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ing!” she exclaimed. “The first thing is to concea

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l Clytie’s flight. No one must suspect that her room is empty.” Calling Eunoa, the oldest female slave in the house,170 she said to her: “Clytie is ill. Sit down here outside of her

door and let no one enter, not even her nurse. Do ex

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actly as I tell you.” Eunoa opened her eyes in astonishment; she had never heard her mistress speak in so curt and imperious a tone. When Maira entered her bed-room, there was a cer

tain solemnity in her manner that attracted Xenocles

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’ attention. Stretching himself on the couch, he beckoned to her. But, instead of taking her seat on the edge, Maira remained standing before him, gazing steadily into his face. Xenocl

es scarcely believed his eyes. It was the first time

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during the twenty years of their married life that his wife had not instantly done whatever he requested. “Sit down,” he repeated, again pointing to the seat. Maira did not seem t

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  • o hear. “I have evil tidings,” she said coldly. “A misfo

    rtune has happened to us during the ni

  • ght.” “What is it? What is it?” cried the excitable litt

    le man, and pointing to the strip of p

  • apyrus she held in her hand, he asked: “Is this the misfortun

    e?” “It is from Clytie,” replied

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  • Maira, and read the contents in a tone which seemed to imply

    that the matter was no concern of hers

  • . At the words: “Forgive me, I must fly,” Xenocles starte

    d and, with a stiff movement, as thoug

  • h both his limbs had suddenly become one, he swung himself up1

    71 from his reclining posture and put

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his feet on the floor so that he sat erect on the co

uch. He seemed to have been struck speechless, and his hands fumbled with his belt, which he had not yet buckled. He was thinking of Clytie’s childhood, of her pretty, gentle face, her innocent caresses. His eyes filled with tears—he could not believe that she had gone. Maira was a good wife and loved her husband tenderly; but she was not more generous than the majority of the female sex. Deeply as Xenocles was moved, it did not occur t

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o her to spare him. All that she had silently endured for years must be uttered. “Now we have no daughter,” she said, as a sort of preamble. Xenocles was silent, the muscles around his mouth twitched convulsively. A pause ensued. At that early hour of the morning the house was so still that the flies were heard buzzing in the sunshine on the rush carpet inside the door. “It would have been better,” Maira continued, “if you had not always had your head filled with your plans and measurements for buildings. Whole days passed without your saying a word to Clytie or me, and if

I spo

ke to you about anything that disturbed you, I was so harshly rebuffed that I often dared not address you. Doris the slave-girl knew ten times as much about Clytie’s affairs. By Adrasteia, it’s an easy matter to be a father, if a man considers it enough to give his daughter home and clothes and food. But, if172 you had had any love for your child, had you suspected what she hoped and longed for, had you known what she feared more than death—this misfortune would not have befallen us.” Xenocles gazed at Maira as though she were a stranger. He understood that it was maternal affection which made her so strong, and at the same time dimly felt that perhaps he had some reason to reproach himself. He bent his head. “What is to be done?” he murmured. “Tell me, Maira. You have always been a good wife to me.” At these simple word

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