BOOK THE FOURTH
12. Chapter XII
'It is a lovely night,' said Arbaces--'blue and beautiful as that on which,
twenty years ago, the shores of Italy first broke upon my view. My Calenus,
age creeps upon us--let us, at least, feel that we have lived.'
'Thou, at least, mayst arrogate that boast,' said Calenus, beating about, as
it were, for an opportunity to communicate the secret which weighed upon
him, and feeling his usual awe of Arbaces still more impressively that
night, from the quiet and friendly tone of dignified condescension which the
Egyptian assumed--'Thou, at least, mayst arrogate that boast. Thou hast had
countless wealth--a frame on whose close-woven fibres disease can find no
space to enter--prosperous love--inexhaustible pleasure--and, even at this
hour, triumphant revenge.'
'Thou alludest to the Athenian. Ay, to-morrow's sun the fiat of his death
will go forth. The senate does not relent. But thou mistakest: his death
gives me no other gratification than that it releases me from a rival in the
affections of Ione. I entertain no other sentiment of animosity against
that unfortunate homicide.'
'Homicide!' repeated Calenus, slowly and meaningly; and, halting as he
spoke, he fixed his eyes upon Arbaces. The stars shone pale and steadily on
the proud face of their prophet, but they betrayed there no change: the eyes
of Calenus fell disappointed and abashed. He continued rapidly--'Homicide!
it is well to charge him with that crime; but thou, of all men, knowest that
he is innocent.'
'Explain thyself,' said Arbaces, coldly; for he had prepared himself for the
hint his secret fears had foretold.
'Arbaces,' answered Calenus, sinking his voice into a whisper, 'I was in the
sacred grove, sheltered by the chapel and the surrounding foliage. I
overheard--I marked the whole. I saw thy weapon pierce the heart of
Apaecides. I blame not the deed--it destroyed a foe and an apostate.'
'Thou sawest the whole!' said Arbaces, dryly; 'so I imagined--thou wert
'Alone!' returned Calenus, surprised at the Egyptian's calmness.
'And wherefore wert thou hid behind the chapel at that hour?'