Kallias stayed a fortnight under the hospitable roof of Olympias, and during those days he had the pleasure of seeing how greatly his honest and genial simplicity brightened the thoughts both of his hostess and of his friend. The general outline of his own future seemed now to be approximately settled. Like Philip, he had acquired an incurable disgust for Constantinople, with its turmoils, its luxury, its unreal Christianity, its cruel, persecuting, and deeply corrupted Church. He would have to learn in time that in these respects the West was as bad as the East, and that any peace and satisfaction which life can bring must depend far more upon ourselves than upon the place of our abode or the circumstance of our position. But in the West he found an opening for earning his living. His skill as a reporter was unusual, and the great Pope of Rome gladly offered him a liberal salary.
Philip's ultimate future seemed also to be assured; for as soon as the recrudescence of episcopal trouble at Antioch had been composed he could live in his native city, not only in comfort, but in comparative affluence, and he looked forward, as to a paradise, to the enjoyment of happy years with the maiden of his love. But as his union with her was inevitably postponed, he was uncertain how to occupy the next two years. He would not avail himself any longer of the goodness of Olympias. He was now able to work, and she had so many faithful secretaries, agents, and dependents, that she had no need of such services as he could render, gladly as she would have retained them. Under these circumstances Kallias urged Philip to employ the time at his disposal by travelling in the West until he could go to claim his bride; and he promised him a warm welcome if he would visit Rome.
A message from no less a personage than the Emperor Arcadius decided his uncertainties. The Præfect Aurelian had written to Olympias to ask whether Philip had recovered his health; and on hearing from her that he was now completely restored, Aurelian told the Emperor. Arcadius summoned Philip to a private audience. Philip was beyond measure astonished by the receipt of this mandate, for it was the characteristic of Byzantine imperialism to surround itself with an awful isolation. He might well have been terrified by the summons, if the kind-hearted Præfect had not assured him that the visit was to be kept entirely private, but that good, and not harm, was intended towards him.
Three days afterwards he made his way to Chalcedon. He was conveyed in an imperial galley to the Stairs, was driven in a covered chariot to the palace-gate, and saw once more, with long and irrepressible shudders, the Patriarcheion, and the burnt area where once had towered the stately architecture of the Senate-house and of St. Sophia.
Aurelian conducted him into the presence, and the Emperor intimated that he wished to talk to the young man alone. Arcadius had been much softened since the loss of his passionate and domineering Empress. With his habitual indolence, he still permitted the continuance of a persecution at once ignoble, cruel, and unjust against the innocent Johannites; but this was mainly because he had become somewhat shy of meddling with ecclesiastical dignitaries, and had not the energy to interfere with the new Patriarch, Arsacius, and his successor, Atticus. The conviction grew ever stronger in his mind that, though he was too weak to throw off the tyranny of his bishops and their partisans, yet Chrysostom was worth all the rest of the corrupted clergy of the capital. In spite of the haughty letter of Theophilus and the decrees of the Synod of the Oak, Pope Innocent and the bishops of the West had declared Chrysostom innocent, had treated the calumnies against him as monstrous perjuries, and had refused to renounce communion with him. Even in his exile and humiliation he remained an acknowledged leader of the Church, and took a larger share than his enemies in her holiest efforts. It is true that Arcadius had not only rejected the bishops and presbyters whom Innocent sent to him to request the recall of the Patriarch -- among whom was Palladius of Helenopolis -- but had even allowed them to be treated with a rudeness and cruelty which disgraced his rule; but this was more the work of his agents than of himself, and he might have roused himself to interfere but for the fierce and indignant jealousy which he felt towards his younger brother, Honorius, who, though several years his junior, had taken upon himself more than once to rebuke Arcadius sharply, and thereby to kindle the most intense resentment of which his mind was capable. The presumption of Honorius seemed so intolerable to his elder brother that it helped to smother all his better feelings under the smouldering fumes of sullen wrath.
But meanwhile things had not gone well with him. He was still living in constant dread of the wrath of Heaven -- a miserable man. The deaths of Eudoxia, Arsacius, Cyrinus, and others, had terrified him. Besides the terrible hailstorm, another violent earthquake had shaken Constantinople. Pestilence and famine had appeared in the Eastern Empire, and its peace was constantly disturbed by the armed menace of Alaric and Stilico -- for both of whom Arcadius felt an intense aversion -- and also by the rumours and the actual devastating advance of swarms of barbarians under Rhadagais. He thought that by showing well-deserved gratitude and kindness to Philip, who was so dear a friend of Chrysostom, he might avert impending ruin. He looked on this as a tardy and partial reparation; and he wanted to talk to Philip about many things.
Arcadius often felt very weary of the stereotyped officialism of his Court and the intriguing slyness of his kotowing slaves. He longed to converse with a fellow-man on more natural and simple terms. He had seen Philip with Chrysostom in former days, and had been struck by his air of bright and honest manliness. He began at once by thanking him for the loyal resourcefulness with which he had averted a double peril from the designs of Gaïnas, and, assuring him of future favour, told him of the pension which he had set apart to reward his services.
Philip bowed low, and Arcadius was not slow to catch the tone of sincerity which rang through the expression of his gratitude. And now,' he said, lay aside all ceremony, for I wish to talk freely to you. Call me simply "sir." You know the Patriarch well?'
I lived under his roof,' said Philip, as a son for many years. Oh, sire!' he added passionately, would that your Imperial mind had never been abused by false tales about him. Never was there a more innocent or a holier man.'
Arcadius was quite unaccustomed to hear himself addressed in language of such frank simplicity; but it was a pleasant experience, though he hardly knew what to say in reply. After a little pause, he said, You are quite right to speak to me without reserve.' Then he added, 'I fear you have suffered for your faithfulness to him.'
I have suffered fearfully, sir,' said Philip, the tears rushing to his eyes; but it would all be nothing if your Sublimity would recall him from his cruel exile.'
Emperors cannot always do what they will, any more than other men,' said Arcadius, with a sigh. If I had better bishops near me, it might be so. But power is much more a semblance than a reality. I speak to you unreservedly, and I know that you will respect my confidence. But though it is impossible for me to recall the Patriarch John, I can at least do something for you, who are his friend. Shall you still live here?'
Oh! sir, I could not live here,' said Philip. Every street teems for me with terrible memories. When things are a little settled at Antioch, God will suffer me, I trust, to return to the city of my birth.'
Are you married?'
No,' said Philip, with a blush; but -- -- '
I see,' said Arcadius, with a smile. Is she a lady of Constantinople?'
She was the daughter, sir, of Michael, of whom your Majesty has heard, in the Chalkoprateia; but they are now living near the holy Nazareth.'
Then listen,' said the Emperor. 'These are dangerous days. The barbarian Rhadagais is marching with hosts of Alans and Ostrogoths to ravage Italy. The Isaurians make fierce incursions into Palestine. Amid these troubles I want to consult the holy Nilus. I am sending a letter to him by the Chamberlain Briso, who will travel with an escort. But I want some man of resource to travel with him. You shall go, if you will; and then you can go on to Nazareth.'
Philip eagerly thanked him, and embraced the offer.
I will not forget you when you return with your bride to Antioch; you shall be under my protection,' said Arcadius, kindly. But now tell me about your Patriarch. Is he very wretched at Cucusus?'
No, sire,' said Philip. The place is bleak and frightful and dangerous; but he has found many friends, and is still engaged in holy works, and all who are best in the church of Christ still look up to him.'
Arcadius sighed again. Oh that I could recall what has happened!' he said. But the bishops, and clergy, and all society united against him; and I was helpless. It was not my fault. Severian and the others took the guilt on their own heads. Does the Patriarch hate me? Does he curse me? Is that why these calamities befall me?'
Nay, sire,' said Philip, you know him not; so far from cursing you, he daily prays for you. There is no word of Christ that he quotes more often than "
Forgive your enemies; love them that hate you; pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you."'
I thank you for those words,' said Arcadius; 'they are a comfort to me. Do you ever write to him?'
Yes, sir,' said Philip; as often as opportunity occurs.'
Then tell him -- but privately, you understand -- that the Emperor asks both his pardon and his prayers. Oh that Eudoxia could but have been reconciled to him before her sad death!'
The eyes of the Emperor filled with tears. I have spoken to you very openly, Philip,' he cried; but I can always recognise one whom I may trust. I have been glad to talk with you. I will not forget you.' He held out his hand, and Philip, sinking on his knee, kissed it. Arcadius seemed unwilling to part with him. It was very long since he had ever held any frank, human intercourse with anyone, and he enjoyed it.
Is it quite impossible to retain you in my service?' he asked.
Oh, sir, it is your right to command, and gladly would I do my very utmost to serve you. But may it not be elsewhere, not in this terrible city, and among the clergy who have tortured me, my father, and my friends?'
Be it so, then; though I am sorry. Yet, is there nothing more I can do for you now?'
Sir, Antioch is thrown into confusion under the new bishop whom Severian has thrust upon her. He hates the Patriarch John, and would persecute me. One line from you to Anthemius, the Patrician, the Præfect of the East, would secure my peace and safety.'
You shall have it,' said the Emperor, and, dipping his stylus in the huge golden inkstand on the table, inlaid with lapis lazuli, which stood beside his gorgeous chair, he wrote on a strip of vellum, in the delicate calligraphy for which his little son also afterwards became famous:
On pain of our displeasure we forbid all to molest our servant, Philip. He may communicate with whom he will. -- Signed, Arcadius.'
There!' said the Emperor; and now kiss my hand once more. But do not let this be the last time I see you.'
The autograph was in the famous purple ink which none but emperors might use on pain of death.
Philip poured forth his thanks, bent his knee, kissed once more the sallow hand of the Emperor, and retired.