III About this time the city of Cyzicus was taken by the Turks; directly the Emperor learnt of the capture of the city, he sent for Alexius Comnenus. Now it chanced that on that day Isaac had come, and when he saw his brother entering the palace contrary to their agreement, he went up to him and asked the reason for his coming. Alexius immediately told him the reason, saying: “Because the Emperor has sent for me.” So they went in together and made the customary obeisance, and as it was nearly the hour for lunch the Emperor told them to stay for a little and then commanded them to sit down at table with him. And they were separated, for one sat on the right side of the table, and the other on the left, opposite each other. In a few minutes they looked intently at the attendants standing about and saw they were whispering with gloomy countenances.
Then they feared lest the two slaves were meditating a sudden attack on them and that danger was nigh at hand, so they looked stealthily at each other and knew not what to do. Long before this they had won over all those in attendance on the Emperor by soft words, and paying court to them with divers forms of greetings; and by shaking hands with him they had even coaxed the head-cook into looking at them with a friendly eye. To this head-cook there came now one of Isaac Comnenus’ servants and said: ” Tell my master of the fall of Cyzicus! for a letter has come from there with this news.” Then the cook carried in the meat to the table and at the same time informed Isaac in a low voice of what he had heard from the servant.
Notified the message to Alexius
Isaac in turn by moving his lips slightly, notified the message to Alexius; and Alexius, who had very keen intuition and was quicker than fire, at once grasped what he had said, and they both recovered from the anxiety which had held them. And pulling themselves together they considered how they might answer readily if anyone asked them about it and also give the right advice to the Emperor if he consulted them.
While they were busy with these reflections the Emperor looked at them, taking for granted they did not know about Cyzicus, and told them of its capture. Then they roused the Emperor’s depressed spirits (for they were ready to minister to his soul which was agitated by the sack of his cities) and heartened him up with fair hopes by assuring him that the city could be recovered easily. “The one thing needful,” they said, “is that your Majesty should be safe; and as for the captors of the city they shall render sevenfold into your bosom that which they have taken.”
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