The Lost Continent, by Cutcliffe Hyne, , at sacred-texts.com
IT appeared that for the present, at any rate, I was to have my residence in the royal pyramid. The glittering cavalcade drew up in the great paved square which lies before the building, and massed itself in groups. The mammoth was halted before the doorway, and when a stair had been brought, the trumpets sounded, and we three who had ridden in the golden half-castle under the canopy of snakes, descended to the ground.
It was plain that we were going from beneath the open sky to the apartments which lay inside the vast stone mazes of the pyramid, and without thinking, the instinct of custom and reverence that had become part of my nature caused me to turn to where the towering rocks of the Sacred Mountain frowned above the city, and make the usual obeisance, and offer up in silence the prescribed prayer. I say I did this thing unthinking, and as a matter of common custom, but when I rose to my feet, I could have sworn I heard a titter of laughter from somewhere in that fancifully bedecked crowd of onlookers.
I glanced in the direction of the scoffers, frowningly enough, and then I turned to Phorenice to demand their prompt punishment for the disrespect.
[paragraph continues] But here was a strange thing. I had looked to see her in the act and article of rising from an obeisance; but there she was, standing erect, and had clearly never touched her forehead to the ground. Moreover, she was regarding me with a queer look, which I could not fathom.
But whatever was in her mind, she had no plan to bawl it about then before the people collected in the square. She said to me: "Come," and, turning to the doorway, cried for entrance, giving the secret word appointed for the day. The ponderous stone blocks which barred the porch swung back on their hinges, and with stately tread she passed out of the hot sunshine into the cool gloom beyond, with the fan-girl following decorously at her heels. With a heaviness beginning to grow at my heart, I too went inside the pyramid, and the stone doors, with a sullen thud, closed behind us.
We did not go far just then. Phorenice halted in the hall of waiting. How well I remembered the place, with the pictures of kings on its red walls, and the burning fountain of earth-breath which blazed from a jet of bronze in the middle of the flooring and gave it light. The old King that was gone had come this far of his complaisance when he bade me farewell as I set out twenty years before for my viceroyalty in Yucatan. But the air of the hall was different to what it had been in those old days. Then it was pure and sweet. Now it was heavy with some scent, and I found it languid and oppressive.
"My minister," said the Empress, "I acquit you
of intentional insult; but I think the colonial air has made you a very simple man. Such an obeisance as you showed to that mountain not a minute since has not been made since I was sent to reign over this kingdom."
"Your Majesty," I said, "I am a member of the Priests’ Clan and was brought up in their tenets. I have been taught, before entering a house, to thank the Gods, and more especially our Lord the Sun, for the good air that He and They have provided. It has been my fate more than once to be chased by streams of fire and stinking air among the mountains during one of their sudden boils, and so I can say the prescribed prayer upon this matter straight from my heart."
"Circumstances have changed since you left Atlantis," said Phorenice, "and when thanks are given now, they are not thrown at those old Gods."
I saw her meaning, and almost started at the impiety of it. If this was to be the new rule of things, I would have no hand in it. Fate might deal with me as it chose. To serve truly a reigning monarch, that I was prepared for; but to palter with sacrilege, and accept a swineherd's daughter as a God, who should receive prayers and obeisances, revolted my manhood. So I invited a crisis.
"Phorenice," I said, "I have been a priest from my childhood up, revering the Gods, and growing intimate with their mysteries. Till I find for myself that those old things are false, I must stand by that allegiance, and if there is a cost for this faithfulness, I must pay it."
She looked at me with a slow smile. "You are a strong man, Deucalion," she said.
"I have heard others as stubborn," she said, "but they were converted." She shook out the ruddy bunches of her hair, and stood so that the light of the burning earth-breath might fall on the loveliness of her face and form. "I have found it as easy to convert the stubborn as to burn them. Indeed, there has been little talk of burning. They have all rushed to conversion, whether I would or no. But it seems that my poor looks and tongue are wanting in charm to-day."
"Phorenice is Empress," I said, stolidly, "and I am her servant. To-morrow, if she gives me leave, I will clear away this rabble which clamors outside the walls. I must immediately commence to prove my uses."
"I am told you are a pretty fighter," said she. "Well, I hold some small skill in arms myself, and have a conceit that I am something of a judge. Tomorrow we will take a taste of battle together. But to-day I must carry through the honorable reception I have planned for you, Deucalion. The feast will be set ready soon, and you will wish to make ready for the feast. There are chambers here selected for your use, and stored with what is needful. Ylga will show you their places."
We waited, the fan-girl and I, till Phorenice had passed out of the glow of the light-jet, and had left the hall of waiting through a doorway among the shadows of its farther angle, and then (the girl taking
a lamp and leading) we also threaded our way through the narrow mazes of the pyramid.
Everywhere the air was full of perfumes, and everywhere the passages turned and twisted and doubled through the solid stone of the pyramid, so that strangers might have spent hours—yes, or days—in search before they came to the chamber they desired. There was a fine cunningness about those forgotten builders who set up this royal pyramid. They had no mind that kings should fall by the hand of vulgar assassins who might come in suddenly from outside. And it is said also that the king of the time, to make doubly sure, killed all that had built the pyramid, or seen even the lay of its inner stones.
But the fan-girl led the way with the lamp swinging in her hand, as one accustomed to the mazes. Here she doubled, there she turned, and here she stopped in the middle of a blank wall to push a stone, which swung to let us pass. And once she pressed at the corner of a flagstone on the floor, which reared up to the thrust of her foot, and showed us a stair steep and narrow. That we descended, coming to the foot of an inclined way which led us upward again; and so by degrees we came unto the chamber which had been given for my use.
"There is raiment in all these chests which stand by the walls," said the girl, "and jewels and gauds in that bronze coffer. They are Phorenice's first presents, she bid me say, and but a small earnest of what is to come. My lord Deucalion can drop his simplicity now, and fig himself out in finery to suit the fashion."
"Girl," I said, sharply, "be more decorous with your tongue, and spare me such small advice."
"If my lord Deucalion thinks this a rudeness, he can give a word to Phorenice, and I shall be whipped. If he asks it, I can be stripped and scourged before him. The Empress will do much for Deucalion just now."
"Girl," I said, "you are nearer to that whipping than you think for."
"I have got a name," she retorted, looking at me sullenly from under her black brows. "They call me Ylga. You might have heard that as we rode here on the mammoth, had you not been so wrapped up in Phorenice."
I gazed at her curiously. "You have never seen me before," I said, "and the first words you utter are those that might well bring trouble to yourself. There is some object in all this."
She went and pushed to the massive stone that swung in the doorway of the chamber. Then she put her little jewelled fingers on my garment and drew me carefully away from the air-shaft into the farther corner. "I am the daughter of Zaemon," she said, "whom you knew."
"You bring me some message from him?"
"How could I? He lives in the priests’ dwellings on the mountain you did obeisance to. I have not put eyes on him these two years. But when I saw you first step out from that red pavilion they had pitched at the harbor side, I—I felt a pity for you, Deucalion. I remembered you were my father's, Zaemon's friend, and I knew what Phorenice had
in store. She has been plotting it all these two months."
"I cannot hear words against the Empress."
She stamped her sandal upon the stone of the floor. "You must be a very blind man, Deucalion, or a very daring one. But I shall not interfere further; at least, not now. I shall watch, and if at any time you seem to want a friend I will try and serve you."
"I thank you for your friendship."
"You seem to take it lightly enough. Why, sir, even now I do not believe you know my power, any more than you guess my motive. You may be first man in this kingdom, but let me tell you I rank as second lady. And remember, women stand high in Atlantis now. Believe me, my friendship is a commodity that has been sought with frequence and industry."
"And, as I say, I am grateful for it. You seem to think little enough of my gratitude, Ylga; but, credit me, I never have bestowed it on a woman before, and so you should treasure it for its rarity."
"Well," she said, "my lord, there is an education before you." She left me then, showing me how to call slaves when I wished for their help, and for a full minute I stood wondering at the words I had spoken to her. Who was this daughter of Zaemon that she should induce me to change the habit of a lifetime?
The slaves came at my bidding, and showed themselves anxious to deck me with a thousand foolishnesses
in the matter of robes and gauds, and (what seemed to be the modern fashion of their class) holding out the virtues of a score of perfumes and unguents. Their manner irritated me. Clean I was already, and shaved; my hair was trim, and my robe was unsoiled; and, considering these pressing attentions of theirs something of an impertinence, I set them to beat one another as a punishment, promising that if they did not do it with thoroughness, I would hand them on to the brander to be marked with stripes which would endure. It is strange, but a common menial can often surpass even a rebellious general in power of ruffling one.
I had seen many strange sights that day, and undergone many new sensations; but of all the things which came to my notice, Phorenice's manner of summoning the guests to her feast surprised me most. Nay, it did more; it shocked me profoundly; and I cannot say whether amazement at her profanity, or wonder at her power, was for the moment strongest in my breast. I sat in my chamber awaiting the summons, when gradually, growing out of nothing, a sound fell upon my ear which increased in volume with infinitely small gradations, till at last it became a clanging din which hurt the ear with its fierceness; and then (I guessed what was coming) the whole massive fabric of the pyramid trembled and groaned and shook, as though it had been merely a child's wooden toy brushed about by a strong man's sandal.
It was the portent served out yearly by the chiefs of the Priests’ Clan on the Sacred Mountain, when
they bade all the world take count of their sins. It was the sacred reminder that from roaring, raging fire, and from the agony of monstrous earth-tremors, man had been born, and that by these same agencies he would eventually be swallowed up—he and the sins within his breast. And here the Empress was prostituting its solemnities into a mere call to gluttony, and sign for ribald laughter and sensuous display.
But how had she acquired the authority to do this thing? Who was she that she should tamper with those dimly understood powers, the forces that dwell within the liquid heart of our mother earth? Had there been treachery? Had some member of the Priests’ Clan forgotten his sacred vows, and babbled to this woman matters concerning the holy mysteries? Or had Phorenice discovered a key to these mysteries with her own agile brain?
If that last was the case, I could continue to serve her with silent conscience. Though she might be none of my making, at least she was Empress, and it was my duty to give her obedience. But if she had suborned some weaker member of the Clan on the Sacred Mount, that would be a different matter. For be it remembered that it was one of the elements of our constitution to preserve our secrets and mysteries inviolate, and to pursue with undying hatred both the man who had dared to betray them and the unhappy recipient of his confidence.
It was with very undecided feelings, then, that I obeyed the summons of the earth-shaking, and bade the slaves lead me through the windings of the pyramid
to the great banqueting-hall. The scene there was dazzling. The majestic chamber with its marvellous carvings was filled with a company decked out with all the gauds and colors that fancy could conceive. Little reeked they of the solemn portent which had summoned them to the meal, of the death and misery that stalked openly through the city wards without, of the rebels which lay in leaguer beyond the walls, of the neglected Gods and their clan of priests on the Sacred Mountain. They were all gluttonous for the passions of the moment: it was their fashion and conceit to look at nothing beyond.
Flaming jets of earth-breath lit the great hall to the brightness of mid-day; and when I stepped out upon the pavement, trumpets blared, so that all might know of my coming. But there was no roar of welcome. "Deucalion," they lisped with mincing voices, bowing themselves ridiculously to the ground so that all their ornaments and silks might jangle and swish. Indeed, when Phorenice herself appeared, and all sent up their cries and made lawful obeisance, there was the same artificiality in the welcome. They meant well enough, it is true; but this was the new fashion. Heartiness had come to be accounted a barbarism by this new culture.
A pair of posturing, smirking chamberlains took me in charge, and ushered me with their flimsy golden wands to the dais at the farther end. It appeared that I was to sit on Phorenice's divan, and eat my meat out of her dish.
"There is no stint to the honor the Empress puts upon me," I said, as I knelt down and took my seat.
She gave me one of her queer, sidelong looks. "Deucalion may have more beside, if he asks for it prettily. He may have what all the other men in the known world have sighed for, and what none of them will ever get. But I have given enough of my own accord; he must ask me warmly for those further favors."
"I ask," I said, "first, that I may sweep the boundaries clear of this rabble which is clamoring against the city walls."
"Pah!" she said, and frowned. "Have you appetite only for the sterner pleasures of life? My good Deucalion, they must have been rustic folk in that colony of yours. Well, you shall give me news now of the toothsomeness of this feast."
Dishes and goblets were placed before us, and we began to eat, though I had little enough appetite for victual so broken and so highly spiced. But if this finicking cookery and these luscious wines did not appeal to me, the other diners in that gorgeous hall appreciated it all to the full. They sat about in groups on the pavement beneath the light-jets like a tangle of rainbows for color, and according to the new custom they went into raptures and ecstasies over their enjoyment. Women and men both, they lingered over each titillation of the palate as though it were a caress of the Gods.
Phorenice, with her quick, bright eyes, looked on, and occasionally flung one or another a few words between her talk with me, and now and again called some favored creature up to receive a scrap of viand from the royal dish. This the honored one would
eat with extravagant gesture, or (as happened twice) would put it away in the folds of his clothes as a treasure too dear to be profaned by human lips.
To me this flattery appeared gross and disgustful, but Phorenice, through use, perhaps, seemed to take it as merely her due. There was, one had to suppose, a weakness in her somewhere, though truly to the outward seeing none was apparent. Her face was strong enough, and it was subtle also, and, moreover, it was wondrous comely. All the courtiers in the banqueting-hall raved about Phorenice's face and the other beauties of her body and limbs; and though not given to appreciation in these matters, I could not but see that here at least they had a groundwork for their admiration; for surely the Gods have never favored mortal woman more highly. Yet lovely though she might be, for myself I preferred to look upon Ylga, the girl, who, because of her rank, was privileged to sit on the divan behind us as immediate attendant. There was an honesty in Ylga's face which Phorenice's lacked.
They did not eat to nutrify their bodies, these feasters in the banqueting-hall of the royal pyramid, but they all ate to cloy themselves, and they strutted forth new usages with every platter and bowl that the slaves brought. To me some of their manners were closely touching on disrespect. At the half-way of the meal a gorgeous popinjay—he was a governor of an out-province driven into the capital by a rebellion in his own lands—this gorgeous fop, I say, walked up between the groups of feasters with flushed face and unsteady gait, and did obeisance before the divan.
[paragraph continues] "Most astounding Empress," cried he, "fairest among the Goddesses, Queen regnant of my adoring heart, hail!"
Phorenice with a smile stretched him out her cup. I looked to see him pour respectful libation, but no such thing. He set the drink to his lips and drained it to the final drop. "May all your troubles," he cried, "pass from you as easily, and leave as pleasant a flavor."
The Empress turned to me with one of her quick looks. "You do not like this new habit?"
To which I replied bluntly enough that to pour out liquor at a person's feet had grown through custom to be a mark of respect, but that drinking it seemed to me mere self-indulgence, which might be practised anywhere.
"You still keep to the old austere teachings," she said. " Our newer code bids us enjoy life first, and order other things so as not to meddle with our more immediate pleasure."
And so the feast went on, the guests practising their gluttonies and their absurdities, and the guards standing to their arms round the circuit of the walls as motionless and as stern as the statues carven in the white stone beyond them. But a term was put to the orgie with something of suddenness. There was a stir at the farther doorway of the banqueting-hall, and a clash, as two of the guards joined their spears across the entrance. But the man they tried to stop—or perhaps it was to pin—passed them unharmed, and walked up over the pavement between the lights and the groups of feasters. All looked round at him;
a few threw him ribald words; but none ventured to stop his progress. A few, women chiefly, I could see shuddered as he passed them by, as though a wintry chill had come over them; and in the end he walked up and stood in front of Phorenice's divan, and gazed fixedly on her, but without making obeisance.
He was a frail old man, with white hair tumbling on his shoulders, and ragged white beard. The mud of wayfaring hung in clots on his feet and legs. His wizened body was bare save for a single cloth wound about his shoulders and his loins, and he carried in his hand a wand with the Symbol of our Lord the Sure glowing at its tip. That wand went to show his caste, but in no other way could I recognize him.
I took him for one of those ascetics of the Priests’ Clan, who had forsworn the steady nurtured life of the Sacred Mountain, and who lived out in the dangerous lands among the burning hills, where there is daily peril from falling rocks, from fire streams, from evil vapors, from sudden fissuring of the ground, and from other movements of those unstable territories, and from the greater lizards and other monstrous beasts which haunt them. These keep constant in the memory the might of the Holy Gods, and the insecurity of this frail earth on which we have our resting-place, and so the sojourners there become chastened in the spirit, and gain power over mysteries which even the most studious and learned of other men can never hope to attain.
A silence filled the room when the old man came to his halt, and Phorenice was the first to break it. "Those two guards," she said, in her clear, carrying
voice, "who held the door, are not equal to their work. I cannot have imperfect servants: remove them."
The soldiers next in the rank lifted their spears and drove them home, and the two fellows who had admitted the old man fell to the ground. One shrieked once, the other gave no sound: they were clever thrusts both.
The old man found his voice, thin, and high, and broken. "Another crime added to your tally, Phorenice. Not half your army could have hindered my entrance had I wished to come, and let me tell you that I am here to bring you your last warning. The Gods have shown you much favor; They gave you merit by which you could rise above your fellows, till at last only the throne stood above you. It was seen good by those on the Sacred Mountain to let you have this last ambition, and sit on this throne that has so long and honorably been filled by the ancient kings of Atlantis."
The Empress sat back on the divan smiling. "I seemed to get these things as I chose, and in spite of your friends’ teeth. I may owe to you, old man, a small parcel of thanks, though that I offered to repay; but for my lords the priests, their permission was of small enough value when it came. I would have you remember that I was as firm on the throne of Atlantis as this pyramid stands upon its base when your worn-out priests came up to give their tottering benediction."
The old man waved aside her interruption. "Hear me out," he said. "I am here with no trivial message.
[paragraph continues] There is nothing paltry about the threat I can throw at you, Phorenice. With your fire-tubes, your handling of troops, and your other fiendish clevernesses, you may not be easy to overthrow by mere human means, though, forsooth, these poor rebels who yap against your city walls have contrived to hold their ground for long enough now. It may be that you are becoming enervated; I do not know. It may be that you are too wrapped up in your feastings, your dressings, your pomps, and your debaucheries, to find leisure to turn to the art of war. It may be that the man's spirit has gone out from your arm and brain, and you are a woman once more—weak, and pleasure-loving; again I do not know.
"But this must happen: You must undo the evil you have done; you must give bread, to the people who are starving, even if you take it from these gluttons in this hall; you must restore Atlantis to the state in which it was intrusted to you: or else you must be removed. It cannot be permitted that the country should sink back into the lawlessness and barbarism from which its ancient kings have digged it. You hear, Phorenice. Now give me true answer."
"Speak him fair. Oh! for the sake of your fortune, speak him fair," came Ylga's voice in a hurried whisper from behind us. But the Empress took no notice of it. She leaned forward on the cushions of the divan with a knit brow.
"Do you dare to threaten me, old man, knowing what I am?"
"I know your origin," he said, gravely, "as well
as you know it yourself. As for my daring, that is a small matter. He need be but a timid man who dares to say words that the High Gods put on his lips."
"I shall rule this kingdom as I choose. I shall brook interference from no creature on this earth, or beneath it, or in the sky above. The Gods have chosen me to be Their regent in Atlantis, and They do not depose me through such creatures as you. Go away, old man, and play the fanatic in another court. It is well that I have an ancient kindliness for you, or you would not leave this place unharmed."
"Now, indeed, you are lost," I heard Ylga murmur from behind, and the old man in front of us did not move a step. Instead, he lifted up the Symbol of our Lord the Sun, and launched his curse. "Your blasphemy gives the reply I asked for. Hear me now make declaration of war on behalf of Those against whom you have thrown your insults. You shall be overthrown and sent to the nether Gods. At whatever cost the land shall be purged of you and yours, and all the evil that has been done to it while you have sullied the throne of its ancient kings. You will not amend, neither will you yield tamely. You vaunt that you sit as firm on your throne as this pyramid reposes on its base. See how little you know of what the future carries. I say to you that, while you are yet Empress, you shall see this royal pyramid which you have polluted with your debaucheries torn tier from tier, and stone from stone, and scattered as feathers spread before a wind."
"You may wreck the pyramid," said Phorenice, contemptuously. "I myself have some knowledge of the earth forces, as I have shown this night. But though you crumble every stone above us now and around into grit and dust, I shall still be Empress. What force can you crazy priests bring against me that I cannot throw back and destroy?"
"We have a weapon that was forged in no mortal smithy," shrilled the old man, "whereof the key is now lodged in the Ark of the Mysteries. But that weapon can be used only as a last resource. The nature of it even is too awful to be told in words. Our other powers will be launched against you first, and for this poor country's sake I pray that they may cause you to wince. Yet rest assured, Phorenice, that we shall not step aside once we have put a hand to this matter. We shall carry it through, even though the cost be a universal burning and destruction. For know this, daughter of the swineherd, it is agreed among the most High Gods that you are too full of sin to continue unchecked."
"Speak him fairly," Ylga urged from behind. "He has a power at which you cannot even guess."
The Empress made to rise, but Ylga clung to her skirt. "For the sake of your fame," she urged, "for the sake of your life, do not defy him." But Phorenice struck her fiercely aside, and faced the old man in a tumult of passion. "You dare call me a blasphemer, who blaspheme yourself? You dare cast slurs upon my birth, who am come direct from the most high Heaven? Old man, your craziness protects you in part, but not in all. You shall be
whipped. Do you hear me? I say, whipped. The lean flesh shall be scourged from your scraggy bones, and you shall totter away from this place as a red and bleeding example for those who would dare traduce their Empress. Here, some of you, I say, take that man, and let him be whipped where he stands."
Her cry went out clearly enough. But not a soul among those glittering feasters stirred in his place. Not a soldier among the guards stepped from his rank. The place was hung in a terrible silence. It seemed as though no one within the hall dared so much as to draw a breath. All felt that the very air was big with fate.
Phorenice, with her head crouched forward, looked from one group to another. Her face was working. "Have I no true servants," she asked, "among all you pretty lip-servers?"
Still no one moved. They stood, or sat, or crouched like people fascinated. For myself, with the first words he had uttered, I had recognized the old man by his voice. It was Zaemon, the weak governor who had given the Empress her first step towards power; that earnest searcher into the mysteries, who knew more of their powers, and more about the hidden forces, than any other dweller on the Sacred Mountain, even at that time when I left for my colony. And now, during his strange hermit life, how much more might he not have learned? I was torn by warring duties. I owed much to the Priests’ Clan, by reason of my oath and membership; it seemed I owed no less to Phorenice. And, again, was Zaemon the truly accredited envoy of the high council of the
priests of the Sacred Mountain? And was the Empress of a truth deposed by the High Gods above, or was she still Empress, and still the commander of my duty? I could not tell, and so I sat in my seat awaiting what the event would show.
Phorenice's fury was growing. "Do I stand alone here?" she cried. "Have I pampered you creatures out of all touch with gratitude? It seems that at least I want a new chief to my guards. Ho! who will be chief of the guards of the Empress?"
There was a shifting of eyes, a hesitation. Then a great burly form strode up from the farther end of the hall, and a perceptible shudder went up from all the others as they watched him.
"So, Tarca, you prefer to take the risks, and remain chief of the guard yourself?" she said, with an angry scoff. "Truly there did not seem to be many thrusting forward to strip you of the office. I shall have a fine sorting up of places in payment for this night's work. But for the present, Tarca, do your duty."
The man came up, obviously timorous. He was a solidly made fellow, but not altogether unmartial, and though but little of his cheek showed above his decorated beard, I could see that he paled as he came near to the priest. "My lord," he said, quietly, "I must ask you to come with me."
"Stand aside!" said the old man, thrusting out the Symbol in front of him. I could see his eyes gather on the soldier and his brows knit with a strain of will.
Tarca saw this too, and I thought he would have
fallen, but with an effort he kept his manhood, and doggedly repeated his summons. "I must obey the command of my mistress, and I would have you remember, my lord, that I am but a servant. You must come with me to the whip."
"I warn you!" cried the old man. "Stand from out of my path, you!"
It must have been with the courage of desperation that the soldier dared to use force. But the hand he stretched out dropped limply back to his side the moment it touched the old man's bare shoulder, as though it had been struck by some shock. He seemed almost to have expected some such repulse; yet when he picked up that hand with the other, and looked at it, and saw its whiteness, he let out of him a yell like a wounded beast. "Oh, Gods!" he cried, "not that. Spare me!"
But Zaemon was glowering at him still. A twitching seized the man's face, and he put up his sound hand to it and plucked at his beard, which was curled and plaited after the new fashion of the day. A woman standing near screamed as the half of the beard came off in his fingers. Beneath was silver whiteness over half his face. Zaemon had smitten him with a sudden leprosy that was past cure.
Yet the punishment was not ended even then. Other twitchings took him on other parts of the body, and he tore off his armor and his foppish clothes, and always where the bare flesh showed, there had the horrid plague written its white mark; and in the end, being able to endure no more, the man fell to the pavement and lay there writhing.
Zaemon said no further word. He lifted the Symbol before him, set his eyes on the farther door of the banqueting-hall, and walked for it directly, all those in his path shrinking away from him with open shudders. And through the valves of the door he passed out of our sight, still wordless, still unchecked.
I glanced up at Phorenice. The loveliness of her face was drawn and haggard. It was the first great reverse, this, she had met with in all her life, and the shock of it, and the vision of what might follow after, dazed her. Alas, if she could only have guessed at a tenth of the terrors which the future had in its womb, Atlantis might have been saved even then.