Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

9. Chapter IX (continued)

'Ate,' answered Glaucus; and he closed at once with the Egyptian. Meanwhile, Apaecides raised his sister, now lifeless, from the ground; his strength, exhausted by a mind long overwrought, did not suffice to bear her away, light and delicate though her shape: he placed her, therefore, on the couch, and stood over her with a brandishing knife, watching the contest between Glaucus and the Egyptian, and ready to plunge his weapon in the bosom of Arbaces should he be victorious in the struggle. There is, perhaps, nothing on earth so terrible as the naked and unarmed contest of animal strength, no weapon but those which Nature supplies to rage. Both the antagonists were now locked in each other's grasp--the hand of each seeking the throat of the other--the face drawn back--the fierce eyes flashing--the muscles strained--the veins swelled--the lips apart--the teeth set--both were strong beyond the ordinary power of men, both animated by relentless wrath; they coiled, they wound, around each other; they rocked to and fro--they swayed from end to end of their confined arena--they uttered cries of ire and revenge--they were now before the altar--now at the base of the column where the struggle had commenced: they drew back for breath--Arbaces leaning against the column--Glaucus a few paces apart.

'O ancient goddess!' exclaimed Arbaces, clasping the column, and raising his eyes toward the sacred image it supported, 'protect thy chosen--proclaim they vengeance against this thing of an upstart creed, who with sacrilegious violence profanes thy resting-place and assails thy servant.'

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