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A Child's Book of Warriors by  William Canton

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THE SOUL OF JUSTINIAN


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[89] IT was the festival of the Star, the Star of the Magi. An unclouded sun glittered on the waters of the Golden Horn, on the swift ocean-stream which divided the eastern from the western world, on the beauty and splendour of Constantinople.

The vast Hippodrome was thronged, and the marble benches glowed like a hanging garden with the colours of the rival factions of the city, the Blues and Greens, and their allies the Reds and Whites. The confused noise of upwards of thirty thousand people swelled into a long indescribable roar as the flying chariots, gay with party colours, dashed down the course in a storm of thundering hoofs and tossing manes, doubled round the goal-pillar, and swept back again on the further side of the statues and obelisks which filled the long central space of the stadium.

With a somewhat moody aspect Justinian surveyed [90] the stirring spectacle from his throne. Every now and again as some fresh demonstration drew his attention to the Greens, his eyes rested on their ranks in cold displeasure. Almost from the beginning this faction had disturbed the games with their persistent outcries: "Health to Cęsar! Long life to Cęsar! Listen to the oppressed; grant us justice!" Race after race their complaint rose in shriller clamour against the Quęstor Tribonian and the Prefect John of Cappadocia, who were filling their own coffers by their merciless extortions. "We are poor, we are ground down, we are fleeced and flayed. If we must die, let it be in thy service. Victory to Cęsar!"

At the twentieth race Justinian lost patience. He made a sign to one of his heralds, and a ringing voice carried the imperial rebuke over the wide expanse of the amphitheatre: "Peace, you mouths of brass! Silence and humility, you thankless Jews and Samaritans!" The cries of the faction became but the more vehement, and as the herald flung back the accents of the emperor's irritation and scornful indifference, the appeals for justice and relief turned into howls of rage and vituperation: "We renounce thee, Cęsar! Justinian without justice! Cursed be the day this man's father was born! Thracian tyrant and protector of thieves!"

[91] The emperor himself rose grimly from his throne, and for a moment dead silence fell upon the multitude. "Have you no care for your lives?" he asked in cold, clear tones which travelled far.

It was the thoughtless folly of an angry man. The words were taken as an incentive by the Blues, whom Justinian had hitherto generally favoured. The faction, loyalist in politics and orthodox in faith, included the wild and lawless youth of the city, who affected the long hair and ruffling garb of the Barbarians, went secretly armed by day and infested the streets at night.

They sprang down from their seats, and in an instant the course of the Hippodrome was filled with yelling crowds mingled in savage conflict. The Greens, overborne by their opponents, turned and fled, and for hours the streets of Constantinople were given over to riot and bloodshed. Seven of the ringleaders of both parties were captured by the police, summarily tried, condemned, and hurried off to execution. Five were beheaded; the ropes broke as the last two—a Blue and a Green—were being hanged, and the mob overwhelmed the guard and rescued them.

For the time being the factions set aside their mutual hatred, and made common cause against the tyrant who oppressed his people and the patron who [92] assassinated his adherents. The prisons were emptied, palaces and private mansions pillaged, and at the first attempt of the civic troops to quell the sedition, the city was set on fire. In the spreading flames, which threatened to reduce the capital of the East to ashes, perished amid the wreck of priceless works of antiquity and the loss of enormous treasure the noble Cathedral of Sancta Sophia, founded by Constantine.

For five days the destinies of the Empire trembled in the scales. The factions chose another Cęsar, and crowned him in the Hippodrome with a woman's necklace. In the palace Justinian, disheartened and unnerved, took counsel with his chief ministers and the officers of his guard whether, like the Emperor Zeno, he should seek refuge for a time in Asia. John the Cappadocian and most of his colleagues gave their voice for flight.

Beyond the blue strait of the Bosporus the sunny shores lay within view. Already this disastrous course seemed to have been adopted, when the future of the world was decided by the fairest and the proudest woman in Europe.

"A woman's voice," said the Empress Theodora, "is an unwelcome sound in the council chamber; but those who have most at stake have the best right to speak. Death is the common lot of sovereign and [93] slave; but flight from death is the coward's choice. Even if flight meant safety, I should not flee. Not for one hour shall I forego this diadem or yield the name of empress. Yonder is the sea; there are the ships. Escape is easy. But consider, Cęsar! When you have bartered empire for the bread of exile and honour for safety, will desire to live ensure you against an ignoble end? For my part I am at one with the old saying: The purple robe is a brave shroud."

Fired by her intrepid spirit, Justinian sprang to his feet: "No more talk of retreat; here we hold to the end!"

"You need a man," said Theodora; "Belisar is here."

The emperor inclined with a gracious smile to the tall figure of the brilliant young Thracian, just returned from the Persian war. "What troops have you, General?"

"Five hundred horse, Cęsar, and some two thousand Veterans."

"Then trample me out these factious firebrands."

Rumours of Justinian's flight had spread through Constantinople, and the success of the revolution appeared already secured. The insurgents crowded the Hippodrome, hailing their necklace Cęsar with cries of "Long life and victory." An attempt to [94] take them by surprise through the winding staircase between the palace and the amphitheatre was found to be impracticable; and Belisar, dividing his forces, assailed at the same moment the two main portals. As he forced his way through the Gate of Death, he gazed with the pity of a great soldier on the immense multitude. At the startling apparition of the cavalry and the imperial standard, the people rose in masses and rushed down headlong into the clearest course; the trumpets sounded; the issues were choked by the crush of struggling fugitives; the terrible carnage began.

The slain were counted by tens of thousands, and for a generation the cries and colours of the factions were unknown in the streets of the capital.

In his calmer moments Justinian too regretted that horrible destruction of men whom God had made in His own image. One taunt hurled at him by the Greens rankled in his memory—"Justinian the Unjust!" His Thracian name, his name as a shepherd lad on the green plains about Sardica, had been Uprauda, the Upright. He had been raised from the sheepfold to the throne, and he was smitten with remorse as he reflected how the neglect of justice, the refusal to right the wrong, had brought about the catastrophe.

And the great church, the church of the Divine [95] Wisdom, the Eternal Word, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, had gone up in flames through his folly. Henceforth his twofold purpose in life should be to raise a temple beyond the dreams of human worship, and to reunite the East and the West in one world-empire under the cross of Christ.

Justinian slept but little. Rising early, he devoted the day to affairs of state; after sunset his own day began. He read and wrote far into the night, wandered for hours through the dim corridors, or mused in the moonlight or under the brilliant stars on the long marble galleries which overlooked the gardens and the sea.

The blackened heaps of the ruined cathedral had not yet been wholly cleared away when, upon one of those spring-like nights which occur in January, the emperor, as he paced the outer gallery, became conscious of an extraordinary brightness in the air and a marvellous clearness of vision. Far away beyond the silvery waters of the Propontis—far away and yet so vivid as to seem near—he beheld the lofty white pillars of an old temple on a wooded hill in a green island. The temple was in ruins; most of the great columns had been shaken down by earthquake, but those which were still standing gleamed with strange beauty in the wonderful luminousness of the night.

[96] Was Justinian dreaming, or was this a vision granted to the eyes of the spirit?

"Thus in the days of that ignorance at which God winked—"

The words were spoken close by his side. Startled, he turned and glanced around, but he was alone on the starlit gallery; and the low crystalline voice, which seemed to come out of the air, continued:

"Thus it was that people worshipped aforetime what they believed to be divine, for unto no man hath been denied some inkling of Him who breathed the spirit of life into the clay He fashioned. Yon isle is Cyzicus; the temple was that of Cybele, whom men adored as the venerable mother of the gods. Look further!"

In the warm hush and magical transparency of the night there appeared to glide before him, not a picture, but the living aspect of the idolatry of the pagan world.

"The white city between the hillsides and the harbour," said the voice, "is Ephesus. The clamour of the silversmiths has long been laid with dust; Diana the Great has fallen; yet these mighty columns of green jasper still flash out over the sea to the passing ships. Delos thou knowest, this little isle of the Cyclades, 'the star of the dark earth.' Here between the cedars and the snow, in the valley [97] between the mountains, behold the City of the Sun and the thousand pillars of the shrine of Osiris. Why art thou moved? Why do thine eyes fill with light? What thought has sprung up in thy heart?"

"Lord God," cried Justinian, raising his hands in ecstasy, "Let me live to build a new house to thy glory. Let the dead praise Thee whom they knew not when they were alive. Let the ancient worship of all lands add its splendour to the splendour of Thy temple. Shall not the great and costly stones which men reared to Isis and Cybele and all their shadowy dreams of Thee rear Thy cross into the heavens? So suffer Thy name to be uplifted high above all names, and the revelation of Thy mercy to be exalted over all that the world has believed and hoped of Thee!"

"Then let me help thee," said the voice. He felt a touch upon his shoulder, as light as a snowflake. Beside him stood an angel, six-winged, dimly luminous, scarcely separable from the air, yet softly iridescent with the innumerable colours of gems and flowers.

"Look, does this please thee?"

With a thrill of rapture Justinian beheld on the palm of the angel's hand the model of such a church as had never yet been conceived by human genius. Without and within he saw it, with its storied walls [98] and springing columns, from the golden pavement to the glittering dome, which floated airily aloft as though it were hung from a starry chain.

"Look again and yet again," said the angel, "so that thou shalt not forget anything thou hast been shown."

"Give me angels to achieve this," said the emperor; "it is a labour and a glory beyond the skill and strength of men."

"Then thou couldst scarcely say the work was thine. Nay, come thou but as near as thou canst to the vision which has been vouchsafed thee. Therein man touches the topmost flower of service."

"Stay yet a moment," cried Justinian, as the angelic form began to fade away into the starlit air. But only the low clear voice answered from lips unseen, "God prosper thee with all happiness," and the emperor was alone.


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"LOOK AGAIN AND YET AGAIN", SAID THE ANGEL.

Early on the morrow he summoned the famous architects, Anthemius the Lydian and Isidore of Miletus; and laying before them rude drawings of the great basilica, he described the wondrous church which he had seen in the angel's hand. As they listened, they referred from time to time to his drawings, and rapidly sketched plans of the edifice which his words conjured up in the mind's eye. Noting each stroke of their pencils and answering [99] the questions they asked, Justinian corrected and changed many of the lines of their draughting. "Not so," he would say; "but thus it was and thus."

Then he told them how their labour would be lightened and shortened by the store of wrought marble and costly stone brought from other lands. "Time is fleeting, flesh fades as the flower-de-luce, life flutters to its fall as the leaf on the tree; wherefore, I pray you, make good speed. Treasure shall not fail. Material you shall not lack, nor men. A hundred master-builders you shall have, and each master-builder a hundred workmen; and I would have five thousand labouring on the right hand, and five thousand on the left, and daily at sundown each shall be paid in silver pieces."

Think now that you see the enormous task begun; that as if by enchantment the past is again alive, and stirring and resounding with the din of traffic and labour. On the cleared ground the masters measure off with white wands ten times the area of Solomon's Temple. Hundreds of men dig in the trenches; hundreds plant deep the foundation courses. The slaking lime fumes in white pools among the tawny sand-heaps. The huge scaffold poles are lashed together.

In the distant brick-fields swarms of people hurry to and fro; bricks dry in long streets; the kilns [100] smoke like a plundered city. War-galleys and broad-beamed merchant ships heave in from the freshening sea with slabs and drums from the granite and porphyry quarries and the sculptured spoils of the vanished gods. The sailors pull together to their wild sea-chants; the giant cranes swing their burdens round; teams of huge-horned cattle and gangs of half-naked slaves strain at the hawsers, and the rollers groan under the colossal loads.

Day after day, clad in coarse linen tunic and white headcloth, with a plain staff in his hand, Justinian mingled with the ten thousand workmen whose lowly lives were being wrought into the vast structure of the basilica. Penetrating everywhere, noting everything, climbing from scaffold to scaffold, putting a royal hand to some effort of strength, he passed from one busy group to another, praised, scolded, encouraged, jested, rewarded pieces of rapid and skilful labour with extraordinary gifts.

With flushed cheeks and radiant eyes he gazed at last at the magnificent columns which towered above him. East and west of the massive piers which were to heave the dome into the blue heavens, eight porphyry pillars, based on white marble, crowned with white marble, recalled the splendour of the temple of the Sun. "O Diana of the Ephesians," he exclaimed, "these on the north and south were [101] of thy treasures of green jasper, larger and more beautiful than any! These were thine, O Virgin Pallas, when men adored thee at Athens; these thine, O Phœbus, the Shining Archer, when they worshipped thee in Delos; these thine, venerable mother of the gods, in the morning of time at Cyzicus. Now, Lord, are they all Thine, glory to Thee and to Thy Christ!"

Nor were Justinian's the only eyes which ranged watchfully over the work of the great church. When the masons were finishing the eastern niche, shaped like a vast sea-shell, wherein the altar was to stand, there was much questioning as to how the light should fall upon it. The architects had planned for but one window, but Justinian said, "Nay, surely, let there be two."

Then said Anthemius the Lydian, bowing low: "Will not Cęsar take account of the imagery and significance which may beautify these things? One is the true light which enlighteneth every man. There is one altar and one sacrifice. One faith there is and one baptism; one fold and one shepherd; one God and Father of all."

"Yea, Cęsar," added Isidore of Miletus, "and doth not Ecclesiastes say, 'There is one alone, and there is not a second'?"

The emperor laughed outright: "And verily Ecclesiastes also saith, 'Two are better than one,' [102] and I would bid thee remember, Anthemius, that God made two great lights; two ways there are whereon men shall tremble grievously in the dark, and these are Life and Death; two movements are there of the reason and will whereon man stands in sore need of illumination, and these are Yea and Nay. And whether these be good reasons or not, methinks more light will fall on the altar from two windows than from one."

"Let the light come from three windows, and this shall be the altar of the Holy Trinity!"

The words were uttered by a tall man of great beauty and majesty. He came towards them as he spoke. They observed with surprise that he was clothed in purple, and that his shoes were of the same imperial colour. For a moment his eyes turned from one to the other, then with a bewildering suddenness he vanished from their sight.

Not many days later, when all the place was still at the hour of the noontide slumber, and a little lad watched the masons' tools, there came a stately man in brilliant white robes. This, thought the lad, is doubtless the chief eunuch or some high officer of the palace, and he bowed low to him.

"Go, child, and waken the men," said the stranger, "and bid them return to their labour. The hour of sleep is gone by."

[103] "Is this the order of Cęsar, lord?"

"It is my bidding."

"Then I dare not, great lord, they would slay me ere they were well awake."

"Then get thee to the emperor, and bid him come to me."

"This is my place, illustrious one," the lad answered, "here I watch the tools and keep all safe; and though I would readily serve thee, from this spot I must not budge."

"I will watch and guard for thee."

The lad looked up full of doubt and shook his head. "A lost life should I be were I to go hence, and the men were to find the place untended."

"Nay, then, unbeliever, I vow by the Holy Wisdom not to quit this spot, but to keep all safe till thy return. Do as I bid thee."

Then the lad ran upon his errand, and as he drew near the palace, he met the emperor coming forth in his workman's garb. Having fallen at his feet, he looked up and panted: "I was sent to thee, Lord of the World: have I leave to speak?"

"Speak," said Justinian; and when the lad had told his story, "Think a little," he said, "and be very sure of what thou sayest. Were those the very words he spoke? Repeat them."

The lad repeated them: "I vow by the Holy [104] Wisdom not to quit this spot but to keep all safe till thy return."

Then joyfully laughed Justinian: "Of such a guardian never could I have dreamed. Now may I ask trustfully, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the dawn? Come, boy, with me."

He hastened back to the palace. To one high officer he said: "Have a ship ready to sail at once for the Cyclades." To another: "Give the child meat and drink and raiment. When the ship is ready put him aboard, and stay on the wharf till thou canst see it no longer." To a third: "Seek out the lad's home, and provide for his family if they would depart with him." To the lad himself: "Henceforth I will see to thy welfare, but never more do thou return to Constantinople."

Lo! now, with an easy heart Justinian watched the cupolas and the vast dome arise. The vaulting was in white tiles of Rhodian clay, marvellous for lightness. On the tiles was graven:

"God hath founded it; overthrown it shall not be;

He will uphold it in the blush of dawn;"

and the masons, as they set them, built in sacred relics, and hymns were sung in the nave far below. Four-and-twenty windows seemed to lift the dome clear into the air. From its inner surface looked [105] down four six-winged seraphs, wrought in little cubes of gilt glass and glittering colours. The dazzle of the gold cross that crowned it without was seen in Bithynia from the snowy tops of Olympus.

Then were all the walls covered with the beauty of marble—slabs of purple Phrygian with silver stars, of green Laconian, of blue Lybian, of black Celtic with white veins, of pale Lydian with red flowers. But wearisome would it be to tell of all the splendour of silver and bronze, of ivory and amber, of cedar and chrysoprase. Neither will I speak of the altar shimmering with gems as the Milky Way shimmers with stars, nor of the four-and-twenty colossal books of the Gospels, bound in thick plates of gold. More peaceful and sweet it is to think of the cool pavement, in which the marble was marked as with the ripples of waters flowing in four rivers through Paradise; and of the baptismal font, which was a copy of the well whereon Jesus sat, wearied in Samaria.

Five years, eleven months, and ten days after its foundation the church of the Holy Wisdom was consecrated. The year was the year of our Lord 538, and the day was Christmas Eve.

Justinian drove from the palace, like a victor in a chariot drawn by four horses. The Patriarch received him at the lofty portals. Over the entrance the Bible upon a throne was figured in a bas-relief of bronze, [106] and upon its open page was written: "I am the door; by me if any man enter in—" Justinian ran from the threshold to the stately terraced rostrum, and there he said, with arms outstretched: "Praised be the Lord God, who hath deemed me worthy to achieve such a work. Solomon, I have surpassed thee!"

So Justinian had his heart's desire.

From the pinnacles of greatness the Thracian shepherd lad Uprauda looked out abroad over the nations, dreaming of his world-empire. Under the suns of three continents, Belisar, who had already saved him, fought his battles, ever loyal and irresistible. Conquest was added to conquest; tribute and spoil was poured into his treasury; kings clad in purple were led in triumph through the streets to his footstool crying, "Vanity, vanity! all is vanity!"

In the watches of the night, as he wandered with sleepless energy, he was tempted to challenge the mighty seraph who kept watch and ward, faithful to his vow, in the shadows of Sancta Sophia. And behold! as often as that thought was played with in the emperor's fancy the angel heard it sounding down the nave like the challenge of the guards on the city walls in the dark.

With the wondrous vision of angelic beings the [107] seraph saw into Justinian's soul, and breathed a long sigh: "How quickly the small seeds of evil spring! A little time ago thou saidst in thy thoughtlessness, 'God hath deemed me worthy!' Then came vanity crying from thy lips, 'Solomon, I have surpassed thee!' Then thou didst glory in thy reforms of justice, 'Bow down, world, and obey my law.' To-day thou wouldst jest with a spirit who stands before the Throne. Vainglorious fool! To-morrow thou wilt make thyself God's vicegerent—nay, I will look no more!—thou sinkest from baseness to baseness!"

As the seraph foresaw, so it happened. Justinian snatched the keys of Peter. What he proclaimed, that should the Universal Church believe. None should gainsay him. The Pope Vigilius was seized and carried to Constantinople. Armed men invaded the sanctuary and tore him by the beard from the altar. Imprisoned, excommunicated by the emperor's orders, his name blotted from the tablets of the churches, the old man was at last suffered to depart, and died of sorrow and bodily anguish on his way to Rome. The Patriarch Eutychius was banished, and driven from monastery to monastery.

More ignoble still was his treatment of Belisar. Jealousy and envy embittered him against the fearless soldier whom he had once honoured with the [108] only triumph granted to a subject in the course of four hundred years. The one man, to whom he owed sovereignty and perhaps life itself, was received with coldness, dogged with suspicion, ignominiously recalled from his commands. His veteran bodyguard was disbanded; half his wealth confiscated. Distrusted and feared, he was still indispensable, and once and again, saddened but unrepining, the strong man was ready at his master's need.

After the death of the empress deep gloom, full of cares and disquietudes, fell upon Justinian, and with the advance of age he was seized with an insatiable avarice. Already oppressed with taxation for the defence of the empire, the people groaned under their new burdens. And now, in spite of his chains of fortresses, the Huns crossed the Danube, poured through the Balkan passes, and ravaged the Thrace of his boyhood. One flying horde of four thousand horse dashed up to the very towers of Constantinople. A cry for Belisar went up from the trembling city.

For the last time the old warrior buckled on the harness of the victor days. The only troops on which he could depend were three hundred of his veteran guards. Half-armed peasants, crowds of untrained citizens gave a show of strength. Clouds of dust, numberless fires disheartened the enemy. As the barbaric squadrons advanced to the onset, they [109] were shaken by the clamour of a host rushing in on all sides from the woods. They were taken in front and flank. The hero and his guards hewed down the foremost; the rest broke and fled in a hopeless rabble.

The capital was saved. Cheering crowds escorted Belisar to the palace. The courtiers were silent. With a frigid embrace the emperor thanked and dismissed him.

Envy and distrust and malice tracked the old lion-heart to the end. He was charged with plotting against the emperor. Justinian spared his life, but stripped him of his honours and estate.

"For five-and-thirty years," said the hero, lifting his proud head, "I have been thy true liegeman. Look in my face, Cęsar; is it the face of a traitor?"

"Many faces are masks," replied Justinian gloomily.

"No mask wholly covers falsehood, Cęsar. As the soul of a man is, such is his face."

"I will speak with thee again," said Justinian, and turning away he muttered to himself, "Faces, faces! As I sit in the dusk they come upon me in multitudes—street-throngs, swarms of the Hippodrome. I had never thought people had so many different faces. They pass me by in crowds; peaceful, angry; idle, busy; merry, full of care. Some turn [110] to me but do not see me. Women look into my eyes—so many women; dark and radiant, laughing girls, icy patricians. Some speak to me breathlessly. I hear the sound of their voices, but the words I cannot hear. And each of these, he would say, is the mirror of the soul. Let me consider this!"

Now in the last year of the emperor's reign a letter was found in Sancta Sophia on the massive silver chair in which he used to sit. Justinian opened it and read:

"Eutychius to Justinian. From the cloister in Amesea. The Lord hath spoken to me and I am troubled on thy account. Think of thy vainglory; think of thy presumption; think of thy sacrileges; think of thy cruelty; think of thy avarice; think of thy ingratitude. They are written in the Everlasting Book. Thy people curse thee. Across thy empire is written, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.

Think of thy days, which are numbered. I pray for thee."

The heart of the emperor was hot with wrath. As he paced through the long moonlit corridors that night—for though he was now a man four score years and over, his spirit was yet more sleepless and untiring than of old—he crumpled the Patriarch's [111] letter in his hand, saying below his breath, "Surely, surely, I will slay this man."

A belated courtier, hurrying through the corridor, beheld him standing in a space of bright moonlight. Justinian's back was towards him, but he knew the rich robes and tall figure of the emperor, and approached with profound obeisances. At the sound of footsteps Justinian turned and spoke. The courtier gazed, grew white and trembled, rubbed his eyes, looked again, and then fled with a roar of horror. Lord God, where is his face?"

In garb and presence it was the emperor; the jewelled circlet gleamed in his shaggy white hair; but to the emperor's head there was no face.

As the rushing footsteps echoed along the marble walls, the great six-winged angel appeared at Justinian's side. The emperor's heart was stricken with dismay.

"How is it thou art here?" he cried. "Hast thou forgotten thy charge in the great church? Didst thou not vow to watch and ward—"

"Till the lad returned," interposed the angel. "The lad hath returned. He was the monk who laid the letter on thy chair."

For a long time all was silent in the long avenue chequered with moonlight.

"Belisar is dead," at length said the angel.

[112] "Then he is dead," slowly responded Justinian; and the words seemed but an echo, without regret or care or admiration or resentment.

"Heart of the nether millstone!" sighed the angel, "how greatness hath made thee little, and magnificence mean, and loyalty thankless, and truth unbelieving. What demon of pride and vainglory is it that possesses thee? How shall I move thee?"

Again there was a long silence.

"Look!" said the angel, "I will show thee the things that are to come."

Then Justinian beheld a great city given over to pillage, and he knew it was Constantinople. For three days of carnage and plunder and sacrilege a licentious soldiery raged through the blood-drenched and burning streets. The splendid monuments of ancient days which made the city the wonder of the world were carried off or shattered to fragments. Horses and mules, laden with wrought silver, jewelled crosses and chalices, and the treasures of altars and shrines, stumbled over the defiled pavement of the churches. In Sancta Sophia "a daughter of Belial" was enthroned on the seat of the Patriarch, and drunken revellers danced round with blasphemous songs.

"These warriors of the red cross," said the angel, "are vowed to rescue the sepulchre of the Lord from [113] the heathen. They have turned aside from their sacred enterprise to ravage a Christian city and to establish a new realm. Look again!"

In one of the violated churches they beheld a magnificent sarcophagus broken open. It contained a sovereign of bygone time—embalmed, crowned, clothed in imperial purple. The body was dragged forth and held erect amid peals of ribald laughter, and Justinian recognised that it was himself. The crown was snatched from the hoary head; the jewels plucked from neck and arms. The rich robes were rent away. Naked as he was born into the world, the emperor was flung aside for the dogs.

"So fleets away the glory of Justinian," said the angel.

The tumultuous streets, the smouldering palaces, the sacrilegious host of the Crusaders vanished like mist.

"Now behold the destiny of thy basilica!"

"I will not look! I will not look!" sobbed Justinian, covering his eyes with his hands. "I have sinned; I have sinned; but that I built with pure heart and clean hands, if anything be pure and clean in Thy sight. Thou knowest that I did not glory till the work was done!"

"He hath forgotten me, remembering God," thought the angel, and melted silently into the moonlight.


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