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The Emperor — Volume 04

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83 pages
The Project Gutenberg EBook The Emperor, by Georg Ebers, Volume 4. #48 in our series by Georg EbersCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: The Emperor, Part 1, Volume 4.Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5486] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first postedon May 28, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE EMPEROR, BY GEORG EBERS, V4 ***This eBook was produced by David Widger [NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author'sideas before making an entire ...
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The Project Gutenberg EBook The Emperor, byGeorg Ebers, Volume 4. #48 in our series byGeorg EbersCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****Title: The Emperor, Part 1, Volume 4.
Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5486] [Yes, weare more than one year ahead of schedule] [Thisfile was first posted on May 28, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK THE EMPEROR, BY GEORG EBERS, V4***This eBook was produced by David Widger<widger@cecomet.net>[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, orpointers, at the end of the file for those who maywish to sample the author's ideas before makingan entire meal of them. D.W.]THE EMPEROR, Part 1.By Georg Ebers
Volume 4.CHAPTER XV.After the Emperor's body-slave had started up togo to the aid of Selene, who was attacked by hissovereign's dog, something had happened to himwhich he could not forget; he had received animpression which he could not wipe out, and wordsand tones had stirred his mind and soul whichincessantly echoed in them, so that it was in apreoccupied and half- dreamy way that he haddone his master those little services which he wasaccustomed to perform every morning, briskly andwith complete attention.Summer and winter Mastor was accustomed toleave his master's bedroom before sunrise toprepare everything that Hadrian could need whenhe rose from his slumbers. There was the goldplating to clean on the narrow greaves and theleather straps which belonged to his master'smilitary boots, his clothes to air and to perfumewith the slight, hardly perceptible scent that heliked, but the preparations for Hadrian's bath werewhat took up most of his time. At Lochias therewere not as yet— as there were in the imperialpalace at Rome—properly-filled baths; still hisservant knew that here, as there, his master woulduse a due abundance of water. He had been toldthat if he required anything for his master he wasto apply to Pontius. Him he found, without seeking
him, outside the room meant for Hadrian's sitting-room, to which, while the Emperor still slept, hewas endeavoring, with the help of his assistants, togive a comfortable and pleasing aspect. Thearchitect referred the slave to the workmen whowere busy laying the pavement in the forecourt ofthe palace; these men would carry in for him asmuch water as ever he could need. The body-servant's position relieved him of such humbleduties, still, when on the chase, when travelling, oras need arose, he was accustomed to performthem unasked, and very willingly.The sun had not yet risen when he went out intothe court, a number of slaves were lying on theirmats asleep, others had camped round a fire andwere waiting for their early broth, which was beingstirred with wooden sticks by an old man and aboy. Mastor would not disturb either group; hewent up to a party of workmen, who seemed to betalking together, and yet remained attentive to thespeech of an old man who was evidently tellingthem a story.The poor fellow's heart was heavy and his mindwas little bent on tales and amusements. All lifewas embittered. The services required of himusually seemed to him of paramount importance,beyond everything else; but to-day it was different.He had an obscure feeling as though fate herselfhad released him from all his duties, as ifmisfortune had cut the bonds which bound him tohis service to the Emperor, and had made him anisolated and lonely being. It even came into his
head whether he should not take in his hand all thegold pieces given him sometimes by Hadrian, orwhich the wealthy folks who wished to be theforemost of those introduced into the Emperor'spresence, after waiting in the antechamber, hadflung to him or slipped into his hand—make hisescape and carouse away all that he possessed inthe taverns of the great city, in wine and the gaycompany of women. It was all the same to himwhat might happen to him.If he were caught he would probably be flogged todeath; but he had had kicks and blows in plentybefore he had got into the Emperor's service, nay;when he was brought to Rome he had once evenbeen hunted with dogs. If he lost his life, after allwhat would it matter? He would have done with itthen, once for all, and the future offered him noprospect but perpetual fatigue in the service of arestless master, anxiety and contempt. He was athoroughly good-hearted being who could not bearto hurt any one, and who found it equally hard todisturb a fellow-man in his pleasures oramusement. He felt particularly disinclined to do sojust now, for a wounded soul is keenly alive to themoods and feelings of others; so, as heapproached the group of workmen, from amongwhom he proposed to choose his water-carrier, hedetermined that he would not interrupt the story-teller, on whose lips the gaze of his audience wasriveted with interest.The glare of the blaze under the soup-kettle fell fullon the speaker's face. He was an old laborer, but
his long hair proclaimed him a freeman. Hisabundant white beard induced Mastor to supposethat he must be a Jew or a Phoenician, but therewas nothing remarkable in the old man, who wasdressed in a poor and scanty tunic, excepting hispeculiarly brilliant eyes, which were immovablyfixed on the heavens, and the oblique position inwhich he held his head, supporting it on the leftside with his raised hands."And now," said the speaker, dropping his arms,"let us go back to our labors, my brethren. 'In thesweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,' it is written.It is often hard to us old men to heave stones andbend our stiff backs for so long together, but weare nearer than you younger ones to the happyfuture. Life is not easy to all of us, but it is we wholabor and are heavy laden—we above all others—that the Lord has bidden to be his guests, and notlast among us theslaves" ."Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavyladen, and I will refresh you," interrupted one of theyounger men repeating the words of Christ."Yea, thus saith the Saviour," said the old manapprovingly, "and he surely then was thinking of us.I said just now our load is not light, but how muchheavier was the burden he took upon him of hisown free will to release us from woe. Every onemust work, nay even Caesar himself, but he whocould dwell in the glory of his Father let himself bemocked and scorned and spit in the face, let thecrown of thorns be pressed on his suffering head,
bore his heavy cross, sinking under its weight, andendured a death of torment, and all for our sakes,without a murmur. But he suffered not in vain, forGod accepted the sacrifice of his Son, and did hiswill and said, 'All that believe on Him should notperish, but have everlasting life.' And though a newand weary day is now beginning, and though itshould be followed by a thousand wearier still,though death is the end of life—still we believe inour Redeemer, we have God's word bidding us outof sorrows and sufferings into his Heaven,promising us for a brief time of misery in this world,endless ages of joy.—Now go to work. Our sturdyfriend Krates will work for you dear Knakias untilyour finger is healed. When the bread is distributedremember, each of you, the children of our poordeceased brother Philammon. You, poor Gibbus,will find your labors bitter to-day. This man'smaster, my dear brethren, sold both his daughtersyesterday to a dealer from Smyrna; but if younever see them again in Egypt, or in any othercountry, my friend, you will meet them in the homeof your Heavenly Father—of that you may restassured. Our life on earth is but a pilgrimage, andHeaven is the goal, and the Guide who teaches usnever to miss the way, is our Saviour. Wearinessand toil, sorrow and suffering are easy to bear, tohim who knows that when the solemn hour is near,the King of Kings shall throw open his dwelling-place, and invite him to enter as a favored guest toinhabit there, where all we have loved have foundjoy and rest.""Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy
laden, and I will refresh you," said a man's loudvoice again from the circle that sat round the oldman. The old man stood up, signed to a boy whodistributed the bread in equal shares to theworkmen, and took up a jar with handles, out ofwhich he filled a large wooden cup with wine.Not a word of this discourse had escaped Mastor,and the often repeated verse, "Come unto me allye that labor," dwelt in his mind like the invitation ofa hospitable friend bidding him to happy days offreedom and enjoyment. A distant gleam shonethrough the weight of his troubles, seeming topromise the dawn of a new day, and he reverentlywent up to the old man, in the first place to ask himif he was the overseer of the workmen who stoodround him.""I am, replied the old man, and as soon as helearnt what Mastor required as a commission fromthe controlling architect, he pointed out someyoung slaves who quickly brought the water that heneeded.Pontius met the Emperor's servant and his water-carriers and remarked, loudly enough for Mastor tounderstand him, to Pollux who was with him:"The architect's servant is getting Christians to waitupon his master to-day. They are regular andsober workmen who do their duty silently and well."While Mastor was giving his master towels, andhelping to dry and dress him, he was far lessattentive than usual, for he could not get the words
attentive than usual, for he could not get the wordshe had heard from the overseer's lips out of hismind. He had not understood them all, but he hadfully comprehended that there was a kind andloving God who had suffered in his own person theutmost torments, who was especially gracious tothe poor, the miserable, and the bondsman, andwho promised to refresh them and comfort them,and to re-unite them to those who had once beendear to them. "Come unto me," sounded again andagain in his ears, and struck so warmly to his heartthat he could not help thinking first of his mother,who, so many a time, when he was a child, hadcalled to him only to clasp him in her arms as heran towards her, and to press him to her heart.Just so had he often called his poor little dead son,and the feeling that there could be any one whomight still call to him—the forsaken lonely man—with loving words to release him from his griefs, toreunite him to his mother, his father, and all thedear ones left behind in his lost and distant home,took half the bitterness from his pain.He was accustomed to listen to all that was said inthe Emperor's presence, and year by year he hadlearnt to understand more of what he heard. Hehad often heard the Christians discussed, andusually as deluded but dangerous fools. Many ofhis fellow-slaves, too, he had heard called Christianidiots, but still not unfrequently very reasonablemen, and sometimes even Hadrian himself, hadtaken the part of the Christians.This was the first time that Mastor had heard fromtheir own lips what they believed and hoped, and
now, while fulfilling his duties he could hardly bearthe delay before he could once more seek out theold pavement-worker, to enquire of him, and tohave the hopes confirmed which his words hadaroused in his soul.No sooner had Hadrian and Antinous gone into theliving-room than Mastor had hastened off acrossthe court to find the Christians. There he tried toopen a conversation with the overseer concerninghis faith, but the old man answered that there wasa season for everything; just now he could notinterrupt the work, but that he might come againafter sundown, and that he then would tell him ofHim who had promised to refresh the sorrow-laden.Mastor thought no more of making his escape.When he appeared again in his master's presencethere was such a sunny light in his blue eyes thatHadrian left the angry words he had prepared forhim unspoken, and cried to Antinous, laughing andpointing to the slave:"I really believe the rascal has consoled himselfalready, and found a new mate. Let us, too, followthe precept of Horace, so far as we may, andenjoy the present day. The poet may let the futurego as it will, but I cannot, for, unfortunately, I amthe Emperor.""And Rome may thank the gods that you are,"replied Antinous."What happy phrases the boy hits upon
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