Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

11. Chapter XI


WHEN the Thessalian found that Arbaces returned to her no more--when she was left, hour after hour, to all the torture of that miserable suspense which was rendered by blindness doubly intolerable, she began, with outstretched arms, to feel around her prison for some channel of escape; and finding the only entrance secure, she called aloud, and with the vehemence of a temper naturally violent, and now sharpened by impatient agony.

'Ho, girl!' said the slave in attendance, opening the door; art thou bit by a scorpion? or thinkest thou that we are dying of silence here, and only to be preserved, like the infant Jupiter, by a hullabaloo?'

'Where is thy master? and wherefore am I caged here? I want air and liberty: let me go forth!'

'Alas! little one, hast thou not seen enough of Arbaces to know that his will is imperial! He hath ordered thee to be caged; and caged thou art, and I am thy keeper. Thou canst not have air and liberty; but thou mayst have what are much better things--food and wine.'

'Proh Jupiter!' cried the girl, wringing her hands; 'and why am I thus imprisoned? What can the great Arbaces want with so poor a thing as I am?'

'That I know not, unless it be to attend on thy new mistress, who has been brought hither this day.'

'What! Ione here?'

'Yes, poor lady; she liked it little, I fear. Yet, by the Temple of Castor! Arbaces is a gallant man to the women. Thy lady is his ward, thou knowest.'

'Wilt thou take me to her?'

'She is ill--frantic with rage and spite. Besides, I have no orders to do so; and I never think for myself. When Arbaces made me slave of these chambers, he said, "I have but one lesson to give thee--while thou servest me, thou must have neither ears, eyes, nor thought; thou must be but one quality--obedience."'

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