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ST. TRYPHONIUS AND THE BASILISK
A leer Corpa,~rr, t
ALLE.G OR I E S
FREDERIC W. FARRAR
DEAN OF CANTERBURY
AUTHOR OF 'ERIC' 'ST WINIFRED' 'DARKNESS AND DAWN'
WITH TVWETY-FIVE ILLUSTRATIONS BY
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
NEW YORK AND BOMBAY
FILIORUM ET FILIARUM
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER 1
THE CHOICE. .113
THE FORTUNES OF A ROYAL HOUSE .170
THE BASILISK AND THE LEOPARD .. 235
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
ST. TRYPHONIUS AND THE BASILISK (after Carpaccio) Frontispiece
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
KING ELYON AND PAEDARION
ALL LIFE WAS AS A SUNLIT HOLIDAY
HE LAID HIS HAND ON ANER'S SHOULDER.
ANER AND PHAEDRA
AKEDIA GLIDED FORTH
ANER RESCUES PHAEDROS
TWO BRIGHT FORMS MET HIM
THE WISHING WELL
THE FINGER OF THE SPIRIT TOUCHED HIS BREAST
FESTUS FELL UPON HIS KNEES
TRAVERSING THE DARK SEA .
. to face 4
X LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
THE FORTUNES OF A ROYAL HOUSE
DORESS AND INNOCENS 179
INNOCENS SAT DOWN BY HIM AND TOOK HIS CHAINED HAND .. 215
THEY FOUND HIM STILL UPON HIS KNEES 231
THE BASILISK AND THE LEOPARD
ALCIPHRON AND FLORIAN .. . 247
HE BECAME AWARE THAT THE BASILISK WAS CLOSE BY HIM 271
HE PLUCKED THE WATER-LILY .. 303
'IN ELYON'S NAME I BID THEE AVAUNT!' 329
GARDENS WEPT BESIDE THE CORPSE OF HIS ONLY BROTHER 355
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar.
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.-WoRDSWORTH.
Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
From that great deep before our world begins,
Whereon the Spirit of God moves as He will-
Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
Down yon dark sea thou comest, darling boy.
THE KING ELYON was the greatest of all kings. Other
lords and sovereigns claimed the sway over wide
domains; but in these realms they were in reality
his vassals, even when they most daringly pretended
to avow their independence, and strove in open rebellion
to thwart his high designs.
There were many points in the government of this
mighty King which his subjects could not understand.
It was impossible for them to comprehend the necessity
for royal dealings which had to bear on the interests
of regions more wide by far than those of the little
corners of his kingdom in which they dwelt. Just as
it is not every village peasant who can tell why the
treaties are concluded, or the laws passed, which may
seem for the moment to injure his little prosperity, so
there were millions of King Elyon's subjects who were
sorely perplexed by plans which he in his wisdom knew
to be for the best. Yet the vast majority of his subjects
could not but admit, when closely questioned, that he
was wise and merciful and good, and that, even when
his dealings with them seemed to be severe, he pitied
them as a father pities the sufferings of his children.
Now King ElYon had many sons, and among them
was one who was specially dear to him. His name
was Aner, though during the earliest years of his life he
was not called Aner, but Paedarion. Few could even
guess why this particular son-who was not only the
youngest of the family, but also among the least richly
endowed-should be so specially the object of care and
love to this great King. Others of his children were
far more beautiful and strong, and looked quite radiant
by the side of Aner. Indeed, there were some bad
sons of King Elyon,. who had long revolted from
their father, who, from the first, not only despised
Aner as a contemptible weakling-which, indeed, in
himself, and apart from Elyon's love, he was-but even
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER-
regarded him, though he had done them no harm, with
burning hatred. Almost from his birth they plotted
against him, and, under disguise of flattery and false
friendship, endeavoured to ruin or degrade him. The
name of the worst of these bad revolted sons of the
great King was Ashmod, and legions of evil spirits
owned his sway.
But the very frailty of Paedarion, combined with
some nameless charm which clung about him, inspired a
tender and sacred interest for him among all the noblest
o nud iim:,-t glorious princes of Elyon's family. They took
thii you ntgest and feeblest of their brethren under their
b -t car.; they delighted in helping him; they were
fo t.ll ,:,t joy, when he was good and happy, that they
n u.tle their father's glorious palace ring to its inmost
Sde.-pthl with enraptured jubilance; and when he
sh:. ed himself unworthy, and his lot seemed to
tremble in the balance, and it became even doubtful
v lh-thler he might not range himself on the side of the
r>i:,i;l A.hmod, they took off the garlands of rose and
a uI. .. Canth which were twined about their sunny locks,
aul tli-ir eyes were dim with 'such tears as angels
SFor high reasons of his own King Elyon did not
.Aallo-. IP-'edarion to be nurtured in the Imperial palace
'whIle hi himself dwelt, vast as were its dimensions
ratil it-.xhaustible as was its wealth. Though his heart
yearnedd over the boy, yet for his own high purposes
ite d-emed it best to remove him from his im-
fmet.ii:,t presence, and to leave him to fight the battle
of life away from his proper home, amid circumstances
which might have seemed far less delightful and far
more full of peril and difficulty than those which were
enjoyed by the elder and more richly gifted princes of
that royal house.
To these high-born brethren-who never questioned
Elyon's love or wisdom, yet would fain have learnt
something of his purpose-the great King only said,
'My sons, if you could see all things as well as I do,
you would know the reason why I send my little
Paedarion away. All that I can now tell you is that
I mean it for his highest happiness. You know that
I have never enforced the obedience of any of you.
Your faithfulness would be nothing to me if it did not
spring from your own free will. It must be so with
this my youngest born. He too, if he so wills it, must
be free to follow in the desperate steps of Ashmod.
I desire to train him for the cares and duties of his
future heritage. I must send him away, but we shall
have frequent tidings of him; you will be able to visit
and to watch him without his knowledge, and I shall
constantly have him under my own eye, even when he
is least aware of it. I wish to train him so that he
too may in due time take his place among you and be
welcomed by you as a worthy member of this our
So King Elyon sent for Paedarion, who, though
but a child, was very dear in his father's eyes, and
exercised a strange power of fascination from his very
weakness. The boy came, and smiled into his father's
~~ bib: / >
KING ELYON AND PAEDARION
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
countenance, and the King clasped him to his heart
My child, I must send you far away from me and
from this your true home. There is across the
sea a lovely little island in my dominions, known
as the Purple Island. Its inhabitants are called the
Porphyrians. It is among them that you must be
educated. My care will be over you, but your future
must depend on yourself. I have had some rebellious
sons, and Ashmod, the worst of them, is always trying
to wean from me the affection of my other children.
He has access to the Purple Island. But except by
your own fault he cannot do you the smallest harm,
and if you keep aloof from him, and from his emissaries,
you have nothing to fear. Will you be always true
to me, my little son ?' '
'As if I could ever be untrue to so good a father! '
said the child, looking up with his innocent eyes.
'Ah, my boy,' said Elyon; 'you are only putting
on your armour now, and you will have to fight many
a perilous battle before you can put it off.'
'But you will bring me back here, father ?'
'If you keep the rules which I shall give you,
Paedarion,' said the King, 'you shall come back and
shall be as royal and as happy as these your bright-faced
brethren. But if you disobey me--
The King paused and heaved a deep sigh.
SThe Jews thought that every human soul before its birth into the
world was taken to Sinai to hear the Commandments and learn the
difference between right and wrong.
'What then, my father? but I can never disobey
you. I love you too dearly.'
'Whatever happens,' said Elyon, you will still be
the son of my love. Even if you go astray, IMRAH,.
the supremest of my sons, he-my other self-will do
his utmost to bring you back to me and save you.
But the Purple Island is far away, my child; and
there you may forget me.'
At these words the child wept bitterly, but the
King' kissed away his tears and said:
'Now listen to me, my child, before I bid you
farewell. Your future happiness can only be secured
by following my instructions.'
'Perhaps I might by accident forget them, father.'
'Nay,' said the King, I have had them carefully
written out for you in a book, which you must always
carry with you, and must often read. Further, I put
upon your finger a ring in which is set a deep blue
sapphire. It is a magic ring. If you disobey my
commands this sapphire will grow paler and paler; if
you persist in disobeying them it will gradually lose
all its colour.
'But further than this, my child, there are two
boys, twins, who-though as yet they have had no great
concern in your life-must henceforth be your constant
companions. Their name is Yetser ; the elder is called
Hatob, the younger Hara. Lay to heart what I now
shall say to you.'
1 These boys appear to have Hebrew names. In Hebrew, Yetser
means 'Impulse;' Hatob, the good; Hara, the evil.'
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
Father, I will.'
'On your relation to these two boys your future
happiness must depend. They are very different from
each other. The eldest, Hatob, is everything that I
could desire. Make him your bosom friend, your
guide, your leader, your example. Put your hand in
his wherever you go. He will never mislead you,
never abuse your confidence. You must regard him
as your teacher. He has a voice which, though it
sometimes seems to sink to a whisper, will always
make itself heard if you listen to it. He will always
be near you unless you drive him away. Listen for
the voice of Hatob, and, if he warns you that you are
going wrong, regard his words as though they were
His twin brother Hara is as different from Hatob
as possible. If you listen to him, he will lead you
iLto misery and shame such as you can hardly con-
'Oh, father then why do you send this bad boy
Swith me?' asked Paedarion with emotion.
'That is more than you can as yet understand, my
Sson,' said the King; 'but this I can tell you: Hara is
not so wholly pernicious, if you and Hatob together
keep him in complete control, and instantly drive him
with anger from your presence whenever he suggests
to you anything which you know to be against my
Swishes. Thus treated, Hara can do you no harm, but
i may even help forward the purposes of your education
.* during your few years in the Purple Island.'
'But if I fail, and if Hara gets too strong for me ?'
'My child, in order that I may do all for my children
that can be done, I sent my own IMRAH, the son of
my glory, to live and die for them in that far-off Purple
Island. You have but to follow his example, to walk
in his steps, and all will be well.'
'And am I to be sent quite away from you, my
'It depends, my child, upon yourself.'
'But shall I never see you when I am at the
You will not see me with your bodily eyes, but
my spirit will be with you unless you drive him away.'
'Then you will not leave me alone?'
'No,' said the great King. 'But now, child of
my love, farewell. The day will come when I shall
summon you home from the Purple Island, and if you
have been my faithful son you will then be with me
for evermore. I am sending you now to the vessel
which will bear you hence across the sea. You will
sleep a very deep sleep to-night. To-morrow you
will awake in your new home.'
Elyon once more folded his son to his breast and
kissed him with a kiss which seemed to bathe his
whole being in infinite bliss. He appeared to himself
to be sinking through unfathomable waves of slumber
and remembered nothing more.
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
How easy to keep free from sin:
How hard that freedom to recall!
For dreadful truth it is that men
Forget the heaven from which they fall.
WHEN Paedarion woke from his slumber, rising as
though from the depths of an ocean of darkness and
oblivion, he found himself in the midst of conditions
utterly different from those of his father's palace. His
reminiscences of his early past had grown most dim
and dreamlike. He remembered that he was a son of
King Elyon; he remembered that certain duties were
incumbent on him; he possessed the book which had
been given him; on his finger gleamed the deep azure
of the sapphire ring. He was conscious, and was
often reminded by grave and elderly persons who were
the careful protectors of his earlier years in the Purple
Island, that there were around him many fatal tempta-
tions which he must avoid, and many obligations
which at all costs he must fulfil; and that issues
vaster and more far-reaching than he could imagine
depended on his resistance to the one and his devotion
to the other.
As for the Purple Island he was at first enchanted
with it. He loved the gteen and purple seas which
surrounded it with their bright ebb and flow, their
murmur and their foam. He was never tired of sitting
or playing beside those musical and iridescent waves.
The softly verdant meadows sprinkled with their
golden flowers, the great trees with their waving
boughs, the sun in the blue heavens with its glories of
crimson sunset and rosy dawn, the strong mountains,
the sweet and balmy air, the yellow wealth of harvests,
the crystal of the running streams, the stars shedding
their spiritual lustre through the purple twilight, the
innocent mirth and laughter of young voices-the
glory, and the wonder, and the power, and dread
magnificence of nature delighted him. All was joyous,
and 'the very breeze had mirth in it.' He saw nothing
there, as yet, of hatred or crime, or sorrow or vileness.
All seemed to love him; all were kind to him; all life
was as a sunlit holiday in the blossoming springtide of
But while he looked with interest on the many
of his own race who surrounded him, he was most
specially interested in the two boys-Yetser Hara and
Yetser Hatob. They were of his own age and were
always with him. He was quite unable to recall
exactly what King Elyon had said to him about them,
yet the essential meaning of the King's words seemed
to dawn upon his soul by instinct. They were also
brought back to his memory by the elders who guided
his first years in the island, as well as by Hatob, who
at every favourable opportunity lovingly tried to en-
grave them on his inmost soul.
No two boys could be more unlike each other than
these two Yetsers, as you will see when I describe them.
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
Hatob was a dark-haired lad of unusual seriousness
and calm sweetness of aspect. His eyes, which seemed
to shine through those at whom he gazed, were of
heaven's deepest azure; but those who knew him well
soon learnt that they could sometimes flash with terrible
indignation. The look of sovereign innocence upon
ALL LIFE WAS AS A SUNLIT HOLIDAY
his features would have seemed infinitely attractive
had not his face at times assumed an aspect of stern-
ness which seemed to burn into the hearts of those
who defied him. But he had a heavenly smile for
those on whom he looked with love and approval, and
this smile was fairer and more angelical than anything
which can be conceived. And though his voice, when
he was obliged to raise it in just anger, had in it a
tone as of Sinai's thunder, yet it was ordinarily most
penetrating and musical. Indeed it had one very
peculiar quality. It often seemed to thrill into the
ear and the heart, even when he was far away. Many
of the Porphyrians were startled by it as if he had
spoken loud and clear; and when they looked round
he was not there.
As unlike him as possible was his twin brother,
Yetser Hara. There were some who represented him
as being in himself, and of his own unchangeable
nature, wholly, absolutely, and irredeemably bad; but
they were mistaken. There were indeed within him
many of the elements of the fiend Ashmod. To those
who watched the collapse and catastrophe which he
constantly caused to all who gave themselves up to his
allurements, he might well seem to be a compound of
unmitigated cruelty and wickedness. It was not so.
He was the most ruinous of masters over those who
yielded to his dominance, the most fatal of guides when
he was left undisturbed. Yet when any Porphyrian
with the aid of Hatob kept Hara in such subjection
that he did not dare to transgress their bidding, Hara
was then capable of living in harmony with them both,
and, as a slave who dared not transgress, he even con-
tributed to the completeness of the life which kept him
bound in reverence and order.
The difficulty was that this control was rarely
absolute. People were apt to make concessions to him,
THE7LIFE STORY OF ANER
especially when they were young, which made him
almost impossible to manage. If you gave him but an
inch he would always take an ell. It was not difficult
to keep him resolutely in his proper place from the
first, but it was a very serious task to dislodge him
from any post which he had once been permitted, even
for a moment, to usurp. To those who allowed him
the smallest semblance of familiarity and independent
influence he became in a very short time the most
presumptuous of comrades, and finally the most pitiless
The reason why he so often got his way was that,
for his own purposes, he could make himself the most
winning, caressing, and fascinating of companions.
Nothing could exceed the soft insinuation of his
flatteries, or the honeyed seductiveness of his induce-
ments. And then he well knew how to assume an air
of manly boldness, of attractive liberty, which enhanced
his evil but dazzling beauty. For, ugly as was his
natural countenance, he could so wreathe it in smiles,
could fill it so full of magic brightness, that only those
who were earnestly on their guard could find it in their
hearts to resist his Belial blandishments. And then he
had a voice which-in place of its naturally harsh and
offensive sound-which was something between a bark
and a hiss-could melt into notes so bewitching that,
unless his hearers resolutely closed their ears, they
found themselves excited into sweet madness, and
lapped in a sensuous Elysium.
Many found to their cost that the thrilling songs of
Hara were like those of the sirens which lured the
victims who listened to them to shipwreck and death
on the bare rocks of bone-strewn isles. When Hara
raised his voice to charm the soul of Paedarion, and
the boy began, almost against his will, to listen to those
songs, the only way to rescue him was for Hatob to sing
also. Some said that the voice of Hatob was disagree-
able in comparison, and undeniably the tone of it was of a
sterner and more Doric manliness than Hara's Lydian
and dulcet tones; but then the words of Hatob's songs
were so divinely elevating that they seemed to clothe
themselves in angelic melodies, and so they became
Not harsh and rugged as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns.
Now it cannot be said that Paedarion, the .son of
King Elyon, was not attracted by Hara. He was very
much attracted indeed,. and all the more so because
Hara laid himself out to win him, to indulge, to gratify,
to appeal to all his lowest instincts, to fool him
to the top of his bent. Paedarion did not at all like
the quiet authority which Hatob assumed over him,
kind as it always was. Often when Hatob laid
upon him some disagreeable injunction, or with an
accent of reproof forbade him some indulgence to which
he was strongly inclined-when he called him from his
glad games to his hard studies, rebuked his indolent
selfishness, or warned him against the dubious com-
_panions with whom Hara tried to surround him--the
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
boy's secret inclination to rebel was always fostered
by Hara. Hara gave him many a sly look and secret
nudge, and smiled bewitchingly in his face as though
to indicate how far happier he would be if he would
only shake off the influence of Hatob and join Hara in
i plunging into every kind of gaiety and pleasure.
It was, however, chiefly when Hatob was absent,
Sor was asleep, or was not well, that Hara put forth
the whole force of his seductions, appealing to all
Paedarion's worst self. And the boy soon discovered
that while Hatob might counsel and reprove, he never
could and never would coerce. When Hatob found
him to be hopelessly wilful and obstinate, he would
:;y to: him : 'Paedarion, I.cannot use force to you. I
am the iirepresentative of your father, the King. You
k.L:.t fill well that I never say anything which does
not ..i l-re with the rules which he lays down and the
b.:i..k ie gve you. You are living here, as IMRAH, the
glo :y anud image of ELYON himself, once lived here, and
it yvu i ill look to him, and think of him, and walk as
:.he dalk ed, his help will be with you, and his spirit
-w-ill stiLrngthen you. But you must serve him, and
Tist.en to: me, of your own free will, not as a machine,
arnd ,you must yield the allegiance of a son, not the
melihinicil service of a slave. Tell me, have you
never observed that the sapphire ring which your father
gave you is by no means of so bright a blue as it ought
to be ? '
> You are always grumbling at me and abusing me,
-lat:.!.',' said Paedarion peevishly. 'There is nothing
the matter with the ring. Perhaps it has got a little
dust in it, and it is not so bright as it was; but look it
is still blue. I have done nothing so very bad. After
all, King Elyon gave Hara to be with me as well as
you. He is a most charming friend and companion-
I cannot help liking him. He is all smiles: you are
all frowns. Soon you will drive me quite away from
'Paedarion,' said Hatob, 'I must do the King's
work. It is my duty. If you try to love me, you will
find that I am worthy of your love. Let not my
dangerous brother persuade you to imagine that I am
not your best friend, or that I ever say anything which
is not for your highest good.'
Hara is much more agreeable and attractive than
you,' said Paedarion rudely.
He may seem so,' answered Hatob; 'but Elyon
did not send you to the Purple Island only to please
yourself. You have been here long enough already to
judge whether selfish pleasure is as noble, or even as
happy, as true obedience.'
But Paedarion turned away and sought the com-
pany of Hara more and more.
At first, for a very short time, the alliance which
he formed with the bad twin seemed to him like a
delirious dream. It was so exhilarating to feel himself
free to follow his own devices and to walk in the light
of his own heart, to be unimpeded by wearisome .
checks and tiring appeals, and to indulge his lightest
fancies and gratify every sense. He exulted, too, in
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
Sthe society of the gay, dashing, emancipated com-
panions to whom Hara introduced him. 'Let us,' they
Ss'id 'enjoy the good things that now are; and let us
use the- creation with all our soul as youth's possession.
Let .us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they be
withereld, and let no flower of the spring pass us by:
. let there be no meadow which our riot doth not traverse.
SLet. is leave tokens of our joyfulness in every place,
l:bevcaui-e this is our portion, and our lot is this.'
Yet every now and then in the enchanting cup,
though .i.~ yet he had only begun to sip it, the boy felt
a 'drop -f nauseating bitterness; and when Hatob
p'Ake: to him of these new pleasures which once would
,have Ibeen pains, and recalling to him his old pure
.and u'i-l-,ie ideals, spoke to him of his father, and of
hi-- radiant brethren in the palace whence he came,
Pedaliin would bow his head and put his hands to
his ta:. t.o hide the burning blush which in spite of all
his efl:l'rt began to mantle it in the hue of shame.
S'T-ll me,' said Hatob, gently laying his hand on
the bI:y'; head, 'do you ever think now of Elyon,
5our -' r-.a father, and how he loved you? do you ever
read in the book he gave you? do you ever look to
Imaila tor help ? has his spirit ceased to speak to you ?'
The looy made no answer.
*i Do: you not think that you would be growing up
jiebl Ie, and more happy, and more worthy of your birth,
a i.f~yo,,u hi:ok off these debased companions with whom
Hiara lias surrounded you? What becomes of these a
'.ws years hence? Have you never read, have you
never witnessed the calamities which befall them?
Paedarion, the comedy is short, but the tragedy is long.
King Elyon has heard about you and is deeply grieved.
He bears with you; but "when Mercy has played her
part in vain, then at last Vengeance leaps upon the
stage; she strikes hard strokes, and Pity does not
interpose to break the blow."'
Paedarion's head was bowed, but he remained still
'Paedarion,' said Hatob, 'have you ceased to love
'No,' said Paedarion submissively.
'Well, then, if you really love him, you will try to
keep his commandments.'
'But sometimes King Elyon seems to be so far
away from me.'
'It is the greatest of errors, Paedarion. He is
always near those of his children who seek him and
Such interviews with Hatob were almost invariably
interrupted by Hara. He would enter with a cynical
smile upon his face, and when Hatob went out, which
he usually did at once, Hara would point towards him
with a gesture of his thumb over his shoulder, and
'Well, what has our friend Dull been saying to
you?' or 'Are you going to turn saint after this
sermon? 0 no, my dear Paedarion, you are too far
gone. Don't be a hypocrite as well. Come, let us
enjoy ourselves a little and get the taste of that lecture
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
South of your mouth.' And the friends and associates
With whom Hara had surrounded his victim would
Slook at each other with meaning smiles, followed by
yet more a-.siduous blandishments than before, because
they desired to make him wholly their own.
i And it Hara ever had reason to think that the gay
Scareles.sne-- of Paedarion had been more than usually
d dist.i.lred by the noble presence and serious words of
SHtob, he had only to raise his voice in those piercing
st rain, .v which he so well knew how to fill his soul
w- ith irai-ilhment, and Paedarion would come back to
bmhi a! a. bird flutters down into the snare at the
tfowle"r'i call. The cunning Hara when left uncon-
tro:,lled, always asserted a strong tyranny, and used his
Una-t-iry to produce a new rebel against King Elyon
and a new votary of the evil Ashmod. He knew well
that the oftener and the more readily Paedarion
listened to him, the more helplessly would he listen,
till I:a.-i,:in became slavery, and wrong-doing-long
aiter it had lost its sweetness-would retain its
a y. Experience had taught him how speedily mis-
feasaiance passes into habit, and habit into character,
'and cliaracter assuming the guise of unalterable destiny
.becomes as a prison from which there seems to be no
SAd so:, indeed it was. Paedarion more and more
forgot all that was good, and often out of mere familiarity
iontini.e:1 to do what was evil, though it had lost its
.-itial attractiveness, and though he had felt its
ullire.lient to be disappointing from the first. Yet
eveii then Hara often felt that in the youth's nature
there was something intrinsically noble; that, while
he held Hara by the hand, he still was siding with
Hatob in his heart; and that, in all the perversity
of his wanderings, he remained perfectly conscious of
the right path. He felt, therefore, that to secure
Paedarion for the usurper Ashmod, he would need to
put the whole enginery of his temptations into play.
So soon the boy a youth, the youth a man,
Eager to run the race his fathers ran.-RoGERS.
BY this time Paedarion's years of education in the
Purple Island had passed away, and he assumed the
name of Aner. Hara had won over him a too easy
victory, but did not feel himself secure in the youth's
allegiance. He flung yet more rapturous sweetness
into his wild songs, and the burden of them all was
that Aner should rejoice in his youth; that he should
not waste upon serious duties the sweet season of bud
and bloom, but that-fine young fellow as he was-he
should eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for Spring would
soon pass, and the rest was nothing. A favourite song
of Hara's was-
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And the same flower which blooms to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
One day Hatob heard the passionate song with its
sweet entrancing lilt, in which Aner joined. 'Yes,' he
said, Aner; but Hara has omitted to tell you, as he
always does omit, that before his roses die their per-
fume stupefies, and that venomous insects are bred in
their soon-withered leaves.'
'Stale morality!' sneered Hara, as Hatob passed
It might be so; yet he felt that Aner was not
uninfluenced by truths which were so true that he had
not yet the courage to declare them false. Hara had
been bitterly reproached by Ashmod for having as yet
failed to make Aner his open votary. He felt that he
must bestir himself.
There were two schemes on which he relied. He
would occupy the whole attention of Aner in things not
intrinsically harmful, but which might be developed
into harmfulness by excess. If he could get him
absorbed in these things, Aner would have the less
time to think of any others. He would become too
busy to secure his deliverance from the ways of the
And, secondly, he would leave no form of temptation
untried, until he discovered the weakest and most
susceptible side of Aner's character ; or, if he could not
entirely enslave him, as he hoped to do, by a single
vice, he would do his best to make him the bondslave
Now Aner was singularly gifted with bright endow-
ments. He won the highest admiration from the other
inhabitants of the Purple Island. He was very beauti-
ful of countenance, tall of stature, strong of limb, swift
of foot. His voice, while he was yet a boy, was as
the voice of an angel, and when he grew to manhood
was so rich and mellow that it delighted every society
in which he moved. His intellect was quick and
powerful; he easily grasped knowledge, and strongly
retained it. His wit was brilliant; his eloquence
remarkable; his gaiety contagious. His outward
career, therefore, was one of signal prosperity. He
was the ideal and the idol of the youths, his com-
panions; they were emulous for his friendship; they
intoxicated him with the incense of their often
unconscious flattery. As a boy he had won all the
laurels he possibly could win, and it had been a common
prophecy of him that when he grew up he might attain
to almost any position in the Purple Island. When
he became a youth he continued a career of unbroken
distinction. His early manhood was crowned with
successes. Year after year wealth flowed in upon him,
and ambition was stimulated by the multiplication of
honours. And as his wealth grew, even while he was
still a young man, by leaps and bounds, so did his
luxury and ostentation. More and more as his riches
increased he set his heart upon them; less and less was
he honourably scrupulous in the means of their acquisi-
tion. He early grew accustomed to lavish his resources
upon personal gratifications, and. he looked with in-
creasing callousness on the miseries- for round the
Purple Island there was many a dim isle of misery-
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
which he could easily have alleviated. It seemed only
too probable that he would degenerate into a vulgar
worshipper of money, and belie all the hopeful antici-
pations which had been formed of him.
But Hatob did not leave him unwarned. One day
he came into the luxurious room, where Aner, now
immersed in business, was at work with his young
secretary. He had been dictating replies to various
pitiable appeals for help. He had given the same
answer to all of them. except one. He was already so
rich that, without even the semblance or shadow of
any real self-denial, he could have aided every wise
agency for good, every deserving case of sorrow and
penury. He could, without an effort, have enabled
many a blessed institution to continue its work of mercy.
But his stereotyped answer to all suggestions for an
unselfish and beneficent use of his means had come to
be, 'I have so many claims that I cannot afford to
help you.' The sole exception which he had made was
in answer to the request of a very great man who asked
aid in some purely fantastic and useless design. This
was granted by Aner with profuse readiness. The great
man's favour might be very useful to him in his
ambitious schemes. If Aner ever felt a moment's
hesitation in considering a case, his secretary, who had
been purposely recommended to him by Hara, was
always ready with the cold water of cynicism to quench
any spark of generous impulse.
Hatob had entered so silently that he had not been
noticed; but directly the secretary had gone out he spoke.
Aner,' he asked, 'have you quite forgotten me ?'
'No,' was the short and sullen answer, as Aner
averted his gaze.
Hatob, not stopping to notice his ungracious
reception, took up some of the letters lying on the
table. One was the prospectus of an imaginary gold
mine, written with the intention of luring thousands
to buy shares. Aner had stated the promised certainty
of large profits with eloquent plausibility. He had been
paid for his advocacy by an assignment of shares, which,
when the rush of purchasers had raised them to fabulous
value, he meant to sell, leaving many a deluded victim
to suicide and ruin, and plunging widows and orphans
in hopeless penury as soon as the bubble burst.
Are you not utterly ashamed, Aner ? asked Hatob
in his grave tones. Are you not rich enough, and
more than rich enough already, without increasing your
gains by these vile means ? And has your heart, which
was once generous, already grown so cold that you are
indifferent to the tears and anguish which your delusive
words will cause? You fairly astonish me, and I am
utterly ashamed of you.'
Silence,. Hatob thundered Aner. Do you dare
to insinuate that I am a cheat? I feel sure'that there
is gold in this mine; I merely state its claims as they
have been set forth to me.'
'Lies, Aner, lies !' was the brief and stern answer.
He took up one of the letters after another, read them
with an expression of disgust, and then, flinging them
down, said :
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
Oh, Aner, you are farther gone than I had feared.
Still but young, your heart, if you go on like this, will
in time be cold as ice, and hard as the nether mill-
Another word,' cried Aner, and I will drive you
'I have spoken, Aner. It is enough. Farewell;
but oh, if you care for your life, and would be saved from
destruction, you know that you can always summon
me to your help. And before I go I tell you plainly
that, for all your wealth, your life is rapidly tending to
become a sordid and despicable lie-a lie which even
many who are themselves bad men would regard with
Aner had braved it out with Hatob, but he in-
stinctively felt that every word which his stern mentor
had spoken was true. No sooner had Hatob ended
than the young man started up and paced the room.
He looked round him at its splendid ornaments, its
magnificent works of art. That very morning he had
given a large sum for a single picture; and he had
spent nearly as much on a fantastic ornament the
day before. Had these objects, he was forced to ask
himself, given him one hundredth part of the pure
pleasure which he could have derived from that 'high
desire that others should be blessed,' which, as he knew
from earlier experience, savourss of heaven ? Was it
as much worth while to be the proud possessor of a
rarity as to have the blessing of those to whom he had
been kind? Angry with himself for once, sickened,
disappointed, pulled up short at the beginning of a
despicable career, he summoned back his secretary,
and to his cynical astonishment tore up the prospectus
which he had written for the mining company, and
sent generous aid to those whom he knew to be
innocent and suffering. More than this, he made a
swift but resolute vow that he would at once combat
and subdue the love of money which he already felt
to be a root of all kinds of evil in him; that he
would turn with abhorrence from every scheme which
had in it even a suspicion of fraudulency; and that
with the money which came to him by honourable
labour he would to the utmost of his power do.kind
and generous deeds. He had repented, and had
amended his evil tendency ere it was too late. That
evening, as he sat alone, Hatob came in, and affection-
ately embraced him. In his sweetest tone he spoke
words of praise and encouragement, and gave him one
of those radiant smiles which Aner had scarcely seen
since he was a boy; and the same night as Aner slept he
dreamed that King Elyon himself appeared to him, laid
his hand upon his head in blessing, and said, My son '
But the young secretary was a spy of Hara's, and,
when he reported what had occurred, Hara was thrown
into a paroxysm of rage. What if, after all, he should
entirely lose his hold on Aner ? what if Hatob should
yet prevail, and he should himself feel the heavy hand
of his master Ashmod ? This must not be. In trying
to ruin Aner by avarice and greed and the love of pelf
he had indeed for a time succeeded, but he had evidently
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
used a wrong snare. Aner's disposition was intrinsically
generous. It was clear that he could not be fatally
overthrown by a temptation which was not in accordance
with his real tendencies. For Aner was naturally kind-
hearted, and, whenever he used his resources for the
relief of suffering, the gratitude of those whom his
generosity had helped made him feel an unwonted
happiness. Hara, defeated in the use of a temptation
which he had unwisely chosen, felt conscious that he
must adopt another plan.
Who knows not Circe, *
The daughter of the sun, whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a grovelling swine ?-MILTON.
'IT was foolish of me to tempt him with the bait of
avarice,' thought Hara to himself, 'though it catches
millions of older, more worldly, and more hardened
souls. That net, thanks to Hatob's interference, is
broken, and Aner is delivered. But he shall find, to
his cost, that my quiver is full of magic arrows What
shall I try on him next?'
He meditated a little, and then exclaimed, 'I have
it My friend Comus shall lend me some of
His orient liquor in a crystal glass;
and when Aner has learnt to drain it "with fond in-
temperate thirst," I will drive him into the sty of
Like all highly strung natures, Aner often felt a
reaction of lassitude after unwonted exertions. He
loved the wine-cup, but had never drunk to excess.
From that he had been saved by a certain natural
nobleness which made him abhor the lower forms of
degradation. In the gay gatherings of his own and
Hara's companions he would have been at first so much
repelled by the foulness of intoxication, that Hara had
taken care to prevent him from feeling this alarmed
disgust. But might he not very gradually be seduced
into excess, and so, almost before he was aware of it,
become the victim of intemperance ?
Yes Little by little Aner grew more fond of wine,
and less careful about extreme moderation in its use.
At last, when the time seemed ripe, Hara schemed to
secure Aner's invitation to a banquet unusually sump-
tuous-a banquet which it was proposed should be given
to him by all the gayest and richest of his associates.
It was a congratulatory supper in honour of his recent
promotion to a high office which he had won by his
abilities at an unusually early age. Hara took care
that all the brightest and wittiest young nobles should
be invited; that the adornments of the board should
be of the most dazzling beauty, the flowers enchant-
ingly fragrant, the viands stimulating and sumptuous,
the wines varied, rich, potent, of exquisite bouquet and
insidious strength. Health after health was drunk;
song after song was sung; a golden loving cup was
frequently passed round. The mirth grew warm and
tumultuous. No heeltaps to-night! was the general
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
cry, if any one refrained from emptying his glass.- Aner
had delighted the company with one of his loveliest
songs, and no sooner had he ended it than the most
distinguished of the guests, amid rapturous applause,
poured out a bumper of sparkling wine, and challenged
every one present to fill to the brim the glasses of
exquisite workmanship upon the table, and to drain
them in honour of him whom they all admired and
loved. They did so, and then Aner rose, glass in hand,
to thank them.
'Now, Aner,' they shouted, 'you must drink every
drop of it as we have done; else we shall think that
you despise us and don't care for us.'
He felt,that he was flushed; that his hand shook
slightly; that his eyes swam; that his footing -was
hardly firm; that 'if he took this rich cup of wine he
would have had too much: but, actuated by fear of
man and love of popularity, he raised the glass to his
lips, and was about to drink it to the dregs, when two
First, he happened to glance at his hand to see
whether its tremulousness was observable, and he
noticed that his ring had never seemed to be of a paler
blue. The sight filled him with desperation rather
than remorse, for the ring had been growing paler year
by year, and he seemed to care but little if now its
colour was too far gone to be recalled.
Next, at that instant, and for an instant only, a
sudden silence fell on the flushed and laughing throng of
his companions. He glanced up in astonishment to find
the cause, and saw Hatob approaching him among the
rose-crowned revellers. His simple garb showed a
marked contrast with their rich apparel, and his look
was anxious and stern. The hush which his presence
caused was followed by a roar of excited anger.
'Impudent intruder hissed one.
'Now we are to have a teetotal lecture "in one
weak, washy, everlasting flood," sneered another.
0 foolishness of men that lend their ears
To those budge doctors of the Stoic fur,
And fetch their precepts from the Cynic tub,
Praising the lean and sallow abstinence,'
'Aner, turn the fellow out! shouted several.
'Begone, Hatob! said Hara, rising from his seat
in a flame of fury. What business have you here ?' he
added,, striding out in front of him with threatening
Business which I shall perform,' said Hatob in a
firm voice,' and from which, as you well know, you are
powerless to hinder me. Stand aside, rebellious servant
of Ashmod '
Hara had raised his arm as though to strike, but he
seemed to cower and almost wither away under Hatob's
glance, and his hand fell impotently at his side as he
sank back into his seat. Hatob advanced to Aner as
he sat in the place of honour, on a richly decorated
chair covered with cushions of purple silk. He laid
his hand a little roughly on Aner's shoulder, and said,
HE LAID HIS HAND ON ANER'S SHOULDER
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
The glass was in Aner's hand, and as in a flash of
light he seemed to read the words, Look not thou
upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its colour
in the cup; when it goeth down smoothly; at the last
it biteth like a. serpent and stingeth like a basilisk.'
But even while he seemed to see the words burning
before him like the mystic letters on Belshazzar's
palace-wall, the jeers and jibes of his comrades sounded
like a storm in his ears, and a passionate defiance
of his better instinct rose in his heated brain. He
drained the glass to the bottom, and, while a shout
of applause greeted his action, he set it down and
dashed the back of his hand with all his force on
'Go,' he said, 'my tormentor, and let me see you
no more '
With unmoved dignity Hatob lifted his robe to his
bleeding lips. He gave Aner one glance of pity, in
which the blue of his eyes seemed to run like fire
through the young man's soul; then, turning away, he
passed through the riotous banqueters with such a look
upon his face as once more awed them into trembling
All the spontaneous hilarity of the banquet was now
quenched. The guests broke up into sullen groups.
There were few of them who had not taken more than
was good for them. Some tottered out at once. Those
who stayed, drank on, but idly babbled and quarrelled
and could not restore the mirth. Some of them soon
rested their heads on the tables and fell into heavy
slumber. Others were carried home. Aner, half stu-
pefied, sat breathing stertorously with his head sunk
upon his breast. Hara-looking at him with diabolical
satisfaction, and hissing under his breath, 'Now you
are mine for ever'-signed to Aner's servant to take
Aner woke the next morning in shame and sickness,
feeling that he had publicly disgraced himself. His
sight was dull; his eyes were red; his head was
aching. Hara assiduously exerted himself to counter-
act his depression. He laughed over the occurrences
of yesterday. He said that a carouse on a joyous
occasion involved no discredit whatever, and did no
one any harm. He tried to charm away Aner's gloom.
He told him, once and for ever, to get rid of the fetish-
worship of ridiculous scruples. He spoke of Hatob's
but the lees
And settling of a melancholy blood.
He jocularly suggested that Aner would feel quite well
again by taking a hair of the dog that bit him.
It only took a few days for the full tide of life to
flow back into its normal channels. Aner's wealth
was still growing; success and honours still flowed on
him. But he found that it was not granted him to
give himself up to sin for one short hour, and then to
be quite happy. His career involved anxieties. He
was often in low spirits. When they seemed inclined
to master him, he could for the time dispel them by
the charmed cup. At such times it always seemed to
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
him as if some tempting spirit offered him wine as a
potent nepenthe, and whispered :
But this will cure all straight; one sip of this
Will bathe the drooping spirit in delight,
Beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise and taste 1
Slowly, but very. surely, he felt the ugly liking for this
mechanical stimulus and this dangerous sedative grow-
ing upon him, dimming his faculties, blunting his keen
perceptions, confusing his intellect, gradually inflaming
his features and palsying his strength. There were
times when, though he was still surrounded with envy
and admiration for his gifts, his wealth, his position,
he began utterly to despise himself. And he knew
that the remedy to which he was tempted to resort
only aggravated the radical disease; when he sought
relief in wine he did but precipitate the inevitable
reaction. The penalty trod more and more swiftly
upon the heels of the sin; and the yet more enervated
lassitude, and the yet more unspeakable depression
from which he now constantly suffered, were as fiery
goads which drove him on to still grosser and more
Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler:
The snare is broken, and we are delivered.--Ps. exxiv. 7.
AND now Hara thought that he had him safely; that
he had bound him in fetters of adamant, and shut him
up in a prison without iron bars. He thought that by
this time he could throw off the mask and needed not
to show himself in the guise of a flatterer or a bene-
factor any longer. He might now assume the attitude
of an insolent and irresistible despot, who would make
his tyranny felt and acknowledged, and who had no
longer need to simulate the smallest pity or affection,
or to leave to his victim the paltry and passing lure of
It had always been a part of Hara's plan to put
Aner into the close proximity of those who would
tempt and foster every weaker or baser element of his
disposition. Nearly all of Aner's household were of
Hara's choosing, and his servant had secret instructions
to keep his glass abundantly replenished at his meals,
and to see that potent drinks were always ready to his
Aner had come in, vexed and wearied, from the
heat of political strife in which he had been engaged.
He felt inclined to ask whether the game was worth
the candle; whether the honour and influence to be
attained could ever reward him for the labour, anxiety,
and turmoil. He was specially disgusted because, that
day, a bitter and scurrilous opponent had garnished his
speech with many sneers and personal innuendoes in
which he had spoken of Aner's 'intemperance.' He
used the word ostensibly in one sense, but had quite
obviously meant it to be understood in another. Now
Aner had taken the utmost pains to disguise his failing
and temptation, and he flattered himself that he had
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
succeeded. What if it were otherwise? What if
Rumour were already clacking against him with her
ten thousand tongues ? What if the very abjects could
henceforth mouth at him, and his fellow-drunkards
make songs upon him? And-all of a sudden he
noticed that his ring was absolutely colourless. It
had been a deep-hued sapphire, now it looked like a dull
and common white crystal. It reminded him of thoughts
which had long been utter strangers to his soul. Was he
not, after all, a son of King Elyon ? Had he altogether
forfeited the privileges of his royal birth ? Youth was
gone like a dream. His beauty was impaired; his
strength was diminishing. Death would come soon,
and then-what comes hereafter.
While these thoughts were chasing each other
through his brain his butler summoned him to his
dinner. That day he happened to be alone.
I see that you are tired, sir,' said the servant
insinuatingly. A glass of wine will refresh you.'
Refresh him? He wondered whether the man
knew how frightful at that moment was the imperious
craving for wine which he felt gnawing like a viper at
his heart. This was the time at which he usually
indulged his propensity. But there was something in
the glance of the servant which displeased him. Was
the man in league with Hara against him for his ruin?
Seating himself at the table he summoned the
whole fortitude of his will, and said:
'Take this wine away. Remove those glasses; I
will only take water this evening.'
'Water?' said the man with open-eyed astonish-
ment and disdain.
'Water!' answered Aner, almost fiercely. 'Did I
not speak plainly enough? Obey my orders !'
The butler slowly removed the cup and the wine
from the place where they stood just in front of Aner,
but he only removed them a little way and eyed his
master with curious looks as he marked the total failure
of his appetite, and the suffering caused him by the
absence of his usual stimulant.
'Oh, sir,' he at last ventured to say, 'you are not
enjoying your dinner at all. Do just take this little
glass of wine. It will do you so much good.' And he
poured out a sparkling foaming glass, of which the
delicate fragrance filled the room.
Even this agent of Hara did not know how fearfully
the impulse to succumb acted on the perverted senses of
his master; but Aner's pride rose in revolt at being
tempted to what he knew was degradation by his own
servant. After an instant's struggle to master himself,
he seized the glass, hurled it against the wall, and, in a
voice which rang with passion, ordered the man to leave
Ah he will drink like a fish the moment my back
is turned,' thought the man; 'but it is time that Hara
should know of this. And if he takes to drinking water
my place won't be worth having.'
The servant slipped out and told Hara that he
thought Aner must be unwell, for he seemed much
disturbed, and would only drink water at dinner.
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
'Ah !' said Hara, 'I will pay him a visit.'
He found Aner in a condition absolutely pitiable.
His nerves were in a state of violent irritation, and as
he madly, despairingly, struggled with himself and
tried to shake off the strangling load of his temptation,
he trembled piteously, and was reduced to a condition
What is the matter with you ?' said Hara inso-
lently, for he had long laid aside his courteous and
seductive manner. What is the meaning of all this
nonsense? Why do you make yourself ill? Take
your wine like a man. Who do you suppose will care
two straws whether you drink or not? '
Aner looked up at him. Hara's expression was
now the one which was natural to him. The sham
Belial-beauty in which he had known how to disguise
his true appearance in earlier years was gone. Aner
felt a spasm of feeble wonder as to how he could ever
have found any fascination in this odious, leering,
blighted wretch. He had smitten Hatob-the good,
the noble Hatob-in the face; could he not spurn this
demon-visaged tempter out of his presence?
Alas! he felt helpless, paralysed. He could not
rise from his seat.
Come, you poor fool,' said Hara; 'as if you could
resist! A secret drunkard like you may shed maudlin
tears over himself, but you know very well that if I
put a full wine-cup there on the table, and between
you and it burned up the nether fires, you would still
stretch out your hand and take it. Drink it, slave! '
he thundered out, as Aner still sat in trembling
Aner groaned deeply within himself. He felt the
terrible truth of Hara's words; but had he indeed sunk
'Hara,' he muttered, 'you are a very demon, and I
'Demon or no demon,' said Hara with a fiendish
laugh, 'I will have you know that now I am your
master.' He rose and poured out the wine and put it
close by Aner's hand, that its fragrance might over-
power his senses. 'Drink that, slave he said again,
fiercely stamping his foot, or it will be the worse for
you. You cannot help yourself.'
It seemed as if the agonising struggle was over, for,
in spite of the sense of loathing in his heart, Aner
stretched forth his hand for the cup with the heart-
broken cry, 'It is true; I cannot help myself.'
And, as he did so, raising his eyes for a moment,
he caught sight of one of the splendid works of art
with which his room was adorned. It was a marble
statue of Imrah, son of King Elyon, in kingly robes,
in kingly attitude. In his left hand lay the open book,
as though to say, This do, and thou shalt live;' and
his right hand was uplifted, not to repel but to invite,
not to threaten but to bless. Around him twined the
lily of purity, the rose of holy joy, the vine with its
clusters of purple fruitfulness. Crouching as the willing
pedestal of his feet, with arched backs, were the lion
and the young lion. Crushed into the dust beneath
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
were the basilisk and the adder, and underneath was
inscribed on black marble in golden letters, 'Thou shalt
tread upon the lion and the adder; the young lion and
the dragon shalt thou trample under thy feet.' But
what struck Aner most was that in the kingly eyes
there seemed to be an expression of infinite tenderness,
of infinite compassion.
Hara followed the glance of his eyes and was
enraged. 'What has all that to do with you, slave
and wretch ?' he said; and, striding up to the statue, he
tore it from its place and flung it violently upon the
ground. 'Now,' he said, 'leave Imrah to the saints.
He has nothing to do with you, nor you with him.
That is all over long ago. Come; you see that struggle
is useless. Take the good wine; get rid of this.morbid
folly and be happy.'
Again Aner seemed as if he were convulsed to his
inmost soul. He felt the utter abjectness of being a
slave to a dead thing; but the fatal force of habit
pressed on him like a vice and past sin seemed to
have frozen into impotence all his powers of resistance.
Was not the struggle useless, as Hara had said ? Why
should he thus agonise, when, sooner or later, he must
be swept away by the drowning current ? Again he
stretched out his hand to the wine with a gesture of
despair. As he did so he saw the wicked leer on the
face of Hara :-but he saw something else.
On the wall over Hara's head hung another work
of art-a priceless picture. Again it represented Imrah,
the deliverer of the Purple Island. Over the white
vesture, which symbolised his innocence, fell the gold-
embroidered folds of his priestly robe, adorned with its
jewelled Urim. On his long and flowing locks was a
golden crown, in the radiants of which was twined a
crown of thorns, such as the rebels of Ashmod had
made him wear; but now the thorns had blossomed
into flowers. From his left hand, fastened by a golden
chain, hung a lamp, of which the overpowering bright-
ness fell on the closed door at which he was knocking.
But the door had been long unused, and over its rusted
stanchions the ivy crept and clung. A bat, creature of
the darkness, disturbed by his knock, was flitting away,
and from within came no answering gleam. Thick
beside the base of the door towered the huge withered
stalks of a dead hemlock, once gay in vivid green, now
an emblem of chill venom and extinct desires. Under-
neath the picture was written, 'Open the door unto
him that knocks.' And once more to Aner's fascinated
gaze it seemed as if the sad eyes glowed with an inward
light, and that the light was full of pardon, and help,
In an instant he withdrew his hand from the wine-
cup; he beat his breast; he fell upon his knees. For-
gotten memories came back to him; his eyes were filled
with tears of penitence; and raising heavenwards his
clasped hands, his streaming eyes, he cried:
'Oh, Elyon, I am thy son! 0 Imrah, help
As though in instant answer to his prayer, the door
of the room swung open and some one entered. It
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
was H-atob-still beautiful, still noble. He looked
weak and very ill; but what a contrast between that
pale face of peace and holiness, and the tainted features
of Hara! What a difference between those deep-blue
eyes and the wicked, surreptitious, ferret glances of the
other, full of unhallowed and malignant fires !
Oh, Hatob,' moaned Aner, still upon his knees and
with bent head, 'my brother, my more than brother,
have you still pity for a wretch like me? Can you
forgive the insult of my cruel blow?'
Hatob gently raised Aner's tear-stained features, in
which few could have recognized more than the wreck
of Paedarion's early beauty, so deeply had evil passions
left their furrows there.
'Look at me, Aner,' he said; 'do I look as if I had
not forgiven, as though I did not love you? Even
when you cried aloud just now I heard the voice of
Imrah send me to you.
'Oh, Hatob, would that I had never deserted you!
Can I ever be snatched from these fetters of my slavery,
of which the iron seems to have eaten into my soul?
Oh, Hatob, save me from him!' he cried, pointing to
Hara, who was glaring upon him so fiercely that he
might have seemed to be Ashmod's self.
'Depart, Hara!' said Hatob, whose whole frame
seemed to dilate with majesty as he spoke. What?
dare you linger? Have you never had to shrink and
howl ere now under Elyon's scourge of fire? Go, or
my own hand shall drag you to your prison! '
'He is mine and I will have him yet,' hissed Hara;
but Hatob looked at him, and with a curse of baffled
malice he turned and fled.
Aner,' said Hatob, 'deliverance is yet possible to
you, but I should deceive you were I to say that it is
easy. There is a law which rivets sin to its conse-
quences by a link of adamant. It would have been
immeasurably more easy for you never to have fallen
into this bondage than now to escape from it. Yet
there is one way, if you have resolution to embrace it,
which can save you out of this one sin, even if it be so
as by fire. Never again must you so much as taste
the wine-cup. If you do, the demon which lurks in it
for you will leap upon you with tenfold force. He has
his clutch upon your hair. Only by this resolution
can you shake him off. Dismiss your bad servant;
banish from your house that which for you is poison
and is death.'
I will,' murmured Aner, 'if I can.'
'If you will, you can,' answered Hatob. 'Pledge
yourself even now in Elyon's name, with the help of
Imrah and his unseen Spirit, that the wine which you
have abused to your own destruction shall touch your
lips no more.
'I vow,' said Aner; 'so help me Heaven I blush
for, I loathe my servitude.'
'There is always help for those that need and seek it.
I can help you in one small way by recommending to
you a thoroughly honest and faithful servant. His
name is Xenios, and you may trust him implicitly.
But you must rely mainly upon yourself. Rally all the
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
best powers of your nature. Entreat for aid from
above and you will be safe. Remember! Watch!'
He lifted a warning hand, he blessed him, he
departed. And when he had gone, Aner sank once
more upon his knees and vowed his vow.
If the roots be left, the grass will grow again.-Chinese Proverb.
ANER had now reached middle age. He had for some
years resolutely kept the vow which he had taken.
Wine was never seen at his table. He had gained
immeasurably and in every way by his voluntary absti-
nence. The rumours about his weakness had died away.
His body had recovered much of its old vigour, his mind
its normal clearness, his countenance its noble expres-
sion. And now the highest guerdons of ambition
seemed to be easily within his grasp.
Again Hara felt himself foiled. Aner had great
force of natural character. He had felt so utterly
humiliated by the shameful bondage of intemperance
that by sheer resolution it might have seemed-but in
reality by the aid of the unseen Spirit whose help he
had implored-he had burst the gates of brass and
smitten the bars of iron in sunder.
Indignant at the loss of so fine a votary, Ashmod-
who was rarely seen, but was known to lurk in dark
places of the Purple Island, and had many a secret
shrine, where his followers burnt to him their un-
hallowed incense-summoned Hara to his presence.
You have managed very badly, Hara,' said the
terrible Prince. 'You will lose the indulgences I
offered you. Aner might have been my most promising
subject, and would have won many others to me. You
should have studied his nature better.'
Hard and thankless master snarled the crestfallen
Hara. 'I tried him with gold and I succeeded.'
'Only for a very short time. It is the meanest
natures only which are caught by that glittering and
useless bane. Aner is not mean, and you might have
known that he would soon get tired of such a fool's
bauble, fit only for dotards and old women.'
I subdued him, body and soul, to the ghoul of drink
for some years. But for accident, and but for that
accursed Hatob, I should have had him. I do not
despair of winning him back even yet.'
'Drink may be a subsidiary help,' said Ashmod;
'but there are natures too lofty to accept its degrading
'It has ruined many a strong man,' said Hara
'It will fail with Aner,' said Ashmod; 'but try
him now with Lilith, the demon of the noonday
-the demon of perverted love. Many have fallen
by her wounds quite late in life; some even in old
age. I am not satisfied with you, Hara; but do not
despair. We have many resources at our disposal; we
shall have him yet.'
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
Sin startles a man-that is the first step; then it becomes pleasing;
then easy; then delightful; then frequent; then he is impenitent;
then obstinate.-JEREMY TAYLOR.
At quam cecus inest vitiis amor omne futurum
Despicitur, suadentque breyem presentia fructum.
CLAUDIAN, Eutrop. ii. 50.
ANER, having for some time broken the violence of
the temptation which was destroying him, and deeming
himself now secure from it, had greatly relaxed his
vigilance. He was trying to content himself with
such things as the Purple Island could give. The
Porphyrians looked on him as the most successful of
men. There seemed to be nothing lacking to his
happiness except the home-life into which he had never
entered. He had remained unmarried. He had not
been attracted by the mariy maidens who would have
felt themselves enchanted by alliance with him. All
other possessions which men account as boons seemed
to be at his disposal. His magnificent residence was
rich in works of art. His parks and gardens were the
loveliest and sweetest which the island could show.
His woods teemed with the wild life of nature; his
streams were famous for their fish. His aspect was
strikingly noble, his manners full of charm, his
friends numerous. Honour had showered all her stars
upon him; criticism was now silent; he was highly
appreciated; he stood upon the topmost steps of
power and influence. And yet he had to confess to
himself that he was far from happy. These passing
treasures, even at their best and fullest, could not satisfy
the heart of a son of Elyon. They seemed to crumble
into ashes at every touch. They had looked like
ambrosial fruit until he could freely take of them, and
then they became Dead Sea apples, filling his mouth
with dust and bitterness. In his far-off boyish years,
before he had entered into the drearier parts of
the wilderness, the visions of such things as he now
possessed had looked like an enchanting mirage-soft
oases of happy verdure and palms and crystal waters;
he had reached them with weary feet, and lo he saw
nothing around him but barren acres of stony wilder-
ness, and dreary wastes of sun-encrimsoned sand.
There was nothing more to gain. Riches? he did
not know what to do with what he had; and though
he now gave away largely, yet, as there was no personal
contact or personal sympathy of tenderness in his
giving, his charity became mechanical, and the thanks
which he received sounded hollow. Splendour? rich
carpets, and tapestries dyed with purple of the sea,
glowing pictures and gilded corridors palled upon
him. The works of art had become nothing but
pieces of furniture which had no longer any fascina-
tion, at which indeed he rarely looked. There over
the fireplace in his favourite room hung the picture
of Imrah, which had arrested his attention at a
crisis of his life; but now he scarcely ever glanced at
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
an object so familiar. A stream cannot rise higher
than its fountain, and Aner, living on the low levels of
worldliness, scarcely even by mechanical habit raised
his heart to the true source of his being. He saw the
days pass by him in long procession; he felt that the
lack of high spiritual discernment had made him snatch
only at their most worthless gifts, and as they departed
in silence he
Under their solemn fillets saw the scorn.
In the estimation of the Porphyrians his character
was now quite unexceptionable. 'What a great man
Aner is! deferentially murmured all the youths.
' And what a good man too !' said their elders. 'Look
at his charities See how punctually he performs his
religious duties! Even calumny would blush to tell
tales of him.'
And in truth Aner did not neglect the public forms
of religion, in so far as they consisted in external
functions, though to one or two of his most intimate
friends he confessed that he found these functions
distressingly dreary, and that sermons were a great
trial to an intellectual man. Aner was trusting in
his own heart; and if he had not ceased to read the
book which his father Elyon had given him, he would
have found there that he who trusteth in his own
heart is a fool.'
Hatob had not, been near him for a long time, and
Hara, who was narrowly watching him, yet kept out
of .his way. He was indeed glad to see that Aner's
love to his father Elyon had dwindled to a dim con-
vention and a hollow externalism, but he was determined
to secure him as an avowed votary of Ashmod.
Aner was seated in the great window of his town-
palace, which was surrounded by a lovely pleasance
full of flowers. Two boys, of whom one was carrying
to him his daily correspondence, were coming down
the path, and were indulging the spontaneous exuber-
ance of their mirth in constant antics, with bursts of
laughter and snatches of song.
'Those lads,' thought Aner, 'are only sons of my
humblest dependents, and they are far happier than I
am. The remembrance of youth is a sigh.'
One of his gardeners was hard at work watering
and tending the flowers, and whistling a merry tune.
'Light-hearted wretch!' thought Aner, recalling
the line of a poet,
He whistles as he goes
For want of thought.
He little fancies that the renowned Aner would gladly
change places with him !'
Then he saw a young mother leading her little
white-haired child by one hand, while in the other she
was carrying 'father' his breakfast. The labourer
kissed his wife, and then he snatched up the little boy
in his arms, and pressed his rosy cheeks against his
own, and puffed out his own cheeks for the chubby hands
to push, and ran his rough fingers through the short
sunny curls, murmuring endearing words to the little
fellow all the while. Aner sighed. 'What is all I
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
possess,' he said, 'to the joy of that man's home ? Why
have I never made myself a home? This is not a
home; it is a gorgeous prison.' And then he murmured
'There's nothing in the world can make me joy;
Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.
Yes, the old epitome is right-we are born weeping;
we live unhappy; we die disappointed.'
Hara had concealed himself among the thick
flowering shrubs, hard by the windows. 'Aner is
weary of everything,' he said to himself. He will
soon be ripe for the demon of the noonday.'
He waited till evening, when, after the day's routine
of business, Aner returned to the desolate magnificence
of his abode. Then Hara visited him-not like the
Hara whom he had last seen, but a gay, courteous,
smiling, handsome man of the world.
'Aner, my old friend,' he said, 'I am afraid that
when last I saw you we did not part on good terms.
You were in an excitable mood, and perhaps I was
inconsiderate. May I dine with you this evening ?
And if you will allow me I will introduce to you my
friend Iollas-a man of fine taste; we might have. a
Aner, his thoughts still under the shadow, welcomed
the diversion, and he ordered for the use of his guests
the wines which now he never touched.
What ? do you still drink that ridiculous water,
Aner ?' said Hara. That is why you are so moody.
I am quite against excess; I delight in moderation;
but I am sure a few glasses of good wine never did
any one any harm.'
'Thanks,' said Aner, I have not the least desire for
it, and feel much better without it.'
'But at least,' said Iollas, 'you will take a glass
with us to-day, if only for the sake of good fellowship,
and that you may not seem to be passing upon us a
'If you wish it,' said Aner, oblivious for the moment
of his vow. 'I am now in no danger of its influence,'
he added to himself.
He filled a glass, and drank to these pleasant
gentlemen. Instantly the old passion leapt on him
again-' terrible, and with a tiger's leaps '-and he
took another glass and yet another, and began to
feel the rich intoxicant flowing like lava through all
But it was not Hara's immediate object to startle
him by a relapse into his old failing, and when dinner
was over he proposed that they should all go and see a
celebrated dancer named Phaedra, whose sprightliness
and beauty, and poetry of rhythmic motion, were at
that time the common theme of the Porphyrians.
Oh, do,' said lollas ; 'Phaedra's loveliness pene-
trates the heart like a sunbeam. She is the most
radiant girl I ever saw. Nestor himself might have
fallen in love with her.'
I do not go to see public dancers,' said Aner.
'Oh, I forgot,' said lollas, with a slightly veiled
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
sneer. Of course you are a personage in the religious
There is a subtle taint about these dancing-halls,'
said Aner, offended; 'and the persons who frequent
them are not at all to my taste.'
'This will never do,' thought Hara. 'Aner is
getting nettled, and lollas will spoil all.'
'You forget,' he said, 'that Aner is a man of
exquisite culture, and distinction, and refinement. But
really, Aner, Phaedra is quite exceptional, and there is
not the least harm in her exhibition.'
'A man of my position is too much stared at, and
gives rise to idle talk if he goes to vulgar places of
amusement,' said Aner, still displeased.
'I agree with you,' answered Hara; 'but a man of
your position ought to know something at first hand
.about the people, their dissipations, and their way of
life. Why should you not come with us incognito ?
In five minutes I could so disguise you that you would
not be recognisable by your dearest friend.'
Do come,' said Iollas; 'it would be delightful,'
It was strange, but at that moment Aner thought
he heard the voice of Hatob. It seemed to be uttered
in the lowest whisper, yet it thrilled through him, and
it said, They know most of evil who know it least.'
Aner yielded, though unwillingly. A large cloak, a
wig, a false moustache, a few other touches which
Hara skilfully added, changed his aspect so completely
that he hardly knew himself. They drove to the hall;
and when they were there Hara whispered that, to
avoid notice, they must do like the rest and order wine.
He took care that it should be of the best, and Aner,
uneasy in his present surroundings, took of it freely.
Phaedra glided upon the stage amid deafening
greetings and showers of roses. She was young; she
was undeniably lovely. Her long, perfumed hair
floated in waves over her shoulders; her eyes were
large and deep and lustrous, with long dark eyelashes;
her cheek was glowing; her dress was light and
gleamed with jewels; her every movement in its subtle
grace was like voluptuous music. Perhaps under other
conditions Aner might have merely looked on with
cold curiosity, or even with displeasure. But now the
wine had inflamed his senses, and the light and the
warmth, and the novelty and the excitement added
irresistible potency to the spell of the sorceress.
He fixed upon her his burning gaze; no step, no
motion was lost upon him; and, was he mistaken, or
did this fairy vision more than once turn her eyes
upon him and answer his passionate and ardent gaze?
He was not at all mistaken. Hara had schooled
How enchantingly lovely murmured Aner almost
to himself; but Hara overheard him, and laughed in
his heart. When the dance was over, he said,' I know
Phaedra a little; would you like me to introduce you
to her ?'
I should like nothing better,' said Aner. Is she
as good as she is beautiful ?'
'Oh, quite!' answered lollas, concealing with
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
difficulty the sardonic smile which it tortured his lips
They went into a luxurious boudoir behind the
stage, and Phaedra, who had a brother with her-or so
she called him-whom she introduced by the name of
Eutrapelos, received them, though she was still dressed
in her jewelled gauze, with the most charming modesty
and the sweetest decorum. She knew Iollas well, but
concealed the fact, and spoke to Hara as a child might
speak to an elderly friend for whom it does not much
care. It was Aner whom she smote with her most
cunning witchery, and dazzled with her most magical
smiles. She was perfectly aware who he was, for Hara
had told her; but she carefully concealed her knowledge,
and addressed all her remarks as to a casual traveller,
not to a great leader of the Porphyrian people. Phaedra
was one of those sorceress women of the class to which
Queen Cleopatra belonged. Her beauty had in it the
same maddening spell as that of her who dragged so
many kings and heroes to their ruin. Aner was the
last of the visitors to bid her good-bye, for Hara had
managed that the others should precede him through
the narrow passage. As soon as Hara dropped her
hand, Aner seized it, and imprinted on it an impassioned
kiss. Hara pretended not to notice it, but he could
scarcely control the convulsively malignant amusement
which it caused him. That night he went to the
secret shrine of Ashmod to report progress, and the two
yelled aloud with laughter, till ghosts and dark shadows,
and grim fiends and ghastly spectres were disturbed,
and began to flit like vampires about the unhallowed
But when Aner was gone, Phaedra turned to her
'brother '-as it was convenient to call him-and
cried with shrill merriment, Good heavens! what a
conquest! who would have imagined that the dis-
tinguished, the eminent, the respectable Aner could be
so caught? This is serious, Eutrapelos. It means
nothing less than marriage. An illustrious destiny is
before you and me !'
Hem said Eutrapelos enigmatically. There
are marriages and there are marriages !'
Bacaavia -y&p (avAdrT7los a& avpo7 i KaAd.-- Wisdom, iv. 12.
WITHIN a few months thereafter it was publicly an-
nounced to the amazed Porphyrians that a marriage
was arranged between the beautiful Phaedra, whom
all the world admired, and Aner, one of their most
illustrious statesmen. Even Ashmod's votaries were
astonished. This was indeed bewitchment! Phaedra
might hereafter become a very Lilith or Naama. They
repeated the announcement to each other with mean-
ing smiles. The faithful subjects of King Elyon were
grieved and scandalised. Phaedra had played her part
with a skill as marvellous as her dancing. She had
passed herself off as an ingenuous maiden of good birth,
left an orphan, compelled against her will to support
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
herself by the public display of that poetry of motion
which was an inborn gift, and living a quiet and
virtuous life under the guardianship of her good
brother Eutrapelos. And as for Aner, trusting vainly
in his own strength, never looking upwards, forgetting
all that was best in the past, he had fallen a hopeless
victim to the demon of the noonday. He was infatuated
by the fascination of a bad woman. His feeling for her
bore no resemblance to holy love.
Hatob could do but little, for Aner sedulously
avoided him. Sometimes indeed Aner fancied that he
heard in the inmost caverns of his heart the haunting
of a voice which warned and troubled him; and once
when Phaedra had been with him, there came to him,
involuntarily, that thrilling whisper, simply recalling
to him the words of the neglected and forgotten book
which his father had given him :
'With her much fair speech she causeth him to
yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.
He goeGh after her straightway as an ox goeth to the
slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks,
till a dart strikes through his liver; as a bird hasteth
to the snare and knoweth not that it is for his life.'
He was quite unable to prevent the words forcing
themselves upon him; but then he seemed to hear
Hara sneering, 'Obsolete Pharisaism! '
But the voice would continue, and it said, 'Hearken
unto me, therefore, 0 my children, and attend to the
words of my mouth. Let not thine heart incline
to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath
cast down many wounded; yea, many strong men
have been slain by her. Her house is in the way to
hell, going down to the chambers of death.'
At that moment Hara was announced, and poured
out a torrent of felicitations to Aner on the good news
that he had won such a gifted, such a lovely bride.
'Why, Aner,' he said, all the young men are dying
with envy of you. They were in crowds at the virtuous
Phaedra's feet, and she has shown her calm good sense
by rejecting every one of them, and choosing you.'
The crisis seemed to Hatob so terribly serious that
he felt it his duty to interfere. But perhaps his visit
was ill-timed. Phaedra, bewitchingly attired, was
seated on a rich footstool at Aner's feet. His hand
was on her dark locks, enwreathed with gems; her
liquid eyes were upraised to his own. He had been
talking over with her the date to be fixed for the
bridal day, and all her replies were low, and soft, and
It was then that Hatob entered. Phaedra did
not feel in the smallest degree embarrassed, but Aner
S'Let me introduce to you my future bride,' he said
to Hatob in a constrained voice.
Did you know her as she is, as all but yourself
know her to be, she could never be your bride,' said
Hatob gravely. 'You think yourself wise, but you
have been egregiously befooled.'
Phaedra leapt to her feet and uttered a cry.
'Protect'me, Aner,' she said, 'from this calumniator.'
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
'Inquire for yourself, Aner,' said Hatob quietly.
'Mistake not an intoxicating and unhallowed frenzy
for a pure and blameless love.'
ANER AND PHAEDRA
But Aner's blood was up and he would not listen.
'Leave me,' he cried, 'tormentor, I hate you! For
the second time I bid you let me never see your face
'One word before I leave you for ever,' said Hatob,
'unless your own will summons me. This word- '
'Not one word,' said Aner;.and as Hatob seemed
still about to speak, he seized him by the hair, and
would have hurled him out of the room; but suddenly
he caught sight of the sapphire ring, which, after having
for a time resumed a certain tinge of lustre, had again
blanched to a deathful white. Sensible, by past ex-
perience, how solemn was the warning, he felt a shock
of agony strike through his nerves.
Hatob only turned on him a look of the deepest
pity. 'Farewell, Aner,' he said, without a touch of
resentment. A fool must eat of the fruit of his own
ways, and be filled with his own devices.'
The wandering of concupiscence doth undermine the simple mind.
Wisdom, iv. 12.
SOME time had passed. At first Aner lived as in a
delirium of self-deceit. An enchanted dream seemed
to wave over his head its wild and fragrant wings.
Ere six months were spent the dream had ended
in ghastly disenchantment. The rustling masquerade
was over; the dread reality began.
He saw Phaedra as she was-beautiful, but partly
by artificial aid; intriguing; rapacious; mean, touchy,
indescribably commonplace; habitually untruthful;
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
domineering; not to be trusted for a moment; wholly
without intellect, or care for anything intellectual;
immensely extravagant; panting for outrageous adula-
tion without a particle of real love for him; devoted,
heart and soul, to any one who would burn at her shrine
the thickest fumes of flattery, the one incense which she
most loved. And it was to this powdered and painted
phantom, whose very hair was dyed, that he had, in
infatuated passion, impawned his life.
She cared in reality for no being in the world ex-
cept the handsome Eutrapelos, who, as Aner now dis-
covered by accident, was not her brother at all. Aner
sternly forbade him, on peril of his life, ever to set foot
in the house again; yet he was tormented by the
suspicion that he visited her in secret.
Every day Phaedra showed herself more plainly in
her native ugliness-as no longer a siren but a vulgar
vixen. She displayed the unutterable odiousness and
worthlessness of a character which was nothing but a
shallow veneer of surface qualities-an assumed charm
and simplicity of manner which was but the coloured
film over depths of putrescent stagnancy.
The passion of her life was to win fresh adorers, by
once more exhibiting her charms and her dancing on
the public stage, under the glare of lamplight. Aner
prohibited this with such sternness that she saw it
would be impossible. She therefore indemnified herself
by giving banquets, preposterously sumptuous, to her
crowds of admirers. At these, when Aner was absent,
.she privately exhibited the dances, which, so far from
seeming beautiful to her husband, now sickened him
with disgust at their artificial and voluptuous sameness.
And this was the creature to whom the demon of
the noonday had now linked him by indissoluble ties !
At first he had tried to awaken her dormant soul-to
find if she could be aroused by any topic of human
interest. But at once he stood appalled by the depths
of an ignorance which, apart from experience, he would
have deemed impossible. When he first detected her
subterfuges, her ill-concealed passions, her mean in-
trigues, he tried expostulation. He might as well have
tried to make a rock fruitful by sprinkling it with dew-
drops. He began to see that she could only be truly
described as earthly, sensual, devilish. When she
sailed down in splendid array to the silly and odious
circle of male and female admirers with whom she filled
his house, she always chose the evening light, which
would not betray that her naturally pale cheeks were
painted with cinnabar, her eyes artificially brightened
with antimony, and her eyelids tinged with henna.
When Aner saw her in this guise, she seemed to him
barely human. He was filled with a revulsion of loath-
ing not to be expressed.
And, misled by unbridled passion, he had actually
wedded this woman to help him to get rid of weariness
and loneliness, and thinking that thus he would have
a home !
Many a shameful and terrible scene took place
between them. They were always ended on her part by
fits of violence from which he had to protect himself, or
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
by floods of vituperation mingled with words which made
him shudder, and by a succession of piercing screams,
which, to his intense disgust, caused curious spectators
to linger outside the house. Strange tales began to be
afloat about the brutality which Aner was asserted to
exercise towards that charmer, his lovely and longsuffer-
ing wife !
The house of Aner became a pandemonium of
hopeless wretchedness. The fires of hell were burning
upon his hearth.
At least, however-if it were impossible to awaken
her to any sense of shame, or to discover in her any
decent human quality-at least he determined to stop
her in the mad career of squandering, which threatened,
if unchecked, to exhaust even his wealth, and to reduce
him to pauperism. At the morning meal they now
used to meet with no greeting, and never looked at
each other without an expression of intense mutual
aversion, mixed on both sides with vague fear. One
day, as soon as the meal was over, she rose to sweep
out of the room to the boudoir on which, though it was
ugly with the worst incongruousness, she had exhausted
the powers of luxury. But Aner bade her stay. He
was in a white heat of scorn and indignation.
Woman !' he said.
'Woman!' she repeated with a scream; 'how
dare you so address me ? '
Would you have me call you wife ?' he said, in a
voice which rang with scorn ; even the title woman"
is dishonoured by being applied to you.'
She snatched a silver ornament from the table, and
hurled it at him, as she had flung such missiles before.
It missed him, and with one stride forward he seized
her by the two wrists, and, holding her as in a vice,
while she trembled at the fury which blazed in his eyes,
' Woman,' he said, 'the debts you have already con-
tracted are pouring in upon me. That necklace of
diamonds which you paraded last night round your
neck, those earrings which hung down your painted
If a look could have killed Aner, surely her glance
would here have struck him dead, as she struggled to
set herself free; but he continued-' Those ornaments
alone cost as much as a king's ransom. Your other
extravagances, equally tasteless and monstrous, would,
if continued, bring me before the year is over to utter
rmin. This must cease. I have privately sent round to
every leading merchant in this part of the Purple Island
that no order you give is to be attended to. From this
day I take the management of the household out of your
hands. I have ordered your horses and carriages to be
sold. I have had all the jewels, except those which in
my original folly I gave you, sent back or sold. You
shall give no more banquets in this house. You shall
turn over an entirely new leaf, or, at all costs, I will
procure a separation from you.'
For a moment the blood seemed to congeal in
Phaedra's veins, and she grew pale as death. Then,
recovering herself, she unpacked her evil heart in such
curses and such vile terms as Aner had never heard.
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
She rent the house with screams of diabolical rage
and disappointment; lastly, she snatched a knife from
the table and aimed a blow with it at Aner's face.
Though latterly he had always been on his guard when
speaking to her, he had barely time to dash her arm
aside; but she inflicted a gash upon his cheek.
The many servants of the house, attracted by her
screams, had been witnesses of this odious scene, and
now some of her female attendants took hold of her
and hurried her out of the room. Aner stood there,
his wounded cheek streaming with blood, humiliated
beyond words to utter.
For the next week he never saw her. She was
shut up in her room, but not a day passed which did
not bring him fresh shocks of shame and disaster. The
worst was a letter from his colleagues in the Porphyrian
Government regretting that, in spite of their high
estimate of his abilities, they regarded his marriage as
so discreditable, and the scandals which had begun to
attach themselves to his name as so flagrant, that, with
great regret, they were compelled to request his resigna-
tion of his high office. He was thus suddenly and
disgracefully hurled down from distinction into insig-
The servants gossiped; the scandals spread. The
successful always find intensely bitter critics in the
It is the penalty of being great,
Still to be aimed at.
Like all public men, Aner had hosts of envious and
unscrupulous enemies who felt a fiendish satisfaction
in bespattering his name with mud. In every organ of
news Aner saw himself held up to ridicule or execration.
If he ventured into the streets, his acquaintances
shunned him, or refused to notice his presence. The
secretary of every club to which he belonged sent him
a letter saying that a special club-meeting had been
summoned, and he had been expelled from member-
ship. The most monstrous misrepresentations about
him were everywhere rife and everywhere believed..
His fair-weather friends fell from him as leaves fall
from a tree in winter. It seemed as if past envy left
him no single defender. He did not know how to
'dissipate these calumnies; he scarcely even cared to
do so. And, as a last drop in this thunderstorm of
sudden calamities, he heard that one of the great
undertakings in which his fortune was invested had
unexpectedly collapsed, and that he was only left with a
wreck and fraction of his former wealth. Crushed and
stupefied by the storm of misfortune, in which financial
as well as social ruin were but items, he seemed in
his despair to be sinking to the very depths. Too much
stunned for consecutive thought-smitten and pierced
through and through by
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune-
in the apparent hopelessness and finality of his ruin,
he turned once more to the old resource of strong
drink. He had broken his vow; of what consequence
was it if he broke it again? Of what consequence was
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
anything? Let death come; whatever it was it must,
he thought, be better than such a life as this. The
resource of suicide was often present to his mind. His
friends seemed to have deserted him unanimously, and
he sought no grace, no help. Though sunk to the
depths, he would not look up.
But something must be done; the future must be
arranged for; his affairs must be settled. It happened
that his physician, a good and tender-hearted man,
hearing the rumour that he was in evil case, visited
him. He found him seriously ill, ordered him change
of air, and offered to place him under the care of a good
and able young student, who would accompany him to
the seaside as a companion. Xenios, the steward whom
Hatob had recommended to him, and for whom Aner
had acquired a strong feeling of respect and affection,
would nurse him in his present weakness, and, above
all, would see that he touched no strong drink.
Di boni quam male est extra legem viventibus! quod meruerunt,
BUT, as though he were not already sufficiently ruined
body and soul, Hara was anxious to destroy him utterly
by goading him to seek revenge. While he was slowly
gaining strength and the composure of despair amid the
sea breezes, and was summoning his best faculties to
meet the new conditions of his life, Hara managed
that a letter, addressed to Phaedra, should, by the
intentional misdirection of an emissary in his service,
be conveyed to the hands of Aner. He recognized
the handwriting of Eutrapelos, and, tearing it open,
found that it contained a proposal to Phaedra to fly
with him in secret to some far-off place, after she had
robbed the house of Aner of every available precious
thing which had been left from the shipwreck of his
Jealousy and indignation at this crowning act of
treachery determined Aner to hurry back to his house
unannounced and at once. At his door he saw a
beautiful little child of about four years old, playing
among the flowers. He did not stop to notice him,
though he felt a vague passing wonder who he was.
He rushed in and searched for Phaedra in vain from
room to room. At last he bethought him of a distant
room in one of the turrets, in which he had amused
himself by placing a collection of the arms of every
age and nation. He entered, and there, seated on a
divan, was Eutrapelos, while Phaedra's arms were
round his neck.
The young man was startled out of his usual self-
possession by the sudden interruption. He sprang to
Phaedra is my wife,' he cried, in his disturbed
alarm, as though to defend himself for having been
seen with her.
'Your wife!' exclaimed Aner with fierce indigna-
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
She was my wife when you first saw her; the
little boy you must have seen outside your door is our
'Then I am not married at all,' said Aner. 'Oh,
deadly and thrice-accursed villain!' He advanced
with the deliberate purpose of avenging his wrongs on
Eutrapelos, whose lies and deeply dyed treachery had
had no small share in accomplishing his ruin. The con-
centrated force of his indignation seemed to give him
an unnatural calm. He strode to the door, turned the
key in the lock, and put it in his robe. Then, taking
down two swords which were crossed on the wall, he
flung one of them at the feet of Eutrapelos and said:
'Here and now we fight till one of us falls.'
Eutrapelos did not wish to fight, but he had no
choice. An actor by profession, he had been trained
in the use of weapons.
'Do not fight! screamed Phaedra; but the two
were in such deadly earnest that they did not hear her,
and, feeling her impotence, she could only shriek and
wring her hands.
It was clear from the first that the skill of
Eutrapelos was thwarted by his sense of guilt, and
that Aner's awful indignation made him irresistible.
Before long, by a dexterous turn of his arm, Aner had
whirled the sword of Eutrapelos out of his grasp and
lunged at him. Phaedra realized his danger, and,
since Eutrapelos was the only being she had ever
loved, she rushed between them in the endeavour to
protect him. The result was inevitable. Aner had
no power to stay his arm. The thrust intended for
Eutrapelos in fair fight pierced her and she fell.
There was a horror-stricken pause. Eutrapelos raised
her in his arms, and laid her motionless on the divan.
'You have killed her! he cried, and with a spasm
of fresh fury, in which his eyes seemed to be starting
out of his head, he seized his lost sword and rushed on
Aner with mad impetuosity. Aner had barely time to
spring back, and the fight began again. Eutrapelos was
worsted. As Aner pressed upon him he slipped and
fell. In a moment the foot of his outraged adversary
was on his breast and his sword-point at his heart.
Then came to Aner the thrilling whisper, the flash
of burning letters, which he always associated with
the presence of Hatob. 'Forgive your enemy' were
the words he seemed to hear, and the letters of fire
which burned upon his brain were, Whoso sheddeth
man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.'
He stayed his arm; he removed his foot from the
breast of his prostrate foe. 'Go,' he said, 'I.give you
your life;' and, taking the key from his robe, he un-
locked the door.
Murderer !' hissed Eutrapelos. 'For this your
head shall fall on the scaffold.'
He turned and fled. Aner walked to the divanl
where Phaedra lay with the life-blood ebbing from her
wound. He tried to stanch it; then he struck a blow
on a great gong, and Xenios came, the faithful steward
whom Hatob had chosen, whose advice and help were
always wise and good.
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
'Attend to her,' he said, pointing to Phaedra.
'Send at once for a physician; send also for a minister
of justice. It was my sword which pierced her, though
it was by accident.'
Xenios summoned Phaedra's attendants. Silent,
astonished, full of dreadful surmises, they lifted her
apparently lifeless form, and carried her to her room.
Aner, his head resting on his hands, lost in anguish
and horror, sat motionless, awaiting the summons of
Two archers of the government came and arrested
him. He was led to prison.
In a few days his trial followed. The judge told
him that circumstances looked very black against him.
Phaedra had been wounded; she still lay speechless; her
life was despaired of. It was known that he was on the
worst terms with her, and that their quarrels had been
frequent and violent. He had been found alone in the
room where she fell, his sword wet with blood. There
was no evidence produced in favour of what he asserted
about the fight and the accident. Evidence less damn-
ing had brought many a man to the scaffold. Alas '
added the compassionate judge, 'who would have
dreamed that the brilliant, the famous Aner, one of the
leaders of the state, would ever have been reduced by
his vices and passions to a position so disgraceful, so
deplorable? But the man who deliberately takes his
first bad step soon finds that his path is on the edge
of a precipice, where to stop still is impossible, to
retreat is ruin, to advance is destruction. Justice
walks with leaden feet, but she strikes with a hand of
iron, and her stroke is death.''
Aner, too stricken and too hopeless to plead his
own cause, had instructed an advocate simply to tell
his unvarnished tale. He disdained to use either
argument or appeal. If his destiny were to be averted,
it should be by the simple truth; and if he were con-
demned, what could death be except a merciful release
to one so wretched ?
Have you any witnesses to produce ?' asked the
judge. If your story be true, surely Eutrapelos could
be found; and at least some one must have seen
him enter or leave your house.'
None spoke; none pleaded for him; then Xenios
rose and asked for a remand. 'There was reason to
believe,' he said, 'that Eutrapelos had escaped to a
distant part of the Purple Island.'
A month's remand was granted, and Aner spent it
in the dreary prison cell. Then the trial was resumed.
It was proved that Eutrapelos, accompanied by a child,
had fled-proved also that he had carried with him
gold and jewels from the house of Aner-but he had
not been traced. And since it was unquestioned that
Phaedra's wound had been inflicted by the sword of
Aner, it seemed inevitable that justice should be left
to take its course.
Amid an awful hush the judge had assumed the
black cap, and was about to pass sentence of death on
SThese words were actually addressed by an eminent judge to a well-
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
Aner, when there was a stir at the door of the court
and the wasted form of a woman was carried in on a
Who is this?' asked the judge.
'It is Phaedra,' answered Xenios, who is called
the wife of Aner, but was in reality the wife of
Eutrapelos. She has something to say.'
The couch was carried between the judge's chair
and the dock of the prisoner. 'What have you to say ?'
asked the judge compassionately.
She raised her wan hand, and, pointing to Aner,
said, amid breathless silence, in a voice scarcely
He has told the truth. He is innocent. I have
terribly wronged him. I ran in between them. He
did not mean to hurt me. I could not die till I had
told the truth respecting the man against whom I have
sinned so fearfully.'
When she had said this she fainted away and was
carried out. That night she died.
The judge consulted his assessors. The intercepted
letter which Eutrapelos had written to Phaedra was
produced; other slightly confirmatory evidence was
brought forward. Letters were handed into court
which Phaedra had given to Xenios, proving that
Eutrapelos had promised to be with her in the armoury
at the time when Aner had surprised them, and had
arranged with her to strip the house of every portable
treasure and to fly with their child.
Aner was acquitted and discharged from prison.
For days he had not uttered a word. He stepped forth
a ruined, blighted, haunted man.
The faithful Xenios conducted him to the house
which it would now have been an irony to call his
home. As he entered the hall he summoned up energy
enough to say,' Xenios, I have lost all. Sell this house
and grounds; sell all my pictures and works of art; pay
all my servants and discharge my debts. When this is
done, let me know; enough may still be over to support
the remainder of my wretched life in deep seclusion.'
'Despair not, dear master,' said Xenios. 'Hatob
bade me be faithful to you, and I will. You have been
a kind master to us all. I will not leave you in your
misfortunes. Pardon me if I dare to say that you
need some one to watch over you.
'I know what you mean, Xenios; but I shall be far
too poor to pay your wages.'
'Think not of it, sir,' said Xenios. 'I have enough.'
Aner was touched even to tears. 'Is there,' he
thought, 'is there, after all, such a thing in the Purple
Island as one disinterested friend? What have all
my mouth-friends done for me? Which of them has
helped me? Which of the old gay companions of my
youth showed anything but a cruel rejoicing over my
fall? Which of my many flatterers held out a hand to
help me? Ah, me! ah, me! Why did Elyon make
such a miserable and worthless race? Oh, Hatob!
Scarcely had he uttered the cry when Hatob
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
'My Aner,' he said, 'my Aner! Oh, I am glad
that you have summoned me again.'
Aner could not speak; he could not even look at
Hatob; he averted his head, while the tears coursed
each other down his furrowed face.
Have I ever misled you, Aner?' he asked. 'Has
not all happened as the King Elyon warned ybu that
it would ? What have you gained by giving your heart
to Hara ? Has he bestowed upon you a single blessing ?
Has he in one thing showed himself a friend?'
Aner shook his head.
'All is lies,' he murmured, 'all is treachery, all
illusion, all wretchedness.'
'Not all,' said Hatob. 'When Imrah came to
the Purple Island to deliver you and King Elyon's
other sons, you know what they made him suffer.
But did he despair ? And was his life of love less
radiant, less lovely, less real? What has reduced you
to this depth of misery?'
'It is the bitter fruit of those things of which I am
now ashamed, Hatob,' said Aner; 'but, though I am
ashamed of them, their poison is in all my veins. I shall
go on weakly sinning and half repenting; loathing what
I am, yet continuing to be what I am; loathing what I
do, yet continuing to do what I loathe, till death ends
my misery, or begins one yet more awful. Oh, let me
curse the hour which called me into existence! '
Hatob spoke not, yet it was as if he spoke, for Aner
saw glowing before him the words, 'Lift up thine eyes
to the hills, whence cometh thy help.' But Hatob
let Aner's heart go sorrowing through all the guilty
past:-from such shame might spring holy sorrow and
'Oh, Aner,' he said at last, I send the faithful
Xenios with you to watch over you, lest you should
again relapse into drunkenness. He can guard your
habits; only Elyon can guard, only Imrah heal, only
their spirit intercede for your heart. Hope lasts while
life lasts. You have read what the poet says:
Man, what is this ? and why art thou despairing ?
God shall forgive thee all but thy despair.'
He would have spoke,
But hiss for hiss returned with forked tongue
To forked tongue.-MILToN, Paradise Lost, x. 536.
HARA again visited at midnight the secret grove of
Ashmod. Hara was gnashing his teeth with vexation,
and Ashmod was in a savage mood.
'What are we to do now?' asked Hara. 'Again
and again from the verge of destruction Aner is snatched
from us. I should not wonder if he escaped after all.'
There is yet a chance for our hatred and revenge,'
said Ashmod. 'He is wounded already, deeply wounded.
We will track him down; he shall not escape us.'
'I tried the imps Flattery and Softness on his
youth,' said Hara, 'and they perverted him ; I tried
the plausible fiends of Gold and Glitter on his early man-
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
hood and he was entangled by them; I tried the evil
ghoul of Drink and he hopelessly succumbed; then we
agreed to try Lilith, the demon of the noonday, and
she fettered him, and he seemed to be ours, body and
soul. When she failed, I suddenly turned the fierce
spirit Revenge upon him; but he forgave his enemy.
All our emissaries have more or less succeeded, yet he
has at the last shaken them off. He has been des-
perately wounded in the house of these his friends, yet
at this last moment, after all, Hatob is beside him and
the spirit of Imrah, our worst enemy, is wrestling with
him to deliver him from me and from his lower self.
Had we not better give him up and hunt other game?'
'I never give up any Porphyrian till he dies,' said
Ashmod; 'warfare with me has no discharge.'
Have you an arrow left unbroken in your quiver?
have you yet a demon whom he cannot conquer ? The
others, all but the drink-ghoul, have given him up;
and from him, as you know, there is an easy protection
which he has tried before, and probably will again.'
'I have one potent fiend more,' said Ashmod.
'Male, or female this time?' asked Hara.
'Akedia, the spirit of moping melancholy and utter
weariness of life.'
Hara clapped his hands. I know her; she fre-
quents the tombs of the lost. She is death in life.
Her home is in the waste places, fertile in sorrow. She
lives in darkness which may be felt. She fills houses
with the sound of ghostly footfalls which approach at
midnight. She can summon spectre after spectre, gaunt
and grey, to stare on haunted men with hollow eyes.
She can become a fury, scattering dust and ashes over
the blighted garden of human lives. She is own sister
to Mania, and at last, in many an instance, hands over
her victims to her brother, the demon of Suicide;-and
then we triumph.'
'Yes,' said Ashmod, 'and never was a soul more
ready to be her prey than that of Aner. In any case it
is something that we have made him grieve the heart
of Imrah, and have marred the plans of our enemy
He had scarcely spoken when thunder crashed over
the dark grove. A thunderbolt smote from its pedestal
and shattered on the black marble floor a monstrous
idol. With a yell Ashmod leapt quaking from his
throne, while Hara crouched down and hid himself
from the intolerable blaze behind the fragments of the
idol, and in that fierce illumination he saw demons
clinging together in their fright. The grim temple
was filled with sulphurous fumes, and the fiends
trembled lest another bolt from heaven should bury
them in its ruins.
But Ashmod soon recovered from his terror; and
next morning Akedia glided forth, robed in tattered and
dismal grey, to hide herself in Aner's dwelling and fill
it with gibbering ghosts. She glided in unseen, but as
she entered he felt a deadly chill congeal his heart.
AKEDIA GLIDED FORTH
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
Oh that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and dissolve itself into a dew,
Or that the Everlasting had not placed
His canon againstt self-slaughter.-Havmlet, Act i. Sc. 2.
ANER had turned his back upon the world of ingratitude
and disappointment, of mocking illusions and hollow
hopes. He had chosen for his abode a cottage upon the
lovely shore of the Purple Island, near a humble fishing
village called Klydon. Except Xenios, no one was with
him. His riches had made themselves wings and flown
away. His mental gifts, devoted mainly to self-interest,
had produced little that was not futile. His fame had
vanished like the gleams of a meteor in the darkness.
He had found that 'smoke and lukewarm water' was
the perfection of friendships based only on the lowest
affinities. His pleasures had been as the fragrance of
a fruit whose taste is poison, the glitter of a serpent
whose sting is death. He had worshipped the idol,
self, and now the dead idol stretched out its withered
hand to a miserable worshipper who had nothing more
He gave himself up to misery. He could not rouse
himself to seek the grace which could alone redeem the
useless perversion of his life. The thoughts of King
Elyon had been dimmed within him almost to oblitera-
tion. Xenios had purposely saved from the dispersion
of his pictures one which represented Imrah, as the
Good Shepherd, seated wearily in the stony wilderness
whither he had followed a young strayed lamb. The
Fair Shepherd had taken it in his arms, and was
nourishing it in his bosom, and underneath was written :
I did all this for thee:
What wilt thou do for me?
Aner looked at it sometimes, for it was beautiful as a
work of art; but if it suggested anything to him, he
put the thought away. Everything seemed to him too
late. The fatal shadows of his past sins walked with
him like evil angels. He had reached 'that most
disastrous page in the volume of life on which is
inscribed the words, "Gratified desires." All that
followed was first disenchantment, then ruin, and
now a ghastly blank. His youth had vanished like
morning dew, and he was possessing its iniquities.
His beauty had consumed away, like a moth fretting a
garment. He had often regarded as commonplace the
age-long cries of human satiety and human disappoint-
ment. Now he felt their meaning with all the
agonising intensity of personal experience. To him
a maniac scattering dust,
And Life a fury slinging flame.
He knew now that life which once looked so full of
meaning and blessedness could become no better than
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
He had books-but of what use was it any longer
to read ? what could books bring him ? Much reading
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
became to him but a weariness of the flesh. He had
no employment, no aim in life. He had no friends
except Xenios, who, though true and kind, could not
share his thoughts. He seemed to have sunk out of
life before his time. Of what use was life? of what
use was anything? He was haunted by memories,
and the sense of enormous loss. Akedia was get-
ting possession of him, heart and soul. The whole
philosophy of life's experience seemed to him to be
summed up in the cry of thrice-doubled emptiness -
'Vanity of vanities,' saith the Preacher, 'vanity of
vanities, all is vanity.'
If he could have plucked up courage to summon
Hatob to his side for counsel and consultation, all
might have been well; but had he not struck Hatob?
had he not cursed him, and driven him from his
presence ? would Hatob care for the withered leaves of
so dead a flower as his friendship now ? And how could
he call for help to King Elyon ? If he was King Elyon's
son, had not Elyon long ago despised and rejected him ?
would he not spurn him from his presence as a dis-
owned and disinherited rebel, fit only for Ashmod's
den? If he had offered to his high Father, as a flower
in the bud, his early years, that would have been an
acceptable sacrifice; but who could care for the gift of
flaccid leaves and broken stalks ? Alas do not
Lilies that fester smell more rank than weeds ?
Yet Hatob did not really desert him. The-flash,
the whisper, which betokened Hatob's care for him,
came to him again and again. It was Hatob's hand
alone which seemed to pluck him back from the edge
of the precipice. It was Hatob who, amid his musings
of despair, suggested to him the possibility of hope by
recalling to his mind at one time such a thought as
0 Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me
is thy help; '
and, at another,
'If any man sin, it shall be forgiven him.'
But if, for a moment, the letters gleamed before
his imagination, too soon the waves of a sea of darkness
seemed to overflow them, and the roar of its devour-
ing billows drowned the still small voice. The ocean
shore which was the favourite scene of his lonely
wanderings tended to deepen his melancholy. The
broad waste of wandering foam with its ebb and flow,
its meaningless unending murmur, its illimitable and
briny barrenness, the aimless and endless plashing of
its ineffectual surge-was it not an emblem of his
futile life ?
And now Akedia had so thoroughly succeeded in
making all the uses of the world seem to Aner to be
weary, flat, stale, and unprofitable, that Hara was
eagerly awaiting his final success. When Akedia's
task was ended, she would hand over Aner to her
brother, the fiend of Suicide, and the Purple Island
would know him no more. So Hara visited him; pre-
tended to condole with him; heard, and echoed, and
heightened all his complaints, that his life was a
dreary and useless burden. Then in a tone of
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
hypocritical sympathy, painting all things even worse
than they were, Hara threw out hints about death,
which he described as a peace which could never more
be broken, a calm refuge, a stormless haven, a dreamless
and eternal sleep.
And just as Hatob often tried to influence Aner's
mind by mentally emphasising to him all the best
and noblest truths which he had ever read, which he
carried in his retentive memory, so Hara had a way of
making such lines as these ring in his brain:
My wine of life is poison mixed with gall,
My noonday passes in a nightmare dream;
I worse than lose the years which are my all:
What can console me for the loss supreme ?
Thus, over and over again, Aner was tempted to
self-murder. How could he go on enduring-week
after week, month after month-these futile yesterdays
and wearisome to-morrows? Of what use was it for
him, or for any one else, to groan every morning,
'Would God it were evening!' and every evening,
Would God it were morning The watchful solici-
tude of Xenios had prevented him from taking refuge in
drink, and so striving to steep his senses in forgetful-
ness ;' but now Xenios had constantly to watch him lest
he should seek opportunities for suicide. He carefully
moved out of Aner's way everything which might
Stempt him to a dangerous onslaught upon his own
But one day when Aner was aimlessly turning out
the contents of some old boxes, filled with the relics of
his sold possessions, he found something which might
have fetched a price, but had been accidentally over-
looked. It was a dagger with fine point, double-edged;
its handle set with jewels. Xenios evidently did not
know that it was there. Aner positively clutched at it
and hid it in his robe.
And now the dagger constantly appealed to him;
floated before his eyes in his sleeplessness; shone
before him at night as with a supernatural glitter;
seemed to offer its jewels to his hand when he felt it
beneath his dress where he always wore it. It became
like a thing alive; there seemed to be something devilish
in its fascination. The Evil One was upon him He
would struggle no longer; he would end it all!
He wandered away along the desolate shore. The
village of Klydon, near which was his cottage, did not
number more than a thousand inhabitants. They were
all peasants, for the most part poor fishing people.
He rarely walked in that direction. He preferred the
sand-dunes with their bright green shrubs, and the
yellow sands, and the great rocks and caverns. Often
in stormy weather he would watch the billows lash-
ing themselves upon the rocks of the headlands, and
falling back baffled in sheets of spray, only to come wildly
leaping up once more, to be again shattered by the
same fate. Were they not an emblem of man's
defeated life-at any rate of his own ? Did they not
furnish a living picture of
Of poor humanity's afflicted will,
Struggling in vain with ruthless destiny ?
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
And those ever-hungry sea-birds which waved their
white wings above the crawling ripples beyond, was
not their plaintive cry like an unceasing dirge, wailed
over the salt unplumbed sea of life ?
Sometimes, when Aner desired to be if possible
more lonely still, he would plunge into one of the wild
glens down which mountain streams forced their rock-
impeded course to the sea, where the cormorants built
their nests, and over which, in search of prey, the
eagles poised themselves on seemingly motionless
pinions, or sailed in majestic slowness through the
Into one of these glens he wandered on this
oppressive afternoon, thinking in his heart that it
would be a fitting scene for the deed he meditated. He
said to himself that in so rarely visited a nook his body
might lie undiscovered for days, till the ravens had
picked out the eyes, and the gorged vultures had flapped
heavily away from the torn flesh, and the wolves and
the wild dogs ceased to snarl over the white bones.
Again the flash, the thrill, the whisper! If there
was one thing about which Aner had prided himself
more than another, it was that he was a brave man;
but now the words gleamed before him, and the voice
whispered to him:
When all the blandishments from life are gone,
The coward slinks to death, the brave live on.
It was in vain Barren verbiage,' he exclaimed to
himself; 'unprofitable morality. It may do for the
innocent and the happy. What can it mean for me ?
What profit is there in a doomed and bootless life ? '
'Why need it be bootless ? flashed the question.
'Because,' he answered to himself, 'its gifts have all
been squandered, its opportunities all thrown to the
winds, its beauty is consumed away in the sepulchre out
of his dwelling. All over my life has been written the
doom, self-destroyed." I cannot face this misery any
longer. If death be but a change from monotonous
anguish, let the irrevocable come.
He was on the point of accomplishing his fell
.purpose, when a youth, who had been fishing in the
upper reaches of the stream, passed by him, touched
his cap and bade him 'good-day.'
It was but a momentary interruption. He bade me
good-day,' said Aner to himself; 'it is an utterly evil day
for me.' And he murmured to himself the lines:
'What is good for a bootless "bene" ?'
The forester to the lady said.
And she made answer, Endless sorrow,'
For she knew that her son was dead.
'Yes, she knew that her only son was dead, and I
know that for me every conceivable hope is dead and
buried under unfathomable seas.
He waited till the youth's figure had disappeared
among the windings of the glen, and then resumed his
He drew out the dagger from the folds of his robe.
The sun flashed on it; the light ran and played about
the jewels of the hilt; it looked lovely to him; he
THE LIFE STORY OF ANER
kissed it. And Hara's words came back to him as
though Hara himself had said them in his ear:
' Death is a calm refuge, a stormless haven, a dream-
less and eternal sleep.'
He raised the dagger in the air; it flamed before
him in the sunlight; one instant more, it should be
buried in his heart, and all would be over. He did not
fear the force or certainty of his own strong stroke.
And even at the moment when his arm was raised
to strike, and his destiny trembled in the balance, and
Ashmod and Hara were watching him from a cavern
hard by with a fiendish leer upon their faces-even at
that moment he was startled by a cry of terror.
Xenios had two children : one, a boy of ten years
old, named Krates, a brave, adventurous little fellow,
who feared nothing; the other, named Philos, a
lovely child of six. Aner had often noticed them
playing at no great distance from him on the shore,
sometimes alone, sometimes with other comrades. But,
though he had always been fond of children, he had
never shown any kindness to them. This disinclination
to take the least notice of his little boys was a cause of
disappointment to their father, who hoped that their
mirth and innocent prattle might sometimes have
cheered his master's moody thoughts. Aner, however,
had thought to himself,' I have nothing in common
with children now. Why should my soiled unhappy
life be like a clouding blight on the blossom of their
young days ? They would instinctively shun me; I
should but quench their laughter and spoil their games.