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watch the expression of their countenances all through the deadly struggle. It was the first time that Alypius had brought himself to be a spectator of these cruel scenes; but Julius had witnessed them both at Alexandria and at other places; and he had painted in such glowing colours to his friend the exquisite excitement which thrilled through the breasts of the spectators, that he had induced him to accompany him to the Circus, and even to feel a strong desire for the animating spectacle, though not unmingled with a shrinking from the sight of human blood and human agony. This shrinking had been greatly increased by the prospect which Julius held out of the games being concluded by the torturing and the death of the Christian prisoners. But Alypius was ashamed to draw back now, and to confess that he could not face a spectacle which high-born and delicatelynurtured ladies sat to witness with delight. So he went on, but with slackening speed, and with what he felt to be a firm resolve to leave the Circus the moment there were any signs that the Christian victims were to be brought on the stage.
RE you weary with your walk, Alypius?” asked his companion, with rather a contemptuous curl of his lip.
Why are you lagging so, and allowing all these burly citizens and their blooming wives and daughters to pass us by ? Are
you afraid to get too near the stage, lest the tigers or the Lybians should pass the barrier, and make you their victim ?”
The taunt, though uttered in a playful tone, stung Alypius to
I am not weary,” he replied, more fiercely than Julius had ever heard him speak; " and I am not faint-hearted either. I believe I could face either the wild beasts or the wilder Lybians in a just and good cause; but I would never torture the bodies of my fellow-creatures in order to control their thoughts and feelings. I will not remain in this Circus if the Christians are to be martyred there."
Martyred,” said Julius to himself, as he turned away his head, and smiled, half scornfully, half pitifully, at his friend's declaration. “He deems them martyrs, then-victims to be pitied—heroes to be admired. May all the gods preserve him from being tainted with their childish and superstitious heresies! But I have my fears."
The friends were now approaching the Circus, and the crowd became denser and the noise more loud and confusing as they
pressed towards the entrance. Julius was a powerfully-made man, and he worked his way through the crowd with energy and effect. Alypius was taller and slighter, and in any trial of muscular strength he would have proved inferior to his companion ; but his spirit was high, and his will determined, and the taunting words of Julius were still ringing in his ears, and he kept close to his friend.
Together they entered the Circus, and together they took their 'seats; when they found that they had obtained a very advantageous situation for beholding the expected sights.
Although some time had yet to elapse before the commencement of the so-called sports, the vast theatre was rapidly filling with eager spectators, chiefly of the middle and lower classes. For the aristocracy of Alexandria, both foreign and native, seats were reserved in the best positions; and on these, as time wore on, they took their places, looking almost as delightedly expectant as the crowd around them.
Once established in their places, Julius and Alypius amused themselves with observing the fresh arrivals among the upper classes; and in criticizing the dress, appearance, and bearing of their numerous attendants, who remained standing in their rear. Alypius had not yet made many acquaintances among the residents of Alexandria ; but Julius was familiar with at least the names of the greater part of those who occupied the seats of honour; and he could, therefore, reply to the repeated queries of his friend, as group after group of gorgeously-attired officials and military officers, accompanied by their richly-dressed wives and daughters, entered the theatre, and were received by the populace with more or less of cheers and greeting, according to
their supposed merits, or the present influence of the political party to which they belonged.
Many of these groups had been watched, and duly commented on by the young friends, and the grace and beauty of some of the fair maidens had won their commendation in various degrees. At length, the appointed time for the commencement of the business and pleasure of the day had nearly arrived, and already the stir of preparation began to be heard and felt. The entrance of the Prefect and his party attracted for awhile all eyes, and absorbed all attention. But the eyes and thoughts of Alypius were not so riveted by the dignity and splendour of the chief magistrate and his suite, as to prevent their being diverted towards another, and very different group, who entered immediately after the Prefect, and quietly took their places at the end of the reserved benches.
This group consisted of a dignified-looking man, whose features and style of dress partook rather of the Egyptian than of the Grecian or Roman type. By his side was a young lady of fair and delicate aspect, attired in the graceful simplicity of a purely Greek costume; her white robe being bordered with gold, in a rich Etruscan pattern, and confined at the waist with a golden girdle clasped with gems. A simple tiara crowned her head, and beneath it her glossy hair of a sunny-brown hue hung down upon her shoulders in rich waving curls. A matron, who looked worthy to be the mother of so lovely a daughter, seemed to guard her with watchful care on the other side; and the party was completed by a young man in an Egyptian sacerdotal dress, whose countenance would have appeared to Alypius very stern and forbidding, if he had been able to look beyond the form of the younger lady, and her two stately supporters.