Sacred Texts  Atlantis  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Lost Continent, by Cutcliffe Hyne, [1900], at

p. 201



OUR Lord the Sun was riding towards the end of His day, and the smoke from a burning mountain fanned black and forbidding before His face. Phorenice wrung the water from her clothes and shivered. "Work hard with those paddles, Deucalion, and take me in through the water-gate and let me be restored to my comforts again. That merchant would rue if he saw how his pretty garments were spoiled, and I rue too, being a woman, and remembering that he at least has no others I can take in place of these." She looked at me sidelong, tossing back the short red hair from her eyes. "What think you of my wisdom in coming where we have come without an escort?"

"The Empress can do no wrong." I quoted the old formula with a smile.

"At least I have shown you that I can fight. I caught you looking your approval of me quite pleasantly once or twice. You were a difficult man to thaw, Deucalion, but you warm perceptibly as you keep on being near me. La, sir, we shall be a pair of rustic sweethearts yet if this goes on. I am glad I thought of the device of going near those smelly fishers."

p. 202

So she had taken me out in the litter unattended for the plain purpose of inviting a fight and showing me her skill at arms, and perhaps, too, of seeing in person how I also carried myself in a moment of stress. Well, if we were to live on together as husband and wife, it was good that each should know to a nicety the other's powers; and, also, I am too much of an old battler and too much enamoured with the glorious handling of arms to quarrel very deeply with any one who offers me a tough up-standing fight. Still, for the life of me, I could not help comparing Phorenice with another woman. With a similar chance open before us, Naïs had robbed me of the struggle through a sheer pity for those squalid rebels who did not even call her chieftain; while here was this Empress frittering away twoscore of the hardiest of her subjects merely to gratify a whim.

Yet, loyal to my vow as a priest, and to the commands set upon me by the high council on the Sacred Mountain, I tried to put away these wayward thoughts and comparisons. As I rowed over the swingings of the waves towards the forts which guard the harbor's mouth, I sent prayers to the High Gods to give my tongue dexterity, and They through Their love for the country of Atlantis, and the harassed people whom it was my deep desire to serve, granted me that power of speech which Phorenice loved. Her eyes glowed upon me as I talked.

This beach of the fishers where we had had our passage at arms is safe from ship attack from without, by reason of a chain of jagged rocks which spring up from the deep and run from the harbor side to the

p. 203

end of the city wall. The fishers know the passes, and can oftentimes get through to the open water beyond without touching a stone; or if they do see a danger of hitting on the reef, leap out and carry their light boats in their hands till the water floats them again. But here I had neither the knowledge nor the dexterity, and, thought I, now the High Gods will show finally if They wish this woman who has defiled Them to reign on in Atlantis, and if also They wish me to serve as her husband.

I cried these things in my heart, and waited to receive the omen. There was no half-answer. A great wave rose in the lagoon behind us, a wave such as could have only been caused by an earth tremor, and on its sleek back we were hurled forward and thrown clear of the reefs with their seaweeds licking round us, without so much as seeing a stone of the barrier. I bowed my head as I rode on towards the harbor forts. It was plain that not yet would the High Gods take vengeance for the insults which this lovely woman had offered Them.

The sentries in the two forts beat drums at one another in their accustomed rotation, and in the growing dusk were going to pay little enough attention to the fishing boat which lay against the great chain clamoring to have it lowered. But luckily a pair of officers were taking the air of the evening in a stone-dropping turret of the roof of the nearer fort, and these recognized the tone of our shouts. They silenced the drums, torches were lowered to make sure of our faces, and then with a splash the great chain was dropped into the water to give us passage.

p. 204

A galley lay inside, nuzzling the harbor wall, and presently the ladder of ropes was let down from the top of the nearest fort, and a crew came down to man the oars. There were the customary changes of raiment too, given as presents by the officers of the fort, and these we put on in the cabin of the galley in place of the sodden clothes we wore. There are fevers to be gained by carrying wet clothes after sunset, and though from personal experience I have learned that these may be warded off with drugs, I noticed with some grim amusement that the Empress had sufficiently little of the Goddess about her to fear very much the ailments which are due to frail humanity.

The galley rowed swiftly across the calm waters of the harbor, and made fast to the rings of gold on the royal quay; and while we were waiting for litters to be brought, I watched a lantern lit in the boat which stood guard over Phorenice's mammoth. The huge red beast stood shoulder-deep in the harbor water, with trunk upturned. It was tamed now, and the light of the boat's lantern fell on the little ripples sent out by its tremblings. But I did not choose to intercede or ask mercy for it. If the mammoth sank deeper in the harbor mud and was swallowed, I could have borne the loss with equanimity.

To tell the truth, that ride on the great beast's back had impressed me unfavorably. In fact, it put into me a sense of helplessness that was wellnigh intolerable. Perhaps circumstances have made me unduly self-reliant: on that others must judge. But I will own to having a preference for walking on my own proper feet, as the Gods in fashioning our

p. 205

shapes most certainly intended. On my own feet I am able to guard my own head and neck, and have done on four continents, throughout a long and active life, and on many a thousand occasions. But on the back of that detestable mammoth, pah! I grew as nervous as a child or a dastard.

However, I had little enough leisure for personal megrims just then. While we waited, Phorenice asked the port-captain (who must needs come up officiously to make his salutations) after the disposal of Naïs, and was told that she had been clapped into a dungeon beneath the royal pyramid, and the officer of the guard there had given his bond for her safe keeping.

"It is to be hoped he understands his work," said the Empress. "The pretty Naïs knows the pyramid better than most, and it may be he will be sent to the tormentors for putting her in a cell which had a secret outlet. You would feel pleasure if the girl escaped, Deucalion?"

"Assuredly," said I, knowing how useless it would be to make a secret of the matter. "I have no enmity against Naïs."

But I have," said she, viciously, "and I am still minded to lock your faith to me by that wedding gift you know of."

"The thing shall be done," I said. "Before all, the Empress of Atlantis."

"Poof! Deucalion, you are too stiff and formal. You ought to be mightily honored that I condescend to be jealous of your favors. Your hand, sir, please, to help me into the litter. And now come in beside

p. 206

me and keep me warm against the night air. Ho! you guards there with the torches! Keep farther back against the street walls. The perfume you are burning stifles me."

Again there was a feast that night in the royal banqueting-hall; again I sat beside Phorenice on the raised dais which stands beneath the symbols of the snake and the outstretched hand. What had been. taken for granted before about our forthcoming relationship was this time proclaimed openly; the Empress herself acknowledged me as her husband that was to be; and all that curled and jewelled throng of courtiers hailed me as greater than themselves, by reason of this woman's choice. There was method, too, in their salutation. Some rumor must have got about of my preference for the older and simpler habits, and there was no drinking wine to my health after the new and (as I considered) impertinent manner. Decorously each lord and lady there came forward, and each in turn spilled a goblet at my feet; and when I called any up, whether man or woman, to receive titbits from my platter, it was eaten simply and thankfully, and not kissed or pocketed with any extravagant gesture.

The flaring jets of earth-breath showed me, too, so I thought, a plainer habit of dress and a more sober mien among this thoughtless mob of banqueters. And, indeed, it must have been plain to notice, for Phorenice, leaning over till the ruddy curls on her shoulder brushed my face, chided me in a playful whisper as having usurped her high authority already.

p. 207

"Oh, sir," she pleaded, mockingly, "do not make your rule over us too ascetic. I have given no orders for this change, but to-night there are no perfumes in the air; the food is so plain that I have half a mind to burn the cook; and as for the clothes and gauds of these diners, by my face! they might have cone straight from the old King's reign before I stepped in here to show how tasteful could be colors on a robe or how pretty the glint of a jewel. It's done by no orders of mine, Deucalion. They have swung round to this change by sheer courtier instinct. Why, look at the beards of the men! There is not half the curl about many of them to-day that they showed with such exquisiteness yesterday. By my face! I believe they’d reap their chins to-morrow as smooth as yours, if you go on setting the fashions at this prodigious rate and I do not interfere."

"Why hinder them if they feel more cleanly shaven?"

"No, sir. There shall be only one clean chin where a beard can grow in all Atlantis, and that shall be carried by the man who is husband to the Empress. Why, my Deucalion, would you have no sumptuary laws? Would you have these good folk here and the common people outside imitate us in every cut of the hair and every fold of a garment which it pleases us to discover? Come, sir, if you and I chose to say that our sovereignty was marked only by our superior strength of arm and wit, they would hate us at once for our arrogance; whereas, if we keep apart to ourselves a few mere personal decorations, these become just objects to admire and pleasantly envy."

p. 208

"You show me that there is more in the office of a ruler than meets the eye."

"And yet they tell me, and indeed show me, that you have ruled with some success."

"I employed the older method. It requires a Phorenice to invent these nicer flights."

"Flatterer!" said she, and smote me playfully with the back of her little fingers on my arm. "You are becoming as great a courtier as any of them. You make me blush with your fine pleasantries, Deucalion, and there is no fan-girl here to-night to cool my cheek. I must choose me another fan-girl. But it shall not be Ylga. Ylga seems to have more of a kindness for you than I like, and if she is wise she will go live in her palace at the other side of the city, and there occupy herself with the ordering of her slaves and the making of embroideries. I shall not be hard on Ylga unless she forces me, but I will have no woman in this kingdom treat you with undue civility."

"And how am I to act," said I, falling in with her mood, "when I see and hear all the men of Atlantis making their protestations before you? By your own confession they all love you as ardently as they seem to have loved you hopelessly."

"Ah, now," she said, "you must not ask me to do impossibilities. I am powerful, if you will. But I have no force which will govern the hearts of these poor fellows on matters such as that. But if you choose, you make proclamation that I am given now body and inwards to you, and if they continue to offend your pride in this matter, you may take your

p. 209

culprits and give them over to the tormentors. Indeed, Deucalion, I think it would be a pretty attention to me if you did arrange some such ceremony. It seems to me at present," she added, with a frown, "that the jealousy is too much on one side."

"You must not expect that a man who has been divorced from love for all of a busy life can learn all its niceties in an instant. Myself, I was feeling proud of my progress. With any other school-mistress than you, Phorenice, I should not be near so forward. In fact (if one may judge by my past record), I should not have begun to learn at all."

"I suppose you think I should be satisfied with that? Well, I am not. I can be finely greedy over some matters."

The banquet this night did not extend to inordinate length. Phorenice had gone through much since last she slept, and though she had declared herself Goddess in the meantime, it seemed that her body remained mortal as heretofore. The black rings of weariness had grown under her wondrous eyes, and she lay back among the cushions of the divan with her limbs slackened and listless. When the dancers came and postured before us, she threw them a jewel and bade them begone before they had given a half of their performance; and the poet, a silly swelling fellow who came to sing the deeds of the day, she would not hear at all.

"To-morrow," she said, wearily, "but for now grant me peace. My lord Deucalion has given me much food for thought this day, and presently I go to my chamber to muse over the future policies of

p. 210

this State throughout the night. To-morrow come to me again, and if your poetry is good and short, I will pay you surprisingly. But see to it that you are not long-winded. If there are superfluous words, I will pay you for those with the stick."

She rose to her feet then, and when the banqueters had made their salutation to us, I led her away from the banqueting-hall and down the passages with their secret doors which led to her private chambers. She clung on my arm, and once when we halted while a great stone block swung slowly ajar to let us pass, she drooped her head against my shoulder. Her breath came warm against my cheek, and the loveliness of her face so close at hand surpasses the description of words. I think it was in her mind that I should kiss the red lips which were held so near to mine, but willing though I was to play the part appointed, I could not bring myself to that. So when the stone block had swung, she drew away with a sigh, and we went on without further speech.

"May the High Gods treat you tenderly," I said, when we came to the door of her bedchamber.

"I am my own God," said she, "in all things but one. By my face! you are a tardy wooer, Deucalion. Where do you go now?"

"To my own chamber."

"Oh, go then, go."

"Is there anything more I could do?"

"Nothing that your wit or your will would prompt you to. Yes, indeed, you are finely decorous, Deucalion, in your old-fashioned way, but you are a mighty poor wooer. Don't you know, my man, that

p. 211

a woman esteems some things the more highly if they are taken from her by rude force?"

"It seems I know little enough about women."

"You never said a truer word. Bah! And I believe your coldness brings you more benefit in a certain matter than any show of passion could earn. There, get you gone, if the atmosphere of a maiden's bedchamber hurts your rustic modesty; and your Gods keep you, Deucalion, if that's the phrase, and if you think They can do it. Get you gone, man, and leave me solitary."

I had taken the plan of the pyramid out of the archives before the banquet and learned it thoroughly, and so was able to thread my way through its angular mazes without pause or blunder. I, too, was heavily wearied with what I had gone through since my last snatch of sleep, but I dare set apart no time for rest just then. Naïs must be sacrificed in part for the needs of Atlantis; but a plan had come to me by which it seemed that she need not be sacrificed wholly; and to carry this through there was need for quick thought and action.

Help came to me also from a quarter I did not expect. As I passed along the tortuous way between the ponderous stones of the pyramid, which led to the apartments that had been given me by Phorenice, a woman glided up out of the shadows of one of the side passages, and when I lifted my hand-lamp, there was Ylga.

She regarded me half-sullenly. "I have lost my place," she said, "and it seems I need never have spoken. She intended to have you all along, and it

p. 212

was not a thing like that which could put her off. And you—you just think me officious, if, indeed, you have ever given me another thought till now."

"I never forget a kindness."

"Oh, you will learn that trick soon now. And you are going to marry her—you! The city is ringing with it. I thought at least you we're honest, but when there is a high place to be got by merely taking a woman with it, you are like the rest. I thought, too, that you would be one of those men who would have a distrust for that ruddy hair. And, besides,. she is little."

"Ylga," I said, "you have taught me that these walls are full of crannies and ears. I will listen to no word against Phorenice. But I would have further converse with you soon. If you still have a kindness for me, go to the chamber that is mine and wait for me there. I will join you shortly."

She drooped her eyes. "What do you want of me, Deucalion?"

"I want to say something to you. You will learn who it concerns later."

"But is it—is it fitting for a maiden to come to a man's room at this hour?"

"I know little of your conventions here in this new Atlantis. I am Deucalion, girl, and if you still have qualms, remembering that, do not come."

She looked up at me with a sneer. "I was foolish," she said. "My lord's coldness has grown into a proverb, and I should have remembered it. Yes; I will come."

"Go now, then," said I, and waited till she had

p. 213

passed on ahead and was out of sight and hearing. With Ylga to help me, my tasks were somewhat lightened and their sequence changed. In the first instance, now, I had got to make my way with as little delay and show as possible into a certain sanctuary which lay within the temple of our Lady the Moon. And here my knowledge as one of the Seven stood me in high favor.

All the temples of the city of Atlantis are in immediate and secret connection with the royal pyramid, but the passages are little used, seeing that they are known only to the Seven and to the Three above them, supposing that there are three men living at one time sufficiently learned in the highest of the high mysteries to be installed in that sublime degree of the Three. And, even by these, the secret ways may only be used on occasions of the greatest stress, so that a generation well may pass without their being trodden by a human foot.

It was with some trouble and after no little experiment that I groped my way into this secret alley; but once there, the rest was easy. I had never trodden it before certainly, but the plan of it had been taught me at my initiation as one of the Seven, and the course of the windings came back to me now with easy accuracy. I walked quickly, not only because the air in those deep crannies is always full of lurking evils, but also because the hours were fleeting, and much must be done before our Lord the Sun again rose to make another day.

I came to the spy-place which commands the temple, and found the holy place empty, and, alas! dust-covered,

p. 214

and showing little trace that worshippers ever frequented it these latter years. A vast stone of the wall swung outward and gave me entrance, and presently (after the solemn prayer which is needful before attempting these matters), I took the metal stair from the place where it is kept, and climbed to the lap of the Goddess; and then, pulling the stair after me, climbed again upward till my length lay against her calm mysterious face.

A shivering seized me as I thought of what was intended, for even a warrior hardened to horrid sights and deeds may well have qualms when he is called upon to juggle with life and death and years and history, with the welfare of his country in one hand, and the future of a woman who is as life to him in the other. But again I told myself that the hours flew, and laid hold of the jewel which is studded into the forehead of the image with one hand, and then stretching out, thrust at a corner of the eyebrow with the other. With a faint creak the massive eyeball below, a stone that I could barely have covered with my back, swung inward. I stepped off the stair and climbed into the gap. Inside was the chamber which is hollowed from the head of the Goddess.

It was the first time I had seen this most secret place, but the aspect of it was familiar to me from my teaching, and I knew where to find the thing which would fill my need. Yet, occupied though I might be with the stress of what was to befall, I could not help having a wonder and an admiration for the cleverness with which it was hidden.

p. 215

High as I was in the learning and mysteries of the Priestly Clan, the structure of what I had come to fetch was hidden from me. Beforetime I had known only of their power and effect; and now that I came to handle them, I saw only some roughly rounded balls like nut kernels, grass-green in color, and in hardness like the wax of bees. There were three of these balls in the hidden place, and I took the one that was needful, concealing the others as I had found them. It may have been a drug, it may have been something more; what exactly it was I did not know; only of its power and effect I was sure, as that was set forth plainly in the teaching I had learned; and so I put it in a pouch of my garment, returning by the way I had come, and replacing all things in due order behind me.

One look I took at the image of the Goddess before I left the temple. The jet of earth-breath which burns eternally from the central altar lit her from head to toe, and threw sparkles from the great jewel in her forehead. Vast she was, and calm and peaceful beyond all human imaginings, a perfect symbolism of that rest and quietness which many sigh for so vainly on this rude earth, but which they will never attain unless by their piety they earn a place in the hereafter, where our Lady the Moon and the rest of the High Ones reign in Their eternal glorious majesty.

It was with tired, dragging limbs that I made my way back again to the royal pyramid, and at last came to my own private chamber. Ylga awaited me there, though at first I did not see her. The suspicions

p. 216

of these modern days had taken a deep hold of the girl, and she must needs crouch in hiding till she made sure it was I who came to the chamber, and, moreover, that I came alone.

"Oh, frown at me if you choose," said she, sullenly, "I am past caring now for your good opinion. I had heard so much of Deucalion, and I thought I read honesty in you when you first came ashore; but now I know that you are no better than the rest. Phorenice offers you a high place, and you marry her blithely to get it. And why, indeed, should you not marry her? People say she is pretty, and I know she can be warm. I have seen her warm and languishing to scores of men. She is clever, too, with her eyes, is our great Empress; I grant her that. And as for you, it tickles you to be courted."

"I think you are a very silly woman," I said.

"If you flatter yourself it matters a rap to me whom you marry, you are letting conceit run away with you."

"Listen," I said. "I did not ask you here to make foolish speeches which seem largely beyond my comprehension. I asked you to help me do a service to one of your own blood-kin."

She stared at me wonderingly. "I do not understand."

"It rests largely with you as to whether Naïs dies to-morrow, or whether she is thrown into a sleep from which she may waken on some later and more happy day."

"Naïs!" she gasped, "my twin, Naïs? She is not here. She is out in the camp with those nasty rebels

p. 217

who bite against the city walls, if, indeed, still she lives."

"Naïs, your sister, is near us in the royal pyramid this minute, and under guard, though where I do not know." And with that I told her all that had passed since the girl was brought up a prisoner in the galley of that foolish, fawning captain of the port. "The Empress has decreed that Naïs shall be buried alive under a throne of granite which I am to build for her to-morrow, and buried she will assuredly be. Yet I have a kindness for Naïs, which you may guess at if you choose, and I am minded to send her into a sleep such as only we higher priests know of, from which at some future day she may possibly awaken."

"So it is Naïs, and not Phorenice, and not—not any other?"

"Yes; it is Naïs. I marry the Empress because Zaemon, who is mouth-piece to the high council of the priests, has ordered it for the good of Atlantis. But my inwards remain still cold towards her."

"Almost I hate poor Naïs already."

"Your vengeance would be easy. Do not tell me where she is gaoled, and I shall not dare to ask. Even to give Naïs a further span of life I cannot risk making inquiries for her cell, when there is a chance that those who tell me might carry news to the Empress, and so cause more trouble for this poor Atlantis."

"And why should I not carry the news, and so bring myself into favor again? I tell you that being fan-girl to Phorenice and second woman in the kingdom

p. 218

is a thing that not many would cast lightly aside."

I looked her between eyes and smiled. "I have no fear there. You will not betray me, Ylga. Neither will you sell Naïs."

"I seem to remember very small love for this same Naïs just now," she said, bitterly. "But you are right about that other matter. I shall not buy myself back at your expense. Oh, I am a fool, I know, and you can give me no thanks that I care about, but there is no other way I can act."

"Then let us fritter no more time. Go you out now and find where Naïs is gaoled, and bring me news how I can say ten words to her, and press a certain matter into her clasp."

She bowed her head and left the chamber, and for long enough I was alone. I sat down on the couch, and rested wearily against the wall. My bones ached, my eyes ached, and, most of all, my inwards ached. I had thought to myself that a man who makes his life sufficiently busy will find no leisure for these pains which assault frailer folk; but a philosophy like this, which carried one well in Yucatan, showed poorly enough when one tried it here at home. But that there was duty ahead, and the order of the high council to be carried into effect, the bleakness of the prospect would have daunted me, and I would have prayed the Gods then to spare me further life, and take me unto Themselves.

Ylga came back at last, and I got up and went quickly after her as she led down a maze of passages and alleyways. "There has been no care spared

p. 219

over her guarding," she whispered, as we halted once to move a stone. "The officer of the guard is an old lover of mine, and I raised his hopes to the burning point again by a dozen words. But when I wanted to see his prisoner, there he was as firm as brass. I told him she was my sister, but that did not move him. I offered him—oh, Deucalion, it makes me blush to think of the things I did offer to that man, but there was no stirring him. He has watched the tormentors so many times that there is no tempting him into touch of their instruments."

"If you have failed, why bring me out here?"

"Oh, I am not inveigling you into a lover's walk with myself, sir. You tickle yourself when you think your society is so pleasant as that."

"Come, girl, tell me then what it is. If my temper is short, credit it against my weariness."

"I have carried out my lord's commands in part. I know the cell where Naïs lies, and I have had speech with her, though not through the door. And moreover, I have not seen her or touched her hand."

"Your riddles are beyond me, Ylga, but if there is a chance, let us get on and have this business done."

"We are at the place now," said she, with a hard little laugh, "and if you kneel on the floor, you will find an air-shaft, and Naïs will answer you from the lower end. For myself, I will leave you. I have a delicacy in hearing what you want to say to my sister, Deucalion."

"I thank you," I said. "I will not forget what you have done for me this night."

p. 220

"You may keep your thanks," she said, bitterly, and walked away into the shadows.

I knelt on the floor of the gallery and found the air-passage with my hand, and then putting my lips to it whispered for Naïs.

The answer came on the instant, muffled and quiet. "I knew my lord would come for a farewell."

"What the Empress said has to be. You understand, my dear? It is for Atlantis."

"Have I reproached my lord by word or glance?"

"I myself am bidden to place you in the hollow between the stones, and I must do it."

"Then my last sleep will be a sweet one. I could not ask to be touched by pleasanter hands."

"But it may hap that a day will come when she whom you know of will be suffered by the High Gods to live on this land of Atlantis no longer."

"If my lord will cherish my poor memory when he is free again, I shall be grateful. He might, if he chose, write them on the stones: Here was buried a maid who died gladly for the good of Atlantis, even though she knew that the man she so dearly loved was husband to her murderess."

"You must not die," I whispered. "My breast is near broken at the very thought of it. And for respite we must trust to the ancient knowledge, which in its day has been sent out from the Ark of the Mysteries." I took the green waxy ball in my fingers, and stretched them down the crooked air-shaft to the full of my span. "I have somewhat for you here. Reach up and try to catch it from me."

I heard the faint rustle of her arm as it swept

p. 221

against the masonry, and then the ball was taken over into her grasp. Gods! what a thrill went through me when the fingers of Naïs touched mine! I could not see her because of the crookedness of the shaft, but that faint touch of her was exquisite.

"I have it," she whispered. "And what now, dear?"

"You will hide the thing in your garment, and when to-morrow the upper stone closes down upon you and the light is gone, then you will take it between your lips and let it dissolve as it will. Sleep will take you, my darling, then, and the High Gods will watch over you, even though centuries pass before you are roused."

"If Deucalion does not wake me, I shall pray never again to open an eye. And now go, my lord and my dear. They watch me here constantly, and I would not have you harmed by being brought to notice."

"Yes, I must go, my sweetheart. It will not do to have our scheme spoiled by a foolish loitering. May the most High Gods attend your rest, and if the sacrifice we make finds favor, may They grant us meeting here again on earth before we meet—as we must—when our time is done, and They take us up to Their own place."

"Amen," she whispered back, and then: "Kiss your fingers, dear, and thrust them down to me."

I did that, and for an instant felt her fondle them down the crook of the air-shaft out of sight, and then heard her withdraw her little hand and kiss it fondly. Then again she kissed her own fingers and stretched

p. 222

them up, and I took up the virtue of that parting kiss on my finger-tips and pressed it sacredly to my lips.

"Living, sleeping, or dead, always my darling," she whispered. And then, before I could answer, she whispered again: "Go; they are coming for me." And so I went, knowing that I could do no more to help her then, and knowing that all our schemes would be spilled if any eye spied upon me as I lay there beside the air-shaft. But my chest was like to have split with the dull, helpless anguish that was in it, as I made my way back to my chamber through the mazy alleys of the pyramid.

"Do not look upon mine eyes, dear, when the time comes," had been her last command, "or they will tell a tale which Phorenice, being a woman, would read. Remember, we make these small denials, not for our own likings, but for Atlantis, which is mother to us all."





Next: Chapter XIII. The Burying Alive of Naïs