Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

10. Chapter X


AND meekly, softly, beautifully, dawned at last the light over the trembling deep!--the winds were sinking into rest--the foam died from the glowing azure of that delicious sea. Around the east, thin mists caught gradually the rosy hues that heralded the morning; Light was about to resume her reign. Yet, still, dark and massive in the distance, lay the broken fragments of the destroying cloud, from which red streaks, burning dimlier and more dim, betrayed the yet rolling fires of the mountain of the 'Scorched Fields'. The white walls and gleaming columns that had adorned the lovely coasts were no more. Sullen and dull were the shores so lately crested by the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The darlings of the deep were snatched from her embrace! Century after century shall the mighty Mother stretch forth her azure arms, and know them not--moaning round the sepulchres of the Lost!

There was no shout from the mariners at the dawning light--it had come too gradually, and they were too wearied for such sudden bursts of joy--but there was a low, deep murmur of thankfulness amidst those watchers of the long night. They looked at each other and smiled--they took heart--they felt once more that there was a world around, and a God above them! And in the feeling that the worst was passed, the overwearied ones turned round, and fell placidly to sleep. In the growing light of the skies there came the silence which night had wanted: and the bark drifted calmly onward to its port. A few other vessels, bearing similar fugitives, might be seen in the expanse, apparently motionless, yet gliding also on. There was a sense of security, of companionship, and of hope, in the sight of their slender masts and white sails. What beloved friends, lost and missed in the gloom, might they not bear to safety and to shelter!

In the silence of the general sleep, Nydia rose gently. She bent over the face of Glaucus--she inhaled the deep breath of his heavy slumber--timidly and sadly she kissed his brow--his lips; she felt for his hand--it was locked in that of Ione; she sighed deeply, and her face darkened. Again she kissed his brow, and with her hair wiped from it the damps of night. 'May the gods bless you, Athenian!' she murmured: 'may you be happy with your beloved one!--may you sometimes remember Nydia! Alas! she is of no further use on earth!'

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