BOOK THE FOURTH
14. Chapter XIV
'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
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
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!