The year during which I was not permitted to study passed quickly and uneventfully, except that complications deepened on account of Lolix. My affection for Menax became almost reciprocally as great as his love for me, which was limitless. But I did not tell him that which, heavier and yet heavier, weighed upon me as time lapsed, the secret affair with Lolix. To have done so would have been best, yet I dared not, for it would have lost me all that I most prized. At least I so feared then.
As time went on I began to query my position. Did I love this beautiful girl? Not as I loved Anzimee. "O, Incal, my God, my God!" I moaned in anguish of soul. Conscience slept yet, but stirred restlessly. The fact that Anzimee was my adopted sister did not prevent her becoming my wife, for the law of consanguinity was not violated. But my own acts barred the way.
My scheme to domicile Lolix in a palace on the far side of Caiphul from Menaxithlon was successfully carried out without exciting the suspicion of any one, not even arousing the jealousy of Lolix. Duplicity, duplicity!
Then I wooed Anzimee unrestrained by the presence of her who would have been a dangerous factor had she even suspected that the daughter of Menax was not my sister by the ties of consanguinity. But my days began to be filled with fear, for I had sown dragon's teeth; the denouement of such affairs as have evil for a guide is invariably sorrow and bitterness. Suppose Lolix did not tire of me, and I had neither the heart nor the will to do anything to cause her to do so, nature-laws were ever liable to cause a revealment of the facts which would be fatal to my hopes; and though I often cried in agony of soul that I was an unhappy wretch, conscience still slept.
But mine was not a character to be deterred from my resolves by danger. If I was engaged in a game of skill with the Evil One for opponent, I would play to the best of my ability. So I determined to be rid of Lolix, a determination that was late, for the fruit of our sin was come and a home secretly provided, for I would do no murder. These plans were carried out, all fortunately, as I thought, without any man being the wiser. But how to be rid of the really lovable woman, Lolix. Only a year remained ere I would enter examination for my diploma at the Xioquithlon. If successful, I meant to ask Anzimee, whom I knew loved me in return, to be to me all that the honored name of wife conveyed.
At evening, or of an afternoon, nothing pleased Anzimee better than to walk alone, or with Menax or myself through the palace gardens, under the spreading palms and festoons of flowering vines which canopied all the walks, forming long, cool tunnels of green, gemmed with Flora's most radiant hues. From the breaks in these verdant walls we could see the mimic lakes, hills, cliffs and streams, and beyond these could look out over palace-capped, vine-draped Caiphul and its half thousand hills, large and small. Walking amidst such scenes by the side of her who was so dear, is it strange that my soul was at such times eased of something of its burden of sin and woe?
So long did I defer action in the case of Lolix that I came to fear to take any course except to let events order their own settlement. Yea, I lost confidence in my ability to solve the dangerous problem, fearful lest I should make a bad matter worse. Thus the days slipped by and the examination ordeal was close at hand. Neglect Lolix I did not, could not, nor had I desire to do so. Very often I was with her; indeed, with a strange blindness to the wrong involved, I divided my leisure between Lolix and Anzimee. I sometimes feared that Mainin, Gwauxln, or perhaps both, knew of my secret. They did, too, for their occult vision was too keen to allow them not to know the facts. But neither made any sign, not Mainin, for he cared not how much secret evil went on, as we shall see ere long. Nor Gwauxln, not because he, like Mainin, did not care,
hut because he was merciful and knew that karma had more dreadful punishment in store than any man could possibly inflict, and his mercy forebore to add to my penalty. So the cancer remained hidden from public gaze, and I knew not that the noble ruler was a sad spectator of my misdeeds. I do not wonder at his sad demeanor when with me as manifested in the last year of my studies.
Anzimee had postponed the time of her examination in Xio until the year in which I was to graduate, and hence the festivities which always followed the examination as a mark of rejoicing over the success of those who received diplomas, included her in the honorable list, for she had passed with high credits.
A dinner was given by the Rai to the successful contestants, and this feast inaugurated an extended season of high social dinners, balls, parties, concerts and theatrical performances, all in the same honor., Anzimee, arrayed in a robe of grayish silk, with her heavy coils of dark hair fastened apparently by a lovely rose, and upon her shoulder a pin of sapphires and rubies, was presented by Gwauxln at the state dinner to the new Xioqi as the "Ystranavu," or "Star of the Evening." This was a social distinction akin to the modem "Queen of the Ball."
Knowing that Rai Gwauxln would lead his niece to the table and be her escort, I took Lolix, as I had a right to do, for I was a graduate and the possessor of a diploma, and all such might choose a companion, who might or might not be a graduate. Lolix, for my sake, had studied hard during the last three years, and was now in her second year at the Xioquithlon, to which she went from the lower schools. I was growing proud of the girl, and felt most tenderly towards her; indeed, I would have been a most despicable person had I not, after her sacrifice for me. Several times I found Gwauxln looking intently at me--I sat not far from him--and once, as he passed me after the feast, he murmured sadly:
"Oh, Zailm, Zailm."
As may be imagined, this address did not increase my peace
of mind. But that night passed without any further disquiet, as so many others had done.
As I walked with Lolix in the great hall of Agacoe, I remarked the many glances of admiration bestowed upon her beauty by the many gentlemen we met, nobles of high degree. She had indeed grown to have a loveliness of face and figure, and best of all, of character, which was no longer heartless, but very gentle since her sad experience of secret motherhood and consequent disbarment from its innocent joys, since the child might not be known as hers. She had had offers of honorable marriage find refused them, knowing even as she did so that the fact of their proffer was a proof of my having spoken falsely when I told her that the laws of Poseid forbade our marriage. But her love for me, if it suffered, was faithful and knew no lessening. And she kept the secret well and the more closely for my sake, wretch that I was! As I looked upon her, I felt that she was very dear to me. But Anzimee was more so, and therefore the hideous tragedy went on. I knew that from love of me Lolix had first repressed heartless remarks, then taken an interest in relieving suffering for its own sake, and so had become transformed from a beautiful thorn tree to a glorious rose of womanly loveliness, with few thorns indeed. Had I really any conscience deserving the name, that I did not come out before the world and take Lolix as my wife after all this boundless love for me? No, not in Poseid. Conscience had not slept; it had never been existent; it was yet to be born, and grow in a later time. Thus did the nemesis of judgment still withhold her stroke.