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- The Emperor, Part 2, Volume 6. - 9/9 -


The sculptor glanced round at the Emperor and answered, raising his stick for another blow:

"I am demolishing this caricature for it enrages me."

"Come here," shouted Hadrian, and clutching the girdle which confined the artist's chiton, in his strong sinewy hand, he dragged the startled sculptor in front of his Urania wrenched the lath out of his hand, struck the bust of the scarcely-finished statue off the body, exclaiming as he did so, in a voice that mimicked Pollux:

"I am demolishing this bungler's work for it enrages me!"

The artist's arms fell by his side; astonished and infuriated he stared at the destroyer of his handiwork, and cried out:

"Madman! this is enough. One blow more and you will feel the weight of my fists."

Hadrian laughed aloud, a cold hard laugh, flung the lath at Pollux's feet and said:

"Judgment against judgment--it is only fair."

"Fair?" shrieked Pollux, beside himself.

"Your wretched rubbish, which my squinting apprentice could have done as well as you, and this figure born in a moment of inspiration! Shame upon you! Once more, if you touch the Urania again I warn you, you shall learn--"

"Well, what?"

"That in Alexandria grey hairs are only respected so long as they deserve it."

Hadrian folded his arms, stepped quite close up to Pollux, and said:

"Gently, fellow, if you value your life."

Pollux stepped back before the imposing personage that stood before him, and, as it were scales, fell from his eyes. The marble statue of the Emperor in the Caesareum represented the sovereign in this same attitude. The architect, Claudius Venator, was none other than Hadrian.

The young artist turned pale and said with bowed head, and in low voice as he turned to go:

"Right is always on the side of the strongest. Let me go. I am nothing but a poor artist--you are some thing very different. I know you now; you are Caesar."

"I am Caesar," snarled Hadrian, "and if you think more of yourself as an artist than of me, I will show you which of us two is the sparrow, and which the eagle."

"You have the power to destroy, and I only desire--"

"The only person here who has a right to desire is myself," cried the Emperor, "and I desire that you shall never enter this palace again, nor ever come within sight of me so long as I remain here. What to do with your kith and kin I will consider. Not another word! Away with you, I say, and thank the gods that I judge the misdeed of a miserable boy more mercifully than you dared to do in judging the work of a greater man than yourself, though you knew that he had done it in an idle hour with a few hasty touches. Be off, fellow; my slaves will finish destroying your image there, for it deserves no better fate, and because--what was it you said just now? I remember--and because it enrages me."

A bitter laugh rang after the lad as he quitted the hall. At the entrance, which was perfectly dark, he found his master, Papias, who had not missed a word of what had passed between him and the Emperor. As Pollux went into his mother's house he cried out:

"Oh mother, mother, what a morning, and what an evening. Happiness is only the threshold to misery."

ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Happiness is only the threshold to misery When a friend refuses to share in joys


The Emperor, Part 2, Volume 6. - 9/9

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