Antonina HTML version

blow over her cold brow. The same ineffable resignation, the same unnatural
quietude, which had sunk down over her faculties since she had entered the room,
overspread them still. Surrounding objects failed to impress her attention;
recollections and forebodings stagnated in her mind. A marble composure
prevailed over her features. Sometimes her eyes wandered mechanically from the
morsels of food by her side to her sleeping father, as her one vacant idea of
watching for his service, till the feeble pulses of life had throbbed their last,
alternately revived and declined; but no other evidences of bodily existence or
mental activity appeared in her. As she now sat in the half-darkened room, by the
couch on which her father reposed--her features pale, calm, and rigid, her form
enveloped in cold white drapery--there were moments when she looked like one
of the penitential devotees of the primitive Church, appointed to watch in the
house of mourning, and surprised in her saintly vigil by the advent of Death.
Time flowed on--the monotonous hours of the day waned again towards night;
and plague and famine told their lapse in the fated highways of Rome. For father
and child the sand in the glass was fast running out, and neither marked it as it
diminished. The sleeper still reposed, and the guardian by his side still watched;
but now her weary gaze was directed on the street, unconsciously attracted by the
sound of voices which at length rose from it at intervals, and by the light of the
torches and lamps which appeared in the great palace of the senator Vetranio, as
the sun gradually declined in the horizon, and the fiery clouds around were
quenched in the vapours of the advancing night. Steadily she looked upon the
sight beneath and before her; but even yet her limbs never moved; no expression
relieved the blank, solemn peacefulness of her features.
Meanwhile, the soft, brief twilight glimmered over the earth, and showed the cold
moon, poised solitary in the starless heaven; then, the stealthy darkness arose at
her pale signal, and closed slowly round the City of Death!