Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

5. Chapter V (continued)

'I swear by Venus, by Diana, and by Juno, that though I have now the world on my shoulders, as my countryman Hercules (ah, dull Rome! whoever was truly great was of Greece; why, you would be godless if it were not for us!)--I say, as my countryman Hercules had before me, I would let it fall into chaos for one smile from Ione. Ah, Beautiful,--Adored,' he added, in a voice inexpressibly fond and plaintive, 'thou lovest me not. Thou art unkind to me. The Egyptian hath belied me to thee--thou knowest not what hours I have spent beneath thy casement--thou knowest not how I have outwatched the stars, thinking thou, my sun, wouldst rise at last--and thou lovest me not, thou forsakest me! Oh! do not leave me now! I feel that my life will not be long; let me gaze on thee at least unto the last. I am of the bright land of thy fathers--I have trod the heights of Phyle--I have gathered the hyacinth and rose amidst the olive-groves of Ilyssus. Thou shouldst not desert me, for thy fathers were brothers to my own. And they say this land is lovely, and these climes serene, but I will bear thee with me--Ho! dark form, why risest thou like a cloud between me and mine? Death sits calmly dread upon thy brow--on thy lip is the smile that slays: thy name is Orcus, but on earth men call thee Arbaces. See, I know thee! fly, dim shadow, thy spells avail not!'

'Glaucus! Glaucus!' murmured Nydia, releasing her hold and falling, beneath the excitement of her dismay, remorse, and anguish, insensible on the floor.

'Who calls?' said he in a loud voice. 'Ione, it is she! they have borne her off--we will save her--where is my stilus? Ha, I have it! I come, Ione, to thy rescue! I come! I come!'

So saying, the Athenian with one bound passed the portico, he traversed the house, and rushed with swift but vacillating steps, and muttering audibly to himself, down the starlit streets. The direful potion burnt like fire in his veins, for its effect was made, perhaps, still more sudden from the wine he had drunk previously. Used to the excesses of nocturnal revellers, the citizens, with smiles and winks, gave way to his reeling steps; they naturally imagined him under the influence of the Bromian god, not vainly worshipped at Pompeii; but they who looked twice upon his face started in a nameless fear, and the smile withered from their lips. He passed the more populous streets; and, pursuing mechanically the way to Ione's house, he traversed a more deserted quarter, and entered now the lonely grove of Cybele, in which Apaecides had held his interview with Olinthus.

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