Preview from First Pages
Several days later, Antony called for a large banquet. That evening, when all the guests were seated, he and Cleopatra walked through the large doors at the entrance to the hall. The people stood and gave them a light round of applause. Antony smiled and motioned for them to sit. Once he and Cleopatra were seated at the head table, he looked at her and said, “You’re as beautiful as ever, but you don’t seem yourself this evening.”
She answered, “Young Caesar’s large army now sits outside our city walls. His fleet’s positioned just outside our harbor. He took Pelusium without a struggle. Can you not understand that I’m worried for Egypt and that I’m worried for us?”
“I don’t know what to do right now,” said Antony. “He’s outwitted me at every turn, but I’ll think of something.”
“I know you will,” said Cleopatra, holding back tears.
Antony said, “You were proud of me today, weren’t you, when I returned and told you that I drove Caesar’s cavalry out of the Hippodrome?”
“Yes, I was very proud of you,” said Cleopatra with a sweet softness in her voice. She turned to him. The sparkle was back in her eyes. “As I have been throughout all of the years of our time together.” Then her eyes filled with tears.
Antony took a quick drink of wine from his cup. Even though they were dining with a large group of people, it was as if they were the only ones in the room. He said to her, “You make it sound so final.”
Cleopatra put her hand on his strong arm. She was gripped by a tremendous sadness that made it impossible for her to speak. Antony looked down at the table and said, “But it is final, isn’t it?”