A Thorny Path — Volume 09
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A Thorny Path — Volume 09


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The Project Gutenberg EBook A Thorny Path, by Georg Ebers, v9 #99 in our series by Georg EbersCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: A Thorny Path, Volume 9.Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5538] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first postedon July 19, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK A THRONY PATH, BY EBERS, V9 ***This eBook was produced by David Widger [NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author'sideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W ...



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TGheeo rPgr oEjbeectr sG, uvt9e n#b9e9 rign  EoBuro oske riAe sT hboyr nGye oPragt hE, bbeyrssCuorpey triog chth leacwk st haer ec ocphyarniggihnt gl aawll so fvoerr  ytohuer  wcooruldn.t rByebefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.vTiheiws inhge atdhiesr  Psrhoojeulcdt  bGeu ttehne bfierrsgt  tfihlien. gP lseeaesne  wdho ennotremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts***C*oEmBopoutkesr sR, eSaidnacbel e1 9B7y1 *B*oth Humans and By*****These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****Title: A Thorny Path, Volume 9.
Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5538] [Yes, weare more than one year ahead of schedule] [Thisfile was first posted on July 19, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*E*B* OSTOAK RAT  TOHFR TOHNEY  PPRAOTJHE, CBTY  GEBUETERNS,B VE9R *G**This eBook was produced by David Widger<widger@cecomet.net>[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, orpwiosinht teor ss, aamt tphlee  tehned  aouft thhoer' sfi lied efoars  tbheofsoer ew hmoa kminagyan entire meal of them. D.W.]A THORNY PATH
By Georg EbersVolume 9.CHAPTER XXVIThe lady Euryale's silent prayer was interrupted bythe return of Alexander. He brought the clotheswhich Seleukus's wife had given him for Melissa.He was already dressed in his best, and crownedlike all those who occupied the first seats in theCircus; but his festal garb accorded ill with thepained look on his features, from which every tracehad vanished of the overflowing joy in life whichhad embellished them only this morning.He had seen and heard things which made him feelthat it would no longer be a sacrifice to give his lifeto save his sister.Sad thoughts had flitted across his cheerful spiritlike dark bats, even while he was talking withMelissa and her protectress, for he knew well howinfinitely hard his father would find it to have to quitAlexandria; and if he himself fled with Melissa hewould be obliged to give up the winning of fairAgatha. The girl's Christian father had indeedreceived him kindly, but had given him tounderstand plainly enough that he would neverallow a professed heathen to sue for his daughter's
hand. Besides this, he had met with otherhumiliations which placed themselves like a wallbetween him and his beloved, the only child of arich and respected man. He had forfeited the rightof appearing before Zeus as a suitor; for indeed hewas no longer such as he had been onlyyesterday.The news that Caracalla proposed to marryMelissa had been echoed by insolent tongues, withthe addition that he, Alexander, had ingratiatedhimself with Caesar by serving him as a spy. Noone had expressly said this to him; but, while hewas hurrying through the city in Caesar's chariot,on the ladies' message, it had been made veryplain to his apprehension. Honest men had avoidedhim—him to whom hitherto every one for whoseregard he cared had held out a friendly hand; andmuch else that he had experienced in the course ofthis drive had been unpleasant enough to give riseto a change of his whole inner being.The feeling that every one was pointing at him thefinger of scorn, or of wrath, had never ceased topursue him. And he had been under no illusion; forwhen he met the old sculptor Lysander, who onlyyesterday had so kindly told him and Melissa aboutCaesar's mother, as he nodded from the chariothis greeting was not returned; and the honest artisthad waved his hand with a gesture which noAlexandrian could fail to understand as meaning, "Ino longer know you, and do not wish to berecognized by you."
He had from his childhood loved Diodoros as abrother, and in one of the side streets, down whichthe chariot had turned to avoid the tumult in theKanopic way, Alexander had seen his old friend.He had desired the charioteer to stop, and hadleaped out on the road to speak to Diodoros andgive him at once Melissa's message; but the youngman had turned his back with evident displeasure,and to the painter's pathetic appeal, "But, at anyrate, hear me!" he answered, sharply: "The less Ihear of you and yours the better for me. Go on—go on, in Caesar's chariot!"With this he had turned away and knocked at thedoor of an architect who was known to them both;and Alexander, tortured with painful feelings, hadgone on, and for the first time the idea had takenpossession of him that he had indeed descendedto the part of spy when he had betrayed to Caesarwhat Alexandrian wit had to say about him. Hecould, of course, tell himself that he would ratherhave faced death or imprisonment than havebetrayed to Caracalla the name of one of thegibers; still, he had to admit to himself that, but forthe hope of saving his father and brother fromdeath and imprisonment, he would hardly havedone Caesar such service. The mercy shown tothem was certainly too like payment, and his ownpart in the matter struck him as hateful and base.His fellow-townsmen had a right to bear him agrudge, and his friends to keep out of his way. Afeeling came over him of bitter self-contempt,hitherto strange to him; and he understood for thefirst time how Philip could regard life as a burden
and call it a malicious Danaus-gift of the gods.When, finally, in the Kanopic way, close in front ofSeleukus's house, a youth unknown to him cried,scornfully, as the chariot was slowly making its waythrough the throng, "The brother-in-law ofTarautas!" he had great difficulty in restraininghimself from leaping down and letting the rascalfeel the weight of his fists. He knew, too, thatTarautas was the name of a hateful andbloodthirsty gladiator which had been given as anickname to Caesar in Rome; and when he heardthe insolent fellow's cry taken up by the mob, whoshouted after him, "Tarautas's brother-in-law!"wherever he went, he felt as though he were beingpelted with mire and stones.It would have been a real comfort to him if theearth would have opened to swallow him with thechariot, to hide him from the sight of men. Hecould have burst out crying like a child that hasbeen beaten. When at last he was safe insideSeleukus's house, he was easier; for here he wasknown; here he would be understood. Berenikemust know what he thought of Caesar's suit, andseeing her wholesome and honest hatred, he hadsworn to himself that he would snatch his sisterfrom the hands of the tyrant, if it were to lead himto the most agonizing death.While she was engaged in selecting a dress for herprotegee, he related to the lady Euryale what hadhappened to him in the street and in the house ofSeleukus. He had been conducted past thesoldiers in the vestibule and impluvium to the lady's
private rooms, and there he had been witness to aviolent matrimonial dispute. Seleukus hadpreviously delivered to his wife Caesar's commandthat she should appear in the Amphitheater withthe other noble dames of the city. Her answer wasa bitter laugh, and a declaration that she wouldmingle with the spectators in none but mourningrobes. Thereupon her husband, pointing out to herthe danger to which such conduct would exposethem, had raised objections, and she at last hadseemed to yield. When Alexander joined her hehad found her in a splendid dress of shining purplebrocade, her black hair crowned with a wreath ofroses, and a splendid diadem; a garland of roseshung across her bosom, and precious stonessparkled round her throat and arms. In short, shewas arrayed like a happy mother for her daughter'swedding-day.Soon after Alexander's arrival Seleukus had comein, and this conspicuously handsome dress, sounbecoming to the matron's age, and so unlike herusual attire-chosen, evidently, to put themonstrosity of Caesar's demand in the strongestlight—had roused her husband's wrath. He hadexpressed his dissatisfaction in strong terms, andagain pointed out to her the danger in which such adaring demonstration might involve them; but thistime there was no moving the lady; she would notdespoil herself of a single rose. After she hadsolemnly declared that she would appear in theCircus either as she thought fit or not at all, herhusband had left her in anger.
"What a fool she is!" Euryale exclaimed.Then she showed him a white robe of beautifulbombyx, woven in the isle of Kos, which she haddecided on for Melissa, and a peplos with a borderof tender sea-green; and Alexander approved ofthe choice.Time pressed, and Euryale went at once to Melissawith the new festal raiment. Once more shenodded kindly to the girl, and begged her, as sheherself had something to discuss with Alexander,to allow the waiting- woman to dress her. She feltas if she were bringing the robe to a condemnedcreature, in which she was to be led to execution,and Melissa felt the same.Euryale then returned to the painter, and bade himend his narrative.The lady Berenike had forthwith desired Johannato pack together all the dead Korinna's festaldresses. Alexander had then followed herguidance, accompanying her to a court in theslaves' quarters, where a number of men wereawaiting her. These were the captains ofSeleukus's ships, which were now in port, and thesuperintendents of his granaries and offices,altogether above a hundred freedmen in themerchant's service. Each one seemed to knowwhat he was here for.Twihteh  am awtorrodn  orfe sthpaonnkdse, d atnod t haedidr ehde, abrittyt egrrlye:etings
"You see before you a mourning mother whom aruthless tyrant compels to go to a festival thus—thus—only look at me—bedizened like a peacock!"At this the bearded assembly gave loud expressionto their dissatisfaction, but Berenike went on"Melapompus has taken care to secure goodplaces; but he has wisely not taken them alltogether. You are all free men; I have no orders togive you. But, if you are indeed indignant at thescorn and heart-ache inflicted on your lord's wife,make it known in the Circus to him who hasbrought them on her. You are all past your firstyouth, and will carefully avoid any rashness whichmay involve you in ruin. May the avenging gods aidand protect you!"With this she had turned her back on the multitude;but Johannes, the Christian lawyer, the chieffreedman of the household, had hurried into thecourt-yard, just in time to entreat her to give up thisill-starred demonstration, and to extinguish the fireshe had tried to kindle. So long as Caesar wore thepurple, rebellion against him, to whom the Divinityhad intrusted the sovereignty, was a sin. Thescheme she was plotting was meant to punish himwho had pained her; but she forgot that it mightcost these brave men, husbands and fathers, theirlife or liberty. The vengeance she called on them totake might be balm to the wounds of her ownheart; but if Caesar in his wrath broughtdestruction down on these, her innocentinstruments, that balm would turn to burningpoison.
These words, whispered to her with entireconviction, had not been without their effect. Forsome minutes Berenike had stared gloomily at theground; but then she had again approached theassembly, to repeat the warning given her by theChristian, whom all respected, and by whom someindeed had been persuaded to be baptized."Johannes is right," she ended. "This ill-used heartdid wrong when it sent up its cry of anguish beforeyou. Rather will I be trodden under foot by theenemy, as is the manner of the Christians, thanbring such misfortune on innocent men, who are sofaithful to our house. Be cautious, then. Give noovert expression to your feelings. Let each onewho feels too weak to control his wrath, avoid theCircus; and those who go, keep still if they feelmoved to act in my behalf. One thing only you maydo. Tell every one, far and wide, what I hadpurposed. What others may do, they themselvesmust answer for."The Christian had strongly disapproved of this lastclause; but Berenike had paid no heed, and hadleft the court-yard, followed by Alexander.The shouts of the indignant multitude had rung intheir ears, and, in spite of her warning, they hadsounded like a terrible threat. Johannes, to besure, had remained, to move them to moderationby further remonstrances."aWnxhioatu swlye rber tohkee  imn;a da ncdr ehaet uhraesst ilpyl owttienngt ?o" n E"uTrhyealye