Quo Vadis?

Author: Henryk Sienkiewicz  | Date: 1896

Chapter LXVI

FOUR Bithynians carried Lygia carefully to the house of Petronius. Vinicius and Ursus walked at her side, hurrying so as to give her into the hands of the Greek physician as quickly as possible. They walked in silence, for after the events of the day they had not power to speak. Vinicius so far was as if half conscious. He kept repeating to himself that Lygia was saved; that she was threatened no longer by imprisonment, or death in the Circus; that their misfortunes had ended once and forever; that he would take her home and not separate again from her. This appeared to him the beginning of some other life rather than reality. From moment to moment he bent over the open litter to look on the beloved face, which in the moonlight seemed sleeping, and he repeated mentally, "This is she! Christ has saved her!" He remembered also that while he and Ursus were carrying her from the spoliarium an unknown physician had assured him that she was living and would recover. At this thought delight so filled his breast that at moments he grew weak, and being unable to walk with his own strength leaned on the arm of Ursus. Ursus meanwhile was looking into the sky filled with stars, and was praying.

They advanced hurriedly along streets where newly erected white buildings shone brightly in the moonlight. The city was empty, save here and there where crowds of people crowned with ivy, sang and danced before porticos to the sound of flutes, thus taking advantage of the wonderful night and the festive season, unbroken from the beginning of the games. Only when they were near the house did Ursus stop praying, and say in a low voice, as if he feared to waken Lygia,-

"Lord, it was the Saviour who rescued her from death. When I saw her on the horns of the aurochs, I heard a voice in my soul saying, ’Defend her!’ and that was the voice of the Lamb. The prison took strength from me, but He gave it back in that moment, and inspired that cruel people to take her part. Let His will be done!"

And Vinicius answered,-

"Magnified be His name!"

He had not power to continue, for all at once he felt that a mighty weeping was swelling his breast. He was seized by an overpowering wish to throw himself on the earth and thank the Saviour for His miracles and His mercy.

Meanwhile they had come to the house; the servants, informed by a slave despatched in advance, crowded out to meet them. Paul of Tarsus had sent back from Antium the greater part of those people. The misfortune of Vinicius was known to them perfectly; therefore their delight at seeing those victims which had been snatched from the malice of Nero was immense, and increased still more when the physician Theocles declared that Lygia had not suffered serious injury, and that when the weakness caused by prison fever had passed, she would regain health.

Consciousness returned to her that night. Waking in the splendid chamber lighted by Corinthian lamps, amidst the odor of verbena and nard, she knew not where she was, or what was taking place with her. She remembered the moment in which she had been lashed to the horns of the chained bull; and now, seeing above her the face of Vinicius, lighted by the mild rays of the lamp, she supposed herself no longer on earth. The thoughts were confused in her weakened head; it seemed to her natural to be detained somewhere on the way to heaven, because of her tortures and weakness. Feeling no pain, however, she smiled at Vinicius, and wanted to ask where they were; but from her lips came merely a low whisper in which he could barely detect his own name.

Then he knelt near her, and, placing his hand on her forehead lightly, he said,-

"Christ saved thee, and returned thee to me!"

Her lips moved again with a meaningless whisper; her lids closed after a moment, her breast rose with a light sigh, and she fell into a deep sleep, for which the physician had been waiting, and after which she would return to health, he said.

Vinicius remained kneeling near her, however, sunk in prayer. His soul was melting with a love so immense that he forgot himself utterly. Theocles returned often to the chamber, and the golden-haired Eunice appeared behind the raised curtain a number of times; finally cranes, reared in the gardens, began to call, heralding the coming day, but Vinicius was still embracing in his mind the feet of Christ, neither seeing nor hearing what was passing around him, with a heart turned into a thanksgiving, sacrificial flame, sunk in ecstasy, and though alive, half seized into heaven.


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Chicago: Henryk Sienkiewicz, "Chapter LXVI," Quo Vadis? Original Sources, accessed June 4, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=GPIU7Z1Z3GBF46X.

MLA: Sienkiewicz, Henryk. "Chapter LXVI." Quo Vadis?, Original Sources. 4 Jun. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=GPIU7Z1Z3GBF46X.

Harvard: Sienkiewicz, H, 'Chapter LXVI' in Quo Vadis?. Original Sources, retrieved 4 June 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=GPIU7Z1Z3GBF46X.