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- Serapis, Volume 6. - 5/10 -
the last, till he finally gave way and eat it.
When they had finished Dada's purchases to the last mouthful she asked him, for the first time, where he meant to take her, and be said he intended placing her in the house of his former tutor, Eusebius, the deacon, where she would be a welcome guest and find her old companion Agne. Of this she was sincerely glad; and when, on hearing the title of Deacon, she questioned Marcus further, and identified Eusebius as the worthy old man whose discourse in the basilica had so deeply impressed her, she told Marcus how she had gone into the church, and how, from that hour, she had felt at peace. A quite new feeling had sprung up in her soul, and since then she had constantly longed to see him again and talk it all over with him:--The little she had learnt of Christian doctrine did her heart good and had given her comfort and courage. The world was so beautiful, and there were many more good men than bad. It was a pleasure to love one's neighbor, and as for forgiving a wrong--that she had never found difficult. It must be good to live on earth if everyone loved his neighbor as she loved him and he loved her; and life could not be a great hardship if in every trouble there was some one who was always ready to hear our cry and help us, out of pure beneficence.
Her innocent talk was to Marcus the greatest marvel of this day of miracles. The soul which he had dreamed that he was called to save had, of its own accord, turned to walk in the path of salvation; he went on to tell her of the things which he felt to be most sublime and glorious in his creed, and at length he confessed that, though he had always loved his neighbor for Christ's sake, never till now had true and perfect love been revealed to him. No power on earth could now part him from her, and when she should have been baptized there would be no further difficulty; their love might last till, and beyond, death, through all the ages of eternity. And she listened to him, perfectly content; and said that she was his, wholly his, now, and for ever and ever.
There were to-day but few people in the garden which was usually full in the afternoon, of idlers, and of children with their nurses; but the disturbance in the streets had kept these at home, and the idlers had found more to attract them at the Hippodrome and in the crowded roads. This favored the lovers, who could sit hand in hand, looking into each other's eyes; and when old Phabis, who had lost sight of them long since, at length discovered them in the park, he could see from his lurking- place as he crept closer, that his young master, after glancing cautiously round, pressed a kiss on the little singer's hair, and then on her eyes and at last on her lips.
The hours flew fast between serious talk and delightful dalliance, and when they tore themselves away from their quiet retreat it was already dusk. They soon found themselves in the Canopic way, in the thick of the crowd which they were now occasionally obliged to meet, for those who were making homewards had long since dispersed, and thousands were still crowding to the Hippodrome where a brisk fight was still going on. As they passed his mother's house Marcus paused and, pointing it out to Dada, told her that the day was not far distant when he should bring her home hither. But the girl's face fell.
"Oh no!" she exclaimed, in a low voice. "Not here-not to this great palace in a street. Let us live in a little house, quite quietly, by ourselves. A house with a garden, and a seat in the shade. Your mother lives here!"
And then she blushed scarlet and looked down. He guessed, however, what was passing in her mind, and bid her only to have patience, for as soon as she was a baptized Christian Eusebius would intercede for her. And he spoke warmly of his mother's piety and virtues, and asked Dada if she had seen her at the races.
"Yes," she replied timidly; and when he went on to ask her if she had not thought Mary very handsome and dignified, she answered frankly: "Yes-- very; but then she is so tall and grand-looking-she must wish for a daughter-in-law very different from a poor, forsaken orphan like me--a mere singer, looked down upon by every one! It is different with you; you are satisfied with me as I am, and you know that I love you. If I never find my uncle again I have no one on earth to care for me but you; but I want no other, for you are my one and only hope, and to live for you and with you is enough. Only you must never leave me or I shall die! But you never can, for you told me that my soul was dearer to you than your own life; and so long as I have you and your love I shall grow better and better every day; but if you ever let me be parted from you I shall be utterly lost. Yes, understand that once for all--ruined and lost, body and soul!--I do not know what it is that terrifies me, but do let us go on, away from this house. Suppose your mother were to see us!"
He did as she wished and tried to soothe her, praising his mother's virtues with the affectionate blindness of a son; but she only half listened to his eulogy, for, as they approached Rhacotis the throng grew denser, they had no opportunities for conversation, they could think of nothing but battling their way through the crowd; still, they were happy.
[The quarter of the city inhabited by the Egyptians. It was the old town close to which Alexander the Great built his splendid new city.]
They thus got to the street of the Sun--one of the main arteries of the city cutting the Canopic way at right angles--and they went down it towards the Gate of Helios in the south wall. The Serapeum lay to their right, several streets leading to it from the street of the Sun. To reach the house where Eusebius lived they ought to have turned down the street of the Acropolis, but a compact mass of frenzied creatures came storming down it from the Serapeum, and towards them. The sun was now fast setting over the City of the Dead on the western horizon. Marcus tried to get out of the middle of the road and place Dada in safety by the house at the corner, but in vain; the rabble that came crowding out of the side street was mad with excitement, and could think of nothing but the trophies it had snatched from the temple. Several dozen men, black and white alike--and among them some monks and even women, had harnessed themselves to an enormous truck, commonly used for the carriage of beams, columns, and heavy blocks of stone, on which they had erected a huge but shapeless mass of wood, the core, and all that remained, of the image of Serapis; this they were dragging through the streets.
"To the Hippodrome! Burn it! Down with the idols! Look at the divine form of Serapis! Behold the god!"
These were the cries that rent the air from a thousand throats, an ear- splitting accompaniment to the surging storm of humanity.
The monks had torn the desecrated block from the niche in the Serapeum, hauled it through the courts on to the steps, and were now taking it to the arena where it was to be burnt. Others of their kidney, and some of the Christian citizens who had caught the destructive mania, had forced their way into the temple of Anubis, hard by the Serapeumn, where they had overthrown and wrecked the jackal-headed idols and the Canopic gods --four huge jars with lids representing respectively a man's head, an ape's, a hawk's and a jackal's. They were now bearing these heads in triumph, while others were shouldering the limbs of broken statues of Apollo, of Athene, or of Aphrodite, or carrying the fragments in baskets to cast them into the flames in the Hippodrome after the wooden stock of the great Serapis. The mob had broken off the noses of all the heads, had smeared the marble with pitch, or painted it grossly with the red paint they had found in the writing-rooms of the Sera peum. Every one who could get near enough to the remains of the statue, or to a fragment of a ruined idol, spit upon it, struck it or thrust at it; and not a heathen had, as yet, dared to interfere.
Behind the oak block of the image of Serapis and the other trophies of victory, came an endless stream of men of all ages, of monks and of women, compelling a large carruca--[A four-wheeled chariot used in the city and for travelling.]--that had fallen into their hands, and which they had completely surrounded, to keep pace with them. The two fine horses that drew it had to be led by the bridle; they were trembling with terror and excitement and made repeated attempts to kick over the pole or to rear.
In this vehicle was Porphyrius, who had fully recovered consciousness, and by his side sat Gorgo. Constantine had not stirred from the side of the convalescent till Apuleius had pronounced him out of all danger; but then the young officer's duty had called him away. The merchant had hailed the news of his daughter's, union with the companion of her childhood as a most satisfactory and long-expected event.
A party of the Prefect's guards had been charged to bring the carriage for Porphyrius to the door of the temple, and the abbot of a monastery at Arsinoe, who was well known to the Prefect, undertook to escort them on their road home and protect them from the attacks of the raving mob. At the spot where the side street intersected the street of the Sun, and where Marcus and Dada had been forced to stop, unable either to proceed or to return, a troop of armed heathen had given the Christian rabble a check at the very moment when the carruca came up, and falling on the foe who had mocked and insulted their most sacred treasure, began a furious fray. Quite close to the young lovers a heathen cut down a Christian who was carrying the besmirched head of a Muse. Dada clung in terror to Marcus, who was beginning to be seriously alarmed for her when, looking round for aid or refuge, he caught sight of his brother forcing his way through the throng, and gesticulating vehemently. The farmer was telegraphing to the occupants of the carruca as well, and when he at last reached Marcus he briefly explained to him that the first thing to be done was to place Dada in safety.
Only too glad to be out of the crush and danger, the girl nimbly climbed into the chariot, and, after hastily greeting the father and daughter, signed to Marcus to follow her; but Demetrius held his brother back, and it was hurriedly agreed that Dada should be sent for that evening to the house of Porphyrius. Demetrius whispered a few words of enthusiastic praise of the little singer into Gorgo's ear; then the carriage moved on again. Many of the heathen who had collected round it recognized Porphyrius, the noble friend of the great Olympius, and cleared a passage for him, so that at last he got out of the gate uninjured, and turned into the quieter street of Euergetes which led to the temple of Isis, the ship-yard and the merchant's residence.
But few words were exchanged in the chariot, for it was only step by step and with considerable difficulty that the horses could get along. It was now quite dark and the mob had spread even into this usually deserted quarter.
A flaring glow that tinged the temple, the wharf and the deep sky itself with a gorgeous crimson glare, showed very plainly what the populace were employed in doing. The monks had set fire to the temple of Isis and the flames had been driven by the northwest wind down into the ship-yard, where they had found ample food in the enormous timber stacks and the skeletons of ships. Tall jets of rushing and crackling sparks were thrown skywards to mingle with the paler stars. Porphyrius could see what danger his house was in; but thanks to the old steward's foresight and the indefatigable diligence of the slaves, it escaped the conflagration.
The two brothers, meanwhile, had left the mob far behind them. Demetrius was not alone, and as soon as he had introduced Marcus to his companion, an abbot of friendly mien, the monk warmly expressed his pleasure at meeting another son of Apelles, to whom he had once owed his life. Demetrius then told his brother what his adventures had been during the
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