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THE CABINET.

419

plants in an open gallery, and removing such of their leaves as had withered by too powerful a sun. She recognized him with blushes of gladness; and after a short time, Agenor engaged in dressing the Howers along with her. These young people found this occupation à very pleasing one.

Their smiles met every moment over hyacinths and myrtles; and their words were breathed in a low voice among exhalations of perfume. When Phrosine thought the jars were ill arranged, Agenor transposed them so as to produce a finer grouping of the blossoms ; and when their pitcher of water was exhausted, this languishing boy and girl, who had already forgotten all conventional forms of behaviour, went, arm in arm, to the fountain down in the garden to get more. There, at a basin of marble, which foamed to the brim, they replenished their vessel. Some drops of the spray came dashing on Phrosine's white shoulders; and Agenor used the freedom to wipe them off with a corner of her garment. Phrosine submitted with a slight struggle; but all this took place in silence, for the feelings of the parties were by far too serious to suit with jests and compliments. Afterwards they leant for a long time, side by side, against the trunk of a chesnut. Their souls were lost in musing, and their eyes were fixed on the shadows of branches that played over the sunny ground before them. “ Ah ! how pleasing is a country life," said Phrosine; “ I sometimes wish that I could get leave to spend my time in Calabria, or Apulea, or some of those delightful provinces, where the ground is covered with yellow sheaves, and where the days are so beautiful, that if a person merely walks about in the open air, it is enough to make him regardless of all other pleasures. I do not like the town, or its inhabitants. Our visitors are so cold hearted, that I am treated as a child if I behave kindly to them. They laugh at any person who is simple enough to feel attachment even for themselves.

Again, there is no peace or security in Rome ; for every one is afraid of being cruelly insulted by the Emperor, or some of his favourites ; and their brutality renders so many precautions necessary, that I am inclined more and more to envy the inhabitants of those distant provinces, who are out of its reach. Pray from what province do you come ? " From no other than Calabria,” replied Agenor. "I have a small farm there ; but a country life is sometimes insipid, and I came to Rome from curiosity and desire of change. Ah, Phrosine! if I had not come to Rome, I should never have enjoyed the happiness of being near you; and now, if I go back to Calabria, I shall not know what to do with my heart.”

“ Keep your heart with sufficient care,” said Phrosine, blushing, 66 and it will give you no trouble. Those deep and lasting attachments which have been described by the poets, are no longer to be found in Rome. It is now the fashion to change rapidly from one object of admiration to another, and indeed, never to allow the feelings to be seriously engaged at all. The example of Nero, and his detestable court, has annihilated every thing amiable, and left us nothing but selfishness, profligacy, and indifference.”

" Then you must seek elsewhere,” said Agenor, " for a heart which is worthy of you. Rome, as you describe it, can never be the theatre of your happiness."

420

THE CABINET.

4 Oh! I could endure it well enough,” said Phrosine, provided I were agreeably situated at home. But the prætor's wife is jealous of the attention I receive from her visitors, and sometimes treats me with a degree of harshness which it is difficult to support. She is still fond of admiration, as you may observe, and imagines that I wish to encroach upon her share."

56 There can be no doubt of it,” replied Agenor. “ It is evident she wishes you out of her family.”

6 But what is worse,” said Phrosine, with tears in her eyes, and at the same time laying her hand upon his shoulder, “ Would you be. lieve it Agenor ? I can hardly be sure that my own uncle, if circum. stances should entice him, will not deliver me up to this monster who calls himself the Emperor. It seems he had observed me with particular attention somewhere in public, and has repeatedly enquired about me since. The prætor is at present in favour; but if he were to evade any of Nero's orders, there would at once be an end to his farther good fortune, and perhaps to his life.”

“ Then why, my beautiful Phrosine,” said our youth, gently encira cling her waist, “ why do you remain here to endanger your uncle's life? Would it not be much wiser, and more consistent with your duty, to marry a poor husbandman who adores you, and set out for Calabria, where you will enjoy all the pleasures of a charming climate, and never hear of this wicked Emperor any more ? Surely this proposal need only be stated, to make you at once perceive its propriety."

“ Oh! but my aunt,” said Phrosine, sobbing, in great agitation, “ she would not approve of my conduct.”.

“ Nor would you approve of hers, if you knew all the particulars of it,” replied Agenor. 6 Wrap your veil about your head, and we shall get out by the garden door, which opens into some of the back lanes. A couple of mules can soon be purchased ; and in a short time we will be far from Rome."

« Oh no, it is impossible,” said Phrosine; “ I cannot go just now.”

“ Just now is the very best time,” replied Agenor. son is at present in the circus, where Nero performs as a charioteer; and neither the prætor nor his wife can return till the games are finished. Come along,” said our youth employing a little gentle violence.

« Oh no, it is impossible,” said Phrosine, weeping and struggling, and gradually allowing herself to be dragged away.

" Every per

MORAL.

The moral is, that a great deal may be done with young ladies, if they are taken by surprise.

THE END.

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