BOOK THE THIRD
9. Chapter IX
'How beautiful!' said Glaucus, in a half-whispered tone, 'is that expression
by which we call Earth our Mother! With what a kindly equal love she pours
her blessings upon her children! and even to those sterile spots to which
Nature has denied beauty, she yet contrives to dispense her smiles: witness
the arbutus and the vine, which she wreathes over the arid and burning soil
of yon extinct volcano. Ah! in such an hour and scene as this, well might
we imagine that the Faun should peep forth from those green festoons; or,
that we might trace the steps of the Mountain Nymph through the thickest
mazes of the glade. But the Nymphs ceased, beautiful Ione, when thou wert
There is no tongue that flatters like a lover's; and yet, in the
exaggeration of his feelings, flattery seems to him commonplace. Strange and
prodigal exuberance, which soon exhausts itself by overflowing!
They arrived at the ruins; they examined them with that fondness with which
we trace the hallowed and household vestiges of our own ancestry--they
lingered there till Hesperus appeared in the rosy heavens; and then
returning homeward in the twilight, they were more silent than they had
been; for in the shadow and beneath the stars they felt more oppressively
their mutual love.
It was at this time that the storm which the Egyptian had predicted began to
creep visibly over them. At first, a low and distant thunder gave warning
of the approaching conflict of the elements; and then rapidly rushed above
the dark ranks of the serried clouds. The suddenness of storms in that
climate is something almost preternatural, and might well suggest to early
superstition the notion of a divine agency--a few large drops broke heavily
among the boughs that half overhung their path, and then, swift and
intolerably bright, the forked lightning darted across their very eyes, and
was swallowed up by the increasing darkness.
'Swifter, good Carrucarius!' cried Glaucus to the driver; 'the tempest comes
The slave urged on the mules--they went swift over the uneven and stony
road--the clouds thickened, near and more near broke the thunder, and fast
rushed the dashing rain.