Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

10. Chapter X (continued)

His primary object, with respect to the unfortunate Neapolitan, was that which he had really stated to Clodius, viz., to prevent her interesting herself actively in the trial of Glaucus, and also to guard against her accusing him (which she would, doubtless, have done) of his former act of perfidy and violence towards her, his ward--denouncing his causes for vengeance against Glaucus--unveiling the hypocrisy of his character--and casting any doubt upon his veracity in the charge which he had made against the Athenian. Not till he had encountered her that morning--not till he had heard her loud denunciations--was he aware that he had also another danger to apprehend in her suspicion of his crime. He hugged himself now at the thought that these ends were effected: that one, at once the object of his passion and his fear, was in his power. He believed more than ever the flattering promises of the stars; and when he sought Ione in that chamber in the inmost recesses of his mysterious mansion to which he had consigned her--when he found her overpowered by blow upon blow, and passing from fit to fit, from violence to torpor, in all the alternations of hysterical disease--he thought more of the loveliness which no frenzy could distort than of the woe which he had brought upon her. In that sanguine vanity common to men who through life have been invariably successful, whether in fortune or love, he flattered himself that when Glaucus had perished--when his name was solemnly blackened by the award of a legal judgment, his title to her love for ever forfeited by condemnation to death for the murder of her own brother--her affection would be changed to horror; and that his tenderness and his passion, assisted by all the arts with which he well knew how to dazzle woman's imagination, might elect him to that throne in her heart from which his rival would be so awfully expelled. This was his hope: but should it fail, his unholy and fervid passion whispered, 'At the worst, now she is in my power.'

Yet, withal, he felt that uneasiness and apprehension which attended upon the chance of detection, even when the criminal is insensible to the voice of conscience--that vague terror of the consequences of crime, which is often mistaken for remorse at the crime itself. The buoyant air of Campania weighed heavily upon his breast; he longed to hurry from a scene where danger might not sleep eternally with the dead; and, having Ione now in his possession, he secretly resolved, as soon as he had witnessed the last agony of his rival, to transport his wealth--and her, the costliest treasure of all, to some distant shore.

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