BOOK THE THIRD
11. Chapter XI
PROGRESS OF EVENTS. THE PLOT THICKENS. THE WEB IS WOVEN, BUT THE NET
'AND you have the courage then, Julia, to seek the Witch of Vesuvius this
evening; in company, too, with that fearful man?'
'Why, Nydia?' replied Julia, timidly; 'dost thou really think there is
anything to dread? These old hags, with their enchanted mirrors, their
trembling sieves, and their moon-gathered herbs, are, I imagine, but crafty
impostors, who have learned, perhaps, nothing but the very charm for which I
apply to their skill, and which is drawn but from the knowledge of the
field's herbs and simples. Wherefore should I dread?'
'Dost thou not fear thy companion?'
'What, Arbaces? By Dian, I never saw lover more courteous than that same
magician! And were he not so dark, he would be even handsome.'
Blind as she was, Nydia had the penetration to perceive that Julia's mind
was not one that the gallantries of Arbaces were likely to terrify. She
therefore dissuaded her no more: but nursed in her excited heart the wild
and increasing desire to know if sorcery had indeed a spell to fascinate
love to love.
'Let me go with thee, noble Julia,' said she at length; 'my presence is no
protection, but I should like to be beside thee to the last.'
'Thine offer pleases me much,' replied the daughter of Diomed. 'Yet how
canst thou contrive it? we may not return until late, they will miss thee.'
'Ione is indulgent,' replied Nydia. 'If thou wilt permit me to sleep
beneath thy roof, I will say that thou, an early patroness and friend, hast
invited me to pass the day with thee, and sing thee my Thessalian songs; her
courtesy will readily grant to thee so light a boon.'
'Nay, ask for thyself!' said the haughty Julia. 'I stoop to request no
favor from the Neapolitan!'