Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

6. Chapter VI (continued)

'See!' cried he, 'your goddess cannot avenge herself. Is this a thing to worship?'

Further words were denied to him: so gross and daring a sacrilege--of one, too, of the most sacred of their places of worship--filled even the most lukewarm with rage and horror. With one accord the crowd rushed upon him, seized, and but for the interference of the centurion, they would have torn him to pieces.

'Peace!' said the soldier, authoritatively--'refer we this insolent blasphemer to the proper tribunal--time has been already wasted. Bear we both the culprits to the magistrates; place the body of the priest on the litter--carry it to his own home.'

At this moment a priest of Isis stepped forward. 'I claim these remains, according to the custom of the priesthood.'

'The flamen be obeyed,' said the centurion. 'How is the murderer?'

'Insensible or asleep.'

'Were his crimes less, I could pity him. On!'

Arbaces, as he turned, met the eye of that priest of Isis--it was Calenus; and something there was in that glance, so significant and sinister, that the Egyptian muttered to himself:

'Could he have witnessed the deed?'

A girl darted from the crowd, and gazed hard on the face of Olinthus. 'By Jupiter, a stout knave! I say, we shall have a man for the tiger now; one for each beast!'

'Ho!' shouted the mob; 'a man for the lion, and another for the tiger! What luck! Io Paean!'

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