The next day they came again to talk to her, and seeing that she looked at them more cheerfully than the day before, they both went close up to her and said: “You are our mistress and we are your most devoted slaves, ready to die, if need be, for our Queen. And do not let any consideration unnerve you and lead you to indecision.” Upon these words they gave the Queen an oath and after freeing themselves from all suspicion they easily guessed her secret, for they were sharp-witted, shrewd, and expert in divining from a few words a man’s deeply hidden and hitherto unexpressed opinion.
Straightway they associated themselves still more closely with the Queen and making their goodwill clear to her by many proofs they promised they would bravely assist her in any undertaking to which she summoned them. “Rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with them that weep,” [Rom 12:15] that is indeed the apostolic injunction, and this they willingly observed. They asked the Queen to count them as her countrymen and intimates as they were sprung from the same stock as she was; and one thing more they urged – that she should not hesitate to divulge it to them immediately if either she, or the Emperor, got wind of a plot being formed against them by their rivals, and thus save them from unconsciously falling into their enemies’ snares.
This favour they asked and begged her be of good cheer, saying that with God’s help they would gladly bring adequate help and as far as depended on them, her son Constantine should not be ousted from the empire. And they insisted too in ratifying their agreement by oaths, for there was no time to lose because of their jealous opponents. So the brothers were relieved of a great anxiety and recovered” their spirits and from now on showed a cheerful countenance” in their conversations with the Emperor.
Concealing a secret intention
They were both, but Alexius more especially, practised in concealing a secret intention and a deeply laid plan by external pretences. But as the burning envy of others was now growing into a mighty fire, and nothing of what was said against them to the Emperor was any longer concealed from them owing to the agreement (with the Queen), they recognized that those two all-influential slaves were scheming to get them out of the way; consequently they no longer went together to the palace as had been their custom, but singly, on alternate days.
This was a wise and Palamedean precaution to prevent their both perhaps falling into the barbarians’ snares at the same time, for if only one were caught by the intrigues of those all-powerful Scythians, the other could escape. Such then was their precaution. However, matters turned out for the brothers very differently from what they had feared, for they anticipated their rivals in the race for power, as my story, starting from this point, will show very clearly.
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