Carry a sword in the myrtle bough, Ye who would honour the tyrant-slayer; I, in the leaves of the myrtle bough, Carry a tyrant to slay myself.
I pluck'd the branch with a hasty hand, But Love was lurking amidst the leaves; His bow is bent and his shaft is poised, And I must perish or pass the bough.
Maiden, I come with a gift to thee, Maiden, I come with a myrtle wreath; Over thy forehead, or round thy breast Bind, I implore thee, my myrtle wreath.
From hand to hand by the banquet lights On with the myrtle bough passes song: From hand to hand by the silent stars What with the myrtle wreath passes? Love.
I bear the god in a myrtle wreath, Under the stars let him pass to thee; Empty his quiver and bind his wings, Then pass the myrtle wreath back to me.
Cleonice listened breathlessly to the words, and sighed heavily as they ceased. Then, as the foliage rustled below, she turned quickly into the chamber and seated herself at a little distance from Diagoras; to all appearance calm, indifferent and composed. Was it nature, or the arts of Miletus, that taught the young beauty the hereditary artifices of the sex?
"So it is he, then?" said Diagoras, with a fidgety and nervous trepidation. "Well, he chooses strange hours to visit us. But he is right; his visits cannot be too private. Cleonice, you look provokingly at your ease."
Cleonice made no reply, but shifted her position so that the light from the lamp did not fall upon her face, while her father, hurrying to the threshold of his hall to receive his illustrious visitor, soon re-appeared with the Spartan Regent, talking as he entered with the volubility of one of the parasites of Alciphron and Athenaeus.
"This is most kind, most affable. Cleonice said you would come, Pausanias, though I began to distrust you. The hours seem long to those who expect pleasure."
"And, Cleonice, you knew that I should come," said Pausanias, approaching the fair Byzantine; but his step was timid, and there was no pride now in his anxious eye and bended brow.
"You said you would come to-night," said Cleonice, calmly, "and Spartans, according to proverbs, speak the truth."
"When it is to their advantage, yes,"said but with respect to others, they consider honourable whatever pleases them, and just whatever is to their advantage."
Pausanias, with a slight curl of his lips; and, as if the girl's compliment to his countrymen had roused his spleen and changed his thoughts, he seated himself moodily by Cleonice, and remained silent.
The Byzantine stole an arch glance at the Spartan, as he thus sat, from the corner of her eyes, and said, after a pause—
"You Spartans ought to speak the truth more than other people, for you say much less. We too have our proverb at Byzantium, and one which implies that it requires some wit to tell fibs."
"Child, child!" exclaimed Diagoras, holding up his hand reprovingly, and directing a terrified look at the Spartan. To his great relief, Pausanias smiled, and replied—
"Fair maiden, we Dorians are said to have a wit peculiar to ourselves, but I confess that it is of a nature that is but little attractive to your sex. The Athenians are blander wooers."
"Do you ever attempt to woo in Lacedaemon, then? Ah, but the maidens there, perhaps, are not difficult to please."
"The girl puts me in a cold sweat!" muttered Diagoras, wiping his brow. And this time Pausanias did not smile; he coloured, and answered gravely—
"And is it, then, a vain hope for a Spartan to please a Byzantine?"
"You puzzle me. That is an enigma; put it to the oracle."
The Spartan raised his eyes towards Cleonice, and, as she saw the inquiring, perplexed look that his features assumed, the ruby lips broke into so wicked a smile, and the eyes that met his had so much laughter in them, that Pausanias was fairly bewitched out of his own displeasure.
"Ah, cruel one!" said he, lowering his voice, "I am not so proud of being Spartan that the thought should console me for thy mockery."
"Not proud of being Spartan! say not so," exclaimed Cleonice. "Who ever speaks of Greece and places not Sparta at her head? Who ever speaks of freedom and forgets Thermopylae? Who ever burns for glory, and sighs not for the fame of Pausanias and Plataea? Ah, yes, even in jest say not that you are not proud to be a Spartan!"
"The little fool!" cried Diagoras, chuckling, and mightily delighted; "she is quite mad about Sparta—no wonder!"
Pausanias, surprised and moved by the burst of the fair Byzantine, gazed at her admiringly, and thought within himself how harshly the same sentiment would have sounded on the lips of a tall Spartan virgin; but when Cleonice heard the approving interlocution of Diagoras, her enthusiasm vanished from her face, and putting out her lips poutingly, she said, "Nay, father, I repeat only what others say of the Spartans. They are admirable heroes; but from the little I have seen, they are—"
"What?" said Pausanias eagerly, and leaning nearer to Cleonice.
"Proud, dictatorial, and stern as companions."
Pausanias once more drew back.
"There it is again!" groaned Diagoras. "I feel exactly as if I were playing at odd and even with a lion; she does it to vex me. I shall retaliate and creep away."
"Cleonice," said Pausanias, with suppressed emotion, "you trifle with me, and I bear it."
"You are condescending. How would you avenge yourself?"
"You would not beat me; you would not make me bear an anchor on the shoulders, as they say you do your soldiers. Shame on you! you bear with me! true, what help for you?"
"Maiden," said the Spartan, rising in great anger, "for him who loves and is slighted there is a revenge you have not mentioned."
"For him who loves! No, Spartan; for him who shuns disgrace and courts the fame dear to gods and men, there is no revenge upon women. Blush for your threat."
"You madden, but subdue me," said the Spartan as he turned away. He then first perceived that Diagoras had gone—that they were alone. His contempt for the father awoke suspicion of the daughter. Again he approached and said, "Cleonice, I know but little of the fables of poets, yet is it an old maxim often sung and ever belied, that love scorned becomes hate. There are moments when I think I hate thee."
"And yet thou hast never loved me," said Cleonice; and there was something soft and tender in the tone of her voice, and the rough Spartan was again subdued.
"I never loved thee! What, then, is love? Is not thine image always before me?—amidst schemes, amidst perils of which thy very dreams have never presented equal perplexity or phantoms so uncertain, I am occupied but with thee. Surely, as upon the hyacinth is written the exclamation of woe, so on this heart is graven thy name. Cleonice, you who know not what it is to love, you affect to deny or to question mine."
"And what," said Cleonice, blushing deeply, and with tears in her eyes, "what result can come from such a love? You may not wed with the stranger. And yet, Pausanias, yet you know that all other love dishonours the virgin even of Byzantium. You are silent; you turn away. Ah, do not let them wrong you. My father fears your power. If you love me you are powerless; your power has passed to me. Is it not so? I, a weak girl, can rule, command, irritate, mock you, if I will. You may fly me, but not control."
"Do not tempt me too far, Cleonice," said the Spartan, with a faint smile.
"Nay, I will be merciful henceforth, and you, Pausanias, come here no more. Awake to the true sense of what is due to your divine ancestry—your great name. Is it not told of you that, after the fall of Mardonius, you nobly dismissed to her country, unscathed and honoured, the captive Coan lady? Will you reverse at Byzantium the fame acquired at Plataea? Pausanias, spare us; appeal not to my father's fear, still less to his love of gold."
"I cannot, I cannot fly thee," said the Spartan, with great emotion. "You know not how stormy, how inexorable are the passions which burst forth after a whole youth of restraint. When nature breaks the barriers, she rushes headlong on her course. I am no gentle wooer; where in Sparta should I learn the art? But, if I love thee not as these mincing Ionians, who come with offerings of flowers and song, I do love thee with all that fervour of which the old Dorian legends tell. I could brave, like the Thracian, the dark gates of Hades, were thy embrace my reward. Command me as thou wilt—make me thy slave in all things, even as Hercules was to Omphale; but tell me only that I may win thy love at last. Fear not. Why fear me? in my wildest moments a look from thee can control me. I ask but love for love. Without thy love thy beauty were valueless. Bid me not despair."
Cleonice turned pale, and the large tears that had gathered in her eyes fell slowly down her cheeks; but she did not withdraw her hand from his clasp, or avert her countenance from his eyes.
"I do not fear thee," said she, in a very low voice. "I told my father so; but—but—" (and here she drew back her hand and averted her face), "I fear myself."
"Ah, no, no," cried the delighted Spartan, detaining her, "do not fear to trust to thine own heart. Talk not of dishonour. There are" (and here the Spartan drew himself up, and his voice took a deeper swell)—"there are those on earth who hold themselves above the miserable judgments of the vulgar herd—who can emancipate themselves from those galling chains of custom and of country which helotize affection, genius, nature herself. What is dishonour here may be glory elsewhere; and this hand, outstretched towards a mightier sceptre than Greek ever wielded yet, may dispense, not shame and sorrow, but glory and golden affluence to those I love."
"You amaze me, Pausanias. Now I fear you. What mean these mysterious boasts? Have you the dark ambition to restore in your own person that race of tyrants whom your country hath helped to sweep away? Can you hope to change the laws of Sparta, and reign there, your will the state?"
"Cleonice, we touch upon matters that should not disturb the ears of women. Forgive me if I have been roused from myself."
"At Miletus—so have I heard my mother say—there were women worthy to be the confidants of men."
"But they were women who loved. Cleonice, I should rejoice in an hour when I might pour every thought into thy bosom."
At this moment there was heard on the strand below a single note from the Mothon's instrument, low, but prolonged; it ceased, and was again renewed. The royal conspirator started and breathed hard.
"It is the signal," he muttered; "they wait me. Cleonice," he said aloud, and with much earnestness in his voice, "I had hoped, ere we parted, to have drawn from your lips those assurances which would give me energy for the present and hope in the future. Ah, turn not from me because my speech is plain and my manner rugged. What, Cleonice, what if I could defy the laws of Sparta; what if, instead of that gloomy soil, I could bear thee to lands where heaven and man alike smile benignant on love? Might I not hope then?"
"Do nothing to sully your fame."
"Is it, then, dear to thee?"
"It is a part of thee," said Cleonice falteringly; and as if she had said too much, she covered her face with her hands.
Emboldened by this emotion, the Spartan gave way to his passion and his joy. He clasped her in his arms—his first embrace—and kissed, with wild fervour, the crimsoned forehead, the veiling hands. Then, as he tore himself away, he cast his right arm aloft.
"O Hercules!" he cried, in solemn and kindling adjuration, "my ancestor and my divine guardian, it was not by confining thy labours to one spot of earth, that thou wert borne from thy throne of fire to the seats of the Gods. Like thee I will spread the influence of my arms to nations whoso glory shall be my name; and as thy sons, my fathers, expelled from Sparta, returned thither with sword and spear to defeat usurpers and to found the long dynasty of the Heracleids, even so may it be mine to visit that dread abode of torturers and spies, and to build up in the halls of the Atridae a power worthier of the lineage of the demigod. Again the signal! Fear not, Cleonice, I will not tarnish my fame, but I will exchange the envy of abhorring rivals for the obedience of a world. One kiss more! Farewell!"
Ere Cleonice recovered herself, Pausanias was gone, his wild and uncomprehended boasts still ringing in her ear. She sighed heavily, and turned towards the opening that admitted to the terraces. There she stood watching for the parting of her lover's boat. It was midnight; the air, laden with the perfumes of a thousand fragrant shrubs and flowers that bloom along that coast in the rich luxuriance of nature, was hushed and breathless. In its stillness every sound was audible, the rustling of a leaf, the ripple of a wave. She heard the murmur of whispered voices below, and in a few moments she recognised, emerging from the foliage, the form of Pausanias; but he was not alone. Who were his companions? In the deep lustre of that shining and splendid atmosphere she could see sufficient of the outline of their figures to observe that they were not dressed in the Grecian garb; their long robes betrayed the Persian.
They seemed conversing familiarly and eagerly as they passed along the smooth sands, till a curve in the wooded shore hid them from her view.
"Why do I love him so," said the girl mechanically, "and yet wrestle against that love? Dark forebodings tell me that Aphrodite smiles not on our vows. Woe is me! What be the end?"
 "The Byzantine dialect was in the time of Philip, as we know from the decree in Demosthenes, rich in Dorisms."—Mueller on the Doric Dialect.
 Fighting-cocks were fed with garlic, to make them more fierce. The learned reader will remember how Theorus advised Dicaeopolis to keep clear of the Thracians with garlic in their mouths.—See the Acharnians of Aristoph.
 Garlands were twined round the neck, or placed upon the bosom (Greek: upothumiades). See the quotations from Alcaeus, Sappho, and Anacreon in Athenaeus, book xiii. c. 17.
 So said Thucydides of the Spartans, many years afterwards. "They give evidence of honour among themselves, but with respect to others, they consider honourable whatever pleases them, and just whatever is to their advantage."—See Thucyd. lib. v.
 Herod, ix.
On quitting Cleonice, Pausanias hastily traversed the long passage that communicated with a square peristyle or colonnade, which again led, on the one hand, to the more public parts of the villa, and, on the other, through a small door left ajar, conducted by a back entrance, to the garden and the sea-shore. Pursuing the latter path, the Spartan bounded down the descent and came upon an opening in the foliage, in which Lysander was seated beside the boat that had been drawn partially on the strand.
"Alone? Where is Alcman?"
"Yonder; you heard his signal?"
"I heard it."
"Pausanias, they who seek you are Persians. Beware!"
"Of what? murder? I am warned."
"Murder to your good name. There are no arms against appearances."
"But I may trust thee?" said the Regent, quickly, "and of Alcman's faith I am convinced."
"Why trust to any man what it were wisdom to reveal to the whole Grecian Council? To parley secretly with the foe is half a treason to our friends."
"Lysander," replied Pausanias, coldly, "you have much to learn before you can be wholly Spartan. Tarry here yet awhile."
"What shall I do with this boy?" muttered the conspirator as he strode on. "I know that he will not betray me, yet can I hope for his aid? I love him so well that I would fain he shared my fortunes. Perhaps by little and little I may lead him on. Meanwhile, his race and his name are so well accredited in Sparta, his father himself an Ephor, that his presence allays suspicion. Well, here are my Persians."
A little apart from the Mothon, who, resting his cithara on a fragment of rock, appeared to be absorbed in reflection, stood the men of the East. There were two of them; one of tall stature and noble presence, in the prime of life; the other more advanced in years, of a coarser make, a yet darker complexion, and of a sullen and gloomy countenance. They were not dressed alike; the taller, a Persian of pure blood, wore a short tunic that reached only to the knees: and the dress fitted to his shape without a single fold. On his round cap or bonnet glittered a string of those rare pearls, especially and immemorially prized in the East, which formed the favourite and characteristic ornament of the illustrious tribe of the Pasargadae. The other, who was a Mede, differed scarcely in his dress from Pausanias himself, except that he was profusely covered with ornaments; his arms were decorated with bracelets, he wore earrings, and a broad collar of unpolished stones in a kind of filagree was suspended from his throat. Behind the Orientals stood Gongylus, leaning both hands on his staff, and watching the approach of Pausanias with the same icy smile and glittering eye with which he listened to the passionate invectives or flattered the dark ambition of the Spartan. The Orientals saluted Pausanias with a lofty gravity, and Gongylus drawing near, said: "Son of Cleombrotus, the illustrious Ariamanes, kinsman to Xerxes, and of the House of the Achaemenids, is so far versed in the Grecian tongue that I need not proffer my offices as interpreter. In Datis, the Mede, brother to the most renowned of the Magi, you behold a warrior worthy to assist the arms even of Pausanias."
"I greet ye in our Spartan phrase, 'The beautiful to the good,'" said Pausanias, regarding the Barbarians with an earnest gaze. "And I requested Gongylus to lead ye hither in order that I might confer with ye more at ease, than in the confinement to which I regret ye are still sentenced. Not in prisons should be held the conversations of brave men."
"I know," said Ariamanes (the statelier of the Barbarians), in the Greek tongue, which he spoke intelligibly indeed, but with slowness and hesitation, "I know that I am with that hero who refused to dishonour the corpse of Mardonius, and even though a captive I converse without shame with my victor."
"Rested it with me alone, your captivity should cease," replied Pausanias. "War, that has made me acquainted with the valour of the Persians, has also enlightened me as to their character. Your king has ever been humane to such of the Greeks as have sought a refuge near his throne. I would but imitate his clemency."
"Had the great Darius less esteemed the Greeks he would never have invaded Greece. From the wanderers whom misfortune drove to his realms, he learned to wonder at the arts, the genius, the energies of the people of Hellas. He desired less to win their territories than to gain such subjects. Too vast, alas, was the work he bequeathed to Xerxes."
"He should not have trusted to force alone," returned Pausanias. "Greece may be won, but by the arts of her sons, not by the arms of the stranger. A Greek only can subdue Greece. By such profound knowledge of the factions, the interests, the envies and the jealousies of each, state as a Greek alone can possess, the mistaken chain that binds them might be easily severed; some bought, some intimidated, and the few that hold out subdued amidst the apathy of the rest."
"You speak wisely, right hand of Hellas," answered the Persian, who had listened to these remarks with deep attention. "Yet had we in our armies your countryman, the brave Demaratus."
"But, if I have heard rightly, ye too often disdained his counsel. Had he been listened to there had been neither a Salamis nor a Plataea. Yet Demaratus himself had been too long a stranger to Greece, and he knew little of any state save that of Sparta. Lives he still?"
"Surely yes, in honour and renown; little less than the son of Darius himself."
"And what reward would Xerxes bestow on one of greater influence than Demaratus; on one who has hitherto conquered every foe, and now beholds before him the conquest of Greece herself?"
"If such a man were found," answered the Persian, "let his thought run loose, let his imagination rove, let him seek only how to find a fitting estimate of the gratitude of the king and the vastness of the service."
Pausanias shaded his brow with his hand, and mused a few moments; then lifting his eyes to the Persian's watchful but composed countenance, he said, with a slight smile—
"Hard is it, O Persian, when the choice is actually before him, for a man to renounce his country. There have been hours within this very day when my desires swept afar from Sparta, from all Hellas, and rested on the tranquil pomp of Oriental Satrapies. But now, rude and stern parent though Sparta be to me, I feel still that I am her son; and, while we speak, a throne in stormy Hellas seems the fitting object of a Greek's ambition. In a word, then, I would rise, and yet raise my country. I would have at my will a force that may suffice to overthrow in Sparta its grim and unnatural laws, to found amidst its rocks that single throne which the son of a demigod should ascend. From that throne I would spread my empire over the whole of Greece, Corinth and Athens being my tributaries. So that, though men now, and posterity here-after, may say, 'Pausanias overthrew the Spartan government,' they shall add, 'but Pausanias annexed to the Spartan sceptre the realm of Greece. Pausanias was a tyrant, but not a traitor.' How, O Persian, can these designs accord with the policy of the Persian king?"
"Not without the authority of my master can I answer thee," replied Ariamanes, "so that my answer may be as the king's signet to his decree. But so much at least I say: that it is not the custom of the Persians to interfere with the institutions of those states with which they are connected. Thou desirest to make a monarchy of Greece, with Sparta for its head. Be it so; the king my master will aid thee so to scheme and so to reign, provided thou dost but concede to him a vase of the water from thy fountains, a fragment of earth from thy gardens."
"In other words," said Pausanias thoughtfully, but with a slight colour on his brow, "if I hold my dominions tributary to the king?"
"The dominions that by the king's aid thou wilt have conquered. Is that a hard law?"
"To a Greek and a Spartan the very mimicry of allegiance to the foreigner is hard."
The Persian smiled. "Yet, if I understand thee aright, O Chief, even kings in Sparta are but subjects to their people. Slave to a crowd at home, or tributary to a throne abroad; slave every hour, or tributary for earth and water once a year, which is the freer lot?"
"Thou canst not understand our Grecian notions," replied Pausanias, "nor have I leisure to explain them. But though I may subdue Sparta to myself as to its native sovereign, I will not, even by a type, subdue the land of the Heracleid to the Barbarian."
Ariamanes looked grave; the difficulty raised was serious. And here the craft of Gongylus interposed.
"This may be adjusted, Ariamanes, as befits both parties. Let Pausanias rule in Sparta as he lists, and Sparta stand free of tribute. But for all other states and cities that Pausanias, aided by the great king, shall conquer, let the vase be filled, and the earth be Grecian. Let him but render tribute for those lands which the Persians submit to his sceptre. So shall the pride of the Spartan be appeased, and the claims of the king be satisfied."
"Shall it be so?" said Pausanias.
"Instruct me so to propose to my master, and I will do my best to content him with the exception to the wonted rights of the Persian diadem. And then," continued Ariamanes, "then, Pausanias, Conqueror of Mardonius, Captain at Plataea, thou art indeed a man with whom the lord of Asia may treat as an equal. Greeks before thee have offered to render Greece to the king my master; but they were exiles and fugitives, they had nothing to risk or lose; thou hast fame, and command, and power, and riches, and all——"
"But for a throne," interrupted Gongylus.
"It does not matter what may be my motives," returned the Spartan gloomily, "and were I to tell them, you might not comprehend. But so much by way of explanation. You too have held command?"
"If you knew that, when power became to you so sweet that it was as necessary to life itself as food and drink, it would then be snatched from you for ever, and you would serve as a soldier in the very ranks you had commanded as a leader; if you knew that no matter what your services, your superiority, your desires, this shameful fall was inexorably doomed, might you not see humiliation in power itself, obscurity in renown, gloom in the present, despair in the future? And would it not seem to you nobler even to desert the camp than to sink into a subaltern?"
"Such a prospect has in our country made out of good subjects fierce rebels," observed the Persian.
"Ay, ay, I doubt it not," said Pausanias, laughing bitterly. "Well, then, such will be my lot, if I pluck not out a fairer one from the Fatal Urn. As Regent of Sparta, while my nephew is beardless, I am general of her armies, and I have the sway and functions of her king. When he arrives at the customary age, I am a subject, a citizen, a nothing, a miserable fool of memories gnawing my heart away amidst joyless customs and stern austerities, with the recollection of the glories of Plataea and the delights of Byzantium. Persian, I am filled from the crown to the sole with the desire of power, with the tastes of pleasure. I have that within me which before my time has made heroes and traitors, raised demigods to Heaven, or chained the lofty Titans to the rocks of Hades. Something I may yet be; I know not what. But as the man never returns to the boy, so never, never, never once more, can I be again the Spartan subject. Enough; such as I am, I can fulfil what I have said to thee. Will thy king accept me as his ally, and ratify the terms I have proposed?"
"I feel well-nigh assured of it," answered the Persian; "for since thou hast spoken thus boldly, I will answer thee in the same strain. Know, then, that we of the pure race of Persia, we the sons of those who overthrew the Mede, and extended the race of the mountain tribe, from the Scythian to the Arab, from Egypt to Ind, we at least feel that no sacrifice were too great to redeem the disgrace we have suffered at the hands of thy countrymen; and the world itself were too small an empire, too confined a breathing-place for the son of Darius, if this nook of earth were still left without the pale of his dominion."
"This nook of earth? Ay, but Sparta itself must own no lord but me."
"It is agreed."
"If I release thee, wilt thou bear these offers to the king, travelling day and night till thou restest at the foot of his throne?"
"I should carry tidings too grateful to suffer me to loiter by the road."
"And Datis, he comprehends us not; but his eyes glitter fiercely on me. It is easy to see that thy comrade loves not the Greek."
"For that reason he will aid us well. Though but a Mede, and not admitted to the privileges of the Pasargadae, his relationship to the most powerful and learned of our Magi, and his own services in war, have won him such influence with both priests and soldiers, that I would fain have him as my companion. I will answer for his fidelity to our joint object."
"Enough; ye are both free. Gongylus, you will now conduct our friends to the place where the steeds await them. You will then privately return to the citadel, and give to their pretended escape the probable appearances we devised. Be quick, while it is yet night. One word more. Persian, our success depends upon thy speed. It is while the Greeks are yet at Byzantium, while I yet am in command, that we should strike the blow. If the king consent, through Gongylus thou wilt have means to advise me. A Persian army must march at once to the Phrygian confines, instructed to yield command to me when the hour comes to assume it. Delay not that aid by such vast and profitless recruits as swelled the pomp, but embarrassed the arms, of Xerxes. Armies too large rot by their own unwieldiness into decay. A band of 50,000, composed solely of the Medes and Persians, will more than suffice. With such an army, if my command be undisputed, I will win a second Plataea, but against the Greek."
"Your suggestions shall be law. May Ormuzd favour the bold!"
"Away, Gongylus. You know the rest."
Pausanias followed with thoughtful eyes the receding forms of Gongylus and the Barbarians.
"I have passed for ever," he muttered, "the pillars of Hercules. I must go on or perish. If I fall, I die execrated and abhorred; if I succeed, the sound of the choral flutes will drown the hootings. Be it as it may, I do not and will not repent. If the wolf gnaw my entrails, none shall hear me groan." He turned and met the eyes of Alcman, fixed on him so intently, so exultingly, that, wondering at their strange expression, he drew back and said haughtily, "You imitate Medusa, but I am stone already."
"Nay," said the Mothon, in a voice of great humility, "if you are of stone, it is like the divine one which, when borne before armies, secures their victory. Blame me not that I gazed on you with triumph and hope. For, while you conferred with the Persian, methought the murmurs that reached my ear sounded thus: 'When Pausanias shall rise, Sparta shall bend low, and the Helot shall break his chains.'"
"They do not hate me, these Helots?"
"You are the only Spartan they love."
"Were my life in danger from the Ephors—"
"The Helots would rise to a man."
"Did I plant my standard on Taygetus, though all Sparta encamped against it—"
"All the slaves would cut their way to thy side. O Pausanias, think how much nobler it were to reign over tens of thousands who become freemen at thy word, than to be but the equal of 10,000 tyrants."
"The Helots fight well, when well led," said Pausanias; as if to himself. "Launch the boat."
"Pardon me, Pausanias. but is it prudent any longer to trust Lysander? He is the pattern of the Spartan youth, and Sparta is his mistress. He loves her too well not to blab to her every secret."
"O Sparta, Sparta, wilt thou not leave me one friend?" exclaimed Pausanias. "No, Alcman, I will not separate myself from Lysander, till I despair of his alliance. To your oars! be quick."
At the sound of the Mothon's tread upon the pebbles, Lysander, who had hitherto remained motionless, reclining by the boat, rose and advanced towards Pausanias. There was in his countenance, as the moon shining on it cast over his statue-like features a pale and marble hue, so much of anxiety, of affection, of fear, so much of the evident, unmistakable solicitude of friendship, that Pausanias, who, like most men, envied and unloved, was susceptible even of the semblance of attachment, muttered to himself, "No, thou wilt not desert me, nor I thee."
"My friend, my Pausanias," said Lysander, as he approached, "I have had fears—I have seen omens. Undertake nothing, I beseech thee, which thou hast meditated this night."
"And what hast thou seen?" said Pausanias, with a slight change of countenance.
"I was praying the Gods for thee and Sparta, when a star shot suddenly from the heavens. Pausanias, this is the eighth year, the year in which on moonless nights the Ephors watch the heavens."
"And if a star fall they judge their kings," interrupted Pausanias (with a curl of his haughty lip) "to have offended the Gods, and suspend them from their office till acquitted by an oracle at Delphi, or a priest at Olympia. A wise superstition. But, Lysander, the night is not moonless, and the omen is therefore nought."
Lysander shook his head mournfully, and followed his chieftain to the boat, in gloomy silence.
 After the action at Thermopylae, Demaratus advised Xerxes to send three hundred vessels to the Laconian coast, and seize the island of Cythera, which commanded Sparta. "The profound experience of Demaratus in the selfish and exclusive policy of his countrymen made him argue that if this were done the fear of Sparta for herself would prevent her joining the forces of the rest of Greece, and leave the latter a more easy prey to the invader."—Athens, its Rise and Fall. This advice was overruled by Achaemenes. So again, had the advice of Artemisia, the Carian princess, been taken—to delay the naval engagement of Salamis, and rather to sail to the Peloponnesus—the Greeks, failing of provisions and divided among themselves, would probably have dispersed.
At noon the next day, not only the vessels in the harbour presented the same appearance of inactivity and desertion which had characterised the preceding evening, but the camp itself seemed forsaken. Pausanias had quitted his ship for the citadel, in which he took up his lodgment when on shore: and most of the officers and sailors of the squadron were dispersed among the taverns and wine-shops, for which, even at that day, Byzantium was celebrated.
It was in one of the lowest and most popular of these latter resorts, and in a large and rude chamber, or rather outhouse, separated from the rest of the building, that a number of the Laconian Helots were assembled. Some of these were employed as sailors, others were the military attendants on the Regent and the Spartans who accompanied him.
At the time we speak of, these unhappy beings were in the full excitement of that wild and melancholy gaiety which is almost peculiar to slaves in their hours of recreation, and in which reaction of wretchedness modern writers have discovered the indulgence of a native humour. Some of them were drinking deep, wrangling, jesting, laughing in loud discord over their cups. At another table rose the deep voice of a singer, chanting one of those antique airs known but to these degraded sons of the Homeric Achaean, and probably in its origin going beyond the date of the Tale of Troy; a song of gross and rustic buffoonery, but ever and anon charged with some image or thought worthy of that language of the universal Muses. His companions listened with a rude delight to the rough voice and homely sounds, and now and then interrupted the wassailers at the other tables by cries for silence, which none regarded. Here and there, with intense and fierce anxiety on their faces, small groups were playing at dice; for gambling is the passion of slaves. And many of these men, to whom wealth could bring no comfort, had secretly amassed large hoards at the plunder of Plataea, from which they had sold to the traders of Aegina gold at the price of brass. The appearance of the rioters was startling and melancholy. They were mostly stunted and undersized, as are generally the progeny of the sons of woe; lean and gaunt with early hardship, the spine of the back curved and bowed by habitual degradation; but with the hard-knit sinews and prominent muscles which are produced by labour and the mountain air; and under shaggy and lowering brows sparkled many a fierce, perfidious, and malignant eye; while as mirth, or gaming, or song, aroused smiles in the various groups, the rude features spoke of passions easily released from the sullen bondage of servitude, and revealed the nature of the animals which thraldom had failed to tame. Here and there however were to be seen forms, unlike the rest, of stately stature, of fair proportions, wearing the divine lineaments of Grecian beauty. From some of these a higher nature spoke out, not in mirth, that last mockery of supreme woe, but in an expression of stern, grave, and disdainful melancholy; others, on the contrary, surpassed the rest in vehemence, clamour, and exuberant extravagance of emotion, as if their nobler physical development only served to entitle them to that base superiority. For health and vigour can make an aristocracy even among Helots. The garments of these merrymakers increased the peculiar effect of their general appearance. The Helots in military excursions naturally relinquished the rough sheep-skin dress that characterised their countrymen at home, the serfs of the soil. The sailors had thrown off, for coolness, the leathern jerkins they habitually wore, and, with their bare arms and breasts, looked as if of a race that yet shivered, primitive and unredeemed, on the outskirts of civilization.
Strangely contrasted with their rougher comrades, were those who, placed occasionally about the person of the Regent, were indulged with the loose and clean robes of gay colours worn by the Asiatic slaves; and these ever and anon glanced at their finery with an air of conscious triumph. Altogether, it was a sight that might well have appalled, by its solemn lessons of human change, the poet who would have beheld in that embruted flock the descendants of the race over whom Pelops and Atreus, and Menelaus, and Agamemnon the king of men, had held their antique sway, and might still more have saddened the philosopher who believed, as Menander has nobly written, 'That Nature knows no slaves.'
Suddenly, in the midst of the confused and uproarious hubbub, the door opened, and Alcman the Mothon entered the chamber. At this sight the clamour ceased in an instant. The party rose, as by a general impulse, and crowded round the new comer.
"My friends," said he, regarding them with the same calm and frigid indifference which usually characterised his demeanour, "you do well to make merry while you may, for something tells me it will not last long. We shall return to Lacedaemon. You look black. So, then, is there no delight in the thought of home?"
"Home!" muttered one of the Helots, and the word, sounding drearily on his lips, was echoed by many, so that it circled like a groan.
"Yet ye have your children as much as if ye were free," said Alcman.
"And for that reason it pains us to see them play, unaware of the future," said a Helot of better mien than his comrades.
"But do you know," returned the Mothon, gazing on the last speaker steadily, "that for your children there may not be a future fairer than that which your fathers knew?"
"Tush!" exclaimed one of the unhappy men, old before his time, and of an aspect singularly sullen and ferocious. "Such have been your half-hints and mystic prophecies for years. What good comes of them? Was there ever an oracle for Helots?"
"There was no repute in the oracles even of Apollo," returned Alcman, "till the Apollo-serving Dorians became conquerors. Oracles are the children of victories."
"But there are no victories for us," said the first speaker mournfully.
"Never, if ye despair," said the Mothon loftily. "What," he added after a pause, looking round at the crowd, "what, do ye not see that hope dawned upon us from the hour when thirty-five thousand of us were admitted as soldiers, ay, and as conquerors, at Plataea? From that moment we knew our strength. Listen to me. At Samos once a thousand slaves—mark me, but a thousand,—escaped the yoke—seized on arms, fled to the mountains (we have mountains even in Laconia), descended from time to time to devastate the fields and to harass their ancient lords. By habit they learned war, by desperation they grew indomitable. What became of these slaves? were they cut off? Did they perish by hunger, by the sword, in the dungeon or field? No; those brave men were the founders of Ephesus."
"But the Samians were not Spartans," mumbled the old Helot.
"As ye will, as ye will," said Alcman, relapsing into his usual coldness. "I wish you never to strike unless ye are prepared to die or conquer."
"Some of us are," said the younger Helot.
"Sacrifice a cock to the Fates, then."
"But why, think you," asked one of the Helots, "that we shall be so soon summoned back to Laconia?"
"Because while ye are drinking and idling here—drones that ye are—there is commotion in the Athenian bee-hive yonder. Know that Ariamanes the Persian and Datis the Mede have escaped. The allies, especially the Athenians, are excited and angry; and many of them are already come in a body to Pausanias, whom they accuse of abetting the escape of the fugitives."
"Well, and if Pausanias does not give honey in his words,—and few flowers grow on his lips—the bees will sting, that is all. A trireme will be despatched to Sparta with complaints. Pausanias will be recalled—perhaps his life endangered."
"Endangered!" echoed several voices.
"Yes. What is that to you—what care you for his danger? He is a Spartan."
"Ay," cried one; "but he has been kind to the Helots."
"And we have fought by his side," said another.
"And he dressed my wound with his own hand," murmured a third.
"And we have got money under him," growled a fourth.
"And more than all," said Alcman, in a loud voice, "if he lives, he will break down the Spartan government. Ye will not let this man die?"
"Never!" exclaimed the whole assembly. Alcman gazed with a kind of calm and strange contempt on the flashing eyes, the fiery gestures of the throng, and then said, coldly,
"So then ye would fight for one man?"
"Ay, ay, that would we."
"But not for your own liberties, and those of your children unborn?"
There was a dead silence; but the taunt was felt, and its logic was already at work in many of these rugged breasts.
At this moment, the door was suddenly thrown open; and a Helot, in the dress worn by the attendants of the Regent, entered, breathless and panting.
"Alcman! the gods be praised you are here. Pausanias commands your presence. Lose not a moment. And you too, comrades, by Demeter, do you mean to spend whole days at your cups? Come to the citadel; ye may be wanted."
This was spoken to such of the Helots as belonged to the train of Pausanias.
"Wanted—what for?" said one. "Pausanias gives us a holiday while he employs the sleek Egyptians."
"Who that serves Pausanias ever asks that question, or can foresee from one hour to another what he may be required to do?" returned the self-important messenger, with great contempt.
Meanwhile the Mothon, all whose movements were peculiarly silent and rapid, was already on his way to the citadel. The distance was not inconsiderable, but Alcman was swift of foot. Tightening the girdle round his waist, he swung himself, as it were, into a kind of run, which, though not seemingly rapid, cleared the ground with a speed almost rivalling that of the ostrich, from the length of the stride and the extreme regularity of the pace. Such was at that day the method by which messages were despatched from state to state, especially in mountainous countries; and the length of way which was performed, without stopping, by the foot-couriers might startle the best-trained pedestrians in our times. So swiftly indeed did the Mothon pursue his course, that just by the citadel he came up with the Grecian captains who, before he joined the Helots, had set off for their audience with Pausanias. There were some fourteen or fifteen of them, and they so filled up the path, which, just there, was not broad, that Alcman was obliged to pause as he came upon their rear.
"And whither so fast, fellow?" said Uliades the Samian, turning round as he heard the strides of the Mothon.
"Please you, master, I am bound to the General."
"Oh, his slave! Is he going to free you?"
"I am already as free as a man who has no city can be."
"Pithy. The Spartan slaves have the dryness of their masters. How, sirrah! do you jostle me?"
"I crave pardon. I only seek to pass."
"Never! to take precedence of a Samian. Keep back."
"I dare not."
"Nay, nay, let him pass," said the young Chian, Antagoras; "he will get scourged if he is too late. Perhaps, like the Persians, Pausanias wears false hair, and wishes the slave to dress it in honour of us." "Hush!" whispered an Athenian. "Are these taunts prudent?"
Here there suddenly broke forth a loud oath from Uliades, who, lingering a little behind the rest, had laid rough hands on the Mothon, as the latter once more attempted to pass him. With a dexterous and abrupt agility, Alcman had extricated himself from the Samian's grasp, but with a force that swung the captain on his knee. Taking advantage of the position of the foe, the Mothon darted onward, and threading the rest of the party, disappeared through the neighbouring gates of the citadel.
"You saw the insult?" said Uliades between his ground teeth as he recovered himself. "The master shall answer for the slave; and to me, too, who have forty slaves of my own at home!"
"Pooh! think no more of it," said Antagoras gaily; "the poor fellow meant only to save his own hide."
"As if that were of any consequence! my slaves are brought up from the cradle not to know if they have hides or not. You may pinch them by the hour together and they don't feel you. My little ones do it, in rainy weather, to strengthen their fingers. The Gods keep them!"
"An excellent gymnastic invention. But we are now within the citadel. Courage! the Spartan greyhound has long teeth."
Pausanias was striding with hasty steps up and down a long and narrow peristyle or colonnade that surrounded the apartments appropriated to his private use, when Alcman joined him.
"Well, well," cried he, eagerly, as he saw the Mothon, "you have mingled with the common gangs of these worshipful seamen, these new men, these Ionians. Think you they have so far overcome their awe of the Spartan that they would obey the mutinous commands of their officers?"
"Pausanias, the truth must be spoken—Yes!"
"Ye Gods! one would think each of these wranglers imagined he had a whole Persian army in his boat. Why, I have seen the day when, if in any assembly of Greeks a Spartan entered, the sight of his very hat and walking-staff cast a terror through the whole conclave." "True, Pausanias; but they suspect that Sparta herself will disown her General."
"Ah! say they so?"
"With one voice."
Pausanias paused a moment in deep and perturbed thought.
"Have they dared yet, think you, to send to Sparta?"
"I hear not; but a trireme is in readiness to sail after your conference with the captains."
"So, Alcman, it were ruin to my schemes to be recalled—until—until—"
"The hour to join the Persians on the frontier—yes."
"One word more. Have you had occasion to sound the Helots?"
"But half an hour since. They will be true to you. Lift your right hand, and the ground where you stand will bristle with men who fear death even less than the Spartans."
"Their aid were useless here against the whole Grecian fleet; but in the defiles of Laconia, otherwise. I am prepared then for the worst, even recall."
Here a slave crossed from a kind of passage that led from the outer chambers into the peristyle.
"The Grecian captains have arrived to demand audience."
"Bid them wait," cried Pausanias, passionately.
"Hist! Pausanias," whispered the Mothon. "Is it not best to soothe them—to play with them—to cover the lion with the fox's hide?"
The Regent turned with a frown to his foster-brother, as if surprised and irritated by his presumption in advising; and indeed of late, since Pausanias had admitted the son of the Helot into his guilty intrigues, Alcman had assumed a bearing and tone of equality which Pausanias, wrapped in his dark schemes, did not always notice, but at which from time to time he chafed angrily, yet again permitted it, and the custom gained ground; for in guilt conventional distinctions rapidly vanish, and mind speaks freely out to mind. The presence of the slave, however, restrained him, and after a momentary silence his natural acuteness, great when undisturbed by passion or pride, made him sensible of the wisdom of Alcman's counsel.
"Hold!" he said to the slave. "Announce to the Grecian Chiefs that Pausanias will await them forthwith. Begone. Now, Alcman, I will talk over these gentle monitors. Not in vain have I been educated in Sparta; yet if by chance I fail, hold thyself ready to haste to Sparta at a minute's warning. I must forestall the foe. I have gold, gold; and he who employs most of the yellow orators, will prevail most with the Ephors. Give me my staff; and tarry in yon chamber to the left."
 Malacus ap. Athen. 6.
In a large hall, with a marble fountain in the middle of it, the Greek captains awaited the coming of Pausanias. A low and muttered conversation was carried on amongst them, in small knots and groups, amidst which the voice of Uliades was heard the loudest. Suddenly the hum was hushed, for footsteps were heard without. The thick curtains that at one extreme screened the door-way were drawn aside, and, attended by three of the Spartan knights, amongst whom was Lysander, and by two soothsayers, who were seldom absent, in war or warlike council, from the side of the Royal Heracleid, Pausanias slowly entered the hall. So majestic, grave, and self-collected were the bearing and aspect of the Spartan general, that the hereditary awe inspired by his race was once more awakened, and the angry crowd saluted him, silent and half-abashed. Although the strong passions, and the daring arrogance of Pausanias, did not allow him the exercise of that enduring, systematic, unsleeping hypocrisy which, in relations with the foreigner, often characterised his countrymen, and which, from its outward dignity and profound craft, exalted the vice into genius; yet trained from earliest childhood in the arts that hide design, that control the countenance, and convey in the fewest words the most ambiguous meanings, the Spartan general could, for a brief period, or for a critical purpose, command all the wiles for which the Greek was nationally famous, and in which Thucydides believed that, of all Greeks, the Spartan was the most skilful adept. And now, as, uniting the courtesy of the host with the dignity of the chief, he returned the salute of the officers, and smiled his gracious welcome, the unwonted affability of his manner took the discontented by surprise, and half propitiated the most indignant in his favour.
"I need not ask you, O Greeks," said he, "why ye have sought me. Ye have learnt the escape of Ariamanes and Datis—a strange and unaccountable mischance."
The captains looked round at each other in silence, till at last every eye rested upon Cimon, whose illustrious birth, as well as his known respect for Sparta, combined with his equally well-known dislike of her chief, seemed to mark him, despite his youth, as the fittest person to be speaker for the rest. Cimon, who understood the mute appeal, and whose courage never failed his ambition, raised his head, and, after a moment's hesitation, replied to the Spartan:
"Pausanias, you guess rightly the cause which leads us to your presence. These prisoners were our noblest; their capture the reward of our common valour; they were generals, moreover, of high skill and repute. They had become experienced in our Grecian warfare, even by their defeats. Those two men, should Xerxes again invade Greece, are worth more to his service than half the nations whose myriads crossed the Hellespont. But this is not all. The arms of the Barbarians we can encounter undismayed. It is treason at home which can alone appal us."
There was a low murmur among the Ionians at these words. Pausanias, with well-dissembled surprise on his countenance, turned his eyes from Cimon to the murmurers, and from them again to Cimon, and repeated:
"Treason! son of Miltiades; and from whom?"
"Such is the question that we would put to thee, Pausanias—to thee, whose eyes, as leader of our armies, are doubtless vigilant daily and nightly over the interests of Greece."
"I am not blind," returned Pausanias, appearing unconscious of the irony; "but I am not Argus. If thou hast discovered aught that is hidden from me, speak boldly."
"Thou hast made Gongylus, the Eretrian, governor of Byzantium; for what great services we know not. But he has lived much in Persia."
"For that reason, on this the frontier of her domains, he is better enabled to penetrate her designs and counteract her ambition."
"This Gongylus," continued Cimon, "is well known to have much frequented the Persian captives in their confinement."
"In order to learn from them what may yet be the strength of the king. In this he had my commands."
"I question it not. But, Pausanias," continued Cimon, raising his voice, and with energy, "had he also thy commands to leave thy galley last night, and to return to the citadel?"
"He had. What then?"
"And on his return the Persians disappear—a singular chance, truly. But that is not all. Last night, before he returned to the citadel, Gongylus was perceived, alone, in a retired spot on the outskirts of the city."
"Alone?" echoed Pausanias.
"Alone. If he had companions they were not discerned. This spot was out of the path he should have taken. By this spot, on the soft soil, are the marks of hoofs, and in the thicket close by were found these witnesses," and Cimon drew from his vest a handful of the pearls, only worn by the Eastern captives.
"There is something in this," said Xanthippus, "which requires at least examination. May it please you, Pausanias, to summon Gongylus hither?"
A momentary shade passed over the brow of the conspirator, but the eyes of the Greeks were on him; and to refuse were as dangerous as to comply. He turned to one of his Spartans, and ordered him to summon the Eretrian.
"You have spoken well, Xanthippus. This matter must be sifted."
"With that, motioning the captains to the seats that were ranged round the walls and before a long table, he cast himself into a large chair at the head of the table, and waited in silent anxiety the entrance of the Eretrian. His whole trust now was in the craft and penetration of his friend. If the courage or the cunning of Gongylus failed him—if but a word betrayed him—Pausanias was lost. He was girt by men who hated him; and he read in the dark fierce eyes of the Ionians—whose pride he had so often galled, whose revenge he had so carelessly provoked—the certainty of ruin. One hand hidden within the folds of his robe convulsively clinched the flesh, in the stern agony of his suspense. His calm and composed face nevertheless exhibited to the captains no trace of fear.
The draperies were again drawn aside, and Gongylus slowly entered.
Habituated to peril of every kind from his earliest youth, the Eretrian was quick to detect its presence. The sight of the silent Greeks, formally seated round the hall, and watching his steps and countenance with eyes whose jealous and vindictive meaning it required no Oedipus to read, the grave and half-averted brow of Pausanias, and the angry excitement that had prevailed amidst the host at the news of the escape of the Persians—all sufficed to apprise him of the nature of the council to which he had been summoned.
Supporting himself on his staff, and dragging his limbs tardily along, he had leisure to examine, though with apparent indifference, the whole group; and when, with a calm salutation, he arrested his steps at the foot of the table immediately facing Pausanias, he darted one glance at the Spartan so fearless, so bright, so cheering, that Pausanias breathed hard, as if a load were thrown from his breast, and turning easily towards Cimon, said—
"Behold your witness. Which of us shall be questioner, and which judge?"
"That matters but little," returned Cimon. "Before this audience justice must force its way."
"It rests with you, Pausanias," said Xanthippus, "to acquaint the governor of Byzantium with the suspicions he has excited."
"Gongylus," said Pausanias, "the captive Barbarians, Ariamanes and Datis, were placed by me especially under thy vigilance and guard. Thou knowest that, while (for humanity becomes the victor) I ordered thee to vex them by no undue restraints, I nevertheless commanded thee to consider thy life itself answerable for their durance. They have escaped. The captains of Greece demand of thee, as I demanded—by what means—by what connivance? Speak the truth, and deem that in falsehood as well as in treachery, detection is easy, and death certain."
The tone of Pausanias, and his severe look, pleased and re-assured all the Greeks, except the wiser Cimon. who, though his suspicions were a little shaken, continued to fix his eyes rather on Pausanias than on the Eretrian.
"Pausanias," replied Gongylus, drawing up his lean frame, as with the dignity of conscious innocence, "that suspicion could fall upon me, I find it difficult to suppose. Raised by thy favour to the command of Byzantium, what have I to gain by treason or neglect? These Persians—I knew them well. I had known them in Susa—known them when I served Darius, being then an exile from Eretria. Ye know, my countrymen, that when Darius invaded Greece I left his court and armies, and sought my native land, to fall or to conquer in its cause. Well, then, I knew these Barbarians. I sought them frequently; partly, it may be, to return to them in their adversity the courtesies shown me in mine. Ye are Greeks; ye will not condemn me for humanity and gratitude. Partly with another motive. I knew that Ariamanes had the greatest influence over Xerxes. I knew that the great king would at any cost seek to regain the liberty of his friend. I urged upon Ariamanes the wisdom of a peace with the Greeks even on their own terms. I told him that when Xerxes sent to offer the ransom, conditions of peace would avail more than sacks of gold. He listened and approved. Did I wrong in this, Pausanias? No; for thou, whose deep sagacity has made thee condescend even to appear half Persian, because thou art all Greek—thou thyself didst sanction my efforts on behalf of Greece."
Pausanias looked with a silent triumph round the conclave, and Xanthippus nodded approval.
"In order to conciliate them, and with too great confidence in their faith, I relaxed by degrees the rigour of their confinement; that was a fault, I own it. Their apartments communicated with a court in which I suffered them to walk at will. But I placed there two sentinels in whom I deemed I could repose all trust—not my own countrymen—not Eretrians—not thy Spartans or Laconians, Pausanias. No; I deemed that if ever the jealousy (a laudable jealousy) of the Greeks should demand an account of my faith and vigilance, my witnesses should be the countrymen of those who have ever the most suspected me. Those sentinels were, the one a Samian, the other a Plataean. These men have betrayed me and Greece. Last night, on returning hither from the vessel, I visited the Persians. They were about to retire to rest, and I quitted them soon, suspecting nothing. This morning they had fled, and with them their abetters, the sentinels. I hastened first to send soldiers in search of them; and, secondly, to inform Pausanias in his galley. If I have erred, I submit me to your punishment. Punish my error, but acquit my honesty."
"And what," said Cimon, abruptly, "led thee far from thy path, between the Heracleid's galley and the citadel, to the fields near the temple of Aphrodite, between the citadel and the bay? Thy colour changes. Mark him, Greeks. Quick; thine answer."
The countenance of Gongylus had indeed lost its colour and hardihood. The loud tone of Cimon—the effect his confusion produced on the Greeks, some of whom, the Ionians less self-possessed and dignified than the rest, half rose, with fierce gestures and muttered exclamations—served still more to embarrass and intimidate him. He cast a hasty look on Pausanias, who averted his eyes. There was a pause. The Spartan gave himself up for lost; but how much more was his fear increased when Gongylus, casting an imploring gaze upon the Greeks, said hesitatingly—
"Question me no farther. I dare not speak;" and as he spoke he pointed to Pausanias.
"It was the dread of thy resentment, Pausanias," said Cimon coldly, "that withheld his confession. Vouchsafe to re-assure him."
"Eretrian," said Pausanias, striking his clenched hand on the table, "I know not what tale trembles on thy lips; but, be it what it may, give it voice, I command thee." "Thou thyself, thou wert the cause that led me towards the temple of Aphrodite," said Gongylus, in a low voice.
At these words there went forth a general deep-breathed murmur. With one accord every Greek rose to his feet. The Spartan attendants in the rear of Pausanias drew closer to his person; but there was nothing in their faces—yet more dark and vindictive than those of the other Greeks—that promised protection. Pausanias alone remained seated and unmoved. His imminent danger gave him back all his valour, all his pride, all his passionate and profound disdain. With unbleached cheek, with haughty eyes, he met the gaze of the assembly; and then waving his hand as if that gesture sufficed to restrain and awe them, he said—
"In the name of all Greece, whose chief I yet am, whose protector I have once been, I command ye to resume your seats, and listen to the Eretrian. Spartans, fall back. Governor of Byzantium, pursue your tale."
"Yes, Pausanias," resumed Gongylus, "you alone were the cause that drew me from my rest. I would fain be silent, but——"
"Say on," cried Pausanias fiercely, and measuring the space between himself and Gongylus, in doubt whether the Eretrian's head were within reach of his scimitar; so at least Gongylus interpreted that freezing look of despair and vengeance, and he drew back some paces. "I place myself, O Greeks, under your protection; it is dangerous to reveal the errors of the great. Know that, as Governor of Byzantium, many things ye wot not of reach my ears. Hence, I guard against dangers while ye sleep. Learn, then, that Pausanias is not without the weakness of his ancestor, Alcides; he loves a maiden—a Byzantine—Cleonice, the daughter of Diagoras."
This unexpected announcement, made in so grave a tone, provoked a smile amongst the gay Ionians; but an exclamation of jealous anger broke from Antagoras, and a blush partly of wounded pride, partly of warlike shame, crimsoned the swarthy cheek of Pausanias. Cimon, who was by no means free from the joyous infirmities of youth, relaxed his severe brow, and said, after a short pause—
"Is it, then, among the grave duties of the Governor of Byzantium to watch over the fair Cleonice, or to aid the suit of her illustrious lover?"
"Not so," answered Gongylus; "but the life of the Grecian general is dear, at least, to the grateful Governor of Byzantium. Greeks, ye know that amongst you Pausanias has many foes. Returning last night from his presence, and passing through the thicket, I overheard voices at hand. I caught the name of Pausanias. 'The Spartan,' said one voice, 'nightly visits the house of Diagoras. He goes usually alone. From the height near the temple we can watch well, for the night is clear; if he goes alone, we can intercept his way on his return.' 'To the height!' cried the other. I thought to distinguish the voices, but the trees hid the speakers. I followed the footsteps towards the temple, for it behoved me to learn who thus menaced the chief of Greece. But ye know that the wood reaches even to the sacred building, and the steps gained the temple before I could recognize the men. I concealed myself, as I thought, to watch; but it seems that I was perceived, for he who saw me, and now accuses, was doubtless one of the assassins. Happy I, if the sight of a witness scared him from the crime. Either fearing detection, or aware that their intent that night was frustrated—for Pausanias, visiting Cleonice earlier than his wont, had already resought his galley—the men retreated as they came, unseen, not unheard. I caught their receding steps through the brushwood. Greeks, I have said. Who is my accuser? in him behold the would-be murderer of Pausanias!"
"Liar," cried an indignant and loud voice amongst the captains, and Antagoras stood forth from the circle.
"It is I who saw thee. Darest thou accuse Antagoras of Chios?"
"What at that hour brought Antagoras of Chios to the temple of Aphrodite?" retorted Gongylus.
The eyes of the Greeks turned toward the young captain, and there was confusion on his face. But recovering himself quickly, the Chian answered, "Why should I blush to own it? Aphrodite is no dishonourable deity to the men of the Ionian Isles. I sought the temple at that hour, as is our wont, to make my offering, and record my prayer."
"Certainly," said Cimon. "We must own that Aphrodite is powerful at Byzantium. Who can acquit Pausanias and blame Antagoras?"
"Pardon me—one question," said Gongylus. "Is not the female heart which Antagoras would beseech the goddess to soften towards him that of the Cleonice of whom we spoke? See, he denies it not. Greeks, the Chians are warm lovers, and warm lovers are revengeful rivals."
This artful speech had its instantaneous effect amongst the younger and more unthinking loiterers. Those who at once would have disbelieved the imputed guilt of Antagoras upon motives merely political, inclined to a suggestion that ascribed it to the jealousy of a lover. And his character, ardent and fiery, rendered the suspicion yet more plausible. Meanwhile the minds of the audience had been craftily drawn from the grave and main object of the meeting—the flight of the Persians—and a lighter and livelier curiosity had supplanted the eager and dark resentment which had hitherto animated the circle. Pausanias, with the subtle genius that belonged to him, hastened to seize advantage of this momentary diversion in his favour, and before the Chian could recover his consternation, both at the charge and the evident effect it had produced upon a part of the assembly, the Spartan stretched his hand, and spake.
"Greeks, Pausanias listens to no tale of danger to himself. Willingly he believes that Gongylus either misinterpreted the intent of some jealous and heated threats, or that the words he overheard were not uttered by Antagoras. Possible is it, too, that others may have sought the temple with less gentle desires than our Chian ally. Let this pass. Unworthy such matters of the councils of bearded men; too much reference has been made to those follies which our idleness has given birth to. Let no fair Briseis renew strife amongst chiefs and soldiers. Excuse not thyself, Antagoras; we dismiss all charge against thee. On the other hand, Gongylus will doubtless seem to you to have accounted for his appearance near the precincts of the temple. And it is but a coincidence, natural enough, that the Persian prisoners should have chosen, later in the night, the same spot for the steeds to await them. The thickness of the wood round the temple, and the direction of the place towards the east, points out the neighbourhood as the very one in which the fugitives would appoint the horses. Waste no further time, but provide at once for the pursuit. To you, Cimon, be this care confided. Already have I despatched fifty light-armed men on fleet Thessalian steeds. You, Cimon, increase the number of the pursuers. The prisoners may be yet recaptured. Doth aught else remain worthy of our ears? If so, speak; if not, depart."
"Pausanias," said Antagoras, firmly, "let Gongylus retract, or not, his charge against me, I retain mine against Gongylus. Wholly false is it that in word or deed I plotted violence against thee, though of much—not as Cleonice's lover, but as Grecian captain—I have good reason to complain. Wholly false is it that I had a comrade. I was alone. And coming out from the temple, where I had hung my chaplet, I perceived Gongylus clearly under the starlit skies. He stood in listening attitude close by the sacred myrtle grove. I hastened towards him, but methinks he saw me not; he turned slowly, penetrated the wood, and vanished. I gained the spot on the soft sward which the dropping boughs make ever humid. I saw the print of hoofs. Within the thicket I found the pearls that Cimon has displayed to you. Clear, then, is it that this man lies—clear that the Persians must have fled already—although Gongylus declares that on his return to the citadel he visited them in their prison. Explain this, Eretrian!"
"He who would speak false witness," answered Gongylus, with a firmness equal to the Chian's, "can find pearls at whatsoever hour he pleases. Greeks, this man presses me to renew the charge which Pausanias generously sought to stifle. I have said. And I, Governor of Byzantium, call on the Council of the Grecian Leaders to maintain my authority, and protect their own Chief."
Then arose a vexed and perturbed murmur, most of the Ionians siding with Antagoras, such of the allies as yet clung to the Dorian ascendancy grouping round Gongylus. The persistence of Antagoras had made the dilemma of no slight embarrassment to Pausanias. Something lofty in his original nature urged him to shrink from supporting Gongylus in an accusation which he believed untrue. On the other hand, he could not abandon his accomplice in an effort, as dangerous as it was crafty, to conceal their common guilt.
"Son of Miltiades," he said after a brief pause, in which his dexterous resolution was formed, "I invoke your aid to appease a contest in which I foresee no result but that of schism amongst ourselves. Antagoras has no witness to support his tale, Gongylus none to support his own. Who shall decide between conflicting testimonies which rest but on the lips of accuser and accused? Hereafter, if the matter be deemed sufficiently grave, let us refer the decision to the oracle that never errs. Time and chance meanwhile may favour us in clearing up the darkness we cannot now penetrate.
For you, Governor of Byzantium, it behoves me to say that the escape of prisoners entrusted to your charge justifies vigilance if not suspicion. We shall consult at our leisure whether or not that course suffices to remove you from the government of Byzantium. Heralds, advance; our council is dissolved."
With these words Pausanias rose, and the majesty of his bearing, with the unwonted temper and conciliation of his language, so came in aid of his high office, that no man ventured a dissentient murmur.
The conclave broke up, and not till its members had gained the outer air did any signs of suspicion or dissatisfaction evince themselves; but then, gathering in groups, the Ionians with especial jealousy discussed what had passed, and with their native shrewdness ascribed the moderation of Pausanias to his desire to screen Gongylus and avoid further inquisition into the flight of the prisoners. The discontented looked round for Cimon, but the young Athenian had hastily retired from the throng, and, after issuing orders to pursue the fugitives, sought Aristides in the house near the quay in which he lodged.
Cimon related to his friend what had passed at the meeting, and terminating his recital, said:
"Thou shouldst have been with us. With thee we might have ventured more." "And if so," returned the wise Athenian with a smile, "ye would have prospered less Precisely because I would not commit our country to the suspicion of fomenting intrigues and mutiny to her own advantage, did I abstain from the assembly, well aware that Pausanias would bring his minion harmless from the unsupported accusation of Antagoras. Thou hast acted with cool judgment, Cimon. The Spartan is weaving the webs of the Parcae for his own feet. Leave him to weave on, undisturbed. The hour in which Athens shall assume the sovereignty of the seas is drawing near. Let it come, like Jove's thunder, in a calm sky."
Pausanias did not that night quit the city. After the meeting, he held a private conference with the Spartan Equals, whom custom and the government assigned, in appearance as his attendants, in reality as witnesses if not spies of his conduct. Though every pure Spartan, as compared with the subject Laconian population, was noble, the republic acknowledged two main distinctions in class, the higher, entitled Equals, a word which we might not inaptly and more intelligibly render Peers; the lower, Inferiors. These distinctions, though hereditary, were not immutable. The peer could be degraded, the inferior could become a peer. To the royal person in war three peers were allotted. Those assigned to Pausanias, of the tribe called the Hylleans, were naturally of a rank and influence that constrained him to treat them with a certain deference, which perpetually chafed his pride and confirmed his discontent; for these three men were precisely of the mould which at heart he most despised. Polydorus, the first in rank—for, like Pausanias, he boasted his descent from Hercules—was the personification of the rudeness and bigotry of a Spartan who had never before stirred from his rocky home, and who disdained all that he could not comprehend. Gelon, the second, passed for a very wise man, for he seldom spoke but in monosyllables; yet, probably, his words were as numerous as his ideas. Cleomenes, the third, was as distasteful to the Regent from his merits as the others from their deficiencies. He had risen from the grade of the Inferiors by his valour; blunt, homely, frank, sincere, he never disguised his displeasure at the manner of Pausanias, though, a true Spartan in discipline, he never transgressed the respect which his chief commanded in time of war.
Pausanias knew that these officers were in correspondence with Sparta, and he now exerted all his powers to remove from their minds any suspicion which the disappearance of the prisoners might have left in them.
In this interview he displayed all those great natural powers which, rightly trained and guided, might have made him not less great in council than in war. With masterly precision he enlarged on the growing ambition of Athens, on the disposition in her favour evinced by all the Ionian confederates. "Hitherto," he said truly, "Sparta has uniformly held rank as the first state of Greece; the leadership of the Greeks belongs to us by birth and renown. But see you not that the war is now shifting from land to sea? Sea is not our element; it is that of Athens, of all the Ionian race. If this continue we lose our ascendancy, and Athens becomes the sovereign of Hellas. Beneath the calm of Aristides I detect his deep design. In vain Cimon affects the manner of the Spartan; at heart he is Athenian. This charge against Gongylus is aimed at me. Grant that the plot which it conceals succeed; grant that Sparta share the affected suspicions of the Ionians, and recall me from Byzantium; deem you that there lives one Spartan who could delay for a day the supremacy of Athens? Nought save the respect the Dorian Greeks at least attach to the General at Plataea could restrain the secret ambition of the city of the demagogues. Deem not that I have been as rash and vain as some hold me for the stern visage I have shown to the Ionians. Trust me that it was necessary to awe them, with a view to maintain our majesty. For Sparta to preserve her ascendancy, two things are needful: first, to continue the war by land; secondly, to disgust the Ionians with their sojourn here, send them with their ships to their own havens, and so leave Hellas under the sole guardianship of ourselves and our Peloponnesian allies. Therefore I say, bear with me in this double design; chide me not if my haughty manner disperse these subtle Ionians. If I bore with them to-day it was less from respect than, shall I say it, my fear lest you should misinterpret me. Beware how you detail to Sparta whatever might rouse the jealousy of her government. Trust to me, and I will extend the dominion of Sparta till it grasp the whole of Greece. We will depose everywhere the revolutionary Demos, and establish our own oligarchies in every Grecian state. We will Laconize all Hellas."
Much of what Pausanias said was wise and profound. Such statesmanship, narrow and congenial, but vigorous and crafty, Sparta taught in later years to her alert politicians. And we have already seen that, despite the dazzling prospects of Oriental dominion, he as yet had separated himself rather from the laws than the interests of Sparta, and still incorporated his own ambition with the extension of the sovereignty of his country over the rest of Greece.
But the peers heard him in dull and gloomy silence; and, not till he had paused and thrice asked for a reply, did Polydorus speak.
"You would increase the dominion of Sparta, Pausanias. Increase of dominion is waste of life and treasure. We have few men, little gold; Sparta is content to hold her own." "Good," said Gelon, with impassive countenance. "What care we who leads the Greeks into blows? the fewer blows the better. Brave men fight if they must, wise men never fight if they can help it."
"And such is your counsel, Cleomenes?" asked Pausanias, with a quivering lip.
"Not from the same reasons," answered the nobler and more generous Spartan. "I presume not to question your motives, Pausanias. I leave you to explain them to the Ephors and the Gerusia. But since you press me, this I say. First, all the Greeks, Ionian as well as Dorian, fought equally against the Mede, and from the commander of the Greeks all should receive fellowship and courtesy. Secondly, I say if Athens is better fitted than Sparta for the maritime ascendancy, let Athens rule, so that Hellas be saved from the Mede. Thirdly, O Pausanias, I pray that Sparta may rest satisfied with her own institutions, and not disturb the peace of Greece by forcing them upon other States and thereby enslaving Hellas. What more could the Persian do? Finally, my advice is to suspend Gongylus from his office; to conciliate the Ionians; to remain as a Grecian armament firm and united, and so procure, on better terms, peace with Persia. And then let each State retire within itself, and none aspire to rule the other. A thousand free cities are better guard against the Barbarian than a single State made up of republics overthrown and resting its strength upon hearts enslaved."
"Do you too," said Pausanias, gnawing his nether lip, "Do you too, Polydorus; you too, Gelon, agree with Cleomenes, that, if Athens is better fitted than Sparta for the sovereignty of the seas, we should yield to that restless rival so perilous a power?"
"Ships cost gold," said Polydorus. "Spartans have none to spare. Mariners require skilful captains; Spartans know nothing of the sea."
"Moreover," quoth Gelon, "the ocean is a terrible element. What can valour do against a storm? We may lose more men by adverse weather than a century can repair. Let who will have the seas. Sparta has her rocks and defiles."
"Men and peers," said Pausanias, ill repressing his scorn, "ye little dream what arms ye place in the hands of the Athenians. I have done. Take only this prophecy. You are now the head of Greece. You surrender your sceptre to Athens, and become a second-rate power."
"Never second rate when Greece shall demand armed men," said Cleomenes proudly.
"Armed men, armed men!" cried the more profound Pausanias. "Do you suppose that commerce—that trade—that maritime energy—that fleets which ransack the shores of the world, will not obtain a power greater than mere brute-like valour? But as ye will, as ye will."
"As we speak our forefathers thought," said Gelon.
"And, Pausanias," said Cleomenes gravely, "as we speak, so think the Ephors."
Pausanias fixed his dark eye on Cleomenes, and, after a brief pause, saluted the Equals and withdrew. "Sparta," he muttered as he regained his chamber, "Sparta, thou refusest to be great; but greatness is necessary to thy son. Ah, their iron laws would constrain my soul! but it shall wear them as a warrior wears his armour and adapts it to his body. Thou shalt be queen of all Hellas despite thyself, thine Ephors, and thy laws. Then only will I forgive thee."
Diagoras was sitting outside his door and giving various instructions to the slaves employed on his farm, when, through an arcade thickly covered with the vine, the light form of Antagoras came slowly in sight.
"Hail to thee, Diagoras," said the Chian, "thou art the only wise man I meet with. Thou art tranquil while all else are disturbed; and, worshipping the great Mother, thou carest nought, methinks, for the Persian who invades, or the Spartan who professes to defend."
"Tut," said Diagoras, in a whisper, "thou knowest the contrary: thou knowest that if the Persian comes I am ruined; and, by the gods, I am on a bed of thorns as long as the Spartan stays."
"Dismiss thy slaves," exclaimed Antagoras, in the same undertone; "I would speak with thee on grave matters that concern us both."
After hastily finishing his instructions and dismissing his slaves, Diagoras turned to the impatient Chian, and said:
"Now, young warrior, I am all ears for thy speech."
"Truly," said Antagoras, "if thou wert aware of what I am about to utter, thou wouldst not have postponed consideration for thy daughter, to thy care for a few jars of beggarly olives."
"Hem!" said Diagoras, peevishly. "Olives are not to be despised; oil to the limbs makes them supple; to the stomach it gives gladness. Oil, moreover, bringeth money when sold. But a daughter is the plague of a man's life. First, one has to keep away lovers; and next to find a husband; and when all is done, one has to put one's hand in one's chest, and pay a tall fellow like thee for robbing one of one's own child. That custom of dowries is abominable. In the good old times a bridegroom, as was meet and proper, paid for his bride; now we poor fathers pay him for taking her. Well, well, never bite thy forefinger, and curl up thy brows. What thou hast to say, say."
"Diagoras, I know that thy heart is better than thy speech, and that, much as thou covetest money, thou lovest thy child more. Know, then, that Pausanias—a curse light on him!—brings shame upon Cleonice. Know that already her name hath grown the talk of the camp. Know that his visit to her the night before last was proclaimed in the Council of the Captains as a theme for jest and rude laughter. By the head of Zeus, how thinkest thou to profit by the stealthy wooings of this black-browed Spartan? Knowest thou not that his laws forbid him to marry Cleonice? Wouldst thou have him dishonour her? Speak out to him as thou speakest to men, and tell him that the maidens of Byzantium are not in the control of the General of the Greeks."
"Youth, youth," cried Diagoras, greatly agitated, "wouldst thou bring my grey hairs to a bloody grave? wouldst thou see my daughter reft from me by force—and—"
"How darest thou speak thus, old man?" interrupted the indignant Chian. "If Pausanias wronged a virgin, all Hellas would rise against him."
"Yes, but not till the ill were done, till my throat were cut, and my child dishonoured. Listen. At first indeed, when, as ill-luck would have it, Pausanias, lodging a few days under my roof, saw and admired Cleonice, I did venture to remonstrate, and how think you he took it? 'Never,' quoth he, with his stern quivering lip, 'never did conquest forego its best right to the smiles of beauty. The legends of Hercules, my ancestor, tell thee that to him who labours for men, the gods grant the love of women. Fear not that I should wrong thy daughter—to woo her is not to wrong. But close thy door on me; immure Cleonice from my sight; and nor armed slaves, nor bolts, nor bars shall keep love from the loved one,' Therewith he turned on his heel and left me. But the next day came a Lydian in his train, with a goodly pannier of rich stuffs and a short Spartan sword. On the pannier was written 'Friendship,' on the sword 'Wrath,' and Alcman gave me a scrap of parchment, whereon, with the cursed brief wit of a Spartan, was inscribed 'Choose!' Who could doubt which to take? who, by the Gods, would prefer three inches of Spartan iron in his stomach to a basketful of rich stuffs for his shoulders? Wherefore, from that hour, Pausanias comes as he lists. But Cleonice humours him not, let tongues wag as they may. Easier to take three cities than that child's heart."
"Is it so indeed?" exclaimed the Chian, joyfully; "Cleonice loves him not?"
"Laughs at him to his beard: that is, would laugh if he wore one."
"O Diagoras!" cried Antagoras, "hear me, hear me. I need not remind thee that our families are united by the hospitable ties; that amongst thy treasures thou wilt find the gifts of my ancestors for five generations; that when, a year since, my affairs brought me to Byzantium, I came to thee with the symbols of my right to claim thy hospitable cares. On leaving thee we broke the sacred die. I have one half, thou the other. In that visit I saw and loved Cleonice. Fain would I have told my love, but then my father lived, and I feared lest he should oppose my suit; therefore, as became me, I was silent. On my return home, my fears were confirmed; my father desired that I, a Chian, should wed a Chian. Since I have been with the fleet, news has reached me that the urn holds my father's ashes." Here the young Chian paused. "Alas, alas!" he murmured, smiting his breast, "and I was not at hand to fix over thy doors the sacred branch, to give thee the parting kiss, and receive into my lips thy latest breath. May Hermes, O father, have led thee to pleasant groves!"
Diagoras, who had listened attentively to the young Chian, was touched by his grief, and said pityingly:
"I know thou art a good son, and thy father was a worthy man, though harsh. It is a comfort to think that all does not die with the dead. His money at least survives him."
"But," resumed Antagoras, not heeding this consolation,—"but now I am free: and ere this, so soon as my mourning garment had been lain aside, I had asked thee to bless me with Cleonice, but that I feared her love was gone—gone to the haughty Spartan. Thou reassurest me; and in so doing, thou confirmest the fair omens with which Aphrodite has received my offerings. Therefore, I speak out. No dowry ask I with Cleonice, save such, more in name than amount, as may distinguish the wife from the concubine, and assure her an honoured place amongst my kinsmen. Thou knowest I am rich; thou knowest that my birth dates from the oldest citizens of Chios. Give me thy child, and deliver her thyself at once from the Spartan's power. Once mine, all the fleets of Hellas are her protection, and our marriage torches are the swords of a Grecian army. O Diagoras, I clasp thy knees; put thy right hand in mine. Give me thy child as wife!"
The Byzantine was strongly affected. The suitor was one who, in birth and possessions, was all that he could desire for his daughter; and at Byzantium there did not exist that feeling against intermarriages with the foreigner which prevailed in towns more purely Greek, though in many of them, too, that antique prejudice had worn away. On the other hand, by transferring to Antagoras his anxious charge, he felt that he should take the best course to preserve it untarnished from the fierce love of Pausanias, and there was truth in the Chian's suggestion. The daughter of a Byzantine might be unprotected; the wife of an Ionian captain was safe, even from the power of Pausanias. As these reflexions occurred to him, he placed his right hand in the Chian's, and said:
"Be it as thou wilt; I consent to betroth thee to Cleonice. Follow me; thou art free to woo her."
So saying, he rose, and, as if in fear of his own second thoughts, he traversed the hall with hasty strides to the interior of the mansion. He ascended a flight of steps, and, drawing aside a curtain suspended between two columns, Antagoras, who followed timidly behind, beheld Cleonice.
As was the wont in the domestic life of all Grecian states, her handmaids were around the noble virgin. Two were engaged on embroidery, one in spinning, a fourth was reading aloud to Cleonice, and that at least was a rare diversion to women, for few had the education of the fair Byzantine. Cleonice herself was half reclined upon a bench inlaid with ivory and covered with cushions; before her stood a small tripod table on which she leant the arm, the hand of which supported her cheek, and she seemed listening to the lecture of the slave with earnest and absorbed attention, so earnest, so absorbed, that she did not for some moments perceive the entrance of Diagoras and the Chian.
"Child," said the former—and Cleonice started to her feet, and stood modestly before her father, her eyes downcast, her arms crossed upon her bosom—"child, I bid thee welcome my guest-friend, Antagoras of Chios. Slaves, ye may withdraw."
Cleonice bowed her head; and an unquiet, anxious change came over her countenance.
As soon as the slaves were gone, Diagoras resumed—
"Daughter, I present to thee a suitor for thy hand; receive him as I have done, and he shall have my leave to carve thy name on every tree in the garden, with the lover's epithet of 'Beautiful,' attached to it. Antagoras, look up, then, and speak for thyself."
But Antagoras was silent; and a fear unknown to his frank hardy nature came over him. With an arch smile, Diagoras, deeming his presence no longer necessary or expedient, lifted the curtain, and lover and maid were left alone.
Then, with an effort, and still with hesitating accents, the Chian spoke—
"Fair virgin,—not in the groves of Byzantium will thy name be first written by the hand of Antagoras. In my native Chios the myrtle trees are already eloquent of thee. Since I first saw thee, I loved. Maiden, wilt thou be my wife?"
Thrice moved the lips of Cleonice, and thrice her voice seemed to fail her. At length she said,—"Chian thou art a stranger, and the laws of the Grecian cities dishonour the stranger whom the free citizen stoops to marry."
"Nay," cried Antagoras, "such cruel laws are obsolete in Chios. Nature and custom, and love's almighty goddess, long since have set them aside. Fear not, the haughtiest matron of my native state will not be more honoured than the Byzantine bride of Antagoras."
"Is it in Sparta only that such laws exist?" said Cleonice, half unconsciously, and to the sigh with which she spoke a deep blush succeeded.
"Sparta!" exclaimed Antagoras, with a fierce and jealous pang—"Ah, are thy thoughts then upon the son of Sparta? Were Pausanias a Chian, wouldst thou turn from him scornfully as thou now dost from me?"
"Not scornfully, Antagoras," answered Cleonice (who had indeed averted her face, at his reproachful question; but now turned it full upon him, with an expression of sad and pathetic sweetness), "not scornfully do I turn from thee, though with pain; for what worthier homage canst thou render to woman, than honourable love? Gratefully do I hearken to the suit that comes from thee; but gratitude is not the return thou wouldst ask, Antagoras. My hand is my father's; my heart, alas, is mine. Thou mayst claim from him the one; the other, neither he can give, nor thou receive."
"Say not so, Cleonice," cried the Chian; "say not, that thou canst not love me, if so I am to interpret thy words. Love brings love with the young. How canst thou yet know thine own heart? Tarry till thou hast listened to mine. As the fire on the altar spreads from offering to offering, so spreads love; its flame envelops all that are near to it. Thy heart will catch the heavenly spark from mine."
"Chian," said Cleonice, gently withdrawing the hand that he sought to clasp, "when as my father's guest-friend thou wert a sojourner within these walls, oft have I heard thee speak, and all thy words spoke the thoughts of a noble soul. Were it otherwise, not thus would I now address thee. Didst thou love gold, and wooed in me but the child of the rich Diagoras, or wert thou one of those who would treat for a wife, as a trader for a slave, invoking Here, but disdaining Aphrodite, I should bow my head to my doom. But thou, Antagoras, askest love for love; this I cannot give thee. Spare me, O generous Chian. Let not my father enforce his right to my obedience."
"Answer me but one question," interrupted Antagoras in a low voice, though with compressed lips: "Dost thou then love another?"
The blood mounted to the virgin's cheeks, it suffused her brow, her neck, with burning blushes, and then receding, left her face colourless as a statue. Then with tones low and constrained as his own, she pressed her hand on her heart, and replied, "Thou sayest it; I love another."
"And that other is Pausanias? Alas, thy silence, thy trembling, answer me."
Antagoras groaned aloud and covered his face with his hands; but after a short pause, he exclaimed with great emotion, "No, no—say not that thou lovest Pausanias; say not that Aphrodite hath so accurst thee: for to love Pausanias is to love dishonour."
"Hold, Chian! Not so: for my love has no hope. Our hearts are not our own, but our actions are."
Antagoras gazed on her with suspense and awe; for as she spoke her slight form dilated, her lip curled, her cheek glowed again, but with the blush less of love than of pride. In her countenance, her attitude, there was something divine and holy, such as would have beseemed a priestess of Diana.
"Yes," she resumed, raising her eyes, and with a still and mournful sweetness in her upraised features. "What I love is not Pausanias, it is the glory of which he is the symbol, it is the Greece of which he has been the Saviour. Let him depart, as soon he must—let these eyes behold him no more; still there exists for me all that exists now—a name, a renown, a dream. Never for me may the nuptial hymn resound, or the marriage torch be illumined. O goddess of the silver bow, O chaste and venerable Artemis! receive, protect thy servant; and ye, O funereal gods, lead me soon, lead the virgin unreluctant to the shades."
A superstitious fear, a dread as if his earthly love would violate something sacred, chilled the ardour of the young Chian; and for several moments both were silent.
At length, Antagoras, kissing the hem of her robe, said,—
"Maiden of Byzantium,—like thee then, I will love, though without hope. I will not, I dare not, profane thy presence by prayers which pain thee, and seem to me, having heard thee, almost guilty, as if proffered to some nymph circling in choral dance the moonlit mountain-tops of Delos. But ere I depart, and tell thy father that my suit is over, O place at least thy right hand in mine, and swear to me, not the bride's vow of faith and troth, but that vow which a virgin sister may pledge to a brother, mindful to protect and to avenge her. Swear to me, that if this haughty Spartan, contemning alike men, laws, and the household gods, should seek to constrain thy purity to his will; if thou shouldst have cause to tremble at power and force; and fierce desire should demand what gentle love would but reverently implore,—then, Cleonice, seeing how little thy father can defend thee, wilt thou remember Antagoras, and through him, summon around thee all the majesty of Hellas? Grant me but this prayer, and I leave thee, if in sorrow, yet not with terror."
"Generous and noble Chian," returned Cleonice as her tears fell upon the hand he extended to her,—"why, why do I so ill repay thee? Thy love is indeed that which ennobles the heart that yields it, and her who shall one day recompense thee for the loss of me. Fear not the power of Pausanias: dream not that I shall need a defender, while above us reign the gods, and below us lies the grave. Yet, to appease thee, take my right hand, and hear my oath. If the hour comes when I have need of man's honour against man's wrong, I will call on Antagoras as a brother."
Their hands closed in each other; and not trusting himself to speech, Antagoras turned away his face, and left the room.
For some days, an appearance at least of harmony was restored to the contending factions in the Byzantine camp.
Pausanias did not dismiss Gongylus from the government of the city; but he sent one by one for the more important of the Ionian complainants, listened to their grievances, and promised redress. He adopted a more popular and gracious demeanour, and seemed, with a noble grace, to submit to the policy of conciliating the allies.
But discontent arose from causes beyond his power, had he genuinely exerted it, to remove. For it was a discontent that lay in the hostility of race to race. Though the Spartan Equals had preached courtesy to the Ionians, the ordinary manner of the Spartan warriors was invariably offensive to the vain and susceptible confederates of a more polished race. A Spartan, wherever he might be placed, unconsciously assumed superiority. The levity of an Ionian was ever displeasing to him. Out of the actual battle-field, they could have no topics in common, none which did not provoke irritation and dispute. On the other hand, most of the Ionians could ill conceal