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PAGE 2

Mark Antony
by [?]

In the service of Cleopatra was a Sicilian slave who had been her personal servant since she was a little girl. This man’s name was Appolidorus–a man of giant stature and imposing mien. Ten years before his tongue had been torn out as a token that as he was to attend a queen he should tell no secrets.

Appolidorus had but one thought in life, and that was to defend his gracious queen. He slept at the door of Cleopatra’s tent, a naked sword at his side, held in his clenched and brawny hand.

And now behold at dusk of day the grim and silent Appolidorus, carrying upon his giant shoulders a large and curious rug, rolled up and tied ’round at either end with ropes. He approaches the palace of the King, and at the guarded gate hands a note to the officer in charge. This note gives information to the effect that a certain patrician citizen of Alexandria, being glad that the gracious Caesar had deigned to visit Egypt, sends him the richest rug that can be woven, done, in fact, by his wife and daughters and held against this day, awaiting Rome’s greatest son.

The officer reads the note, and orders a soldier to accept the gift and carry it within–presents were constantly arriving. A sign from the dumb giant makes the soldier stand back–the present is for Caesar and can be delivered only in person. “Lead and I will follow,” were the words done in stern pantomime.

The officer laughs, sends the note inside, and the messenger soon returning, signifies that the present is acceptable and the slave bearing it shall be shown in. Appolidorus shifts the burden to the other shoulder, and follows the soldier through the gate, up the marble steps, along the splendid hallway lighted by flaring torches and lined with reclining Roman soldiers.

At a door they pause an instant, there is a whispered word–they enter.

The room is furnished as becomes the room that is the private library of the King of Egypt. In one corner, seated at the table, pen in hand, sits a man of middle age, pale, clean-shaven, with hair close-cropped. His dress is not that of a soldier–it is the flowing, white robe of a Roman Priest. Only one servant attends this man, a secretary, seated near, who rises and explains that the present is acceptable and shall be deposited on the floor.

The pale man at the table looks up, smiles a tired smile, and murmurs in a perfunctory way his thanks.

Appolidorus having laid his burden on the floor, kneels to untie the ropes.

The secretary explains that he need not trouble, pray bear thanks and again thanks to his master–he need not tarry!

The dumb man on his knees neither hears nor heeds.

The rug is unrolled.

From out the roll a woman leaps lightly to her feet–a beautiful young woman of twenty.

She stands there, poised, defiant, gazing at the pale-faced man seated at the table.

He is not surprised–he never was. One might have supposed he received all his visitors in this manner.

“Well?” he says in a quiet way, a half-smile parting his thin lips.

The woman’s breast heaves with tumultuous emotion–just an instant. She speaks, and there is no tremor in her tones. Her voice is low, smooth and scarcely audible: “I am Cleopatra.”

The man at the desk lays down his pen, leans back and gently nods his head, as much as to say, indulgently, “Yes, my child, I hear–go on!”

“I am Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and I would speak with thee alone.”

She paused; then raising one jeweled arm motions to Appolidorus that he shall withdraw. With a similar motion, the man at the desk signifies the same to his astonished secretary.

* * * * *

Appolidorus went down the long hallway, down the stone steps and waited at the outer gate amid the throng of soldiers. They questioned him, gibed him, railed at him, but they got no word in reply.