Aphrodite - Pierre Louys - ebook

Aphrodite ebook

Pierre Louys

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Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. She is identified with the planet Venus, and her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus. As with many ancient Greek deities, there is more than one story about her origins. According to Hesiod's Theogony, she was born when Cronus cut off Uranus's genitals and threw them into the sea, and she arose from the sea foam (aphros). According to Homer's Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. In Plato (Symposium, 180e), these two origins are said to be of hitherto separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos. Because of her beauty, other gods feared that their rivalry for her favours might lead to conflict and war; Zeus married her to Hephaestus, who, because of his ugliness and deformity, was not seen as a threat. Aphrodite had many lovers.both gods, such as Ares, and men, such as Anchises. She played a role in the Eros and Psyche legend, and was both lover and surrogate mother of Adonis. Many lesser beings were said to be children of Aphrodite. Aphrodite is also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus) after the two cult sites, Cythera and Cyprus, which claimed to be her place of birth. Myrtle, roses, doves, sparrows and swans were sacred to her. The ancient Greeks identified her with the Ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor. Aphrodite had many other names, such as Acidalia, Cytherea, and Cerigo, each used by a different local cult of the goddess in Greece. The Greeks recognized all of these names as referring to the single goddess Aphrodite, despite the slight differences in what these local cults believed the goddess demanded of them. The Attic philosophers of the 4th century, however, drew a distinction between a celestial Aphrodite (Aphrodite Urania) of transcendent principles, and a separate, "common" Aphrodite who was the goddess of the people (Aphrodite Pandemos).

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APHRODITE

BY

PIERRE LOUYS

Copyright © 2017 by Pierre Louys.

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

For information contact :

Sheba Blake Publishing

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Book and Cover design by Sheba Blake Publishing

First Edition: January 2017

TABLE OF CONTENTS

AUTHOR'S PREFACE

BOOK ONE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

BOOK TWO

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

BOOK THREE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

BOOK FOUR

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

BOOK FIVE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

AUTHOR'S PREFACE

The erudite Prodicos of Ceos, who flourished toward the end of the first century before our era, is the author of the celebrated apologue which St. Basil recommended to Christian meditation: "Herakles between virtue and voluptuousness." We know that Herakles decided for the first, and was thus enabled to accomplish a certain number of great crimes against the Hinds, the Amazons, the Golden Apples and the Giants. If Prodicos had limited himself to that, he would have written only a fable of readily comprehended symbolism, but he was a clever philosopher and his repertory of tales, "The Hours," which was divided into three parts, presented the moral truths under their three different aspects which correspond to the three ages of life. For little children he was pleased to propose as an example the austere choice of Herakles; to youths he doubtless related the voluptuous choice of Paris; and I imagine that, to ripe men, he said nearly this:

"Odysseus was wandering in the chase one day, at the foot of the mountains of Delphi, when he met on his path two virgins who held each other by the hand. The one had hair of violets, transparent eyes, and grave lips; she said to him: 'I am Arete.' The other had softly tinted eyelids, delicate hands and tender breasts; she said to him: 'I am Tryphe.' And they said together: 'Choose between us.' But the subtle Odysseus responded wisely: 'How could I choose--you are inseparable. The eyes which have seen you pass--one without the other--have glimpsed but a sterile shadow. Just as sincere virtue does not deprive itself of the eternal joys which voluptuousness brings to it, so luxury would go ill without a certain grandeur of soul. I will follow you both. Show me the way.' As he finished, the two visions melted together and Odysseus knew that he had spoken with the great goddess Aphrodite."

* * *

The feminine personage who occupies the principal place in the romance whose pages you are about to turn, is an antique courtesan; but be reassured: she will not convert herself.

She will be loved neither by a monk, a prophet, nor a god. In present-day literature, this is an originality.

Rather she will be a courtesan, with all the frankness, the ardor and the pride of every human being who has a vocation and who holds in society a freely chosen place; she will aspire to raise herself to the highest point; she will not even imagine a need for excuse or mystery in her life. And this requires explanation.

Up to this day, the modern writers who have addressed themselves to a public free from the prejudices of young girls and school boys have employed a laborious stratagem whose hypocrisy displeases me: "I have depicted voluptuousness as it is," they say, "in order to exalt virtue." But I, at the beginning of a romance whose intrigue develops at Alexandria, refuse absolutely to commit this anachronism.

Love, with all its consequences, was, for the ancient Greeks, the sentiment most virtuous and most fecund in grandeurs. They did not attach to it those ideas of shamelessness and immodesty which Israelite tradition, along with the Christian doctrine, has handed down to us. Herodotos (1.10) says to us, quite naturally:--"Among some barbarous races it is considered disgraceful to appear naked." When the Greeks or the Latins wished to insult a man who frequented "daughters of love," they called him <<moixos>> or Moechus, which merely signifies "adulterer." On the other hand, a man and a woman who, being free from other bonds, united themselves, even though this were in public and whatever their youth might be, were considered as injuring no one and were left at liberty.

One sees that the life of the ancients could not be judged after the moral ideas which come to us at the present time from Geneva.

As for me, I have written this book with the simplicity an Athenian would have brought to a relation of the same adventures. And I hope that it will be read in the same spirit.

Judging the ancient Greeks by the ideas actually received, not one exact translation of their greatest writers could be left in the hands of a young student. If M. Mounet-Sully should play his role of ###140###dipos without cuts, the police would suspend the representation. If M. Leconte de Lisle had not prudently expurgated Theocritos, his version would have been suppressed the same day it was put on sale.

One considers Aristophanes exceptional? Yet we possess important fragments of fourteen hundred and forty comedies, due to one hundred and thirty-two other Greek poets, some of whom, such as Alexis, Philetor, Strattis, Eubolos and Cratinos, have left us admirable verse, and no one has yet dared translate this shameless and sublime collection.

One quotes always, for the purpose of defending Greek customs, the teachings of some philosophers who condemned the sexual pleasures. There is confusion here. Those scattered moralists reproved all excesses of the senses indiscriminately, without the existence, for them, of a difference between the debauch of the bed and that of the table.

He who, today, at a restaurant in Paris, orders with impunity a six-louis dinner for himself alone, would have been judged by them as guilty and no less so than another who would give a too intimate assignation in the middle of the street, being for that condemned by the existing laws to a year of prison. Moreover, these austere philosophers were generally regarded by antique society as abnormal and dangerous madmen; they were mocked on the stage, treated with blows in the streets, seized by tyrants to serve as court buffoons and exiled by free citizens who judged them unworthy of submitting to capital punishment.

It is then by a conscious and voluntary deceit that modern educators from the Renaissance to the present time have represented the antique moral system as the inspiration of their narrow virtues. If this moral system were great--if it merited indeed to be taken for a model and to be obeyed--it is precisely because no system has better known how to distinguish the just from the unjust according to a criterion of beauty: to proclaim the right of every man to seek individual happiness within the limits set by the rights of others and to declare that there is nothing under the sun more sacred than physical love--nothing more beautiful than the human body.

Such was the morality of the people who built the Acropolis; and if I add that it has remained that of all great minds, I will but state the value of a common-place, so well is it proven that the superior intelligences of artists, writers, warriors or statesmen have never held its majestic tolerance to be illicit. Aristotle began life by dissipating his patrimony in the company of debauched women; Sappho gave her name to a special vice; Caesar was the moechus calvas:--nor can we imagine Racine avoiding girls of the theater and Napoleon practicing abstinence. The romances of Mirabeau, the Greek verses of Chemier, the correspondence of Diderot and the minor works of Montesquieu equal in boldness even the writings of Catullus. And, of all French authors the most austere, the most pious, the most laborious--Buffon--does one wish to know by what maxim he guides his counsel of sentimental intrigues? "Love! Why dost thou form the happy state of all beings and the misfortune of man?--It is because, in this passion, only the physical is good, and because the moral side is worthless."

* * *

Whence comes this? And how does it happen that across the upsetting of antique ideas the great Greek sensuality remains like a ray of light upon the noblest foreheads?

It is because sensuality is a condition, mysterious but necessary and creative, of intellectual development. Those who have not felt to their limit the strongest demands of the flesh, whether as a blessing or as a curse, are incapable of understanding fully the demands of the spirit. Just as the beauty of the soul illumines the features, so only the virility of the body nourishes the brain. The worst insult that Delacroix could address to men--that which he threw indiscriminately at the railers of Rubens and at the detractors of Ingres--was this terrible word: "Eunuchs!"

Better yet, it seems that the genius of races, like that of individuals, is, before all, sensual. All the cities which have reigned over the world--Babylon, Alexandria, Athens, Rome, Venice,' Paris--have been, by a general law, all the more licentious as they were more powerful, as though their dissoluteness were necessary, to their splendor. The cities where the legislator has attempted to implant artificially narrow and unproductive virtue have been, from the first day, condemned to absolute death. It was thus with Lacedaemonia which, in the midst of the most prodigious flight to which the human soul has ever risen--between Corinth and Alexandria, between Syracuse and Miletus--has left us neither a poet, a painter, a philosopher, an historian nor a scientist; barely the popular renown of a sort of Bobillot who, with his three hundred men, met death in a mountain pass without even gaining a victory. For this reason, after two thousand years measuring the emptiness of this Spartan virtue, we can, according to the exhortation of Renan: "Curse the soil where this mistress of sombre errors existed and insult her because she is no more."

* * *

Shall we ever see a return of the days of Ephesos and Cyrene? Alas! the modern world succumbs under an invasion of ugliness; the civilizations move toward the North and enter into the fog, the cold, the mud. What darkness! People clothed in black circulate through infected streets. Of what are they thinking?--we know not; but our twenty-five years shudder at being thus exiled among old men.

As for those who ever regret that they knew not this earth-intoxicated youth which we call antique life, let them be permitted to live again, through a fecund illusion, in the time when human nudity--the most perfect form, since we believe in the image of God, which we can know or even conceive--could reveal itself through the features of a sacred courtesan before the twenty thousand pilgrims upon the strands of Eleusis; where the most sensual love--the divine love whence we are born--was without stain, without shame and without sin; may they be permitted to forget eighteen barbarous, hypocritical and ugly centuries; to move from the marsh to the spring; to return piously to original beauty; amidst the sound of enchanted flutes to rebuild the Great Temple; and to consecrate enthusiastically to the sanctuaries of the true faith their hearts ever enthralled by the immortal Aphrodite.

Pierre Louys.

BOOK ONE

CHAPTER ONE

CHRYSIS

LYING upon her bosom, her elbows forward, her feet apart and her cheek resting in her hand, she pierced little symmetrical holes in the pillow of green linen with a long golden pin.

Since she had awakened, two hours after mid-day, and quite tired from having slept too much, she had remained alone upon the disordered bed, one side covered by a vast flood of hair.

This mass of hair was deep and dazzling, soft as a fur, longer than a wing, supple, numberless, full of life and warmth. It half-covered her back, spread itself under her body and glittered to her very knees in thick and rounded ringlets. The young woman was rolled up in this precious fleece whose golden brown, almost metallic, reflections had caused the women of Alexandria to name her Chrysis.

It was not the smooth hair of the Syrians of the court, nor the tinted hair of the Asiatics, nor the brown and black hair of the daughters of Egypt. It was that of an Aryan race, of the Galilaeans from beyond the desert.

Chrysis. She loved that name. The young men who came to see her called her Chryse like Aphrodite in the verses which they left, with garlands of roses, at her door in the mornings. She did not believe in Aphrodite but she was pleased that they should compare her to the goddess, and she went sometimes to the temple to give her, as to a friend, boxes of perfume and blue veils.

She was born on the banks of the lake of Gennesaret in a country of shadow and of sun, over-run with rose-laurels. Her mother went in the evenings to wait upon the road to Jerusalem for travelers and merchants, in the midst of the pastoral silence. She was a woman much respected in Galilee. The priests did not avoid her door for she was charitable and pious; the lambs of the sacrifice were always paid for by her, the benediction of the Eternal extended over her house. But when she became enceinte, her condition was a matter of gossip--for she lived alone. A man who was celebrated for the gift of prophecy said that she would bear a daughter who would one day wear at her throat "the wealth and the faith of a nation." She did not quite understand how that could be but she named the child Sarah--this is to say Princess, in Hebrew. And this silenced the scandals.

CHAPTER TWO

ON THE JETTY

ON the jetty of Alexandria, a girl stood singing. Beside her, seated on the white parapet, were two flute-players.

"Deep to the woods the satyrs drove

The oreads;

And helpless to the mountains fled

The water nymphs.

Hot forms, wet-eyed, with flying hair,

Were seized and bent

Grasswards, their bodies half-divine

Quivering, spent.

Eros finds always on the lips of women,

Painful and sweet desire."

The flute-players repeated: "Eros! Eros!..." and sighed into their doubled reeds.

"Cybele, seeking Attys, sped

Across the plains.

Eros had pierced her heart with love

Which he disdained,

For Eros ever matches scorn

Against desire.

She drew the icy gentle breath

Of welcome death.

Eros finds always on the lips of women,

Painful and sweet desire."

"Eros! Eros!... " Shrill cries leaped from the flutes.

"Syrinx ran weeping to the shore--

And then beyond...

Cheating the Goat-Foot's lusty will.

Her trembling shade

Whispered in reeds beside the stream.

So breaking these,

Pan bound the dead soul in the pipes

and crying flute.

Eros finds always on the lips of women,

Painful and sweet desire."

While the flutes continued the slow refrain of the last stanza, the singer held out her hand to the passers-by who stood in a circle around her and received four oboli which she slid into her footgear.

Little by little, the crowd dispersed, curious to watch the passing of its numberless self. The noise of steps and of voices covered even the sound of the sea. Sailors drew, with bent shoulders, merchandise upon the quay. Girls who sold fruit passed by, their full baskets in their arms. Beggars besought with a trembling hand. Asses laden with full leathern bottles trotted before the sticks of their drivers. But it was the hour of sunset, and an idle throng, more numerous than the active crowd, covered the jetty. Here and there groups formed, between which women wandered. One heard well known silhouettes called by name. The young looked at the philosophers who contemplated the women.

These were of every order and of every condition: from the most celebrated, dressed in light silks and shod with gilded leather, to the most miserable who walked barefoot. The poor ones were not less beautiful than the others but less fortunate only, and the attention of the sages dwelt by preference on those whose grace was not altered by the artifice of girdles and the encumberment of jewels. As it was the eve of the festival of Aphrodite, these women had full license to choose the garment which became them best and some of the youngest had even risked wearing none at all. But they shocked no one, for they would not have thus exposed themselves to the sun if any one of them had been marked by the least defect which could lead to mockery.

"Tryphera! Tryphera!"

And a young woman of joyous aspect elbowed some passers-by to rejoin a friend she had seen among the crowd.

"Tryphera! Art thou invited?"

"Where, Seso?"

"To Bacchis's."

"Not yet. She gives a dinner?"

"A dinner? A banquet, my dear. She is freeing her handsomest slave, Aphrodisia, on the second day of the festival."

"At last! She has perceived that they come to her no longer except for her slave."

"I think she has seen nothing. It is a fancy of old Cheres, the ship captain of the quay. He wanted to buy the girl for ten minae; Bacchis refused. Twenty minae; she still refused."

"She is mad."

"What wouldst thou have her do? It was her ambition to have a freed slave. Besides, she was right to bargain. Cheres will give thirty-five minae and for that price the girl will be free."

"Thirty-five minae? Three thousand, five hundred drachmae? Three thousand, five hundred drachmae for a negress?"

"She is the daughter of a white."

CHAPTER THREE

DEMETRIOS

ON the plaza abandoned by the musicians Demetrios remained alone, resting on his elbows. He heard the sea murmur, the vessels creak slowly, the wind pass beneath the stars. The whole town was lighted by a little dazzling cloud which had lingered over the moon and the light in the sky was softened.

The young man looked about him; the tunics of the flute-players had left two imprints in the dust. He recalled their faces; they were two Ephesians. The eldest had seemed pretty to him, but the youngest was without charm; and, as ugliness made him suffer, he avoided thinking of her.

At his feet shone an object of ivory. He picked it up; it was a writing tablet whence hung a silver stylus. Its wax was almost used up but the letters must have been traced over several times so that, the last time, they were cut into the ivory.

He saw but three words written there:

MYRTIS LOVES RHODOCLEIA

And he asked himself to which of the two women this belonged and whether the other were the loved woman or, indeed, some unknown, abandoned at Ephesos. Then he thought a moment of rejoining the musicians to give back what was, perhaps, the souvenir of some dead beloved; but he could not have found them again without trouble and as he was already ceasing to be interested in them he turned around idly and threw the little object into the sea.

It fell rapidly, gliding like a white bird, and he heard the splash the distant black water made. This little noise made him feel the vast silence of the port.

Leaning with his back against the cold parapet, he tried to drive away every thought and began to look about him.

He had a horror of life. He left his dwelling only at the hour when life ceased and returned when the first dawn drew the fishermen and the kitchen gardeners toward the town. The pleasure of seeing in the world only the shadow of the town and his own figure became such a delight to him that, for several months, he no longer remembered having seen the sun at mid-day.

He was wearied. The queen was fastidious.

He could hardly understand, this night, the joy and the pride which had filled him when, three years before, the queen, seduced perhaps more by the rumor of his beauty than by the reports of his genius, had ordered him invited to the palace and announced at the Gate of Evening by the blowing of silver trumpets.

This entrance enlightened his memory sometimes with one of those souvenirs which, by reason of too much sweetness, become more and more acute in the soul to the point of becoming intolerable. The queen had received him alone in her private apartments which were composed of three little rooms enviably soft and soundless. She was lying on her left side and as though buried in a cavern of greenish silks which bathed the black locks of het head-dress in purple reflections. Her young body was robed in a fantastically embroidered costume.

Demetrios, kneeling respectfully, had taken in his hand the little bare foot of the queen Berenice, as a precious and sweet object, to be kissed.

Then she had risen.

Simply, like a handsome slave who serves as a model, she had undone her corselet, her little bands--taken even the circlets from her arms, even the rings from her toes, and she had stood, hands open before her shoulders which lifted her head beneath the coral ornaments that swayed in long strings by her cheeks.

She was the daughter of a Ptolemy and of a Syrian princess descended from all the gods through Astarte, whom the Greeks called Aphrodite. Demetrios knew this and that she was proud of her Olympian lineage. Therefore he was not troubled when the sovereign, without moving, said to him: "I am Astarte. Take marble and thy chisel and reveal me to the people of Egypt. I wish my image to be adored."

Demetrios gazed at her, and guessing beyond all doubt what simple and fresh emotion moved this young girl, he said, "I am the first to adore it."

The queen was not angry at this precipitancy, but demanded, drawing back, "Dost think thyself Adonis, to touch the goddess?"

He replied, "Yes."

She gazed at him, smiled a little, and concluded, "Thou art right."

It was for this reason that he became insupportable and that his best friends were lost to him; but the hearts of all women doted upon him.

When he passed into a hall of the palace the slaves stopped, the women of the court became silent, the strangers listened to him also, for the sound of his voice was ravishing. If he retired to the queen they came even there to importune him under pretexts always new. If he wandered through the streets, the folds of his tunic became filled with little papyri on which the passers-by had written their names with anguished words but which he, tired of such matters, crumpled without reading. When they had put his work in place in the temple of Aphrodite the enclosure was filled at every hour of the night by the crowds of adoring women who came to read his name in the stone and to offer to their living god all the doves and all the roses.

Soon his house was encumbered with gifts which he at first accepted indifferently but which later he invariably refused when he understood. Even his slaves besought him. He had them whipped and sold. Then his male slaves, bribed by presents, opened the door to unknown women. The little objects of his toilette and of his table disappeared one after another. More than one woman in the town had a sandal or a girdle of his, a cup from which he had drunk, even the kernels of fruit he had eaten. If he dropped a flower while walking he found it no more behind him. They would have gathered up even the dust crushed by his feet.

CHAPTER FOUR

THE PASSER-BY

SHE came slowly with her head on one side, over the deserted jetty where the moonlight fell. A little flickering shadow frisked before her steps.

Demetrios watched her advance.

Diagonal folds furrowed the little that could be seen of her body through the light tissue; one of her elbows thrust out under the close tunic and the other arm, which she had left bare, carried the long train so it would not drag in the dust.

He recognized by her jewels that she was a courtesan; to spare himself a salute from her he crossed over quickly.

He did not wish to look at her. Wilfully he occupied his thought with the great sketch of Zagreus. And yet his eyes returned toward her who passed.

Then he saw that she did not stop at all, that she did not concern herself with him, that she did not even pretend to look at the sea nor to raise her veil before her face nor to be absorbed in her reflections; but that she was simply walking alone and sought nothing there but the coolness of the wind, solitude, freedom, the light quiver of the silence.

Without stirring, Demetrios did not turn his gaze from her and lost himself in a singular astonishment.

She continued walking like a yellow shade in the distance, indifferent and preceded by the little black shadow.

He heard at each step the gentle sound of her foot-wear in the dust of the way.

She walked to the isle of the Pharos and mounted among the rocks.

Suddenly, and as though long ago he had loved this unknown, Demetrios ran after her, then stopped, retraced his steps, trembled, grew angry at himself, attempted to leave the jetty; but he had never employed his will except to serve his own pleasure and when it was time to make it act for the welfare of his character and the ordering of his life he felt himself filled with impotence and nailed to the spot where he stood.

As he could no longer avoid thinking of her he tried to find an excuse for the preoccupation which distracted him so violently. He imagined his admiration for her gracious passing was purely an esthetic sentiment. And he said to himself that she would be an ideal model for the Charity with the fan which he proposed to sketch on the morrow. Then suddenly all his thoughts were upset and a crowd of anxious questions flowed into his spirit around this woman in yellow.

What was she doing on the island at this hour of the night? Why, for whom, had she come our so late? Why had she not accosted him? She had seen him, certainly she had seen him as he crossed the jetty. Why, without a word of greeting, had she continued on her way? The rumor ran that certain women sometimes chose the cool hours before the dawn to bathe in the sea. But no one bathed at the Pharos. The sea was too deep there. Besides, how unlikely that a woman would thus have covered herself with jewels to go only to the bath.... Then, what drew her so far from Rhacotis? A rendezvous, perhaps? With some young man--to be courted, on the great wave-polished rocks?

Demetrios wished to assure himself. But already the young woman was returning, with the same soft and tranquil step, lighted full in the face by the slow lunar brightness and sweeping the dust of the parapet with the tip of her fan.

CHAPTER FIVE

THE MIRROR, THE COMB AND THE NECKLACE

SHE had a special beauty. Her hair seemed two masses of gold but it was too abundant and weighted her forehead with two deep shadow-laden waves which swallowed up the ears and wound seven-fold upon the nape of the neck. The nose was delicate with slender nostrils which sometimes palpitated above the rounded, mobile corners of the full and tinted mouth. The pliant line of the body undulated with each step, animated by the balancing of the beautiful hips under the rounded, swaying waist.

When she was no more than ten steps from the young man she turned her gaze toward him. Demetrios trembled. They were extraordinary eyes, blue, but deep and brilliant at the same time, moist, weary, in tears and in fire, almost closed under the weight of the lashes and the lids. They looked, these eyes, as the sirens sing. He who passed into their light was inevitably taken. She knew it well and used them skilfully; but she counted more on indifference affected toward the man whom so much unfeigned love had not been able to touch sincerely.

The navigators who have sailed over the purple seas beyond the Ganges tell that they have seen, under the waters, rocks which are of lodestone. When vessels pass near them, the nails and the ironwork tear themselves away toward the submarine cliff and unite with it forever. And that which was a rapid ship, a dwelling, a living being, becomes no more than a flotilla of planks dispersed by the wind, driven by the tides. Thus Demetrios himself was lost before two great magnetic eyes and all his strength fled from him.

She lowered her eyelids and passed near him.

He could have cried out with impatience. His fists clenched; he was afraid that he could not recover a calm attitude, for he must speak to her. However, he accosted her with the customary words.

"I salute thee," he said.

"I salute thee also," replied the passing one.

Demetrios continued, "Whither goest thou, so little hurried?"

"I return."

"All alone?"

"All alone."

And she made a movement to resume her promenade.

Then Demetrios thought that perhaps he was deceived in judging her a courtesan. For some time past the wives of the magistrates and of the functionaries had dressed and tinted themselves like the daughters of pleasure. This one might be a person very honorably known and it was without irony that he finished his questions thus: "To thy husband?"

Resting her hands on the parapet behind her, she began to laugh.

Demetrios bit his lip and hazarded, almost timidly, "Seek him not. Thou hast begun too late. There is no longer any one here."

"Who told thee I was seeking? I am walking alone and seek nothing."

"Whence camest thou, then? For thou hast not put on all these jewels for thyself--and here is a silken veil..."

"Wouldst thou have me go out naked or dressed in wool like a-slave? I dress myself only for my pleasure; I love to know that I am beautiful and, while walking, I look at my fingers to see all my rings."

"Thou shouldst have a mirror in thine hand and look at nothing but thine eyes. They were not born at Alexandria, those eyes. Thou art a Jewess, I hear it in thy voice which is softer than ours."

"No, I am not a Jewess. I am a Galilaean."

"How dost thou call thyself--Miriam or Noemi?"

"My Syrian name... thou shalt not know it. It is a royal name which no one bears here. My friends call me Chrysis, which is a compliment thou mightest have paid me."

He put his hand on her arm.

"Oh! no, no," she said mockingly, "it is much too late for those pleasantries. Let me return quickly. It is almost three hours since I arose; I am dying of fatigue."

Leaning over she took her foot in her hand.

"See how my little thongs hurt me. They were pulled much too tight. If I do not loosen them in an instant I will have a mark on my foot and that will be pretty indeed when someone embraces me! Let me go quickly. Ah! what a nuisance! If I had known, I would not have stopped. My yellow veil is all crumpled at the waist--look!"

Demetrios passed his hand over his forehead; then with the disengaged tone of a man who condescends to make his choice, he murmured, "Show me the way."

"I will certainly not!" cried Chrysis with an astonished air.