Antonina HTML version
and unworthy deception! In you I have every confidence, in your faithfulness I
have every hope.'
Again he paused, and again Ulpius kept silence. Any one less agitated, less
confiding, than his unsuspicious master, would have remarked that a faint sinister
smile was breaking forth upon his haggard countenance. But Numerian's
indignation was still too violent to permit him to observed, and, spite of his efforts
to control himself, he again broke forth in complaint.
'On this night too, of all others,' cried he, 'when I had hoped to lead her among my
little assembly of the faithful, to join in their prayers, and to listen to my
exhortations--on this night I am doomed to find her a player on a pagan lute, a
possessor of the most wanton of the world's vanities! God give me patience to
worship this night with unwandering thoughts, for my heart is vexed at the
transgression of my child, as the heart of Eli of old at the iniquities of his sons!'
He was moving rapidly away, when, as if struck with a sudden recollection, he
stopped abruptly, and again addressed his gloomy companion.
'I will go by myself to the chapel to-night,' said he. 'You, Ulpius, will stay to keep
watch over my disobedient child. Be vigilant, good friend, over my house; for
even now, on my return, I thought that two strangers were following my steps,
and I forebode some evil in store for me as the chastisement for my sins, even
greater than this misery of my daughter's transgression. Be watchful, good Ulpius-
And, as he hurried away, the stern, serious man felt as overwhelmed at the
outrage that had been offered to his gloomy fanaticism, as the weak, timid girl at
the destruction that had been wreaked upon her harmless lute.
After Numerian had departed, the sinister smile again appeared on the
countenance of Ulpius. He stood for a short time fixed in thought, and then began
slowly to descend a staircase near him which led to some subterranean
apartments. He had not gone far when a slight noise became audible at an
extremity of the corridor above. As he listened for a repetition of the sound, he
heard a sob, and looking cautiously up, discovered, by the moonlight, Antonina
stepping cautiously along the marble pavement of the hall.
She held in her hand a little lamp; her small, rosy feet were uncovered; the tears
still streamed over her cheeks. She advanced with the greatest caution (as if
fearful of being overheard) until she gained the part of the floor still strewn with
the ruins of the broken lute. Here she knelt down, and pressed each fragment that
lay before her separately to her lips. Then hurriedly concealing a single piece in
her bosom, she arose and stole quickly away in the direction by which she had
'Be patient till the dawn,' muttered her faithless guardian, gazing after her from his
concealment as she disappeared; 'it will bring to thy lute a restorer, and to Ulpius