Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/278

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the frescoes of the pomegranates that wreathed the hall, the scarlet hues melting away in the shadow, and the tall slender column of the fountain flinging its foam aloft. Idulia leant back among the cushions, the dazzling play of her words ceasing for a while; the moon's rays touching the proud arch of her brows, the clusters of her hair bound with a narrow gold band of antique workmanship, the voluptuous softness of her lips, and the dark, unfathomable lustre of her eyes that met his own—burning with the eloquence he felt forbidden to put into words,—but were not moved by them; they did not droop, as women's often do, beneath the fire in his, they passed on from him to rest dreamily on the distance, where the domes of Santa Sophia rose against the stars, and the lighted minarets glittered among the: cypess groves of the Moslem city.

"It was a fair heritage to lose through a feeble vanity—that beautiful Constantinople," she said musingly. "The East and the West. What an empire! More than Alexander ever grasped at—what might not have been done with it? Asian faith and Oriental sublimity, with Roman power and Gothic force; if there had been a hand strong- enough to weld all these together, what a world there might have been!"