Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XII / The Picture of Judgment; Or, The Grotta Del Tifone >> Page 224

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 024 SOUTIIWAILD HO
following, as in the case of the Roman youth already described,
the gloomy and brutal demon�the devil of Etruscan supersti-
tion�a negro somewhat less dark and deformed than the other,
and seemingly of the other sex, with looks less terrible and
offensive, but whose office is not less certain, and whose features
are not less full of exultation and triumph. She does not actu-
ally grasp the shoulders of her victim, but she has her, never-
theless, beneath her clutches, and the serpent of her fillet, with
extended head, seems momently ready to dart its venomous
fangs into the white bosom that shrinks, yet swells, beneath
its eye.
Long indeed did this terrible picture fix and fascinate the
eyes of the spectators ; and when at length they turned away,
it was only to look back and to meditate upon the mysterious
and significant scene which it described. In proceeding further,
however, in their search through the Grotto," they happened
upon another discovery. They were already aware that the
features of this beautiful woman were Roman in their type.
Indeed, there was no mistaking the inexpressible majesty of that
countenance, which could belong to no other people. It was
not to be confounded with the Etruscan, which, it must be
remembered, was rather Grecian or Phoenician in its character,
and indicated grace and beauty rather than strength, subtlety
and skill rather than majesty and command. But, that there
might be no doubt of the origin of this lovely woman, examin-
ing more closely the effigy upon the sarcophagus first discov-
ered�having removed the soil from the features, and brought
a strong light to bear upon them�they were found to be those
exactly of the victim thus terribly distinguished in the painting.
Here, then, was a coincidence involving a very curious mys-
tery. About the facts there could be no mistake. Two stran-
gers, of remarkable feature, find their burial, against all usage,
in the tumulus of an ancient Etruscan family. Both are young,
of different sexes, and both are Roman. Their features are
carved above their dust, in immortal marble�we may almost
call it so, when, after two thousand years, it still preserves its
trust ; and in an awful procession of souls to judgment, delin-
eated by a hand of rare excellence and with rare precision, we
find the same persons, drawn to the life, and in the custody,