The Sisters — Volume 3

The Sisters — Volume 3

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The Project Gutenberg EBook The Sisters, by Georg Ebers, v3 #25 in our series by Georg Ebers
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**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**
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Title: The Sisters, v3
Author: Georg Ebers
Release Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5463] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted
on May 12, 2002]
Edition: 10
Language: English
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE SISTERS, BY EBERS, V3 ***
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The Project Gutenberg EBook The Sisters, byGeorg Ebers, v3 #25 in our series by Georg EbersCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove 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****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****Title: The Sisters, v3
Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5463] [Yes, weare more than one year ahead of schedule] [Thisfile was first posted on May 12, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK THE SISTERS, BY EBERS, V3 ***This eBook was produced by David Widger<widger@cecomet.net>[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, orpointers, at the end of the file for those who maywish to sample the author's ideas before makingan entire meal of them. D.W.]THE SISTERS
By Georg EbersVolume 3.CHAPTER XII.While, in the vast peristyle, many a cup was stillbeing emptied, and the carousers were growingmerrier and noisier—while Cleopatra was abusingthe maids and ladies who were undressing her fortheir clumsiness and unreadiness, because everytouch hurt her, and every pin taken out of herdress pricked her—the Roman and his friendLysias walked up and down in their tent in violentagitation."Speak lower," said the Greek, "for the very griffinswoven into the tissue of these thin walls seem tome to be lying in wait, and listening."I certainly was not mistaken. When I came tofetch the gems I saw a light gleaming in thedoorway as I approached it; but the intruder musthave been warned, for just as I got up to thelantern in front of the servants' tent, it disappeared,and the torch which usually burns outside our tenthad not been lighted at all; but a beam of light fellon the road, and a man's figure slipped across in ablack robe sprinkled with gold ornaments which Isaw glitter as the pale light of the lantern fell upon
them—just as a slimy, black newt glides through apool. I have good eyes as you know, and I will giveone of them at this moment, if I am mistaken, andif the cat that stole into our tent was not Eulaeus.""And why did you not have him caught?" askedPublius, provoked."Because our tent was pitch-dark," replied Lysias,and that stout villain is as slippery as a badger withthe dogs at his heels, Owls, bats and such verminwhich seek their prey by night are all hideous tome, and this Eulaeus, who grins like a hyaenawhen he laughs—""This Eulaeus," said Publius, interrupting his friend,"shall learn to know me, and know too byexperience that a man comes to no good, whopicks a quarrel with my father's son.""But, in the first instance, you treated him withdisdain and discourtesy," said Lysias, "and thatwas not wise.""Wise, and wise, and wise!" the Roman broke out."He is a scoundrel. It makes no difference to me solong as he keeps out of my way; but when, as hasbeen the case for several days now, he constantlysticks close to me to spy upon me, and treats meas if he were my equal, I will show him that he ismistaken. He has no reason to complain of mywant of frankness; he knows my opinion of him,and that I am quite inclined to give him a thrashing.If I wanted to meet his cunning with cunning Ishould get the worst of it, for he is far superior to
should get the worst of it, for he is far superior tome in intrigue. I shall fare better with him by myown unconcealed mode of fighting, which is new tohim and puzzles him; besides it is better suited tomy own nature, and more consonant to me thanany other. He is not only sly, but is keen-witted,and he has at once connected the complaint whichI have threatened to bring against him with themanuscript which Serapion, the recluse, gave mein his presence. There it lies—only look."Now, being not merely crafty, but a daring rascaltoo—two qualities which generally contradict eachother, for no one who is really prudent lives indisobedience to the laws—he has secretly untiedthe strings which fastened it. But, you see, he hadnot time enough to tie the roll up again! He hasread it all or in part, and I wish him joy of thepicture of himself he will have found painted there.The anchorite wields a powerful pen, and paintswith a firm outline and strongly marked coloring. Ifhe has read the roll to the end it will spare me thetrouble of explaining to him what I purpose tocharge him with; if you disturbed him too soon Ishall have to be more explicit in my accusation. Bethat as it may, it is all the same to me.""Nay, certainly not," cried Lysias, "for in the firstcase Eulaeus will have time to meditate his lies,and bribe witnesses for his defence. If any oneentrusted me with such important papers—and if ithad not been you who neglected to do it—I wouldcarefully seal or lock them up. Where have you putthe despatch from the Senate which themessenger brought you just now?"
"That is locked up in this casket," replied Publius,moving his hand to press it more closely over hisrobe, under which he had carefully hidden it."May I not know what it contain?" asked theCorinthian."No, there is not time for that now, for we mustfirst, and at once, consider what can be done torepair the last mischief which you have done. Is itnot a disgraceful thing that you should betray thesweet creature whose childlike embarrassmentcharmed us this morning—of whom you yourselfsaid, as we came home, that she reminded you ofyour lovely sister—that you should betray her, Isay, into the power of the wildest of all theprofligates I ever met—to this monster, whosepleasures are the unspeakable, whose boast isvice? What has Euergetes—""By great Poseidon!" cried Lysias, eagerlyinterrupting his friend. "I never once thought of thissecond Alcibiades when I mentioned her. What canthe manager of a performance do, but all in hispower to secure the applause of the audience?and, by my honor! it was for my own sake that Iwanted to bring Irene into the palace—I am madwith love for her —she has undone me.""Aye! like Callista, and Phryne, and the flute-playerStephanion," interrupted the Roman, shrugging hisshoulders."How should it be different?" asked the Corinthian,
looking at his friend in astonishment. "Eros hasmany arrows in his quiver; one strikes deeply,another less deeply; and I believe that the wound Ihave received to-day will ache for many a week if Ihave to give up this child, who is even morecharming than the much-admired Hebe on ourcistern.""I advise you however to accustom yourself to theidea, and the sooner the better," said Publiusgravely, as he set himself with his arms crossed,directly in front of the Greek. "What would you feelinclined to do to me if I took a fancy to lure yourpretty sister—whom Irene, I repeat it, is said toresemble—to tempt her with base cunning fromyour parents' house?""I protest against any such comparison," cried theCorinthian very positively, and more genuinelyexasperated than the Roman had ever seen him."You are angry without cause," replied Publiuscalmly and gravely. "Your sister is a charming girl,the ornament of your illustrious house, and yet Idare compare the humble Irene—""With her! do you mean to say?" Lysias shoutedagain. "That is a poor return for the hospitalitywhich was shown to you by my parents and ofwhich you formally sang the praises. I am a good-natured fellow and will submit to more from youthan from any other man—I know not why, myself;—but in a matter like this I do not understand ajoke! My sister is the only daughter of the noblest
and richest house in Corinth and has many suitors.She is in no respect inferior to the child of your ownparents, and I should like to know what you wouldsay if I made so bold as to compare the proudLucretia with this poor little thing, who carries waterlike a serving-maid.""Do so, by all means!" interrupted Publius coolly, "Ido not take your rage amiss, for you do not knowwho these two sisters are, in the temple of Serapis.Besides, they do not fill their jars for men but in theservice of a god. Here—take this roll and read itthrough while I answer the despatch from Rome.Here! Spartacus, come and light a few morelamps."In a few minutes the two young men were sittingopposite each other at the table which stood in themiddle of their tent. Publius wrote busily, and onlylooked up when his friend, who was reading theanchorite's document, struck his hand on the tablein disgust or sprang from his seat ejaculating bitterwords of indignation. Both had finished at the samemoment, and when Publius had folded and sealedhis letter, and Lysias had flung the roll on to thetable, the Roman said slowly, as he looked hisfriend steadily in the face: "Well?""Well!" repeated Lysias. I now find myself in thehumiliating position of being obliged to deemmyself more stupid than you—I must own you inthe right, and beg your pardon for having thoughtyou insolent and arrogant! Never, no never did Ihear a story so infernally scandalous as that in that
roll, and such a thing could never have occurredbut among these accursed Egyptians! Poor littleIrene! And how can the dear little girl have keptsuch a sunny look through it all! I could thrashmyself like any school-boy to think that I—a foolamong fools—should have directed the attention ofEuergetes to this girl, and he, the most powerfuland profligate man in the whole country. What cannow be done to save Irene from him? I cannotendure the thought of seeing her abandoned to hisclutches, and I will not permit it to happen."Do not you think that we ought to take the water-bearers under our charge?""Not only we ought but we must,"said Publius decisively; "and if we did not we should becontemptible wretches. Since the recluse took meinto his confidence I feel as if it were my, duty towatch over these girls whose parents have beenstolen from them, as if I were their guardian— andyou, my Lysias, shall help me. The elder sister isnot now very friendly towards me, but I do notesteem her the less for that; the younger oneseems less grave and reserved than Klea; I sawhow she responded to your smile when theprocession broke up. Afterwards, you did not comehome immediately any more than I did, and Isuspect that it was Irene who detained you. Befrank, I earnestly beseech you, and tell me all; forwe must act in unison, and with thoroughdeliberation, if we hope to succeed in spoilingEuergetes' game."
"I have not much to tell you," replied theCorinthian. "After the procession I went to thePastophorium—naturally it was to see Irene, and inorder not to fail in this I allowed the pilgrims to tellme what visions the god had sent them in theirdreams, and what advice had been given them inthe temple of Asclepius as to what to do for theirown complaints, and those of their cousins, maleand female."Quite half an hour had passed so before Irenecame. She carried a little basket in which lay thegold ornaments she had worn at the festival, andwhich she had to restore to the keeper of thetemple- treasure. My pomegranate-flower, whichshe had accepted in the morning, shone upon mefrom afar, and then, when she caught sight of meand blushed all over, casting down her eyes, then itwas that it first struck me 'just like the Hebe on ourcistern.'"She wanted to pass me, but I detained her,begging her to show me the ornaments in herhand; I said a number of things such as girls like tohear, and then I asked her if she were strictlywatched, and whether they gave her delicate littlehands and feet—which were worthy of betteroccupation than water-carrying—a great deal todo. She did not hesitate to answer, but with all shesaid she rarely raised her eyes. The longer youlook at her the lovelier she is—and yet she is still amere child- though a child certainly who no longerloves staying at home, who has dreams ofsplendor, and enjoyment, and freedom while she is