Serapis Part 14

Dorothea had then retired into the desert of Kolzoum where she was still living in a cave, feeding on herbs, roots, and sh.e.l.l-fish thrown up on the sea-sh.o.r.e. She had schooled herself to do without sleep, and prayed day and night for her husband's soul; and she lead obtained strength never to think of anything but her own and her husband's salvation, and to forget her children completely. Her fervid devotion had at length met with full reward; for some little time her husband had appeared to her in a robe of shining light and often attended by lovely angels.

Agne had not lost a word of this narrative, and when, next morning, she felt the cold hand of the dead youth and looked at his drawn and pain-stricken features, she shuddered with vague terrors: he, she thought, like Dorothea's husband, must have h.e.l.l-torments to endure. When she presently found herself alone with the corpse she bent over it and kissed the pale lips, and swore to herself that she would save his soul.

That same evening she went back to Eusebius and told him of her wish to withdraw to the desert of Koizoum and become a recluse. The old man besought her to remain with him, to take charge of her little brother, and not to abandon him and his old wife; for that it was a no less lovely Christian duty to be compa.s.sionate and helpful, and cherish the feeble in their old age. His wife added her entreaties and tears; but a sudden chill had gripped Agne's heart; dry-eyed and rigid she resisted their prayers, and took leave of her benefactors and of Papias. Bare-foot and begging her way, she started for the south-east and reached the sh.o.r.es of the Red Sea. There she found the stonemason's widow, emaciated and haggard, with matted hair, evidently dying. Agne remained with her, closed her eyes, and then lived on as Dorothea had lived, in the same cave, till the fame of her sanct.i.ty spread far beyond the boundaries of Egypt.

When Papias had grown to man's estate and was installed as steward to Demetrius, he sought his sister many times and tried to persuade her to live with him in his new home; but she never would consent to quit her solitary cell. She would not have exchanged it for a king's palace; for Orpheus appeared to her in nightly visions, radiant with the glories of Heaven; and time was pa.s.sing and the hour drawing near when she might hope to be with him once more.

The widow Mary, in her later years, made many pilgrimages to holy places and saintly persons, and among others to Agne, the recluse; but she would never be induced to visit Cyrenaica, whither she was frequently invited by her children and grandchildren; some more powerful excitant was needed to prompt her to face the discomforts of a journey.

The old Heathen cults had completely vanished from the Greek capital long before her death. With it died the splendor and the power of the second city in the world; and of all the glories of the city of Serapis nothing now remains but a mighty column-[Known as Pompey's Pillar.]-towering to the skies, the last surviving fragment of the beautiful temple of the sovereign-G.o.d whose fall marked so momentous an epoch in the life of the human race. But, like this pillar, outward Beauty-the sense of form that characterized the heathen mind-has survived through the ages. We can gaze up at the one and the other, and wherever the living Truth-the Spirit of Christianity-has informed and penetrated that form of Beauty, the highest hopes of old Eusebius have been realized. Their union is solemnized in Christian Art.

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