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APELLES AND PROTOGENES.
“Is Protogenes at home?” inquired a young man, as he entered the painting-room of the artist.
No, master,” replied an old woman, who was seated near a pannel prepared for painting. — “No master; he has gone forth to breathe the fresh air — and much does he need it after toiling here all day. It is his custom, at the approach of evening, to go down to the sea-shore, and snuff the breezes that come skimming over the water from the Grecian Isles."
“ Is he then so laborious ? " said the stranger.
“Ay, to be sure he is. They say he is determined to excel Apelles of Cos. Be that as it may, he never thinks his pictures are finished ; but it is no business of mine
else I might say life is too short, to spend three or four years in lingering, still unsatisfied, over the same picture."
Thy life does not seem to have been a short one, mother,” said the stranger, examining the lines of care and sorrow,
which had strongly marked a face that might once have been handsome.
She looked earnestly at him without replying.
“I have urgent business with Protogenes, said the stranger.
“Very well ; leave your name, and fix the time when you will come again. You cannot fail of finding him at home, when the sun gets above yonder loop-hole, and that is about the tenth hour in the morning.”
The stranger drew a small tablet from under his robe, and seemed to be about inscribing his name ; — suddenly he approached the pannel, and, taking a pencil, which lay near, drew simply a line. As he looked up, he perceived the old woman looking intently
“Look, mother," said he, smiling, “canst thou read that name ? ?
She fixed on him a steady look. “My eyes,” replied she, “are dim with age, and I
never was taught your Greek letters; but I can read thy face."
“ And what dost thou read there ?" " That which my master is seeking – truth."
"Dost thou think I am looking for it at the bottom of a well ? " said the stranger, smiling.
“Ah,” replied she, changing at once her air and manner, into one of wild sublimity "thou art not born to look down for it, but up, up!" and she raised her hand, and pointed upwards.
Art thou a soothsayer, good mother ?” said the youth, with reverence.
“Who," replied she, with solemnity, " that has lived to see the raven hair turn to snow — who, that has watched the sapling as it grew into the sturdy oak, and has beheld generation after generation swept away
who, that has seen all this, and yet stands blasted and alone, is not a soothsayer? Ay, young master, age and sorrow have the gift of reading the future by the sad past.”
“Thou canst number many years ? ” said the youth, inquiringly.
She shook her head. "I have outlived all that,” said she - "I count not by years.
I know not how many times the winter has come round ; life has been one long winter to me.'
May I ask," said the stranger with increasing interest, if you are a Greek?"
" I am of no nation of no country,” replied she, “ I was once a Persian.”
The stranger at once comprehended that she might have been torn as a captive from her native land,- for the bloody laurels of Asia were yet fresh upon Alexander's young brow -- and he hastily changed a subject, which seemed to awaken such bitterly painful feelings.
My errand to Rhodes was to see Protogenes," said he ; "I cannot depart without an interview."
The old woman arose, and, going towards the lattice, looked at the sun as it was fast sinking into the ocean. “ He will be here directly, if you will have a brief patience,” said she. This information rather seemed to hasten' the youth away, for he immediately disappeared.
Å When Protogenes returned, the old woman said to him, “There has been a stranger inquiring for the master of the house."
" What name did he leave ?” said Protogenes.
" That I may not say,” replied she; “but he has written it there."
Protogenes drew near, and looked earnestly at the line ; – suddenly taking the pencil, he drew another under it.
“He is well acquainted with the name of Protogenes," said the woman "it needs not to be written. He will be here tomorrow at the tenth hour."
I shall not be at home at that hour," replied the master; 6 when he comes, show him this,” and he pointed to the second line.
The next morning, as the old woman saw Protogenes go out, “Ah, well,” she exclaimed, “how can age calculate upon the caprice of youth ? I could have sworn this was an hour he would be at home."
Again the stranger made his appearance. " It is not my fault,” said she, “that Protogenes seeks the morning air ; but he has written his name under thine."
The stranger stood before the pannel, and gazed attentively upon it. Then, seizing another pencil, he drew a third line.
" Father Zoroaster!" exclaimed the old woman, with horror, " thou hast written thy name in blood !"
“Nay, good mother," said the youth, “it