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Santiago Long
Santiago Long

Ambages



98 A VISIT TO CUMAE By STEPHEN CASEY "talibus ex adyto dictis Cumaea Slbylla horrendas cani t ambages antroquc rcmugi t, obscuris vera lnval vens." Aeneid VI 98-100 For a long time 1 had '..,'anted to visit Cumae, the shrine of Apollo, where his oracle the Sibyl had obediently transmitted his prophecies in ancient times. I travelled by train the short distance from Naples along the lovely "crystalline streams" of Baiae ' s bay. and disembarked at Cuma, only to find that the ancient Cumae was two stations back. The day ....'as hot and unusually suI try as I boarded another ' locale ' and retraced my route to Lago di Averno . After I left the train once again I decided like the ancients to make my pilgrimage on foot . 1 began to make my way along a road guarded by large Italian pines. Suddenly a wind sprang up, blowing directly from Lake Avernus which I could see some two kilometres dmm the road. The "lind increased , but it "'as neither hot nor COld, only a movement of air , As [ walked along, the road seemed abandoned, when suddenly I came upon an old grey-headed man locked in the arms of a rough peasant girl . They scarcely stirred as I passed . Then as though coming from the ground, b'O women appeared, both clad in black, one an old woman , the other a girl , They walked ahead in silence, and then just as quietly they disappeared T don ' t know where, for there was deep bush on the left and an irrigation ditch filled with ,,'ater on the right. By this time I first began to have an eerie feeling, a vague but unsettling sense of foreboding . Then again just as suddenly a dog emerged from the roadside , Cerberus perhaps, but wi thout a bark it too vanished as quickly and as quietly as it came . By this time I had reached Lake Avernus, a small body of water adj acent to the Sibyl's cave and its entrance to the nether regions which I had come to see . Its waters were black and murky. The wild corn along its shore rustled, and I shivered as I passed a stone tablet on which were inscribed several lines of the Sixth Book of the Aeneid . I kept along the shore-road looking for the path to the Sibyl's cave when suddenly a snake shot out at my feet. My heart beat faster, but I pressed on , anxious not to miss the path . I ,,'alked on for a least a kilometre and then met a young boy "'ho answered me by pointing a long brown arm in the direction I had come . I retraced my steps once again and came on a crudely painted sign 'Sibilla di Cuma t. Strangely , I had missed it and halked right by. A VISl T TO CUHI\E I turned into a narrow track and advanced some fifty metres . Then the track suddenly gave \ay to an earthen path completely covered with vines and shrubs. In the two o ' clock sun it I-,'as almost dark. Again I heard a rustling noise at my left foot, but I felt impelled to go on. 1-1y heart pumped as the path veered sharply to the left and there, about thirty metres ahead, I could dimly see a large door. I moved quickly forward. The door was of iron, heavy, battered and green with age. Below on the wooden threshold a rat had gnawed a gaping hole. Above there was an aperture and as I peered into the black beyond, a lifeless halitus caressed my face. Just as I was about to push open the huge door, my head throbbin? I glanced dovm and saw that the door was padlocked. After all this, there was no possibility of gaining an entrance . I thought of Arnold's, ' Shut stands the door', but as my trepidation passed, I was glad that I was able to proceed no farther. In truth, there really was no need to enter that chamber . After so centuries the Sibyl, though this time unseen, had already revealed in own ambiguous way a mysterious presence, and through her...




ambages



At a subsequent period and after the Legislature had adjourned and reasembled, and had again adjourned to meet in September, the opinion was expressed by many persons that there was a concealed purpose on the part of that body to commit the people of Maryland to secession from the Union. I reached Baltimore on the afternoon of the 31st of August, after having been absent in Allegany County with my family (who were sojourning there as usual for tharly a month. It happened that I saw and conversed that same afternoon with a great number of persons, and some gentlemen of much intelligence and respectability seemed to have come to the fixed conclusion that there was a deep-laid scheme to embroil the people of Maryland through the action of the Legislature with the General Government, and thus eventually to place Maryland with the confederate States in opposition to the Union. I did not concur in these apprehensions, and amongst other reasons I stated that I had very satisfactory interviews with Mr. Wallis and with Mr. Pitts and had full confidence in both, and that it was not to be credited that the Legislature of Maryland after having adopted almost unanimously resolutions against secession would swallow their own words, and that from my personal knowledge of the members generally I felt that reliance might safely be placed on their personal honor that they would not attempt to accomplish per ambages an object which they were unwilling openly to avow. 041b061a72


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