Cleopatra by Georg Ebers
The tempest swept howling from the north across the island of Pharos, and the shallows of Diabathra in the great harbour of Alexandria. The water, usually so placid, rose in high waves, and the beacon on the lighthouse of Sastratus sent the rent abundance of its flames with hostile impetuosity towards the city. The fires in the pitch-pans and the torches on the shore sometimes seemed on the point of being extinguished, at others burst with a doubly brilliant blaze through the smoke which obscured them.
The royal harbour, a fine basin which surrounded in the form of a semicircle the southern part of the Lochias and a portion of the northern shore of the Bruchium, was brightly illuminated every night; but this evening there seemed to be an unusual movement among the lights on its western shore, the private anchorage of the royal fleet.
Was it the storm that stirred them? No. How could the wind have set one torch in the place of another, and moved lights or lanterns in a direction opposite to its violent course? Only a few persons, however, perceived this; for, though joyous anticipation or anxious fears urged many thither, who would venture upon the quay on such a tempestuous night? Besides, no one would have found admittance to the royal port, which was closed on all sides. Even the mole which, towards the west, served as the string to the bow of land surrounding it, had but a single opening and--as every one knew--that was closed by a chain in the same way as the main entrance to the harbour between the Pharos and Alveus Steganus.
About two hours before midnight, spite of the increasing fury of the tempest, the singular movement of the lights diminished, but rarely had the hearts of those for whom they burned throbbed so anxiously. These were the dignitaries and court officials who stood nearest to Cleopatra--about twenty men and a single woman, Iras. Mardion and she had summoned them because the Queen's letter permitted those to whom she had given authority to offer her a quiet reception. After a long consultation they had not invited the commanders of the little Roman garrison left behind. It was doubtful whether those whom they expected would return that night, and the Roman soldiers who were loyal to Antony had gone with him to the war.
The hall in the centre of the private roadstead of the royal harbour, where they had assembled, was furnished with regal magnificence; for it was a favourite resort of the Queen. The spacious apartment lacked no requisite of comfort, and most of those who were waiting used the well-cushioned couches, while others, harassed by mental anxiety, paced to and fro.
As the room had remained unused for months, bats had made nests there, and now that it was lighted, dazzled by the glare of the lamps and candles, they darted to and fro above the heads of the assembly. Iras had ordered the commander of the Mellakes, or youths, a body-guard composed of the sons of aristocratic Macedonian families, to expel the troublesome creatures, and it diverted the thoughts of these devoted soldiers of the Queen to strike at them with their swords.
Others preferred to watch this futile battle rather than give themselves up to the anxiety which filled their minds. The Regent was gazing mutely at the ground; Iras, pale and absent-minded, was listening to Zeno's statements; and Archibius had gone out of doors, and, unheeding the storm, was looking across the tossing waves of the harbour for the expected ships.
In a wooden shed, whose roof was supported by gaily painted pillars, through which the wind whistled, the servants, from the porters to the litter-bearers, had gathered in groups under the flickering light of the lanterns. The Greeks sat on wooden stools, the Egyptians upon mats on the floor. The largest circle contained the parties who attended to the Queen's luggage and the upper servants, among whom were several maids.
They had been told that the Queen was expected that night, because it was possible that the strong north wind would bear her ship home with unexpected speed after the victory. But they were better informed: palaces have chinks in doors and curtains, and are pervaded by a very peculiar echo which bears even a whisper distinctly from ear to ear.
The body-slave of the commander-in-chief Seleukus was the principal spokesman. His master had reached Alexandria but a few hours ago from the frontier fortress of Pelusium, which he commanded. A mysterious order from Lucilius, Antony's most faithful friend, brought from Taenarum by a swift galley, had summoned him hither.
The freedman Beryllus, a loquacious Sicilian, who, as an actor, had seen better days ere pirates robbed him of his liberty, had heard many new things, and his hearers listened eagerly; for ships coming from the north, which touched at Pelusium, had confirmed and completed the evil tidings that had penetrated the Sebasteum.
According to his story, he was as well informed as if he had been an eye-witness of the naval battle; for he had been present during his master's conversation with many ship-captains and messengers from Greece. He even assumed the air of a loyal, strictly silent servant, who would only venture to confirm and deny what the Alexandrians had already learned. Yet his knowledge consisted merely of a confused medley of false and true occurrences. While the Egyptian fleet had been defeated at Actium, and Antony, flying with Cleopatra, had gone first to Taenarum at the end of the Peloponnesian coast, he asserted that the army and fleet had met on the Peloponnesian coast and Octavianus was pursuing Antony, who had turned towards Athens, while Cleopatra was on her way to Alexandria.
His "trustworthy intelligence" had been patched together from a few words caught from Seleukus at table, or while receiving and dismissing messengers. In other matters his information was more accurate.
While for several days the harbour of Alexandria had been closed, vessels were permitted to enter Pelusium, and all captains of newly arrived ships and caravans were compelled to report to Beryllus's master, the commandant of the important frontier fortress.
He had quitted Pelusium the night before. The strong wind had driven the trireme before it so swiftly that it was difficult for even the sea gulls to follow. It was easy for the listeners to believe this; for the storm outside howled louder and louder, whistling through the open hall where the servants had gathered. Most of the lamps and torches had been blown out, the pitch-pans only sent forth still blacker clouds of smoke, lit by red and yellow flames, and the closed lanterns alone continued to diffuse a flickering light. So the wide space, dim with smoke, was illumined only by a dull, varying glimmer.
One of the porters had furnished wine to shorten the hours of waiting; but it could only be drunk in secret, so there were no goblets. The jars wandered from mouth to mouth, and every sip was welcome, for the wind blew keenly, and besides, the smoke irritated their throats.
The freedman, Beryllus, was often interrupted by paroxysms of coughing, especially from the women, while relating the evil omens which were told to his master in Pelusium. Each was well authenticated and surpassed its predecessor in significance.
Here one of Iras's maids interrupted him to tell the story of the swallows on the "Antonius," Cleopatra's admiral galley. He could scarcely report from Pelusium an omen of darker presage.
But Beryllus gazed at her with a pitying smile, which so roused the expectations of the others that the overseer of the litter and baggage porters, who were talking loudly together, hoarsely shouted, "Silence!"
Soon no sound was heard in the open space save the shrill whistling of the wind, a word of command to the harbour-guards, and the freedman's voice, which he lowered to increase the charm of the mysterious events he was describing.
He began with the most fulsome praise of Cleopatra and Antony, reminding his hearers that the Imperator was a descendant of Herakles. The Alexandrians especially were aware that their Queen and Antony claimed and desired to be called "The new Isis" and "The new Dionysus." But every one who beheld the Roman must admit that in face and figure he resembled a god far more than a man.
The Imperator had appeared as Dionysus, especially to the Athenians. In the proscenium of the theatre in that city was a huge bas-relief of the Battle of the Giants, the famous work of an ancient sculptor--he, Beryllus, had seen it--and from amid the numerous figures in this piece of sculpture the tempest had torn but a single one--which? Dionysus, the god as whose mortal image Antony had once caroused in a vine-clad arbour in the presence of the Athenians. The storm to-night was at the utmost like the breath of a child, compared with the hurricane which could wrest from the hard marble the form of Dionysus. But Nature gathers all her forces when she desires to announce to short-sighted mortals the approach of events which are to shake the world.
The last words were quoted from his master who had studied in Athens. They had escaped from his burdened soul when he heard of another portent, of which a ship from Ostia had brought tidings. The flourishing city Pisaura--
Here, however, he was interrupted, for several of those present had learned, weeks before, that this place had sunk in the sea, but merely pitied the unfortunate inhabitants.
Beryllus quietly permitted them to free themselves from the suspicion that people in Alexandria had had tidings of so remarkable an event later than those in Pelusium, and at first answered their query what this had to do with the war merely by a shrug of the shoulders; but when the overseer of the porters also put the question, he went on "The omen made a specially deep impression upon our minds, for we know what Pisaura is, or rather how it came into existence. The hapless city which dark Hades ingulfed really belonged to Antony, for in the days of its prosperity he was its founder."
He measured the group with a defiant glance, and there was no lack of evidences of horror; nay, one of the maid-servants shrieked aloud, for the storm had just snatched a torch from the iron rings in the wall and hurled it on the floor close beside the listener.
Suspense seemed to have reached its height. Yet it was evident that Beryllus had not yet drawn his last arrow from the quiver.
The maid-servant, whose scream had startled the others, had regained her composure and seemed eager to hear some other new and terrible omen, for, with a beseeching glance, she begged the freedman not to withhold the knew.
He pointed to the drops of perspiration which, spite of the wind sweeping through the hall, covered her brow: "You must use your handkerchief. Merely listening to my tale will dampen your skin. Stone statues are made of harder material, but a soul dwells within them too. Their natures may be harsher or more gentle; they bring us woe or heal heavy sorrows, according to their mood. Every one learns this who raises his hands to them in prayer. One of these statues stands in Alba. It represents Mark Antony, in whose honour it was erected by the city. And it foresaw what menaced the man whose stone double it is. Ay, open your ears! About four days ago a ship's captain came to my master and in my presence this man reported--he grew as pale as ashes while he spoke--what he himself had witnessed. Drops of perspiration had oozed from the statue of Antony in Alba. Horror seized all the citizens; men and women came to wipe the brow and cheeks of the statue, but the drops of perspiration did not cease to drip, and this continued several days and nights. The stone image had felt what was impending over the living Mark Antony. It was a horrible spectacle, the man said."
Here the speaker paused, and the group of listeners started, for the clang of a gong was heard outside, and the next instant all were on their feet hastening to their posts.
The officials in the magnificent hall had also risen. Here the silence had been interrupted only by low whispers. The colour had faded from most of the grave, anxious faces, and their timid glances shunned one another.
Archibius had first perceived, by the flames of the Pharos, the red glimmer which announced the approach of the royal galley. It had not been expected so early, but was already passing the islands into the great harbour. It was probably the Antonius, the ship on which the old swallows had pecked the young ones to death.
Though the waves were running high, even in the sheltered harbour, they scarcely rocked the massive vessel. An experienced pilot must have steered it past the shallows and cliffs on the eastern side of the roadstead, for instead of passing around the island of Antirrhodus as usual, it kept between the island and the Lochias, steering straight towards the entrance into the little royal harbour. The pitch-pans on both sides had been filled with fresh resin and tow to light the way. The watchers on the shore could now see its outlines distinctly.
It was the Antonius, and yet it was not.
Zeno, the Keeper of the Seal, who was standing beside Iras, wrapped his cloak closer around his shivering limbs, pointed to it, and whispered,
"Like a woman who leaves her parents' house in the rich array of a bride, and returns to it an impoverished widow."
Iras drew herself up, and with cutting harshness replied, "Like the sun veiled by mists, but which will soon shine forth again more radiantly than ever."
"Spoken from the depths of my soul," said the old courtier eagerly, "so far as the Queen is concerned. Of course, I did not allude to her Majesty, but to the ship. You were ill when it left the harbour, garlanded with flowers and adorned with purple sails. And now! Even this flickering light shows the wounds and rents. I am the last person whom you need tell that our sun Cleopatra will soon regain its old radiance, but at present it is very chilly and cold here by the water's edge in this stormy air; and when I think of our first moment of meeting--
"Would it were over!" murmured Iras, wrapping herself closer in her cloak. Then she drew back shivering, for the rattle of the heavy chain, which was drawn aside from the opening of the harbour, echoed with an uncanny sound through the silence of the night. A mountain seemed to weigh upon the watchers' breasts, for the wooden monster which now entered the little harbour moved forward as slowly and silently as a spectral ship. It seemed as if life were extinct on the huge galley usually swarming with a numerous crew; as if a vessel were about to cast anchor whose sailors had fallen victims to the plague. Nothing was heard save an occasional word of command, and the signal whistles of the fluteplayer who directed the rowers. A few lanterns burned with a wavering light on the vast length of her decks. The brilliant illumination which usually shone through the darkness would have attracted the attention of the Alexandrians.
Now it was close to the landing. The group on shore watched every inch of its majestic progress with breathless suspense, but when the first rope was flung to the slaves on shore several men in Greek robes pressed forward hurriedly among the courtiers.
They had come with a message, whose importance would permit no delay, to the Regent Mardion, who stood between Zeno and Iras, gazing gloomily at the ground with a frowning brow. He was pondering over the words in which to address the Queen, and within a few minutes the ship would have made her landing, and Cleopatra might cross the bridge. To disturb him at that moment was an undertaking few who knew the irritable, uncertain temper of the eunuch would care to risk. But the tall Macedonian, who for a short time attracted the eyes of most of the spectators from the galley, ventured to do so. It was the captain of the nightwatch, the aristocratic commander of the police force of the city.
"Only a word, my lord," he whispered to the Regent, "though the time may be inopportune."
"As inopportune as possible," replied the eunuch with repellent harshness.
"We will say as inopportune as the degree of haste necessary for its decision. The King Caesarion, with Antyllus and several companions, attacked a woman. Blackened faces. A fight. Caesarion and the woman's companion--an aristocrat, member of the Council--slightly wounded. Lictors interfered just in time. The young gentlemen were arrested. At first they refused to give their names--"
"Caesarion slightly, really only slightly wounded?" asked the eunuch with eager haste.
"Really and positively. Olympus was summoned at once. A knock on the head. The man who was attacked flung him on the pavement in the struggle."
"Dion, the son of Eumenes, is the man," interrupted Iras, whose quick ear had caught the officer's report. "The woman is Barine, the daughter of the artist Leonax."
"Then you know already?" asked the Macedonian in surprise.
"So it seems," answered Mardion, gazing into the girl's face with a significant glance. Then, turning to her rather than to the Macedonian, he added, "I think we will have the young rascals set free and brought to Lochias with as little publicity as possible."
"To the palace?" asked the Macedonian.
"Of course," replied Iras firmly. "Each to his own apartments, where they must remain until further orders."
"Everything else must be deferred until after the reception," added the eunuch, and the Macedonian, with a slight, haughty nod, drew back.
"Another misfortune," sighed the eunuch.
"A boyish prank," Iras answered quickly, "but even a still greater misfortune is less than nothing so long as we are not conscious of it. This unpleasant occurrence must be concealed for the present from the Queen. Up to this time it is a vexation, nothing more--and it can and must remain so; for we have it in our power to uproot the poisonous tree whence it emanates."
"You look as if no one could better perform the task," the Regent interrupted, with a side glance at the galley, "so you shall have the commission. It is the last one I shall give, during the Queen's absence, in her name."
"I shall not fail," she answered firmly.
When Iras again looked towards the landing-place she saw Archibius standing alone, with his eyes fixed upon the ground. Impulse prompted her to tell her uncle what had happened; but at the first step she paused, and her thin lips uttered a firm "No."
Her friend had become a stone in her path. If necessary, she would find means to thrust him also aside, spite of his sister Charmian and the old tie which united him to Cleopatra. He had grown weak, Charmian had always been so.
She would have had time enough now to consider what step to take first, had not her heart ached so sorely.
After the huge galley lay moored, several minutes elapsed ere two pastophori of the goddess Isis, who guarded the goblet of Nektanebus, taken from the temple treasures and borne along in a painted chest, stepped upon the bridge, followed by Cleopatra's first chamberlain, who in a low tone announced the approach of the Queen and commanded the waiting groups to make way. A double line of torch-bearers had been stationed from the landing to the gate leading into the Bruchium, and the other on the north, which was the entrance to the palaces on the Lochias, since it was not known where Cleopatra would desire to go. The chamberlain, however, said that she would spend the night at Lochias, where the children lived, and ordered all the flickering, smoking torches, save a few, to be extinguished.
Mardion, the Keeper of the Seal, Archibius, and Iras were standing by the bridge a little in advance of the others, when voices were heard on the ship, and the Queen appeared, preceded by several lantern-bearers and followed by a numerous train of court officials, pages, maids, and female slaves. Cleopatra's little hand rested on Charmian's arm, as, with a haughty carriage of the head, she moved towards the shore. A thick veil covered her face, and a large, dark cloak concealed her figure. How elastic her step was still! how proud yet graceful was the gesture with which she waved a greeting to Mardion and Zeno.
Extending her hand to raise Iras, who had sunk prostrate before her, she kissed her on the forehead, whispering, "The children?"
"All is well with them," replied the girl.
Then the returning sovereign greeted the others with a gracious gesture, but vouchsafed a word to no one until the eunuch stepped before her to deliver his address of welcome. She motioned him aside with a curt "Later"; and when Zeno held open the door of the litter, she said in a stifled tone: "I will walk. After the rocking of the galley in this tempest, I feel reluctant to enter the litter. There are many things to be considered to-day. An idea came to me on the way home. Summon the captain of the harbour and his chief counsellors, the heads of the war office, the superintendent of the fortifications on land and water, especially the Aristarch and Gorgias--I want to see them. Time presses. They must be here in two hours-no, in an hour and a half. I wish to examine all their plans and charts of the eastern frontier, especially the river channels and canals in the Delta."
Then she turned to Archibius, who had approached the litter, laid her hand upon his arm, and though her veil prevented him from seeing her sparkling eyes, he felt them shining deep into his heart, as the voice whose melody had often enthralled his soul cried, "We will take it as a favourable omen that it is again you who lead me to this palace in a time of trouble."
His overflowing heart found expression in the warm reply, "Whenever it may be, forever and ever this arm and this life are yours!" And the Queen answered in a tone of earnest belief, "I know it."
Then, with her hand still resting on his arm, she moved forward; but when he began to ask whether she really had cause to speak of a time of trouble, she cut him short with the entreaty "Not now. Let us say nothing. It is worse than bad--as evil as possible. Yet no. Few are permitted, in an hour of trouble, to lean on the arm of a faithful friend."
The words were accompanied with a light pressure of her little hand, and it seemed as if his old heart was growing young.
He dared not speak, for her wish was law; but while moving silently at her side, first along the shore, then through the gate, and finally over the marble flagstones which led to the palace portal, it seemed as if he beheld, instead of the veiled head of the hapless Queen, the soft, light-brown locks which floated around the face of a happy child. Before his mental vision rose the little mistress of the garden of Epicurus. He saw the sparkle of her large blue eyes, which never ceased to question, yet appeared to contain the mystery of the world. He fancied he heard once more the silvery cadence of her voice and the bewitching magic of her pure, childlike laughter, and it was hard to remember what she had become.
Snatched away from the present, yet conscious that Fate had granted him a great boon in this sorrowful hour, he moved on at her side and led her through the main entrance, the spacious inner court-yard of the palace. At the rear was the great door opening into the Queen's apartments, before which Mardion, Iras, and their companions had already stationed themselves. At the left was a smaller one leading into the wing occupied by the children.
Archibius was about to conduct Cleopatra across the lighted court-yard, but she motioned towards the children's rooms, and he understood her.
At the threshold her hand fell from his arm, and when he bowed as if to retire, she said kindly: "There is Charmian. You both deserve to accompany me to the spot where childhood is dreaming and peace of mind and painlessness have their abode. But respect for the Queen has prevented the brother and sister from greeting each other after so long a separation. Do so now! Then, follow me."
While speaking, she hastened with the swift step of youth into the atrium and up the staircase which led to the sleeping-rooms of the princes and princesses.
Archibius and Charmian obeyed her bidding; the brother clasped his sister affectionately in his arms, and in hurried tones, with tears streaming from her eyes, she informed him that to her all seemed lost.
Antony had behaved in a manner for which no words of condemnation or regret were adequate. Probably he would follow Cleopatra; the fleet, and perhaps the army also, were destroyed. Her fate lay in the hands of Octavianus.
Then she preceded him towards the staircase, where Iras was standing with a tall Syrian, who bore a striking resemblance to Philostratus, Barine's former husband. It was his brother Alexas, the trusted favourite of Mark Antony. His place should now have been with him, and Archibius asked his sister with a hasty look how this man chanced to be in the Queen's train.
"His skill in reading the stars," was the reply. "His flattering tongue. He is a parasite of the worst kind, but he tells her many things, he diverts her, and she tolerates him near her person."
As soon as Iras saw the direction in which Cleopatra had turned, she had hastened after her to accompany her to the children. The Syrian Alexas had stopped her to express his joy in meeting her again. Even before the outbreak of the war he had devoted himself zealously to her, and he now plainly showed that during the long period of separation his feelings had by no means cooled. Like his brother, he had a head too small for his body, but his well-formed features were animated by a pair of eyes sparkling with a keen, covetous expression.
Iras, too, seemed glad to welcome the favourite, but ere the brother and sister reached the staircase she left him to embrace Charmian, her aunt and companion, with the affection of a daughter.
They found the Queen in the anteroom of the children's apartments. Euphronion, their tutor, had awaited her there, and hurriedly gave, in the most rapturous terms, his report of them and the wonderful gifts which became more and more apparent in each, now as a heritage from their mother, now from their father.
Cleopatra had interrupted the torrent of his enthusiastic speech with many a question, meanwhile endeavouring to loose the veil wound about her head; but the little hands, unaccustomed to the task, failed. Iras noticed it from the stairs and, hastening up the last steps, skilfully released her from the long web of lace.
The Queen acknowledged the service by a gracious nod, but when the chief eunuch opened the door leading into the children's rooms, she called joyously to the brother and sister, "Come!" The tutor, who was obliged to leave the charge of his pupils' sleeping apartments to the eunuchs and nurses, drew back, but Iras felt it a bitter affront to be excluded from this visit. Her cheeks flushed and paled; her thin lips were more firmly compressed, and she gazed intently at the basket of fruit in the mosaic floor at her feet as if she were counting the cherries that filled it. But she suddenly pushed the little curls back from her forehead, darted swiftly down the stairs, and called to Alexas just as he was about to leave the atrium.
The Syrian hastened towards her, extolling the good fortune that made his sun rise for him a second time that night, but she cut him short with the words; "Cease this foolish love-making. It would be far better for us both to become allies in serious, bitter earnest. I am ready."
"So am I!" cried the Syrian rapturously, pressing his hand upon his heart.
Meanwhile Cleopatra had entered the chamber where the children lay sleeping. Deep silence pervaded the lofty hall hung with bright-hued carpets, and softly lighted by three lamps with rose-colored globes. An arch, supported by pillars of Libyan marble, divided the wide space. In the first, near a window closely muffled with draperies, stood two ivory beds, surmounted with crowns of gold and silver set with pearls and turquoises. Around the edge, carved by the hands of a great artist, ran a line of happy children dancing to the songs of birds in blossoming bushes.
The couches were separated by a heavy curtain which the eunuchs had raised at the approach of the Queen. Cleopatra could now see them all at a single glance, and the picture was indeed one of exquisite charm; for on these beautiful couches slept the twins, the ten-year-old children of Cleopatra and Antony--Antonius Helios and Cleopatra Selene. The girl was pink and white, fair and wonderfully lovely; the boy no less beautiful, but with ebon-black hair, like his father. Both curly heads were turned towards the side, and rested on a dimpled hand pressed upon the silken pillow.
Upon a third bed, beyond the arch, was Alexander, the youngest prince, a lovely boy of six, the Queen's darling.
After gazing a long while at the twins, and pressing a light kiss upon cheeks flushed with slumber, she turned to the youngest child and sank beside his couch as if forced to bend the knee before some apparition which Heaven had vouchsafed to her. Tears streamed from her eyes as, drawing the child carefully towards her, she kissed his mouth, eyes, and cheeks, and then laid him gently back upon the pillows. The boy, however, did not instantly relapse into slumber, but threw his little plump arms around his mother's neck, murmuring incomprehensible words. She joyously submitted to his caresses, till sleep again overpowered him, and his little hands fell back upon the bed.
She lingered a short time longer, with her brow resting on the ivory of the couch, praying for this child and his brother and sister. When she rose again her cheeks were wet with tears, and she pressed her hand upon her breast. Then, beckoning to Charmian and Archibius, she motioned towards Alexander and the twins, saying, as she saw tears glittering in the eyes of both: "I know you have lost this happiness for my sake. For each one of these children a great empire would not be too high a price; for them all----What does earth contain that I would not bestow? Yet what can I still call my own?"
Her smiling face clouded as she asked the question. The vision of the lost battle again rose before her mind. Her own power was lost, forfeited, and with it the independence of the native land which she loved. Rome was already stretching out her hand to add it to the others as a new province. But this should not be! Her twin children yonder, sleeping beneath crowns, must wear them! And the boy slumbering on the pillows? How many kingdoms Antony had bestowed! What remained for her to give?
Again she bent to the child. A beautiful dream must have hovered over him, for he was smiling in his sleep. A flood of maternal love welled up in her agitated heart, and, as she saw the companions of her childhood also gazing tenderly at the little steeper, she remembered the days of her own youth, and the quiet happiness which she had enjoyed in her garden of Epicurus.
Power and splendour had begun for her beyond its confines, but the greater the heights of worldly grandeur she attained, the more distant, the more irrecoverable became the consciousness of the happiness which she had once gratefully enjoyed, and for which she had never ceased to long. And as she now gazed once more at the peaceful, smiling face, whence all pain and anxiety seemed worlds away, and all the love which her heart contained appeared to be pouring towards him, the question arose in her mind whether this boy, for whom she possessed no crown, might not be the only happy mortal of them all-happy in the sense of the master. Deeply moved by this thought, she turned to Archibius and Charmian, exclaiming in a subdued tone, in order not to rouse the sleeper: "Whatever destiny may await us, I commend this child to your special love and care. If Fate denies him the lustre of the crown and the elation of power, teach him to enjoy that other happiness, which--how long ago it is!--your father unfolded to his mother."
Archibius kissed her robe, and Charmian her hands; but Cleopatra, drawing a long breath, said: "The mother has already taken too much time from the Queen. I have ordered the news of my arrival to be kept from Caesarion. This was well. The most important matters will be settled before our meeting. Everything relating to me and to the state must be decided within an hour. But, first, I am something more than mother and Queen. The woman also asserts her claim. I will find time for you, my friend, to-morrow!-To my chamber first, Charmian. But you need rest still more than I. Go with your brother. Send Iras to me. She will be glad to use her skilful fingers again in her mistress's service."