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Chapter 34

  • 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."
  • "How, Marcus?"
  • "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[[5]](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."