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Chapter VI.

THE Romans stored the sacred vessels of the Capitol, when broken, in vaults beneath the fortress-temple. Cellars full of smashed crockery such vaults would seem to those who in after days, from East and North and South, surged like an ocean-flood upon the Imperial City. Perchance, the contents of my memory's Favissœ may appear but worthless sherds to those for whom they are not sanctified by the religion of personal association— but I cannot help it. I am writing not for fame, but to unburden my heart and while away the leaden leisure that suffocates me in this prison solitude where——The end of my story shall tell of that. There would be little wisdom in reopening before its time the most recent of my wounds, in anticipating the gloomy termination of a tale at best but dreary.

A dead slave is equal to Darius, says one of the bards of the Anthology. Even before death there is a state in which the Serf and the Czar are on a level, a realm, indeed, in which they may exchange conditions —the glorious Land of Dreams. I call it glorious, because in it I have gathered the only real unblighted joys I ever knew. As though to compensate, in some measure, for the miseries of my waking life, ninety-nine out of a hundred of my nightly visions are antepasts of heaven—Saturnalia


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for the slave of ugliness and cowardice and sin. Handsome and brave and pure, loving and loved, I walk in Paradise; and curse the dawn that makes me put on again my hideousness of face and form, and still more loathsome hideousness of heart. They seem to me like foul beggar's rags left—in the place of his own rich robes—for a robbed monarch stepping fresh and glowing from the bath. True, the hundredth dream sinks as low in hell as the others soar high in heaven; but after the petty mortifications of earth, there is a dignity in defying the eternal torments of Tophet; and, for the sake of the Elysian bliss, I gladly run the risk of the Tartarean torture. My prayer is the poet's—

Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,
The best-belovëd,—Night!

I had been dreaming of my brother. Together we had wandered through gardens bathed in that soft, silvery twilight which, I believe, is almost always seen, and only seen, in dreams. I was the protector now; holding back the branches to let my brother pass, and carrying him when he was tired. Golden birds' eggs, flowers bright and dewy as though stars just fallen from the sky, and fruits with bloomy, purple rinds through which the juice shone like liquid sunshine, I heaped within his lap; proud of my own profuse munificence and his grateful glance of pleasure. Suddenly he started up, and stood listening for awhile. A smile spread over his face, like daybreak over the earth: “Papa is calling!” he cried, and ran away. And I awoke.

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