BOOK THE THIRD
5. Chapter V
Apaecides had not yet adopted formally the Christian faith, but he was
already on the brink of it. He already participated the doctrines of
Olinthus--he already imagined that the lively imaginations of the heathen
were the suggestions of the arch-enemy of mankind. The innocent and natural
answer of Ione made him shudder. He hastened to reply vehemently, and yet
so confusedly, that Ione feared for his reason more than she dreaded his
'Ah, my brother!' said she, 'these hard duties of thine have shattered thy
very sense. Come to me, Apaecides, my brother, my own brother; give me thy
hand, let me wipe the dew from thy brow--chide me not now, I understand thee
not; think only that Ione could not offend thee!'
'Ione,' said Apaecides, drawing her towards him, and regarding her tenderly,
'can I think that this beautiful form, this kind heart, may be destined to
an eternity of torment?'
'Dii meliora! the gods forbid!' said Ione, in the customary form of words by
which her contemporaries thought an omen might be averted.
The words, and still more the superstition they implied, wounded the ear of
Apaecides. He rose, muttering to himself, turned from the chamber, then,
stopping, half way, gazed wistfully on Ione, and extended his arms.
Ione flew to them in joy; he kissed her earnestly, and then he said:
'Farewell, my sister! when we next meet, thou mayst be to me as nothing;
take thou, then, this embrace--full yet of all the tender reminiscences of
childhood, when faith and hope, creeds, customs, interests, objects, were
the same to us. Now, the tie is to be broken!'
With these strange words he left the house.
The great and severest trial of the primitive Christians was indeed this;
their conversion separated them from their dearest bonds. They could not
associate with beings whose commonest actions, whose commonest forms of
speech, were impregnated with idolatry. They shuddered at the blessing of
love, to their ears it was uttered in a demon's name. This, their
misfortune, was their strength; if it divided them from the rest of the
world, it was to unite them proportionally to each other. They were men of
iron who wrought forth the Word of God, and verily the bonds that bound them
were of iron also!