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their toilet for immediate presentation to the Empress.
Valeria was attended as usual by her freedwoman Callirhoë, when the Greek was nounced.
“We heard,” she said to Isidorus,“ by thy letters, of the failure of thy quest at Ravenna and Milan, but we hope
At this moment, with an exclamation of intensest emotion Callirhoë rushed forward and flung herself in the arms of the venerable figure who had followed the Greek into the apartment.
“My father!" she cried in tones which thrilled every heart, and then she embraced him again and again. The impassioned love and joy and gratitude of her soul struggling for expression, she burst into a flood of tears.
“My daughter, child of my beloved Rachel,” exclaimed the old man, as, heedless of the presence of the Empress, he fondly caressed her, “ do I again embrace thee? Thou art the very image of thy angel-mother, as I first beheld her in the rose gardens of Sharon. Truly God is good. Now, Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace—the cup of my happiness runneth over.”
Nay, good father," broke in the soft voice of the Empress, who was deeply moved liy the
scene, “rather live to share thy daughter's love and happiness."
“ Pardon, august lady,” said Demetrius, falling on his knees, and gratefully kissing the Empress's hand. “Pardon, that in the joy of finding my child I forgot the duty I owe to my sovereign.”
" Thy first duty was there,” said Valeria, pointing to the lovely Callirhoë, who, smiling through her tears, was now leaning on her father's arm. “We leave you to exchange your mutual confidences. Good Isidorus it shall be our to bestow a reward commensurate with thy merit;" and she withdrew to her own apartment.
“My everlasting gratitude thou hast,” said Callirhoë, with her sweetest smile, frankly extending her hand.
“I am, indeed, well repaid," said the Greek, as he respectfully kissed it.
I would gladly show my zeal in much more arduous service," and bowing low, he was accompanied by the chamberlain to the vestibule. That official gave hiin, by command of the Empress, a purse of gold, and assured him of still further reward.
T was with feelings highly elated at his
successful achievement, which presaged still further advancement, that Isidorus sought his lodgings. On the way he met many late revellers returning from the festival, “flown with insolence and wine,” and making night hideous with their riot. Among them, his garments dishevelled, and a withering garland falling from his brow, was an old acquaintance, Calphurnius, the son of the Perfect, who with maudlin affection embraced him and exclaimed:
“Friend of my soul, where hast thou hidden thyself ? Our wine parties lack half their zest, since thou hast turned anchorite. Come, pledge our ancient friendship in a goblet of Falernian. The wine shop of Turbo, the ex-gladiator, is near at hand.
“ You have not turned Christian, have you ?"
hiccoughed the drunken reveller; “no offence, but I heard you had, you know.”
Isidorus gave a start. Were his visits to the Catacomb known to this fashionable fop? Were they a matter uf sport to him and his boon companions ? Was he to be laughed out of his nascent convictions by these emptyheaded idlers? No, he deterinined. He despised the whole crew. But he was not the stuff out of which martyrs are made, and he lacked the courage to confess to this gilded butterfly, his as yet faltering feeling towards Christianity.
“Who says I am ?” he asked, anxious to test his knowledge on the subject.
“ Who says so? I don't know. Why every- : body," was the rather vague reply.
You don't know what you are talking about, man," said the Greek, with a forced laugh. “Go home and sleep off your carouse.”
“ All right. I told them so. The Christians, indeed, the vermin! Come to the Baths of Caracalla at noon to-morrow and I'll tell you all about it.”
Isidorus went to his lodgings and retired to his couch, but not to slumber. He was like a boat drifting rudderless upon the sea, the sport of every wind that blew.
He had no strength of will, no fixedness of purpose, no depth of conviction. His susceptible disposition was easily moved to generous impulses and even to noble aspirations, yet he had no moral firinness. He is portrayed to the life by the words of the great Teacher, “He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the Word, and anon, with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, bye-and-bye he is offended."
“ Did his boon companions," he questioned, "suspect that any serious convictions had penetrated beneath his light and careless exterior ?” All his good resolutions had begun like wax in a furnace to melt and give way at the sneer and jeer of the shallow fool from whom he had just parted—a creature whom in his inmost heart he despised. Strange contradiction of human nature ! Like the epicurean poet, he saw and approved the better way and yet he followed the worse. * He seemed to gain in the few casual words he had heard, a glimpse of the possibilities of persecution which menaced him if faithful to his convictions, and he had not moral fibre enough to encounter them. And yet his conscience stung and tortured him as he tossed upon his restless couch. Toward
* Video, prohoque nieliora,