Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

14. Chapter XIV (continued)

'They accuse the Athenian of murder: canst thou disprove the accusation?'

'Only free me, and the proudest head of Pompeii is not more safe than his. I saw the deed done--I saw Arbaces strike the blow; I can convict the true murderer and acquit the innocent man. But if I perish, he dies also. Dost thou interest thyself for him? Oh, blessed stranger, in my heart is the urn which condemns or frees him!'

'And thou wilt give full evidence of what thou knowest?'

'Will!--Oh! were hell at my feet--yes! Revenge on the false Egyptian!--revenge!--revenge! revenge!'

As through his ground teeth Calenus shrieked forth those last words, Nydia felt that in his worst passions was her certainty of his justice to the Athenian. Her heart beat: was it to be her proud destiny to preserve her idolized--her adored? Enough,' said she, 'the powers that conducted me hither will carry me through all. Yes, I feel that I shall deliver thee. Wait in patience and hope.'

'But be cautious, be prudent, sweet stranger. Attempt not to appeal to Arbaces--he is marble. Seek the praetor--say what thou knowest--obtain his writ of search; bring soldiers, and smiths of cunning--these locks are wondrous strong! Time flies--I may starve--starve! if you are not quick! Go--go! Yet stay--it is horrible to be alone!--the air is like a charnel--and the scorpions--ha! and the pale larvae; oh! stay, stay!'

'Nay,' said Nydia, terrified by the terror of the priest, and anxious to confer with herself--'nay, for thy sake, I must depart. Take hope for thy companion--farewell!'

So saying, she glided away, and felt with extended arms along the pillared space until she had gained the farther end of the hall and the mouth of the passage that led to the upper air. But there she paused; she felt that it would be more safe to wait awhile, until the night was so far blended with the morning that the whole house would be buried in sleep, and so that she might quit it unobserved. she, therefore, once more laid herself down, and counted the weary moments. In her sanguine heart, joy was the predominant emotion. Glaucus was in deadly peril--but she should save him!

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