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the gods of Olympus, which might not be explained, and which years had never shaken; though they had been years of servitude in a strange land and to a stranger Lord-years of participation in a foreign faith.
My mission is to do the Lord's will,” the Christian said, “ and my first duty to preach out His name, and the Atonement, to the sinful and Gentile people.”
“ My life would be the forfeit, father!" the young girl cried, “ and Zimnis would be lost !"
“ And the glory of the Saviour set forth.”
Myrrha did not reply. With a bewildered haste in her manner she again motioned the old man to the double chair, and speeding through the vault, was soon lost to his view.
She went through the masked door, by which Zimnis had once led, then afterwards deserted, her. Taking the direction of his cell, she soon arrived at its dreary walls. Before she dared enter she listened if she could hear any sound of life from thence ; if any word came, like the voice of a God, to bid her be of comfort and good cheer. But no ! all was silent, cold, and dark. Not even a groan
Her senses, sharpened by such intense anxiety, would have almost heard the breath, had there been the loved thing hidden there : her vision would have nigh pierced through the dun gloom, and through the solid walls, to have looked into the eyes which made her heaven.
Maddened by dread, she opened the small and noiseless door. But all was dark. There was nor breath, nor touch, nor ray of life, to light her as she entered. The living tomb, the grave of the yet beating heartwhy should there be light or lustre there?
She felt her way along the walls. She came near to the iron pallet. She laid her hand upon its bars. It encountered the hand of a fainting
She knew its touch ; it was the hand of Zimnis. He lived, he breathed, his blood yet stirred through his veins. Cold, and clammy, and deathly as was that touch, it yet was not all of death. There was a living warmth lingering faintly-a living pulse beating gently. He yet lived ! And she, the despised and rejected slave, had come to call him back to the world which was so fast fleeting from him—to the love which, even in dying, he could not forget! He yet lived: and this alone could make her bliss, let the issue be what it would,- let her be scorned
After Zimnis had been subjected to the dreadful tortures of which Myrrha had been the unwilling witness, Semmuthis and the priests abandoned him to the horrors of his own reflections—to the misery of his fears for Oëri, --and to the physical pains attendant on wounds unwashed and undressed ;-on thirst, suffocation, and famine. He had been now nearly three days in this dark cell, with not a drop of water to moisten his parched lips, or to soften the thick blood round his stiffened sores ; nor light nor air came through the stifling darkness, nor the peasant's coarsest food kept his soul yet from death. Faint with loss of blood, with hunger, thirst, misery, and despair, the priest lay on that iron pallet in a state which seemed to mock the name of life. His pulse, truly, beat ; but it was faint as the pulse of a dying child's, and the breath which came over his parched lips would not have stirred the lightest flower, it was so still and gentle. He had been left there to die in such horrible loneliness
to die a death fearful ! deprived of every comfort and aid from earth, and unfitted by disbelief to receive any consolation from Heaven.
Myrrha bent over him. She laid her young cheek upon his lips, to feel if life still hung upon them; she took his hands and tried to warm them by chafing them with her own : she called him by his name, adding to it every tenderest epithet, and seeking to win back the passing spirit by the name which had for him a spell in its very echo, more potent than all the living magic of which she was mistress. She breathed the name of Oëri : and then, for the first time, the priest's cold hand returned the pressure of
He sighed, as when one wakes from the mimic death of faintness, and tried, though feebly, to speak to her.
Myrrha's tears fell fast and thick. “ Not I, but the name of another, has recalled him to earth!" she thought. “My cares were unavailing, my efforts vain ; all was fruitless, till an empty sound- -a breath—a word, the shadow of a loved being, passed over his soul. And this was superior to my love !" and she wept again. Then suddenly starting up she rushed from the cell, and came again into the hall. Not allowing the saint time even to question her, she took a lamp in her hand, and guiding their steps by its light, they both returned to the cell.
Let the scene, which they there beheld, be passed over in silence. Let the horrors of man's rage against man be veiled. It is not good to show vice and cruelty to the world. It is not good thus to blunt the sensible, or to sicken the tender, nature. Man's deeds are not always such as may come out into the daylight. Let us be thankful that for sin, too, there is night, and its darkness, and its silence !
The wounded priest was borne into the hall which had been appropriated to Myrrha, while yet the high-priest had found pleasure in her beauty ; and which was now left to her from indifference. But little did Semmuthis dream of the mischief which this very indulgence would hereafter work him ; and of the certain retribution which crime entails on itself. 1f the crushed reptile sting its oppressor, what will not the human heart do for revenge and hatred ?
Zimnis was laid gently upon a couch ; and then it was that all the better and nobler nature of the young girl was shown.
But a creature of impulse as she was, her very virtues were fitful as her faults; and if the one might not be deemed serious from so swiftly passing from her soul, neither might much worth be given to the others, for they were equally fleeting. But still Myrrha endeavoured, as well as she was able, to repress each selfish wish, and to be only filled with her work of charity and mercy. And the thought of whether the priest would love her from gratitude, or whether he would still cling to the remembrance of Oëri, even if the reality of her life was lost to him, the Greek slave carefully banished from her heart. To do good to the fainting man, and to form his bliss, either by self-sacrifice or by participation in his happiness,-this was her sole resolve.
Saint Anthony stood by the head of the Egyptian; and, kneeling down, he prayed to his crucified Redeemer for the eternal salvation of his soul. And the God to whom he thus prayed, answered his petition from the heavens, by His work of mercy ou the wanderer from the fold.
But, why hast thou come to me for aid ?" the Christian asked. Thou knowest all the secrets of the temple; and thou hadst. but to.
secure the assistance of some arm stronger than thine own, when thou couldst have saved this boy long ere this.”
“Ah! thou little knowest, father, what is the Egyptian priesthood, least of all the priesthood of Isis-else thou wouldst not think it a matter so easy, this finding of an arm which will raise itself against the supreme, in defence or assistance of the inferior members! Zimnis was decreed guilty by the high-priest; and I doubt if all the valley of the Nile could produce one who would speak or act in his behalf. Thou, I knew to be free from this bondage, and therefore I fled to thee, convinced that though thou wouldst not aid in mine own escape, thou wouldst give thy best care to a youth, such as Zimnis, one who has passed through the two first degrees of initiation, and who is so beloved by the gods he serves !"
At these words Zimnis opened his heavy lids. A bitter smile, though shadowy, came upon his countenance, and he feebly raised his hand, as if to deprecate the girl's words. But she only flung herself again upon her knees beside him, half weeping, half laughing, at this return to conscious
The Christian father stood before them; and for the first time perceived, at least, one portion of the truth. For the first time he clearly saw the love of the Greek, and read the secrets of her young heart. Shocked, fearful, full of a holy horror, he turned away; and stood there for a few moments, silently praying to God for His forgiveness of her sin.
Myrrha, on her side, perceived the thoughts, and their results, which passed through the mind of the monk; and hastily she ran, gathering up into a small basket of papyrus, various things necessary for the wounded man. These she collected together ; then bidding the saint watch over his recovery, without saying where she would now go, or for how long, she left the hall, and closed the secret door after her.
She no sooner quitted the hall, than she bent herself before the gods, in whom, alone, her heart found consolation,-strange as was this persistent belief:- then soon was lost among the dark ways,
and cells, and passages, of the gloomy temple.
Long, long, she searched. She roamed through every portion of the Ædes which lay bidden underground. Not a cell was left unvisited, not a secret door unopened. Seen in her long white robes, bearing that small torch in her hand, her bright hair falling in unordered tresses upon her bared neck, and her beautiful face wearing a mingled expression of anxiety, fear, despair, and love, she seemed to be some lovely ghost called up from the shades of the dead some fair Eurydice brought back, by love, from the stronghold of the king of the nether world.
But in vain she searched ; in vain she sought; in vain she called the Egyptian maiden by her name, breathing it in her soft Ionian accents till the very air might have become enamoured of its sound.
Nor gentle whisper responded to her call, nor queenly maiden met her asking gaze. The place was void : Oëri was not there. The virtue, which had been so hard to practise in thought, became easier now to Myrrha, and she could have wept that her rival's bliss might not be secured by her means. She had all the Greek sensibility, and all the Greek capricious temperament; and even the thing which should give herself pain, was regretted, if not found when her mind had resolved
Hours had passed thus, when she returned to the hall. She was pale, and her eyes were more wild and mournful than before.
“She has escaped my search now,” she said, as she bent over Zimnis; “ but fear me not; thy maiden, if in life, shall be restored to thee. My own mad, sinful dreams are over. I have wakened, Zimnis, to the knowledge of virtue.”
These were her only words ; then she busied herself in all graceful womanly preparations needful ; and in a short time she stood by the steps of the secret way, watching the Christian and his idolatrous charge steer out into the open river beneath the darkness of the Egyptian night. She returned to her lonely hall weeping bitterly.
THE priests searched through the country, in the order that has been shown, but without effect. For while they sought for him, Saint Anthony was or leading the Greek slave back to the island, or hiding in the vaulted hall beneath the temple, or guarding the sinful priest to the cavern. But knowing how
much depended on keeping his companion unrecognised, the Christian Father kept him concealed as much as he was able. Not the smallest of the precautions, which might be in any way necessary, did he disdain to use. His own wild garments he covered in Egyptian robes ; his companion's priestly marks were disguised in the unnoticeable garb of an artizan of the better class, and thus they both journeyed on : Saint Anthony the stern and rigid ascetic—the denier of the Law of Nature-the enthusiastic yet uncompromising practiser of a foreign faith, using precautions for the salvation of an idolater, not one of which he would have used to save his own life were it twenty times the forfeit. But it was not for the physical life or well-being of Zimnis that he was so careful ; only for this, as in connexion with the eternal welfare of his soul. For he felt and knew from all that Myrrha had said, and from various words which the priest himself let drop, that his mind was ill at ease, and that his heart and his spirit were not filled with his faith.
Saint Anthony, above all men, knew the power of faith. He knew what influence it has, what mighty deeds it can work, and how it can make the world of sense a mere shadow before its mightier substance ; and he knew, also, that such a nature as this Isiac priest's was the one best fitted to form a true and energetic soldier of Christ : and to gain one soul to His cause, surely it was worth his very heart's blood !-how much more, then, worth all meaner cares ! By a circuitous
way, and with the gentlest care, the saint led his youthful friend to a distant place, where they might be safe from their pursuers, and gain some time for rest, and recovery, and life. And there he opened out to Zimnis the wonderful plan of the gospel. There, for the first time, the Isiac priest felt that before him lay a religion, both definite, and vast enough for his grasp ; that it was one which could never shrink within his heart, but which must ever be larger than he could fully feel or understand. Where the ancient faith had failed, this new belief was most powerful. Where the Egyptian Ædes, with sekos, naos, and ady
tum, had offered no point of communion with Heaven-no place where aught of selfhood connected them-no person who enshrined the majesty of the Above with the sympathies of earth-this church of Christ gave all. It was human, and therefore spoke to all human feelings; ay, and found a way of mercy for all human frailties and sins.
The monk had not prophesied ill. In a short time the holy water was poured upon the Christian neophyte ; and the church gained another true, and not altogether powerless, son, in her adoption of Zimnis, the Priest of Isis. And Saint Anthony, as he blessed his brave young disciple, thanked God in his heart, that one so lovely and so worthy was thus saved from inevitable perdition ; that such a brand had been plucked from the burning, to become one of the most beautiful pillars of the church. With Zimnis, himself
, this change of creed produced certainly a more intellectual, a more spiritual calmness; but even such a religion as the Christian, could not stifle his love for Oëri, nor quell his regrets at her absence, nor soothe his fears for her life and state, nor make him feel that LOVE was an unholy thing.
And Myrrha, the cause of this blessed change in the priest's most solemn part of life, his faith, still lingered about the cells and secret ways of the Isiac temple-waiting if Oëri should appear-forgotten by him she had saved to the dimness of an unwelcome dream. But Saint Anthony, to whom the whole mystery was apparent, since Zimnis had revealed to him his former life, and all that had happened to him in connexion with this fatal love, thought often of that young and unprotected girl--the child now of God-alone in those dark ways, alone in the power of Semmuthis and his minions. And often when the holy father stood out in the sunlight, reading those mysterious words which had been written by men even more highly favoured than himself-words, which, truly, made his heart to burn within him-he would think of his newly-made, but ill-confirmed, daughter, as lines, bearing upon the weakness of the nature of man, came before his eyes. And in the night time, too, when risen from his rocky bed, he went out beneath the moonlight to better commune with his Maker and Redeemer, few would have thought that beneath that savage garb, with all its wild condition and appearance-the uncombed locks the shirt of hair and sheepskin—the bared feet-the rapt look-lay a small gentle thought, like an angel in his heart, of pity and compassion for the weak, yet noble Grecian slave.
One by one the priests returned. A providence guarded the saint, and their search after him was vain. But Asafor did not return.
He alone was missing, and Myrrha could hear the Hierophant curse him again and again for his tardiness, while pacing his narrow cell, feverishly, for hours long. Uncertain, whether she ought to remain longer in the temple, on the chance of the Egyptian maiden's re-captivity -for she had gathered from Semmuthis, himself
, as he uttered his imprecations against Asafor, that she had been freed once from her horrible imprisonment-or whether she ought not rather, herself, go in search of her, to bring her to the heart of her lover--the poor Myrrha still lingered in the temple vaults. But wearisomely the days passed on. Nay ! it were a mockery to call that endless gloom by the name of day! It was one long night, unbroken by the faintest ray of light, unvisited by aught but fearful dreams and maddening visions of despair!
At last the young Ionian heard the voice of a woman, now weeping,