Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

5. Chapter V


STUNNED by his reprieve, doubting that he was awake, Glaucus had been led by the officers of the arena into a small cell within the walls of the theatre. They threw a loose robe over his form, and crowded round in congratulation and wonder. There was an impatient and fretful cry without the cell; the throng gave way, and the blind girl, led by some gentler hand, flung herself at the feet of Glaucus.

'It is I who have saved thee,' she sobbed; now let me die!'

'Nydia, my child!--my preserver!'

'Oh, let me feel thy touch--thy breath! Yes, yes, thou livest! We are not too late! That dread door, methought it would never yield! and Calenus--oh! his voice was as the dying wind among tombs--we had to wait--gods! it seemed hours ere food and wine restored to him something of strength. But thou livest! thou livest yet! And I--I have saved thee!'

This affecting scene was soon interrupted by the event just described.

'The mountain! the earthquake!' resounded from side to side. The officers fled with the rest; they left Glaucus and Nydia to save themselves as they might.

As the sense of the dangers around them flashed on the Athenian, his generous heart recurred to Olinthus. He, too, was reprieved from the tiger by the hand of the gods; should he be left to a no less fatal death in the neighboring cell? Taking Nydia by the hand, Glaucus hurried across the passages; he gained the den of the Christian! He found Olinthus kneeling and in prayer.

'Arise! arise! my friend,' he cried. 'Save thyself, and fly! See! Nature is thy dread deliverer!' He led forth the bewildered Christian, and pointed to a cloud which advanced darker and darker, disgorging forth showers of ashes and pumice stones--and bade him hearken to the cries and trampling rush of the scattered crowd.

'This is the hand of God--God be praised!' said Olinthus, devoutly.

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