Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/280

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"The Roman Emperors!" she repeated. "When the name was a travesty, an ignominy, a reproach! When Barbarians thronged the Forum, and the representative of Galilee fishermen claimed power in the Capitol! Yes; I descend—they say—from the Commneni; but I am far prouder that, on the other hand, I come from pure Athenians. I belong to two buried worlds. But the stone throne of the Areopagus was greater than the gold one of Manuel."

"You are the daughter of Emperors? you are worthy an empire."

His were the words of no flattery of the hour, but of a homage as idolatrous as was ever offered in the fair shadows of the Sacred Groves of Antioch to the goddess from whom she took her name. And there was a great pang at his heart as he spoke them; he thought of the only thing on earth he called his own, those crumbling ruins to the far westward, by the Cheviot range, where the scarlet creepers hid the jagged rents in the walls, and owls roosted where princes once had banqueted.

"An empire! I thought so once," she answered, with a low, slight laugh. "I had dreams—of the sceptre of my ancestors, of the crown of the Violet City, of an Utopia here, where east and west meet one