Antonina HTML version

awake, I see you before me again! It is a happiness to be aroused by the sun which
has gladdened me all my life, to look upon you who have given me shelter in my
distress! But why,' she continued, in altered and enquiring tones, 'why do you
gaze upon me with doubting and mournful eyes?'
'You have slept well and safely,' said Hermanric, evasively, 'I closed the opening
of the tent to preserve you from the night-damps, but I have raised it now, for the
air is warming under the rising sun--'
'Are you wearied with watching?' she interrupted, rising to her feet, and looking
anxiously into his face. But he spoke not in reply. His head was turned towards
the door of the tent. He seemed to be listening for some expected sound. It was
evident that he had not heard her question. She followed the direction of his eyes.
The sight of the great city, half brightened, half darkened, as its myriad buildings
reflected the light of the sun, or retained the shadows of the clouds, brought back
to her remembrance her last night's petition for her father's safety. She laid her
hand upon her companion's arm to awaken his attention, and hastily resumed:--
'You have not forgotten what I said to you last night? My father's name is
Numerian. He lives on the Pincian Mount. You will save him, Hermanric--you
will save him! You will remember your promise!'
The young warrior's eyes fell as she spoke, and an irrepressible shudder shook his
whole frame. The last part of Antonina's address to him, was expressed in the
same terms as a past appeal from other lips, and in other accents, which still clung
to his memory. The same demand, 'Remember your promise,' which had been
advanced to urge him to bloodshed, by Goisvintha, was now proffered by
Antonina, to lure him to pity. The petition of affection was concluded in the same
terms as the petition of revenge. As he thought on both, the human pity of the one,
and the fiend-like cruelty of the other, rose in sinister and significant contrast on
the mind of the Goth, realising in all its perils the struggle that was to come when
Goisvintha returned, and dispelling instantaneously the last hopes that he had yet
ventured to cherish for the fugitive at his side.
'No assault of the city is commanded--no assault is intended. Your father's life is
safe from the swords of the Goths,' he gloomily replied, in answer to Antonina's
last words.
The girl moved back from him a few steps as he spoke, and looked thoughtfully
round the tent. The battle-axe that Hermanric had secured during the scene of the
past evening, still lay on the ground, in a corner. The sight of it brought back a
flood of terrible recollections to her mind. She started violently; a sudden change
overspread her features, and when she again addressed Hermanric, it was with
quivering lips and in almost inarticulate words.
'I know now why you look on me so gloomily,' said she; 'that woman is coming
back! I was so occupied by my dreams and my thoughts of my father and of you,
and my hopes for days to come, that I had forgotten her when I awoke! But I
remember all now! She is coming back--I see it in your sorrowful eyes--she is
coming back to murder me! I shall die at the moment when I had such hope in my
life! There is no happiness for me! None!--none!'
The Goth's countenance began to darken. He whispered to himself several times,
'How can I save her?' For a few minutes there was a deep silence, broken only by