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Alroy, Edited by Sheila A. Spector


Part VII

Chapter 19

THE chiefs dispersed to make the necessary arrangements for the march. The news that the army was immediately to advance to Bagdad soon circulated throughout the camp, and excited the most lively enthusiasm. Every hand was at work, striking the tents, preparing the arms and horses. Alroy retired to his pavilion. The curtains were drawn. He was alone, and plunged in profound meditation.

‘Alroy!’ a voice sounded.

He started, and looked up. Before him stood Esther the prophetess.

‘Esther! is it thou?’

‘Alroy! enter not into Babylon.’

‘Indeed.’

‘As I live, the Lord hath spoken it. Enter not into Babylon.’

‘Not enjoy my fairest conquest, maiden?’

‘Enter not into Babylon.’

‘What affrights thee?’

‘Enter not into Babylon.’

‘I shall surely change the fortunes of my life without a cause!’

‘The Lord hath spoken. Is not that a cause?’

‘I am the Lord’s anointed. His warning has not reached me.’

‘Now it reaches thee. Doth the king despise the prophetess of the Lord? It is the sin of Ahab.’*

‘Despise thee! despise the mouth that is the herald of my victories! ’Twere rank blasphemy. Prophesy triumph, Esther, and Alroy will never doubt thy inspiration.’

‘He doubts it now. I see he doubts it now. O my king, I say again, enter not into Babylon.’

‘Beauteous maiden, those eyes flash lightning. Who can behold their wild and liquid glance, and doubt that Esther is inspired! Be calm, sweet girl, some dream disturbs thy fancy.’

‘Alroy, Alroy, enter not into Babylon!’

‘I have no fear, I bear a charmed life.’*

‘Ah me! he will not listen. All is lost!’

‘All is gained, my beautiful.’

‘I would we were upon the Holy Mount, and gazing on the stars of sacred Zion.’

‘Esther,’ said Alroy, advancing, and gently taking her hand, ‘the capital of the East will soon unfold its marvels to thy sight. Prepare thyself for wonders. Girl, we are no longer in the desert. Forget thy fitful fancies. Come, choose a husband from my generals, child, and I will give a kingdom for thy dower. I would gladly see a crown upon that imperial brow. It well deserves one.’

The prophetess turned her dark eyes full upon Alroy. What passed in her mind was neither evident nor expressed. She gazed intently upon the calm and inscrutable countenance of the conqueror, she flung away his hand, and rushed out of the pavilion.

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Published @ RC

January 2005

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