makes that happiness, can listen to the raging storm, and feel no heaviness over
my heart! What is there to either of us in the tempest that should oppress us with
gloom? Does not the thunder come from the same heaven as the sunshine of the
summer day? You are so young, so generous, so brave,--you have loved, and
pitied, and succoured me,--why should the night language of the sky cast such
sorrow and such silence over you?'
'It is not from sorrow that I am silent,' replied Hermanric, with a constrained
smile, 'but from weariness with much toil in the camp.'
He stifled a sigh as he spoke. His head returned to its old downcast position. The
struggle between his assumed carelessness and his real inquietude was evidently
unequal. As she looked fixedly on him, with the vigilant eye of affection, the girl's
countenance saddened with his. She nestled closer to his side and resumed the
discourse in anxious and entreating tones.
'It is haply the strife between our two nations which has separated us already, and
may separate us again, that thus oppresses you,' said she; 'but think, as I do, of the
peace that must come, and not of the warfare that now is. Think of the pleasures
of our past days, and of the happiness of our present moments,--thus united, thus
living, loving, hoping for each other; and, like me, you will doubt not of the future
that is in preparation for us both! The season of tranquillity may return with the
season of spring. The serene heaven will then be reflected on a serene country and
a happy people; and in those days of sunshine and peace, will any hearts among
all the glad population be more joyful than ours?'
She paused a moment. Some sudden thought or recollection heightened her colour
and caused her to hesitate ere she proceeded. She was about at length to continue,
when a peal of thunder, louder than any which had preceded it, burst threateningly
over the house and drowned the first accents of her voice. The wind moaned
loudly, the rain splashed against the door, the latch rattled long and sharply in its
socket. Once more Hermanric rose from his seat, and approaching the fire, placed
a fresh log of wood upon the dying embers. His dejection seemed now to
communicate itself to Antonina, and as he reseated himself by her side, she did
not address him again.
Thoughts, dreary and appalling beyond any that had occupied it before, were
rising in the mind of the Goth. His inquietude at the encampment in the suburbs
was tranquillity itself compared to the gloom which now oppressed him. All the
evaded dues of his nation, his family, and his calling; all the suppressed
recollections of the martial occupation he had slighted, and the martial enmities
he had disowned, now revived avengingly in his memory. Yet, vivid as these
remembrances were, they weakened none of those feelings of passionate devotion
to Antonina by which their influence within him had hitherto been overcome.
They existed with them--the old recollections with the new emotions--the stern
rebukings of the warrior's nature with the anxious forebodings of the lover's heart.
And now, his mysterious meeting with Ulpius; Goisvintha's unexpected return to
health; the dreary rising and furious progress of the night tempest, began to
impress his superstitious mind as a train of unwonted and meaning incidents,
destined to mark the fatal return of his kinswoman's influence over his own
actions and Antonina's fate.