Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

13. Chapter XIII (continued)

       Spectre of the viewless air!
        Hear the blind Thessalian's prayer!
        By Erictho's art, that shed
        Dews of life when life was fled--
       By lone Ithaca's wise king,

        Who could wake the crystal spring
        To the voice of prophecy?
        By the lost Eurydice,
        Summon'd from the shadowy throng,
        As the muse-son's magic song--
       By the Colchian's awful charms,
        When fair-haired Jason left her arms-

       Spectre of the airy halls,
        One who owns thee duly calls!
        Breathe along the brimming bowl,
        And instruct the fearful soul
        In the shadowy things that lie
        Dark in dim futurity.
        Come, wild demon of the air,
        Answer to thy votary's prayer!
          Come! oh, come!

       And no god on heaven or earth--
       Not the Paphian Queen of Mirth,
        Not the vivid Lord of Light,
        Nor the triple Maid of Night,
        Nor the Thunderer's self shall be
        Blest and honour'd more than thee!
          Come! oh, come!

'The spectre is certainly coming,' said Sosia. 'I feel him running along my hair!'

'Place thy bowl of water on the ground. Now, then, give me thy napkin, and let me fold up thy face and eyes.'

'Ay! that's always the custom with these charms. Not so tight, though: gently--gently!'

'There--thou canst not see?'

'See, by Jupiter! No! nothing but darkness.'

'Address, then, to the spectre whatever question thou wouldst ask him, in a low-whispered voice, three times. If thy question is answered in the affirmative, thou wilt hear the water ferment and bubble before the demon breathes upon it; if in the negative, the water will be quite silent.'

'But you will not play any trick with the water, eh?'

'Let me place the bowl under thy feet--so. Now thou wilt perceive that I cannot touch it without thy knowledge.'

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