WHILE walking with Lygia through the garden, Vinicius described briefly, i_ords from the depth of his heart, that which a short time before he ha_onfessed to the Apostles, — that is, the alarm of his soul, the changes whic_ad taken place in him, and, finally, that immense yearning which had veile_ife from him, beginning with the hour when he left Miriam's dwelling. H_onfessed to Lygia that he had tried to forget her, but was not able. H_hought whole days and nights of her. That little cross of boxwood twigs whic_he had left reminded him of her, — that cross, which he had placed in th_ararium and revered involuntarily as something divine. And he yearned mor_nd more every moment, for love was stronger than he, and had seized his sou_ltogether, even when he was at the house of Aulus. The Parcae weave th_hread of life for others; but love, yearning, and melancholy had woven it fo_im. His acts had been evil, but they had their origin in love. He had love_er when she was in the house of Aulus, when she was on the Palatine, when h_aw her in Ostrianum listening to Peter's words, when he went with Croton t_arry her away, when she watched at his bedside, and when she deserted him.
Then came Chilo, who discovered her dwelling, and advised him to seize her _econd time; but he chose to punish Chilo, and go to the Apostles to ask fo_ruth and for her. And blessed be that moment in which such a thought came t_is head, for now he is at her side, and she will not flee from him, as th_ast time she fled from the house of Miriam.
"I did not flee from thee," said Lygia. "Then why didst thou go?"
She raised her iris-colored eyes to him, and, bending her blushing face,
said,— "Thou knowest —"
Vinicius was silent for a moment from excess of happiness, and began again t_peak, as his eyes were opened gradually to this, — that she was differen_tterly from Roman women, and resembled Pomponia alone. Besides, he could no_xplain this to her clearly, for he could not define his feeling, — tha_eauty of a new kind altogether was coming to the world in her, such beauty a_ad not been in it thus far; beauty which is not merely a statue, but _pirit. He told her something, howcver, which filled her with delight, — tha_e loved her just because she had fled from him, and that she would be sacre_o him at his hearth. Then, seizing her hand, he could not continue; he merel_azed on her with rapture as on his life's happiness which he had won, an_epeated her name, as if to assure himself that he had found her and was nea_er.
"Oh, Lygia, Lygia!"
At last he inquired what had taken place in her mind, and she confessed tha_he had loved him while in the house of Aulus, and that if he had taken he_ack to them from the Palatine she would have told them of her love and trie_o soften their anger against him.
"I swear to thee," said Vinicius, "that it had not even risen in my mind t_ake thee from Aulus. Petronius will tell thee sometime that I told him the_ow I loved and wished to marry thee. 'Let her anoint my door with wolf fat,
and let her sit at my hearth,' said I to him. But he ridiculed me, and gav_aesar the idea of demanding thee as a hostage and giving thee to me. Ho_ften in my sorrow have I cursed him; but perhaps fate ordained thus, fo_therwise I should not have known the Christians, and should not hav_nderstood thee."
"Believe me, Marcus," replied Lygia, "it was Christ who led thee to Himself b_esign."
Vinicius raised his head with a certain astonishment.
"True," answered he, with animation. "Everything fixed itself so marvellousl_hat in seeking thee I met the Christians. In Ostrianum I listened to th_postle with wonder, for I had never heard such words. And there thou dids_ray for me?"
"I did," answered Lygia.
They passed near the summer-house covered with thick ivy, and approached th_lace where Ursus, after stifling Croton, threw himself upon Vinicius.
"Here," said the young man, "I should have perished but for thee."
"Do not mention that," answered Lygia, "and do not speak of it to Ursus."
"Could I be revenged on him for defending thee? Had he been a slave, I shoul_ave given him freedom straightway."
"Had he been a slave, Aiilus would have freed him long ago."
"Dost thou remember," asked Vinicius, "that I wished to take thee back t_ulus, but the answer was, that Caesar might hear of it and take revenge o_ulus and Pomponia? Think of this: thou mayst see them now as often as tho_ishest."
"I say 'now,' and I think that thou wilt be able to see them without danger,
when thou art mine. For should Caesar hear of this, and ask what I did wit_he hostage whom he gave me, I should say 'I married her, and she Visits th_ouse of Aulus with my consent.' He will not remain long in Antium, for h_ishes to go to Achiea; and even should he remain, I shall not need to see hi_aily. When Paul of Tarsus teaches me your faith, I will receive baptism a_nce, I will come here, gain the friendship of Aulus and Pornponia, who wil_eturn to the city by that time, and there will be no further hindrance, _ill seat thee at my hearth. Oh, carissima! carissirna!"
And he stretched forth his liand, as if taking Heaven as witness of his love;.
and Lygia, raising her clear eyes to him, said, — "And then I shall say,
'Wherever thou art, Caius, there am I, Caia.'"
"No, Lygia," cried Vinicius, "I swear to thee that never has woman been s_onored in the house of her husband as thou shalt be in mine."
For a time they walked on in silence, without being able to take in with thei_reasts their happiness, in love with each other, like two deities, and a_eautiful as if spring had given them to the world with the flowers.
They halted at last under the cypress growing near the entrance of the house.
Lygia leaned against his breast, and Vinicius began to entreat again with _rembling voice, — "Tell Ursus to go to the house of Aulus for thy furnitur_nd playthings of childhood."
But she, blushing like a rose or like the dawn, answered, — "Custom command_therwise."
"I know that. The pronuba[](footnotes.xml#footnote_5) usually brings the_ehind the bride, but do this for me. I will take them to my villa in Antium,
and they will remind me of thee." Here he placed his hands together an_epeated, like a child who is begging for something, — "It will be some day_efore Pomponia returns; so do this, diva, do this, carissima." "But Pomponi_ill do as she likes," answered Lygia, blushing still more deeply at mentio_f the pronuba. And again they were silent, for love had begun to stop th_reath in their breasts. Lygia stood with shoulders leaning against th_ypress, her face whitening in the shadow, like a flower, her eyes drooping,
her bosom heaving with more and more life. Vinicius changed in the face, an_rew pale. In the silence of the afternoon they only heard the beating o_heir hearts, and in their mutual ecstasy that cypress, the myrtle bushes, an_he ivy of the summer-house became for them a paradise of love. But Miria_ppeared in the door, and invited them to the afternoon meal. They sat dow_hen with the Apostles, who gazed at them with pleasure, as on the youn_eneration which after their death would preserve anti sow still further th_eed of the new faith. Peter broke and blessed bread. There was calm on al_aces, and a certain immense happiness seemed to overflow the whole house.
"See," said Paul at last, turning to Vinicius, "are we enemies of life an_appiness?" "I know how that is," answered Vinicius, "for never have I been s_appy as among you."