Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

10. Chapter X (continued)

With these words she turned away. Slowly she crept along by the fori, or platforms, to the farther side of the vessel, and, pausing, bent low over the deep; the cool spray dashed upward on her feverish brow. 'It is the kiss of death,' she said 'it is welcome.' The balmy air played through her waving tresses--she put them from her face, and raised those eyes--so tender, though so lightless--to the sky, whose soft face she had never seen!

'No, no!' she said, half aloud, and in a musing and thoughtful tone, 'I cannot endure it; this jealous, exacting love--it shatters my whole soul in madness! I might harm him again--wretch that I was! I have saved him--twice saved him--happy, happy thought: why not die happy?--it is the last glad thought I can ever know. Oh! sacred Sea! I hear thy voice invitingly--it hath a freshening and joyous call. They say that in thy embrace is dishonour--that thy victims cross not the fatal Styx--be it so!--I would not meet him in the Shades, for I should meet him still with her! Rest--rest--rest! there is no other Elysium for a heart like mine!'

A sailor, half dozing on the deck, heard a slight splash on the waters. Drowsily he looked up, and behind, as the vessel merrily bounded on, he fancied he saw something white above the waves; but it vanished in an instant. He turned round again, and dreamed of his home and children.

When the lovers awoke, their first thought was of each other--their next of Nydia! She was not to be found--none had seen her since the night. Every crevice of the vessel was searched--there was no trace of her. Mysterious from first to last, the blind Thessalian had vanished for ever from the living world! They guessed her fate in silence: and Glaucus and Ione, while they drew nearer to each other (feeling each other the world itself), forgot their deliverance, and wept as for a departed sister.

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