first.  And shall I tell thee what that world is
like, which seems to thee so easy to convert?  Here I sit, the poor
unknown old monk, until I die, fasting and praying, if perhaps God
will have mercy on my soul: but little thou knowest how I have seen
it.  Little thou knowest, or thou wouldst be well content to rest
here till the end.  I was Arsenius ....  Ah! vain old man that I am!
Thou hast never heard that name, at which once queens would whisper
and grow pale.  Vanitas vanitatum! omnia vanitas!  And yet he, at
whose frown half the world trembles, has trembled himself at mine.
I was the tutor of Arcadius.'

'The Emperor of Byzantium?'

'Even so, my son, even so.  There I saw the world which thou wouldst
see.  And what saw I?  Even what thou wilt see.  Eunuchs the tyrants
of their own sovereigns.  Bishops kissing the feet of parricides and
harlots.  Saints tearing saints in pieces for a word, while sinners
cheer them on to the unnatural fight.  Liars thanked for lying,
hypocrites taking pride in their hypocrisy.  The many sold and
butchered for the malice, the caprice, the vanity of the few.  The
plunderers of the poor plundered in their turn by worse devourers
than themselves.  Every attempt at reform the parent of worse
scandals; every mercy begetting fresh cruelties; every persecutor
silenced, only to enable others to persecute him in their turn:
every devil who is exorcised, returning with seven others worsethan
himself; falsehood and selfishness, spite and lust, confusion seven
times confounded, Satan casting out Satan everywhere--from the
emperor who wantons on his throne, to the slave who blasphemes
beneath his fetters.'

'If Satan cast out Satan, his kingdom shall not stand.'

'In the world to come.  But in this world it shall stand and
conquer, even worse and worse, until the end.  These are the last
days spoken of by the prophets,--the beginning of woes such as never
have been on the earth before--"On earth distress of nations with
perplexity, men's hearts failing them for fear, and for the dread of
those things which are coming on the earth."  I have seen it long.
Year after year I have watched them coming nearer and ever nearer in
their course like the whirling sand-storms of the desert, which
sweep past the caravan, and past again, and yet overwhelm it after
all--that black flood of the northern barbarians.  I foretold it; I
prayed against it; but, like Cassandra's of old, my prophecy and my
prayers were alike unheard.  My pupil spurned my warnings.  The
lusts of youth, the intrigues of courtiers, were stronger than the
warning voice of God; then I ceased to hope; I ceased to pray for
the glorious city, for I knew that her sentence was gone forth; I
saw her in the spirit, even as St. John saw her in the Revelations;
her, and her sins, and her ruin.  And I fled secretly at night, and
buried myself here in the desert, to await the end of the world.
Night and day I pray the Lord to accomplish His elect, and to hasten
His kingdom.  Morning by morning I look up trembling, and yet in
hope, for the sign of the Son of man in heaven, when the sun shall
be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, and the stars
shall fall from heaven, and the skies pass away like a scroll, and
the fountains of the nether fire burst up around our feet, and the
end of all shall come.  And thou wouldst go into the world from
which I fled?'

'If the harvest be at hand, the Lord needs labourers.  If the times
be awful, I should be doing awful things in them.  Send me, and let
that day find me, where I long to be, in the forefront of the battle
of the Lord.'

'The Lord's voice be obeyed!  Thou shalt go.  Here are letters to
Cyril the patriarch.  He will love thee for my sake: and for thine
own sake, too, I trust.  Thou goest of our free will as well as
thine own.  The abbot and I have watched thee long, knowing that the
Lord bad need of such as thee elsewhere.  We did but prove thee, to
see by thy readiness to obey, whether thou wert fit to rule.  Go,
and God be with thee.  Covet no man's gold or silver.  Neither eat
flesh nor drink wine, but live as thou hast lived--a Nazarite of the
Lord. Fear not the face of man; but look not on the face of woman.
In an evil hour came they into the world, the mothers of all
mischiefs which I have seen under the sun.  Come; the abbot waits
for us at the gate.'

With tears of surprise, joy, sorrow, almost of dread, Philammon hung
back.

'Nay--come.  Why shouldst thou break thy brethren's hearts and ours
by many leave-takings! Bring from the storehouse a week's provision
of dried dates and millet.  The papyrus boat lies at the ferry; thou
shalt descend in it.  The Lord will replace it for us when we need
it.  Speak with no man on the river except the monks of God.  When
thou hast gone five days' journey downward, ask for the mouth of the
canal of Alexandria.  Once in the city, any monk will guide thee to
the archbishop.  Send us news of thy welfare by some holy mouth.
Come.'

Silently they paced together down the glen to the lonely beach of
the great stream.  Pambo was there already, his white hair
glittering in the rising moon, as with slow and feeble arms he
launched the light canoe.  Philammon flung himself at the old men's
feet, and besought, with many tears, their forgiveness and their
blessing.'We have nothing to forgive. Follow thou thine inward call.
If it be of the flesh, it will avenge itself; if it be of the
Spirit, who are we that we should fight against God?  Farewell.'  A
few minutes more, and the youth and his canoe were lessening down
the rapid stream in the golden summer twilight.  Again a minute, and
the swift southern night had fallen, and all was dark but the cold
glare of the moon on the river, and on the rock-faces, and on the
two old men, as they knelt upon the beach, and with their heads upon
each other's shoulders, like two children, sobbed and prayed
together for the lost darling of their age.



CHAPTER II: THE DYING WORLD


In the upper story of a house in the Museum Street of Alexandria,
built and fitted up on the old Athenian model, was a small room.  It
had been chosen by its occupant, not merely on account of its quiet;
for though it was tolerably out of hearing of the female slaves who
worked, and chattered, and quarrelled under the cloisters of the
women's court on the south side, yet it was exposed to the rattle of
carriages and the voices of passengers in the fashionable street
below, and to strange bursts of roaring, squealing, trumpeting from
the Menagerie, a short way off, on the opposite side of the street.
The attraction of the situation lay, perhaps, in the view which it
commanded over the wall of the Museum gardens, of flower-beds,
shrubberies, fountains, statues, walks, and alcoves, which had
echoed for nearly seven hundred years to the wisdom of the
Alexandrian sages and poets.  School after school, they had all
walked, and taught, and sung there, beneath the spreading planes and
chestnuts, figs and palm-trees.  The place seemed fragrant with all
the riches of Greek thought and song, since the days when Ptolemy
Philadelphus walked there with Euclid and Theocritus, Callimachus
and Lycophron.

On the left of the garden stretched the lofty eastern front of the
Museum itself, with its picture galleries, halls of statuary,
dining-halls, and lecture-rooms; one huge wing containing that
famous library, founded by the father of Philadelphus, which hold in
the time of Seneca, even after the destruction of a great part of it
in Caesar's siege, four hundred thousand manuscripts.  There it
towered up, the wonder of the world, its white roof bright against
the rainless blue; and beyond it, among the ridges and pediments of
noble buildings, a broad glimpse of the bright blue sea.

The room was fitted up in the purest Greek style, not without an
affectation of archaism, in the severe forms and subdued half-tints
of the frescoes which ornamented the walls with scenes from the old
myths of Athene.  Yet the general effect, even under the blazing sun
which poured in through the mosquito nets of the courtyard windows,
was one of exquisite coolness, and cleanliness, and repose.  The
room had neither carpet nor fireplace; and the only movables in it
were a sofa-bed, a table, and an arm-chair, all of such delicate and
graceful forms as may be seen on ancient vases of a far earlier
period than thatwhereof we write.  But, most probably, had any of us
entered that room that morning, we should not have been able to
spare a look either for the furniture, or the general effect, or the
Museum gardens, or the sparkling Mediterranean beyond; but we should
have agreed that the room was quite rich enough for human eyes, for
the sake of one treasure which it possessed, and, beside which,
nothing was worth a moment's glance. For in the light arm-chair,
reading a manuscript which lay on the table, sat a woman, of some
five-and-twenty years, evidently the tutelary goddess of that little
shrine, dressed in perfect keeping with the archaism of the chamber,
in simple old snow-white Ionic robe, falling to the feet and
reaching to the throat, and of that peculiarly severe and graceful
fashion in which the upper part of the dress falls downward again
from the neck to the waist in a sort of cape, entirely hiding the
outline of the bust, while it leaves the arms and the point of the
shoulders bare.  Her dress was entirely without ornament, except the
two narrow purple stripes down the front, which marked her rank as a
Roman citizen, the gold embroidered shoes upon her feet, and the
gold net, which looped back, from her forehead to her neck, hair the
colour and gloss of which were hardly distinguishable from that of
the metal itself, such as Athene herself might haveenvied for tint,
and mass, and ripple.  Her features, arms, and hands were of the
severest and grandest type of old Greek beauty, at once showing
everywhere the high development of the bones, and covering them with
that firm, round, ripe outline, and waxy morbidezza of skin, which
the old Greeks owed to their continual use not only of the bath and
muscular exercise, but also of daily unguents.  There might have
seemed to us too much sadness in that clear gray eye; too much self-
conscious restraint in those sharp curved lips; too much affectation
in the studied severity of her posture as she read, copied, as it
seemed, from some old vase or bas-relief.  But the glorious grace
and beauty of every line of face and figure would have excused, even
hidden those defects, and we should have only recognised the marked
resemblance to the ideal portraits of Athene which adorned every
panel of the walls.

She has lifted her eyes off her manuscript; she is looking out with
kindling countenance over the gardens of the Museum; her ripe
curling Greek lips, such as we never see now, even among her own
wives and sisters, open.  She is talking to herself.  Listen!

'Yes.  The statues there are broken.  The libraries are plundered.
The alcoves are silent.  The oracles are dumb.  And yet--who says
that the old faith of heroes and sages is dead?  The beautiful can
never die.  If the gods have deserted their oracles, they have not
deserted the souls who aspire to them.  If they have ceased to guide
nations, they have not ceased to speak to their own elect.  If they
have cast off the vulgar herd, they have not cast off Hypatia.
...............

'Ay.  To believe in the old creeds, while every one else is dropping
away from them ....  To believe in spite of disappointments ....  To
hope against hope ....  To show oneself superior to the herd, by
seeing boundless depths of living glory in myths which have become
dark and dead to them ....  To struggle to the last against the new
and vulgar superstitions of a rotting age, for the faith of my
forefathers, for the old gods, the old heroes, the old sages who
gauged the mysteries of heaven and earth--and perhaps to conquer--at
least to have my reward!  To be welcomed into the celestial ranks of
the heroic--to rise to the immortal gods, to the ineffable powers,
onward, upward ever, through ages and through eternities, till I
find my home at last, and vanish in the glory of the Nameless and
the Absolute One! ....

And her whole face flashed out into wild glory, and then sank again
suddenly into a shudder of something like fear and disgust, as she
saw, watching her from under the wall of the gardens opposite, a
crooked, withered Jewish crone, dressed out in the most gorgeous and
fantastic style of barbaric finery.

'Why does that old hag haunt me?  I see her everywhere--till the
last month at least--and here she is again!  I will ask the prefect
to find out who she is, and get rid of her, before she fascinates me
with that evil eye.  Thank the gods, there she moves away!
Foolish!--foolish of me, a philosopher.  I, to believe, against the
authority of Porphyry himself, too, in evil eyes and magic! But
there is my father, pacing up and down in the library.'

As she spoke, the old man entered from the next room.  He was a
Greek, also, but of a more common, and, perhaps, lower type; dark
and fiery, thin and graceful; his delicate figureand cheeks, wasted
by meditation, harmonised well with the staid and simple philosophic
cloak which he wore as a sign of his profession.  He paced
impatiently up and down the chamber, while his keen, glittering eyes
and restless gestures betokened intense inward thought .... 'I have
it ....  No; again it escapes--it contradicts itself.  Miserable man
that I am!  If there is faith in Pythagoras, the symbol should be an
expanding series of the powers of three; and yet that accursed
binaryfactor will introduce itself.  Did not you work the sum out
once, Hypatia?'

'Sit down, my dear father, and eat.  You have tasted no food yet
this day.'

'What do I care for food!  The inexpressible must be expressed, the
work must be done if it cost me the squaring of the circle.  How can
he, whose sphere lies above the stars, stoop every moment to earth?

'Ay,' she answered, half bitterly, 'and would that we could live
without food, and imitate perfectly the immortal gods.  But while we
are in this prison-house of matter, we must wear our chain; even
wear it gracefully, if we have the good taste; and make the base
necessities of this body of shame symbolic of the divinefood of the
reason.  There is fruit, with lentils and rice, waiting for you in
the next room; and bread, unless you despise it too much.'

'The food of slaves!' he answered. 'Well, I will eat, and be ashamed
of eating.  Stay, did I tell you?  Six new pupils in the
mathematical school this morning.  It grows!  It spreads!  We shall
conquer yet!'

She sighed. 'How do you know that they have not come to you, as
Critias and Alcibiades did to Socrates, to learn a merely political
and mundane virtue?  Strange! that men should be content to grovel,
and be men, when they might rise to the rank of gods!  Ah, my
father!  That is my bitterest grief! to see those who have been
pretending in the morning lecture-room to worship every word of mine
as an oracle, lounging in the afternoon round Pelagia's litter; and
then at night--for I know that they do it--the dice, and the wine,
and worse.  That Pallas herself should be conquered every day by
Venus Pandemos!  That Pelagia should have more power than I!  Not
that such a creature as that disturbs me: no created thing, I hope,
can move my equanimity; but if I could stoop to hate--I should hate
her--hate her.'

And her voice took a tone which made it somewhat uncertain whether,
in spite of all the lofty impassibility which she felt bound to
possess, she did not hate Pelagia with a most human and mundane
hatred.

But at that moment the conversation was cut short by the hasty
entrance of a slave girl, who, with fluttering voice, announced--

'His excellency, madam, the prefect!  His chariot has been at the
gate for these five minutes, and he is now coming upstairs.'

'Foolish child!' answered Hypatia, with some affectation of
indifference. 'And why should that disturb me?  Let him enter.'

The door opened, and in came, preceded by the scent of half a dozen
different perfumes, a florid, delicate-featured man, gorgeously
dressed out in senatorial costume, his fingers and neck covered with
jewels.

'The representative of the Caesars honours himself by offering at
the shrine of Athene Polias, and rejoices to see in her priestess as
lovely a likeness as ever of the goddess whom she serves ....  Don't
betray me, but I really cannot help talking sheer paganism whenever
I find myself within the influence of your eyes.'

'Truth is mighty,' said Hypatia, as she rose to greet him with a
smile and a reverence.

'Ah, so they say--Your excellent father has vanished.  He is really
too modest--honest, though--about his incapacity for state secrets.
After all, you know, it was your Minervaship which I came to
consult.  How has this turbulent Alexandrian rascaldom been behaving
itself in my absence?'

'The herd has been eating, and drinking, and marrying, as usual, I
believe,' answered Hypatia, in a languid tone.

'And multiplying, I don't doubt.  Well, there will be less loss to
the empire if I have to crucify a dozen or two, as I positively
will, the next riot.  It is really a great comfort to a statesman
that the masses are so well aware that they deserve hanging, and
therefore so careful to prevent any danger of public justice
depopulating the province.  But how go on the schools?'

Hypatia shook her head sadly.

'Ah, boys will be boys ....  I plead guilty myself.  Video meliora
proboque, deteriora sequor.  You must not be hard on us ....
Whether we obey you or not in private life, we do in public; and if
we enthrone you queen of Alexandria, you must allow your courtiers
and bodyguards a few court licences.  Now don't sigh or I shall be
inconsolable.  At all events, your worst rival has betaken herself
to the wilderness, and gone to look for the city of the gods above
the cataracts.'

'Whom do you mean?' asked Hypatia, in a tone most unphilosophically
eager.

'Pelagia, of course.  I met that prettiest and naughtiest of
humanities half-way between here and Thebes, transformed into a
perfect Andromache of chaste affection.'

'And to whom, pray?'

'To a certain Gothic giant.  What men those barbarians do breed!  I
was afraid of being crushed under the elephant's foot at every step
I took with him!'

'What!' asked Hypatia, 'did your excellency condescend to converse
with such savages?'

'To tell you the truth, he had some forty stout countrymen of his
with him, who might have been troublesome to a perplexed prefect;
not to mention that it is always as well to keep on good terms with
these Goths.  Really, after the sack of Rome, and Athens cleaned out
like a beehive by wasps, things begin to look serious. And as for
the great brute himself, he has rank enough in his way,--boasts of
his descent from some cannibal god or other,--really hardly deigned
to speak to a paltry Roman governor, till his faithful and adoring
bride interceded for me.  Still, the fellow understood good living,
and we celebrated our new treaty of friendship with noble libations--
but I must not talk about that to you.  However, I got rid of them;
quoted all the geographical lies I had ever heard, and a great many
more; quickened their appetite for their fool's errand notably, and
started them off again.  So now the star of Venus is set, and that
of Pallas in the ascendant.  Wherefore tell me--what am I to do with
Saint Firebrand?'

'Cyril?'

'Cyril.'

'Justice.'

'Ah, Fairest Wisdom, don't mention that horrid word out of the
lecture-room.  In theory it is all very well; but in poor imperfect
earthly practice, a governor must be content with doing very much
what comes to hand.  In abstract justice, now, I ought to nail up
Cyril, deacons, district visitors, and all, in a row, on the
sandfill out side.  That is simple enough; but, like a great many
simple and excellent things, impossible.'

'You fear the people?'

'Well, my dear lady, and has not the villainous demagogue got the
whole mob on his side?  Am I to have the Constantinople riots re-
enacted here?  I really cannot face it; I have not nerve for it;
perhaps I am too lazy.  Be it so.'

Hypatia sighed.  'Ah, that your excellency but saw the great duel
which depends on you alone!  Do not fancy that the battle is merely
between Paganism and Christianity--'

'Why, if it were, you know, I, as a Christian, under a Christian and
sainted emperor, not to mention his august sister--'

'We understand,' interrupted she, with an impatient wave of her
beautiful hand. 'Not even between them; not even between philosophy
and barbarism.  The struggle is simply one between the aristocracy
and the mob,--between wealth, refinement, art, learning, all that
makes a nation great, and the savage herd of child-breeders below,
the many ignoble, who were meant to labour for the noble few.  Shall
the Roman empire command or obey her own slaves? is the question
which you and Cyril have to battle out; and the fight must be
internecine.'

'I should not wonder if it became so, really,' answered the prefect,
with a shrug of his shoulders.  'I expect every time I ride, to have
my brains knocked out by some mad monk.'

'Why not?  In an age when, as has been well and often said, emperors
and consulars crawl to the tombs of a tent-maker and a fisherman,
and kiss the mouldy bones of the vilest slaves?  Why not, among a
people whose God is the crucified son of a carpenter?  Why should
learning, authority, antiquity, birth, rank, the system of empire
which has been growing up, fed by the accumulated wisdom of ages,--
why, I say, should any of these things protect your life a moment
from the fury of any beggar who believes that the Son of God died
for him as much as for you, and that he is your equal if not your
superior in the sight of his low-born and illiterate deity!'
[Footnote: These are the arguments and the language which were
commonly employed by Porphyry, Julian, and the other opponents of
Christianity.]

'My most eloquent philosopher, this may be--and perhaps is--all very
true.  I quite agree that there are very great practical
inconveniences of this kind in the new--I mean the Catholic faith;
but the world is full of inconveniences.  The wise man does not
quarrel with his creed for being disagreeable, any more than he does
with his finger for aching: he cannot help it, and must make the
best of a bad matter.  Only tell me how to keep the peace.'

'And let philosophy be destroyed?'

'That it never will be, as long as Hypatia lives to illuminate the
earth; and, as far as I am concerned, I promise you a clear stage
and--a great deal of favour; as is proved by my visiting you
publicly at this moment, before I have given audience to one of the
four hundred bores, great and small, who are waiting in the tribunal
to torment me.  Do help me and advise me.  What am I to do?'

'I have told you.'

'Ah, yes, as to general principles.  But out of the lecture-room I
prefer a practical expedient for instance, Cyril writes to me here--
plague on him! he would not let me even have a week's hunting in
peace-that there is a plot on the part of the Jews to murder all the
Christians.  Here is the precious document--do look at it, in pity.
For aught I know or care, the plot may be an exactly opposite one,
and the Christians intend to murder all the Jews.  But I must take
some notice of the letter.'

'I do not see that, your excellency.'

'Why, if anything did happen, after all, conceive the missives which
would be sent flying off to Constantinople against me!'

'Let them go.  If you are secure in the consciousness of innocence,
what matter?'

'Consciousness of innocence?  I shall lose my prefecture!'

'Your danger would just be as great if you took notice of it.
Whatever happened, you would be accused of favouring the Jews.'

'And really there might be some truth in the accusation.  How the
finances of the provinces would go on without their kind assistance,
I dare not think.  If those Christians would but lend me their
money, instead of building alms-houses and hospitals with it, they
might burn the Jews' quarter to-morrow, for aught I care.  But
now....'

'But now, you must absolutely take no notice of this letter.  The
very tone of it forbids you, for your own honour, and the honour of
the empire.  Are you to treat with a man who talks of the masses at
Alexandria as "the flock whom the King of kings has committed to his
rule and care"?  Does your excellency, or this proud bishop, govern
Alexandria?'

'Really, my dear lady, I have given up inquiring.'

'But he has not.  He comes to you as a person possessing an absolute
authority over two-thirds of the population, which he does not
scruple to hint to you is derived from a highersource than your own.
The consequence is clear.  If it be from a higher source than yours,
of course it ought to control yours'; and you will confess that it
ought to control it--you will acknowledge the root and ground of
every extravagant claim which he makes, if you deign to reply.'

'But I must say something, or I shall be pelted in the streets.  You
philosophers, however raised above your own bodies you may be, must
really not forget that we poor worldlings have bones to be broken.'

'Then tell him, and by word of mouth merely, that as the information
which he sends you comes from his private knowledge and concerns not
him as bishop, but you as magistrate, you can only take it into
consideration when he addresses you as a private person, laying a
regular information at your tribunal.'

'Charming! queen of diplomatists as well as philosophers!  I go to
obey you.  Ah! why were you not Pulcheria?  No, for then Alexandria
had been dark, and Orestes missed the supreme happiness of kissing a
hand which Pallas, when she made you, must have borrowed from the
workshop of Aphrodite.'

'Recollect that you are a Christian,' answered Hypatia, half
smiling.

So the prefect departed; and passing through the outer hall, which
was already crowded with Hypatia's aristocratic pupils and visitors,
bowed his way out past them and regained his chariot, chuckling over
the rebuff which he intended to administer to Cyril, and comforting
himself with the only text of Scripture of the inspiration of which
he was thoroughly convinced--'Sufficient for the day is the evil
thereof.'

At the door was a crowd of chariots, slaves with their masters'
parasols, and the rabble of onlooking boys and market-folk, as usual
in Alexandria then, as in all great cities since, who were staring
at the prefect, and having their heads rapped by his guards, and
wondering what sort of glorious personage Hypatia might be, and what
sort of glorious house she must live in, to be fit company for the
great governor of Alexandria.  Not that there was not many a sulky
and lowering face among the mob, for the great majority of them were
Christians, and very seditious and turbulent politicians, as
Alexandrians, 'men of Macedonia,' were bound to be; and there was
many a grumble among them, all but audible, at the prefect's going
in state to the heathen woman's house--heathen sorceress, some pious
old woman called her--before he heard any poor soul's petition in
the tribunal, or even said his prayers in church.

Just as he was stepping into his curricle a tall young man, as
gorgeously bedizened as himself, lounged down the steps after him,
and beckoned lazily to the black boy who carried his parasol.

'Ah, Raphael Aben-Ezra! my excellent friend, what propitious deity--
ahem! martyr--brings you to Alexandria just as I want you?  Get up
by my side, and let us have a chat on our way to the tribunal.'

The man addressed came slowly forward with an ostentatiously low
salutation, which could not hide, and indeed was not intended to
hide, the contemptuous and lazy expression of his face; and asked in
a drawling tone--

'And for what kind purpose does the representative of the Caesars
bestow such an honour on the humblest of his, etc. etc.--your
penetration will supply the rest.'

'Don't be frightened; I am not going to borrow money of you,'
answered Orestes, laughingly, as the Jew got into the curricle.

'I am glad to hear it.  Really one usurer in a family is enough.  My
father made the gold, and if I spend it, I consider that I do all
that is required of a philosopher.'

'A charming team of white Nisaeans, is not this?  And only one gray
foot among all the four.'

'Yes .... horses are a bore, I begin to find, like everything else.
Always falling sick, or running away, or breaking one's peace of
mind in some way or other.  Besides, I have been pestered out of my
life there in Cyrene, by commissions for dogs and horses and bows
from that old Episcopal Nimrod, Synesius.'

'What, is the worthy man as lively as ever?'

'Lively?  He nearly drove me into a nervous fever in three days.  Up
at four in the morning, always in the most disgustingly good health
and spirits, farming, coursing, shooting, riding over hedge and
ditch after rascally black robbers; preaching, intriguing, borrowing
money; baptizing and excommunicating; bullying that bully,
Andronicus; comforting old women, and giving pretty girls dowries;
scribbling one half-hour on philosophy, and the next on farriery;
sitting up all night writing hymns and drinking strong liquors; off
again on horseback at four the next morning; and talking by the hour
all the while about philosophic abstraction from the mundane tempest.
Heaven defend me fromall two-legged whirlwinds! By the bye, there
was a fair daughter of my nation came back to Alexandria in the same
ship with me, with a cargo that may suit your highness.'

'There are a great many fair daughters of your nation who might suit
me, without any cargo at all.'

'Ah, they have had good practice, the little fools, ever since the
days of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.  But I mean old Miriam--you know.
She has been lending Synesius money to fight the black fellows with;
and really it was high time.  They had burnt every homestead for
miles through the province.  But the daring old girl must do a
little business for herself; so she went off, in the teeth of the
barbarians, right away to the Atlas, bought all their lady
prisoners, and some of their own sons and daughters, too, of them,
for beads and old iron; and has come back with as pretty a cargo of
Lybian beauties as a prefect of good taste could wish to have the
first choice of.  You may thank me for that privilege.'

'After, of course, you had suited yourself, my cunning Raphael?'

'Not I.  Women are bores, as Solomon found out long ago.  Did I
never tell you?  I began, as he did, with the most select harem in
Alexandria.  But they quarrelled so, that one day I went out, and
sold them all but one, who was a Jewess--so there were objections on
the part of the Rabbis.  Then I tried one, as Solomon did; but my
"garden shut up," and my "sealed fountain" wanted me to be always in
love with her, so I went to the lawyers, allowed her a comfortable
maintenance, and now I am as free as a monk, and shall be happy to
give your excellency the benefit of any good taste or experience
which I may possess.'

'Thanks, worthy Jew.  We are not yet as exalted as yourself, and
will send for the old Erictho this very afternoon.  Now listen a
moment to base, earthly, and political business.  Cyril has written
to me, to say that you Jews have plotted to murder all the
Christians.'

'Well--why not?  I most heartily wish it were true, and think, on
the whole, that it very probably is so.'

'By the immortal--saints, man! you are not serious?'

'The four archangels forbid!  It is no concern of mine.  All I say
is, that my people are great fools, like the rest of the world; and
have, for aught I know or care, some such intention.  They won't
succeed, of course; and that is all you have to care for.  But if
you think it worth the trouble--which I do not--I shall have to go
to the synagogue on business in a week or so, and then I would ask
some of the Rabbis.'

'Laziest of men!--and I must answer Cyril this very day.'

'An additional reason for asking no questions of our people.  Now
you can honestly say that you know nothing about the matter.'

'Well, after all, ignorance is a stronghold for poor statesmen.  So
you need not hurry yourself.'

'I assure your excellency I will not.'

'Ten days hence, or so, you know.'

'Exactly, after it is all over.'

'And can't be helped.  What a comfort it is, now and then, that
Can't be helped!'

'It is the root and marrow of all philosophy.  Your practical man,
poor wretch, will try to help this and that, and torment his soul
with ways and means, and preventives and forestallings; your
philosopher quietly says--It can't be helped.  If it ought to be, it
will be--if it is, it ought to be.  We did not make the world, and we
are not responsible for it.--There is the sum and substance of all
true wisdom, and the epitome of all that has been said and
writtenthereon from Philo the Jew to Hypatia the Gentile.  By the
way, here's Cyril coming downthe steps of the Caesareum.  A very
handsome fellow, after all, though lie is looking as sulky as a
bear.'

'With his cubs at his heels.  What a scoundrelly visage that tall
fellow-deacon, or reader, or whatever he is by his dress--has!'

'There they are--whispering together.  Heaven give them pleasant
thoughts and pleasanter faces!'

'Amen!' quoth Orestes, with a sneer: and he would have said Amen in
good earnest, had he been able to take the liberty--which we shall--
and listen to Cyril's answer to Peter, the tall reader.

'From Hypatia's, you say?  Why, he only returned to the city this
morning.'

'I saw his four-in-hand standing at her door, as I came down the
Museum Street hither, half an hour ago.'

'And twenty carriages besides, I don't doubt?'

'The street was blocked up with them.  There!  Look round the corner
now.--Chariots, litters, slaves, and fops.--When shall we see such a
concourse as that where it ought to be?'

Cyril made no answer; and Peter went on--'Where it ought to be, my
father--in front of your door at the Serapeium?'

'The world, the flesh, and the devil know their own, Peter: and as
long as they have their own to go to, we cannot expect them to come
to us.'

'But what if their own were taken out of the way?'

'They might come to us for want of better amusement .... devil and
all.  Well--if I could get a fair hold of the two first, I would
take the third into the bargain, and see whatcould be done with him.
But never, while these lecture-rooms last--these Egyptian chambers
of imagery--these theatres of Satan, where the devil transforms
himself into an angel of light, and apes Christian virtue, and
bedizens his ministers like ministers of righteousness, as long as
that lecture-room stands and the great and the powerful flock to it,
to learn excuses for their own tyrannies and atheisms, so long will
the kingdom of God be trampled under foot in Alexandria; so long
will the princes of this world, with their gladiators, and
parasites, and money-lenders, be masters here, and not the bishops
and priests of the living God.'

It was now Peter's turn to be silent; and as the two, with their
little knot of district-visitors behind them, walk moodily along the
great esplanade which overlooked the harbour, and then vanish
suddenly up some dingy alley into the crowded misery of the sailors'
quarter, we will leave them to go about their errand of mercy, and,
like fashionable people, keep to the grand parade, and listen again
to our two fashionable friends in the carved and gilded curricle
with four white blood-horses.

'A fine sparkling breeze outside the Pharos, Raphael--fair for the
wheat-ships too.'

'Are they gone yet?

'Yes--why?  I sent the first fleet off three days ago; and the rest
are clearing outwards to-day.'

'Oh!--ah--so!--Then you have not heard from Heraclian?'

'Heraclian?  What the-blessed saints has the Count of Africa to do
with my wheat-ships?'

'Oh, nothing.  It's no business of mine.  Only he is going to rebel
....  But here we are at your door.'

'To what?' asked Orestes, in a horrified tone.

'To rebel, and attack Rome.'

'Good gods--God, I mean.  A fresh bore!  Come in, and tell a poor
miserable slave of a governor--speak low, for Heaven's sake!--I hope
these rascally grooms haven't overheard you.'

'Easy to throw them into the canal, if they have,' quoth Raphael, as
he walked coolly through hall and corridor after the perturbed
governor.

Poor Orestes never stopped till he reached a little chamber of the
inner court, beckoned the Jew in after him, locked the door, threw
himself into an arm-chair, put his hands on his knees, and sat,
bending forward, staring into Raphael's face with a ludicrous terror
and perplexity.

'Tell me all about it.  Tell me this instant.'

'I have told you all I know,' quoth Raphael, quietly seating himself
on a sofa, and playing with a jewelled dagger. 'I thought, of
course, that you were in the secret, or I should have said nothing.
It's no business of mine, you know.'

Orestes, like most weak and luxurious men, Romans especially, had a
wild-beast vein in him--and it burst forth.

'Hell and the furies!  You insolent provincial slave--you will carry
these liberties of yours too far!  Do you know who I am, you
accursed Jew?  Tell me the whole truth, or, by the head of the
emperor, I'll twist it out of you with red-hot pincers!'

Raphael's countenance assumed a dogged expression, which showed that
the old Jewish blood still heat true, under all its affected shell
of Neo-Platonist nonchalance; and there was a quiet unpleasant
earnest in his smile, as he answered--

'Then, my dear governor, you will be the first man on earth who ever
yet forced a Jew to say or do what he did not choose.'

'We'll see!' yelled Orestes. 'Here, slaves!'  And he clapped his
hands loudly.

'Calm yourself, your excellency,' quoth Raphael, rising. 'The door
is locked; the mosquito net is across the window; and this dagger is
poisoned.  If anything happens to me, you will offend all the Jew
money-lenders, and die in about three days in a great deal of pain,
having missed our assignation with old Miriam, lost your pleasantest
companion, and left your own finances and those of the prefecture in
a considerable state of embarrassment.  How much better to sit down,
hear all I have to sayphilosophically, like a true pupil of Hypatia,
and not expect a man to tell you what he really does not know.'

Orestes, after looking vainly round the room for a place to escape,
had quietly subsided into his chair again; and by the time that the
slaves knocked at the door he had so far recovered his philosophy as
to ask, not for the torturers, but for a page and wine.

'Oh, you Jews!' quoth he, trying to laugh off matters. 'The same
incarnate fiends that Titus found you!'

'The very same, my dear prefect.  Now for this matter, which is
really important-at least to Gentiles.  Heraclian will certainly
rebel.  Synesius let out as much to me.  He has fitted out an
armament for Ostia, stopped his own wheat-ships, and is going to
write to you to stop yours, and to starve out the Eternal City,
Goths, senate, emperor, and all.  Whether you will comply with his
reasonable little request depends of course on yourself.'

'And that again very much on his plans.'

'Of course.  You cannot be expected to--we will euphemise-unless it
be made worth your while.'

Orestes sat buried in deep thought.

'Of course not,' said he at last, half unconsciously.  And then, in
sudden dread of having committed himself, he looked up fiercely at
the Jew.

'And how do I know that this is not some infernal trap of yours?
Tell me how you found out all this, or by Hercules (he had quite
forgotten his Christianity by this time)--by Hercules and the Twelve
Gods, I'll--'

'Don't use expressions unworthy of a philosopher.  My source of
information was very simple and very good.  He has been negotiating
a loan from the Rabbis at Carthage.  They were either frightened, or
loyal, or both, and hung back.  He knew--as all wise governors know
when they allow themselves time--that it is no use to bully a Jew;
slid applied to me.  I never lend money--it is unphilosophical: but
I introduced him to old Miriam, who dare do business with the devil
himself; and by that move, whether he has the money or not, I cannot
tell: but this I can tell, that we have his secret--and so have you
now; and if you want more information, the old woman, who enjoys an
intrigue as much as she does Falernian, will get it you.'

'Well, you are a true friend, after all.'

'Of course I am.  Now, is not this method of getting at the truth
much easier and pleasanter than setting a couple of dirty negroes to
pinch and pull me, and so making it a point of honour with me to
tell you nothing but lies?  Here comes Ganymede with the wine, just
in time to calm your nerves, and fill you with the spirit of
divination ....  To the goddess of good counsels, my lord.  What
wine this is!'

'True Syrian--fire and honey; fourteen years old next vintage, my
Raphael.  Out, Hypocorisma!  See that he is not listening.  The
impudent rascal!  I was humbugged into giving two thousand gold
pieces for him two years ago, he was so pretty--they said he was
only just rising thirteen--and he has been the plague of my life
ever since, and is beginning to want the barber already.  Now, what
is the count dreaming of?'

'His wages for killing Stilicho.'

'What, is it not enough to be Count of Africa?'

'I suppose he sets off against that his services during the last
three years.'

'Well, he saved Africa.'

'And thereby Egypt also.  And you too, as well as the emperor, may
be considered as owing him somewhat.'

'My good friend, my debts are far too numerous for me to think of
paying any of them.  But what wages does he want?'

'The purple.'

Orestes started, and then fell into thought.  Raphael sat watching
him a while.

'Now, most noble lord, may I depart?  I have said all I have to say;
and unless I get home to luncheon at once, I shall hardly have time
to find old Miriam for you, and get through our little affair with
her before sunset.'

'Stay.  What force has he?'

'Forty thousand already, they say.  And those Donatist ruffians are
with him to a man, if he can but scrape together wherewith to change
their bludgeons into good steel.'

'Well, go ....  So.  A hundred thousand might do it,' said he,
meditating, as Raphael bowed himself out. 'He won't get them.  I
don't know, though; the man has the headof a Julius.  Well--that
fool Attalus talked ofjoining Egypt to the Western Empire ....  Not
such a bad thought either.  Anything is better than being governed
by an idiot child and three canting nuns.  I expect to be
excommunicated every day for some offence against Pulcheria's
prudery ....  Heraclian emperor at Rome  .... and I lord and master
on this side the sea. the Donatists pitted again fairly against the
orthodox, to cut each other's throats in peace .... no more of
Cyril's spying and tale-bearing to Constantinople ....  Not such a
baddish of fare ....  But then-it would take so much trouble!'

With which words, Orestes went into his third warm bath for that
day.



CHAPTER III: THE GOTHS


For two days the young monk held on, paddling and floating rapidly
down the Nile-stream, leaving city after city to right and left with
longing eyes, and looking back to one villa after another, till the
reaches of the banks hid them from his sight, with many a yearning
to know what sort of places those gay buildings and gardens would
look like on a nearer view, and what sort of life the thousands led
who crowdedthe busy quays, and walked and drove, in an endless
stream, along the great highroads which ran along either bank.  He
carefully avoided every boat that passed him, from the gilded barge
of the wealthy landlord or merchant, to the tiny raft buoyed up with
empty jars, which was floating down to be sold at some market in the
Delta.  Here and there he met and hailed a crew of monks, drawing
their nets in a quiet bay, or passing along the great watery highway
from monastery to monastery: but all the news he received from them
was, that the canal of Alexandria was still several days' journey
below him.  It seemed endless, that monotonous vista of the two high
clay banks, with their sluices and water-wheels, their knots of
palms and date-trees; endless seemed that wearisome succession of
bars of sand and banks of mud, every one like the one before it,
every one dotted with the same line of logs and stones strewn along
the water's edge, which turned out as he approached them to be
basking crocodiles and sleeping pelicans.  His eye, wearied with the
continual confinement and want of distance, longed for the boundless
expanse of the desert, for the jagged outlines of those far-off
hills, which he had watched from boyhood rising mysteriously at morn
out of the eastern sky, and melting mysteriously into it again at
even, beyond which dwelt a whole world of wonders, elephants and
dragons, satyrs and anthropophagi,--ay, and the phoenix itself.
Tired and melancholy, his mind returned inward to prey on itself,
and the last words of Arsenius rose again and again to his thoughts.
'Was his call of the spirit or of the flesh?'  How should he test
that problem?  He wished to seethe world that might be carnal.
True; but, he wished to convert the world .... was not that
spiritual?  Was he not going on a noble errand? .... thirsting for
toil, for saintship, for martyrdom itself, if it would but come and
cut the Gordian knot of all temptations, and save him-for he dimly
felt that it would save him--a whole sea of trouble in getting safe
and triumphant out of that world into which he had not yet entered
.... and his heart shrank back from the untried homeless wilderness
before him.  But no! the die was cast, and he must down and onward,
whether in obedience to the spirit or the flesh.  Oh, for one hour
of the quiet of that dear Laura and the old familiar faces!

At last, a sudden turn of the bank brought him in sight of a
gaudily-painted barge, oil board of which armed men, in uncouth and
foreign dresses, were chasing with barbaric shouts some large object
in the water.  In the bows stood a man of gigantic stature,
brandishing a harpoon in his right hand, and in his left holding the
line of a second, the head of which was fixed in the huge purple
sides of a hippopotamus, who foamed and wallowed a few yards down
the stream.  An old grizzled warrior at the stern, with a rudder in
either hand, kept the boat's head continually towards the monster,
in spite of its sudden and frantic wheelings; and when it dashed
madly across the stream, some twenty oars flashed through the water
in pursuit.  All was activity and excitement; and it was no wonder
if Philammon's curiosity had tempted him to drift down almost
abreast of the barge ere he descried, peeping from under a decorated
awning in the afterpart, some dozen pairs of languishing black eyes,
turned alternately to the game and to himself.  The serpents!--
chattering and smiling, with pretty little shrieks and shaking of
glossy curls and gold necklaces, and fluttering of muslin dresses,
within a dozen yards of him! Blushing scarlet, he knew not why, he
seized his paddle, and tried to back out of the snare .... but
somehow, his very efforts to escape those sparkling eyes diverted
his attention from everything else: the hippopotamus had caught
sight of him, and furious with pain, rushed straight at the
unoffending canoe; the harpoon line became entangled round his body,
and in a moment he and his frail bark were overturned, and the
monster, with his huge white tusks gaping wide, close on him as he
struggled in the stream.

Luckily Philammon, contrary to the wont of monks, was a bather, and
swam like a water-fowl: fear he had never known: death from
childhood had been to him, as to the other inmates of the Laura, a
contemplation too perpetual to have any paralysing terror in it,
even then, when life seemed just about to open on him anew.  But the
monk was a man, and a young one, and had no intention of dying
tamely or unavenged.  In an instant he had freed himself from the
line; drawn the short knife which was his only weapon; and diving
suddenly, avoided the monster's rush, and attacked him from behind
with stabs, which, though not deep, still dyed the waters with gore
at every stroke.  The barbarians shouted with delight.  The
hippopotamus turned furiously against his new assailant, crushing,
alas! the empty canoe to fragments with a single snap of his
enormous jaws; but the turn was fatal to him; the barge was close
upon him, and as he presented his broad side to the blow, the sinewy
arm of the giant drove a harpoon through his heart, and with one
convulsive shudder the huge blue mass turned over on its side and
floated dead.

Poor Philammon!  He alone was silent, amid the yells of triumph;
sorrowfully he swam round and round his little paper wreck .... it
would not have floated a mouse.  Wistfully be eyed the distant
banks, half minded to strike out for them and escape, .... and
thought of the crocodiles, .... and paddled round again, .... and
thought of the basilisk eyes; .... he might escape the crocodiles,
but who could escape women? .... and he struck out valiantly for
shore .... when he was brought to a sudden stop by finding the stem
of the barge close on him, a noose thrown over him by some friendly
barbarian, and himself hauled on board, amid the laughter, praise,
astonishment, and grumbling of the good-natured crew, who had
expected him, as a matter of course, to avail himself at once of
their help, and could not conceive the cause of his reluctance.

Philammon gazed with wonder on his strange hosts, their pale
complexions, globular heads and faces, high cheek-bones, tall and
sturdy figures; their red beards, and yellow hair knotted
fantastically above the head; their awkward dresses, half Roman or
Egyptian, and half of foreign fur, soiled and stained in many a
storm and fight, but tastelessly bedizened with classic jewels,
brooches, and Roman coins, strung like necklaces.  Only the
steersman, who had come forward to wonder at the hippopotamus, and
to help in dragging the unwieldy brute on board, seemed to keep
genuine and unornamented the costume of his race, the white linen
leggings, strapped with thongs of deerskin, the quilted leather
cuirass, the bears'-fur cloak, the only ornaments of which were the
fangs and claws of the beast itself, and a fringe of grizzled tufts,
which looked but too like human hair.  The language which they spoke
was utterly unintelligible to Philammon, though it need not be so to
us.

'A well-grown lad and a brave one, Wulf the son of Ovida,' said the
giant to the old hero of the bearskin cloak; 'and understands
wearing skins, in this furnace-mouth of a climate, rather better
than you do.'

'I keep to the dress of my forefathers, Amalric the Amal.  What did
to sack Rome in, may do to find Asgard in.'

The giant, who was decked out with helmet, cuirass, and senatorial
boots, in a sort of mongrel mixture of the Roman military and civil
dress, his neck wreathed with a dozen gold chains, and every finger
sparkling with jewels, turned away with an impatient sneer.

'Asgard--Asgard!  If you are in such a hurry to get to Asgard up
this ditch in the sand, you had better ask the fellow how far it is
thither.'

Wulf took him quietly at his word, and addressed a question to the
young monk, which he could only answer by a shake of the head.

'Ask him in Greek, man.'

'Greek is a slave's tongue.  Make a slave talk to him in it, not
me.'

'Here--some of you girls!  Pelagia! you understand this fellow's
talk.  Ask him how far it is to Asgard.'

'You must ask me more civilly, my rough hero,' replied a soft voice
from underneath the awning.  'Beauty must be sued, and not
commanded.'

'Come, then, my olive-tree, my gazelle, my lotus-flower, my--what
was the last nonsense you taught me?--and ask this wild man of the
sands how far it is from these accursed endless rabbit-burrows to
Asgard.'

The awning was raised, and lying luxuriously on a soft mattress,
fanned with peacock's feathers, and glittering with rubies and
topazes, appeared such a vision as Philammon had never seen before.

A woman of some two-and-twenty summers, formed in the most
voluptuous mould of Grecian beauty, whose complexion showed every
violet vein through its veil of luscious brown.  Her little bare
feet, as they dimpled the cushions, were more perfect than
Aphrodite's, softer than a swan's bosom.  Every swell of her bust
and arms showed through the thin gauze robe, while her lower limbs
were wrapped in a shawl of orange silk, embroidered with wreaths of
shells and roses.  Her dark hair lay carefully spread out upon the
pillow, in a thousand ringlets entwined with gold and jewels; her
languishing eyes blazed like diamonds from a cavern, under eyelids
darkened and deepened with black antimony; her lips pouted of
themselves, by habit or by nature, into a perpetual kiss; slowly she
raised one little lazy hand; slowly the ripe lips opened; and in
most pure and melodious Attic, she lisped her huge lover's question
to the monk, and repeated it before the boy could shake off the
spell, and answer....

'Asgard?  What is Asgard?'

The beauty looked at the giant for further instructions.

'The City of the immortal Gods,' interposed the old warrior, hastily
and sternly, to the lady.

'The city of God is in heaven,' said Philammon to the interpreter,
turning his head away from those. gleaming, luscious, searching
glances.

His answer was received with a general laugh by all except the
leader, who shrugged his shoulders.

'It may as well be up in the skies as up the Nile.  We shall be just
as likely, I believe, to reach it by flying, as by rowing up this
big ditch.  Ask him where the river comes from, Pelagia.'

Pelagia obeyed .... and thereon followed a confusion worse
confounded, composed of all the impossible wonders of that mythic
fairyland with which Philammon had gorged himself from boyhood in
his walks with the old monks, and of the equally trustworthy
traditions which the Goths had picked up at Alexandria.  There was
nothing which that river did not do.  It rose in the Caucasus.
Where was the Caucasus?  He did not know.  In Paradise--in Indian
Aethiopia--in Aethiopian India.  Where were they?  He did not know.
Nobody knew.  It ran for a hundred and fifty days' journey through
deserts where nothing but flying serpents and satyrs lived, and the
very lions' manes were burnt off by the heat....

'Good sporting there, at all events, among these dragons,' quoth
Smid the son of Troll, armourer to the party.

'As good as Thor's when he caught Snake Midgard with the bullock's
head,' said Wulf.

It turned to the east for a hundred days' journey more, all round
Arabia and India, among forests full of elephants and dog-headed
women.

'Better and better, Smid!' growled Wulf, approvingly.

'Fresh beef cheap there, Prince Wulf, eh?' quoth Smid; 'I must look
over the arrow-heads.'

--To the mountains of the Hyperboreans, where there was eternal
night, and the air was full of feathers ....  That is, one-third of
it came from thence, and another third came from the Southern ocean,
over the Moon mountains, where no one had ever been, and the
remaining third from the country where the phoenix lived, and nobody
knew where that was.  And then there were the cataracts, and the
inundations-and-and-and above the cataracts, nothing but sand-hills
and ruins, as full of devils as they could hold .... and as for
Asgard, no one had ever heard of it .... till every face grew longer
and longer, as Pelagia went on interpreting and misinterpreting; and
at last the giant smote his hand upon his knee, and swore a great
oath that Asgard might rot till the twilight of the gods before he
went a step farther up the Nile.

'Curse the monk!' growled Wulf.  'How should such a poor beast know
anything about the matter?'

'Why should not he know as well as that ape of a Roman governor?'
asked Smid.

'Oh, the monks know everything,' said Pelagia.  'They go hundreds
and thousands of miles up the river, and cross the deserts among
fiends and monsters, where any one else would be eaten up, or go mad
at once.'

'Ah, the dear holy men!  It's all by the sign of the blessed cross!'
exclaimed all the girls together, devoutly crossing themselves,
while two or three of the most enthusiastic were half-minded to go
forward and kneel to Philammon for his blessing; but hesitated,
their Gothic lovers being heathenishly stupid and prudish on such
points.

'Why should he not know as well as the prefect?  Well said, Smid!  I
believe that prefect's quill-driver was humbugging us when he said
Asgard was only ten days' sail up.'

'Why?' asked Wulf.

'I never give any reasons.  What's the use of being an Amal, and a
son of Odin, if one has always to be giving reasons like a rascally
Roman lawyer?  I say the governor looked like a liar; and I say this
monk looks like an honest fellow; and I choose to believe him, and
there is an end of it.'

'Don't look so cross at me, Prince Wulf; I'm sure it's not my fault;
I could only say what the monk told me,' whispered poor Pelagia.

'Who looks cross at you, my queen?' roared the Amal.  'Let me have
him out here, and by Thor's hammer, I'll--'

'Who spoke to you, you stupid darling?' answered Pelagia, who lived
in hourly fear of thunderstorms.  'Who is going to be cross with any
one, except I with you, for mishearing and misunderstanding, and
meddling, as you are always doing?  I shall do as I threatened, and
run away with Prince Wulf, if you are not good.  Don't you see that
the whole crew are expecting you to make them an oration?'

Whereupon the Amal rose.

'See you here, Wulf the son of Ovida, and warriors all!  If we want
wealth, we shan't find it among the sand-hills.  If we want women,
we shall find nothing prettier than these among dragons and devils.
Don't look angry, Wulf.  You have no mind to marry one of those dog-
headed girls the monk talked of, have you?  Well, then, we have
money and women; and if we want sport, it's better sport killing men
than killing beasts; so we had better go where we shall find most of
that game, which we certainly shall not up this road.  As for fame
and all that, though I've had enough, there's plenty to be got
anywhere along the shores of that Mediterranean.  Let's burn and
plunder Alexandria: forty of us Goths might kill down all these
donkey-riders in two days, and hang up that lying prefect who sent
us hereon this fool's errand.  Don't answer, Wulf.  I knew he was
humbugging us all along, but you were so open-mouthed to all he
said, that I wasbound to let my elders choose for me.  Let's go
back; send over for any of the tribes; send to Spain for those
Vandals--they have had enough of Adolf by now, curse him!--I'll
warrant them; get together an army, and take Constantinople.  I'll
be Augustus, and Pelagia, Augusta; you and Smid here, the two
Caesars; and we'll make the monk the chief of the eunuchs, eh?--
anything you like for a quiet life; but up this accursed kennel of
hot water I go no farther.  Ask your girls, my heroes, and I'll ask
mine.  Women are all prophetesses, every one of them.'

'When they are not harlots,' growled Wulf to himself.

'I will go to the world's end with you, my king!' sighed Pelagia;
'but Alexandria is certainly pleasanter than this.'

Old Wulf sprang up fiercely enough.

'Hear me, Amalric the Amal, son of Odin, and heroes all!  When my
fathers swore to be Odin's men, and gave up the kingdom to the holy
Annals, the sons of the Aesir, what was the bond between your fathers
and mine?  Was it not that we should move and move, southward and
southward ever, till we came back to Asgard, the city where Odin
dwells for ever, and gave into his hands the kingdom of all the
earth?  And did we not keep our oath?  Have we not held to the
Amals?  Did we not leave Adolf, because we would not follow a Balth,
while there was an Amal to lead us?  Have we not been true men to
you, son of the Aesir?'

'No man ever saw Wulf, the son of Ovida, fail friend or foe.'

'Then why does his friend fail him?  Why does his friend fail
himself?  If the bison-bull lie down and wallow, what will the herd
do for a leader?  If the king-wolf lose the scent, how will the pack
hold it?  If the Yngling forgets the song of Asgard, who will sing
it to the heroes?'

'Sing it yourself, if you choose.  Pelagia sings quite well enough
for me.'

In an instant the cunning beauty caught at the hint, and poured
forth a soft, low, sleepy song:--

          'Loose the sail, rest the oar, float away down,
          Fleeting and gliding by tower and town;
Life is so short at best! snatch, while thou canst, thy rest,
          Sleeping by me!'

'Can you answer that, Wulf?' shouted a dozen voices.

'Hear the song of Asgard, warriors of the Goths!  Did not Alaric the
king love it well?  Did I not sing it before him in the palace of
the Caesars, till he swore, for all the Christian that he was, to go
southward in search of the holy city?  And when he went to Valhalla,
and the ships were wrecked off Sicily, and Adolf the Balth turned
back like a lazy hound, and married the daughter of the Romans, whom
Odin hates, and went northward again to Gaul, did not I sing you all
the song of Asgard in Messina there, till you swore to follow the
Amal through fire and water until we found the hall of Odin, and
received the mead-cup from his own hand?  Hear it again, warriors of
the Goths!'

'Not that song!' roared the Amal, stopping his ears with both his
hands.  'Will you drive us blood-mad again, just as we are settling
down into our sober senses, and finding out what our lives were
given us for?'

'Hear the song of Asgard!  On to Asgard, wolves of the Goths!'
shouted another; and a babel of voices arose.

'Haven't we been fighting and marching these seven years?'

'Haven't we drunk blood enough to satisfy Odin ten times over?  If
he wants us lot him come himself and lead us!'

'Let us get our winds again before we start afresh!'

'Wulf the Prince is like his name, and never tires; he has a winter-
wolf's legs under him; that is no reason why we should have.'

'Haven't you heard what the monk says?-we can never get ever those
cataracts.'

'We'll stop his old wives' tales for him, and then settle for
ourselves,' said Smid; and springing from the thwart where he had
been sitting, he caught up a bill with one hand, and seized
Philammon's throat with the other .... in a moment more, it would
have been all over with him....

For the first time in his life Philammon felt a hostile gripe upon
him, and a new sensation rushed through every nerve, as he grappled
with the warrior, clutched with his left hand the up-lifted wrist,
and with his right the girdle, and commenced, without any definite
aim, a fierce struggle, which, strange to say, as it went on, grew
absolutely pleasant.

The women shrieked to their lovers to part the combatants, but in
vain.

'Not for worlds!  A very fair match and a very fair fight!  Take
your long legs back, Itho, or they will be over you!  That's right,
my Smid, don't use the knife!  They will be overboard in a moment!
By all the Valkyrs, they are down, and Smid undermost!'

There was no doubt of it; and in another moment Philammon would have
wrenched the bill out of his opponent's hand, when, to the utter
astonishment of the onlookers, he suddenly loosed his hold, shook
himself free by one powerful wrench, and quietly retreated to his
seat, conscience-stricken at the fearful thirst for blood which had
suddenly boiled up within him as he felt his enemy under him.

The onlookers were struck dumb with astonishment; they had taken for
granted that he would, as a matter of course, have used his right of
splitting his vanquished opponent's skull--an event which they would
of course have deeply deplored, but with which, as men of honour,
they could not on any account interfere, but merely console
themselves for the loss of their comrade by flaying his conqueror
alive, 'carving him into the blood-eagle,' or any other delicate
ceremony which might serve as a vent for their sorrow and a comfort
to the soul of the deceased.

Smid rose, with a bill in his hand, and looked round him-perhaps to
see what was expected of him.  He half lifted his weapon to strike
....  Philammon, seated, looked him calmly in the face ....  The old
warrior's eye caught the bank, which was now receding rapidly past
them; and when he saw that they were really floating downwards
again, without an effort to stem the stream, he put away his bill,
and sat himself down deliberately in his place, astonishing the
onlookers quite as much as Philammon had done.

'Five minutes' good fighting, and no one killed!  This is a shame!'
quoth another.  'Blood we must see, and it had better be yours,
master monk, than your betters','--and therewith he rushed on poor
Philammon.

He spoke the heart of the crew; the sleeping wolf in them had been
awakened by the struggle, and blood they would have; and not
frantically, like Celts or Egyptians, but with the cool humorous
cruelty of the Teuton, they rose altogether, and turning Philammon
over on his back, deliberated by what death he should die.

Philammon quietly submitted--if submission have anything to do with
that state of mind in which sheer astonishment and novelty have
broken up all the custom of man's nature, till the strangest deeds
and sufferings are taken as matters of course.  His sudden escape
from the Laura, the new world of thought and action into which he
had been plunged, the new companions with whom he had fallen in, had
driven him utterly from his moorings, and now anything and
everything might happen to him.  He who had promised never to look
upon woman found himself, by circumstances over which he had no
control, amid a boatful of the most objectionable species of that
most objectionable genus--and the utterly worst having happened,
everything else which happened must be better than the worst. For
the rest, he had gone forth to see the world--and this was one of
the ways of it.  So he made up his mind to see it, and be filled
with the fruit of his own devices.

And he would have been certainly filled with the same in five
minutes more, in some shape too ugly to be mentioned: but, as even
sinful women have hearts in them, Pelagia shrieked out--

'Amalric!  Amalric! do not let them!  I cannot bear it!'

'The warriors are free men, my darling, and know what is proper.
And what can the life of such a brute be to you?'

Before he could stop her, Pelagia had sprung from her cushions, and
thrown herself into the midst of the laughing ring of wild beasts.

'Spare him! spare him for my sake!' shrieked she.

'Oh, my pretty lady! you mustn't interrupt warriors' sport!'

In an instant she had torn off her shawl, and thrown it over
Philammon; and as she stood, with all the outlines of her beautiful
limbs revealed through the thin robe of spangled gauze--

'Let the man who dares, touch him beneath that shawl!--though it be
a saffron one!'

The Goths drew back. For Pelagia herself they had as little respect
as the rest of the world had.  But for a moment she was not the
Messalina of Alexandria, but a woman; and true to the old woman-
worshipping instinct, they looked one and all at her flashing eyes,
full of noble pity and indignation, as well as of mere woman's
terror--and drew back, and whispered together.

Whether the good spirit or the evil one would conquer, seemed for a
moment doubtful, when Pelagia felt a heavy hand on her shoulder, and
turning, saw Wulf the son of Ovida.

'Go back, pretty woman!  Men, I claim the boy.  Smid, give him to
me.  He is your man.  You could have killed him if you had chosen,
and did not; and no one else shall.'

'Give him us, Prince Wulf!  We have not seen blood for many a day!'

'You might have seen rivers of it, if you had had the hearts to go
onward.  The boy is mine, and a brave boy.  He has upset a warrior
fairly this day, and spared him; and we will make a warrior of him
in return.'

And he lifted up the prostrate monk.

'You are my man now.  Do you like fighting?'

Philammon, not understanding the language in which he was addressed,
could only shake his head--though if he had known what its import
was, he could hardly in honesty have said, No.

'He shakes his head!  He does not like it!  He is craven!  Let us
have him!'

'I had killed kings when you were shooting frogs,' cried Smid.
'Listen to me, my sons!  A coward grips sharply at first, and
loosens his hand after a while, because his blood is soon hot and
soon cold.  A brave man's grip grows the firmer the longer he holds,
because the spirit of Odin comes upon him.  I watched the boy's
hands on my threat; and he will make a man; and I will make him one.
However, we may as well make him useful at once; so give him an
oar.'

'Well,' answered his new protector, 'he can as well row us as be
rowed by us; and if we are to go back to a cow's death and the pool
of Hela, the quicker we go the better.'

And as the men settled themselves again to their oars, one was put
into Philammon's hand, which he managed with such strength and skill
that his late tormentors, who, in spite of an occasional inclination
to robbery and murder, were thoroughly good-natured, honest fellows,
clapped him on the back, and praised him as heartily as they had
just now heartily intended to torture him to death, and then went
forward, as many of them as were not rowing, to examine the strange
beast which they had just slaughtered, pawing him over from tusks to
tail, putting their heads into his mouth, trying their knives on his
hide, comparing him to all beasts, like and unlike, which they had
ever seen, and laughing and shoving each other about with the fun
and childish wonder of a party of schoolboys; till Smid, who was the
wit of the party, settled the comparative anatomy of the subject for
them-

'Valhalla!  I've found out what he's most like!--One of those big
blue plums, which gave us all the stomach-ache when we were encamped
in the orchards above Ravenna!'



CHAPTER IV: MIRIAM


One morning in the same week, Hypatia's favourite maid entered her
chamber with a somewhat terrified face.

'The old Jewess, madam--the hag who has been watching so often
lately under the wall opposite.  She frightened us all out of our
senses last evening by peeping in.  We all said she had the evil
eye, if any one ever had--'

'Well, what of her?'

'She is below, madam, and will speak with you.  Not that I care for
her; I have my amulet on.  I hope you have?'

'Silly girl!  Those who have been initiated as I have in the
mysteries of the gods, can defy spirits and command them.  Do you
suppose that the favourite of Pallas Athene will condescend to
charms and magic?  Send her up.'

The girl retreated, with a look half of awe, half of doubt, at the
lofty pretensions of her mistress, and returned with old Miriam,
keeping, however, prudently behind her, in order to test as little
as possible the power of her own amulet by avoiding the basilisk eye
which had terrified her.

Miriam came in, and advancing to the proud beauty, who remained
seated, made an obeisance down to the very floor, without, however,
taking her eyes for an instant off Hypatia's face.

Her countenance was haggard and bony, with broad sharp-cut lips,
stamped with a strangely mingled expression of strength and
sensuality.  Put the feature about her which instantly fixed
Hypatia's attention, and from which she could not in spite of
herself withdraw it, was the dry, glittering, coal-black eye which
glared out from underneath the gray fringe of her swarthy brows,
between black locks covered with gold coins.  Hypatia could look at
nothing but those eyes; and she reddened, and grew all but
unphilosophically angry, as she saw that the old woman intended her
to look at them, and feel the strange power which she evidently
wished them to exercise.

After a moment's silence, Miriam drew a letter from her bosom, and
with a second low obeisance presented it.

'From whom is this?'

'Perhaps the letter itself will tell the beautiful lady, the
fortunate lady, the discerning lady,' answered she, in a fawning,
wheedling tone.  'How should a poor old Jewess know great folks'
secrets?'

'Great folks?--'

Hypatia looked at the seal which fixed a silk cord round the letter.
It was Orestes'; and so was the handwriting ....  Strange that he
should have chosen such a messenger!  What message could it be which
required such secrecy?

She clapped her hands for the maid.  'Let this woman wait in the
ante-room.'  Miriam glided out backwards, bowing as she went.  As
Hypatia looked up over the letter to see whether she was alone, she
caught a last glance of that eye still fixed upon her, and an
expression in Miriam's face which made her, she knew not why,
shudder and turn chill.

'Foolish that I am!  What can that witch be to me?  But now for the
letter.'

'To the most noble and most beautiful, the mistress of philosophy,
beloved of Athene, her pupil and slave sends greeting.'....

'My slave! and no name mentioned!'

'There are those who consider that the favourite hen of Honorius,
which bears the name of the Imperial City, would thrive better under
a new feeder; and the Count of Africa has been despatched by himself
and by the immortal gods to superintend for the present the poultry-
yard of the Caesars--at least during the absence of Adolf and
Placidia.  There are those also who consider that in his absence the
Numidian lion might be prevailed on to become the yoke-fellow of the
Egyptian crocodile; and a farm which, ploughed by such a pair,
should extend from the upper cataract to the Pillars of Hercules,
might have charms even for a philosopher.  But while the ploughman
is without a nymph, Arcadia is imperfect.  What were Dionusos
without his Ariadne, Ares without Aphrodite, Zeus without Hera?
Even Artemis has her Endymion; Athens alone remains unwedded; but
only because Hephaestus was too rough a wooer.  Such is not he who
now offers to the representative of Athene the opportunity of
sharing that which may be with the help of her wisdom, which without
her is impossible. [Greek expression omitted] Shall Eros, invincible
for ages, be balked at last of the noblest game against which he
ever drew his bow?'....

If Hypatia's colour had faded a moment before under the withering
glance of the old Jewess, it rose again swiftly enough, as she read
line after line of this strange epistle; till at last, crushing it
together in her hand, she rose and hurried into the adjoining
library, where Theon sat over his books.

'Father, do you know anything of this?  Look what Orestes has dared
to send me by the hands of some base Jewish witch!'--And she spread
the letter before him, and stood impatient, her whole figure dilated
with pride and anger, as the old man read it slowly and carefully,
and then looked up, apparently not ill pleased with the contents.

'What, father?' asked she, half reproachfully.  'Do not you, too,
feel the insult which has been put upon your daughter?'

'My dear child,' with a puzzled look, 'do you not see that he offers
you--'

'I know what he offers me, father.  The Empire of Africa ....  I am
to descend from the mountain heights of science, from the
contemplation of the unchangeable and ineffable glories, into the
foul fields and farmyards of earthly practical life, and become a
drudge among political chicanery, and the petty ambitions, and sins,
and falsehoods of the earthly herd ....  And the price which he
offers me--me, the stainless--me, the virgin--me, the un-tamed, --
is-his hand!  Pallas Athene! dost thou not blush with thy child?'

'But, my child--my child,--an empire--'

'Would the empire of the world restore my lost self-respect-my just
pride?  Would it save my cheek from blushes every time I recollected
that I bore the hateful and degrading name of wife?--The property,
the puppet of a man--submitting to his pleasure--bearing his
children--wearing myself out with all the nauseous cares of
wifehood--no longer able to glory in myself, pure and self-
sustained, but forced by day and night to recollect that my very
beauty is no longer the sacrament of Athene's love for me, but the
plaything of a man;--and such a man as that!  Luxurious, frivolous,
heartless--courting my society, as he has done for years, only to
pick up and turn to his own base earthly uses the scraps which fall
from the festal table of the gods!  I have encouraged him too much--
vain fool that I have been!  No, I wrong myself!  It was only--I
thought--I thought that by his being seen at our doors, the cause of
the immortal gods would gain honour and strength in the eyes of the
multitude ....  I have tried to feed the altars of heaven with
earthly fuel ....  And this is my just reward!  I will write to him
this moment,--return by the fitting messenger which he has sent,
insult for insult!'

'In the name of Heaven, my daughter!--for your father's sake!--for
my sake!  Hypatia!--my pride, my joy, my only hope!--have pity on my
gray hairs!'

And the poor old man flung himself at her feet, and clasped her
knees imploringly.

Tenderly she lifted him up, and wound her long arms round him, and
laid his head on her white shoulder, and her tears fell fast upon
his gray hair; but her lip was firm and determined.

'Think of my pride--my glory in your glory; think of me ....  Not
for myself!  You know I never cared for myself!' sobbed out the old
man.  'But to die seeing you empress!'

'Unless I died first in childbed, father, as many a woman dies who
is weak enough to become a slave, and submit to tortures only fit
for slaves.'

'But--but--said the old man, racking his bewildered brains for some
argument far enough removed from nature and common sense to have an
effect on the beautiful fanatic--'but the cause of the gods!  What
you might do for it! ....  Remember Julian!'

Hypatia's arms dropped suddenly.  Yes; it was true!  The thought
flashed across her mind with mingled delight and terror ....
Visions of her childhood rose swift and thick--temples--sacrifices--
priesthoods--colleges--museums!  What might she not do?  What might
she not make Africa?  Give her ten years of power, and the hated
name of Christian might be forgotten, and Athene Polias, colossal in
ivory and gold, watching in calm triumph over the harbours of a
heathen Alexandria ....  But the price!

And she hid her face in her hands, and bursting into bitter tears,
walked slowly away into her own chamber, her whole body convulsed
with the internal struggle.

The old man looked after her, anxiously and perplexed, and then
followed, hesitating.  She was sitting at the table, her face buried
in her hands.  He did not dare to disturb her.  In addition to all
the affection, the wisdom, the glorious beauty, on which his whole
heart fed day by day, he believed her to be the possessor of those
supernatural powers and favours to which she so boldly laid claim.
And he stood watching her in the doorway, praying in his heart to
all gods and demons, principalities and powers, from Athene down to
his daughter's guardian spirit, to move a determination which he was
too weak to gainsay, and yet too rational to approve.

At last the struggle was over, and she looked up, clear, calm, and
glorious again.

'It shall be. For the sake of the immortal gods--for the sake of
art, and science, and learning, and philosophy ....  It shall be.
If the gods demand a victim, here am I.  If a second time in the
history of the ages the Grecian fleet cannot sail forth, conquering
and civilising, without the sacrifice of a virgin, I give my throat
to the knife. Father, call me no more Hypatia: call me Iphigenia!'

'And me Agamemnon?' asked the old man, attempting a faint jest
through his tears of joy. 'I daresay you think me a very cruel
father; but--'

'Spare me, father--I have spared you.'

And she began to write her answer.

'I have accepted his offer--conditionally, that is.  And on whether
he have courage or not to fulfil that condition depends-- Do not ask
me what it is.  While Cyril is leader of the Christian mob, it may
be safer for you, my father, that you should be able to deny all
knowledge of my answer.  Be content.  I have said this--that if he
will do as I would have him do, I will do as you would have me do.'

'Have you not been too rash?  Have you not demanded of him something
which, for the sake of public opinion, he dare not grant openly, and
yet which he may allow you to do for yourself when once--'

'I have.  If I am to be a victim, the sacrificing priest shall at
least be a man, and not a coward and a time-server.  If he believes
this Christian faith, let him defend it against me; for either it or
I shall perish.  If he does not--as he does not--let him give up
living in a lie, and taking on his lips blasphemies against the
immortals, from which his heart and reason revolt!'

And she clapped her hands again for the maid-servant, gave her the
letter silently, shut the doors of her chamber, and tried to resume
her Commentary on Plotinus.  Alas! what were all the wire-drawn
dreams of metaphysics to her in that real and human struggle of the
heart?  What availed it to define the process by which individual
souls emanated from the universal one, while her own soul had,
singly and on its own responsibility, to decide so terrible an act
of will? or to write fine words with pen and ink about the
immutability of the supreme Reason, while her own reason was left
there to struggle for its life amid a roaring shoreless waste of
doubts and darkness?  Oh, how grand, and clear, and logical it had
all looked half an hour ago! And how irrefragably she had been
deducing from it all, syllogism after syllogism, the non-existence
of evil!--how it was but a lower form of good, one of the countless
products of the one great all-pervading mind which could not err or
change, only so strange and recondite in its form as to excite
antipathy in all minds but that of the philosopher, who learnt to
see the stem which connected the apparently bitter fruit with the
perfect root from whence it sprang.  Could she see the stem there?--
the connection between the pure and supreme Reason, and the hideous
caresses of the debauched and cowardly Orestes? was not that evil
pure, unadulterate with any vein of good, past, present, or future?
....

True;--she might keep her spirit pure amid it all; she might
sacrifice the base body, and ennoble the soul by the self-sacrifice
....  And yet, would not that increase the horror, the agony, the
evil of it-to her, at least, most real evil, not to be explained
away-and yet the gods required it?  Were they just, merciful in
that?  Was it like them, to torture her, their last unshaken votary?
Did they require it?  Was it not required of them by some higher
power, of whom they were only the emanations, the tools, the
puppets?--and required of that higher power by some still higher
one--some nameless, absolute destiny of which Orestes and she, and
all heaven and earth, were but the victims, dragged along in an
inevitable vortex, helpless, hopeless, toward that for which each
was meant?--And she was meant for this!  The thought was unbearable;
it turned her giddy.  No! she would not!  She would rebel!  Like
Prometheus, she would dare destiny, and brave its worst! And she
sprang up to recall the letter ....  Miriam was gone; and she threw
herself on the floor, and wept bitterly.

And her peace of mind would certainly not have been improved, could
she have seen old Miriam hurry home with her letter to a dingy house
in the Jews' quarter, where it was un-sealed, read, and sealed up
again with such marvellous skill, that no eye could have detected
the change; and finally, still less would she have been comforted
could she have heard the conversation which was going on in a
summer-room of Orestes' palace, between that illustrious statesman
and Raphael Aben-Ezra, who were lying on two divans opposite each
other, whiling away, by a throw or two of dice, the anxious moments
which delayed her answer.

'Trays again!  The devil is in you, Raphael!'

'I always thought he was,' answered Raphael, sweeping up the gold
pieces....

'When will that old witch be back?'

'When she has read through your letter and Hypatia's answer.'

'Read them?'

'Of course.  You don't fancy she is going to be fool enough to carry
a message without knowing what it is?  Don't be angry; she won't
tell.  She would give one of those two grave-lights there, which she
calls her eyes, to see the thing prosper.'

'Why?'

'Your excellency will know when the letter comes.  Here she is; I
hear steps in the cloister.  Now, one bet before they enter.  I give
you two to one she asks you to turn pagan.'

'What in?  Negro-boys?'

'Anything you like.'

'Taken.  Come in, slaves?'

And Hypocorisma entered, pouting.

'That Jewish fury is outside with a letter, and has the impudence to
say she won't let me bring it in!'

'Bring her in then.  Quick!'

'I wonder what I am here for, if people have secrets that I am not
to know,' grumbled the spoilt youth.

'Do you want a blue ribbon round those white sides of yours, you
monkey?' answered Orestes.  'Because, if you do, the hippopotamus
hide hangs ready outside.'

'Let us make him kneel down here for a couple of hours, and use him
as a dice-board,' said Raphael, 'as you used to do to the girls in
Armenia.'

'Ah, you recollect that?--and how the barbarian papas used to
grumble, till I had to crucify one or two, eh?  That was something
like life!  I love those out-of-the-way stations, where nobody asks
questions: but here one might as well live among the monks in
Nitria.  Here comes Canidia! Ah, the answer?  Hand it here, my queen
of go-betweens!'

Orestes read it--and his countenance fell.

'I have won?'

'Out of the room, slaves! and no listening!'

'I have won then?'

Orestes tossed the letter across to him, and Raphael read--

'The immortal gods accept no divided worship; and he who would
command the counsels of their prophetess must remember that they
will vouchsafe to her no illumination till their lost honours be
restored.  If he who aspires to be the lord of Africa dare trample
on the hateful cross, and restore the Caesareum to those for whose
worship it was built--if he dare proclaim aloud with his lips, and
in his deeds, that contempt for novel and barbarous superstitions,
which his taste and reason have already taught him, then he would
prove himself one with whom it were a glory to labour, to dare, to
die in a great cause.  But till then--'

And so the letter ended.

'What am I to do?'

'Take her at her word.'

'Good heavens!  I shall be excommunicated! And--and--what is to
become of my soul?'

'What will become of it in any case, my most excellent lord?'
answered Raphael blandly.

'You mean--I know what you cursed Jews think will happen to every
one but yourselves.  But what would the world say?  I an apostate!
And in the face of Cyril and the populace!  I daren't, I tell you!'

'No one asked your excellency to apostatise.'

'Why, what?  What did you say just now?'

'I asked you to promise.  It will not be the first time that
promises before marriage have not exactly coincided with performance
afterwards.'

'I daren't--that is, I won't promise.  I believe, now, this is some
trap of your Jewish intrigue, just to make me commit myself against
those Christians, whom you hate.'

'I assure you, I despise all mankind far too profoundly to hate
them.  How disinterested my advice was when I proposed this match to
you, you never will know; indeed, it would be boastful in me to tell
you.  But really you must make a little sacrifice to win this
foolish girl.  With all the depth and daring of her intellect to
help you, you might be a match for Romans, Byzantines, and Goths at
once.  And as for beauty--why, there is one dimple inside that
wrist, just at the setting on of the sweet little hand, worth all
the other flesh and blood in Alexandria.'

'By Jove! you admire her so much, I suspect you must be in love with
her yourself.  Why don't you marry her?  I'll make you my prime
minister, and then we shall have the use of her wits without the
trouble of her fancies.  By the twelve Gods!  If you marry her and
help me, I'll make you what you like!'

Raphael rose and bowed to the earth.

'Your serene high-mightiness overwhelms me.  But I assure you, that
never having as yet cared for any one's interest but my own, I could
not be expected, at my time of life, to devote myself to that of
another, even though it were to yours.'

'Candid!'

'Exactly so; and moreover, whosoever I may marry, will be
practically, as well as theoretically, my private and peculiar
property ....  You comprehend.'

'Candid again.'

'Exactly so; and waiving the third argument, that she probably might
not choose to marry me, I beg to remark that it would not be proper
to allow the world to say, that I, the subject, had a wiser and
fairer wife than you, the ruler; especially a wife who bad already
refused that ruler's complimentary offer.'

'By Jove! and she has refused me in good earnest!  I'll make her
repent it!  I was a fool to ask her at all!  What's the use of
having guards, if one can't compel what one wants?  If fair means
can't do it, foul shall!  I'll send for her this moment!'

'Most illustrious majesty--it will not succeed.  You do not know
that woman's determination.  Scourges and red-hot pincers will not
shake her, alive; and dead, she will be of no use whatsoever to you,
while she will be of great use to Cyril.'

'How?'

'He will be most happy to make the whole story a handle against you,
give out that she died a virgin-martyr, in defence of the most holy
catholic and apostolic faith, get miracles worked at her tomb, and
pull your palace about your ears on the strength thereof.'

'Cyril will hear of it anyhow: that's another dilemma into which you
have brought me, you intriguing rascal!  Why, this girl will be
boasting all over Alexandria that I have offered her marriage, and
that she has done herself the honour to refuse me!'

'She will be much too wise to do anything of the kind; she has sense
enough to know that if she did so, you would inform a Christian
populace what conditions she offered you, and, with all her contempt
for the burden of the flesh, she has no mind to be lightened of that
pretty load by being torn in pieces by Christian monks; a very
probable ending for her in any case, as she herself, in her
melancholy moods, confesses!'

'What will you have me do then?'

'Simply nothing.  Let the prophetic spirit go out of her, as it
will, in a day or two, and then--I know nothing of human nature, if
she does not bate a little of her own price.  Depend on it, for all
her ineffabilities, and impassibilities, and all the rest of the
seventh-heaven moonshine at which we play here in Alexandria, a
throne is far too pretty a bait for even Hypatia the pythoness to
refuse.  Leave well alone is a good rule, but leave ill alone is a
better.  So now another bet before we part, and this time three to
one.  Do nothing either way, and she sends to you of her own accord
before a month is out.  In Caucasian mules?  Done?  Be it so.'

'Well, you are the most charming counsellor for a poor perplexed
devil of a prefect!  If I had but a private fortune like you, I
could just take the money, and let the work do itself.'

'Which is the true method of successful government.  Your slave bids
you farewell.  Do not forget our bet.  You dine with me to-morrow?'

And Raphael bowed himself out.

As he left the prefect's door, he saw Miriam on the opposite side of
the street, evidently watching for him.  As soon as she saw him, she
held on her own side, without appearing to notice him, till he
turned a corner, and then crossing, caught him eagerly by the arm.

'Does the fool dare!'

'Who dare what?'

'You know what I mean.  Do you suppose old Miriam carries letters
without taking care to know what is inside them?  Will he
apostatise?  Tell me.  I am secret as the grave!'

'The fool has found an old worm-eaten rag of conscience somewhere in
the corner of his heart, and dare not.'

'Curse the coward! And such a plot as I had laid!  I would have
swept every Christian dog out of Africa within the year.  What is
the man afraid of?'

'Hell-fire.'

'Why, he will go there in any case, the accursed Gentile!'

'So I hinted to him, as delicately as I could; but, like the rest of
the world, he had a sort of partiality for getting thither by his
own road.'

'Coward! And whom shall I get now?  Oh, if that Pelagia had as much
cunning in her whole body as Hypatia has in her little finger, I'd
seat her and her Goth upon the throne of the Caesars.  But--'

'But she has five senses, and just enough wit to use them, eh?'

'Don't laugh at her for that, the darling!  I do delight in her,
after all.  It warms even my old blood to see how thoroughly she
knows her business, and how she enjoys it, like a true daughter of
Eve.'

'She has been your most successful pupil, certainly, mother.  You
may well be proud of her.'

The old hag chuckled to herself a while; and then suddenly turning
to Raphael-

'See here!  I have a present for you;' and she pulled out a
magnificent ring.

'Why, mother, you are always giving me presents.  It was but a month
ago you sent me this poisoned dagger.'

'Why not, eh?--why not?  Why should not Jew give to Jew?  Take the
old woman's ring!'

'What a glorious opal!'

'Ah, that is an opal, indeed! And the unspeakable name upon it; just
like Solomon's own.  Take it, I say!  Whosoever wears that never
need fear fire, steel, poison, or woman's eye.'

'Your own included, eh?'

'Take it, I say!'and Miriam caught his hand, and forced the ring on
his finger. 'There!  Now you're safe.  And now call me mother again.
I like it.  I don't know why, but I like it.  And--Raphael Aben-
Ezra--don't laugh at me, and call me witch and hag, as you often do.
I don't care about it from any one else; I'm accustomed to it.  But
when you do it, I always long to stab you.  That's why I gave you
the dagger.  I used to wear it; and I was afraid I might be tempted
to use it some day, when the thought came across me how handsome
you'd look, and how quiet, when you were dead, and your soul up
there so happy in Abraham's bosom, watching all the Gentiles frying
and roasting for ever down below.  Don't laugh at me, I say; and
don't thwart me!  I may make you the emperor's prime minister some
day.  I can if I choose.'

'Heaven forbid!' said Raphael, laughing.

'Don't laugh.  I cast your nativity last night, and I know you have
no cause to laugh.  A great danger hangs over you, and a deep
temptation.  And if you weather this storm, you may be chamberlain,
prime minister, emperor, if you will.  And you shall be--by the four
archangels, you shall!'

And the old woman vanished down a by-lane, leaving Raphael utterly
bewildered.

'Moses and the prophets!  Does the old lady intend to marry me?
What can there be in this very lazy and selfish personage who bears
my name, to excite so romantic an affection?  Well, Raphael Aben-
Ezra, thou hast one more friend in the world beside Bran the
mastiff; and therefore one more trouble--seeing that friends always
expect a due return of affection and good offices and what not.  I
wonder whether the old lady has been getting into a scrape
kidnapping, and wants my patronage to help her out of it ....
Three-quarters of a mile of roasting sun between me and home! ....
I must hire a gig, or a litter, or some-thing, off the next stand
.... with a driver who has been eating onions .... and of course
there is not a stand for the next half-mile.  Oh, divine aether! as
Prometheus has it, and ye swift-winged breezes (I wish there were
any here), when will it all be over?  Three-and-thirty years have I
endured already of this Babel of knaves and fools; and with this
abominable good health of mine, which won't even help me with gout
or indigestion, I am likely to have three-and-thirty years more of
it....I know nothing, and I care for nothing, and I expect nothing;
and I actually can't take the trouble to prick a hole in myself, and
let the very small amount of wits out, to see something really worth
seeing, and try its strength at something really worth doing--if,
after all, the other side the grave does not turn out to be just as
stupid as this one ....  When will it be all over, and I in
Abraham's bosom--or any one else's, provided it be not a woman's?'



CHAPTER V: A DAY IN ALEXANDRIA


In the meanwhile, Philammon, with his hosts, the Goths, had been
slipping down the stream.  Passing, one after another, world-old
cities now dwindled to decaying towns, and numberless canal-mouths,
now fast falling into ruin with the fields to which they ensured
fertility, under the pressure of Roman extortion and misrule, they
had entered one evening the mouth of the great canal of Alexandria,
slid easily all night across the star-bespangled shadows of Lake
Mareotis, and found themselves, when the next morning dawned, among
the countless masts and noisy quays of the greatest seaport in the
world.  The motley crowd of foreigners, the hubbub of all dialects
from the Crimea to Cadiz, the vast piles of merchandise, and heaps
of wheat, lying unsheltered in that rainless air, the huge bulk of
the corn-ships lading for Rome, whose tall sides rose story over
story, like floating palaces, above the buildings of some inner dock
--these sights, and a hundred more, made the young monk think that
the world did not look at first sight a thing to be despised.  In
front of heaps of fruit, fresh from the market-boats, black groups
of glossy negro slaves were basking and laughing on the quay,
looking anxiously and coquettishly round in hopes of a purchaser;
they evidently did not think the change from desert toil to city
luxuries a change for the worse.  Philammon turned away his eyes
from beholding vanity; but only to meet fresh vanity wheresoever
they fell.  He felt crushed by the multitude of new objects, stunned
by the din around; and scarcely recollected himself enough to seize
the first opportunity of escaping from his dangerous companions.

'Holloa!' roared Smid the armourer, as he scrambled on to the steps
of the slip; 'you are not going to run away without bidding us good-
bye?'

'Stop with me, boy!' said old Wulf.  'I saved you; and you are my
man.'

Philammon turned and hesitated.

'I am a monk, and God's man.'

'You can be that anywhere.  I will make you a warrior.'

'The weapons of my warfare are not of flesh and blood, but prayer
and fasting,' answered poor Philammon, who felt already that he
should have ten times more need of the said weapons in Alexandria
than ever he had had in the desert .... 'Let me go!  I am not made
for your life!  I thank you, bless you!  I will pray for you, sir!
but let me go!'

'Curse the craven hound!' roared half a dozen voices. 'Why did you
not let us have our will with him, Prince Wulf?  You might have
expected such gratitude from a monk.'

'He owes me my share of the sport,' quoth Smid.  'And here it is!'
And a hatchet, thrown with practised aim, whistled right for
Philammon's head--he had just time to swerve, and the weapon struck
and snapped against the granite wall behind.

'Well saved!' said Wulf coolly, while the sailors and market-women
above yelled murder, and the custom-house officers, and other
constables and catchpolls of the harbour, rushed to the place--and
retired again quietly at the thunder of the Amal from the boat's
stern--

'Never mind, my good follows! we're only Goths; and on a visit to
the prefect, too.'

'Only Goths, my donkey-riding friends!' echoed Smid, and at that
ominous name the whole posse comitatus tried to look unconcerned,
and found suddenly that their presence was absolutely required in an
opposite direction.

'Let him go,' said Wulf, as he stalked up the steps.  'Let the boy
go.  I never set my heart on any man yet,' he growled to himself in
an under voice, 'but what he disappointed me--and I must not expect
more from this fellow.  Come, men, ashore, and get drunk!'

Philammon, of course, now that he had leave to go, longed to stay--
at all events, he must go back and thank his hosts.  He turned
unwillingly to do so, as hastily as he could, and found Pelagia and
her gigantic lover just entering a palanquin.  With downcast eyes he
approached the beautiful basilisk, and stammered out some
commonplace; and she, full of smiles, turned to him at once.

'Tell us more about yourself before we part.  You speak such
beautiful Greek--true Athenian.  It is quite delightful to hear
one's own accent again.  Were you ever at Athens?'

'When I was a child; I recollect--that is, I think--'

'What?' asked Pelagia eagerly.

'A great house in Athens--and a great battle there--and coming to
Egypt in a ship.'

'Heavens!' said Pelagia, and paused ....  'How strange!  Girls, who
said he was like me?'

'I'm sure we meant no harm, if we did say it in a joke,' pouted one
of the attendants.

'Like me!--you must come and see us.  I have something to say to you
....  You must!'

Philammon misinterpreted the intense interest of her tone, and if he
did not shrink back, gave some involuntary gesture of reluctance.
Pelagia laughed aloud.

'Don't be vain enough to suspect, foolish boy, but come!  Do you
think that I have nothing to talk about but nonsense?  Come and see
me.  It may be better for you.  I live in--' and she named a
fashionable street, which Philammon, though he inwardly vowed not to
accept the invitation, somehow could not help remembering.

'Do leave the wild man, and come,' growled the Amal from within the
palanquin.  'You are not going to turn nun, I hope?'

'Not while the first man I ever met in the world stays in it,'
answered Pelagia, as she skipped into the palanquin, taking care to
show the most lovely white heel and ankle, and, like the Parthian,
send a random arrow as she retreated.  But the dart was lost on
Philammon, who had been already hustled away by the bevy of laughing
attendants, amid baskets, dressing-cases, and bird-cages, and was
fain to make his escape into the Babel round, and inquire his way to
the patriarch's house.

'Patriarch's house?' answered the man whom he first addressed, a
little lean, swarthy fellow, with merry black eyes, who, with a
basket of fruit at his feet, was sunning himself on a baulk of
timber, meditatively chewing the papyrus-cane, and examining the
strangers with a look of absurd sagacity.  'I know it; without a
doubt I know it; all Alexandria has good reason to know it.  Are you
a monk?'

'Yes.'

'Then ask your way of the monks; you won't go far without finding
one.'

'But I do not even know the right direction; what is your grudge
against monks, my good man?'

'Look here, my youth; you seem too ingenuous for a monk.  Don't
flatter yourself that it will last.  If you can wear the sheepskin,
and haunt the churches here for a month, without learning to lie,
and slander, and clap, and hoot, and perhaps play your part in a
sedition--and--murder satyric drama--why, you are a better man than
I take you for.  I, sir, am a Greek and a philosopher; though the
whirlpool of matter may have, and indeed has, involved my ethereal
spark in the body of a porter.  Therefore, youth,' continued the
little man, starting up upon his baulk like an excited monkey, and
stretching out one oratorio paw, 'I bear a treble hatred to the
monkish tribe. First, as a man and a husband; .... for as for the
smiles of beauty, or otherwise,--such as I have, I have; and the
monks, if they had their wicked will, would leave neither men nor
women in the world.  Sir, they would exterminate the human race in a
single generation, by a voluntary suicide!  Secondly, as a porter;
for if all men turned monks, nobody would be idle, and the
profession of portering would be annihilated.  Thirdly, sir, as a
philosopher; for as the false coin is odious to the true, so is the
irrational and animal asceticism of the monk, to the logical and
methodic self-restraint of one who, like your humblest of
philosophers, aspires to a life according to the pure reason.'

'And pray,' asked Philammon, half laughing, 'who has been your tutor
in philosophy?'

'The fountain of classic wisdom, Hypatia herself.  As the ancient
sage--the name is unimportant to a monk--pumped water nightly that
he might study by day, so I, the guardian of cloaks and parasols, at
the sacred doors of her lecture-room, imbibe celestial knowledge.
From my youth I felt in me a soul above the matter-entangled herd.
She revealed to me the glorious fact, that I am a spark of Divinity
itself.  A fallen star, I am, sir!' continued he, pensively,
stroking his lean stomach--'a fallen star!--fallen, if the dignity
of philosophy will allow of the simile, among the hogs of the lower
world--indeed, even into the hog-bucket itself.  Well, after all, I
will show you the way to the Archbishop's.  There is a philosophic
pleasure in opening one's treasures to the modest young.  Perhaps
you will assist me by carrying this basket of fruit?'  And the
little man jumped up, put his basket on Philammon's head, and
trotted off up a neighbouring street.

Philammon followed, half contemptuous, half wondering at what this
philosophy might be, which could feed the self-conceit of anything
so abject as his ragged little apish guide; but the novel roar and
whirl of the street, the perpetual stream of busy faces, the line of
curricles, palanquins, laden asses, camels, elephants, which met and
passed him, and squeezed him up steps and into doorways, as they
threaded their way through the great Moon-gate into the ample street
beyond, drove everything from his mind but wondering curiosity, and
a vague, helpless dread of that great living wilderness, more
terrible than any dead wilderness of sand which he had left behind.
Already he longed for the repose, the silence of the Laura--for
faces which knew him and smiled upon him; but it was too late to
turn back ow.  His guide held on for more than a mile up the great
main street, crossed in the centre of the city, at right angles, by
one equally magnificent, at each end of which, miles away, appeared,
dim and distant over the heads of the living stream of passengers,
the yellow sand-hills of the desert; while at the end of the vista
in front of them gleamed the blue harbour, through a network of
countless masts.

At last they reached the quay at the opposite end of the street; and
there burst on Philammon's astonished eyes a vast semicircle of blue
sea, ringed with palaces and towers....He stopped involuntarily; and
his little guide stopped also, and looked askance at the young monk,
to watch the effect which that grand panorama should produce on him.

'There!--Behold our works!  Us Greeks!--us benighted heathens!  Look
at it and feel yourself what you are, a very small, conceited,
ignorant young person, who fancies that your new religion gives you
a right to despise every one else.  Did Christians make all this?
Did Christians build that Pharos there on the left horn--wonder of
the world?  Did Christians raise that mile-long mole which runs
towards the land, with its two drawbridges, connecting the two
ports?  Did Christians build this esplanade, or this gate of the Sun
above our heads?  Or that Caesareum on our right here?  Look at
those obelisks before it!'  And he pointed upwards to those two
world-famous ones, one of which still lies on its ancient site, as
Cleopatra's Needle.  'Look up! look up, I say, and feel small--very
small indeed!  Did Christians raise them, or engrave them from base
to point with the wisdom of the ancients?  Did Christians build that
Museum next to it, or design its statues and its frescoes--now,
alas! re-echoing no more to the hummings of the Attic bee?  Did they
pile up out of the waves that palace beyond it, or that Exchange? or
fill that Temple of Neptune with breathing brass and blushing
marble?  Did they build that Timonium on the point, where Antony,
worsted at Actium, forgot his shame in Cleopatra's arms?  Did they
quarry out that island of Antirrhodus into a nest of docks, or cover
those waters with the sails of every nation under heaven?  Speak!
Thou son of bats and moles--thou six feet of sand--thou mummy out of
the cliff caverns!  Can monks do works like these?'

'Other men have laboured, and we have entered into their labours,'
answered Philammon, trying to seem as unconcerned as he could.  He
was, indeed, too utterly astonished to be angry at anything.  The
overwhelming vastness, multiplicity, and magnificence of the whole
scene; the range of buildings, such as mother earth never, perhaps,
carried on her lap before or since, the extraordinary variety of
form-the pure Doric and Ionic of the earlier Ptolemies, the barbaric
and confused gorgeousness of the later Roman, and here and there an
imitation of the grand elephantine style of old Egypt, its gaudy
colours relieving, while they deepened, the effect of its massive
and simple outlines; the eternal repose of that great belt of stone
contrasting with the restless ripple of the glittering harbour, and
the busy sails which crowded out into the sea beyond, like white
doves taking their flight into boundless space?--all dazzled,
overpowered, saddened him ....  This was the world ....  Was it not
beautiful? ....  Must not the men who made all this have been--if
not great .... yet .... he knew not what?  Surely they had great
souls and noble thoughts in them!  Surely there was something
godlike in being able to create such things!  Not for themselves
alone, too; but for a nation--for generations yet unborn ....  And
there was the sea .... and beyond it, nations of men innumerable
....  His imagination was dizzy with thinking of them.  Were they
all doomed--lost? ....  Had God no love for them?

At last, recovering himself, he recollected his errand, and again
asked his way to the archbishop's house.

'This way, O youthful nonentity!' answered the little man, leading
the way round the great front of the Caesareum, at the foot of the
obelisks.

Philammon's eye fell on some new masonry in the pediment, ornamented
with Christian symbols.

'How?  Is this a church?'

'It is the Caesareum.  It has become temporarily a church.  The
immortal gods have, for the time being, condescended to waive their
rights; but it is the Caesareum, nevertheless.  This way; down this
street to the right.  There,' said he, pointing to a doorway in the
side of the Museum, 'is the last haunt of the Muses--the lecture-
room of Hypatia, the school of my unworthiness.  And here,' stopping
at the door of a splendid house on the opposite side of the street,
'is the residence of that blest favourite of Athene--Neith, as the
barbarians of Egypt would denominate the goddess--we men of
Macedonia retain the time-honoured Grecian nomenclature ....  You
may put down your basket.'  And he knocked at the door, and
delivering the fruit to a black porter, made a polite obeisance to
Philammon, and seemed on the point of taking his departure.

'But where is the archbishop's house?'

'Close to the Serapeium.  You cannot miss the place: four hundred
columns of marble, now ruined by Christian persecutors, stand on an
eminence--'

'But how far off?'

'About three miles; near the gate of the Moon.'

'Why, was not that the gate by which we entered the city on the
other side?'

'Exactly so; you will know your way back, having already traversed
it.'

Philammon checked a decidedly carnal inclination to seize the little
fellow by the throat, and knock his head against the wall, and
contented himself by saying--

'Then do you actually mean to say, you heathen villain, that you
have taken me six or seven miles out of my road?'

'Good words young man.  If you do me harm, I call for help; we are
close to the Jews' quarter, and there are some thousands there who
will swarm out like wasps on the chance of beating a monk to death.
Yet that which I have done, I have done with a good purpose. First,
politically, or according to practical wisdom--in order that you,
not I, might carry the basket.  Next, philosophically, or according
to the intuitions of the pure reason--in order that you might, by
beholding the magnificence of that great civilisation which your
fellows wish to destroy, learn that you are an ass, and a tortoise,
and a nonentity, and so beholding yourself to be nothing, may be
moved to become something.'

And he moved off.

Philammon seized him by the collar of his ragged tunic, and held him
in a gripe from which the little man, though he twisted like an eel
could not escape.

'Peaceably, if you will; if not, by main force.  You shall go back
with me, and show me every step of the way.  It is a just penalty.'

'The philosopher conquers circumstances by submitting to them.  I go
peaceably.  Indeed, the base necessities of the hog-bucket side of
existence compel me of themselves back to the Moon-gate, for another
early fruit job.'

So they went back together.

Now why Philammon's thoughts should have been running on the next
new specimen of womankind to whom he had been introduced, though
only in name, let psychologists tell, but certainly, after he had
walked some half-mile in silence, he suddenly woke up, as out of
many meditations, and asked--

'But who is this Hypatia, of whom you talk so much?'

'Who is Hypatia, rustic?  The queen of Alexandria!  In wit, Athene;
Hera in majesty; in beauty, Aphrodite!'

'And who are they?' asked Philammon.

The porter stopped, surveyed him slowly from foot to head with an
expression of boundless pity and contempt, and was in the act of
walking off in the ecstasy of his disdain, when he was brought to
suddenly by Philammon's strong arm.

'Ah!--I recollect.  There is a compact ....  Who is Athene?  The
goddess, giver of wisdom.  Hera, spouse of Zeus, queen of the
Celestials.  Aphrodite, mother of love ....  You are not expected to
understand.'

Philammon did understand, however, so much as this, that Hypatia was
a very unique and wonderful person in the mind of his little guide;
and therefore asked the only further question by which he could as
yet test any Alexandrian phenomenon--

'And is she a friend of the patriarch?'

The porter opened his eyes very wide, put his middle finger in a
careful and complicated fashion between his fore and third fingers,
and extending it playfully towards Philammon, performed therewith
certain mysterious signals, the effect whereof being totally lost on
him, the little man stopped, took another look at Philammon's
stately figure, and answered--

'Of the human race in general, my young friend.  The philosopher
must rise above the individual, to the contemplation of the
universal ....  Aha!-Here is something worth seeing, and the gates
are open.'  And he stopped at the portal of a vast building.

'Is this the patriarch's house?'

'The patriarch's tastes are more plebeian.  He lives, they say, in
two dirty little rooms--knowing what is fit for him.  The
patriarch's house?  Its antipodes, my young friend--that is, if such
beings have a cosmic existence, on which point Hypatia has her
doubts.  This is the temple of art and beauty; the Delphic tripod of
poetic inspiration; the solace of the earthworn drudge; in a word,
the theatre; which your patriarch, if he could, would convert to-
morrow into a--but the philosopher must not revile.  Ah!  I see the
prefect's apparitors at the gate.  He is making the polity, as we
call it here; the dispositions; settling, in short, the bill of fare
for the day, in compliance with the public palate.  A facetious
pantomime dances here on this day every week--admired by some, the
Jews especially.  To the more classic taste, many of his movements--
his recoil, especially--are wanting in the true antique severity--
might be called, perhaps, on the whole, indecent.  Still the weary
pilgrim must be amused.  Let us step in and hear.'

But before Philammon could refuse, an uproar arose within, a rush
outward of the mob, and inward of the prefect's apparitors.

'It is false!' shouted many voices. 'A Jewish calumny!  The man is
innocent!'

'There is no more sedition in him than there is in me,' roared a fat
butcher, who looked as ready to fell a man as an ox.  'He was always
the first and the last to clap the holy patriarch at sermon.'

'Dear tender soul,' whimpered a woman; 'and I said to him only this
morning, why don't you flog my boys, Master Hierax? how can you
expect them to learn if they are not flogged?  And he said, he never
could abide the sight of a rod, it made his back tingle so.'

'Which was plainly a prophecy!'

'And proves him innocent; for how could he prophesy if he was not
one of the holy ones?'

'Monks, to the rescue!  Hierax, a Christian, is taken and tortured
in the theatre!' thundered a wild hermit, his beard and hair
streaming about his chest and shoulders.

'Nitria!  Nitria!  For God and the mother of God, monks of Nitria!
Down with the Jewish slanderers!  Down with heathen tyrants!'--And
the mob, reinforced as if by magic by hundreds from without, swept
down the huge vaulted passage, carrying Philammon and the porter
with them.

'My friends,' quoth the little man, trying to look philosophically
calm, though he was fairly off his legs, and hanging between heaven
and earth on the elbows of the bystanders, 'whence this tumult?'

'The Jews got up a cry that Hierax wanted to raise a riot.  Curse
them and their sabbath, they are always rioting on Saturdays about
this dancer of theirs, instead of working like honest Christians!'

'And rioting on Sunday instead.  Ahem! sectarian differences, which
the philosopher--

The rest of the sentence disappeared with the speaker, as a sudden
opening of the mob let him drop, and buried him under innumerable
legs.

Philammon, furious at the notion of persecution, maddened by the
cries around him, found himself bursting fiercely through the crowd,
till he reached the front ranks, where tall gates of open ironwork
barred all farther progress, but left a full view of the tragedy
which was enacting within, where the poor innocent wretch, suspended
from a gibbet, writhed and shrieked at every stroke of the hide
whips of his tormentors.

In vain Philammon and the monks around him knocked and beat at the
gates; they were only answered by laughter and taunts from the
apparitors within, curses on the turbulent mob of Alexandria, with
its patriarch, clergy, saints, and churches, and promises to each
and all outside, that their turn would come next; while the piteous
screams grew fainter and more faint, and at last, with a convulsive
shudder, motion and suffering ceased for ever in the poor mangled
body.

'They have killed him!  Martyred him!  Back to the archbishop!  To
the patriarch's house: he will avenge us!'  And as the horrible
news, and the watchword which followed it, passed outwards through
the crowd, they wheeled round as one man, and poured through street
after street towards Cyril's house; while Philammon, beside himself
with horror, rage, and pity, hurried onward with them.

A tumultuous hour, or more, was passed in the street before he could
gain entrance; and then he was swept, along with the mob in which he
had been fast wedged, through a dark low passage, and landed
breathless in a quadrangle of mean and new buildings, overhung by
the four hundred stately columns of the ruined Serapeium.  The grass
was already growing on the ruined capitals and architraves ....
Little did even its destroyers dream then, that the day would come
when one only of that four hundred would be left, as 'Pompey's
Pillar,' to show what the men of old could think and do.

Philammon at last escaped from the crowd, and putting the letter
which he had carried in his bosom into the hands of one of the
priests who was mixing with the mob, was beckoned by him into a
corridor, and up a flight of stairs, and into a large, low, mean
room, and there, by virtue of the world-wide freemasonry which
Christianity had, for the first time on earth, established, found
himself in five minutes awaiting the summons of the most powerful
man south of the Mediterranean.

A curtain hung across the door of the inner chamber, through which
Philammon could hear plainly the steps of some one walking up and
down hurriedly and fiercely.

'They will drive me to it!' at last burst out a deep sonorous voice.
'They will drive me to it ....  Their blood be on their own head!
It is not enough for them to blaspheme God and His church, to have
the monopoly of all the cheating, fortune-telling, usury, sorcery,
and coining of the city, but they must deliver my clergy into the
hands of the tyrant?'

'It was so even in the apostles' time,' suggested a softer but far
more unpleasant voice.

'Then it shall be so no longer!  God has given me the power to stop
them; and God do so to me, and more also, if I do not use that
power.  To-morrow I sweep out this Augean stable of villainy, and
leave not a Jew to blaspheme and cheat in Alexandria.'

'I am afraid such a judgment, however righteous, might offend his
excellency.'

'His excellency!  His tyranny!  Why does Orestes truckle to these
circumcised, but because they lend money to him and to his
creatures?  He would keep up a den of fiends in Alexandria if they
would do as much for him! And then to play them off against me and
mine, to bring religion into contempt by setting the mob together by
the ears, and to end with outrages like this!  Seditious!  Have they
not cause enough?  The sooner I remove one of their temptations the
better: let the other tempter beware, lest his judgment be at hand!'

'The prefect, your holiness?' asked the other voice slily.

'Who spoke of the prefect?  Whosoever is a tyrant, and a murderer,
and an oppressor of the poor, and a favourer of the philosophy which
despises and enslaves the poor, should not he perish, though he be
seven times a prefect?'

At this juncture Philammon, thinking perhaps that he had already
heard too much, notified his presence by some slight noise, at which
the secretary, as he seemed to be, hastily lifted the curtain, and
somewhat sharply demanded his business.  The names of Pambo and
Arsenius, however, seemed to pacify him at once; and the trembling
youth was ushered into the presence of him who in reality, though
not in name, sat on the throne of the Pharaohs.

Not, indeed, in their outward pomp; the furniture of the chamber was
but a grade above that of the artisan's; the dress of the great man
was coarse and simple; if personal vanity peeped out anywhere, it
was in the careful arrangement of the bushy beard, and of the few
curling locks which the tonsure had spared.  But the height and
majesty of his figure, the stern and massive beauty of his features,
the flashing eye, curling lip, and projecting brow--all marked him
as one born to command.  As the youth entered, Cyril stopped short
in his walk, and looking him through and through, with a glance
which burnt upon his cheeks like fire, and made him all but wish the
kindly earth would open and hide him, took the letters, read them,
and then began--

'Philammon.  A Greek.  You are said to have learned to obey.  If so
you have also learned to rule.  Your father-abbot has transferred
you to my tutelage.  You are now to obey me.'

'And I will.'

'Well said.  Go to that window, then, and leap into the court.'

Philammon walked to it, and opened it.  The pavement was fully
twenty feet below; but his business was to obey, and not take
measurements.  There was a flower in the vase upon the sill.  He
quietly removed it, and in an instant more would have leapt for life
or death, when Cyril's voice thundered 'Stop!'

'The lad will pass, my Peter.  I shall not be afraid now for the
secrets which he may have overheard.'

Peter smiled assent, looking all the while as if he thought it a
great pity that the young man had not been allowed to put
talebearing out of his own power by breaking his neck.

'You wish to see the world.  Perhaps you have seen something of it
to-day.'

'I saw the murder--'

'Then you saw what you came hither to see; what the world is, and
what justice and mercy it can deal out.  You would not dislike to
see God's reprisals to man's tyranny? ....  Or to be a fellow-worker
with God therein, if I judge rightly by your looks?'

'I would avenge that man.'

'Ah! my poor simple schoolmaster! And his fate is the portent of
portents to you now!  Stay awhile, till you have gone with Ezekiel
into the inner chambers of the devil's temple, and you will see
worse things than these--women weeping for Thammuz; bemoaning the
decay of an idolatry which they themselves disbelieve--That, too, is
on the list of Hercules' labour, Peter mine.'

At this moment a deacon entered .... 'Your holiness, the rabbis of
the accursed nation are below, at your summons.  We brought them in
through the back gate, for fear of--'

'Right, right.  An accident to them might have ruined us.  I shall
not forget you.  Bring them up.  Peter, take this youth, introduce
him to the parabolani ....  Who will be the best man for him to work
under?'

'The brother Theopompus is especially sober and gentle.'

Cyril shook his head laughingly .... 'Go into the next room, my son
....  No, Peter, put him under some fiery saint, some true
Boanerges, who will talk him down, and work him to death, and show
him the best and worst of everything.  Cleitophon will be the man.
Now then, let me see my engagements; five minutes for these Jews--
Orestes did not choose to frighten them: let us see whether Cyril
cannot; then an hour to look over the hospital accounts; an hour for
the schools; a half-hour for the reserved cases of distress; and
another half-hour for myself; and then divine service.  See that the
boy is there.  Do bring in every one in their turn, Peter mine.  So
much time goes in hunting for this man and that man .... and life is
too short for all that.  Where are these Jews?' and Cyril plunged
into the latter half of his day's work with that untiring energy,
self-sacrifice, and method, which commanded for him, in spite of all
suspicions of his violence, ambition, and intrigue, the loving awe
and implicit obedience of several hundred thousand human beings.

So Philammon went out with the parabolani, a sort of organised guild
of district visitors ....  And in their company he saw that
afternoon the dark side of that world, whereof the harbour-panorama
had been the bright one.  In squalid misery, filth, profligacy,
ignorance, ferocity, discontent, neglected in body, house, and soul,
by the civil authorities, proving their existence only in aimless
and sanguinary riots, there they starved and rotted, heap on heap,
the masses of the old Greek population, close to the great food-
exporting harbour of the world.  Among these, fiercely perhaps, and
fanatically, but still among them and for them, laboured those
district visitors night and day.  And so Philammon toiled away with
them, carrying food and clothing, helping sick to the hospital, and
dead to the burial; cleaning out the infected houses--for the fever
was all but perennial in those quarters--and comforting the dying
with the good news of forgiveness from above; till the larger number
had to return to evening service.  He, however, was kept by his
superior, watching at a sick-bedside, and it was late at night
before he got home, and was reported to Peter the Reader as having
acquitted himself like 'a man of God,' as, indeed, without the least
thought of doing anything noble or self-sacrificing, he had truly
done, being a monk.  And so he threw himself on a truckle-bed, in
one of the many cells which opened off a long corridor, and fell
fast asleep in a minute.

He was just weltering about in a dreary dream-jumble of Goths
dancing with district visitors, Pelagia as an angel, with peacock's
wings; Hypatia with horns and cloven feet, riding three hippopotami
at once round the theatre; Cyril standing at an open window, cursing
frightfully, and pelting him with flower-pots; and a similar self-
sown after-crop of his day's impressions; when he was awakened by
the tramp of hurried feet in the street outside, and shouts, which
gradually, as he became conscious, shaped themselves into cries of
'Alexander's Church is on fire!  Help, good Christians!  Fire!
Help!'

Whereat he sat up in his truckle-bed, tried to recollect where he
was, and having with some trouble succeeded, threw on his sheepskin,
and jumped up to ask the news from the deacons and monks who were
hurrying along the corridor outside .... 'Yes, Alexander's church
was on fire;' and down the stairs they poured, across the courtyard,
and out into the street, Peter's tall figure serving as a standard
and a rallying point.

As they rushed out through the gateway, Philammon, dazzled by the
sudden transition from the darkness within to the blaze of moon and
starlight which flooded the street, and walls, and shining roofs,
hung back a moment.  That hesitation probably saved his life; for in
an instant he saw a dark figure spring out of the shadow, a long
knife flashed across his eyes, and a priest next to him sank upon
the pavement with a groan, while the assassin dashed off down the
street, hotly pursued by monks and parabolani.

Philammon, who ran like a desert ostrich, had soon outstripped all
but Peter, when several more dark figures sprang out of doorways and
corners and joined, or seem to join, the pursuit.  Suddenly,
however, after running a hundred yards, they drew up opposite the
mouth of a side street; the assassin stopped also.  Peter,
suspecting something wrong, slackened his pace, and caught
Philammon's arm.

'Do you see those fellows in the shadow?'

But, before Philammon could answer, some thirty or forty men, their
daggers gleaming in the moonlight, moved out into the middle of the
street, and received the fugitives into their ranks.  What was the
meaning of it?  Here was a pleasant taste of the ways of the most
Christian and civilised city of the Empire!

'Well,' thought Philammon, 'I have come out to see the world, and I
seem, at this rate, to be likely to see enough of it.'

Peter turned at once, and fled as quickly as he had pursued; while
Philammon, considering discretion the better part of valour,
followed, and they rejoined their party breathless.

'There is an armed mob at the end of the street.'

'Assassins!' 'Jews!' 'A conspiracy!'  Up rose a Babel of doubtful
voices.  The foe appeared in sight, advancing stealthily, and the
whole party took to flight, led once more by Peter, who seemed
determined to make free use, in behalf of his own safety, of the
long legs which nature had given him.

Philammon followed, sulkily and unwillingly, at a foot's pace; but
he had not gone a dozen yards when a pitiable voice at his feet
called to him--

'Help! mercy!  Do not leave me here to be murdered!  I am a
Christian; indeed I am a Christian!'

Philammon stooped, and lifted from the ground a comely negro-woman,
weeping, and shivering in a few tattered remnants of clothing.

'I ran out when they said the church was on fire,' sobbed the poor
creature, 'and the Jews beat and wounded me.  They tore my shawl and
tunic off me before I could get away from them; and then our own
people ran over me and trod me down.  And now my husband will beat
me, if I ever get home.  Quick! up this side street, or we shall be
murdered!'

The armed men, whosoever they were, were close on them.  There was
no time to be lost; and Philammon, assuring her that he would not
desert her, hurried her up the side street which she pointed out.
But the pursuers had caught sight of them, and while the mass held
on up the main sight, three or four turned aside and gave chase.
The poor negress could only limp along, and Philammon, unarmed,
looked back, and saw the bright steel points gleaming in the
moonlight, and made up his mind to die as a monk should.
Nevertheless, youth is hopeful.  One chance for life.  He thrust the
negress into a dark doorway, where her colour hid her well enough,
and had just time to ensconce himself behind a pillar, when the
foremost pursuer reached him.  He held his breath in fearful
suspense.  Should he be seen?  He would not die without a struggle
at least.  No! the fellow ran on, panting.  But in a minute more,
another came up, saw him suddenly, and sprang aside startled.  That
start saved Philammon.  Quick as a cat, he leapt upon him, felled
him to the earth with a single blow, tore the dagger from his hand,
and sprang to his feet again just in time to strike his new weapon
full into the third pursuer's face.  The man put his hand to his
head, and recoiled against a fellow-ruffian, who was close on his
heels.  Philammon, flushed with victory, took advantage of the
confusion, and before the worthy pair could recover, dealt them half
a dozen blows which, luckily for them, came from an unpractised
hand, or the young monk might have had more than one life to answer
for.  As it was, they turned and limped off, cursing in an unknown
tongue; and Philammon found himself triumphant and alone, with the
trembling negress and the prostrate ruffian, who, stunned by the
blow and the fall, lay groaning on the pavement.

It was all over in a minute ....  The negress was kneeling under the
gateway, pouring out her simple thanks to Heaven for this unexpected
deliverance; and Philammon was about to kneel too, when a thought
struck him; and coolly despoiling the Jew of his shawl and sash, he
handed them over to the poor negress, considering them fairly enough
as his own by right of conquest; but, lo and behold! as she was
overwhelming him with thanks, a fresh mob poured into the street
from the upper end, and were close on them before they were aware
....  A flush of terror and despair, .... and then a burst of joy,
as, by mingled moonlight and torchlight, Philammon descried priestly
robes, and in the forefront of the battle--there being no apparent
danger--Peter the Reader, who seemed to be anxious to prevent
inquiry, by beginning to talk as fast as possible.

'Ah, boy!  Safe?  The saints be praised!  We gave you up for dead!
Whom have you here?  A prisoner?  And we have another.  He ran right
into our arms up the street, and the Lord delivered him into our
hand.  He must have passed you.'

'So he did,' said Philammon, dragging up his captive, 'and here is
his fellow-scoundrel.'  Whereon the two worthies were speedily tied
together by the elbows; and the party marched on once more in search
of Alexander's church, and the supposed conflagration.

Philammon looked round for the negress, but she had vanished.  He
was far too much ashamed of being known to have been alone with a
woman to say anything about her.  Yet he longed to see her again; an
interest--even something like an affection--had already sprung up in
his heart toward the poor simple creature whom he had delivered from
death.  Instead of thinking her ungrateful for not staying to tell
what he had done for her, he was thankful to her for having saved
his blushes, by disappearing so opportunely ....  And he longed to
tell her so--to know if she was hurt--to--Oh, Philammon! only four
days from the Laura, and a whole regiment of women acquaintances
already!  True, Providence having sent into the world about as many
women as men, it maybe difficult to keep out of their way
altogether.  Perhaps, too, Providence may have intended them to be
of some use to that other sex, with whom it has so mixed them up.
Don't argue, poor Philammon; Alexander's church is on fire!-forward!

And so they hurried on, a confused mass of monks and populace, with
their hapless prisoners in the centre, who, hauled, cuffed,
questioned, and cursed by twenty self-elected inquisitors at once,
thought fit, either from Jewish obstinacy or sheer bewilderment, to
give no account whatsoever of themselves.

As they turned the corner of a street, the folding-doors of a large
gateway rolled open; a long line of glittering figures poured across
the road, dropped their spear-butts on the pavement with a single
rattle, and remained motionless.  The front rank of the mob
recoiled; and an awe-struck whisper ran through them ....  'The
Stationaries!'

'Who are they?' asked Philammon in a whisper.

'The soldiers--the Roman soldiers,' answered a whisperer to him.

Philammon, who was among the leaders, had recoiled too--he hardly
knew why--at that stern apparition.  His next instinct was to press
forward as close as he dared ....  And these were Roman soldiers!--
the conquerors of the world!--the men whose name had thrilled him
from his childhood with vague awe and admiration, dimly heard of up
there in the lonely Laura ....  Roman soldiers! And here he was face
to face with them at last!

His curiosity received a sudden check, however, as he found his arm
seized by an officer, as he took him to be, from the gold ornaments
on his helmet and cuirass, who lifted his vine-stock threateningly
over the young monk's head, and demanded--

'What's all this about?  Why are you not quietly in your beds, you
Alexandrian rascals?'

'Alexander's church is on fire,' answered Philammon, thinking the
shortest answer the wisest.

'So much the better.'

'And the Jews are murdering the Christians.'

'Fight it out, then.  Turn in, men, it's only a riot.'

And the steel-clad apparition suddenly flashed round, and vanished,
trampling and jingling, into the dark jaws of the guardhouse-gate,
while the stream, its temporary barrier removed, rushed on wilder
than ever.

Philammon hurried on too with them, not without a strange feeling of
disappointment.  'Only a riot!'  Peter was chuckling to his brothers
over their cleverness in 'having kept the prisoners in the middle,
and stopped the rascals' mouths till they were past the guard-
house.' 'A fine thing to boast of,' thought Philammon, 'in the face
of the men who make and unmake kings and Caesars!' 'Only a riot!'
He, and the corps of district visitors--whom he fancied the most
august body on earth--and Alexander's church, Christians murdered by
Jews, persecution of the Catholic faith, and all the rest of it, was
simply, then, not worth the notice of those forty men, alone and
secure in the sense of power and discipline, among tens of thousands
....  He hated them, those soldiers.  Was it because they were
indifferent to the cause of which he was inclined to think himself a
not unimportant member, on the strength of his late Samsonic defeat
of Jewish persecutors?  At least, he obeyed the little porter's
advice, and 'felt very small indeed.'

And he felt smaller still, being young and alive to ridicule, when,
at some sudden ebb or flow, wave or wavelet of the Babel sea, which
weltered up and down every street, a shrill female voice informed
them from an upper window, that Alexander's church was not on fire
at all; that she had gone to the top of the house, as they might
have gone, if they had not been fools, etc. etc.; and that it
'looked as safe and as ugly as ever'; wherewith a brickbat or two
having been sent up in answer, she shut the blinds, leaving them to
halt, inquire, discover gradually and piecemeal, after the method of
mobs, they had been following the nature of mobs; that no one had
seen the church on fire, or seen any one else who had seen the same,
or even seen any light in the sky in any quarter, or knew who raised
the cry; or--or--in short, Alexander's church was two miles off; if
it was on fire, it was either burnt down or saved by this time; if
not, the night-air was, to say the least, chilly: and, whether it
was or not, there were ambuscades of Jews--Satan only knew how
strong--in every street between them and it ....  Might it not be
better to secure their two prisoners, and then ask for further
orders from the archbishop?  Wherewith, after the manner of mobs,
they melted off the way they came, by twos and threes, till those of
a contrary opinion began to find themselves left alone, and having a
strong dislike to Jewish daggers, were fain to follow the stream.

With a panic or two, a cry of 'The Jews are on us!' and a general
rush in every direction (in which one or two, seeking shelter from
the awful nothing in neighbouring houses, were handed over to the
watch as burglars, and sent to the quarries accordingly), they
reached the Serapeium, and there found, of course, a counter-mob
collected to inform them that they had been taken in--that
Alexander's church had never been on fire at all--that the Jews had
murdered a thousand Christians at least, though three dead bodies,
including the poor priest who lay in the house within, were all of
the thousand who had yet been seen--and that the whole Jews' quarter
was marching upon them.  At which news it was considered advisable
to retreat into the archbishop's house as quickly as possible,
barricade the doors, and prepare for a siege--a work at which
Philammon performed prodigies, tearing woodwork from the rooms, and
stones from the parapets, before it struck some of the more sober-
minded that it was as well to wait for some more decided
demonstration of attack, before incurring so heavy a carpenter's
bill of repairs.

At last the heavy tramp of footsteps was heard coming down the
street, and every window was crowded in an instant with eager heads;
while Peter rushed downstairs to heat the large coppers, having some
experience in the defensive virtues of boiling water.  The bright
moon glittered on a long line of helmets and cuirasses.  Thank
Heaven! it was the soldiery.

'Are the Jews coming?' 'Is the city quiet?''Why did not you prevent
this villainy?' 'A thousand citizens murdered while you have been
snoring!'--and a volley of similar ejaculations, greeted the
soldiers as they passed, and were answered by a cool--'To your
perches, and sleep, you noisy chickens, or we'll set the coop on
fire about your ears.'

A yell of defiance answered this polite speech, and the soldiery,
who knew perfectly well that the unarmed ecclesiastics within were
not to be trifled with, and had no ambition to die by coping-stones
and hot water, went quietly on their way.

All danger was now past; and the cackling rose jubilant, louder than
ever, and might have continued till daylight, had not a window in
the courtyard been suddenly thrown open, and the awful voice of
Cyril commanded silence.

'Every man sleep where he can.  I shall want you at daybreak.  The
superiors of the parabolani are to come up to me with the two
prisoners, and the men who took them.'

In a few minutes Philammon found himself, with some twenty others,
in the great man's presence: he was sitting at his desk, writing,
quietly, small notes on slips of paper.

'Here is the youth who helped me to pursue the murderer, and having
outrun me, was attacked by the prisoners,' said Peter. 'My hands are
clean from blood, I thank the Lord!'

'Three set on me with daggers,' said Philammon, apologetically, 'and
I was forced to take this one's dagger away, and beat off the two
others with it.'

Cyril smiled, and shook his head.

'Thou art a brave boy; but hast thou not read, "If a man smite thee
on one cheek, turn to him the other"?'

'I could not run away, as Master Peter and the rest did.'

'So you ran away, eh? my worthy friend?'

'Is it not written,' asked Peter, in his blandest tone, "If they
persecute you in one city, flee unto another"?'

Cyril smiled again.  'And why could not you run away, boy?'

Philammon blushed scarlet, but he dared not lie.  'There was a--a
poor black woman, wounded and trodden down, and I dare not leave
her, for she told me she was a Christian.'

'Right, my son, right.  I shall remember this.  What was her name?'

'I did not hear it.--Stay, I think she said Judith.'

'Ah! the wife of the porter who stands at the lecture-room door,
which God confound! A devout woman, full of good works, and sorely
ill-treated by her heathen husband.  Peter, thou shalt go to her to-
morrow with the physician, and see if she is in need of anything.
Boy, thou hast done well.  Cyril never forgets.  Now bring up those
Jews.  Their Rabbis were with me two hours ago promising peace: and
this is the way they have kept their promise.  So be it.  The wicked
is snared in his own wickedness.'

The Jews were brought in, but kept a stubborn silence.

'Your holiness perceives,' said some one, 'that they have each of
them rings of green palm-bark on their right hand.'

'A very dangerous sign! An evident conspiracy!' commented Peter.

'Ah!  What does that mean, you rascals?  Answer me, as you value
your lives.'

'You have no business with us: we are Jews, and none of your
people,' said one sulkily. 'None of my people?  You have murdered my
people!  None of my people?  Every soul in Alexandria is mine, if
the kingdom of God means anything; and you shall find it out.  I
shall not argue with you, my good friends, anymore than I did with
your Rabbis.  Take these fellows away, Peter, and lock them up in
the fuel-cellar, and see that they are guarded.  If any man lets
them go, his life shall be for the life of them.'

And the two worthies were led out.

'Now, my brothers, here are your orders.  You will divide these
notes among yourselves, and distribute them to trusty and godly
Catholics in your districts.  Wait one hour, till the city be quiet;
and then start, and raise the church.  I must have thirty thousand
men by sunrise.'

'What for, your holiness?' asked a dozen voices.

'Read your notes.  Whosoever will fight to-morrow under the banner
of the Lord, shall have free plunder of the Jews' quarter, outrage
and murder only forbidden.  As I have said it, God do so to me, and
more also, if there be a Jew left in Alexandria by to-morrow at
noon.  Go.'

And the staff of orderlies filed out, thanking Heaven that they had
a leader so prompt and valiant, and spent the next hour over the
hall fire, eating millet cakes, drinking bad beer, likening Cyril to
Barak, Gideon, Samson, Jephtha, Judas Maccabeus, and all the
worthies of the Old Testament, and then started on their pacific
errand.

Philammon was about to follow them, when Cyril stopped him.

'Stay, my son; you are young and rash, and do not know the city.
Lie down here and sleep in the anteroom.  Three hours hence the sun
rises, and we go forth against the enemies of the Lord.'

Philammon threw himself on the floor in a corner, and slumbered like
a child, till he was awakened in the gray dawn by one of the
parabolani.

'Up, boy! and see what we can do.  Cyril goes down greater than
Barak the son of Abinoam, not with ten, but with thirty thousand men
at his feet!'

'Ay, my brothers!' said Cyril, as he passed proudly out in full
pontificals, with a gorgeous retinue of priests and deacons--'the
Catholic Church has her organisation, her unity, her common cause,
her watchwords, such as the tyrants of the earth, in their weakness
and their divisions, may envy and tremble at, but cannot imitate.
Could Orestes raise, in three hours, thirty thousand men, who would
die for him?'

'As we will for you!' shouted many voices.

'Say for the kingdom of God.'  And he passed out.

And so ended Philammon's first day in Alexandria.



CHAPTER VI: THE NEW DIOGENES


About five o'clock the next morning, Raphael Aben-Ezra was lying in
bed, alternately yawning over a manuscript of Philo Judaeus, pulling
the ears of his huge British mastiff, watching the sparkle of the
fountain in the court outside, wondering when that lazy boy would
come to tell him that the bath was warmed, and meditating, half
aloud....

'Alas! poor me!  Here I am, back again--just at the point from which
I started! ....  How am I to get free from that heathen Siren?
Plagues on her!  I shall end by falling in love with her ....  I
don't know that I have not got a barb of the blind boy in me
already.  I felt absurdly glad the other day when that fool told me
he dare not accept her modest offer.  Ha! ha! A delicious joke it
would have been to have seen Orestes bowing down to stocks and
stones, and Hypatia installed in the ruins of the Serapeium, as High
Priestess of the Abomination of Desolation!.  And now ....  Well I
call all heaven and earth to witness, that I have fought valiantly.
I have faced naughty little Eros like a man, rod in hand.  What
could a poor human being do more than try to marry her to some one
else, in hopes of sickening himself of the whole matter?  Well,
every moth has its candle, and every man his destiny.  But the
daring of the little fool!  What huge imaginations she has!  She
might be another Zenobia, now, with Orestes as Odenatus, and Raphael
Aben-Ezra to play the part of Longinus. and receive Longinus's
salary of axe or poison.  She don't care for me; she would sacrifice
me, or a thousand of me, the cold-blooded fanatical archangel that
she is, to water with our blood the foundation of some new temple of
cast rags and broken dolls ....  Oh, Raphael Aben-Ezra, what a fool
you are! ....  You know you are going off as usual to her lecture,
this very morning!'

At this crisis of his confessions the page entered, and announced,
not the bath, but Miriam.

The old woman, who, in virtue of her profession, had the private
entry of all fashionable chambers in Alexandria, came in hurriedly;
and instead of seating herself as usual, for a gossip, remained
standing, and motioned the boy out of the room.

'Well my sweet mother?  Sit: Ah?  I see!  You rascal, you have
brought in no wine for the lady.  Don't you know her little ways
yet?'

'Eos has got it at the door, of course,' answered the boy, with a
saucy air of offended virtue.

'Out with you, imp of Satan!' cried Miriam. 'This is no time for
winebibbing.  Raphael Aben-Ezra, why are you lying here?  Did you
not receive a note last night?'

'A note?  So I did, but I was too sleepy to read it.  There it lies.
Boy, bring it here....What's this?  A scrap out of Jeremiah?
"Arise, and flee for thy life, for evil is determined against the
whole house of Israel!"--Does this come from the chief rabbi; I
always took the venerable father for a sober man ....  Eh, Miriam?'

'Fool! instead of laughing at the sacred words of the prophets, get
up and obey them.  I sent you the note.'

'Why can't I obey them in bed?  Here I am, reading hard at the
Cabbala, or Philo--who is stupider still--and what more would you
have?'

The old woman, unable to restrain her impatience, literally ran at
him, gnashing her teeth, and, before he was aware, dragged him out
of bed upon the floor, where he stood meekly wondering what would
come next.

'Many thanks, mother, for having saved me the one daily torture of
life--getting out of bed by one's own exertion.'

'Raphael Aben-Ezra! are you so besotted with your philosophy and
your heathenry, and your laziness, and your contempt for God and
man, that you will see your nation given up for a prey, and your
wealth plundered by heathen dogs?  I tell you, Cyril has sworn that
God shall do so to him, and more also, if there be a Jew left in
Alexandria by to-morrow about this time.'

'So much the better for the Jews, then, if they are half as tired of
this noisy Pandemonium as I am.  But how can I help it?  Am I Queen
Esther, to go to Ahasuerus there in the prefect's palace, and get
him to hold out the golden sceptre to me?'

'Fool! if you had read that note last night, you might have gone and
saved us, and your name would have been handed down for ever from
generation to generation as a second Mordecai.'

'My dear mother, Ahasuerus would have been either fast asleep, or
far too drunk to listen to me.  Why did you not go yourself?'

'Do you suppose that I would not have gone if I could?  Do you fancy
me a sluggard like yourself?  At the risk of my life I have got
hither in time, if there be time to save you.'

'Well: shall I dress?  What can be done now?'

'Nothing!  The streets are blockaded by Cyril's mob--There! do you
hear the shouts and screams?  They are attacking the farther part of
the quarter already.'

'What! are they murdering them?' asked Raphael, throwing on his
pelisse. 'Because, if it has really come to a practical joke of that
kind, I shall have the greatest pleasure in employing a counter-
irritant.  Here, boy!  My sword and dagger!  Quick!'

'No, the hypocrites!  No blood is to be shed, they say, if we make
no resistance, and let them pillage.  Cyril and his monks are there,
to prevent outrage, and so forth.... The Angel of the Lord scatter
them!'

The conversation was interrupted by the rushing in of the whole
household, in an agony of terror; and Raphael, at last thoroughly
roused, went to a window which looked into the street.  The
thoroughfare was full of scolding women and screaming children;
while men, old and young, looked on at the plunder of their property
with true Jewish doggedness, too prudent to resist, but too manful
to complain--while furniture came flying out of every window, and
from door after door poured a stream of rascality, carrying off
money, jewels, silks, and all the treasures which Jewish usury had
accumulated during many a generation.  But unmoved amid the roaring
sea of plunderers and plundered, stood, scattered up and down,
Cyril's spiritual police, enforcing, by a word, an obedience which
the Roman soldiers could only have compelled by hard blows of the
spear-butt.  There was to be no outrage, and no outrage there was:
and more than once some man in priestly robes hurried through the
crowd, leading by the hand, tenderly enough, a lost child in search
of its parents.

Raphael stood watching silently, while Miriam, who had followed him
upstairs, paced the room in an ecstasy of rage, calling vainly to
him to speak or act.

'Let me alone, mother,' he said, at last.  'It will be full ten
minutes more before they pay me a visit, and in the meantime what
can one do better than watch the progress of this, the little
Exodus?'

'Not like that first one!  Then we went forth with cymbals and songs
to the Red Sea triumph!  Then we borrowed, every woman of her
neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment.'

'And now we pay them back again;.. it is but fair, after all.  We
ought to have listened to Jeremiah a thousand years ago, and never
gone back again, like fools, into a country to which we were so
deeply in debt.'

'Accursed land!' cried Miriam.  'In an evil hour our forefathers
disobeyed the prophet; and now we reap the harvest of our sins!--Our
sons have forgotten the faith of their forefathers for the
philosophy of the Gentiles, and fill their chambers' (with a
contemptuous look round) 'with heathen imagery; and our daughters
are--Look there!'

As she spoke, a beautiful girl rushed shrieking out of an adjoining
house, followed by some half-drunk ruffian, who was clutching at the
gold chains and trinkets with which she was profusely bedecked,
after the fashion of Jewish women.  The rascal had just seized with
one hand her streaming black tresses, and with the other a heavy
collar of gold, which was wound round her throat, when a priest,
stepping up, laid a quiet hand upon his shoulder.  The fellow, too
maddened to obey, turned, and struck back the restraining arm...and
in an instant was felled to the earth by a young monk. .

'Touchest thou the Lord's anointed, sacrilegious wretch?' cried the
man of the desert, as the fellow dropped on the pavement, with his
booty in his hand.

The monk tore the gold necklace from his grasp, looked at it for a
moment with childish wonder, as a savage might at some
incomprehensible product of civilised industry, and then, spitting
on it in contempt, dashed it on the ground, and trampled it into the
mud.

'Follow the golden wedge of Achan, and the silver of Iscariot, thou
root of all evil!'  And he rushed on, yelling, 'Down with the
circumcision!  Down with the blasphemers!'--while the poor girl
vanished among the crowd.

Raphael watched him with a quaint thoughtful smile, while Miriam
shrieked aloud at the destruction of the precious trumpery.

'The monk is right, mother.  If those Christians go on upon that
method, they must beat us.  It has been our ruin from the first, our
fancy for loading ourselves with the thick clay.'

'What will you do?' cried Miriam, clutching him by the arm.

'What will you do?'

'I am safe.  I have a boat waiting for me on the canal at the garden
gate, and in Alexandria I stay; no Christian hound shall make old
Miriam move afoot against her will.  My jewels are all buried--my
girls are sold; save what you can, and come with me!'

'My sweet mother, why so peculiarly solicitous about my welfare,
above that of all the sons of Judah?'

'Because--because--No, I'll tell you that another time.  But I loved
your mother, and she loved me.  Come!'

Raphael relapsed into silence for a few minutes, and watched the
tumult below.

'How those Christian priests keep their men in order!  There is no
use resisting destiny.  They are the strong men of the time, after
all, and the little Exodus must needs have its course.  Miriam,
daughter of Jonathan--'

'I am no man's daughter!  I have neither father nor mother, husband
nor--Call me mother again!'

'Whatsoever I am to call you, there are jewels enough in that closet
to buy half Alexandria.  Take them.  I am going.'

'With me!'

'Out into the wide world, my dear lady.  I am bored with riches.
That young savage of a monk understood them better than we Jews do.
I shall just make a virtue of necessity, and turn beggar.'

'Beggar?'

'Why not?  Don't argue.  These scoundrels will make me one, whether
I like or not; so forth I go.  There will be few leavetakings.  This
brute of a dog is the only friend I have on earth; and I love her,
because she has the true old, dogged, spiteful, cunning, obstinate
Maccabee spirit in her--of which if we had a spark left in us just
now, there would be no little Exodus; eh, Bran, my beauty?'

'You can escape with me to the prefect's, and save the mass of your
wealth.'

'Exactly what I don't want to do.  I hate that prefect as I hate a
dead camel, or the vulture who eats him.  And to tell the truth, I
am growing a great deal too fond of that heathen woman there--'

'What?' shrieked the old woman--'Hypatia?'

'If you choose.  At all events, the easiest way to cut the knot is
to expatriate.  I shall beg my passage on board the first ship to
Cyrene, and go and study life in Italy with Heraclian's expedition.
Quick--take the jewels, and breed fresh troubles for yourself with
them.  I am going.  My liberators are battering the outer door
already.'

Miriam greedily tore out of the closet diamonds and pearls, rubies
and emeralds, and concealed them among her ample robes--'Go! go!
Escape from her!  I will hide your jewels!'

'Ay, hide them, as mother earth does all things, in that all-
embracing bosom.  You will have doubled them before we meet again,
no doubt. Farewell, mother!'

'But not for ever, Raphael! not for ever!  Promise me, in the name
of the four archangels, that if you are in trouble or danger, you
will write to me, at the house of Eudaimon.'

'The little porter philosopher, who hangs about Hypatia's lecture-
room?'

'The same, the same.  He will give me your letter, and I swear to
you, I will cross the mountains of Kaf, to deliver you!--I will pay
you all back.  By Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob I swear!  May my tongue
cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not account to you for the
last penny!'

'Don't commit yourself to rash promises, my dear lady.  If I am
bored with poverty, I can but borrow a few gold pieces of a rabbi,
and turn pedler.  I really do not trust you to pay me back, so I
shall not be disappointed if you do not.  Why should I?'

'Because--because--O God!  No--never mind!  You shall have all back.
Spirit of Elias! where is the black agate?  Why is it not among
these?--The broken half of the black agate talisman!'

Raphael turned pale. 'How did you know that I have a black agate?'

'How did I?  How did I not?' cried she, clutching him by the arm.
'Where is it?  All depends on that!  Fool!' she went on, throwing
him off from her at arm's length, as a sudden suspicion stung her--
'you have not given it to the heathen woman?'

'By the soul of my fathers, then, you mysterious old witch, who seem
to know everything, that is exactly what I have done.'

Miriam clapped her hands together wildly.  'Lost! lost! lost!  Not I
will have it, if I tear it out of her heart!  I will be avenged of
her--the strange woman who flatters with her words, to whom the
simple go in, and know not that the dead are there, and that her
guests are in the depths of hell!  God do so to me, and more also,
if she and her sorceries be on earth a twelvemonth hence!'

'Silence, Jezebel!  Heathen or none, she is as pure as the sunlight!
I only gave it her because she fancied the talisman upon it.'

'To enchant you with it, to your ruin!'

'Brute of a slave-dealer! you fancy every one as base as the poor
wretches whom you buy and sell to shame, that you may make them as
much the children of hell, if that be possible, as yourself!'

Miriam looked at him, her large black eyes widening and kindling.
For an instant she felt for her poniard--and then burst into an
agony of tears, hid her face in her withered hands, and rushed from
the room, as a crash and shout below announced the bursting of the
door.

'There she goes with my jewels.  And here come my guests, with the
young monk at their head.--One rising when the other sets.  A worthy
pair of Dioscuri!  Come, Bran!.. .Boys!  Slaves!  Where are you?
Steal every one what he can lay his hands on, and run for your lives
through the back gate.'

The slaves had obeyed him already.  He walked smiling downstairs
through utter solitude, and in the front passage met face to face
the mob of monks, costermongers and dock-workers, fishwives and
beggars, who were thronging up the narrow entry, and bursting into
the doors right and left; and at their head, alas! the young monk
who had just trampled the necklace into the mud...no other, in fact,
than Philammon.

'Welcome, my worthy guests!  Enter, I beseech you, and fulfil, in
your own peculiar way, the precepts which bid you not be over
anxious for the good things of this life. .For eating and drinking,
my kitchen and cellar are at your service. For clothing, if any
illustrious personage will do me the honour to change his holy rags
with me, here are an Indian shawl-pelisse and a pair of silk
trousers at his service.  Perhaps you will accommodate me, my
handsome young captain, choragus of this new school of the
prophets?'

Philammon, who was the person addressed, tried to push by him
contemptuously.

'Allow me, sir.  I lead the way.  This dagger is poisoned,-a scratch
and you are dead.  This dog is of the true British breed; if she
seizes you, red-hot iron will not loose her, till she hears the bone
crack.  If any one will change clothes with me, all I have is at
your service.  If not, the first that stirs is a dead man.'

There was no mistaking the quiet, high-bred determination of the
speaker.  Had he raged and blustered, Philammon could have met him
on his own ground: but there was an easy self-possessed disdain
about him, which utterly abashed the young monk, and abashed, too,
the whole crowd of rascals at his heels.

'I'll change clothes with you, you Jewish dog!' roared a dirty
fellow out of the mob.

'I am your eternal debtor.  Let us step into this side room.  Walk
upstairs, my friends.  Take care there, sir!--That porcelain, whole,
is worth three thousand gold pieces: broken, it is not worth three
pence.  I leave it to your good sense to treat it accordingly.  Now
then, my friend!'  And in the midst of the raging vortex of
plunderers, who were snatching up everything which they could carry
away, and breaking everything which they could not, lie quietly
divested himself of his finery, and put on the ragged cotton tunic,
and battered straw hat, which the fellow handed over to him.

Philammon, who had had from the first no mind to plunder, stood
watching Raphael with dumb wonder; and a shudder of regret, he knew
not why, passed through him, as he Saw the mob tearing down
pictures, and dashing statues to the ground.  Heathen they were,
doubtless; but still, the Nymphs and Venuses looked too lovely to be
so brutally destroyed...  There was something almost humanly pitiful
in their poor broken arms and legs, as they lay about upon the
pavement.... He laughed at himself for the notion; but he could not
laugh it away.

Raphael seemed to think that he ought not to laugh it away; for he
pointed to the fragments, and with a quaint look at the young monk--

     'Our nurses used to tell us,
          '"If you can't make it,
          You ought not to break it."'

'I had no nurse,' said Philammon.

'Ah!--that accounts--for this and other things.  Well,' he went on,
with the most provoking good-nature, 'you are in a fair road, my
handsome youth; I wish you joy of your fellow-workmen, and of your
apprenticeship in the noble art of monkery.  Riot and pillage,
shrieking women and houseless children in your twentieth summer, are
the sure path to a Saint-ship, such as Paul of Tarsus, who, with all
his eccentricities, was a gentleman, certainly never contemplated.
I have heard of Phoebus Apollo under many disguises, but this is the
first time I ever saw him in the wolf's hide.'

'Or in the lion's,' said Philammon, trying in his shame to make a
fine speech.

'Like the Ass in the Fable. Farewell!  Stand out of the way,
friends!  'Ware teeth and poison!'

And he disappeared among the crowd, who made way respectfully enough
for his dagger and his brindled companion.



CHAPTER VII: THOSE BY WHOM OFFENCES COME


Philammon's heart smote him all that day, whenever he thought of his
morning's work.  Till then all Christians, monks above all, had been
infallible in his eyes: all Jews and heathens insane and accursed.
Moreover, meekness under insult, fortitude in calamity, the contempt
of worldly comfort, the worship of poverty as a noble estate, were
virtues which the Church Catholic boasted as her peculiar heritage:
on which side had the balance of those qualities inclined that
morning?  The figure of Raphael, stalking out ragged and penniless
into the wide world, haunted him, with its quiet self-assured smile.
And there haunted him, too, another peculiarity in the man, which he
had never before remarked in any one but Arsenius--that ease and
grace, that courtesy and self-restraint, which made Raphael's
rebukes rankle all the more keenly, because he felt that the rebuker
was in some mysterious way superior to him, and saw through him, and
could have won him Over, Or crushed him in argument, or in intrigue
--or in anything, perhaps, except mere brute force.  Strange--that
Raphael, of all men, should in those few moments have reminded him
so much of Arsenius; and that the very same qualities which gave a
peculiar charm to the latter should give a peculiar unloveliness to
the former, and yet be, without a doubt, the same.  What was it?
Was it rank which gave it Arsenius had been a great man, he knew--
the companion of kings.  And Raphael seemed rich.  He had heard the
mob crying out against the prefect for favouring him.  Was it then
familiarity with the great ones of the world which produced this
manner and tone?  It was a real strength, whether in Arsenius or in
Raphael.  He felt humbled before it--envied it.  If it made Arsenius
a more complete and more captivating person, why should it not do
the same for him?  Why should not he, too, have his share of it?

Bringing with it such thoughts as these, the time ran on till noon,
and the mid-day meal, and the afternoon's work, to which Philammon
looked forward joyfully, as a refuge from his own thoughts.

He was sitting on his sheepskin upon a step, basking, like a true
son of the desert, in a blaze of fiery sunshine, which made the
black stone-work too hot to touch with the bare hand, watching the
swallows, as they threaded the columns of the Serapeium, and
thinking how often he had delighted in their air-dance, as they
turned and hawked up and down the dear old glen at Scetis.  A crowd
of citizens with causes, appeals, and petitions, were passing in and
out from the patriarch's audience-room.  Peter and the archdeacon
were waiting in the shade close by for the gathering of the
parabolani, and talking over the morning's work in an earnest
whisper, in which the names of Hypatia and Orestes were now and then
audible.

An old priest came up, and bowing reverently enough to the
archdeacon, requested the help of one of the parabolani.  He had a
sailor's family, all fever-stricken, who must be removed to the
hospital at once.

The archdeacon looked at him, answered an off-hand 'Very well,' and
went on with his talk.

The priest, bowing lower than before, re-presented the immediate
necessity for help.

'It is very odd,' said Peter to the swallows in the Serapeium, 'that
some people cannot obtain influence enough in their own parishes to
get the simplest good works performed without tormenting his
holiness the patriarch.'

The old priest mumbled some sort of excuse, and the archdeacon,
without deigning a second look at him, said--'Find him a man,
brother Peter.  Anybody will do.  What is that boy--Philammon--doing
there?  Let him go with Master Hieracas.'

Peter seemed not to receive the proposition favourably, and
whispered something to the archdeacon....

'No.  I can spare none of the rest.  Importunate persons must take
their chance of being well served.  Come--here are our brethren; we
will all go together.'

'The farther together the better for the boy's sake,' grumbled
Peter, loud enough for Philammon--perhaps for the old priest--to
overhear him.

So Philammon went out with them, and as he went questioned his
companions meekly enough as to who Raphael was.

'A friend of Hypatia!'--that name, too, haunted him; and he began,
as stealthily and indirectly as he could, to obtain information
about her.  There was no need for his caution; for the very mention
of her name roused the whole party into a fury of execration.

'May God confound her, siren, enchantress, dealer in spells and
sorceress!  She is the strange woman of whom Solomon prophesied.'

'It is my opinion,' said another, 'that she is the forerunner of
Antichrist.'

'Perhaps the virgin of whom it is prophesied that he will be born,'
suggested another.

'Not that, I'll warrant her,' said Peter, with a savage sneer.

'And is Raphael Aben-Ezra her pupil in philosophy?' asked Philammon.

'Her pupil in whatsoever she can find where-with to delude men's
souls,' said the old priest.

'The reality of philosophy has died long ago, but the great ones
find it still worth their while to worship its shadow.'

'Some of them worship more than a shadow, when they haunt her
house,' said Peter.  'Do you think Orestes goes thither only for
philosophy?'

'We must not judge harsh judgments,' said the old priest; 'Synesius
of Cyrene is a holy man, and yet he loves Hypatia well.'

'He a holy man?--and keeps a wife!  One who had the insolence to
tell the blessed Theophilus himself that he would not be made bishop
unless he were allowed to remain with her; and despised the gift of
the Holy Ghost in comparison of the carnal joys of wedlock, not
knowing the Scriptures, which saith that those who are in the flesh
cannot please God!  Well said Siricius of Rome of such men--"Can the
Holy Spirit of God dwell in other than holy bodies?"  No wonder that
such a one as Synesius grovels at the feet of Orestes' mistress!'

'Then she is profligate?' asked Philammon.

'She must be.  Has a heathen faith and grace?  And without faith and
grace, are not all our righteousnesses as filthy rags?  What says
St.  Paul?--That God has given them over to a reprobate mind, full
of all injustice, uncleanness, covetousness, maliciousness, you know
the catalogue--why do you ask me?'

'Alas! and is she this?'

'Alas! And why alas?  How would the Gospel be glorified if heathens
were holier than Christians?  It ought to be so, therefore it is so.
If she seems to have virtues, they, being done without the grace of
Christ, are only bedizened vices, cunning shams, the devil
transformed into an angel of light.  And as for chastity, the flower
and crown of all virtues--whosoever says that she, being yet a
heathen, has that, blasphemes the Holy Spirit, whose peculiar and
highest gift it is, and is anathema maranatha for ever! Amen!'  And
Peter, devoutly crossing himself, turned angrily and contemptuously
away from his young companion.

Philammon was quite shrewd enough to see that assertion was not
identical with proof.  But Peter's argument of 'it ought to be,
therefore it is,' is one which saves a great deal of trouble...and
no doubt he had very good sources of information.  So Philammon
walked on, sad, he knew not why, at the new notion which he had
formed of Hypatia, as a sort of awful sorceress--Messalina, whose
den was foul with magic rites and ruined souls of men. And yet if
that was all she had to teach, whence had her pupil Raphael learned
that fortitude of his?  If philosophy had, as they said, utterly
died out, then what was Raphael?

Just then, Peter and the rest turned up a side street, and Philammon
and Hieracas were left to go on their joint errand together.  They
paced on for some way in silence, up one street and down another,
till Philammon, for want of anything better to say, asked where they
were going.

'Where I choose, at all events.  No, young man!  If I, a priest, am
to be insulted by archdeacons and readers, I won't be insulted by
you.'

'I assure you I meant no harm.'

'Of course not; you all learn the same trick, and the young ones
catch it of the old ones fast enough.  Words smoother than butter,
yet very swords.'

'You do not mean to complain of the archdeacon and his companions?'
said Philammon, who of course was boiling over with pugnacious
respect for the body to which he belonged.

No answer.

'Why, sir, are they not among the most holy and devoted of men?'

'Ah--yes,' said his companion, in a tone which sounded very like
'Ah--no.'

'You do not think so?' asked Philammon bluntly.

'You are young, you are young.  Wait a while till you have seen as
much as I have.  A degenerate age this, my son; not like the good
old times, when men dare suffer and die for the faith.  We are too
prosperous nowadays; and fine ladies walk about with Magdalens
embroidered on their silks, and gospels hanging round their necks.
When I was young they died for that with which they now bedizen
themselves.'

'But I was speaking of the parabolani.'

'Ah, there are a great many among them who have not much business
where they are.  Don't say I said so.  But many a rich man puts his
name on the list of the guild just to get his exemption from taxes,
and leaves the work to poor men like you.  Rotten, rotten! my son,
and you will find it out.  The preachers, now--people used to say--I
know Abbot Isidore did--that I had as good a gift for expounding as
any man in Pelusium; but since I came here, eleven years since, if
you will believe it, I have never been asked to preach in my own
parish church.'

'You surely jest!'

'True, as I am a christened man.  I know why--I know why: they are
afraid of Isidore's men here ....  Perhaps they may have caught the
holy man's trick of plain speaking--and ears are dainty in
Alexandria.  And there are some in these parts, too, that have never
forgiven him the part he took about those three villains, Marc,
Zosimus, and Martinian, and a certain letter that came of it; or
another letter either, which we know of, about taking alms for the
church from the gains of robbers and usurers.  "Cyril never
forgets."  So he says to every one who does him a good turn ....
And so he does to every one who he fancies has done him a bad one.
So here am I slaving away, a subordinate priest, while such fellows
as Peter the Reader look down on me as their slave.  But it's always
so.  There never was a bishop yet, except the blessed Augustine--
would to Heaven I had taken my abbot's advice, and gone to him at
Hippo!--who had not his flatterers and his tale-bearers, and
generally the archdeacon at the head of them, ready to step into the
bishop's place when he dies, over the heads of hard-working parish
priests.  But that is the way of the world.  The sleekest and the
oiliest, and the noisiest; the man who can bring in most money to
the charities, never mind whence or how; the man who will take most
of the bishop's work off his hands, and agree with him in everything
he wants, and save him, by spying and eavesdropping, the trouble of
using his own eyes; that is the man to succeed in Alexandria, or
Constantinople, or Rome itself.  Look now; there are but seven
deacons to this great city, and all its priests; and they and the
archdeacon are the masters of it and us.  They and that Peter manage
Cyril's work for him, and when Cyril makes the archdeacon a bishop,
be will make Peter archdeacon....They have their reward, they have
their reward; and so has Cyril, for that matter.'

'How?'

'Why, don't say I said it.  But what do I care?  I have nothing to
lose, I'm sure.  But they do say that there are two ways of
promotion in Alexandria: one by deserving it, the other by paying
for it.  That's all.'

'Impossible!'

'Oh, of course, quite impossible.  But all I know is just this, that
when that fellow Martinian got back again into Pelusium, after being
turned out by the late bishop for a rogue and hypocrite as he was,
and got the ear of this present bishop, and was appointed his
steward, and ordained priest--I'd as soon have ordained that street-
dog--and plundered him and brought him to disgrace--for I don't
believe this bishop is a bad man, but those who use rogues must
expect to be called rogues--and ground the poor to the earth, and
tyrannised over the whole city so that no man's property, or
reputation, scarcely their lives, were safe; and after all, had the
impudence, when he was called on for his accounts, to bring the
church in as owing him money; I just know this, that he added to all
his other shamelessness this, that he offered the patriarch a large
sum of money to buy a bishopric of him ....  And what do you think
the patriarch answered?'

'Excommunicated the sacrilegious wretch, of course!'

'Sent him a letter to say that if he dared to do such a thing again
he should really be forced to expose him!  So the fellow, taking
courage, brought his money himself the next time; and all the world
says that Cyril would have made him a bishop after all, if Abbot
Isidore had not written to remonstrate.'

'He could not have known the man's character,' said poor Philammon,
hunting for an excuse.

'The whole Delta was ringing with it.  Isidore had written to him
again and again.'

'Surely then his wish was to prevent scandal, and preserve the unity
of the church in the eyes of the heathen.'

The old man laughed bitterly.

'Ah, the old story--of preventing scandals by retaining them, and
fancying that sin is a less evil than a little noise; as if the
worst of all scandals was not the being discovered in hushing up a
scandal.  And as for unity, if you want that, you must go back to
the good old times of Dioclesian and Decius.'

'The persecutors?'

'Ay, boy--to the times of persecution, when Christians died like
brothers, because they lived like brothers.  You will see very
little of that now, except in some little remote county bishopric,
which no one ever hears of from year's end to year's end.  But in
the cities it is all one great fight for place and power.  Every one
is jealous of his neighbour.  The priests are jealous of the
deacons, and good cause they have.  The county bishops are jealous
of the metropolitan, and he is jealous of the North African bishops,
and quite right he is.  What business have they to set up for
themselves, as if they were infallible?  It's a schism, I say--a
complete schism.  They are just as bad as their own Donatists.  Did
not the Council of Nice settle that the Metropolitan of Alexandria
should have authority over Libya and Pentapolis, according to the
ancient custom?'

'Of course he ought,' said Philammon, jealous for the honour of his
own patriarchate.

'And the patriarchs of Rome and Constantinople are jealous of our
patriarch.'

'Of Cyril?'

'Of course, because he won't be at their beck and nod, and let them
be lords and masters of Africa.'

'But surely these things can be settled by councils?'

'Councils?  Wait till you have been at one.  The blessed Abbot
Isidore used to say, that if he ever was a bishop--which he never
will be--he is far too honest for that--he would never go near one
of them; for he never had seen one which did not call out every evil
passion in men's hearts, and leave the question more confounded with
words than they found it, even if the whole matter was not settled
beforehand by some chamberlain, or eunuch, or cook sent from court,
as if be were an anointed vessel of the Spirit, to settle the dogmas
of the Holy Catholic Church.'

'Cook?'

'Why, Valens sent his chief cook to stop Basil of Caesarea from
opposing the Court doctrine ....  I tell you, the great battle in
these cases is to get votes from courts, or to get to court
yourself.  When I was young, the Council of Antioch had to make a
law to keep bishops from running off to Constantinople to intrigue,
under pretence of pleading the cause of the orphan and widow.  But
what's the use of that, when every noisy and ambitious man shifts
and shifts, from one see to another, till he settles himself close
to Rome or Byzantium, and gets the emperor's ear, and plays into the
hands of his courtiers?'

'Is it not written, "Speak not evil of dignities"? 'said Philammon,
in his most sanctimonious tone.

'Well, what of that?  I don't speak evil of dignities, when I
complain of the men who fill them badly, do I?'

'I never heard that interpretation of the text before.'

'Very likely not.  That's no reason why it should not be true and
orthodox.  You will soon hear a good many more things, which are
true enough--though whether they are orthodox or not, the court
cooks must settle.  Of course, I am a disappointed, irreverent old
grumbler.  Of course, and of course, too, young men must needs buy
their own experience, instead of taking old folks' at a gift.
There--use your own eyes, and judge for yourself.  There you may see
what sort of saints are bred by this plan of managing the Catholic
Church.  There comes one of them.  Now!  I say no more!'

As he spoke, two tall negroes came up to them, and set down before
the steps of a large church which they were passing an object new to
Philammon--a sedan-chair, the poles of which were inlaid with ivory
and silver, and the upper part enclosed in rose-coloured silk
curtains.

'What is inside that cage?' asked be of the old priest, as the
negroes stood wiping the perspiration from their foreheads, and a
smart slave-girl stepped forward, with a parasol and slippers in her
hand, and reverently lifted the lower edge of the curtain.

'A saint, I tell you!'

An embroidered shoe, with a large gold cross on the instep, was put
forth delicately from beneath the curtain, and the kneeling maid put
on the slipper over it.

'There!'whispered the old grumbler. 'Not enough, you see, to use
Christian men as beasts of burden--Abbot Isidore used to say--ay,
and told Iron, the pleader, to his face, that he could not conceive
how a man who loved Christ, and knew the grace which has made all
men free, could keep a slave.'

'Nor can I,' said Philammon.

'But we think otherwise, you see, in Alexandria here.  We can't even
walk up the steps of God's temple without an additional protection
to our delicate feet.'

'I had thought it was written, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet,
for the place where thou standest is holy ground."'

'Ah! there are a good many more things written which we do not find
it convenient to recollect.--Look!  There is one of the pillars of
the church-the richest and most pious lady in Alexandria.'

And forth stepped a figure, at which Philammon's eyes opened wider
than they had done even at the sight of Pelagia.  Whatever thoughts
the rich and careless grace of her attire might have raised in his
mind, it had certainly not given his innate Greek good taste the
inclination to laugh and weep at once, which be felt at this
specimen of the tasteless fashion of an artificial and decaying
civilisation.  Her gown was stuffed out behind in a fashion which
provoked from the dirty boys who lay about the steps, gambling for
pistachios on their fingers, the same comments with which St.
Clement had upbraided from the pulpit the Alexandrian ladies of his
day.  The said gown of white silk was bedizened, from waist to
ankle, with certain mysterious red and green figures at least a foot
long, which Philammon gradually discovered to be a representation,
in the very lowest and ugliest style of fallen art, of Dives and
Lazarus; while down her back hung, upon a bright blue shawl, edged
with embroidered crosses, Job sitting, potsherd in hand, surrounded
by his three friends--a memorial, the old priest whispered, of a
pilgrimage which she had taken a year or two before, to Arabia, to
see and kiss the identical dunghill on which the patriarch had sat.

Round her neck hung, by one of half a dozen necklaces, a manuscript
of the Gospels, gilt-edged and clasped with jewels; the lofty diadem
of pearls on the head carried in front a large gold cross; while
above and around it her hair, stiffened with pomatum, was frizzled
out half a foot from a wilderness of plaits and curls, which must
have cost some hapless slave-girl an hour's work, and perhaps more
than one scolding, that very morning.

Meekly, with simpering face and downcast eyes, and now and then a
penitent sigh and shake of the head and pressure of her hand on her
jewelled bosom, the fair penitent was proceeding up the steps, when
she caught sight of the priest and the monk, and turning to them
with an obeisance of the deepest humility, entreated to be allowed
to kiss the hem of their garments.

'You had far better, madam,' said Philammon, bluntly enough, 'kiss
the hem of your own.  You carry two lessons there which you do not
seem to have learnt yet.'

In an instant her face flashed up into pride and fury. 'I asked for
your blessing, and not for a sermon.  I can have that when I like.'

'And such as you like,' grumbled the old priest, as she swept up the
steps, tossing some small coin to the ragged boys, and murmuring to
herself, loud enough for Philammon's hearing, that she should
certainly inform the confessor, and that she would not be insulted
in the streets by savage monks.

'Now she will confess her sins inside--all but those which she has
been showing off to us here outside, and beat her breast, and weep
like a very Magdalen; and then the worthy man will comfort her with
--"What a beautiful chain! And what a shawl--allow me to touch it!
How soft and delicate this Indian wool! Ah! if you knew the debts
which I have been compelled to incur in the service of the
sanctuary!--"  And then of course the answer will be, as, indeed, he
expects it should, that if it can be of the least use in the service
of the Temple, she, of course, will think it only too great an
honour ....  And he will keep the chain, and perhaps the shawl too.
And she will go home, believing that she has fulfilled to the very
letter the command to break off her sins by almsgiving, and only
sorry that the good priest happened to hit on that particular
gewgaw!'

'What,' asked Philammon; 'dare she actually not refuse such
importunity?'

'From a poor priest like me, stoutly enough; but from a popular
ecclesiastic like him ....  As Jerome says, in a letter of his I
once saw, ladies think twice in such cases before they offend the
city newsmonger.  Have you anything more to say?'

Philammon had nothing to say; and wisely held his peace, while the
old grumbler ran on--

'Ah, boy, you have yet to learn city fashions!  When you are a
little older, instead of speaking unpleasant truths to a fine lady
with a cross on her forehead, you will be ready to run to the
Pillars of Hercules at her beck and nod, for the sake of her
disinterested help towards a fashionable pulpit, or perhaps a
bishopric.  The ladies settle that for us here.'

'The women?'

'The women, lad.  Do you suppose that they heap priests and churches
with wealth for nothing?  They have their reward.  Do you suppose
that a preacher gets into the pulpit of that church there, without
looking anxiously, at the end of each peculiarly flowery sentence,
to see whether her saintship there is clapping or not?  She, who has
such a delicate sense for orthodoxy, that she can scent out
Novatianism or Origenism where no other mortal nose would suspect
it.  She who meets at her own house weekly all the richest and most
pious women of the city, to settle our discipline for us' as the
court cooks do our doctrine.  She who has even, it is whispered, the
ear of the Augusta Pulcheria herself, and sends monthly letters to
her at Constantinople, and might give the patriarch himself some
trouble' if he crossed her holy will!'

'What! will Cyril truckle to such creatures?'

'Cyril is a wise man in his generation--too wise, some say, for a
child of the light.  But at least, he knows there is no use fighting
with those whom you cannot conquer; and while he can get money out
of these great ladies for his almshouses, and orphan-houses, and
lodging-houses, and hospitals, and workshops, and all the rest of
it--and in that, I will say for him, there is no man on earth equal
to him, but Ambrose of Milan and Basil of Caesarea--why, I don't
quarrel with him for making the best of a bad matter; and a very bad
matter it is, boy, and has been ever since emperors and courtiers
have given up burning and crucifying us, and taken to patronising
and bribing us instead.'

Philammon walked on in silence by the old priest's side, stunned and
sickened .... 'And this is what I have come out to see--reeds shaken
in the wind, and men clothed in soft raiment, fit only for kings'
palaces!'  For this he had left the dear old Laura, and the simple
joys and friendships of childhood, and cast himself into a roaring
whirlpool of labour and temptation!  This was the harmonious
strength and unity of that Church Catholic, in which, as he had been
taught from boyhood, there was but one Lord, one Faith, one Spirit.
This was the indivisible body, 'without spot or wrinkle, which fitly
joined together and compacted by that which every member supplied,
according to the effectual and proportionate working of every part,
increased the body, and enabled it to build itself up in Love!'  He
shuddered as the well-known words passed through his memory, and
seemed to mock the base and chaotic reality around him.  He felt
angry with the old man for having broken his dream; he longed to
believe that his complaints were only exaggerations of cynic
peevishness, of selfish disappointment; and yet, had not Arsenius
warned him?  Had he not foretold, word for word, what the youth
would find-what he had found?  Then was Saint Paul's great idea an
empty and an impossible dream?  No!  God's word could not fail; the
Church could not err.  The fault could not be in her, but in her
enemies; not, as the old man said, in her too great prosperity, but
in her slavery.  And then the words which he had heard from Cyril at
their first interview rose before him as the true explanation.  How
could the Church work freely and healthily while she was crushed and
fettered by the rulers of this world?  And how could they be
anything but the tyrants and antichrists they were, while they were
menaced and deluded by heathen philosophy, and vain systems of human
wisdom?  If Orestes was the curse of the Alexandrian Church, then
Hypatia was the curse of Orestes.  On her head the true blame lay.
She was the root of the evil.  Who would extirpate it? ....

Why should not he?  It might be dangerous; yet, successful or
unsuccessful, it must be glorious.  The course of Christianity
wanted great examples.  Might he not-and his young heart beat high
at the thought--might he not, by some great act of daring, self-
sacrifice, divine madness of faith, like David's of old, when he
went out against the giant--awaken selfish and luxurious souls to a
noble emulation, and recall to their minds, perhaps to their lives,
the patterns of those martyrs who were the pride, the glory, the
heirloom of Egypt?  And as figure after figure rose before his
imagination, of simple men and weak women who had conquered
temptation and shame, torture and death, to live for ever on the
lips of men, and take their seats among the patricians of the
heavenly court, with brows glittering through all eternities with
the martyr's crown, his heart beat thick and fast, and he longed
only for an opportunity to dare and die.

And the longing begot the opportunity. For he had hardly rejoined
his brother visitors when the absorbing thought took word again, and
he began questioning them eagerly for more information about
Hypatia.

On that point, indeed, he obtained nothing but fresh invective; but
when his companions, after talking of the triumph which the true
faith had gained that morning, went on to speak of the great
overthrow of Paganism twenty years before, under the patriarch
Theophilus; of Olympiodorus and his mob, who held the Serapeium for
many days by force of arms against the Christians, making sallies
into the city, and torturing and murdering the prisoners whom they
took; of the martyrs who, among those very pillars which overhung
their heads, had died in torments rather than sacrifice to Serapis;
and of the final victory, and the soldier who, in presence of the
trembling mob, clove the great jaw of the colossal idol, and snapped
for ever the spell of heathenism, Philammon's heart burned to
distinguish himself like that soldier, and to wipe out his qualms of
conscience by some more unquestionable deed of Christian prowess.
There were no idols now to break but there was philosophy--'Why not
carry war into the heart of the enemy's camp, and beard Satan in his
very den?  Why does not some man of God go boldly into the lecture-
room of the sorceress, and testify against her to her face?'

'Do it yourself, if you dare,' said Peter.  'We have no wish to get
our brains knocked out by all the profligate young gentlemen in the
city.'

'I will do it,' said Philammon.

'That is, if his holiness allows you to make such a fool of
yourself.'

'Take care, sir, of your words.  You revile the blessed martyrs,
from St. Stephen to St. Telemachus, when you call such a deed
foolishness.'

'I shall most certainly inform his holiness of your insolence.'

'Do so,' said Philammon, who, possessed with a new idea, wished for
nothing more.  And there the matter dropped for the time.
...............

'The presumption of the young in this generation is growing
insufferable,' said Peter to his master that evening.

'So much the better.  They put their elders on their mettle in the
race of good works.  But who has been presuming to-day?'

'That mad boy whom Pambo sent up from the deserts dared to offer
himself as champion of the faith against Hypatia.  He actually
proposed to go into her lecture-room and argue with her to her face.
What think you of that for a specimen of youthful modesty and self-
distrust?'

Cyril was silent a while.

'What answer am I to have the honour of taking back?  A month's
relegation to Nitria on bread and water?  You, I am sure, will not
allow such things to go unpunished; indeed, if they do, there is an
end to all authority and discipline.'

Cyril was still silent; whilst Peter's brow clouded fast.  At last
he answered--

'The cause wants martyrs.  Send the boy to me.'

Peter went down with a shrug, and an expression of face which looked
but too like envy, and ushered up the trembling youth, who dropped
on his knees as soon as he entered.

'So you wish to go into the heathen woman's lecture-room, and defy
her?  Have you courage for it?'

'God will give it me.'

'You will be murdered by her pupils.'

'I can defend myself,' said Philammon, with a pardonable glance
downward at his sinewy limbs. 'And if not: what death more glorious
than martyrdom?'

Cyril smiled genially enough. 'Promise me two things.'

'Two thousand, if you will.'

'Two are quite difficult enough to keep.  Youth is rash in promises,
and rasher in forgetting them.  Promise me that, whatever happens,
you will not strike the first blow.'

'I do.'

'Promise me again, that you will not argue with her.'

'What then?'

'Contradict, denounce, defy.  But give no reasons.  If you do, you
are lost.  She is subtler than the serpent, skilled in all the
tricks of logic, and you will become a laughing-stock, and run away
in shame.  Promise me.'

'I do.'

'Then go.'

'When?'

'The sooner the better.  At what hour does the accursed woman
lecture to-morrow, Peter?'

'We saw her going to the Museum at nine this morning.'

'Then go at nine to-morrow.  There is money for you.'

'What is this for?' asked Philammon, fingering curiously the first
coins which he ever had handled in his life.

'To pay for your entrance.  To the philosopher none enters without
money.  Not so to the Church of God, open all day long to the beggar
and the slave.  If you convert her, well.  And if not' ....  And he
added to himself between his teeth, 'And if not, well also--perhaps
better.'

'Ay!' said Peter bitterly, as he ushered Philammon out. 'Go up to
Ramoth Gilead, and prosper, young fool!  What evil spirit sent
you here to feed the noble patriarch's only weakness?'

'What do you mean?' asked Philammon, as fiercely as he dare.

'The fancy that preachings, and protestations, and martyrdoms can
drive out the Canaanites, who can only be got rid of with the sword
of the Lord and of Gideon.  His uncle Theophilus knew that well
enough.  If he had not, Olympiodorus might have been master of
Alexandria, and incense burning before Serapis to this day.  Ay, go,
and let her convert you!  Touch the accursed thing, like Achan, and
see if you do not end by having it in your tent.  Keep company with
the daughters of Midian, and see if you do not join yourself to Baal
poor, and eat the offerings of the dead!'

And with this encouraging sentence, the two parted for the night.



CHAPTER VIII: THE EAST WIND


As Hypatia went forth the next morning, in all her glory, with a
crowd of philosophers and philosophasters, students, and fine
gentlemen, following her in reverend admiration across the street to
her lecture-room, a ragged beggar-man, accompanied by a huge and
villainous-looking dog, planted himself right before her, and
extending a dirty hand, whined for an alms.

Hypatia, whose refined taste could never endure the sight, much less
the contact, of anything squalid and degraded, recoiled a little,
and bade the attendant slave get rid of the man with a coin.
Several of the younger gentlemen, however, considered themselves
adepts in that noble art of 'upsetting' then in vogue in the African
universities, to which we all have reason enough to be thankful,
seeing that it drove Saint Augustine from Carthage to Rome; and
they, in compliance with the usual fashion of tormenting any simple
creature who came in their way by mystification and insult,
commenced a series of personal witticisms, which the beggar bore
stoically enough.  The coin was offered him, but he blandly put
aside the hand of the giver, and keeping his place on the pavement,
seemed inclined to dispute Hypatia's farther passage.

'What do you want?  Send the wretch and his frightful dog away,
gentlemen!' said the poor philosopher in some trepidation.

'I know that dog,' said one of them; 'it is Aben-Ezra's.  Where did
you find it before it was lost, you rascal.'

'Where your mother found you when she palmed you off upon her
goodman, my child--in the slave-market. Fair Sybil, have you already
forgotten your humblest pupil, as these young dogs have, who are
already trying to upset their master and instructor in the angelic
science of bullying?'

And the beggar, lifting his broad straw hat, disclosed the features
of Raphael Aben-Ezra.  Hypatia recoiled with a shriek of surprise.

'Ah! you are astonished.  At what, I pray?'

'To see you, sir, thus!'

'Why, then?  You have been preaching to us all a long time the glory
of abstraction from the allurements of sense.  It augurs ill,
surely, for your estimate either of your pupils or of your own
eloquence, if you are so struck with consternation because one of
them has actually at last obeyed you.'

'What is the meaning of this masquerade, most excellent sir?' asked
Hypatia and a dozen voices beside.

'Ask Cyril.  I am on my way to Italy, in the character of the New
Diogenes, to look, like him, for a man.  When I have found one, I
shall feel great pleasure in returning to acquaint you with the
amazing news. Farewell!  I wished to look once more at a certain
countenance, though I have turned, as you see, Cynic; and intend
henceforth to attend no teacher but my dog, who will luckily charge
no fees for instruction; if she did, I must go untaught, for my
ancestral wealth made itself wings yesterday morning.  You are
aware, doubtless, of the Plebiscitum against the Jews, which was
carried into effect under the auspices of a certain holy tribune of
the people?'

'Infamous!'

'And dangerous, my dear lady.  Success is inspiriting .... and
Theon's house is quite as easily sacked, as the Jews' quarter ....
Beware.'

'Come, come, Aben-Ezra,' cried the young men; 'you are far too good
company for us to lose you for that rascally patriarch's fancy.  We
will make a subscription for you, eh?  And you shall live with each
of us, month and month about.  We shall quite lose the trick of
joking without you.'

'Thank you, gentlemen.  But really you have been my butts far too
long for me to think of becoming yours.  Madam, one word in private
before I go.'

Hypatia leant forward, and speaking in Syriac, whispered hurriedly--

'Oh, stay, sir, I beseech you: You are the wisest of my pupils--
perhaps my only true pupil ....  My father will find some
concealment for you from these wretches; and if you need money,
remember, he is your debtor.  We have never repaid you the gold
which--'

'Fairest Muse, that was but my entrance-fee to Parnassus.  It is I
who am in your debt; and I have brought my arrears, in the form of
this opal ring.  As for shelter near you,' he went on, lowering his
voice, and speaking like her, in Syriac--'Hypatia the Gentile is far
too lovely for the peace of mind of Raphael the Jew.'  And he drew
from his finger Miriam's ring and offered it.

'Impossible!'said Hypatia, blushing scarlet: 'I cannot accept it.'

'I beseech you.  It is the last earthly burden I have, except this
snail's prison of flesh and blood.  My dagger will open a crack
through that when it becomes intolerable.  But as I do not intend to
leave my shell, if I can help it, except just when and how I choose,
and as, if I take this ring with me, some of Heraclian's
Circumcellions will assuredly knock my brains out for the sake of
it-I must entreat.'

'Never!  Can you not sell the ring, and escape to Synesius?  He will
give you shelter.'

'The hospitable hurricane!  Shelter, yes; but rest, none.  As soon
pitch my tent in the crater of Aetna.  Why, he will be trying day
and night to convert me to that eclectic farrago of his, which be
calls philosophic Christianity.  Well, if you will not have the
ring, it is soon disposed of.  We Easterns know how to be
magnificent, and vanish as the lords of the world ought.'

And he turned to the philosophic crowd.

'Here, gentlemen of Alexandria!  Does any gay youth wish to pay his
debts once and for all?--Behold the Rainbow of Solomon, an opal such
as Alexandria never saw before, which would buy any one of you, and
his Macedonian papa, and his Macedonian mamma, and his Macedonian
sisters, and horses, and parrots, and peacocks, twice over, in any
slave-market in the world.  Any gentleman who wishes to possess a
jewel worth ten thousand gold pieces, will only need to pick it out
of the gutter into which I throw it.  Scramble for it, you young
Phaedrias and Pamphili!  There are Laides and Thaides enough about,
who will help you to spend it.'

And raising the jewel on high, he was in the act of tossing it into
the street, when his arm was seized from behind, and the ring
snatched from his hand.  He turned, fiercely enough, and saw behind
him, her eyes flashing fury and contempt, old Miriam.

Bran sprang at the old woman's throat in an instant; but recoiled
again before the glare of her eye.  Raphael called the dog off, and
turning quietly to the disappointed spectators--

'It is all right, my luckless friends.  You must raise money for
yourselves, after all; which, since the departure of my nation, will
be a somewhat more difficult matter than ever.  The over-ruling
destinies, whom, as you all know so well when you are getting tipsy,
not even philosophers can resist, have restored the Rainbow of
Solomon to its original possessor. Farewell, Queen of Philosophy!
When I find the man, you shall hear of it.  Mother, I am coming with
you for a friendly word before we part, though' he went on,
laughing, as the two walked away together, 'it was a scurvy trick of
you to balk one of The Nation of the exquisite pleasure of seeing
those heathen dogs scrambling in the gutter for his bounty.'

Hypatia went on to the Museum, utterly bewildered by this strange
meeting, and its still stranger end.  She took care, nevertheless,
to betray no sign of her deep interest till she found herself alone
in her little waiting-room adjoining the lecture-hall; and there,
throwing herself into a chair, she sat and thought, till she found,
to her surprise and anger, the tears trickling down her cheeks.  Not
that her bosom held one spark of affection for Raphael.  If there
had ever been any danger of that the wily Jew had himself taken care
to ward it off, by the sneering and frivolous tone with which he
quashed every approach to deep feeling, either in himself or in
others.  As for his compliments to her beauty, she was far too much
accustomed to such, to be either pleased or displeased by them.  But
she felt, as she said, that she had lost perhaps her only true
pupil; and more--perhaps her only true master. For she saw clearly
enough, that under that Silenus' mask was hidden a nature capable
of--perhaps more than she dare think of.  She had always felt him
her superior in practical cunning; and that morning had proved to
her what she had long suspected, that he was possibly also her
superior in that moral earnestness and strength of will for which
she looked in vain among the enervated Greeks who surrounded her.
And even in those matters in which he professed himself her pupil,
she had long been alternately delighted by finding that he alone, of
all her school, seemed thoroughly and instinctively to comprehend
her every word, and chilled by the disagreeable suspicion that he
was only playing with her, and her mathematics and geometry, and
meta-physic and dialectic, like a fencer practising with foils,
while he reserved his real strength for some object more worthy of
him.  More than once some paradox or question of his had shaken her
neatest systems into a thousand cracks, and opened up ugly depths of
doubt, even on the most seemingly-palpable certainties; or some
half-jesting allusion to those Hebrew Scriptures, the quantity and
quality of his faith in which he would never confess, made her
indignant at the notion that he considered himself in possession of
a reserved ground of knowledge, deeper and surer than her own, in
which he did not deign to allow her to share.

And yet she was irresistibly attracted to him.  That deliberate and
consistent luxury of his, from which she shrank, he had always
boasted that he was able to put on and take off at will like a
garment: and now he seemed to have proved his words; to be a worthy
rival of the great Stoics of old time.  Could Zeno himself have
asked more from frail humanity?  Moreover, Raphael had been of
infinite practical use to her.  He worked out, unasked, her
mathematical problems; he looked out authorities, kept her pupils in
order by his bitter tongue, and drew fresh students to her lectures
by the attractions of his wit, his arguments, and last, but not
least, his unrivalled cook and cellar.  Above all he acted the part
of a fierce and valiant watch-dog on her behalf, against the knots
of clownish and often brutal sophists, the wrecks of the old Cynic,
Stoic, and Academic schools, who, with venom increasing, after the
wont of parties, with their decrepitude, assailed the beautifully
bespangled card-castle of Neo-Platonism, as an empty medley of all
Greek philosophies with all Eastern superstitions.  All such
Philistines had as yet dreaded the pen and tongue of Raphael, even
more than those of the chivalrous Bishop of Cyrene, though he
certainly, to judge from certain of his letters, hated them as much
as he could hate any human being; which was after all not very
bitterly.

But the visits of Synesius were few and far between; the distance
between Carthage and Alexandria, and the labour of his diocese, and,
worse than all, the growing difference in purpose between him and
his beautiful teacher, made his protection all but valueless.  And
now Aben-Ezra was gone too, and with him were gone a thousand plans
and hopes.  To have converted him at last to a philosophic faith in
the old gods!  To have made him her instrument for turning back the
stream of human error I... How often had that dream crossed her! And
now, who would take his place?  Athanasius?  Synesius in his good-
nature might dignify him with the name of brother, but to her he was
a powerless pedant, destined to die without having wrought any
deliverance on the earth, as indeed the event proved.  Plutarch of
Athens?  He was superannuated.  Syrianus?  A mere logician, twisting
Aristotle to mean what she knew, and he ought to have known,
Aristotle never meant.  Her father?  A man of triangles and conic
sections.  How paltry they all looked by the side of the
unfathomable Jew!--Spinners of charming cobwebs.  ....  But would
the flies condescend to be caught in them?  Builders of pretty
houses.  ....  If people would but enter and live in them!
Preachers of superfine morality  .... which their admiring pupils
never dreamt of practising.  Without her, she well knew, philosophy
must die in Alexandria.  And was it her wisdom--or other and more
earthly charms of hers--which enabled her to keep it alive?
Sickening thought!  Oh, that she were ugly, only to test the power
of her doctrines!

Ho!  The odds were fearful enough already; she would be glad of any
help, however earthly and carnal.  But was not the work hopeless?
What she wanted was men who could act while she thought.  And those
were just the men whom she would find nowhere but--she knew it too
well--in the hated Christian priesthood.  And then that fearful
Iphigenia sacrifice loomed in the distance as inevitable.  The only
hope of philosophy was in her despair!
...............

She dashed away the tears, and proudly entered the lecture-hall, and
ascended the tribune like a goddess, amid the shouts of her
audience.... What did she care for them?  Would they do what she
told them?  She was half through her lecture before she could
recollect herself, and banish from her mind the thought of Raphael.
And at that point we will take the lecture up.
...............

'Truth?  Where is truth but in the soul itself?  Facts, objects, are
but phantoms matter-woven--ghosts of this earthly night, at which
the soul, sleeping here in the mire and clay of matter, shudders and
names its own vague tremors sense and perception.  Yet, even as our
nightly dreams stir in us the suspicion of mysterious and immaterial
presences, unfettered by the bonds of time and space, so do these
waking dreams which we call sight and sound.  They are divine
messengers, whom Zeus, pitying his children, even when he pent them
in this prison-house of flesh, appointed to arouse in them dim
recollections of that real world of souls whence they came.
Awakened once to them; seeing, through the veil of sense and fact,
the spiritual truth of which they are but the accidental garment,
concealing the very thing which they make palpable, the philosopher
may neglect the fact for the doctrine, the shell for the kernel, the
body for the soul, of which it is but the symbol and the vehicle.
What matter, then, to the philosopher whether these names of men,
Hector or Priam, Helen or Achilles, were ever visible as phantoms of
flesh and blood before the eyes of men?  What matter whether they
spoke or thought as he of Scios says they did?  What matter, even,
whether he himself ever had earthly life?  The book is here--the
word which men call his.  Let the thoughts thereof have been at first
whose they may, now they are mine.  I have taken them to myself, and
thought them to myself, and made them parts of my own soul.  Nay,
they were and ever will be parts of me; for they, even as the poet
was, even as I am, are but a part of the universal soul.  What
matter, then, what myths grew up around those mighty thoughts of
ancient seers?  Let others try to reconcile the Cyclic fragments, or
vindicate the Catalogue of ships.  What has the philosopher lost,
though the former were proved to be contradictory, and the latter
interpolated?  The thoughts are there, and ours, Let us open our
hearts lovingly to receive them, from whencesoever they may have
come.  As in men, so in books, the soul is all with which our souls
must deal; and the soul of the book is whatsoever beautiful, and
true, and noble we can find in it.  It matters not to us whether the
poet was altogether conscious of the meanings which we can find in
him.  Consciously or unconsciously to him, the meanings must be
there; for were they not there to be seen, how could we see them?
There are those among the uninitiate vulgar--and those, too, who
carry under the philosophic cloak hearts still uninitiate--who
revile such interpretations as merely the sophistic and arbitrary
sports of fancy.  It lies with them to show what Homer meant, if our
spiritual meanings be absurd; to tell the world why Homer is
admirable, if that for which we hold him up to admiration does not
exist in him.  Will they say that the honour which he has enjoyed
for ages was inspired by that which seems to be his first and
literal meaning?  And more, will they venture to impute that literal
meaning to him? can they suppose that the divine soul of Homer could
degrade itself to write of actual and physical feastings, and
nuptials, and dances, actual nightly thefts of horses, actual
fidelity of dogs and swineherds, actual intermarriages between
deities and men, or that it is this seeming vulgarity which has won
for him from the wisest of every age the title of the father of
poetry?  Degrading thought! fit only for the coarse and sense-bound
tribe who can appreciate nothing but what is palpable to sense and
sight! As soon believe the Christian scriptures, when they tell us
of a deity who has hands and feet, eyes and ears, who condescends to
command the patterns of furniture and culinary utensils, and is made
perfect by being born--disgusting thought!--as the son of a village
maiden, and defiling himself with the wants and sorrows of the
lowest slaves!'

'It is false! blasphemous!  The Scriptures cannot lie!' cried a
voice from the farther end of the room.

It was Philammon's.  He had been listening to the whole lecture; and
yet not so much listening as watching, in bewilderment, the beauty
of the speaker, the grace of her action, the melody of her voice,
and last, but not least, the maze of her rhetoric, as it glittered
before his mind's eye like a cobweb diamonded with dew.  A sea of
new thoughts and questions, if not of doubts, came rushing in at
every sentence on his acute Greek intellect, all the more
plentifully and irresistibly because his speculative faculty was as
yet altogether waste and empty, undefended by any scientific culture
from the inrushing flood. For the first time in his life he found
himself face to face with the root-questions of all thought--'What
am I, and where?' 'What can I know?'  And in the half-terrified
struggle with them, he had all but forgotten the purpose for which
he entered the lecture-hall.  He felt that he must break the spell.
Was she not a heathen and a false prophetess?  Here was something
tangible to attack; and half in indignation at the blasphemy, half
in order to force himself into action, he had sprung up and spoken.

A yell arose.  'Turn the monk out!''Throw the rustic through the
window!' cried a dozen young gentlemen.  Several of the most valiant
began to scramble over the benches up to him; and Philammon was
congratulating himself on the near approach of a glorious martyrdom,
when Hypatia's voice, calm and silvery, stifled the tumult in a
moment.

'Let the youth listen, gentlemen.  He is but a monk and a plebeian,
and knows no better; he has been taught thus.  Let him sit here
quietly, and perhaps we may be able to teach him otherwise.'

And without interrupting, even by a change of tone, the thread of
her discourse, she continued--

'Listen, then, to a passage from the sixth book of the _Iliad_, in
which last night I seemed to see glimpses of some mighty mystery.
You know it well: yet I will read it to you; the very sound and pomp
of that great verse may tune our souls to a fit key for the
reception of lofty wisdom. For well said Abamnon the Teacher, that
"the soul consisted first of harmony and rhythm, and ere it gave
itself to the body, had listened to the divine harmony.  Therefore
it is that when, after having come into a body, it hears such
melodies as most preserve the divine footstep of harmony, it
embraces such, and recollects from them that divine harmony, and is
impelled to it, and finds its home in it, and shares of it as much
as it can share."'

And therewith fell on Philammon's ear, for the first time, the
mighty thunder-roll of Homer's verse--

  So spoke the stewardess: but Hector rushed
  From the house, the same way back, down stately streets,
  Through the broad city, to the Scaian gates,
  Whereby he must go forth toward the plain,
  There running toward him came Andromache,
  His ample-dowered wife, Eetion's child--
  Eetion the great-hearted, he who dwelt
  In Thebe under Placos, and the woods
  Of Placos, ruling over Kilic men.
  His daughter wedded Hector brazen-helmed,
  And met him then; and with her came a maid,
  Who bore in arms a playful-hearted babe
  An infant still, akin to some fair star,
  Only and well-loved child of Hector's house,
  Whom he had named Scamandrios, but the rest
  Astyanax, because his sire alone
  Upheld the weal of Ilion the holy.
  He smiled in silence, looking on his child
  But she stood close to him, with many tears;
  And hung upon his hand, and spoke, and called him.
  'My hero, thy great heart will wear thee out;
  Thou pitiest not thine infant child, nor me
  The hapless, soon to be thy widow;
  The Greeks will slay thee, falling one and all
  Upon thee: but to me were sweeter far,
  Having lost thee, to die; no cheer to me
  Will come thenceforth, if thou shouldst meet thy fate;
  Woes only: mother have I none, nor sire.
  For that my sire divine Achilles slew,
  And wasted utterly the pleasant homes
  Of Kilic folk in Thebe lofty-walled,
  And slew Eetion with the sword! yet spared
  To strip the dead: awe kept his soul from that.
  Therefore he burnt him in his graven arms,
  And heaped a mound above him; and around
  The damsels of the Aegis-holding Zeus,
  The nymphs who haunt the upland, planted elms.
  And seven brothers bred with me in the halls,
  All in one day went down to Hades there;
  For all of them swift-foot Achilles slew
  Beside the lazy kine and snow-white sheep.
  And her, my mother, who of late was queen
  Beneath the woods of Places, he brought here
  Among his other spoils; yet set her free
  Again, receiving ransom rich and great.
  But Artemis, whose bow is all her joy,
  Smote her to death within her father's halls.
  Hector! so thou art father to me now,
  Mother, and brother, and husband fair and strong!
  Oh, come now, pity me, and stay thou here
  Upon the tower, nor make thy child an orphan
  And me thy wife a widow; range the men
  Here by the fig-tree, where the city lies
  Lowest, and where the wall can well be scaled;
  For here three times the best have tried the assault
  Round either Ajax, and Idomeneus,
  And round the Atridai both, and Tydeus' son,
  Whether some cunning seer taught them craft,
  Or their own spirit stirred and drove them on.'
   Then spake tall Hector, with the glancing helm
  All this I too have watched, my wife; yet much
  I hold in dread the scorn of Trojan men
  And Trojan women with their trailing shawls,
  If, like a coward, I should skulk from war.
  Beside, I have no lust to stay; I have learnt
  Aye to be bold, and lead the van of fight,
  To win my father, and myself, a name.
  For well I know, at heart and in my thought,
  The day will come when Ilios the holy
  Shall lie in heaps, and Priam, and the folk
  Of ashen-speared Priam, perish all.
  But yet no woe to come to Trojan men,
  Nor even to Hecabe, nor Priam king,
  Nor to my brothers, who shall roll in dust,
  Many and fair, beneath the strokes of foes,
  So moves me, as doth thine, when thou shalt go
  Weeping, led off by some brass-harnessed Greek,
  Robbed of the daylight of thy liberty,
  To weave in Argos at another's loom,
  Or bear the water of Messeis home,
  Or Hypereia, with unseemly toils,
  While heavy doom constrains thee, and perchance
  The folk may say, who see thy tears run down,
  "This was the wife of Hector, best in fight
  At Ilium, of horse-taming Trojan men."
  So will they say perchance; while unto thee
  Now grief will come, for such a husband's loss,
  Who might have warded off the day of thrall.
  But may the soil be heaped above my corpse
  Before I hear thy shriek and see thy shame!'
  He spoke, and stretched his arms to take the child,
  But back the child upon his nurse's breast
  Shrank crying, frightened at his father's looks.
  Fearing the brass and crest of horse's hair
  Which waved above the helmet terribly.
  Then out that father dear and mother laughed,
  And glorious Hector took the helmet off,
  And laid it gleaming on the ground, and kissed
  His darling child, and danced him in his arm;
  And spoke in prayer to Zeus, and all the gods
  'Zeu, and ye other gods, oh grant that this
  My child, like me, may grow the champion here
  As good in strength, and rule with might in Troy
  That men may say, "The boy is better far
  Than was his sire," when he returns from war,
  Bearing a gory harness, having slain
  A foeman, and his mothers heart rejoice.
  Thus saying, on the hands of his dear wife
  He laid the child; and she received him back
  In fragrant bosom, smiling through her tears.

[Footnote: The above lines are not meant as a 'translation,' but as
an humble attempt to give the literal sense in some sort of metre.
It would be an act of arrogance even to aim at success where Pope
and Chapman failed.  It is simply, I believe, impossible to render
Homer into English verse; because, for one reason among many, it is
impossible to preserve the pomp of sound, which invests with
grandeur his most common words.  How can any skill represent the
rhythm of Homeric Greek in a language which--to take the first verse
which comes to hand--transforms 'boos megaloio boeien,' into 'great
ox's hide'?]

'Such is the myth.  Do you fancy that in it Homer meant to hand down
to the admiration of ages such earthly commonplaces as a mother's
brute affection, and the terrors of an infant?  Surely the deeper
insight of the philosopher may be allowed without the reproach of
fancifulness, to see in it the adumbration of some deeper mystery!

'The elect soul, for instance--is not its name Astyanax, king of the
city; by the fact of its ethereal parentage, the leader and lord of
all around it, though it knows it not?  A child as yet, it lies upon
the fragrant bosom of its mother Nature, the nurse and yet the enemy
of man--Andromache, as the poet well names her, because she fights
with that being, when grown to man's estate, whom as a child she
nourished. Fair is she, yet unwise; pampering us, after the fashion
of mothers, with weak indulgences; fearing to send us forth into the
great realities of speculation, there to forget her in the pursuit
of glory, she would have us while away our prime within the harem,
and play for ever round her knees.  And has not the elect soul a
father, too, whom it knows not?  Hector, he who is without--
unconfined, unconditioned by Nature, yet its husband?--the all-
pervading, plastic Soul, informing, organising, whom men call Zeus
the lawgiver, Aether the fire, Osiris the lifegiver; whom here the
poet has set forth as the defender of the mystic city, the defender
of harmony, and order, and beauty throughout the universe?  Apart
sits his great father--Priam, the first of existences, father of
many sons, the Absolute Reason; unseen, tremendous, immovable, in
distant glory; yet himself amenable to that abysmal unity which
Homer calls Fate, the source of all which is, yet in Itself Nothing,
without predicate, unnameable.

'From It and for It the universal Soul thrills through the whole
Creation, doing the behests of that Reason from which it overflowed,
unwillingly, into the storm and crowd of material appearances;
warring with the brute forces of gross matter, crushing all which is
foul and dissonant to itself, and clasping to its bosom the
beautiful, and all wherein it discovers its own reflex; impressing
on it its signature, reproducing from it its own likeness, whether
star, or daemon, or soul of the elect:--and yet, as the poet hints
in anthropomorphic language, haunted all the while by a sadness--
weighed down amid all its labours by the sense of a fate--by the
thought of that First One from whom the Soul is originally
descended; from whom it, and its Father the Reason before it, parted
themselves when they dared to think and act, and assert their own
free will.

'And in the meanwhile, alas!  Hector, the father, fights around,
while his children sleep and feed; and he is away in the wars, and
they know him not-know not that they the individuals are but parts
of him the universal.  And yet at moments--oh! thrice blessed they
whose celestial parentage has made such moments part of their
appointed destiny--at moments flashes on the human child the
intuition of the unutterable secret.  In the spangled glory of the
summer night--in the roar of the Nile-flood, sweeping down fertility
in every wave--in the awful depths of the temple-shrine--in the wild
melodies of old Orphic singers, or before the images of those gods
of whose perfect beauty the divine theosophists of Greece caught a
fleeting shadow, and with the sudden might of artistic ecstasy smote
it, as by an enchanter's wand, into an eternal sleep of snowy stone
--in these there flashes on the inner eye a vision beautiful and
terrible, of a force, an energy, a soul, an idea, one and yet
million-fold, rushing through all created things, like the wind
across a lyre, thrilling the strings into celestial harmony--one
life-blood through the million veins of the universe, from one great
unseen heart, whose thunderous pulses the mind hears far away,
beating for ever in the abysmal solitude, beyond the heavens and the
galaxies, beyond the spaces and the times, themselves but veins and
runnels from its all-teeming sea.


'Happy, thrice happy! they who once have dared, even though
breathless, blinded with tears of awful joy, struck down upon their
knees in utter helplessness, as they feel themselves but dead leaves
in the wind which sweeps the universe--happy they who have dared to
gaze, if but for an instant, on the terror of that glorious pageant;
who have not, like the young Astyanax, clung shrieking to the breast
of mother Nature, scared by the heaven-wide flash of Hector's arms,
and the glitter of his rainbow crest!  Happy, thrice happy,! even
though their eyeballs, blasted by excess of light, wither to ashes
in their sockets!--Were it not a noble end to have seen Zeus, and
die like Semele, burnt up by his glory?  Happy, thrice happy! though
their mind reel from the divine intoxication, and the hogs of Circe
call them henceforth madmen and enthusiasts.  Enthusiasts they are;
for Deity is in them, and they in It. For the time, this burden of
individuality vanishes, and recognising themselves as portions of
the universal Soul, they rise upward, through and beyond that Reason
from whence the soul proceeds, to the fount of all--the ineffable
and Supreme One--and seeing It, become by that act portions of Its
essence.  They speak no more, but It speaks in them, and their whole
being, transmuted by that glorious sunlight into whose rays they
have dared, like the eagle, to gaze without shrinking, becomes an
harmonious vehicle for the words of Deity, and passive itself,
utters the secrets of the immortal gods!  What wonder if to the
brute mass they seem as dreamers?  Be it so ....  Smile if you will.
But ask me not to teach you things unspeakable, above all sciences,
which the word-battle of dialectic, the discursive struggles of
reason, can never reach, but which must be seen only, and when seen
confessed to be unspeakable.  Hence, thou disputer of the Academy!--
hence, thou sneering Cynic!--hence, thou sense-worshipping Stoic,
who fanciest that the soul is to derive her knowledge from those
material appearances which she herself creates! .... hence--; and
yet no: stay and sneer if you will.  It is but a little time--a few
days longer in this prison-house of our degradation, and each thing
shall return to its own fountain; the blood-drop to the abysmal
heart, and the water to the river, and the river to the shining sea;
and the dew-drop which fell from heaven shall rise to heaven again,
shaking off the dust-grains which weighed it down, thawed from the
earth-frost which chained it here to herb and sward, upward and
upward ever through stars and suns, through gods, and through the
parents of the gods, purer and purer through successive lives, till
it enters The Nothing, which is The All, and finds its home at
last.'....

And the speaker stopped suddenly, her eyes glistening with tears,
her whole figure trembling and dilating with rapture.  She remained
for a moment motionless, gazing earnestly at her audience, as if in
hopes of exciting in them some kindred glow; and then recovering
herself, added in a more tender tone, not quite unmixed with
sadness--

'Go now, my pupils.  Hypatia has no more for you to-day.  Go now,
and spare her at least--woman as she is after all--the shame of
finding that she has given you too much, and lifted the veil of Isis
before eyes which are not enough purified to behold the glory of the
goddess.--Farewell!'

She ended: and Philammon, the moment that the spell of her voice was
taken off him, sprang up, and hurried out through the corridor into
the street....

So beautiful!  So calm and merciful to him So enthusiastic towards
all which was noble!  Had not she too spoken of the unseen world, of
the hope of immortality, of the conquest of the spirit over the
flesh, just as a Christian might have done?  Was the gulf between
them so infinite?  If so, why had her aspirations awakened echoes in
his own heart--echoes too, just such as the prayers and lessons of
the Laura used to awaken?  If the fruit was so like, must not the
root be like also? ....  Could that be a counterfeit?  That a
minister of Satan in the robes of an angel of light?  Light, at
least, it was purity, simplicity, courage, earnestness, tenderness,
flashed out from eye, lip, gesture ....  A heathen, who disbelieved?
....  What was the meaning of it all?

But the finishing stroke yet remained which was to complete the
utter confusion of his mind. For before he had gone fifty yards up
the street, his little friend of the fruit-basket, whom he had not
seen since he vanished under the feet of the mob in the gateway of
the theatre, clutched him by the arm, and burst forth, breathless
with running--

'The--gods--heap their favours--on those who--who least deserve
them!  Rash and insolent rustic! And this is the reward of thy
madness!'

'Off with you!' said Philammon, who had no mind at the moment to
renew his acquaintance with the little porter.  But the guardian of
parasols kept a firm hold on his sheepskin.

'Fool!  Hypatia herself commands!  Yes, you will see her, have
speech with her! while I--I the illuminated--I the appreciating--I
the obedient--I the adoring--who for these three years past have
grovelled in the kennel, that the hem of her garment might touch the
tip of my little finger--I--I--I--'

'What do you want, madman?'

'She calls for thee, insensate wretch!  Theon sent me--breathless at
once with running and with envy--Go! favourite of the unjust gods!'

'Who is Theon?'

'Her father, ignorant!  He commands thee to be at her house--here-
opposite--to-morrow at the third hour.  Hear and obey!  There they
are coming out of the Museum, and all the parasols will get wrong!
Oh, miserable me!'  And the poor little fellow rushed back again,
while Philammon, at his wits' end between dread and longing, started
off, and ran the whole way home to the Serapeium, regardless of
carriages, elephants, and foot-passengers; and having been knocked
down by a surly porter, and left a piece of his sheepskin between
the teeth of a spiteful camel-neither of which insults he had time
to resent-arrived at the archbishop's house, found Peter the Reader,
and tremblingly begged an audience from Cyril.



CHAPTER IX: THE SNAPPING OF THE BOW


Cyril heard Philammon's story and Hypatia's message with a quiet
smile, and then dismissed the youth to an afternoon of labour in the
city, commanding him to mention no word of what had happened, and to
come to him that evening and receive his order when he should have
had time to think over the matter.  So forth Philammon went with his
companions, through lanes and alleys hideous with filth and poverty,
compulsory idleness and native sin. Fearfully real and practical it
all was; but he saw it all dimly as in a dream.  Before his eyes one
face was shining; in his ears one silvery voice was ringing .... 'He
is a monk, and knows no better.' ....  True! And how should he know
better?  How could he tell how much more there was to know, in that
great new universe, in such a cranny whereof his life had till now
been past?  He had heard but one side already.  What if there were
two sides?  Had he not a right-that is, was it not proper, fair,
prudent, that he should hear both, and then judge?

Cyril had hardly, perhaps, done wisely for the youth in sending him
out about the practical drudgery of benevolence, before deciding for
him what was his duty with regard to Hypatia's invitation.  He had
not calculated on the new thoughts which were tormenting the young
monk; perhaps they would have been unintelligible to him bad he
known of them.  Cyril had been bred up under the most stern dogmatic
training, in those vast monastic establishments, which had arisen
amid the neighbouring saltpetre quarries of Nitria, where thousands
toiled in voluntary poverty and starvation at vast bakeries,
dyeries, brick-fields, tailors' shops, carpenters' yards, and
expended the profits of their labour, not on themselves, for they
had need of nothing, but on churches, hospitals, and alms.  Educated
in that world of practical industrial production as well as of
religious exercise, which by its proximity to the great city
accustomed monks to that world which they despised; entangled from
boyhood in the intrigues of his fierce and ambitious uncle
Theophilus, Cyril had succeeded him in the patriarchate of
Alexandria without having felt a doubt, and stood free to throw his
fiery energy and clear practical intellect into the cause of the
Church without scruple, even, where necessary, without pity.  How
could such a man sympathise with the poor boy of twenty, suddenly
dragged forth from the quiet cavern-shadow of the Laura into the
full blaze and roar of the world's noonday?  He, too, was cloister-
bred.  But the busy and fanatic atmosphere of Nitria, where every
nerve of soul and body was kept on a life-long artificial strain,
without rest, without simplicity, without human affection, was
utterly antipodal to the government of the remote and needy, though
no less industrious commonwealths of Coenobites, who dotted the
lonely mountain-glens, far up into the heart of the Nubian desert.
In such a one Philammon had received, from a venerable man, a
mother's sympathy as well as a father's care; and now he yearned for
the encouragement of a gentle voice, for the greeting of a kindly
eye, and was lonely and sick at heart ....  And still Hypatia's
voice haunted his ears, like a strain of music, and would not die
away.  That lofty enthusiasm, so sweet and modest in its grandeur--
that tone of pity--in one so lovely it could not be called contempt
--for the many; that delicious phantom of being an elect spirit.
unlike the crowd .... 'And am I altogether like the crowd?' said
Philammon to himself, as he staggered along under the weight of a
groaning fever-patient. 'Can there be found no fitter work for me
than this, which any porter from the quay might do as well?  Am I
not somewhat wasted on such toil as this?  Have I not an intellect,
a taste, a reason?  I could appreciate what she said.--Why should
not my faculties be educated?  Why am I only to be shut out from
knowledge?  There is a Christian Gnosis as well as a heathen one.
What was permissible to Clement'--he had nearly said to Origen, but
checked himself on the edge of heresy--'is surely lawful for me!  Is
not my very craving for knowledge a sign that I am capable of it?
Surely my sphere is the study rather than the street!'

And then his fellow-labourers--he could not deny it to himself--
began to grow less venerable in his eyes.  Let him try as he might
to forget the old priest's grumblings and detractions, the fact was
before him.  The men were coarse, fierce, noisy .... so different
from her!  Their talk seemed mere gossip--scandalous too, and hard-
judging, most of it; about that man's private ambition, and that
woman's proud looks; and who had stayed for the Eucharist the Sun-
day before, and who had gone out after the sermon; and how the
majority who did not stay could possibly dare to go, and how the
minority who did not go could possibly dare to stay ....  Endless
suspicions, sneers, complaints .... what did they care for the
eternal glories and the beatific vision?  Their one test for all men
and things, from the patriarch to the prefect, seemed to be--did he
or it advance the cause of the Church?--which Philammon soon
discovered to mean their own cause, their influence, their self-
glorification.  And the poor boy, as his faculty for fault-finding
quickened under the influence of theirs, seemed to see under the
humble stock-phrases in which they talked of their labours of love,
and the future reward of their present humiliations, a deep and
hardly-bidden pride, a faith in their own infallibility, a
contemptuous impatience of every man, however venerable, who
differed from their party on any, the slightest, matter.  They spoke
with sneers of Augustine's Latinising tendencies, and with open
execrations of Chrysostom, as the vilest and most impious of
schismatics; and, for aught Philammon knew, they were right enough.
But when they talked of wars and desolation past and impending,
without a word of pity for the slain and ruined, as a just judgment
of Heaven upon heretics and heathens; when they argued over the
awful struggle for power which, as he gathered from their words, was
even then pending between the Emperor and the Count of Africa, as if
it contained but one question of interest to them--would Cyril, and
they as his bodyguard, gain or lose power in Alexandria? and lastly,
when at some mention of Orestes, and of Hypatia as his counsellor,
they broke out into open imprecations of God's curse, and comforted
themselves with the prospect of everlasting torment for both; he
shuddered and asked himself involuntarily--were these the ministers
of a Gospel?--were these the fruits of Christ's Spirit? ....  And a
whisper thrilled through the inmost depth of his soul--'Is there a
Gospel?  Is there a Spirit of Christ?  Would not their fruits be
different from these?'

Faint, and low, and distant, was that whisper, like the mutter of an
earthquake miles below the soil.  And yet, like the earthquake-roll,
it had in that one moment jarred every belief, and hope, and memory
of his being each a hair's-breadth from its place ....  Only one
hair's-breadth.  But that was enough; his whole inward and outward
world changed shape, and cracked at every joint.  What if it were to
fall in pieces?  His brain reeled with the thought.  He doubted his
own identity.  The very light of heaven had altered its hue.  Was
the firm ground on which he stood after all no solid reality, but a
fragile shell which covered--what?

The nightmare vanished, and he breathed once more.  What a strange
dream!  The sun and the exertion must have made him giddy.  He would
forget all about it.

Weary with labour, and still wearier with thought, he returned that
evening, longing and yet dreading to be permitted to speak with
Hypatia.  He half hoped at moments that Cyril might think him too
weak for it; and the next, all his pride and daring, not to say his
faith and hope, spurred him on.  Might he but face the terrible
enchantress, and rebuke her to her face! And yet so lovely, so noble
as she looked!  Could he speak to her, except in tones of gentle
warning, pity, counsel, entreaty?  Might he not convert her--save
her?  Glorious thought! to win such a soul to the true cause!  To be
able to show, as the firstfruits of his mission, the very champion
of heathendom!  It was worth while to have lived only to do that;
and having done it, to die.

The archbishop's lodgings, when he entered them, were in a state of
ferment even greater than usual.  Groups of monks, priests,
parabolani, and citizens rich and poor, were banging about the
courtyard, talking earnestly and angrily.  A large party of monks
fresh from Nitria, with ragged hair and beards, and the peculiar
expression of countenance which fanatics of all creeds acquire,
fierce and yet abject, self-conscious and yet ungoverned, silly and
yet sly, with features coarsened and degraded by continual fasting
and self-torture, prudishly shrouded from head to heel in their long
ragged gowns, were gesticulating wildly and loudly, and calling on
their more peaceable companions, in no measured terms, to revenge
some insult offered to the Church.

'What is the matter?' asked Philammon of a quiet portly citizen, who
stood looking up, with a most perplexed visage, at the windows of
the patriarch's apartments.

'Don't ask me; I have nothing to do with it.  Why does not his
holiness come out and speak to them?  Blessed virgin, mother of God!
that we were well through it all!--'

'Coward!' bawled a monk in his ear. 'These shopkeepers care for
nothing but seeing their stalls safe.  Rather than lose a day's
custom, they would give the very churches to be plundered by the
heathen!'

'We do not want them!' cried another.  'We managed Dioscuros and his
brother, and we can manage Orestes.  What matter what answer he
sends?  The devil shall have his own!'

'They ought to have been back two hours ago: they are murdered by
this time.'

'He would not dare to touch the archdeacon!'

'He will dare anything.  Cyril should never have sent them forth as
lambs among wolves.  What necessity was there for letting the
prefect know that the Jews were gone?  He would have found it out
for himself fast enough, the next time he wanted to borrow money.'

'What is all this about, reverend sir?' asked Philammon of Peter the
Reader, who made his appearance at that moment in the quadrangle,
walking with great strides, like the soul of Agamemnon across the
meads of Asphodel, and apparently beside himself with rage.

'Ah! you here?  You may go to-morrow, young fool!  The patriarch
can't talk to you.  Why should he?  Some people have a great deal
too much notice taken of them, in my opinion.  Yes; you may go.  If
your head is not turned already, you may go and get it turned to-
morrow.  We shall see whether he who exalts himself is not abased,
before all is over!'  And he was striding away, when Philammon, at
the risk of an explosion, stopped him.

'His holiness commanded me to see him, sir, before--'

Peter turned on him in a fury.  'Fool! will you dare to intrude your
fantastical dreams on him at such a moment as this?'

'He commanded me to see him,' said Philammon, with the true
soldierlike discipline of a monk; 'and see him I will in spite of
any man.  I believe in my heart you wish to keep me from his
counsels and his blessing.'

Peter looked at him for a moment with a right wicked expression, and
then, to the youth's astonishment, struck him full in the face, and
yelled for help.

If the blow had been given by Pambo in the Laura a week before,
Philammon would have borne it.  But from that man, and coming
unexpectedly as the finishing stroke to all his disappointment and
disgust, it was intolerable; and in an instant Peter's long legs
were sprawling on the pavement, while he bellowed like a bull for
all the monks in Nitria.

A dozen lean brown hands were at Philammon's throat as Peter rose.
'Seize him! hold him!' half blubbered he. 'The traitor! the heretic!
He holds communion with heathens!'

'Down with him!' 'Cast him out!  Carry him to the archbishop!' while
Philammon shook himself free, and Peter returned to the charge.

'I call all good Catholics to witness!  He has beaten an
ecclesiastic in the courts of the Lord's house, even in the midst of
thee, O Jerusalem! And he was in Hypatia's lecture-room this
morning!'

A groan of pious horror rose.  Philammon set his back against the
wall.

'His holiness the patriarch sent me.'

'He confesses, he confesses!  He deluded the piety of the patriarch
into letting him go, under colour of converting her; and even now he
wants to intrude on the sacred presence of Cyril, burning only with
the carnal desire that he may meet the sorceress in her house to-
morrow!'

'Scandal!' 'Abomination in the holy place!' and a rush at the poor
youth took place.

His blood was thoroughly up.  The respectable part of the crowd, as
usual in such cases, prudently retreated, and left him to the mercy
of the monks, with an eye to their own reputation for orthodoxy, not
to mention their personal safety; and he had to help himself as he
could.  He looked round for a weapon.  There was none.  The ring of
monks were baying at him like hounds round a bear: and though he
might have been a match for any one of them singly, yet their sinewy
limbs and determined faces warned him that against such odds the
struggle would be desperate.

'Let me leave this court in safety!  God knows whether I am a
heretic; and to Him I commit my cause!  The holy patriarch shall
know of your iniquity.  I will not trouble you; I give you leave to
call me heretic, or heathen, if you will, if I cross this threshold
till Cyril himself sends for me back to shame you.'

And he turned, and forced his way to the gate, amid a yell of
derision which brought every drop of, blood in his body into his
cheeks.  Twice, as he went down the vaulted passage, a rush was made
on him from behind, but the soberer of his persecutors checked it.
Yet he could not leave them, young and hot-headed as he was, without
one last word, and on the threshold he turned.

'You! who call yourselves the disciples of the Lord, and are more
like the demoniacs who abode day and night in the tombs, crying and
cutting themselves with stones--'

In an instant they rushed upon him; and, luckily for him, rushed
also into the arms of a party of ecclesiastics, who were hurrying
inwards from the street, with faces of blank terror.

'He has refused!' shouted the foremost.  He declares war against the
Church of God!'

'Oh, my friends,' panted the archdeacon, 'we are escaped like the
bird out of the snare of the fowler.  The tyrant kept us waiting two
hours at his palace-gates, and then sent lictors out upon us, with
rods and axes, telling us that they were the only message which he
had for robbers and rioters.'

'Back to the patriarch!' and the whole mob streamed in again,
leaving Philammon alone in the street--and in the world.

Whither now?

He strode on in his wrath some hundred yards or more before he asked
himself that question.  And when he asked it, he found himself in no
humour to answer it.  He was adrift, and blown out of harbour upon a
shoreless sea, in utter darkness; all heaven and earth were nothing
to him.  He was alone in the blindness of anger.

Gradually one fixed idea, as a light-tower, began to glimmer through
the storm ....  To see Hypatia, and convert her.  He had the
patriarch's leave for that.  That must be right.  That would justify
him--bring him back, perhaps, in a triumph more glorious than any
Caesar's, leading captive, in the fetters of the Gospel, the Queen
of Heathendom.  Yes, there was that left, for which to live.

His passion cooled down gradually as he wandered on in the fading
evening light, up one street and down another, till he had utterly
lost his way.  What matter?  He should find that lecture-room to-
morrow at least.  At last he found himself in a broad avenue, which
he seemed to know.  Was that the Sun-gate in the distance?  He
sauntered carelessly down it, and found himself at last on the great
Esplanade, whither the little porter had taken him three days
before.  He was close then to the Museum, and to her house.  Destiny
had led him, unconsciously, towards the scene of his enterprise.  It
was a good omen; he would go thither at once.  He might sleep upon
her doorstep as well as upon any other.  Perhaps he might catch a
glimpse of her going out or coming in, even at that late hour.  It
might be well to accustom himself to the sight of her.  There would
be the less chance of his being abashed to-morrow before those
sorceress eyes.  And moreover, to tell the truth, his self-
dependence, and his self-will too, crushed, or rather laid to sleep,
by the discipline of the Laura, had started into wild life, and gave
him a mysterious pleasure, which he had not felt since he was a
disobedient little boy, of doing what he chose, right or wrong,
simply because he chose it.  Such moments come to every free-willed
creature.  Happy are those who have not, like poor Philammon, been
kept by a hotbed cultivation from knowing how to face them?  But he
had yet to learn, or rather his tutors had to learn, that the sure
path toward willing obedience and manful self-restraint, lies not
through slavery, but through liberty.

He was not certain which was Hypatia's house; but the door of the
Museum he could not forget.  So there he sat himself down under the
garden wall, soothed by the cool night, and the holy silence, and
the rich perfume of the thousand foreign flowers which filled the
air with enervating balm.  There he sat and watched, and watched,
and watched in vain for some glimpse of his one object.  Which of
the houses was hers?  Which was the window of her chamber!  Did it
look into the street?  What business had his fancy with woman's
chambers? ....  But that one open window, with the lamp burning
bright inside--he could not help looking up to it--he could not help
fancying--hoping.  He even moved a few yards to see better the
bright interior of the room.  High up as it was, he could still
discern shelves of books--pictures on the walls.  Was that a voice?
Yes! a woman's voice--reading aloud in metre--was plainly
distinguishable in the dead stillness of the night, which did not
even awaken a whisper in the trees above his head.  He stood,
spellbound by curiosity.

Suddenly the voice ceased, and a woman's figure came forward to the
window, and stood motionless, gazing upward at the spangled star-
world overhead, and seeming to drink in the glory, and the silence,
and the rich perfume ....  Could it be she?  Every pulse in his body
throbbed madly ....  Could it be?  What was she doing?  He could not
distinguish the features; but the full blaze of the eastern moon
showed him an upturned brow, between a golden stream of glittering
tresses which hid her whole figure, except the white hands clasped
upon her bosom ....  Was she praying? were these her midnight
sorceries? ....

And still his heart throbbed and throbbed, till he almost fancied
she must hear its noisy beat--and still she stood motionless, gazing
upon the sky, like some exquisite chryselephantine statue, all ivory
and gold.  And behind her, round the bright room within, painting,
books, a whole world of unknown science and beauty .... and she the
priestess of it all....inviting him to learn of her and be wise!  It
was a temptation!  He would flee from it!--Fool that he was!--and it
might not be she after all!

He made some sudden movement.  She looked down, saw him, and
shutting the blind, vanished for the night.  In vain, now that the
temptation had departed, he sat and waited for its reappearance,
half cursing himself for having broken the spell.  But the chamber
was dark and silent henceforth; and Philammon, wearied out, found
himself soon wandering back to the Laura in quiet dreams, beneath
the balmy, semi-tropic night.



CHAPTER X: THE INTERVIEW


Philammon was aroused from his slumbers at sunrise the next morning
by the attendants who came in to sweep out the lecture-rooms, and
wandered, disconsolately enough, up and down the street; longing
for, and yet dreading, the three weary hours to be over which must
pass before he would be admitted to Hypatia.  But he had tasted no
food since noon the day before: he had but three hours' sleep the
previous night, and had been working, running, and fighting for two
whole days without a moment's peace of body or mind.  Sick with
hunger and fatigue, and aching from head to foot with his hard
night's rest on the granite-flags, he felt as unable as man could
well do to collect his thoughts or brace his nerves for the coming
interview.  How to get food he could not guess; but having two
hands, he might at least earn a coin by carrying a load; so he went
down to the Esplanade in search of work.  Of that, alas! there was
none.  So he sat down upon the parapet of the quay, and watched the
shoals of sardines which played in and out over the marble steps
below, and wondered at the strange crabs and sea-locusts which
crawled up and down the face of the masonry, a few feet below the
surface, scrambling for bits of offal, and making occasional
fruitless dashes at the nimble little silver arrows which played
round them.  And at last his whole soul, too tired to think of
anything else, became absorbed in a mighty struggle between two
great crabs, who held on stoutly, each by a claw, to his respective
bunch of seaweed, while with the others they tugged, one at the head
and the other at the tail of a dead fish.  Which would conquer? ....
Ay, which?  And for five minutes Philammon was alone in the world
with the two struggling heroes ....  Might not they be emblematic?
Might not the upper one typify Cyril?--the lower one Hypatia?--and
the dead fish between, himself? ....  But at last the deadlock was
suddenly ended--the fish parted in the middle; and the typical
Hypatia and Cyril, losing hold of their respective seaweeds by the
jerk, tumbled down, each with its half-fish, and vanished head over
heels into the blue depths in so undignified a manner, that
Philammon burst into a shout of laughter.

'What's the joke?' asked a well-known voice behind him; and a hand
patted him familiarly on the back.  He looked round, and saw the
little porter, his head crowned with a full basket of figs, grapes,
and water-melons, on which the poor youth cast a longing eye.
'Well, my young friend, and why are you not at church?  Look at all
the saints pouring into the Caesareum there, behind you.'

Philammon answered sulkily enough something inarticulate.

'Ho, ho!  Quarrelled with the successor of the Apostles already?
Has my prophecy come true, and the strong meat of pious riot and
plunder proved too highly spiced for your young palate?  Eh?'

Poor Philammon! Angry with himself for feeling that the porter was
right; shrinking from the notion of exposing the failings of his
fellow-Christians; shrinking still more from making such a
jackanapes his confidant: and yet yearning in his loneliness to open
his heart to some one, he dropped out, hint by hint, word by word,
the events of the past evening, and finished by a request to be put
in the way of earning his breakfast.

'Earning your breakfast!  Shall the favourite of the gods--shall the
guest of Hypatia--earn his breakfast, while I have an obol to share
with him?  Base thought!  Youth!  I have wronged you.
Unphilosophically I allowed, yesterday morning, envy to ruffle the
ocean of my intellect.  We are now friends and brothers, in hatred
to the monastic tribe.'

'I do not hate them, I tell you,' said Philammon.  'But these
Nitrian savages--'

'Are the perfect examples of monkery, and you hate them; and
therefore, all greaters containing the less, you hate all less
monastic monks--I have not heard logic lectures in vain.  Now, up!
The sea woos our dusty limbs: Nereids and Tritons, charging no cruel
coin, call us to Nature's baths.  At home a mighty sheat-fish smokes
upon the festive board; beer crowns the horn, and onions deck the
dish; come then, my guest and brother!'

Philammon swallowed certain scruples about becoming the guest of a
heathen, seeing that otherwise there seemed no chance of having
anything else to swallow; and after a refreshing plunge in the sea,
followed the hospitable little fellow to Hypatia's door, where he
dropped his daily load of fruit, and then into a narrow by-street,
to the ground-floor of a huge block of lodgings with a common
staircase, swarming with children, cats, and chickens; and was
ushered by his host into a little room, where the savoury smell of
broiling fish revived Philammon's heart.

'Judith!  Judith! where lingerest thou?  Marble of Pentelicus! foam-
flake of the wine dark main! lily of the Mareotic lake!  You
accursed black Andromeda, if you don't bring the breakfast this
moment, I'll cut you in two!'

The inner door opened, and in bustled, trembling, her hands full of
dishes, a tall lithe negress, dressed in true negro fashion, in a
snow-white cotton shift, a scarlet cotton petticoat, and a bright
yellow turban of the same, making a light in that dark place which
would have served as a landmark a mile off.  She put the dishes
down, and the porter majestically waved Philammon to a stool; while
she retreated, and stood humbly waiting on her lord and master, who
did not deign to introduce to his guest the black beauty which
composed his whole seraglio ....  But, indeed, such an act of
courtesy would have been needless; for the first morsel of fish was
hardly safe in poor Philammon's mouth, when the regress rushed upon
him, caught him by the head, and covered him with rapturous kisses.

Up jumped the little man with a yell, brandishing a knife in one
hand and a leek in the other; while Philammon, scarcely less
scandalised, jumped up too, and shook himself free of the lady, who,
finding it impossible to vent her feelings further on his head,
instantly changed her tactics, and, wallowing on the floor, began
frantically kissing his feet.

'What is this? before my face!  Up, shameless baggage, or thou diest
the death!' and the porter pulled her up upon her knees.

'It is the monk! the young man I told you of, who saved me from the
Jews the other night!  What good angel sent him here that I might
thank him?' cried the poor creature, while the tears ran down her
black shining face.

'I am that good angel,' said the porter, with a look of intense self
-satisfaction. 'Rise, daughter of Erebus; thou art pardoned, being
but a female.  What says the poet?--

  '"Woman is passion's slave, while rightful lord
  O'er her and passion, rules the nobler male."

Youth! to my arms!  Truly say the philosophers, that the universe is
magical in itself, and by mysterious sympathies links like to like.
The prophetic instinct of thy future benefits towards me drew me to
thee as by an invisible warp, hawser, or chain-cable, from the
moment I beheld thee.  Thou went a kindred spirit, my brother,
though thou knewest it not.  Therefore I do not praise thee--no, nor
thank thee in the least, though thou hast preserved for me the one
palm which shadows my weary steps--the single lotus-flower (in this
case black, not white) which blooms for me above the mud-stained
ocean wastes of the Hylic Borboros.  That which thou hast done, thou
hast done by instinct--by divine compulsion--thou couldst no more
help it than thou canst help eating that fish, and art no more to be
praised for it.'

'Thank you,' said Philammon.

'Comprehend me.  Our theory in the schools for such cases is this--
has been so at least for the last six months; similar particles,
from one original source, exist in you and me.  Similar causes
produce similar effects; our attractions, antipathies, impulses, are
therefore, in similar circumstances, absolutely the same; and
therefore you did the other night exactly what I should have done in
your case.'

Philammon thought the latter part of the theory open to question,
but he had by no means stopped eating when he rose, and his mouth
was much too full of fish to argue.

'And therefore,' continued the little man,'we are to consider
ourselves henceforth as one soul in two bodies.  You may have the
best of the corporeal part of the division .... yet it is the soul
which makes the person.  You may trust me, I shall not disdain my
brotherhood.  If any one insults you henceforth, you have but to
call me; and if I be within hearing, why, by this right arm---'

And he attempted a pat on Philammon's head, which, as there was a
head and shoulder's difference between them, might on the whole have
been considered, from a theatric point of view, as a failure.
Whereon the little man seized the calabash of beer, and filling
therewith a cow's horn, his thumb on the small end, raised it high
in the air.

'To the Tenth Muse, and to your interview with her!'

And removing his thumb, he sent a steady jet into his open mouth,
and having drained the horn without drawing breath, licked his lips,
handed it to Philammon, and flew ravenously upon the fish and
onions.

Philammon, to whom the whole was supremely absurd, had no invocation
to make, but one which he felt too sacred for his present temper of
mind: so he attempted to imitate the little man's feat, and, of
course, poured the beer into his eyes, and up his nose, and in his
bosom, and finally choked himself black in the face, while his host
observed smilingly--

'Aha, rustic! unacquainted with the ancient and classical customs
preserved in this centre of civilisation by the descendants of
Alexander's heroes?  Judith! clear the table.  Now to the sanctuary
of the Muses!'

Philammon rose, and finished his meal by a monkish grace.  A gentle
and reverent 'Amen' rose from the other end of the room.  It was the
negress.  She saw him look up at her, dropped her eyes modestly, and
bustled away with the remnants, while Philammon and his host started
for Hypatia's lecture-room.

'Your wife is a Christian?' asked he when they were outside the
door.

'Ahem--!  The barbaric mind is prone to superstition.  Yet she is,
being but a woman and a negress, a good soul, and thrifty, though
requiring, like all lower animals, occasional chastisement.  I
married her on philosophic grounds.  A wife was necessary to me for
several reasons: but mindful that the philosopher should subjugate
the material appetite, and rise above the swinish desires of the
flesh, even when his nature requires him to satisfy them, I purposed
to make pleasure as unpleasant as possible.  I had the choice of
several cripples--their parents, of ancient Macedonian family like
myself, were by no means adverse; but I required a housekeeper, with
whose duties the want of an arm or a leg might have interfered.'

'Why did you not marry a scold?' asked Philammon.

'Pertinently observed: and indeed the example of Socrates rose
luminous more than once before my imagination.  But philosophic
calm, my dear youth, and the peaceful contemplation of the
ineffable?  I could not relinquish those luxuries.  So having, by
the bounty of Hypatia and her pupils, saved a small suns, I went out
bought me a negress, and hired six rooms in the block we have just
left, where I let lodgings to young students of the Divine
Philosophy.'

'Have you any lodgers now?'

'Ahem!  Certain rooms are occupied by a lady of rank.  The
philosopher will, above all things, abstain from babbling.  To
bridle the tongue, is to--But there is a closet at your service; and
for the hall of reception, which you have just left--are you not a
kindred and fraternal spark?  We can combine our meals, as our souls
are already united.'

Philammon thanked him heartily for the offer, though he shrank from
accepting it; and in ten minutes more found himself at the door of
the very house which he had been watching the night before.  It was
she, then, whom he had seen! ....  He was handed over by a black
porter to a smart slave-girl, who guided him up, through cloisters
and corridors, to the large library, where five or six young men
were sitting, busily engaged, under Theon's superintendence, in
copying manuscripts and drawing geometric diagrams.

Philammon gazed curiously at these symbols of a science unknown to
him, and wondered whether the day would ever come when he too would
understand their mysteries; but his eyes fell again as he saw the
youths staring at his ragged sheepskin and matted locks with
undisguised contempt.  He could hardly collect himself enough to
obey the summons of the venerable old man, as he beckoned him
silently out of the room, and led him, with the titters of the young
students ringing in his ears, through the door by which he had
entered, and along a gallery, till he stopped and knocked humbly at
a door ....  She must be within! knocked together under him.  His
heart sank and sank into abysses!  Poor wretch! ....  He was half
minded once to escape and dash into the street .... but was it not
his one hope, his one object? ....  But why did not that old man
speak?  If he would have but said something! ....  If he would only
have looked cross, contemptuous! ....  But with the same impressive
gravity, as of a man upon a business in which he had no voice, and
wished it to be understood that lie had none, the old man silently
opened the door, and Philammon followed ....  There she was! looking
more glorious than ever; more than when glowing with the enthusiasm
of her own eloquence; more than when transfigured last night in
golden tresses and glittering moonbeams.  There she sat, without
moving a finger, as the two entered.  She greeted her father with a
smile, which made up for all her seeming want of courtesy to him,
and then fixed her large gray eyes full on Philammon.

'Here is the youth, my daughter.  It was your wish, you know; and I
always believe that you know best--'

Another smile put an end to this speech, and the old man retreated
humbly toward another door, with a somewhat anxious visage, and then
lingering and looking back, his hand upon the latch--

'If you require any one, you know, you have only to call--we shall
be all in the library.'

Another smile; and the old man disappeared, leaving the two alone.

Philammon stood trembling, choking, his eyes fixed on the floor.
Where were all the fine things he had conned over for the occasion?
He dared not look up at that face, lest it should drive them out of
his head.  And yet the more lie kept his eyes turned from the face,
the more lie was conscious of it, conscious that it was watching
him; and the more all the fine words were, by that very knowledge,
driven out of his head ....  When would she speak?  Perhaps she
wished him to speak first.  It was her duty to begin, for she had
sent for him ....  But still she kept silence, and sat scanning him
intently from head to foot, herself as motionless as a statue; her
hands folded together before her, over the manuscript which lay upon
her knee.  If there was a blush on her cheek at her own daring, his
eyes swam too much to notice it.

When would the intolerable suspense end?  She was, perhaps, as
unwilling to speak as he.  But some one must strike the first blow:
and, as often happens, the weaker party, impelled by sheer fear,
struck it, and broke the silence in a tone half indignant, half
apologetic--

'You sent for me hither!'

'I did.  It seemed to me, as I watched you during my lecture, both
before and after you were rude enough to interrupt me, that your
offence was one of mere youthful ignorance.  It seemed to me that
your countenance bespoke a nobler nature than that which the gods
are usually pleased to bestow upon monks.  That I may now ascertain
whether or not my surmises were correct, I ask you for what purpose
are you come hither?'

Philammon hailed the question as a godsend.--Now for his message!
And yet he faltered as he answered, with a desperate effort,--'To
rebuke you for your sins.'

'My sins!  What sins?' she asked, as she looked up with a stately,
slow surprise in those large gray eyes, before which his own glance
sank abashed, he knew not why.  What sins?--He knew not.  Did she
look like a Messalina?  But was she not a heathen and a sorceress?--
And yet he blushed, and stammered, and hung down his head, as,
shrinking at the sound of his own words, he replied--


'The foul sorceries--and profligacy worse than sorceries, in which,
they say--'  He could get no farther: for he looked up again and saw
an awful quiet smile upon that face.  His words had raised no blush
upon the marble cheek.

'They say!  The bigots and slanderers; wild beasts of the desert,
and fanatic intriguers, who, in the words of Him they call their
master, compass heaven and earth to make one proselyte, and when
they have found him, make him two-fold more the child of hell than
themselves.  Go--I forgive you: you are young, and know not yet the
mystery of the world.  Science will teach you some day that the
outward frame is the sacrament of the soul's inward beauty.  Such a
soul I had fancied your face expressed; but I was mistaken. Foul
hearts alone harbour such foul suspicions, and fancy others to be
what they know they might become themselves.  Go!  Do I look like--?
The very tapering of these fingers, if you could read their
symbolism, would give your dream the lie.'  And she flashed full on
him, like sun-rays from a mirror, the full radiance of her glorious
countenance.

Alas, poor Philammon! where were thy eloquent arguments, thy
orthodox theories then?  Proudly he struggled with his own man's
heart of flesh, and tried to turn his eyes away; the magnet might as
well struggle to escape from the spell of the north.  In a moment,
he knew not how, utter shame, remorse, longing for forgiveness,
swept over him, and crushed him down; and he found himself on his
knees before her, in abject and broken syllables entreating pardon.

'Go--I forgive you.  But know before you go, that the celestial milk
which fell from Here's bosom, bleaching the plant which it touched
to everlasting whiteness, was not more taintless than the soul of
Theon's daughter.'

He looked up in her face as he knelt before her.  Unerring instinct
told him that her words were true.  He was a monk, accustomed to
believe animal sin to be the deadliest and worst of all sins--
indeed, 'the great offence' itself, beside which all others were
comparatively venial: where there was physical purity, must not all
other virtues follow in its wake?  All other failings were invisible
under the dazzling veil of that great loveliness; and in his self-
abasement he went on--

'Oh, do not spurn me!--do not drive me away!  I have neither friend,
home, nor teacher.  I fled last night from the men of my own faith,
maddened by bitter insult and injustice--disappointed and disgusted
with their ferocity, narrowness, ignorance.  I dare not, I cannot, I
will not return to the obscurity and the dulness of a Thebaid Laura.
I have a thousand doubts to solve, a thousand questions to ask,
about that great ancient world of which I know nothing--of whose
mysteries, they say, you alone possess the key!  I am a Christian;
but I thirst for knowledge ....  I do not promise to believe you-I
do not promise to obey you; but let me hear!  Teach me what you
know, that I may compare it with what I know ....  If indeed' (and
he shuddered as he spoke the words) 'I do know anything!'

'Have you forgotten the epithets which you used to me just now?'

'No, no!  But do you forget them; they were put into my mouth.  I--I
did not believe them when I said them.  It was agony to me; but I
did it, as I thought, for your sake--to save you.  Oh, say that I
may come and hear you again!  Only from a distance--in the very
farthest corner of your lecture-room.  I will be silent; you shall
never see me.  But your words yesterday awoke in me--no, not doubts;
but still I must, I must hear more, or be as miserable and homeless
inwardly as I am in my outward circumstances!'  And he looked up
imploringly for consent.

'Rise.  This passion and that attitude are fitting neither for you
nor me.'

And as Philammon rose, she rose also, went into the library to her
father, and in a few minutes returned with him.

'Come with me, young man,' said he, laying his hand kindly enough on
Philammon's shoulder ....  'The rest of this matter you and I can
settle;' and Philammon followed him, not daring to look back at
Hypatia, while the whole room swam before his eyes.

'So, so I hear you have been saying rude things to my daughter.
Well, she has forgiven you--'

'Has she?' asked the young monk, with an eager start.

'Ah! you may well look astonished.  But I forgive you too.  It is
lucky for you, however, that I did not hear you, or else, old man as
I am, I can't say what I might not have done.  Ah! you little know,
you little know what she is.--and the old pedant's eyes kindled with
loving pride.  'May the gods give you some day such a daughter!--
that is, if you learn to deserve it--as virtuous as she is wise, as
wise as she is beautiful.  Truly they have repaid me for my labours
in their service.  Look, young man! little as you merit it, here is
a pledge of your forgiveness, such as the richest and noblest in
Alexandria are glad to purchase with many an ounce of gold--a ticket
of free admission to all her lectures henceforth!  Now go; you have
been favoured beyond your deserts, and should learn that the
philosopher can practise what the Christian only preaches, and
return good for evil.'  And he put into Philammon's hand a slip of
paper, and bid one of the secretaries show him to the outer door.

The youths looked up at him from their writing as he passed, with
faces of surprise and awe, and evidently thinking no more about the
absurdity of his sheepskin and his tanned complexion; and be went
out with a stunned, confused feeling, as of one who, by a desperate
leap, has plunged into a new world.  He tried to feel content; but
be dare not.  All before him was anxiety, uncertainty.  He had cut
himself adrift; he was on the great stream.  Whither would it lead
him?  Well--was it not the great stream?  Had not all mankind, for
all the ages, been floating on it?  Or was it but a desert-river,
dwindling away beneath the fiery sun, destined to lose itself a few
miles on, among the arid sands?  Were Arsenius and the faith of his
childhood right?  And was the Old World coming speedily to its
death-throe, and the Kingdom of God at hand?  Or was Cyril right,
and the Church Catholic appointed to spread, and conquer, and
destroy, and rebuild, till the kingdoms of this world had become the
kingdoms of God and of His Christ!  If so, what use in this old
knowledge which he craved?  And yet, if the day of the destruction
of all things were at hand, and the times destined to become worse
and not better, till the end-how could that be? ....

'What news?' asked the little porter, who had been waiting for him
at the door all the while. 'What news, O favourite of the gods!'

'I will lodge with you, and labour with you.  Ask me no more at
present.  I am--I am--

'Those who descended into the Cave of Trophonius, and beheld the
unspeakable, remained astonished for three days, my young friend--
and so will you!'  And they went forth together to earn their bread.

But what is Hypatia doing all this while, upon that cloudy Olympus,
where she sits enshrined far above the noise and struggle of man and
his work-day world?

She is sitting again, with her manuscripts open before her; but she
is thinking of the young monk, not of them.

'Beautiful as Antinous! ....  Rather as the young Phoebus himself,
fresh glowing from the slaughter of the Python.  Why should not he,
too, become a slayer of Pythons, and loathsome monsters, bred from
the mud of sense and matter?  So bold and earnest!  I can forgive
him those words for the very fact of his having dared, here in my
fathers house, to say them to me ....  And yet so tender, so open to
repentance and noble shame!--That is no plebeian by birth; patrician
blood surely flows in those veins; it shows out in every attitude,
every tone, every motion of the hand and lip. lie cannot be one of
the herd.  Who ever knew one of them crave after knowledge for its
own sake? ....  And I have longed so for one real pupil!  I have
longed so to find one such man, among the effeminate selfish
triflers who pretend to listen to me.  I thought I had found one--
and the moment that I had lost him, behold, I find another; and that
a fresher, purer, simpler nature than ever Raphael's was at its
best.  By all the laws of physiognomy--by all the symbolism of
gesture and voice and complexion--by the instinct of my own heart,
that young monk might he the instrument, the ready, valiant,
obedient instrument, for carrying out all my dreams.  If I could but
train him into a Longinus, I could dare to play the part of a
Zenobia, with him as counseller ....  And for my Odenatus--Orestes?
Horrible!'

She covered her face with her hand a minute.  'No!' she said,
dashing away the tears--'That--and anything--and everything for the
cause of Philosophy and the gods!'



CHAPTER XI: THE LAURA AGAIN


Not a sound, not a moving object, broke the utter stillness of the
glen of Scetis.  The shadows of the crags, though paling every
moment before the spreading dawn, still shrouded all the gorge in
gloom.  A winding line of haze slept above the course of the
rivulet.  The plumes of the palm-trees hung motionless, as if
awaiting in resignation the breathless blaze of the approaching day.
At length, among the green ridges of the monastery garden, two gray
figures rose from their knees, and began, with slow and feeble
strokes, to break the silence by the clatter of their hoes among the
pebbles.

'These beans grow wonderfully, brother Aufugus.  We shall be able to
sow our second crop, by God's blessing, a week earlier than we did
last year.'

The person addressed returned no answer; and his companion, after
watching him for some time in silence, recommenced-


'What is it, my brother?  I have remarked lately a melancholy about
you, which is hardly fitting for a man of God.'

A deep sigh was the only answer.  The speaker laid down his hoe, and
placing his hand affectionately on the shoulder of Aufugus, asked
again-


'What is it, my friend?  I will not claim with you my abbot's right
to know the secrets of your heart: but surely that breast hides
nothing which is unworthy to be spoken to me, however unworthy I may
he to hear it!'

'Why should I not be sad, Pambo, my friend?  Does not Solomon say
that there is a time for mourning?'

'True: but a time for mirth also.'

'None to the penitent, burdened with the guilt of many sins.'

'Recollect what the blessed Anthony used to say--"Trust not in thine
own righteousness, and regret not that which is past."'

'I do neither, Pambo.'

'Do not be too sure of that.  Is it not because thou art still
trusting in thyself, that thou dost regret the past, which shows
thee that thou art not that which thou wouldst gladly pride thyself
on being?'

'Pambo, my friend,' said Arsenius solemnly, 'I will tell thee all.
My sins are not yet past; for Honorius, my pupil, still lives, and
in him lives the weakness and the misery of Rome.  My sins past?  If
they are, why do I see rising before me, night after night, that
train of accusing spectres, ghosts of men slain in battle, widows
and orphans, virgins of the Lord shrieking in the grasp of
barbarians, who stand by my bedside and cry, "Hadst thou done thy
duty, we had not been thus!  Where is that imperial charge which God
committed to thee?"' ....  And the old man hid his face in his hands
and wept bitterly.

Pambo laid his hand again tenderly on the weeper's shoulder.

'Is there no pride here, my brother?  Who art thou, to change the
fate of nations and the hearts of emperors, which are in the hand of
the King of kings?  If thou wert weak, and imperfect in thy work--
for unfaithful, I will warrant thee, thou wert never--He put thee
there, because thou wert imperfect, that so that which has come to
pass might come to pass; and thou bearest thine own burden only-and
yet not thou, but He who bore it for thee.'

'Why then am I tormented by these nightly visions?'

'Fear them not, friend.  They are spirits of evil, and therefore
lying spirits.  Were they good spirits they would speak to thee only
in pity, forgiveness, encouragement.  But be they ghosts or demons,
they must be evil, because they are accusers, like the Evil One
himself, the accuser of the saints.  He is the father of lies, and
his children will be like himself.  What said the blessed Anthony?
That a monk should not busy his brain with painting spectres, or
give himself up for lost; but rather be cheerful, as one who knows
that he is redeemed, and in the hands of the Lord, where the Evil
One has no power to hurt him.  "For," he used to say, "the demons
behave to us even as they find us.  If they see us east down and
faithless, they terrify us still more, that they may plunge us in
despair.  But if they see us full of faith, and joyful in the Lord,
with our souls filled with the glory which shall be, then they
shrink abashed, and flee away in confusion."  Cheer up, friend! such
thoughts are of the night, the hour of Satan and of the powers of
darkness; and with the dawn they flee away.'

'And yet things are revealed to men upon their beds, in visions of
the night'

'Be it so.  Nothing, at all events, has been revealed to thee upon
thy bed, except that which thou knowest already far better than
Satan does, namely, that thou art a sinner.  But for me, my friend,
though I doubt not that such things are, it is the day, and not the
night, which brings revelations.'

'How, then?'

'Because by day I can see to read that book which is written, like
the Law given on Sinai, upon tables of stone, by the finger of God
Himself.'

Arsenius looked up at him inquiringly.  Pambo smiled.

'Thou knowest that, like many holy men of old, I am no scholar, and
knew not even the Greek tongue, till thou, out of thy brotherly
kindness, taughtest it to me.  But hast thou never heard what
Anthony said to a certain Pagan who reproached him with his
ignorance of books?  "Which is first," he asked, "spirit, or
letter?--Spirit, sayest thou?  Then know, the healthy spirit needs
no letters.  My book is the whole creation, lying open before me,
wherein I can read, whensoever I please, the word of God."'

'Dost thou not undervalue learning, my friend?'

'I am old among monks, and have seen much of their ways; and among
them my simplicity seems to have seen this--many a man wearing
himself with study, and tormenting his soul as to whether he
believed rightly this doctrine and that, while he knew not with
Solomon that in much learning is much sorrow, and that while he was
puzzling at the letter of God's message, the spirit of it was going
fast and faster out of him.'

'And how didst thou know that of such a man?'

'By seeing him become a more and more learned theologian, and more
and more zealous for the letter of orthodoxy; and yet less and less
loving and merciful--less and less full of trust in God, and of
hopeful thoughts for himself and for his brethren, till he seemed to
have darkened his whole soul with disputations, which breed only
strife, and to have forgotten utterly the message which is written
in that book wherewith the blessed Anthony was content'
'Of what message dost thou speak?'

'Look,' said the old abbot, stretching his hand toward the Eastern
desert, 'and judge, like a wise man, for thyself!'

As he spoke, a long arrow of level light flashed down the gorge from
crag to crag, awakening every crack and slab to vividness and life.
The great crimson sun rose swiftly through the dim night-mist of the
desert, and as he poured his glory down the glen, the haze rose in
threads and plumes, and vanished, leaving the stream to sparkle
round the rocks, like the living, twinkling eye of the whole scene.
Swallows flashed by hundreds out of the cliffs, and began their air-
dance for the day; the jerboa hopped stealthily homeward on his
stilts from his stolen meal in the monastery garden; the brown sand-
lizards underneath the stones opened one eyelid each, and having
satisfied themselves that it was day, dragged their bloated bodies
and whip-like tails out into the most burning patch of gravel which
they could find, and nestling together as a further protection
against cold, fell fast asleep again; the buzzard, who considered
himself lord of the valley, awoke with a long querulous bark, and
rising aloft in two or three vast rings, to stretch himself after
his night's sleep, bung motionless, watching every lark which
chirruped on the cliffs; while from the far-off Nile below, the
awakening croak of pelicans, the clang of geese, the whistle of the
godwit and curlew, came ringing up the windings of the glen; and
last of all the voices of the monks rose chanting a morning hymn to
some wild Eastern air; and a new day had begun in Seetis, like those
which went before, and those which were to follow after, week after
week, year after year, of toil and prayer as quiet as its sleep.

'What does that teach thee, Aufugus, my friend?'

Arsenius was silent.

'To me it teaches this: that God is light, and in Him is no darkness
at all.  That in His presence is life, and fulness of joy for
evermore.  That He is the giver, who delights in His own bounty; the
lover, whose mercy is over all His works--and why not over thee,
too, O thou of little faith?  Look at those thousand birds--and
without our Father not one of them shall fall to the ground: and art
thou not of more value than many sparrows, thou for whom God sent
His Son to die? ....  Ah, my friend, we must look out and around to
see what God is like.  It is when we persist in turning our eyes
inward, and prying curiously over our own imperfections, that we
learn to make a God after our own image, and fancy that our own
darkness and hardness of heart are the patterns of His light and
love.'

'Thou speakest rather as a philosopher than as a penitent Catholic.
For me, I feel that I want to look more, and not less, inward.
Deeper self-examination, completer abstraction, than I can attain
even here, are what I crave for.  I long--forgive me, my friend--but
I long more and more, daily, for the solitary life.  This earth is
accursed by man's sin: the less we see of it, it seems to me, the
better.'

'I may speak as a philosopher, or as a heathen, for aught I know:
yet it seems to me that, as they say, the half loaf is better than
none; that the wise man will make the best of what he has, and throw
away no lesson because the book is somewhat torn and soiled.  The
earth teaches me thus far already.  Shall I shut my eyes to those
invisible things of God which are clearly manifested by the things
which are made, because some day they will be more clearly
manifested than now?  But as for more abstraction, are we so worldly
here in Scetis?'

'Nay, my friend, each man has surely his vocation, and for each some
peculiar method of life is more edifying than another.  In my case,
the habits of mind which I acquired in the world will cling to me in
spite of myself even here.  I cannot help watching the doings of
others, studying their characters, planning and plotting for them,
trying to prognosticate their future fate.  Not a word, not a
gesture of this our little family, but turns away my mind from the
one thing needful.'

'And do you fancy that the anchorite in his cell has fewer
distractions?'

'What can he have but the supply of the mere necessary wants of
life? and them, even, he may abridge to the gathering of a few roots
and herbs.  Men have lived like the beasts already, that they might
at the same time live like the angels--and why should not I also?'

'And thou art the wise man of the world--the student of the hearts
of others--the anatomiser of thine own?  Hast thou not found out
that, besides a craving stomach, man carries with him a corrupt
heart?  Many a man I have seen who, in his haste to fly from the
fiends without him, has forgotten to close the door of his heart
against worse fiends who were ready to harbour within him.  Many a
monk, friend, changes his place, but not the anguish of his soul.  I
have known those who, driven to feed on their own thoughts in
solitude, have desperately cast themselves from cliffs or ripped up
their own bodies, in the longing to escape from thoughts, from which
one companion, one kindly voice, might have delivered them.  I have
known those, too, who have been so puffed up by those very penances
which were meant to humble them, that they have despised all means
of grace, as though they were already perfect, and refusing even the
Holy Eucharist, have lived in self-glorying dreams and visions
suggested by the evil spirits.  One such I knew, who, in the
madness? of his pride, refused to be counselled by any mortal man--
saying that he would call no man master: and what befell him?  He
who used to pride himself on wandering a day's journey into the
desert without food or drink, who boasted that he could sustain life
for three months at a time only on wild herbs and the Blessed Bread,
seized with an inward fire, fled from his cell back to the theatres,
the circus, and the taverns, and ended his miserable days in
desperate gluttony, holding all things to be but phantasms, denying
his own existence, and that of God Himself.'

Arsenius shook his head.

'Be it so.  But my case is different.  I have yet more to confess,
my friend.  Day by day I am more and more haunted by the remembrance
of that world from which I fled.  I know that if I returned I should
feel no pleasure in those pomps, which, even while I battened on
them, I despised.  Can I hear any more the voice of singing men and
singing women; or discern any longer what I eat or what I drink?
And yet--the palaces of those seven hills, their statesmen and their
generals, their intrigues, their falls, and their triumphs--for they
might rise and conquer yet!--for no moment are they out of my
imagination,-no moment in which they are not tempting me back to
them, like a moth to the candle which has already scorched him, with
a dreadful spell, which I must at last obey, wretch that I am,
against my own will, or break by fleeing into some outer desert,
from whence return will be impossible!'

Pambo smiled.

'Again, I say, this is the worldly-wise man, the searcher of hearts!
And he would fain flee from the little Laura, which does turn his
thoughts at times from such vain dreams, to a solitude where he will
be utterly unable to escape those dreams.  Well, friend!--and what
if thou art troubled at times by anxieties and schemes for this
brother and for that?  Better to be anxious for others than only for
thyself.  Better to have something to love--even something to weep
over--than to become in some lonely cavern thine own world,--
perhaps, as more than one whom I have known, thine own God.'

'Do you know what you are saying?' asked Arsenius in a startled
tone.

'I say, that by fleeing into solitude a man cuts himself off from
all which makes a Christian man; from law, obedience, fellow-help,
self-sacrifice--from the communion of saints itself.'

'How then?'

'How canst thou hold communion with those toward whom thou canst
show no love?  And how canst thou show thy love but by works of
love?'

'I can, at least, pray day and night for all mankind.  Has that no
place--or rather, has it not the mightiest place--in the communion
of saints!

'He who cannot pray for his brothers whom he does see, and whose
sins and temptations he knows, will pray but dully, my friend
Aufugus, for his brothers whom he does not see, or for anything
else.  And he who will not labour for his brothers, the same will
soon cease to pray for them, or love them either.  And then, what is
written?  "If a man love not his brother whom he hath seen, how will
he love God whom he hath not seen?"'

'Again, I say, do you know whither your argument leads?'

'I am a plain man, and know nothing about arguments.  If a thing be
true, let it lead where it will, for it leads where God wills.'

'But at this rate, it were better for a man to take a wife, and have
children, and mix himself up in all the turmoil of carnal
affections, in order to have as many as possible to love, and fear
for, and work for.'

Pambo was silent for a while.

'I am a monk and no logician.  But this I say, that thou leavest not
the Laura for the desert with my good will.  I would rather, had I
my wish, see thy wisdom installed somewhere nearer the metropolis--
at Troe or Canopus, for example--where thou mightest be at hand to
fight the Lord's battles.  Why wert thou taught worldly wisdom, but
to use it for the good of the Church?  It is enough.  Let us go.'

And the two old men walked homeward across the valley, little
guessing the practical answer which was ready for their argument in
Abbot Pambo's cell, in the shape of a tall and grim ecclesiastic,
who was busily satisfying his hunger with dates and millet, and by
no means refusing the palm-wine, the sole delicacy of the monastery,
which had been brought forth only in honour of a guest.

The stately and courtly hospitality of Eastern manners, as well as
the self-restraining kindliness of monastic Christianity, forbade
the abbot to interrupt the stranger; and it was not till he had
finished a hearty meal that Pambo asked his name and errand.

'My unworthiness is called Peter the Reader.  I come from Cyril,
with letters and messages to the brother Aufugus.'

Pambo rose, and bowed reverentially.

'We have heard your good report, sir, as of one zealously affected
in the cause of the Church Catholic.  Will it please you to follow
us to the cell of Aufugus?'

Peter stalked after them with a sufficiently important air to the
little hut, and there taking from his bosom Cyril's epistle, handed
it to Arsenius, who sat long, reading and re-reading with a clouded
brow, while Pambo watched him with simple awe, not daring to
interrupt by a question lucubrations which he considered of
unfathomable depth.

'These are indeed the last days,' said Arsenius at length, 'spoken
of by the prophet, when many shall run to and fro.  So Heraclian has
actually sailed for Italy?'

'His armament was met on the high seas by Alexandrian merchantmen,
three weeks ago.'

'And Orestes hardens his heart more and more?'

'Ay, Pharaoh that he is; or rather, the heathen woman hardens it for
him.'

'I always feared that woman above all the schools of the heathen,'
said Arsenius. 'But the Count Heraclian, whom I always held for the
wisest as well as the most righteous of men! Alas!--alas! what
virtue will withstand, when ambition enters the heart!'

'Fearful, truly,' said Peter, 'is that same lust of power: but for
him, I have never trusted him since he began to be indulgent to
those Donatists.'

'Too true.  So does one sin beget another.'

'And I consider that indulgence to sinners is the worst of all sins
whatsoever.'

'Not of all, surely, reverend sir?' said Pambo humbly.  But Peter,
taking no notice of the interruption, went on to Arsenius--

'And now, what answer am I to bear back from your wisdom to his
holiness?'

'Let me see--let me see.  He might--it needs consideration--I ought
to know more of the state of parties.  He has, of course,
communicated with the African bishops, and tried to unite them with
him?'

'Two months ago.  But the stiff-necked schismatics are still jealous
of him, and hold aloof.'

'Schismatics is too harsh a term, my friend.  But has he sent to
Constantinople?'

'He needs a messenger accustomed to courts.  It was possible, he
thought, that your experience might undertake the mission.'

'Me?  Who am I?  Alas! alas! fresh temptations daily!  Let him send
by the hand of whom he will ....  And yet--were I--at least in
Alexandria--I might advise from day to day ....  I should certainly
see my way clearer ....  And unforeseen chances might arise, too
....  Pambo, my friend, thinkest thou that it would be sinful to
obey the Holy Patriarch?'

'Aha!' said Pambo, laughing, 'and thou art he who was for fleeing
into the desert an hour agone! And now, when once thou smellest the
battle afar off, thou art pawing in the valley, like the old war-
horse.  Go, and God be with thee!  Thou wilt be none the worse for
it.  Thou art too old to fall in love, too poor to buy a bishopric,
and too righteous to have one given thee.'

'Art thou in earnest?'

'What did I say to thee in the garden?  Go, and see our son, and
send me news of him.'

'Ah! shame on my worldly-mindedness!  I had forgotten all this time
to inquire for him.  How is the youth, reverend sir?'

'Whom do you mean?'

'Philammon, our spiritual son, whom we sent down to you three months
ago,' said Pambo.  'Risen to honour he is, by this time, I doubt
not?'

'He?  He is gone!'

'Gone?'

'Ay, the wretch, with the curse of Judas on him.  He had not been
with us three days before he beat me openly in the patriarch's
court, cast off the Christian faith, and fled away to the heathen
woman, Hypatia, of whom he is enamoured.'

The two old men looked at each other with blank and horror-stricken
faces.

'Enamoured of Hypatia?' said Arsenius at last.

'It is impossible!' sobbed Pambo.  'The boy must have been treated
harshly, unjustly?  Some one has wronged him, and he was accustomed
only to kindness, and could not bear it.  Cruel men that you are,
and unfaithful stewards.  The Lord will require the child's blood at
your hands!'

'Ay,' said Peter, rising fiercely, that is the world's justice!
Blame me, blame the patriarch, blame any and every one but the
sinner.  As if a hot head and a hotter heart were not enough to
explain it all! As if a young fool had never before been bewitched
by a fair face!'

'Oh, my friends, my friends,' cried Arsenius, 'why revile each other
without cause?  I, I only am to blame.  I advised you, Pambo!--I
sent him--I ought to have known--what was I doing, old worldling
that I am, to thrust the poor innocent forth into the temptations of
Babylon?  This comes of all my schemings and my plottings! And now
his blood will be on my head-as if I bad not sins enough to bear
already, I must go and add this over and above all, to sell my own
Joseph, the son of my old age, to the Midianites!  Here, I will go
with you--now--at once--I will not rest till I find hint, clasp his
knees till he pities my gray hairs!  Let Heraclian and Orestes go
their way for aught I care--I will find him, I say.  O Absalom, my
son! would to God I had died for thee, my son! my son!'



CHAPTER XII: THE BOWER OF ACRASIA


The house which Pelagia and the Amal had hired after their return to
Alexandria, was one of the most splendid in the city.  They had been
now living there three months or more, and in that time Pelagia's
taste had supplied the little which it needed to convert it into a
paradise of lazy luxury.  She herself was wealthy; and her Gothic
guests, overburdened with Roman spoils, the very use of which they
could not understand, freely allowed her and her nymphs to throw
away for them the treasures which they had won in many a fearful
fight.  What matter?  If they had enough to eat, and more than
enough to drink, how could the useless surplus of their riches be
better spent than in keeping their ladies in good humour? ....  And
when it was all gone....they would go somewhere or other--who cared
whither?--and win more.  The whole world was before them waiting to
be plundered, and they would fulfil their mission, whensoever it
suited them.  In the meantime they were in no hurry.  Egypt
furnished in profusion every sort of food which could gratify
palates far more nice than theirs.  And as for wine--few of them
went to bed sober from one week's end to another.  Could the souls
of warriors have more, even in the halls of Valhalla?

So thought the party who occupied the inner court of the house, one
blazing afternoon in the same week in which Cyril's messenger had so
rudely broken in on the repose of the Scetis.  Their repose, at
least, was still untouched.  The great city roared without; Orestes
plotted, and Cyril counterplotted, and the fate of a continent hung
--or seemed to hang--trembling in the balance; but the turmoil of it
no more troubled those lazy Titans within, than did the roll and
rattle of the carriage-wheels disturb the parakeets and sunbirds
which peopled, under an awning of gilded wire, the inner court of
Pelagia's house.  Why should they fret themselves with it all?  What
was every fresh riot, execution, conspiracy, bankruptcy, but a sign-
-that the fruit was growing ripe for the plucking?  Even Heraclian's
rebellion, and Orestes' suspected conspiracy, were to the younger
and coarser Goths a sort of child's play, at which they could look
on and laugh, and bet, from morning till night; while to the more
cunning heads, such as Wulf and Smid, they were but signs of the
general rottenness--new cracks in those great walls over which they
intended, with a simple and boyish consciousness of power, to mount
to victory when they chose.

And in the meantime, till the right opening offered, what was there
better than to eat, drink, and sleep?  And certainly they had chosen
a charming retreat in which to fulfil that lofty mission.  Columns
of purple and green porphyry, among which gleamed the white limbs of
delicate statues, surrounded a basin of water, fed by a perpetual
jet, which sprinkled with cool spray the leaves of the oranges and
mimosas, mingling its murmurs with the warblings of the tropic birds
which nestled among the branches.

On one side of the fountain, under the shade of a broad-leaved
palmetto, lay the Amal's mighty limbs, stretched out on cushions,
his yellow hair crowned with vine-leaves, his hand grasping a golden
cup, which had been won from Indian Rajahs by Parthian Chosroos,
from Chosroos by Roman generals, from Roman generals by the heroes
of sheepskin and horsehide; while Pelagia, by the side of the sleepy
Hercules-Dionysos, lay leaning over the brink of the fountain,
lazily dipping her fingers into the water, and basking, like the
gnats which hovered over its surface, in the mere pleasure of
existence.

On the opposite brink of the basin, tended each by a dark-eyed Hebe,
who filled the wine-cups, and helped now and then to empty them, lay
the especial friends and companions in arms of the Amal, Goderic the
son of Ermenric, and Agilmund the son of Cniva, who both, like the
Amal, boasted a descent from gods; and last, but not least, that
most important and all but sacred personage, Smid the son of Troll,
reverenced for cunning beyond the sons of men; for not only could he
make and mend all matters, from a pontoon bridge to a gold bracelet,
shoe horses and doctor them, charm all diseases out of man and
beast, carve runes, interpret war-omens, foretell weather, raise the
winds, and finally, conquer in the battle of mead-horns all except
Wulf the son of Ovida; but he had actually, during a sojourn among
the half-civilised Maesogoths, picked up a fair share of Latin and
Greek, and a rough knowledge of reading and writing.

A few yards off lay old Wulf upon his back, his knees in the air,
his hands crossed behind his head, keeping up, even in his sleep, a
half-conscious comment of growls on the following intellectual
conversation:--

'Noble wine this, is it not?'

'Perfect.  Who bought it for us?'

'Old Miriam bought it, at some great tax-farmer's sale.  The fellow
was bankrupt, and Miriam said she got it for the half what it was
worth.'

'Serve the penny-turning rascal right.  The old vixen-fox took care,
I'll warrant her, to get her profit out of the bargain.'

'Never mind if she did.  We can afford to pay like men, if we earn
like men.'

'We shan't afford it long, at this rate,' growled Wulf.

'Then we'll go and earn more.  I am tired of doing nothing.'

'People need not do nothing, unless they choose,' said Goderic.
'Wulf and I had coursing fit for a king, the other morning on the
sand-hills.  I had had no appetite for a week before, and I have
been as sharp-set as a Danube pike ever since.'

'Coursing?  What, with those long-legged brush-tailed brutes, like a
fox upon stilts, which the prefect cozened you into buying.'

'All I can say is, that we put up a herd of those--what do you call
them here--deer with goats' horns?'

'Antelopes?'

'That's it--and the curs ran into them as a falcon does into a skein
of ducks.  Wulf and I galloped and galloped over those accursed
sand-heaps till the horses stuck fast; and when they got their wind
again, we found each pair of dogs with a deer down between them--and
what can man want more, if he cannot get fighting?  You eat them, so
you need not sneer.'

'Well, dogs are the only things worth having, then, that this
Alexandria does produce.'

'Except fair ladies!' put in one of the girls.

'Of course.  I'll except the women.  But the men-'

'The what?  I have not seen a man since I came here, except a dock-
worker or two--priests and fine gentlemen they are all--and you
don't call them men, surely?'

'What on earth do they do, beside riding donkeys?'

'Philosophise, they say.'

'What's that?'

'I'm sure I don't know; some sort of slave's quill-driving, I
suppose.'

'Pelagia! do you know what philosophising is?'

'No--and I don't care.'

'I do,' quoth Agilmund, with a look of superior wisdom; 'I saw a
philosopher the other day.'

'And what sort of a thing was it?'

'I'll tell you.  I was walking down the great street there, going to
the harbour; and I saw a crowd of boys--men they call them here--
going into a large doorway.  So I asked one of them what was doing,
and the fellow, instead of answering me, pointed at my legs, and set
all the other monkeys laughing.  So I boxed his ears, and he tumbled
down.'

'They all do so here, if you box their ears,' said the Amal
meditatively, as if he had bit upon a great inductive law.

'Ah,' said Pelagia, looking up with her most winning smile, 'they
are not such giants as you, who make a poor little woman feel like a
gazelle in a lion's paw!'

'Well--it struck me that, as I spoke in Gothic, the boy might not
have understood me, being a Greek.  So I walked in at the door, to
save questions, and see for myself.  And there a fellow held out his
hand--I suppose for money, So I gave him two or three gold pieces,
and a box on the ear, at which he tumbled down, of course, but
seemed very well satisfied.  So I walked in.'

'And what did you see?'

'A great hall, large enough for a thousand heroes, full of these
Egyptian rascals scribbling with pencils on tablets.  And at the
farther end of it the most beautiful woman I ever saw--with right
fair hair and blue eyes, talking, talking--I could not understand
it; but the donkey-riders seemed to think it very fine; for they
went on looking first at her, and then at their tablets, gaping like
frogs in drought.  And, certainly, she looked as fair as the sun,
and talked like an Alruna-wife.  Not that I knew what it was about,
but one can see somehow, you know.--So I fell asleep; and when I
woke, and came out, I met some one who understood me, and he told me
that it was the famous maiden, the great philosopher.  And that's
what I know about philosophy.'

'She was very much wasted then, on such soft-handed starvelings.
Why don't she marry some hero?'

'Because there are none here to marry,' said Pelagia; 'except some
who are fast netted, I fancy, already.'

'But what do they talk about, and tell people to do, these
philosophers, Pelagia?'

'Oh, they don't tell any one to do anything--at least, if they do,
nobody ever does it, as far as I can see; but they talk about suns
and stars, and right and wrong, and ghosts and spirits, and that
sort of thing; and about not enjoying oneself too much.  Not that I
ever saw that they were any happier than any one else.'

'She must have been an Alruna-maiden,' said Wulf, half to himself.

'She is a very conceited creature, and I hate her,' said Pelagia.

'I believe you,' said Wulf.

'What is an Alruna-maiden?' asked one of the girls.

'Something as like you as a salmon is like a horse-leech.  Heroes,
will you hear a saga?'

'If it is a cool one,' said Agilmund; 'about ice, and pine-trees,
and snowstorms, I shall be roasted brown in three days more.'

'Oh,' said the Amal, 'that we were on the Alps again for only two
hours, sliding down those snow-slopes on our shields, with the sleet
whistling about our ears!  That was sport!'

'To those who could keep their seat,' said Goderic.  'Who went head
over heels into a glacier-crack, and was dug out of fifty feet of
snow, and had to be put inside a fresh-killed horse before he could
be brought to life?'

'Not you, surely,' said Pelagia.  'Oh, you wonderful creature! what
things you have done and suffered!'

'Well,' said the Amal, with a look of stolid self-satisfaction, 'I
suppose I have seen a good deal in my time, eh?'

'Yes, my Hercules, you have gone through your twelve labours, and
saved your poor little Hesione after them all, when she was chained
to the rock, for the ugly sea-monsters to eat; and she will cherish
you, and keep you out of scrapes now, for her own sake;' and Pelagia
threw her arms round the great bull-neck, and drew it down to her.

'Will you hear my saga?' said Wulf impatiently.

'Of course we will,' said the Amal; 'anything to pass the time.'

'But let it be about snow,' said Agilmund.

'Not about Alruna-wives?'

'About them, too,' said Goderic; 'my mother was one, so I must needs
stand up for them.'

'She was, boy.  Do you be her son.  Now hear, Wolves of the Goths!'

And the old man took up his little lute, or as he would probably
have called it, 'fidel,' and began chanting to his own
accompaniment.

  Over the camp fires
  Drank I with heroes,
  Under the Donau bank
  Warm in the snow-trench,
  Sagamen heard I there,
  Men of the Longbeards,
  Cunning and ancient,
  Honey-sweet-voiced.
  Scaring the wolf-cub,
  Scaring the horn-owl out,
  Shaking the snow-wreaths
  Down from the pine-boughs,
  Up to the star-roof
  Rang out their song.
  Singing how Winil men
  Over the icefloes
  Sledging from Scanland on
  Came unto Scoring;
  Singing of Gambara
  Freya's beloved.
  Mother of Ayo
  Mother of Ibor.
  Singing of Wendel men,
  Ambri and Assi;
  How to the Winilfolk
  Went they with war-words--
  'Few are ye, strangers,
  And many are we;
  Pay us now toll and fee,
  Clothyarn, and rings, and beeves;
  Else at the raven's meal
  Bide the sharp bill's doom.'

  Clutching the dwarfs' work then,
  Clutching the bullock's shell,
  Girding gray iron on,
  Forth fared the Winils all,
  Fared the Alruna's sons,
  Ayo and Ibor.
  Mad of heart stalked they
  Loud wept the women all,
  Loud the Alruna-wife;
  Sore was their need.

  Out of the morning land,
  Over the snowdrifts,
  Beautiful Freya came,
  Tripping to Scoring.
  White were the moorlands,
  And frozen before her;
  But green were the moorlands,
  And blooming behind her,
  Out of her golden locks
  Shaking the spring flowers,
  Out of her garments
  Shaking the south wind,
  Around in the birches
  Awaking the throstles,
  And making chaste housewives all
  Long for their heroes home,
  Loving and love-giving,
  Came she to Scoring.
  Came unto Gambara,
  Wisest of Valas--
  'Vala, why weepest thou
  Far in the wide-blue,
  High up in the Elfin-home,
  Heard I thy weeping.'

  'Stop not thy weeping,
  Till one can fight seven,
  Sons have I, heroes tall,
  First in the sword-play;
  This day at the Wendels' hands
  Eagles must tear them;
  While their mothers, thrall-weary,
  Must grind for the Wendels'

  Wept the Alruna-wife;
  Kissed her fair Freya--
  'Far off in the morning land
  High in Valhalla,
  A window stands open,
  Its sill is the snow-peaks,
  Its posts are the water-spouts
  Storm rack its lintel,
  Gold cloud-flakes above it
  Are piled for the roofing.
  Far up to the Elfin-home,
  High in the wide-blue.
  Smiles out each morning thence
  Odin Allfather;
  From under the cloud-eaves,
  Smiles out on the heroes,
  Smiles out on chaste housewives all,
  Smiles on the brood-mares,
  Smiles on the smith's work:
  And theirs is the sword-luck,
  With them is the glory--
  So Odin hath sworn it--
  Who first in the morning
  Shall meet him and greet him.'

  Still the Alruna wept--
  'Who then shall greet him?
  Women alone are here:
  Far on the moorlands
  Behind the war-lindens,
  In vain for the bill's doom
  Watch Winil heroes all,
  One against seven.'

  Sweetly the Queen laughed--
  'Hear thou my counsel now;
  Take to thee cunning,
  Beloved of Freya.
  Take thou thy women-folk,
  Maidens and wives:
  Over your ankles
  Lace on the white war-hose;
  Over your bosoms
  Link up the hard mailnets;
  Over your lips
  Plait long tresses with cunning;--
  So war-beasts full bearded
  King Odin shall deem you,
  When off the gray sea-beach
  At sunrise ye greet him.'

  Night's son was driving
  His golden-haired horses up.
  Over the Eastern firths
  High flashed their manes.
  Smiled from the cloud-eaves out
  Allfather Odin,
  Waiting the battle-sport:
  Freya stood by him.
  'Who are these heroes tall--
  Lusty-limbed Longbeards?
  Over the swans' bath
  Why cry they to me?
  Bones should be crashing fast,
  Wolves should be full-fed,
  Where'er such, mad-hearted,
  Swing hands in the sword-play.'

  Sweetly laughed Freya--
  'A name thou hast given them--
  Shames neither thee nor them,
  Well can they wear it.
  Give them the victory,
  First have they greeted thee;
  Give them the victory,
  Yokefellow mine!
  Maidens and wives are these--
  Wives of the Winils;
  Few are their heroes
  And far on the war-road,
  So over the swans' bath
  They cry unto thee.'

  Royally laughed he then;
  Dear was that craft to him,
  Odin Allfather,
  Shaking the clouds.
  'Cunning are women all,
  Bold and importunate!
  Longbeards their name shall be,
  Ravens shall thank them:
  Where the women are heroes,
  What must the men be like?
  Theirs is the victory;
  No need of me!'

[Footnote: This punning legend may be seen in Paul Warnefrid's
_Gesta Langobardorum_.  The metre and language are intended as
imitations of those of the earlier Eddaic poems.]

'There!' said Wulf, when the song was ended; 'is that cool enough
for you?'

'Rather too cool; eh, Pelagia?' said the Amal, laughing.

'Ay,' went on the old man, bitterly enough, 'such were your mothers;
and such were your sisters; and such your wives must be, if you
intend to last much longer on the face of the earth--women who care
for something better than good eating, strong drinking, and soft
lying.'

'All very true, Prince Wulf,' said Agilmund, 'but I don't like the
saga after all.  It was a great deal too like what Pelagia here says
those philosophers talk about--right and wrong, and that sort of
thing.'

'I don't doubt it.'

'Now I like a really good saga, about gods and giants, and the fire
kingdoms and the snow kingdoms, and the Aesir making men and women
out of two sticks, and all that.'

'Ay,' said the Amal, 'something like nothing one ever saw in one's
life, all stark mad and topsy-turvy, like one's dreams when one has
been drunk; something grand which you cannot understand, but which
sets you thinking over it all the morning after.'

'Well,' said Goderic, 'my mother was an Alruna-woman, so I will not
be the bird to foul its own nest.  But I like to hear about wild
beasts and ghosts, ogres, and fire-drakes, and nicors--something
that one could kill if one had a chance, as one's fathers had.'

'Your fathers would never have killed nicors,' said Wulf, 'if they
had been--'

'Like us--I know,' said the Amal.  'Now tell me, prince, you are old
enough to be our father; and did you ever see a nicor?'

'My brother saw one, in the Northern sea, three fathoms long, with
the body of a bison-bull, and the head of a cat, and the beard of a
man, and tusks an ell long, lying down on its breast, watching for
the fishermen; and he struck it with an arrow, so that it fled to
the bottom of the sea, and never came up again.'

'What is a nicor, Agilmund?' asked one of the girls.

'A sea-devil who eats sailors.  There used to be plenty of them
where our fathers came from, and ogres too, who came out of the fens
into the hall at night, when the warriors were sleeping, to suck
their blood, and steal along, and steal along, and jump upon you--
so!'

Pelagia, during the saga, had remained looking into the fountain,
and playing with the water-drops, in assumed indifference.  Perhaps
it was to hide burning blushes, and something very like two hot
tears, which fell unobserved into the ripple.  Now she looked up
suddenly--

'And of course you have killed some of these dreadful creatures,
Amalric?'

'I never had such good luck, darling.  Our forefathers were in such
a hurry with them, that by the time we were born, there was hardly
one left.'

'Ay, they were men,' growled Wulf.

'As for me,' went on the Amal, 'the biggest thing I ever killed was
a snake in the Donau fens.  How long was he, prince?  You had time
to see, for you sat eating your dinner and looking on, while he was
trying to crack my bones.'

'Four fathom,' answered Wulf.

'With a wild bull lying by him, which he had just killed.  I spoilt
his dinner, eh, Wulf?'

'Yes,' said the old grumbler, mollified, 'that was a right good
fight.'

'Why don't you make a saga about it, then, instead of about right
and wrong, and such things?'

'Because I am turned philosopher.  I shall go and hear that Alruna-
maiden this afternoon.'

'Well said.  Let us go too, young men: it will pass the time, at all
events.'

'Oh, no! no! no! do not! you shall not!' almost shrieked Pelagia.

'Why not, then, pretty one?'

'She is a witch--she--I will never love you again if you dare to go.
Your only reason is that Agilmund's report of her beauty.'

'So?  You are afraid of my liking her golden locks better than your
black ones?'

'I?  Afraid?'  And she leapt up, panting with pretty rage.  'Come,
we will go too--at once--and brave this nun, who fancies herself too
wise to speak to a woman, and too pure to love a man!  Lookout my
jewels!  Saddle my white mule!  We will go royally.  We will not be
ashamed of Cupid's livery, my girls--saffron shawl and all!  Come,
and let us see whether saucy Aphrodite is not a match after all for
Pallas Athene and her owl!'

And she darted out of the cloister.

The three younger men burst into a roar of laughter, while Wulf
looked with grim approval.

'So you want to go and hear the philosopher, prince?' said Smid.

'Wheresoever a holy and a wise woman speaks, a warrior need not be
ashamed of listening.  Did not Alaric bid us spare the nuns in Rome,
comrade?  And though I am no Christian as he was, I thought it no
shame for Odin's man to take their blessing; nor will I to take this
one's, Smid, son of Troll.'



CHAPTER XIII: THE BOTTOM OF THE ABYSS


'Here am I, at last!' said Raphael Aben-Ezra to himself.  'Fairly
and safely landed at the very bottom of the bottomless; disporting
myself on the firm floor of the primeval nothing, and finding my new
element, like boys when they begin to swim, not so impracticable
after all.  No man, angel, or demon, can this day cast it in my
teeth that I am weak enough to believe or disbelieve any phenomenon
or theory in or concerning heaven or earth; or even that any such
heaven, earth, phenomena, or theories exist--or otherwise ....  I
trust that is a sufficiently exhaustive statement of my opinions?
....  I am certainly not dogmatic enough to deny--or to assert
either--that there are sensations .... far too numerous for comfort
.... but as for proceeding any further, by induction, deduction,
analysis, or synthesis, I utterly decline the office of Arachne, and
will spin no more cobwebs out of my own inside--if I have any.
Sensations?  What are they, but parts of oneself--if one has a self!
What put this child's fancy into one's head, that there is anything
outside of one which produces them?  You have exactly similar
feelings in your dreams, and you know that there is no reality
corresponding to them--No, you don't!  How dare you be dogmatic
enough to affirm that?  Why should not your dreams be as real as
your waking thoughts?  Why should not your dreams be the reality,
and your waking thoughts the dream?  What matter which?

'What matter indeed?  Here have I been staring for years--unless
that, too, is a dream, which it very probably is--at every
mountebank "ism" which ever tumbled and capered on the philosophic
tight-rope; and they are every one of them dead dolls, wooden,
worked with wires, which are _petitiones principii_ ....  Each
philosopher begs the question in hand, and then marches forward, as
brave as a triumph, and prides himself--on proving it all
afterwards.  No wonder that his theory fits the universe, when he
has first clipped the universe to fit his theory.  Have I not tried
my hand at many a one--starting, too, no one can deny, with the very
minimum of clipping, .... for I suppose one cannot begin lower than
at simple "I am I"  .... unless--which is equally demonstrable--at
"I am not I."  I recollect--or dream--that I offered that sweet
dream, Hypatia, to deduce all things in heaven and earth, from the
Astronomics of Hipparchus to the number of plumes in an archangel's
wing, from that one simple proposition, if she would but write me
out a demonstration of it first, as some sort of [Greek expression]
for the apex of my inverted pyramid.  But she disdained ....  People
are apt to disdain what they know they cannot do ....  "It was an
axiom," it was, "like one and one making two." ....  How cross the
sweet dream was, at my telling her that I did not consider that any
axiom either, and that one thing and one thing seeming to us to be
two things, was no more proof that they really were two, and not
three hundred and sixty-five, than a man seeming to be an honest
man, proved him not to be a rogue; and at my asking her, moreover,
when she appealed to universal experience, how she proved that the
combined folly of all fools resulted in wisdom!

'"I am I" an axiom, indeed!  What right have I to say that I am not
any one else?  How do I know it?  How do I know that there is any
one else for me not to be?  I, or rather something, feel a number of
sensations, longings, thoughts, fancies--the great devil take them
all--fresh ones every moment, and each at war tooth and nail with
all the rest; and then on the strength of this infinite multiplicity
and contradiction, of which alone I am aware, I am to be illogical
enough to stand up, and say, "I by myself I," and swear stoutly that
I am one thing, when all I am conscious of is the devil only knows
how many things.  Of all quaint deductions from experience, that is
the quaintest!  Would it not be more philosophical to conclude that
I, who never saw or felt or heard this which I call myself, am what
I have seen, heard, and felt--and no more and no less--that
sensation which I call that horse, that dead man, that jackass,
those forty thousand two-legged jackasses who appear to be running
for their lives below there, having got hold of this same notion of
their being one thing each--as I choose to fancy in my foolish habit
of imputing to them the same disease of thought which I find in
myself--crucify the word!--The folly of my ancestors--if I ever had
any--prevents my having any better expression ....  Why should I not
be all I feel--that sky, those clouds--the whole universe?
Hercules! what a creative genius my sensorium must be!--I'll take to
writing' poetry--a mock-epic, in seventy-two books, entitled "The
Universe: or, Raphael Aben-Ezra," and take Homer's Margites for my
model.  Homer's?  Mine!  Why must not the Margites, like everything
else, have been a sensation of my own?  Hypatia used to say Homer's
poetry was a part of her .... only she could not prove it .... but I
have proved that the Margites is a part of me .... not that I
believe my own proof--scepticism forbid!  Oh, would to heaven that
the said whole disagreeable universe were annihilated, if it were
only just to settle by fair experiment whether any of master "I"
remained when they were gone!  Buzzard and dogmatist! And how do you
know that that would settle it?  And if it did--why need it be
settled? ....

'I daresay there is an answer pat for all this.  I could write a
pretty one myself in half an hour.  But then I should not believe it
.... nor the rejoinder to that .... nor the demurrer to that again
....  So ....  I am both sleepy and hungry .... or rather,
sleepiness and hunger are me.  Which is it!  Heigh-ho....' and
Raphael finished his meditation by a mighty yawn.

This hopeful oration was delivered in a fitting lecture-room.
Between the bare walls of a doleful fire-scarred tower in the
Campagna of Rome, standing upon a knoll of dry brown grass, ringed
with a few grim pines, blasted and black with smoke; there sat
Raphael Aben-Ezra, working out the last formula of the great world
problem--'Given Self; to find God.'  Through the doorless stone
archway he could see a long vista of the plain below, covered with
broken trees, trampled crops, smoking villas, and all the ugly scars
of recent war, far onward to the quiet purple mountains and the
silver sea, towards which struggled, far in the distance, long dark
lines of moving specks, flowing together, breaking up, stopping
short, recoiling back to surge forward by some fresh channel, while
now and then a glitter of keen white sparks ran through the dense
black masses ....  The Count of Africa had thrown for the empire of
the world--and lost.

'Brave old Sun!' said Raphael, 'how merrily he flashes off the
sword-blades yonder, and never cares that every tiny spark brings a
death-shriek after it!  Why should he?  It is no concern of his.
Astrologers are fools.  His business is to shine; and on the whole,
he is one of my few satisfactory sensations.  How now?  This is
questionably pleasant!'

As he spoke, a column of troops came marching across the field,
straight towards his retreat.

'If these new sensations of mine find me here, they will infallibly
produce in me a new sensation, which will render all further ones
impossible ....  Well?  What kinder thing could they do for me? ....
Ay--but how do I know that they would do it?  What possible proof is
there that if a two-legged phantasm pokes a hard iron-gray phantasm
in among my sensations, those sensations will be my last?  Is the
fact of my turning pale, and lying still, and being in a day or two
converted into crows' flesh, any reason why I should not feel?  And
how do I know that would happen?  It seems to happen to certain
sensations of my eyeball--or something else--who cares? which I call
soldiers; but what possible analogy can there be between what seems
to happen to those single sensations called soldiers, and what may
or may not really happen to all my sensations put together, which I
call me?  Should I bear apples if a phantasm seemed to come and
plant me?  Then why should I die if another phantasm seemed to come
and poke me in the ribs?

'Still I don't intend to deny it ....  I am no dogmatist.
Positively the phantasms are marching straight for my tower!  Well,
it may be safer to run away, on the chance.  But as for losing
feeling,' continued he, rising and cramming a few mouldy crusts into
his wallet, 'that, like everything else, is past proof.  Why--if
now, when I have some sort of excuse for fancying myself one thing
in one place, I am driven mad with the number of my sensations, what
will it be when I am eaten, and turned to dust, and undeniably many
things in many places ....  Will not the sensations be multiplied
by--unbearable!  I would swear at the thought, if I had anything to
swear by!  To be transmuted into the sensoria of forty different
nasty carrion crows, besides two or three foxes, and a large black
beetle!  I'll run away, just like anybody else .... if anybody
existed.  Come, Bran!
...............

'Bran! where are you; unlucky inseparable sensation of mine?
Picking up a dinner already off these dead soldiers?  Well, the pity
is that this foolish contradictory taste of mine, while it makes me
hungry, forbids me to follow your example.  Why am I to take lessons
from my soldier-phantasms, and not from my canine one?  Illogical!
Bran!  Bran!' and he went out and whistled in vain for the dog.

'Bran! unhappy phantom, who will not vanish by night or day, lying
on my chest even in dreams; and who would not even let me vanish,
and solve the problem--though I don't believe there is any--why did
you drag me out of the sea there at Ostia?  Why did you not let me
become a whole shoal of crabs?  How did you know, or I either, that
they may not be very jolly fellows, and not in the least troubled
with philosophic doubts? ....  But perhaps there were no crabs, but
only phantasms of crabs ....  And, on the other hand, if the crab-
phantasms give jolly sensations, why should not the crow-phantasms?
So whichever way it turns out, no matter; and I may as well wait
here, and seem to become crows, as I certainly shall do.--Bran! ....
Why should I wait for her?  What pleasure can it be to me to have
the feeling of a four-legged, brindled, lop-eared, toad-mouthed
thing always between what seem to be my legs?  There she is!  Where
have you been, madam?  Don't you see I am in marching order, with
staff and wallet ready shouldered?  Come!'

But the dog, looking up in his face as only dogs can look, ran
toward the back of the ruin, and up to him again, and back again,
until he followed her.

'What's this?  Here is a new sensation with a vengeance!  O storm
and cloud of material appearances, were there not enough of you
already, that you must add to your number these also?  Bran!  Bran!
Could you find no other day in the year but this, whereon to present
my ears with the squeals of--one--two--three--nine blind puppies?'

Bran answered by rushing into the hole where her new family lay
tumbling and squalling, bringing out one in her mouth, and laying it
at his feet.

'Needless, I assure you.  I am perfectly aware of the state of the
case already.  What! another?  Silly old thing!--do you fancy, as
the fine ladies do, that burdening the world with noisy likenesses
of your precious self, is a thing of which to be proud?  Why, she's
bringing out the whole litter! ....  What was I thinking of last?
Ah--the argument was self-contradictory, was it, because I could not
argue without using the very terms which I repudiated.  Well ....
And--why should it not be contradictory; Why not?  One must face
that too, after all.  Why should not a thing be true and false also?
What harm in a thing's being false?  What necessity for it to be
true?  True?  What is truth?  Why should a thing be the worse for
being illogical?  Why should there be any logic at all?  Did I ever
see a little beast flying about with "Logic" labelled on its back?
What do I know of it, but as a sensation of my own mind--if I have
any?  What proof is that that I am to obey it, and not it me?  If a
flea bites me I get rid of that sensation; and if logic bothers me,
I'll get rid of that too.  Phantasms must be taught to vanish
courteously.  One's only hope of comfort lies in kicking feebly
against the tyranny of one's own boring notions and sensations--
every philosopher confesses that--and what god is logic, pray, that
it is to be the sole exception? ....  What, old lady?  I give you
fair warning, you must choose this day, like any nun, between the
ties of family and those of duty.'

Bran seized him by the skirt, and pulled him down towards the
puppies; took up one of the puppies and lifted it towards him; and
then repeated the action with another.

'You unconscionable old brute!  You don't actually dare to expect
the to carry your puppies for you?' and he turned to go.

Bran sat down on her tail and began howling.

'Farewell, old dog! you have been a pleasant dream after all ....
But if you will go the way of all phantasms.' ....  And he walked
away.

Bran ran with him, leaping and barking; then recollected her family
and ran back; tried to bring them, one by one, in her mouth, and
then to bring them all at once; and failing sat down and howled.

'Come, Bran!  Come, old girl!'

She raced halfway up to him; then halfway back again to the puppies;
then towards him again: and then suddenly gave it up, and dropping
her tail, walked slowly back to the blind suppliants, with a deep
reproachful growl.

'* * *!' said Raphael with a mighty oath; 'you are right after all!
Here are nine things come into the world, phantasms or not, there it
is; I can't deny it.  They are something, and you are something, old
dog; or at least like enough to something to do instead of it; and
you are not I, and as good as I, and they too, for aught I know, and
have as good a right to live as I; and by the seven planets and all
the rest of it, I'll carry them!'

And he went back, tied up the puppies in his blanket, and set forth,
Bran barking, squeaking, wagging, leaping, running between his legs
and upsetting him, in her agonies of joy.

'Forward!  Whither you will, old lady!  The world is wide.  You
shall be my guide, tutor, queen of philosophy, for the sake of this
mere common sense of yours. Forward, you new Hypatia!  I promise you
I will attend no lectures but yours this day!'

He toiled on, every now and then stepping across a dead body, or
clambering a wall out of the road, to avoid some plunging, shrieking
horse, or obscene knot of prowling camp followers, who were already
stripping and plundering the slain ....  At last, in front of a
large villa, now a black and smoking skeleton, he leaped a wall, and
found himself landed on a heap of corpses ....  They were piled up
against the garden fence for many yards.  The struggle had been
fierce there some three hours before.

'Put me out of my misery!  In mercy kill me!' moaned a voice beneath
his feet.

Raphael looked down; the poor wretch was slashed and mutilated
beyond all hope.

'Certainly, friend, if you wish it,' and he drew his dagger.  The
poor fellow stretched out his throat, and awaited the stroke with a
ghastly smile.  Raphael caught his eye; his heart failed him, and he
rose.

'What do you advise, Bran?'  But the dog was far ahead, leaping and
barking impatiently.

'I obey,' said Raphael; and he followed her, while the wounded man
called piteously and upbraidingly after him.

'He will not have long to wait.  Those plunderers will not be as
squeamish as I ....  Strange, now!  From Armenian reminiscences I
should have fancied myself as free from such tender weakness as any
of my Canaanite-slaying ancestors ....  And yet by some mere spirit
of contradiction, I couldn't kill that fellow, exactly because he
asked me to do it ....  There is more in that than will fit into the
great inverted pyramid of "I am I.".  Never mind, let me get the
dog's lessons by heart first.  What next, Bran?  Ah!  Could one
believe the transformation?  Why, this is the very trim villa which
I passed yesterday morning, with the garden-chairs standing among
the flower-beds, just as the young ladies had left them, and the
peacocks and silver pheasants running about, wondering why their
pretty mistresses did not come to feed them.  And here is a trampled
mass of wreck and corruption for the girls to find, when they
venture back from Rome, and complain how horrible war is for
breaking down all their shrubs, and how cruel soldiers must be to
kill and cook all their poor dear tame turtle-doves!  Why not?  Why
should they lament over other things--which they can just as little
mend--and which perhaps need no more mending?  Ah! there lies a
gallant fellow underneath that fruit-tree!'

Raphael walked up to a ring of dead, in the midst of which lay,
half-sitting against the trunk of the tree, a tall and noble officer
in the first bloom of manhood.  His casque and armour, gorgeously
inlaid with gold, were hewn and battered by a hundred blows; his
shield was cloven through and through; his sword broken in the
stiffened hand which grasped it still.  Cut off from his troop, he
had made his last stand beneath the tree, knee-deep in the gay
summer flowers, and there he lay, bestrewn, as if by some mockery--
or pity--of mother nature, with faded roses, and golden fruit,
shaken from off the boughs in that last deadly struggle.  Raphael
stood and watched him with a sad sneer.

'Well!--you have sold your fancied personality dear!  How many dead
men? ....  Nine ....  Eleven!  Conceited fellow!  Who told you that
your one life was worth the eleven which you have taken?'

Bran went up to the corpse--perhaps from its sitting posture
fancying it still living--smelt the cold cheek, and recoiled with a
mournful whine.

'Eh?  That is the right way to look at the phenomena, is it?  Well,
after all, I am sorry for you .... almost like you ....  All your
wounds in front, as a man's should be.  Poor fop!  Lais and Thais
will never curl those dainty ringlets for you again!  What is that
bas-relief upon your shield?  Venus receiving Psyche into the abode
of the gods! ....  Ah! you have found out all about Psyche's wings
by this time ....  How do I know that?  And yet, why am I, in spite
of my common sense--if I have any--talking to you as you, and liking
you, and pitying you, if you are nothing now, and probably never
were anything?  Bran!  What right had you to pity him without giving
your reasons in due form, as Hypatia would have done?  Forgive me,
sir, however--whether you exist or not, I cannot leave that collar
round your neck for these camp-wolves to convert into strong
liquor.'

And as he spoke, he bent down, and detached, gently enough, a
magnificent necklace.

'Not for myself, I assure you.  Like Ate's golden apple, it shall go
to the fairest.  Here, Bran!'  And he wreathed the jewels round the
neck of the mastiff, who, evidently exalted in her own eyes by the
burden, leaped and barked forward again, taking, apparently as a
matter of course, the road back towards Ostia, by which they had
come thither from the sea.  And as he followed, careless where he
went, he continued talking to himself aloud after the manner of
restless self-discontented men.

....'And then man talks big about his dignity and his intellect, and
his heavenly parentage, and his aspirations after the unseen, and
the beautiful, and the infinite--and everything else unlike himself.
How can he prove it?  Why, these poor blackguards lying about are
very fair specimens of humanity.--And how much have they been
bothered since they were born with aspirations after anything
infinite, except infinite sour wine?  To eat, to drink; to destroy a
certain number of their species; to reproduce a certain number of
the same, two-thirds of whom will die in infancy, a dead waste of
pain to their mothers and of expense to their putative sires ....
and then--what says Solomon?  What befalls them befalls beasts.  As
one dies, so dies the other; so that they have all one breath, and a
man has no pre-eminence over a beast; for all is vanity.  All go to
one place; all are of the dust, and turn to dust again.  Who knows
that the breath of man goes upward, and that the breath of the beast
goes downward to the earth?  Who, indeed, my most wise ancestor?
Not I, certainly.  Raphael Aben-Ezra, how art thou better than a
beast?  W hat pre-eminence hast thou, not merely over this dog, But
over the fleas whom thou so wantonly cursest?  Man must painfully
win house, clothes, fire ....  A pretty proof of his wisdom, when
every flea has the wit to make my blanket, without any labour of his
own, lodge him a great deal better than it lodges me!  Man makes
clothes, and the fleas live in them ....  Which is the wiser of the
two? ....

'Ah, but--man is fallen ....  Well--and the flea is not.  So much
better he than the man; for he is what he was intended to be, and so
fulfils the very definition of virtue. which no one can say of us of
the red-ochre vein.  And even if the old myth be true, and the man
only fell, because he was set to do higher work than the flea, what
does that prove--but that he could not do it?

'But his arts and his sciences? ....  Apage!  The very sound of
those grown-children's rattles turns me sick ....  One conceited ass
in a generation increasing labour and sorrow, and dying after all even
as the fool dies, and ten million brutes and slaves, just where their
fore-fathers were, and where their children will be after them, to
the end of the farce ....  The thing that has been, it is that which
shall be; and there is no new thing under the sun....

'And as for your palaces, and cities, and temples .... look at this
Campagna, and judge. Flea-bites go down after a while--and so do
they.  What are they but the bumps which we human fleas make in the
old earth's skin?.  Make them?  We only cause them, as fleas cause
flea-bites ....  What are all the works of man, but a sort of
cutaneous disorder in this unhealthy earth-hide, and we a race of
larger fleas, running about among its fur, which we call trees?  Why
should not the earth be an animal?  How do I know it is not?
Because it is too big?  Bah!  What is big, and what is little?
Because it has not the shape of one? ....  Look into a fisherman's
net, and see what forms are there!  Because it does not speak? ....
Perhaps it has nothing to say, being too busy.  Perhaps it can talk
no more sense than we ....  In both cases it shows its wisdom by
holding its tongue.  Because it moves in one necessary direction?
....  How do I know that it does?  How can I tell that it is not
flirting with all the seven spheres at once, at this moment?  But if
it does--so much the wiser of it, if that be the best direction for
it.  Oh, what a base satire on ourselves and our notions of the fair
and fitting, to say that a thing cannot be alive and rational, just
because it goes steadily on upon its own road, instead of skipping
and scrambling fantastically up and down without method or order,
like us and the fleas, from the cradle to the grave!  Besides, if
you grant, with the rest of the world, that fleas are less noble
than we, because they are our parasites, then you are bound to grant
that we are less noble than the earth, because we are its parasites.
....  Positively, it looks more probable than anything I have seen
for many a day ....  And, by the bye, why should not earthquakes,
and floods, and pestilences, be only just so many ways which the
cunning old brute earth has of scratching herself when the human
fleas and their palace and city bites get too troublesome?'

At a turn of the road he was aroused from this profitable meditation
by a shriek, the shrillness of which told him that it was a woman's.
He looked up, and saw close to him, among the smouldering ruins of a
farmhouse, two ruffians driving before them a young girl, with her
hands tied behind her, while the poor creature was looking back
piteously after something among the ruins, and struggling in vain,
bound as she was, to escape from her captors and return.

'Conduct unjustifiable in any fleas,--eh, Bran?  How do I know that,
though?  Why should it not be a piece of excellent fortune for her,
if she had but the equanimity to see it?  Why--what will happen to
her?  She will betaken to Rome, and sold as a slave ....  And in
spite of a few discomforts in the transfer, and the prejudice which
some persons have against standing an hour on the catasta to be
handled from head to foot in the minimum of clothing, she will most
probably end in being far better housed, fed, bedizened, and
pampered to her heart's desire, than ninety-nine out of a hundred of
her sister fleas .... till she begins to grow old .... which she
must do in any case....And if she have not contrived to wheedle her
master out of her liberty, and to make tip a pretty little purse of
savings, by that time--why, it is her own fault.  Eh, Bran?'

But Bran by no means agreed with his view of the case; for after
watching the two ruffians, with her head stuck on one side, for a
minute or two, she suddenly and silently, after the manner of
mastiffs, sprang upon them, and dragged one to the ground.

'Oh! that is the "fit and beautiful," in this case, as they say in
Alexandria, is it?  Well--I obey.  You are at least a more practical
teacher than ever Hypatia was.  Heaven grant that there may be no
more of them in the ruins!'

And rushing on the second plunderer, he laid him dead with a blow of
his dagger, and then turned to the first, whom Bran was holding down
by the throat.

'Mercy, mercy!' shrieked the wretch.  'Life! only life!'

'There was a fellow half a mile back begging me to kill him: with
which of you two am I to agree?--for you can't both be right.'

'Life!  Only life!'

'A carnal appetite, which man must learn to conquer,' said Raphael,
as he raised the poniard.  ....  In a moment it was over, and Bran
and he rose--Where was the girl?  She had rushed back to the ruins,
whither Raphael followed her; while Bran ran to the puppies, which
he had laid upon a stone, and commenced her maternal cares.

'What do you want, my poor girl?' asked he in Latin.  'I will not
hurt you.'

'My father!  My father!'

He untied her bruised and swollen wrists; and without stopping to
thank him, she ran to a heap of fallen stones and beams, and began
digging wildly with all her little strength, breathlessly calling
'Father!'

'Such is the gratitude of flea to flea!  What is there, now, in the
mere fact of being accustomed to call another person father, and not
master, or slave, which should produce such passion as that? ....
Brute habit! ....  What services can the said man render, or have
rendered, which make him worth--Here is Bran! ....  What do you
think of that, my female philosopher?'

Bran sat down and watched too.  The poor girl's tender hands were
bleeding from the stones, while her golden tresses rolled down over
her eyes, and entangled in her impatient fingers; but still she
worked frantically.  Bran seemed suddenly to comprehend the case,
rushed to the rescue, and began digging too, with all her might.

Raphael rose with a shrug, and joined in the work.
...............

'Hang these brute instincts!  They make one very hot.  What was
that?'

A feeble moan rose from under the stones.  A human limb was
uncovered.  The girl threw herself on the place, shrieking her
father's name.  Raphael put her gently back and exerting his whole
strength, drew out of the ruins a stalwart elderly man, in the dress
of an officer of high rank.

He still breathed.  The girl lifted up his head and covered him with
wild kisses.  Raphael looked round for water; found a spring and a
broken sherd, and bathed the wounded man's temples till he opened
his eyes and showed signs of returning life.

The girl still sat by him, fondling her recovered treasure, and
bathing the grizzled face in holy tears.

'It is no business of mine,' said Raphael. 'Come, Bran!'

The girl sprang up, threw herself at his feet, kissed his hands,
called him her saviour, her deliverer, sent by God.

'Not in the least, my child.  You must thank my teacher the dog, not
me.'

And she took him at his word, and threw her soft arms round Bran's
Deck; and Bran understood it, and wagged her tail, and licked the
gentle face lovingly.

'Intolerably absurd, all this!' said Raphael.  'I must be going,
Bran.'

'You will not leave us?  You surely will not leave an old man to die
here?'

'Why not?  What better thing could happen to him?'

'Nothing,' murmured the officer, who had not spoken before.

'Ah, God! he is my father!'

'Well?'

'He is my father!'

'Well?'

'You must save him!  You shall, I say!'  And she seized Raphael's
arm in the imperiousness of her passion.

He shrugged his shoulders: but felt, he knew not why, marvellously
inclined to obey her.

'I may as well do this as anything else, having nothing else to do.
Whither now, sir?'

'Whither you will.  Our troops are disgraced, our eagles taken.  We
are your prisoners by right of war.  We follow you.'

'Oh, my fortune! A new responsibility!  Why cannot I stir, without
live animals, from fleas upward, attaching. themselves to me?  Is it
not enough to have nine blind puppies at my back, and an old brute
at my heels, who will persist in saving my life, that I must be
burdened over and above with a respectable elderly rebel and his
daughter?  Why am I not allowed by fate to care for nobody but
myself?  Sir, I give you both your freedom.  The world is wide
enough for us all.  I really ask no ransom.'

'You seem philosophically disposed, my friend.'

'I?  Heaven forbid!  I have gone right through that slough, and come
out sheer on the other side. For sweeping the last lingering taint
of it out of me, I have to thank, not sulphur and exorcisms, but
your soldiers and their morning's work.  Philosophy is superfluous
in a world where all are fools.'

'Do you include yourself under that title?'

'Most certainly, my best sir.  Don't fancy that I make any
exceptions.  If I can in any way prove my folly to you, I will do
it.'

'Then help me and my daughter to Ostia.'

'A very fair instance.  Well--my dog happens to be going that way;
and after all, you seem to have a sufficient share of human
imbecility to be a very fit companion for me.  I hope, though, you
do not set up for a wise man!'

'God knows--no! Am I not of Heraclian's army?'

'True; and the young lady here made herself so great a fool about
you, that she actually infected the very dog.'

'So we three fools will forth together.'

'And the greatest one, as usual, must help the rest.  But I have
nine puppies in my family already.  How am I to carry you and them?'

'I will take them,' said the girl; and Bran, after looking on at the
transfer with a somewhat dubious face, seemed to satisfy herself
that all was right, and put her head contentedly under the girl's
hand.

'Eh?  You trust her, Bran?' said Raphael, in an undertone. 'I must
really emancipate myself from your instructions if you require a
similar simplicity in me.  Stay! there wanders a mule without a
rider; we may as well press into the service.'

He caught the mule, lifted the wounded man into the saddle, and the
cavalcade set forth, turning out of the highroad into a by-lane,
which the officer, who seemed to know the country thoroughly,
assured would lead them to Ostia by an unfrequented route.

'If we arrive there before sundown, we are saved,' said he.

'And in the meantime,' answered Raphael, 'between the dog and this
dagger, which, as I take care to inform all comers, is delicately
poisoned, we may keep ourselves clear of marauders.  And yet, what a
meddling fool I am!' he went on to himself. 'What possible interest
can I have in this uncircumcised rebel!  The least evil is, that if
we are taken, which we most probably shall be, I shall be crucified
for helping to escape.  But even if we get safe off--here is a fresh
tie between me and those very brother fleas, to be rid of whom I
have chosen beggary and starvation.  Who knows where it may end?
Pooh!  The man is like other men.  He is certain, before the day is
over, to prove ungrateful, or attempt the mountebank-heroic, or give
me some other excuse for bidding good-evening.  And in the meantime
there is something quaint in the fact of finding so sober a
respectability, with a young daughter too, abroad on this fool's
errand, which really makes me curious to discover with what variety
of flea I am to class him.'

But while Aben-Ezra was talking to himself about the father, he
could not help, somehow, thinking about the daughter.  Again and
again he found himself looking at her.  She was, undeniably, most
beautiful.  Her features were not as regularly perfect as Hypatia's,
nor her stature so commanding; but her face shone with a clear and
joyful determination, and with a tender and modest thoughtfulness,
such as he had never beheld before united in one countenance; and as
she stepped along, firmly and lightly, by her father's side, looping
up her scattered tresses as she went, laughing at the struggles of
her noisy burden, and looking up with rapture at her father's
gradually brightening face, Raphael could not help stealing glance
after glance, and was surprised to find them returned with a bright,
honest, smiling gratitude, which met full-eyed, as free from prudery
as it was from coquetry .... 'A lady she is,' said he to himself;
'but evidently no city one.  There is nature--or something else,
there, pure and unadulterated, without any of man's additions or
beautifications.'  And as he looked, he began to feel it a pleasure
such as his weary heart had not known for many a year, simply to
watch her....

'Positively there is a foolish enjoyment after all in making other
fleas smile ....  Ass that I am! As if I had not drunk all that
ditch-water cup to the dregs years ago!'

They went on for some time in silence, till the officer, turning to
him--

'And may I ask you, my quaint preserver, whom I would have thanked
before but for this foolish faintness, which is now going off, what
and who you are?'

'A flea, sir--a flea--nothing more.'

'But a patrician flea, surely, to judge by your language and
manners?'

'Not that exactly.  True, I have been rich, as the saying is; I may
be rich again, they tell me, when I am fool enough to choose.'

'Oh if we were but rich!' sighed the girl.

'You would be very unhappy, my dear young lady.  Believe a flea who
has tried the experiment thoroughly.'

'Ah! but we could ransom my brother! and now we can find no money
till we get back to Africa.'

'And none then,' said the officer, in a low voice. 'You forget, my
poor child, that I mortgaged the whole estate to raise my legion.
We must not shrink from looking at things as they are.'

'Ah! and he is prisoner! he will be sold for a slave--perhaps--ah!
perhaps crucified, for he is not a Roman!  Oh, he will be
crucified!' and she burst into an agony of weeping....Suddenly she
dashed away her tears and looked up clear and bright once more.

'No! forgive me, father!  God will protect His own!'

'My dear young lady,' said Raphael, 'if you really dislike such a
prospect for your brother, and are in want of a few dirty coins
wherewith to prevent it, perhaps I may be able to find you them in
Ostia.'

She looked at incredulously, as her eye glanced over his rags, and
then, blushing, begged his pardon for her unspoken thoughts.

'Well, as you choose to suppose.  But my dog has been so civil to
you already, that perhaps she may have no objection to make you a
present of that necklace of hers.  I will go to the Rabbis, and we
will make all right; so don't cry.  I hate crying; and the puppies
are quite chorus enough for the present tragedy.'

'The Rabbis?  Are you a Jew?' asked the officer.

'Yes, sir, a Jew.  And you, I presume, a Christian: perhaps you may
have scruples about receiving--your sect has generally none about
taking--from one of our stubborn and unbelieving race.  Don't be
frightened, though, for your conscience; I assure you I am no more a
Jew at heart than I am a Christian.'

'God help you then!'

'Some one, or something, has helped me a great deal too much, for
three-and-thirty years of pampering.  But, pardon me, that was a
strange speech for a Christian.'

'You must be a good Jew, sir, before you can be a good Christian.'

'Possibly.  I intend to be neither--nor a good Pagan either.  My
dear sir, let us drop the subject.  It is beyond me.  If I can be as
good a brute animal as my dog there--it being first demonstrated
that it is good to be good--I shall be very well content.'

The officer looked down on with a stately, loving sorrow.  Raphael
caught his eye, and felt that he was in the presence of no common
man.

'I must take care what I say here, I suspect, or I shall be
entangled shortly in a regular Socratic dialogue ....  And now, sir,
may I return your question, and ask who and what are you?  I really
have no intention of giving you up to any Caesar, Antiochus,
Tiglath-Pileser, or other flea-devouring flea ....  They will fatten
well enough without your blood.  So I only ask as a student of the
great nothing-in-general, which men call the universe.'

'I was prefect of a legion this morning.  What I am now, you know as
well as I.'

'Just what I do not.  I am in deep wonder at seeing your hilarity,
when, by all flea-analogies, you ought to be either be howling your
fate like Achilles on the shores of Styx, or pretending to grin and
bear it, as I was taught to do when I played at Stoicism.  You are
not of that sect certainly, for you confessed yourself a fool just
now.'

'And it would be long, would it not, before you made one of them do
as much?  Well, be it so.  A fool I am; yet, if God helps us as far
as Ostia, why should I not be cheerful?'

'Why should you?'

'What better thing can happen to a fool, than that God should teach
that he is one, when he fancied himself the wisest of the wise?
Listen to me, sir. Four mouths ago I was blessed with health,
honour, lands, friends--all for which the heart of man could wish.
And if, for an insane ambition, I have chosen to risk all those,
against the solemn warnings of the truest friend, and the wisest
saint who treads this earth of God's--should I not rejoice to have
it proved to me, even by such a lesson as this, that the friend who
never deceived me before was right in this case too; and that the
God who has checked and turned me for forty years of wild toil and
warfare, whenever I dared to do what was right in the sight of my
own eyes, has not forgotten me yet, or given up the thankless task
of my education?'

'And who, pray, is this peerless friend?'

'Augustine of Hippo.'

'Humph!  It had been better for the world in general, if the great
dialectician had exerted his powers of persuasion on Heraclian
himself.'

'He did so, but in vain.'

'I don't doubt it.  I know the sleek Count well enough to judge what
effect a sermon would have upon that smooth vulpine determination of
his ....  "An instrument in the hands of God, my dear brother ....
We must obey His call, even to the death," etc. etc.'  And Raphael
laughed bitterly.

'You know the Count?'

'As well, sir, as I care to know any man.'

'I am sorry for your eyesight, then, sir,' said the Prefect
severely, 'if it has been able to discern no more than that in so
august a character.'

'My dear sir, I do not doubt his excellence--nay, his inspiration.
How well he divined the perfectly fit moment for stabbing his old
comrade Stilicho!  But really, as two men of the world, we must be
aware by this time that every man has his price.'....

'Oh, hush! hush!' whispered the girl. 'You cannot guess how you pain
him.  He worships the Count.  It was not ambition, as he pretends,
but merely loyalty to him, which brought here against his will.'

'My dear madam, forgive me. For your sake I am silent.'....

'For her sake! A pretty speech for me!  What next?' said he to
himself. 'Ah, Bran, Bran, this is all your fault!'

'For my sake!  Oh, why not for your own sake?  How sad to hear one--
one like you, only sneering and speaking evil!'

'Why then?  If fools are fools, and one can safely call them so, why
not do it?'

'Ah,--if God was merciful enough to send down His own Son to die for
them, should we not be merciful enough not to judge their failings
harshly!'

'My dear young lady, spare a worn-out philosopher any new
anthropologic theories.  We really must push on a little faster, if
we intend to reach Ostia to-night.'

But, for some reason or other, Raphael sneered no more for a full
half-hour.

Long, however, ere they reached Ostia, the night had fallen; and
their situation began to be more than questionably safe.  Now and
then a wolf, slinking across the road towards his ghastly feast,
glided like a lank ghost out of the darkness, and into it again,
answering Bran's growl by a gleam of his white teeth.  Then the
voices of some marauding party rang coarse and loud through the
still night, and made them hesitate and stop a while.  And at last,
worst of all, the measured tramp of an imperial column began to roll
like distant thunder along the plain below.  They were advancing
upon Ostia!  What if they arrived there before the routed army could
rally, and defend themselves long enough to re-embark! ....  What
if--a thousand ugly possibilities began to crowd up.

'Suppose we found the gates of Ostia shut, and the Imperialists
bivouacked outside?' said Raphael half to himself.

'God would protect His own,' answered the girl; and Raphael had no
heart to rob her of her hope, though he looked upon their chances of
escape as growing smaller and smaller every moment.  The poor girl
was weary; the mule weary also; and as they crawled along, at a pace
which made it certain that the fast passing column would be at Ostia
an hour before them, to join the vanguard of the pursuers, and aid
them in investing the town, she had to lean again and again on
Raphael's arm.  Her shoes, unfitted for so rough a journey, bad been
long since torn off, and her tender feet were marking every step
with blood.  Raphael knew it by her faltering gait; and remarked,
too, that neither sigh nor murmur passed her lips.  But as for
helping her, he could not; and began to curse the fancy which had
led to eschew even sandals as unworthy the self-dependence of a
Cynic.

And so they crawled along, while Raphael and the Prefect, each
guessing the terrible thoughts of the other, were thankful for the
darkness which hid their despairing countenances from the young
girl; she, on the other hand, chatting cheerfully, almost
laughingly, to her silent father.

At last the poor girl stepped on some stone more sharp than usual--
and, with a sudden writhe and shriek, sank to the ground.  Raphael
lifted her up, and she tried to proceed, but sank down again ....
What was to be done?

'I expected this,' said the Prefect, in a slow stately voice. 'Hear
me, sir!  Jew, Christian, or philosopher, God seems to have bestowed
on you a heart which I can trust.  To your care I commit this girl--
your property, like me, by right of war.  Mount her upon this mule.
Hasten with her--where you will--for God will be there also.  And
may He so deal with you as you deal with her henceforth.  An old and
disgraced soldier can do no more than die.'

And he made an effort to dismount; but fainting from his wounds,
sank upon the neck of the mule.  Raphael and his daughter caught in
their arms.

'Father!  Father!  Impossible!  Cruel!  Oh--do you think that I
would have followed you hither from Africa, against your own
entreaties, to desert you now?'

'My daughter, I command!'

The girl remained firm and sound.

'How long have you learned to disobey me?  Lift the old disgraced
man down, sir, and leave to die in the right place--on the
battlefield where his general sent him.'

The girl sank down on the road in an agony of weeping. 'I must help
myself, I see,' said her father, dropping to the ground. 'Authority
vanishes before old age and humiliation.  Victoria! has your father
no sins to answer for already, that you will send before his God
with your blood too upon his head?'

Still the girl sat weeping on the ground; while Raphael, utterly at
his wits end, tried hard to persuade himself that it was no concern
of his.

'I am at the service of either or of both, for life or death; only
be so good as to settle it quickly ....  Hell! here it is settled
for us, with a vengeance!'

And as he spoke, the tramp and jingle of horsemen rang along the
lane, approaching rapidly.

In an instant Victoria had sprung to her feet--weakness and pain had
vanished.

'There is one chance--one chance for him!  Lift over the bank, sir!
Lift over, while I run forward and meet them.  My death will delay
them long enough for you to save him!'

'Death?' cried Raphael, seizing her by the arm.  'If that were all--
'

'God will protect His own,' answered she calmly, laying her finger
on her lips; and then breaking from his grasp in the strength of her
heroism, vanished into the night.

Her father tried to follow her, but fell on his face, groaning.
Raphael lifted him, strove to drag up the steep bank: but his knees
knocked together; a faint sweat seemed to melt every limb ....
There was a pause, which secured ages long ....  Nearer and nearer
came the trampling ....  A sudden gleam of the moon revealed
Victoria standing with outspread arms, right before the horses'
heads.  A heavenly glory seemed to bathe her from head to foot ....
or was it tears sparkling in his own eyes? ....  Then the grate and
jar of the horse-hoofs on the road, as they pulled up suddenly ....
He turned his face away and shut his eyes....

'What are you?' thundered a voice.

'Victoria, the daughter of Majoricus the Prefect.'

The voice was low, but yet so clear and calm, that every syllable
rang through Aben-Ezra's tingling ears....

A shout--a shriek--the confused murmur of many voices ....  He
looked up, in spite of himself-a horseman had sprung to the ground,
and clasped Victoria in his arms.  The human heart of flesh, asleep
for many a year, leaped into mad life within his breast, and drawing
his dagger, he rushed into the throng--

'Villains!  Hellhounds!  I will balk you!  She shall die first!'

And the bright blade gleamed over Victoria's head ....  He was
struck down--blinded--half-stunned--but rose again with the energy
of madness ....  What was this?  Soft arms around him ....
Victoria's!

'Save him! spare him!  He saved us!  Sir!  It is my brother!  We are
safe!  Oh, spare the dog!  It saved my father!'

'We have mistaken each other, indeed, sir!' said a gay young
Tribune, in a voice trembling with joy.  'Where is my father?'

'Fifty yards behind.  Down, Bran!  Quiet!  O Solomon, mine ancestor,
why did you not prevent me making such an egregious fool of myself?
Why, I shall be forced, in self-justification, to carry through the
farce!'

There is no use telling what followed during the next five minutes,
at the end of which time Raphael found himself astride of a goodly
war-horse, by the side of the young Tribune, who carried Victoria
before him.  Two soldiers in the meantime were supporting the
Prefect on his mule, and convincing that stubborn bearer of burdens
that it was not quite so unable to trot as it had fancied, by the
combined arguments of a drench of wine and two sword-points, while
they heaped their general with blessings, and kissed his hands and
feet.

'Your father's soldiers seem to consider themselves in debt to him:
not, surely, for taking them where they could best run away?'

'Ah, poor fellows!' said the Tribune; 'we have had as real a panic
among us as I ever read of in Arrian or Polybius.  But he has been a
father rather than a general to them.  It is not often that, out of
a routed army, twenty gallant men will volunteer to ride back into
the enemy's ranks, on the chance of an old man's breathing still.'

'Then you knew where to find us?' said Victoria.

'Some of them knew.  And he himself showed us this very by-road
yesterday, when we took up our ground, and told us it might be of
service on occasion--and so it has been.'

'But they told me that you were taken prisoner.  Oh, the torture I
have suffered for you!'

'Silly child!  Did you fancy my father's son would be taken alive?
I and the first troop got away over the garden walls, and cut our
way out into the plain, three hours ago.'

'Did I not tell you,' said Victoria, leaning toward Raphael, 'that
God would protect His own?'

'You did,' answered he; and fell into a long and silent meditation.



CHAPTER XIV: THE ROCKS OF THE SIRENS


THESE four months had been busy and eventful enough to Hypatia and
to Philammon; yet the events and the business were of so gradual and
uniform a tenor, that it is as well to pass quickly over them, and
show what had happened principally by its effects.

The robust and fiery desert-lad was now metamorphosed into the pale
and thoughtful student, oppressed with the weight of careful thought
and weary memory.  But those remembrances were all recent ones.
With his entrance into Hypatia's lecture-room, and into the fairy
realms of Greek thought, a new life had begun for him; and the
Laura, and Pambo, and Arsenius, seemed dim phantoms from some
antenatal existence, which faded day by day before the inrush of new
and startling knowledge.

But though the friends and scenes of his childhood had fallen back
so swiftly into the far horizon, he was not lonely.  His heart found
a lovelier, if not a healthier home, than it had ever known before.
For during those four peaceful and busy months of study there had
sprung up between Hypatia and the beautiful boy one of those pure
and yet passionate friendships--call them rather, with St.
Augustine, by the sacred name of love--which, fair and holy as they
are when they link youth to youth, or girl to girl, reach their full
perfection only between man and woman.  The unselfish adoration with
which a maiden may bow down before some strong and holy priest, or
with which an enthusiastic boy may cling to the wise and tender
matron, who, amid the turmoil of the world, and the pride of beauty,
and the cares of wifehood, bends down to with counsel and
encouragement--earth knows no fairer bonds than these, save wedded
love itself.  And that second relation, motherly rather than
sisterly, had bound Philammon with a golden chain to the wondrous
maid of Alexandria.

From the commencement of his attendance in her lecture-room she had
suited her discourses to what she fancied were his especial
spiritual needs; and many a glance of the eye towards him, on any
peculiarly important sentence, set the poor boy's heart beating at
that sign that the words were meant for him.  But before a month was
past, won by the intense attention with which he watched for every
utterance of hers, she had persuaded her father to give a place in
the library as one of his pupils, among the youths who were employed
there daily in transcribing, as well as in studying, the authors
then in fashion.

She saw him at first but seldom--more seldom than she would have
wished; but she dreaded the tongue of scandal, heathen as well as
Christian, and contented herself with inquiring daily from her
father about the progress of the boy.  And when at times she entered
for a moment the library, where he sat writing, or passed him on her
way to the Museum, a look was interchanged, on her part of most
gracious approval, and on his of adoring gratitude, which was enough
for both.  Her spell was working surely; and she was too confident
in her own cause and her own powers to wish to hurry that
transformation for which she so fondly hoped.

'He must begin at the beginning,' thought she to herself.
'Mathematics and the Parmenides are enough for him as yet.  Without
a training in the liberal sciences be cannot gain a faith worthy of
those gods to whom some day I shall present him; and I should find
his Christian ignorance and fanaticism transferred, whole and rude,
to the service of those gods whose shrine is unapproachable save to
the spiritual man, who has passed through the successive vestibules
of science and philosophy.'

But soon, attracted herself, as much as wishing to attract him, she
employed him in copying manuscripts for her own use.  She sent back
his themes and declamations, corrected with her own hand; and
Philammon laid them by in his little garret at Eudaimon's house as
precious badges of honour, after exhibiting them to the reverential
and envious gaze of the little porter.  So he toiled on, early and
late, counting himself well paid for a week's intense exertion by a
single smile or word of approbation, and went home to pour out his
soul to his host on the one inexhaustible theme which they had in
common--Hypatia and her perfections.  He would have raved often
enough on the same subject to his fellow-pupils, but he shrank not
only from their artificial city manners, but also from their
morality, for suspecting which he saw but too good cause.  He longed
to go out into the streets, to proclaim to the whole world the
treasure which he had found, and call on all to come and share it
with him. For there was no jealousy in that pure love of his.  Could
he have seen her lavishing on thousands far greater favours than she
had conferred on him, he would have rejoiced in the thought that
there were so many more blest beings upon earth, and have loved them
all and every one as brothers, for having deserved her notice.  Her
very beauty, when his first flush of wonder was past, he ceased to
mention--ceased even to think of it.  Of course she must be
beautiful.  It was her right; the natural complement of her other
graces but it was to him only what the mother's smile is to the
infant, the sunlight to the skylark, the mountain-breeze to the
hunter--an inspiring element, on which he fed unconsciously.  Only
when he doubted for a moment some especially startling or fanciful
assertion, did he become really aware of the great loveliness of her
who made it; and then his heart silenced his judgment with the
thought--Could any but true words come out of those perfect lips?--
any but royal thoughts take shape within that queenly head? ....
Poor fool!  Yet was it not natural enough?

Then, gradually, as she passed the boy, poring over his book, in
some alcove of the Museum Gardens, she would invite him by a glance
to join the knot of loungers and questioners who dangled about her
and her father, and fancied themselves to be reproducing the days of
the Athenian sages amid the groves of another Academus.  Sometimes,
even, she had beckoned him to her side as she sat in some retired
arbour, attended only by her father; and there some passing
observation, earnest and personal, however lofty and measured, made
him aware, as it was intended to do, that she had a deeper interest
in him, a livelier sympathy for him, than for the many; that he was
in her eyes not merely a pupil to be instructed, but a soul whom she
desired to educate.  And those delicious gleams of sunlight grew
more frequent and more protracted; for by each she satisfied herself
more and more that she had not mistaken either his powers or his
susceptibilities: and in each, whether in public or private,
Philammon seemed to bear himself more worthily. For over and above
the natural ease and dignity which accompanies physical beauty, and
the modesty, self-restraint, and deep earnestness which be had
acquired under the discipline of the Laura, his Greek character was
developing itself in all its quickness, subtlety, and versatility,
until he seemed to Hypatia some young Titan, by the side of the
flippant, hasty, and insincere talkers who made up her chosen
circle.

But man can no more live upon Platonic love than on the more
prolific species of that common ailment; and for the first month
Philammon would have gone hungry to his couch full many a night, to
lie awake from baser causes than philosophic meditation, had it not
been for his magnanimous host, who never lost heart for a moment,
either about himself, or any other human being.  As for Philammon's
going out with him to earn his bread, he would not hear of it.  Did
he suppose that he could meet any of those monkish rascals in the
street, without being knocked down and carried off by main force?
And besides there was a sort of impiety in allowing so hopeful a
student to neglect the 'Divine Ineffable' in order to supply the
base necessities of the teeth.  So he should pay no rent for his
lodgings--positively none; and as for eatables--why, he must himself
work a little harder in order to cater for both.  Had not all his
neighbours their litters of children to provide for, while he,
thanks to the immortals, had been far too wise to burden the earth
with animals who would add to the ugliness of their father the
Tartarean hue of their mother?  And after all, Philammon could pay
him back when he became a great sophist, and made money, as of
course he would some day or other; and in the meantime, something
might turn up--things were always turning up for those whom the gods
favoured; and besides, he had fully ascertained that on the day on
which he first met Philammon, the planets were favourable, the
Mercury being in something or other, he forgot what, with Helios,
which portended for Philammon, in his opinion, a similar career with
that of the glorious and devout Emperor Julian.

Philammon winced somewhat at the hint; which seemed to have an ugly
verisimilitude in it: but still, philosophy he must learn, and bread
he must eat; so he submitted.

But one evening, a few days after he had been admitted as Theon's
pupil, he found, much to his astonishment, lying on the table in his
garret, an undeniable glittering gold piece.  He took it down to the
porter the next morning, and begged him to discover the owner of the
lost coin, and return it duly.  But what was his surprise, when the
little man, amid endless capers and gesticulations, informed him
with an air of mystery, that it was anything but lost; that his
arrears of rent had been paid for him; and that by the bounty of the
upper powers, a fresh piece of coin would be forthcoming every
month!  In vain Philammon demanded to know who was his benefactor.
Eudaimon resolutely kept the secret and imprecated a whole Tartarus
of unnecessary curses on his wife if she allowed her female
garrulity--though the poor creature seemed never to open her lips
from morning till night--to betray so great a mystery.

Who was the unknown friend?  There was but one person who could have
done it ....  And yet he dared not--the thought was too delightful--
think it was she.  It must have been her father.  The old man had
asked him more than once about the state of his purse.  True, he had
always returned evasive answers; but the kind old man must have
divined the truth.  Ought he not--must he not--go and thank him?
No; perhaps it was more courteous to say nothing.  If he--she--for
of course she had permitted, perhaps advised, the gift--had intended
him to thank them, would they have so carefully concealed their own
generosity?  ....  Be it so, then.  But how would he not repay them
for it!  How delightful to be in her debt for anything--for
everything!  Would that he could have the enjoyment of owing her
existence itself!

So he took the coin, bought unto himself a cloak of the most
philosophic fashion, and went his way, such as it was, rejoicing.

But his faith in Christianity?  What had become of that?

What usually happens in such cases.  It was not dead; but
nevertheless it had fallen fast asleep for the time being.  He did
not disbelieve it; he would have been shocked to hear such a thing
asserted of him: but he happened to be busy believing something
else--geometry, conic sections, cosmogonies, psychologies, and what
not.  And so it befell that he had not just then time to believe in
Christianity.  He recollected at times its existence; but even then
he neither affirmed nor denied it.  When he had solved the great
questions--those which Hypatia set forth as the roots of all
knowledge--how the world was made, and what was the origin of evil,
and what his own personality was, and--that being settled--whether
he had one, with a few other preliminary matters, then it would be
time to return, with his enlarged light, to the study of
Christianity; and if, of course, Christianity should be found to be
at variance with that enlarged light, as Hypatia seemed to think
....  Why, then--What then? ....  He would not think about such
disagreeable possibilities.  Sufficient for the day was the evil
thereof.

Possibilities?  It was impossible ....  Philosophy could not
mislead.  Had not Hypatia defined it, as man's search after the
unseen?  And if he found the unseen by it, did it not come to just
the same thing as if the unseen had revealed itself to him?  And he
must find it--for logic and mathematics could not err.  If every
step was correct, the conclusion must be correct also; so he must
end, after all, in the right path--that is, of course, supposing
Christianity to be the right path--and return to fight the Church's
battles, with the sword which he had wrested from Goliath the
Philistine....But he had not won the sword yet.; and in the
meanwhile, learning was weary work; and sufficient for the day was
the good, as well as the evil, thereof.

So, enabled by his gold coin each month to devote himself entirely
to study, he became very much what Peter would have coarsely termed
a heathen.  At first, indeed, he slipped into the Christian
churches, from a habit of conscience.  But habits soon grow sleepy;
the fear of discovery and recapture made his attendance more and
more of a labour.  And keeping himself apart as much as possible
from the congregation, as a lonely and secret worshipper, he soon
found himself as separate from them in heart as in daily life.  He
felt that they, and even more than they, those flowery and bombastic
pulpit rhetoricians, who were paid for their sermons by the clapping
and cheering of the congregation, were not thinking of, longing
after, the same things as himself.  Besides, he never spoke to a
Christian; for the negress at his lodgings seemed to avoid him--
whether from modesty or terror, be could not tell; and cut off thus
from the outward 'communion of saints,' he found himself fast
parting away from the inward one.  So he went no more to church, and
looked the other way, he hardly knew why, whenever he passed the
Caesareum; and Cyril, and all his mighty organisation, became to him
another world, with which he had even less to do than with those
planets over his head, whose mysterious movements, and symbolisms,
and influences Hypatia's lectures on astronomy were just opening
before his bewildered imagination.

Hypatia watched all this with growing self-satisfaction, and fed
herself with the dream that through Philammon she might see her
wildest hopes realised.  After the manner of women, she crowned him,
in her own imagination, with all powers and excellences which she
would have wished him to possess, as well as with those which he
actually manifested, till Philammon would have been as much
astonished as self-glorified could he have seen the idealised
caricature of himself which the sweet enthusiast had painted for her
private enjoyment.  They were blissful months those to poor Hypatia.
Orestes, for some reason or other, had neglected to urge his suit,
and the Iphigenia-sacrifice had retired mercifully into the
background.  Perhaps she should be able now to accomplish all
without it.  And yet--it was so long to wait!  Years might pass
before Philammon's education was matured, and with them golden
opportunities which might never recur again.

'Ah!' she sighed at times, 'that Julian had lived a generation
later!  That I could have brought all my hard-earned treasures to
the feet of the Poet of the Sun, and cried, "Take me!--Hero,
warrior, statesman, sage, priest of the God of Light!  Take thy
slave!  Command her--send her--to martyrdom, if thou wilt!"  A
pretty price would that have been wherewith to buy the honour of
being the meanest of thy apostles, the fellow-labourer of
Iamblichus, Maximus, Libanius, and the choir of sages who upheld the
throne of the last true Caesar!'



CHAPTER XV: NEPHELOCOCCUGIA


Hypatia had always avoided carefully discussing with Philammon any
of those points on which she differed from his former faith.  She
was content to let the divine light of philosophy penetrate by its
own power, and educe its own conclusions.  But one day, at the very
time at which this history reopens, she was tempted to speak more
openly to her pupil than she yet had done.  Her father had
introduced him, a few days before, to a new work of hers on
Mathematics; and the delighted and adoring look with which the boy
welcomed her, as he met her in the Museum Gardens, pardonably
tempted her curiosity to inquire what miracles her own wisdom might
have already worked.  She stopped in her walk, and motioned her
father to begin a conversation with Philammon.

'Well!' asked the old man, with an encouraging smile, 'and how does
our pupil like his new--'

'You mean my conic sections, father?  It is hardly fair to expect an
unbiassed answer in my presence.'

'Why so?' said Philammon. 'Why should I not tell you, as well as all
the world, the fresh and wonderful field of thought which they have
opened to me in a few short hours?'

'What then?' asked Hypatia, smiling, as if she knew what the answer
would be.  'In what does my commentary differ from the original text
of Apollonius, on which I have so faithfully based it?'

'Oh, as much as a living body differs from a dead one.  Instead of
mere dry disquisitions on the properties of lines and curves, I
found a mine of poetry and theology.  Every dull mathematical
formula seemed transfigured, as if by a miracle, into the symbol of
some deep and noble principle of the unseen world.'

'And do you think that he of Perga did not see as much? or that we
can pretend to surpass, in depth of insight, the sages of the elder
world?  Be sure that they, like the poets, meant only spiritual
things, even when they seem to talk only of physical ones, and
concealed heaven under an earthly garb, only to hide it from the
eyes of the profane; while we, in these degenerate days, must
interpret and display each detail to the dull ears of men.'

'Do you think, my young friend,' asked Theon, 'that mathematics can
be valuable to the philosopher otherwise than as vehicles of
spiritual truth?  Are we to study numbers merely that we may be able
to keep accounts; or as Pythagoras did, in order to deduce from
their laws the ideas by which the universe, man, Divinity itself,
consists?'

'That seems to me certainly to be the nobler purpose.'

'Or conic sections, that we may know better how to construct
machinery; or rather to devise from them symbols of the relations of
Deity to its various emanations?'

'You use your dialectic like Socrates himself, my father,' said
Hypatia.

'If I do, it is only for a temporary purpose.  I should be sorry to
accustom Philammon to suppose that the essence of philosophy was to
be found in those minute investigations of words and analyses of
notions, which seem to constitute Plato's chief power in the eyes of
those who, like the Christian sophist Augustine, worship his letter
while they neglect his spirit; not seeing that those dialogues,
which they fancy the shrine itself, are but vestibules--'

'Say rather, veils, father.'

'Veils, indeed, which were intended to baffle the rude gaze of the
carnal-minded; but still vestibules, through which the enlightened
soul might be led up to the inner sanctuary, to the Hesperid gardens
and golden fruit of the Timaeus and the oracles ....  And for
myself, were but those two books left, I care not whether every
other writing in the world perished to-morrow.'[Footnote: This
astounding speech is usually attributed to Proclus, Hypatia's
'great' successor.]

'You must except Homer, father.'

'Yes, for the herd ....  But of what use would he be to them without
some spiritual commentary?'

'He would tell them as little, perhaps, as the circle tells to the
carpenter who draws one with his compasses.'

'And what is the meaning of the circle?' asked Philammon.

'It may have infinite meanings, like every other natural phenomenon;
and deeper meanings in proportion to the exaltation of the soul
which beholds it.  But, consider, is it not, as the one perfect
figure, the very symbol of the totality of the spiritual world;
which, like it, is invisible, except at its circumference, where it
is limited by the dead gross phenomena of sensuous matter! and even
as the circle takes its origin from one centre, itself unseen,--a
point, as Euclid defines it, whereof neither parts nor magnitude can
be predicated,--does not the world of spirits revolve round one
abysmal being, unseen and undefinable--in itself, as I have so often
preached, nothing, for it is conceivable only by the negation of all
properties, even of those of reason, virtue, force; and yet, like
the centre of the circle, the cause of all other existences?'

'I see,' said Philammon; for the moment, certainly, the said abysmal
Deity struck him as a somewhat chill and barren notion .... but that
might be caused only by the dulness of his own spiritual
perceptions.  At all events, if it was a logical conclusion, it must
be right.

'Let that be enough for the present.  Hereafter you may be--I fancy
that I know you well enough to prophesy that you will be--able to
recognise in the equilateral triangle inscribed within the circle,
and touching it only with its angles, the three supra-sensual
principles of existence, which are contained in Deity as it
manifests itself in the physical universe, coinciding with its
utmost limits, and yet, like it, dependent on that unseen central
One which none dare name.'

'Ah!' said poor Philammon, blushing scarlet at the sense of his own
dulness, 'I am, indeed, not worthy to have such wisdom wasted upon
my imperfect apprehension ....  But, if I may dare to ask .... does
not Apollonius regard the circle, like all other curves, as not
depending primarily on its own centre for its existence, but as
generated by the section of any cone by a plane at right angles to
its axis?'

'But must we not draw, or at least conceive a circle, in order to
produce that cone?  And is not the axis of that cone determined by
the centre of that circle?'

Philammon stood rebuked.

'Do not be ashamed; you have only, unwittingly, laid open another,
and perhaps, as deep a symbol.  Can you guess what it is?'

Philammon puzzled in vain.

'Does it not show you this?  That, as every conceivable right
section of the cone discloses the circle, so in all which is fair
and symmetric you will discover Deity, if you but analyse it in a
right and symmetric direction?'

'Beautiful!' said Philammon, while the old man added--

'And does it not show us, too, how the one perfect and original
philosophy may be discovered in all great writers, if we have but
that scientific knowledge which will enable us to extract it?'

'True, my father: but just now, I wish Philammon, by such thoughts
as I have suggested, to rise to that higher and more spiritual
insight into nature, which reveals her to us as instinct throughout
--all fair and noble forms of her at least--with Deity itself; to
make him feel that it is not enough to say, with the Christians,
that God has made the world, if we make that very assertion an
excuse for believing that His presence has been ever since withdrawn
from it.'

'Christians, I think, would hardly say that,' said Philammon.

'Not in words.  But, in fact, they regard Deity as the maker of a
dead machine, which, once made, will move of itself thenceforth, and
repudiate as heretics every philosophic thinker, whether Gnostic or
Platonist, who, unsatisfied with so dead, barren, and sordid a
conception of the glorious all, wishes to honour the Deity by
acknowledging His universal presence, and to believe, honestly, the
assertion of their own Scriptures, that He lives and moves, and has
His being in the universe.'

Philammon gently suggested that the passage in question was worded
somewhat differently in the Scripture.

'True.  But if the one be true, its converse will be true also.  If
the universe lives and moves, and has its being in Him, must He not
necessarily pervade all things?'

'Why?--Forgive my dulness, and explain.'

'Because, if He did not pervade all things, those things which He
did not pervade would be as it were interstices in His being, and in
so far, without Him.'

'True, but still they would be within His circumference.'

'Well argued.  But yet they would not live in Him, but in
themselves.  To live in Him they must be pervaded by His life.  Do
you think it possible--do you think it even reverent to affirm that
there can be anything within the infinite glory of Deity which has
the power of excluding from the space which it occupies that very
being from which it draws its worth, and which must have originally
pervaded that thing, in order to bestow on it its organisation and
its life?  Does He retire after creating, from the spaces which He
occupied during creation, reduced to the base necessity of making
room for His own universe, and endure the suffering--for the analogy
of all material nature tells us that it is suffering--of a foreign
body, like a thorn within the flesh, subsisting within His own
substance?  Rather believe that His wisdom and splendour, like a
subtle and piercing fire, insinuates itself eternally with
resistless force through every organised atom, and that were it
withdrawn but for an instant from the petal of the meanest flower,
gross matter, and the dead chaos from which it was formed, would be
all which would remain of its loveliness....

'Yes'--she went on, after the method of her school, who preferred,
like most decaying ones, harangues to dialectic, and synthesis to
induction .... 'Look at yon lotus-flower, rising like Aphrodite from
the wave in which it has slept throughout the night, and saluting,
with bending swan-neck, that sun which it will follow lovingly
around the sky.  Is there no more there than brute matter, pipes and
fibres, colour and shape, and the meaningless life-in-death which
men call vegetation?  Those old Egyptian priests knew better, who
could see in the number and the form of those ivory petals and
golden stamina, in that mysterious daily birth out of the wave, in
that nightly baptism, from which it rises each morning re-born to a
new life, the signs of some divine idea, some mysterious law, common
to the flower itself, to the white-robed priestess who held it in
the temple rites, and to the goddess to whom they both were
consecrated ....  The flower of Isis! ....  Ah!--well.  Nature has
her sad symbols, as well as her fair ones.  And in proportion as a
misguided nation has forgotten the worship of her to whom they owed
their greatness, for novel and barbaric superstitions, so has her
sacred flower grown rarer and more rare, till now--fit emblem of the
worship over which it used to shed its perfume--it is only to be
found in gardens such as these--a curiosity to the vulgar, and, to
such as me, a lingering monument of wisdom and of glory past away.'

Philammon, it may be seen, was far advanced by this time; for he
bore the allusions to Isis without the slightest shudder.  Nay--he
dared even to offer consolation to the beautiful mourner.

'The philosopher,' he said, 'will hardly lament the loss of a mere
outward idolatry. For if, as you seem to think, there were a root of
spiritual truth in the symbolism of nature, that cannot die.  And
thus the lotus-flower must still retain its meaning, as long as its
species exists on earth.'

'Idolatry!' answered she, with a smile. 'My pupil must not repeat to
me that worn-out Christian calumny.  Into whatsoever low
superstitions the pious vulgar may have fallen, it is the Christians
now, and not the heathens, who are idolaters.  They who ascribe
miraculous power to dead men's bones, who make temples of charnel-
houses, and bow before the images of the meanest of mankind, have
surely no right to accuse of idolatry the Greek or the Egyptian, who
embodies in a form of symbolic beauty ideas beyond the reach of
words!

'Idolatry?  Do I worship the Pharos when I gaze at it, as I do for
hours, with loving awe, as the token to me of the all-conquering
might of Hellas?  Do I worship the roll on which Homer's words are
written, when I welcome with delight the celestial truths which it
unfolds to me, and even prize and love the material book for the
sake of the message which it brings?  Do you fancy that any but the
vulgar worship the image itself, or dream that it can help or hear
them?  Does the lover mistake his mistress's picture for the living,
speaking reality?  We worship the idea of which the image is a
symbol.  Will you blame us because we use that symbol to represent
the idea to our own affections and emotions instead of leaving it a
barren notion, a vague imagination of our own intellect?'

'Then,' asked Philammon, with a faltering voice, yet unable to
restrain his curiosity, 'then you do reverence the heathen gods?'

Why Hypatia should have felt this question a sore one, puzzled
Philammon; but she evidently did feel it as such, for she answered
haughtily enough--

'If Cyril had asked me that question, I should have disdained to
answer.  To you I will tell, that before I can answer your question
you must learn what those whom you call heathen gods are.  The
vulgar, or rather those who find it their interest to calumniate the
vulgar for the sake of confounding philosophers with them, may fancy
them mere human beings, subject like man to the sufferings of pain
and love, to the limitations of personality.  We, on the other hand,
have been taught by the primeval philosophers of Greece, by the
priests of ancient Egypt, and the sages of Babylon, to recognise in
them the universal powers of nature, those children of the all-
quickening spirit, which are but various emanations of the one
primeval unity--say rather, various phases of that unity, as it has
been variously conceived, according to the differences of climate
and race, by the wise of different nations.  And thus, in our eyes,
he who reverences the many, worships by that very act, with the
highest and fullest adoration, the one of whose perfection they are
the partial antitypes; perfect each in themselves, but each the
image of only one of its perfections.'

'Why, then,' said Philammon, much relieved by this explanation, 'do
you so dislike Christianity? may it not be one of the many methods--
'

'Because,' she answered, interrupting him impatiently, 'because it
denies itself to be one of those many methods, and stakes its
existence on the denial; because it arrogates to itself the
exclusive revelation of the Divine, and cannot see, in its self-
conceit, that its own doctrines disprove that assumption by their
similarity to those of all creeds.  There is not a dogma of the
Galileans which may not be found, under some form or other, in some
of those very religions from which it pretends to disdain
borrowing.'

'Except,' said Theon, 'its exaltation of all which is human and low-
born, illiterate, and levelling.'

'Except that--.  But look! here comes some one whom I cannot--do not
choose to meet.  Turn this way--quick!'

And Hypatia, turning pale as death, drew her father with
unphilosophic haste down a side-walk.

'Yes,' she went on to herself, as soon as she had recovered her
equanimity. 'Were this Galilean superstition content to take its
place humbly among the other "religiones licitas" of the empire, one
might tolerate it well enough, as an anthropomorphic adumbration of
divine things fitted for the base and toiling herd; perhaps
peculiarly fitted, because peculiarly flattering to them.  But now--
'

'There is Miriam again,' said Philammon, 'right before us!'

'Miriam?' asked Hypatia severely. 'You know her then?  How is that?'

'She lodges at Eudaimon's house, as I do,' answered Philammon
frankly. 'Not that I ever interchanged, or wish to interchange, a
word with so base a creature.'

'Do not!  I charge you!' said Hypatia, almost imploringly.  But
there was now no way of avoiding her, and perforce Hypatia and her
tormentress met face to face.

'One word! one moment, beautiful lady,' began the old woman, with a
slavish obeisance. 'Nay, do not push by so cruelly.  I have--see
what I have for you!' and she held out with a mysterious air, 'The
Rainbow of Solomon.'

'Ah!  I knew you would stop a moment--not for the ring's sake, of
course, nor even for the sake of one who once offered it to you.--
Ah! and where is he now?  Dead of love, perhaps! at least, here is
his last token to the fairest one, the cruel one ....  Well, perhaps
she is right ....  To be an empress--an empress! .... Far finer than
anything the poor Jew could have offered ....  But still ....  An
empress need not be above hearing her subject's petition....'

All this was uttered rapidly, and in a wheedling undertone, with a
continual snaky writhing of her whole body, except her eye, which
seemed, in the intense fixity of its glare, to act as a fulcrum for
all her limbs; and from that eye, as long as it kept its mysterious
hold, there was no escaping.

'What do you mean?  What have I to do with this ring?' asked
Hypatia, half frightened.

'He who owned it once, offers it to you now.  You recollect a little
black agate--a paltry thing.  ....  If you have not thrown it away,
as you most likely have, be wishes to redeem it with this opal ....
a gem surely more fit for such a hand as that.'

'He gave me the agate, and I shall keep it.'

'But this opal--worth, oh, worth ten thousand gold pieces--in
exchange for that paltry broken thing not worth one?'

'I am not a dealer, like you, and have not yet learnt to value
things by their money price.  It that agate had been worth money, I
would never have accepted it.'

'Take the ring, take it, my darling,' whispered Theon impatiently;
'it will pay all our debts.'

'Ah, that it will--pay them all,' answered the old woman, who seemed
to have mysteriously overheard him.

'What!--my father!  Would you, too, counsel me to be so mercenary?
My good woman,' she went on, turning to Miriam, 'I cannot expect you
to understand the reason of my refusal.  You and I have a different
standard of worth.  But for the sake of the talisman engraven on
that agate, if for no other reason, I cannot give it up.'

'Ah! for the sake of the talisman!  That is wise, now!  That is
noble!  Like a philosopher!  Oh, I will not say a word more.  Let
the beautiful prophetess keep the agate, and take the opal too; for
see, there is a charm on it also!  The name by which Solomon
compelled the demons to do his bidding.  Look!  What might you not
do now, if you knew how to use that!  To have great glorious angels,
with six wings each, bowing at your feet whensoever you called them,
and saying, "Here am I, mistress; send me."  Only look at it!'

Hypatia took the tempting bait, and examined it with more curiosity
than she would have wished to confess; while the old woman went on--

'But the wise lady knows how to use the black agate, of course?
Aben-Ezra told her that, did he not?'

Hypatia blushed somewhat; she was ashamed to confess that Aben-Ezra
had not revealed the secret to her, probably not believing that
there was any, and that the talisman had been to her only a curious
plaything, of which she liked to believe one day that it might
possibly have some occult virtue, and the next day to laugh at the
notion as unphilosophical and barbaric; so she answered, rather
severely, that her secrets were her own property.

'Ah, then! she knows it all--the fortunate lady! And the talisman
has told her whether Heraclian has lost or won Rome by this time,
and whether she is to be the mother of a new dynasty of Ptolemies,
or to die a virgin, which the Four Angels avert! And surely she has
had the great demon come to her already, when she rubbed the flat
side, has she not?'

'Go, foolish woman!  I am not like you, the dupe of childish
superstitions.'

'Childish superstitions!  Ha! ha! ha!'said the old woman, as she
turned to go, with obeisances more lowly than ever.  'And she has
not seen the Angels yet! ....  Ah well! perhaps some day, when she
wants to know how to use the talisman, the beautiful lady will
condescend to let the poor old Jewess show her the way.'

And Miriam disappeared down an alley, and plunged into the thickest
shrubberies, while the three dreamers went on their way.

Little thought Hypatia that the moment the old woman had found
herself alone, she had dashed herself down on the turf, rolling and
biting at the leaves like an infuriated wild beast.  ....  'I will
have it yet!  I will have it, if I tear out her heart with it!'



CHAPTER XVI: VENUS AND PALLAS


As Hypatia was passing across to her lecture-room that afternoon,
she was stopped midway by a procession of some twenty Goths and
damsels, headed by Pelagia herself, in all her glory of jewels,
shawls, and snow-white mule; while by her side rode the Amal, his
long legs, like those of Gang-Rolf the Norseman, all but touching
the ground, as he crushed down with his weight a delicate little
barb, the best substitute to be found in Alexandria for the huge
black chargers of his native land.

On they came, followed by a wondering and admiring mob, straight to
the door of the Museum, and stopping began to dismount, while their
slaves took charge of the mules and horses.

There was no escape for Hypatia; pride forbade her to follow her own
maidenly instinct, and to recoil among the crowd behind her; and in
another moment the Amal had lifted Pelagia from her mule, and the
rival beauties of Alexandria stood, for the first time in their
lives, face to face.

'May Athene befriend you this day, Hypatia!' said Pelagia with her
sweetest smile. 'I have brought my guards to hear somewhat of your
wisdom this afternoon.  I am anxious to know whether you can teach
Ahem anything more worth listening to than the foolish little songs
which Aphrodite taught me, when she raised me from the sea-foam, as
she rose herself, and named me Pelagia.'

Hypatia drew herself up to her stateliest height, and returned no
answer.

'I think my bodyguard will well hear comparison with yours.  At
least they are the princes and descendants of deities.  So it is but
fitting that they should enter before your provincials.  Will you
show them the way?'

No answer.

'Then I must do it myself.  Come, Amal!' and she swept up the steps,
followed by the Goths, who put the Alexandrians aside right and
left, as if they had been children.

'Ah! treacherous wanton that you are!' cried a young man's voice out
of the murmuring crowd. 'After having plundered us of every coin out
of which you could dupe us, here you are squandering our patrimonies
on barbarians!'

'Give us back our presents, Pelagia,' cried another, 'and you are
welcome to your herd of wild bulls!'

'And I will!' cried she, stopping suddenly; and clutching at her
chains and bracelets, she was on the point of dashing them among the
astonished crowd--

'There! take your gifts!  Pelagia and her girls scorn to be debtors
to boys, while they are worshipped by men like these!'

But the Amal, who, luckily for the students, had not understood a
word of this conversation, seized her arm, asking if she were mad.

'No, no!' panted she, inarticulate with passion. 'Give me gold--
every coin you have.  These wretches are twitting me with what they
gave me before--before--oh Amal, you understand me?'  And she clung
imploringly to his arm.

'Oh!  Heroes! each of you throw his purse among these fellows! they
say that we and our ladies are living on their spoils!'  And be
tossed his purse among the crowd.

In an instant every Goth had followed his example: more than one
following it up by dashing a bracelet or necklace into the face of
some hapless philosophaster.

'I have no lady, my young friends,' said old Wulf, in good enough
Greek, 'and owe you nothing: so I shall keep my money, as you might
have kept yours; and as you might, too, old Smid, if you had been as
wise as I.'

'Don't be stingy, prince, for the honour of the Goths,' said Smid,
laughing.

'If I take in gold I pay in iron,' answered Wulf, drawing half out
of its sheath the huge broad blade, at the ominous brown stains of
which the studentry recoiled; and the whole party swept into the
empty lecture-room, and seated themselves at their ease in the front
ranks.

Poor Hypatia! At first she determined not to lecture--then to send
for Orestes--then to call on her students to defend the sanctity of
the Museum; but pride, as well as prudence, advised her better; to
retreat would be to confess herself conquered--to disgrace
philosophy--to lose her hold on the minds of all waverers.  No! she
would go on and brave everything, insults, even violence; and with
trembling limbs and a pale cheek, she mounted the tribune and began.

To her surprise and delight, however, her barbarian auditors were
perfectly well behaved.  Pelagia, in childish good-humour at her
triumph, and perhaps, too, determined to show her contempt for her
adversary by giving her every chance, enforced silence and
attention, and checked the tittering of the girls, for a full half-
hour.  But at the end of that time the heavy breathing of the
slumbering Amal, who had been twice awoke by her, resounded
unchecked through the lecture-room, and deepened into a snore; for
Pelagia herself was as fast asleep as he.  But now another censor
took upon himself the office of keeping order.  Old Wulf, from the
moment Hypatia had begun, had never taken his eyes off her face; and
again and again the maiden's weak heart had been cheered, as she saw
the smile of sturdy intelligence and honest satisfaction which
twinkled over that scarred and bristly visage; while every now and
then the graybeard wagged approval, until she found herself, long
before the end of the oration, addressing herself straight to her
new admirer.

At last it was over, and the students behind, who had sat meekly
through it all, without the slightest wish to 'upset' the intruders,
who had so thoroughly upset them, rose hurriedly, glad enough to get
safe out of so dangerous a neighbourhood.  But to their
astonishment, as well as to that of Hypatia, old Wulf rose also, and
stumbling along to the foot of the tribune, pulled out his purse,
and laid it at Hypatia's feet.

'What is this?' asked she, half terrified at the approach of a
figure more rugged and barbaric than she had ever beheld before.

'My fee for what I have heard to-day.  You are a right noble maiden,
and may Freya send you a husband worthy of you, and make you the
mother of kings!'

And Wulf retired with his party.

Open homage to her rival, before her very face!  Pelagia felt quite
inclined to hate old Wulf.

But at least he was the only traitor.  The rest of the Goths agreed
unanimously that Hypatia was a very foolish person, who was wasting
her youth and beauty in talking to donkey-riders; and Pelagia
remounted her mule, and the Goths their horses, for a triumphal
procession homeward.

And yet her heart was sad, even in her triumph.  Right and wrong
were ideas as unknown to her as they were to hundreds of thousands
in her day.  As far as her own consciousness was concerned, she was
as destitute of a soul as the mule on which she rode.  Gifted by
nature with boundless frolic and good-humour, wit and cunning, her
Greek taste for the physically beautiful and graceful developed by
long training, until she had become, without a rival, the most
perfect pantomime, dancer, and musician who catered for the
luxurious tastes of the Alexandrian theatres, she had lived since
her childhood only for enjoyment and vanity, and wished for nothing
more.  But her new affection, or rather worship, for the huge
manhood of her Gothic lover had awoke in her a new object--to keep
him--to live for him--to follow him to the ends of the earth, even
if he tired of her, ill-used her, despised her.  And slowly, day by
day, Wulf's sneers bad awakened in her a dread that perhaps the Amal
might despise her ....  Why, she could not guess: but what sort of
women were those Alrunas of whom Wulf sang, of whom even the Amal
and his men spoke with reverence, as something nobler, not only than
her, but even than themselves?  And what was it which Wulf had
recognised in Hypatia which had bowed the stern and coarse old
warrior before her in that public homage? .... it was not difficult
to say what ....  But why should that make Hypatia or any one else
attractive?.  And the poor little child of nature gazed in deep
bewilderment at a crowd of new questions, as a butterfly might at
the pages of the book on which it has settled, and was sad and
discontented--not with herself, for was she not Pelagia the
perfect?--but with these strange fancies which came into other
people's heads.--Why should not every one be as happy as they could?
And who knew better than she how to be happy, and to make others
happy? ....

'Look at that old monk standing on the pavement, Amalric!  Why does
he stare so at me?  Tell him to go away.'

The person at whom she pointed, a delicate-featured old man, with a
venerable white beard, seemed to hear her; for he turned with a
sudden start, and then, to Pelagia's astonishment, put his hands
before his face, and burst convulsively into tears.

'What does he mean by behaving in that way?  Bring him here to me
this moment!  I will know!' cried she, petulantly catching at the
new object, in order to escape from her own thoughts.

In a moment a Goth had led up the weeper, who came without demur to
the side of Pelagia's mule.

'Why were you so rude as to burst out crying in my face?' asked she
petulantly.

The old man looked up sadly and tenderly, and answered in a low
voice, meant only for her ear--

'And how can I help weeping, when I see anything as beautiful as you
are destined to the flames of hell for ever?'

'The flames of hell?' said Pelagia, with a shudder.  'What for?'

'Do you not know?' asked the old man, with a look of sad surprise.
'Have you forgotten what you are?'

'I?  I never hurt a fly!'

'Why do you look so terrified, my darling?  What have you been
saying to her, you old villain?' and the Amal raised his whip.

'Oh! do not strike him.  Come, come to-morrow, and tell me what you
mean.'

'No, we will have no monks within our doors, frightening silly
women.  Off, sirrah! and thank the lady that you have escaped with a
whole skin.'  And the Amal caught the bridle of Pelagia's mule, and
pushed forward, leaving the old man gazing sadly after them.

But the beautiful sinner was evidently not the object which had
brought the old monk of the desert into a neighbourhood so strange
and ungenial to his habits; for, recovering himself in a few
moments, he hurried on to the door of the Museum, and there planted
himself, scanning earnestly the faces of the passers-out, and
meeting, of course, with his due share of student ribaldry.

'Well, old cat, and what mouse are you on the watch for, at the
hole's mouth here?'

'Just come inside, and see whether the mice will not singe your
whiskers for you....'

'Here is my mouse, gentlemen,' answered the old monk, with a bow and
a smile, as he laid his hand on Philammon's arm, and presented to
his astonished eyes the delicate features and high retreating
forehead of Arsenius.

'My father,' cried the boy, in the first impulse of affectionate
recognition; and then--he had expected some such meeting all along,
but now that it was come at last, he turned pale as death.  The
students saw his emotion.

'Hands off, old Heautontimoroumenos!  He belongs to our guild now!
Monks have no more business with sons than with wives.  Shall we
hustle him for you, Philammon?'

'Take care how you show off, gentlemen: the Goths are not yet out of
hearing!' answered Philammon, who was learning fast how to give a
smart answer; and then, fearing the temper of the young dandies, and
shrinking from the notion of any insult to one so reverend and so
beloved as Arsenius, he drew the old man gently away, and walked up
the street with him in silence, dreading what was coming.

'And are these your friends?'

'Heaven forbid!  I have nothing in common with such animals but
flesh and blood, and a seat in the lecture-room!'

'Of the heathen woman?'

Philammon, after the fashion of young men in fear, rushed
desperately into the subject himself, just because he dreaded
Arsenius's entering on it quietly.

'Yes, of the heathen woman.  Of course you have seen Cyril before
you came hither?'

'I have, and--'

'And,' went on Philammon, interrupting him, 'you have been told
every lie which prurience, stupidity, and revenge can invent.  That
I have trampled on the cross--sacrificed to all the deities in the
pantheon-and probably'--(and he blushed scarlet)--'that that purest
and holiest of beings--who, if she were not what people call a
pagan, would be, and deserves to be, worshipped as the queen of
saints--that she--and I--' and he stopped.

'Have I said that I believed what I may have heard?'

'No--and therefore, as they are all simple and sheer falsehoods,
there is no more to be said on the subject.  Not that I shall not be
delighted to answer any questions of yours, my dearest father--'

'Have I asked any, my child?'

'No.  So we may as well change the subject for the present,'--and he
began overwhelming the old man with inquiries about himself, Pambo,
and each and all of the inhabitants of the Laura to which Arsenius,
to the boy's infinite relief, answered cordially and minutely, and
even vouchsafed a smile at some jest of Philammon's on the contrast
between the monks of Nitria and those of Scetis.

Arsenius was too wise not to see well enough what all this flippancy
meant; and too wise, also, not to know that Philammon's version was
probably quite as near the truth as Peter's and Cyril's; but for
reasons of his own, merely replied by an affectionate look, and a
compliment to Philammon's growth.

And yet you seem thin and pale, my boy.'

'Study,' said Philammon, 'study.  One cannot burn the midnight oil
without paying some penalty for it ....  However, I am richly repaid
already; I shall be more so hereafter.'

'Let us hope so.  But who are those Goths whom I passed in the
streets just now?'

'Ah! my father,' said Philammon, glad in his heart of any excuse to
turn the conversation, and yet half uneasy and suspicious at
Arsenius's evident determination to avoid the very object of his
visit. 'It must have been you, then, whom I saw stop and speak to
Pelagia at the farther end of the street.  What words could you
possibly have had wherewith to honour such a creature?'

'God knows.  Some secret sympathy touched my heart ....  Alas! poor
child!  But how came you to know her?'

'All Alexandria knows the shameless abomination,' interrupted a
voice at their elbow--none other than that of the little porter, who
had been dodging and watching the pair the whole way, and could no
longer restrain his longing to meddle. 'And well it had been for
many a rich young man had odd Miriam never brought her over, in an
evil day, from Athens hither.'

'Miriam?'

'Yes, monk; a name not unknown, I am told, in palaces as well as in
slave-markets.'

'An evil-eyed old Jewess?'

'A Jewess she is, as her name might have informed you; and as for
her eyes, I consider them, or used to do so, of course--for her
injured nation have been long expelled from Alexandria by your
fanatic tribe--as altogether divine and demoniac, let the base
imagination of monks call them what it likes.'

'But how did you know this Pelagia, my son?  She is no fit company
for such as you.'

Philammon told, honestly enough, the story of his Nile journey, and
Pelagia's invitation to him.

'You did not surely accept it?'

'Heaven forbid that Hypatia's scholar should so degrade himself!'

Arsenius shook his head sadly.

'You would not have had me go?'

'No, boy.  But how long hast thou learned to call thyself Hypatia's
scholar, or to call it a degradation to visit the most sinful, if
thou mightest thereby bring back a lost lamb to the Good Shepherd?
Nevertheless, thou art too young for such employment--and she meant
to tempt thee doubtless.'

'I do not think it.  She seemed struck by my talking Athenian Greek,
and having come from Athens.'

'And how long since she came from Athens?' said Arsenius, after a
pause. 'Who knows?'

'Just after it was sacked by the barbarians,' said the little
porter, who, beginning to suspect a mystery, was peaking and peering
like an excited parrot. 'The old dame brought her hither among a
cargo of captive boys and girls.'

'The time agrees ....  Can this Miriam be found?'

'A sapient and courteous question for a monk to ask!  Do you not
know that Cyril has expelled all Jews four months ago?'

'True, true ....  Alas!' said the old man to himself, 'how little
the rulers of this world guess their own power!  They move a finger
carelessly, and forget that that finger may crush to death hundreds
whose names they never heard--and every soul of them as precious in
God's sight as Cyril's own.'

'What is the matter, my father?' asked Philammon. 'You seem deeply
moved about this woman....'

'And she is Miriam's slave?'

'Her freedwoman this four years past,' said the porter. 'The good
lady--for reasons doubtless excellent in themselves, though not
altogether patent to the philosophic mind--thought good to turn her
loose on the Alexandrian republic, to seek what she might devour.'

'God help her! And you are certain that Miriam is not in
Alexandria?'

The little porter turned very red, and Philammon did so likewise;
but he remembered his promise, and kept it.

'You both know something of her, I can see.  You cannot deceive an
old statesman, sir!'--turning to the little porter with a look of
authority--'poor monk though he be now.  If you think fitting to
tell me what you know, I promise you that neither she nor you shall
be losers by your confidence in me.  If not, I shall find means to
discover.'

Both stood silent.

'Philammon, my son! and art thou too in league against--no, not
against me; against thyself, poor misguided boy?'

'Against myself?'

'Yes--I have said it.  But unless you will trust me, I cannot trust
you.'

'I have promised.'

'And I, sir statesman, or monk, or both, or neither, have sworn by
the immortal gods!' said the porter, looking very big.

Arsenius paused.

'There are those who hold that an oath by an idol, being nothing, is
of itself void.  I do not agree with them.  If thou thinkest it sin
to break thine oath, to thee it is sin.  And for thee, my poor
child, thy promise is sacred, were it made to Iscariot himself.  But
hear me.  Can either of you, by asking this woman, be so far
absolved as to give me speech of her?  Tell her--that is, if she be
in Alexandria, which God grant--all that has passed between us here,
and tell her, on the solemn oath of a Christian, that Arsenius,
whose name she knows well, will neither injure nor betray her.  Will
you do this?'

'Arsenius?' said the little porter, with a look of mingled awe and
pity.

The old man smiled. 'Arsenius, who was once called the Father of the
Emperors.  Even she will trust that name.'

'I will go this moment' sir; I will fly!' and off rushed the little
porter.

'The little fellow forgets,' said Arsenius, with  a smile, 'to how
much he has confessed already, and how easy it were now to trace him
to the old hag's lair ....  Philammon, my son ....  I have many
tears to weep over thee--but they must wait a while, I have thee
safe now,' and the old man clutched his arm. 'Thou wilt not leave
thy poor old father?  Thou wilt not desert me for the heathen
woman?'

'I will stay with you, I promise you, indeed! if--if you will not
say unjust things of her.'

'I will speak evil of no one, accuse no one, but myself.  I will not
say one harsh word to thee, my poor boy.  But listen now!  Thou
knowest that thou camest from Athens.  Knowest thou that it was I
who brought thee hither?'

'You?'

'I, my son: but when I brought thee to the Laura, it seemed right
that thou, as the son of a noble gentleman, shouldest hear nothing
of it.  But tell me: dost thou recollect father or mother, brother
or sister; or anything of thy home in Athens?'

'No.'

'Thanks be to God.  But, Philammon, if thou hadst had a sister-hush!
And if--I only say if--,

'A sister!' interrupted Philammon.  'Pelagia?'

'God forbid, my son!  But a sister thou hadst once--some three years
older than thee she seemed.'

'What! did you know her?'

'I saw her but once--on one sad day.--Poor children both!  I will
not sadden you by telling you where and how.'

'And why did you not bring her hither with me?  You surely had not
the heart to part us?'

'Ah, my son, what right had an old monk with a fair young girl?
And, indeed, even had I had the courage, it would have been
impossible.  There were others, richer than I, to whose covetousness
her youth and beauty seemed a precious prize.  When I saw her last,
she was in company with an ancient Jewess.  Heaven grant that this
Miriam may prove to be the one!'

'And I have a sister!' gasped Philammon, his eyes bursting with
tears.  'We must find her!  You will help me?--Now--this moment!
There is nothing else to be thought of, spoken of, done, henceforth,
till she is found!'

'Ah, my son, my son!  Better, better, perhaps, to leave her in the
hands of God!  What if she were dead?  To discover that, would be to
discover needless sorrow.  And what if--God grant that it be not so!
she had only a name to live, and were dead, worse than dead, in
sinful pleasure--'

'We would save her, or die trying to save her!  Is it not enough for
me that she is my sister?'  Arsenius shook his head.  He little knew
the strange new light and warmth which his words had poured in upon
the young heart beside him.  'A sister!'  What mysterious virtue was
there in that simple word, which made Philammon's brain reel and his
heart throb madly?  A sister! not merely a friend, an equal, a help-
mate, given by God Himself, for loving whom none, not even a monk,
could blame him.--Not merely something delicate, weak, beautiful--
for of course she must be beautiful-whom he might cherish, guide,
support, deliver, die for, and find death delicious.  Yes--all that,
and more than that, lay in the sacred word. For those divided and
partial notions had flitted across his mind too rapidly to stir such
passion as moved him now; even the hint of her sin and danger had
been heard heedlessly, if heard at all.  It was the word itself
which bore its own message, its own spell to the heart of the
fatherless and motherless foundling, as he faced for the first time
the deep, everlasting, divine reality of kindred ....  A sister! of
his own flesh and blood--born of the same father, the same mother--
his, his, for ever!  How hollow and fleeting seemed all 'spiritual
sonships,' 'spiritual daughterhoods,' inventions of the changing
fancy, the wayward will of man! Arsenius--Pambo--ay, Hypatia
herself--what were they to him now?  Here was a real relationship
....  A sister!  What else was worth caring for upon earth?

'And she was at Athens when Pelagia was'--he cried at last--'perhaps
knew her--let us go to Pelagia herself!'

'Heaven forbid!' said Arsenius.  'We must wait at least till
Miriam's answer comes.'

'I can show you her house at least in the meanwhile; and you can go
in yourself when you will.  I do not ask to enter.  Come!  I feel
certain that my finding her is in some way bound up with Pelagia.
Had I not met her on the Nile, had you not met her in the street, I
might never have heard that I had a sister.  And if she went with
Miriam, Pelagia must know her--she may be in that very house at this
moment!'

Arsenius had his reasons for suspecting that Philammon was but too
right.  But he contented himself with yielding to the boy's
excitement, and set off with him in the direction of the dancer's
house.

They were within a few yards of the gate, when hurried footsteps
behind them, and voices calling them by name, made them turn; and
behold, evidently to the disgust of Arsenius as much as Philammon
himself, Peter the Reader and a large party of monks!

Philammon's first impulse was to escape; Arsenius himself caught him
by the arm, and seemed inclined to hurry on.

'No!' thought the youth, 'am I not a free man, and a philosopher?'
and facing round, he awaited the enemy.

'Ah, young apostate!  So you have found him, reverend and ill-used
sir.  Praised be Heaven for this rapid success!'

'My good friend,' asked Arsenius, in a trembling voice, 'what brings
you here?'

'Heaven forbid that I should have allowed your sanctity and age to
go forth without some guard against the insults and violence of this
wretched youth and his profligate companions.  We have been
following you afar off all the morning, with hearts full of filial
solicitude.'

'Many thanks; but indeed your kindness has been superfluous.  My son
here, from whom I have met with nothing but affection, and whom,
indeed, I believe far more innocent than report declared him, is
about to return peaceably with me.  Are you not, Philammon?'

'Alas! my father'' said Philammon, with an effort, 'how can I find
courage to say it'?--but I cannot return with you.'

'Cannot return?'

'I vowed that I would never again cross that threshold till--'

'And Cyril does.  He bade me, indeed he bade me, assure you that he
would receive you back as a son, and forgive and forget all the
past.'

'Forgive and forget?  That is my part--not his.  Will he right me
against that tyrant and his crew?  Will he proclaim me openly to be
an innocent and persecuted man, unjustly beaten and driven forth for
obeying his own commands?  Till he does that, I shall not forget
that I am a free man.'

'A free man!' said Peter, with an unpleasant smile; 'that remains to
be proved, my gay youth; and will need more evidence than that smart
philosophic cloak and those well-curled locks which you have adopted
since I saw you last.'

'Remains to be proved?'

Arsenius made an imploring gesture to Peter to be silent.

'Nay, sir.  As I foretold to you, this one way alone remains; the
blame of it, if there be blame, must rest on the unhappy youth whose
perversity renders it necessary.'

'For God's sake, spare me!' cried the old man, dragging Peter aside,
while Philammon stood astonished, divided between indignation and
vague dread.

'Did I not tell you again and again that I never could bring myself
to call a Christian man my slave?  And him, above all, my spiritual
son?'

'And, most reverend sir, whose zeal is only surpassed by your
tenderness and mercy, did not the holy patriarch assure you that
your scruples were groundless?  Do you think that either he or I can
have less horror than you have of slavery in itself?  Heaven forbid!
But when an immortal soul is at stake--when a lost lamb is to be
brought back to the fold--surely you may employ the authority which
the law gives you for the salvation of that precious charge
committed to you?  What could be more conclusive than his Holiness's
argument this morning?  "Christians are bound to obey the laws of
this world for conscience' sake, even though, in the abstract, they
may disapprove of them, and deny their authority.  Then, by parity
of reasoning, it must be lawful for them to take the advantage which
those same laws offer them, when by so doing the glory of God may be
advanced."'

Arsenius still hung back, with eyes brimming with tears; but
Philammon himself put an end to the parley.

'What is the meaning of all this?  Are you, too, in a conspiracy
against me?  Speak, Arsenius!'

'This is the meaning of it, blinded sinner!' cried Peter. 'That you
are by law the slave of Arsenius, lawfully bought with his money in
the city of Ravenna; and that he has the power, and, as I trust, for
the sake of your salvation, the will also, to compel you to
accompany him.'

Philammon recoiled across the pavement, with eyes flashing defiance.
A slave!  The light of heaven grew black to him ....  Oh, that
Hypatia might never know his shame!  Yet it was impossible.  Too
dreadful to be true....

'You lie!' almost shrieked he. 'I am the son of a noble citizen of
Athens.  Arsenius told me so, but this moment, with his own lips!'

'Ah, but he bought you--bought you in the public market; and he can
prove it!'

'Hear me--hear me, my son!' cried the old man, springing toward him.
Philammon, in his fury, mistook the gesture and thrust him fiercely
back.

'Your son!--your slave!  Do not insult the name of son by applying
it to me.  Yes, sir; your slave in body, but not in soul! Ay, seize
me--drag home the fugitive--scourge him--brand him--chain him in the
mill, if you can; but even for that the free heart has a remedy.  If
you will not let me live as a philosopher, you shall see me die like
one!'

'Seize the fellow, my brethren!' cried Peter, while Arsenius,
utterly unable to restrain either party, hid his face and wept.

'Wretches!' cried the boy; 'you shall never take me alive, while I
have teeth or nails left.  Treat me as a brute beast, and I will
defend myself as such!'

'Out of the way there, rascals!  Place for the Prefect!  What are
you squabbling about here, you unmannerly monks?' shouted peremptory
voices from behind.  The crowd parted, and disclosed the apparitors
of Orestes, who followed in his robes of office.

A sudden hope flashed before Philammon, and in an instant he had
burst through the mob, and was clinging to the Prefect's chariot.

'I am a free-born Athenian, whom these monks wish to kidnap back
into slavery!  I claim your protection!'

'And you shall have it, right or wrong, my handsome fellow.  By
Heaven, you are much too good-looking to be made a monk of!  What do
you mean, you villains, by attempting to kidnap free men?  Is it not
enough for you to lock up every mad girl whom you can dupe, but you
must--'

'His master is here present, your Excellency, who will swear to the
purchase.'

'Or to anything else for the glory of God.  Out of the way! And take
care, you tall scoundrel, that I do not get a handle against you.
You have been one of my marked men for many a month.  Off!'

'His master demands the rights of the law as a Roman citizen,' said
Peter, pushing forward Arsenius.

'If he be a Roman citizen, let him come and make his claim at the
tribune to-morrow, in legal form.  But I would have you remember,
ancient sir, that I shall require you to prove your citizenship
before we proceed to the question of purchase.'

'The law does not demand that,' quoth Peter.

'Knock that fellow down, apparitor!'  Whereat Peter vanished, and an
ominous growl rose from the mob of monks.

'What am I to do, most noble sir?' said Philammon.

'Whatever you like, till the third hour to-morrow--if you are fool
enough to appear at the tribune.  If you will take my advice' you
will knock down these fellows right and left, and run for your
life.'  And Orestes drove on.

Philammon saw that it was his only chance, and did so; and in
another minute he found himself rushing headlong into the archway of
Pelagia's house, with a dozen monks at his heels.  As luck would
have it, the outer gates, at which the Goths had just entered, were
still open; but the inner ones which led into the court beyond were
fast.  He tried them, but in vain.  There was an open door in the
wall on his right: he rushed through it, into a long range of
stables, and into the arms of Wulf and Smid, who were unsaddling and
feeding, like true warriors, their own horses.

'Souls of my fathers!' shouted Smid, 'here's our young monk come
back!  What brings you here head over heels in this way, young
curly-pate?'

'Save me from those wretches!' pointing to the monks, who were
peeping into the doorway.

Wulf seemed to understand it all in a moment; for, snatching up a
heavy whip, he rushed at the foe, and with a few tremendous strokes
cleared the doorway, and shut-to the door.

Philammon was going to explain and thank, but Smid stopped his
mouth.

'Never mind, young one, you are our guest now.  Come in, and you
shall be as welcome as ever.  See what comes of running away from us
at first.'

'You do not seem to have benefited much by leaving me for the
monks,' said old Wulf. 'Come in by the inner door.  Smid! go and
turn those monks out of the gateway.'

But the mob, after battering the door for a few minutes, had yielded
to the agonised entreaties of Peter, who assured them that if those
incarnate fiends once broke out upon them, they would not leave a
Christian alive in Alexandria.  So it was agreed to leave a few to
watch for Philammon's coming out; and the rest, balked of their
prey, turned the tide of their wrath against the Prefect, and
rejoined the mass of their party, who were still hanging round his
chariot, ready for mischief.

In vain the hapless shepherd of the people attempted to drive on.
The apparitors were frightened and hung back; and without their help
it was impossible to force the horses through the mass of tossing
arms and beards in front.  The matter was evidently growing serious.

'The bitterest ruffians in all Nitria, your Excellency,' whispered
one of the guards, with a pale face; 'and two hundred of them at the
least.  The very same set, I will be sworn, who nearly murdered
Dioscuros.'

'If you will not allow me to proceed, my holy brethren,' said
Orestes, trying to look collected, 'perhaps it will not be contrary
to the canons of the Church if I turn back.  Leave the horses' heads
alone.  Why, in God's name, what do you want?'

'Do you fancy we have forgotten Hieracas?' cried a voice from the
rear; and at that name, yell upon yell arose, till the mob, gaining
courage from its own noise, burst out into open threats. 'Revenge
for the blessed martyr Hieracas!' 'Revenge for the wrongs of the
Church!' 'Down with the friend of Heathens, Jews, and Barbarians!'
'Down with the favourite of Hypatia!' 'Tyrant!' 'Butcher!'
And the last epithet so smote the delicate fancy of the crowd, that
a general cry arose of 'Kill the butcher!' and one furious monk
attempted to clamber into the chariot.  An apparitor tore him down,
and was dragged to the ground in his turn.  The monks closed in.
The guards, finding the enemy number ten to their one, threw down
their weapons in a panic, and vanished; and in another minute the
hopes of Hypatia and the gods would have been lost for ever, and
Alexandria robbed of the blessing of being ruled by the most
finished gentleman south of the Mediterranean, had it not been for
unexpected succour; of which it will be time enough, considering who
and what is in danger, to speak in a future chapter.



CHAPTER XVII: A STRAY GLEAM


THE last blue headland of Sardinia was fading fast on the north-west
horizon, and a steady breeze bore before it innumerable ships, the
wrecks of Heraclian's armament, plunging and tossing impatiently in
their desperate homeward race toward the coast of Africa. Far and
wide, under a sky of cloudless blue, the white sails glittered on
the glittering sea, as gaily now, above their loads of shame and
disappointment terror and pain, as when, but one short month before,
they bore with them only wild hopes and gallant daring.  Who can
calculate the sum of misery in that hapless flight? ....  And yet it
was but one, and that one of the least known and most trivial, of
the tragedies of that age of woe; one petty death-spasm among the
unnumbered throes which were shaking to dissolution the Babylon of
the West.  Her time had come.  Even as Saint John beheld her in his
vision, by agony after agony, she was rotting to her well-earned
doom.  Tyrannising it luxuriously over all nations, she had sat upon
the mystic beast--building her power on the brute animal appetites
of her dupes and slaves: but she had duped herself even more than
them.  She was finding out by bitter lessons that it was 'to the
beast', and not to her, that her vassal kings of the earth had been
giving their power and strength; and the ferocity and lust which she
had pampered so cunningly in them, had become her curse and her
destruction ....  Drunk with the blood of the saints; blinded by her
own conceit and jealousy to the fact that she had been crushing and
extirpating out of her empire for centuries past all which was
noble, purifying, regenerative, divine, she sat impotent and doting,
the prey of every fresh adventurer, the slave of her own slaves ....
'And the kings of the earth, who had sinned with her, hated the
harlot, and made her desolate and naked, and devoured her flesh, and
burned her with fire. For God had put into their hearts to fulfil
His will, and to agree, and to give their kingdom to the beast,
until the words of God should be fulfilled.' ....  Everywhere
sensuality, division, hatred, treachery, cruelty, uncertainty,
terror; the vials of God's wrath poured out.  Where was to be the
end of it all? asked every man of his neighbour, generation after
generation; and received for answer only, 'It is better to die than
to live.'

And yet in one ship out of that sad fleet, there was peace; peace
amid shame and terror; amid the groans of the wounded, and the sighs
of the starving; amid all but blank despair.  The great triremes and
quinqueremes rushed onward past the lagging transports, careless, in
the mad race for safety, that they were leaving the greater number
of their comrades defenceless in the rear of the flight; but from
one little fishing-craft alone no base entreaties, no bitter
execrations greeted the passing flash and roll of their mighty oars.
One after another, day by day, they came rushing up out of the
northern offing, each like a huge hundred-footed dragon, panting and
quivering, as if with terror, at every loud pulse of its oars,
hurling the wild water right and left with the mighty share of its
beak, while from the bows some gorgon or chimaera, elephant or boar,
stared out with brazen eyes toward the coast of Africa, as if it,
too, like the human beings which it carried, was dead to every care
but that of dastard flight.  Past they rushed, one after another;
and off the poop some shouting voice chilled all hearts for a
moment, with the fearful news that the Emperor's Neapolitan fleet
was in full chase ....  And the soldiers on board that little vessel
looked silently and steadfastly into the silent steadfast face of
the old Prefect, and Victoria saw him shudder, and turn his eyes
away--and stood up among the rough fighting men, like a goddess, and
cried aloud that 'the Lord would protect His own'; and they believed
her, and were still; till many days and many ships were passed, and
the little fishing-craft, outstripped even by the transports and
merchantmen, as it strained and crawled along before its single
square-sail, was left alone upon the sea.

And where was Raphael Aben-Ezra?

He was sitting, with Bran's head between his knees, at the door of a
temporary awning in the vessel's stern, which shielded the wounded
men from sun and spray; and as he sat he could hear from within the
tent the gentle voices of Victoria and her brother, as they tended
the sick like ministering angels, or read to them words of divine
hope and comfort-in which his homeless heart felt that he had no
share....

'As I live, I would change places now with any one of those poor
mangled ruffians to have that voice speaking such words to me....and
to believe them.' ....  And he went on perusing the manuscript which
he held in his hand.
...............

'Well!' he sighed to himself after a while 'at least it is the most
complimentary, not to say hopeful, view of our destinies with which
I have met since I threw away my curse's belief that the seed of
David was fated to conquer the whole earth, and set up a second
Roman Empire at Jerusalem, only worse than the present one, in that
the devils of superstition and bigotry would be added to those of
tyranny and rapine.'

A hand was laid on his shoulder, and a voice asked' 'And what may
this so hopeful view be?'

'Ah! my dear General!' said Raphael, looking up. 'I have a poor bill
of fare whereon to exercise my culinary powers this morning.  Had it
not been for that shark who was so luckily deluded last night, I
should have been reduced to the necessity of stewing my friend the
fat decurion's big boots.'

'They would have been savoury enough, I will warrant, after they had
passed under your magical hand.'

'It is a comfort, certainly, to find that after all one did learn
something useful in Alexandria!  So I will even go forward at once,
and employ my artistic skill.'

'Tell me first what it was about which I heard you just now
soliloquising, as so hopeful a view of some matter or other?'

'Honestly--if you will neither betray me to your son and daughter,
nor consider me as having in anywise committed myself--it was Paul
of Tarsus's notion of the history and destinies of our stiff-necked
nation.  See what your daughter has persuaded me into reading!'  And
he held up a manuscript of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

'It is execrable Greek.  But it is sound philosophy, I cannot deny.
He knows Plato better than all the ladies and gentlemen in
Alexandria put together, if my opinion on the point be worth
having.'

'I am a plain soldier, and no judge on that point, sir.  He may or
may not know Plato; but I am right sure that he knows God.'

'Not too fast,' said Raphael with a smile. 'You do not know,
perhaps, that I have spent the last ten years of my life among men
who professed the same knowledge?'

'Augustine, too, spent the best ten years of his life among such;
and yet he is now combating the very errors which he once taught.'

'Having found, he fancies, something better!'

'Having found it, most truly.  But you must talk to him yourself,
and argue the matter over, with one who can argue.  To me such
questions are an unknown land.'

'Well ....  Perhaps I may be tempted to do even that.  At least a
thoroughly converted philosopher--for poor dear Synesius is half
heathen still, I often fancy, and hankers after the wisdom of the
Egyptian--will be a curious sight; and to talk with so famous and so
learned a man would always be a pleasure; but to argue with him, or
any other human being, none whatsoever.'

'Why, then?'

'My dear sir, I am sick of syllogisms, and probabilities, and pros
and contras.  What do I care if, on weighing both sides, the
nineteen pounds weight of questionable arguments against, are
overbalanced by the twenty pounds weight of equally questionable
arguments for?  Do you not see that my belief of the victorious
proposition will be proportioned to the one over-balancing pound
only, while the whole other nineteen will go for nothing?'

'I really do not.'

'Happy are you, then.  I do, from many a sad experience.  No, my
worthy sir.  I want a faith past arguments; one which, whether I can
prove it or not to the satisfaction of the lawyers, I believe to my
own satisfaction, and act on it as undoubtingly and unreasoningly as
I do upon my own newly-rediscovered personal identity.  I don't want
to possess a faith.  I want a faith which will possess me.  And if I
ever arrived at such a one, believe me, it would be by some such
practical demonstration as this very tent has given me.'

'This tent?'

'Yes, sir, this tent; within which I have seen you and your children
lead a life of deeds as new to me the Jew, as they would be to
Hypatia the Gentile.  I have watched you for many a day, and not in
vain.  When I saw you, an experienced officer, encumber your flight
with wounded men, I was only surprised.  But since I have seen you
and your daughter, and, strangest of all, your gay young Alcibiades
of a son, starving yourselves to feed those poor ruffians--
performing for them, day and night, the offices of menial slaves--
comforting them, as no man ever comforted me--blaming no one but
yourselves, caring for every one but yourselves, sacrificing nothing
but yourselves; and all this without hope of fame or reward, or
dream of appeasing the wrath of any god or goddess, but simply
because you thought it right ....  When I saw that, sir, and more
which I have seen; and when, reading in this book here, I found most
unexpectedly those very grand moral rules which you were practising,
seeming to spring unconsciously, as natural results, from the great
thoughts, true or false, which had preceded them; then, sir, I began
to suspect that the creed which could produce such deeds as I have
watched within the last few days, might have on its side not merely
a slight preponderance of probabilities, but what the Jews used once
to call, when we believed in it--or in anything--the mighty power of
God.'

And as he spoke, he looked into the Prefect's face with the look of
a man wrestling in some deadly struggle; so intense and terrible was
the earnestness of his eye, that even the old soldier shrank before
it.

'And therefore,' he went on, 'therefore, sir, beware of your own
actions, and of your children's.  If, by any folly or baseness, such
as I have seen in every human being whom I ever met as yet upon this
accursed stage of fools, you shall crush my new-budding hope that
there is something somewhere which will make me what I know that I
ought to be, and can be--If you shall crush that, I say, by any
misdoing of yours, you had better have been the murderer of my
firstborn; with such a hate--a hate which Jews alone can feel--will
I hate you and yours.'

'God help us and strengthen us!'said the old warrior in a tone of
noble humility.

'And now,' said Raphael, glad to change the subject, after this
unwonted outburst, 'we must once more seriously consider whether it
is wise to hold on our present course.  If you return to Carthage,
or to Hippo--'

'I shall be beheaded.'

'Most assuredly.  And how much soever you may consider such an event
a gain to yourself, yet for the sake of your son and your daughter--
'

'My dear sir,' interrupted the Prefect, 'you mean kindly.  But do
not, do not tempt me.  By the Count's side I have fought for thirty
years, and by his side I will die, as I deserve.'

'Victorius!  Victoria!' cried Raphael; 'help me!  Your father,' he
went on, as they came out from the tent, 'is still decided on losing
his own head, and throwing away ours, by going to Carthage.'

'For my sake--for our sakes--father!' cried Victoria, clinging to
him.

'And for my sake, also, most excellent sir,' said Raphael, smiling
quietly. 'I have no wish to be so uncourteous as to urge any help
which I may have seemed to afford you.  But I hope that you will
recollect that I have a life to lose, and that it is hardly fair of
you to imperil it as you intend to do.  If you could help or save
Heraclian, I should be dumb at once.  But now, for a mere point of
honour to destroy fifty good soldiers, who know not their right
hands from their left--Shall I ask their opinion?'

'Will you raise a mutiny against me, sir?' asked the old man
sternly.

'Why not mutiny against Philip drunk, in behalf of Philip sober?
But really, I will obey you .... only you must obey us ....  What is
Hesiod's definition of the man who will neither counsel himself nor
be counselled by his friends? ....  Have you no trusty acquaintances
in Cyrenaica, for instance?'

The Prefect was silent.

'Oh, hear us, my father!  Why not go to Euodius?  He is your old
comrade--a well-wisher, too, to this .... this expedition ....  And
recollect, Augustine must be there now.  He was about to sail for
Berenice, in order to consult Synesius and the Pentapolitan bishops,
when we left Carthage.'

And at the name of Augustine the old man paused.

'Augustine will be there; true.  And this our friend must meet him.
And thus at least I should have his advice.  If he thinks it my duty
to return to Carthage, I can but do so, after all.  But the
soldiers!'

'Excellent sir,' said Raphael, 'Synesius and the Pentapolitan
landlords--who can hardly call their lives their own, thanks to the
Moors--will be glad enough to feed and pay them, or any other brave
fellows with arms in their hands, at this moment.  And my friend
Victorius, here, will enjoy, I do not doubt, a little wild
campaigning against marauding blackamoors.'

The old man bowed silently.  The battle was won.

The young tribune, who had been watching his father's face with the
most intense anxiety caught at the gesture, and hurrying forward,
announced the change of plan to the soldiery.  It was greeted with a
shout of joy, and in another five minutes the sails were about, the
rudder shifted, and the ship on her way towards the western point of
Sicily, before a steady north-west breeze.

'Ah!' cried Victoria, delighted. 'And now you will see Augustine!
You must promise me to talk to him!'

'This, at least, I will promise, that whatsoever the great sophist
shall be pleased to say, shall meet with a patient hearing from a
brother sophist.  Do not be angry at the term.  Recollect that I am
somewhat tired, like my ancestor Solomon, of wisdom and wise men,
having found it only too like madness and folly.  And you cannot
surely expect me to believe in man, while I do not yet believe in
God?'

Victoria sighed.  'I will not believe you.  Why always pretend to be
worse than you are?'

'That kind souls like you may be spared the pain of finding me worse
than I seem ....  There, let us say no more; except that I heartily
wish that you would hate me!'

'Shall I try?'

'That must be my work, I fear, not yours.  However, I shall give you
good cause enough before long' doubt it not.'

Victoria sighed again, and retired into the tent to nurse the sick.

'And now, sir,' said the Prefect, turning to Raphael and his son;
'do not mistake me.  I may have been weak, as worn-out and hopeless
men are wont to be; but do not think of me as one who has yielded to
adversity in fear for his own safety.  As God hears me, I desire
nothing better than to die; and I only turn out of my course on the
understanding that if Augustine so advise, my children hold me free
to return to Carthage and meet my fate.  All I pray for is, that my
life may be spared until I can place my dear child in the safe
shelter of a nunnery.'

'A nunnery?'

'Yes, indeed; I have intended ever since her birth to dedicate her
to the service of God.  And in such times as these, what better lot
for a defenceless girl?'

'Pardon me!' said Raphael; 'but I am too dull to comprehend what
benefit or pleasure your Deity will derive from the celibacy of your
daughter ....  Except, indeed, on one supposition, which, as I have
some faint remnants of reverence and decency reawakening in me just
now, I must leave to be uttered only by the pure lips of sexless
priests.'

'You forget, sir, that you are speaking to a Christian.'

'I assure you, no!  I had certainly been forgetting it till the last
two minutes, in your very pleasant and rational society.  There is
no
danger henceforth of my making so silly a mistake.'

'Sir!' said the Prefect, reddening at the undisguised contempt of
Raphael's manner .... , 'When you know a little more of St. Paul's
Epistles, you will cease to insult the opinions and feelings of
those who obey them, by sacrificing their most precious treasures to
God.'

'Oh, it is Paul of Tarsus, then, who gives you the advice!  I thank
you for informing me of the fact; for it will save me the trouble of
any future study of his works.  Allow me, therefore, to return by
your hands this manuscript of his with many thanks from me to that
daughter of yours, by whose perpetual imprisonment you intend to
give pleasure to your Deity.  Henceforth the less communication
which passes between me and any member of your family, the better.'
And he turned away.

'But, my dear sir!' said the honest soldier, really chagrined, 'you
must not!--we owe you too much, and love you too well, to part thus
for the caprice of a moment.  If any word of mine has offended you--
forget it, and forgive me, I beseech you!' and he caught both
Raphael's hands in his own.

'My very dear sir,' answered the Jew quietly; 'let me ask the same
forgiveness of you; and believe me, for the sake of past pleasant
passages, I shall not forget my promise about the mortgage ....
But-here we must part.  To tell you the truth, I half an hour ago
was fearfully near becoming neither more nor less than a Christian.
I had actually deluded myself into the fancy that the Deity of the
Galileans might be, after all, the God of our old Hebrew
forefathers--of Adam and Eve, of Abraham and David, and of the rest
who believed that children and the fruit of the womb were an
heritage and gift which cometh of the Lord--and that Paul was right
--actually right--in his theory that the church was the development
and fulfilment of our old national polity ....  I must thank you for
opening my eyes to a mistake which, had I not been besotted for the
moment, every monk and nun would have contradicted by the mere fact
of their existence, and reserve my nascent faith for some Deity who
takes no delight in seeing his creature: stultify the primary laws
of their being. Farewell!'

And while the Prefect stood petrified with astonishment, he retired
to the further extremity of the deck, muttering to himself--

'Did I not know all along that this gleam was too sudden and too
bright to last?  Did I not know that he, too, would prove himself
like all the rest--an ass? .... Fool! to have looked for common
sense on such an earth as this! ....  Back to chaos again, Raphael
Aben-Ezra, and spin ropes of sand to the end of the farce!'

And mixing with the soldiers, he exchanged no word with the Prefect
and his children, till they reached the port of Berenice; and then
putting the necklace into Victoria's hands, vanished among the
crowds upon the quay, no one knew whither.



CHAPTER XVIII: THE PREFECT TESTED


WHEN we lost sight of Philammon, his destiny had hurled him once
more among his old friends the Goths, in search of two important
elements of human comfort, freedom and a sister.  The former be
found at once, in a large hall where sundry Goths were lounging and
toping, into the nearest corner of which he shrank, and stood, his
late terror and rage forgotten altogether in the one new and
absorbing thought--His sister might be in that house! .... and
yielding to so sweet a dream, he began fancying to himself which of
all those gay maidens she might be who had become in one moment more
dear, more great to him, than all things else in heaven or earth.
That fair-haired, rounded Italian?  That fierce, luscious, aquiline-
faced Jewess?  That delicate, swart, sidelong-eyed Copt?  No.  She
was Athenian, like himself.  That tall, lazy Greek girl, then, from
beneath whose sleepy lids flashed, once an hour, sudden lightnings,
revealing depths of thought and feeling uncultivated, perhaps even
unsuspected, by their possessor.  Her?  Or that, her seeming
sister?  Or the next? ....  Or--Was it Pelagia herself, most
beautiful and most sinful of them all?  Fearful thought!  He blushed
scarlet at the bare imagination: yet why, in his secret heart, was
that the most pleasant hypothesis of them all?  And suddenly flashed
across him that observation of one of the girls on board the boat,
on his likeness to Pelagia.  Strange, that he had never recollected
it before!  It must be so! and yet on what a slender thread, woven
of scattered hints and surmises, did that 'must' depend!  He would
be sane! he would wait; he would have patience.  Patience, with a
sister yet unfound, perhaps perishing?  Impossible!

Suddenly the train of his thoughts was changed perforce:--

'Come! come and see!  There's a fight in the streets,' called one of
the damsels down the stairs, at the highest pitch of her voice.

'I shan't go,' yawned a huge fellow, who was lying on his back on a
sofa.

'Oh come up, my hero,' said one of the girls. 'Such a charming riot,
and the Prefect himself in the middle of it!  We have not had such a
one in the street this month.'

'The princes won't let me knock any of these donkey-riders on the
head, and seeing other people do it only makes me envious.  Give me
the wine-jug--curse the girl! she has run upstairs!'

The shouting and trampling came nearer; and in another minute Wulf
came rapidly downstairs, through the hall into the harem-court, and
into the presence of the Amal.

'Prince--here is a chance for us.  These rascally Greeks are
murdering their Prefect under our very windows.'

'The lying cur!  Serve him right for cheating us.  He has plenty of
guards.  Why can't the fool take care of himself?'

'They have all run away, and I saw some of them hiding among the
mob.  As I live, the man will be killed in five minutes more.'

'Why not?'

'Why should he, when we can save him and win his favour for ever?
The men's fingers are itching far a fight; it's a bad plan not to
give hounds blood now and then, or they lose the knack of hunting.'

'Well, it wouldn't take five minutes.'

'And heroes should show that they can forgive when an enemy is in
distress.'

'Very true!  Like an Amal too!'  And the Amal sprang up and shouted
to his men to follow him.

'Good-bye, my pretty one.  Why, Wulf,' cried he, as he burst out
into the court, 'here's our monk again!  By Odin, you're welcome, my
handsome boy! come along and fight too, young fellow; what were
those arms given you for?'

'He is my man,' said Wulf, laying his hand on Philammon's shoulder,
'and blood he shall taste.'  And out the three hurried, Philammon,
in his present reckless mood, ready for anything.

'Bring your whips.  Never mind swords.  Those rascals are not worth
it,' shouted the Amal, as he hurried down the passage brandishing
his heavy thong, some ten feet in length, threw the gate open, and
the next moment recoiled from a dense crush of people who surged
in--and surged out again as rapidly as the Goth, with the combined
force of his weight and arm, hewed his way straight through them,
felling a wretch at every blow, and followed up by his terrible
companions.

They were but just in time.  The four white blood-horses were
plunging and rolling over each other, and Orestes reeling in his
chariot, with a stream of blood running down his face, and the hands
of twenty wild monks clutching at him. 'Monks again!' thought
Philammon and as he saw among them more than one hateful face, which
he recollected in Cyril's courtyard on that fatal night, a flush of
fierce revenge ran through him.

'Mercy!' shrieked the miserable Prefect--'I am a Christian!  I swear
that I am a Christian! the Bishop Atticus baptized me at
Constantinople!'

'Down with the butcher! down with the heathen tyrant, who refuses
the adjuration on the Gospels rather than be reconciled to the
patriarch!  Tear him out of the chariot!' yelled the monks.

The craven hound!' said the Amal, stopping short, 'I won't help
him!'  But in an instant Wulf rushed forward, and struck right and
left; the monks recoiled, and Philammon, burning to prevent so
shameful a scandal to the faith to which he still clung
convulsively, sprang into the chariot and caught Orestes in his
arms.

'You are safe, my lord; don't struggle,' whispered he, while the
monks flew on him.  A stone or two struck him, but they only
quickened his determination, and in another moment the whistling of
the whips round his head, and the yell and backward rush of the
monks, told him that he was safe.  He carried his burden safely
within the doorway of Pelagia's house, into the crowd of peeping and
shrieking damsels, where twenty pairs of the prettiest hands in
Alexandria seized on Orestes, and drew him into the court.

'Like a second Hylas, carried off by the nymphs!' simpered he, as he
vanished into the harem, to reappear in five minutes, his head bound
rip with silk handkerchiefs, and with as much of his usual impudence
as he could muster.

'Your Excellency--heroes all--I am your devoted slave.  I owe you
life itself; and more, the valour of your succour is only surpassed
by the deliciousness of your cure.  I would gladly undergo a second
wound to enjoy a second time the services of such hands, and to see
such feet busying themselves on my behalf.'

'You wouldn't have said that five minutes ago, quoth the Amal,
looking at him very much as a bear might at a monkey.

'Never mind the hands and feet, old fellow, they are none of yours!'
bluntly observed a voice from behind' probably Smid's, and a laugh
ensued.

'My saviours, my brothers!' said Orestes, politely ignoring the
laughter.  'How can I repay you?  Is there anything in which my
office here enables me--I will not say to reward, for that would be
a term beneath your dignity as free barbarians--but to gratify you?'

'Give us three days' pillage of the quarter!' shouted some one.

'Ah, true valour is apt to underrate obstacles; you forget your
small numbers.'

'I say,' quoth the Amal--'I say, take care, Prefect.--If you mean to
tell me that we forty couldn't cut all the throats in Alexandria in
three days, and yours into the bargain, and keep your soldiers at
bay all the time--'

'Half of them would join us!' cried some one. 'They are half our own
flesh and blood after all!'

'Pardon me, my friends, I do not doubt it a moment.  I know enough
of the world never to have found a sheep-dog yet who would not, on
occasion, help to make away with a little of the mutton which he
guarded.  Eh, my venerable sir?' turning to Wulf with a knowing bow.

Wulf chuckled grimly, and said something to the Amal in German about
being civil to guests.

'You will pardon me, my heroic friends,' said Orestes, 'but, with
your kind permission, I will observe that I am somewhat faint and
disturbed by late occurrences.  To trespass on your hospitality
further would be an impertinence.  If, therefore, I might send a
slave to find some of my apparitors-'

'No, by all the gods!' roared the Amal, 'you're my guest now--my
lady's at least.  And no one ever went out of my house sober yet if
I could help it.  Set the cooks to work, my men!  The Prefect shall
feast with us like an emperor, and we'll send him home to-night as
drunk as he can wish.  Come along, your Excellency; we're rough
fellows, we Goths; but by the Valkyrs, no one can say that we
neglect our guests!'

'It is a sweet compulsion,' said Orestes, as he went in.

'Stop, by the bye!  Didn't one of you men catch a monk.?'

'Here he is, prince, with his elbows safe behind him.'  And a tall,
haggard, half-naked monk was dragged forward.

'Capital! bring him in.  His Excellency shall judge him while
dinner's cooking' and Smid shall have the hanging of him.  He hurt
nobody in the scuffle; he was thinking of his dinner.'

'Some rascal bit a piece out of my leg, and I tumbled down,'
grumbled Smid.

'Well, pay out this fellow for it, then.  Bring a chair, slaves!
Here, your Highness, sit there and judge.'

'Two chairs!' said some one; 'the Amal shan't stand before the
emperor himself.'

'By all means, my dear friends.  The Amal and I will act as the two
Caesars, with divided empire.  I presume we shall have little
difference of opinion as to the hanging of this worthy.'

'Hanging's too quick for him.'

'Just what I was about to remark--there are certain judicial
formalities, considered generally to be conducive to the stability,
if not necessary to the existence, of the Roman empire--'

'I say, don't talk so much,' shouted a Goth, 'If you want to have
the hanging of him yourself, do.  We thought we would save you
trouble.'

'Ah, my excellent friend, would you rob me of the delicate pleasure
of revenge?  I intend to spend at least four hours to-morrow in
killing this pious martyr.  He will have a good time to think,
between the beginning and the end of the rack.'

'Do you hear that, master monk?' said Smid, chucking him under the
chin, while the rest of the party seemed to think the whole business
an excellent joke, and divided their ridicule openly enough between
the Prefect and his victim.

'The man of blood has said it.  I am a martyr,' answered the monk in
a dogged voice.

'You will take a good deal of time in becoming one.'

'Death may be long, but glory is everlasting.'

'True.  I forgot that, and will save you the said glory, if I can
help it, for a year or two.  Who was it struck me with the stone?'

No answer.

'Tell me, and the moment he is in my lictors' hands I pardon you
freely.'

The monk laughed. 'Pardon?  Pardon me eternal bliss, and the things
unspeakable, which God has prepared for those who love Him?  Tyrant
and butcher!  I struck thee, thou second Dioclesian--I hurled the
stone--I, Ammonius.  Would to heaven that it had smitten thee
through, thou Sisera, like the nail of Jael the Kenite!'

'Thanks, my friend.  Heroes, you have a cellar for monks as well as
for wine?  I will trouble you with this hero's psalm-singing
tonight, and send my apparitors for him in the morning.'

'If he begins howling when we are in bed, your men won't find much
of him left in the morning,' said the Amal. 'But here come the
slaves, announcing dinner.'

'Stay,' said Orestes; 'there is one more with whom I have an account
to settle--that young philosopher there.'

'Oh, he is coming in, too.  He never was drunk in his life, I'll
warrant, poor fellow, and it's high time for him to begin.'  And the
Amal laid a good-natured bear's paw on Philammon's shoulder, who
hung back in perplexity, and cast a piteous look towards Wulf.

Wulf answered it by a shake of the head which gave Philammon courage
to stammer out a courteous refusal.  The Amal swore an oath at him
which made the cloister ring again, and with a quiet shove of his
heavy hand, sent him staggering half across the court: but Wulf
interposed.

'The boy is mine, prince.  He is no drunkard, and I will not let him
become one.  Would to heaven,' added he, under his breath, 'that I
could say the same to some others.  Send us out our supper here,
when you are done.  Half a sheep or so will do between us, and
enough of the strongest to wash it down with.  Smid knows my
quantity.'

'Why in heaven's name are you not coming in?'

'That mob will be trying to burst the gates again before two hours
are out; and as some one must stand sentry, it may as well be a man
who will not have his ears stopped up by wine and women's kisses.
The boy will stay with me.'

So the party went in, leaving Wulf and Philammon alone in the outer
hall.

There the two sat for some half hour, casting stealthy glances at
each other, and wondering perhaps, each of them vainly enough, what
was going on in the opposite brain.  Philammon, though his heart was
full of his sister, could not help noticing the air of deep sadness
which hung about the scarred and weather-beaten features of the old
warrior.  The grimness which he had remarked on their first meeting
seemed to be now changed into a settled melancholy.  The furrows
round his mouth and eyes had become deeper and sharper.  Some
perpetual indignation seemed smouldering in the knitted brow and
protruding upper lip.  He sat there silent and motionless for some
half hour, his chin resting on his hands, and they again upon the
butt of his axe, apparently in deep thought, and listening with a
silent sneer to the clinking of glasses and dishes within.

Philammon felt too much respect, both for his age and his stately
sadness, to break the silence.  At last some louder burst of
merriment than usual aroused him.

'What do you call that?' said he, speaking in Greek.

'Folly and vanity.'

'And what does she there--the Alruna--the prophet-woman, call it?'

'Whom do you mean?'

'Why, the Greek woman whom we went to hear talk this morning.'

'Folly and vanity.'

'Why can't she cure that Roman hairdresser there of it, then?'

Philammon was silent--'Why not, indeed!'

'Do you think she could cure any one of it?'

'Of what?'

'Of getting drunk, and wasting their strength and their fame, and
their hard-won treasures upon eating and drinking, and fine clothes,
and bad women.'

'She is most pure herself, and she preaches purity to all who hear
her.'

'Curse preaching.  I have preached for these four months.'

'Perhaps she may have some more winning arguments--perhaps--'

'I know.  Such a beautiful bit of flesh and blood as she is might
get a hearing, when a grizzled old head-splitter like me was called
a dotard.  Eh?  Well.  It's natural.'

A long silence.

'She is a grand woman.  I never saw such a one, and I have seen
many.  There was a prophetess once, lived in an island in the Weser-
stream--and when a man saw her, even before she spoke a word, one
longed to crawl to her feet on all fours, and say, "There, tread on
me; I am not fit for you to wipe your feet upon."  And many a
warrior did it ....  Perhaps I may have done it myself, before now
....  And this one is strangely like her.  She would make a prince's
wife, now.'

Philammon started.  What new feeling was it, which made him
indignant at the notion?

'Beauty?  What's body without soul?  What's beauty without wisdom?
What's beauty without chastity?  Best! fool! wallowing in the mire
which every hog has fouled!'

'Like a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman who is
without discretion.'

'Who said that?'

'Solomon, the king of Israel.'

'I never heard of him.  But he was a right Sagaman, whoever said it.
And she is a pure maiden, that other one?'

'Spotless as the'--blessed Virgin, Philammon was going to say--but
checked himself.  There were sad recollections about the words.

Wulf sat silent for a few minutes, while Philammon's thoughts
reverted at once to the new purpose for which alone life seemed
worth having ....  To find his sister!  That one thought had in a
few hours changed and matured the boy into the man.  Hitherto he had
been only the leaf before the wind, the puppet of every new
impression; but now circumstance, which had been leading him along
in such soft fetters for many a month, was become his deadly foe;
and all his energy and cunning, all his little knowledge of man and
of society, rose up sturdily and shrewdly to fight in this new
cause.  Wulf was now no longer a phenomenon to be wondered at, but
an instrument to be used.  The broken hints which he had just given
of discontent with Pelagia's presence inspired the boy with sudden
hope, and cautiously he began to hint at the existence of persons
who would be glad to remove her.  Wulf caught at the notion, and
replied to it with searching questions, till Philammon, finding
plain speaking the better part of cunning, told him openly the whole
events of the morning, and the mystery which Arsenius had half
revealed, and then shuddered with mingled joy and horror, as Wulf,
after ruminating over the matter for a weary five minutes, made
answer--

'And what if Pelagia herself were your sister?'

Philammon was bursting forth in some passionate answer, when the old
man stopped him and went on slowly, looking him through and through--

'Because, when a penniless young monk claims kin with a woman who is
drinking out of the wine-cups of the Caesars, and filling a place
for a share of which kings' daughters have been thankful--and will
be again before long--why then, though an old man may be too good-
natured to call it all a lie at first sight, he can't help supposing
that the young monk has an eye to his own personal profit, eh?'

'My profit?' cried poor Philammon, starting up. 'Good God! what
object on earth can I have, but to rescue her from this infamy to
purity and holiness?'

He had touched the wrong chord.

'Infamy? you accursed Egyptian slave!' cried the prince, starting up
in his turn, red with passion, and clutching at the whip which hung
over his head.  'Infamy?  As if she, and you too, ought not to
consider yourselves blest in her being allowed to wash the feet of
an Amal!'

'Oh' forgive me!' said Philammon, terrified at the fruits of his own
clumsiness. 'But you forget--you forget, she is not married to him!'

'Married to him?  A freedwoman?  No; thank Freya! he has not fallen
as low as that, at least: and never shall, if I kill the witch with
my own hands.  A freedwoman!'

Poor Philammon! And he had been told but that morning that he was a
slave.  He hid his face in his hands, and burst into an agony of
tears.

'Come, come,' said the testy warrior, softened at once. 'Woman's
tears don't matter, but somehow I never could bear to make a man
cry.  When you are cool, and have learnt common courtesy, we'll talk
more about this.  So!  Hush; enough is enough.  Here comes the
supper, and I am as hungry as Loke.'

And he commenced devouring like his namesake' 'the gray beast of the
wood,' and forcing, in his rough hospitable way, Philammon to devour
also much against his will and stomach.

'There.  I feel happier now!' quoth Wulf, at last. 'There is nothing
to be done in this accursed place but to eat.  I get no fighting, no
hunting.  I hate women as they hate me.  I don't know anything
indeed, that I don't hate, except eating and singing.  And now, what
with those girls' vile unmanly harps and flutes, no one cares to
listen to a true rattling warsong.  There they are at it now, with
their caterwauling, squealing all together like a set of starlings
on a foggy morning!  We'll have a song too, to drown the noise.'
And he burst out with a wild rich melody, acting, in uncouth
gestures and a suppressed tone of voice, the scene which the words
described--

  An elk looked out of the pine forest
  He snuffed up east, he snuffed down west,
    Stealthy and still.

  His mane and his horns were heavy with snow;
  I laid my arrow across my bow,
    Stealthy and still.

And then quickening his voice, as his whole face blazed up into
fierce excitement--

  The bow it rattled' the arrow flew,
  It smote his blade-bones through and through,
    Hurrah!

  I sprang at his throat like a wolf of the wood,
  And I warmed my hands in the smoking blood,
    Hurrah!

And with a shout that echoed. and rang from wall to wall, and pealed
away above the roofs, he leapt to his feet with a gesture and look
of savage frenzy which made Philammon recoil.  But the passion was
gone in an instant, and Wulf sat down again chuckling to himself--

'There--that is something like a warrior's song.  That makes the old
blood spin along again!  But this debauching furnace of a climate!
no man can keep his muscle, or his courage, or his money, or
anything else in it.  May the gods curse the day when first I saw
it!'

Philammon said nothing, but sat utterly aghast at an outbreak so
unlike Wulf's usual caustic reserve and stately self-restraint, and
shuddering at the thought that it might be an instance of that
daemoniac possession to which these barbarians were supposed by
Christians and by Neo-Platonists to be peculiarly subject.  But the
horror was not yet at its height; for in another minute the doors of
the women's court flew open, and, attracted by Wulf's shout, out
poured the whole Bacchanalian crew, with Orestes, crowned with
flowers, and led by the Amal and Pelagia, reeling in the midst,
wine-cup in hand.

'There is my philosopher, my preserver, my patron saint!' hiccupped
he. 'Bring him to my arms, that I may encircle his lovely neck with
pearls of India, and barbaric gold!'

'For God's sake let me escape!' whispered he to Wulf, as the rout
rushed upon him.  Wulf opened the door in an instant, and he dashed
through it.  As he wen, the old man held out his hand--

'Come and see me again, boy!--Me only.  The old warrior will not
hurt you!'

There was a kindly tone in the voice, a kindly light in the eye,
which made Philammon promise to obey.  He glanced one look back
through the gateway as he fled, and just saw a wild whirl of Goths
and girls, spinning madly round the court in the world-old Teutonic
waltz; while, high above their heads, in the uplifted arms of the
mighty Amal, was tossing the beautiful figure of Pelagia, tearing
the garland from her floating hair to pelt the dancers with its
roses.  And that might be his sister!  He hid his face and fled, and
the gate shut out the revellers from his eyes; and it is high time
that it should shut them out from ours also.

Some four hours more had passed.  The revellers were sleeping off
their wine, and the moon shining bright and cold across the court,
when Wulf came out, carrying a heavy jar of wine, followed by Smid,
a goblet in each hand.

'Here, comrade, out into the middle, to catch a breath of night-air.
Are all the fools asleep?'

'Every mother's son of them.  Ah! this is refreshing after that
room.  What a pity it is that all men are not born with heads like
ours!'

'Very sad indeed,' said Wulf, filling his goblet.

'What a quantity of pleasure they lose in this life!  There they
are, snoring like hogs.  Now, you and I are good to finish this jar,
at least.'

'And another after it, if our talk is not over by that time.'

'Why, are you going to hold a council of war?'

'That is as you take it.  Now, look here, Smid.  Whomsoever I cannot
trust, I suppose I may trust you, eh?'

'Well!' quoth Smid surlily, putting down his goblet, 'that is a
strange question to ask of a man who has marched, and hungered, and
plundered, and conquered, and been well beaten by your side for
five-and-twenty years, through all lands between the Wesel and
Alexandria!'

'I am growing old, I suppose, and so I suspect every one.  But
hearken to me, for between wine and ill-temper out it must come.
You saw that Alruna-woman?'

'Of course.'

'Well?'

'Well?'

'Why, did not you think she would make a wife for any man?'

'Well?'

'And why not for our Amal?'

'That's his concern as well as hers, and hers as well as ours.'

'She?  Ought she not to think herself only too much honoured by
marrying a son of Odin?  Is she going to be more dainty than
Placidia?'

'What was good enough for an emperor's daughter must be good enough
for her.'

'Good enough?  And Adolf only a Balt, while Amalric is a full-
blooded Amal--Odin's son by both sides?'

'I don't know whether she would understand that.'

'Then we would make her.  Why not carry her off, and marry her to
the Amal whether she chose or not?  She would be well content enough
with him in a week, I will warrant.'

'But there is Pelagia in the way.'

'Put her out of the way, then.'

'Impossible.'

'It was this morning; a week hence it may not be.  I heard a promise
made to-night which will do it, if there be the spirit of a Goth
left in the poor besotted lad whom we know of.'

'Oh, he is all right at heart; never fear him.  But what was the
promise?'

'I will not tell till it is claimed.  I will not be the man to shame
my own nation and the blood of the gods.  But if that drunken
Prefect recollects it--why let him recollect it.  And what is more,
the monk-boy who was here to-night--'

'Ah, what a well-grown lad that is wasted!'

'More than suspects--and if his story is true, I more than suspect
too--that Pelagia is his sister.'

'His sister!  But what of that?'

'He wants, of course, to carry her off and make a nun of her.'

'You would not let him do such a thing to the poor child?'

'If folks get in my way, Smid, they must go down.  So much the worse
for them: but old Wulf was never turned back yet by man or beast,
and he will not be now.'

'After all, it will serve the hussy right.  But Amalric?'

'Out of sight, out of mind.'

'But they say the Prefect means to marry the girl.'

'He?  That scented ape?  She would not be such a wretch.'

'But he does intend; and she intends too.  It is the talk of the
whole town.  We should have to put him out of the way first.'

'Why not?  Easy enough' and a good riddance for Alexandria.  Yet if
we made away with him we should be forced to take the city too; and
I doubt whether we have hands enough for that.'

'The guards might join us.  I will go down to the barracks and try
them, if you choose' to-morrow.  I am a boon-companion with a good
many of them already.  But after all, Prince Wulf--of course you are
always right; we all know that--but what's the use of marrying this
Hypatia to the Amal?'

'Use?' said Wulf, smiting down his goblet on the pavement. 'Use? you
purblind old hamster-rat, who think of nothing but filling your own
cheek-pouches!--to give him a wife worthy of a hero, as he is, in
spite of all--a wife who will make him sober instead of drunk, wise
instead of a fool, daring instead of a sluggard--a wife who can
command the rich people for us, and give us a hold here, which if
once we get, let us see who will break it!  Why, with those two
ruling in Alexandria, we might be masters of Africa in three months.
We'd send to Spain for the Wendels, to move on Carthage; we'd send
up the Adriatic for the Longbeards to land in Pentapolis; we'd sweep
the whole coast without losing a man' now it is drained of troops by
that fool Heraclian's Roman expedition; make the Wendels and
Longbeards shake hands here in Alexandria; draw lots for their
shares of the coast' and then--'

'And then what?'

'Why, when we had settled Africa, I would call out a crew of picked
heroes, and sail away south for Asgard--I'd try that Red Sea this
time--and see Odin face to face, or die searching for him.'

'Oh!' groaned Smid. 'And I suppose you would expect me to come too,
instead of letting me stop halfway, and settle there among the
dragons and elephants.  Well, well, wise men are like moorlands--
ride as far as you will on the sound ground, you are sure to come
upon a soft place at last.  However, I will go down to the guards
to-morrow, if my head don't ache.'

'And I will see the boy about Pelagia.  Drink to our plot!'

And the two old iron-heads drank on, till the stars paled out and
the eastward shadows of the cloister vanished in the blaze of dawn.



CHAPTER XIX: JEWS AGAINST CHRISTIANS


THE little porter, after having carried Arsenius's message to
Miriam, had run back in search of Philammon and his foster-father;
and not finding them, had spent the evening in such frantic rushings
to and fro, as produced great doubts of his sanity among the people
of the quarter.  At last hunger sent him home to supper; at which
meal he tried to find vent for his excited feelings in his favourite
employment of beating his wife.  Whereon Miriam's two Syrian slave-
girls, attracted by her screams, came to the rescue, threw a pail of
water over him, and turned him out of doors.  He, nothing
discomfited, likened himself smilingly to Socrates conquered by
Xantippe; and, philosophically yielding to circumstances, hopped
about like a tame magpie for a couple of hours at the entrance of
the alley, pouring forth a stream of light raillery on the passers-
by, which several times endangered his personal safety; till at last
Philammon, hurrying breathlessly home, rushed into his arms.

'Hush!  Hither with me!  Your star still prospers.  She calls for
you.'

'Who?'

'Miriam herself.  Be secret as the grave.  You she will see and
speak with.  The message of Arsenius she rejected in language which
it is unnecessary for philosophic lips to repeat.  Come; but give
her good words-as are fit to an enchantress who can stay the stars
in their courses, and command the spirits of the third heaven.'

Philammon hurried home with Eudaimon.  Little cared he now for
Hypatia's warning against Miriam ....  Was he not in search of a
sister?

'So' you wretch, you are back again!' cried one of the girls, as
they knocked at the outer door of Miriam's apartments. 'What do you
mean by bringing young men here at this time of night?'

'Better go down, and beg pardon of that poor wife of yours.  She has
been weeping and praying for you to her crucifix all the evening,
you ungrateful little ape!'

'Female superstitions--but I forgive her.  Peace, barbarian women!
I bring this youthful philosopher hither by your mistress's own
appointment.'

'He must wait, then, in the ante-room.  There is a gentleman with my
mistress at present.'

So Philammon waited in a dark, dingy ante-room, luxuriously
furnished with faded tapestry, and divans which lined the walls; and
fretted and fidgeted, while the two girls watched him over their
embroidery out of the corners of their eyes, and agreed that he was
a very stupid person for showing no inclination to return their
languishing glances.

In the meanwhile, Miriam, within, was listening, with a smile of
grim delight, to a swarthy and weather-beaten young Jew.

'I knew, mother in Israel, that all depended on my pace; and night
and day I rode from Ostia toward Tarentum: but the messenger of the
uncircumcised was better mounted than I; I therefore bribed a
certain slave to lame his horse, and passed him by a whole stage on
the second day.  Nevertheless, by night the Philistine had caught me
up again, the evil angels helping him; and my soul was mad within
me.'

'And what then, Jonadab Bar-Zebudah?'

'I bethought me of Ehud, and of Joab also, when he was pursued by
Asahel, and considered much of the lawfulness of the deed, not being
a man of blood.  Nevertheless, we were together in the darkness, and
I smote him.'

Miriam clapped her hands.

'Then putting on his clothes, and taking his letters and
credentials, as was but reasonable, I passed myself off for the
messenger of the emperor, and so rode the rest of that journey at
the expense of the heathen; and I hereby return you the balance
saved.'

'Never mind the balance.  Keep it, thou worthy son of Jacob.  What
next?'

'When I came to Tarentum, I sailed in the galley which I had
chartered from certain sea-robbers.  Valiant men they were,
nevertheless, and kept true faith with me. For when we had come
halfway, rowing with all our might, behold another galley coming in
our wake and about to pass us by, which I knew for an Alexandrian,
as did the captain also, who assured me that she had come from hence
to Brundusium with letters from Orestes.'

'Well?'

'It seemed to me both base to be passed, and more base to waste all
the expense wherewith you and our elders had charged themselves; so
I took counsel with the man of blood, offering him over and above
our bargain, two hundred gold pieces of my own, which please to pay
to my account with Rabbi Ezekiel, who lives by the watergate in
Pelusium.  Then the pirates, taking counsel, agreed to run down the
enemy; for our galley was a sharp-beaked Liburnian, while theirs was
only a messenger trireme.'

'And you did it?'

'Else had I not been here.  They were delivered into our hands, so
that we struck them full in mid-length, and they sank like Pharaoh
and his host.'

'So perish all the enemies of the nation!' cried Miriam.  'And now
it is impossible, you say, for fresh news to arrive for these ten
days?'

'Impossible, the captain assured me, owing to the rising of the
wind, and the signs of southerly storm.'

'Here, take this letter for the Chief Rabbi, and the blessing of a
mother in Israel.  Thou Last played the man for thy people; and thou
shalt go to the grave full of years and honours, with men-servants
and maid-servants, gold and silver, children and children's
children, with thy foot on the necks of heathens, and the blessing
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to eat of the goose which is fattening
in the desert, and the Leviathan which lieth in the great sea, to be
meat for all true Israelites at the last day.'

And the Jew turned and went out, perhaps, in his simple fanaticism,
the happiest man in Egypt at that moment.

He passed out through the ante-chamber, leering at the slave-girls,
and scowling at Philammon; and the youth was ushered into the
presence of Miriam.

She sat, coiled up like a snake on a divan writing busily in a
tablet upon her knees while on the cushions beside her glittered
splendid jewels, which she had been fingering over as a child might
its toys.  She did not look up for a few minutes; and Philammon
could not help, in spite of his impatience, looking round the little
room and contrasting its dirty splendour, and heavy odour of wine,
and food, and perfumes, with the sunny grace and cleanliness of
Greek houses.  Against the wall stood presses and chests fretted
with fantastic Oriental carving; illuminated rolls of parchment lay
in heaps in a corner; a lamp of strange form hung from the ceiling,
and shed a dim and lurid light upon an object which chilled the
youth's blood for a moment--a bracket against the wall, on which, in
a plate of gold, engraven with mystic signs, stood the mummy of an
infant's head; one of those teraphim, from which, as Philammon knew,
the sorcerers of the East professed to evoke oracular responses.

At last she looked up, and spoke in a shrill, harsh voice.
'Well, my fair boy, and what do you want with the poor old
proscribed Jewess?  Have you coveted yet any of the pretty things
which she has had the wit to make her slave-demons save from the
Christian robbers?'

Philammon's tale was soon told.  The old woman listened, watching
him intently with her burning eye; and then answered slowly--

'Well, and what if you are a slave?'

'Am I one, then?  Am I?'

'Of course you are.  Arsenius spoke truth.  I saw him buy you at
Ravenna, just fifteen years ago.  I bought your sister at the same
time.  She is two-and-twenty now.  You were four years younger than
her, I should say.'

'Oh heavens! and you know my sister still!  Is she Pelagia?'

'You were a pretty boy,' went on the hag, apparently not hearing
him. 'If I had thought you were going to grow up as beautiful and as
clever as you are, I would have bought you myself.  The Goths were
just marching, and Arsenius gave only eighteen gold pieces for you
--or twenty--I am growing old, and forget everything, I think.  But
there would have been the expense of your education, and your sister
cost me in training--oh what sums?  Not that she was not worth the
money--no, no, the darling!'

'And you know where she is?  Oh tell me--in the name of mercy tell
me!'

'Why, then?'

'Why, then?  Have you not the heart of a human being in you?  Is she
not my sister?'

'Well?  You have done very well for fifteen years without your
sister--why can you not do as well now?  You don't recollect her--
you don't love her.'

'Not love her?  I would die for her--die for you if you will but
help me to see her!'

'You would, would you?  And if I brought you to her, what then!
What if she were Pelagia herself, what then?  She is happy enough
now, and rich enough.  Could you make her happier or richer?'

'Can you ask?  I must--I will--reclaim her from the infamy in which
I am sure she lives.'

'Ah ha, sir monk!  I expected as much.  I know, none knows better,
what those fine words mean.  The burnt child dreads the fire; but
the burnt old woman quenches it, you will find.  Now listen.  I do
not say that you shall not see her--I do not say that Pelagia
herself is not the woman whom you seek--but--you are in my power.
Don't frown and pout.  I can deliver you as a slave to Arsenius when
I choose.  One word from me to Orestes, and you are in fetters as a
fugitive.'

'I will escape!' cried he fiercely.

'Escape me?'--She laughed, pointing to the teraph--'Me, who, if you
fled beyond Kaf, or dived to the depths of the ocean, could make
these dead lips confess where you were, and command demons to bear
you back to me upon their wings!  Escape me!  Better to obey me, and
see your sister.'

Philammon shuddered, and submitted.  The spell of the woman's eye,
the terror of her words, which he half believed, and the agony of
longing, conquered him, and he gasped out--

'I will obey you--only--only--'

'Only you are not quite a man yet, but half a monk still, eh?  I
must know that before I help you, my pretty boy.  Are you a monk
still, or a man?'

'What do you mean?'

'Ah, ha, ha!' laughed she shrilly. 'And these Christian dogs don't
know what a man means?  Are you a monk, then? leaving the man alone,
as above your understanding.'

'I?--I am a student of philosophy.'

'But no man?'

'I am a man, I suppose.'

'I don't; if you had been, you would have been making love like a
man to that heathen woman many a month ago.'

'I--to her?'

'Yes, I-to her!'Said Miriam, coarsely imitating his tone of shocked
humility.  'I, the poor penniless boy-scholar, to her, the great,
rich, wise, worshipped she-philosopher, who holds the sacred keys of
the inner shrine of the east wind--and just because I am a man, and
the handsomest man in Alexandria, and she a woman, and the vainest
woman in Alexandria; and therefore I am stronger than she, and can
twist her round my finger, and bring her to her knees at my feet
when I like, as soon I open my eyes, and discover that I am a man.
Eh, boy!  Did she ever teach you that among her mathematics and
metaphysics, and gods and goddesses?'

Philammon stood blushing scarlet.  The sweet poison had entered, and
every vein glowed with it for the first time in his life.  Miriam
saw her advantage.

'There, there--don't be frightened at your new lesson.  After all, I
liked you from the first moment I saw you, and asked the teraph
about you, and I got an answer--such an answer!  You shall know it
some day.  At all events, it set the poor old soft-hearted Jewess on
throwing away her money.  Did you ever guess from whom your monthly
gold piece came?'

Philammon started, and Miriam burst into loud, shrill laughter.

'From Hypatia, I'll warrant!  From the fair Greek woman, of course--
vain child that you are--never thinking of the poor old Jewess.'

'And did you? did you?' gasped Philammon.

'Have I to thank you, then, for that strange generosity?'

'Not to thank me, but to obey me; for mind, I can prove your debt to
me, every obol, and claim it if I choose.  But don't fear; I won't
be
hard on you, just because you are in my power.  I hate every one who
is not so.  As soon as I have a hold on them, I begin to love them.
Old folks, like children, are fond of their own playthings.'

'And I am yours, then?' said Philammon fiercely.

'You are indeed, my beautiful boy,' answered she, looking up with so
insinuating a smile that he could not be angry. 'After all, I know
how to toss my balls gently--and for these forty years I have only
lived to make young folks happy; so you need not be afraid of the
poor soft-hearted old woman.  Now--you saved Orestes's life
yesterday.'

'How did you find out that?'

'I?  I know everything.  I know what the swallows say when they pass
each other on the wing, and what the fishes think of in the summer
sea.  You, too, will be able to guess some day, without the teraph's
help.  But in the mean time you must enter Orestes's service.  Why?-
What are you hesitating about?  Do you not know that you are high in
his favour?  He will make you secretary--raise you to be chamberlain
some day, if you know how to make good use of your fortune.'

Philammon stood in astonished silence; and at last--

'Servant to that man?  What care I for him or his honours?  Why do
you tantalise me thus?  I have no wish on earth but to see my
sister!'

'You will be far more likely to see her if you belong to the court
of a great officer--perhaps more than an officer--than if you remain
a penniless monk.  Not that I believe you.  Your only wish on earth,
eh?  Do you not care, then, ever to see the fair Hypatia again?'

'I?  Why should I not see her?  Am I not her pupil?'

'She will not have pupils much longer, my child.  If you wish to
hear her wisdom--and much good may it do you--you must go for it
henceforth somewhat nearer to Orestes's palace than the lecture-room
is.  Ah! you start.  Have I found you an argument now?  No--ask no
questions.  I explain nothing to monks.  But take these letters; to-
morrow morning at the third hour go to Orestes's palace, and ask for
his secretary, Ethan the Chaldee.  Say boldly that you bring
important news of state; and then follow your star: it is a fairer
one than you fancy.  Go! obey me, or you see no sister.'

Philammon felt himself trapped; but, after all, what might not this
strange woman do for him?  It seemed, if not his only path, still
his nearest path to Pelagia; and in the meanwhile he was in the
hag's power, and he must submit to his fate; so he took the letters
and went out.

'And so you think that you are going to have her?' chuckled Miriam
to herself, when Philammon went out.  'To make a penitent of her,
eh?--a nun, or a she-hermit; to set her to appease your God by
crawling on all fours among the mummies for twenty years, with a
chain round her neck and a clog at her ankle, fancying herself all
the while the bride of the Nazarene?  And you think that old Miriam
is going to give her up to you for that?  No, no, sir monk!  Better
she were dead! .... Follow your dainty bait!--follow it, as the
donkey does the grass which his driver offers him, always an inch
from his nose ....  You in my power!--and Orestes in my power! ....
I must negotiate that new loan to-morrow, I suppose ....  I shall
never be paid.  The dog will ruin me, after all!  How much is it,
now?  Let me see.' ....  And she began fumbling in her escritoire,
over bonds and notes of hand. 'I shall never be paid: but power!--to
have power!  To see those heathen slaves and Christian hounds
plotting and vapouring, and fancying themselves the masters of the
world, and never dreaming that we are pulling the strings, and that
they are our puppets!--we, the children of the promises--we, The
Nation--we, the seed of Abraham!  Poor fools!  I could almost pity
them, as I think of their faces when Messiah comes, and they find
out who were the true lords of the world, after all! ....He must be
the Emperor of the South, though, that Orestes; he must, though I
have to lend him Raphael's jewels to make him so. For he must marry
the Greek woman.  He shall.  She hates him, of course ....  So much
the deeper revenge for me.  And she loves that monk.  I saw it in
her eyes there in the garden.  So much the better for me, too.  He
will dangle willingly enough at Orestes's heels for the sake of
being near her--poor fool!  We will make him secretary, or
chamberlain.  He has wit enough for it, they say, or for anything.
So Orestes and he shall be the two jaws of my pincers, to squeeze
what I want out of that Greek Jezebel.. And then, then for the black
agate!'

Was the end of her speech a bathos?  Perhaps not; for as she spoke
the last word, she drew from her bosom, where it hung round her neck
by a chain, a broken talisman, exactly similar to the one which she
coveted so fiercely, and looked at it long and lovingly--kissed it--
wept over it--spoke to it--fondled it in her arms as a mother would
a child--murmured over it snatches of lullabies; and her grim,
withered features grew softer, purer, grander; and rose ennobled,
for a moment, to their long-lost might-have-been, to that personal
ideal which every soul brings with it into the world, which shines,
dim and potential, in the face of every sleeping babe, before it has
been scarred, and distorted, and encrusted in the long tragedy of
life.  Sorceress she was, pander and slave-dealer, steeped to the
lips in falsehood, ferocity, and avarice; yet that paltry stone
brought home to her some thought, true, spiritual, impalpable,
unmarketable, before which all her treasures and all her ambition
were as worthless in her own eyes as they were in the eyes of the
angels of God.

But little did Miriam think that at the same moment a brawny,
clownish monk was standing in Cyril's private chamber, and, indulged
with the special honour of a cup of good wine in the patriarch's
very presence, was telling to him and Arsenius the following
history--

'So I, finding that the Jews had chartered this pirate-ship, went to
the master thereof, and finding favour in his eyes, hired myself to
row therein, being sure, from what I had overheard from the Jews,
that she was destined to bring the news to Alexandria as quickly as
possible.  Therefore, fulfilling the work which his Holiness had
entrusted to my incapacity, I embarked, and rowed continually among
the rest; and being unskilled in such labour, received many curses
and stripes in the cause of the Church--the which I trust are laid
to my account hereafter.  Moreover, Satan entered into me, desiring
to slay me, and almost tore me asunder, so that I vomited much, and
loathed all manner of meat.  Nevertheless, I rowed on valiantly,
being such as I am, vomiting continually, till the heathens were
moved with wonder, and forbore to beat me, giving me strong liquors
in pity; wherefore I rowed all the more valiantly day and night,
trusting that by my unworthiness the cause of the Catholic Church
might be in some slight wise assisted.'

'And so it is,' quoth Cyril. 'Why do you not sit down, man?'

'Pardon me,' quoth the monk, with a piteous gesture; 'of sitting, as
of all carnal pleasure, cometh satiety at the last.'

'And now' said Cyril, 'what reward am I to give you for your good
service?'

'It is reward enough to know that I have done good service.
Nevertheless if the holy patriarch be so inclined without reason,
there is an ancient Christian, my mother according to the flesh--'

'Come to me to-morrow, and she shall be well seen to.  And mind--
look to it, if I make you not a deacon of the city when I promote
Peter.'

The monk kissed his superior's hand and withdrew.  Cyril turned to
Arsenius, betrayed for once into geniality by his delight, and
smiting his thigh--


'We have beaten the heathen for once, eh?'  And then, in the usual
artificial tone of an ecclesiastic--'And what would my father
recommend in furtherance of the advantage so mercifully thrown into
our hand?'

Arsenius was silent.

'I,' went on Cyril, 'should be inclined to announce the news this
very night, in my sermon.'

Arsenius shook his head.

'Why not? why not?' asked Cyril impatiently.

'Better to keep it secret till others tell it.  Reserved knowledge
is always reserved strength; and if the man, as I hope he does not,
intends evil to the Church, let him commit himself before you use
your knowledge against him.  True, you may have a scruple of
conscience as to the lawfulness of allowing a sin which you might
prevent.  To me it seems that the sin lies in the will rather than
in the deed, and that sometimes--I only say sometimes--it may be a
means of saving the sinner to allow his root of iniquity to bear
fruit, and fill him with his own devices.'

'Dangerous doctrine, my father.'

'Like all sound doctrine--a savour of life or of death, according as
it is received.  I have not said it to the multitude, but to a
discerning brother.  And even politically speaking--let him commit
himself, if he be really plotting rebellion, and then speak, and
smite his Babel tower.'

'You think, then, that he does not know of Heraclian's defeat
already?'

'If he does, he will keep it secret from the people; and our chances
of turning them suddenly will be nearly the same.'

'Good.  After all, the existence of the Catholic Church in
Alexandria depends on this struggle, and it is well to be wary.  Be
it so.  It is well for me that I have you for an adviser.'

And thus Cyril, usually the most impatient and intractable of
plotters, gave in, as wise men should, to a wiser man than himself,
and made up his mind to keep the secret, and to command the monk to
keep it also.

Philammon, after a sleepless night, and a welcome visit to the
public baths, which the Roman tyranny, wiser in its generation than
modern liberty, provided so liberally for its victims, set forth to
the Prefect's palace, and gave his message; but Orestes, who had
been of late astonishing the Alexandrian public by an unwonted
display of alacrity, was already in the adjoining Basilica.  Thither
the youth was conducted by an apparitor, and led up the centre of
the enormous hall, gorgeous with frescoes and coloured marbles, and
surrounded by aisles and galleries, in which the inferior
magistrates were hearing causes, and doing such justice as the
complicated technicalities of Roman law chose to mete out.  Through
a crowd of anxious loungers the youth passed to the apse of the
upper end, in which the Prefect's throne stood empty, and then
turned into aside chamber, where he found himself alone with the
secretary, a portly Chaldee eunuch, with a sleek pale face, small
pig's eyes, and an enormous turban.  The man of pen and paper took
the letter, opened it with solemn deliberation, and then, springing
to his feet, darted out of the room in most undignified haste,
leaving Philammon to wait and wonder.  In half an hour he returned,
his little eyes growing big with some great idea.

'Youth! your star is in the ascendant; you are the fortunate bearer
of fortunate news!  His Excellency himself commands your presence.'
And the two went out.

In another chamber, the door of which was guarded by armed men,
Orestes was walking up and down in high excitement, looking somewhat
the worse for the events of the past night, and making occasional
appeals to a gold goblet which stood on the table.

'Ha!  No other than my preserver himself!  Boy, I will make your
fortune.  Miriam says that you wish to enter my service.'

Philammon, not knowing what to say, thought the best answer would be
to bow as low as he could.

'Ah, ha!  Graceful, but not quite according to etiquette.  You will
soon teach him, eh, Secretary?  Now to business.  Hand me the notes
to sign and seal.  To the Prefect of the Stationaries--'

'Here, your Excellency.'

'To the Prefect of the Corn market--how many wheat-ships have you
ordered to be unladen?'

'Two, your Excellency.'

'Well, that will be largess enough for the time being.  To the
Defender of the Plebs--the devil break his neck!'

'He may be trusted, most noble; he is bitterly jealous of Cyril's
influence.  And moreover, he owes my insignificance much money.'

'Good!  Now the notes to the Gaol-masters, about the gladiators.'

'Here, your Excellency.'

'To Hypatia.  No.  I will honour my bride elect with my own
illustrious presence.  As I live, here is a morning's work for a man
with a racking headache!'

'Your Excellency has the strength of seven.  May you live for ever!'

And really, Orestes's power of getting through business, when he
chose, was surprising enough.  A cold head and a colder heart make
many things easy.

But Philammon's whole soul was fixed on those words. 'His bride
elect!' ....  Was it that Miriam's hints of the day before had
raised some selfish vision, or was it pity and horror at such a fate
for her--for his idol?--But he passed five minutes in a dream, from
which he was awakened by the sound of another and still dearer name.

'And now, for Pelagia.  We can but try.'

'Your Excellency might offend the Goth.'

'Curse the Goth!  He shall have his choice of all the beauties in
Alexandria, and be count of Pentapolis if he likes.  But a spectacle
I must have; and no one but Pelagia can dance Venus Anadyomene.'

Philammon's blood rushed to his heart, and then back again to his
brow, as he reeled with horror and shame.

'The people will be mad with joy to see her on the stage once more.
Little they thought, the brutes, how I was plotting for their
amusement, even when as drunk as Silenus.'

'Your nobility only lives for the good of your slaves.'

'Here, boy!  So fair a lady requires a fair messenger.  You shall
enter on my service at once, and carry this letter to Pelagia.
Why?--why do you not come and take it?'

'To Pelagia?' gasped the youth. 'In the theatre?  Publicly?  Venus
Anadyomene?'

'Yes, fool!  Were you, too, drunk last night after all?'

'She is my sister!'

'Well, and what of that?  Not that I believe you, you villain!  So!'
said Orestes, who comprehended the matter in an instant.
'Apparitors!'

The door opened, and the guard appeared.

'Here is a good boy who is inclined to make a fool of himself.  Keep
him out of harm's way for a few days.  But don't hurt him; for,
after all, he saved my life yesterday, when you scoundrels ran
away.'

And, without further ado, the hapless youth was collared, and led
down a vaulted passage into the guard-room, amid the jeers of the
guard, who seemed only to owe him a grudge for his yesterday's
prowess, and showed great alacrity in fitting him with a heavy set
of irons; which done, he was thrust head foremost into a cell of the
prison, locked in and left to his meditations.



CHAPTER XX: SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER


'But, fairest Hypatia, conceive yourself struck in the face by a
great stone, several hundred howling wretches leaping up at you like
wild beasts--two minutes more, and you are torn limb from limb.
What would even you do in such a case?'

'Let them tear me limb from limb, and die as I have lived.'

'Ah, but--When it came to fact, and death was staring you in the
face?'

'And why should man fear death?'

'Ahem!  No, not death, of course; but the act of dying.  That may
be, surely, under such circumstances, to say the least,
disagreeable.  If our ideal, Julian the Great, found a little
dissimulation necessary, and was even a better Christian than I have
ever pretended to be, till he found himself able to throw off the
mask, why should not I?  Consider me as a lower being than
yourself,--one of the herd, if you will; but a penitent member
thereof, who comes to make the fullest possible reparation, by doing
any desperate deed on which you may choose to put him, and prove
myself as able and willing, if once I have the power, as Julian
himself.'

Such was the conversation which passed between Hypatia and Orestes
half an hour after Philammon had taken possession of his new abode.

Hypatia looked at the Prefect with calm penetration, not unmixed
with scorn and fear.

'And pray what has produced this sudden change in your Excellency's
earnestness?  For four months your promises have been lying fallow.'
SThe did not confess how glad she would have been at heart to see
them lying fallow still.

'Because--This morning I have news; which I tell to you the first as
a compliment.  We will take care that all Alexandria knows it before
sundown.  Heraclian has conquered.'

'Conquered?' cried Hypatia, springing from her seat.

'Conquered, and utterly destroyed the emperor's forces at Ostia.  So
says a messenger on whom I can depend.  And even if the news should
prove false, I can prevent the contrary report from spreading, or
what is the use of being prefect?  You demur?  Do you not see that
if we can keep the notion alive but a week our cause is won?'

'How so?'

'I have treated already with all the officers of the city, and every
one of them has acted like a wise man, and given me a promise of
help, conditional of course on Heraclian's success, being as tired
as I am of that priest-ridden court at Byzantium.  Moreover, the
stationaries are mine already.  So are the soldiery all the way up
the Nile.  Ah! you have been fancying me idle for these four months,
but--You forget that you yourself were the prize of my toil.  Could
I be a sluggard with that goal in sight?'

Hypatia shuddered, but was silent; and Orestes went on--

'I have unladen several of the wheat-ships for enormous largesses of
bread: though those rascally monks of Tabenne had nearly forestalled
my benevolence, and I was forced to bribe a deacon or two, buy up
the stock they had sent down, and retail it again as my own.  It is
really most officious of them to persist in feeding gratuitously
half the poor of the city!  What possible business have they with
Alexandria?'

'The wish for popularity, I presume.'

'Just so; and then what hold can the government have on a set of
rogues whose stomachs are filled without our help?'

'Julian made the same complaint to the high priest of Galatia, in
that priceless letter of his.'

'Ah, you will set that all right, you know, shortly.  Then again, I
do not fear Cyril's power just now.  He has injured himself deeply,
I am happy to say, in the opinion of the wealthy and educated, by
expelling the Jews.  And as for his mob, exactly at the right
moment, the deities--there are no monks here, so I can attribute my
blessings to the right source--have sent us such a boon as may put
them into as good a humour as we need.'

'And what is that?' asked Hypatia.

'A white elephant.'

'A white elephant?'

'Yes,' he answered, mistaking or ignoring the tone of her answer. 'A
real, live, white elephant; a thing which has not been seen in
Alexandria for a hundred years!  It was passing through with two
tame tigers, as a present to the boy at Byzantium, from some
hundred-wived kinglet of the Hyperborean Taprobane, or other no-
man's-land in the far East.  I took the liberty of laying an embargo
on them, and, after a little argumentation and a few hints of
torture, elephant and tigers are at our service.'

'And of what service are they to be?'

'My dearest madam-- Conceive ....  How are we to win the mob without
a show? ....  When were there more than two ways of gaining either
the whole or part of the Roman Empire--by force of arms or force of
trumpery?  Can even you invent a third?  The former is unpleasantly
exciting, and hardly practicable just now.  The latter remains, and,
thanks to the white elephant, may be triumphantly successful.  I
have to exhibit something every week.  The people are getting tired
of that pantomime; and since the Jews were driven out, the fellow
has grown stupid and lazy, having lost the more enthusiastic half of
his spectators.  As for horse-racing, they are sick of it ....  Now,
suppose we announce, for the earliest possible day--a spectacle--
such a spectacle as never was seen before in this generation.  You
and I--I as exhibitor, you as representative--for the time being
only--of the Vestals of old--sit side by side ....  Some worthy
friend has his instructions, when the people are beside themselves
with rapture, to cry, "Long live Orestes Caesar!" ....Another
reminds them of Heraclian's victory--another couples your name with
mine .... the people applaud .... some Mark Antony steps forward,
salutes me as Imperator, Augustus--what you will--the cry is taken
up--I refuse as meekly as Julius Caesar himself--am compelled,
blushing, to accept the honour--I rise, make an oration about the
future independence of the southern continent--union of Africa and
Egypt--the empire no longer to be divided into Eastern and Western,
but Northern and Southern.  Shouts of applause, at two drachmas per
man, shake the skies.  Everybody believes that everybody else
approves, and follows the lead  ....  And the thing is won.'

'And pray,' asked Hypatia, crushing down her contempt and despair,
'how is this to bear on the worship of the gods?

'Why .... why, .... if you thought that people's minds were
sufficiently prepared, you might rise in your turn, and make an
oration--you can conceive one.  Set forth how these spectacles,
formerly the glory of the empire, had withered under Galilaean
superstition ....  How the only path toward the full enjoyment of
eye and ear was a frank return to those deities, from whose worship
they originally sprang, and connected with which they could alone be
enjoyed in their perfection ....  But I need not teach you how to do
that which you have so often taught me: so now to consider our
spectacle, which, next to the largess, is the most important part of
our plans.  I ought to have exhibited to them the monk who so nearly
killed me yesterday.  That would indeed have been a triumph of the
laws over Christianity.  He and the wild beasts might have given the
people ten minutes' amusement.  But wrath conquered prudence; and
the fellow has been crucified these two hours.  Suppose, then, we
had a little exhibition of gladiators.  They are forbidden by law,
certainly.'

'Thank Heaven, they are!'

'But do you not see that is the very reason why we, to assert our
own independence, should employ them?'

'No! they are gone.  Let them never reappear to disgrace the earth.'

'My dear lady, you must not in your present character say that in
public; lest Cyril should be impertinent enough to remind you that
Christian emperors and bishops put them down.'

Hypatia bit her lip, and was silent.

'Well, I do not wish to urge anything unpleasant to you ....  If we
could but contrive a few martyrdoms--but I really fear we must wait
a year or two longer, in the present state of public opinion, before
we can attempt that.'

'Wait? wait for ever!  Did not Julian--and he must be our model--
forbid the persecution of the Galilaeans, considering them
sufficiently punished by their own atheism and self-tormenting
superstition?'

'Another small error of that great man.--He should have recollected
that for three hundred years nothing, not even the gladiators
themselves, had been found to put the mob in such good humour as to
see a few Christians, especially young and handsome women, burned
alive, or thrown to the lions.'

Hypatia bit her lip once more. 'I can hear no more of this, sir.
You forget that you are speaking to a woman.'

'Most supreme wisdom,' answered Orestes, in his blandest tone, 'you
cannot suppose that I wish to pain your ears.  But allow me to
observe, as a general theorem, that if one wishes to effect any
purpose, it is necessary to use the means; and on the whole, those
which have been tested by four hundred years' experience will be the
safest.  I speak as a plain practical statesman--but surely your
philosophy will not dissent?'

Hypatia looked down in painful thought.  What could she answer?  Was
it not too true? and had not Orestes fact and experience on his
side?

'Well, if you must--but I cannot have gladiators.  Why not a--one of
those battles with wild beasts?  They are disgusting enough but
still they are less inhuman than the others; and you might surely
take precautions to prevent the men being hurt.'

'Ah! that would indeed be a scentless rose!  If there is neither
danger nor bloodshed, the charm is gone.  But really wild beasts are
too expensive just now; and if I kill down my present menagerie, I
can afford no more.  Why not have something which costs no money,
like prisoners?'

'What! do you rank human beings below brutes?'

'Heaven forbid!  But they are practically less expensive.  Remember,
that without money we are powerless; we must husband our resources
for the cause of the gods.'

Hypatia was silent.

'Now, there are fifty or sixty Libyan prisoners just brought in from
the desert.  Why not let them fight an equal number of soldiers?
They are rebels to the empire, taken in war.'

'Ah, then,' said Hypatia, catching at any thread of self-
justification, 'their lives are forfeit in any case.'

'Of course.  So the Christians could not complain of us for that.
Did not the most Christian Emperor Constantine set some three
hundred German prisoners to butcher each other in the amphitheatre
of Treves?'

'But they refused, and died like heroes, each falling on his own
sword.'

'Ah--those Germans are always unmanageable.  My guards, now, are
just as stiff-necked.  To tell you the truth, I have asked them
already to exhibit their prowess on these Libyans, and what do you
suppose they answered?'

'They refused, I hope.'

'They told me in the most insolent tone that they were men, and not
stage-players; and hired to fight, and not to butcher.  I expected a
Socratic dialogue after such a display of dialectic, and bowed
myself out.'

'They were right.'

'Not a doubt of it, from a philosophic point of view; from a
practical one they were great pedants, and I an ill-used master.
However, I can find unfortunate and misunderstood heroes enough in
the prisons, who, for the chance of their liberty, will acquit
themselves valiantly enough; and I know of a few old gladiators
still lingering about the wine-shops, who will be proud enough to
give them a week's training.  So that may pass.  Now for some
lighter species of representation to follow--something more or less
dramatic.'

'You forget that you speak to one who trusts to be, as soon as she
has the power, the high-priestess of Athene, and who in the
meanwhile is bound to obey her tutor Julian's commands to the
priests of his day, and imitate the Galilaeans as much in their
abhorrence for the theatre as she hopes hereafter to do in their
care for the widow and the stranger.'

'Far be it from me to impugn that great man's wisdom.  But allow me
to remark, that to judge by the present state of the empire, one has
a right to say that he failed.'

'The Sun-God whom he loved took him to himself, too early, by a
hero's death.'

'And the moment he was removed, the wave of Christian barbarism
rolled back again into its old channel.'

'Ah! had he but lived twenty years longer!'

'The Sun-God, perhaps, was not so solicitous as we are for the
success of his high-priest's project.'

Hypatia reddened--was Orestes, after all laughing in his sleeve at
her and her hopes?

'Do not blaspheme!' she said solemnly.

'Heaven forbid!  I only offer one possible explanation of a plain
fact.  The other is, that as Julian was not going quite the right
way to work to restore the worship of the Olympians, the Sun-God
found it expedient to withdraw him from his post, and now sends in
his place Hypatia the philosopher, who will be wise enough to avoid
Julian's error, and not copy the Galilaeans too closely, by
imitating a severity of morals at which they are the only true and
natural adepts.'

'So Julian's error was that of being too virtuous?  If it be so, let
me copy him, and fail like him.  The fault will then not be mine,
but fate's.'

'Not in being too virtuous himself, most stainless likeness of
Athene, but in trying to make others so.  He forgot one half of
Juvenal's great dictum about "Panem and Circenses," as the absolute
and overruling necessities of rulers.  He tried to give the people
the bread without the games ....  And what thanks he received for
his enormous munificence, let himself and the good folks of Antioch
tell--you just quoted his Misopogon--'

'Ay-the lament of a man too pure for his age.'

'Exactly so.  He should rather have been content to keep his purity
to himself, and have gone to Antioch not merely as a philosophic
high-priest, with a beard of questionable cleanliness, to offer
sacrifices to a god in whom--forgive me--nobody in Antioch had
believed for many a year.  If he had made his entrance with ten
thousand gladiators, and our white elephant, built a theatre of
ivory and glass in Daphne, and proclaimed games in honour of the
Sun, or of any other member of the Pantheon--'

'He would have acted unworthily of a philosopher.'

'But instead of that one priest draggling up, poor devil, through
the wet grass to the deserted altar with his solitary goose under
his arm, he would have had every goose in Antioch--forgive my
stealing a pun from Aristophanes--running open-mouthed to worship
any god known or unknown--and to see the sights.'

'Well,' said Hypatia, yielding perforce to Orestes's cutting
arguments. 'Let us then restore the ancient glories of the Greek
drama.  Let us give them a trilogy of Aeschylus or Sophocles.'

'Too calm, my dear madam.  The Eumenides might do certainly, or
Philoctetes, if we could but put Philoctetes to real pain, and make
the spectators sure that he was yelling in good earnest.'

'Disgusting!'

'But necessary, like many disgusting things.'

'Why not try the Prometheus?'

'A magnificent field for stage effect, certainly.  What with those
ocean nymphs in their winged chariot, and Ocean on his griffin ....
But I should hardly think it safe to reintroduce Zeus and Hermes to
the people under the somewhat ugly light in which Aeschylus exhibits
them.'

'I forgot that,' said Hypatia. 'The Orestean trilogy will be best,
after all.'

'Best? perfect--divine! Ah, that it were to be my fate to go down to
posterity as the happy man who once more revived Aeschylus's
masterpieces on a Grecian stage!  But--Is there not, begging the
pardon of the great tragedian, too much reserve in the Agamemnon for
our modern taste?  If we could have the bath scene represented on
the stage, and an Agamemnon who could he really killed--though I
would not insist on that, because a good actor might make it a
reason for refusing the part--but still the murder ought to take
place in public.'

'Shocking! an outrage on all the laws of the drama.  Does not even
the Roman Horace lay down as a rule the--_Nec pueros coram populo
Medea trucidet_?'

'Fairest and wisest, I am as willing a pupil of the dear old
Epicurean as any man living--even to the furnishing of my chamber;
of which fact the Empress of Africa may some day assure herself.
But we are not now discussing the art of poetry, but the art of
reigning; and, after all, while Horace was sitting in his easy-
chair, giving his countrymen good advice, a private man, who knew
somewhat better than he what the mass admired, was exhibiting forty
thousand gladiators at his mother's funeral.'

'But the canon has its foundation in the eternal laws of beauty.  It
has been accepted and observed.'

'Not by the people for whom it was written.  The learned Hypatia has
surely not forgotten, that within sixty years after the _Ars
Poetica_ was written, Annaeus Seneca, or whosoever wrote that very
bad tragedy called the Medea, found it so necessary that she should,
in despite of Horace, kill her children before the people, that he
actually made her do it!'

Hypatia was still silent--foiled at every point, while Orestes ran
on with provoking glibness.

'And consider, too, even if we dare alter Aeschylus a little, we
could find no one to act him.'

'Ah, true! fallen, fallen days!'

'And really, after all, omitting the questionable compliment to me,
as candidate for a certain dignity, of having my namesake kill his
mother, and then be hunted over the stage by furies--'

'But Apollo vindicates and purifies him at last.  What a noble
occasion that last scene would give for winning them hack to their
old reverence for the god!'

'True, but at present the majority of spectators will believe more
strongly in the horrors of matricide and furies than in Apollo's
power to dispense therewith.  So that I fear must be one of your
labours of the future.'

'And it shall be,' said Hypatia.  But she did not speak cheerfully.

'Do you not think, moreover,' went on the tempter, 'that those old
tragedies might give somewhat too gloomy a notion of those deities
whom we wish to reintroduce--I beg pardon, to rehonour?  The history
of the house of Atreus is hardly more cheerful, in spite of its
beauty, than one of Cyril's sermons on the day of judgment, and the
Tartarus prepared for hapless rich people?'

'Well,' said Hypatia, more and more listlessly; 'it might be more
prudent to show them first the fairer and more graceful side of the
old Myths.  Certainly the great age of Athenian tragedy had its
playful reverse in the old comedy.'

'And in certain Dionysiac sports and processions which shall be
nameless, in order to awaken a proper devotion for the gods in those
who might not be able to appreciate Aeschylus and Sophocles.'

'You would not reintroduce them?'

'Pallas forbid! but give as fair a substitute for them as we can.'

'And are we to degrade ourselves because the masses are degraded?'

'Not in the least. For my own part, this whole business, like the
catering for the weekly pantomimes, is as great a bore to me as it
could have been to Julian himself.  But, my dearest madam--"Panem
and Circenses"--they must be put into good humour; and there is but
one way--by "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the
pride of life," as a certain Galilaean correctly defines the time-
honoured Roman method.'

'Put them into good humour?  I wish to lustrate them afresh for the
service of the gods.  If we must have comic representations, we can
only have them conjoined to tragedy, which, as Aristotle defines it,
will purify their affections by pity and terror.'

Orestes smiled.

'I certainly can have no objection to so good a purpose.  But do you
not think that the battle between the gladiators and the Libyans
will have done that sufficiently beforehand?  I can conceive nothing
more fit for that end, unless it be Nero's method of sending his
guards among the spectators themselves, and throwing them down to
the wild beasts in the arena.  How thoroughly purified by pity and
terror must every worthy shopkeeper have been, when he sat uncertain
whether he might not follow his fat wife into the claws of the
nearest lion!'

'You are pleased to be witty, sir,' said Hypatia, hardly able to
conceal her disgust.

'My dearest bride elect, I only meant the most harmless of
_reductiones ad absurdum_ of an abstract canon of Aristotle, with
which I, who am a Platonist after my mistress's model, do not happen
to agree.  But do, I beseech you, be ruled, not by me, but by your
own wisdom.  You cannot bring the people to appreciate your designs
at the first sight.  You are too wise, too pure, too lofty, too far-
sighted for them.  And therefore you must get power to compel them.
Julian, after all, found it necessary to compel--if he had lived
seven years more he would have found it necessary to persecute.'

'The gods forbid that--that such a necessity should ever arise
here.'

'The only way to avoid it, believe me, is to allure and to indulge.
After all, it is for their good.'

'True,' sighed Hypatia. 'Have your way, sir.'

'Believe me, you shall have yours in turn.  I ask you to be ruled by
me now, only that you may be in a position to rule me and Africa
hereafter.'

'And such an Africa!  Well, if they are born low and earthly, they
must, I suppose, he treated as such; and the fault of such a
necessity is Nature's, and not ours.--Yet it is most degrading!--But
still, if the only method by which the philosophic few can assume
their rights, as the divinely-appointed rulers of the world, is by
indulging those lower beings whom they govern for their good--why,
be it so.  It is no worse necessity than many another which the
servant of the gods must endure in days like these.'

'Ah,' said Orestes, refusing to hear the sigh, or to see the
bitterness of the lip which accompanied the speech--'now Hypatia is
herself again; and my counsellor, and giver of deep and celestial
reasons for all things at which poor I can only snatch and guess by
vulpine cunning.  So now for our lighter entertainment.  What shall
it be?'

'What you will, provided it be not, as most such are, unfit for the
eyes of modest women.  I have no skill in catering for folly.'

'A pantomime, then?  We may make that as grand and as significant as
we will, and expend too on it all our treasures in the way of
gewgaws and wild beasts.'

'As you like.'

'Just consider, too, what a scope for mythologic learning a
pantomime affords.  Why not have a triumph of some deity?  Could I
commit myself more boldly to the service of the gods!  Now--who
shall it be?'

'Pallas--unless, as I suppose, she is too modest and too sober for
your Alexandrians?'

'Yes--it does not seem to me that she would be appreciated--at all
events for the present.  Why not try Aphrodite?  Christians as well
as Pagans will thoroughly understand her; and I know no one who
would not degrade the virgin goddess by representing her, except a
certain lady, who has already, I hope, consented to sit in that very
character, by the side of her too much honoured slave; and one
Pallas is enough at a time in any theatre.'

Hypatia shuddered.  He took it all for granted, then--and claimed
her conditional promise to the uttermost.  Was there no escape?  She
longed to spring up and rush away, into the streets, into the
desert--anything to break the hideous net which she had wound around
herself.  And yet--was it not the cause of the gods--the one object
of her life?  And after all, if he the hateful was to be her
emperor, she at least was to be an empress; and do what she would--
and half in irony, and half in the attempt to hurl herself perforce
into that which she knew that she must go through, and forget misery
in activity, she answered as cheerfully as she could.

'Then, my goddess, thou must wait the pleasure of these base ones!
At least the young Apollo will have charms even for them.'

'Ah, but who will represent him?  This puny generation does not
produce such figures as Pylades and Bathyllus--except among those
Goths.  Besides, Apollo must have golden hair; and our Greek race
has intermixed itself so shamefully with these Egyptians, that our
stage-troop is as dark as Andromeda, and we should have to apply
again to those accursed Goths, who have nearly' (with a bow) 'all
the beauty, and nearly all the money and the power, and will, I
suspect, have the rest of it before I am safe out of this wicked
world, because they have not nearly, but quite, all the courage.
Now--Shall we ask a Goth to dance Apollo? for we can get no one
else.'

Hypatia smiled in spite of herself at the notion. 'That would be too
shameful!  I must forego the god of light himself, if I am to see
him in the person of a clumsy barbarian.'

'Then why not try my despised and rejected Aphrodite?  Suppose we
had her triumph, finishing with a dance of Venus Anadyomene.  Surely
that is a graceful myth enough.'

'As a myth; but on the stage in reality?'

'Not worse than what this Christian city has been looking at for
many a year.  We shall not run any danger of corrupting morality, be
sure.'

Hypatia blushed.

'Then you must not ask for my help.'

'Or for your presence at the spectacle?  For that be sure is a
necessary point.  You are too great a person, my dearest madam, in
the eyes of these good folks to be allowed to absent yourself on
such an occasion.  If my little stratagem succeeds, it will be half
owing to the fact of the people knowing that in crowning me, they
crown Hypatia ....  Come now--do you not see that as you must needs
be present at their harmless scrap of mythology, taken from the
authentic and undoubted histories of those very gods whose worship
we intend to restore, you will consult your own comfort most in
agreeing to it cheerfully, and in lending me your wisdom towards
arranging it?  Just conceive now, a triumph of Aphrodite, entering
preceded by wild beasts led in chains by Cupids, the white elephant
and all--what a field for the plastic art!  You might have a
thousand groupings, dispersions, regroupings, in as perfect bas-
relief style as those of any Sophoclean drama.  Allow me only to
take this paper and pen--'

And he began sketching rapidly group after group.

'Not so ugly, surely?'

'They are very beautiful, I cannot deny,' said poor Hypatia.

'Ah, sweetest Empress! you forget sometimes that I, too, world-worm
as I am, am a Greek, with as intense a love of the beautiful as even
you yourself have.  Do not fancy that every violation of correct
taste does not torture me as keenly as it does you.  Some day, I
hope, you will have learned to pity and to excuse the wretched
compromise between that which ought to be and that which can be, in
which we hapless statesmen must struggle on, half-stunted, and
wholly misunderstood--Ah, well!  Look, now, at these fauns and
dryads among the shrubs upon the stage, pausing in startled wonder
at the first blast of music which proclaims the exit of the goddess
from her temple.'

'The temple?  Why, where are you going to exhibit?'

'In the Theatre, of course.  Where else pantomimes?'

'But will the spectators have time to move all the way from the
Amphitheatre after that--those--'

'The Amphitheatre?  We shall exhibit the Libyans, too, in the
Theatre.'

'Combats in the Theatre sacred to Dionusos?'

'My dear lady'--penitently--'I know it is an offence against all the
laws of the drama.'

'Oh, worse than that!  Consider what an impiety toward the god, to
desecrate his altar with bloodshed?'

'Fairest devotee, recollect that, after all, I may fairly borrow
Dionusos's altar in this my extreme need; for I saved its very
existence for him, by preventing the magistrates from filling up the
whole orchestra with benches for the patricians, after the barbarous
Roman fashion.  And besides, what possible sort of representation,
or misrepresentation, has not been exhibited in every theatre of the
empire for the last four hundred years?  Have we not had tumblers,
conjurers, allegories, martyrdoms, marriages, elephants on the
tight-rope, learned horses, and learned asses too, if we may trust
Apuleius of Madaura; with a good many other spectacles of which we
must not speak in the presence of a vestal?  It is an age of
execrable taste, and we must act accordingly.'

'Ah!' answered Hypatia; 'the first step in the downward career of
the drama began when the successors of Alexander dared to profane
theatres which had re-echoed the choruses of Sophocles and Euripides
by degrading the altar of Dionusos into a stage for pantomimes!'

'Which your pure mind must, doubtless, consider not so very much
better than a little fighting.  But, after all, the Ptolemies could
not do otherwise.  You can only have Sophoclean dramas in a
Sophoclean age; and theirs was no more of one than ours is, and so
the drama died a natural death; and when that happens to man or
thing, you may weep over it if you will, but you must, after all,
bury it, and get something else in its place--except, of course, the
worship of the gods.'

'I am glad that you except that, at least,' said Hypatia, somewhat
bitterly.  'But why not use the Amphitheatre for both spectacles?'

'What can I do?  I am over head and ears in debt already; and the
Amphitheatre is half in ruins, thanks to that fanatic edict of the
late emperor's against gladiators.  There is no time or money for
repairing it; and besides, how pitiful a poor hundred of combatants
will look in an arena built to hold two thousand!  Consider, my
dearest lady, in what fallen times we live!'

'I do, indeed!' said Hypatia.  'But I will not see the altar
polluted by blood.  It is the desecration which it has undergone
already which has provoked the god to withdraw the poetic
inspiration.'

'I do not doubt the fact.  Some curse from Heaven, certainly, has
fallen on our poets, to judge by their exceeding badness.  Indeed, I
am inclined to attribute the insane vagaries of the water-drinking
monks and nuns, like those of the Argive women, to the same
celestial anger.  But I will see that the sanctity of the altar is
preserved, by confining the combat to the stage.  And as for the
pantomime which will follow, if you would only fall in with my fancy
of the triumph of Aphrodite, Dionusos would hardly refuse his altar
for the glorification of his own lady-love.'

'Ah--that myth is a late, and in my opinion a degraded one.'

'Be it so; but recollect, that another myth makes her, and not
without reason, the mother of all living beings.  Be sure that
Dionusos will have no objection, or any other god either, to allow
her to make her children feel her conquering might; for they all
know well enough, that if we can once get her well worshipped here,
all Olympus will follow in her train.'

'That was spoken of the celestial Aphrodite, whose symbol is the
tortoise, the emblem of domestic modesty and chastity: not of that
baser Pandemic one.'

'Then we will take care to make the people aware of whom they are
admiring by exhibiting in the triumph whole legions of tortoises:
and you yourself shall write the chant, while I will see that the
chorus is worthy of what it has to sing.  No mere squeaking double
flute and a pair of boys: but a whole army of cyclops and graces,
with such trebles and such bass-voices!  It shall make Cyril's ears
tingle in his palace!'

'The chant! A noble office for me, truly!  That is the very part of
the absurd spectacle to which you used to say the people never
dreamed of attending.  All which is worth settling you seemed to
have settled for yourself before you deigned to consult me.'

'I said so?  Surely you must mistake.  But if any hired poetaster's
chant do pass unheeded, what has that to do with Hypatia's eloquence
and science, glowing with the treble inspiration of Athene, Phoebus,
and Dionusos?  And as for having arranged beforehand--my adorable
mistress, what more delicate compliment could I have paid you?'

'I cannot say that it seems to me to be one.'

'How?  After saving you every trouble which I could, and racking my
overburdened wits for stage effects and properties, have I not
brought hither the darling children of my own brain, and laid them
down ruthlessly, for life or death, before the judgment-seat of your
lofty and unsparing criticism?'

Hypatia felt herself tricked: but there was no escape now.

'And who, pray, is to disgrace herself and me, as Venus Anadyomene?'

'Ah! that is the most exquisite article in all my bill of fare!
What if the kind gods have enabled me to exact a promise from--whom,
think you?'

'What care I?  How can I tell?'asked Hypatia, who suspected and
dreaded that she could tell.

'Pelagia herself!'

Hypatia rose angrily.

'This, sir, at least, is too much!  It was not enough for you, it
seems, to claim, or rather to take for granted, so imperiously, so
mercilessly, a conditional promise--weakly, weakly made, in the vain
hope that you would help forward aspirations of mine which you have
let lie fallow for months--in which I do not believe that you
sympathise now!--It was not enough for you to declare yourself
publicly yesterday a Christian, and to come hither this morning to
flatter me into the belief that you will dare, ten days hence, to
restore the worship of the gods whom you have abjured!--It was not
enough to plan without me all those movements in which you told me I
was to be your fellow-counsellor--the very condition which you
yourself offered!--It was not enough for you to command me to sit in
that theatre, as your bait, your puppet, your victim, blushing and
shuddering at sights unfit for the eyes of gods and men:--but, over
and above all this, I must assist in the renewed triumph of a woman
who has laughed down my teaching, seduced away my scholars, braved
me in my very lecture-room--who for four years has done more than
even Cyril himself to destroy all the virtue and truth which I have
toiled to sow--and toiled in vain!  Oh, beloved gods! where will end
the tortures through which your martyr must witness for you to a
fallen race?'

And, in spite of all her pride, and of Orestes's presence, her eyes
filled with scalding tears.

Orestes's eyes had sunk before the vehemence of her just passion;
but as she added the last sentence in a softer and sadder tone, he
raised them again, with a look of sorrow and entreaty as his heart
whispered--

'Fool!--fanatic!  But she is too beautiful!  Win her I must and
will!'

'Ah! dearest, noblest Hypatia!  What have I done?  Unthinking fool
that I was!  In the wish to save you trouble--In the hope that
I could show you, by the aptness of my own plans, that my practical
statesmanship was not altogether an unworthy helpmate for your
loftier wisdom--wretch that I am, I have offended you; and I have
ruined the cause of those very gods for whom, I swear, I am as ready
to sacrifice myself as ever you can be!'

The last sentence had the effect which it was meant to have.

'Ruined the cause of the gods?'asked she, in a startled tone.

'Is it not ruined without your help?  And what am I to understand
from your words but that--hapless man that I am!--you leave me and
them henceforth to our own unassisted strength?'

'The unassisted strength of the gods is omnipotence.'

'Be it so.  But--why is Cyril, and not Hypatia, master of the masses
of Alexandria this day?  Why but because he and his have fought, and
suffered, and died too, many a hundred of them, for their god,
omnipotent as they believe him to be?  Why are the old gods
forgotten; my fairest logician?--for forgotten they are.'

Hypatia trembled from head to foot, and Orestes went on more blandly
than ever.

'I will not ask an answer to that question of mine.  All I entreat
is forgiveness for--what for I know not: but I have sinned, and that
is enough for me.  What if I have been too confident--too hasty?
Are you not the price for which I strain?  And will not the
preciousness of the victor's wreath excuse some impatience in the
struggle for it?  Hypatia has forgotten who and what the gods have
made her--she has not even consulted her own mirror, when she blames
one of her innumerable adorers for a forwardness which ought to be
rather imputed to him as a virtue.'

And Orestes stole meekly such a glance of adoration, that Hypatia
blushed, and turned her face away ....  After all, she was woman.
And she was a fanatic ....  And she was to be an empress ....  And
Orestes's voice was as melodious, and his manner as graceful as ever
charmed the heart of woman.

'But Pelagia?' she said, at last, recovering herself.

'Would that I had never seen the creature!  But, after all, I really
fancied that in doing what I have done I should gratify you.'

'Me?'

'Surely if revenge be sweet, as they say, it could hardly find a
more delicate satisfaction than in degradation of one who--'

'Revenge, sir?  Do you dream that I am capable of so base a
passion?'

'I?  Pallas forbid!' said Orestes, finding himself on the wrong path
again. 'But recollect that the allowing this spectacle to take place
might rid you for ever of an unpleasant--I will not say rival.'

'How, then?'

'Will not her reappearance on the stage, after all her proud
professions of contempt for it, do something towards reducing her in
the eyes of this scandalous little town to her true and native
level?  She will hardly dare thenceforth to go about parading
herself as the consort of a god-descended hero, or thrusting herself
unbidden into Hypatia's presence, as if she were the daughter of a
consul.'

'But I cannot--I cannot allow it even to her.  After all, Orestes,
she is a woman.  And can I, philosopher as I am, help to degrade her
even one step lower than she lies already?'

Hypatia had all but said 'a woman even as I am': but Neo-Platonic
philosophy taught her better; and she checked the hasty assertion of
anything like a common sex or common humanity between two beings so
antipodal.

'Ah' rejoined Orestes, 'that unlucky word degrade!  Unthinking that
I was, to use it, forgetting that she herself will be no more
degraded in her own eyes, or any one's else, by hearing again the
plaudits of those "dear Macedonians," on whose breath she has lived
for years, than a peacock when he displays his train.  Unbounded
vanity and self-conceit are not unpleasant passions, after all, for
their victim.  After all, she is what she is, and her being so is no
fault of yours.  Oh, it must be! indeed it must!'

Poor Hypatia!  The bait was too delicate, the tempter too wily; and
yet she was ashamed to speak aloud the philosophic dogma which
flashed a ray of comfort and resignation through her mind, and
reminded her that after all there was no harm in allowing lower
natures to develop themselves freely in that direction which Nature
had appointed for them, and in which only they could fulfil the laws
of their being, as necessary varieties in the manifold whole of the
universe.  So she cut the interview short with--

'If it must be, then ....  I will now retire, and write the ode.
Only, I refuse to have any communication whatsoever with--I am
ashamed of even mentioning her name.  I will send the ode to you,
and she must adapt her dance to it as best she can.  By her taste,
or fancy rather, I will not be ruled.'

'And I,' said Orestes, with a profusion of thanks, 'will retire to
rack my faculties over the "dispositions."  On this day week we
exhibit--and conquer!  Farewell, queen of wisdom!  Your philosophy
never shows to better advantage than when you thus wisely and
gracefully subordinate that which is beautiful in itself to that
which is beautiful relatively and practically.'

He departed; and Hypatia, half dreading her own thoughts, sat down
at once to labour at the ode.  Certainly it was a magnificent
subject.  What etymologies, cosmogonies, allegories, myths,
symbolisms, between all heaven and earth, might she not introduce--
if she could but banish that figure of Pelagia dancing to it all,
which would not be banished, but hovered, like a spectre, in the
background of all her imaginations.  She became quite angry, first
with Pelagia, then with herself, for being weak enough to think of
her.  Was it not positive defilement of her mind to be haunted by
the image of so defiled a being?  She would purify her thoughts by
prayer and meditation.  But to whom of all the gods should she
address herself?  To her chosen favourite, Athene?  She who had
promised to be present at that spectacle?  Oh, how weak she bad been
to yield! And yet she bad been snared into it.  Snared--there was no
doubt of it--by the very man whom she had fancied that she could
guide and mould to her own purposes.  He had guided and moulded her
now against her self-respect, her compassion, her innate sense of
right.  Already she was his tool.  True, she had submitted to be so
for a great purpose.  But suppose she had to submit again hereafter
--always henceforth?  And what made the thought more poignant was,
her knowledge that he was right; that he knew what to do, and how to
do it.  She could not help admiring him for his address, his
quickness, his clear practical insight: and yet she despised,
mistrusted, all but hated him.  But what if his were the very
qualities which were destined to succeed?  What if her purer and
loftier aims, her resolutions--now, alas! broken--never to act but
on the deepest and holiest principles and by the most sacred means,
were destined never to exert themselves in practice, except
conjointly with miserable stratagems and cajoleries such as these?
What if statecrafts and not philosophy and religion, were the
appointed rulers of mankind?  Hideous thought! And yet--she who had
all her life tried to be self-dependent, originative, to face and
crush the hostile mob of circumstance and custom, and do battle
single-handed with Christianity and a fallen age--how was it that in
her first important and critical opportunity of action she had been
dumb, irresolute, passive, the victim, at last, of the very
corruption which she was to exterminate?  She did not know yet that
those who have no other means for regenerating a corrupted time than
dogmatic pedantries concerning the dead and unreturning past, must
end, in practice, by borrowing insincerely, and using clumsily, the
very weapons of that novel age which they deprecate, and 'sewing new
cloth into old garments,' till the rent become patent and incurable.
But in the meanwhile, such meditations as these drove from her mind
for that day both Athene, and the ode, and philosophy, and all
things but--Pelagia the wanton.

In the meanwhile, Alexandrian politics flowed onward in their usual
pure and quiet course.  The public buildings were placarded with the
news of Heraclian's victory; and groups of loungers expressed,
loudly enough, their utter indifference as to who might rule at
Rome--or even at Byzantium.  Let Heraclian or Honorius be emperor,
the capitals must be fed; and while the Alexandrian wheat-trade was
uninjured, what matter who received the tribute?  Certainly, as some
friends of Orestes found means to suggest, it might not be a bad
thing for Egypt, if she could keep the tribute in her own treasury,
instead of sending it to Rome without any adequate return, save the
presence of an expensive army ....  Alexandria had been once the
metropolis of an independent empire ....  Why not again?  Then came
enormous largesses of corn, proving, more satisfactorily to the mob
than to the shipowners, that Egyptian wheat was better employed at
home than abroad.  Nay, there were even rumours of a general amnesty
for all prisoners; and as, of course, every evil-doer had a kind of
friend, who considered him an injured martyr, all parties were well
content, on their own accounts at least, with such a move.

And so Orestes's bubble swelled, and grew, and glittered every day
with fresh prismatic radiance; while Hypatia sat at home, with a
heavy heart, writing her ode to Venus Urania, and submitting to
Orestes's daily visits.

One cloud, indeed, not without squalls of wind and rain, disfigured
that sky which the Prefect had invested with such serenity by the
simple expedient, well known to politicians, of painting it bright
blue, since it would not assume that colour of its own accord. For,
a day or two after Ammonius's execution, the Prefect's guards
informed him that the corpse of the crucified man, with the cross on
which it hung, had vanished.  The Nitrian monks had come down in a
body, and carried them off before the very eyes of the sentinels.
Orestes knew well enough that the fellows must have been bribed to
allow the theft; but he dare not say so to men on whose good humour
his very life might depend; so, stomaching the affront as best he
could, he vowed fresh vengeance against Cyril, and went on his way.
But, behold!--within four-and-twenty hours of the theft, a
procession of all the rascality, followed by all the piety, of
Alexandria,--monks from Nitria counted by the thousand,--priests,
deacons, archdeacons, Cyril himself, in full pontificals, and borne
aloft in the midst, upon a splendid bier, the missing corpse, its
nail-pierced hands and feet left uncovered for the pitying gaze of
the Church.

Under the very palace windows, from which Orestes found it expedient
to retire for the time being, out upon the quays, and up the steps
of the Caesareum, defiled that new portent; and in another half-hour
a servant entered, breathlessly, to inform the shepherd of people
that his victim was lying in state in the centre of the nave, a
martyr duly canonised--Ammonius now no more, but henceforth
Thaumasius the wonderful, on whose heroic virtues and more heroic
faithfulness unto the death, Cyril was already descanting from the
pulpit, amid thunders of applause at every allusion to Sisera at the
brook Kishon, Sennacherib in the house of Nisroch, and the rest of
the princes of this world who come to nought.

Here was a storm!  To order a cohort to enter the church and bring
away the body was easy enough: to make them do it, in the face of
certain death, not so easy.  Besides, it was too early yet for so
desperate a move as would be involved in the violation of a church
....  So Orestes added this fresh item to the long column of
accounts which he intended to settle with the patriarch; cursed for
half an hour in the name of all divinities, saints, and martyrs,
Christian and Pagan; and wrote off a lamentable history of his
wrongs and sufferings to the very Byzantine court against which he
was about to rebel, in the comfortable assurance that Cyril had
sent, by the same post, a counter-statement, contradicting it in
every particular ....  Never mind ....  In case he failed in
rebelling, it was as well to be able to prove his allegiance up to
the latest possible date; and the more completely the two statements
contradicted each other, the longer it would take to sift the truth
out of them; and thus so much time was gained, and so much the more
chance, meantime, of a new leaf being turned over in that Sibylline
oracle of politicians--the Chapter of Accidents.  And for the time
being, be would make a pathetic appeal to respectability and
moderation in general, of which Alexandria, wherein some hundred
thousand tradesmen and merchants had property to lose, possessed a
goodly share.

Respectability responded promptly to the appeal; and loyal addresses
and deputations of condolence flowed in from every quarter,
expressing the extreme sorrow with which the citizens had beheld the
late disturbances of civil order, and the contempt which had been so
unfortunately evinced for the constituted authorities: but taking,
nevertheless, the liberty to remark, that while the extreme danger
to property which might ensue from the further exasperation of
certain classes, prevented their taking those active steps on the
side of tranquillity to which their feelings inclined them, the
known piety and wisdom of their esteemed patriarch made it
presumptuous in them to offer any opinion on his present conduct,
beyond the expression of their firm belief that he had been
unfortunately misinformed as to those sentiments of affection and
respect which his excellency the Prefect was well known to entertain
towards him.  They ventured, therefore, to express a humble hope
that, by some mutual compromise, to define which would be an
unwarrantable intrusion on their part, a happy reconciliation would
be effected, and the stability of law, property, and the Catholic
Faith ensured.  All which Orestes heard with blandest smiles, while
his heart was black with curses; and Cyril answered by a very
violent though a very true and practical harangue on the text, 'How
hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of
heaven.'

So respectability and moderation met with their usual hapless fate,
and, soundly cursed by both parties, in the vain attempt to please
both, wisely left the upper powers to settle their own affairs, and
went home to their desks and counters, and did a very brisk business
all that week on the strength of the approaching festival.  One
hapless innkeeper only tried to carry out in practice the principles
which the deputation from his guild had so eloquently advocated; and
being convicted of giving away bread in the morning to the Nitrian
monks, and wine in the evening to the Prefect's guards, had his
tavern gutted, and his head broken by a joint plebiscitum of both
the parties whom he had conciliated, who afterwards fought a little
together, and then, luckily for the general peace, mutually ran away
from each other.

Cyril in the meanwhile, though he was doing a foolish thing, was
doing it wisely enough.  Orestes might curse, and respectability
might deplore, those nightly sermons, which shook the mighty arcades
of the Caesareum, but they could not answer them.  Cyril was right
and knew that he was right.  Orestes was a scoundrel, hateful to
God, and to the enemies of God.  The middle classes were lukewarm
covetous cowards: the whole system of government was a swindle and
an injustice; all men's hearts were mad with crying, 'Lord, how
long?'  The fierce bishop had only to thunder forth text on text,
from every book of scripture, old and new, in order to array on his
side not merely the common sense and right feeling, but the bigotry
and ferocity of the masses.

In vain did the good Arsenius represent to him not only the scandal
but the unrighteousness of his new canonisation. 'I must have fuel,
my good father,' was his answer, 'wherewith to keep alight the flame
of zeal.  If I am to be silent as to Heraclian's defeat, I must give
them some other irritant, which will put them in a proper temper to
act on that defeat, when they are told of it.  If they hate Orestes,
does he not deserve it?  Even if he is not altogether as much in the
wrong in this particular case as they fancy he is, are there not a
thousand other crimes of his which deserve their abhorrence even
more?  At all events, he must proclaim the empire, as you yourself
say, or we shall have no handle against him.  He will not dare to
proclaim it if he knows that we are aware of the truth.  And if we
are to keep the truth in reserve, we must have something else to
serve meanwhile as a substitute for it.'

And poor Arsenius submitted with a sigh, as he saw Cyril making a
fresh step in that alluring path of evil-doing that good might come,
which led him in after years into many a fearful sin, and left his
name disgraced, perhaps for ever, in the judgment of generations,
who know as little of the pandemonium against which he fought, as
they do of the intense belief which sustained him in his warfare;
and who have therefore neither understanding nor pardon for the
occasional outrages and errors of a man no worse, even if no better,
than themselves.



CHAPTER XXI: THE SQUIRE-BISHOP


In a small and ill-furnished upper room of a fortified country
house, sat Synesius, the Bishop of Cyrene.

A goblet of wine stood beside him, on the table, but it was
untasted.  Slowly and sadly, by the light of a tiny lamp, he went on
writing a verse or two, and then burying his face in his hand, while
hot tears dropped between his fingers on the paper; till a servant
entering, announced Raphael Aben-Ezra.

Synesius rose, with a gesture of surprise, and hurried towards the
door.  'No, ask him to come hither to me.  To pass through those
deserted rooms at night is more than I can bear.'  And he waited for
his guest at the chamber door, and as he entered, caught both his
hands in his, and tried to speak; but his voice was choked within
him.

'Do not speak,' said Raphael gently, leading him to his chair again.
'I know all.'

'You know all?  And are you, then, so unlike the rest of the world,
that you alone have come to visit the bereaved and the deserted in
his misery?'

'I am like the rest of the world, after all; for I came to you on my
own selfish errand, to seek comfort.  Would that I could give it
instead!  But the servants told me all, below.'

'And yet you persisted in seeing me, as if I could help you?  Alas!
I can help no one now.  Here I am at last, utterly alone, utterly
helpless.  As I came from my mother's womb, so shall I return again.
My last child--my last and fairest--gone after the rest!--Thank God,
that I have had even a day's peace wherein to lay him by his mother
and his brothers; though He alone knows how long the beloved graves
may remain unrifled.  Let it have been shame enough to sit here in
my lonely tower and watch the ashes of my Spartan ancestors, the
sons of Hercules himself, my glory and my pride, sinful fool that I
was! cast to the winds by barbarian plunderers ....  When wilt thou
make an end, O Lord, and slay me?'

'And how did the poor boy die?' asked Raphael, in hope of soothing
sorrow by enticing it to vent itself in words.

'The pestilence.--What other fate can we expect, who breathe an air
tainted with corpses, and sit under a sky darkened with carrion
birds?  But I could endure even that, if I could work, if I could
help.  But to sit here, imprisoned now for months between these
hateful towers; night after night to watch the sky, red with burning
homesteads; day after day to have my ears ring with the shrieks of
the dying and the captives--for they have begun now to murder every
male down to the baby at the breast--and to feel myself utterly
fettered, impotent, sitting here like some palsied idiot, waiting
for my end!  I long to rush out, and fall fighting, sword in hand:
but I am their last, their only hope.  The governors care nothing
for our supplications.  In vain have I memorialised Gennadius and
Innocent, with what little eloquence my misery has not stunned in
me.  But there is no resolution, no unanimity left in the land.  The
soldiery are scattered in small garrisons, employed entirely in
protecting the private property of their officers.  The Ausurians
defeat them piecemeal, and, armed with their spoils, actually have
begun to beleaguer fortified towns; and now there is nothing left
for us, but to pray that, like Ulysses, we may be devoured the last.
What am I doing?  I am selfishly pouring out my own sorrows, instead
of listening to yours.'

'Nay, friend, you are talking of the sorrows of your country, not of
your own.  As for me, I have no sorrow--only a despair: which, being
irremediable, may well wait.  But you--oh, you must not stay here.
Why not escape to Alexandria?'

'I will die at my post as I have lived, the father of my people.
When the last ruin comes, and Cyrene itself is besieged, I shall
return thither from my present outpost, and the conquerors shall
find the bishop in his place before the altar.  There I have offered
for years the unbloody sacrifice to Him, who will perhaps require of
me a bloody one, that so the sight of an altar polluted by the
murder of His priest, may end the sum of Pentapolitan woe, and
arouse Him to avenge His slaughtered sheep!  There, we will talk no
more of it.  This, at least, I have left in my power, to make you
welcome.  And after supper you shall tell me what brings you
hither.'

And the good bishop, calling his servant, set to work to show his
guest such hospitality as the invaders had left in his power.

Raphael's usual insight had not deserted him when, in his utter
perplexity, he went, almost instinctively, straight to Synesius.
The Bishop of Cyrene, to judge from the charming private letters
which he has left, was one of those many-sided, volatile, restless
men, who taste joy and sorrow, if not deeply or permanently, yet
abundantly and passionately.  He lived, as Raphael had told Orestes,
in a whirlwind of good deeds, meddling and toiling for the mere
pleasure of action; and as soon as there was nothing to be done,
which, till lately, had happened seldom enough with him, paid the
penalty for past excitement in fits of melancholy.  A man of
magniloquent and flowery style, not without a vein of self-conceit;
yet withal of overflowing kindliness, racy humour, and unflinching
courage, both physical and moral; with a very clear practical
faculty, and a very muddy speculative one--though, of course, like
the rest of the world, he was especially proud of his own weakest
side, and professed the most passionate affection for philosophic
meditation; while his detractors hinted, not without a show of
reason, that he was far more of an adept in soldiering and dog-
breaking than in the mysteries of the unseen world.

To him Raphael betook himself, he hardly knew why; certainly not for
philosophic consolation; perhaps because Synesius was, as Raphael
used to say, the only Christian from whom he had ever heard a hearty
laugh; perhaps because he had some wayward hope, unconfessed even to
himself, that he might meet at Synesius's house the very companions
from whom he had just fled.  He was fluttering round Victoria's new
and strange brilliance like a moth round the candle, as he
confessed, after supper, to his host; and now he was come hither, on
the chance of being able to singe his wings once more.

Not that his confession was extracted without much trouble to the
good old man, who, seeing at once that Raphael had some weight upon
his mind, which he longed to tell, and yet was either too suspicious
or too proud to tell, set himself to ferret out the secret, and
forgot all his sorrows for the time, as soon as he found a human
being to whom he might do good.  But Raphael was inexplicably
wayward and unlike himself.  All his smooth and shallow persiflage,
even his shrewd satiric humour, had vanished.  He seemed parched by
some inward fever; restless, moody, abrupt, even peevish; and
Synesius's curiosity rose with his disappointment, as Raphael went
on obstinately declining to consult the very physician before whom
he presented himself as patient.

'And what can you do for me, if I did tell you?'

'Then allow me, my very dear friend, to ask this.  As you deny
having visited me on my own account, on what account did you visit
me?'

'Can you ask?  To enjoy the society of the most finished gentleman
of Pentapolis.'

'And was that worth a week's journey in perpetual danger of death?'

'As for danger of death, that weighs little with a man who is
careless of life.  And as for the week's journey, I had a dream one
night, on my way, which made me question whether I were wise in
troubling a Christian bishop with any thoughts or questions which
relate merely to poor human beings like myself, who marry and are
given in marriage.'

'You forget, friend, that you are speaking to one who has married,
and loved--and lost.'

'I did not.  But you see how rude I am growing.  I am no fit company
for you, or any man.  I believe I shall end by turning robber-chief,
and heading a party of Ausurians.'

'But,' said the patient Synesius 'you have forgotten your dream all
this while.

'Forgotten!--I did not promise to tell it you--did I?'

'No; but as it seems to have contained some sort of accusation
against my capacity, do you not think it but fair to tell the
accused what it was?'

Raphael smiled.

'Well then ....  Suppose I had dreamt this.  That a philosopher, an
academic, and a believer in nothing and in no man, had met at
Berenice certain rabbis of the Jews, and heard them reading and
expounding a certain book of Solomon--the Song of Songs.  You, as a
learned man, know into what sort of trumpery allegory they would
contrive to twist it; how the bride's eyes were to mean the scribes
who were full of wisdom, as the pools of Heshbon were of water; and
her stature spreading like a palm-tree, the priests who spread out
their hands when blessing the people; and the left hand which should
be under her head, the Tephilim which these old pedants wore on
their left wrists; and the right hand which should hold her, the
Mezuzah which they fixed on the right side of their doors to keep
off devils; and so forth.'

'I have heard such silly Cabbalisms, certainly.'

'You have?  Then suppose that I went on, and saw in my dream how
this same academic and unbeliever, being himself also a Hebrew of
the Hebrews, snatched the roll out of the rabbis' hands, and told
them that they were a party of fools for trying to set forth what
the book might possibly mean, before they had found out what it
really did mean; and that they could only find out that by looking
honestly at the plain words to see what Solomon meant by it.  And
then, suppose that this same apostate Jew, this member of the
synagogue of Satan, in his carnal and lawless imaginations, had
waxed eloquent with the eloquence of devils, and told them that the
book set forth, to those who had eyes to see, how Solomon the great
king, with his threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and
virgins without number, forgets all his seraglio and his luxury in
pure and noble love for the undefiled, who is but one; and how as
his eyes are opened to see that God made the one man for the one
woman, and the one woman to the one man, even as it was in the
garden of Eden, so all his heart and thoughts become pure, and
gentle, and simple; how the song of the birds, and the scent of the
grapes, and the spicy southern gales, and all the simple country
pleasures of the glens of Lebanon, which he shares with his own
vine-dressers and slaves, become more precious in his eyes than all
his palaces and artificial pomp; and the man feels that he is in
harmony, for the first time in his life, with the universe of God,
and with the mystery of the seasons; that within him, as well as
without him, the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone; the
flowers appear on the earth, and the voice of the turtle is heard in
the  land ....  And suppose I saw in my dream how the rabbis, when
they heard those wicked words, stopped their ears with one accord,
and ran upon that son of Belial and cast him out, because he
blasphemed their sacred books by his carnal interpretations.  And
suppose--I only say suppose--that I saw in my dream how the poor man
said in his heart, "I will go to the Christians; they acknowledge
the sacredness of this same book; and they say that their God taught
them that 'in the beginning God made man, male and female.'  Perhaps
they will tell me whether this Song of Songs does not, as it seems
to me to do, show the passage upwards from brutal polygamy to that
monogamy which they so solemnly command, and agree with me, that it
is because the song preaches this that it has a right to take its
place among the holy writings?  You, as a Christian bishop, should
know what answer such a man would receive ....  You are silent?
Then I will tell you what answer he seemed to receive in my dream.
"O blasphemous and carnal man, who pervertest Holy Scripture into a
cloak for thine own licentiousness, as if it spoke of man's base and
sensual affections, know that this book is to be spiritually
interpreted of the marriage between the soul and its Creator, and
that it is from this very book that the Catholic Church derives her
strongest arguments in favour of holy virginity, and the glories of
a celibate life."'

Synesius was still silent.

'And what do you think I saw in my dream that that man did when he
found these Christians enforcing, as a necessary article of
practice, as well as of faith, a baseless and bombastic metaphor,
borrowed from that very Neo-Platonism out of which he had just fled
for his life?  He cursed the day he was born, and the hour in which
his father was told, "Thou hast gotten a man-child," and said,
"Philosophers, Jews, and Christians, farewell for ever and a day!
The clearest words of your most sacred books mean anything or
nothing' as the case may suit your fancies; and there is neither
truth nor reason under the sun.  What better is there for a man,
than to follow the example of his people, and to turn usurer, and
money-getter, and cajoler of fools in his turn, even as his father
was before him?"'

Synesius remained a while in deep thought, and at last-

'And yet you came to me?'

'I did, because you have loved and married; because you have stood
out manfully against this strange modern insanity, and refused to
give up, when you were made a bishop, the wife whom God had given
you.  You, I thought, could solve the riddle for me, if any man
could.'

'Alas, friend!  I have begun to distrust, of late, my power of
solving riddles.  After all, why should they be solved?  What
matters one more mystery in a world of mysteries?  "If thou marry,
thou hast not sinned," are St. Paul's own words; and let them be
enough for us.  Do not ask me to argue with you, but to help you.
Instead of puzzling me with deep questions, and tempting me to set
up my private judgment, as I have done too often already, against
the opinion of the Church, tell me your story, and test my sympathy
rather than my intellect.  I shall feel with you and work for you,
doubt not, even though I am unable to explain to myself why I do
it.'

'Then you cannot solve my riddle?'

'Let me help you,' said Synesius with a sweet smile, 'to solve it
for yourself.  You need not try to deceive me.  You have a love, an
undefiled, who is but one.  When you possess her, you will be able
to judge better whether your interpretation of the Song is the true
one; and if you still think that it is, Synesius, at least, will
have no quarrel against you.  He has always claimed for himself the
right of philosophising in private, and he will allow the same
liberty to you' whether the mob do or not.'

'Then you agree with me?  Of course you do!'

'Is it fair to ask me whether I accept a novel interpretation, which
I have only heard five minutes ago, delivered in a somewhat hasty
and rhetorical form?'

'You are shirking the question,' said Raphael peevishly.

'And what if I am?  Tell me, point-blank, most self-tormenting of
men, can I help you in practice, even though I choose to leave you
to yourself in speculation?'

'Well, then, if you will have my story, take it, and judge for
yourself of Christian common sense.'

And hurriedly, as if ashamed of his own confession, and yet
compelled, in spite of himself, to unbosom it, he told Synesius all,
from his first meeting with Victoria to his escape from her at
Berenice.

The good bishop, to Aben-Ezra's surprise, seemed to treat the whole
matter as infinitely amusing.  He chuckled, smote his hand on his
thigh, and nodded approval at every pause--perhaps to give the
speaker courage--perhaps because he really thought that Raphael's
prospects were considerably less desperate than he fancied....

'If you laugh at me, Synesius, I am silent.  It is quite enough to
endure the humiliation of telling you that I am--confound it!--like
any boy of sixteen.'

'Laugh at you?--with you, you mean.  A convent?  Pooh, pooh!  The
old Prefect has enough sense, I will warrant him, not to refuse a
good match for his child.'

'You forget that I have not the honour of being a Christian.'

'Then we'll make you one.  You won't let me convert you, I know; you
always used to gibe and jeer at my philosophy.  But Augustine comes
to-morrow.

'Augustine?'

'He does indeed; and we must be off by daybreak, with all the armed
men we can muster, to meet and escort him, and to hunt, of course,
going and coming; for we have had no food this fortnight, but what
our own dogs and bows have furnished us.  He shall take you in hand,
and cure you of all your Judaism in a week; and then just leave the
rest to me; I will manage it somehow or other.  It is sure to come
right.  No; do not be bashful.  It will be real amusement to a poor
wretch who can find nothing else to do--Heigho! And as for lying
under an obligation to me, why we can square that by your lending me
three or four thousand gold pieces--Heaven knows I want them!--on
the certainty of never seeing them again.'

Raphael could not help laughing in his turn.

'Synesius is himself still, I see, and not unworthy of his ancestor
Hercules; and though he shrinks from cleansing the Augean stable of
my soul, paws like the war-horse in the valley at the hope of
undertaking any lesser labours in my behalf.  But, my dear generous
bishop, this matter is more serious, and I, the subject of it, have
become more serious also, than you fancy.  Consider: by the
uncorrupt honour of your Spartan forefathers, Agis, Brasidas, and
the rest of them, don't you think that you are, in your hasty
kindness, tempting me to behave in a way which they would have
called somewhat rascally?'

'How then, my dear man!  You have a very honourable and praiseworthy
desire; and I am willing to help you to compass it.'

'Do you think that I have not cast about before now for more than
one method of compassing it for myself?  My good man, I have been
tempted a dozen times already to turn Christian: but there has risen
up in me the strangest fancy about conscience and honour ....  I
never was scrupulous before, Heaven knows--I am not over-scrupulous
now--except about her.  I cannot dissemble before her.  I dare not
look in her face when I had a lie in my right hand ....  She looks
through one-into one-like a clear-eyed awful goddess ....  I never
was ashamed in my life till my eyes met hers....'

'But if you really became a Christian?'

'I cannot.  I should suspect my own motives.  Here is another of
these absurd soul-anatomising scruples which have risen up in me.  I
should suspect that I had changed my creed because I wished to
change it--that if I was not deceiving her I was deceiving myself.
If I had not loved her it might have been different: but now--just
because I do love her, I will not, I dare not, listen to Augustine's
arguments, or my own thoughts on the matter.'

'Most wayward of men!' cried Synesius, half peevishly; 'you seem to
take some perverse pleasure in throwing yourself into the waves
again, the instant you have climbed a rock of refuge!'

'Pleasure?  Is there any pleasure in feeling oneself at death-grips
with the devil?  I bad given up believing in him for many a year
....  And behold, the moment that I awaken to anything noble and
right, I find the old serpent alive and strong at my throat!  No
wonder that
I suspect him, you, myself--I, who have been tempted, every hour in
the last week, temptations to become a devil.  Ay,' he went on,
raising his voice, as all the fire of his intense Eastern nature
flashed from his black eyes, 'to be a devil!  From my childhood till
now never have I known what it was to desire and not to possess.  It
is not often that I have had to trouble any poor Naboth for his
vineyard: but when I have taken a fancy to it, Naboth has always
found it wiser to give way.  And now ....  Do you fancy that I have
not had a dozen hellish plots flashing across me in the last week?
Look here!  This is the mortgage of her father's whole estate.  I
bought it--whether by the instigation of Satan or of God--of a
banker in Berenice, the very day I left them; and now they, and
every straw which they possess, are in my power.  I can ruin them--
sell them as slaves--betray them to death as rebels--and last, but
not least, cannot I hire a dozen worthy men to carry her off, and
cut the Gordian knot most simply and summarily?  And yet I dare not.
I must be pure to approach the pure; and righteous, to kiss the feet
of the righteous.  Whence came this new conscience to me I know not,
but come it has; and I dare no more do a base thing toward her, than
I dare toward a God, if there be one.  This very mortgage--I hate
it, curse it, now that I possess it--the tempting devil!'

'Burn it,' said Synesius quietly.

'Perhaps I may.  At least, used it never shall be.  Compel her?  I
am too proud, or too honourable, or something or other, even to
solicit her.  She must come to me; tell me with her own lips that
she loves me, that she will take me, and make me worthy of her.  She
must have mercy on me, of her own free will, or--let her pine and
die in that accursed prison; and then a scratch with the trusty old
dagger for her father, and another for myself, will save him from
any more superstitions, and me from any more philosophic doubts, for
a few aeons of ages, till we start again in new lives--he, I
suppose, as a jackass, and I as a baboon.  What matter? but unless I
possess her by fair means, God do so to me, and more also, if I
attempt base ones!'

'God be with you, my son, in the noble warfare!' said Synesius, his
eyes filling with kindly tears.

'It is no noble warfare at all.  It is a base coward fear, in one
who never before feared man or devil, and is now fallen low enough
to be afraid of a helpless girl!'

'Not so,' cried Synesius, in his turn; 'it is a noble and a holy
fear.  You fear her goodness.  Could you see her goodness, much less
fear it, were there not a Divine Light within you which showed you
what, and how awful, goodness was?  Tell me no more, Raphael Aben-
Ezra, that you do not fear God; for he who fears Virtue, fears Him
whose likeness Virtue is.  Go on--go on ....  Be brave, and His
strength will be made manifest in your weakness.'
...............

It was late that night before Synesius compelled his guest to
retire, after having warned him not to disturb himself if he heard
the alarm-bell ring, as the house was well garrisoned, and having
set the water-clock by which he and his servants measured their
respective watches.  And then the good bishop, having disposed his
sentinels, took his station on the top of his tower, close by the
warning-bell; and as he looked out over the broad lands of his
forefathers, and prayed that their desolation might come to an end
at last, he did not forget to pray for the desolation of the guest
who slept below, a happier and more healthy slumber than he had
known for many a week. For before Raphael lay down that night, he
had torn to shreds Majoricus's mortgage, and felt a lighter and a
better man as he saw the cunning temptation consuming scrap by scrap
in the lamp-flame.  And then, wearied out with fatigue of body and
mind, he forgot Synesius, Victoria, and the rest, and seemed to
himself to wander all night among the vine-clad glens of Lebanon,
amid the gardens of lilies, and the beds of spices; while shepherds'
music lured him on and on, and girlish voices, chanting the mystic
idyll of his mighty ancestor, rang soft and fitful through his weary
brain.
...............

Before sunrise the next morning, Raphael was faring forth gallantly,
well armed and mounted, by Synesius's side, followed by four or five
brace of tall brush-tailed greyhounds, and by the faithful Bran,
whose lop-ears and heavy jaws, unique in that land of prick-ears and
fox-noses, formed the absorbing subject of conversation among some
twenty smart retainers, who, armed to the teeth for chase and war,
rode behind the bishop on half-starved, raw-boned horses, inured by
desert training and bad times to do the maximum of work upon the
minimum of food.

For the first few miles they rode in silence, through ruined
villages and desolated farms, from which here and there a single
inhabitant peeped forth fearfully, to pour his tale of woe into the
ears of the hapless bishop, and then, instead of asking alms from
him, to entreat his acceptance of some paltry remnant of grain or
poultry, which had escaped the hands of the marauders; and as they
clung to his hands, and blessed him as their only hope and stay,
poor Synesius heard patiently again and again the same purposeless
tale of woe, and mingled his tears with theirs, and then spurred his
horse on impatiently, as if to escape from the sight of misery which
he could not relieve; while a voice in Raphael's heart seemed to ask
him--'Why was thy wealth given to thee, but that thou mightest dry,
if but for a day, such tears as these?'

And he fell into a meditation which was not without its fruit in due
season, but which lasted till they had left the enclosed country,
and were climbing the slopes of the low rolling hills, over which
lay the road from the distant sea.  But as they left the signs of
war behind them, the volatile temper of the good bishop began to
rise.  He petted his hounds, chatted to his men, discoursed on the
most probable quarter for finding game, and exhorted them cheerfully
enough to play the man, as their chance of having anything to eat at
night depended entirely on their prowess during the day.

'Ah!' said Raphael at last, glad of a pretext for breaking his own
chain of painful thought, 'there is a vein of your land-salt.  I
suspect that you were all at the bottom of the sea once, and that
the old Earth-shaker Neptune, tired of your bad ways, gave you a
lift one morning, and set you up as dry land, in order to be rid of
you.'

'It may really be so.  They say that the Argonauts returned back
through this country from the Southern Ocean, which must have been
therefore far nearer us than it is now, and that they carried their
mystic vessel over these very hills to the Syrtis.  However, we have
forgotten all about the sea thoroughly enough since that time.  I
well remember my first astonishment at the side of a galley in
Alexandria, and the roar of laughter with which my fellow-students
greeted my not unreasonable remark, that it looked very like a
centipede.'

'And do you recollect, too, the argument which I had once with your
steward about the pickled fish which I brought you from Egypt; and
the way in which, when the jar was opened, the servants shrieked and
ran right and left, declaring that the fish-bones were the spines of
poisonous serpents?'

'The old fellow is as obstinate as ever, I assure you, in his
disbelief in salt water.  He torments me continually by asking me to
tell him the story of my shipwreck, and does not believe me after
all, though he has heard it a dozen times.  "Sir," he said to me
solemnly, after you were gone, "will that strange gentleman pretend
to persuade me that anything eatable can come out of his great pond
there at Alexandria, when every one can see that the best fountain
in the country never breeds anything but frogs and leeches?"'

As he spoke they left the last field behind them, and entered upon a
vast sheet of breezy down, speckled with shrubs and copse, and split
here and there by rocky glens ending in fertile valleys once thick
with farms and homesteads.

'Here,' cried Synesius, 'are our hunting-grounds.  And now for one
hour's forgetfulness, and the joys of the noble art.  What could old
Homer have been thinking of when he forgot to number it among the
pursuits which are glorious to heroes, and make man illustrious, and
yet could laud in those very words the forum?'

'The forum?' said Raphael. 'I never saw it yet make men anything but
rascals.'

'Brazen-faced rascals, my friend.  I detest the whole breed of
lawyers, and never meet one without turning him into ridicule;
effeminate pettifoggers, who shudder at the very sight of roast
venison, when they think of the dangers by which it has been
procured.  But it is a cowardly age, my friend--a cowardly age.  Let
us forget it, and ourselves.'

'And even philosophy and Hypatia?' said Raphael archly.

'I have done with philosophy.  To fight like a Heracleid, and to die
like a bishop, is all I have left--except Hypatia, the perfect, the
wise!  I tell you, friend, it is a comfort to me, even in my deepest
misery, to recollect that the corrupt world yet holds one being so
divine--'

And he was running on in one of his high-flown laudations of his
idol, when Raphael checked him.

'I fear our common sympathy on that subject is rather weakened.  I
have begun to doubt her lately nearly as much as I doubt
philosophy.'

'Not her virtue?

'No, friend; nor her beauty, nor her wisdom; simply her power of
making me a better man.  A selfish criterion, you will say.  Be it
so ....  What a noble horse that is of yours!'

'He has been--he has been; but worn out now, like his master and his
master's fortunes....'

'Not so, certainly, the colt on which you have done me the honour to
mount me.'

'Ah, my poor boy's pet! ....  You are the first person who has
crossed him since--'

'Is he of your own breeding?' asked Raphael, trying to turn the
conversation.

'A cross between that white Nisaean which you sent me, and one of my
own mares.'

'Not a bad cross; though he keeps a little of the bull head and
greyhound flank of your Africans.'

'So much the better, friend.  Give me bone--bone and endurance for
this rough down country.  Your delicate Nisaeans are all very well
for a few minutes over those flat sands of Egypt: but here you need
a horse who will go forty miles a day over rough and smooth, and
dine thankfully off thistles at night.  Aha, poor little man!'--as a
jerboa sprang up from a tuft of bushes at his feet--'I fear you must
help to fill our soup-kettle in these hard times.'

And with a dexterous sweep of his long whip, the worthy bishop
entangled the jerboas long legs, whisked him up to his saddle-bow,
and delivered him to the groom and the game-bag.

'Kill him at once.  Don't let him squeak, boy!--he cries too like a
child....'

'Poor little wretch!' said Raphael. 'What more right, now, have we
to eat him than he to eat us?'

'Eh?  If he can eat us, let him try.  How long have you joined the
Manichees?'

'Have no fears on that score.  But, as I told you, since my
wonderful conversion by Bran, the dog, I have begun to hold dumb
animals in respect, as probably quite as good as myself.'

'Then you need a further conversion, friend Raphael, and to learn
what is the dignity of man; and when that arrives, you will learn to
believe, with me, that the life of every beast upon the face of the
earth would be a cheap price to pay in exchange for the life of the
meanest human being.'

'Yes, if they be required for food: but really, to kill them for our
amusement!'

'Friend, when I was still a heathen, I recollect well how I used to
haggle at that story of the cursing of the fig-tree; but when I
learnt to know what man was, and that I had been all my life
mistaking for a part of nature that race which was originally, and
can be again, made in the likeness of God, then I began to see that
it were well if every fig-tree upon earth were cursed, if the spirit
of one man could be taught thereby a single lesson.  And so I speak
of these, my darling field-sports, on which I have not been ashamed,
as you know, to write a book.'

'And a very charming one: yet you were still a pagan, recollect,
when you wrote it.'

'I was; and then I followed the chase by mere nature and
inclination.  But now I know I have a right to follow it, because it
gives me endurance, promptness, courage, self-control, as well as
health and cheerfulness: and therefore--Ah! a fresh ostrich-track!'

And stopping short, Synesius began pricking slowly up the hillside.

'Back!' whispered he, at last. 'Quietly and silently.  Lie down on
your horse's neck, as I do, or the long-necked rogues may see you.
They must be close to us over the brow.  I know that favourite
grassy slope of old.  Round under yon hill, or they will get wind of
us, and then farewell to them!'

And Synesius and his groom cantered on, hanging each to their
horses' necks by an arm and a leg, in a way which Raphael
endeavoured in vain to imitate.

Two or three minutes more of breathless silence brought them to the
edge of the hill, where Synesius halted, peered down a moment, and
then turned to Raphael, his face and limbs quivering with delight,
as he held up two fingers, to denote the number of the birds.

'Out of arrow-range!  Slip the dogs, Syphax!'

And in another minute Raphael found himself galloping headlong down
the hill, while two magnificent ostriches, their outspread plumes
waving in the bright breeze, their necks stooped almost to the
ground, and their long legs flashing out behind them, were sweeping
away before the greyhounds at a pace which no mortal horse could
have held for ten minutes.

'Baby that I am still!' cried Synesius, tears of excitement
glittering in his eyes; .... while Raphael gave himself up to the
joy, and forgot even Victoria, in the breathless rush over rock and
bush, sandhill and watercourse.

'Take care of that dry torrent-bed!  Hold up, old horse!  This will
not last two minutes more.  They cannot hold their pace against this
breeze ....  Well tried, good dog, though you did miss him! Ah, that
my boy were here!  There--they double.  Spread right and left, my
children, and ride at them as they pass!'

And the ostriches, unable, as Synesius said, to keep their pace
against the breeze, turned sharp on their pursuers, and beating the
air with outspread wings, came down the wind again, at a rate even
more wonderful than before.

'Ride at him, Raphael--ride at him, and turn him into those bushes!'
cried Synesius, fitting an arrow to his bow.

Raphael obeyed, and the bird swerved into the low scrub; the well-
trained horse leapt at him like a cat; and Raphael, who dare not
trust his skill in archery, struck with his whip at the long neck as
it struggled past him, and felled the noble quarry to the ground.
He was in the act of springing down to secure his prize, when a
shout from Synesius stopped him.

'Are you mad?  He will kick out your heart!  Let the dogs hold him!'

'Where is the other?' asked Raphael, panting.

'Where he ought to be.  I have not missed a running shot for many a
month.'

'Really, you rival the Emperor Commodus himself.'

'Ah!  I tried his fancy of crescent-headed arrows once, and
decapitated an ostrich or two tolerably: but they are only fit for
the amphitheatre: they will not lie safely in the quiver on
horseback, I find.  But what is that?'  And he pointed to a cloud of
white dust, about a mile down the valley.  'A herd of antelopes?  If
so, God is indeed gracious to us!  Come down--whatsoever they are,
we have no time to lose.'

And collecting his scattered forces, Synesius pushed on rapidly
towards the object which had attracted his attention.

'Antelopes!' cried one.

'Wild horses!' cried another.

'Tame ones, rather!' cried Synesius, with a gesture of wrath. 'I saw
the flash of arms!'

'The Ausurians!'  And a yell of rage rang from the whole troop.

'Will you follow me, children?'

'To death!' shouted they.

'I know it.  Oh that I had seven hundred of you, as Abraham had!  We
would see then whether these scoundrels did not share, within a
week, the fate of Chedorlaomer's.'

'Happy man, who can actually trust your own slaves!' said Raphael,
as the party galloped on, tightening their girdles and getting ready
their weapons.

'Slaves?  If the law gives me the power of selling one or two of
them who are not yet wise enough to be trusted to take care of
themselves, it is a fact which both I and they have long forgotten.
Their fathers grew gray at my father's table, and God grant that
they may grow gray at mine!  We eat together, work together, hunt
together, fight together, jest together, and weep together.  God
help us all! for we have but one common weal.  Now--do you make out
the enemy, boys?'

'Ausurians, your Holiness.  The same party who tried Myrsinitis last
week.  I know them by the helmets which they took from the Markmen.'

'And with whom are they fighting?'

No one could see. Fighting they certainly were: but their victims
were beyond them, and the party galloped on.

'That was a smart business at Myrsinitis.  The Ausurians appeared
while the people were at morning prayers.  The soldiers, of course,
ran for their lives, and hid in the caverns, leaving the matter to
the priests.'

'If they were of your presbytery, I doubt not they proved themselves
worthy of their diocesan.'

'Ah, if all my priests were but like them! or my people either!'
said Synesius, chatting quietly in full gallop, like a true son of
the saddle. 'They offered up prayers for victory, sallied out at the
head of the peasants, and met the Moors in a narrow pass.  There
their hearts failed them a little. Faustus, the deacon, makes them a
speech; charges the leader of the robbers, like young David, with a
stone, beats his brains out therewith, strips him in true Homeric
fashion, and routs the Ausurians with their leader's sword; returns
and erects a trophy in due classic form, and saves the whole
valley.'

'You should make him archdeacon.'

'I would send him and his townsfolk round the province, if I could,
crowned with laurel, and proclaim before them at every market-place,
"These are men of God."  With whom can those Ausurians be dealing?
Peasants would have been all killed long ago, and soldiers would
have run away long ago.  It is truly a portent in this country to
see a fight last ten minutes.  Who can they be?  I see them now, and
hewing away like men too.  They are all on foot but two; and we have
not a cohort of infantry left for many a mile round.'

'I know who they are!' cried Raphael, suddenly striking spurs into
his horse. 'I will swear to that armour among a thousand.  And there
is a litter in the midst of them.  On! and fight, men, if you ever
fought in your lives!'

'Softly!' cried Synesius. 'Trust an old soldier, and perhaps--alas!
that he should have to say it--the best left in this wretched
country.  Round by the hollow, and take the barbarians suddenly in
flank.  They will not see us then till we are within twenty paces of
them.  Aha! you have a thing or two to learn yet, Aben-Ezra.'

And chuckling at the prospect of action, the gallant bishop wheeled
his little troop and in five minutes more dashed out of the copse
with a shout and a flight of arrows, and rushed into the thickest of
the fight.

One cavalry skirmish must be very like another.  A crash of horses,
a flashing of sword-blades, five minutes of blind confusion, and
then those who have not been knocked out of their saddles by their
neighbours' knees, and have not cut off their own horses' heads
instead of their enemies', find themselves, they know not how,
either running away or being run away from--not one blow in ten
having taken effect on either side.  And even so Raphael, having
made vain attempts to cut down several Moors, found himself standing
on his head in an altogether undignified posture, among innumerable
horses' legs, in all possible frantic motions.  To avoid one was to
get in the way of another; so he philosophically sat still,
speculating on the sensation of having his brains kicked out, till
the cloud of legs vanished, and he found himself kneeling abjectly
opposite the nose of a mule, on whose back sat, utterly unmoved, a
tall and reverend man, in episcopal costume.  The stranger, instead
of bursting out laughing, as Raphael did, solemnly lifted his hand,
and gave him his blessing.  The Jew sprang to his feet, heedless of
all such courtesies, and, looking round, saw the Ausurians galloping
off up the hill in scattered groups, and Synesius standing close by
him, wiping a bloody sword.

'Is the litter safe'?' were his first words.

'Safe; and so are all.  I gave you up for killed when I saw you run
through with that lance.

'Run through?  I am as sound in the hide as a crocodile, said
Raphael, laughing.

'Probably the fellow took the butt instead of the point, in his
hurry.  So goes a cavalry scuffle.  I saw you hit three or four
fellows running with the flat of your sword.'

Ah, that explains,' said Raphael, why, I thought myself once the
best swordsman on the Armenian frontier....'

'I suspect that you were thinking of some one besides the Moors,'
said Synesius, archly pointing to the litter; and Raphael, for the
first time for many a year, blushed like a boy of fifteen, and then
turned haughtily away, and remounted his horse, saying, 'Clumsy fool
that I was!'

'Thank God rather that you have been kept from the shedding of
blood,' said the stranger bishop, in a soft, deliberate voice, with
a peculiarly clear and delicate enunciation.  'If God have given us
the victory, why grudge His having spared any other of His creatures
besides ourselves?'

'Because there are so many the more of them left to ravish, burn,
and slay,' answered Synesius. 'Nevertheless, I am not going to argue
with Augustine.'

Augustine!  Raphael looked intently at the man, a tall, delicate-
featured personage, with a lofty and narrow forehead, scarred like
his cheeks with the deep furrows of many a doubt and woe.  Resolve,
gentle but unbending, was expressed in his thin close-set lips and
his clear quiet eye; but the calm of his mighty countenance was the
calm of a worn-out volcano, over which centuries must pass before
the earthquake-rents be filled with kindly soil, and the cinder-
slopes grow gay with grass and flowers.  The Jew's thoughts,
however, were soon turned into another channel by the hearty
embraces of Majoricus and his son.

'We have caught you again, you truant!' said the young Tribune; 'you
could not escape us, you see, after all.'

'Rather,' said the father, 'we owe him a second debt of gratitude
for a second deliverance.  We were right hard bested when you rode
up.'

'Oh, he brings nothing but good with him whenever he appears; and
then he pretends to be a bird of ill-omen,' said the light-hearted
Tribune, putting his armour to rights.

Raphael was in his secret heart not sorry to find that his old
friends bore him no grudge for his caprice; but all he answered was-
-

'Pray thank any one but me; I have, as usual, proved myself a fool.
But what brings you here, like Gods e Machina?  It is contrary to
all probabilities.  One would not admit so astounding an incident,
even in the modern drama.'

'Contrary to none whatsoever, my friend.  We found Augustine at
Berenice, in act to set off to Synesius: we--one of us, that is--
were certain that you would be found with him; and we decided on
acting as Augustine's guard, for none of the dastard garrison dare
stir out.'

'One of us,' thought Raphael,--'which one?'  And, conquering his
pride, he asked, as carelessly as he could, for Victoria.

'She is there in the litter, poor child!' said her father in a
serious tone.

'Surely not ill?'

'Alas! either the overwrought excitement of months of heroism broke
down when she found us safe at last' or some stroke from God-- ....
Who can tell what I may not have deserved?--But she has been utterly
prostrate in body and mind, ever since we parted from you at
Berenice.'

The blunt soldier little guessed the meaning of his own words.  But
Raphael, as he heard, felt a pang shoot through his heart, too keen
for him to discern whether it sprang from joy or from despair.

'Come,' cried the cheerful voice of Synesius, 'come, Aben-Ezra; you
have knelt for Augustine's blessing already, and now you must enter
into the fruition of it.  Come, you two philosophers must know each
other.  Most holy, I entreat you to preach to this friend of mine,
at once the wisest and the foolishest of men.'

'Only the latter,' said Raphael; 'but open to any speech of
Augustine's, at least when we are safe home, and game enough for
Synesius's new guests killed.'

And turning away, he rode silent and sullen by the side of his
companions, who began at once to consult together as to the plans of
Majoricus and his soldiers.

In spite of himself, Raphael soon became interested in Augustine's
conversation.  He entered into the subject of Cyrenian misrule and
ruin as heartily and shrewdly as any man of the world; and when all
the rest were at a loss, the prompt practical hint which cleared up
the difficulty was certain to come from him.  It was by his advice
that Majoricus had brought his soldiery hither; it was his proposal
that they should be employed for a fixed period in defending these
remote southern boundaries of the province; he checked the
impetuosity of Synesius, cheered the despair of Majoricus, appealed
to the honour and the Christianity of the soldiers, and seemed to
have a word--and that the right word--for every man; and after a
while, Aben-Ezra quite forgot the stiffness and deliberation of his
manner, and the quaint use of Scripture texts in far-fetched
illustrations of every opinion which he propounded.  It had seemed
at first a mere affectation; but the arguments which it was employed
to enforce were in themselves so moderate and so rational that
Raphael began to feel, little by little, that his apparent pedantry
was only the result of a wish to refer every matter, even the most
vulgar, to some deep and divine rule of right and wrong.

'But you forget all this while, my friends,' said Majoricus at last,
'the danger which you incur by sheltering proclaimed rebels.'

'The King of kings has forgiven your rebellion, in that while He has
punished you by the loss of your lands and honours, He has given you
your life for a prey in this city of refuge.  It remains for you to
bring forth worthy fruits of penitence; of which I know none better
than those which John the Baptist commanded to the soldiery of old,
"Do no violence to any man, and be content with your wages."'

'As for rebels and rebellion,' said Synesius, 'they are matters
unknown among as; for where there is no king there can be no
rebellion.  Whosoever will help us against Ausurians is loyal in our
eyes.  And as for our political creed, it is simple enough--namely,
that the emperor never dies, and that his name is Agamemnon, who
fought at Troy; which any of my grooms will prove to you
syllogistically enough to satisfy Augustine himself.  As thus--

'Agamemnon was the greatest and the best of kings.

'The emperor is the greatest and the best of kings.

'Therefore, Agamemnon is the emperor, and conversely.'

'It had been well,' said Augustine, with a grave smile, 'if some of
our friends had held the same doctrine, even at the expense of their
logic.'

'Or if,' answered Synesius, 'they believed with us, that the
emperor's chamberlain is a clever old man, with a bald head like my
own, Ulysses by name, who was rewarded with the prefecture of all
lands north of the Mediterranean, for putting out the Cyclop's eye
two years ago.  However, enough of this.  But you see, you are not
in any extreme danger of informers and intriguers ....  The real
difficulty is, how you will be able to obey Augustine, by being
content with your wages. For,' lowering his voice, 'you will get
literally none.'

'It will be as much as we deserve,' said the young Tribune: 'but my
fellows have a trick of eating--'

'They are welcome, then, to all deer and ostriches which they can
catch.  But I am not only penniless, but reduced myself to live,
like the Laestrygons, on meat and nothing else; all crops and stocks
for miles round being either burnt or carried off.'

'E nihilo nihil!' said Augustine, having nothing else to say.  But
here Raphael woke up on a sudden with--

'Did the Pentapolitan wheat-ships go to Rome?'

'No; Orestes stopped them when he stopped the Alexandrian convoy.'

'Then the Jews have the wheat, trust them for it; and what they have
I have.  There are certain moneys of mine lying at interest in the
seaports, which will set that matter to rights for a month or two.
Do you find an escort to-morrow, and I will find wheat.'

'But; most generous of friends, I can neither repay you interest nor
principal.'

'Be it so.  I have spent so much money during the last thirty years
in doing nothing but evil, that it is hard if I may not at last
spend a little in doing good.--Unless his Holiness of Hippo thinks
it wrong for you to accept the goodwill of an infidel?'

'Which of these three,' said Augustine, 'was neighbour to him who
fell among thieves, but he who had mercy on him?  Verily, my friend
Raphael Aben-Ezra, thou art not far from the kingdom of God.'

'Of which God?' asked Raphael slyly.

'Of the God of thy forefather Abraham, whom thou shalt hear us
worship this evening, if He will.  Synesius, have you a church
wherein I can perform the evening service, and give a word of
exhortation to these my children?'

Synesius sighed. 'There is a ruin, which was last month a church.'

'And is one still.  Man did not place there the presence of God, and
man cannot expel it.'

And so, sending out hunting-parties right and left in chase of
everything which had animal life, and picking up before nightfall a
tolerably abundant supply of game, they went homewards, where
Victoria was entrusted to the care of Synesius's old stewardess, and
the soldiery were marched straight into the church; while Synesius's
servants, to whom the Latin service would have been unintelligible,
busied themselves in cooking the still warm game.

Strangely enough it sounded to Raphael that evening to hear, among
those smoke-grimed pillars and fallen rafters, the grand old Hebrew
psalms of his nation ring aloft, to the very chants, too, which were
said by the rabbi to have been used in the Temple-worship of
Jerusalem ....  They, and the invocations, thanksgivings, blessings,
the very outward ceremonial itself, were all Hebraic, redolent of
the thoughts, the words of his own ancestors.  That lesson from the
book of Proverbs, which Augustine's deacon was reading in Latin--the
blood of the man who wrote these words was flowing in Aben-Ezra's
veins ....  Was it a mistake, an hypocrisy? or were they indeed
worshipping, as they fancied, the Ancient One who spoke face to face
with his forefathers, the Archetype of man, the friend of Abraham
and of Israel?

And now the sermon began; and as Augustine stood for a moment in
prayer in front of the ruined altar, every furrow in his worn face
lit up by a ray of moonlight which streamed in through the broken
roof, Raphael waited impatiently for his speech.  What would he, the
refined dialectician, the ancient teacher of heathen rhetoric, the
courtly and learned student, the ascetic celibate and theosopher,
have to say to those coarse war-worn soldiers, Thracians and
Markmen, Gauls and Belgians, who sat watching there, with those sad
earnest faces?  What one thought or feeling in common could there be
between Augustine and his congregation?

At last, after signing himself with the cross, he began.  The
subject was one of the psalms which had just been read--a battle
psalm, concerning Moab and Amalek, and the old border wars of
Palestine.  What would he make of that?

He seemed to start lamely enough, in spite of the exquisite grace of
his voice, and manner, and language, and the epigrammatic terseness
of every sentence.  He spent some minutes over the inscription of
the psalm--allegorised it--made it mean something which it never did
mean in the writer's mind, and which it, as Raphael well knew, never
could mean, for his interpretation was founded on a sheer mis-
translation.  He punned on the Latin version--derived the meaning of
Hebrew words from Latin etymologies ....  And as he went on with the
psalm itself, the common sense of David seemed to evaporate in
mysticism.  The most fantastic and far-fetched illustrations, drawn
from the commonest objects, alternated with mysterious theosophic
dogma.  Where was that learning for which he was so famed?  Where
was that reverence for the old Hebrew Scriptures which he professed?
He was treating David as ill as Hypatia used to treat Homer--worse
even than old Philo did, when in the home life of the old
Patriarchs, and in the mighty acts of Moses and Joshua, he could
find nothing but spiritual allegories wherewith to pamper the
private experiences of the secluded theosophist.  And Raphael felt
very much inclined to get up and go away, and still more inclined to
say, with a smile, in his haste, 'All men are liars.'....

And yet, what an illustration that last one was!  No mere fancy, but
a real deep glance into the working of the material universe, as
symbolic of the spiritual and unseen one.  And not drawn, as
Hypatia's were, exclusively from some sublime or portentous
phenomenon, but from some dog, or kettle, or fishwife, with a homely
insight worthy of old Socrates himself.  How personal he was
becoming, too! ....No long bursts of declamation, but dramatic
dialogue and interrogation, by-hints, and unexpected hits at one and
the other most commonplace soldier's failing ....  And yet each
pithy rebuke was put in a universal, comprehensive form, which made
Raphael himself wince--which might, he thought, have made any man,
or woman either, wince in like manner.  Well, whether or not
Augustine knew truths for all men, he at least knew sins for all
men, and for himself as well as his hearers.  There was no denying
that.  He was a real man, right or wrong.  What he rebuked in
others, he had felt in himself, and fought it to the death-grip, as
the flash and quiver of that worn face proclaimed ....  But yet, why
were the Edomites, by an utterly mistaken pun on their name, to
signify one sort of sin, and the Ammonites another, and the
Amalekites another?  What had that to do with the old psalm?  What
had it to do with the present auditory?  Was not this the wildest
and lowest form of that unreal, subtilising, mystic pedantry, of
which he had sickened long ago in Hypatia's lecture-room, till he
fled to Bran, the dog, for honest practical realities?

No ....  Gradually, as Augustine's hints became more practical and
orated, Raphael saw that there was in his mind most real and organic
connection, true or false, in what seemed at first mere arbitrary
allegory.  Amalekites, personal sins, Ausurian robbers and
ravishers, were to him only so many different forms of one and the
same evil.  He who helped any of them fought against the righteous
God: he who fought against them fought for that God; but he must
conquer the Amalekites within, if he expected to conquer the
Amalekites without.  Could the legionaries permanently put down the
lust and greed around them, while their own hearts were enslaved to
lust and greed within?  Would they not be helping it by example,
while they pretended to crush it by sword-strokes?  Was it not a
mockery, an hypocrisy?  Could God's blessing be on it?  Could they
restore unity and peace to the country while there was neither unity
nor peace within them?  What had produced the helplessness of the
people, the imbecility of the military, but inward helplessness,
inward weakness?  They were weak against Moors, because they were
weak against enemies more deadly than Moors.  How could they fight
for God outwardly, while they were fighting against him inwardly?
He would not go forth with their hosts.  How could He, when He was
not among their hosts?  He, a spirit, must dwell in their spirits
....  And then the shout of a king would be among them, and one of
them should chase a thousand ....  Or if not--if both people and
soldiers required still further chastening and humbling--what
matter, provided that they were chastened and humbled?  What matter
if their faces were confounded, if they were thereby driven to seek
His Name, who alone was the Truth, the Light, and the Life?  What if
they were slain?  Let them have conquered the inward enemies, what
matter to them if the outward enemies seemed to prevail for a
moment?  They should be recompensed at the resurrection of the just,
when death was swallowed up in victory.  It would be seen then who
had really conquered in the eyes of the just God--they, God's
ministers, the defenders of peace and justice, or the Ausurians, the
enemies thereof ....  And then, by some quaintest turn of fancy, he
introduced a word of pity and hope, even for the wild Moorish
robbers.  It might be good for them to have succeeded thus far; they
might learn from their Christian captives, purified by affliction,
truths which those captives had forgotten in prosperity.  And,
again, it might be good for them, as well as for Christians, to be
confounded and made like chaff before the wind, that so they too
might learn His Name....And so on, through and in spite of all
conceits, allegories, overstrained interpretations, Augustine went
on evolving from the Psalms, and from the past, and from the future,
the assertion of a Living, Present God, the eternal enemy of
discord, injustice, and evil, the eternal helper and deliverer of
those who were enslaved and crushed thereby in soul or body ....  It
was all most strange to Raphael ....  Strange in its utter
unlikeness to any teaching, Platonist or Hebrew, which he had ever
heard before, and stranger still in its agreement with those
teachings; in the instinctive ease with which it seemed to unite and
justify them all by the talisman of some one idea--and what that
might be, his Jewish prejudices could not prevent his seeing, and
yet would not allow him to acknowledge.  But, howsoever he might
redden with Hebrew pride; howsoever he might long to persuade
himself that Augustine was building up a sound and right practical
structure on the foundation of a sheer lie; he could not help
watching, at first with envy, and then with honest pleasure, the
faces of the rough soldiers, as they gradually lightened up into
fixed attention, into cheerful and solemn resolve.

'What wonder?' said Raphael to himself, 'what wonder, after all?  He
has been speaking to these wild beasts as to sages and saints; he
has been telling them that God is as much with them as with prophets
and psalmists ....  I wonder if Hypatia, with all her beauty, could
have touched their hearts as he has done?'

And when Raphael rose at the end of this strange discourse, he felt
more like an old Hebrew than be had done since he sat upon his
nurse's knee, and heard legends about Solomon and the Queen of
Sheba.  What if Augustine were right after all?  What if the Jehovah
of the old Scriptures were not merely the national patron of the
children of Abraham, as the Rabbis held; not merely, as Philo held,
the Divine Wisdom which inspired a few elect sages, even among the
heathen; but the Lord of the whole earth, and of the nations
thereof?--And suddenly, for the first time in his life, passages
from the psalms and prophets flashed across him, which seemed to
assert this.  What else did that whole book of Daniel and the
history of Nebuchadnezzar mean--if not that?  Philosophic
latitudinarianism had long ago cured him of the Rabbinical notion of
the Babylonian conqueror as an incarnate fiend, devoted to Tophet,
like Sennacherib before him.  He had long in private admired the
man, as a magnificent human character, a fairer one, in his eyes,
than either Alexander or Julius Caesar ....  What if Augustine had
given him a hint which might justify his admiration? ....  But more.
....  What if Augustine were right in going even further than Philo
and Hypatia?  What if this same Jehovah, Wisdom, Logos, call Him
what they might, were actually the God of the spirits, as well as of
the bodies of all flesh?  What if he was as near--Augustine said
that He was--to the hearts of those wild Markmen, Gauls, Thracians,
as to Augustine's own heart?  What if He were--Augustine said He
was--yearning after, enlightening, leading home to Himself, the
souls of the poorest, the most brutal, the most sinful?--What if He
loved man as man, and not merely one favoured race or one favoured
class of minds? ....  And in the light of that hypothesis, that
strange story of the Cross of Calvary seemed not so impossible after
all ....  But then, celibacy and asceticism, utterly non-human as
they were, what had they to do with the theory of a human God?

And filled with many questionings, Raphael was not sorry to have the
matter brought to an issue that very evening in Synesius's sitting-
room.  Majoricus, in his blunt, soldierlike way, set Raphael and
Augustine at each other without circumlocution; and Raphael, after
trying to smile and pooh-pooh away the subject, was tempted to make
a jest on a seeming fallacious conceit of Augustine's--found it more
difficult than he thought to trip up the serious and wary logician,
lost his temper a little--a sign, perhaps, of returning health in a
sceptic--and soon found himself fighting desperately, with Synesius
backing him, apparently for the mere pleasure of seeing a battle,
and Majoricus making him more and more cross by the implicit
dogmatic faith with which he hewed at one Gordian knot after
another, till Augustine had to save himself from his friends by
tripping the good Prefect gently up, and leaving him miles behind
the disputants, who argued on and on, till broad daylight shone in,
and the sight of the desolation below recalled all parties to more
material weapons, and a sterner warfare.

But little thought Raphael Aben-Ezra, as he sat there, calling up
every resource of his wit and learning, in the hope, half malicious,
half honestly cautious, of upsetting the sage of Hippo, and
forgetting all heaven and earth in the delight of battle with his
peers, that in a neighbouring chamber, her tender limbs outspread
upon the floor, her face buried in her dishevelled locks; lay
Victoria, wrestling all night long for him in prayer and bitter
tears, as the murmur of busy voices reached her eager ears, longing
in vain to catch the sense of words, on which hung now her hopes and
bliss-how utterly and entirely, she lead never yet confessed to
herself, though she dare confess it to that Son of Man to whom she
prayed, as to One who felt with tenderness and insight beyond that
of a brother, a father, even of a mother, for her maiden's blushes
and her maiden's woes.



CHAPTER XXII: PANDEMONIUM


But where was Philammon all that week?

For the first day or two of his imprisonment he had raved like some
wild beast entrapped.  His new-found purpose and energy, thus
suddenly dammed back and checked, boiled up in frantic rage.  He
tore at the bars of his prison; he rolled himself, shrieking, on the
floor.  He called in vain on Hypatia, on Pelagia, on Arsenius--on
all but God.  Pray he could not, and dare not; for to whom was he to
pray?  To the stars?--to the Abysses and the Eternities? ....

Alas! as Augustine said once, bitterly enough, of his own Manichaean
teachers, Hypatia had taken away the living God, and given him
instead the four Elements ....  And in utter bewilderment and
hopeless terror he implored the pity of every guard and gaoler who
passed along the corridor, and conjured them, as brothers, fathers,
men, to help him.  Moved at once by his agony and by his exceeding
beauty, the rough Thracians, who knew enough of their employer's
character to have little difficulty in believing his victim to be
innocent, listened to him and questioned him.  But when they offered
the very help which he implored, and asked him to tell his story,
the poor boy's tongue clove to the roof of his mouth.  How could he
publish his sisters shame?  And yet she was about to publish it
herself! ....  And instead of words, he met their condolences with
fresh agonies, till they gave him up as mad; and, tired by his
violence, compelled him, with blows and curses, to remain quiet; and
so the week wore out, in dull and stupefied despair, which trembled
on the very edge of idiocy.  Night and day were alike to him.  The
food which was thrust in through his grate remained untasted; hour
after hour, day after day, he sat upon the ground, his head buried
in his hands, half-dozing from mere exhaustion of body and mind.
Why should he care to stir, to eat, to live?  He had but one purpose
in heaven and earth: and that one purpose was impossible.

At last his cell-door grated on its hinges.

'Up, my mad youth!' cried a rough voice.  'Up, and thank the favour
of the gods, and the bounty of our noble--ahem!--Prefect.  To-day he
gives freedom to all prisoners.  And I suppose a pretty boy like you
may go about your business, as well as uglier rascals!'

Philammon looked up in the gaoler's face with a dim half-
comprehension of his meaning.

'Do you hear?' cried the man with a curse.  'You are free.  Jump up,
or I shut the door again, and your one chance is over.'

'Did she dance Venus Anadyomene?'

'She!  Who?'

'My sister!  Pelagia!'

'Heaven only knows what she has not danced in her time!  But they
say she dances to-day once more.  Quick! out, or I shall not be
ready in time for the sports.  They begin an hour hence. Free
admission into the theatre to-day for all--rogues and honest men,
Christians and heathens--Curse the boy! he's as mad as ever.'

So indeed Philammon seemed; for, springing suddenly to his feet, he
rushed out past the gaoler, upsetting him into the corridor, and
fled wildly from the prison among the crowd of liberated ruffians,
ran from the prison home, from home to the baths, from the baths to
the theatre, and was soon pushing his way, regardless of etiquette,
towards the lower tiers of benches, in order, he hardly knew why, to
place himself as near as possible to the very sight which he dreaded
and abhorred.

As fate would have it, the passage by which he had entered opened
close to the Prefect's chair of state, where sat Orestes, gorgeous
in his robes of office, and by him--to Philammon's surprise and
horror--Hypatia herself.

More beautiful than ever, her forehead sparkling, like Juno's own,
with a lofty tiara of jewels, her white Ionic robe half hidden by a
crimson shawl, there sat the vestal, the philosopher.  What did she
there?  But the boy's eager eyes, accustomed but too well to note
every light and shade of feeling which crossed that face, saw in a
moment how wan and haggard was its expression.  She wore a look of
constraint, of half-terrified self-resolve, as of a martyr: and yet
not an undoubting martyr; for as Orestes turned his head at the stir
of Philammon's intrusion, and flashing with anger at the sight,
motioned him fiercely back, Hypatia turned too, and as her eyes met
her pupil's she blushed crimson, and started, and seemed in act to
motion him back also; and then, recollecting herself, whispered
something to Orestes which quieted his wrath, and composed herself,
or rather sank into her place again, as one who was determined to
abide the worst.

A knot of gay young gentlemen, Philammon's fellow-students, pulled
him down among them, with welcome and laughter; and before he could
collect his thoughts, the curtain in front of the stage had fallen,
and the sport began.

The scene represented a background of desert mountains, and on the
stage itself, before a group of temporary huts, stood huddling
together the black Libyan prisoners, some fifty men, women, and
children, bedizened with gaudy feathers and girdles of tasselled
leather, brandishing their spears and targets, and glaring out with
white eyes on the strange scene before them, in childish awe and
wonder.

Along the front of the stage a wattled battlement had been erected,
while below, the hyposcenium had been painted to represent rocks,
thus completing the rough imitation of a village among the Libyan
hills.

Amid breathless silence, a herald advanced, and proclaimed that
these were prisoners taken in arms against the Roman senate and
people, and therefore worthy of immediate death: but that the
Prefect, in his exceeding clemency toward them, and especial anxiety
to afford the greatest possible amusement to the obedient and loyal
citizens of Alexandria, had determined, instead of giving them at
once to the beasts, to allow them to fight for their lives,
promising to the survivors a free pardon if they acquitted
themselves valiantly.

The poor wretches on the stage, when this proclamation was
translated to them, set up a barbaric yell of joy, and brandished
their spears and targets more fiercely than ever.

But their joy was short.  The trumpets sounded the attack: a body of
gladiators, equal in number to the savages, marched out from one of
the two great side passages, made their obeisance to the applauding
spectators, and planting their scaling-ladders against the front of
the stage, mounted to the attack.

The Libyans fought like tigers; yet from the first, Hypatia, and
Philammon also, could see that their promised chance of life was a
mere mockery.  Their light darts and naked limbs were no match for
the heavy swords and complete armour of their brutal assailants, who
endured carelessly a storm of blows and thrusts on heads and faces
protected by visored helmets: yet so fierce was the valour of the
Libyans, that even they recoiled twice, and twice the scaling-
ladders were hurled down again, while more than one gladiator lay
below, rolling in the death-agony.

And then burst forth the sleeping devil in the hearts of that great
brutalised multitude.  Yell upon yell of savage triumph, and still
more savage disappointment, rang from every tier of that vast ring
of seats, at each blow and parry, onslaught and repulse; and
Philammon saw with horror and surprise that luxury, refinement,
philosophic culture itself, were no safeguards against the infection
of bloodthirstiness.  Gay and delicate ladies, whom he had seen
three days before simpering delight at Hypatia's heavenward
aspirations, and some, too, whom he seemed to recollect in Christian
churches, sprang from their seats, waved their hands and
handkerchiefs, and clapped and shouted to the gladiators. For, alas!
there was no doubt as to which side the favour of the spectators
inclined.  With taunts, jeers, applause, entreaties, the hired
ruffians were urged on to their work of blood.  The poor wretches
heard no voice raised in their favour: nothing but contempt, hatred,
eager lust of blood, glared from those thousands of pitiless eyes;
and, broken-hearted, despairing, they flagged and drew back one by
one.  A shout of triumph greeted the gladiators as they climbed over
the battlement, and gained a footing on the stage.  The wretched
blacks broke up, and fled wildly from corner to corner, looking
vainly for an outlet....

And then began a butchery ....  Some fifty men, women, and children
were cooped together in that narrow space ....  And yet Hypatia's
countenance did not falter.  Why should it?  What were their
numbers, beside the thousands who had perished year by year for
centuries, by that and far worse deaths, in the amphitheatres of
that empire, for that faith which she was vowed to re-establish.  It
was part of the great system; and she must endure it.

Not that she did not feel; for she, too, was woman; and her heart,
raised far above the brutal excitement of the multitude, lay calmly
open to the most poignant stings of pity.  Again and again she was
in the act to entreat mercy for some shrieking woman or struggling
child; but before her lips could shape the words, the blow had
fallen, or the wretch was whirled away from her sight in the dense
undistinguishable mass of slayers and slain.  Yes, she had begun,
and she must follow to the end ....  And, after all, what were the
lives of those few semi-brutes, returning thus a few years earlier
to the clay from which they sprang, compared with the regeneration
of a world? ....  And it would be over in a few minutes more, and
that black writhing heap be still for ever, and the curtain fall
....  And then for Venus Anadyomene, and art, and joy, and peace,
and the graceful wisdom and beauty of the old Greek art, calming and
civilising all hearts, and softening them into pure devotion for the
immortal myths, the immortal deities, who had inspired their
forefathers in the glorious days of old ....  But still the black
heap writhed; and she looked away, up, down, and round, everywhere,
to avoid the sickening sight; and her eye caught Philammon's gazing
at her with looks of horror and disgust ....  A thrill of shame
rushed through her heart, and blushing scarlet, she sank her head,
and whispered to Orestes--


'Have mercy!--spare the rest!'

'Nay, fairest vestal!  The mob has tasted blood, and they must have
their fill of it, or they will turn onus for aught I know.  Nothing
so dangerous as to check a brute, whether he be horse, dog, or man,
when once his spirit is up.  Ha! there is a fugitive!  How well the
little rascal runs!'

As he spoke, a boy, the only survivor, leaped from the stage, and
rushed across the orchestra toward them, followed by a rough cur-
dog.

'You shall have this youth, if he reaches us.'

Hypatia watched breathless.  The boy had just arrived at the altar
in the centre of the orchestra, when he saw a gladiator close upon
him.  The ruffian's arm was raised to strike, when, to the
astonishment of the whole theatre, boy and dog turned valiantly to
bay, and leaping on the gladiator, dragged him between them to the
ground.  The triumph was momentary.  The uplifted hands, the shout
of 'Spare him!' came too late.  The man, as he lay, buried his sword
in the slender body of the child, and then rising, walked coolly
back to the side passages, while the poor cur stood over the little
corpse, licking its hands and face, and making the whole building
ring with his doleful cries.  The attendants entered, and striking
their hooks into corpse after corpse, dragged them out of sight,
marking their path by long red furrows in the sand; while the dog
followed, until his inauspicious howlings died away down distant
passages.

Philammon felt sick and giddy, and half rose to escape.  But
Pelagia! ....  No--he must sit it out, and see the worst, if worse
than this was possible.  He looked round.  The people were coolly
sipping wine and eating cakes, while they chatted admirably about
the beauty of the great curtain, which had fallen and hidden the
stage, and represented, on a ground of deep-blue sea, Europa carried
by the bull across the Bosphorus, while Nereids and Tritons played
around.

A single flute within the curtain began to send forth luscious
strains, deadened and distant, as if through far-off glens and
woodlands; and from the side passages issued three Graces, led by
Peitho, the goddess of persuasion, bearing a herald's staff in her
hand.  She advanced to the altar in the centre of the orchestra, and
informed the spectators that, during the absence of Ares in aid of a
certain great military expedition, which was shortly to decide the
diadem of Rome, and the liberty, prosperity, and supremacy of Egypt
and Alexandria, Aphrodite had returned to her lawful allegiance, and
submitted for the time being to the commands of her husband,
Hephaestus; that he, as the deity of artificers, felt a peculiar
interest in the welfare of the city of Alexandria, the workshop of
the world, and had, as a sign of his especial favour, prevailed upon
his fair spouse to exhibit, for this once, her beauties to the
assembled populace, and, in the unspoken poetry of motion, to
represent to them the emotions with which, as she arose new-born
from the sea, she first surveyed that fair expanse of heaven and
earth of which she now reigned undisputed queen.

A shout of rapturous applause greeted this announcement, and
forthwith limped from the opposite slip the lame deity himself,
hammer and pincers on shoulder, followed by a train of gigantic
Cyclops, who bore on their shoulders various pieces of gilded metal
work.

Hephaestus, who was intended to supply the comic element in the vast
pantomimic pageant, shambled forward with studied uncouthness, amid
roars of laughter; surveyed the altar with ludicrous contempt;
raised his mighty hammer, shivered it to pieces with a single blow,
and beckoned to his attendants to carry off the fragments, and
replace it with something more fitting for his august spouse.

With wonderful quickness the metal open-work was put in its place,
and fitted together, forming a frame of coral branches intermingled
with dolphins, Nereids, and Tritons. Four gigantic Cyclops then
approached, staggering under the weight of a circular slab of green
marble, polished to a perfect mirror, which they placed on the
framework.  The Graces wreathed its circumference with garlands of
sea-weed, shells, and corallines, and the mimic sea was complete.

Peitho and the Graces retired a few steps, and grouped themselves
with the Cyclops, whose grimed and brawny limbs, and hideous one-
eyed masks, threw out in striking contrast the delicate hue and
grace of the beautiful maiden figures; while Hephaestus turned
toward the curtain, and seemed to await impatiently the forthcoming
of the goddess.

Every lip was breathless with expectation as the flutes swelled
louder and nearer; horns and cymbals took up the harmony; and, to a
triumphant burst of music, the curtain rose, and a simultaneous
shout of delight burst from ten thousand voices.

The scene behind represented a magnificent temple, half hidden in an
artificial wood of tropic trees and shrubs, which filled the stage.
Fauns and Dryads peeped laughing from among their stems, and
gorgeous birds, tethered by unseen threads, fluttered and sang among
their branches.  In the centre an overarching avenue of palms led
from the temple doors to the front of the stage, from which the
mimic battlements had disappeared, and had been replaced, in those
few moments, by a broad slope of smooth greensward, leading down
into the orchestra, and fringed with myrtles, roses, apple-trees,
poppies, and crimson hyacinths, stained with the life-blood of
Adonis.

The folding doors of the temple opened slowly, the crash of
instruments resounded from within; and, preceded by the musicians,
came forth the triumph of Aphrodite, and passed down the slope, and
down the outer ring of the orchestra.

A splendid car, drawn by white oxen, bore the rarest and gaudiest of
foreign flowers and fruits, which young girls, dressed as Hours and
Seasons, strewed in front of the procession and among the
spectators.

A long line of beautiful youths and maidens, crowned with garlands,
and robed in scarfs of purple gauze, followed by two and two.  Each
pair carried or led a pair of wild animals, captives of the
conquering might of Beauty.

Foremost were borne, on the wrists of the actors, the birds
especially sacred to the goddess--doves and sparrows, wrynecks and
swallows; and a pair of gigantic Indian tortoises, each ridden by a
lovely nymph, showed that Orestes had not forgotten one wish, at
least, of his intended bride.

Then followed strange birds from India, parakeets, peacocks,
pheasants silver and golden; bustards and ostriches: the latter,
bestridden each by a tiny cupid, were led on in golden leashes,
followed by antelopes and oryxes, elks from beyond the Danube, four-
horned rams from the Isles of the Hyperborean Ocean, and the strange
hybrid of the Libyan hills, believed by all spectators to be half-
bull half-horse.  And then a murmur of delighted awe ran through the
theatre, as bears and leopards, lions and tigers, fettered in heavy
chains of gold, and made gentle for the occasion by narcotics, paced
sedately down the slope, obedient to their beautiful guides; while
behind them, the unwieldy bulk of two double-horned rhinoceroses,
from the far south, was overtopped by the long slender necks and
large soft eyes of a pair of giraffes, such as had not been seen in
Alexandria for more than fifty years.

A cry arose of 'Orestes!  Orestes!  Health to the illustrious
Prefect!  Thanks for his bounty!'  And a hired voice or two among
the crowd cried, 'Hail to Orestes!  Hail, Emperor of Africa!' ....
But there was no response.

'The rose is still in the bud,' simpered Orestes to Hypatia.  He
rose, beckoned and bowed the crowd into silence; and then, after a
short pantomimic exhibition of rapturous gratitude and humility,
pointed triumphantly to the palm avenue, among the shadows of which
appeared the wonder of the day--the huge tusks and trunk of the
white elephant himself.

There it was at last!  Not a doubt of it! A real elephant, and yet
as white as snow.  Sight never seen before in Alexandria--never to
be seen again! 'Oh, thrice blest men of Macedonia!' shouted some
worthy on high, 'the gods are bountiful to you this day!'  And all
mouths and eyes confirmed the opinion, as they opened wider and yet
wider to drink in the inexhaustible joy and glory.

On he paced solemnly, while the whole theatre resounded to his heavy
tread, and the Fauns and Dryads fled in terror.  A choir of nymphs
swung round him hand in hand, and sang, as they danced along, the
conquering might of Beauty, the tamer of beasts and men and deities.
Skirmishing parties of little winged cupids spread themselves over
the orchestra, from left to right, and pelted the spectators with
perfumed comfits, shot among them from their tiny bows arrows of
fragrant sandal-wood, or swung smoking censers, which loaded the air
with intoxicating odours.

The procession came on down the slope, and the elephant approached
the spectators; his tusks were wreathed with roses and myrtles; his
ears were pierced with splendid earrings, a jewelled frontlet hung
between his eyes; Eros himself, a lovely winged boy, sat on his
neck, and guided him with the point of a golden arrow.  But what
precious thing was it which that shell-formed car upon his back
contained?  The goddess!  Pelagia Aphrodite herself?

Yes; whiter than the snow-white elephant--more rosy than the pink-
tipped shell in which she lay, among crimson cushions and silver
gauze, there shone the goddess, thrilling all hearts with those
delicious smiles, and glances of the bashful playful eyes, and
grateful wavings of her tiny hand, as the whole theatre rose with
one accord, and ten thousand eyes were concentrated on the
unequalled loveliness beneath them.

Twice the procession passed round the whole circumference of the
orchestra, and then returning from the foot of the slope towards the
central group around Hephaestus, deployed right and left in front of
the stage.  The lions and tigers were led away into the side
passages; the youths and maidens combined themselves with the
gentler animals into groups lessening gradually from the centre to
the wings, and stood expectant, while the elephant came forward, and
knelt behind the platform destined for the goddess.

The valves of the shell closed.  The Graces unloosed the fastenings
of the car.  The elephant turned his trunk over his back, and,
guided by the hands of the girls, grasped the shell, and lifting it
high in air, deposited it on the steps at the back of the platform.

Hephaestus limped forward, and, with his most uncouth gestures,
signified the delight which he had in bestowing such a sight upon
his faithful artisans of Alexandria, and the unspeakable enjoyment
which they were to expect from the mystic dance of the goddess; and
then retired, leaving the Graces to advance in front of the
platform, and with their arms twined round each other, begin
Hypatia's song of invocation.

As the first strophe died away, the valves of the shell reopened,
and discovered Aphrodite crouching on one knee within.  She raised
her head, and gazed around the vast circle of seats.  A mild
surprise was on her countenance, which quickened into delightful
wonder, and bashfulness struggling with the sense of new enjoyment
and new powers.  She glanced downward at herself; and smiled,
astonished at her own loveliness; then upward at the sky; and seemed
ready, with an awful joy, to spring up into the boundless void.  Her
whole figure dilated; she seemed to drink in strength from every
object which met her in the great universe around; and slowly, from
among the shells and seaweeds, she rose to her full height, the
mystic cestus glittering round her waist, in deep festoons of
emeralds and pearls, and stepped forward upon the marble sea-floor,
wringing the dripping perfume from her locks, as Aphrodite rose of
old.

For the first minute the crowd was too breathless with pleasure to
think of applause.  But the goddess seemed to require due homage;
and when she folded her arms across her bosom, and stood motionless
for an instant, as if to demand the worship of the universe, every
tongue was loosed, and a thunder-clap of 'Aphrodite!' rang out
across the roofs of Alexandria, and startled Cyril in his chamber at
the Serapeium, and weary muleteers on distant sand-hills, and dozing
mariners far out at sea.

And then began a miracle of art, such as was only possible among a
people of the free and exquisite physical training, and the delicate
aesthetic perception of those old Greeks, even in their most fallen
days.  A dance, in which every motion was a word, and rest as
eloquent as motion; in which every attitude was a fresh motive for a
sculptor of the purest school, and the highest physical activity was
manifested, not as in the coarser comic pantomimes, in fantastic
bounds and unnatural distortions, but in perpetual delicate
modulations of a stately and self-restraining grace.  The artist was
for the moment transformed into the goddess.  The theatre, and
Alexandria, and the gorgeous pageant beyond, had vanished from her
imagination, and therefore from the imagination of the spectators,
under the constraining inspiration of her art, and they and she
alike saw nothing but the lonely sea around Cytherea, and the
goddess hovering above its emerald mirror, saying forth on sea, and
air, and shore, beauty, and joy, and love....

Philammon's eyes were bursting from his head with shame and horror:
and yet he could not hate her; not even despise her.  He would have
done so, had there been the faintest trace of human feeling in her
countenance to prove that some germ of moral sense lingered within:
but even the faint blush and the downcast eye with which she had
entered the theatre were gone; and the only expression on her face
was that of intense enjoyment of her own activity and skill, and
satisfied vanity, as of a petted child ....  Was she accountable?  A
reasonable soul, capable of right or wrong at all?  He hoped not
....  He would trust not ....  And still Pelagia danced on; and for
a whole age of agony, he could see nothing in heaven or earth but
the bewildering maze of those white feet, as they twinkled over
their white image in the marble mirror ....  At last it was over.
Every limb suddenly collapsed, and she stood drooping in soft self-
satisfied fatigue, awaiting the burst of applause which rang through
Philammon's ears, proclaiming to heaven and earth, as with a mighty
trumpet-blast, his sister's shame.

The elephant rose, and moved forward to the side of the slabs.  His
back was covered with crimson cushions, on which it seemed Aphrodite
was to return without her shell.  She folded her arms across her
bosom, and stood smiling, as the elephant gently wreathed his trunk
around her waist, and lifted her slowly from the slab, in act to
place her on his back....

The little feet, clinging half fearfully together, had Just risen
from the marble-The elephant started, dropped his delicate burden
heavily on the slab, looked down, raised his forefoot, and throwing
his trunk into the air, gave a shrill scream of terror and
disgust....

The foot was red with blood--the young boy's blood--which was
soaking and bubbling up through the fresh sand where the elephant
had trodden, in a round, dark, purple spot....

Philammon could bear no more.  Another moment and he had hurled down
through the dense mass of spectators, clearing rank after rank of
seats by the sheer strength of madness, leaped the balustrade into
the orchestra below, and rushed across the space to the foot of the
platform.

'Pelagia!  Sister!  My sister!  Have mercy on me! on yourself!  I
will hide you! save you! and we will flee together out of this
infernal place! this world of devils!  I am your brother!  Come!'

She looked at him one moment with wide, wild eyes--The truth flashed
on her--

'Brother!'

And she sprang from the platform into his arms ....  A vision of a
lofty window in Athens, looking out over far olive-yards and
gardens, and the bright roofs and basins of the Piraeus, and the
broad blue sea, with the purple peaks of Aegina beyond all ....  And
a dark-eyed boy, with his arm around her neck, pointed laughing to
the twinkling masts in the far harbour, and called her sister ....
The dead soul woke within her; and with a wild cry she recoiled from
him in an agony of shame, and covering her face with both her hands,
sank down among the blood-stained sand.

A yell, as of all hell broke loose, rang along that vast circle--

'Down with him!'  'Away with him!'  'Crucify the slave!'  'Give the
barbarian to the beasts!'  'To the beasts with him, noble Prefect!'
A crowd of attendants rushed upon him, and many of the spectators
sprang from their seats, and were on the point of leaping down into
the orchestra.

Philammon turned upon them like a lion at bay; and clear and loud
his voice rose through the roar of the multitude.

'Ay! murder me as the Romans murdered Saint Telemachus!  Slaves as
besotted and accursed as your besotted and accursed tyrants!  Lower
than the beasts whom you employ as your butchers!  Murder and lust
go fitly hand in hand, and the throne of my sister's shame is well
built on the blood of innocents!  Let my death end the devil's
sacrifice, and fill up the cup of your iniquity!'

'To the beasts!' 'Make the elephant trample him to powder!'

And the huge brute, goaded on by the attendants, rushed on the
youth, while Eros leaped from his neck, and fled weeping up the
slope.

He caught Philammon in his trunk and raised him high in air. For an
instant the great bellowing ocean of heads spun round and round.  He
tried to breathe one prayer, and shut his eyes--Pelagia's voice rang
sweet and clear, even in the shrillness of intense agony--

'Spare him!  He is my brother!  Forgive him, men of Macedonia!  For
Pelagia's sake-- Your Pelagia!  One boon--only this one!'

And she stretched her arms imploringly toward the spectators, and
then clasping the huge knees of the elephant, called madly to it in
terms of passionate entreaty and endearment.

The men wavered.  The brute did not.  Quietly he lowered his trunk,
and set down Philammon on his feet.  The monk was saved.  Breathless
and dizzy, he found himself hurried away by the attendants, dragged
through dark passages, and hurled out into the street, with curses,
warnings, and congratulations, which fell on an unheeding ear.

But Pelagia kept her face still hidden in her hands, and rising,
walked slowly back, crushed by the weight of some tremendous awe,
across the orchestra, and up the slope; and vanished among the palms
and oleanders, regardless of the applause and entreaties, and jeers,
and threats, and curses, of that great multitude of sinful slaves.

For a moment all Orestes's spells seemed broken by this unexpected
catastrophe.  A cloud, whether of disgust or of disappointment, hung
upon every brow.  More than one Christian rose hastily to depart,
touched with real remorse and shame at the horrors of which they had
been the willing witnesses.  The common people behind, having
glutted their curiosity with all that there was to see, began openly
to murmur at the cruelty and heathenry of it.  Hypatia, utterly
unnerved, hid her face in both her hands.  Orestes alone rose with
the crisis.  Now, or never, was the time for action; and stepping
forward, with his most graceful obeisance, waved his hand for
silence, and began his well-studied oration.

'Let me not, O men of Macedonia, suppose that you can be disturbed
from that equanimity which befits politicians, by so light an
accident as the caprice of a dancer.  The spectacle which I have had
the honour and delight of exhibiting to you--(Roars and applause
from the liberated prisoners and the young gentlemen)--and on which
it seemed to me you have deigned to look with not altogether
unkindly eyes--(Fresh applause, in which the Christian mob,
relenting, began to join)--is but a pleasant prelude to that more
serious business for which I have drawn you here together.  Other
testimonials of my good intentions have not been wanting in the
release of suffering innocence, and in the largess of food, the
growth and natural property of Egypt, destined by your late tyrants
to pamper the luxury of a distant court ....  Why should I boast? -
yet even now this head is weary, these limbs fail me, worn out in
ceaseless efforts for your welfare, and in the perpetual
administration of the strictest justice. For a time has come in
which the Macedonian race, whose boast is the gorgeous city of
Alexander, must rise again to the political pre-eminence which they
held of old, and becoming once more the masters of one-third of the
universe, be treated by their rulers as freemen, citizens, heroes,
who have a right to choose and to employ their rulers--Rulers, did I
say?  Let us forget the word, and substitute in its place the more
philosophic term of ministers.  To be your minister--the servant of
you all--To sacrifice myself, my leisure, health, life, if need be,
to the one great object of securing the independence of Alexandria--
This is my work, my hope, my glory--longed for through weary years:
now for the first time possible by the fall of the late puppet
Emperor of Rome.  Men of Macedonia, remember that Honorius reigns no
more! An African sits on the throne of the Caesars!  Heraclian, by
one decisive victory, has gained, by the favour of--of Heaven, the
imperial purple; and a new era opens for the world.  Let the
conqueror of Rome balance his account with that Byzantine court, so
long the incubus of our Trans-Mediterranean wealth and civilisation;
and let a free, independent, and united Africa rally round the
palaces and docks of Alexandria, and find there its natural centre
of polity and of prosperity.'

A roar of hired applause interrupted him and not a few, half for the
sake of his compliments and fine words, half from a natural wish to
be on the right side--namely, the one which happened to be in the
ascendant for the time being--joined ....  The city authorities were
on the point of crying, 'Imperator Orestes,' but thought better of
it; and waited for some one else to cry first--being respectable.
Whereon the Prefect of the Guards, being a man of some presence of
mind, and also not in anywise respectable, pricked up the Prefect of
the docks with the point of his dagger, and bade him, with a fearful
threat, take care how he played traitor.  The worthy burgher roared
incontinently--whether with pain or patriotism; and the whole array
of respectabilities--having found a Curtius who would leap into the
gulf, joined in unanimous chorus, and saluted Orestes as Emperor;
while Hypatia, amid the shouts of her aristocratic scholars, rose
and knelt before him, writhing inwardly with shame and despair, and
entreated him to accept that tutelage of Greek commerce, supremacy,
and philosophy which was forced on him by the unanimous voice of an
adoring people....

'It is false!' shouted a voice from the highest tiers, appropriated
to the women of the lower classes, which made all turn their heads
in bewilderment.

'False! false! you are tricked!  He is tricked!  Heraclian was
utterly routed at Ostia, and is fled to Carthage, with the emperor's
fleet in chase.'

'She lies!  Drag the beast down!' cried Orestes, utterly thrown off
his balance by the sudden check.

'She?  He!  I, a monk, brought the news!  Cyril has known it--every
Jew in the Delta has known it, for a week past!  So perish all the
enemies of the Lord, caught in their own snare!'

And bursting desperately through the women who surrounded him, the
monk vanished.

An awful silence fell on all who heard. For a minute every man
looked in his neighbour's face as if he longed to cut his throat,
and get rid of one witness, at least, of his treason.  And then
arose a tumult, which Orestes in vain attempted to subdue.  Whether
the populace believed the monk's words or not, they were panic-
stricken at the mere possibility of their truth.  Hoarse with
denying, protesting, appealing, the would-be emperor had at last to
summon his guards around him and Hypatia, and make his way out of
the theatre as best he could; while the multitude melted away like
snow before the rain, and poured out into the streets in eddying and
roaring streams, to find every church placarded by Cyril with the
particulars of Heraclian's ruin.



CHAPTER XXIII: NEMESIS


That evening was a hideous one in the palace of Orestes.  His
agonies of disappointment, rage, and terror were at once so shameful
and so fearful, that none of his slaves dare approach him; and it
was not till late that his confidential secretary, the Chaldean
eunuch, driven by terror of the exasperated Catholics, ventured into
the tiger's den, and represented to him the immediate necessity for
action.

What could he do?  He was committed--Cyril only knew how deeply.
What might not the wily archbishop have discovered?  What might not
he pretend to have discovered?  What accusations might he not send
off on the spot to the Byzantine Court?

'Let the gates be guarded, and no one allowed to leave the city,'
suggested the Chaldee.

'Keep in monks? as well keep in rats!  No; we must send off a
counter-report, instantly.'

'What shall I say, your Excellency?' quoth the ready scribe, pulling
out pen and inkhorn from his sash.

'What do I care?  Any lie which comes to hand.  What in the devil's
name are you here for at all, but to invent a lie when I want one?'

'True, most noble,' and the worthy sat meekly down to his paper ....
but did not proceed rapidly.

'I don't see anything that would suit the emergency, unless I
stated, with your august leave, that Cyril, and not you, celebrated
the gladiatorial exhibition; which might hardly appear credible?'

Orestes burst out laughing, in spite of himself.  The sleek Chaldee
smiled and purred in return.  The victory was won; and Orestes,
somewhat more master of himself, began to turn his vulpine cunning
to the one absorbing question of the saving of his worthless neck.

'No, that would be too good.  Write, that we had discovered a plot
on Cyril's part to incorporate the whole of the African churches
(mind and specify Carthage and Hippo) under his own jurisdiction,
and to throw off allegiance to the Patriarch of Constantinople, in
case of Heraclian's success.'

The secretary purred delighted approval, and scribbled away now with
right good heart.

'Heraclian's success, your Excellency.'

'We of course desired, by every means in our power, to gratify the
people of Alexandria, and, as was our duty, to excite by every
lawful method their loyalty toward the throne of the Caesars (never
mind who sat on it) at so critical a moment.'

'So critical a moment....'

'But as faithful Catholics, and abhorring even in the extremest
need, the sin of Uzzah, we dreaded to touch with the unsanctified
hands of laymen the consecrated ark of the Church, even though for
its preservation....'

'Its preservation, your Excellency....'

'We, therefore, as civil magistrates, felt bound to confine
ourselves to those means which were already allowed by law and
custom to our jurisdiction; and accordingly made use of those
largesses, spectacles, and public execution of rebels, which have
unhappily appeared to his holiness the patriarch (too ready,
perhaps, to find a cause of complaint against faithful adherents of
the Byzantine See) to partake of the nature of those gladiatorial
exhibitions, which are equally abhorrent to the spirit of the
Catholic Church, and to the charity of the sainted emperors by whose
pious edicts they have been long since abolished.'

'Your Excellency is indeed great .... but--pardon your slave's
remark--my simplicity is of opinion that it may be asked why you did
not inform the Augusta Pulcheria of Cyril's conspiracy?'

'Say that we sent a messenger off three months ago, but that ....
Make something happen to him, stupid, and save me the trouble.'

'Shall I kill him by Arabs in the neighbourhood of Palmyra, your
Excellency?'

'Let me see ....  No.  They may make inquiries there.  Drown him at
sea.  Nobody can ask questions of the sharks.'

'Foundered between Tyre and Crete, from which sad calamity only one
man escaped on a raft, and being picked tip, after three weeks'
exposure to the fury of the elements, by a returning wheat-ship--By
the bye, most noble, what am I to say about those wheat-ships not
having even sailed?'

'Head of Augustus!  I forgot them utterly.  Say that--say that the
plague was making such ravages in the harbour quarter that we feared
carrying the infection to the seat of the empire; and let them sail
to-morrow.'

The secretary's face lengthened.

'My fidelity is compelled to remark, even at the risk of your just
indignation, that half of them have been unloaded again for your
munificent largesses of the last two days.'

Orestes swore a great oath.

'Oh, that the mob had but one throat, that I might give them an
emetic!  Well, we must buy more corn, that's all.'

The secretary's face grew longer still.

'The Jews, most August--'

'What of them?' yelled the hapless Prefect. 'Have they been
forestalling?'

'My assiduity has discovered this afternoon that they have been
buying up and exporting all the provisions which they could obtain.'

'Scoundrels!  Then they must have known of Heraclian's failure!'

'Your sagacity has, I fear, divined the truth.  They have been
betting largely against his success for the last week, both in
Canopus and Pelusium.'

'For the last week!  Then Miriam betrayed me knowingly!'  And
Orestes broke forth again into a paroxysm of fury.

'Here--call the tribune of the guard! A hundred gold pieces to the
man who brings me the witch alive!'

'She will never be taken alive.'

'Dead, then--in any way!  Go, you Chaldee hound! what are you
hesitating about?'

'Most noble lord,' said the secretary, prostrating himself upon the
floor, and kissing his master's feet in an agony of fear....

'Remember, that if you touch one Jew you touch all!  Remember the
bonds! remember the--the--your own most august reputation, in
short.'

'Get up, brute, and don't grovel there, but tell me what you mean,
like a human being.  If old Miriam is once dead, her bonds die with
her, don't they?'

'Alas, my lord, you do not know the customs of that accursed folk.
They have a damnable practice of treating every member of their
nation as a brother, and helping each freely and faithfully without
reward; whereby they are enabled to plunder all the rest of the
world, and thrive themselves, from the least to the greatest.
Don't fancy that your bonds are in Miriam's hands.  They have been
transferred months ago.  Your real creditors may be in Carthage, or
Rome, or Byzantium, and they will attack you from thence; while all
that you would find if you seized the old witch's property, would be
papers, useless to you, belonging to Jews all over the empire, who
would rise as one man in defence of their money.  I assure you, it
is a net without a bound.  If you touch one you touch all ....  And
besides, my diligence, expecting some such command, has already
taken the liberty of making inquiries as to Miriam's place of abode;
but it appears, I am sorry to say, utterly unknown to any of your
Excellency's servants.'

'You lie!' said Orestes ....  'I would much sooner believe that you
have been warning the hag to keep out of the way.'

Orestes had spoken, for that once in his life, the exact truth.

The secretary, who had his own private dealings with Miriam, felt
every particular atom of his skin shudder at those words; and had be
had hair on his head, it would certainly have betrayed him by
standing visibly on end.  But as he was, luckily for him, close
shaven, his turban remained in its proper place, as he meekly
replied-

'Alas! a faithful servant can feel no keener woe than the causeless
suspicion of that sun before whose rays he daily prostrates his--'

'Confound your periphrases!  Do you know where she is?'

'No!' cried the wretched secretary, driven to the lie direct at
last; and confirmed the negation with such a string of oaths, that
Orestes stopped his volubility with a kick, borrowed of him, under
threat of torture, a thousand gold pieces as largess to the
soldiery, and ended by concentrating the stationaries round his own
palace, for the double purpose of protecting himself in case of a
riot, and of increasing the chances of the said riot, by leaving the
distant quarters of the city without police.

'If Cyril would but make a fool of himself, now that he is in the
full-blown pride of victory--the rascal!--about that Ammonius, or
about Hypatia, or anything else, and give me a real handle against
him! After all, truth works better than lying now and then.  Oh,
that I could poison him!  But one can't bribe those ecclesiastics;
and as for the dagger, one could not hire a man to be torn in pieces
by monks.  No; I must just sit still, and see what Fortune's dice
may turn up.  Well, your pedants like Aristides or Epaminondas--
thank Heaven, the race of them has died out long ago!--might call
this no very creditable piece of provincial legislation; but after
all, it is about as good as any now going, or likely to be going
till the world's end; and one can't be expected to strike out a new
path.  I shall stick to the wisdom of my predecessors, and--oh, that
Cyril may make a fool of himself to-night!'

And Cyril did make a fool of himself that night, for the first and
last time in his life; and suffers for it, as wise men are wont to
do when they err, to this very day and hour: but how much Orestes
gained by his foe's false move cannot be decided till the end of
this story; perhaps not even then.



CHAPTER XXIV: LOST LAMBS


And Philammon?

For a long while he stood in the street outside the theatre, too
much maddened to determine on any course of action; and, ere he had
recovered his self-possession, the crowd began to pour from every
outlet, and filling the street, swept him away in its stream.

Then, as he heard his sister's name, in every tone of pity,
contempt, and horror, mingle with their angry exclamations, he awoke
from his dream, and, bursting through the mob, made straight for
Pelagia's house.

It was fast closed; and his repeated knocks at the gate brought
only, after long waiting, a surly negro face to a little wicket.

He asked eagerly and instinctively for Pelagia; of course she had
not yet returned. For Wulf he was not within.  And then he took his
station close to the gateway, while his heart beat loud with hope
and dread.

At last the Goths appeared, forcing their way through the mob in a
close column.  There were no litters with them.  Where, then, were
Pelagia and her girls?  Where, too, was the hated figure of the
Amal? and Wulf, and Smid?  The men came on, led by Goderic and
Agilmund, with folded arms, knitted brows, downcast eyes: a stern
disgust, not unmingled with shame, on every countenance, told
Philammon afresh of his sister's infamy.

Goderic passed him close, and Philammon summoned up courage to ask
for Wulf ....  Pelagia he had not courage to name.

'Out, Greek hound! we have seen enough of your accursed race to-day!
What? are you trying to follow us in?'  And the young man's sword
flashed from its sheath so swiftly, that Philammon had but just time
enough to spring back into the street, and wait there, in an agony
of disappointment and anxiety, as the gates slid together again, and
the house was as silent as before.

For a miserable hour he waited, while the mob thickened instead of
flowing away, and the scattered groups of chatterers began to form
themselves into masses, and parade the streets with shouts of 'Down
with the heathen!' 'Down with the idolaters!' 'Vengeance on
all blaspheming harlots!'

At last the steady tramp of legionaries, and in the midst of the
glittering lines of armed men--oh, joy!--a string of litters!

He sprang forward, and called Pelagia's name again and again.  Once
he fancied he heard an answer: but the soldiers thrust him back.

'She is safe here, young fool, and has seen and been seen quite
enough to-day already.  Back!'

'Let me speak to her!'

'That is her business.  Ours is now to see her home safe.'

'Let me go in with you, I beseech!'

'If you want to go in, knock for yourself when we are gone.  If you
have any business in the house, they will open to you, I suppose.
Out, you interfering puppy!'

And a blow of the spear-butt in his chest sent him rolling back into
the middle of the street, while the soldiers, having delivered up
their charge, returned with the same stolid indifference.  In vain
Philammon, returning, knocked at the gate.  Curses and threats from
the negro were all the answer which he received; and at last,
wearied into desperation, he wandered away, up one street and down
another, struggling in vain to form some plan of action for himself,
until the sun was set.

Wearily he went homewards at last.  Once the thought of Miriam
crossed his mind.  It was a disgusting alternative to ask help of
her, the very author of his sister's shame: but yet she at least
could obtain for him a sight of Pelagia; she had promised as much.
But then--the condition which she had appended to her help!  To see
his sister, and yet to leave her as she was!--Horrible
contradiction!  But could he not employ Miriam for his own ends?--
outwit her?--deceive her?--for it came to that.  The temptation was
intense: but it lasted only a moment.  Could he defile so pure a
cause by falsehood?  And hurrying past the Jewess's door, hardly
daring to look at it, lest the temptation should return, he darted
upstairs to his own little chamber, hastily flung open the door, and
stopped short in astonishment.

A woman, covered from head to foot in a large dark veil, stood in
the centre of the chamber.

'Who are you?  This is no place for you!' cried he, after a minute's
pause.  She replied only by a shudder and a sob ....  He caught
sight, beneath the folds of the veil, of a too well-known saffron
shawl, and springing upon her like the lion on the lamb, clasped to
his bosom his sister.

The veil fell from her beautiful forehead.  She gazed into his eyes
one moment with a look of terrified inquiry, and saw nothing there
but love ....  And clinging heart to heart, brother and sister
mingled holy kisses, and strained nearer and nearer still, as if to
satisfy their last lingering doubts of each other's kin.

Many a minute passed in silent joy ....  Philammon dare not speak;
he dare not ask her what brought her thither--dare not wake her to
recollect the frightful present by questions of the past, of his
long forgotten parents, their home, her history ....  And, after
all, was it not enough for him that he held her at last?--her, there
by her own will--the lost lamb returned to him?--and their tears
mingled as their cheeks were pressed together.

At last she spoke.

'I ought to have known you,--I believe I did know you from the first
day!  When they mentioned your likeness to me, my heart leapt up
within me; and a voice whispered .... but I would not hear it!  I
was ashamed--ashamed to acknowledge my brother, for whom I had
sought and longed for years .... ashamed to think that I had a
brother ....  Ah, God! and ought I not to be ashamed?'

And she broke from him again, and threw herself on the floor.

'Trample upon me; curse me!--anything but part me from him!'

Philammon had not the heart to answer her; but he made an
involuntary gesture of sorrowful dissent.

'No!  Call me what I am!--what he called me just now!--but do not
take me away!  Strike me, as he struck me!--anything but parting!'

'Struck you?  The curse of God be on him!'

'Ah, do not curse him!--not him!  It was not a blow, indeed!--only a
push--a touch--and it was my fault--all mine.  I angered him--I
upbraided him;--I was mad ....  Oh, why did he deceive me?  Why did
he let me dance?--command me to dance?'

'Command you?'

'He said that we must not break our words.  He would not hear me,
when I told him that we could deny having promised.  I said that
promises made over the wine need never be kept.  Who ever heard of
keeping them?  And Orestes was drunk, too.  But he said that I might
teach a Goth to be what I liked, except a liar ....  Was not that a
strange speech? ....  And Wulf bade him be strong, and blest him for
it.'

'He was right,' sobbed Philammon.

'Then I thought he would love me for obeying him, though I loathed
it!--Oh, God, how I loathed it! ....  But how could I fancy that he
did not like my doing it?  Who ever heard of any one doing of their
own will what they did not like?'

Philammon sobbed again, as the poor civilised savage artlessly
opened to him all her moral darkness.  What could he say? .... he
knew what to say.  The disease was so utterly patent, that any of
Cyril's school-children could have supplied the remedy.  But how to
speak it?--how to tell her, before all things, as he longed to do,
that there was no hope of her marrying the Amal, and, therefore, no
peace for her till she left him.

'Then you did hate the--the--' said he, at last, catching at some
gleam of light.

'Hate it?  Do I not belong, body and soul, to him?--him only? ....
And yet ....  Oh, I must tell you all!  When I and the girls began
to practise, all the old feelings came back--the love of being
admired, and applauded, and cheered; and dancing is so delicious!--
so delicious to feel that you are doing anything beautiful
perfectly, and better than every one else! ....  And he saw that I
liked it, and despised me for it ....  And, deceitful!--he little
guessed how much of the pains which I took were taken to please him,
to do my best before him, to win admiration, only that I might take
it home and throw it all at his beloved feet, and make the world say
once more, "She has all Alexandria to worship her, and yet she cares
for that one Goth more than for--"  But he deceived me, true man
that he is!  He wished to enjoy my smiles to the last moment, and
then to cast me off, when I had once given him an excuse ....  Too
cowardly to upbraid me, he let me ruin myself, to save him the
trouble of ruining me.  Oh, men, men! all alike!  They love us for
their own sakes, and we love them for love's sake.  We live by love,
we die for love, and yet we never find it, but only selfishness
dressed up in love's mask ....  And then we take up with that, poor,
fond, self-blinded creatures that we are!--and in spite of the
poisoned hearts around us, persuade ourselves that our latest asp's
egg, at least, will hatch into a dove, and that though all men are
faithless, our own tyrant can never change, for he is more than
man!'

'But he has deceived you!  You have found out your mistake.  Leave
him, then, as he deserves!'

Pelagia looked up, with something of a tender smile. 'Poor darling!
Little do you know of love!'

Philammon, utterly bewildered by this newest and strangest phase of
human passion, could only gasp out--

'But do you not love me, too, my sister?'

'Do I not love you?  But not as I love him!  Oh, hush, hush!--, you
cannot understand yet!'  And Pelagia hid her face in her hands,
while convulsive shudderings ran through every limb....

'I must do it!  I must!  I will dare every thing, stoop to
everything for love's sake!  Go to her!--to the wise woman!--to
Hypatia!  She loves you!  I know that she loves you!  She will hear
you, though she will not me!'

'Hypatia?  Do you know that she was sitting there unmoved at--in the
theatre?'

'She was forced!  Orestes compelled her!  Miriam told me so.  And I
saw it in her face.  As I passed beneath her, I looked up; and she
was as pale as ivory, trembling in every limb.  There was a dark
hollow round her eyes--she had been weeping, I saw.  And I sneered
in my mad self-conceit, and said, "She looks as if she was going to
be crucified, not married!".  But now, now!--Oh, go to her!  Tell
her that I will give her all I have--jewels, money, dresses, house!
Tell her that I--I--entreat her pardon, that I will crawl to her
feet myself and ask it, if she requires!--Only let her teach me--
teach me to be wise and good, and honoured, and respected, as she
is! Ask her to tell a poor broken-hearted woman her secret.  She can
make old Wulf, and him, and Orestes even, and the magistrates,
respect her ....  Ask her to teach me how to be like her, and to
make him respect me again, and I will give her all--all!'

Philammon hesitated.  Something within warned him, as the Daemon
used to warn Socrates, that his errand would be bootless.  He
thought of the theatre, and of that firm, compressed lip; and forgot
the hollow eye of misery which accompanied it, in his wrath against
his lately-worshipped idol.

'Oh, go! go!  I tell you it was against her will.  She felt for me--
I saw it--Oh, God! when I did not feel for myself! And I hated her,
because she seemed to despise me in my fool's triumph!  She cannot
despise me now in my misery ....  Go!  Go! or you will drive me to
the agony of going myself.'

There was but one thing to be done.

'You will wait, then, here?  You will not leave me again?'

'Yes.  But you must be quick!  If he finds out that I am away, he
may fancy ....  Ah, heaven! let him kill me, but never let him be
jealous of me!  Go now! this moment!  Take this as an earnest--the
cestus which I wore there.  Horrid thing!  I hate the sight of it!
But I brought it with me on purpose, or I would have thrown it into
the canal.  There; say it is an earnest--only an earnest--of what I
will give her!'

In ten minutes more Philammon was in Hypatia's hall.  The household
seemed full of terror and disturbance; the hall was full of
soldiers.  At last Hypatia's favourite maid passed, and knew him.
Her mistress could not speak with any one.  Where was Theon, then?
He, too, had shut himself up.  Never mind.  Philammon must, would
speak with him.  And he pleaded so passionately and so sweetly, that
the soft-hearted damsel, unable to resist so handsome a suppliant,
undertook his errand, and led him up to the library, where Theon,
pale as death, was pacing to and fro, apparently half beside himself
with terror.

Philammon's breathless message fell at first upon unheeding ears.

'A new pupil, sir!  Is this a time for pupils; when my house, my
daughter's life, is not safe?  Wretch that I am! And have I led her
into the snare?  I, with my vain ambition and covetousness!  Oh, my
child! my child! my one treasure!  Oh, the double curse which will
light upon me, if--'

'She asks for but one interview.'

'With my daughter, sir?  Pelagia!  Will you insult me?  Do you
suppose, even if her own pity should so far tempt her to degrade
herself, that I could allow her so to contaminate her purity?'

'Your terror, sir, excuses your rudeness.'

'Rudeness, sir? the rudeness lies in your intruding on us at such a
moment!'

'Then this, perhaps, may, in your eyes at least, excuse me in my
turn.'  And Philammon held out the cestus. 'You are a better judge
of its value than I.  But I am commissioned to say, that it is only
an earnest of what she will give willingly and at once, even to the
half of her wealth, for the honour of becoming your daughter's
pupil.'  And he laid the jewelled girdle on the table.

The old man halted in his walk.  The emeralds and pearls shone like
the galaxy.  He looked at them; and walked on again more slowly ....
What might be their value?  What might it not be?  At least, they
would pay all his debts ....  And after hovering to and fro for
another minute before the bait, he turned to Philammon.

'If you would promise to mention the thing to no one--'

'I will promise.'

'And in case my daughter, as I have a right to expect, shall refuse--'

'Let her keep the jewels.  Their owner has learnt, thank God, to
despise and hate them!  Let her keep the jewels--and my curse!  For
God do so to me, and more also, if I ever see her face again!'

The old man had not heard the latter part of Philammon's speech.  He
had seized his bait as greedily as a crocodile, and hurried off with
it into Hypatia's chamber, while Philammon stood expectant;
possessed with a new and fearful doubt. 'Degrade herself!'
'Contaminate her purity!'  If that notion were to be the fruit of
all her philosophy?  If selfishness, pride, Pharisaism, were all its
outcome?  Why--had they not been its outcome already?  When had he
seen her helping, even pitying, the poor, the outcast?  When had he
heard from her one word of real sympathy for the sorrowing; for the
sinful? ....  He was still lost in thought when Theon re-entered,
bringing a letter.

'_From Hypatia to her well-beloved pupil_.

'I pity you--how should I not?  And more.  I thank you for this your
request, for it shows me that my unwilling presence at the hideous
pageant of to-day has not alienated from me a soul of which I had
cherished the noblest hopes, for which I had sketched out the
loftiest destiny.  But how shall I say it?  Ask yourself whether a
change--apparently impossible--must not take place in her for whom
you plead, before she and I can meet.  I am not so inhuman as to
blame you for having asked me; I do not even blame her for being
what she is.  She does but follow her nature; who can be angry with
her, if destiny have informed so fair an animal with a too gross and
earthly spirit?  Why weep over her?  Dust she is, and unto dust she
will return: while you, to whom a more divine spark was allotted at
your birth, must rise, and unrepining, leave below you one only
connected with you by the unreal and fleeting bonds of fleshly kin.'

Philammon crushed the letter together in his hand, and strode from
the house without a word.  The philosopher had no gospel, then, for
the harlot!  No word for the sinner, the degraded!  Destiny
forsooth!  She was to follow her destiny, and be base, miserable,
self-condemned.  She was to crush the voice of conscience and
reason, as often as it awoke within her, and compel herself to
believe that she was bound to be that which she knew herself bound
not to be.  She was to shut her eyes to that present palpable misery
which was preaching to her, with the voice of God Himself, that the
wages of sin are death.  Dust she was, and unto dust she will
return!  Oh, glorious hope for her, for him, who felt as if an
eternity of bliss would be worthless, if it parted him from his new-
found treasure!  Dust she was, and unto dust she must return!

Hapless Hypatia!  If she must needs misapply, after the fashion of
her school, a text or two here and there from the Hebrew Scriptures,
what suicidal fantasy set her on quoting that one?  For now, upon
Philammon's memory flashed up in letters of light, old words
forgotten for months--and ere he was aware, he found himself
repeating aloud and passionately, 'I believe in the forgiveness of
sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting,' ....
and then clear and fair arose before him the vision of the God-man,
as He lay at meat in the Pharisee's house; and of her who washed His
feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head ....  And
from the depths of his agonised heart arose the prayer, 'Blessed
Magdalene, intercede for her?'

So high he could rise, but not beyond. For the notion of that God-
man was receding fast to more and more awful abysmal heights, in the
minds of a generation who were forgetting His love in His power, and
practically losing sight of His humanity in their eager doctrinal
assertion of His Divinity.  And Philammon's heart re-echoed the
spirit of his age, when he felt that for an apostate like himself it
were presumptuous to entreat for any light or help from the
fountain-head itself.  He who had denied his Lord, he who had
voluntarily cut himself off from the communion of the Catholic
Church--how could he restore himself?  How could he appease the
wrath of Him who died on the cross, save by years of bitter
supplication and self-punishment? ....

'Fool!  Vain and ambitious fool that I have been!  For this I threw
away the faith of my childhood!  For this I listened to words at
which I shuddered; crushed down my own doubts and disgusts; tried to
persuade myself that I could reconcile them with Christianity--that
I could make a lie fit into the truth!  For this I puffed myself up
in the vain hope of becoming not as other men are--superior,
forsooth, to my kind!  It was not enough for me to be a man made in
the image of God: but I must needs become a god myself, knowing good
and evil.--And here is the end!  I call upon my fine philosophy to
help me once, in one real practical human struggle, and it folds its
arms and sits serene and silent, smiling upon my misery!  Oh! fool,
fool, thou art filled with the fruit of thy own devices!  Back to
the old faith!  Home again, then wanderer! And yet how home?  Are
not the gates shut against me?  Perhaps against her too ....  What
if she, like me, were a baptized Christian?'

Terrible and all but hopeless that thought flashed across him, as in
the first revulsion of his conscience he plunged utterly and
implicitly back again into the faith of his childhood, and all the
dark and cruel theories popular in his day rose up before him in all
their terrors.  In the innocent simplicity of the Laura he had never
felt their force; but he felt them now.  If Pelagia were a baptized
woman, what was before her but unceasing penance?  Before her, as
before him, a life of cold and hunger, groans and tears, loneliness
and hideous soul-sickening uncertainty.  Life was a dungeon for them
both henceforth.  Be it so!  There was nothing else to believe in.
No other rock of hope in earth or heaven.  That at least promised a
possibility of forgiveness, of amendment, of virtue, of reward--ay,
of everlasting bliss and glory; and even if she missed of that,
better for her the cell in the desert than a life of self-contented
impurity!  If that latter were her destiny, as Hypatia said, she
should at least die fighting against it, defying it, cursing it!
Better virtue with hell, than sin with heaven! And Hypatia had not
even promised her a heaven.  The resurrection of the flesh was too
carnal a notion for her refined and lofty creed.  And so, his four
months' dream swept away in a moment, he hurried back to his
chamber, with one fixed thought before him--the desert; a cell for
Pelagia; another for himself.  There they would repent, and pray,
and mourn out life side by side, if perhaps God would have mercy
upon their souls.  Yet--perhaps, she might not have been baptized
after all.  And then she was safe.  Like other converts from
Paganism, she might become a catechumen, and go on to baptism, where
the mystic water would wash away in a moment all the past, and she
would begin life afresh, in the spotless robes of innocence.  Yet he
had been baptized, he knew from Arsenius, before he left Athens; and
she was older than he.  It was all but impossible yet he would hope;
and breathless with anxiety and excitement, he ran up the narrow
stairs and found Miriam standing outside, her hand uponthe bolt,
apparently inclined to dispute his passage.

'Is she still within?'

'What if she be?'

'Let me pass into my own room.'

'Yours?  Who has been paying the rent for you, these four months
past?  You!  What can you say to her?  What can you do for her?
Young pedant, you must be in love yourself before you can help poor
creatures who are in love!'

But Philammon pushed past her so fiercely, that the old woman was
forced to give way, and with a sinister smile she followed him into
the chamber.

Pelagia sprang towards her brother.

'Will she?--will she see me?'

'Let us talk no more of her, my beloved,' said Philammon, laying his
hands gently on her trembling shoulders, and looking earnestly into
her eyes .... 'Better that we two should work out our deliverance
for ourselves, without the help of strangers.  You can trust me?'

'You?  And can you help me?  Will you teach me?'

'Yes, but not here ....  We must escape--Nay, hear me, one moment!
dearest sister, hear me! Are you so happy here that you can conceive
of no better place?  And--and, oh, God! that it may not be true
after all!--but is there not a hell hereafter?'

Pelagia covered her face with her hands--'The old monk warned me of
it!'

'Oh, take his warning....'  And Philammon was bursting forth with
some such words about the lake of fire and brimstone as he had been
accustomed to hear from Pambo and Arsenius, when Pelagia interrupted
him-

'Oh, Miriam!  Is it true?  Is it possible?  What will become of me?'
almost shrieked the poor child.

'What if it were true?--Let him tell you how he will save you from
it,' answered Miriam quietly.

'Will not the Gospel save her from it--unbelieving Jew?  Do not
contradict me!  I can save her.'

'If she does what?'

'Can she not repent?  Can she not mortify these base affections?
Can she not be forgiven?  Oh, my Pelagia! forgive me for having
dreamed one moment that I could make you a philosopher, when you may
be a saint of God, a--'

He stopped short suddenly, as the thought about baptism flashed
across him, and in a faltering voice asked, 'Are you baptized?'

'Baptized?' asked she, hardly understanding the term.

'Yes--by the bishop--in the church.'

'Ah,' she said, 'I remember now ....  When I was four or five years
odd ....  A tank, and women undressing ....  And I was bathed too,
and an old man dipped my head under the water three times ....  I
have forgotten what it all meant--it was so long ago.  I wore a
white dress, I know, afterwards.'

Philammon recoiled with a groan.

'Unhappy child!  May God have mercy on you!'

'Will He not forgive me, then?  You have forgiven me.  He?--He must
be more good even than you.--Why not?'

'He forgave you then, freely, when you were baptized: and there is
no second pardon unless--

'Unless I leave my love!' shrieked Pelagia.

'When the Lord forgave the blessed Magdalene freely, and told her
that her faith had saved her--did she live on in sin, or even in the
pleasures of this world?  No! though God had forgiven her, she could
not forgive herself.  She fled forth into the desert, and there,
naked and barefoot, clothed only with her hair, and feeding on the
herb of the field, she stayed fasting and praying till her dying
day, never seeing the face of man, but visited and comforted by
angels and archangels.  And if she, she who never fell again, needed
that long penance to work out her own salvation--oh, Pelagia, what
will not God require of you, who have broken your baptismal vows,
and defiled the white robes, which the tears of penance only can
wash clean once more?'

'But I did not know!  I did not ask to be baptized!  Cruel, cruel
parents, to bring me to it! And God!  Oh, why did He forgive me so
soon?  And to go into the deserts!  I dare not!  I cannot!  See me,
how dedicate and tender I am!  I should die of hunger and cold!  I
should go mad with fear and loneliness!  Oh! brother, brother, is
this the Gospel of the Christians?  I came to you to be taught how
to be wise, and good, and respected, and you tell me that all I can
do is to live this horrible life of torture here, on the chance of
escaping torture forever! And how do I know that I shall escape it?
How do I know that I shall make myself miserable enough?  How do I
know that He will forgive me after all?  Is this true, Miriam?  Tell
me, or I shall go mad!'

'Yes,' said Miriam, with a quiet sneer. 'This is the gospel and good
news of salvation, according to the doctrine of the Nazarenes.'

'I will go with you!' cried Philammon.  'I will go!  I will never
leave you!  I have my own sins to wash away!--Happy for me if I ever
do it!--And I will build you a cell near mine, and kind men will
teach us, and the will pray together night and morning, for
ourselves and for each other, and weep out our weary lives together--'

'Better end them here, at once!' said Pelagia, with a gesture of
despair, and dashed herself down on the floor.

Philammon was about to lift her up, when Miriam caught him by the
arm, and in a hurried whisper--'Are you mad?  Will you ruin your own
purpose?  Why did you tell her this?  Why did you not wait--give her
hope--time to collect herself--time to wean herself from her lover,
instead of terrifying and disgusting her at the outset, as you have
done?  Have you a man's heart in you?  No word of comfort for that
poor creature, nothing but hell, hell, hell--See to your own chance
of hell first!  It is greater than you fancy!'

'It cannot be greater than I fancy!'

'Then see to it. For her, poor darling!--why, even we Jews, who know
that all you Gentiles are doomed to Gehenna alike, have some sort of
hope for such a poor untaught creature as that.'

'And why is she untaught?  Wretch that you are.  You have had the
training of her!  You brought her up to sin and shame!  You drove
from her recollection the faith in which she was baptized!'

'So much the better for her, if the recollection of it is to make
her no happier than it does already.  Better to wake unexpectedly in
Gehenna when you die, than to endure over and above the dread of it
here.  And as for leaving her untaught, on your own showing she has
been taught too much already.  Wiser it would be in you to curse
your parents for having had her baptized, than me for giving her ten
years' pleasure before she goes to the pit of Tophet.  Come now,
don't be angry with me.  The old Jewess is your friend, revile her
as you will.  She shall marry this Goth.'

'An Arian heretic!'

'She shall convert him and make a Catholic of him, if you like.  At
all events, if you wish to win her, you must win her my way.  You
have had your chance, and spoiled it.  Let me have mine.  Pelagia,
darling!  Up, and be a woman!  We will find a philtre downstairs to
give that ungrateful man, that shall make him more mad about you,
before a day is over, than ever you were about him.'

'No!' said Pelagia, looking up.  'No love-potions!  No poisons!'

'Poisons, little fool!  Do you doubt the old woman's skill?  Do you
think I shall make him lose his wits, as Callisphyra did to her
lover last year, because she would trust to old Megaera's drugs,
instead of coming to me!'

'No!  No drugs; no magic!  He must love me really, or not at all!
He must love me for myself, because I am worth loving, because he
honours, worships me, or let me die.  I, whose boast was, even when
I was basest, that I never needed such mean tricks, but conquered
like Aphrodite, a queen in my own right!  I have been my own love-
charm: when I cease to be that, let me die!'

'One as mad as the other!' cried Miriam, in utter perplexity. 'Hist!
what is that tramp upon the stairs?'

At this moment heavy footsteps were heard ascending the stairs ....
All three stopped aghast: Philammon, because he thought the visitors
were monks in search of him; Miriam, because she thought they were
Orestes's guards in search of her; and Pelagia, from vague dread of
anything and everything....

'Have you an inner room?' asked the Jewess.

'None.'

The old woman set her lips firmly, and drew her dagger.  Pelagia
wrapped her face in her cloak, and stood trembling, bowed down, as
if expecting another blow.  The door opened, and in walked, neither
monks nor guard, but Wulf and Smid.

'Heyday, young monk!' cried the latter worthy, with a loud laugh--
'Veils here, too, eh?  At your old trade, my worthy portress of
hell-gate?  Well, walk out now; we have a little business with this
young gentleman.'

And slipping past the unsuspecting Goths, Pelagia and Miriam hurried
downstairs.

'The young one, at least, seems a little ashamed of her errand ....
Now, Wulf, speak low; and I will see that no one is listening at the
door.'

Philammon faced his unexpected visitors with a look of angry
inquiry.  What right had they, or any man, to intrude at such a
moment on his misery and disgrace? ....  But he was disarmed the
next instant by old Wulf, who advanced to him, and looking him fully
in the face with an expression which there was no mistaking, held
out his broad, brown hand.

Philammon grasped it, and then covering his face with his hands,
burst into tears.

'You did right.  You are a brave boy.  If you had died, no man need
have been ashamed to die your death.'

'You were there, then?' sobbed Philammon.

'We were.'

'And what is more,' said Smid, as the poor boy writhed at the
admission, 'we were mightily minded, some of us, to have leapt down
to you and cut you a passage out.  One man, at least, whom I know
of, felt his old blood as hot for the minute as a four-year-old's.
The foul curs! And to hoot her, after all!  Oh that I may have one
good hour's hewing at them before I die!'

'And you shall!' said Wulf. 'Boy, you wish to get this sister of
yours into your power?'

'It is hopeless--hopeless!  She will never leave her--the Amal.'

'Are you so sure of that?'

'She told me so with her own lips not ten minutes ago.  That was she
who went out as you entered!'

A curse of astonishment and regret burst from Smid....

'Had I but known her!  By the soul of my fathers, she should have
found that it was easier to come here than to go home again!'

'Hush, Smid!  Better as it is.  Boy, if I put her into your power,
dare you carry her off?'

Philammon hesitated one moment.

'What I dare you know already.  But it would be an unlawful thing,
surely, to use violence.'

'Settle your philosopher's doubts for yourself.  I have made my
offer.  I should have thought that a man in his senses could give
but one answer, much more a mad monk.'

'You forget the money matters, prince,' said Smid, with a smile.

'I do not.  But I don't think the boy so mean as to hesitate on that
account.'

'He may as well know, however, that we promise to send all her
trumpery after her, even to the Amal's presents.  As for the house,
we won't trouble her to lend it us longer than we can help.  We
intend shortly to move into more extensive premises, and open
business on a grander scale, as the shopkeepers say,--eh, prince?'

'Her money?--That money?  God forgive her!' answered Philammon. 'Do
you fancy me base enough to touch it?  But I am resolved.  Tell me
what to do, and I will do it.'

'You know the lane which runs down to the canal, under the left wall
of the house?'

'Yes.'

'And a door in the corner tower, close to the landing-place?'
'I do.'

'Be there, with a dozen stout monks, to-morrow, an hour after
sundown, and take what we give you.  After that, the concern is
yours, not ours.'

'Monks?' said Philammon.  'I am at open feud with the whole order.'

'Make friends with them, then,' shortly suggested Smid.

Philammon writhed inwardly.  'It makes no difference to you, I
presume, whom I bring?'

'No more than it does whether or not you pitch her into the canal,
and put a hurdle over her when you have got her,' answered Smid;
'which is what a Goth would do, if he were in your place.'

'Do not vex the poor lad, friend.  If he thinks he can mend her
instead of punishing her, in Freya's name, let him try.  You will be
there, then?  And mind, I like you.  I liked you when you faced that
great river-hog.  I like you better now than ever; for you have
spoken to-day like a Sagaman, and dared like a hero.  Therefore
mind; if you do not bring a good guard to-morrow night, your life
will not be safe.  The whole city is out in the streets; and Odin
alone knows what will be done, and who will be alive, eight-and-
forty hours hence.  Mind you!--The mob may do strange things, and
they may see still stranger things done.  If you once find yourself
safe back here, stay where you are, if you value her life or your
own.  And--if you are wise, let the men whom you bring with you be
monks, though it cost your proud stomach--'

'That's not fair, prince!  You are telling too much!' interrupted
Smid, while Philammon gulped down the said proud stomach, and
answered, 'Be it so!'

'I have won my bet, Smid,' said the old man, chuckling, as the two
tramped out into the street, to the surprise and fear of all the
neighbours, while the children clapped their hands, and the street
dogs felt it their duty to bark lustily at the strange figures of
their unwonted visitors.

'No play, no pay, Wulf.  We shall see to-morrow.'

'I knew that he would stand the trial!  I knew he was right at
heart!'

'At all events, there is no fear of his ill-using the poor thing, if
he loves her well enough to go down on his knees to his sworn foes
for her.'

'I don't know that,' answered Wulf, with a shake of the head. 'These
monks, I hear, fancy that their God likes them the better the more
miserable they are: so, perhaps they may fancy that he will like
them all the more, the more miserable they make other people.
However, it's no concern of ours.'

'We have quite enough of our own to see to just now.  But mind, no
play, no pay.'

'Of course not.  How the streets are filling!  We shall not be able
to see the guards to-night, if this mob thickens much more.'

'We shall have enough to do to hold our own, perhaps.  Do you hear
what they are crying there?  "Down with all heathens!  Down with
barbarians!"  That means us, you know.'

'Do you fancy no one understands Greek but yourself?  Let them come
....  It may give us an excuse ....  And we can hold the house a
week.'

'But how can we get speech of the guards?'

'We will slip round by water.  And, after all, deeds will win them
better than talk.  They will be forced to fight on the same side as
we, and most probably be glad of our help; for if the mob attacks
any one, it will begin with the Prefect.'

'And then--Curse their shouting!  Let the soldiers once find our
Amal at their head, and they will be ready to go with him a mile,
where they meant to go a yard.'

'The Goths will, and the Markmen, and those Dacians, and Thracians,
or whatever the Romans call them.  But I hardly trust the Huns.'

'The curse of heaven on their pudding faces and pigs' eyes!  There
will be no love lost between us.  But there are not twenty of them
scattered in different troops; one of us can thrash three of them;
and they will be sure to side with the winning party.  Besides,
plunder, plunder, comrade!  When did you know a Hun turn back from
that, even if he were only on the scent of a lump of tallow?'

'As for the Gauls and Latins,' .... went on Wulf meditatively, 'they
belong to any man who can pay them.'....

'Which we can do, like all wise generals, one penny out of our own
pocket, and nine out of the enemy's.  And the Amal is staunch?'

'Staunch as his own hounds, now there is something to be done on the
spot.  His heart was in the right place after all.  I knew it all
along.  But he could never in his life see four-and-twenty hours
before him.  Even now if that Pelagia gets him under her spell
again, he may throw down his sword, and fall as fast asleep as
ever.'

'Never fear; we have settled her destiny for her, as far as that is
concerned.  Look at the mob before the door!  We must get in by the
postern-gate.'

'Get in by the sewer, like a rat!  I go my own way.  Draw, old
hammer and tongs! or run away!'

'Not this time.'  And sword in hand, the two marched into the heart
of the crowd, who gave way before them like a flock of sheep.

'They know their intended shepherds already,' said Smid.  But at
that moment the crowd, seeing them about to enter the house, raised
a yell of 'Goths!  Heathens!  Barbarians!' and a rush from behind
took place.

'If you will have it, then!' said Wulf.  And the two long bright
blades flashed round and round their heads, redder and redder every
time they swung aloft ....  The old men never even checked their
steady walk, and knocking at the gate, went in, leaving more than
one lifeless corpse at the entrance.

'We have put the coal in the thatch, now, with a vengeance,' said
Smid, as they wiped their swords inside.

'We have.  Get me out a boat and half a dozen men, and I and Goderic
will go round by the canal to the palace, and settle a thing or two
with the guards.'

'Why should not the Amal go, and offer our help himself to the
Prefect?'

'What?  Would you have him after that turn against the hound?  For
troth and honour's sake, he must keep quiet in the matter.'

'He will have no objection to keep quiet--trust him for that!  But
don't forget Sagaman Moneybag, the best of all orators,' called Smid
laughingly after him, as he went off to man the boat.



CHAPTER XXV: SEEKING AFTER A SIGN


'What answer has he sent back, father?' asked Hypatia, as Theon re-
entered her chamber, after delivering that hapless letter to
Philammon.

'Insolent that he is! he tore it to fragments and tied forth without
a word.'

'Let him go, and desert us like the rest, in
our calamity!'

'At least, we have the jewels.'

'The jewels?  Let them be returned to their owner.  Shall we defile
ourselves by taking them as wages for anything--above all, for that
which is unperformed?'

'But, my child, they were given to us freely.  He bade me keep them;
and--and, to tell you the truth, I must keep them.  After this
unfortunate failure, be sure of it, every creditor we have will be
clamouring for payment.'

'Let them take our house and furniture, and sell us as slaves, then.
Let them take all, provided we keep our virtue.'

'Sell us as slaves?  Are you mad?'

'Not quite mad yet, father,' answered she with a sad smile. 'But how
should we be worse than we are now, were we slaves?  Raphael Aben-
Ezra told me that he obeyed my precepts, when he went forth as a
houseless beggar; and shall I not have courage to obey them myself,
if the need come?  The thought of his endurance has shamed my luxury
for this many a month.  After all, what does the philosopher require
but bread and water, and the clear brook in which to wash away the
daily stains of his earthly prison-house?  Let what is fated come.
Hypatia struggles with the stream no more!'

'My daughter! And have you given up all hope?  So soon disheartened!
What!  Is this paltry accident to sweep away the purposes of years?
Orestes remains still faithful.  His guards have orders to garrison
the house for as long as we shall require them.'

'Send them away, then.  I have done no wrong, and I fear no
punishment.'

'You do not know the madness of the mob; they are shouting your name
in the streets already, in company with Pelagia's.'

Hypatia shuddered.  Her name in company with Pelagia's! And to this
she had brought herself!

'I have deserved it!  I have sold myself to a lie and a disgrace!  I
have stooped to truckle, to intrigue!  I have bound myself to a
sordid trickster!  Father! never mention his name to me again!  I
have leagued myself with the impure and the bloodthirsty, and I have
my reward!  No more politics for Hypatia from henceforth, my father;
no more orations and lectures; no more pearls of Divine wisdom cast
before swine.  I have sinned in divulging the secrets of the
Immortals to the mob.  Let them follow their natures!  Fool that I
was, to fancy that my speech, my plots, could raise them above that
which the gods had made them!'

'Then you give up our lectures?  Worse and worse!  We shall be
ruined utterly!'

'We are ruined utterly already.  Orestes?  There is no help in him.
I know the man too well, my father, not to know that he would give
us up to-morrow to the fury of the Christians were his own base
life--even his own baser office--in danger.'

'Too true--too true!  I fear,' said the poor old man, wringing his
hands in perplexity. 'What will become of us,--of you, rather?  What
matter what happens to the useless old star-gazer?  Let him die!
To-day or next year is alike to him.  But you, you!  Let us escape
by the canal.  We may gather up enough, even without these jewels,
which you refuse, to pay our voyage to Athens, and there we shall be
safe with Plutarch; he will welcome you--all Athens will welcome
you--we will collect a fresh school--and you shall be Queen of
Athens, as you have been Queen of Alexandria!'

'No, father.  What I know, henceforth I will know for myself only.
Hypatia will be from this day alone with the Immortal Gods!'

'You will not leave me?' cried the old man, terrified.

'Never on earth!' answered she, bursting into real human tears, and
throwing herself on his bosom. 'Never--never! father of my spirit as
well as of my flesh!--the parent who has trained me, taught me,
educated my soul from the cradle to use her wings!--the only human
being who never misunderstood me--never thwarted me--never deceived
me!'

'My priceless child! And I have been the cause of your ruin!'

'Not you!--a thousand times not you!  I only am to blame!  I
tampered with worldly politics.  I tempted you on to fancy that I
could effect what I so rashly undertook.  Do not accuse yourself
unless you wish to break my heart!  We can be happy together yet.--A
palm-leaf hut in the desert, dates from the grove, and water from
the spring--the monk dares be miserable alone in such a dwelling,
and cannot we dare to be happy together in it?'

'Then you will escape?'

'Not to-day.  It were base to flee before danger comes.  We must
hold out at our post to the last moment, even if we dare not die at
it like heroes.  And to-morrow I go to the lecture-room,--to the
beloved Museum, for the last time, to take farewell of my pupils.
Unworthy as they are, I owe it to myself and to philosophy to tell
them why I leave them.'

'It will be too dangerous--indeed it will!'

'I could take the guards with me, then.  And yet--no ....  They
shall never have occasion to impute fear to the philosopher.  Let
them see her go forth as usual on her errand, strong in the courage
of innocence, secure in the protection of the gods.  So, perhaps,
some sacred awe, some suspicion of her divineness, may fall on them
at last.'

'I must go with you.'

'No, I go alone.  You might incur danger where I am safe.  After
all, I am a woman ....  And, fierce as they are, they will not dare
to harm me.'

The old man shook his head.

'Look now,' she said smilingly, laying her hands on his shoulders,
and looking into his face .... 'You tell me that I am beautiful, you
know; and beauty will tame the lion.  Do you not think that this
face might disarm even a monk?'

And she laughed and blushed so sweetly, that the old man forgot his
fears, as she intended that he should, and kissed her and went his
way for the time being, to command all manner of hospitalities to
the soldiers, whom he prudently determined to keep in his house as
long as he could make them stay there; in pursuance of which wise
purpose he contrived not to see a great deal of pleasant flirtation
between his valiant defenders and Hypatia's maids, who, by no means
so prudish as their mistress, welcomed as a rare boon from heaven an
afternoon's chat with twenty tall men of war.

So they jested and laughed below, while old Theon, having brought
out the very best old wine, and actually proposed in person, by way
of mending matters, the health of the Emperor of Africa, locked
himself into the library, and comforted his troubled soul with a
tough problem of astronomy, which had been haunting him the whole
day, even in the theatre itself.  But Hypatia sat still in her
chamber, her face buried in her hands, her heart full of many
thoughts; her eyes of tears.  She had smiled away her father's
fears; she could not smile away her own.

She felt, she hardly knew why, but she felt as clearly as if a god
had proclaimed it to her bodily ears, that the crisis of her life
was come: that her political and active career was over, and that
she must now be content to be for herself, and in herself alone, all
that she was, or might become.  The world might be regenerated: but
not in her day;--the gods restored; but not by her.  It was a
fearful discovery, and yet hardly a discovery.  Her heart had told
her for years that she was hoping against hope,--that she was
struggling against a stream too mighty for her.  And now the moment
had come when she must either be swept helpless down the current,
or, by one desperate effort, win firm land, and let the tide roll on
its own way henceforth ....  Its own way? ....  Not the way of the
gods, at least; for it was sweeping their names from off the earth.
What if they did not care to be known?  What if they were weary of
worship and reverence from mortal men, and, self-sufficing in their
own perfect bliss, recked nothing for the weal or woe of earth?
Must it not be so?  Had she not proof of it in everything which she
beheld?  What did Isis care for her Alexandria?  What did Athens
care for her Athens? ....  And yet Homer and Hesiod, and those old
Orphic singers, were of another mind ....  Whence got they that
strange fancy of gods counselling, warring, intermarrying, with
mankind, as with some kindred tribe?

'Zeus, father of gods and men.' ....  Those were words of hope and
comfort ....  But were they true?  Father of men?  Impossible!--not
father of Pelagia, surely.  Not father of the base, the foul, the
ignorant .... Father of heroic souls, only, the poets must have
meant ....  But where were the heroic souls now?  Was she one?  If
so, why was she deserted by the upper powers in her utter need?  Was
the heroic race indeed extinct?  Was she merely assuming, in her
self-conceit, an honour to which she had no claim?  Or was it all a
dream of these old singers?  Had they, as some bold philosophers had
said, invented gods in their own likeness, and palmed off on the awe
and admiration of men their own fair phantoms? ....  It must be so.
If there were gods, to know them was the highest bliss of man.  Then
would they not teach men of themselves, unveil their own loveliness
to a chosen few, even for the sake of their own honour, if not, as
she had dreamed once, from love to those who bore a kindred flame to
theirs? ....What if there were no gods?  What if the stream of fate,
which was sweeping away their names; were the only real power?  What
if that old Pyrrhonic notion were the true solution of the problem
of the Universe?  What if there were no centre, no order, no rest,
no goal--but only a perpetual flux, a down-rushing change?  And
before her dizzying brain and heart arose that awful vision of
Lucretius, of the homeless Universe falling, falling, falling, for
ever from nowhence toward nowhither through the unending ages, by
causeless and unceasing gravitation, while the changes and efforts
of all mortal things were but the jostling of the dust-atoms amid
the everlasting storm....

It could not be!  There was a truth, a virtue, a beauty, a
nobleness, which could never change, but which were absolute, the
same for ever.  The God-given instinct of her woman's heart rebelled
against her intellect, and, in the name of God, denied its lie ....
Yes,--there was virtue, beauty ....  And yet--might not they, too,
be accidents of that enchantment, which man calls mortal life;
temporary and mutable accidents of consciousness; brilliant sparks,
struck out by the clashing of the dust-atoms?  Who could tell?

There were those once who could tell.  Did not Plotinus speak of a
direct mystic intuition of the Deity, an enthusiasm without passion,
a still intoxication of the soul, in which she rose above life,
thought, reason, herself, to that which she contemplated, the
absolute and first One, and united herself with that One, or,
rather, became aware of that union which had existed from the first
moment in which she emanated from the One?  Six times in a life of
sixty years had Plotinus risen to that height of mystic union, and
known himself to be a part of God.  Once had Porphyry attained the
same glory.  Hypatia, though often attempting, had never yet
succeeded in attaining to any distinct vision of a being external to
herself; though practice, a firm will, and a powerful imagination,
had long since made her an adept in producing, almost at will, that
mysterious trance, which was the preliminary step to supernatural
vision.  But her delight in the brilliant, and, as she held, divine
imaginations, in which at such times she revelled, had been always
checked and chilled by the knowledge that, in such matters, hundreds
inferior to her in intellect and in learning,--ay, saddest of all,
Christian monks and nuns, boasted themselves her equals,--indeed, if
their own account of their visions was to be believed, her
superiors--by the same methods which she employed. For by celibacy,
rigorous fasts, perfect bodily quiescence, and intense contemplation
of one thought, they, too, pretended to be able to rise above the
body into the heavenly regions, and to behold things unspeakable,
which nevertheless, like most other unspeakable things, contrived to
be most carefully detailed and noised abroad ....  And it was with a
half feeling of shame that she prepared herself that afternoon for
one more, perhaps one last attempt, to scale the heavens, as she
recollected how many an illiterate monk and nun, from Constantinople
to the Thebaid, was probably employed at that moment exactly as she
was.  Still, the attempt must be made.  In that terrible abyss of
doubt, she must have something palpable, real; something beyond her
own thoughts, and hopes, and speculations, whereon to rest her weary
faith, her weary heart ....  Perhaps this time, at least, in her
extremest need, a god might vouchsafe some glimpse of his own beauty
....  Athene might pity at last ....  Or, if not Athene, some
archetype, angel, demon ....  And then she shuddered at the thought
of those evil and deceiving spirits, whose delight it was to delude
and tempt the votaries of the gods, in the forms of angels of light.
But even in the face of that danger, she must make the trial once
again.  Was she not pure and spotless as Athene's self?  Would not
her innate purity enable her to discern, by an instinctive
antipathy, those foul beings beneath the fairest mask?  At least,
she must make the trial....

And so, with a look of intense humility, she began to lay aside her
jewels and her upper robes.  Then, baring her bosom and her feet,
and shaking her golden tresses loose, she laid herself down upon the
conch, crossed her hands upon her breast, and, with upturned
ecstatic eyes, waited for that which might befall.

There she lay, hour after hour, as her eye gradually kindled, her
bosom heaved, her breath came fast: but there was no more sign of
life in those straight still limbs, and listless feet and hands,
than in Pygmalion's ivory bride, before she bloomed into human flesh
and blood.  The sun sank towards his rest; the roar of the city grew
louder and louder without; the soldiers revelled and laughed below:
but every sound passed through unconscious ears, and went its way
unheeded. Faith, hope, reason itself, were staked upon the result of
that daring effort to scale the highest heaven.  And, by one
continuous effort of her practised will, which reached its highest
virtue, as mystics hold, in its own suicide, she chained down her
senses from every sight and sound, and even her mind from every
thought, and lay utterly self-resigned, self-emptied, till
consciousness of time and place had vanished, and she seemed to
herself alone in the abyss.

She dared not reflect, she dared not hope, she dared not rejoice,
lest she should break the spell ....  Again and again had she broken
it at this very point, by some sudden and tumultuous yielding to her
own joy or awe; but now her will held firm ....  She did not feel
her own limbs, hear her own breath ....  A light bright mist, an
endless network of glittering films, coming, going, uniting,
resolving themselves, was above her and around her ....  Was she in
the body or out of the body? ....
...............

The network faded into an abyss of still clear light ....  A still
warm atmosphere was around her, thrilling through and through her
....  She breathed the light, and floated in it, as a mote in the
mid-day beam ....  And still her will held firm.
...............

Far away, miles, and aeons, and abysses away, through the
interminable depths of glory, a dark and shadowy spot.  It neared
and grew ....  A dark globe, ringed with rainbows ....  What might
it be?  She dared not hope ....  It came nearer, nearer, nearer,
touched her ....  The centre quivered, flickered, took form--a face.
A god's?  No--Pelagia's.

Beautiful, sad, craving, reproachful, indignant, awful ....  Hypatia
could bear no more: and sprang to her feet with a shriek, to
experience in its full bitterness the fearful revulsion of the
mystic, when the human reason and will which he has spurned reassert
their God-given rights; and after the intoxication of the
imagination, come its prostration and collapse.

And this, then, was the answer of the gods!  The phantom of her whom
she had despised, exposed, spurned from her!  'No, not their answer
--the answer of my own soul!  Fool that I have been!  I have been
exerting my will most while I pretended to resign it most!  I have
been the slave of every mental desire, while I tried to trample on
them!  What if that network of light, that blaze, that globe of
darkness, have been, like the face of Pelagia, the phantoms of my
own imagination--ay, even of my own senses?  What if I have mistaken
for Deity my own self?  What if I have been my own light, my own
abyss? ....  Am I not my own abyss, my own light--my own darkness?'
And she smiled bitterly as she said it, and throwing herself again
upon the couch, buried her head in her hands, exhausted equally in
body and in mind.

At last she rose, and sat, careless of her dishevelled locks, gazing
out into vacancy.  'Oh for a sign, for a token!  Oh for the golden
days of which the poets sang, when gods walked among men, fought by
their side as friends! And yet .... are these old stories credible,
pious, even modest?  Does not my heart revolt from them?  Who has
shared more than I in Plato's contempt for the foul deeds, the
degrading transformations, which Homer imputes to the gods of
Greece?  Must I believe them now?  Must I stoop to think that gods,
who live in a region above all sense, will deign to make themselves
palpable to those senses of ours which are whole aeons of existence
below them?  Degrade themselves to the base accidents of matter?
Yes!  That, rather than nothing! ....  Be it even so.  Better,
better, better, to believe that Ares fled shrieking and wounded from
a mortal man--better to believe in Zeus's adulteries and Hermes's
thefts--than to believe that gods have never spoken face to face
with men!  Let me think, lest I go mad, that beings from that unseen
world for which I hunger have appeared, and held communion with
mankind, such as no reason or sense could doubt--even though those
beings were more capricious and baser than ourselves!  Is there,
after all, an unseen world?  Oh for a sign, a sign!'

Haggard and dizzy, she wandered into her 'chamber of the gods'; a
collection of antiquities, which she kept there rather as matters of
taste than of worship.  All around her they looked out into vacancy
with their white soulless eyeballs, their dead motionless beauty,
those cold dreams of the buried generations.  Oh that they could
speak, and set her heart at rest! At the lower end of the room stood
a Pallas, completely armed with aegis, spear, and helmet; a gem of
Athenian sculpture, which she had bought from some merchants after
the sack of Athens by the Goths.  There it stood severely fair; but
the right hand, alas! was gone; and there the maimed arm remained
extended, as if in sad mockery of the faith of which the body
remained, while the power was dead and vanished.

She gazed long and passionately on the image of her favourite
goddess, the ideal to which she had longed for years to assimilate
herself; till--was it a dream? was it a frolic of the dying
sunlight? or did those lips really bend themselves into a smile?

Impossible!  No, not impossible.  Had not, only a few years before,
the image of Hecate smiled on a philosopher?  Were there not stories
of moving images, and winking pictures, and all the material
miracles by which a dying faith strives desperately--not to deceive
others--but to persuade itself of its own sanity?  It had been--it
might be--it was!--

No! there the lips were, as they had been from the beginning, closed
upon each other in that stony self-collected calm, which was only
not a sneer.  The wonder, if it was one, had passed: and now--did
her eyes play her false, or were the snakes round that Medusa's head
upon the shield all writhing, grinning, glaring at her with stony
eyes, longing to stiffen her with terror into their own likeness?

No! that, too, passed.  Would that even it had stayed, for it would
have been a sign of life!  She looked up at the face once more: but
in vain--the stone was stone; and ere she was aware, she found
herself clasping passionately the knees of the marble.

'Athene!  Pallas! Adored!  Ever Virgin! Absolute reason, springing
unbegotten from the nameless One!  Hear me! Athene!  Have mercy on
me!  Speak, if it be to curse me!  Thou who alone wieldest the
lightnings of thy father, wield them to strike me dead, if thou
wilt; only do something!--something to prove thine own existence--
something to make me sure that anything exists beside this gross
miserable matter, and my miserable soul.  I stand alone in the
centre of the universe!  I fall and sicken down the abyss of
ignorance, and doubt, and boundless blank and darkness!  Oh, have
mercy!  I know that thou art not this!  Thou art everywhere and in
all things!  But I know that this is a form which pleases thee,
which symbolises thy nobleness!  T know that thou hast deigned to
speak to those who--Oh! what do I know?  Nothing! nothing! nothing!

And she clung there, bedewing with scalding tears the cold feet of
the image, while there was neither sign, nor voice, nor any that
answered.

On a sudden she was startled by a rustling near; and, looking round,
saw close behind her the old Jewess.

'Cry aloud!' hissed the hag, in a tone of bitter scorn; 'cry aloud,
for she is a goddess.  Either she is talking, or pursuing, or she is
on a journey; or perhaps she has grown old, as we all shall do some
day, my pretty lady, and is too cross and lazy to stir.  What! her
naughty doll will not speak to her, will it not? or even open its
eyes, because the wires are grown rusty?  Well, we will find a new
doll for her, if she chooses.'

'Begone, hag!  What do you mean by intruding here?' said Hypatia,
springing up; but the old woman went on coolly--

'Why not try the fair young gentleman over there?' pointing to a
copy of the Apollo which we call Belvedere--'What is his name?  Old
maids are always cross and jealous, you know.  But he--he could not
be cruel to such a sweet face as that.  Try the fair young lad!  Or,
perhaps, if you are bashful, the old Jewess might try him for you?'

These last words were spoken with so marked a significance, that
Hypatia, in spite of her disgust, found herself asking the hag what
she meant.  She made no answer for a few seconds, but remained
looking steadily into her eyes with a glance of fire, before which
even the proud Hypatia, as she had done once before, quailed
utterly, so deep was the understanding, so dogged the purpose, so
fearless the power, which burned within those withered and shrunken
sockets.

'Shall the old witch call him up, the fair young Apollo, with the
beauty-bloom upon his chin?  He shall come!  He shall come!  I
warrant him he must come, civilly enough, when old Miriam's finger
is once held up.'

'To you?  Apollo, the god of light, obey a Jewess?'

'A Jewess?  And you a Greek?' almost yelled the old woman. 'And who
are you who ask?  And who are your gods, your heroes, your devils,
you children of yesterday, compared with us?  You, who were a set of
half-naked savages squabbling about the siege of Troy, when our
Solomon, amid splendours such as Rome and Constantinople never saw,
was controlling demons and ghosts, angels and archangels,
principalities and powers, by the ineffable name?  What science have
you that you have not stolen from the Egyptians and Chaldees?  And
what had the Egyptians which Moses did not teach them?  And what
have the Chaldees which Daniel did not teach them?  What does the
world know but from us, the fathers and the masters of magic--us,
the lords of the inner secrets of the universe!  Come, you Greek
baby--as the priests in Egypt said of your forefathers, always
children, craving for a new toy, and throwing it away next day--come
to the fountainhead of all your paltry wisdom!  Name what you will
see, and you shall see it!'

Hypatia was cowed; for of one thing there was no doubt,--that the
woman utterly believed her own words; and that was a state of mind
of which she had seen so little, that it was no wonder if it acted
on her with that overpowering sympathetic force, with which it
generally does, and perhaps ought to, act on the human heart.
Besides, her school had always looked to the ancient nations of the
East for the primeval founts of inspiration, the mysterious lore of
mightier races long gone by.  Might she not have found it now?

The Jewess saw her advantage in a moment, and ran on, without giving
her time to answer--

'What sort shall it be, then?  By glass and water, or by the
moonlight on the wall, or by the sieve, or by the meal?  By the
cymbals, or by the stars?  By the table of the twenty-four elements,
by which the Empire was promised to Theodosius the Great, or by the
sacred counters of the Assyrians, or by the sapphire of the Hecatic
sphere?  Shall I threaten, as the Egyptian priests used to do, to
tear Osiris again in pieces, or to divulge the mysteries of Isis?  I
could do so, if I chose; for I know them all and more.  Or shall I
use the ineffable name on Solomon's seal, which we alone, of all the
nations of the earth, know?  No; it would be a pity to waste that
upon a heathen.  It shall be by the sacred wafer.  Look here!--here
they are, the wonder-working atomies!  Eat no food this day, except
one of these every three hours, and come to me to-night at the house
of your porter, Eudaimon, bringing with you the black agate; and
then--why then, what you have the heart to see, you shall see!'

Hypatia took the wafers, hesitating--

'But what are they?'

'And you profess to explain Homer?  Whom did I hear the other
morning lecturing away so glibly on the nepenthe which Helen gave
the heroes, to fill them with the spirit of joy and love; how it was
an allegory of the inward inspiration which flows from spiritual
beauty, and all that?--pretty enough, fair lady; but the question
still remains, what was it? and I say it was this.  Take it and try;
and then confess, that while you can talk about Helen, I can act
her; and know a little more about Homer than you do, after all.'

'I cannot believe you!  Give me some sign of your power, or how can
I trust you?'

'A sign?--A sign?  Kneel down then there, with your face toward the
north; you are over tall for the poor old cripple.'

'I?  I never knelt to human being.'

'Then consider that you kneel to the handsome idol there, if you
will--but kneel!'

And, constrained by that glittering eye, Hypatia knelt before her.

'Have you faith?  Have you desire?  Will you submit?  Will you obey?
Self-will and pride see nothing, know nothing.  If you do not give
up yourself, neither God nor devil will care to approach.  Do you
submit?'

'I do!  I do!' cried poor Hypatia, in an agony of curiosity and
self-distrust, while she felt her eye quailing and her limbs
loosening more and more every moment under that intolerable
fascination.

The old woman drew from her bosom a crystal, and placed the point
against Hypatia's breast.  A cold shiver ran through her ....  The
witch waved her hands mysteriously round her head, muttering from
time to time, 'Down! down, proud spirit!' and then placed the tips
of her skinny fingers on the victim's forehead.  Gradually her
eyelids became heavy; again and again she tried to raise them, and
dropped them again before those fixed glaring eyes .... , and in
another moment she lost consciousness....

When she awoke, she was kneeling in a distant part of the room, with
dishevelled hair and garments.  What was it so cold that she was
clasping in her arms?  The feet of the Apollo!  The hag stood by
her, chuckling to herself and clapping her hands.

'How came I here?  What have I been doing?'

'Saying such pretty things!--paying the fair youth there such
compliments, as he will not be rude enough to forget in his visit
to-night.  A charming prophetic trance you have had! Ah ha! you are
not the only woman who is wiser asleep than awake!  Well, you will
make a very pretty Cassandra-or a Clytia, if you have the sense ....
It lies with you, my fair lady.  Are you satisfied now?  Will you
have any more signs?  Shall the old Jewess blast those blue eyes
blind to show that she knows more than the heathen?'

'Oh, I believe you--I believe,' cried the poor exhausted maiden. 'I
will come; and yet--'

'Ah! yes!  You had better settle first how he shall appear.'

'As he wills!--let him only come! only let me know that he is a god.
Abamnon said that gods appeared in a clear, steady, unbearable
light, amid a choir of all the lesser deities, archangels,
principalities, and heroes, who derive their life from them.'

'Abamnon was an old fool, then.  Do you think young Phoebus ran
after Daphne with such a mob at his heels? or that Jove, when he
swam up to Leda, headed a whole Nile-flock of ducks, and plover, and
curlews?  No, he shall come alone--to you alone; and then you may
choose for yourself between Cassandra and Clytia .... Farewell.  Do
not forget your wafers, or the agate either, and talk with no one
between now and sunset.  And then--my pretty lady!'

And laughing to herself, the old hag glided from the room.

Hypatia sat trembling with shame and dread.  She, as a disciple of
the more purely spiritualistic school of Porphyry, had always looked
with aversion, with all but contempt, on those theurgic arts which
were so much lauded and employed by Iamblicus, Abamnon, and those
who clung lovingly to the old priestly rites of Egypt and Chaldaea.
They had seemed to her vulgar toys, tricks of legerdemain, suited
only for the wonder of the mob ....  She began to think of them with
more favour now.  How did she know that the vulgar did not require
signs and wonders to make them believe? ....  How, indeed? for did
she not want such herself?  And she opened Abamnon's famous letter
to Porphyry, and read earnestly over, for the twentieth time, his
subtle justification of magic, and felt it to be unanswerable.
Magic?  What was not magical?  The whole universe, from the planets
over her head to the meanest pebble at her feet, was utterly
mysterious, ineffable, miraculous, influencing and influenced by
affinities and repulsions as unexpected, as unfathomable, as those
which, as Abamnon said, drew the gods towards those sounds, those
objects, which, either in form, or colour, or chemical properties,
were symbolic of, or akin to, themselves.  What wonder in it, after
all?  Was not love and hatred, sympathy and antipathy, the law of
the universe?  Philosophers, when they gave mechanical explanations
of natural phenomena, came no nearer to the real solution of them.
The mysterious 'Why?' remained untouched ....  All their analyses
could only darken with big words the plain fact that the water hated
the oil with which it refused to mix, the lime loved the acid which
it eagerly received into itself, and, like a lover, grew warm with
the rapture of affection.  Why not?  What right had we to deny
sensation, emotion, to them, any more than to ourselves?  Was not
the same universal spirit stirring in them as in us?  And was it not
by virtue of that spirit that we thought, and felt, and loved?--Then
why not they, as well as we?  If the one spirit permeated all
things, if its all-energising presence linked the flower with the
crystal as well as with the demon and the god, must it not link
together also the two extremes of the great chain of being? bind
even the nameless One itself to the smallest creature which bore its
creative impress?  What greater miracle in the attraction of a god
or an angel, by material incense, symbols, and spells, than in the
attraction of one soul to another by the material sounds of the
human voice?  Was the affinity between spirit and matter implied in
that, more miraculous than the affinity between the soul and the
body?--than the retention of that soul within that body by the
breathing of material air, the eating of material food?  Or even, if
the physicists were right, and the soul were but a material product
or energy of the nerves, and the sole law of the universe the laws
of matter, then was not magic even more probable, more rational?
Was it not fair by every analogy to suppose that there might be
other, higher beings than ourselves, obedient to those laws, and
therefore possible to be attracted, even as human beings were, by
the baits of material sights and sounds? ....  If spirit pervaded
all things, then was magic probable; if nothing but matter had
existence, magic was morally certain.  All that remained in either
case was the test of experience ....  And had not that test been
applied in every age, and asserted to succeed?  What more rational,
more philosophic action than to try herself those methods and
ceremonies which she was assured on every hand had never failed but
through the ignorance or unfitness of the neophyte? ....  Abamnon
must be right ....  She dared not think him wrong; for if this last
hope failed, what was there left but to eat and drink, for to-morrow
we die?



CHAPTER XXVI: MIRIAM'S PLOT


He who has worshipped a woman, even against his will and conscience,
knows well how storm may follow storm, and earthquake earthquake,
before his idol be utterly overthrown.  And so Philammon found that
evening, as he sat pondering over the strange chances of the day;
for, as he pondered, his old feelings towards Hypatia began, in
spite of the struggles of his conscience and reason, to revive
within him.  Not only pure love of her great loveliness, the
righteous instinct which bids us welcome and honour beauty, whether
in man or woman, as something of real worth--divine, heavenly, ay,
though we know not how, in a most deep sense eternal; which makes
our reason give the lie to all merely logical and sentimental
maunderings of moralists about 'the fleeting hues of this our
painted clay'; telling men, as the old Hebrew Scriptures tell them,
that physical beauty is the deepest of all spiritual symbols; and
that though beauty without discretion be the jewel of gold in the
swine's snout, yet the jewel of gold it is still, the sacrament of
an inward beauty, which ought to be, perhaps hereafter may be,
fulfilled in spirit and in truth.  Not only this, which whispered to
him--and who shall say that the whisper was of the earth, or of the
lower world?--'She is too beautiful to be utterly evil'; but the
very defect in her creed which he had just discovered, drew him
towards her again.  She had no Gospel for the Magdalene, because she
was a Pagan ....  That, then, was the fault of her Paganism, not of
herself.  She felt for Pelagia. but even if she had not, was not
that, too, the fault of her Paganism?  And for that Paganism who was
to be blamed?  She? ....  Was he the man to affirm that?  Had he not
seen scandals, stupidities, brutalities, enough to shake even his
faith, educated a Christian?  How much more excuse for her, more
delicate, more acute, more lofty than he; the child, too of a
heathen father?  Her perfections, were they not her own?--her
defects, those of her circumstances? ....  And had she not welcomed
him, guarded him, taught him, honoured him? ....  Could he turn
against her? above all now in her distress--perhaps her danger?  Was
he not bound to her, if by nothing else, by gratitude?  Was not he,
of all men, bound to believe that all she required to make her
perfect was conversion to the true faith? ....  And that first dream
of converting her arose almost as bright as ever ....  Then he was
checked by the thought of his first utter failure ....  At least, if
he could not convert her, he could love her, pray for her ....  No,
he could not even do that; for to whom could he pray?  He had to
repent, to be forgiven, to humble himself by penitence, perhaps for
years, ere he could hope to be heard even for himself, much less for
another ....  And so backwards and forwards swayed his hope and
purpose, till he was roused from his meditation by the voice of the
little porter summoning him to his evening meal; and recollecting,
for the first time, that he had tasted no food that day, he went
down, half-unwillingly, and ate.

But as he, the porter, and his negro wife were sitting silently and
sadly enough together, Miriam came in, apparently in high good
humour, and lingered a moment on her way to her own apartments
upstairs.

'Eh?  At supper?  And nothing but lentils and water-melons, when the
flesh-pots of Egypt have been famous any time these two thousand
years.  Ah! but times are changed since then!  ....  You have worn
out the old Hebrew hints, you miserable Gentiles, you, and got a
Caesar instead of a Joseph!  Hist, you hussies!' cried she to the
girls upstairs, clapping her hands loudly. 'Here! bring us down one
of those roast chickens, and a bottle of the wine of wines--the wine
with the green seal, you careless daughters of Midian, you, with
your wits running on the men, I'll warrant, every minute I've been
out of the house! Ah, you'll smart for it some day--you'll smart for
it some day, you daughters of Adam's first wife!'

Down came, by the hands of one of the Syrian slave-girls, the fowl
and the wine.

'There, now; we'll all sup together.  Wine, that maketh glad the
heart of man!--Youth, you were a monk once, so you have read all
about that, eh? and about the best wine which goes down sweetly,
causing the lips of them that are asleep to speak.  And rare wine it
was, I warrant, which the blessed Solomon had in his little country
cellar up there in Lebanon.  We'll try if this is not a very fair
substitute for it, though.  Come, my little man-monkey, drink, and
forget your sorrow!  You shall be temple-sweeper to Beelzebub yet, I
promise you.  Look at it there, creaming and curdling, the darling!
purring like a cat at the very thought of touching human lips! As
sweet as honey, as strong as fire, as clear as amber!  Drink, ye
children of Gehenna; and make good use of the little time that is
left you between this and the unquenchable fire!'

And tossing a cup of it down her own throat, as if it had been
water, she watched her companions with a meaning look, as they
drank.

The little porter followed her example gallantly.  Philammon looked,
and longed, and sipped blushingly and bashfully, and tried to fancy
that he did not care for it; and sipped again, being willing enough
to forget his sorrow also for a moment; the negress refused with
fear and trembling--'She had a vow on her.'

'Satan possess you and your vow!  Drink, you coal out of Tophet!  Do
you think it is poisoned?  You, the only creature in the world that
I should not enjoy ill-using, because every one else ill-uses you
already without my help!  Drink, I say, or I'll turn you pea-green
from head to foot!'


The negress put the cup to her lips, and contrived, for her own
reasons, to spill the contents unobserved.

'A very fine lecture that of the Lady Hypatia's the other morning,
on Helen's nepenthe,' quoth the little porter, growing philosophic
as the wine-fumes rose. 'Such a power of extracting the cold water
of philosophy out of the bottomless pit of Mythus, I never did hear.
Did you ever, my Philammonidion?'

'Aha! she and I were talking about that half an hour ago,' said
Miriam.

'What! have you seen her?' asked Philammon, with a flutter of the
heart.

'If you mean, did she mention you,--why, then, yes!'

'How?--how?'

'Talked of a young Phoebus Apollo--without mentioning names,
certainly, but in the most sensible, and practical, and hopeful way-
-the wisest speech that I have heard from her this twelvemonth.'

Philammon blushed scarlet.

'And that,' thought he, in spite of what passed this morning!--Why'
what is the matter with our host?'

'He has taken Solomon's advice, and forgotten his sorrow.'

And so, indeed, he had; for he was sleeping sweetly, with open lack-
lustre eyes, and a maudlin smile at the ceiling; while the negress,
with her head fallen on her chest, seemed equally unconscious of
their presence.

'We'll see,' quoth Miriam; and taking up the lamp, she held the
flame unceremoniously to the arm of each of them; but neither winced
nor stirred.

'Surely your wine is not drugged?' said Philammon, in trepidation.

'Why not?  What has made them beasts, may make us angels.  You seem
none the less lively for it!  Do I?'

'But drugged wine?'

'Why not?  The same who made wine made poppy-juice.  Both will make
man happy.  Why not use both?'

'It is poison!'

'It is the nepenthe, as I told Hypatia, whereof she was twaddling
mysticism this morning.  Drink, child, drink!  I have no mind to put
you to sleep to-night!  I want to make a man of you, or rather, to
see whether you are one!'

And she drained another cup, and then went on, half talking to
herself--

'Ay, it is poison; and music is poison; and woman is poison,
according to the new creed, Pagan and Christian; and wine will be
poison, and meat will be poison, some day; and we shall have a world
full of mad Nebuchadnezzars, eating grass like oxen.  It is
poisonous, and brutal, and devilish, to be a man, and not a monk,
and an eunuch, and a dry branch.  You are all in the same lie,
Christians and philosophers, Cyril and Hypatia!  Don't interrupt me,
but drink, young fool!--Ay, and the only man who keeps his manhood,
the only man who is not ashamed to be what God has made him, is your
Jew.  You will find yourselves in want of him after all, some day,
you besotted Gentiles, to bring you back to common sense and common
manhood.--In want of him and his grand old books, which you despise
while you make idols of them, about Abraham, and Jacob, and Moses,
and David, and Solomon, whom you call saints, you miserable
hypocrites, though they did what you are too dainty to do, and had
their wives and their children, and thanked God for a beautiful
woman, as Adam did before them, and their sons do after them--Drink,
I say--and believed that God had really made the world, and not the
devil, and had given them the lordship over it, as you will find out
to your cost some day.'

Philammon heard, and could not answer; and on she rambled.

'And music, too?  Our priests were not afraid of sackbut and
psaltery, dulcimer and trumpet, in the house of the Lord; for they
knew who had given them the cunning to make them.  Our prophets were
not afraid of calling for music, when they wished to prophesy, and
letting it soften and raise their souls, and open and quicken them
till they saw into the inner harmony of things, and beheld the
future in the present; for they knew who made the melody and
harmony, and made them the outward symbols of the inward song which
runs through sun and stars, storm and tempest, fulfilling his word--
in that these sham philosophers the heathen are wiser than those
Christian monks.  Try it!--try it!  Come with me!  Leave these
sleepers here, and come to my rooms.  You long to be as wise as
Solomon.  Then get at wisdom as Solomon did, and give your heart
first to know folly and madness ....  You have read the Book of the
Preacher?'

Poor Philammon!  He was no longer master of himself.  The arguments
--the wine--the terrible spell of the old woman's voice and eye, and
the strong overpowering will which showed out through them, dragged
him along in spite of himself.  As if in a dream, he followed her up
the stairs.

'There, throw away that stupid, ugly, shapeless philosopher's cloak.
So!  You have on the white tunic I gave you?  And now you look as a
human being should.  And you have been to the baths to-day?  Well--
you have the comfort of feeling now like other people, and having
that alabaster skin as white as it was created, instead of being
tanned like a brute's hide.  Drink, I say! Ay--what was that face,
that figure, made for?  Bring a mirror here, hussy!  There, look in
that and judge for yourself?  Were those lips rounded for nothing?
Why were those eyes set in your head, and made to sparkle bright as
jewels, sweet as mountain honey?  Why were those curls laid ready
for soft fingers to twine themselves among them, and look all the
whiter among the glossy black knots?  Judge for yourself!'

Alas! poor Philammon!

'And after all,' thought he, 'is it not true, as well as pleasant?'

'Sing to the poor boy, girls!--sing to him! and teach him for the
first time in his little ignorant life, the old road to
inspiration!'

One of the slave-girls sat down on the divan, and took up a double
flute; while the other rose, and accompanying the plaintive dreamy
air with a slow dance, and delicate twinklings of her silver armlets
and anklets, and the sistrum which she held aloft, she floated
gracefully round and round the floor and sang--

    Why were we born but for bliss?
    Why are we ripe, but to fall?
  Dream not that duty can bar thee from beauty,
  Like water and sunshine, the heirloom of all.

    Lips were made only to kiss;
    Hands were made only to toy;
  Eyes were made only to lure on the lonely,
  The longing, the loving, and drown them in joy!

Alas, for poor Philammon! And yet no!  The very poison brought with
it its own anti-dote; and, shaking off by one strong effort of will
the spell of the music and the wine, he sprang to his feet....

'Never!  If love means no more than that--if it is to be a mere
delicate self-indulgence, worse than the brute's, because it
requires the prostration of nobler faculties, and a selfishness the
more huge in proportion to the greatness of the soul which is
crushed inward by it--then I will have none of it!  I have had my
dream--yes! but it was of one who should be at once my teacher and
my pupil, my debtor and my queen--who should lean on me, and yet
support me--supply my defects, although with lesser light, as the
old moon fills up the circle of the new--labour with me side by side
in some great work--rising with me for ever as I rose: and this is
the base substitute!  Never!'

Whether or not this was unconsciously forced into words by the
vehemence of his passion, or whether the old Jewess heard, or
pretended to hear, a footstep coming up the stair, she at all events
sprang instantly to her feet.

'Hist!  Silence, girls!  I hear a visitor.  What mad maiden has come
to beg a love-charm of the poor old witch at this time of night?  Or
have the Christian bloodhounds tracked the old lioness of Judah to
her den at last?  We'll see!'

And she drew a dagger from her girdle, and stepped boldly to the
door.  As she went out she turned--

'So! my brave young Apollo!  You do not admire simple woman?  You
must have something more learned and intellectual and spiritual, and
so forth.  I wonder whether Eve, when she came to Adam in the
garden, brought with her a certificate of proficiency in the seven
sciences?  Well, well--like must after like.  Perhaps we shall be
able to suit you after all.  Vanish, daughters of Midian!'

The girls vanished accordingly, whispering and laughing; and
Philammon found himself alone.  Although he was somewhat soothed by
the old woman's last speech, yet a sense of terror, of danger, of
coming temptation, kept him standing sternly on his feet, looking
warily round the chamber, lest a fresh siren should emerge from
behind some curtain or heap of pillows.

On one side of the room he perceived a doorway, filled by a curtain
of gauze, from behind which came the sound of whispering voices.
His fear, growing with the general excitement of his mind, rose into
anger as he began to suspect some snare; and he faced round towards
the curtain, and stood like a wild beast at bay, ready, with
uplifted arm, for all evil spirits, male or female.

'And he will show himself?  How shall I accost him?' whispered a
well-known voice--could it be Hypatia's?  And then the guttural
Hebrew accent of the old woman answered-

'As you spoke of him this morning--'

'Oh!  I will tell him all, and he must--he must have mercy!  But
he?--so awful, so glorious!--'

What the answer was, he could not hear but the next moment a sweet
heavy scent, as of narcotic gums, filled the room--mutterings of
incantations--and then a blaze of light, in which the curtain
vanished, and disclosed to his astonished eyes, enveloped in a glory
of luminous smoke, the hag standing by a tripod, and, kneeling by
her, Hypatia herself, robed in pure white, glittering with diamonds
and gold, her lips parted, her head thrown back, her arms stretched
out in an agony of expectation.

In an instant, before he had time to stir, she had sprung through
the blaze, and was kneeling at his feet.

'Phoebus! beautiful, glorious, ever young!  Hear me! only a moment!
only this once!'

Her drapery had caught fire from the tripod, but she did not heed
it.  Philammon instinctively clasped her in his arms, and crushed it
out, as she cried--

'Have mercy on me!  Tell me the secret!  I will obey thee!  I have
no self--I am thy slave!  Kill me, if thou wilt: but speak!'

The blaze sank into a soft, warm, mellow gleam, and beyond it what
appeared?

The negro-woman, with one finger upon her lips, as with an
imploring, all but despairing look, she held up to him her little
crucifix.

He saw it.  What thoughts flashed through him, like the lightning
bolt, at that blessed sign of infinite self-sacrifice, I say not;
let those who know it judge for themselves.  But in another instant
he had spurned from him the poor deluded maiden, whose idolatrous
ecstasies he saw instantly were not meant for himself, and rushed
desperately across the room, looking for an outlet.

He found a door in the darkness--a room-a window--and in another
moment he had leapt twenty feet into the street, rolled over,
bruised and bleeding, rose again like an Antaeus, with new strength,
and darted off towards the archbishop's house.

And poor Hypatia lay half senseless on the floor, with the Jewess
watching her bitter tears--not merely of disappointment, but of
utter shame. For as Philammon fled she had recognised those well-
known features; and the veil was lifted from her eyes, and the hope
and the self-respect of Theon's daughter were gone for ever.

Her righteous wrath was too deep for upbraidings.  Slowly she rose;
returned into the inner room; wrapped her cloak deliberately around
her; and went silently away, with one look at the Jewess of solemn
scorn and defiance.

'Ah!  I can afford a few sulky looks to-night!' said the old woman
to herself, with a smile, as she picked up from the floor the prize
for which she had been plotting so long--Raphael's half of the black
agate.

'I wonder whether she will miss it!  Perhaps she will have no fancy
for its company any longer, now that she has discovered what over-
palpable archangels appear when she rubs it.  But if she does try to
recover it .... why--let her try her strength with mine--or, rather,
with a Christian mob.'

And then, drawing from her bosom the other half of the talisman, she
fitted the two pieces together again and again, fingering them over,
and poring upon them with tear-brimming eyes, till she had satisfied
herself that the fracture still fitted exactly; while she murmured
to herself from time to time--'Oh, that he were here!  Oh, that he
would return now--now!  It may be too late to-morrow!  Stay--I will
go and consult the teraph; it may know where he is....'

And she departed to her incantations; while Hypatia threw herself
upon her bed at home, and filled the chamber with a long, low
wailing, as of a child in pain, until the dreary dawn broke on her
shame and her despair.  And then she rose, and rousing herself for
one great effort, calmly prepared a last oration, in which she
intended to bid farewell for ever to Alexandria and to the schools.

Philammon meanwhile was striding desperately up the main street
which led towards the Serapeium.  But he was not destined to arrive
there as soon as he had hoped to do. For ere he had gone half a
mile, behold a crowd advancing towards him blocking up the whole
street.

The mass seemed endless.  Thousands of torches flared above their
heads, and from the heart of the procession rose a solemn chant, in
which Philammon soon recognised a well-known Catholic hymn.  He was
half minded to turn up some by-street, and escape meeting them.  But
on attempting to do so, he found every avenue which he tried
similarly blocked up by a tributary stream of people; and, almost
ere he was aware, was entangled in the vanguard of the great column.

'Let me pass!'cried he in a voice of entreaty.

'Pass, thou heathen?'

In vain he protested his Christianity.

'Origenist, Donatist, heretic!  Whither should a good Catholic be
going to-night, save to the Caesareum?'

'My friends, my friends, I have no business at the Caesareum!' cried
he, in utter despair. 'I am on my way to seek a private interview
with the patriarch, on matters of importance.'

'Oh, liar! who pretends to be known to the patriarch, and yet is
ignorant that this night he visits at the Caesareum the most sacred
corpse of the martyr Ammonius!'

'What!  Is Cyril with you?'

'He and all his clergy.'

'Better so; better in public,' said Philammon to himself; and,
turning, he joined the crowd.

Onward, with chant and dirge, they swept out through the Sun-gate,
upon the harbour esplanade, and wheeled to the right along the quay,
while the torchlight bathed in a red glare the great front of the
Caesareum, and the tall obelisks before it, and the masts of the
thousand ships which lay in the harbour on their left; and last, but
not least, before the huge dim mass of the palace which bounded the
esplanade in front, a long line of glittering helmets and cuirasses,
behind a barrier of cables which stretched from the shore to the
corner of the museum.

There was a sudden halt; a low ominous growl; and then the mob
pressed onward from behind, surged up almost to the barrier.  The
soldiers dropped the points of their lances, and stood firm.  Again
the mob recoiled; again surged forward. Fierce cries arose; some of
the boldest stooped to pick up stones: but, luckily, the pavement
was too firm for them....Another moment, and the whole soldiery of
Alexandria would have been fighting for life and death against fifty
thousand Christians....

But Cyril had not forgotten his generalship.  Reckless as that
night's events proved him to be about arousing the passions of his
subjects, he was yet far too wary to risk the odium and the danger
of a night attack, which, even if successful, would have cost the
lives of hundreds.  He knew well enough the numbers and the courage
of the enemy, and the certainty that, in case of a collision, no
quarter would be given or accepted on either side ....  Beside, if a
battle must take place--and that, of course, must happen sooner or
later--it must not happen in his presence and under his sanction.
He was in the right now, and Orestes in the wrong; and in the right
he would keep--at least till his express to Byzantium should have
returned, and Orestes was either proscribed or superseded.  So
looking forward to some such chance as this, the wary prelate had
schooled his aides-de-camp, the deacons of the city, and went on his
way up the steps of the Caesareum, knowing that they could be
trusted to keep the peace outside.

And they did their work well.  Before a blow had been struck, or
even an insult passed on either side, they had burst through the
front rank of the mob, and by stout threats of excommunication,
enjoined not only peace, but absolute silence until the sacred
ceremony which was about to take place should be completed; and
enforced their commands by marching up and down like sentries
between the hostile ranks for the next weary two hours, till the
very soldiers broke out into expressions of admiration, and the
tribune of the cohort, who ad no great objection, but also no great
wish, fight, paid them a high-flown compliment on their laudable
endeavours to maintain public order, and received the somewhat
ambiguous reply, that the 'weapons of their warfare were not carnal,
that they wrestled not against flesh and blood, but against
principalities and powers,' .... an answer which the tribune, being
now somewhat sleepy, thought it best to leave unexplained.

In the meanwhile, there had passed up the steps of the Temple a
gorgeous line of priests, among whom glittered, more gorgeous than
all, the stately figure of the pontiff.  They were followed close by
thousands of monks, not only from Alexandria and Nitria, but from
all the adjoining towns and monasteries.  And as Philammon, unable
for some half hour more to force his way into the church, watched
their endless stream, he could well believe the boast which he had
so often heard in Alexandria, that one half of the population of
Egypt was at that moment in 'religious orders.'

After the monks, the laity began to enter but even then so vast was
the crowd, and so dense the crush upon the steps, that before he
could force his way into the church, Cyril's sermon had begun.
...............

--'What went ye out for to see?  A man clothed in soft raiment?
Nay, such are in kings' palaces, and in the palaces of prefects who
would needs be emperors, and cast away the Lord's bonds from them--
of whom it is written, that He that sitteth in the heavens laugheth
them to scorn, and taketh the wicked in their own snare, and maketh
the devices of princes of none effect.  Ay, in king's palaces, and
in theatres too, where the rich of this world, poor in faith, deny
their covenant, and defile their baptismal robes that they may do
honour to the devourers of the earth.  Woe to them who think that
they may partake of the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils.  Woe
to them who will praise with the same mouth Aphrodite the fiend, and
her of whom it is written that He was born of a pure Virgin.  Let
such be excommunicate from the cup of the Lord, and from the
congregation of the Lord, till they have purged away their sins by
penance and by almsgiving.  But for you, ye poor of this world, rich
in faith, you whom the rich despise, hale before the judgment seats,
and blaspheme that holy name whereby ye are called--what went ye out
into the wilderness to see?  A prophet?--Ay, and more than a
prophet--a martyr!  More than a prophet, more than a king, more than
a prefect whose theatre was the sands of the desert, whose throne
was the cross, whose crown was bestowed, not by heathen philosophers
and daughters of Satan, deceiving men with the works of their
fathers, but by angels and archangels; a crown of glory, the
victor's laurel, which grows for ever in the paradise of the highest
heaven.  Call him no more Ammonius, call him Thaumasius, wonderful!
Wonderful in his poverty, wonderful in his zeal, wonderful in his
faith, wonderful in his fortitude, wonderful in his death, most
wonderful in the manner of that death.  Oh thrice blessed, who has
merited the honour of the cross itself!  What can follow, but that
one so honoured in the flesh should also be honoured in the life
which he now lives, and that from the virtue of these thrice-holy
limbs the leper should be cleansed, the dumb should speak, the very
dead be raised?  Yes; it were impiety to doubt it.  Consecrated by
the cross, this flesh shall not only rest in hope but work in power.
Approach, and be healed! Approach, and see the glory of the saints,
the glory of the poor.  Approach, and learn that that which man
despises, God hath highly esteemed; that that which man rejects, God
accepts; that that which man punishes, God rewards.  Approach, and
see how God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound
the wise, and the weak things of this world to confound the strong.
Man abhors the cross: The Son of God condescended to endure it!  Man
tramples on the poor: The Son of God hath not where to lay His head.
Man passes by the sick as useless: The Son of God chooses them to be
partakers of His sufferings, that the glory of God may be made
manifest in them.  Man curses the publican, while he employs him to
fill his coffers with the plunder of the poor: The Son of God calls
him from the receipt of custom to be an apostle, higher than the
kings of the earth.  Man casts away the harlot like a faded flower,
when he has tempted her to become the slave of sin for a season; and
the Son of God calls her, the defiled, the despised, the forsaken,
to Himself, accepts her tears, blesses her offering, and declares
that her sins are forgiven, for she hath loved much; while to whom
little is forgiven the same loveth little....'

Philammon heard no more.  With the passionate and impulsive nature
of a Greek fanatic, he burst forward through the crowd, towards the
steps which led to the choir, and above which, in front of the
altar, stood the corpse of Ammonius, enclosed in a coffin of glass,
beneath a gorgeous canopy; and never stopping till he found himself
in front of Cyril's pulpit, he threw himself upon his face upon the
pavement, spread out his arms in the form of a cross, and lay silent
and motionless before the feet of the multitude.

There was a sudden whisper and rustle in the congregation: but
Cyril, after a moment's pause, went on--

'Man, in his pride and self-sufficiency, despises humiliation, and
penance, and the broken and the contrite heart; and tells thee that
only as long as thou doest well unto thyself will he speak well of
thee: the Son of God says that he that humbleth himself, even as
this our penitent brother, he it is who shall be exalted.  He it is
of whom it is written that his father saw him afar off, and ran to
meet him, and bade put the best robe on him, and a ring on his hand,
and shoes on his feet, and make merry and be glad with the choir of
angels who rejoice over one sinner that repenteth.  Arise, my son,
whoso-ever thou art; and go in peace for this night, remembering
that he who said, "My belly cleaveth unto the pavement," hath also
said, "Rejoice not against me, Satan, mine enemy, for when I fall I
shall arise!"'

A thunder-clap of applause, surely as pardonable as any an
Alexandrian church ever heard, followed this dexterous, and yet most
righteous, turn of the patriarch's oratory: but Philammon raised
himself slowly and fearfully to his knees, and blushing scarlet
endured the gaze of ten thousand eyes.

Suddenly, from beside the pulpit, an old man sprang forward, and
clasped him round the neck.  It was Arsenius.

'My son! my son!' sobbed he, almost aloud.

'Slave, as well as son, if you will!' whispered Philammon. 'One boon
from the patriarch; and then home to the Laura for ever!'

'Oh, twice-blest night,' rolled on above the deep rich voice of
Cyril, 'which beholds at once the coronation of a martyr and the
conversion of a sinner; which increases at the same time the ranks
of the church triumphant, and of the church militant; and pierces
celestial essences with a twofold rapture of thanksgiving, as they
welcome on high a victorious, and on earth a repentant, brother!'

And at a sign from Cyril, Peter the Reader stepped forward, and led
away, gently enough, the two weepers, who were welcomed as they
passed by the blessings, and prayers, and tears even of those fierce
fanatics of Nitria.  Nay, Peter himself, as he turned to leave them
together in the sacristy, held out his hand to Philammon.

'I ask your forgiveness,' said the poor boy, who plunged eagerly and
with a sort of delight into any and every self-abasement.

'And I accord it,' quoth Peter; and returned to the church, looking,
and probably feeling, in a far more pleasant mood than usual.



CHAPTER XXVII: THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN


About ten o'clock the next morning, as Hypatia, worn out with
sleepless sorrow, was trying to arrange her thoughts for the
farewell lecture, her favourite maid announced that a messenger from
Synesius waited below.  A letter from Synesius?  A gleam of hope
flashed across her mind. From him, surely, might come something of
comfort, of advice.  Ah! if he only knew how sorely she was bested!

'Let him send up his letter.'

'He refuses to deliver it to any one but yourself.  And I think,'--
added the damsel, who had, to tell the truth, at that moment in her
purse a substantial reason for so thinking--'I think it might be
worth your ladyship's while to see him.'

Hypatia shook her head impatiently.

'He seems to know you well, madam, though he refuses to tell his
name: but he bade me put you in mind of a black agate--I cannot tell
what he meant--of a black agate, and a spirit which was to appear
when you rubbed it.'

Hypatia turned pale as death.  Was it Philammon again?  She felt for
the talisman--it was gone!  She must have lost it last night in
Miriam's chamber.  Now she saw the true purpose of the old hag's
plot--....deceived, tricked, doubly tricked! And what new plot was
this?

'Tell him to leave the letter, and begone ....  My father?  What?
Who is this?  Who are you bringing to me at such a moment?'

And as she spoke, Theon ushered into the chamber no other than
Raphael Aben-Ezra, and then retired.

He advanced slowly towards her, and falling on one knee, placed in
her hand Synesius's letter.

Hypatia trembled from head to foot at the unexpected apparition ....
Well; at least he could know nothing of last night and its disgrace.
But not daring to look him in the face, she took the letter and
opened it ....  If she had hoped for comfort from it, her hope was
not realised.

'Synesius to the Philosopher:

'Even if Fortune cannot take from me all things, yet what she can
take she will.  And yet of two things, at least, she shall not rob
me--to prefer that which is best, and to succour the oppressed.
Heaven forbid that she should overpower my judgment, as well as the
rest of me!  Therefore I do hate injustice; for that I can do: and
my will is to stop it; but the power to do so is among the things of
which she has bereaved me-before, too, she bereaved me of my
children....

'"Once, in old times, Milesian men were strong."

And there was a time when I, too, was a comfort to my friends, and
when you used to call me a blessing to every one except myself, as I
squandered for the benefit of others the favour with which the great
regarded me ....  My hands they were--then ....  But now I am left
desolate of all: unless you have any power. For you and virtue I
count among those good things, of which none can deprive me.  But
you always have power, and will have it, surely, now--using it as
nobly as you do.

'As for Nicaeus and Philolaus, two noble youths, and kinsmen of my
own, let it be the business of all who honour you, both private men
and magistrates, to see that they return possessors of their just
rights.' [Footnote: An authentic letter of Synesius to Hypatia.]

'Of all who honour me!' said she, with a bitter sigh: and then
looked up quickly at Raphael, as if fearful of having betrayed
herself.  She turned deadly pale.  In his eyes was a look of solemn
pity, which told her that he knew--not all?--surely not all?

'Have you seen the--Miriam?' gasped she, rushing desperately at that
which she most dreaded.

'Not yet.  I arrived but one hour ago; and Hypatia's welfare is
still more important to me than my own.'

'My welfare?  It is gone!'

'So much the better.  I never found mine till I lost it.'

'What do you mean?'

Raphael lingered, yet without withdrawing his gaze, as if he had
something of importance to say, which he longed and yet feared to
utter.  At last--

'At least, you will confess that I am better drest than when we met
last.  I have returned, you see, like a certain demoniac of Gadara,
about whom we used to argue, clothed--and perhaps also in my right
mind ....  God knows!'

'Raphael! are you come here to mock me?  You know--you cannot have
been here an hour without knowing--that but yesterday I dreamed of
being'--and she drooped her eyes--'an empress; that to-day I am
ruined; to-morrow, perhaps, proscribed.  Have you no speech for me
but your old sarcasms and ambiguities?'

Raphael stood silent and motionless.

'Why do you not speak?  What is the meaning of this sad, earnest
look, so different from your former self? ....  You have something
strange to tell me!'

'I have,' said he, speaking very slowly.  'What--what would Hypatia
answer if, after all, Aben-Ezra said like the dying Julian, "The
Galilean has conquered"?'

'Julian never said it!  It is a monkish calumny.'

'But I say it.'

'Impossible!'

'I say it!'

'As your dying speech?  The true Raphael Aben-Ezra, then, lives no
more!'

'But he may be born again.'

'And die to philosophy, that he may be born again into barbaric
superstition!  Oh worthy metempsychosis!  Farewell, sir!'  And she
rose to go.

'Hear me!--hear me patiently this once, noble, beloved Hypatia!  One
more sneer of yours, and I may become again the same case-hardened
fiend which you knew me of old--to all, at least, but you.  Oh, do
not think me ungrateful, forgetful!  What do I not owe to you, whose
pure and lofty words alone kept smouldering in me the dim
remembrance that there was a Right, a Truth, an unseen world of
spirits, after whose pattern man should aspire to live?'

She paused, and listened in wonder.  What faith had she of her own?
She would at least hear what he had found....

'Hypatia, I am older than you--wiser than you, if wisdom be the
fruit of the tree of knowledge.  You know but one side of the medal,
Hypatia, and the fairer; I have seen its reverse as well as its
obverse.  Through every form of human thought, of human action, of
human sin and folly, have I been wandering for years, and found no
rest--as little in wisdom as in folly, in spiritual dreams as in
sensual brutality.  I could not rest in your Platonism--I will tell
you why hereafter.  I went on to Stoicism, Epicurism, Cynicism,
Scepticism, and in that lowest deep I found a lower depth, when I
became sceptical of Scepticism itself.'

'There is a lower deep still,' thought Hypatia to herself, as she
recollected last night's magic; but she did not speak.

'Then in utter abasement, I confessed myself lower than the brutes,
who had a law, and obeyed it, while I was my own lawless God, devil,
harpy, whirlwind ....  I needed even my own dog to awaken in me the
brute consciousness of my own existence, or of anything without
myself.  I took her, the dog, for my teacher, and obeyed her, for
she was wiser than I.  And she led me back--the poor dumb beast--
like a God-sent and God-obeying angel, to human nature, to mercy, to
self-sacrifice, to belief, to worship--to pure and wedded love.'

Hypatia started ....  And in the struggle to hide her own
bewilderment, answered almost without knowing it--

'Wedded love? ....  Wedded love?  Is that, then, the paltry bait by
which Raphael Aben-Ezra has been tempted to desert philosophy?'

'Thank Heaven!' said Raphael to himself.  'She does not care for me,
then!  If she had, pride would have kept her from that sneer.'  Yes,
my dear lady,' answered he aloud, 'to desert philosophy, to search
after wisdom; because wisdom itself had sought for me, and found me.
But, indeed, I had hoped that you would have approved of my
following your example for once in my life, and resolving, like you,
to enter into the estate of wedlock.'

'Do not sneer at me!' cried she, in her turn, looking up at him with
shame and horror, which made him repent of uttering the words.  'If
you do not know--you will soon, too soon!  Never mention that
hateful dream to me, if you wish to have speech of me more!'

A pang of remorse shot through Raphael's heart.  Who but he himself
had plotted that evil marriage?  But she gave him no opportunity of
answering her, and went on hurriedly--

'Speak to me rather about yourself.  What is this strange and sudden
betrothal?  What has it to do with Christianity?  I had thought that
it was rather by the glories of celibacy--gross and superstitious as
their notions of it are--that the Galileans tempted their converts.'

'So had I, my dearest lady,' answered he, as, glad to turn the
subject for a moment, and perhaps a little nettled by her
contemptuous tone, he resumed something of his old arch and careless
manner.  'But--there is no accounting for man's agreeable
inconsistencies--one morning I found myself, to my astonishment,
seized by two bishops, and betrothed, whether I chose or not, to a
young lady who but a few days before had been destined for a
nunnery.'

'Two bishops?'

'I speak simple truth.  The one was Synesius of course;--that most
incoherent and most benevolent of busybodies chose to betray me
behind my back:-but I will not trouble you with that part of my
story.  The real wonder is that the other episcopal match-maker was
Augustine of Hippo himself!'

'Anything to bribe a convert,' said Hypatia contemptuously.

'I assure you, no.  He informed me, and her also, openly and
uncivilly enough, that he thought us very much to be pitied for so
great a fall ....  But as we neither of us seemed to have any call
for the higher life of celibacy, he could not press it on us ....
We should have trouble in the flesh.  But if we married we had not
sinned.  To which I answered that my humility was quite content to
sit in the very lowest ranks, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ....
He replied by an encomium on virginity, in which I seemed to hear
again the voice of Hypatia herself.'

'And sneered at it inwardly, as you used to sneer at me.'

'Really I was in no sneering mood at that moment; and whatsoever I
may have felt inclined to reply, he was kind enough to say for me
and himself the next minute.'

'What do you mean?'

'He went on, to my utter astonishment, by such a eulogium on wedlock
as I never heard from Jew or heathen, and ended by advice to young
married folk so thoroughly excellent and to the point, that I could
not help telling him, when he stopped; what a pity I thought it that
he had not himself married, and made some good woman happy by
putting his own recipes into practice ....  And at that, Hypatia, I
saw an expression on his face which made me wish for the moment that
I had bitten out this impudent tongue of mine, before I so rashly
touched some deep old wound ....  That man has wept bitter tears ere
now, be sure of it ....  But he turned the conversation instantly,
like a well-bred gentleman as he is, by saying, with the sweetest
smile, that though he had made it a solemn rule never to be a party
to making up any marriage, yet in our case Heaven had so plainly
pointed us out for each other, etc. etc., that he could not refuse
himself the pleasure .... and ended by a blessing as kindly as ever
came from the lips of man.'

'You seem wonderfully taken with the sophist of Hippo,' said Hypatia
impatiently; 'and forget, perhaps, that his opinions, especially
when, as you confess, they are utterly inconsistent with themselves,
are not quite as important to me as they seem to have become to
you.'

'Whether he be consistent or not about marriage,' said Raphael,
somewhat proudly, 'I care little.  I went to him to tell me, not
about the relation of the sexes, on which point I am probably as
good a judge as he--but about God and on that subject he told me
enough to bring me back to Alexandria, that I might undo, if
possible, somewhat of the wrong which I have done to Hypatia.'

'What wrong have you done me? ....  You are silent?  Be sure, at
least, that whatsoever it may be, you will not wipe it out by trying
to
make a proselyte of me!'

'Be not too sure of that.  I have found too great a treasure not to
wish to share it with Theon's daughter.'

'A treasure?' said she, half scornfully.

'Yes, indeed.  You recollect my last words, when we parted there
below a few months ago?'

Hypatia was silent.  One terrible possibility at which he had hinted
flashed across her memory for the first time since; .... but she
spurned proudly from her the heaven-sent warning.

'I told you that, like Diogenes, I went forth to seek a man.  Did I
not promise you, that when I had found one you should be the first
to hear of him?  And I have found a man.'

Hypatia waved her beautiful hand.  'I know whom you would say ....
that crucified one.  Be it so.  I want not a man, but a god.'

'What sort of a god, Hypatia?  A god made up of our own intellectual
notions, or rather of negations of them--of infinity and eternity,
and invisibility, and impassibility--and why not of immortality,
too, Hypatia?  For I recollect we used to agree that it was a carnal
degrading of the Supreme One to predicate of Him so merely human a
thing as virtue.'

Hypatia was silent.

'Now I have always had a sort of fancy that what we wanted, as the
first predicate of our Absolute One, was that He was to be not
merely an infinite God--whatever that meant, which I suspect we did
not always see quite clearly--or an eternal one--or an omnipotent
one--or even merely a one God at all; none of which predicates, I
fear, did we understand more clearly than the first: but that he
must be a righteous God:--or rather, as we used sometimes to say
that He was to have no predicate--Righteousness itself.  And all
along, I could not help remembering that my old sacred Hebrew books
told me of such a one; and feeling that they might have something to
tell me which--'

'Which I did not tell you! And this, then, caused your air of
reserve, and of sly superiority over the woman whom you mocked by
calling her your pupil!  I little suspected you of so truly Jewish a
jealousy!  Why, oh why, did you not tell me this?'

'Because I was a beast, Hypatia; and had all but forgotten what this
righteousness was like; and was afraid to find out lest it should
condemn me.  Because I was a devil, Hypatia; and hated
righteousness, and neither wished to see you righteous, nor God
righteous either, because then you would both have been unlike
myself.  God be merciful to me a sinner!'

She looked up in his face.  The man was changed as if by miracle--
and yet not changed.  There was the same gallant consciousness of
power, the same subtle and humorous twinkle in those strong ripe
Jewish features and those glittering eyes; and yet every line in his
face was softened, sweetened; the mask of sneering faineance was
gone--imploring tenderness and earnestness beamed from his whole
countenance.  The chrysalis case had fallen off, and disclosed the
butterfly within.  She sat looking at him, and passed her hand
across her eyes, as if to try whether the apparition would not
vanish.  He, the subtle!--he, the mocker!--he, the Lucian of
Alexandria!--he whose depth and power had awed her, even in his most
polluted days ....  And this was the end of him....

'It is a freak of cowardly superstition ....  Those Christians have
been frightening him about his sins and their Tartarus.'

She looked again into his bright, clear, fearless face, and was
ashamed of her own calumny.  And this was the end of him--of
Synesius--of Augustine--of learned and unlearned, Goth and Roman
....  The great flood would have its way, then ....  Could she alone
fight against it?

She could!  Would she submit?--She?  Her will should stand firm, her
reason free, to the last--to the death if need be ....  And yet last
night!--last night!

At last she spoke, without looking up.

'And what if you have found a man in that crucified one?  Have you
found in him a God also?'

'Does Hypatia recollect Glaucon's definition of the perfectly
righteous man? ....  How, without being guilty of one unrighteous
act, he must labour his life long under the imputation of being
utterly unrighteous, in order that his disinterestedness may be
thoroughly tested, and by proceeding in such a course, arrive
inevitably, as Glaucon says, not only in Athens of old, or in Judaea
of old, but, as you yourself will agree, in Christian Alexandria at
this moment, at--do you remember, Hypatia?--bonds, and the scourge,
and lastly, at the cross itself ....  If Plato's idea of the
righteous man be a crucified one, why may not mine also?  If, as we
both--and old Bishop Clemens, too--as good a Platonist as we,
remember--and Augustine himself, would agree, Plato in speaking
those strange words, spoke not of himself, but by the Spirit of God,
why should not others have spoken by the same Spirit when they spoke
the same words?'

'A crucified man ....  Yes.  But a crucified God, Raphael!  I
shudder at the blasphemy.'

'So do my poor dear fellow-countrymen.  Are they the more righteous
in their daily doings, Hypatia, on account of their fancied
reverence for the glory of One who probably knows best how to
preserve and manifest His own glory?  But you assent to the
definition?  Take care!' said he, with one of his arch smiles, 'I
have been fighting with Augustine, and have become of late a
terrible dialectician.  Do you assent to it?'

'Of course--it is Plato's.'

'But do you assent merely because it is written in the book called
Plato's, or because your reason tells you that it is true? ....  You
will not tell me.  Tell me this, then, at least.  Is not the
perfectly righteous man the highest specimen of men?'

'Surely,' said she half carelessly: but not unwilling, like a
philosopher and a Greek, as a matter of course, to embark in
anything like a word-battle, and to shut out sadder thoughts for a
moment.

'Then must not the Autanthropos, the archetypal and ideal man, who
is more perfect than any individual specimen, be perfectly righteous
also?'

'Yes.'

'Suppose, then, for the sake of one of those pleasant old games of
ours, an argument, that he wished to manifest his righteousness to
the world ....  The only method for him, according to Plato, would
be Glaucon's, of calumny and persecution, the scourge and the
cross?'

'What words are these, Raphael?  Material scourges and crosses for
an eternal and spiritual idea?'

'Did you ever yet, Hypatia, consider at leisure what the archetype
of man might be like?'

Hypatia started, as at a new thought, and confessed--as every Neo--
Platonist would have done--that she had never done so.

'And yet our master, Plato, bade us believe that there was a
substantial archetype of each thing, from a flower to a nation,
eternal in the heavens.  Perhaps we have not been faithful
Platonists enough heretofore, my dearest tutor.  Perhaps, being
philosophers, and somewhat of Pharisees to boot, we began all our
lucubrations as we did our prayers, by thanking God that we were not
as other men were; and so misread another passage in the _Republic_,
which we used in pleasant old days to be fond of quoting.'

'What was that?' asked Hypatia, who became more and more interested
every moment.

'That philosophers were men.'

'Are you mocking me?  Plato defines the philosopher as the man who
seeks after the objects of knowledge, while others seek after those
of opinion.'

'And most truly.  But what if, in our eagerness to assert that
wherein the philosopher differed from other men, we had overlooked
that in which he resembled other men; and so forgot that, after all,
man was a genus whereof the philosopher was only a species?'

Hypatia sighed.

'Do you not think, then, that as the greater contains the less, and
the archetype of the genus that of the species, we should have been
wiser if we had speculated a little more on the archetype of man as
man, before we meddled with a part of that archetype,--the archetype
of the philosopher? ....  Certainly it would have been the easier
course, for there are more men than philosophers, Hypatia; and every
man is a real man, and a fair subject for examination, while every
philosopher is not a real philosopher--our friends the Academics,
for instance, and even a Neo-Platonist or two whom we know?  You
seem impatient.  Shall I cease?'

'You mistook the cause of my impatience,' answered she, looking up
at him with her great sad eyes.  'Go on.'

'Now--for I am going to be terribly scholastic--is it not the very
definition of man, that he is, alone of all known things, a spirit
temporarily united to an animal body?'

'Enchanted in it, as in a dungeon, rather,' said she sighing.

'Be it so if you will.  But--must we not say that the archetype--the
very man--that if he is the archetype, he too will be, or must have
been, once at least, temporarily enchanted into an animal body? ....
You are silent.  I will not press you ....  Only ask you to consider
at your leisure whether Plato may not justify somewhat from the
charge of absurdity the fisherman of Galilee, where he said that He
in whose image man is made was made flesh, and dwelt with him bodily
there by the lake-side at Tiberias, and that he beheld His Glory,
the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father.'

'That last question is a very different one.  God made flesh!  My
reason revolts at it.'

'Old Homer's reason did not.'

Hypatia started, for she recollected her yesterday's cravings after
those old, palpable, and human deities.  And--'Go on,' she cried
eagerly.

'Tell me, then--This archetype of man, if it exists anywhere, it
must exist eternally in the mind of God?  At least, Plato would have
so said?'

'Yes.'

'And derive its existence immediately from Him?'

'Yes.'

'But a man is one willing person, unlike to all others.'

'Yes.'

'Then this archetype must be such.'

'I suppose so.'

'But possessing the faculties and properties of all men in their
highest perfection.'

'Of course.'

'How sweetly and obediently my late teacher becomes my pupil!'

Hypatia looked at him with her eyes full of tears.

'I never taught you anything, Raphael.'

'You taught me most, beloved lady, when you least thought of it.
But tell me one thing more.  Is it not the property of every man to
be a son?  For you can conceive of a man as not being a father, but
not as not being a son.'

'Be it so.'

'Then this archetype must be a son also.'

'Whose son, Raphael?'

'Why not of "Zeus, father of gods and men"?  For we agreed that it--
we will call it he, now, having agreed that it is a person--could
owe its existence to none but God Himself.'

'And what then?' said Hypatia, fixing those glorious eyes full on
his face, in an agony of doubt, but yet, as Raphael declared to his
dying day, of hope and joy.

'Well, Hypatia, and must not a son be of the same species as his
father?  "Eagles," says the poet, "do not beget doves."  Is the word
son anything but an empty and false metaphor, unless the son be the
perfect and equal likeness of his father?'

'Heroes beget sons worse than themselves, says the poet.'

'We are not talking now of men as they are, whom Homer's Zeus calls
the most wretched of all the beasts of the field; we are talking--
are we not?--of a perfect and archetypal Son, and a perfect and
archetypal Father, in a perfect and eternal world, wherein is
neither growth, decay, nor change; and of a perfect and archetypal
generation, of which the only definition can be, that like begets
its perfect like? ....  You are silent.  Be so, Hypatia ....  We
have gone up too far into the abysses....

And so they both were silent for a while.  And Raphael thought
solemn thoughts about Victoria, and about ancient signs of Isaiah's,
which were to him none the less prophecies concerning The Man whom
he had found, because he prayed and trusted that the same signs
might be repeated to himself, and a child given to him also, as a
token that, in spite of all his baseness, 'God was with him.'

But he was a Jew, and a man: Hypatia was a Greek, and a woman--and
for that matter, so were the men of her school.  To her, the
relations and duties of common humanity shone with none of the awful
and divine meaning which they did in the eyes of the converted Jew,
awakened for the first time in his life to know the meaning of his
own scriptures, and become an Israelite indeed.  And Raphael's
dialectic, too, though it might silence her, could not convince her.
Her creed, like those of her fellow-philosophers, was one of the
fancy and the religious sentiment, rather than of the reason and the
moral sense.  All the brilliant cloud-world in which she had
revelled for years,--cosmogonies, emanations, affinities,
symbolisms, hierarchies, abysses, eternities, and the rest of it--
though she could not rest in them, not even believe in, them--though
they had vanished into thin air at her most utter need,--yet--they
were too pretty to be lost sight of for ever; and, struggling
against the growing conviction of her reason, she answered at last--

'And you would have me give up, as you seem to have done, the
sublime, the beautiful, the heavenly, for a dry and barren chain of
dialectic--in which, for aught I know,--for after all, Raphael, I
cannot cope with you--I am a woman--a weak woman!'

And she covered her face with her hands.

'For aught you know, what?' asked Raphael gently.

'You may have made the worse appear the better reason.'

'So said Aristophanes of Socrates.  But hear me once more, beloved
Hypatia.  You refuse to give up the beautiful, the sublime, the
heavenly?  What if Raphael Aben-Ezra, at least, had never found them
till now?  Recollect what I said just now--what if our old
Beautiful, and Sublime, and Heavenly, had been the sheerest
materialism, notions spun by our own brains out of the impressions
of pleasant things, and high things, and low things, and awful
things, which we had seen with our bodily eyes?  What if I had
discovered that the spiritual is not the intellectual, but the
moral; and that the spiritual world is not, as we used to make it, a
world of our own intellectual abstractions, or of our own physical
emotions, religious or other, but a world of righteous or
unrighteous persons?  What if I had discovered that one law of the
spiritual world, in which all others were contained, was
righteousness; and that disharmony with that law, which we called
unspirituality, was not being vulgar, or clumsy, or ill-taught, or
unimaginative, or dull, but simply being unrighteous?  What if I had
discovered that righteousness, and it alone, was the beautiful
righteousness, the sublime, the heavenly, the Godlike--ay, God
Himself?  And what if it had dawned on me, as by a great sunrise,
what that righteousness was like?  What if I had seen a human being,
a woman, too, a young weak girl, showing forth the glory and the
beauty of God?  Showing me that the beautiful was to mingle
unshrinking, for duty's sake, with all that is most foul and
loathsome; that the sublime was to stoop to the most menial offices,
the most outwardly-degrading self-denials; that to be heavenly was
to know that the commonest relations, the most vulgar duties, of
earth, were God's commands, and only to be performed aright by the
help of the same spirit by which He rules the Universe; that
righteousness was to love, to help, to suffer for--if need be, to
die for--those who, in themselves, seem fitted to arouse no feelings
except indignation and disgust?  What if, for the first time, I
trust not for the last time, in my life, I saw this vision; and at
the sight of it my eyes were opened, and I knew it for the likeness
and the glory of God?  What if I, a Platonist, like John of Galilee,
and Paul of Tarsus, yet, like them, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, had
confessed to myself--If the creature can love thus, how much more
its archetype?  If weak woman can endure thus, how much more a Son
of God?  If for the good of others, man has strength to sacrifice
himself in part, God will have strength to sacrifice Himself
utterly.  If He has not done it, He will do it: or He will be less
beautiful, less sublime, less heavenly, less righteous than my poor
conception of Him, ay, than this weak playful girl!  Why should I
not believe those who tell me that He has done it already?  What if
their evidence be, after all, only probability?  I do not want
mathematical demonstration to prove to me that when a child was in
danger his father saved him--neither do I here.  My reason, my
heart, every faculty of me, except this stupid sensuous experience,
which I find deceiving me every moment, which cannot even prove to
me my own existence, accepts that story of Calvary as the most
natural, most probable, most necessary of earthly events, assuming
only that God is a righteous Person, and not some dream of an all-
pervading necessary spirit-nonsense which, in its very terms,
confesses its own materialism.'

Hypatia answered with a forced smile.

'Raphael Aben-Ezra has deserted the method of the severe
dialectician for that of the eloquent lover.'

'Not altogether,' said he, smiling in return. 'For suppose that I
had said to myself, We Platonists agree that the sight of God is the
highest good.'

Hypatia once more shuddered at last night's recollections.

'And if He be righteous, and righteousness be--as I know it to be--
identical with love, then He will desire that highest good for men
far more than they can desire it for themselves ....  Then He will
desire to show Himself and His own righteousness to them ....  Will
you make answer, dearest Hypatia, or shall I? ....or does your
silence give consent?  At least let me go on to say this, that if
God do desire to show His righteousness to men, His only perfect
method, according to Plato, will be that of calumny, persecution,
the scourge, and the cross, that so He, like Glaucon's righteous
man, may remain for ever free from any suspicion of selfish
interest, or weakness of endurance ....  Am I deserting the
dialectic method now, Hypatia? ....  You are still silent?  You will
not hear me, I see ....  At some future day, the philosopher may
condescend to lend a kinder ear to the words of her greatest debtor
....  Or, rather, she may condescend to hear, in her own heart, the
voice of that Archetypal Man, who has been loving her, guiding her,
heaping her with every perfection of body and of mind, inspiring her
with all pure and noble longings, and only asks of her to listen to
her own reason, her own philosophy, when they proclaim Him as the
giver of them, and to impart them freely and humbly, as He has
imparted them to her, to the poor, and the brutish, and the sinful,
whom He loves as well as He loves her .... Farewell!'

'Stay!' said she, springing up: 'whither are you going?'

'To do a little good before I die, having done much evil.  To farm,
plant, and build, and rescue a little corner of Ormuzd's earth, as
the Persians would say, out of the dominion of Ahriman.  To fight
Ausurian robbers, feed Thracian mercenaries, save a few widows from
starvation, and a few orphans from slavery ....  Perhaps to leave
behind me a son of David's line, who will be a better Jew, because a
better Christian, than his father ....  We shall have trouble in the
flesh, Augustine tells us ....  But, as I answered him, I really
have had so little thereof yet, that my fair share may probably be
rather a useful education than otherwise. Farewell!'

'Stay!' said she.  'Come again!--again! And her ....  Bring her ....
I must see her!  She must be noble, indeed, to be worthy of you.'

'She is many a hundred miles away.'

'Ah!  Perhaps she might have taught something to me--me, the
philosopher!  You need not have feared me ....  I have no heart to
make converts now ....  Oh, Raphael Aben-Ezra, why break the bruised
reed?  My plans are scattered to the winds, my pupils worthless, my
fair name tarnished, my conscience heavy with the thought of my own
cruelty ....  If you do not know all, you will know it but too soon
....  My last hope, Synesius, implores for himself the hope which I
need from him....And, over and above it all ....  You! ....  Et tu,
Brute!  Why not fold my mantle round me, like Julius of old, and
die!'

Raphael stood looking sadly at her, as her whole face sank into
utter prostration.
...............

'Yes--come ....  The Galilaean ....  If He conquers strong men, can
the weak maid resist Him?  Come soon ....  This afternoon ....  My
heart is breaking fast.'

'At the eighth hour this afternoon?'

'Yes ....  At noon I lecture .... take my farewell, rather, for ever
of the schools....Gods!  What have I to say? ....  And tell me about
Him of Nazareth. Farewell!'

'Farewell, beloved lady! At the ninth hour, you shall hear of Him of
Nazareth.'

Why did his own words sound to him strangely pregnant, all but
ominous?  He almost fancied that not he, but some third person had
spoken them.  He kissed Hypatia's hand, it was as cold as ice; and
his heart, too, in spite of all his bliss, felt cold and heavy, as
he left the room.

As he went down the steps into the street, a young man sprang from
behind one of the pillars, and seized his arm.

'Aha! my young Coryphaeus of pious plunderers!  What do you want
with me?'

Philammon, for it was he, looked at him an instant, and recognised
him.

'Save her! for the love of God, save her!'

'Whom?'

'Hypatia!'

'How long has her salvation been important to you, my good friend?'

'For God's sake,' said Philammon, 'go back and warn her!  She will
hear you--you are rich--you used to be her friend--I know you--I
have heard of you ....  Oh, if you ever cared for her--if you ever
felt for her a thousandth part of what I feel--go in and warn her
not to stir from home!'

'I must hear more of this,' said Raphael, who saw that the boy was
in earnest. 'Come in with me, and speak to her father.'

'No! not in that house!  Never in that house again!  Do not ask me
why: but go yourself.  She will not hear me.  Did you--did you
prevent her from listening?'

'What do you mean?'

'I have been here--ages!  I sent a note in by her maid, and she
returned no answer.'

Raphael recollected then, for the first time, a note which he had
seen brought to her during the conversation.

'I saw her receive a note.  She tossed it away.  Tell me your story.
If there is reason in it, I will bear your message myself.  Of what
is she to be warned?'

'Of a plot--I know that there is a plot--against her among the monks
and Parabolani.  As I lay in bed this morning in Arsenius's room--
they thought I was asleep--'

'Arsenius?  Has that venerable fanatic, then, gone the way of all
monastic flesh, and turned persecutor?'

'God forbid!  I heard him beseeching Peter the Reader to refrain
from something, I cannot tell what; but I caught her name ....  I
heard Peter say, "She that hindereth will hinder till she be taken
out of the way."  And when he went out into the passage I heard him
say to another, "That thou doest, do quickly! ...."'

'These are slender grounds, my friend.'

'Ah, you do not know of what those men are capable!'

'Do I not?  Where did you and I meet last?'

Philammon blushed and burst forth again.  'That was enough for me.
I know the hatred which they bear her, the crimes which they
attribute to her.  Her house would have been attacked last night had
it not been for Cyril ....  And I knew Peter's tone.  He spoke too
gently and softly not to mean something devilish.  I watched all the
morning for an opportunity of escape, and here I am!--Will you take
my message, or see her--'

'What?'

'God only knows, and the devil whom they worship instead of God.'

Raphael hurried back into the house--'Could he see Hypatia?'  She
had shut herself up in her private room, strictly commanding that no
visitor should be admitted .... 'Where was Theon, then?'  He had
gone out by the canal gate half an hour before, with a bundle of
mathematical papers under his arm, no one knew whither ....
'Imbecile old idiot!' and he hastily wrote on his tablet-

'Do not despise the young monk's warning.  I believe him to speak
the truth.  As you love yourself and your father, Hypatia, stir not
out to-day.'

He bribed a maid to take the message upstairs; and passed his time
in the hall in warning the servants.  But they would not believe
him.  It was true the shops were shut in some quarters, and the
Museum gardens empty; people were a little frightened after
yesterday.  But Cyril, they had heard for certain, had threatened
excommunication only last night to any Christian who broke the
peace; and there had not been a monk to be seen in the streets the
whole morning.  And as for any harm happening to their mistress--
impossible! 'The very wild beasts would not tear her,' said the huge
negro porter, 'if she was thrown into the amphitheatre.'

--Whereat a maid boxed his ears for talking of such a thing; and
then, by way of mending it, declared that she knew for certain that
her mistress could turn aside the lightning, and call legions of
spirits to fight for her with a nod ....  What was to be done with
such idolaters?  And yet who could help liking them the better for
it?

At last the answer came down, in the old graceful, studied, self-
conscious handwriting.

'It is a strange way of persuading me to your new faith, to bid me
beware, on the very first day of your preaching, of the wickedness
of those who believe it.  I thank you: but your affection for me
makes you timorous.  I dread nothing.  They will not dare.  Did they
dare now, they would have dared long ago.  As for that youth--to
obey or to believe his word, even to seem aware of his existence,
were shame to me henceforth.  Because he is insolent enough to warn
me therefore I will go. Fear not for me.  You would not wish me, for
the first time in my life, to fear for myself.  I must follow my
destiny.  I must speak the words which I have to speak.  Above all,
I must let no Christian say, that the philosopher dared less than
the fanatic.  If my Gods are Gods, then will they protect me: and if
not, let your God prove His rule as seems to Him good.'

Raphael tore the letter to fragments ....  The guards, at least,
were not gone mad like the rest of the world.  It wanted half an
hour of the time of her lecture.  In the interval he might summon
force enough to crush all Alexandria.  And turning suddenly, he
darted out of the room and out of the house.

'Quem Deus vult perdere-!' cried he to Philammon, with a gesture of
grief.  'Stay here and stop her!--make a last appeal!  Drag the
horses' heads down, if you can!  I will be back in ten minutes.'
And he ran off for the nearest gate of the Museum gardens.

On the other side of the gardens lay the courtyard of the palace.
There were gates in plenty communicating between them.  If he could
but see Orestes, even alarm the guard in time! ....

And he hurried through the walks and alcoves, now deserted by the
fearful citizens, to the nearest gate.  It was fast, and barricaded
firmly on the outside.

Terrified, he ran on to the next; it was barred also.  He saw the
reason in a moment, and maddened as he saw it.  The guards, careless
about the Museum, or reasonably fearing no danger from the
Alexandrian populace to the glory and wonder of their city, or
perhaps wishing wisely enough to concentrate their forces in the
narrowest space, had contented themselves with cutting off all
communication with the gardens, and so converting the lofty
partition-wall into the outer enceinte of their marble citadel.  At
all events, the doors leading from the Museum itself might be open.
He knew them every one, every hall, passage, statue, picture, almost
every book in that vast treasure-house of ancient civilisation.  He
found an entrance; hurried through well-known corridors to a postern
through which he and Orestes had lounged a hundred times, their lips
full of bad words, their hearts of worse thoughts, gathered in those
records of the fair wickedness of old ....  It was fast.  He beat
upon it but no one answered.  He rushed on and tried another.  No
one answered there.  Another--still silence and despair! ....  He
rushed upstairs, hoping that from the windows above he might be able
to call to the guard.  The prudent soldiers had locked and
barricaded the entrances to the upper floors of the whole right
wing, lest the palace court should be commanded from thence.
Whither now?  Back--and whither then?  Back, round endless
galleries, vaulted halls, staircases, doorways, some fast, some
open, up and down, trying this way and that, losing himself at
whiles in that enormous silent labyrinth.  And his breath failed
him, his throat was parched, his face burned as with the simoom
wind, his legs were trembling under him.  His presence of mind,
usually so perfect, failed him utterly.  He was baffled, netted;
there was a spell upon him.  Was it a dream?  Was it all one of
those hideous nightmares of endless pillars beyond pillars, stairs
above stairs, rooms within rooms, changing, shifting, lengthening
out for ever and for ever before the dreamer, narrowing, closing in
on him, choking him?  Was it a dream?  Was he doomed to wander for
ever and for ever in some palace of the dead, to expiate the sin
which he had learnt and done therein?  His brain, for the first time
in his life, began to reel.  He could recollect nothing but that
something dreadful was to happen--and that he had to prevent it, and
could not ....  Where was he now?  In a little by-chamber ....  He
had talked with her there a hundred times, looking out over the
Pharos and the blue Mediterranean ....  What was that roar below?  A
sea of weltering yelling heads, thousands on thousands, down to the
very beach; and from their innumerable throats one mighty war-cry--
'God, and the mother of God!'  Cyril's hounds were loose ....  He
reeled from the window, and darted frantically away again ....
whither, he knew not, and never knew until his dying day.

And Philammon? ....  Sufficient for the chapter, as for the day, is
the evil thereof.



CHAPTER XXVIII: WOMAN'S LOVE


Pelagia had passed that night alone in sleepless sorrow, which was
not diminished by her finding herself the next morning palpably a
prisoner in her own house.  Her girls told her that they had orders
--they would not say from whom--to prevent her leaving her own
apartments.  And though some of them made the announcement with
sighs and tears of condolence, yet more than one, she could see, was
well inclined to make her feel that her power was over, and that
there were others besides herself who might aspire to the honour of
reigning favourite.

What matter to her?  Whispers, sneers, and saucy answers fell on her
ear unheeded.  She had one idol, and she had lost it; one power, and
it had failed her.  In the heaven above, and in the earth beneath,
was neither peace, nor help, nor hope; nothing but black, blank,
stupid terror and despair.  The little weak infant soul, which had
just awakened in her, had been crushed and stunned in its very
birth-hour; and instinctively she crept away to the roof of the
tower where her apartments were, to sit and weep alone.

There she sat, hour after hour, beneath the shade of the large
windsail, which served in all Alexandrian houses the double purpose
of a shelter from the sun and a ventilator for the rooms below; and
her eye roved carelessly over that endless sea of roofs and towers,
and masts, and glittering canals, and gliding boats; but she saw
none of them--nothing but one beloved face, lost, lost for ever.

At last a low whistle roused her from her dream.  She looked up.
Across the narrow lane, from one of the embrasures of the opposite
house-parapet bright eyes were peering at her.  She moved angrily to
escape them.

The whistle was repeated, and a head rose cautiously above the
parapet ....  It was Miriam's.  Casting a careful look around,
Pelagia went forward.  What could the old woman want with her?

Miriam made interrogative signs, which Pelagia understood as asking
her whether she was alone; and the moment that an answer in the
negative was returned, Miriam rose, tossed over to her feet a letter
weighted with a pebble, and then vanished again.

'I have watched here all day!  They refused me admittance below.
Beware of Wulf, of every one.  Do not stir from your chamber.  There
is a plot to carry you off to-night, and give you up to your brother
the monk; you are betrayed; be brave!'

Pelagia read it with blanching cheek and staring eyes; and took, at
least, the last part of Miriam's advice. For walking down the stair,
she passed proudly through her own rooms, and commanding back the
girls who would have stayed her, with a voice and gesture at which
they quailed, went straight down, the letter in her hand, to the
apartment where the Amal usually spent his mid-day hours.

As she approached the door, she heard loud voices within ....
His!--yes; but Wulf's also.  Her heart failed her, and she stopped
a moment to listen ....  She heard Hypatia's name; and mad with
curiosity, crouched down at the lock, and hearkened to every word.

'She will not accept me, Wulf.'

'If she will not, she shall go farther and fare worse.  Besides, I
tell you, she is hard run.  It is her last chance, and she will jump
at it.  The Christians are mad with her; if a storm blows up, her
life is not worth--that!'

'It is a pity that we have not brought her hither already.'

'It is; but we could not.  We must not break with Orestes till the
palace is in our hands.'

'And will it ever be in our hands, friend?'

'Certain.  We were round at every picquet last night, and the very
notion of an Amal's heading them made them so eager, that we had
to bribe them to be quiet rather than to rise.'

'Odin!  I wish I were among them now!'

'Wait till the city rises.  If the day pass over without a riot, I
know nothing.  The treasure is all on board, is it not?'

'Yes, and the galleys ready.  I have been working like a horse at
them all the morning, as you would let me do nothing else.  And
Goderic will not be back from the palace, you say, till nightfall!'

'If we are attacked first, we are to throw up a fire signal to him,
and he is to come off hither with what Goths he can muster.  If the
palace is attacked first, he is to give us the signal, and we are to
pack up and row round thither.  And in the meanwhile he is to make
that hound of a Greek prefect as drunk as he can.'

'The Greek will see him under the table.  He has drugs, I know, as
all these Roman rascals have, to sober him when he likes; and then
he sets to work and drinks again.  Send off old Smid, and let him
beat the armourer if he can.'

'A very good thought!' said Wulf, and came out instantly for the
purpose of putting it in practice.

Pelagia had just time to retreat into an adjoining doorway: but she
had heard enough; and as Wulf passed, she sprang to him and caught
him by the arm.

'Oh, come in hither!  Speak to me one moment; for mercy's sake speak
to me!' and she drew him, half against his will, into the chamber,
and throwing herself at his feet, broke out into a childlike wail.

Wulf stood silent, utterly discomfited by this unexpected
submission, where he had expected petulant and artful resistance.
He almost felt guilty and ashamed, as he looked down into that
beautiful imploring face, convulsed with simple sorrow, as of a
child for a broken toy.  ....  At last she spoke.

'Oh, what have I done-what have I done?  Why must you take him from
me?  What have I done but love him, honour him, worship him?  I know
you love him; and I love you for it.--I do indeed!  But you--what is
your love to mine?  Oh, I would die for him--be torn in pieces for
him--now, this moment! ....

Wulf was silent.

'What have I done but love him?  What could I wish but to make him
happy?  I was rich enough, praised, and petted; .... and then he
came, .... glorious as he is, like a god among men--among apes
rather--and I worshipped him: was I wrong in that?  I gave up all
for him: was I wrong in that?  I gave him myself: what could I do
more?  He condescended to like me--he the hero!  Could I help
submitting?  I loved him: could I help loving him?  Did I wrong him
in that?  Cruel, cruel Wulf! ....'

Wulf was forced to be stern, or he would have melted at once.

'And what was your love worth to him?  What has it done for him?  It
has made him a sot, an idler, a laughing-stock to these Greek dogs,
when he might have been their conqueror, their king. Foolish woman,
who cannot see that your love has been his bane, his ruin!  He, who
ought by now to have been sitting upon the throne of the Ptolemies,
the lord of all south of the Mediterranean--as he shall be still!'

Pelagia looked tip at him wide-eyed, as if her mind was taking in
slowly some vast new thought, under the weight of which it reeled
already.  Then she rose slowly.

'And he might be Emperor of Africa.'

'And be shall be; but not--'

'Not with me!' she almost shrieked. 'No! not with wretched,
ignorant, polluted me!  I see--oh God, I see it all! And this is why
you want him to marry her--her--'

She could not utter the dreaded name.

Wulf could not trust himself to speak; but he bowed his head in
acquiescence.
...............

'Yes--I will go--up into the desert--with Philammon--and you shall
never hear of me again.  And I will be a nun, and pray for him, that
he may be a great king, and conquer all the world.  You will tell
him why I went away, will you not?  Yes, I will go,--now, at once--'

She turned away hurriedly, as if to act upon her promise, and then
she sprang again to Wulf with a sudden shudder.

'I cannot, Wulf!--I cannot leave him!  I shall go mad if I do!  Do
not be angry;--I will promise anything--take any oath you like, if
you will only let me stay here.  Only as a slave--as anything--if I
may but look at him sometimes.  No--not even that--but to be tinder
the same roof with him, only--Oh, let me be but a slave in the
kitchen!  I will make over all I have to him--to you--to any one!
And you shall tell him that I am gone--dead, if you will.--Only let
me stay! And I will wear rags, and grind in the mill ....  Even that
will be delicious, to know that he is eating the bread which I have
made! And if I ever dare speak to him--even to come near hint--let
the steward hang me up by the wrists, and whip me, like the slave
which I deserve to be! ....And then shall I soon grow old and ugly
with grief, and--there will be no more danger then, dear Wulf, will
there, from this accursed face of mine?  Only promise me that, and--
There he is calling you!  Don't let him come in and see me!--I
cannot bear it!  Go to him, quick, and tell him all.--No, don't tell
him yet....'

And she sank down again on the floor, as Wulf went out murmuring to
himself--

'Poor child! poor child! well for thee this clay if thou wert dead,
and at the bottom of Hela!'

And Pelagia heard what he said.

Gradually, amid sobs and tears, and stormy confusion of impossible
hopes and projects, those words took root in her mind, and spread,
till they filled her whole heart and brain.

'Well for me if I were dead?'

And she rose slowly.

'Well for me if I were dead?  And why not?  Then it would indeed be
all settled.  There would be no more danger from poor little Pelagia
then....'

She went slowly, firmly, proudly, into the well-known chamber ....
She threw herself upon the bed, and covered the pillow with kisses.
Her eye fell on the Amal's sword, which hung across the bed's-head,
after the custom of Gothic warriors.  She seized it, and took it
down, shuddering.

'Yes! ....  Let it be with this, if it must be.  And it must be.  I
cannot bear it! Anything but shame!  To have fancied all my life--
vain fool that I was!--that every one loved and admired me, and to
find that they were despising me, hating me, all along!  Those
students at the lecture-room door told me I was despised.  The old
monk told me so--Fool that I was!  I forgot it next day!--For he--he
loved me still!--All--how could I believe them, till his own lips
had said it? ....  Intolerable! ....  And yet women as bad as I am
have been honoured--when they were dead.  What was that song which I
used to sing about Epicharis, who hung herself in the litter, and
Leaina, who bit out her tongue, lest the torture should drive them
to betray their lovers?  There used to be a statue of Leaina, they
say, at Athens,--a lioness without a tongue ....  And whenever I
sang the song, the theatre used to rise, and shout, and call them
noble and blessed ....  I never could tell why then; but I know
now!--I know now!  Perhaps they may call me noble, after all.  At
least, they may say "She was a--a--but she dare die for the man she
loved!" ....  Ay, but God despises me too, and elates me.  He will
send me to eternal fire.  Philammon said so--though he was my
brother.  The old monk said so--though he wept as he said it ....
The flames of hell for ever!  Oh, not for ever!  Great, dreadful
God!  Not for ever!  Indeed, I did not know!  No one taught me about
right and wrong, and I never knew that I had been baptized--Indeed,
I never knew! And it was so pleasant--so pleasant to be happy, and
praised, and loved, and to see happy faces round me.  How could I
help it?  The birds there who are singing in the darling, beloved
court--they do what they like, and Thou art not angry with them for
being happy! And Thou wilt not be more cruel to me than to them,
great God--for what did I know more than they?  Thou hast made the
beautiful sunshine, and the pleasant, pleasant world, and the
flowers, and the birds--Thou wilt not send me to burn for ever and
ever?  Will not a hundred years be punishment enough-or a thousand?
Oh God! is not this punishment enough already,--to have to leave
him, just as just as I am beginning to long to be good, and to be
worthy of him? ....  Oh, have mercy--mercy--mercy--and let me go
after I have been punished enough!  Why may I not turn into a bird,
or even a worm, and come back again out of that horrible place, to
see the sun shine, and the flowers grow once more?  Oh, am I not
punishing myself already?  Will not this help to atone? ....  Yes--I
will die!--and perhaps so God may pity me!'

And with trembling hands she drew the sword from its sheath and
covered the blade with kisses.

'Yes--on this sword--with which he won his battles.  That is right--
his to the last!  How keen and cold it looks!  Will it be very
painful? ....  No--I will not try the point, or my heart might fail
me.  I will fall on it at once: let it hurt me as it may, it will be
too late to draw back then.  And after all it is his sword--It will
not have the heart to torture me much.  And yet he struck me himself
this morning!'

And at that thought, a long wild cry of misery broke from her lips,
and rang through the house.  Hurriedly she fastened the sword
upright to the foot of the bed, and tore open her tunic ....  'Here
--under this widowed bosom, where his head will never lie again!
There are footsteps in the passage!  Quick, Pelagia!  Now--'

And she threw up her arms wildly, in act to fall....

'It is his step! And he will find me, and never know that it is for
him I die!'

The Amal tried the door.  It was fast.  With a single blow he burst
it open, and demanded--

'What was that shriek?  What is the meaning of this?  Pelagia!'

Pelagia, like a child caught playing with a forbidden toy, hid her
face in her hands and cowered down.

'What is it?' cried he, lifting her.

But she burst from his arms.

'No, no!--never more!  I am not worthy of you!  Let me die, wretch
that I am!  I can only drag you down.  You must be a king.  You must
marry her--the wise woman!'

'Hypatia!  She is dead!'

'Dead?' shrieked Pelagia.

'Murdered, an hour ago, by those Christian devils.'

Pelagia put her hands over her eyes, and burst into tears.  Were
they of pity or of joy? ....She did not ask herself; and we will not
ask her.

'Where is my sword?  Soul of Odin!  Why is it fastened here?'

'I was going to--Do not be angry! ....  They told me that I had
better die, and--

The Amal stood thunderstruck for a moment.

'Oh, do not strike me again!  Send me to the mill.  Kill me now with
your own hand! Anything but another blow!'

'A blow?--Noble woman!'cried the Amal, clasping her in his arms.

The storm was past; and Pelagia had been nestling to that beloved
heart, cooing like a happy dove, for many a minute before the Amal
aroused himself and her....

'Now!--quick!  We have not a moment to lose.  Up to the tower, where
you will be safe; and then to show these curs what comes of snarling
round the wild wolves' den!'



CHAPTER XXIX: NEMESIS


And was the Amal's news true, then?

Philammon saw Raphael rush across the street into the Museum
gardens.  His last words had been a command to stay where he was;
and the boy obeyed him.  The black porter who let Raphael out told
him somewhat insolently, that his mistress would see no one, and
receive no messages: but he had made up his mind: complained of the
sun, quietly ensconced himself behind a buttress, and sat coiled up
on the pavement, ready for a desperate spring.  The slave stared at
him: but he was accustomed to the vagaries of philosophers; and
thanking the gods that he was not born in that station of life,
retired to his porter's cell, and forgot the whole matter.

There Philammon awaited a full half-hour.  It seemed to him hours,
days, years.  And yet Raphael did not return: and yet no guards
appeared.  Was the strange Jew a traitor?  Impossible!--his face had
shown a desperate earnestness of terror as intense as Philammon's
own ....  Yet why did he not return?

Perhaps he had found out that the streets were clear; their mutual
fears groundless ....  What meant that black knot of men some two
hundred yards off, hanging about the mouth of the side street, just
opposite the door which led to her lecture-room?  He moved to watch
them: they had vanished.  He lay down again and waited ....  There
they were again.  It was a suspicious post.  That street ran along
the back of the Caesareum, a favourite haunt of monks, communicating
by innumerable entries and back buildings with the great Church
itself ....  And yet, why should there not be a knot of monks there?
What more common in every street of Alexandria?  He tried to laugh
away his own fears.  And yet they ripened, by the very intensity of
thinking on them, into certainty.  He knew that something terrible
was at hand.  More than once he looked out from his hiding-place--
the knot of men were still there; .... it seemed to have increased,
to draw nearer.  If they found him, what would they not suspect?
What did he care?  He would die for her, if it came to that--not
that it could come to that: but still he must speak to her--he must
warn her.  Passenger after passenger, carriage after carriage passed
along the street: student after student entered the lecture-room;
but he never saw them, not though they passed him close.  The sun
rose higher and higher, and turned his whole blaze upon the corner
where Philammon crouched, till the pavement scorched like hot iron,
and his eyes were dazzled by the blinding glare: but he never heeded
it.  His whole heart, and sense, and sight, were riveted upon that
well-known door, expecting it to open....

At last a curricle, glittering with silver, rattled round the corner
and stopped opposite him.  She must becoming now.  The crowd had
vanished.  Perhaps it was, after all, a fancy of his own.  No; there
they were, peeping round the corner, close to the lecture-room--the
hell-hounds! A slave brought out an embroidered cushion--and then
Hypatia herself came forth, looking more glorious than ever; her
lips set in a sad firm smile; her eyes uplifted, inquiring, eager,
and yet gentle, dimmed by some great inward awe, as if her soul was
far away aloft, and face to face with God.

In a moment he sprang up to her, caught her robe convulsively, threw
himself on his knees before her--

'Stop!  Stay!  You are going to destruction!'

Calmly she looked down upon him.

'Accomplice of witches!  Would you make of Theon's daughter a
traitor like yourself?'

He sprang up, stepped back, and stood stupefied with shame and
despair....

She believed him guilty, then! ....  It was the will of God!

The plumes of the horses were waving far down the street before he
recovered himself, and rushed after her, shouting he knew not what.

It was too late! A dark wave of men rushed from the ambuscade,
surged up round the car .... swept forward .... she had disappeared!
and as Philammon followed breathless, the horses galloped past him
madly homeward with the empty carriage.

Whither were they dragging her?  To the Caesareum, the Church of God
Himself?  Impossible!  Why thither of all places of the earth?  Why
did the mob, increasing momentarily by hundreds, pour down upon the
beach, and return brandishing flints, shells, fragments of pottery?

She was upon the church steps before he caught them up, invisible
among the crowd; but he could track her by the fragments of her
dress.

Where were her gay pupils now?  Alas! they had barricaded themselves
shamefully in the Museum, at the first rush which swept her from the
door of the lecture-room.  Cowards! he would save her!

And he struggled in vain to pierce the dense mass of Parabolani and
monks, who, mingled with the fishwives and dock-workers, leaped and
yelled around their victim.  But what he could not do another and a
weaker did--even the little porter. Furiously--no one knew how or
whence--he burst up as if from the ground in the thickest of the
crowd, with knife, teeth, and nails, like a venomous wild-cat,
tearing his way towards his idol.  Alas! he was torn down himself,
rolled over the steps, and lay there half dead in an agony of
weeping, as Philammon sprang up past him into the church.

Yes.  On into the church itself!  Into the cool dim shadow, with its
fretted pillars, and lowering domes, and candles, and incense, and
blazing altar, and great pictures looking from the walls athwart the
gorgeous gloom.  And right in front, above the altar, the colossal
Christ watching unmoved from off the wall, His right hand raised to
give a blessing--or a curse?

On, up the nave, fresh shreds of her dress strewing the holy
pavement--up the chancel steps themselves--up to the altar--right
underneath the great still Christ: and there even those hell-hounds
paused.

She shook herself free from her tormentors, and springing back, rose
for one moment to her full height, naked, snow-white against the
dusky mass around--shame and indignation in those wide clear eyes,
but not a stain of fear.  With one hand she clasped her golden locks
around her; the other long white arm was stretched upward toward the
great still Christ appealing--and who dare say in vain?--from man to
God.  Her lips were opened to speak: but the words that should have
come from them reached God's ear alone; for in an instant Peter
struck her down, the dark mass closed over her again .... and then
wail on wail, long, wild, ear-piercing, rang along the vaulted
roofs, and thrilled like the trumpet of avenging angels through
Philammon's ears.

Crushed against a pillar, unable to move in the dense mass, he
pressed his hands over his ears.  He could not shut out those
shrieks!  When would they end?  What in the name of the God of mercy
were they doing?  Tearing her piecemeal?  Yes, and worse than that.
And still the shrieks rang on, and still the great Christ looked
down on Philammon with that calm, intolerable eye, and would not
turn away.  And over His head was written in the rainbow, 'I am the
same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever!'  The same as He was in Judea
of old, Philammon?  Then what are these, and in whose temple?  And
he covered his face with his hands, and longed to die.

It was over.  The shrieks had died away into moans; the moans to
silence.  How long had he been there?  An hour, or an eternity?
Thank God it was over!  For her sake--but for theirs?  But they
thought not of that as a new cry rose through the dome.

'To the Cinaron!  Burn the bones to ashes!  Scatter them into the
sea!'  And the mob poured past him again....

He turned to flee: but, once outside the church, he sank exhausted,
and lay upon the steps, watching with stupid horror the glaring of
the fire, and the mob who leaped and yelled like demons round their
Moloch sacrifice.

A hand grasped his arm; he looked up; it was the porter.

'And this, young butcher, is the Catholic and apostolic Church?'

'No!  Eudaimon, it is the church of the devils of hell!'  And
gathering himself up, he sat upon the steps and buried his head
within his hands.  He would have given life itself for the power of
weeping: but his eyes and brain were hot and dry as the desert.

Eudaimon looked at him a while.  The shock had sobered the poor fop
for once.

'I did what I could to die with her!' said he.

'I did what I could to save her!' answered Philammon.

'I know it. Forgive the words which I just spoke.  Did we not both
love her?'

And the little wretch sat down by Philammon's side, and as the blood
dripped from his wounds upon the pavement, broke out into a bitter
agony of human tears.

There are times when the very intensity of our misery is a boon, and
kindly stuns us till we are unable to torture ourselves by thought.
And so it was with Philammon then.  He sat there, he knew not how
long.

'She is with the gods,' said Eudaimon at last.

'She is with the God of gods,' answered Philammon: and they both
were silent again.

Suddenly a commanding voice aroused them.

They looked up, and saw before them Raphael Aben-Ezra.

He was pale as death, but calm as death.  One look into his face
told them that he knew all.

'Young monk,' he said, between his closed teeth, 'you seem to have
loved her?'

Philammon looked up, but could not speak.

'Then arise, and flee for your life into the farthest corner of the
desert, ere the doom of Sodom and Gomorrha fall upon this accursed
city.  Have you father, mother, brother, sister,--ay, cat, dog, or
bird for which you care, within its walls?'

Philammon started; for he recollected Pelagia ....  That evening, so
Cyril had promised, twenty trusty monks were to have gone with him
to seize her.

'You have?  Then take them with you, and escape, and remember Lot's
wife.  Eudaimon, come with me.  You must lead me to your house, to
the lodging of Miriam the Jewess.  Do not deny!  I know that she is
there. For the sake of her who is gone I will hold you harmless, ay,
reward you richly, if you prove faithful.  Rise!'

Eudaimon, who knew Raphael's face well, rose and led the way
trembling; and Philammon was left alone.

They never met again.  But Philammon knew that he had been in the
presence of a stronger man than himself, and of one who hated even
more bitterly than he himself that deed at which the very sun, it
seemed, ought to have veiled his face.  And his words, 'Arise, and
flee for thy life,' uttered as they were with the stern self-command
and writhing lip of compressed agony, rang through his ears like the
trump of doom.  Yes, he would flee.  He had gone forth to see the
world, and he had seen it.  Arsenius was in the right after all.
Home to the desert!  But first he would go himself, alone, to
Pelagia, and implore her once more to flee with him.  Beast, fool,
that he had been to try to win her by force--by the help of such as
these!  God's kingdom was not a kingdom of fanatics yelling for a
doctrine, but of willing, loving, obedient hearts.  If he could not
win her heart, her will, he would go alone, and die praying for her.

He sprang from the steps of the Caesareum, and turned up the street
of the Museum.  Alas! it was one roaring sea of heads!  They were
sacking Theon's house--the house of so many memories!  Perhaps the
poor old man too had perished!  Still--his sister!  He must save her
and flee.  And he turned up a side street and tried to make his way
onward.

Alas again! the whole of the dock-quarter was up and out.  Every
street poured its tide of furious fanatics into the main river; and
ere he could reach Pelagia's house the sun was set, and close behind
him, echoed by ten thousand voices, was the cry of 'Down with all
heathens!  Root out all Arian Goths!  Down with idolatrous wantons!
Down with Pelagia Aphrodite!'

He hurried down the alley, to the tower door, where Wulf had
promised to meet him.  It was half open, and in the dusk he could
see a figure standing in the doorway.  He sprang up the steps, and
found, not Wulf, but Miriam.

'Let me pass!'

'Wherefore?'

He made no answer, and tried to push past her.

'Fool, fool, fool!' whispered the hag, holding the door against him
with all her strength. 'Where are your fellow-kidnappers?  Where
are your band of monks?'

Philammon started back.  How had she discovered his plan?

'Ay--where are they?  Besotted boy!  Have you not seen enough of
monkery this afternoon, that you must try still to make that poor
girl even such a one as yourselves?  Ay, you may root out your own
human natures if you will, and make yourselves devils in trying to
become angels: but woman she is, and woman she shall live or die!'

'Let me pass!' cried Philammon furiously.

'Raise your voice--and I raise mine: and then your life is not worth
a moment's purchase.  Fool, do you think I speak as a Jewess?  I
speak as a woman--as a nun!  I was a nun once, madman--the iron
entered into my soul!--God do so to me, and more also, if it ever
enter into another soul while I can prevent it!  You shall not have
her!  I will strangle her with my own hand first!'  And turning from
him, she darted up the winding stair.

He followed: but the intense passion of the old hag hurled her
onward with the strength and speed of a young Maenad.  Once
Philammon was near passing her.  But he recollected that he did not
know his way, and contented himself with keeping close behind, and
making the fugitive his guide.

Stair after stair, he fled upward, till she turned suddenly into a
chamber door.  Philammon paused.  A few feet above him the open sky
showed at the stair-head.  They were close then to the roof!  One
moment more, and the hag darted out of the room again, and turned to
flee upward still.  Philammon caught her by the arm, hurled her back
into the empty chamber, shut the door upon her; and with a few
bounds gained the roof, and met Pelagia face to face.

'Come!' gasped he breathlessly. 'Now is the moment!  Come, while
they are all below!' and he seized her hand.

But Pelagia only recoiled.

'No, no,' whispered she in answer, 'I cannot, cannot--he has
forgiven me all, all! and I am his for ever! And now, just as he is
in danger, when he may be wounded--ah, heaven! would you have me do
anything so base as to desert him?'

'Pelagia, Pelagia, darling sister!' cried Philammon, in an agonised
voice, 'think of the doom of sin!  Think of the pains of hell!'

'I have thought of them this day: and I do not believe you!  No--I
do not!  God is not so cruel as you say! And if He were:--to lose my
love, that is hell!  Let me burn hereafter, if I do but keep him
now!'

Philammon stood stupefied and shuddering.  All his own early doubts
flashed across him like a thunderbolt, when in the temple-cave he
had seen those painted ladies at their revels, and shuddered, and
asked himself, were they burning for ever and ever?

'Come!' gasped he once again; and throwing himself on his knees
before her, covered her hands with kisses, wildly entreating: but in
vain.

'What is this?' thundered a voice; not Miriam's, but the Amal's.  He
was unarmed but he rushed straight upon Philammon.

'Do not harm him!' shrieked Pelagia; 'he is my brother--my brother
of whom I told you!'

'What does he here?' cried the Amal, who instantly divined the
truth.

Pelagia was silent.

'I wish to deliver my sister, a Christian, from the sinful embraces
of an Arian heretic; and deliver her I will, or die!'

'An Arian?' laughed the Amal. 'Say a heathen at once, and tell the
truth, young fool!  Will you go with him, Pelagia, and turn nun in
the sand-heaps?'

Pelagia sprang towards her lover: Philammon caught her by the arm
for one last despairing appeal: and in a moment, neither knew how,
the Goth and the Greek were locked in deadly struggle, while Pelagia
stood in silent horror, knowing that a call for help would bring
instant death to her brother.

It was over in a few seconds.  The Goth lifted Philammon like a baby
in his arms, and bearing him to the parapet, attempted to hurl him
into the canal below.  But the active Greek had wound himself like a
snake around him, and held him by the throat with the strength of
despair.  Twice they rolled and tottered on the parapet; and twice
recoiled.  A third fearful lunge--the earthen wall gave way; and
down to the dark depths, locked in each other's arms, fell Goth and
Greek.

Pelagia rushed to the brink, and gazed downward into the gloom, dumb
and dry-eyed with horror.  Twice they turned over together in mid-
air ....  The foot of the tower, as was usual in Egypt, sloped
outwards towards the water.  They must strike upon that--and then!
....It seemed an eternity ere they touched the masonry ....  The
Amal was undermost ....  She saw his fair floating locks dash
against the cruel stone.  His grasp suddenly loosened, his limbs
collapsed; two distinct plunges broke the dark sullen water; and
then all was still but the awakened ripple, lapping angrily against
the wall.

Pelagia gazed down one moment more, and then, with a shriek which
rang along roof and river, she turned, and fled down the stairs and
out into the night.

Five minutes afterwards, Philammon, dripping, bruised, and bleeding,
was crawling up the water-steps at the lower end of the lane.  A
woman rushed from the postern door, and stood on the quay edge,
gazing with clasped hands into the canal.  The moon fell full on her
face.  It was Pelagia.  She saw him, knew him, and recoiled.

'Sister!--my sister!  Forgive me!'

'Murderer!' she shrieked, and dashing aside his outspread hands,
fled wildly up the passage.

The way was blocked with bales of merchandise: but the dancer
bounded over them like a deer; while Philammon, half stunned by his
fall, and blinded by his dripping locks, stumbled, fell, and lay,
unable to rise.  She held on for a few yards towards the torch-lit
mob, which was surging and roaring in the main street above, then
turned suddenly into a side alley, and vanished; while Philammon lay
groaning upon the pavement, without a purpose or a hope upon earth.

Five minutes more, and Wulf was gazing over the broken parapet, at
the head of twenty terrified spectators, male and female, whom
Pelagia's shriek had summoned.

He alone suspected that Philammon had been there; and shuddering at
the thought of what might have happened, he kept his secret.

But all knew that Pelagia had been on the tower; all had seen the
Amal go up thither.  Where were they now?  And why was the little
postern gate found open, and shut only just in time to prevent the
entrance of the mob?

Wulf stood, revolving in a brain but too well practised in such
cases, all possible contingencies of death and horror.  At last--

'A rope and a light, Smid!' he almost whispered.

They were brought, and Wulf, resisting all the entreaties of the
younger men to allow them to go on the perilous search, lowered
himself through the breach.

He was about two-thirds down, when he shook the rope, and called in
a stifled voice, to those above--

'Haul up.  I have seen enough.'

Breathless with curiosity and fear, they hauled him up.  He stood
among them for a few moments, silent, as if stunned by the weight of
some enormous woe.

'Is he dead?'

'Odin has taken his son home, wolves of the Goths!'  And he held out
his right hand to the awe-struck ring, and burst into an agony of
weeping ....  A clotted tress of long fair hair lay in his palm.

It was snatched; handed from man to man ....  One after another
recognised the beloved golden locks.  And then, to the utter
astonishment of the girls who stood round, the great simple hearts,
too brave to be ashamed of tears, broke out and wailed like children
....  Their Amal!  Their heavenly man!  Odin's own son, their joy
and pride, and glory!  Their 'Kingdom of heaven,' as his name
declared him, who was all that each wished to be, and more, and yet
belonged to them, bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh! Ah, it
is bitter to all true human hearts to be robbed of their ideal, even
though that ideal be that of a mere wild bull, and soulless
gladiator....

At last Smid spoke--

'Heroes, this is Odin's doom; and the All-father is just.  Had we
listened to Prince Wulf four months ago, this had never been.  We
have been cowards and sluggards, and Odin is angry with his
children.  Let us swear to be Prince Wulf's men and follow him to-
morrow where he will!'

Wulf grasped his outstretched hand lovingly-

'No, Smid, son of Troll!  These words are not yours to speak.
Agilmund son of Cniva, Goderic son of Ermenric, you are Balts, and
to you the succession appertains.  Draw lots here, which of you
shall be our chieftain.'

'No! no!  Wulf!' cried both the youths at once. 'You are the hero!
you are the Sagaman!  We are not worthy; we have been cowards and
sluggards, like the rest.  Wolves of the Goths, follow the Wolf,
even though he lead you to the land of the giants!'

A roar of applause followed.

'Lift him on the shield,' cried Goderic, tearing off his buckler.
'Lift him on the shield!  Hail, Wulf king!  Wulf, king of Egypt!'

And the rest of the Goths, attracted by the noise, rushed up the
tower-stairs in time to join in the mighty shout of 'Wulf, king of
Egypt!'--as careless of the vast multitude which yelled and surged
without, as boys are of the snow against the window-pane.

'No!' said Wulf solemnly, as he stood on the uplifted shield.  'If I
be indeed your king, and ye my men, wolves of the Goths, to-morrow
we will go forth of this place, hated of Odin, rank with the
innocent blood of the Alruna maid.  Back to Adolf; back to our own
people!  Will you go?'

'Back to Adolf!' shouted the men.

'You will not leave us to be murdered?' cried one of the girls. 'The
mob are breaking the gates already!'

'Silence, silly one!  Men--we have one thing to do.  The Amal must
not go to the Valhalla without fair attendance.'

'Not the poor girls?' said Agilmund, who took for granted that Wulf
would wish to celebrate the Amal's funeral in true Gothic fashion by
a slaughter of slaves.

'No ....  One of them I saw behave this very afternoon worthy of a
Vala.  And they, too--they may make heroes' wives after all, yet
....  Women are better than I fancied, even the worst of them.  No.
Go down, heroes, and throw the gates open; and call in the Greek
hounds to the funeral supper of a son of Odin.'

'Throw the gates open?'

'Yes.  Goderic, take a dozen men, and be ready in the east hall.
Agilmund, go with a dozen to the west side of the court--there in
the kitchen; and wait till you hear my war-cry.  Smid and the rest
of you, come with me through the stables close to the gate--as
silent as Hela.'

And they went down--to meet, full on the stairs below, old Miriam.

Breathless and exhausted by her exertion, she had fallen heavily
before Philammon's strong arm; and lying half stunned for a while,
recovered just in time to meet her doom.

She knew that it was come, and faced it like herself.

'Take the witch!' said Wulf slowly--'Take the corrupter of heroes--
the cause of all our sorrows!'

Miriam looked at him with a quiet smile.

'The witch is accustomed long ago to hear fools lay on her the
consequences of their own lust and laziness.'

'Hew her down, Smid, son of Troll, that she may pass the Amal's soul
and gladden it on her way to Niflheim.'

Smid did it: but so terrible were the eyes which glared upon him
from those sunken sockets, that his sight was dazzled.  The axe
turned aside, and struck her shoulder.  She reeled, but did not
fall.

'It is enough,' she said quietly.

'The accursed Grendel's daughter numbed my arm!' said Smid. 'Let her
go!  No man shall say that I struck a woman twice.'

'Nidhogg waits for her, soon or late,' answered Wulf.

And Miriam, coolly folding her shawl around her, turned and walked
steadily down the stair; while all men breathed more freely, as if
delivered from some accursed and supernatural spell.

'And now,' said Wulf, 'to your posts, and vengeance!'

The mob had weltered and howled ineffectually around the house for
some half-hour.  But the lofty walls, opening on the street only by
a few narrow windows in the higher stories, rendered it an
impregnable fortress.  Suddenly, the iron gates were drawn back,
disclosing to the front rank the court, glaring empty and silent and
ghastly in the moonlight.  For an instant they recoiled, with a
vague horror, and dread of treachery: but the mass behind pressed
them onward, and in swept the murderers of Hypatia, till the court
was full of choking wretches, surging against the walls and pillars
in aimless fury.  And then, from under the archway on each side,
rushed a body of tall armed men, driving back all incomers more; the
gates slid together again upon their grooves and the wild beasts of
Alexandria were trapped at last.

And then began a murder grim and great.  From three different doors
issued a line of Goths, whose helmets and mail-shirts made them
invulnerable to the clumsy weapons of the mob, and began hewing
their way right through the living mass, helpless from their close-
packed array.  True, they were but as one to ten; but what are ten
curs before one lion? ....  And the moon rose higher and higher,
staring down ghastly and unmoved upon that doomed court of the
furies, and still the bills and swords hewed on and on, and the
Goths drew the corpses, as they found room, towards a dark pile in
the midst, where old Wulf sat upon a heap of slain, singing the
praises of the Amal and the glories of Valhalla, while the shrieks
of his lute rose shrill above the shrieks of the flying and the
wounded, and its wild waltz-time danced and rollicked on swifter and
swifter as the old singer maddened, in awful mockery of the terror
and agony around.

And so, by men and purposes which recked not of her, as is the wont
of Providence, was the blood of Hypatia avenged in part that night.
In part only.  For Peter the Reader, and his especial associates,
were safe in sanctuary at the Caesareum, clinging to the altar.
Terrified at the storm which they had raised, and fearing the
consequences of an attack upon the palace, they had left the mob to
run riot at its will; and escaped the swords of the Goths to be
reserved for the more awful punishment of impunity.



CHAPTER XXX: EVERY MAN TO HIS OWN PLACE


It was near midnight.  Raphael had been sitting some three hours in
Miriam's inner chamber, waiting in vain for her return.  To recover,
if possible, his ancestral wealth; to convey it, without a day's
delay, to Cyrene; and, if possible, to persuade the poor old Jewess
to accompany him, and there to soothe, to guide, perhaps to convert
her, was his next purpose:--at all events, with or without his
wealth, to flee from that accursed city.  And he counted impatiently
the slow hours and minutes which detained him in an atmosphere which
seemed reeking with innocent blood, black with the lowering curse of
an avenging God.  More than once, unable to bear the thought, he
rose to depart, and leave his wealth behind: but he was checked
again by the thought of his own past life.  How had he added his own
sin to the great heap of Alexandrian wickedness!  How had he tempted
others, pampered others in evil!  Good God! how had he not only done
evil with all his might, but had pleasure in those who did the same!
And now, now he was reaping the fruit of his own devices.  For years
past, merely to please his lust of power, his misanthropic scorn, he
had been malting that wicked Orestes wickeder than he was even by
his own base will and nature; and his puppet had avenged itself upon
him!  He, he had prompted him to ask Hypatia's hand ....  He had
laid, half in sport, half in envy of her excellence, that foul plot
against the only human being whom he loved .... and he had destroyed
her!  He, and not Peter, was the murderer of Hypatia!  True, he had
never meant her death ....  No; but had he not meant for her worse
than death?  He had never foreseen ....  No; but only because he did
not choose to foresee.  He had chosen to be a god; to kill and to
make alive by his own will and law; and behold, he had become a
devil by that very act.  Who can--and who dare, even if he could--
withdraw the sacred veil from those bitter agonies of inward shame
and self-reproach, made all the more intense by his clear and
undoubting knowledge that he was forgiven?  What dread of
punishment, what blank despair, could have pierced that great heart
so deeply as did the thought that the God whom he had hated and
defied had returned him good for evil, and rewarded him not
according to his iniquities?  That discovery, as Ezekiel of old had
warned his forefathers, filled up the cup of his self-loathing ....
To have found at last the hated and dreaded name of God: and found
that it was Love! ....  To possess Victoria, a living, human
likeness, however imperfect, of that God; and to possess in her a
home, a duty, a purpose, a fresh clear life of righteous labour,
perhaps of final victory ....  That was his punishment; that was the
brand of Cain upon his forehead; and he felt it greater than he
could bear.

But at least there was one thing to be done.  Where he had sinned,
there he must make amends; not as a propitiation, not even as a
restitution; but simply as a confession of the truth which he had
found.  And as his purpose shaped itself, he longed and prayed that
Miriam might return, and make it possible.

And Miriam did return.  He heard her pass slowly through the outer
room, learn from the girls who was within, order them out of the
apartments, close the outer door upon them; at last she entered, and
said quietly--

'Welcome!  I have expected you.  You could not surprise old Miriam.
The teraph told me last night that you would be here....'

Did she see the smile of incredulity upon Raphael's face, or was it
some sudden pang of conscience which made her cry out--

'....  No!  I did not!  I never expected you!  I am a liar, a
miserable old liar, who cannot speak the truth, even if I try!  Only
look kind!  Smile at me, Raphael!--Raphael come back at last to his
poor, miserable, villainous old mother!  Smile on me but once, my
beautiful, my son! my son!'

And springing to him, she clasped him in her arms.

'Your son?'

'Yes, my son!  Safe at last!  Mine at last!  I can prove it now!
The son of my womb, though not the son of my vows!'  And she laughed
hysterically. 'My child, my heir, for whom I have toiled and hoarded
for three-and-thirty years!  Quick! here are my keys.  In that
cabinet are all my papers--all I have is yours.  Your jewels are
safe--buried with mine.  The negro-woman, Eudaimon's wife, knows
where.  I made her swear secrecy upon her little wooden idol, and,
Christian as she is, she has been honest.  Make her rich for life.
She hid your poor old mother, and kept her safe to see her boy come
home.  But give nothing to her little husband: he is a bad fellow,
and beats her.--Go, quick! take your riches, and away! ....  No;
stay one moment just one little moment--that the poor old wretch may
feast her eyes with the sight of her darling once more before she
dies!'

'Before you die?  Your son?  God of my fathers, what is the meaning
of all this, Miriam?  This morning I was the son of Ezra the
merchant of Antioch!'

'His son and heir, his son and heir!  He knew all at last.  We told
him on his death-bed!  I swear that we told him, and he adopted
you!'

'We!  Who?'

'His wife and I.  He craved for a child, the old miser, and we gave
him one--a better one than ever came of his family.  But he loved
you, accepted you, though he did know all.  He was afraid of being
laughed at after he was dead--afraid of having it known that he was
childless, the old dotard!  No--he was right--true Jew in that,
after all!'

'Who was my father, then?' interrupted Raphael, in utter
bewilderment.

The old woman laughed a laugh so long and wild, that Raphael
shuddered.

'Sit down at your mother's feet.  Sit down .... just to please the
poor old thing!  Even if you do not believe her, just play at being
her child, her darling, for a minute before she dies; and she will
tell you all .... perhaps there is time yet!'

And he sat down .... 'What if this incarnation of all wickedness
were really my mother? ....  And yet--why should I shrink thus
proudly from the notion?  Am I so pure myself as to deserve a purer
source?' ....  And the old woman laid her hand fondly on his head,
and her skinny fingers played with his soft locks, as she spoke
hurriedly and thick.

'Of the house of Jesse, of the seed of Solomon; not a rabbi from
Babylon to Rome dare deny that! A king's daughter I am, and a king's
heart I had, and have, like Solomon's own, my son! ....  A kingly
heart ....  It made me dread and scorn to be a slave, a plaything, a
soul-less doll, such as Jewish women are condemned to be by their
tyrants, the men.  I craved for wisdom, renown, power--power--power!
and my nation refused them to me; because, forsooth, I was a woman!
So I left them.  I went to the Christian priests ....  They gave me
what I asked ....  They gave me more ....  They pampered my woman's
vanity, my pride, my self-will, my scorn of wedded bondage, and bade
me be a saint, the judge of angels and archangels, the bride of God!
Liars! liars! And so--if you laugh, you kill me, Raphael--and so
Miriam, the daughter of Jonathan--Miriam, of the house of David--
Miriam, the descendant of Ruth and Rachab, of Rachel and Sara,
became a Christian nun, and shut herself up to see visions, and
dream dreams, and fattened her own mad self-conceit upon the impious
fancy that she was the spouse of the Nazarene, Joshua Bar-Joseph,
whom she called Jehovah Ishi--Silence!  If you stop me a moment, it
may be too late.  I hear them calling me already; and I made them
promise not to take me before I had told all to my son--the son of
my shame!'

'Who calls you?' asked Raphael; but after one strong shudder she ran
on, unheeding--

'But they lied, lied, lied!  I found them out that day ....  Do not
look up at me, and I will tell you all.  There was a riot--a fight
between the Christian devils and the Heathen devils--and the convent
was sacked, Raphael, my son!--Sacked! ....  Then I found out their
blasphemy ....  Oh God!  I shrieked to Him, Raphael!  I called on
Him to rend His heavens and come down--to pour out His thunderbolts
upon them--to cleave the earth and devour them--to save the wretched
helpless girl who adored Him, who had given up father, mother,
kinsfolk, wealth, the light of heaven, womanhood itself, for Him--
who worshipped, meditated over Him, dreamed of Him night and day
....  And, Raphael, He did not hear me ....  He did not hear me!
.... did not hear the! ....  And then I knew it all for a lie! a
lie!'

'And you knew it for what it is!' cried Raphael through his sobs, as
he thought of Victoria, and felt every vein burning with righteous
wrath.

--'There was no mistaking that test, was there? ....  For nine
months I was mad.  And then your voice, my baby, my joy, my pride
that brought me to myself once more! And I shook off the dust of my
feet against those Galilean priests, and went back to my own nation,
where God had set me from the beginning.  I made them--the Rabbis,
my father, my kin--I made them all receive me.  They could not stand
before my eye.  I can stake people do what I will, Raphael!  I
could--I could make you emperor now, if I had but time left!  I went
back.  I palmed you off on Ezra as his son, I and his wife, and made
him believe that you had been born to him while he was in Byzantium
....  And then--to live for you! And I did live for you.  For you I
travelled from India to Britain, seeking wealth.  For you I toiled,
hoarded, lied, intrigued, won money by every means, no matter how
base--for was it not for you?  And I have conquered!  You are the
richest Jew south of the Mediterranean, you, my son! And you deserve
your wealth.  You have your mother's soul in you, my boy!  I watched
you, gloried in you--in your cunning, your daring, your learning,
your contempt for these Gentile hounds.  You felt the royal blood of
Solomon within you!  You felt that you were a young lion of Judah,
and they the jackals who followed to feed upon your leavings! And
now, now!  Your only danger is past!  The cunning woman is gone--the
sorceress who tried to take my young lion in her pitfall, and has
fallen into the midst of it herself; and he is safe, and returned to
take the nations for a prey, and grind their bones to powder, as it
is written, "He couched like a lion, he lay down like a lioness's
whelp, and who dare rouse him up?"'

'Stop!' said Raphael, 'I must speak!  Mother!  I must! As you love
me, as you expect me to love you, answer!  Had you a hand in her
death?  Speak!'

'Did I not tell you that I was no more a Christian?  Had I remained
one--who can tell what I might not have done?  All I, the Jewess,
dare do was--Fool that I am!  I have forgotten all this time the
proof--the proof--'

'I need no proof, mother.  Your words are enough,' said Raphael, as
he clasped her hand between his own, and pressed it to his burning
forehead.  But the old woman hurried on 'See!  See the black agate
which you gave her in your madness!'

'How did you obtain that?'

'I stole it--stole it, my son; as thieves steal, and are crucified
for stealing.  What was the chance of the cross to a mother yearning
for her child?--to a mother who put round her baby's neck, three-
and-thirty black years ago, that broken agate, and kept the other
half next her own heart by day and night?  See!  See how they fit!
Look, and believe your poor old sinful mother!  Look, I say!' and
she thrust the talisman into his hands.

'Now, let me die!  I vowed never to tell this secret but to you:
never to tell it to you, until the night I died.  Farewell, my son!
Kiss me but once--once, my child, my joy!  Oh, this makes up for
all!  Makes up even for that day, the last on which I ever dreamed
myself the bride of the Nazarene!'

Raphael felt that he must speak, now or never.  Though it cost him
the loss of all his wealth, and a mother's curse, he must speak.
And not daring to look up, he said gently--

'Men have lied to you about Him, mother: but has He ever lied to you
about Himself?  He did not lie to me when He sent me out into the
world to find a man, and sent me back again to you with the good
news that The Man is born into the world.'

But to his astonishment, instead of the burst of bigoted indignation
which he had expected, Miriam answered in a low, confused,
abstracted voice--

'And did He send you hither?  Well--that was more like what I used
to fancy Him....A grand thought it is after all--a Jew the king of
heaven and earth! ....  Well--I shall know soon ....  I loved Him
once, .... and perhaps....perhaps....'

Why did her head drop heavily upon his shoulder?  He turned--a dark
stream of blood was flowing from her lips!  He sprang to his feet.
The girls rushed in.  They tore open her shawl, and saw the ghastly
wound, which she had hidden with such iron resolution to the last.
But it was too late.  Miriam the daughter of Solomon was gone to her
own place.
...............

Early the next morning, Raphael was standing in Cyril's anteroom,
awaiting an audience.  There were loud voices within; and after a
while a tribune--whom he knew well hurried out, muttering curses--

'What brings you here, friend?'said Raphael.

'The scoundrel will not give them up,' answered he, in an undertone.

'Give up whom?'

'The murderers.  They are in sanctuary now at the Caesareum.
Orestes sent me to demand them: and this fellow defies him openly!'
And the tribune hurried out.

Raphael, sickened with disgust, half-turned to follow him: but his
better angel conquered, and he obeyed the summons of the deacon who
ushered him in.

Cyril was walking up and down, according to his custom, with great
strides.  When he saw who was his visitor, he stopped short with a
look of fierce inquiry.  Raphael entered on business at once, with a
cold calm voice.

'You know me, doubtless; and you know what I was.  I am now a
Christian catechumen.  I come to make such restitution as I can for
certain past ill-deeds done in this city.  You will find among these
papers the trust-deeds for such a yearly sum of money as will enable
you to hire a house of refuge for a hundred fallen women, and give
such dowries to thirty of them yearly as will enable them to find
suitable husbands.  I have set down every detail of my plan.  On its
exact fulfilment depends the continuance of my gift.'

Cyril took the document eagerly, and was breaking out with some
commonplace about pious benevolence, when the Jew stopped him.

'Your Holiness's compliments are unnecessary.  It is to your office,
not to yourself, that this business relates.'

Cyril, whose conscience was ill enough at ease that morning, felt
abashed before Raphael's dry and quiet manner, which bespoke, as he
well knew, reproof more severe than all open upbraidings.  So
looking down, not without something like a blush, he ran his eye
hastily over the paper; and then said, in his blandest tone-

'My brother will forgive me for remarking, that while I acknowledge
his perfect right to dispose of his charities as he will, it is
somewhat startling to me, as Metropolitan of Egypt to find not only
the Abbot Isidore of Pelusium, but the secular Defender of the
Plebs, a civil officer, implicated, too, in the late conspiracy,
associated with me as co-trustees.'

'I have taken the advice of more than one Christian bishop on the
matter.  I acknowledge your authority by my presence here.  If the
Scriptures say rightly, the civil magistrates are as much God's
ministers as you; and I am therefore bound to acknowledge their
authority also.  I should have preferred associating the Prefect
with you in the trust: but as your dissensions with the present
occupant of that post might have crippled my scheme, I have named
the Defender of the Plebs, and have already put into his hands a
copy of this document.  Another copy has been sent to Isidore, who
is empowered to receive all moneys from my Jewish bankers in
Pelusium.'

'You doubt, then, either my ability or my honesty?' said Cyril, who
was becoming somewhat nettled.

'If your Holiness dislikes my offer, it is easy to omit your name in
the deed.  One word more.  If you deliver up to justice the
murderers of my friend Hypatia, I double my bequest on the spot.'

Cyril burst out instantly--

'Thy money perish with thee!  Do you presume to bribe me into
delivering up my children to the tyrant?'

'I offer to give you the means of showing more mercy, provided that
you will first do simple justice.'

'Justice?' cried Cyril.  'Justice?  If it be just that Peter should
die, sir, see first whether it was not just that Hypatia should die.
Not that I compassed it.  As I live, I would have given my own right
hand that this had not happened!  But now that it is done--let those
who talk of justice look first in which scale of the balance it
lies!  Do you fancy, sir, that the people do not know their enemies
from their friends?  Do you fancy that they are to sit with folded
hands, while a pedant makes common cause with a profligate, to drag
them back again into the very black gulf of outer darkness,
ignorance, brutal lust, grinding slavery, from which the Son of God
died to free them, from which they are painfully and slowly
struggling upward to the light of day?  You, sir, if you be a
Christian catechumen, should know for yourself what would have been
the fate of Alexandria had the devil's plot of two days since
succeeded.  What if the people struck too fiercely?  They struck in
the right place.  What if they have given the reins to passions fit
only for heathens?  Recollect the centuries of heathendom which bred
those passions in them, and blame not my teaching, but the teaching
of their forefathers.  That very Peter ....  What if he have for
once given place to the devil, and avenged where he should have
forgiven?  Has he no memories which may excuse him for fancying, in
a just paroxysm of dread, that idolatry and falsehood must be
crushed at any risk?--He who counts back for now three hundred
years, in persecution after persecution, martyrs, sir! martyrs--if
you know what that word implies--of his own blood and kin; who, when
he was but a seven years' boy, saw his own father made a sightless
cripple to this day, and his elder sister, a consecrated nun,
devoured alive by swine in the open streets, at the hands of those
who supported the very philosophy, the very gods, which Hypatia
attempted yesterday to restore.  God shall judge such a man; not I,
nor you!'

'Let God judge him, then, by delivering him to God's minister.'

'God's minister?  That heathen and apostate Prefect?  When he has
expiated his apostasy by penance, and returned publicly to the bosom
of the Church, it will be time enough to obey him: till then he is
the minister of none but the devil.  And no ecclesiastic shall
suffer at the tribunal of an infidel.  Holy Writ forbids us to go to
law before the unjust.--Let the world say of me what it will.  I
defy it and its rulers.  I have to establish the kingdom of God in
this city, and do it I will, knowing that other foundation can no
man lay than that which is laid, which is Christ.'

'Wherefore you proceed to lay it afresh.  A curious method of
proving that it is laid already.'

'What do you mean?' asked Cyril angrily.

'Simply that God's kingdom, if it exist at all, must be a sort of
kingdom, considering Who is The King of it, which would have
established itself without your help some time since; probably,
indeed, if the Scriptures of my Jewish forefathers are to be
believed, before the foundation of the world; and that your business
was to believe that God was King of Alexandria, and had put the
Roman law there to crucify all murderers, ecclesiastics included,
and that crucified they must be accordingly, as high as Haman
himself.'

'I will hear no more of this, sir!  I am responsible to God alone,
and not to you: let it he enough that by virtue of the authority
committed to me, I shall cut off these men from the Church of God,
by solemn excommunication, for three years to come.'

'They are not cut off, then, it seems, as yet?'

'I tell you, sir, that I shall cut them off!  Do you come here to
doubt my word?'

'Not in the least, most august sir.  But I should have fancied that,
according to my carnal notions of God's Kingdom and The Church, they
had cut off themselves most effectually already, from the moment
when they cast away the Spirit of God, and took to themselves the
spirit of murder and cruelty; and that all which your most just and
laudable excommunication could effect, would be to inform the public
of that fact.  However, farewell!  My money shall be forthcoming in
due time; and that is the most important matter between us at this
moment.  As for your client Peter and his fellows, perhaps the most
fearful punishment which can befall them, is to go on as they have
begun.  I only hope that you will not follow in the same direction.'

'I?' cried Cyril, trembling with rage.

'Really I wish your Holiness well when I say so.  If my notions seem
to you somewhat secular, yours--forgive me--seem to the somewhat
atheistic; and I advise you honestly to take care lest while you are
busy trying to establish God's kingdom, you forget what it is like,
by shutting your eyes to those of its laws which are established
already.  I have no doubt that with your Holiness's great powers you
will succeed in establishing something.  My only dread is, that when
it is established, you should discover to your horror that it is the
devil's kingdom and not God's.'

And without waiting for an answer, Raphael bowed himself out of the
august presence, and sailing for Berenice that very day, with
Eudaimon and his negro wife, went to his own place; there to labour
and to succour, a sad and stern, and yet a loving and a much-loved
man, for many a year to come.

And now we will leave Alexandria also, and taking a forward leap of
some twenty years, see how all other persons mentioned in this
history went, likewise, each to his own place.
...............

A little more than twenty years after, the wisest and holiest man in
the East was writing of Cyril, just deceased--

'His death made those who survived him joyful; but it grieved most
probably the dead; and there is cause to fear, lest, finding his
presence too troublesome, they should send him back to us ....  May
it come to pass, by your prayers, that he may obtain mercy and
forgiveness, that the immeasurable grace of God may prevail over his
wickedness! ....'

So wrote Theodoret in days when men had not yet intercalated into
Holy Writ that line of an obscure modern hymn, which proclaims to
man the good news that 'There is no repentance in the grave.'  Let
that be as it may, Cyril has gone to his own place.  What that place
is in history is but too well known.  What it is in the sight of Him
unto whom all live for ever, is no concern of ours.  May He whose
mercy is over all His works, have mercy upon all, whether orthodox
or unorthodox, Papist or Protestant, who, like Cyril, begin by lying
for the cause of truth; and setting off upon that evil road, arrive
surely, with the Scribes and Pharisees of old, sooner or later at
their own place!

True, he and his monks had conquered; but Hypatia did not die
unavenged.  In the hour of that unrighteous victory, the Church of
Alexandria received a deadly wound.  It had admitted and sanctioned
those habits of doing evil that good may come, of pious intrigue,
and at last of open persecution, which are certain to creep in
wheresoever men attempt to set up a merely religious empire,
independent of human relationships and civil laws; to 'establish,'
in short, a 'theocracy,' and by that very act confess their secret
disbelief that God is ruling already.  And the Egyptian Church grew,
year by year, more lawless and inhuman.  Freed from enemies without,
and from the union which fear compels, it turned its ferocity
inward, to prey on its own vitals, and to tear itself in pieces by a
voluntary suicide, with mutual anathemas and exclusions, till it
ended as a mere chaos of idolatrous sects, persecuting each other
for metaphysical propositions, which, true or false, were equally
heretical in their mouths, because they used them only as watch-
words of division.  Orthodox or unorthodox, they knew not God, for
they knew neither righteousness, nor love, nor peace ....  They
'hated their brethren, and walked on still in darkness, not knowing
whither they were going' .... till Amrou and his Mohammedans
appeared; and whether they discovered the fact or not, they went to
their own place....

   Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding
          small;
   Though He stands and waits with patience, with exactness grinds
         He all--

And so found, in due time, the philosophers as well as the
ecclesiastics of Alexandria.

Twenty years after Hypatia's death, philosophy was flickering down
to the very socket.  Hypatia's murder was its death-blow.  In
language tremendous and unmistakable, philosophers had been informed
that mankind had done with them; that they had been weighed in the
balances, and found wanting; that if they had no better Gospel than
that to preach, they must make way for those who had.  And they did
make way.  We hear little or nothing of them or their wisdom
henceforth, except at Athens, where Proclus, Marinus, Isidore, and
others kept up 'the golden chain of the Platonic succession,' and
descended deeper and deeper, one after the other, into the realms of
confusion--confusion of the material with the spiritual, of the
subject with the object, the moral with the intellectual; self-
consistent in one thing only,--namely, in their exclusive Pharisaism
utterly unable to proclaim any good news for man as man, or even to
conceive of the possibility of such, and gradually looking with more
and more complacency on all superstitious which did not involve that
one idea, which alone they stated,--namely, the Incarnation; craving
after signs and wonders, dabbling in magic, astrology, and barbarian
fetichisms; bemoaning the fallen age, and barking querulously at
every form of human thought except their own; writing pompous
biographies, full of bad Greek, worse taste, and still worse
miracles....

      --That last drear mood
  Of envious sloth, and proud decrepitude;
  No faith, no art, no king, no priest, no God;
  While round the freezing founts of life in snarling ring,
  Crouch'd on the bareworn sod,
  Babbling about the unreturning spring,
  And whining for dead gods, who cannot save,
  The toothless systems shiver to their grave.

The last scene of their tragedy was not without a touch of pathos
....  In the year 629, Justinian finally closed, by imperial edict,
the schools of Athens.  They had nothing more to tell the world, but
what the world had yawned over a thousand times before: why should
they break the blessed silence by any more such noises?  The
philosophers felt so themselves.  They had no mind to be martyrs,
for they had nothing for which to testify.  They had no message for
mankind, and mankind no interest for them.  All that was left for
them was to take care of their own souls; and fancying that they saw
something like Plato's ideal republic in the pure monotheism of the
Guebres, their philosophic emperor the Khozroo, and his holy caste
of magi, seven of them set off to Persia, to forget the hateful
existence of Christianity in that realised ideal.  Alas for the
facts!  The purest monotheism, they discovered, was perfectly
compatible with bigotry and ferocity, luxury and tyranny, serails
and bowstrings, incestuous marriages and corpses exposed to the
beasts of the field and the fowls of the air; and in reasonable fear
for their own necks, the last seven Sages of Greece returned home
weary-hearted, into the Christian Empire from which they had fled,
fully contented with the permission, which the Khozroo had obtained
for them from Justinian, to hold their peace, and die among decent
people.  So among decent people they died, leaving behind them, as
their last legacy to mankind, Simplicius's Commentaries on
Epictetus's _Enchiridion_, an essay on the art of egotism, by
obeying which, whosoever list may become as perfect a Pharisee as
ever darkened the earth of God.  Peace he to their ashes! ....  They
are gone to their own place.
...............

Wulf, too, had gone to his own place, wheresoever that may be.  He
died in Spain, full of years and honours, at the court of Adolf and
Placidia, having resigned his sovereignty into the hands of his
lawful chieftain, and having lived long enough to see Goderic and
his younger companions in arms settled with their Alexandrian brides
upon the sunny slopes from which they had expelled the Vandals and
the Suevi, to be the ancestors of 'bluest-blooded' Castilian nobles.
Wulf died, as he had lived, a heathen.  Placidia, who loved him
well, as she loved all righteous and noble souls, had succeeded once
in persuading him to accept baptism.  Adolf himself acted as one of
his sponsors; and the old warrior was in the act of stepping into
the font, when he turned suddenly to the bishop, and asked where
were the souls of his heathen ancestors?  'In hell,' replied the
worthy prelate.  Wulf drew back from the font, and threw his
bearskin cloak around him ....  'He would prefer, if Adolf had no
objection, to go to his own people.'  [Footnote: A fact.]  And so he
died unbaptized, and went to his own place.

Victoria was still alive and busy: but Augustine's warning had come
true-she had found trouble in the flesh.  The day of the Lord had
come, and Vandal tyrants were now the masters of the fair corn-lands
of Africa.  Her father and brother were lying by the side of Raphael
Aben-Ezra, beneath the ruined walls of Hippo, slain, long years
before, in the vain attempt to deliver their country from the
invading swarms.  But they had died the death of heroes: and
Victoria was content.  And it was whispered, among the down-trodden
Catholics, who clung to her as an angel of mercy, that she, too, had
endured strange misery and disgrace; that her delicate limbs bore
the scars of fearful tortures; that a room in her house, into which
none ever entered but herself, contained a young boy's grave; and
that she passed long nights of prayer upon the spot, where lay her
only child, martyred by the hands of Arian persecutors.  Nay, some
of the few who, having dared to face that fearful storm, had
survived its fury, asserted that she herself, amid her own shame and
agony, had cheered the shrinking boy on to his glorious death.  But
though she had found trouble in the flesh, her spirit knew none.
Clear-eyed and joyful as when she walked by her father's side on the
field of Ostia, she went to and fro among the victims of Vandal
rapine and persecution, spending upon the maimed, the sick, the
ruined, the small remnants of her former wealth, and winning, by her
purity and her piety, the reverence and favour even of the barbarian
conquerors.  She had her work to do, and she did it, and was
content; and, in good time, she also went to her own place.

Abbot Pambo, as well as Arsenius, had been dead several years; the
abbot's place was filled, by his own dying command, by a hermit from
the neighbouring deserts, who had made himself famous for many miles
round, by his extraordinary austerities, his ceaseless prayers, his
loving wisdom, and, it was rumoured, by various cures which could
only be attributed to miraculous powers.  While still in the prime
of his manhood, he was dragged, against his own entreaties, from a
lofty cranny of the cliffs to reside over the Laura of Scetis, and
ordained a deacon at the advice of Pambo, by the bishop of the
diocese, who, three years afterwards, took on himself to command him
to enter the priesthood.  The elder monks considered it an indignity
to be ruled by so young a man: but the monastery throve and grew
rapidly under his government.  His sweetness, patience, and
humility, and above all, his marvellous understanding of the doubts
and temptations of his own generation, soon drew around him all
whose sensitiveness or waywardness had made them unmanageable in the
neighbouring monasteries.  As to David in the mountains, so to him,
every one who was discontented, and every one who was oppressed,
gathered themselves.  The neighbouring abbots were at first inclined
to shrink from him, as one who ate and drank with publicans and
sinners: but they held their peace, when they saw those whom they
had driven out as reprobates labouring peacefully and cheerfully
under Philammon.  The elder generation of Scetis, too, saw, with
some horror, the new influx of sinners: but their abbot had but one
answer to their remonstrances--'Those who are whole need not a
physician, but those who are sick.'

Never was the young abbot heard to speak harshly of any human being.
'When thou halt tried in vain for seven years,' he used to say, 'to
convert a sinner, then only wilt thou have a right to suspect him of
being a worse man than thyself.'  That there is a seed of good in
all men, a Divine Word and Spirit striving with all men, a gospel
and good news which would turn the hearts of all men, if abbots and
priests could but preach it aright, was his favourite doctrine, and
one which he used to defend, when, at rare intervals, he allowed
himself to discuss any subject from the writings of his favourite
theologian, Clement of Alexandria.  Above all, he stopped, by stern
rebuke, any attempt to revile either heretics or heathens.  'On the
Catholic Church alone,' he used to say, 'lies the blame of all
heresy and unbelief: for if she were but for one day that which she
ought to be, the world would be converted before nightfall.'  To one
class of sins, indeed, he was inexorable--all but ferocious; to the
sins, namely, of religious persons.  In proportion to any man's
reputation for orthodoxy and sanctity, Philammon's judgment of him
was stern and pitiless.  More than once events proved him to have
been unjust: when he saw himself to be so, none could confess his
mistake more frankly, or humiliate himself for it more bitterly: but
from his rule he never swerved; and the Pharisees of the Nile
dreaded and avoided him, as much as the publicans and sinners loved
and followed him.

One thing only in his conduct gave some handle for scandal, among
the just persons who needed no repentance.  It was well known that
in his most solemn devotions, on those long nights of unceasing
prayer and self-discipline, which won him a reputation for
superhuman sanctity, there mingled always with his prayers the names
of two women.  And, when some worthy elder, taking courage from his
years, dared to hint kindly to him that such conduct caused some
scandal to the weaker brethren, 'It is true,' answered he; 'tell my
brethren that I pray nightly for two women both of them young; both
of them beautiful; both of them beloved by me more than I love my
own soul; and tell them, moreover, that one of the two was a harlot,
and the other a heathen.'  The old monk laid his hand on his mouth,
and retired.

The remainder of his history it seems better to extract from an
unpublished fragment of the _Hagiologia Nilotica_ of
Graidiocolosyrtus Tabenniticus, the greater part of which valuable
work was destroyed at the taking of Alexandria under Amrou, A.  D.
640.

'Now when the said abbot had ruled the monastery of Scetis seven
years with uncommon prudence, resplendent in virtue and in miracles,
it befell that one morning he was late for the Divine office.
Whereon a certain ancient brother, who was also a deacon, being sent
to ascertain the cause of so unwonted a defection, found the holy
man extended upon the floor of his cell, like Balaam in the flesh,
though far differing from him in the spirit, having fallen into a
trance, but having his eyes open.  Who, not daring to arouse him,
sat by him until the hour of noon, judging rightly that something
from heaven had befallen him.  And at that hour, the saint arising
without astonishment, said, "Brother, make ready for me the divine
elements, that I may consecrate them."  And he asking the reason
wherefore, the saint replied, "That I may partake thereof with all
my brethren, ere I depart hence.  For know assuredly that, within
the seventh day, I shall migrate to the celestial mansions.  For
this night stood by me in a dream, those two women, whom I love, and
for whom I pray; the one clothed in a white, the other in a ruby-
coloured garment, and holding each other by the hand; who said to
me, 'That life after death is not such a one as you fancy; come,
therefore, and behold with us what it is like.'"  Troubled at which
words, the deacon went forth yet on account not only of holy
obedience, but also of the sanctity of the blessed abbot, did not
hesitate to prepare according to his command the divine elements:
which the abbot having consecrated, distributed among his brethren,
reserving only a portion of the most holy bread and wine; and then,
having bestowed on them all the kiss of peace, he took the paten and
chalice in his hands, and went forth from the monastery towards the
desert; whom the whole fraternity followed weeping, as knowing that
they should see his face no more.  But he, having arrived at the
foot of a certain mountain, stopped, and blessing them, commanded
them that they should follow him no farther, and dismissed them with
these words: "As ye have been loved, so love.  As ye have been
judged, so judge.  As ye have been forgiven, so forgive."  And so
ascending, was taken away from their eyes.  Now they, returning
astonished, watched three days with prayer and fasting: but at last
the eldest brother, being ashamed, like Elisha before the entreaties
of Elijah's disciples, sent two of the young men to seek their
master.

'To whom befell a thing noteworthy and full of miracles.  For
ascending the same mountain where they had left the abbot, they met
with a certain Moorish people, not averse to the Christianity, who
declared that certain days before a priest had passed by them,
bearing a paten and chalice, and blessing them in silence, proceeded
across the desert in the direction of the cave of the holy Amma.

'And they inquiring who this Amma might be, the Moors answered that
some twenty years ago there had arrived in those mountains a woman
more beautiful than had ever before been seen in that region,
dressed in rich garments; who, after a short sojourn among their
tribe, having distributed among them the jewels which she wore, had
embraced the eremitic life, and sojourned upon the highest peak of a
neighbouring mountain; till, her garments failing her, she became
invisible to mankind, saving to a few women of the tribe, who went
up from time to time to carry her offerings of fruit and meal, and
to ask the blessing of her prayers.  To whom she rarely appeared,
veiled down to her feet in black hair of exceeding length and
splendour.

'Hearing these things, the two brethren doubted for awhile: but at
last, determining to proceed, arrived at sunset upon the summit of
the said mountain.

'Where, behold a great miracle.  For above an open grave, freshly
dug in the sand, a cloud of vultures and obscene birds hovered, whom
two lions, fiercely contending, drove away with their talons, as if
from some sacred deposit therein enshrined.  Towards whom the two
brethren, fortifying themselves with the sign of the holy cross,
ascended.  Whereupon the lions, as having fulfilled the term of
their guardianship, retired; and left to the brethren a sight which
they beheld with astonishment, and not without tears.

'For in the open grave lay the body of Philammon the abbot: and by
his side, wrapped in his cloak, the corpse of a woman of exceeding
beauty, such as the Moors had described.  Whom embracing straitly,
as a brother a sister, and joining his lips to hers, he had rendered
up his soul to God; not without bestowing on her, as it seemed, the
most holy sacrament; for by the grave-side stood the paten and the
chalice emptied of their divine contents.

'Having beheld which things awhile in silence, they considered that
the right understanding of such matters pertained to the judgment
seat above, and was unnecessary to be comprehended by men
consecrated to God.  Whereon, filling in the grave with all haste,
they returned weeping to the Laura, and declared to them the strange
things which they had beheld, and whereof I the writer, having
collected these facts from sacrosanct and most trustworthy mouths,
can only say that wisdom is justified of all her children.

'Now, before they returned, one of the brethren searching the cave
wherein the holy woman dwelt, found there neither food, furniture,
nor other matters; saving one bracelet of gold, of large size and
strange workmanship, engraven with foreign characters, which no one
could decipher.  The which bracelet, being taken home to the Laura
of Scetis, and there dedicated in the chapel to the memory of the
holy Amma, proved beyond all doubt the sanctity of its former
possessor, by the miracles which its virtue worked; the fame whereof
spreading abroad throughout the whole Thebaid, drew innumerable
crowds of suppliants to that holy relic.  But it came to pass, after
the Vandalic persecution wherewith Huneric and Genseric the king
devastated Africa, and enriched the Catholic Church with innumerable
martyrs, that certain wandering barbarians of the Vandalic race,
imbued with the Arian pravity, and made insolent by success, boiled
over from the parts of Mauritania into the Thebaid region.  Who
plundering and burning all monasteries, and insulting the
consecrated virgins, at last arrived even at the monastery of
Scetis, where they not only, according to their impious custom,
defiled the altar, and carried off the sacred vessels, but also bore
away that most holy relic, the chief glory of the Laura,--namely,
the bracelet of the holy Amma, impiously pretending that it had
belonged to a warrior of their tribe, and thus expounded the writing
thereon engraven--

  'For Amalric Amal's Son Smid Troll's Son Made Me.

Wherein whether they spoke truth or not, yet their sacrilege did not
remain unpunished; for attempting to return homeward toward the sea
by way of the Nile, they were set upon while weighed down with wine
and sleep, by the country people, and to a man miserably destroyed.
But the pious folk, restoring the holy gold to its pristine
sanctuary, were not unrewarded: for since that day it grows glorious
with ever fresh miracles--as of blind restored to sight, paralytics
to strength, demoniacs to sanity--to the honour of the orthodox
Catholic Church, and of its ever-blessed saints.'
...............

So be it.  Pelagia and Philammon, like the rest, went to their own
place; to the only place where such in such days could find rest; to
the desert and the hermit's cell, and then forward into that fairy
land of legend and miracle, wherein all saintly lives were destined
to be enveloped for many a century thenceforth.

And now, readers, farewell.  I have shown you New Foes under an old
face--your own likenesses in toga and tunic, instead of coat and
bonnet.  One word before we part.  The same devil who tempted these
old Egyptians tempts you.  The same God who would have saved these
old Egyptians if they had willed, will save you, if you will.  Their
sins are yours, their errors yours, their doom yours, their
deliverance yours.  There is nothing new under the sun.  The thing
which has been, it is that which shall be.  Let him that is without
sin among you cast the first stone, whether at Hypatia or Pelagia,
Miriam or Raphael, Cyril or Philammon.

THE END














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