BOOK THE THIRD
8. Chapter VIII
'Admit her,' said the Egyptian: for a moment his vain heart dreamed the
stranger might be Ione.
The first glance of the visitor now entering the apartment sufficed to
undeceive so erring a fancy. True, she was about the same height as Ione,
and perhaps the same age--true, she was finely and richly formed--but where
was that undulating and ineffable grace which accompanied every motion of
the peerless Neapolitan--the chaste and decorous garb, so simple even in the
care of its arrangement--the dignified yet bashful step--the majesty of
womanhood and its modesty?
'Pardon me that I rise with pain,' said Arbaces, gazing on the stranger: 'I
am still suffering from recent illness.'
'Do not disturb thyself, O great Egyptian!' returned Julia, seeking to
disguise the fear she already experienced beneath the ready resort of
flattery; 'and forgive an unfortunate female, who seeks consolation from thy
'Draw near, fair stranger,' said Arbaces; 'and speak without apprehension or
Julia placed herself on a seat beside the Egyptian, and wonderingly gazed
around an apartment whose elaborate and costly luxuries shamed even the
ornate enrichment of her father's mansion; fearfully, too, she regarded the
hieroglyphical inscriptions on the walls--the faces of the mysterious
images, which at every corner gazed upon her--the tripod at a little
distance--and, above all, the grave and remarkable countenance of Arbaces
himself: a long white robe like a veil half covered his raven locks, and
flowed to his feet: his face was made even more impressive by its present
paleness; and his dark and penetrating eyes seemed to pierce the shelter of
her veil, and explore the secrets of her vain and unfeminine soul.
'And what,' said his low, deep voice, 'brings thee, O maiden! to the house
of the Eastern stranger?'
'His fame,' replied Julia.
'In what?' said he, with a strange and slight smile.
'Canst thou ask, O wise Arbaces? Is not thy knowledge the very gossip theme