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Quo Vadis, A Narrative of the Time of Nero

Chapter 27
FROM that moment Lygia showed herself more rarely in the common chamber,
and approached his couch less frequently. But peace did not return to her. She
saw that Vinicius followed her with imploring glance; that he was waiting for every
word of hers, as for a favor; that he suffered and dared not complain, lest he
might turn her away from him; that she alone was his health and delight. And
then her heart swelled with compassion. Soon she observed, too, that the more
she tried to avoid him, the more compassion she had for him; and by this itself
the more tender were the feelings which rose in her. Peace left her. At times she
said to herself that it was her special duty to be near him always, first, because
the religion of God commands return of good for evil; second, that by conversing
with him, she might attract him to the faith. But at the same time conscience told
her that she was tempting herself; that only love for him and the charm which he
exerted were attracting her, nothing else. Thus she lived in a ceaseless struggle,
which was intensified daily. At times it seemed that a kind of net surrounded her,
and that in trying to break through it she entangled herself more and more. She
had also to confess that for her the sight of him was becoming more needful, his
voice was becoming dearer, and that she had to struggle with all her might
against the wish to sit at his bedside. When she approached him, and he grew
radiant, delight filled her heart. On a certain day she noticed traces of tears on
his eyelids, and for the first time in life the thought came to her, to dry them with
kisses. Terrified by that thought, and full of self-contempt, she wept all the night
following.
He was as endurmg as if he had made a vow of patience. When at moments his
eyes flashed with petulance, self-will, and anger, he restrained those flashes
promptly, and looked with alarm at her, as if to implore pardon. This acted stifi
more on her. Never had she such a feeling of being greatly loved as then; and
when she thought of this, she felt at once guilty and happy. Vinicius, too, had
changed essentially. In his conversations with Glaucus there was less pride. It
occurred to him frequently that even that poor slave physician and that foreign
woman, old Miriam, who surrounded him with attention, and Crispus, whom he
saw absorbed in continual prayer, were still human. He was astonished at such
thoughts, but he had them. After a time he conceived a liking for Ursus, with
whom he conversed entire days; for with him he could talk about Lygia. The
giant, on his part, was inexhaustible in narrative, and while performing the most
simple services for the sick man, he began to show him also some attachment.
For Vinicius, Lygia had been at all times a being of another order, higher a
hundred times than those around her: nevertheless, he began to observe simple
and poor people, -- a thing which he had never done before, -- and he discovered
in them various traits the existence of which he had never suspected.
Nazarius, however, he could not endure, for it seemed to him that the Young lad
had dared to fall in love with Lygia. He had restrained his aversion for a long
time, it is true; but once when he brought her two quails, which he had bought in
the market with his own earned money, the descendant of the Quiites spoke out
 
 
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